Friday, June 29, 2012

Choices

Today I was having lunch in a mall food court.  Not my normal eating place, but I needed somewhere I could go with my grocery store food to sit down and eat and that fit the bill.

While I was eating my grilled chicken, hard-boiled egg and honeydew melon, I looked over and there it was:



The Dairy Queen ice cream cone. 

Right across from where I was sitting was a Dairy Queen.  And let me tell you: I wanted that ice cream cone. 

For just a second. 

Then I remembered: I have been fortunate enough to lose 311 pounds in the last 2 years not eating ice cream cones.  And I thought about that line of thinking. 

It all comes down to choices. 

Either I want the ice cream cone (or, in my case, 10 ice cream cones at once,) or I want my mobility, my health, the ability to run, to not drop dead from a blood clot and to not have diabetes. 

All day, every day, we all make choices.  Day in and day out, we decide to do things.  All these little choices add up to big ones and so we wind up where we are because of what we decided to do. 

It all comes down to that: the choice.  Make the choice.  I reached for a sugar-free Jello pudding instead.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guest Post by John Mulry: How To Find Your Motivation

I've recently made a new friend thanks to the Internet:  John Mulry, a very interesting guy who owns a personal training business in Galway, Ireland. He has written the following piece and I think he has a lot of practical advice.  How do we find the motivation to lose weight and get healthier?  Read on. 























Why?

First off I’d like to thank Bryan for inviting me to write this post for you today.  For anyone that has met him or seen his story you know how remarkable he is.  I came across his story on YouTube and was literally blown away.  His passion, commitment and desire to change is inspiring to say the least and we can all learn a thing or two from him.  Thanks again Bryan for sharing your journey with all of us.

Bryan asked me to outline what someone can do when starting out on their journey to fitness success.  Let’s face it:  it’s quite a daunting task no matter how we look at it, isn’t it?  There’s so much noise, deception and flat out nonsense out there that hinders rather than helps us in our pursuit for success.  Today I’m going to focus on what I always recommend as the starting point for my clients and consultations.

Truth is, it doesn’t begin in the gym with exercise or even in the kitchen.  Obviously these components are vital and you’ll need these along the way, but before you tackle all that you have to know why.

You have to uncover that deep internal reason why you’re doing something.  This is much more than saying "I want to lose weight or I want to build muscle."  Regardless of your goal, you need to uncover your true reason why.

Bryan’s own transformation (and I hope he can verify this) came about right when he was at his lowest point in his life.  He found his why: he wanted to live.  He realised (correct me if I’m wrong here Bryan) that he had so much more to give in life than be controlled by food and be controlled by his weight – he found his why. (He's right. -Bryan)

Now your reason why doesn’t have to come when you're at your lowest – that’s the beauty of it – it can come at anytime and only you can determine when it comes.  Sure I can help you determine what it is, but it must come from you.

Your reason why is going to be way more than just wanting to get in shape.  Your reason why might be:
  • You want to be healthy enough to walk your daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
  • You want to be fit and healthy enough to play sports with your kids and enjoy life.
  • Your why could be that you want to feel a new vigour and lease of life to build self-confidence to do the things you’ve never done.
  • It could be that your why is you want to look amazing on your graduation day.

Whatever your why is – once you know what it is – that’s when you can start working towards it. And most importantly at a pace that suits you and you alone.  Sure, you might need a push every now and again.  But don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s but your own.  You only ever have to compete with yourself from yesterday.  Self-improvement is the name of the game.

So how do you determine your reason why? With my clients I like to use some reflection questioning techniques. Questions you might ask are:

What are you looking to achieve?
Why do you want to achieve ___________?
What is it about _________ that is important to you?
If you __________how will your life change? What will be different? How will it impact you?
What is it about not ______________ that frightens you?
Who can you enlist to support you in achieving ___________?

