Lost 295 Pounds!
"If I had to pick the 2 words that I hate more than anything on this planet, those words would be 'morbidly obese.'"
I do technical support with a technology company. It`s pretty "geek intensive," but I`m proud to be a geek! I`ve been working there for 9 years, and I owe this company a lot, because when nobody else would hire someone who weighed 600 pounds, they gave me a job.
Yes, my weight was 646 pounds. I was a fat baby, and I was a fat child, and I was a fat teen, and I`m a fat adult! I`m a twin, and my mom likes to tell the story that when we were babies, my brother and I shared a crib, and I would finish my bottle and take his! My brother has been normal sized all his life.
I was a chubby kid, but I was never big to the point that it impeded my activity. I rode bikes. I could run. I was active enough that my weight never got out of control, but I was always the tallest kid, and I was always the heaviest kid. I was told when I was in school that I wouldn`t live to be 30.
By high school, I was in a size 44 pants. I remember that one day, I had taken my gym shorts into class with me, and for some reason, I had to leave the class for a few minutes. When I came back, there were two kids in my pants at the same time.
After high school, I was accepted to college, but I couldn`t afford it. Times were really tough then. I was out of high school 3 years before I could find work. I finally got a job at a convenience store, which was nice, except that it was pretty much constant access to anything I wanted to eat! Eventually I got a job doing manual labor in the warehouse for a department store. I was 475 pounds then.
It was there that I met Cathy! I wasn`t dating at the time. I had recently had an unpleasant experience with the first girl I had dated, and I had dated her for a long time. I got my feelings hurt, and I was through! When I met Cathy, I was on a self-imposed sabbatical from anything having anything to do with females, but Cathy was just goofy enough to draw me out of my shell, and we became good friends. I had invited a group of friends to my house for a barbecue, and all the other people were married couples, so I invited Cathy to just even it out. The day after the barbecue, I popped my head into her office and said, "Mom likes you. We can get married now!" Of course, I was just teasing, but shortly after that, I was co-hosting a luau with our group of friends from work. Cathy and I hung out together, and that was basically our first date! A week later, I called her up and asked her if she wanted to go to a movie, and it was pretty much history from there. It was just one of those storybook things! We got married in November of 1989.
The only bad thing was that I had to quit my job, because they had a nepotism rule at our company. Cathy was making more money than I was, so my being the one to quit was an easy decision. I got a new job working at a warehouse for a magazine distributor. There was a lot of tossing heavy stacks of magazines, and I messed my shoulder up. That kept happening, and eventually I got fired. My weight was at about 500 then.
I went to school to become an electronics technician, but at that time, it didn`t involve computers, even though computers were really starting to take off then! From late `91 or early `92, I was home. I ate; I watched TV, looked for a job, didn`t find one, and I got bigger. My weight went crazy. My health was going downhill, but I wasn`t seeing any physicians.
In 1996, I got my first job with my present company. I started off doing customer service in various forms for about 3 years. I got some leadership opportunities to be a backup supervisor, but during this whole time, I was teaching computers. That was one of my passions, and it still is!
In 1997, I completely lost my voice. I couldn`t talk, and since my customer service job was on the phone, that didn`t work very well. I went to the doctor, and he found that I had acid reflux that had basically eaten away at my voice box. The ear, nose, and throat doctor also noticed that my one leg was swollen. I had edema. He put me in the hospital for a sleep study, and we discovered that I had sleep apnea pretty bad, and from that time on, I had to use a C-Pap machine.
One night in about 1999 - I was working third shift at the time - I was thirsty, and I couldn`t get enough to drink, but my drink of choice was a 20-oz. coke out of the soda machine. I went through 4 or 5 20-oz. cokes that night. I felt terrible when I got home that morning. I told Cathy, "I don`t feel good." My belly was burning on the outside, and from just below my navel to my chest, I was bright red. I was admitted to the hospital, and the physician came in and looked at me and said, "How long have you been diabetic?" It turned out that my blood sugar was well up over 400, and the redness was cellulitis, an infection under the skin. I also had a problem with a heart valve, and that was because I had an enlarged heart from the weight. I was in the hospital for about 5 days.
