Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year! Agenda for 2012

Happy New Year to all of my friends, family and readers of this blog. I hope the New Year brings you good health and everything you're hoping for.

For me, here is the agenda for 2012:

I still want to lose 100 more pounds. At the rate of 8 1/3 pounds per month, I could lose it all by this time next year. But, I'm in more a maintenance mode now. I continue to lose weight, but if it's only 4 pounds lost one month, I don't care.  I'm looking at the big picture.

March 31, 2012 is the Cooper River Bridge Run.  I want to improve on my time from the last race...2 hours and 41 minutes.  I should be able to easily knock an hour off of that. We shall see.

I have also committed to the 2012 Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in Savannah, GA on November 3, 2012.  It's going to take me that long to train for it.  13.1 miles is a long way.

I imagine I'll probably also participate in assorted other 5K races along the way...The American Heart Association Heart Walk, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and Turkey Day Run will be back around.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Get up and move

Imagine one day you are experiencing shortness of breath.  Suddenly, small tasks where you really aren't exerting yourself have you completely out of breath. Walking to your front door makes you feel like you have run 10 miles.

"I must be tired," you tell yourself. You decide to go to sleep.

You wake up the next day, only this time it's worse.  Gasping for air, you go to work anyway.  Then you get to work, walk all the way up to the door of your job and drop to your knees, grabbing your chest.  You're breathing in and out as fast as you can, but not getting any oxygen.

You make it to the emergency room and you live.  But when they find out what's wrong, it's something you never thought would happen to you. You have a pulmonary embolism, or blood clots in the lungs.  The arteries in your lungs have become blocked with blood clots and you are slowly suffocating.

That was exactly what happened to me...but I was lucky: I survived.  The same can not be said for Dwight Arrington Myers, better known by his stage name "Heavy D."  Today his cause of death was announced: pulmonary embolism. 

This is very sad because he had actually lost a bunch of weight and was on the way back to good health.  But a long flight in an airplane, along with that extended period of sitting, did him in.  

About 15% of sudden death cases are caused by pulmonary embolism.  A large number of those people just drop dead with no hope of being saved. And going to the doctor or hospital often doesn't help.  The symptoms are so non-specific, they are often missed.  I went to the doctor a couple weeks before my episode complaining that I didn't feel right.  My doctor missed it.

The only way to detect a pulmonary embolism is to scan the lungs and look for it.  So what can you do?  If you ever have shortness of breath, go to the emergency room and demand a CT scan on your lungs. But here's a better idea:  avoid having it happen period.

If you have a job where you sit for long periods of time, get up and move.  At least once an hour, get up and walk around.  Same if you are on a long plane ride. Get up and go to the bathroom once an hour, even if just to look in the mirror. Move around.  Most of the time, the blood clots form in the legs due to being immobile and travel to the lungs. 

I'm surprised we don't hear more about this, because it happens all the time.  Serena Williams, the famous tennis player, was operated on to remove a pulmonary embolism.  She was lucky.  In 2003, NBC News TV reporter David Bloom died while being embedded with a military unit in Iraq.  The long hours sitting in a tank caused his fatal pulmonary embolism.  

I now take blood thinners every day, probably for the rest of my life.  Don't let this happen to you: get up and move.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Before you buy that treadmill....

Happy New Year! Thanks to everyone that checked out my blog in 2011.  Somehow, this blog has managed to reach 7,896 page views.  That's pretty incredible to me considering this all started out as an online journal where I was talking to myself.

Also, thanks to everyone that has come up to me, including people I have never met before in my life, to tell me how my journey has inspired them.  I almost never know what to say, except "thank you."

Thanks also to everyone who has not offered me any food. I appreciate it.

Now on to the reason for this post (and for the title.)

A few people have advanced to me the idea that they are going to get into shape next year and they will do this by purchasing a treadmill.  The thinking goes that they will do this because:

1.) They can work out in the privacy of their own home.  They don't have to worry about other people in the gym staring at them and judging their appearance.

2.) It will "just be there" to use anytime they need it, so that means they'll work out more.

3.) They will save on a gym membership because they will own their own equipment.

What a great idea!  Well, except....allow me to inject a little reality into the treadmill-purchasing dreams of others with a new list:

1.) Your $500 treadmill (or $1,000...or whatever you spend) will make a great clothes-dryer.

2.) Because it is always available, you will never use it.  If you can do it anytime you want, that makes it ripe for procrastination.  Imagine if you had a homework assignment with no due date...would you ever do it?  Nope.

3.) Unless you drop multiple thousands of dollars, the home version treadmills are nothing like the ones at the gym.  They break easily and will need to be serviced.  So much for the savings.

The reason I always took off like a rocket at the beginning of the year, but then fizzled with my New Year's resolutions to lose weight was because there was no accountability.  There was no follow-through.  Like a lot of people, instead of starting off slowly, I would overdo it.  Then I would give up because I injured myself or thought I had to maintain a ridiculous training schedule of working out 20 times a week.

The whole reason for having a personal trainer is accountability.  The reason I make an appointment then actually follow through with it is because I know that person is there waiting for me to come to the gym.  If you don't have access to a personal trainer or can't afford one, find an accountability partner.  And make it somebody that will actually hold you accountable, somebody you know that already works out.

Also, slow down.  Slow way down.  Don't expect to go from doing no exercise to being an Olympic athlete in 2 days.  Try walking 3 times a week around your neighborhood for 15 or 30 minutes.  Then maybe incorporate 2 gym visits a week.

And save that treadmill cash for something treating yourself to a new wardrobe when you lose 30 pounds after following the advice above.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

1 1/2 years ago today

It was exactly 18 months ago today, June 20, 2010, when I was rushed to the hospital, unable to breathe.  This kicked off my lifestyle change.  All at once, it was the worst thing that happened to me (I almost died) but also the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Here is a picture from that miserable 6-day hospital stay to remind me of where I never want to be again.

 As I kept telling myself over and over, night after night, stuck in that hospital bed: there will be no more of this.  It motivates me to this day!

Just Say No

One of the things I've had to realize as I learn to manage my food addiction is that some people will not take no for an answer.

Well-meaning, good-intentioned, good-hearted people who think they're being nice and doing you a favor when the reality is, they're doing the opposite.  Of course, they don't realize this and couldn't be expected to know this.

You know what I'm talking about.  The person who wants to buy you lunch to "celebrate" some one thing or another.  The person dropping off candy in your office.

If there is one thing I wish I could shout from the mountaintops to the entire world, it would be this: never offer food to a food addict.  And if you do, when they say "no thanks," walk away.

If somebody were a recovering alcoholic, you wouldn't try and convince them to have "just one" or try a healthy version of alcohol.  Or try and convince them that one visit to the bar won't kill them.

I make it from one day to the next by carefully planning out and bringing with me what I am going to eat. It's what I have to do to get by.  It's one of the only reasons for my success thus far and the only way it will continue.  I need that control to get by.

So about 80% of the people who offer me food take no offense and simply move on when I say "no thanks."  Thank you, 80%.  I love you.

Then there's the 10% that says "are you sure?"  This 10% is semi-persistent, but gives up after the second "no thanks."

And then there are the people I call the "force feeders."  The final 10%.  The force feeders will stop at nothing to get you to eat the food they want to make/buy/bring for you.

Declining doesn't get me anywhere with these people. They never give up. In the end, my answer remains the same, but somebody's feelings are always going to get hurt.

So why am I so inflexible?  Because it works for me.  But food can be an emotional subject with people.  Our society, for hundreds of years, has made food into a gift, a celebration, a reward, a show of respect, a sign of love, etc.  Sometimes, when you turn down food being offered in this spirit, people are genuinely hurt and offended.  And to those people I say: I'm sorry, but I just can't.

To me, food is none of those things and can never be again.  It is just fuel for my life.  That's all. So when I say "no thanks," don't take it personally.

