All the time I was suffering from all of these disorders, job problems, etc., my wife was suffering right along with me. I don’t know how we stayed together, I don’t know why she put up with me. I only know that I am thankful that she did.
At the worst of my health, I think I weighed about 235+. It could have been quite a bit more, because we had an inaccurate scale. I have a photo of me dressed up as the Pillsbury Doughboy for Halloween, and I didn’t need any padding. Just a pair of white sweatpants. The biggest clue I got that I was in trouble was on a hike at a park in southern Indiana. We had stopped on a return trip to visit a friend in Evansville. It was a hot, humid day and as we climbed a fairly steep but short hill, I had to stop and rest. Not just for a second, but for quite a while. I simply had no energy. We found out later that it was 101Â°, so that’s definitely a mitigating factor, but it was obvious my health was seriously in jeopardy. And honestly and bluntly, the deciding factor that changes were necessary came down to this: sex didn’t feel good anymore.
A Diet ‘Fad’
During this time, there were frequent news stories about Dr. Robert Atkins and his “low-carb” Atkin’s Diet. I had actually read about it and tried it briefly a while earlier, but only out of curiosity. In the summer of 2002, I made a decision. I was going to give this ‘diet’ a real try. I was going to read the book cover to cover, do exactly what it said, and do ALL parts of it, including exercise. I studied the book, I bought the right foods, I counted the carbs, I peed on the test strips to make sure I was in ‘ketosis’. I started it on a schedule and documented the results. At the beginning I was 235, so I set two goals:
- An official goal of 175 pounds – a 60 pound loss
- An “I’ll be happy with” goal of anything under 190
I abstained from temptation at the grocery store, at holiday time, at restaurants and at parties. I annoyed the hell out of my family and friends with all of it and tried to convince everyone I knew that they should try it…
…and I bought a new bike.
NOW we’re getting back on topic related to this journal! I bought a Trek hybrid because that’s what the guy at the local bike shop said was the trend. We are in the Dayton area, and there are bike paths everywhere, including 11 miles in our little town of Piqua Ohio. At 225 pounds, that kind of bike made sense. The first few times I rode it I couldn’t go more than a couple of miles without being completely spent. I could only pedal for a couple minutes, then coast, then pedal, then coast. Maybe a 10th of a mile at a time. I had to use the very smallest granny gear to get up even the short hills on the path. And on one in particular I had to walk the first couple of times.
I also got myself a Y membership and took to doing laps, at first just a couple before I had to rest, then 100 meters, then 200, then 400. Each time I’d go a little further. Whether riding or swimming, the cardio was hard enough, but I just had no muscle strength. I kept at it, though, and it was surprising how quickly I was able to improve. It didn’t take to long to get to 5 miles, then 10, then 15 on the bike. I could get up all the hills in increasingly harder gears; I could swim more and more laps without stopping. 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile a full mile.
And the weight started coming down. 225, 220, 210. It takes a lot of shots, and there are lots of long-term questions, but done correctly, this diet really does work. The key was deciding to study it and do it ALL. It really isn’t a just a ‘diet’. It’s a lifestyle that involves not just buying some fad foods, but eating the right foods consistently, exercise, moderation in all things, nutrition, vitamins and nutrients, behavioral changes, etc.
The day I went under 200 and hit 199 was a very happy day indeed. There were good periods and bad. Mostly stalls where the weight didn’t come down. But I kept at it and eventually it would drop again. Cindy bought a bike too and we began riding the bike paths together. 10, 15, 20, 30 miles. I’d want to go faster than she did, but we had a good time, riding together and exploring new areas, ringing our bike bells when we’d go past wildlife, etc.
A funny thing
As the weight came down, my health improved. My blood pressure dropped to normal ranges. My cholesterol dropped from a high of 360+ to just over 200. Yes… you read that correctly. On a protein diet of eggs, meat, and all that stuff that’s supposedly not good for your heart.
But it wasn’t just my physical health, but my mental health as well. I became more focused, had fewer bouts of depression, fewer rages. I decided to go back to school at Edison State and work on a 2nd degree, an Associates in Computer Technology. My relationship with my wife improved immensely and life became more enjoyable all around. It wasn’t always that rosy, but the good days far outnumbered the bad. Oh… and sex became more fun again.
Proceed to Bump in the Road