On Aug. 13, 2017, after seeing my weight on a scale hit more than 300 lbs. just two weeks after my 56th birthday, I drew a line in the sand.
“NO MORE!” I said to myself, and proceeded to make some health, diet and lifestyle changes all aimed at being sustainable. I did not embrace anything I felt like I couldn’t do forever.
I Made 10 Major Changes
I’m about 90 days into this adventure, and I’ve lost 32 lbs., I’m down to 268.5 lbs.! But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I have stories galore! But first, a quick review of the 10 major changes that have brought me to this point. Remember: Sustainable!
- I stopped drinking soda. All soda — diet, regular, energy, whatever. NONE.
- I cut my intake of caffeine to nearly zero.
- I began exercising immediately upon waking up at least five days a week.
- I now eat breakfast every day. Healthy stuff (oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, yogurt, fruit).
- I weigh myself every day right before breakfast.
- I started packing my lunch, which gives me total control over meals and snacks
- I stopped falling asleep in front of the TV. Or, I set a timer in case I fall asleep.
- I focus on quality in food choices. Lots of chicken, fish, veggies, healthy carbs/fruit.
- I eliminated empty calories in food choices. No chips, cookies, cakes, bad carbs, etc.
- I track everything every day. Weight (with an Omada tracking scale and app),steps and sleep quality (with a Fitbit my wife got me), blood pressure (With an Omron Bluetooth BP machine and app), and everything I eat or drink (recorded in Omada app).
Because I did not approach this scientifically and experiment with each of these things one at a time, I can’t tell you which ones work the best alone. I did them all at once and continue to do so. It takes about an hour every day to do all of this stuff (exercising, making lunches, tracking, etc.). The time spent is well worth it.
I can also say that I feel great! Here are some examples.
A New Airport Experience
Recently, I needed to go to Chicago for work. This was a whirlwind tour where I flew in Sunday morning and came home Monday night. I have made this trip on many occasions (the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association headquarters is there), so I have lots of experience of what it was like at 300 lbs. Here’s what it felt like at 270 lbs.:
First, I had a much easier time getting through airport security. Little things like bending over to take off and put my shoes back on were easier and quicker. I didn’t get winded walking through the airport either before my flight, or after extended time at altitude AFTER the flight (as is usually the time I get winded), either. In fact, I felt so good walking through the airport that I brought a roller carry-on bag with my briefcase instead of what I did in the past: checking a bigger bag so I didn’t have to carry it around or lift it into the overhead. I was able to roll through with a smaller bag and get it in and out of the overhead with zero trouble this time.
At Midway Airport in Chicago, the terminal I typically use has long, long, long corridors with only three or four gates on each of them. To help folks out, there are moving sidewalks that go everywhere you need to go. I typically get on the moving sidewalk and stand quietly over to the right out of everybody’s way, letting the machine carry me along while I rest. This time, I felt good enough to walk on the moving sidewalk when I flew into Chicago. When I went back to the airport to fly home, I didn’t use the moving sidewalks at all; it just felt so good to walk! And, I walked all over downtown Chicago between meetings with no problems.
You’ve heard me complain before about airline seats and their relationship to normal-sized people and BMI. At 300 lbs., not only did I not fit into my seat, I spilled over onto the seat next to me and couldn’t even let down the tray table all the way because it would hit my belly and stop! So embarrassing!
But 10% lighter, I fit much better into the seat, actually had slack in the seatbelt and was able to let the tray table all the way down to its normal position without my belly getting in the way! Overall, my entire trip was MUCH better for the loss of those 30 pounds.
Shopping Never Felt So Good
Clothes shopping has been a bit of a nightmare for me these past years; you just can’t get decent dress clothes as a large man without spending a ton of money once you get “off the rack.” At a 3X shirt size and a 46 waist size or bigger, you are DEFINITELY off the rack. Welcome to the Big/Tall/Portly section! (Portly? That’s a fun word!)
For my trip to Chicago, I wanted to travel light, so I thought a nice, thick sweater I could wear under a blazer would be a handy thing and let me leave my overcoat home. There aren’t many stores where you can buy a pullover sweater in a dressy style at a reasonable price in Baton Rouge if you are 3X or larger. But, feeling good about my weight loss the day before I flew out, I went shopping!
As I started my stroll to the back of the store where the Big/Tall section is, I passed by a display of “regular” sized clothes. Oh, that’s a nice looking pile of men’s sweaters right there! Look at the colors! A high-quality brand! And on sale for only $24.99! Man!
As I passed the display up, I had a real desire to know how close I was to getting back “onto the rack!” So I stopped, looked around to see if anyone was watching and strolled back up to the display. I found a gorgeous burgundy sweater, perfect for my gray pants and blue blazer, and wondered… just maybe… at the bottom of the pile… I found a 2X.
Not something I could have even struggled into before, but I thought “what the hell!” and just slipped it on.
It fit perfectly; it might have actually even been a tad big! And there was a black one in 2X right next to it. Long story short, I bought ‘em both! I was so excited I called my wife and told her the news!
“So proud of you!” she said. And that is how you make my day.
If you’re waiting to start your own health and wellness journey, I hope sharing my story will encourage you. I’ve been big for 56 years! If I can head on down toward a normal weight, SURELY you can too! I’m giving it to you Straight!
Way to go Mike! What a great journey you are on and congrats to your conquest of developing your 10 new things you do every day to become healthier! I am inspired and happy you shared your story!
Michael, Congratulations!!!! Keep on keepin’ on! You’ve added years to your life already, and quality ones for sure if you remain on this path. I’m so happy for you and your family! You’re an inspiration to many, thanks for sharing your story!
Way to go, Mike! Next thing you know you’ll be playing pickleball! Man, talking about good exercise and a lot of fun.
Very inspirational!!! Keep up the good work. I’m definitely going to be using some of your tips that has been so successful for you and sharing them with family as well.