It's just how I roll these days.

Paralysis by Analysis

At my workplace, they're having a weight loss contest. Whoever loses the most weight in a set period of time wins a prize.  The idea is that people will be motivated to join and will pursue a healthier lifestyle as a result.

Figuring I'll be losing weight anyway, I joined up.  Today I weighed in for the final time.  I told the person weighing me that I did not want to know what the scale said. I explained why.

When I first started my journey 18 months ago, I knew from experience not to get addicted to the high that the scale provides when you're first losing weight.  You start to have so much success so quickly, you think that's always going to be there.

So I knew that how much I lost or how quickly I lost it wasn't really important.  But, I wanted to be able to chart my progress reasonably.

So I weighed once a month.

I know what you're thinking: "Once a month?  Are you insane?"  Hear me out.

There are simply too many variances in body weight to weigh every day.  Or every week.  I actually have settled on once every 2 weeks, but I think once a month is perfect when you're just starting.  Here's why: when the weight loss starts to slow down, or isn't as much as it was last time, you will get disappointed, be discouraged and give up.  Not gaining any weight from one time to the next is a roaring success, but you will convince yourself that it is failure.  And that is a tragedy.

And so here is what I found myself doing the other times I would lose weight: when it wasn't as much as I thought it should be, I would begin to analyze.  And over-analyze.  And analyze again.  I would literally analyze why I didn't lose a half a pound in 3 days to the point that I worked myself up in such a depression I got discouraged. So I was explaining this to my trainer in the gym today and he had a great line that is the title of the blog post: "paralysis by analysis."

What a perfect description of what happens.  I would analyze the scale and worship that number to the point that I would be paralyzed into inaction.

So if you're considering a lifestyle change, use the scale carefully. My advice: weigh once when you get started, then once a month at first.  As you begin to fine-tune your workouts and your nutritional requirements, maybe every 2 weeks, but no more than that. Weigh on your own terms, with your own scale, always at the same time of the day, in the same place, under the same circumstances.

The scale can be a tool that leads you to great success and it can also be a weapon that sends you down the slippery slope to failure.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Good Health is the Greatest Gift of All

One of my greatest accomplishments to date has been the improvement in my health.

When I started all of this, I made it a long-term goal of mine to get off all medication I was taking.  I hate taking pills.

I am proud to report I am now down to 2: Diovan 160mg for high blood pressure and Coumadin 7.5mg, a blood thinner.

My high blood pressure meds have been cut 4 times and I am waiting for the final cut.  It looks like it won't be long.  This was a blood pressure reading I took today, 24 hours after last taking my high blood pressure medication:

Oh, and the 48 resting heart rate is not a mistake. That's really what it is.  It was once almost 100.  In the end, all we have is our health. It doesn't matter if you're rich, poor, famous or not...nobody has successfully cheated the reaper.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

3 Weight loss myths

This coming Tuesday marks the 1 1/2 year mark for my lifestyle change and I'm in a reflective mood.  It has been a lot of ups and downs, some incredible successes, a lot of struggling and a lot of work.  Since we're at the holiday time of year, I've read a lot of "tips" for losing weight online.

I believe many of them are myths. I've made a list like this in other blog postings, but I'll make a new one. So here we go.

1.) Eating in the car, eating in front of the television, or eating in front of the computer is wrong and you're a bad person for doing it. 

I always enjoy reading this one. I am pleased to report it is complete nonsense.  In the last 18 months, I have lost 262 pounds committing the following sins according to the "experts:"  I eat breakfast every day in front of the computer.  I snack all day at work in front of a computer.  I eat dinner and watch TV at the same time,  Sometimes I eat dinner, watch TV and surf the internet all the time.  That's talent, right?

I eat in the car.  I eat and drive at the same time.  Sometimes I eat in the grocery store parking lot, right from the package.  This whole idea that we should only eat at the dining room table is a complete fantasy in 2011.  I don't even have a dining room table (that I know of.)

It's not where you're eating your food, it's what you're eating and how many calories you're consuming.  Trying to follow unrealistic rules about where you should eat takes your eye off the ball.  It's a popular rule, however, because humans are addicted to making things more complicated than they need to be.

The bottom line: Mindless eating can occur anywhere.  As long as you know how much you're eating and you keep track of it, you can lay in bed and have dinner if you want.

2.) Eating at night is bad and will make you fat. 

If eating at night made you fat, I would still weigh 577 pounds.  The truth is, I eat around the clock.  As long as the total amount I am consuming is right for me, it doesn't matter when I eat it.

Some days I have 3 meals a day.  Sometimes I eat 6 meals a day.  Sometimes I eat dinner at 5pm.  Sometimes I eat it at 9pm.  I've had dinner at 11pm. 

Once, I woke up at 2 in the morning once so ravenously hungry, I could've eaten the wallpaper off the walls.  I made myself a bowl of oatmeal with a piece of fruit and ate it. And you know what?  I still lost weight that week.  I just added it to my food diary for that day, ate the food and went back to bed.  And lived to tell about it.  Imagine that!

But...doesn't everything you eat turn to fat if you go right to bed after you eat it?  No, it doesn't.  Think about the nonsense of this oft-repeated statement.  If I eat an apple, which has practically zero fat, how is that going to turn to fat in my stomach just because I am asleep?  Please. 

The bottom line: As long as the total calories of what you're eating doesn't exceed your requirements for that day, eating at night will not make you fat.

3.) To lose weight, I have to starve myself.  I can eat no more than 1,500 calories.

I don't know about you, but I could never get by on 1,500 calories. The truth is, everybody's calorie requirements are different. It all depends on how much physical activity you engage in during the day.  Somebody that sits at a desk all day won't be able to eat as much as say, a delivery driver who runs up and down stairs all day.

Starvation is one of the biggest reasons I believe people fail at weight loss.  They completely overdo it trying to pursue a quick fix, get discouraged and quit.  This is very sad. Only eating 1,500 calories a day is as extreme as trying to work out in the gym 20 times a week is.  It's not sustainable.

There are different calorie calculators available online and there are differing methods for determining the appropriate number of calories you should consume.  Factors such as your desired goal weight, age, height, activity level, etc. all play a part.

For myself, in the beginning, I was eating 1,500-1,600 calories a day.  When I boosted that to 2,400 calories, I started losing weight faster.  I believe it was because my body was in starvation mode, conserving resources instead of using them.  It worked for me.  Everybody is different.

The bottom line: you need food to live.  You can starve yourself or stop eating to lose weight temporarily, but only for so long. 

Tell me what you think at and I'll respond in a future blog posting.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2012...and beyond

In just 16 days, it will be 2012.  A new year.  New beginnings, new possibilities.  This will set off perhaps the greatest yearly waste of time in our lives:  the new year's resolution.

I've done it so many times.  Each year, I would pig out for 2 months straight at the holidays, all justifying it with that eye on the artificial January 1 deadline.  I actually convinced myself that as soon as the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, I would magically start eating right and start going to the gym.

Sure, I would go to the gym....and that gym sure would be full.  But by about the 3rd week in January, the gym would be empty and I would be back in the fast-food drive-through.  So from my vast experience in failure, I'd like to offer some suggestions to the new year's resolution crowd.

Instead of getting your hopes up that you are going to somehow magically turn your life around based on the calendar, take an honest assessment of your lifestyle.  Forget losing a certain amount of weight by a certain time.  If you have a lot of weight to lose like I did (and still do,) the weight isn't the problem.  That word "lifestyle" encompasses many things.  Our lifestyle is how we live our lives, including:

-How much stress we are under

-The quality of our relationships

-How much sleep we get on a daily basis

-Our overall happiness level with our lives

-The quality and frequency of the meals we eat

-How much physical activity we get on a daily basis

My weight problem was just a symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle.  What I ate and how much I ate was just one part of that.  I've realized this as I've had a chance to reflect on my life and try to figure out why I overeat, what triggers it, what I can do differently, etc.

