Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tips for losing weight? Here you go.

So I keep getting asked for tips on how to lose weight.  So far, I've not had any takers on the advice.  So I've started thinking what has helped me. So here's a new list.

1.) Eat Breakfast. You can Google it: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Most heavy people I know, including myself until 6 months ago, don't eat breakfast.  Terrible habit that you should overcome. Get up in time to eat a decent breakfast.

2.) Get a good night's sleep. If you're trying to get by on 5 hours of sleep a night (like I used to,) then you can forget trying to lose weight.  Being tired makes us eat. Which leads me to:

3.) Find a way to get off caffeine. I never used to believe this, but I believe it now.  I believe caffeine is an unhealthy stimulant that causes overeating in some people (including me.) This isn't scientific evidence, just my own observations. Either quit cold turkey or slowly withdrawal. Find a way to get off of it. Your body will thank you.

4.) Eat early and often. I eat 6 meals a day. Spread it out.  Figure out what works for you. I'm finding success with many small meals throughout the day. It's all about managing that hunger.

5.) Try not to obsess over the scale. I weigh at the doctor.  If you take in less calories than you burn, you will lose weight.  Achieving a healthy weight is something you do over time.  I've found that at least for me, weighing constantly is going to only increase the disappointment.

6.) Don't be afraid to fail! You will have to figure out what works for you.  You will struggle.  Some days will be better than others.  If you eat one way and you're starving all the time. try something else.

As always, before starting any weight loss program, consult your doctor and a dietitian/nutritionist. Listen to the experts. I did.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Goals for 2011

With 6 months of all this weight loss business under my belt, it's time to switch some things up for 2011.  Here are the goals that I have for Christmas:

1.) Change what I eat.  I've been eating the same thing for 6 months. It's time to try new things in the new year, new cooking methods, etc.

2.) Lose enough weight to ride a bicycle. More than anything, the one thing I miss is riding a bicycle. It's been 11 years since I've been able to ride one, and I crave it daily. The more bike riding I'm able to do, the more successful I will be at keeping this weight off.

3.) Train for the bridge run on April 2, 2011.  Every year, Charleston holds the Cooper River bridge Run...and this year, I am participating. I can't wait, but I've got to be ready.

4.) Start shopping at thrift stores.  Buying new clothes is getting expensive and is a waste of money, considering I will only wear them a couple months.

5.) Ramp up the physical fitness. I've started weight training, now it's time to take it to another level.  But not too much...I don't want to burn out.

6.) And finally, I want to get off the Coumadin.  The anti-coagulant ("blood thinner") medication I take daily has a list of side effects as long as the US Constitution.  It has saved my life, but I'm ready to stop taking it.

Hope you're able to meet some of your goals for 2011.  I hope everyone has a happy and healthy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The 6-month mark, giving thanks

So it's been 6 months since I went to the emergency room and was admitted with a pulmonary embolism. 

I thought I would take the time to give thanks to some of the people that helped me:

My family, Jayne and Stephanie Lindsey, everyone that visited me in the hospital and all of the nurses and doctors at Trident Medical Center in Charleston. Also, the following doctors:

Erica Gunnells, my primary care physician and her nurse, Carol.
Dr. Scott Miller, Lowcountry Lung & Critical Care
Dr. David F. Murray, Internal Medicine, Coastal Inpatient Physicians
Dr. Christopher McCarty, Cardiologist

Sarah Lyn Tuten, Registered Dietitian
Kristen, Dietitian at Trident

That's the short list of people that saved my life, 6 months ago today. Thank You.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why not have weight loss surgery?

I often get the question asking me why I didn't or don't have weight loss surgery.  It's a simple question with a complex answer.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with having gastric bypass surgery.  For many people, that is their last option. And many people do have tremendous success and results with the surgery.

Why didn't I have the surgery?  I could have.  I've worked 3 places in the last 10 years that would've paid for the surgery.  The reason I never did it was because I always knew that I could do it myself if I just put out the effort.

I also knew that if I wasn't committed to losing weight the regular way, I wouldn't be committed to it with the gastric bypass.

After I wound up in the hospital with the pulmonary embolism last summer, I got very tired of being in the hospital. That was one long week.  So, I decided before I went with the gastric bypass, I would try one last time.

That was 6 months ago.