For example: I’ll start off with a generic example stating “I want to lose weight”

Q. What are you looking to achieve?

A. I want to lose weight

Q. Why do you want to lose weight?

A. Well I know that I’m heavier than I should be and like to change

Q. What is it about changing that is important to you?

A. Well I’m getting to the age my father was when he died and I’d like to live a lot longer.

Q. If you lose the weight how will your life change – what will be different? How will it impact you?

A. It’ll mean that I’ll get healthier but also mean I’ll be able to watch my kids grow up and not worry if I’ll be around to see them flourish.

Q. What is it about not losing weight that frightens you?

A. The thought of not seeing my kids grow up is frightening and I don’t want to end up the way my Dad did.

Q. Who can you enlist to support you in your pursuit?

A. If I share my goals with my friends and family I believe they will support me 100%.

You see now it’s much more than just wanting to lose weight.  There’s an internal reason why.  The fire is lit and with the right guidance that person becomes unstoppable in their quest.  There will be ups and downs along the way; success is by no means linear.  But when you determine your “why”- your true reason why - you’re ensuring you're taking the path with least resistance and the path paved to success.

Bio:

John Mulry is a Life Transformation Specialist, Writer, Speaker and the owner of Expect Success Fitness Galway Personal Training. Originally from Galway, John has combined his two passions in life – helping others and fitness to start Expect Success Fitness.

John has it made it his mission to ensure that the people of Galway, who are suffering needlessly with their weight loss goals, fears and frustrations, are provided with a platform where they can transform their own lives for the better while also inspiring others in the process.

With a core philosophy built around “Success Oriented Training” & his three pillars of success - training, nutrition and mindset – you won’t just dream about success – you’ll expect it. 
“In Life – you don’t always get what you want, but – you ALWAYS get what you EXPECT” - John Mulry

http://www.expectsuccessfitness.com

mulryjohn@expectsuccessfitness.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Lifestyle Change!



I can't believe it.  It's been 2 years since I began this long and winding journey back to health.  I've written several new blog posts looking back to that fateful day 2 years ago, June 20, 2010, when I collapsed behind an office building and almost lost my life.

Read on, my friends.  And as always, feel free to e-mail me with your thoughts.

Celebrating The Two Year Mark



It was June 20, 2010 that I went to the emergency room, my lungs filled with blood clots and with not much time left.  Fortunately, I survived.

Click to enlarge


















I can't believe it's been 2 years.   I still remember it all like it was yesterday.

I remember that exact hospital bed in that exact room. Room 738.  I was lucky enough to have a private room.  A solid week of doctors and nurses streaming in and out of my room at all hours of the day and night.  Blood being drawn constantly around the clock.  The IV machine pumping bag after bag of the blood thinning drug Heparin into my body.  Huge bruises all over my body.  Out my window was the helicopter landing pad.  I remember wishing I could take off in the helicopter and leave the hospital.

It was 6 straight days of pure misery.  Because of the tubes and wires and the 24/7 oxygen, they wouldn't let me take a shower.  That was miserable.  The doctors and the nurses mostly did their jobs, but I hated the underlying theme of all my interactions with most of the medical staff.  It was that I weighed 577 pounds, that gastric bypass surgery was the only way out and that I would be on blood thinners the rest of my life.  I accepted none of that.

Well, here we are 2 years later and things are thankfully a little better!  No more blood thinners, I'm down 311 pounds and am almost off all prescription medication.

But I will never, ever, ever forget that miserable week in the hospital.  It motivates me and is a driving force to this day.

2 years ago: The Bucket List

When I was in the hospital 2 years ago with a lot of time to kill on my hands, I made a "Bucket List" of sorts.

I wrote down on a legal pad all of the things my extra weight was preventing me from doing.  As you can imagine, at 577 pounds my mobility was really suffering.  So here are some of the things I wanted to be able to do, that I couldn't at that time:

-Sit in any chair.  That's right, I would go to the doctor's office and I couldn't sit down.  Why?  All of the chairs had arms and they were too close together for me to sit in them.  I can now sit in any chair I want at any time.

