It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This week was my greatest triumph and worst defeat. Allow me to share with you, dear readers, a harrowing tale of loss, redemption, water retention and cute baby kittens.
My First Visit with a Personal Trainer
It all started with my first trip to the gym. I chose the Natatorium in Cuyahoga Falls because it is near my office. It is always much easier for me to go when it is near work. On other unsuccessful attempts to lose weight, I would go here to swim.
Anyway, I signed up for a membership and made arrangements to get paired up with a personal trainer. I went last Thursday for my fitness assessment with Gabriel. After we discussed my health in depth and the parameters of my diet, he explained that the fitness assessment was basically going to be a measuring stick for my progress. We were going to test me on a variety of exercises; note my maximum number of reps, weight, heart rate, etc.; and then hopefully, every six weeks when I repeat the assessment, we will see improvement.
Well, folks, I am a fat man. I haven’t had a serious amount of exercise in probably 20 years. I learned some interesting things. First, I learned that while I had been walking regularly as part of the exercise for my OPTIFAST program, I was walking at about half the pace I should have been.
Next, I learned that my upper body strength had deteriorated over the years. I could only bench press 150 pounds, which I found horribly emasculating. On the other hand, when it came to doing the leg press, I could comfortably do a set of 10 reps at 390 pounds. That was all the weight they had there for the machine, so I basically couldn’t set a benchmark. I explained to Gabriel that I had done strength training all day, every day, for the last 10 years. You see, when you carry 439 pounds around all day, your legs get pretty ripped. At least there was an upside to being fat!
There were push-ups, stretches, sit-ups, and things I didn’t know the name for. In short, I was completely out of my element and left feeling a bit violated and mildly persecuted. I didn’t have my phone with me, but I promise to snap some pics of this fat guy working out for your viewing pleasure in the future.
I Never Want to Eat Another Hot Dog Again
The next day was Friday. After a full day of work, I had to head to the high school stadium. Was I there to watch football? No, I actually know almost nothing about football. My wife will cheer after a play, and I have to ask her what happened because I am completely clueless. No, for me, the whole reason to have a stadium and a football field is so the marching band can perform. Sometimes if they are good, the football team can entertain people before and after the band performs.
Anyway, my son is in the marching band. That pretty much means I’m in the marching band – at least when it comes to booster activities. Well, this particular night was homecoming, and they expected a bumper crop of fans. So yours truly volunteered to work in the concession stand. I know, I know, fat man at the concession stand. A truly bad idea if you ever heard one.
My night there started when I was told I would be making the hot dogs. Now I have never had anything against hot dogs. Not my favorite food, but definitely a serviceable platform for food greatness. Little did I know that God was working through the band boosters to make sure I was never tempted by hot dogs again. I was on my feet for four hours, rushing back and forth, delivering hot dogs to the counters, checking amounts in the warmers, throwing out trash, scooping coney sauce, and generally panicking in the face of thousands of hungry faces.
Now mind you, I was still sore and worn out from my first visit to the personal trainer. I was completely blotto by the end of Friday night and my hot dog assault. I started keeping the plastic tags from the bags of buns so I could tally at the end of the night. By the pocketful of bread tags, I estimate I made between 400 and 500 hot dogs that night. I can tell you that at no point in the evening was I tempted to eat one. In fact, by the end of the first hour, I was already resolving to never eat a hot dog ever again for as long as I live.
As I staggered out of my car back at home, I zombie walked into the house and passed out on the bed, the stench of an army of hotdogs slipping quietly into my dreams. After a fitful night of hot dog related nightmares, I was ready to recover from my two days of intense physical demands.
I Push Myself Even Further: Ohio Renaissance Fair and Dayton Mall
So what did I do? I got up early, packed the family in the car and drove three hours to Dayton to take them to the Ohio Renaissance Festival.
For those of you not in the know, it is actually a 30-acre, ring-shaped village of permanent structures made to look like a 16th century English town. There are over 140 vendors with games, shops, hand made crafts, food, medieval rides and stuff that you just can’t see anywhere else. My wife and I used to go every year with friends of ours before we had kids. The last time we went, my son (who is now of driving age) was in a stroller. I wouldn’t think of undertaking this place a year ago. I was feeling supremely confident in my weight loss and was ready to see just how far I could push myself into being even more physically active.
This is a view of the village and the huge, adjacent fields for parking. The tiny solid red box is approximately where we parked. By my estimation there were between 12,000 and 15,000 people there. The fields were full of cars. The larger hollow red box is the entrance to the village. Using the scale on Google Maps, I estimated it is around 1,800 feet from our parking spot to the entrance. That means I had to walk six football fields with a backpack loaded with all the supplies we would need for the day (sunscreen, headache medicine, Epipen, OPTIFAST in a cooler, bottled water and more).
