Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thank You But I'm Still Me

My friend Tom in Australia sent me an interesting article the other night about a woman who has lost a lot of weight in a short time without the assistance of any surgery, diet aids or gimmicks. She has simply made the choice to not be obese anymore and has changed her eating habits and lifestyle to help her attain her goals. Does this sound like anyone you might know? No, me silly!

But what was interesting was something I hadn't really considered and that's the reaction of friends, family and old acquaintances who have been kind enough to notice and make mention of my changes.

The intentions are meant well and the feedback has been some serious positive reinforcement but how some comments are received might not be as intended, no matter how sincere the sentiment.

Losing over 177 pounds will obviously be noticed by folks who know you. Sure the fat is vanishing but when it comes right down to it, I'm still the same happy, loving and kind smart-ass I've always been. Yet when people see me for the first time they react as though I'm someone entirely different.

"You must be so happy" is one comment I hear a lot. I suppose it's meant as a compliment but I'm not sure it really is. Are you assuming I wasn't happy before. Many obese or over weight people are unbelievably happy. Losing the weight didn't make me more or less happy but I suppose I'm not bummed out being thinner.

Some people assume I'm sick. Granted, having been a large man my entire life, the shock of seeing me now might cause people to wonder if I have some disease that is eating away at me from the inside. Luckily that isn't the case but thanks for the concern.

It's also interesting how people focus on the actual amount of weight. "How much have you lost now?", is one I hear a lot. I suppose I have myself to blame for that one with my online updates and regular visits to the scale but does it really matter how much? Some people are hung up on weight and don't like to reveal how much they've lost for fear of people knowing where they started. Personally I couldn't care less who knows how much I weighed at my heaviest. Hell, I don't even know for sure. I just know that the last time I was able to get on a scale at a factory capable of reading my weight, I was a svelte 418.8 pounds. But I'm no fool. I know I was heavier than that at one point.

"How did you lose all that weight?" That's one I get more often than you might think. I never volunteer this information unless someone specifically asks me. I would never tell someone that this is what they need to do. But if someone does inquire, I'm more than happy to share my methods with them. Everyone is different and not all plans work the same but it's really no secret. Stop overeating and start exercising. It's not rocket science people. Once you get the weight going in the right direction, just stick with the plan and adjust as you go. I make it sound simple but if it really was, nobody would be obese. You have to change your lifestyle and stick with it. If you fall back into your old habits you've just wasted all that hard work. It's okay to falter but recover quickly and keep moving forward.

When it comes to food, I think a lot of people think I had to starve myself and give up eating everything I like. That couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, I could have gone vegan or paleo or juicing myself to a lighter me. I'm still eating pizza, burgers, fast food and all that stuff I probably shouldn't. The difference is, I don't eat it every day like the old me did. And I don't stuff myself until my sides are about to burst. You can eat what you want, just make sure you don't exceed your daily calorie allowance by too much. Some people will actually say my method isn't right or what they do. Great! Do what you need to do. Obviously my plan has worked for me. I still love food and will never stop eating what I like.

I never started this with the intention of being a role model or inspiration for others. This was a completely selfish endeavour for me. However, despite my original intentions, it has become clear that my transformation struck a chord with many others. Perhaps it was seeing someone who has struggled with their weight their entire life like them or maybe they've added a few pounds recently. If my journey has been a positive influence on others then fantastic. I know I've had role models and inspiration along the way also so every little bit of extra push helps. My only advice, be patient. Don't expect miracles to happen over night. This is something you have to stick with and trust the process, even when it seems like you've reached your limit. Keep working at it and don't ever stop.

Believe me when I say I don't take offense to any of the kudos or comments. Quite the opposite actually. I just found it interesting the reactions of people who have known me all my life. Not everyone of course but some look at me or talk to me as if I'm a completely different person. Anyone that knows me well can tell them, I'm still the same adorable and sexy man I've always been.

Friday, May 23, 2014

High School Track Flashback

On Thursday I had a chance to stop by the COSSA High School Track and Field meet held in Belleville at the Bruce Faulds Track to check out some of the action.

As a former track & field star (mostly in my own mind) I still like to revisit the atmosphere and excitement on the track and transport myself back to a time many moons ago when I was the one feeling nervous before stepping into the shot put or discus circle.

I stuck mainly to field events as a larger lad but truth be told, I was actually pretty quick for my advanced size. In fact, one year I took part in a relay carnival and was part of a relay team comprised solely of field athletes and we took a lot of teams by surprise with our speed and how well we ran. I was always good over short distances.
Kinda like a drag car but without the nitrous.

The rain held off and it was actually quite a nice day for the meet. I think I might have even burnt the top of my bald head a bit.

It's funny watching the kids though and realizing that even though the times have changed, what happens at a meet is still pretty much the same as when I was taking part in the 80's. The camaraderie and support among the athletes is still there.

There were a few subtle differences I noticed, mainly in the attire worn. For one thing, the use of spandex in both leggings and shorts is much more prominent. This obviously provides less wind resistance as you fly around the track. And judging by some of the conversations I overheard by some of the male participants, the girls are catching their eyes as well. Oh sure, they caught our eye back in my day as well but there was certainly a bit more left to the imagination. 