-Fly in an airplane.  I got to do this 9 months ago when my company flew me to New Jersey on business.  First time I had been in an airplane in 12 years and it was a fantastic feeling. 

-Buy clothes at the regular store.  When I was in the hospital, I was too big to buy clothes even at the big and tall store.  I dreamed of buying clothes at the regular store.  Regular sizes for regular prices, just like a regular person.  I now buy my clothes at any store I want and haven't been to the big and tall store in months.

-Find the smallest rental car I can and drive it.  This item was on the list because in recent years, I had wanted to take a trip, but couldn't because I wouldn't fit in any of the cars for rent.  I still need to check this item off my list.

-Buy a bicycle and ride it. I had always dreamed of riding a bicycle again.  I had gotten too big to ride my bicycle years ago and always wanted to do it again.  I bought a bicycle about a year ago and have been riding it ever since.

-Enter the local "Cooper River Bridge Run" 10K race.  Ever since I moved to Charleston, SC in 2005, I had always seen this event going on and dreamed that one day I would be able to participate.  I am proud to report that in the last 2 years, I have participated in the race.  Even as I am typing these words, I can't believe them.  This is like a fantasy come true.

-To be able to fit in all of the test equipment and machines at the hospital.  This one was on the list because while I was in the hospital, they couldn't do a CT scan on me.  The weight limit for that machine is something like 350 pounds and at 577 pounds, it was no go.  At this point, if I ever need a CT scan, I will fit right in.

-To be able to have blood drawn easily.  I put this on the list because I got tired of being a human pin cushion.  Because of my weight, nurses could never get a vein to draw blood.  They would get it out of my fingers, my hands, my wrist, my arm...and always after sticking me multiple tries.  These days, when I go to have blood drawn, it is a single stick in my arm.  Just like everybody else.


So there you have it.  A sample from my Bucket List, 2 years ago today.

2 Years Of Motivation

The one question I have consistently been asked again and again over the last 2 years is this:

"Where does the motivation come from and how do I get it?"

I'll tell you where it comes from.  It comes from being absolutely, 100%, without question, fed up with my situation.  It comes from being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It comes from shaking your fist at the sky and screaming...."I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY MORE!!!"

I have a fire....a RAGE that burns inside me on a daily basis.  It is an anger that drives me. If you have a big lifestyle change you want to undergo, I recommend getting ANGRY and FIRED UP.  You're going to need it.

When I was in the hospital 2 years ago, laying there in my own filth because I wasn't permitted to shower for almost a week, I just remember saying over and over again. NO MORE.  There will be NO MORE of this.  I remember making a list of all the things there would be NO MORE of:

-There would be no more of me relying on other people to help me get out of bed, to help me get around.
-There will be no more of me being so heavy and immobile that another person has to help me go to the bathroom.
-There will be no more of me needing life-saving tests done at the hospital and being told I am "too big for the machine."
-There will be no more being so heavy, the biggest clothes in the Big and Tall store are too small.
-There will be no more being too big to drive a car.
-There will be no more riding in the elevator and being unable to take the stairs.
-There will be no more making my family and friends worry about me dropping dead at any time.
-There will be no more prescriptions.
-There will be no more sympathy from people you don't want it from.
-There will be no more pity.
-There will be no more people telling me that I can't do it myself.
-There will be no more people recommending weight loss surgery to me. 
-There will be no more hospitals. 
-There will be no more blood clots. 

-There will be no more of me eating myself to death. 


No more. And here we are 2 years later.  That's where my motivation comes from.

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Anonymous E-mail I Received from "Me"

I get a lot of e-mail (and I answer it all,) but this was one of the really good ones.

