Thursday, March 12, 2020

One Hundred Eighty Days... And Counting

I started writing this post about 80 days ago, and then I stopped.  I know I need to write about it, but I'm hesitant because it's super personal, I'm going to talk about stuff that makes me uncomfortable and that I don't normally talk about online.  But the lesson of Dad 2.0 is about vulnerability, and goddamned it, that's where I'm at.

I need to talk about the things I don't want to talk about, and make transparent the things that are uncomfortable to talk about.

The good news is that  I'm at a milestone, and I've been sharing various parts of this story in person with people I talk to, but I feel like I need to write it down, and write about something that I've been focusing on a lot for the last 180 days.

 So here it is.

 Don't judge me too harshly.

And away, we go...


The topic that I've been so cryptic about above is my weight. 


  Over the last 6 months, I've lost approximately 57 lbs!   That's almost 10 lbs per month.

I've done this by practicing 3 basic ideas-- 

  1. Exercising 30+ minutes every day.  I currently have an exercise streak of 182 days going.  I swim a mile once or twice a week, do the recumbent bicycle at the house, and at the gym do either the rowing machine or the elliptical (and sometimes both)  I haven't done a lot of weight machines, although occasionally I get on them.  I very occasionally do television yoga in my living room.
  2. Writing down everything I eat (using the app LoseIt, which I've  been using on and off since 2010)
  3. Intermittent fasting.  I do not eat after 9 pm or before 9 am.  I have occasionally broken that rule, but not very often over the last 6 months.  (Probably 5-7 times, when I've gotten home later than I should have without eating)

This dog weighs approximately 57 lbs.
Despite having lost the equivalent of a medium-sized dog in weight, I am still considered morbidly obese.  I have another 45 lbs or more to go before my BMI/weight/body fat percentage is not in the red zone.  I'm committed to doing that.  (182 days committed) and that's what I've been working on.

It pains me to admit it, but I'm still fat.
 One day at a time. 

I'm aware that the next part will be slower, as my body struggles to lose weight, eat even fewer calories, and try to stick at the weight that it's been used to for a very long time.

I know I'm on the right path, and it took me a lifetime to gain, so I'm hoping to continue to just work my program, do my exercises, and get healthier and healthier and healthier.  But that doesn't make it any easier

In the meantime, here's how I got to there (more or less)


If you've known me over the last 45 years or so, you know that I have always struggled with my weight.   I have always been a big kid (I was usually the second biggest kid in the class-- during elementary school, Steven Hughes was taller and bigger than me.  Then during middle school, it was Scott Weaver, who was like 6'8 and 300 lbs while I was 5'10 and 180.   And of course, I had to wrestle Scott Weaver in gym class, even though I could barely get my arm around his back.  And so on.)
My little league baseball team circa 1975.   I'm  #15, and by far the largest kid on the team.

By big, I don't mean just fat.  I was always tall and big and broad and yes, let's use the word of my youth, husky.  I can't think of a time where I wasn't larger than the average kid.  I always thought of myself as fat and was ashamed to take off my shirt to play skins. I did it when I had to, but I didn't like to.  (And still don't)  But I always felt like I was built on a different scale than other people.  I was broader and stronger and taller and heavier than most people I knew.

When I got to college I jumped up over 200 lbs, and I have never been below that since.  Over the years of my 20's, my weight fluctuated around 220-240, with occasional flirtations into the 210 area.  I was always active, playing basketball or swimming or doing strenuous clown/dance/theatre stuff, but I was not an exerciser.  My cholesterol was good, all my numbers were fine, and the occasional doctor would say you are healthy despite your weight.  It would be nice if you'd come down.  I didn't listen very hard.


Me in August 2000. Approx 290.
In 1995 I was not feeling well, and I ended up having my gall bladder out, and when they weighed me I weighed 285 lbs.  I had no idea that I weighed that much.  I simply wasn't paying attention!  After that incident, I started paying attention and working out a lot.  I was going to the gym a couple of hours every day, playing basketball and volleyball, and eating a low-fat, high-carb diet.  II was losing weight because I was working out so much.  I lost about 60 lbs and was down around 220 or so and looking and feeling good.  My brother graduated from college and at the graduation my mother told me she thought that I was too thin.

