I’ve always been large—at least since a major growth spurt between sixth and seventh grade. Of course, it is a common joke about overweight people claiming to be “big boned.” For me it is not a joke. Recently I was in a new doctor’s office being lectured about my weight—as usual. She paused for a second looking at my arm, reached up and tried to put her hand around my wrist and exclaimed, “Wow! You really are big boned.” But the problem is not my bones. The problem is all the fat hanging off of them.
If you had told me as a young man that getting this way was in my future I would have laughed at you. I went in the Army right after High School and spent the next eight years as an Infantryman—including a couple years on Jump status with the 82nd Airborne Division. I always loved to road march. I was the guy who would walk everyone else into the ground. I was a speed marching machine—often volunteering to carry the heaviest items. Weakness was despised and fat was just a physical manifestation of weakness.
Things changed over time. I married a beautiful young woman who loved to cook wonderful large meals. Which, I was happy to consume. Not long after marriage I had a conversion experience and also sensed a calling to leave the military for the ministry.
After 8 years I got out of the Army and spent years supporting myself in construction—which helped to keep the weight down. However, the lack of organized disciplined exercise could be seen around my growing middle.
Now years later, after spending the last 15 years in fairly fulltime ministry—an occupation that requires little actual physical labor—I am not only overweight but shamefully fat. I can point to some factors other than lack of discipline. I struggled with the weight for many years and even tried to lose it. At one point I went on the Atkins diet and lost 50 pounds in two months. When I dropped off of the diet, I gained it all back along with an extra 25 pounds—I was worse than before.
Even with all this, I had managed to keep my weight under 300 pounds. But a few years ago I started packing on weight fast. I was going through something seriously wrong with my body. I was waking up a dozen times each night to urinate; I was flop sweating all night; I was having bad heartburn; I was having a hard time controlling my blood pressure; I developed gout; I gained over a hundred pounds in a little over a year.
When I got the point of being unable to concentrate or think clearly and falling asleep constantly I finally went to the doctor expecting the worst. After several weeks of testing it was determined that my long time problem with sleep apnea had gotten so bad it had torpedoed my endocrine system (I was stopping breathing and waking 85 times an hour so I was never entering into REM sleep). My body had stopped making testosterone. I was also told that my apnea was slowly making me insane and killing me. Unless I got my hormones and sleep patterns fixed I would die.
Now, after a year and a half taking regular injections and using a C-pap machine, I have lost a few pounds, but very slowly. I have decided to make a major life shift. I started looking for options when I found out a neighbor of mine was on a weight loss program that was being quite successful for him.
I have decided to use the Take Shape for Life program by Medifast. I have a coach, and have just received my first box of food. This is a program where you use meal replacement products purchased in place of regular food and snacks.
Of course, a program is only effective if you follow through and use it. To quit in one month or two would do me no good. I currently weigh 385lbs. I have sleep apnea, testosterone issues, gout, and problems with blood clots. I am also pre-diabetic with high blood pressure. I didn’t get this way overnight and won’t fix it overnight. Though I am looking long term at the rest of my life, I am starting with the first step of getting myself down to 250 lbs. My first step is to commit to a year on this current plan. While that will likely not be enough time to lose the 135 lbs. of my first step, it is a start. I decided on my current time and duration because I work well with starting times and end goal times. Right now is Easter season—an important time in my year—and will continue until next Easter. After that I will look at the next step.
In order to discipline myself I decided to blog here about my journey. I want to share my story. I want to document it. However, more important than this is the accountability it gives me. By letting the world see what I am doing the world will also know if I fail or surrender. So feel free to keep me accountable. Watch my journey and consider your own.
I post this right as I eat my first meal replacement.