But I take nothing away from people that have the gastric bypass surgery.  There are risks, complications and it is a lot of long, hard work to lose weight.  They are doing what's right for them. If the result is a longer, healthier, happier life, then how you got there doesn't matter.

Being overweight is being on the wrong end of a math problem.  More energy is being consumed than is being expended. Whatever you have to do to restore that balance is key.  

2011....and beyond.

My goals for 2011 are to keep doing what I'm doing.  I'm not changing a thing. If I continue at the current rate of 12 pounds a month, it will take approximately another 20 months to get to my goal weight.

Over time, I will lose more, sometimes less. As I get lighter, I expect to be able to get stronger and be able to exert myself more.

What I really want to do is ride a bicycle again. But that's several months away. It won't be long, though.

The "secrets" of weight loss

People have started to ask me what my secret is.  "How do I lose weight like you do?"

As near as I can tell, here are the "secrets."

1.) Motivation.  You either have this or you don't. You either want to lose weight, or you don't. That's something that comes from within, you can't make yourself lose weight. You have to want to do it.

2.) Avoid getting hungry and eat early and often.  I eat 6 meals a day and about 2,400 calories a day. That's actually a fair amount of food.  If you portion your food, measure it and keep a food diary, you will be able to eat all day.

3.) Eat breakfast.  A nurse in the hospital told me that all the heavy people she knew didn't eat breakfast.  When you don't eat breakfast, you start out the day starving. Bad idea. The hunger builds throughout the day and by the nighttime, you've not eaten much all day and start binging. At least that's what I used to do.

4.) Pay attention to what you eat and what's in it. You can really eat just have to realize what you're eating.

5.) Don't go to extremes. Don't starve yourself. Don't work out like a maniac. All you're doing is setting yourself up for failure. You can't push a button and drop 100 pounds.  However, if you do have a button like that, send me an e-mail.

6.) Weight is lost at the dinner table more than it is in the gym. I don't work out, I just walk a couple times a week and take the stairs.

So there you have it: my weight loss secrets. Boring, huh? Sorry.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The 6 Month Mark...129 down, 248 to go.

Breaking all of the rules

I've noticed in my reading that there are several weight-loss "rules" that I am breaking on a daily basis.  For your reading enjoyment, here are some of them:

#1: Don't eat in front of the TV.  Sorry, I do it every day. I've lost 129 pounds eating in front of the TV.  If you're carefully measuring your portions and know what you're eating, who cares where you eat it?

#2: Don't eat in front of the computer.  See #1.

#3: Don't eat within _____ hours of going to sleep.  Sorry, sometimes I eat and go right to sleep.  Hasn't hurt me one bit.  At the end of the day, if the amount of food you're eating every day is the right amount, you're going to lose weight.

#4: Don't eat too many carbs.  Nonsense.  You can eat anything you want.  It's all about the calories, not the carbs. I eat bread, potatoes, spaghetti and other assorted carbs. If you're diabetic, you have to count your carbs.  Otherwise, that's nonsense.

#5.  You need to eat special foods to lose weight.  More nonsense.  Everything you need is at a regular grocery store.  You don't need to blow your whole paycheck at Whole Foods like I do to lose weight.

#6.  You have to work out like a maniac to lose weight.  More nonsense.  Just walk.  Walking outside is so much better than being stuck in some gym on a treadmill.  I'm not a hamster, I don't run in a wheel.

#7.  You need special pills or a patch to lose weight.  More nonsense.  The only way the weight-loss patch works is if you put it over your mouth.

That's my 2 cents!

Happy Birthday To Me

Tomorrow I'm going to be 38.  Here's a breakdown of where we are to this point:

Yesterday at the doctor, I weighed 448.  So far, I'm down 129 pounds from the high of 577.

Earlier this week, they drew 5 large vials of blood and did numerous tests on everything from PT/INR, Glucose, Kidney, Liver, Potassium, Cholesterol, etc. Some of the highlights:

PT/INR: 2.3. The goal is between 2 and 3 and I shot it right down the middle. This takes a lot of work. I eat roughly the same thing every day, avoiding any vegetables or foods high in Vitamin K. I got in trouble last month with the Green apple peels. Now I'm right back where I need to be.