In 1997 I hurt my knee during a circus performance, and suddenly I couldn't work out like I was, but I kept on eating large amounts of pasta, and by year 2000 I had gained it all back.

In 2003 I knew I needed to do something, and I started a low carb diet-- I lost nearly 80lbs again with hardly any exercise.  I was on a low carb diet for close to two years and had gone up about 20 lbs as I strayed a little, but was doing well.  But in 2007, a number of things happened-- we got pregnant, had a miscarriage, got pregnant again, my mom died, and we got married in the space of 14 months.  And I gained 60 lbs.  I was now over 300 lbs and was hiding my weight, as well as definitely engaging in some emotional eating.

Me in October 2004.  Down to around 235.
During this time period, I was pretty healthy and able to work out, but suffering from high blood pressure (controlled with medication) and sleep apnea (controlled with a sleeping machine)  I could still swim a mile, but I wasn't doing it very frequently.  I would flirt with going to the gym, or starting an eating regimen but could never stick with it.

From 2010 to now I've been up and down between 300 and 340, most of the time hovering around 305.  The last year I've been hovering around 330 and knowing I need to do something.  This summer my ankles were very swollen, and although that wasn't all due to my weight (I'm taking a blood pressure medication that swells ankles) it certainly wasn't helping.


This is me on 9/4/19.  approx 330.
For the last year, I've been contemplating bariatric surgery.  I went so far as to go through all of the procedures to be ready for it, including an endoscopy, a meeting with a psychiatrist, and going to a meeting of people who have had the surgery.  I know a bunch of people who have had success with bariatric surgery, and I was seriously considering it,  But I am afraid of surgery, and while meeting with the surgeon for the last time, I had a realization.

The surgeon told me that 3 out of 8 people who have bariatric surgery and lose 60+ lbs gain their weight back within 6 years, primarily because they don't exercise every day and watch what they eat.  Surgery, he said, was a tool to help enforce a lifestyle change, but that change was necessary to keep the weight off.  (and with bariatric surgery, you have a big incentive not to eat a lot because your body won't be able to tolerate it) Meanwhile, 95% of people who don't have surgery, but lose 60+ lbs gain their weight back within 6 years, primarily because they did not make their lifestyle change stick.

I thought-- "Let's see if I'm in the 5%-- and if I'm not-- well, I guess it's the surgery for me.  Because how many 300+ lb 70-year-olds do you see?  Not many.


This is me on 3/12/2020  274.
So on September 11 of this year, I decided to make a last ditch effort to avoid surgery.  I decided that I would work out 30+ minutes every day without excuses, and that I would write down everything I eat using the app LoseIt.   And that I would intermittent fast for at least 12 hours every day. 

This idea was inspired in part by Dave and Rachel Hollis's 90 Day Challenge, where they invite people to end the year strong by committing to working out for 30 minutes every day, drinking half their body weight in water (I have been close, but that was not my original intention) giving up a food they shouldn't eat, and a couple of other things.  I haven't been 100% compliant with 90 day challenge, but I have been following them and getting inspiration from them.)

I am pretty happy to announce that yesterday March 11) was day 182 of my new regime, exactly 6 months, and so far, so good! I've lost approximately 57 lbs (I was 331 on 9/11/19) and I am currently around 274.  I say approximate because my weight does go up and down a fair amount-- I hit 272  a couple of days ago, but it can go up or down 5-6 lbs on any given day.

My workout history for the last 4 months.
It goes longer than that!
I still have a long way to go.  As you can see from the pictures above, I was a fat guy in September, and now in March I'm still a fat guy, but I'm a less fat guy.

 (Right now, when I look in the mirror, I see how much weight I've lost, and think "Looking good!" and then 30 seconds later I'm thinking "you are so fat!")  It's as much about mindset and point of view as anything else.

I'm hoping at some point in the future I won't be the fat guy in the orange shirt, but the handsome guy in the orange shirt.   (Do you see what I did there?)

At this point, I am not planning on having the surgery, although it is still a possibility if I start going in the wrong direction.

Thank you for reading this far into my blogpost on a subject I'm a little uncomfortable writing about.

I will update the blog in the future about my progress and some of my activities/food/ideas with regard to exercise and diet.

No comments: