Allow me to introduce someone to you this week. His name is Flat Stanley. A character in a popular children’s book, Flat Stanley begins as a little boy and then gets trapped between the pages of a book and flattened into paper. Because he is paper flat, he can be mailed all over the place to experience new adventures.
Many elementary schools (including my daughter’s) incorporate this into a project where the students make a Flat Stanley and mail it to friends and family. They take pictures of Flat Stanley and then write about his adventures.
Luckily for my daughter, I have a lot of friends in a lot of places. Her Flat Stanley traveled to New York, Missouri, Michigan, California, France, Belgium, Switzerland… You get the idea. Flat Stanley got around.
I was thinking about all the great places Flat Stanley got to go because he is – well – thin. That got me thinking about a project for OPTIFAST. I want to make a FAT Stanley, and then take pictures and write about where he CAN’T go!
Even though I was okay with being heavy, I couldn’t deny the fact that it sometimes created limitations. I know everyone out there who is heavy goes through this and has to avoid situations where they know their weight is a factor.
I suppose we don’t have to actually carry around a giant paper doll. It would be an interesting project to have people take pictures of places or things they can’t enjoy because of their weight. The more honest I am with myself, the more I’m sure I would be snapping pictures all day long. I can think of a few situations right now.
I can’t ride a roller coaster. I haven’t even considered taking my family to a theme park because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t ride any of the rides.
I can’t take my kids for a haircut. The place has chairs with arms and narrow seats. I physically can’t fit in them and standing the whole time would kill my back. (Well, it did until I started losing weight!)
I cannot sit in a booth at a restaurant. It is unnerving when my family has to wait longer for a table because I can’t sit comfortably in a booth.
Well, I suppose I could go on and on with the things I can’t do. Is that too negative? Maybe Fat Stanley is too much of a downer? Feel free to chime in here any time… I swear sometimes I feel I am talking to myself.
‘Weighting’ to Get to South Bass Island
So, put a pin in Fat Stanley for now while I tell you about some things I CAN do right now! Much like Flat Stanley, I am getting thinner. Prior to Mercy Weight Management, any sort of extended walking or standing would just cause fatigue and muscle pain. I could barely contemplate the pain and discomfort of going grocery shopping. Anything beyond aisle 3 needed a break to recover my energy.
Well, this weekend I was able to travel and do something I haven’t been able to do in years.
This (courtesy of Google Maps) is South Bass Island. It is affectionately referred to by Ohioans as visit years ago, usually in the off season when most of the island is closed up and there are no crowds. Of course, the downside to that is there is very little to do on the island at that time. So, I decided that before the kids started school, I would take the family on a day trip to Put-In-Bay. Aside from the big party weekends, this is basically the busiest time of the year to go to the island. I would not have even contemplated this at my old weight. Even though I had my work cut out for me, I put my best foot forward.
We got up early and I took the family to breakfast. They had a huge breakfast to power through the day while I had my OPTIFAST bar and a coffee. After a couple hours in the car of laughing and joking our way to Lake Erie, we arrived at the ferry to take us to South Bass.
Panic immediately set in when we realized they were so busy we were going to have to park about five blocks from the ferry and ticket office. Everyone in the car slowly looked at me and waited for me to react somehow. I just gathered up our backpack, locked the car and we started walking.
After a long walk to the ticket office, we got at the end of a line of about 125 people waiting to buy a ticket. That meant standing in line for over 20 minutes. Again I get the look from my family. I just smiled and made small talk with them. I was a little out of breath from the walking, and my feet did start to hurt a bit, but it was manageable.
Then we had a good 20 minute wait to get on the ferry. Of course, there is no place to sit, so once again it is a lot of standing around. I was enjoying the smell of the water, the sound of the waves, and the sounds of the gulls above us. I know those of you who are ocean dwellers are not impressed by our piddly lake, but hey, I am from Ohio. This is as good as gets when all you normally see is corn.
The ferry arrived and dropped its ramp. The staff quickly loaded some cars and then it was the passengers turn to board. For those not familiar, the ferry boats there have a large flat deck, and then above the deck is a small area with rows of plastic benches outside and an enclosed area with seating inside. What I never noticed before is exactly how small that area is compared to the deck.
Because this is peak season, the seats up top were filled literally within seconds. People began to gather on the deck, immediately covering both rails, and then clustering into little knots of social conversation like it was just a party in someone’s backyard.