Blood Sugar: 93. Comfortably under 100.  I was absolutely ecstatic to hear this. It had been 104, which is considered "pre-diabetic."  If I wasn't losing this weight, Type 2 Diabetes would be in my future. It runs in my family.  This is a miracle.

Potassium is within normal range. This is also a victory. I eat a potato a day and 2 or 3 bananas a day to make sure I get enough potassium.

My total cholesterol was 128.  This is fantastic, as anything below 200 is considered good. Actually, my "Good" cholesterol was a little low. So I have to explore getting that up by incorporating healthy oils and nuts into my diet.

I'm very happy with where I am right now.  I could lose the weight faster, but with the concerns about the blood clots coming back, I am only approved for light exercise. So I'm careful not to over-do it.  I'm also still quite heavy, so I have to be sure I don't injure myself.

All in all, not bad for the last 6 months. Bring on 2011!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Some facts about Pulmonary Embolism

Interesting information, courtesy of emedicine/Web MD:

  • As a cause of sudden death, massive pulmonary embolism is second only to sudden cardiac death. Autopsy studies of patients who died unexpectedly in a hospital setting have shown approximately 80% of these patients died from massive pulmonary embolism.

  • Approximately 10% of patients who develop pulmonary embolism die within the first hour, and 30% die subsequently from recurrent embolism. Anticoagulant treatment decreases the mortality rate to less than 5%.

  • The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism is missed in approximately 400,000 patients in the United States per year; approximately 100,000 deaths could be prevented with proper diagnosis and treatment.
Which is why I am going to stay on this Coumadin for a very, very long time. "Recurrent embolism" is not something I want any part of. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

How all of this got started

It's not often that somebody just goes from eating the worst possible diet you can imagine one day and then eating as healthy as possible the next.  But that's what happened to me.  So what was the motivation?

I almost died.  Here's the story.

On Saturday 6/19/2010, I took my Mom to lunch. Stopped for gas. Walked a short distance from the gas pump to the gas station and felt like I had run a marathon.  Completely out of breath.  This made absolutely no sense.

I should have gone to the hospital then. But I didn't. I thought it would go away.  Maybe I was dehydrated, I thought.  My decision to not go to the hospital that day ranks as the dumbest thing I've ever done. But, I went home and went to bed.

The next day. I go to work. My van was being fixed, so I enlisted my parents to drop me off. They drop me off and drive away. I walk around behind the building to go into the back entrance and start my day.

With every step, I became more and more out of breath. Then I couldn't walk anymore. Then I realized I wasn't taking in any oxygen. I started turning white.  Imagine walking 5 steps and feeling like you had just run up 10 flights of stairs....carrying a refrigerator.  That is how it felt.

My first thought: heart attack.  The big one.  I was sure it was happening.  How long will it take? What is going to happen to me?

Then I began to think: so this is where it ends. I'm going to collapse and die in the parking lot.  How embarrassing.  There wasn't anyone around.  My legs got weaker and weaker until I couldn't stand up.  I leaned against a pole, gasping for air....except there wasn't any to be had.  I was about to drop, so I looked around for a soft place to fall too. 

I was suffocating, I knew I had to go to the hospital. I would've dialed 911, but I decided to call my Mom. Somehow, I dialed the phone.  They were still close. I told them to come back and get me and take me to the ER.

About 30 seconds later, my parents came around the corner. I fell into the car and Dad drove me to the Trident Medical Center ER at about 100 miles an hour.

To understand my thinking at this point, I'll have to take you back to 2004.  6 years ago, I was having tightness in my chest and went to the ER.  I was hospitalized. They never found anything, but I remember the cardiologist telling me that because of my size, no hospital would ever do heart surgery on me.  If I went into cardiac arrest, the options would be limited. They wouldn't be able to do much for me.

So with that in mind, on the way to the hospital, I considered that this could be the end.  I gave my Mom my phone, my wallet, told her the PIN to my debit card and said if anything happened to me, to empty out my bank account.

We got to the ER and I must have been white as a sheet, or turning blue when I stumbled in...the receptionist says "Can I help you?" And I remember whispering to her, out of breath "I can't breathe."

I have never seen so many people move so quickly in my life.  They had me into a wheelchair, into a room and on a table in about 30 seconds. I had oxygen, an EKG and an IV going in another 30 seconds.

There were probably 5 people in the room at that point, but the main ER tech's name was (I swear I'm not making this up) "Bryan G." How's that for fate?