Mr. Ganey,
This is a rather long, over-dramatic note of thanks. I'm not quite sure why I wanted to tell you all this, but perhaps it's because I've never told anyone else. My story is not particularly original, or very tragic, but you have made it better. Thank you.
    To say I’ve struggled with my weight all my life would be a downright lie. Oh, I’ve cried over my weight. I’ve complained about it. I’ve thrown hissy fits in fitting rooms and rationalized everything and convinced myself that one more dress size isn’t so bad. I’ve done the fad diets and the dietary pills and the starve-to-binge. For the past eight years, I’ve worn an oversized sweatshirt over nearly everything I’ve ever worn, even in the summer, because I believed that it would hide the excess fat.
    Note to self: I can’t hide all that fat. No matter how big your hoodie is.
    I don’t eat healthy, that’s a fact. I’ve been eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and my mom’s gourmet phone call for Chinese take-out is my favorite family dinner. The neighborhood pizza man knows us by name. I cringe at the thought of whole wheat and I have been known to say, "Damn it, I’m American. Make it super sized."
    So when I say it’s my own damn fault that I’m overweight, well, it’s the God’s honest truth. I’ve ignored too many doctors’ warnings and reached around too many water bottles for Pepsi cans to pass the blame off on somebody else. And the old mantra that "admitting it is the first step" is, in my case, very false. I admitted it a long time ago. And I’ve done nothing about it.
    And to be honest, I’m lazy. I was a hell of a slugger in softball but I never ran laps. I was a damn fine tap dancer, too, but I never worked out. I am a voracious reader, so I’d pass the day on the couch and get up only for trips to the refrigerator. I’d even read weight loss books—countless books about changing my lifestyle and improving my diet and getting mobile—but I’d finish a chapter and celebrate with a candy bar. It really is amazing that I haven’t hit the 300lb mark yet. I guess all those times I cursed my out-of-shape body, I never realized how hard it fought for me to stay healthy, even when I’d stacked the odds against it.
    But then my first real sense of weight loss came my senior year in college. I was living on my own and having the time of my life, and the icing on the proverbial cake (and the literal cake, actually) was watching the pounds melt away. It was so fast. I went from wearing size twenty-two jeans and my signature oversized sweatshirt out to the clubs, to hardly recognizing myself. It was an amazing feeling.
    The problem, of course, was that I did not do it right. Actually, I don’t think anybody could have done it less right. College was a time of personal growth for me, a time to learn about the world and about myself, but it was also when I fell into a cycle of binge drinking, hard partying, and experimenting with drugs. If I had five dollars in my pocket, I bought a pack of cigarettes and had no money left for dinner. If I had twenty dollars, I’d buy a bump, a six pack, and a large pizza. I didn’t say no to any substance or any party. I stayed up all night and threw up often, and I thought it was all okay because I was having fun and losing so much of that damn weight.
    It was also during that time that I found my "Easy Button"—the prescription A.D.D medicine Adderall. We started calling it the Wonder Drug. It was just a tiny little pill that we could get for five bucks from the stoner up the street, who’d conned a prescription out of his doctor. None of us actually had A.D.D. And this Wonder Drug, it could keep you up all night to finish a term paper, it could get you through Finals Week feeling like you were on top of the world. It could keep us drinking until dawn, and we loved it. Adderall is, essentially, an amphetamine. Speed. When abused, it can be quite dangerous and very addicting. But it kicked up my heart rate and it made me lose weight faster than anything in the world. I dropped six pants sizes and I passed all my exams and I never missed a party.
    A real Wonder Drug.
