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Monday, September 14, 2009

Your Ass or Your Life

It was January 2008 and I was sitting in my doctor's office.  He was looking at my test results and he didn't look happy.  "Ok, your fizywangle is a little high and your good jomba juice is too low.  Additionally, your flux capacitor is a little jiggly and it may be a sign of corrosive degenerative decompression."  I blinked.  "What the hell does that mean...  In English, please."

"It means, that you've got hight cholesterol and that you are on the brink of having diabetes."

I was floored.  At that point, that statement meant to me that my life as I knew it was over.  I'd spend the rest of my life taking drugs, getting shots, becoming more and more decrepit by the day.  I was dying.  My children were too young to lose their father.  Oh, my poor bride, what will she do without me.  I was on the brink of completely loosing it when I asked, "Is there anything I can do to stop it?"

"Lose weight and exercise." He scowled from saying that same statement to too many of his patients.  "But in the meantime, I want you to start taking some medicine."  And he gave me a prescription for several drugs.  I took his slip of paper and it burned my fingers.  I could almost see the demon there, inviting me to "go on and take the first one, it's free and you won't have to diet and exercise."  As I walked out of his office, I understood my Dr's skepticism as the majority of the patients in the waiting room were overweight middle aged men.  I crumpled that evil piece of paper and threw it into the outside smoking bin.

"NO".  I vowed.  I would not become just another statistic.  I would not become a slave to Lipitor or Vytorin.  I would NOT take the easy way out.

It wouldn't be easy.  True the last few years had been rough on me.  About 2 years prior, the company I worked for purchased another company in New York.  I was key to getting the offices integrated and I literally was on the road 3 out of 5 days each and every week.  When traveling, it is extremely hard to get into any sort of routine and I failed to exercise properly during that time.  Also, when on the road, eating healthy is next to impossible.  Also, being away from my family so often increased my stress and while on the road I often imbibed more than I really should.  All of these were simply excuses and I knew that at that moment.  Regardless, all of that was a primary factor in what led to my then current state.  I was 243 pounds, a solid 58 pounds overweight (at least according to the BMI calculators) and I was badly out of shape.

Who was I kidding.  This was an impossible task.  Sixty pounds?  My ass or my life.  Make my choice.

My Doctor wanted me to return in 6 months so that he could evaluate my progress with the drugs and see if we needed to adjust.  I went back as expected and did the standard drug tests.  Two days later the phone call came from the nurse.  "The doctor wants to increase your cholesterol medicine as it's not making as large of a change as he would expect.  And it looks like the diabetes medicine is working perfect so he'll want to renew that medicine for another 6 months."  I drew a sharp breath and responded, "Hold on a second.  Why does he want to increase my dose and renew the other medicine.  I never took them in the first place."  She paused.  "Then how did you get the results that you did."  When I explained to her that I had indeed followed through with my vow and started loosing weight, she immediately scheduled time for me to see the Dr. the next day.

When I explained what I had done to the doctor, he gave me a look that was both awe and pride.  I guess he doesn't often see people actually refusing the crutch.  At that point I was down 20 pounds and the diabetes threat had gone away.  I was still low on the good cholesterol, but the bad was gone.  He congratulated me on a great first step, but warned that I still needed to drop more weight.

On this past Friday, I looked down on the scale to see "193".  Fifty pounds.  Gone.  My life was mine again.  Honestly, I have to say that I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.  I exercise daily and watch what I eat.  More importantly to me, I'm playing adult league flag football.  I'm easily the second oldest in the league, yet during our last game I was MVP and came in second for player of the week.  That's twice that has occurred since I've been playing (second season).  My body reminds me that it isn't 18 anymore and it takes me a little longer to recuperate after games.  But the point is that gave up my Ass and I saved my life.  Right now, everything is so different than it was even a year ago.  I enjoy rough housing with my children, I can out pace and outlast them on hikes, and only all three of them together can defeat the "pool monster".  I have more energy than I've had in years (much to the chagrin of my wife) and I'm finding that other things that used to be barriers to my life are no longer the big issues that I face.  My wife is going through a similar transformation now ( and she is both proud of me, and hates me at the same time.  Make no mistake, this transformation wasn't easy, but the results are well worth it.

I've still got 10 pounds to go before I'm completely comfortable.  At least now when I go to the Dr's office, I don't feel dread.  There is nothing stopping anyone from doing this, just a will and some time.  At a later date, I'll document what I did to get here as it certainly wasn't traditional.  Until then, just know that you too have a choice, "Your ass or your life."


  1. Congrats. I was in a similar situation some years ago. Prescription meds for the cholesterol didn't really help because I was still eating like a pig. It finally took a serious leg injury to wake me up. I've been cycling regularly for over a year now. I'm not sure how much weight I've lost but I'm down two pant sizes. I plan on going back for another checkup. No doubt I'll have to get something else fixed, but that is a story for another time...

  2. That is awesome to hear. Keep up the good work.