They continued to run tests. I was in the ER for about 6 hours. A few hours into it, I had to go to the bathroom.

I asked Bryan G. if I could go to the bathroom, he said OK. So I took off the oxygen mask, went and came back completely out of breath. They checked my blood oxygen level and it had dropped 30 points.

No more going to the bathroom. "You're not going home anytime soon with oxygen levels like that."

From then, it was endless tests. Chest X-Ray.  EKG. Ultrasound on my legs looking for blood clots.  For that test, you take your clothes off and somebody squirts warm gel all over your legs. They then push a wand into your legs really hard while a computer that sounds like Darth Vader makes noise.  I'm laying there with my pants off and the lady with the Darth Vader Wand is pushing it into my legs like she's trying to get to the other side.  It's then that I'm reminded:

There are no secrets in the hospital. 

Modesty, privacy and dignity are the price you pay for getting better.

This lasts about 30 minutes. then back to the ER room.

Finally, after some more hours, the ER doc comes in. We don't think it's your heart, Mr. Ganey. Everything looks good there.

That's a relief.  So if not a heart attack, then what?  Another doctor will see you soon.

After more time, here comes one of the best doctors I have ever spoken to: Dr. Christopher McCarty.

He ran me through the diagnosis, the tests, explained everything in detail. Impressive. He said they suspected blood clots in my lungs and were going to admit me and treat me for that.

How long? 2 or 3 days, on the low end.  They're going to try to avoid operating.

Operating? If the blood clots in my lungs that were suffocating me didn't break up on their own, they would have to cut me open and take them out.

For now, the treatment was blood thinners, or more specifically anti-coagulants.  They shot me full of something called Heparin and started a Heparin IV drip, which would last for a week. I must have gone through 20 of those bags. In addition, they started a fairly high dose of Coumadin.  This would take a few days to take effect.

So I was admitted.

We get to the 7th floor where I met Nurse Lynn.

"We didn't know you were coming and aren't ready."

After the miscommunication is sorted out, I am put into my room. This is when I realized I hit the hospital room lottery: I had a private room with a nice window view of the highway.  It was while I was being set up in my room that I laughed the hardest I had in a long time.

Nurse Lynn said "I need to move your bed."  I responded "Do you need me to get out of it?"

And she said "Well, I'm sure not going to move it with you in it!"

I laughed so hard, I had to reach back and turn up the oxygen.

During my time in the hospital, I met several doctors, 2 nutritionists, specialists...everything.  After some more tests, the following became very clear to me:

1.) I came very, very close to dying.  I was told 1 in 3 pulmonary embolism victims die within seconds.

2.) The #1 risk factor for what happened to me was my weight.

3.) I had a choice: lose weight or die.

I'm only 37. I've got things to do. There is more to life than eating.

And so, I was discharged from the hospital after a week and have been following the eating plan the nutritionist gave me at the hospital. I do what the doctors tell me. I take the medications on time.

And so that is my story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The treadmill is not for me

After working out in the gym last week, I have come to this conclusion:

I hate the treadmill. I hate everything about it. Chief among my complaints:

1.) You aren't going anywhere.

2.) There's nothing to do. No scenery. You can't stop easily and start again.

3.) The terrain is the same. Sure you can raise and lower the incline, but it's not the same.

I am not a hamster and I don't run in a wheel. So no more treadmill for me. I'm going to walk outside exclusively from now on.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I had to do it my way

There are probably millions of ways to lose weight.

There are thousands of ways to exercise. Endless diet plans.

But I'm realizing, as I approach the 6-month mark of doing this, I am doing it all my way.

I created my eating plan. I created my exercise plan. I decide what I'm going to do.

But it's hard not to be influenced by others. You see someone in the gym running at 12 miles an hour and think "why can't I do that."

Well, I will be able to do that, just not yet.

I'm not sure if this post means anything, I just want everyone to know that I'm doing it my way.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

1,500mg or less a day: The Sodium Menace

What do instant oatmeal, frozen chicken breast and bread have in common? They're all loaded with sodium.

Lots of it.

Lots of sodium causes high blood pressure. So I have set out to find versions that don't have any sodium, or as much. No wonder they call high blood pressure the silent killer.

