There is no doubt that one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever attempted to do is lose weight. And it’s not for a serious lack of effort.
Before I tell my short story let me request that all my many friends who peddle weight loss plans and programs withhold your personal invitations to try your product. I know who you are, and when the time is right I’ll seek you out.
See if my story doesn’t mirror yours in some ways.
My latest frustration came when I stepped on the scale this morning and found that I’ve gained 5 pounds this week. This is frustrating for the following reasons: During the holiday season I fully admit to eating generously, drinking frequently, and ingesting everything that is supposed to be bad for me. From Thanksgiving to New Years Day I didn’t lack for pies, cookies, candies, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, creamy sauces, and fatty meats. And through this month-long gorging of myself I didn’t gain weight; unless 2-3 pounds counts as gaining weight. I don’t think it does; especially since I started at around 233 pounds. Were I the size and weight of an average man, about 170-180 pounds; 2-3 pounds would be more significant. I gained this five pounds in spite of joining my neighborhood LA Fitness gym and seriously stepping up my regular workouts this week.
As in all things context is king. So here’s my context. I’m 47 years old, 6-foot 1-inch, with a fairly heavy build. I’m a big guy. Bigger than most, anyway. I grew up an athlete and physically fit. As a 18-year-old high school football and basketball player I was 185-190 pounds. By age 23, when I got married, I had added a lot of muscle through weight training and weighed 205-210. For most of the past 10-15 years I’ve been pretty steady at 235-240. Like a lot of men, if not all, my excess weight is carried between my arm pits and my hips.
A funny thing about my weight gain is that it was actually endorsed by a few people around me who I love. A few years after marrying my wife of 25 years I was about 220 lbs. My wife’s 80+ year old Grandma who we all affectionately call Granny always referred to my size by saying, “Now you look like A MAN!”.
At age 39 after remaining fairly active through my 20s and 30s I noticed how my body was frequently experiencing lots of aches and pains. It was particularly acute in my hips and knees. I attributed most of this to playing catcher for my teen daughter who was a fast-pitch softball pitcher. The bending and stooping to help her training, combined with age, took its toll. So I began a regular exercise routine. I’ve religiously stuck to that exercise routine of weights and treadmill work for the past eight years. Every morning I’m up at 5:30am working on generating a sweat. The routine helped tremendously with my aches and pains but did nothing for my weight and shape.
So last Spring after reaching my all-time high weight of 245 I decided, for the first time in my life, to really try to lose weight. My efforts were mostly directed at my diet. I began eating off salad plates instead of the larger dinner plates, which I always piled high with my wife’s delicious and filling cooking. I made a concerted effort to eat more leafy vegetables and began taking fiber supplements. Progress was slow. So at the behest of a couple of friends who’d had some success with the Advocare diet and nutrition program I went on their 10-day challenge. I dropped six pounds. Shortly thereafter I was down to 230 pounds, and was looking and feeling better.
This is the point where my frustration began to grow. At my best point in the past eight months my digital scale showed me at 230.00 pounds. It really grinded my gears that I couldn’t dip into the 220s. I know its silly but 229.99 would have looked and felt so much better to me than 230.00. At least three times in the past 5 months I’ve stepped on the scale and seen 230-point-something. Each time I got excited and practically starved myself for a day or two trying to nudge that scale below that torturous 230 mark, only to see it climb back to 232-233-234. WHAT! God must want me to be fat. Or so I thought on a couple of occasions.
This whole experience has made me a far more compassionate person toward those who battle weight. I know what I’m doing. And I know I’ve improved my eating habits and maintained a regular exercise routine. But I have so little to show for it.
The good news is I maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and believe I’ve taken steps to lengthen my life. I’ve also realized that I need help. I’m always resistant to spending money on things and services I feel I can do on my own. But I’m now going to find a diet that will knock off the 15-20 pounds I really want gone.
Weight loss is more than a vanity exercise for me. It’s a life decision. My father died at 64. His father at 65. His brother, my Uncle, at 61. They were all overweight. Though like me my Uncle was pretty active. But when he died nearly 2 years ago I was struck with a fear I’d never felt. The idea of only living on this planet another 18-20 years seemed like a desperately short amount of time for all the things I still wanted to do. I want to see my kids continue to grow and succeed. When the time comes that I’m a Grandfather I am eager to see my grandkids grow into adulthood. So, ya, I want to look and feel better. But I want to live longer. And sadly, I’m now at the age where I have to entertain such thoughts.
So for the others out there also struggling to look and feel better. You have my heart-felt sympathy and support. Like me, you can do it. I can do it. I won’t quit. My life depends on it. I’ll keep you posted.
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