Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Weight Loss Chronicles - Introduction

December 2006

We all wake up in the morning and say "I have to lose weight".

I woke up one day and said "I have to lose weight or I am going to die".

There I was, a normal guy who just let himself go. I was 5' 8" tall (although my kids tell me I am 5'5" tall) and I did not even weigh myself but I was FAT - I mean Orca fat. I was a whale, a wheezing piece of crap one roast beef sandwich away from a heart attack. I woke up every morning and when I tried to get out of bed my feet would ache. I would get up early enough that it was dark out and I would walk into the kitchen to turn out the lights so that when I got out of the shower I wouldn’t trip over the dog. But I didn’t walk into the kitchen.

I limped.

The knees hurt and the feet hurt. I felt better after the shower but not by much.

When I got married in 1983 I weighed about 160 pounds. Here I was, 23 years and 184 pounds later and just wanted to die.

How the hell did this happen?

I ate and ate and ate. Unfortunately for me, except for the weight gain and the maladies associated purely with weight gain like lack of energy and achy joints I had suffered no adverse effects. That’s right. Blood Pressure was 120 over 80. Cholesterol was 160.

I was invincible. Right? Wrong.

In the middle of 2006, I was waking up in the middle night with a pillow full of drool. My wife told me that I was snoring uncontrollably. I, of course, being asleep could not verify her claims so I immediately dismissed them. I also dismissed my son’s claims that my snoring was keeping him awake at night.

Couldn’t be true.

But this pillow drool thing was goddamned annoying. I’m dreaming that I am on an ocean voyage and wake up with a cheek full of drool, constantly flipping the pillow over and around to find a dry spot. My wife finally convinced me to go see a doctor.

I figured why not?

Well, besides the normal dislike of doctors that I have, there was no reason for me not to go to a doctor.

So I went to the “Doc Find” section of my insurance carrier’s website to look for Otalarnolygists, Otoranologist, uh, an Ear, Nose and Throat guy.

I found a guy. I went.

And he uttered the two words I had hoped I would not hear.

Sleep Apnea.


Not that I had it but that it was very possible that I had it. He couldn’t tell without a sleep study (this is one of the things I hate about doctors – there’s always a referral to someplace else).

It was one of those things that I feared. I knew of people who had Sleep Apnea and had to sleep with a freaking C-Pap machine to help them breathe. But that wasn’t me. I did not wake up tired. I got a good seven and a half hours of sleep every night and woke up fairly refreshed. I didn’t think I was tired or a candidate for Sleep Apnea.

Yahoo Health! has a great article that lists the symptoms of the illness

What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of sleep apnea that you may notice are:
· Being so sleepy during the day that you fall asleep while working or driving.
· Feeling tired in the morning.
· Waking up with a headache.

Your bed partner may notice that while you sleep:
· You stop breathing.
· You often snore loudly.
· You gasp or choke.
· You toss and turn.

Okay – one out of seven does not a Sleep Apnea patient make but I just knew that if I wasn’t there it was just a matter of time before I was.

Then the doctor hit me with the line I had heard from doctors all along. “It would help if you lost weight.” I had a physical every year and the doctor always told me “except for your weight, you are a perfect physical specimen.”

And that is what happened – all of the good numbers I had over the years lulled me into a false sense of security. In retrospect words like “perfect physical specimen” perhaps should not have been used.

But like that old movie “Scared Straight”, it did the trick.

I visited a weight doctor the next day and he gave me some relaxation techniques and told me that, at my weight, the only way to diet was to watch calories.

So I did just that. Limiting myself to about 1600 calories a day, I lost ten pounds in the first week.

Ten freaking pounds.

The last time I lost ten pounds I was on the Atkins Diet (more on that in later installments) when I lost 50 pounds and my cholesterol went up to 6,000,000.

Ten Pounds lost.

Talk about incentive.

I went back to that weight doctor, got some more relaxation techniques including a “mantra” that I was supposed to repeat to myself over and over. It was:

At my weight, overeating is poison.
I need my body to live.
I owe my body respect and protection.
I said this ten times a day. I’d close my eyes, take a deep breath, let it out and say the words. To myself. Quietly. I could do it at my desk. It was the constant reminder to myself that I needed to lose weight.

And it worked.

As I write this it is now 20 months after I began my diet and I have lost 165 pounds, 150 of which were lost in the first twelve months.

And this morning I ran 5 miles and I did yesterday too! And the day before. 15 miles this week and it’s only Wednesday.

Why write about this?

Well, you can forget about Oprah. I have no desire to go on her show.

What bothers me is the emphasis on weight placed on society by Hollywood. Remember a few months ago when a size 2 Jennifer Love Hewitt was considered “fat”?????

Holy Smokes!!!!!

And the constant commercials on television and in the newspaper with the latest fad diets – Jesus Christ, they make me sick.

It is all about the calories.

Nothing else (well, exercise, too – but that comes later).

I’ve gone on fad diets and as soon as I’ve gone off of the fad diets the weight comes back like old unwelcome Aunt Flo.

But I am not going to proselytize. In further installments, I hope to inspire, so with inspiration as the goal I am going to leave you with three pictures. Sort of a before and after. I’ll let you guess which is which.

Till Next Time, friends.