That meant we had to stand for the whole duration of the ferry trip. My family was in full-on walking on eggshells mode now. They figured I was inwardly writhing in pain and sudden movement or flash photography would cause me to attack the crowd. In truth, I had been on my feet more than hour at this point and, while it was a little unpleasant, it was again manageable. I reveled in the spray from the lake, the wind in my hair, the gentle rocking as the ferry made it’s way across the water. I was beaming with glee as I watched a line of aircraft come in from the west to land on the islands airstrip. As the ferry got close to the island we were right in the flight path and could gaze at small aircraft creeping only 150 feet above us with their flaps and gear grabbing at the wind.
The Quest to Rent a Golf Cart
Once we got ashore it was more walking – this time up a very big, very steep hill. We all grunted through it though because we knew the golf cart rental place was just a block or two away from the ferry. I was starting to get a little unhappy now about all the walking and standing. More specifically, I was okay with it, but my feet and legs were very sure that I was somehow punishing them for behaving poorly. As I coasted into the rental place, a helpful employee stepped up to tell me they were sold out unless we had a prior reservation. Sold out? SOLD OUT!? I felt like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. I had just been told, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid,” and shoved down the slide.
After a brief moment of utter defeat, I figured I made it this far and might as well see if my body remembers how to push itself. We had to walk a block or two back to a different golf cart rental place. Sold out. Darn! We walk a couple blocks to a taxi waiting by the road, only to find out it is full. Double darn!
I had been on my feet now for over two hours. As far as I can recall, that’s probably a record in the last 10 years. My family is literally whispering in a huddle, I assume trying to figure out how to incapacitate me when I go into a full-on fat tantrum and begin laying waste to the countryside. Luckily they were saved by a bus. For $10 we got to sit for a brief rest, packed into a bus with so many people even a Japanese commuter train would be proud.
Once we arrived downtown, it was more walking. Then a good half hour wait in line and finally getting a cart. Our family reunited and putted off around the island in our prized golf cart. Just to check back in with our hero, this was more walking and standing then I had done in 10 years. So what did I do next? I took my family to play mini golf!
Mini-golf, Butterflies and More Make for a Magical Day
There is a family activity place there where you can do neat touristy stuff. We played 18 holes of mini-golf (lots of standing, walking and bending!). We took a tour of Perry’s Cave (lots of stairs, walking, standing and bending your head down to not bang into things!). We bought the kids bags of dirt and sand, which they could then use in a sluiceway to pan for gems. Last but not least, we went to the butterfly house.
There are literally hundreds of butterflies all over the place in there. You can walk through the gardens and watch all the beautiful colors flit past. If you are still enough, they will even land on you! I will admit I cheated here a bit. There was a bench along one of the garden paths so I sat down for a minute and watched my kids.
As I sat there, I realized exactly how awesome this was. At this moment, in this greenhouse, on this Lake Erie island, hundreds of miles from home, despite hours of walking and standing – it all was necessary to make this moment happen. More importantly, this moment wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t decided to do something about my weight. My son would be locked in his room playing video games, and my daughter would be watching TV. My wife would be napping. But because I made the decision to lose weight, I was here. They were here! We were out doing something, getting exercise and having fun!
Even my wife got in on the fun. She had a butterfly that really liked her hair tie. As she walked around, it followed her and kept landing on her. Then we realized this butterfly…ahem…REALLY liked her hair tie! It was a mama butterfly looking for a place to lay a couple eggs. With a little help the butterfly eggs were removed and yet another memorable family moment was added the books. I am sure this will be talked about for decades to come!
We got dinner on the island. We let the kids play in the park and walked around downtown. We shopped for cheesy souvenirs in what seemed like a hundred stores. At 9 pm, as the sun finally set, we had another long wait in line for the ferry.
This time we were near the front of the line and when we got our tickets taken, I ran (well, as close to a run as a 400-pound man can manage) to get us a seat. We sat in the benches closest to the bow (that’s the front for landlubbers) on top of the ferry. We watched together as people packed into the deck below, ready for the last trip back to shore. As the ferry crossed the water, there was a nice cool breeze from the east. The moon was almost full, so it lit up the water with a spectacular glow, all the while adding shiny silver outlines to every stray puffy cloud that dared to crawl across a perfectly clear night time sky.
I took a deep breath, felt the arms of my daughter wrapped around me as she looked out at the water and sky in wonder. I could hear the excited whispers of my wife and my son behind me as they tried to put into words exactly how beautiful and spectacular the world was at this moment.
We didn’t get home until after midnight. I spent a good portion of the long drive home sipping a large diet soda while my family dozed off and on as we sped down the highway. They were spent and happy and exhausted and – I hope to some measure –content.
So, this week, even though I only lost 3.8 pounds, I gained a spectacular day with my family.
Thanks, Mercy Weight Management. And thanks me.
If, like Eric, you are ready to join a Stark County weight-loss program for improved health, contact Mercy Weight Management for more information about a customized weight-loss plan.