When I was first diagnosed, I was "Joe Gung Ho"! I went to diabetes classes, and I was so strict, I was even counting potato chips! I think that might have lasted about 2 months, and then I went back to my lifetime friend, SUGAR! I started off on one pill for the diabetes, and my sugar stayed high, and then I took a second pill. I had the kind of doctor that every man likes - the doctor that only wants you to come in once, and then you call and say, "I need a refill." I wasn`t taking regular tests to see how my blood sugar was doing.
Through all of this, I`ve always been very blessed in that even when I was over 600 pounds, I was never really housebound. I had trouble fitting in places, and I got tired, but as far as getting up and moving around, I was always able to be mobile.
In 2000, I went to Nova Scotia, and I went with a lot of people I had never met. I had "talked" to many of them online, but we were all getting together for the first time in Nova Scotia. We did some sightseeing, but while everybody else was climbing and walking, I was sping at every bench. Even with that, it didn`t click.
Somewhere along the line, I had ordered Richard`s Broadway kit from QVC. It sat there in my home for about a year, but the tapes and FoodMover were never opened up.
Then on March 18, 2001, my turning point came. At work, I had a female supervisor who had to take me off the floor and give me the hygiene discussion. I went home, and I was devastated!
I told Cathy that I needed to be alone for a little while. I went in our bedroom, and even though the space between the end of our bed and our TV is only about 4 feet, I put in the "Broadway Blast Off" tape. I turned the volume down low and did 10 minutes of it, and I was ready to die! The next day, I did 15 minutes, and I wasn`t quite ready to die. After about a week, I was able to do the whole thing! I probably wasn`t following the guidelines for the different levels, because when I was done, I was ready to keel over, but I had finished it, and I was amazed!
After that, I started to pick up the FoodMover and look at the different things on it. I read it and looked at the different portions, and I started using it. For about a year-and-a-half, I used the FoodMover and exercised every day, and I got down to 467! I got to meet Richard in Atlantic City during that time. One of the highlights of my life thus far is his calling me up onstage to exercise with him! I have video of that.
Then I sped. I don`t know why, but I guess I was just not ready. I think it was the numbers. Four hundred sixty-seven was right around where I was when I first met Cathy. Maybe that number just sort of subconsciously freaked me out, but from June of 2002 until January of 2004, I was off program, and I got back up to 502 pounds. It`s funny, but once you start using the FoodMover and becoming aware of what you`re doing, you may go off the program, but while you`re off, you never s thinking about it. You can never eat the same way again. Richard takes all the fun out of cheating!
In December 2003, I got my dream job doing technical support! A new project came into our office, and even though I didn`t have the paper saying that I knew what I was doing, the manager on the project had seen my work. She knew that I was always able to help people when they had problems with their computers, and she said, "I`m going to give this guy a chance!" But to actually do the job, I had to go to Boston for training, and I had to get on a plane. I`d never been on a plane in my life! It was really embarrassing to have to ask for a seatbelt extension.
Out of the first 6 months in my new position, I probably spent 3 of them in Boston. The training site provided breakfast for all of us, but what they provided was a huge array of pastries! During this time, I started working with the 12 steps, and in doing that and being honest with myself, I had to write an eating history. I had to honestly assess it, and when I did, I realized that sugar was not my friend.
March 16, 2004 was the last time I ate anything that listed sugar as the third or higher ingredient! The first couple of months were a little hard, but once I got over the withdrawal, it was okay. Sugar to me right now is like a hot flame! It`s like poison to me. My body doesn`t handle it well. The amazing thing to me to this day is that I really don`t miss it! My wife has a leg injury right now, and I can go in the kitchen and get a bowl of ice cream for her and not even lick the spoon!
For me, a lot of it is just realizing that if I`m honest with myself and look at my experience with certain foods, I can`t have them. There`s no such thing as a cookie to me; there`s a box of cookies! I see people who can buy a candy bar, and it lasts them all day. I think those people are sick! ;-)
In November of 2004, I also cut wheat out of my plan. One day, I sat down with the toaster and a loaf of bread and wiped out the whole loaf of bread, so I had to face the fact that wheat is not my friend, either. I do eat carbohydrates, just not wheat. Before, I couldn`t conceive of not having wheat. My old line was, "If I`m going to have starch, I`m going to have bread!" Since I sped eating wheat, I`ve been amazed at the things I`ve found or rediscovered. Now I eat sweet potatoes 3 or 4 times a week. I have corn. I was shocked to learn that I really love oatmeal, and that`s become my daily breakfast. I eat it the simplest way, with a little Splenda and cinnamon.