After a healthy pat on the back, we entered the village and my kids were just completely blown away. They had never experienced anything like this. There was a pirate show on a full-size pirate ship, jousting, Scottish games, comedy shows – it was just overwhelming! It wasn’t long before my backpack was full of souvenirs with two wooden swords strapped to it.
We walked the entire village, and then walked it again to view the all the shops on the inner circle of paths. Then we walked part of it again to make last-minute purchases of things that we saw and didn’t buy earlier. The sun was hot that day, and I can tell you I was ready to drop. I had water and OPTIFAST. It was the first time I attended this event without getting a turkey leg or bread bowl or a tall, clay mug of Guinness. I was a little saddened by it, but the sadness passed quickly seeing what an awesome time my kids were having. We staggered back to our car. By my calculations, I walked at least three miles that day, most of it on uneven gravel or dirt paths. I was feeling tired but good.
I took the family to eat dinner and ran into my first problem of the week. I had strictly adhered to my OPTIFAST plan, and with all the additional exercise, I was looking forward to a killer weigh-in this week. I knew the OPTIFAST bars in the backpack were going to be gooey, so I checked the ones I had in the cooler bag in the car. I guess the one little ice pack I had in there was not enough to keep things cool in the car. I opened a bar to check on it, and it looked like…well…let’s just say it looked liked something that shouldn’t be eaten.
I figured I was on plan and had plenty of exercise so I ordered dinner with my family. I got a baked salmon filet, no sauce, and a salad with no dressing. I know…I really splurged, but I was determined to have a great weight-loss week! We checked into a hotel and I immediately got my Optifast cache into the fridge to, well, to re-congeal.
A good night’s sleep and it was Sunday. So, what does a fat man who re-introduced himself to exercise, made 400 hot dogs, hiked around a Medieval village, and spent the evening swimming in a hotel pool do for an encore? He takes his family to the Dayton Mall! Four solid hours of shopping, standing, looking, and holding bags.
By the time we drove home and finally got into bed, I felt supremely happy about my activity level. I was overjoyed I could give such a great weekend to my family. I was confident this would be my best weight-loss week ever.
Now Begins My Tale of Woe
Now let’s bring my happy tale of weight loss freedom into a dark and stormy tale of woe. Sunday night I weighed myself at home and I was at 390 pounds. That was already close to five-pound loss for the week. I figured that by Wednesday I would probably shed another three or four pounds.
Monday morning I went for my six month checkup with my doctor. The scale at my doctor’s office tops out at 400 pounds, so they usually can’t weigh me there. I was on the scale at 392 pounds. I was very happy, and my doctor was so happy with my new lower blood pressure that she discontinued one of my blood pressure medications, Hydrochlorothiazide.
So, just to recap, I had monumental physical activity, stuck to my program, and weighed 392 at my doctor’s office Monday morning. I didn’t take my discontinued meds Monday night. Tuesday night before bed, I weighed myself, and scaled showed 402. I had gained 10 pounds, in one day.
I completely freaked out. I was bloated and had to let my belt out two notches (just last week I wrote about being on the tightest notch!). I went to OPTIFAST on Wednesday and booked a five-pound gain. I was DEVASTATED.
Dear readers, I have slipped before. I am never happy going in to a gain week, but I know it’s my fault. Ultimately, I decide what goes in my mouth and take responsibility. This week, I did everything right and got knocked back. It took two people from Mercy Weight Management to talk me off the weight-loss ledge.
I guess the med I was on is a diuretic. When you stop taking it, your body immediately blows up with water and then stabilizes back down. At least that is what they kept telling me as I was sobbing on the floor, trying to get a pizza delivered to the OPTIFAST class.
I wish I could tell you I felt happy with that knowledge. I don’t. I am completely demoralized. I am struggling to stay on the diet horse for another week, at which time I am assured that my body will stabilize and shed some of that water weight. Few things make me literally cry. Maybe an occasional movie, reading a very sweet greeting card, seeing someone mix 15-year-old scotch with, well, anything. I left the OPTIFAST meeting in tears.
How a Baby Kitten Fits Into This Weight-loss Story
I would like to go on and on about how depressed this has made me, but I’ve taken enough of your time this week. So, I started you with triumph, and I don’t want to leave you with the bitter aftertaste of my spiraling depression. So take this as a parting thought.
My kids found a kitten abandoned in the woods. My wife and kids made the sad faces until I agreed we could keep it. He is five-weeks old, his name is Pumpkin, and he is being nursed back to health in my game room. I think they decided to sequester him in my room for a reason. Who can stay depressed when there is a kitten around?
Just discovered Eric Buwala’s story? This is week 15 of his weight-loss journey with Mercy Weight Management’s OPTIFAST program. Read his entire series here.
Ready to join him in losing weight? If you live in or near Canton, Ohio, Mercy Weight Management can help! Contact us to learn more.