About a year and a bit ago, my wife, who had grown quite disappointed in me, in many ways, saw me stuffing my face with some kind of junk food and decided she’d had enough. My wife’s a nurse, and, at the time, was doing some contract visiting nurse type stuff, so she had a bag ready to go with stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. I don’t know enough about blood pressure to tell you what those numbers were, but suffice to say she wanted to drive me to the hospital right away! I remember googling the number, and finding out how risky it was to have blood pressure numbers like those, and how I probably should be on serious medication.
A lot has happened since then. I started working out the next day (my wife drove me to the gym). I started a diet. I went to see a doctor for a physical (for the first time in about 15-20 years). To say I was nervous would be an understatement! Diagnosis? “Patrick, you’re doing fine.” In what seemed like a 30 second doctor’s appointment, I was out the door with a clean bill of health.
I want to say going into all of this I weighed somewhere between 260 and 270. Give or take. The only weight I clearly remember seeing on a scale was 262. I’m 5’9″ on a good day. I hadn’t worked out in a long time, seriously obese, with very little muscle. Maybe a year prior, my father had undergone bypass surgery. I know he’s been on meds for blood pressure, and he’s not the only family member in this situation. We all seem to have weight issues in my family.
I was completely dumbstruck that I was ‘fine’ according to the professional. But, I had made a little progress. Through some dieting and working out, I had lost around 15-20 pounds. Still stupidly obese, but enough improvement to make a difference. I had better energy and fit my clothes a little better. I started to see some shapes in my body other than my default round.
What happened next rolls into a ball full of bad excuses. I worked out through most of the summer, but gained a few pounds by refusing to miss out on summer picnics and vacations. Then Halloween came along, which was more difficult than I thought. Thanksgiving and Christmas were about as expected, but I also started to miss out on working out more often as ‘life’ got in the way.
I haven’t gotten into the 260+ range again yet, but I was definitely walking around more in the 255 range. Just an absurd number. I can’t believe I actually typed it.
Along with everyone else, I wanted to make a resolution for 2017 to lose the weight. And I went back to the gym, started dieting again, and it began to pay off. Still, I wasn’t as dedicated as I was the previous year. Maybe flirting with 250 from time to time, but never for very long.
This February, I caught a really bad stomach virus and couldn’t eat for a couple of days. I was able to break the 250 barrier and just started eating less in general. I got cranking in the gym again. So here I am in April at 240-ish. Not really fair because I lost at least 5-8 pounds just during sick days. But I’ve maintained that weight, hovering between around 243 and 248. Progress, but not enough…
Some More History of Fatness
As with millions of others, I’m fighting the battle of the bulge, and it hasn’t been easy for most of my life…
Well, that’s overstating it a little. We all know those beanpole kids who never put on a pound. You can either see their ribs, or they have those six packs as a ten year old. I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t them. I was probably closer to normal. I was even an athlete by some definitions. I played all of the sports, then maybe even a higher level of soccer than most. So while a lot of my friends were in the 150-160 range, I was closer to 175.
Maybe now’s a good time to mention that I’m an Italian-American. Growing up as a pasta lover probably kept me from being that really skinny boy. Who knows? More on that in future posts as well…
The College Weight
It wasn’t immediate for me, because playing high level college soccer is demanding, and I just didn’t have time that first semester to seriously put on the freshman 15. I was able to make up for it with excessive partying and eating during my first spring semester. And because I wasn’t very good at soccer, I didn’t play enough to make up for it. Not enough running and too much beer. I played in the 180-190 range.
The Testosterone Years
Early adulthood can be really deceptive because like many men I was in my athletic prime in my early 20s. I was lifting heavy weights, and diet wasn’t a big issue. I also discovered low carb and cyclic dieting to coincide with muscle building weight programs (which I’ll discuss again someday in the future). I was never ‘ripped’ but I was fit as ever, and living at home with the parents, finishing my degree, and trying to figure out my first job.
My first flirtation with 200 pounds came after living in the city for a couple of years in my mid 20s. I was pretty fit and still working out most of the time. But after a year or so of living in apartments with other knuckleheads, I finally found a partner in crime who excelled at overeating as much as I did. Pizza ordering became an art form, a dance of unique appetizer pairings. The first time I stepped on a scale and saw 200 pounds, I took a couple of days off eating altogether to get back on track.
The Dirty-Old-Man Weight
Unlike a lot of people, I was living the roommate lifestyle well into my 30s. Well past my prime, it was just too difficult to stay on top of my weight. More money in the pocket meant more plentiful feasts. Late night pizza turned into tables full of Chinese food at a decent spot, after gallons of good beer. The few-and-far-between dates were at better restaurants. And I remember stepping on the scale one time and seeing 225. I think I stopped eating again for a couple of days. I couldn’t very well be in my 30s and 225 while talking to far younger women at dive bars. And generally I wasn’t, but I lived in the 195-210 range, which was still way too high.
I’ve only had a couple of what most would consider serious relationships in my life, and they all contained some sort of comfort weight. It was never conscious. Like, I never thought, “Oh, I don’t need to work out anymore,” or, “Yeah, I have a hot girl on my arm so the contest is over…I’ve won! Time to let myself go!” I really think it’s more of a lifestyle thing. I couldn’t just take days off of food. If she wants to go out to eat, we go. Or we share popcorn at the movie theater. Boyfriend weight isn’t as bad if you’re long-term relationship is not as long-term as most people. You can bounce back pretty quickly, and are motivated to do so.
I was working on a Sunday about five years ago when my then-girlfriend-now-wife invited me over for dinner. It was braised short-ribs and mashed potatoes, and they were amazing! Marrying an amazing cook was a disaster, if you talk to my waistline.
I was on the high end of weight when I started hanging out full-time with my wife. I’d say around 210-215. Until last year, this was really the last time I knew what my weight was.
Worse than all of the above is the dreaded Dad weight. Dad weight is a thing for just about every dad. You can Google pictures of big, strong athletes with big guts following a couple years of Dad life. For me, it was moving from a home scarce of whatever I needed to keep out, to a home full of the stuff I can’t seem to stop eating. In our family it was not only family meals, but sugary drinks. Lemonade and coffee milk. Coca-Cola for days! But snacks…snacks all over. Cheez-its, Doritos, and cookies, especially Oreos. When Oreo Thins came out, the entire house sank a few feet into the ground. Mostly because of me, of course…
Besides the food, there is the complete lack of energy for working out. Living with kids is tiring. Having a newborn is completely exhausting. Driving kids around to activities is draining. Horsing around with kids in the yard can be backbreaking. And all of being a Dad takes time. Unfortunately, as hard as it all is, it’s NOT working out, it’s not burning enough calories. Combined Dad activities with Dad diet equals Dad weight.
Back to the Present
About a year ago, I weighed over 260 pounds. Since then, I’ve fluctuated, but 240 has been a plateau for me. I’m in much better shape than I was in my over 260 days, but I’m finding it way too easy to go back to 250 than I like (Easter Sunday is coming up!). At 240, it’s still difficult to find nice clothes that fit appropriately, I still don’t have the daily energy I need, and I’m sure my joints would appreciate a little relief: it’s simply not good enough.
I want to live long enough to see my children grow up and have children, to travel and have memorable experiences with my wife, and be healthy enough to enjoy it. My family genes are going to make all of that difficult.
I gotta lose 50 pounds.
(look, that’s the title of the blog!)
(I probably need to lose more than that…but let’s start there!)