Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I am a recovering Fat Guy.

Again, it has been far too long since my last posting. Life has been extremely busy as it always seems to be. While I have started several different columns during the nine weeks or so since my New Year’s Eve column, none of them really got off the ground as I hope this one does. Life in our home has changed dramatically since I last wrote. While I had planned to re-dedicate myself to a routine of diet and exercise after the New Year, I did not plan to have quite so much fun and become a part of a really cool community of people who were dedicated to the same goal as I: getting healthy and staying healthy. The group is a bit of a secret, so I won’t divulge much here except to say that while we are all over the world, we all have connections to the great state of New Jersey, and we are using the internet as a way to encourage and support one another, and occasionally share recipes. And the support of that group has made all the difference to me this time. While I have had periods of healthy living before in my life, times when I’ve cut weight and gotten myself back into shape; they inevitably came to an end. Once it was due to spinal surgery. Other times it was due to plummeting off the horse at Oktoberfest and never climbing back on. There were moves and a few bouts with IBS that threw me off track too. Early last year, I was doing well until a brief stress-related hospitalization led me to give up, and the subsequent “ballooning” was horrendous. But I always had the power to choose to get back on track. Sometimes I did. When I weighed in nine weeks ago today, I was the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life. I was eating and drinking everything possible, whether or not I was hungry or thirsty. One of the worst habits I got into was, I would feed the kids their meals, and whatever they didn’t eat, I would eat rather than wrap it up for later or toss it. I was becoming a food hoarder. None of my clothes fit. I couldn’t sleep and I was sweating through my pillow at night. I was snoring and congested. I had high blood pressure and was given medication for it. I was overwhelmingly stressed and given medication for that too. I felt and looked like absolute garbage. Period. There is no other way to state it. Most of the people in my life were too polite to say anything or they had never known me to be anything but an overweight person. We’ve not been here two years yet and I was not in the best shape of my life when we moved here after a month in the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. As readers of this space will know, this has been a difficult year in our home. With our journey through the IEP process and learning about Asperger’s, it has been a very tumultuous time, though I am pleased to report that we are really beginning to see some progress, though it remains a constant influence on our lives. (We did get the IEP though. Check out this column from last year if you’re curious about that journey: http://alohakugs.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-cant-do-it-all-why-im-no-longer.html ) My extended family is facing some serious health matters as well. Our life, much like yours I imagine, had stress. And in the end, I was handling it very, very badly. I had us go out to eat more, and was cooking a lot more meals that were just unbalanced. Too much beef and pizza and beer and rum on Aloha Fridays, and huge vats of Diet Coke and tankards of Starbucks, and it was all just too much. It was never a question of “am I hungry?” It was simply a matter of “Yeah, I could eat.” And eat I did. And exercise I didn’t. I said, “I don’t have the time.” Or, I would put a deadline on myself. “After Oktoberfest, I’ll get going.” That then became, “Ok, after the HHS reunion I will get going.” And then it became, “Well, Thanksgiving is right there….and then Christmas…and there’s that dinner party in October” and the next thing you know, I’m fat again. I stopped making excuses, as I just stopped caring. I didn’t want my picture taken. I didn’t have a suit that fit anymore. If I had been invited to a wedding or had a funeral to attend, I would have had to get a new suit to accommodate how fat I was. My friends all bought Lederhosen from Europe to wear to our annual Oktoberfest, and mine won’t fit. Even that ridicule didn’t faze me this time, deserved as it was. Around Christmas I began to look at myself in the mirror and it was just appalling. I decided that the New Year would be the new start-and it would have been. But I don’t know if I would be where I am now; almost 50 pounds lighter, at least 4 inches smaller at the waist, and heading into my first 5k race this Sunday, without the support of my wife and kids, and of this secret group of friends. I’ve completed nine weeks of the “Insanity Workout” program (I highly recommend it: http://www.beachbody.com/product/fitness_programs/insanity.do ) and I’m starting the program over again. I hope to do another 5k next month. I’m eating a much healthier diet, based on Dr. Ian Smith’s Fat Smash program. It’s working, and I have more to lose, but I feel better, I look better, I’m sleeping better, I think I’m better to my family, and I’m getting a lot more done in my life. But, will I be able to maintain it? That’s always been the question. At some point, I expect to be at a healthy weight I can live at. Then what do I do? I plan to see a nutritionist and get some help with planning an appropriate diet for the rest of my life. I also plan to keep running and working out, either with more Insanity, or something similar, as I have learned through this that I need a coach-I need someone telling me how fast to go or what interval to keep. When I used to go to the gym and frack around on the elliptical, I would not push myself. I need to be directed, as it’s not in my nature to push myself athletically. That’s why the best years I had as a student athlete were those where I worked with a coach that wouldn’t put up with my nonsense. The tougher the coaches were on me, the better I did-always. So, now I know that about myself. I’ve found myself wanting to work out when I feel stress, which is a much healthier coping mechanism than treating myself at Starbucks or downing a whole bag of pretzels with cheese melted on top, at least for me. I will have to maintain a high level of exercise, likely 6-7 days a week in some way, or, I know I will I start to slack off, and the cycle begins again. So, please help me stay on that. More on your role later. I’m also not embarrassed to report that I see a therapist. Not every week, but regularly and as needed. She’s very good, and she also sees through my nonsense. It’s helpful, and I highly recommend it to everyone. A $20 copay to yap about yourself for an hour? I can dig that. I plan to donate all of my fat clothes, soon. Then I get to hit the thrift stores for some new stuff that fits. I’ve got to get the things out that will allow me to not notice when I’ve put on a few. I realize now that I have to be strict with myself, as it’s not really going to be a lasting lifestyle change if it’s easily put aside. I’m not getting any younger and I’ve learned recently that while none of us truly know the number of our days, there are certainly good and healthy choices that can help us live those days in a healthy and positive way. I’ve been thinking on that point a lot lately. So, that brings me to your role. It’s an important one, so I hope you’re up for it. You, my friend, be you a perfect stranger, a casual reader or a real-life friend, have permission to ridicule me and lambast me if I get fat again. Make it hurt-go for the jugular. Ask me if I’m smuggling tires under that fleece that I wore last August because even though it’s hot it hides the gut a bit. You have carte-blanche permission to call me “Fatty McFatterson” or “Hefty TonsoFun” if you want, or even to inquire if I’m going out for the Northern Virginia Sumo Team. If that’s simply not in your character to do, I admire that. Perhaps, if you’re willing you could be more subtle. Here are a few suggestions if you’re not comfortable calling me “Blimper MacCorpulaent:” “Hey, Aloha Kugs: are you still running?” Or perhaps “How’s that Insanity workout going? Is Shaun T. still kicking your butt?” If you’re really intrepid though, feel free to simply say, “Trying out some new desert recipes in that crock pot there, Kugs?” I mean it-you have your orders. But my hope is to never have to put you in that position again. My name is Aloha Kugs I am a recovering fat guy. It has been nine weeks since I started this journey. I mean for it to last my whole life, so if you can help me with that along the way, you have my thanks. To my family and to my “Group of Losers” I thank you more than you know. That’s enough for now. I’ve got to go steam my brown rice and broccoli. With hot sauce. I like it. Until next time, Aloha.