|Then and now.|
Brian E. Clark
Editor's Note: When Mr. Clark was asked to write about his weight loss adventure, he replied, "I don't know who'd be interested
in hearing about a fat guy losing weight, but I'll think about it. Maybe it's
time to write about some good news for a change..."
This brought about such responses as "Go for it" from Chassidy and "Me" from Ann.
My response; ". . . everyone who has commented on
this post (would be interested), other people trying to lose weight or who lost weight would like to
hear another's story of their struggle and it is just a good human interest
story; one of courage, determination and perseverance. Go for it, my friend."
And so he did, and here it is!
In researching how I would compose this article, I searched
other magazine articles to see how someone who lost weight narrated how they
went about it. I saw some good writing but, I was profoundly disappointed.
Every article in any number of magazines was about some celebrity who was
celebrating losing 20, 25, or 33 pounds. The problem I saw is they were
skinny to begin with! I pushed on though and read a few articles just to
gain some inspiration and, as I figured, the big secret in all of these
celebrities diets was . . . diet & exercise. Do I need to buy a $5 magazine to
figure that out?
I’ve been the “Chubby Kid” all my life, but in spite of
that, I’ve done some pretty amazing things. Just because I am bigger, I never
let it stop me. And just like every other person in America, my weight has
fluctuated and I’ve gone through a series of diets to get back to a size that
was acceptable to me. For the longest time, that was all that mattered. I
didn’t care that my BMI (Body Mass Index) said I was obese, I was comfortable
with who I was and that was all that mattered. That was until I came down with
a terrible sickness in December 2014 that would change my life forever.
In early December of that year, I came down with what I
thought was a stomach bug. Though, as time passed, it only got worse, not
better. I ended up being transported to the hospital by Ambulance where I
found out that it wasn’t a stomach bug at all, instead, one of my major organs
had failed and I was within hours of dying. Surgery was needed, and I was
rushed to the OR. I wish the story ended there, but it most surely does not.
Because mistakes were made, over the next year I endured a total of 15 major
abdominal surgeries. In 2015, I was in Middlesex Hospital more than I was
During the recovery, I was very sedentary, and between that
and different medications I was on, I gained weight rapidly; 163 pounds in
total. It was exactly one year later when the last of the open wounds
healed, and it took another year to heal completely. At the end of everything, sure I
was alive, but I now weighed 463 pounds and I couldn’t walk more than 150 feet
without wanting to die! When I was younger, all I had to do was eat healthier
and the excess pounds just fell off. Not the case this time around! I was
really in a tough spot. And, I was scared. I have been big all my life, but my
parents are big too. My Father has serious health problems and is only 65, and
my mother had died in 2009 due to lung cancer. I also have a Step-Brother that
is so big that he can’t walk. So, this was very real for me.
Dieting sucks. It always has. If it didn’t, then 68.8% of
Americans would not be obese. It’s hard, and I know that everyone who is obese
doesn’t have the resolve it takes to grasp the problem and begin to solve
it. I ended up going to my doctor to
discuss if Gastric Bypass Surgery was an option. Fortunately, it was. But, I was
in for a reality check when I found out how arduous the process was. However,
if you’re at the point where Gastric Bypass is a serious option for you, your
options are severely limited to begin with. I met with the Gastric Bypass
Surgeon, Dr. Robles on November 16th, 2016 and was told what had to be
done to get to surgery.
Going through this process, I’ve heard that other people
think that Gastric Bypass Surgery is “the easy way out”. I couldn’t disagree more!
When I met with Dr. Robles initially, he told me I need to lose 50 pounds for
him to do the Gastric Sleeve Surgery on me. Not just that, but I needed to be
checked out and cleared by a cardiologist and pulmonologist, have a sleep
study done, have my general surgeon clear me, have a psychologist evaluate me,
have 3 different sets of lab work, and ultimately, have a pre-surgery physical
done by my Primary Doctor. Also, I have to meet with a nutritionist every
month for 6 months and keep a daily log of everything I eat. Finally, there are
support group meetings at the Hospital every month, and I’m required to attend
2 of those. (Which I have, and I keep going to them, anyway. This is all spelled out in
the beginning of the process, so I was taken aback a little. Easy? Hardly!
My biggest obstacle was losing 50 pounds. I couldn’t walk
150 feet; how was I going to lose 50 pounds? I looked at the problem as a
medical issue. The problem was a lack of mobility, so how do I begin to correct
that? Well, the natural answer was Physical Therapy. I knew that every time I’d
dieted in the past, I failed because the changes were too sudden. It wreaked
havoc in my life. It may have lasted for a month or so, but it most certainly
failed. So, the key to this was slow implementation. With both diet, and
exercise. I started this right before Thanksgiving, so I didn’t stop eating the
bad things all at once. What I did was, I started to log everything I ate, no
matter what it was, and through that practice, I became more aware of what I was eating.
So, with my physical therapy, I slowly began to become more mobile, and slowly
started to eat better.
Changes were far from immediate. I was in physical therapy
until February. That got me to the point where I could walk almost a mile.
(.80) My Physical Therapist gave me the best advice I’ve heard yet for anyone
just starting out exercising; "If you’re planning on walking a distance that
will be a challenge for you, make sure you bring cash with you, because if you
walk too far, and get stuck, you can call an Uber to get home." Luckily, I’ve
never had to do that, but you can bet I always had cash on me in the beginning.
Diet-wise, I slowly made changes to my meals and snacks and I followed the
suggestions of the folks in the support group and of the nutritionist. I don’t
know when I fully made the transition to the meal plans for Gastric Bypass
because it was such a slow and smooth transition.
Finally, I made this whole thing fun! I have a sarcastic
sense of humor, so I’d broadcast Live streams on Facebook called, "As the Fat
Guy Turns" and updated my friends how I was progressing. I usually did the updates while walking. I had a scary moment when at one point, I’d walked so much, I
ground my left knee down to a such a point, it was hard to bend anymore. And I had an
extreme wakeup call during this time - I’d put on 3 pounds! Luckily, I was able
to get a Cortisone Shot and a knee brace. I adjusted my diet a little and
once my knee felt better, I really started exercising quite a bit. I’m happy to
say, that I lost those 3 pounds again, along with another 18. All told, since I
began this journey, I’ve lost 63 pounds. I’m about to break the 400 pound mark.
That’s quite an accomplishment for me because back in November, I never thought
I’d get here.
Gastric Bypass is not the answer for everyone. Being healthy
is. I’m not big on statistics, but I know a lot of people struggle with weight
and body image. I’ve used the word “Diet” a lot in this article, but it’s
funny; I’ve never once called what I’m on a "diet". Diets fail, and I
don’t want to fail. I’m on a plan; a plan for healthier living. If everything
goes according to this plan for healthier living, I’ll have my surgery in the next 2 months. I’m much
happier than I have been in a while, and I’m looking forward to being even happier and healthier.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this. It means a
Right on, Brian; I'm proud of you! Editor
Great Work. Stay focused and follow the plan you will succeed. I totally agree with the start slow with exercise else you will just give up. You have the rest of your life you don't have to run a marathon today. Again, Great work!ReplyDelete
Excellent article Brian! I knew you would do a great job writing about your journey so far. You are absolutely correct, this is definitely not the "easy way out" it is a life change which will always mean follow the plan which will forever include exercise too!ReplyDelete