So for 2012, resolve to look at the big picture.  And if you must make a resolution, make an actual resolution that you can follow through on.  Something like "I am going to pack my lunch and eat it every day."  Or how about "I am going to walk 15 minutes a day, 3 times a week."

If I've learned one thing in all of this, it's that if you cannot do it for the rest of your life, it's not worth doing.  Sure, you might be able to work out 10 times a week in the gym and lose 50 pounds in 3 months, but what about the long-term?  What about the disappointment that will come when you burn out  and can no longer maintain that maniacal level of exercise?

Instead of setting yourself up for that unhappy crash back to reality, take the long view. Make 2012 a year of change, but only changes that will carry you into 2013 and 2014.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why losing weight is a bad idea

I was telling my story to a group of people today and the conversation turned to the question of "how much weight did you lose and how long did it take you?"

I always answer, it's a perfectly normal question.  But now that I've had time to think about it, I'm realizing losing weight isn't the point. When someone says "I need to lose weight," that's really the last thing they need to do.

What I have to keep doing the rest of my life is to keep living a healthy lifestyle, which will cause a lower, healthier weight.  For me, this means:

-Eating breakfast consistently

-Packing a lunch every day and eating it

-Going to bed early and getting up early

-Getting some sort of exercise 3 to 5 times a week

-Measuring my portions and keeping a food journal

-Staying out of the drive-through

Losing weight with no plan, just for the sake of losing weight is what I have done in the past and always experienced failure. Without doing the daily work that comes with a lifestyle change, the temporary success always fades.

This is why lost weight is almost impossible to keep off.  The old habits come back.  *That* is going to me my greatest challenge.  Living that lifestyle that causes me to have a lower weight.  And trying to do it for the rest of my life.

And really, that has nothing to do with "losing weight."

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Concept of Planned Eating

The one thing that has really helped me in my weight struggles has been embracing the concept of planned eating.

What is planned eating?

Just what it says...if you didn't plan on eating it, then don't eat it.  This has helped me stay away from tempting, surprise sources of food that I didn't count on. This could be anything, such as free lunch, or a free snack at the office you weren't planning on being given.

At the beginning of the day, I map out what I am going to eat that day. I eat breakfast at home.  Then, I pack my food for the day.  It's a lot of food, too.  It has to last me about 12 hours, so it's really 2 meals and a couple snacks rolled into one.

Then, if it's not in that lunch cooler, I do not eat it. This is hard work, because temptation is all around us, especially this time of year.  Holiday meals, extra treats, homemade baked goods, etc. are all over the office.  But politely declining doesn't usually cause too much lasting damage between friends and co-workers.

Occasionally, you will run across what I call a "force feeder," which is someone who no matter how many times you nicely decline their offer for free food, doesn't give up.  They mean well, but their persistent attempts at sabotage seem to know no limits.  Statements like "come on, just a little won't kill you." are the norm.

But my new comeback will be "sorry, it's not in the plan."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Food is not a reward

It starts out when we're young.

You do a good job in school, you behave when your parents need you to, you do a good job with your potty training.

And you're rewarded. Your parents give you candy.  Or maybe a dessert. Maybe since you behaved during the time your parents shopped in the store, you're rewarded with a candy bar at the checkout stand.  You make student of the month and your parents take you out for ice cream, or to your favorite fast-food restaurant. 

We don't know it at the time, but these seemingly harmless, otherwise innocent acts are sewing the seeds for the obesity epidemic that is rampaging throughout society today.

This is the habit that creates the association in our minds from a very young age: if I do something good, my body will receive food.  Food is no longer a source of nourishment, a source of fuel for your body.  It becomes a reward.  Then what happens is this: as you get older in life, having had this reward system with food established, you begin to "treat" yourself.

You can see how this pattern continues for the rest of our lives.  Do a good job at the office? Receive a pizza party.  The company had a great quarter!  Let's wheel in the junk food parade.

This is a disaster and it should stop, even though it never will.  It's too ingrained in our psyche, but that doesn't mean we can't recognize it for what it is and seek to minimize it.

Well-meaning people have often asked me if I am going to celebrate weight-loss milestones by rewarding myself and eating something "special" or "a little extra."  This is the exact cycle of behavior that got me into trouble in the first place, so why would I keep doing it?

So how do we stop the food-as-a-reward insanity?  The solution is simple: just don't do it.  There are other ways to reward people.  How about money?  Non-food gifts?  A trip?  Anything but food. Because as long as we as human beings believe food is a reward, we are going to strive to seek it out as much as possible and the weight struggle will continue forever. 

It's time to break the association.  Food is not a reward.  Food is what we eat to survive.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stay humble, my friends.

I recently saw a presentation where a woman was talking to her audience about how she had lost 400 pounds.  What an amazing accomplishment.  She did it all on her own, using basic common sense, just like I have. Only hers was more.  I was blown away by her results.

And then I saw it.  The cocky attitude. The arrogance.  It became obvious to me watching her video that she believed she had the one and only true answer.  If everyone wanting to lose weight would just do what she did, the world would be perfect.  To hear her talk, you would think she was cured.

Only she's not. And neither am I, or anyone else. You see, my friends, that is the great lesson of weight loss.  When you're losing weight, you have to realize that there is a very specific reason that greater than 9 out of 10 people who lose weight gain it all back.

It's hard.  It's very, very, very hard.  Nothing anyone has been doing, will be doing, has discovered or has yet to discover will change that.

I was once where she was. 14 years ago when I was losing all this weight once before, I was on top of the world.  I thought I had all the answers.  I would talk endlessly about my weight loss and how I was doing.  How I had it all under control and no one else did.  I thought I had found the secret.  I had cracked the code.  I was cured of my obesity forever.  I used to go around telling people "I'll never go back."

2 years later, I had fallen from that lofty perch straight back down into the deepest depths of my food addiction.  I didn't just fall of the wagon....I dove headfirst off of it at 100 miles an hour.  I went from having an almost zen-like ability to control everything I ate to eating non-stop, as much as I could, as fast as I could.  Total control to zero control in 24 months.

Failure is a great teacher.  I think about what I went through every day.  And so I don't talk about my weight loss unless somebody brings it up.  I don't offer my opinion about what anyone else is doing unless asked.  I don't outwardly celebrate my weight loss.  I do celebrate in private with people that are close to me, but that's it.

Why?  Because I have to stay humble.  I know what could happen.  I know the deck is stacked.  I know that I am only as good as my last workout.  My last exercise. My last healthy meal.  It will never end. The struggle will go on forever, only it will get harder.  Temptation is always all around me.  I'm very confident I have the right attitude this time, but I don't have all the answers.  No one does.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: some days I feel like Superman.  Other days, it is a struggle.  On those days, I hate going to the gym.  Some days I am hungry all the time and I have to take it one meal at a time.  One snack at a time.  I pound the water just to get through the day.  It is a struggle.

So if you're losing weight, just remember: there is no need to spike the ball.

Monday, December 5, 2011

On turning 39

Today is my 39th birthday.

It used to be I dreaded getting older. For whatever reason, 29 was especially hard. For me, birthdays were depressing. They represented another year lost, another year of lost opportunity, another year of the same life I had been living.  Another year of limitations.

But no more.  Birthdays are now a celebration of life.  I'm excited about 39. I can't wait for 40.  And 41.

A year and a half ago, laying in the hospital, I did not believe I would see 38, much less 39. This is why I made the changes that I made to my lifestyle.  This is why I go to the gym when I don't want to.  This is why I walk 15 miles a week.  So that I can add more years to my life....and more life to my years.  So that there will be more birthdays.  That is all that sustains me, all that propels me forward.  The motivation, the will and the desire to live.

