On June 23, 2014 I stepped on the doctor’s evil scale. The same scale that scared the heck out of me a year earlier. The same one that foretold the warnings I had received moments later of being a pre-diabetic, of being morbidly obese. Now, a year later it told a completely different story – it was the story of “normal”. Weight is measured in pounds in the USA, but healthy weight is measured in part by BMI – body mass index. Mine a year ago was “morbidly obese”, then it climbed (down) to “obese”, then to “overweight”. Now, on this day, one year from when I started, I was in the “normal” category for my height for the first time since probably 7th grade. Few people I know would call me “normal”. For once though, I was happy to be “normal”.
Orange County is blessed with many recreational opportunities, chief among them is the County Heritage Trail.http://www.orangecountynyparks.com/heritage-trail/ Returning from Hawaii I found myself on that trail jogging on a regular basis, which by June had become full scale “running.” I decided in June of 2014 to “go big or go home”. That meant one thing: I was going to run a marathon. Where better to try one: Goshen, NY of course. So I set my goal – don’t run a 5k (which is 3.1 miles I now knew), not a 10k, or a half marathon. Nope – it was GO BIG OR GO HOME. I was going to run the Hambletonian Marathon in Goshen that October.
Where else to start running than paradise. I had been walking since June and occasionally would take a few steps at a harder pace but in April of 2014 we went to Hawaii. 5,000 miles away from home I decided nobody could laugh too hard as I started to jog along the Ko Olina waterfront about 25 miles outside of Honolulu. There is a 4 mile or so waterfront part so I sent out of my hotel, put one foot in front of the other, and started running.
January 1, 2014. If you are doing the work yourself, success can come at a price. I found that out the hard way by spending all of my time at the office and none of the time on my family or myself. While on my November cruise, I made the choice to change careers. I went from a very successful career in the private practice of law to a more personally rewarding but less financially rewarding practice in a new position effective January 1, 2014. The change has definitely had its plusses and minuses, but here’s a big plus: I’m much more likely to (a) be alive when I’m 50; (b) not become diabetic; and (c ) not see my weight go up to 300 pounds, all of which were fairly likely on June 24, 2013. Changing up my law practice was a significant choice for me, but as a result, I have more time with my family, more time to exercise, and stand a much better chance of being alive for many more years. Had I not started to get in shape, I undoubtedly would have stayed the career path I was on, made more money, but been less healthy and less happy.
NOVEMBER, 2013: SO, can you lose weight on a cruise? The answer is OF COURSE YOU CAN! Cruises are great opportunities to see whatever it is you are near (islands, historic sights, scenic views, whatever). BUT they are also great opportunities to exercise. As I pushed toward the two-hundred mark in late November, 2013, I joined my family on a Thanksgiving cruise. My wife and kids, parents, and in-laws all went. I ate at every meal with the rest of them – you can’t starve yourself thin. However, I skipped THE BREADS and I skipped DESSERT and I skipped the Caesar dressing on the salad and opted for a fat free substitute. Now, skipping dessert was the hardest part with the easiest solution. When you finish your meal, go back to your room, change into some gym clothes, and go walk on the treadmill. Bam! Done.
To say that the period from July 13 to October 13, 2013 was easy and that the pounds magically dropped off would be a complete lie. The pounds did drop, but not one bit of it was easy. From ignoring my favorite foods at Disney to ignoring the desserts on a cruise, to walking from 1 to 3 miles a day, it was horrendously challenging. It paid off though on October 13. When you see yourself everyday, you notice some change but can’t quantify it other than on a scale. However, when I rambled into Middletown Medical for my 3 month “after exercise started” checkup, the nurse immediately noticed I was down some pounds. I stepped on the scale and it was said 213 lbs. Down a straight 50 lbs over a straight three months. Sitting waiting for the MD to come in (undoubtedly sending/answering emails while smiling that yes I was down 50 more LBS), I reflected on the start of the journey. I was still obese. Not just overweight. Obese. Still. I could drop 65+ lbs and still be “obese”. MD walked in and took a second look. Looked at chart. Turned to me and said the words that over 1.5 years later stick in my mind and gave me tremendous personal satisfaction: “DID YOU LOSE 50 LBS???!!!???!!”. Darn straight! Normally when a doctor would cry it would be because they had another unhealthy, unsalvageable patient. This one shed tears of joy. “I’m so happy for you. You have taken control of your life. Tell your wife you made me cry.” Those were great sentences but the middle one stuck with me – YES, I HAD TAKEN CONTROL OF MY LIFE. I was no longer dependent on letting bad foods drive my decisions. My movement no longer consisted of walking from my car to an office chair and back. Did I lose 50 more lbs? Darn straight. And you can too.
SEPTEMBER 29, 2013: I only allowed a handful of pictures to be taken of myself pre-weight loss. Dieting and Disney and exercising and dieting on a cruise were a challenge, but if you can lose weight there . . . you can do it anywhere. Returning home from Alaska in early September, 2013 I threw myself even harder into diet and exercise. I had not had a soda in nearly two months as of early September, 2013, and my morning bagels and croissants and afternoon chips and hershey bars and sodas and sandwiches had been replaced by Low Fat Greek Yogurt and Chicken Salads thanks to the fantastic advice from my nutritionist. A good friend of mine, also a doctor though, drove home the point – it wasn’t Diet or Exercise. It is DIET AND EXERCISE. So while my diet was great, everyday I fought to make time for the treadmill during September and October of 2013.
You have to make the time. You can’t skip it. It’s not optional to exercise if you want to lose a lot of weight – it’s mandatory.