My inspiring story is that I achieved what I call Oh-Sorry-I-Picked-Up-The-Wrong-Chart weight loss. Let me explain. Between Feb 2012 and Sept 2013 I lost over 80 lbs by eating better and working out on my Life Fitness equipment. In October I went in for my first "annual" physical in a few years. The nurse asked me to step onto the scale, she looked at my chart and set the balance weights for well over 200 lbs. No luck. She kept repositioning the weights lower and lower. Then she said in a perplexed tone, "Oh, sorry, I must have picked up the wrong chart." So that is what I call me weight loss. No great adversity overcome I will admit. But perhaps there is something to take away from my journey. When I started losing there was no major inspiration for me. No impending nuptials. No class reunion. No serious illness to overcome. That first week was like every other of the 100s of weeks I told myself I need to lose weight and maintain a better exercise regime. But for some reason I still cannot fathom, it worked. So perhaps people can take the following inspiration from my story: If at first you do not succeed, DEFINITELY try again.
In 2007 my wife gave birth to our 1st child (son Ryan) and that coincided with my retirement 6 months later from active duty with the Army. Our decision was for her to continue her career while I became a stay at home dad, and worked on my Master's Degree in the evening.As such, time to go to the gym on base was severely limited. Thus our decision to purchase a Life Fitness Elliptical Cross-Trainer. The results were fantastic. I could get in a 45+ minute workout right at home when my son went down for a nap, or first thing in the morning, as well as late at night. The benefits have been tremendous, staying fit, increasing my energy and generally feeling good about myself while maximizing my family time. My wife also enjoys the elliptical as well.In December 2011, my wife gave birth to twin girls and that has only increased the importance of having an "in house" fitness area to work out in. In 2010 we added weights and a bench for strength conditioning and this week we are about to purchase the Life Fitness C1 Upright Lifecycle Exercise Bike...so that we can even get in a cardio workout after the kids have (almost) worn us out!
Sometime in the early 80’s I took an interest in distance running which continued on into college where I met my wife. Together, we enjoyed eating macaroni and cheese and watching Magnum P.I. reruns. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of an unhealthy trend. I also developed a taste for video games and movies and fitness got pushed aside.In time we had children and each time we had a new addition to our family, I’d make a new plan to get in shape. It always ended the same -- a big flashy effort followed by slipping back into old habits. As the children grew older, I increasingly identified with overweight people and figured that was my lot in life to be unhealthy and unhappy. My children would just have to accept the fact that their dad was a really big guy and we’d try to pretend it didn’t matter. I realized that by my lack of physical activity and media habits (TV, movies and video games) I was being a terrible example for my children and no matter how much I tried to tell them what they should do, I was teaching a much stronger lesson by my actions. They were learning from my example and it was beginning to show in their own habits and bodies. My burden of guilt was becoming greater -- as was my shame. We had seven children and I was being a poor father, husband and leader for my family.In 2008, we learned that we were going to be blessed with another beautiful addition to our family but that joy was soon crushed when we got word that our little girl would have Down’s Syndrome. We’ve got a lot of love in our family and we’re close but that would take strength and energy I was afraid I didn’t have. What could we do but embrace the future with our little girl and press on? I was haunted by one big question. How can I take care of my children if I can’t take care of myself, and live long enough, to be there when they need me? I shopped for the best treadmill for the money and bought a Life Fitness F3 Treadmill so I could exercise through Minnesota winters and bad weather. I dropped 40 pounds but gradually put it back on over discouragement, stress and inconsistent dieting. In October of 2012, I went to the doctor and weighed in at 329 pounds. I was diagnosed with Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), high cholesterol, “pre-diabetic” blood sugar levels and had a short list of other chronic ailments including sleep apnea. I was in bad shape physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I began a diet high in fruits and vegetables and started using my F3 Treadmill six days a week. It’s been almost a year and I have lost about 130 pounds. My blood sugar and cholesterol are perfectly normal and the chronic ailments are almost non-existent. I haven’t been scanned yet but was told by the doctor the NAFLD isn't a concern any more. I don’t have sleep apnea or need a c-pap machine anymore. People say I look like a different person. I feel like it. My waist went down from 56 to 34 inches. I even have a lap for my kids to sit on! We don’t have a big mirror at home so it’s shocking to walk into a store and see my reflection in the windows. I’m thin -- like I was almost 25 years ago! My outlook and attitude are vastly improved! I’ve begun a journey that I believe will continue for the rest of my life.
I’m sure there is much I have yet to learn but so far, here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. You can’t get in shape for anybody but yourself. Doing it for anyone else is just stress and pressure. You have to be ready to face your own challenge from within.
2. It takes a balance of diet AND exercise -- not just one or the other.
3. Small and faithful is better than giant efforts once in a while. You can start small and grow from there -- while creating good habits. I started on my F3 walking 2-3 miles/day. Now I run 6 days a week averaging 12 miles per workout. Excessive? Hard on the knees? I couldn’t do it without the treadmill. The shock absorbing deck makes all the difference. I ran my first 6 minute mile yesterday (compared to an 18 minute mile when I started).
4. Lift weights -- it builds muscle and more muscle burns more calories.
5. Eat whole, unprocessed foods as often as possible.
6. Drink lots of water -- just plain water. It will keep you hydrated and clean inside. It’s not meant to be a tasty treat, just do it anyway.
7. If you fail or have a setback, so what? Just start again. Don’t let it be an excuse to quit. You’re not a failure. You’re not a machine. You’re human.
8. Set reachable goals so you don’t get discouraged.
9. Enjoy life! It’s too short to stress about everything that goes wrong. Having a “normal” life is an illusion. Things go wrong every day - that’s normal. Besides, stress promotes weight gain.
10. Fitness is a matter of choice. It takes time but it will happen if you choose to make it happen!