A friend asked me if I would be celebrating today by eating something special.  Absolutely not.  There will be no cake, there will be no ice cream.  And it's not because there is anything wrong with the cake or the ice cream.  I just choose to celebrate in other ways besides eating.

I think today I'll go to the beach.  Happy Birthday to me!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The 2011 Turkey Day 5K Run

I spent my Thanksgiving morning running in a 5K race in downtown Charleston, SC. I made a little video to commemorate the experience. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Water. We all know we should drink more of it, but a lot of us don't. I never used to drink water. And yet, the human body requires water and a lot of it. 

Since this blog is about weight loss, I'll tie in my experiences with water.  It is next to impossible to control your appetite, lose weight and keep it off without consuming massive quantities of water.  I find when I start to slack off on my water consumption that I start to mistake thirst for hunger. When my eating feels like it's out of control, I realize I'm really thirsty and start pounding the water. 

The only thing that makes me feel full after eating is if I drink a lot of water with my meal. Otherwise, I am a bottomless pit. So how do you drink more water?

I was able to quit my 12-can-a-day diet soda habit (really) while I was in the hospital and switch to water.  It's hard. The caffeine withdrawal alone makes it very, very difficult.  But it's worth it. 

So go ahead, try some water.  Substitute 1 or 2 of your coffee/sodas, etc. with a bottle of water and gradually work it in.  Once it's all you drink, you'll start to crave it. 

Oh, and one more thing: water is the only thing that has zero calories.  You can have as much as you want. How awesome is that?

Here's a good rule of thumb for water consumption. You really do need a lot of water!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Book You Should Read

Until I write my own, the best book about overeating is "The End of Overeating," written by former FDA Commissioner David Kessler.  It's a book about how and why people overeat.  Reading this book made me realize that people don't overeat because they're weak-willed.  It is because the "food" is scientifically engineered to addict them.  The drugs are salt, sugar, fat and the drug pushers are the restaurant and food industries.

The book has been out a couple years and can be purchased cheap used.  Anyone who doesn't understand why they can't control themselves when it comes to food should read this book.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stop Focusing On The Scale

In almost every diet I have ever heard about, it goes something like this: you do whatever you do to lose weight, then weigh in.

Most programs have you weigh in once a week.  Or some, for maximum idiocy, have you weigh daily. The focus becomes what the scale says.  The goal becomes weight loss and nothing else. And that, my friends, is the road to nowhere.

Thee who worships the scale is destined to drown in disappointment.  If your goal in becoming healthier is just to lose weight, save yourself the pain and aggravation and just give up now. 

I have a better idea.

For the first several months of my weight loss journey when the weight was falling off the fastest, I only weighed once a month. I honestly didn't care what the scale said most of the time. Sometimes I get caught up in it, but I try not to.

Yes, you have to weigh once in awhile to know where you stand. But getting caught up in the thrill of quick weight loss means you will become intoxicated with the euphoria of constant success.  To say you are setting yourself up for failure would be like saying the Titanic had a moisture problem.

So go easy on yourself. It's OK to throw yourself into your lifestyle change and create dramatic results.  But don't be addicted to it. Because one day, that weight loss will stall.

Remember, it's about the rest of your life. Not the next weigh-in on some stupid scale.  This may all sound like sour grapes from someone who isn't doing well, but I'm fine. I lost 4 pounds last time I weighed in.

I just know what it's like to gain weight back you have worked so hard to lose and realize you have to take a long-term view.  It's not about next week, or next month or even next year.  It's about adding 5, 10, 20 or even 30 years onto your life.  Living to see your kids grow up.  Regaining your mobility or not living with the cloud of diabetes and heart disease hanging over you.

Never forget that the lifestyle change you create for yourself is more important than any single weigh-in.  You are becoming someone else, someone healthier and leaving behind the bad habits and disease of the past.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Portion Distortion

"Portion Distortion" is a great term used to describe how we perceive a large amount of food as a single serving.  This will lead some people to say "I don't eat that much," when in fact, they're eating 5 servings.  This could also be called denial, something I was an expert in, but that is another blog posting.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a great website that tracks how serving sizes have exploded in size over the last 20 years.

Portion size is a huge issue for me.  Obviously, having gotten my weight up to 577 pounds, I ate way too much.  But how much is "too much?"  How do you decide?  Through my own experiences, I have come to the following conclusions about portion sizes:

1.) I never trust my own eyes when it comes to portion sizes.  I long ago came to the conclusion that my mind wants to keep me as heavy as possible. Sometimes, I will look at a plateful of food and think "that is a huge amount of food." Other times, I look at the *exact* same portion and think "that isn't very much."

That perception, what I think in my mind as being the appropriate amount of food, is never right.  So I have learned not to trust it.

2.) Measure, measure, measure.  People who want to lose weight need to invest in 3 things: a measuring cup/spoon set, a food scale and a note pad.  Measure and write it down.  If you're trying to lose weight, never, ever, ever, ever trust your eye or mind when it comes to portion size. It cannot be trusted. You cannot guess.  You cannot eat what looks "about right." To do so is to become a victim of Portion Distortion.

3.) Use smaller plates.  This seems simple, but I have found it very effective.  Think about it: if you put your dinner on an 8" plate, it's going to look like a lot more food than if you put that same exact amount of food on a 12" plate.  You will mindlessly fill your plate to capacity.  Why should the size of the plate dictate how much you eat? That, my friends, is insanity.

4.) Stay out of the restaurants.  Portion Distortion is out of control at restaurants.  The plates are huge.  When you add up the chips/salsa, the bread, the appetizer, the soda, the salad, the entree, the meals are multiple thousands of calories. I believe it is next to impossible to lose weight and keep it off if you eat in restaurants. I am sure it could be done, but I couldn't do it.  Think about it: if somebody was going to give you everything you wanted without any limits, how are you going to keep track of it?  That is what a restaurant is.  Consider the endless refills of soda that are several hundred calories per serving.

5.) Read labels. They're there, and people mostly ignore them. But look closely. How many servings are in the package you are eating out of?  How on Earth do you eat an entire bag of chips that totals over 1,000 calories and fit that into a 2,400 calorie a day diet? You can't.  Read the will open your eyes.

If you don't know how much you're eating, put it down and run away!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Why settle?

Losing weight and keeping it off is one of the hardest things there is to do in life. There's a very good reason many fail (like I have in the past) and really struggle with it (like I will for the rest of my life.)

So with the odds stacked so high against you, how do you succeed?

First, you have to find your motivation. Mine was simple: not dying. Staying alive. Yours might be to live a better life, to see your kids grow up, to be in shape, etc.

But I have another angle to consider. Set aside all of the common trains of thought about weight loss.  Forget motivation, forget willpower.  Forget discipline, forget diets.  Forget it all and think about this:

Why should you accept being overweight? Why do you settle for that unhealthy lifestyle and all of the limitations that go with it?  Especially if you're very overweight to the point of it limiting your mobility and inhibiting your social life like I was.

Don't settle.  There is a better life everyone is capable of enjoying.  I'm not sure if anyone is like me, but when I decide something is unacceptable, I draw a line in the sand and do something else.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On the concept of "Dying happy."

I have heard this many times before and I am sure you have too.  In fact, I am sure I have said it:

"I will just eat whatever I want and it makes me happy, so I will die happy."

That, my friends, is a lie.  You won't die happy.  This isn't Hollywood: "the big one" just doesn't painlessly take you out. Here's what really happens: you die a slow, miserable, death. 

You get diabetes.  You lose a limb.  You have a stroke.  You go blind. You're taking pill after pill after pill, constantly treating symptoms, but never the disease. 

Your last years on this Earth are spent in the health care system.  Constant doctor's visits.  Endless trips to the ER.  Non-stop medical attention and churning through the hospital. Mobility is restricted.  Quality of life suffers. 

