Weight loss for a fat guy - How the iPhone is saving my life...

Dateline September, 2009...

I hadn’t been feeling well. My body wasn’t handling the stress that work was putting me under like it had times before. I was thinking that at 38, I was too young for this. So when I actually succumbed to having my blood pressure taken, it was spiking to 180/100. That shocked me, and I knew that something had to change.

On October 13th 2009, I went to the doctor and everything changed. BP was 160ish over 100ish. However, weigh-in was shock number two: 395lbs. WTF?!?!? No way did I weigh that much. That couldn’t be right. I can’t weigh but maybe 20 or so pounds more than when I got married back in 1997. I was deluded. I was fooling myself. I was living in the past.

Shock number three was the profile the doctor said I fit. “According to my calculations, you are a man who is taking in close to 4000 calories a day”. 4000? 4000?!?!?! With the history of heart issues in my family, I was looking at an early grave. However, it was correctable. The doctor said that exercise was out of the question until I got a full cardiac profile done (stress test, blood tests, heart echo, etc). My first line of defense was diet.

The doctor gave me some great information on what I was putting in my body, what I should be putting in my body, and what to look out for when eating out. She also got me to see a nutritionist, which only further expanded my knowledge about what the do’s and do not’s are when it comes to eating “right”. This is where the iPhone comes into play.

The iPhone has many applications on it that deal with fitness. The one that I settled on had brand name nutritional information, restaurant nutritional information, and allowed me to input/correct information. The KEY to it all was the tracking. If you don’t know what is going into your body, there is no way you can honestly lose weight without hurting you. The nutritionist and doctor gave me guidelines. For an average male, take in no more than 2000 calories, 180 carbs, and 2400 sodium (for the heart).

When I first saw that, I thought that was easy enough to do. Then I started looking through the iPhone application, doctor’s literature, and on the internet. My GOD!!! I was eating myself to oblivion. Case in point was my standard Saturday night meal. I loved getting a Red Burrito from the local Hardees. It was big and loaded with “good stuff”. Know what that cost me?

From http://www.hardees.com/redburrito/menu/burritos/signature-red-burrito-beef/

Product Signature Red Burrito (Beef)
Serving Size 428, Calories 820, Calories from Fat 290, Total Fat (g) 32, Saturated Fat (g) 12, Cholesterol (mg) 65, Sodium (mg) 2820, Carbohydrates (g) 95, Dietary Fiber (g) 6, Sugars (g) 4, Protein (g) 35

This sucker, not counting the nachos, salsa, beans, and soda included in the combo, was costing 1/3 of my daily calories, ½ of my carbs, and more than a whole day of sodium.

My second weakness was soda. It had gotten bad. I was guzzling down a 2liter of Coke on a weekend. During the week, I’d start my day off with a 32oz Coke in the morning, with a refill at lunch. Know what a Coke has?

From http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/us_nutrition.html

Product Coca-Cola classic
Serving Size 8 Fl Oz, Calories 97, Calories from Fat 0, Total Fat (g) 0, Saturated Fat (g) ?, Cholesterol (mg) 0, Sodium (mg) 33, Carbohydrates (g) 27, Dietary Fiber (g) 0, Sugars (g) 27, Protein (g)0

Note the serving size. That is just for 8oz of Coke. Do you even see that anymore? Talk about garbage in. And I was downing a 2liter a weekend? I quickly weaned myself off of Coke (the headaches were a biatch), and went to strictly water.

So, the drink was taken care of, what about food? What could I have? You know, I found out quickly that if I just read the labels, ran the numbers, and adhered to the serving/portion size, I wasn’t missing out on much. See, this is where a lot of people (myself included) were misinformed. The information is right there on the can/package. Just note the serving size and make allowances in your daily allotments. It really is all about the math. What about eating out? Well, thank God for the internet (and again, iPhone). You can look up most major restaurants online. They will have nutritional information. If they don’t, there are multitudes of websites that have their own info or a copy-cat recipe with nutrition info. It may not be precise, but it worked.

