Do you walk into a restaurant and look for a table because you can’t fit in a booth?
Do you always take an elevator because even one flight of stairs leaves you exhausted and out of breath?
Is the simple act of tying your shoes a contortionistic maneuver?
A little more than two years ago, my answers to the above questions would have been a resounding and embarrassing — yes!
I had finally tired of again compromising my life, so on a fateful day in February of 2020, for the first time in many years, I hopped upon my dust-covered scale. The spring moaned and groaned as the needle revolved past the end of its’ limit and ventured into the “additional” numbers printed smaller and in red. The pointer bounced several times in a range of about ten pounds. I hoped it would stop at the lower end — it didn’t. I held my breath and peered down over the beach ball ballooning from my abdomen — I couldn’t quite see the rather large and over-sized dial. With a gale forced inhalation I sucked in my gut and strained once again to see the dreaded digits.
There it was, scales don’t lie, 3… 7… 5... That is not a typo; three hundred and seventy-five ponderous, pachydermian pounds. In just over a few years, I had added more than one hundred and fifty pounds to my previously well-proportioned frame. I released my breath and heaved a heavy sigh. At least I could console myself with the ten pounds that clothing adds — never-mind; I was only wearing a pair of light cotton shorts.
Eventually, I stepped back. I paced the floor stunned with disbelief. I knew I had gained weight, but there was no way I was again over 350 pounds, let alone close to 400. Surely, after so long without use, the scale must be out of calibration. That was the answer. I looked around and found a forty-pound dumbbell. I placed it upon the platform expecting the number to possibly reach 80. No such luck — the indicator stopped spot on at 40.
It was official — in medical terms I was morbidly obese... again!
The initial step to overcoming many problems is to first admit we have a problem. Even with the numbers staring me in the face — I still wasn’t ready to admit it. I took out my phone, opened the camera app and took two pictures of my reflection in the mirror, one from the front and the side. I downloaded the pics to my PC and was prepared to see just a large, big-boned guy staring back at me — what I saw was anything but. Staring back was a pin sized head atop a rotund, pear-shaped body.
I was ready to admit it — I had a problem, again. The bastard had again returned.
I dug deep into the closet and found some old clothes. On the bed I placed them side by side with my current wardrobe. It was eye-opening. There is a stark contrast between a size 34 and a size 60 pants, between a size 62 and a size 42 sports coat, and you wouldn’t believe the difference in the lengths of the belts. I shook my head wondering how this could have happened, again. Oh yeah, then I remembered, plenty of burgers, fries, pizza, and pasta, followed each night by two servings of ice cream — blasted Ben and Jerry for those single serving containers.
The next day, I headed down to Danko’s and reactivated my long dormant membership. The owner, Larry Danko, cheerfully greeted me. I told him I had to get back in shape and with an optimistic and confident tone he told me, “You can do it.”
Then, the word coronavirus entered our lexicon, and the emerging pandemic COVID-19 became a way of life. Taking my responsibility to patients who trusted me to be diligent, there was no way I was going to enter the Petri dish that can be a commercial gym. Additionally, at that weight at that time, contrary to what the YouTube and Facebook experts were proclaiming, if I contracted COVID-19 and ended up on a ventilator, the possibility of me coming off it alive were slim.
I went on-line and ordered some basic exercise equipment. I reached into the deep recesses of my education and experience and designed a home workout.
In just over a year, I dropped 200 pounds and recaptured my health, wellness, and fitness, I went from merely existing to competing and completing sprint-distance triathlons. I have four under my not so large belt, with, at the time of this writing, one more to go to finish the 2022 “season.”
Being a health care professional, I am very aware of the potential damage I may have done to myself. However, thanks to the Veteran’s Administration, I am blessed with being cared for by a cadre of skilled physicians, who ordered up the necessary testing and imaging to make sure the damage was minimal.
I find it extremely difficult to swallow when overweight people tell me that they are happy the way they are; God knows I dropped that line myself enough times. It is impossible to be happy going through life struggling with simple, everyday tasks. More importantly though, is that I have lessened my risk for obesity related maladies. And if COVID has taught us anything, we need to be vigilant with our heatlh, because at any time an emerging threat may attack us, and we must reduce our controllable co-morbidities so we can do our best to survive that threat.
In general, obesity is a direct cause of some serious diseases; serious, PREVENTABLE, diseases. Obesity is not just a concern among adults. It is a growing, and in this day and age dare I use the word, epidemic concern with our youth. Type II diabetes, which is commonly referred to as adult-onset diabetes, is showing up in children as young as ten years old. We have a grave public health problem, one that does not need to exist.
Utilizing what I like to call the three D’s; desire, determination, and discipline, if you are engaged in the lifelong war with the bastard obesity, you too can win a battle. I didn’t have surgery. I didn’t use any drugs. I changed my eating habits and I exercise seven days a week. It isn’t glamorous, it isn’t hip, what it “is” is just old school logic and self-control.
I was asked that if now that I lost the weight, I thought I was going to live longer. I pondered the question and paused before I spoke.
I said, “I honestly don’t know; however, I do know one thing --- I am living better.”
You too can go from simply existing to living a better life.