All of that flashed before me when I was in the hospital last year and it lit a fire that burns inside me to this day.  I only had to lay in that bed for about 2 days before I realized that the food wasn't worth it.  It just isn't.  Every food commercial will try to make you think it is, but it isn't. 

If you have any weight to lose or if you just want to get back into shape and live a healthier life, don't wait.  Don't wait until you're on the table in the ER wondering if you're done for. 

Take action now.  Throw away the soda and start drinking water.  Stay out of the drive-thru.  Go to the grocery store and buy some food instead of going to a restaurant.  Make a healthy pizza with your family instead of ordering the garbage that gets delivered to your door. 

Nobody facing heart bypass surgery ever says "I sure am glad I had the fries."

Friday, October 28, 2011


It was bound to happen sooner or later, so here we are. I weighed today.  Total pounds lost: zero. This is the first time this has happened in the 17 months I have been doing this.

Two weeks have gone by, I haven't lost anything.

Nothing gained either, but nothing lost. How could this be?

I don't know. I have no explanation.  I have done nothing differently.  Maybe a little less weight lifting this week, but just as much, if not more exercise.

I've been through my food diary, it's all about the same as usual. There's always room for improvement, but nothing out of line.

So I've decided it's one of a few things:

1.) I really did lose weight, but since I was up late last night watching baseball, my dinner did not properly digest. (HAHAHAHAHA, I know...that's reaching.)

2.) I lost fat, but gained muscle, which weighs more.

3.) The weight-loss Gods are giving me the finger and there is no logical explanation.

I'm going with #3. Either way, I intend to keep doing what I am doing and am not concerned in the least.

Onward and upward!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why fast food sucks: an illustration

Here's an excellent example of how much more you can eat if you're eating anything remotely decent.

Here is my lunch for today, a total of 610 calories. We have a tuna sandwich with light mayonnaise, an apple, an orange and 2 Dannon Light and Fit yogurts.

Now, here we have one single fast food menu item, the "McSkillet Burrito with Sausage" from McDonald's, also 610 calories. What is going to fill you up more?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Check out my CNN iReport

After several people urged me to, I finally posted my story on CNN's iReport.

My only goal in doing things like this is not self-promotion, rather it is so people can see that a regular person with a lot of weight to lose really can do it.  If just one person sees my story and becomes inspired to change, then it will have all been worth it.

Click image to view my CNN iReport

Friday, October 21, 2011

Learning from Failure

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."  -Winston Churchill

To those that have know me for a long time, you may remember I once lost all of this weight back in 1997 and 1998.

And then I gained all of it back, plus more. It was complete and total epic failure on an absolutely cosmic scale.  It was humiliating and painful.

That failure haunted me for over a decade.  But when I was going through the weight loss, I felt indestructible.  I felt like I had cracked the code and was cured forever.  I was wrong.

So, when it all came crashing down, I panicked.  Instead of just calmly trying something else and giving myself a break, I overreacted.  It took me less than a year to gain back what I worked so hard for almost 2 years to lose.  I have never been more humbled in my life.

When I set out to lose this weight again, I decided to learn as much as I could from my failure 12 years ago.  Why didn't what I did work? Looking back now, I can see all the dumb things I was doing that were unsustainable:

1.) I was starving myself. Losing weight became the focus, rather than focusing on maintaining a healthy weight.  I got addicted to the number on the scale.  With that in mind, I only weigh on the scale every 2 weeks.  Not 1 day sooner.

2.)  The foods I were eating were a drastic departure from a normal diet.  I became a vegetarian and for a time, a vegan.  Those are healthy diets and good choices for some people, but unsustainable for me.  This time I have tried to eat only the way that I think I can maintain forever.

3.) I never cut myself a break.  When I gained back 5 or 10 pounds, I should've just relaxed and slowly gotten back on the horse.  Back then, if i didn't go to the gym 10 times a week, I felt like a failure.  I had completely lost my mind and it's no wonder I burned out.  So these days I try and take the long view.  If I miss a workout, I just go the next day and move on. 

It really is true when people say "slow and steady wins the race."  Sometimes I lose 2 pounds every 2 weeks.  Sometimes 8.  I'm not trying to win an award, just get and stay healthy.

The important thing is never giving up.

Media inquiries and Speaking Requests

Contact Bryan Ganey:

Bryan Ganey has been featured on Dr. Drew on Headline News,,,, The Huffington Post, Fitbie, Sirius/XM satellite radio, ABC News 4 and Live 5 News in Charleston, SC as well as The Charleston Post and Courier. A YouTube video about Bryan's journey has been viewed almost 100,000 times.

Bryan is now on a crusade to educate the public about the lies of the weight loss industry and the empty promises of weight loss surgery.

Some basic facts:

1.) From 6/20/2010 to the present, Bryan has been able to lose 370 pounds through a healthy lifestyle change of diet and exercise.

2.) Bryan has not had any sort of weight-loss surgery. Bryan has seen a nutritionist and has a personal trainer through his employer.  He also walks a lot and eats a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, lean meats and a lot of water. 

3.) Bryan does not take any weight-loss drugs and is not a member of any organized program.  Bryan does not follow any published diet, other than just common sense. 

4.) All of this started when Bryan was hospitalized for a pulmonary embolism for 6 days.  He has since overcome this condition as well as high blood pressure and being pre-diabetic. Bryan no longer takes any prescription drug medication. 

Need an entertaining, dynamic speaker on the subject of weight loss who has lived it himself?  Book Bryan Ganey for your next gathering or corporate event!  E-mail here for more information.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."   -Steve Jobs, 2005

I've never been one to have clear-cut priorities in my life.  I've always just done whatever I wanted to do, in whatever order I wanted to do it, whenever I felt like it.  I've always envied people who had that single, driving passion from day 1 and followed it forever.  That's just never been me.

I've also frequently put things (and people) ahead of myself.  But like the Steve Jobs quote at the top of this posting says, nothing changes your perspective and priorities like realizing you are about to die.  It does something to you.  People used to tell me that, but I never understood what they were talking about until it happened to me.

16 months ago, on my way to the hospital, I was convinced I was having a heart attack and I was convinced I was about to die.  For hours after that in the emergency room, I was still sure I was having heart problems and death was imminent.  A cardiologist once told me they don't do open heart surgery on people over 500 pounds.  So I was sure the grim reaper was knocking on the door and the game was over.

When I discovered I was going to live, but only with major changes in my life, it all became very clear.  Like no other time in my first 37 years on this Earth, it all became crystal clear.  I remember hearing myself say it over and over in my head laying in the hospital bed for 6 days straight:

"Nothing matters anymore except my health.  Nothing."

And in one fell swoop, everything went out the window.  All that mattered was my health.  Doing what the doctors told me, following a regimen and setting up everything to support a healthy lifestyle was job #1.  Anything that got in the way had to go.  I am motivated by the will to live, no other reason.

That is my #1 priority.  What's yours?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Telling it like it is

When I was in the hospital last year, most of the doctors and the nurses talked to me like you would expect them to: with complete compassion.  The week I spent there was filled with people dancing around my biggest issue: that I weighed over 500 pounds and was eating myself to death.

I once had an emergency room physician dare to tell me I may have "a conditioning issue."

But one doctor, actually I think she's a Registered Nurse, Physician's Assistant or Nurse Practitioner, told me like it is.  Her name is Cynthia MacDonald and she worked for the critical care lung doctor that was taking care of me. 

I was sleeping during the day in my hospital room, she came in, ripped open the curtains and asked me what I was doing.  She told me I was too young to be in the hospital. She asked me a question that still reverberates in my head to this day:

"Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in the health care system?" 

I had never been spoken to like that in my entire adult life, but it was just what I needed.  She was like a drill sergeant:

"Do you eat breakfast? All heavy people I know don't eat breakfast!"

"What do you drink? Do you drink water? Diet soda doesn't do anything for you!"

