Editor – Cris Harshman
In September 2006, I was staring down the barrel of a gun:
- Height: 5’7″
- Weight: 265 pounds
- Overall Cholesterol: 202
- Triglycerides: 354
- VLDL Cholesterol: 71
- 23 munit/L insulin to maintain a blood glucose level of 87 mg/dL
My doctor wanted to put me on cholesterol medication. Besides having an aversion to medication, I’m 32 – isn’t that too young for cholesterol medicine? I was embarassed to exercise, unconfident of myself in social situations, and afraid I wouldn’t live long enough to start a family with my wife.
4 months later, after joining Optifast, I am a new man:
- Weight: 199lbs
- Overall cholesterol: 170
- Triglycerides: 121
- VLDL Cholesterol: 24
- 4.9 munit/L insulin to maintain a blood glucose level of 70 mg/dL
I realize, however, that I am only at the beginning of my journey to health. Fitness is about more than numbers on a page or on a scale – it’s about awareness, choice and responsibility. Fitness affects my physical health, my mental health, my financial health, my spiritual health – fitness is a lifestyle.
This site is about my journey to fitness.
Guest Editor – Dave
Greetings all! While I’ve not taken the same journey as Cris, I used to be in a similar situation: 6’3″ and 285. Doctors would say my Cholesterol and Blood Pressure was acceptable, there was a hidden danger. And what’s worse is it was something I couldn’t escape: Genetics. Let’s look at some family history.
On my dad’s side :
Grandfather – multiple heart attacks resulting in his death. Life long smoker, and horrendous Cholesterol
Grandmother – multiple heart attacks. Finally gave up smoking after 30+ years. Type II diabetes.
Uncle – Just turned 62 and had 2 mild heart attacks in the past year.
On my mom’s side :
Grandfather – bad Cholesterol
Grandmother – hypochondriac, but otherwise basically healthy I think. (lucky here)
And both my folks are healthy! So how could I not be? I was a runner. It wasn’t that long ago I used to hike 30 miles with a 40 pound backpack. I And these are things I’ve known for years. Never really thought much of it. I knew I was healthy as a horse! I mean come on, my folks were joining AARP. I knew I wasn’t Mr Universe, but surely I was healthy. I could run all day, slow and steady like the turtle, if I had to.
One day that self image changed. I had won front row tickets to a huge concert. Great day, amazing music, something I’ll never forget. But during the concert I happened to catch a glance of myself on the Jumbrotron. Now I’m not usually a vain person. In fact I don’t look at myself in the mirror since I sported a beard and usually I am the photographer not the photographed. So I hadn’t notice the changes, or if I did I excused them. You know the signs. The fuller face. Larger clothes were a result of just growing up not out. Other lies we tell ourselves.
You know what? It’s a hard thing to admit to yourself – “I am overweight”. Or I am unfit. And I’m not sure why. Is it the association with failure? Or is it the lack of honest self assessment? It makes me think of that that poem by Emily Dickinson.
Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;
As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
She speaks to those that would tell the truth. But what of the listener? Can we not sit in the shadow, wrapping ourselves in the willful ignorance? Choosing that interpretation that moves us the least? So I would say sometimes the shock of the bright light is a needed motivation. That kick in the pants which can starts life style changes. And it’s hard to hide from the truth when it’s blown up larger than life. Or comes from a doctor when you’re only 30.
So in being honest about my weight, that meant I had to do something. For me it was exercise and boy, was it humbling. Remember my bragging? And at that point I doubt I could have run a mile. It’s not that I hadn’t been exercising over the years. I had tried other things such biking, swimming, weights. But costs of memberships, and quality of the equipment kept me home. In fact sometimes exercising would trigger ravenous eating and I would end up consuming as many calories as I had just burned.
So what did I do? Went back to basics – running/walking. I got a pair of good but cheap shoes and time became my goal. 20 minutes a day I was out on the greenway. Didn’t matter what I was doing as long as I went out. And the weight started to come off.
At the same time I changed 2 dietary habits: no buffets and oatmeal for breakfast instead of fast food. A no brainer there on the latter but I was surprised how much that helped. Especially saying “no” to buffets. Being frugal, I would often try to maximize my food dollar. While I can’t say that I cooked more at home when I started, my weight loss encouraged me to eat better. In fact anymore I run so I can eat what I want.
I made all the life changes for one simple reason: I’m looking to change my life’s depreciation rate. There’s no way to avoid the crash at the end, but I enjoy things to much to rush head long into it. So good luck in your journey of life improvement, and to quote many a runner, “waddle on my friends, waddle on”.
For those that want simple suggestions: