My Journey to Date – July 2017 – July 2018

Progress to date:
July 6, 2017 – ~345lbs     July 6, 2018 – 258.2bs

July of 2017 – over 340lbs, August 20th 201 337lbs, January 1 2018 295lbs, July 6, 2018 258.2lbs.

Ave monthly Blood Pressure:
July 2017 , Jan 2018 155/95, March 2017 130/82, Jun 2018 117/77 went to one BP med in March.

What a difference year makes.

For the last 15 or so years I have been on a slow downhill spiral from a health perspective. There are no excuses, the truth is – I was lazy and allowed injury, sickness, life, loss and just about anything to get in the way of eating right and moving more. That all changed about 11 months ago.

Due to some health issues I made the decision to get healthy and be honest with myself.

Last August I had several episodes of a heart condition called Ventricular Tachycardia – which is the bottom of my heart gets out of rhythm with the top, blood stops flowing through my body and bad things happen. I had 3 episodes, the last one being on the treadmill getting an EKG/Stress test. Thankfully nothing serious happened and I had good medical care. I went to Cardiologist and was told – given my age, diet, lack of exercise and general lack of health everything points to a blockage in the arteries that feed oxygen the bottom part of my heart. I was scheduled for a Cardiac Catheterization the following week with the expectation that one or more stents would be placed to help fix things.

The night before the procedure, my pastor and I were praying and he stated, “God we ask that when they go in they will find the arteries wide open and all be healed”. When I regained consciousness after the procedure the Dr that performed the procedure and the nurses were all saying, “I can’t believe how wide open your arteries are ”. So I fully believe that God gave me a miracle. I have not had any reoccurrence since then and am truly blessed to have a chance at life without any heart issues. God is truly great!

Growing up my mom beat into me that “God helps those that help themselves”. I knew then and there it was time to change things around. I needed to get healthy, lose weight and change how I lived. So I did.

While the formula is simple the process is hard. Simply put I had to Eat less and Move more. No secret sauce, no miracle pill, no short cuts. There were many along the way that helped me, some did deliberately, and others probably had no idea at the time. Mark Cole an old boss – probably has no idea how much he impacted my success- he suggested that I check out an app for my phone called loseit. I had already done that almost a year before I started at his suggestion, so it was on my phone ready to be used. In the app you track everything – put in height, weight and it comes up with a calorie plan for you to lose 1, 1.5 or 2 lbs. a week. It also allows you to track exercise and gives you calorie bonuses ( more calories to eat if you want) for the exercise, the paid version allows you to tie in the fitbit to track the steps and other things automatically – this is well worth the 30 bucks a year I think. My wife Kristen – who knows how much she has meant to my success – has been unbelievably supportive and been my biggest cheerleader. She has helped by keeping the junk out of the house and hidden if it was brought in for Katie. That was a big key to my success, we had to change the composition of our fridge and pantry before I could change the composition of my body.

Track everything

Many have asked me what “plan” am I on. Many have found success using the Medifast, Paleo, Adkins, Weight Watchers etc.. I have not found lasting success following any plan. The answer is no- I am following no defined plan, I think it works better this way for me. I made a promise to God and myself that I would get healthier and that I would be better about how I eat. I vowed to eat fewer calories in a WEEK than I burn. I used an app to help me track it. I chose to measure weeks rather than days because that allows me to have some flexibility on if I go out to a big family dinner or a big business lunch – I don’t have to stress out about it a 1200 calorie meal is going to destroy my success and derail me. My history has been when I want to lose weight in the past I would get on a strict diet and a strict workout regime and I would be mess up at one meal – then I told myself the lie- it’s no use you blew it at lunch, you can’t get back to the plan for the day, so you may as well blow it at dinner or have a doughnut or ice cream. I found that being able to say to myself I am still ok for the WEEK – get after it starting right now! I was psychologically better prepared to be in it for the long haul and to actually change my lifestyle not just my day. To form habits. To create the lifestyle that would sustain me for the rest of my life.

