Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Last night's Weight? 278

I did my weigh in at the Human Performance Center last night after my workout, and was presently surprised. I haven't used the elliptical trainer since last Monday, because Tuesday I was diagnosed with a muscle tear in my right thigh. So I've only been doing a leisurely 5 miles on the exercise bike, 2 miles on the treadmill, and a few laps in the pool. It's enough to get the metabolism going, but not enough to strain the leg injury. A 32 minute workout on the elliptical breaks me into a full sweat, but it also works that thigh muscle pretty hard. The Doctor who treated me suggested I do a better job of stretching before I work out, and the staff at the gym were very helpful in showing me some easy ones to do before I hit the equipment.

Today's topic is my bad eating habits. How did I get them, and what I am doing about it.

I've always been a bigger guy, athletically active, but I am broad in the chest and back, and fairly muscular. I dropped a bit of weight when I joined the Army back in the early 1980's, but the trade off was a method of eating that was detrimental in the long run. In basic training, you are processed through your meals, and given 5 minutes or less to eat. That's how I ate all my meals, as fast as I could. Now when you get up at 5:30 AM everyday and do calisthenics and run several miles, your metabolism adjusts and keeping your weight down, isn't a problem. But after I was discharged, and a civilian, I started adding 10 or 15 pounds a week each year. The gain is just gradual enough that you don't take note of it until the cumulative effects start to show on your joints and in your overall health, with high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and joint pain becoming the driving forces in my daily life in the early 2000s.

Once I got married, in 1996, and the pace of my life picked up, I ate more and more prepared food, but my weight wasn't bad, because I had a physical job, and I played sports at night. Then I hurt my back in early 1998, and as the pain gradually increased, I stopped Bowling, playing basketball, and even taking walks. And the weight piled on. Even if I watched what I ate, the diminished physical activity had my metabolism in a permanent lull, and short of starving myself, I couldn't lose weight permanently. All losses were short term.

Having the joint of my degenerating right hip replaced helped, but my metabolism was like a computer that needed to be shut off and rebooted to function correctly, and that is what the gastric bypass operation seems to have accomplished. That's enough for now, I'll have another entry next week,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How I got here

My weight was slowly killing me. I probably wouldn't have lived to see 60 years of age. I couldn't do anything i enjoyed without great physical pain. 350 pounds is a lot to carry on a 5" 10" frame. I've been bigger, but in the last couple of years, I'd managed to keep it under 350, and in the 330's for the most part.
In 2006, I had a complete right hip replacement. I had to use a CPap (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) to keep breathing when I slept, and I was borderline type II diabetic. Throw in the medication for high Blood Pressure, and I was a bomb waiting to drop dead.

I tried every diet imaginable, and no matter how disciplined, or how much effort I put into that and the accompanying exercise program, I saw little progress. In November 2006, I joined a gym, set a program, and after 6 months of dutifully sticking to the training, had a net gain of 4 pounds. It was brutally discouraging. So in May 2007, I asked my doctor for other options, and he pointed me to the Weight Management Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital. It was a 6 month program to educate and prepare people like myself for potential weight loss surgery. Not everyone who enters the program eventually has surgery. There are a lot of criteria to be met, and mandatory counseling and educational sessions to attend. You also have to have a BMI (Body mass Index) of more than 40, and be considered morbidly obese. They use a special scale to weigh you, and the first time I weighed in, I weighed 334, with a BMI of 48. Approximately 180 lbs of me was muscle and bone, the rest was fat.
In future posts, I will detail the process I went through including my own evaluation of my poor eating habits, and why I ate the way I did.

I had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass on Wednesday January 9th, and was discharged from the hospital the next day. I weighed myself at the gym on Tuesday night before my surgery, and the scale read 332. As of today, Wednesday February 20th, 6 weeks later, I weigh 280.
That is 1 pound a day. The change in my waistline has been drastic. I'm wearing pants that I had packed up 5 years ago and stored away. My knees and hips feel better, and don't throb achingly after working out at the gym.
My blood sugar has dropped from the mid 200s to 107. I'm sleeping better at night, and yesterday my Blood pressure was 112 over 70. I am taking NO medications for anything.

My goal is 210 pounds, and I know if I continue to dedicate myself to the lifestyle change that I have started, I will be successful. I was looking at an 18 month timeline after the surgery, and am confident I can do it. My wife is ecstatic, because the happy, active, fun guy she married has returned. All my 3XXXL shirts from Casual Male are excessively baggy, and I am switching over to 2XXL. I have started wearing pants with a 42 inch waist, I packed all the baggy 46-48 inch size up for Goodwill.

To anyone considering weight loss surgery, I have to say that it is not a cure all. The most important part of the process is a willingness to change your habits. Having my stomach reduced in size from a football to that of a large Egg limits my intake for me. In the process of exploring gastric bypass surgery, I searched out and talked to people for whom it has not been quite as successful. One thing they all had in common was an inability to change their eating habits. A diet of ice cream and candy will not let you lose weight. Most of them tried to keep eating as they had before. It just won't work. They also didn't apply themselves to any kind of physical activity. You don't have to be as active as I am, all you have to do is get out and walk each and every day, but they don't, instead choosing to maintain a sedentary lifestyle.

This is a good first entry, to get things started. Every Tuesday night I will weigh myself at the gym, and on Wednesday do a post. Next week I will write about weight loss support groups, and what I learned from the dietician.