My journey to Getting healthy

Beep beep beep beep. Beep beep beep beep.

I roll over and pick up my phone off of the hotel nightstand and turn off the alarm. I check the time. It’s 6:30 a.m. It’s early, but not too early. I’m not tired – I barely slept. Excitement will do that to you. Countless people have had this same excitement – it’s my wedding day.

I get up, along with the three others in the room, get dressed then head to a state park in Sonoma County California. When we arrive, we wait a few minutes for the other groomsmen and the wedding planner and get started. It’s a large park, and the area we’ve rented is a beautiful shaded area with a large field to one side and small boulders littered around behind the seating area. We start setting things up, making sure no trash has blown in overnight, putting table cloths down – then it starts raining.

I feel like I should be nervous, but there is nothing but excitement – and then I see the bride.

Rain on your wedding day is supposed to be good luck. But no one wants to see rain on their wedding day when they have an outdoor wedding. The forecast shows that the rain should stop soon. We change the tablecloths to plastic so they’re easier to wipe down later in the day and head back to the hotel for breakfast.

The wedding is at 1:00 p.m. and the forecast was correct – it’s a beautiful day.

We take photos, talk to guests, and at 12:55, we’re all standing in our places. Our officiant is my father-in-law. He’s standing at the end of the aisle waiting for his only daughter – his little girl – so he can walk her down the aisle.

I feel like I should be nervous, but there is nothing but excitement – and then I see the bride.

My wife, Jen, has five older brothers. When she arrived, each brother walks her from the vehicle one-fifth of the way to her dad. Her dad then walks her down the aisle, I walk down and take her hand. We’re both smiling, excited for the start of our journey together.

Her dad takes his spot as the officiant and then sings a short song he wrote called “Daddy’s Little Girl”, embarrassing her along the way. There is laughter, there is fun, she shoves cake in my face – I, of course, reciprocate – we give toasts, take more photos and the day is over.

I still remember his reaction when I said I topped 180 pounds.

Looking back at photos from this day, almost nine years ago, Jen almost always says two things: “We look so young.” and “you were so skinny.”

I was skinny. I am about 5′ 10″ (178 cm) and weighed a whopping 155 pounds (70 kg). In our first 6 years of marriage I went from: being active, playing basketball or biking; to stationary work sitting at a desk all day. It’s easy to make excuses, and I could give some: I was in a car accident, I didn’t have many opportunities to work out as much, etc, etc. But the reality is, I wasn’t trying to say healthy.

I always joked about how much weight I was gaining with a friend. We got married two months apart and were groomsmen in each other’s weddings. I still remember his reaction when I said I topped 180 pounds (~82kg).

But I wish it would have ended there.

In mid-2017, I started going to the gym with another friend. I knew I needed to lose weight. My doctor told me I needed to lose weight. I saw a picture from a baseball game and thought, “Man I’m getting fat.” I stepped on the scale, and I couldn’t believe it. 210 pounds (95 kg).

I’d never dieted before and honestly, I didn’t know what to do. So, predictably, I lost (maybe) five pounds over the next seven months.

I really didn’t believe, so I stepped on a different scale later. Same result. I not only needed to lose weight – I wanted to. From a medical standpoint, I had finally crossed the line from overweight to obese**. Friends and family said I could lose a few pounds, but I didn’t look that bad, “Don’t overreact”, etc. But the problem was, I couldn’t do a single pull up. My heart rate would hit 150 walking at a “brisk” pace on a treadmill. I couldn’t jog a mile downhill without stopping to take a break.

I’d never dieted before and honestly, I didn’t know what to do. So, predictably, I lost (maybe) five pounds over the next seven months.

Nick, a friend/co-worker/ping pong rival, mentioned that he does a diet each year for Lent. I’m not catholic, but I asked if he’d give me the details and I joined him on his diet. He was in much better shape than I and was prepping for a half-marathon as well.

However, it wasn’t just a diet. I started working out more often and got serious about being healthy. That one mile I couldn’t run in 2017 turned into running two miles in 17 minutes, and that one pull up I could not do turned into 10. Nothing to be impressed with, but a huge improvement.

The hardest part was probably friends and family. Hearing things like, “you’re wasting away”, or “you’re losing too much weight”, or “are you eating enough”, etc, are not actually encouraging when someone is trying to make a lifestyle change. I think that people want to be encouraging. People don’t want to make you feel bad. They don’t want to call you fat.

But I’ll be honest, I wish someone would have. I wish someone would have said something.

Yeah, my doctor told me I needed to lose weight, but doctors have to say that if you don’t fall within a certain BMI. So it’s not as impactful as a friend telling me. It’s not as impactful as realizing in a photo of myself how big I’d become.

If the concern was that I would develop an eating disorder, I understand. But please, if you cannot trust me not to diet myself into an eating disorder, at least trust my spouse to go to you for help if she thinks I am.

That was Lent 2018. This week marks the end of the third year of doing this diet. And the third year of a friend’s influence helping change my life for the better.

I’ve now lost more than 40 pounds (18kg). I’m not trying to get back to my wedding weight. But I am trying to be healthy, and trying to be a good example to my children.

The image at the top of this post shows a photo of me before my wedding beside one of me at 210 pounds. The photo below is the same 210 pound me beside the current me at 168 pounds (76 kg). The current photo was taken the same day as this post. I’m even wearing the same shirt to make the difference more obvious.

2 Comments on “My journey to Getting healthy

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