    I am ashamed to admit it, but if I hadn’t graduated college at the end of that year, May of 2011, I’d either be dead right now, or still living that way, abusing drugs and losing weight. A part of me wishes I’d never given it up, because popping pills and snorting powders is a lot easier than exercising and eating right. But, eventually, I did go through the stages of breaking the drug addiction. Or, maybe, it was a lifestyle addiction. In the absense of drugs and drinking and college life, I filled the void with food. Lots of it.
    So then, after all the bad decisions I’d made, after all the horrible things I’d put my body through, it was the diet pills that put me in the hospital.
    Okay, I can’t prove it was the dietary pills that did it, but sometimes you just know what’s wrong with you. Sometimes, you can just feel your body saying, "This is the last straw!" before your mother has to drive you to the emergency room at three am because you think it might be really serious this time. All those flashy packages at the drugstore advertise quick weight loss, guaranteed results, et cetera, et cetera. None of them tell you the truth:
    It’s all a load of crap. And it’s trying to kill you.
    After college, I suffered alone because I wouldn’t tell my family what I’d done, because my college friends were gone and I had a real life to begin. And with that came depression. I realized that I may have overcome some of my addictions, but there was one that I clung to: food. And because I was sad, I stayed inside and didn't move around or get active. It has been only a year, but I’ve gained back all of the weight my Wonder Drug took off, and added a lot more. I’m heavier than I ever was. And now, I’m jaded, too, because all I can think about is how quickly I’d lost weight when I did it the unhealthy way, how good I looked then. I started thinking that maybe this is a losing battle, maybe there is no way for me to lose weight and live to tell about it.
    That’s where you come in. I found your blog one day when I was sitting on the couch, eating a bag of potato chips and looking for anybody on the internet to vindicate my new outlook on weight loss. Clearly, your blog did not stand up and tell me that it was okay to be unhealthy, to lose pounds but gain other problems. In fact, it was your blog above all others that told me most plainly that I was, to be blunt, an idiot.
    Or maybe it was just the pants-flag thing. That one really got me.
    Now, remember, I’m still lazy. I started reading your blog on-and-off a few months ago, and I’ve still had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast since then. You inspired me, truly, like nothing else ever had, but it was motivation I needed, and that could only come from myself. Today, I’m not writing to you to say I’ve lost so much weight because of your blog, but I am writing to say thank you for something much more important: changing my attitude.
    I know it’s very cliché. Attitude is everything, yada yada yada, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I think you gave me a turning point when I read some of your blog posts and realized that losing weight is a lifestyle change. And I’ve done lifestyle change before. Successfully. Healthily. Your blog showed me that that’s the same kind of energy and focus and dedication I need to direct toward my weight loss, too.
    In one of your recent posts, you compared the first steps of detoxing/lifestyle change to a kind of methadone. Rehabilitation from the way I’ve been eating and loafing around my whole life. That, I think, is exactly how I need to look at it. Sometimes I want a Big Mac more than I’ve ever craved a drug, but I feel better without it, just like I feel better without the side effects from the narcotics. I took my life back from the hard-partying lifestyle, and I can take my life back from obesity. And it was your words that put that together in my head for me.
    It's so much nicer to be looking forward to a beginning than it is to be dreading an end. So here I am, getting started. I’ve started a million times, but this time, I understand myself better, I get it. Thanks for the kick in the ass. Thanks for the honesty. I’m twenty-three years old and I’m starting a real life, but I’m also going to start a healthy one, thanks to you. I know it’s going to be difficult—and I appreciate you for not beating around that fact—but I want a pants-flag of my own, one I’ve earned with hard work and discipline. Thanks for showing me that I can do it.
Best wishes in all your endeavors,
Me