"Frozen dinners are loaded with salt! That's why your blood pressure is so high!"

"Stop sleeping the day away and go to bed at night!"

Rather than being upset at being confronted, I loved it.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  She was right.  

More people should tell it like it is. 

Enough already

At first it's funny, but now it's just sad.  If I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me "what the secret was," I would have enough to pay off the national debt.

I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but when it comes to sustained weight loss, there is no secret. It's long, it's hard, it's a lot of work. Sometimes I don't want to do the exercise. I don't want to eat breakfast every day. I'm not even hungry in the morning.  But I make myself eat, so I don't get hungry later on.

People, it's hard. So let's forget about these popular theories:

1.) "I will lose weight when I find something that works."  Sorry, the only thing that makes you lose weight is taking in less energy than you put out. It's an earth-shattering concept that works every time it is applied.

2.) Stop with the gimmicks, or at least stop telling me about them.  There is no pill, plan, diet, machine, DVD, gym you can join then never go to, or any of it that is going to lose weight for you.

3.) Please stop telling me you "don't eat that much." I told myself that for decades and it never did any good.

4.) You can't eat "anything in moderation" because anything is not moderation. Come on.

5.) And for crying out loud, please don't tell me how difficult it all is while at the same time stuffing your face with the contents of a Hardees bag. (You know who you are...I still love you, but c'mon.)

No one has the answer for you, only you do.  No one else is going to fix your life. It has to come from within.

So from now on, when people ask me my secret, I'm going to tell them I did it all with the Shake Weight.

Oh, and one more thing: the weight-loss patch only works if you put it over your mouth.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Race for the Cure

I had a great time today at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure here in the Charleston, SC area.  It was a 5K and it was for a good cause.

This is my third race this year.  It's easy for me to forget day-to-day that I have lost the weight that I've lost. But something like this drives home the success.

I would have never been able to even walk from the parking lot to the starting line 18 months ago. It just wasn't possible. And that's why I do them.  Because I can.

So today is October 15, 2011. Yesterday I weighed in at 325.5. I have at least 100 pounds left to lose. The more weight I get off my knees, the more I can run.

Onward and Upward!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What exactly is a "lifestyle change?"

You've probably heard the following saying many times in your life: "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change."

What comes to mind is the idea that not only are you changing what you eat and how much, but you're also exercising.

But as I've discovered over the last 16 months, it's much, much more than that.  You don't get to be 577 pounds without having several serious problems going on around you. But when it comes to changing that lifestyle, here are just a few things I changed that aren't necessarily just diet and exercise.

1.) Your friends. That's right, your friends.  In much the same way that a recovering alcoholic gets rid of their drinking buddies, a food addict has to ditch their "eating buddies."  If all you do with somebody is go out to eat, then that relationship is destructive.  If the people you hang out with have become a bad influence, time for them to go.

2.) Grocery Shopping. If the junk food isn't in your house, you can't eat it. If you swing open your refrigerator and look inside it, what is available? Is it full of crap? If it is, time to throw it all away and fill it with healthy food.  Or the absolute worst, is there nothing in it at all?  Time to start grocery shopping...stat.  As far as eating out in restaurants goes, this is out of control.  It used to be dining out was reserved for special occasions. Now it's turned into 3 and 5 times a week.  I believe in order to change your lifestyle, a large percentage of your food has to come from the grocery store.

3.) Your schedule. This may just be unique to me, but I'll include it anyway.  Part of my cycle of self-destruction included working a night schedule.  I would get off work, then stay up all night watching TV and binging on junk food. By the time I fell asleep at 4 or 5 in the morning, I was stuffed with thousands of calories.  For me, it took switching to an early morning shift to help jump-start my healthy lifestyle change.  It is true what Benjamin Franklin said: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."  Except for the wealthy part, all of that has come true for me.

4.) Television. I almost never watch TV anymore. In fact, I've thought of giving it away. What's on TV, anyway?  Non-stop food commercials. I used to watch the Food Network all the time.  But I have discovered that I can't anymore.  Everything they show is one gigantic eating trigger. I used to think I had to watch certain TV shows...that there is no way I could live without the TV.  Turns out I don't need it at all. 

Those are just a few.  So the next time you hear the term "lifestyle change" thrown around, perhaps it will bring to mind more than just diet or exercise.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Photos and a video from the 2011 American Heart Association Lowcountry Heart Walk

Yours truly (right,) on stage in Marion Square in downtown Charleston, SC accepting my Lifestyle Change Award. September 17, 2011.

Below is a picture of all of the Lifestyle Change Award winners, taken from the Lowcountry Heart Walk video.

Here's an awesome video produced by the American Heart Association about the 2011 Lowcountry Heart Walk.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Bryan Ganey Power Breakfast

I get the question all the time about what I eat, well here goes. What you see here:

2 Morningstar sausage patties - 160 calories
4 servings of Egg Beaters with fire roasted peppers and onions (from a frozen bag) - 190 calories
1 serving of steel cut oats, the kind you buy frozen and melt in the microwave - 150 calories
1 banana - 135 calories

Total: 635 calories

Friday, September 30, 2011

Today's weigh-in: 329.5

I weighed in today at 329.5 pounds, a loss of 8 pounds in 2 weeks. This is the biggest drop for me in a two-week period in a very long time.

It's a good win for me and I needed it. I've started to figure out what causes the weight loss to pick up for me and there is no question it is long distance walking.

So I will do more of that. The amount of food I am eating stands at between 2,400 and 2,800 calories per day.  That's a lot of food, right? But along with the fuel comes the exercise and that is what I will concentrate on in the next 2 weeks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stealing people's hope....and their money.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the weight-loss industry in this country.

You know who I'm talking about: the diets, the infomercials, the books, the pills, the machines, etc.

Do people really think there is such a thing as a "fat-burning" pill? It is amazing that something with such a high failure rate continues to make its inventors so rich.

What sucks so much about this whole thing is not only are people's money being stolen by these thieves, their hope is being taken away. People who are suffering in obesity prison and feel so desperate for help them lose weight buy this trash.

Then, when it doesn't work (it never was going to work in the first place,) they give up.

That is a tragedy.  If any other industry released a product with a 90%+ failure rate, the product would be taken off the market, the company sued out of existence and their owners arrested and put in jail.

But no, not the weight-loss industry. They get a pass.  There's millions to be made because there's a sucker born every minute, desperately looking for the easy way out.

Why does society tolerate it?  Feel free to comment below.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Welcome to my blog

I was looking through the traffic stats for my blog and I wanted to give a quick shout-out to my friends around the world.  So far, we have people checking in from Canada, China, Germany, India, Netherlands, Pakistan, the UK, Norway and Spain.

It seems losing weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle is popular all over the world!

Feel free to drop me a line with feedback, questions, etc:

Reinventing the Menu

Since I don't eat out in restaurants, except for extremely special occasions, I get all my food at the grocery store.

And boy do I shop for it.  Constantly.  I probably spend more time in the grocery store in a month than people do in a year.  But I have to.

What I'm finding with my eating is that I will eat roughly the same rotation of foods for several months.  And then, one day....the food is no longer satisfying. It doesn't fill me up.  It still tastes good, but it doesn't do it for me anymore.

Time to reinvent the menu.

So lately I have been trying everything, to see if I can add more staples to the rotation. It's a lot of work, but it has to be done.  This lifestyle change has to last forever, so I have to keep things interesting.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It looks easy, but it isn't. Not by a long shot.

It's interesting the perceptions that people have when you're doing something difficult like a lifestyle change.  When they see you succeeding, they think it's easy for you.  But I am here to tell you:

It is not easy.  It is never easy.  In fact, it's hard.  And every day, it gets harder.

When I first started losing weight last year, I would lie to people. I would say "It's easy, once you get started."  And yes, there are periods of time where I feel less challenged and success seems to come more easily.  But over time, I've realized that it isn't easy.  I've been challenged. I've had some serious ups and downs and have had to work harder than I ever have at anything else in my life.