People are shoveling in teaspoonfuls every day without ever touching the salt shaker.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

4 months

Well, it's been 4 months since I was admitted to the hospital. Things continue to go well....the weight is coming off, my clothes are getting baggier and life is pretty good.

I got to thinking today -- what took me so long? It's been 12 years since I lost weight the first time, it's not like I didn't know how to do it. It's a fairly simple process.

I don't think I would've lost the weight or have been committed to doing it unless I had gone to the hospital. I guess the fear of death is the ultimate motivator.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Small victory

I have to go to the doctor once a month for PT/INR testing.

Yesterday, for the first time, they stuck me in the arm and got the blood out. They didn't have to stick me 10 times. No needles in the hand. The wrist.

They got it out of my arm, just like the rest of the world. Little things like this make all the work worth it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Benefits of weight loss so far

Other than feeling better, here are some of the benefits of my weight loss so far:

1.) The staring from small kids at the grocery store is WAY down.

2.) My feet no longer swell.

3.) My blood pressure is perfect and under control. I still take medication for it, but it's lower than it's been in 10 years.

4.) I can buy all of my clothes at the store.

5.) I can fit in just about any car. I drove a VW Beetle the other day.

6.) There is a lot more room in the shower.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Goodbye to the night shift

In the call center world, all the supervisors and representatives change shifts every 6 months. I can get any schedule I want, but I made a calculated decision to leave the night shift.


Because I decided working nights contributed to my self-destruction. Staying up all night watching TV, being online...not healthy.

So I'm working 8:30-5:30. I can still get up, go walking at 5 and be at work on time.

It's bad news for all the fast food restaurants around here, who have been suffering for the last 3 months. Sorry guys!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Celebrating the first 100

Hard to believe...but it's official. I've lost 100 pounds since I got out of the hospital. Lots more to go, but it's worthy of a before and after picture. This picture is from today, 9/10/2010. Like I said, I have a long way to go. But I'm well on my way.

This picture is from 6/4/2010, about 2 weeks before I went to the emergency room. I felt terrible, and I look like it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Clothes shopping

So for the first time in about 5 years, I walked into a store and purchased clothes off the rack. A good feeling, but a few observations:

1.) I didn't buy too many clothes. Just 2 outfits. No need, they'll all be way too big to wear in about a month or so.

2.) I hate clothes shopping. Always have. Even when I was skinny. I just hate it. Fashion is not my forte.

My next goal is to be able to walk into Walmart or Target and buy clothes, instead of the Big and Tall store.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The long road ahead

The doctor's visit went well the other day. The highlights:

My blood pressure was 114 over 68. I haven't seen numbers that good in a long time. I'm most happy about that, because it hasn't been under control in a long time. The medication I was taking before wasn't working.

The PT/INR test was 2.4, between the desired range of 2 and 3. This means the Coumadin is doing its job and I am taking exactly the right amount. I can't wait to get off this stuff, but that will be awhile.

And...the weight loss continues. 12 pounds in 18 days. It won't always come off this quickly, I know that from experience. Frustration awaits. Sometimes I'll go and weigh and there will be no loss.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

So doing the math, 12 pounds in 18 days is approximately .666 pounds a day, 2/3 of a pound a day.

At that rate, that's 20 pounds a month. I'm looking at another year to reach my goal.

But I'll take it.

The bigger issue is getting used to this CPAP Machine. The mask is a little hard to take. But I'm going to keep trying. As terrible as I sleep, it has to get better.

That's all for now.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tonight's agenda

Tonight I have a sleep study.

This is one of those things that I have avoided for years. Since I was always overweight, the sleep study has been recommended to me over and over. But I never did it, until now.

After being in the hospital for a week, I decided that it was time to put all health issues on the table. So I have a new policy: I keep all my appointments, do what they tell me and take all the prescriptions as directed.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause depression, car crashes, high blood pressure, heart disease, memory problems and headaches. More info here.

So since I am not done with my time on this Earth, I shall report for my sleep study tonight.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Welcome to the Ganey Bypass!

I am working on losing weight and decided to start a blog to keep interested people up to date on what I'm doing. So why am I calling it "The Ganey Bypass?"

Well, people that lose a lot of weight frequently undergo a procedure called gastric bypass. Since I've decided to try doing it myself one last time, I came up with the name Ganey Bypass. And it stuck.

More posts to come!