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why Should You Lose Weight?

Many people come up to me or e-mail and tell me the reasons they want/need to lose weight.  Typical justifications provided:

I look fat
I want to wear smaller clothes
I have a wedding/family reunion to go to
I look terrible in a bathing suit
I want to be more attractive to get better dates

I believe those are all very superficial reasons to lose weight.  The battle is too hard, takes too long and is too important to waste the effort on what other people think about how you look.

Because let's be honest: not caring about your weight and not doing anything about it is a real option.  For the first 37 years of my life, for the most part, I didn't care.  I ate whatever I wanted, ate as much as I wanted and didn't care about the consequences.  I never exercised.  I really prefer it when people are just honest and say they really aren't interested in improving their health and aren't going to change what they eat. Again, at least that's honest.

But back to the real reasons for losing weight.  Here's a better list to help change your thinking, if you're considering a lifestyle change:

I want to live longer and have a better life
I want to increase my mobility
I want to be able to ride roller coasters
I want to be able to sit on a chair without fear of it collapsing
I want to be able to take the stairs without having to call 911 before I get to the top step

And on and on. Which leads me to one of my big reasons for wanting to lose weight:

To get off all of the freaking medication I have had to take over the last 2 years.  If you've been reading this blog recently, you know I recently dropped one big prescription medication.  Check out the following before and after pictures.


My medications, June 2010



















My medications today, June 2012




















Now THAT is why you lose weight.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bryan Ganey Around The World

I have made a new friend in Galway, Ireland.  He is a personal trainer named John Mulry, who runs his own website and his own business.  I did an interview with him recently about my story and he has posted it on his site.  Check it out here. Thanks John!


Thank You For All Of Your E-mails

I've recently worked through my e-mail backlog and have responded to everybody.  Keep those e-mails coming.  I love hearing about your success stories, challenges you've overcome and your struggles.  We've all been there.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to remind anyone writing in that I am not a health professional.  I am not a doctor, I am not a personal trainer, I am not a nutritionist.  I'm just a guy that has lost a bunch of weight.

All I have to offer is common sense.  No magic.  It isn't easy. In fact, it is very hard.  But you have to keep trying and the rewards shall be yours!

Friday, June 15, 2012

And Then There Was One.....

Today is the greatest day of the last 2 years.

When I was hospitalized 2 years ago for a pulmonary embolism that nearly took my life, the doctors told me I would be on Coumadin for the rest of my life.

I remember asking the doctor what I would need to do to get off of it. His response, I will never forget it, was:  "Forever.  Unless you lose the weight."

Coumadin is both the greatest drug ever and the worst drug ever.  It has kept me alive and it saved my life, but at the same time, it has a list of side effects a mile long.  I have to eat the same thing over and over again so as to not alter the level of Vitamin K in my body and cause my blood to clot.

If my blood runs too thin, I start to bleed (use your imagination.)  If I cut myself, blood gets everywhere.

But my friends, those days are over.  Because....(drum roll please)....today my doctor took me off of it.

No more Coumadin.  But, he told me: "if you get another blood clot, you will go back on it for life."

This means I am down to one prescription.  Prior to today, that was Diovan 160mg once a day.

Thanks to my lower blood pressure readings, he cut it in half.

So now, my sole prescription drug that I take is just the 80mg of Diovan. That's all.  And I look forward to the day when I take no prescriptions.

It's not often that I ever have any pride about what I've done or celebrate my accomplishments, but today is that day.

All I have ever cared about when it comes to losing weight is getting healthier.  Living longer.  Today is a huge step toward that.  My goal is to get off all medication.

All of it.


Plateau Busted

I weighed at the doctor's office today. 266 pounds.  Finally.  After 5 weeks, I have lost weight. So what have I done differently?

-More long-distance walking
-Biking once a week
-I am eating less.  Instead of 2,600-2,800 calories, I am experimenting with 2,000 calories a day.  I may not be able to keep that up, but I am learning to make do with less.

As always, things are always day-to-day.  But today has been a good day.

And I am still only working out in the gym 3 times a week.  That will never change.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Back and I Will Not Be Denied

It's been 2 weeks since I've written a blog post and some of you have sent me e-mails asking me if I am OK.  I appreciate that, thank you.

I am fine.

So what have I been up to?  Well, I have been very, very busy.

As readers of my Facebook page know, my weight loss has plateaued for 5 weeks.  I am working on busting through that plateau, including:

-Tightening up my portions and reducing my caloric intake slightly (still around 2,000 calories)
-I have re-started my bread and butter: long-distance walking.  This is what powers the Bryan Ganey weight loss furnace.  I walked 9 miles last Sunday and am going for more this week.
-Bike riding.  I rode 7 miles last Saturday and am going for more this weekend.

I had a pity party for about 2 minutes when I got off the scale and weighed in at 268 1/2 for the second time in 2 weeks.  It was 269 five weeks ago.  Essentially the same.

I always knew that day would come where I would stop losing weight.  That day is here and it will not last!