So here's the truth.  Losing weight is hard.  Getting started is hard.  Maintaining the weight you've already lost while trying to lose more is hard.  Completely reinventing your entire menu every few months, just to keep things hard.

This is a lifelong process. I'm 15 months into this lifestyle change, the longest I have ever been committed to healthy eating and exercise.  I take one day at a time. I feel secure in knowing the changes I've made are permanent, but so are the challenges.

There will always be something to try and break my resolve. Always.  Whether it's a TV commercial, a well-meaning person offering me free food or some other stumbling block, I have to be on the look out at all times.

So no, it's not easy.  But it's worth it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lifting the restaurant ban for one day

Ever since I collapsed and went to the emergency room on June 20, 2010, I have not eaten at a restaurant.

Not one time, ever in the last 15 months. Until Tuesday night this week.

I was traveling on business for my company this week in New Jersey and they had planned a celebratory dinner for our group at a fine dining establishment.  I absolutely wanted to go and participate, so I needed to figure out how I was going to break my "no restaurant" rule and still eat a healthy meal.

I'm happy to report, thanks to Karl the waiter at the Grain House Restaurant in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, everything worked out perfectly.  I was able to enjoy a healthy, delicious, low-fat, low-sodium meal.

So what's next? Is this the start of a trend? Will I be dining out more?  No, I won't.  I've decided this is going to be a rare exception for only special occasions and only at very fine restaurants like the one Karl works at. Here is a picture of my meal and desert below.

Grilled chicken breasts and steamed vegetables

Fresh fruit

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Movin' On Up

I just finished a 3-day business trip for my work.  On this trip, I flew on 3 different airplanes.

This is a huge step forward for me because I have not flown on an airplane since 1999.  I couldn't fit.  In the past 12 years, whenever I traveled, I drove.  And never a rental car, because I didn't fit in any of those either.

This is what excites me the most about my weight loss.  It's having the limitations being removed...the shackles that have held me back for far too long.  So here's a celebratory photo, taken somewhere over New Jersey!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Never stop fighting

This weekend I participated in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk here in Charleston.  I received a "Lifestyle Change Award" and was recognized before the race.  I also gave a short interview to the Charleston Post and Courier, which you can read here.

It is nice to be recognized for something you've accomplished.  But I'm not done yet.  I have at least 120 more pounds to lose and I intend to lose it all, no matter how long it takes.

Also, any recognition I get, I want to try to use it to show people that a regular person who has serious health problems and who is on the brink of death's door can turn it around.  You do not have to accept being told you're going to die.  You do not have to accept being on 10 or 20 different medications the rest of your life.  You do not have to accept being unhealthy.  And no one should accept weighing over 500 pounds.  There is another way.

I have tried and spectacularly failed at losing weight in the past.  It was humbling.  But as with anything in life, you can never give up.  Never, ever, ever stop fighting.

The bottom line: if I can do it, so can you.  With rare exception, you can overcome just about any obstacle just by being persistent, by not giving up and giving it all you got.

But never stop fighting. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

And then there were two

Went to the doctor today and she discontinued another one of my medications. So now I am down to just two prescriptions:

Diovan 160mg and Coumadin 7.5mg. One is for high blood pressure and the other one is an anti-coagulant ("blood thinner.")

I cannot wait for the day when I don't have to take anything on a regular basis. And that day, while it may be a year away, will be coming!

I post this update not to draw attention to myself, but to give other people who may be taking these types of medications hope.  If you've been told you will have to take that stuff the rest of your life, wrong! You can turn it around.

You can embrace a healthy lifestyle, eat better, lose the weight and throw this garbage away...permanently. (With doctor supervision, of course.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's about time! Today's weigh-in: 340 1/2

After a slow summer, I weighed today and am down 6 more pounds.

This is a direct result of putting the pedal to the metal and busting out the cardio. More walking. More stairs.

Now, I just have to keep it up.  But I won't get greedy with the weight loss. My goal remains no more than 10 pounds a month.  I need to give the excess skin time to adjust. So far, so good there.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Get some exercise! it now!

Just a friendly reminder to get some exercise, no matter what you do.  Take the stairs.  Walk.  And you don't have to exercise a lot to get the benefits. Exercising just 15 minutes a day for 3 times a week will get you started.

So go ahead, let's go!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Time to start the "Rocky" music....

I have had a fantastic summer...the best of my whole life. I've had some injuries that kept me on the shelf for several weeks and kept me from doing what I've wanted.  The heat hasn't cooperated either.  But now it is cooling down.

I'm ready.  I'm tired of my obesity ruling my life.  Now it's time for me to rule it.  Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the final push.  It's time to get into that weight loss elevator and push the "200 pounds" button.  It is time to lose the rest of this weight the only way I know how: the hard way.

So fire up the "Rocky" theme....the alarm clock goes off at 4am tomorrow....

Monday, August 29, 2011

On the Jazz

In the 1980's TV series "A-Team" the lead character John "Hannibal" Smith was said to be "on the jazz" when he was in the zone, experiencing an adrenaline rush and ready to take on the world.

This is the way I'm going to describe that feeling when I'm 100% in control of my weight loss regimen.  My eating is very structured.  The amount of food I have planned to eat that day is enough.  I'm exercising right on schedule. I feel I am cured of my obesity forever.  I'm never going back.  I have found the answer.

In short, I am "on the jazz."  I'm fired up and ready to go.

But then there are those days where I can't seem to get enough to eat.  Where the workouts are more difficult than they should be.  Where I start to second-guess everything.  I start to worry that I am going to eat an extra apple and gain all 230 pounds back at once.  The mind runs wild.  Paranoia sets in.

I had one of those days today.  But you know what?  Even though I wasn't on the jazz today, I at least managed to get through my normal workout and eat the same amount of food I have been eating every day for a long time.

In short, I am still losing weight and everything is fine.  But days like's difficult.

So all you can do is fight, fight, fight, fight.....and never give up.  Nobody ever said this was going to be easy, that's for sure.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

This week's weigh-in: 346.5

I weighed yesterday and came in at 346.5 pounds. That's a 3 1/2 pound loss in 2 weeks.

Do I want it to be more? Absolutely.  If I let my mind run wild, I will convince myself this is a total failure because I didn't lose more than 5 pounds. But I can't look at it that way.

So far this summer, I've lost 30 pounds. That includes times of low physical activity due to injuries, which I have battled back from.

And least I didn't gain anything! And I also have to remind myself that the longer this takes, the more likely it is to stay off. But like everyone else (yes, even me) I get impatient.

So to try and jump-start the cardio this week, I walked 6 miles today. My ultimate goal is 10 pounds a month lost. I'd like to be at my goal a year from now.  But does it really matter if it takes 2 years? Or even 3?

Not at all. I am trying to maintain a healthy weight. Not win a weight-loss contest. And I have to remind myself of this once in awhile.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What I think about exercise

It's been 14 months now since I started this weight loss journey and it has been filled with ups and downs. Mostly ups, some downs.

I recently overcame 2 injuries, 1 to my knee and another to my rib cage.  How did this happen?  I overdid it. I tried to do too much. So I had to sit for almost 2 weeks and watch my weight loss slow down and my muscles I had worked so hard to develop weaken.

I've been back at it for a few weeks and I wanted to make a blog posting about exercise as part of a weight loss program.

I think people have it all wrong.  I think people overdo it. Bad.

But can you blame them?  Every message people get through the media, health club commercials and exercise machine commercials is the same: you have to go kill yourself non-stop to get results.  I see it all the time in the gym.  Somebody joins up, comes twice a day for 10 days in a row, then you never see them again.