Back to my tale of woe. Once I got the wake-up call, I got serious. I couldn’t do this if my head wasn’t twisted on straight. I had to buckle down and work for it, even without exercise. I used the fundamentals I was taught and learned: knowing the information, tracking the input, keeping the limitations. Between more doctor visits, my family got on board. The more questionable foods were quickly replaced with more healthy food. The sea salt shakers were replaced by Ms Dash. The regular canned veggies replaced by the low-sodium or no-sodium versions. Because my heart was still in question, we started collecting and using recipes from low-sodium cooking sites. You’d be surprised how much you don’t miss it.

So, with diet only, the pounds started to come off. Not quickly, mind you, but they did. By the time I went in for my stress test a month later, 20 pounds were gone. By Christmas, close to 40. Speaking of holidays, I have to keep reminding people when they want to cook for me that they need to make what they always do. It is UP TO ME to make sure I don’t exceed what I can have. Was it hard? Not so much. I used to load up on stuffing and gravy at Thanksgiving. I used to be able to finish off a pound of ham at Christmas. Maybe I was lucky to start this diet before the holidays, because by the time they hit, my habits had changed.

Habits built up over my lifetime were hard to overcome. However, it doesn’t take too long to reform them. You have to give yourself time. When it came to food, I was always taught to clean my plate. I would overeat to make sure I ate what I took. Well, I listen to that full feeling now. I can visualize what I know I can eat. I can mentally portion things out. It works great. I eat smaller portions of better food with greater lasting effects so I don’t get hungry. Pre-portioned meals that are commonly available in the frozen food section are a great boon! I’ve fallen in love with the Healthy Choice Café Steamers. The nutritional info is perfect for what I’m doing, and it keeps me full until dinner. Don’t buy into the old wives tale about eating breakfast big and progressively smaller meals throughout the day. Everyone is different. Everyone has to learn what their body needs and should have.

Liver issues were brought into question by some of my blood work. I got a CT scan done, and it indicated fatty liver. Off to see a specialist. Fatty liver is one of those things obese folks like I have to deal with. Your liver can store up fat, which hinders liver functions. You have to lose weight to lose the fat. So the first visit, the specialist tells me that. He likes that I am losing weight and I should continue to do it smartly. He orders more blood work and a return trip in January. So, the first week of January rolls around and I weigh in at 341. 341? That’s 50 pounds in 3 months. GOAL!!!!!

(side note: I had set some goals when I started this back in October. I wanted to lost 50 pounds by Spring 2010, and 100 by my Birthday in November 2010)

Doctor said my blood work had improved a lot and was again impressed with my weight loss. I am still going through more monitoring. This will be coming up in March. Also around this time, I got word that my heart was cleared for exercise. Fantastic! I had a coat rack…er, exercise bike that needed some loving. My family decided that the Wii Fit needed dusting off as well. I wasn’t so thrilled about this. See, the Wii Fit has a weight limit of 330 pounds. If you exceed that, you can’t use it. I had bought it in late 2008. When I first got on it, it told me that I weighed too much to use it. Ouch. However, now was a new day!

I was hesitant to get on it, but I did….and….it accepted me!!! I was pegging the high 320’s with minimal clothing, but I could do it. I combined this with the cycle for some good results. We got the newer Wii Fit Plus software, and the updates are much appreciated. I try to do 30 minutes a day minimum.

Sorry to have rambled on for so long, but as you can see, losing weight at my age is possible. It isn’t easy, but if you get your head in the game you can do it. As the 80’s cartoon GI Joe used to say “knowing is half the battle”. In my case, it was the entire battle. Once I got educated, it all fell into place. Plus, if I ever feel like going off the wagon, I have a little reminder in my pocked (iPhone) that keeps me on the right path.

Now to see if I can bust my birthday goal before spring arrives. If so, party time. Healthy with limits, of course. :)

PS. As of this morning. 308.


LadyRider60 said...

I am so very proud of you. I think it's awesome that you are doing this and taking care of yourself not only for you but for your family as well. You got to stick around to get to my age LOL.

Ken said...

Fantastic brody man! WTG!

When you are ready, lets hit the batting cages. Its a great work out and adds variety to your exercise.