Be brutally honest

Make the decision and do not giving myself any out. Something clicked, and I realized that there are no excuses only lies I told myself to make easy the path of sloth. I also realized that every excuse is just a lie I told myself. I was a liar. I lied to the most important person in my life. Me. Every time I said I’ll start Monday. It’s just a doughnut – not going matter, I’m going to get up and work out tomorrow.- and I don’t. Every time I said “My _____ hurts Ill skip moving today”. Every single time I did that I lied to myself. I would not lie to my wife, my kids my boss etc, but I lied to myself all the time. I stopped lying to myself on August 20th. It was a process as I had to learn how to trust myself again. I found that just when someone repeatedly lies to you and breaks your trust it takes time to trust them again. Same goes for rebuilding the trust in yourself. I had to start now, right fricking now and the lies stopped. Recently in my journey I was introduced to Jocko Willink Jocko Podcast– Thanks Marc Potash– who very clearly and succinctly puts the attitude in this clip It took months for me to rebuild trust in me. Every day that went by that I ate less and moved more was like paying into the bank of James. Every time I said “yeah I was weak and I chose not to stay on the path” instead of “I was too tired, hungry, injured, sick, etc” paid into that bank too.

Find Healthy Substitutions

Some of the things that I did to help me on the path. In the beginning, I cut out 100% of sugar and breads. And if you know me I love both – heck I even grind my own wheat to make bread at home. I don’t think I had any sugar or bread from August 20th to Thanksgiving. Then I gave myself permission to have a feast – rolls, pie and cookies etc. I got physically sick the next day but got back on track right away and was mostly sugar and bread free until Christmas, this time I got violently sick and realized that I truly was poisoning my body with too much sugar and other crap. First thing to realize is that sugar is an addiction. Really and truly – it is like cocaine. Once you cleanse yourself of it, you will get sick if you take too much of it later. It was eye opening for me. Initially I thought it was just over eating after so long of not. But after pigging out on some pulled pork and brisket with no cake or cookies with no ill effects, I realized it was the sugar. But if I eat a bunch of chocolate and cake but not really over eat I felt sick again. No sugar or breads – bread just adds calories that are not long lasting – so I stayed away.

I also found out that I like to eat at night. I like to have a full tummy before bed and it became a very easy place for me to be tempted to eat a bunch of stuff and just add calories to the daily total, that by that time of the day were already consumed. I also found that if I ate a good breakfast I could go almost all day without food. So I cut out lunches for a good part of the last year. That way I could eat dinner when I got home from work and if I were hungry later I still had the ability to eat more later – and stay under the plan for the day. It was a revelation! Freedom through Discipline. If I am disciplined throughout the day I can have freedom to have a full tummy when I go to bed. How cool is that! Its worked for me to drop tons of weight. I did modify this later as I started ramping up the Move more (weights Elliptical, walking etc) portion of the plan, I added a protein bar for lunch. I was having hunger cravings in mid-afternoon and there is always junk at work – chips breads, snacks candy doughnuts, Pizza etc. So I thought how can I do something to support myself so there is no temptation later in the afternoon. I added a bar for lunch – that gave me ~180 calories and 20 grams of protein mid-day and that did the trick. Another substitution I found very helpful was to always have a bunch of cucumbers around. I started snacking on cucumbers because I would find myself munchy – not hungry but feeling the need to eat something. If I tried to fight it – more times than not I won but it was hard. I figured out that a cucumber fills me up and it was only 47 calories for a whole one. If I add a couple of table spoons of dressing it only adds another 100 or so calories and boom – not a huge impact on my daily/weekly counts. I learned healthy substitution! That is how I will maintain for a life time. I can use that to attack any other revelation that comes up – I have changed my lifestyle sustainably.

Get Support

The other key to my progress was to have others along the way cheering and supporting and helping me hold myself accountable. If you look at the chart of my weight loss – it was NOT linear, I weigh in every Friday and as you can see it was an up and mostly down affair. Right after Easter I had packed on some pounds and was struggling to get back on track. I joined a 6 week challenge with Michael Weiss and Dan Hollander . Mike who has been a friend for years and his skating buddy Dan, off and on, use each other to challenge each other to get back into shape – now they are both professional figure skaters so their version of getting back into shape and mine are vastly different – they were gracious and let me join in. We set our goals for 6 weeks out, shared them and off we went. It was not who could lose the most weight or % body fat. It was how close could you come to your stated goal. It was the best thing I could have done at that point. The fun and banter and the challenge of beating them while keeping my promise to myself was a self-fulfilling prophesy. And these guys were awesomely supportive – they are at their goals but still cheer me along and weigh in every Friday to help me. I learned to get support. Ask for it. Get a few people that can share your victories and your struggles It is empowering! Clayton W. LiaBraaten was another one that encouraged me often and cheered me along the way. He is an older (sorry Clayton) guy in great shape even after multiple surgeries. He was someone I wanted to emulate and he was gracious enough to answer questions and cheer me along.

Long story short, It was simple – Eat less and Move more – Be brutally honest with the only person that matters – Track everything – find healthy substitutions – get support. Simple in concept but hard work every day to achieve it.