I think the answer really is in the old adage that "slow and steady wins the race."  I think to be successful, people should start out very slow and consistent.  Thinking back, when I started out at over 500 pounds last summer, I couldn't walk very far at all.  My exercise was pushing a grocery cart around Walmart a few times a week.

Then, I increased it to walking about a half mile twice a week, then up to 3 times a week.  And so on.

I realize that everyone wants instant results and therein lies the problem.  But over time, if you consistently exercise, there will be greater benefits and rewards than if you burn yourself out.

And finally: if you're going to work out, seek out professional help.  Find a trainer.  Somebody that knows what they're doing.  Because it is very easy to hurt yourself.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One of the best documentaries on eating right...ever.

I ran across Joe Cross' "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" on Netflix streaming and I was blown away.

The film follows Cross across the US as he undergoes a juice fast to lose weight.  I've never tried juicing and to be honest, don't really care to.  But the more interesting part of the film for me is the second half which follows a 400+ pound truck driver as he works on losing weight.

What makes his journey so powerful is you see him starting out swimming in a lake at the beginning, still at 400 something pounds.  It's easy to think "he'll never lose all that weight, look how far he has to go!"  But that's exactly what he does.  By the end of the film, he's jogging down the street at 200 pounds.

There's also a lot of interviews with doctors and nutritionists.  Just a fascinating film.  Anyone with Netflix streaming should check it out.  It's also on Amazon for a one-time rental of $2.99.

The physical DVD comes out October 11. Check it out!

Getting your sleep right

One of these days when I write my best-selling diet book, chapter one is going to be entitled:

Step one: Get your sleep right.

I am learning as time goes on that my sleeping patterns rule everything.

If I don't get enough sleep, here's what happens:

-I eat more because my body is starved for energy

-My workouts suffer. When I am tired, I have nowhere near the energy to be able to workout effectively.

-Lifting weights becomes very difficult.  I can't lift as much, do as many reps, etc.  It just is much, much harder.

-Getting through the day is hard.  Since I had to give up caffeine a year ago, if I don't get enough sleep....I am dead in the water.

Never mind the fact that a lack of sleep causes a generally bad attitude and the people around you suffer.

How much sleep?  Hard to say.  I suppose everyone is different.  I'm no expert, but I've discovered I need at least 7 hours.  6 isn't enough.  I always read 8 hours is the normal.

Some people get by with less.  Whatever that amount is, be sure to get enough!

Monday, August 8, 2011


OK, so let's face a few facts about the food that's widely available.  Vending machine "food."  Restaurant food.  A lot of grocery store food.  Food on television commercials. Food prepared on the Food Network. 

The food sucks. And it sucks bad.

If it's high in sodium, your food sucks.  I have not busted my hump for over a year and slowly worked my way off of several medications just so I can eat something that has thousands of milligrams of sodium in it.

If your food is super-high in fat, it sucks.  And I am not a fat nazi. There is such a thing as healthy fats.  There is such a thing as reasonableness. But really? Some of these fast food meals are OUTRAGEOUS.  It's not food, it's slow-acting poison.

Or how about the food in the vending machines. 600 calories for a honey bun? Are you serious? That's as many calories as in my entire breakfast. And I get a bowl of oatmeal, a banana, scrambled egg whites. Sausage patties.  What are you eating?  Garbage.

And delivery pizzas? More slow-acting poison.  It all sucks.

It's not so much that the food is bad for you or that it is high in fat, calories and's just that YOUR FOOD SUCKS. 

The quality is bad. You're not getting anything in return for the hit on your waistline.  The food just sucks.

There is better food to be had, but you're going to have to make it yourself.  At least you'll know what you put in it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Righting a Wrong

For the past 11 years or so, my driver's licenses in both Ohio and South Carolina have shown my weight as "350."

Like a lot of people, the weight on my driver's license was a lie.

I decided awhile back, I would go to the DMV and have a new picture taken and get a new license when I actually hit 350 pounds.  So here it is...the "before and after" driver's license pictures.  The new license has all sorts of security features, so the pictures didn't show up too well when I scanned it in.  So I added my own.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eating healthy costs more? Nope!

I came across a news story that talks about how eating healthy costs more and since the economy is so bad, darn it, some people just won't be able to afford the extra cost.  So I guess I should just give up, crawl back into my cave and go back to eating cheeseburgers, Little Debbie snack cakes and ramen noodles every 5 minutes.

Are you kidding me? Really? What nonsense. The reason this is a complete lie is because the article does not address the #1 cause of unhealthy eating:

Eating out all the time.

Even if you accept the premise that healthy grocery shopping costs more than unhealthy grocery shopping (which I don't, by the way) it's still cheaper to eat healthy than not if you stay out of the restaurants. Let's look at the math:

According to this link, the average American spends $2,736 a year in restaurants and bars.  That's an average of about $50 a week.  For most people I know, it's more. But whatever.

The article says eating healthy costs an extra $7.28 a week.  I think if you quit eating out, you can afford the $7.28.

And what about other sources of unhealthy eating?  How about the vending machines?  Your daily drive-thru latte purchase? It all adds up.

Say nothing of the impact on your health.  What about the financial consequences of an unhealthy diet, such as more doctor visits and more medications?  How much does that cost?

Eating healthy does NOT cost more.  Unhealthy eating does. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lying and Stealing

Every time I see an ad or hear a commercial for some weight loss program, I come to the same conclusion:

It's a scam, they are lying and are stealing people's money.

The worst part? Not only are they ripping people off, but they're giving people false hope.  If you fall for a rip-off pill or fad diet, the following is 100% guaranteed to take place:

1.) The only weight you will lose will be in your purse or wallet when you spend money on that nonsense.

2.) Whatever weight you lose will immediately be gained back, plus more, making the entire effort not only futile, but counter-productive.

3.) Your health could potentially be put in danger by some of these diet pills, which are really supplements that are not FDA approved.

Over the years, I've been on the weight loss roller coaster and lost and gained hundred of pounds. The reality of the situation is there really is no easy answer.  Different things work for different people, but I think people need to find out what works for them.

Talk to your doctor.  See a registered dietitian.  Meet with a trainer.  Start out slow.  Get some exercise.  Don't expect quick results.

Doesn't sound very exciting, does it?

Everything anybody needs to lose weight is in their regular grocery store.  Sidewalks are free.  Start out slow and forget about quick results.

There are some good diets.  From what I can tell, Weight Watchers is pretty good, even though I've never done it.  The Dash diet is a good one if you have high blood pressure.

Just don't fall for the gimmicks.  Oh, and the weight loss patch only works if you put it over your mouth.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today's weigh-in: 353

Well, I weighed in today for the first time in 2 weeks and only lost 2 pounds.

That's right, 2 lousy pounds in 2 whole weeks. It's a little bit of a bummer, but really, it isn't. 2 things have contributed to this:

1.) I have not been working out at all this week and hardly any last week.  I pulled a muscle in my rib cage and messed up my knee.  So that lack of exercise is going to contribute to it.

2.) I have been eating slightly more. Maybe just 200-300 calories a day.  It shouldn't really matter, but along with the lack of exercise, it apparently does.

But, I can't worry about it.  I decided a long time ago that this wasn't a weight loss contest.  My goal is to get and stay healthy.  I know I can eat the amount that I'm eating and still lose weight. The injuries will heal, the exercise will increase and I'll be right back on this blog 2 weeks from now talking about losing more weight.

This is why I always tell people to stay away from weighing all the time.  As much as it provides that number to tell you where you are, it can also drive you up the wall and discourage you.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How much do I intend to lose?

This question has been coming up more and more.  How much weight do I intend to lose?

The answer is simple: all of it. All of the excess weight, that is.

The idea that I would come this far and stop at 355 pounds after losing 227 is not something I am going to entertain.

My goal is not to just lose weight, I want to become as healthy as possible and live as long as possible. I also want to get off the medications I take, and that isn't happening until I hit my goal.

It's going to be an interesting 2012!