I`ve now lost 295 pounds! Even as recently as 3 or 4 months ago, it bothered me when people noticed it. I wouldn`t have even talked about it then, but I`ve come to the realization that I`ve lost 22 inches off my waist, and I`ve gone from a 6X to a 2X. People are going to notice!
I want to tell you about the changes in my health! In July of 2004, I took my last diabetes test. Just from cutting the sugar out of my diet, my fasting blood sugar was in the low normal range, and another test that measures your average blood sugar for about 3 months came in at a normal range! Six is considered normal, and my last one came in at 4.6, so I was able to go off the medication! Also, in February of this year, I wore my C-Pap for the last time! I no longer need that, either!
At the end of February, I had to go to Boston again. I still needed the seat belt extension, but I only used an inch-and-a-half of it, so the next time I go, I won`t need it! I have to add that the first year I got married, I got a truck. I love my truck, but after the year 2000, I couldn`t fit behind the wheel. One of the happiest days for me was when I could get in my truck and I could drive it again! I even have to scoot the seat up. I can also fit into my wife`s little, tiny Hyundai. We went somewhere in it the other night, and my mother was along, and I was able to move my seat forward so my mother could have more room!
One of the biggest incentives I have is what I call "mini miracles." These are the little things that "normal" people take for granted, but we heavyweights know they are a real chore. When I am able to do one of these things, like fitting into a movie seat comfortably, I know I`ve experienced a "mini miracle"! If you`re open to seeing and feeling them, it`s those little things that keep you going! I stay on the lookout for them, because if I don`t see them or I take them for granted, I`ll be back to 600 pounds.
It used to be that when I would go to the grocery store or any store and a little kid would say, "Mommy, that man is fat," I wouldn`t get what I had gone for, because I would just leave. A few weeks ago, I heard a little boy say, "Mommy, that man`s fat!" My back was to him, but if he could have seen my face, he wouldn`t have understood my expression, because all I could do was grin and say in my head, "Kid, if you only knew!"
I do have a goal. It`s not a firm weight goal, because I don`t even know what the numbers would be, but when I go to a chart somewhere and plug in my height and my weight, I don`t want the words "morbidly obese" to come up. That`s my goal! If I had to pick the 2 words that I hate more than anything on this planet, those words would be "morbidly obese."
After being on program pretty strictly for over a year, I can say that this is now a way of life for me. I intend to keep living this way! I`m just really grateful for the food plan and the release from sugar.
For those of you who are also working a weight loss program, here are some pointers that help keep me on track. First of all, keep moving, and look for miracles! Secondly, I always write down what I`m going to eat the next day. If I`m going to be eating out and I don`t know what I`m going to have, I commit to the "elements," like "4 ounces of protein," "2 servings of starch," etc. Planning is important to me. I believe if you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Finally, if you make your food plan and you have a hard time following it, find somebody that you can commit your food to. Find a food buddy you trust and say, "Hey, can I tell you what I`m going to eat tomorrow, and if something happens and I don`t do it, can I call you and tell you?" You have to be honest, and if you can`t be honest with other people, you can`t be honest with yourself.
All of us in the Clubhouse have been there. Whenever somebody in the Clubhouse says something, I think, "Wow! I know exactly what you mean!" The people who can eat just one cookie, they don`t understand it. They think, "Well, you just need to not eat so much!" But if you`ve got somebody that has walked in your shoes before you have, somebody you can talk to... well, that`s the beauty of the Clubhouse!
I`m grateful that there is somebody like Richard out there! There`s no denying that Richard is a business man. He has to be, but you can`t fake the emotion, and when Richard is with people, whether he`s on TV or in person or on the phone, you know that he really and truly cares. Look at the people in Richard`s videos! They`re not all fashion models, and he`s encouraging them and getting the best out of them.
You can have a family that you`re living with day to day that really loves you, but you might have isolated yourself from them and built a wall around you, and you don`t see it. When you see Richard and hear him talk, you know he really cares, and when you weigh 600 pounds, just knowing that somebody cares means a lot!
There`s an old saying that goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." When this student was ready, Richard appeared, and I`m just extremely grateful!
GREG`S 3 TIPS FOR SUCCESS!
1. Keep moving, and look for miracles!
2. Plan! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
3. If you have trouble staying with your plan, find a food buddy to commit your food to.