Another thing I noticed was the organization and technology being used. Obviously things are way more advanced some 30 years later and it shows. Three or four people as starters, more volunteers as marshals, people raking pits and measuring. I mean, we had some of that stuff back then but it wasn't to this extent. It was impressive to watch.

And they actually had a camera at the finish line to help determine winners in a close race.
There was no actual tape to break through as you crossed the line like we used to use. I don't know how often the camera was actually needed but it's kinda cool to have that at the officials disposal.

As usual I brought along my camera to try and capture some of the action. I enjoy shooting sports and rarely have any time to do it anymore it seems. So it was nice to put my rusty skills to the test again and I managed to come away with a few good shots and a sunburn so it was a good visit to the track I'd say.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Expensive Toy for Me

2013 Chrysler 200 Limited
I love buying new things but I hate spending money. Not exactly a winning combination. But sometimes you have to purchase things out of necessity and even though such things will put you on a first name basis with your local bank manager, it has to be done.

Such is the case with my latest expenditure.

My old car which has been easily the best and most reliable vehicle I'd ever owned was getting old and the rust was taking its toll on the underside of my chariot.
Interior with leather seats and steering wheel.
My 2004 Chevy Impala was a great car with minimal headaches and just an amazing engine. I truly hate to see her go to the scrap yard.

But the old gal was starting to get cranky and demanding more monetary attention so it made sense to have her put down and start looking for a new lady to bring into my life.

I wasn't planning to move so quickly but when I saw her it was love at first sight. I'm not one who needs to have a sporty vehicle but I do enjoy comfort to go along with a quality build. Plus even though I despise Ford and will never own another of their products, I wanted to stay away from foreign made vehicles and continue to support North American made products.

The car I became smitten with was the 2013 Chrysler 200 Limited Edition.
Bringing my new car home.
It's a used car but in great shape and only 26-thousand kilometres on it. That's the lowest number of kilometres I've ever had on a new car for me. I've always bought used and see no reason to change that this time.

I won't bore you with the specs of the engine or fuel economy. However when I went in search of my new car, I had a checklist of items that it needed to be equipped with. Among those were remote car starter (because I live in Canada and the winter's are freaking cold), heated seats (for the same reason), Bluetooth audio system (for my phone to connect hands free) and windshield wipers that can be lifted off the windshield during snow and ice storms.

My new car has all of those things. Plus I'm happy to have leather seats again, USB connections, steering wheel controls for voice recognition and using the stereo.
Chrysler 2013 Limited Interior
The V6 engine has plenty of pep as well and the 18 inch wheels are nice although they will be costly to replace. I also like how the chrome handles, side mirrors and grill add to the finished product.

One thing I'm not thrilled about is how my car insurance with State Farm went up significantly. I feel like I'm being completely taken advantage of. So I after being a State Farm customer my entire adult driving life, I will be shopping around for a better deal.

So I'm happy to have a new vehicle to get me around and reliable enough that I can take longer trips again with little worry of breaking down. I didn't just buy a new mode of transportation, I bought renewed peace of mind. Time to go waste more gas!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Pumping It Up

Some time way back when I first made the decision to transform myself from the Pillsbury Doughboy to something a little less soft and fatty, I probably thought about joining a gym. That was back in the beginning and mostly at the back of my mind because at the start of this journey I was strictly focused on shedding pounds and not lifting them.

Last November after I’d dropped over 150 pounds of disgusting fat and was feeling much more energetic I finally decided to join a gym. At the time I was mostly thinking about being able to use the treadmill inside during the cold winter months with maybe some weight training thrown in for good measure. But that quickly changed as I did some research and got a taste for the rush of building muscle.

Cardio was my main activity for weight loss up until this point. Walking outside had helped to transform and shape the new version of me; sort of a “Mark version 4.0” if you will. I will always tell any obese or over weight person looking to start shedding pounds that walking was the key for me.
Taking a break at the gym.
Sure, cutting back on my calorie intake was a big factor as well but I had to burn calories as well and as a big guy I couldn’t run or jog, so I relied on walking...a lot. Almost every day for an entire year I would get out and do some amount of walking. I’d go anywhere from 3km to sometimes as much as 12km in one outing and I truly believe it saved my life.

After doing all that walking I was ready to branch off. I didn’t want to give up the walks all together and I’ve even added some cardio on the elliptical machine now as well. But the next logical step was to add weight lifting to my routine.

Lifting weights burns fat and in many cases you’ll replace a pound of fat with a pound of muscle. The numbers on the scale won’t change which can be frustrating for someone so focussed on dropping the pounds for so long but a pound of muscle takes up less space than the fat. So while you’re weight might not change, you will see changes to your body shape.

Aside from the weight loss and body shrinking, the other obvious benefit of weight lifting is the building of muscle and improvement in strength. I am in the best shape of my life and a lot of that is thanks to grabbing the dumbbells and pumping iron.

People ask me, “What changes have you noticed the most with your weight loss?”

There are too many to mention here but a few obvious changes include the shrinking body, dropping from size 60 pants to size 42 currently. I can actually feel my ribs now. My biceps, shoulders, back, arms, calves, hamstrings and pretty much every other muscle group I lift weights to strengthen have all grown and become much stronger and more noticeable. My aches and pains associated with being obese have all disappeared. They’ve been replaced by pains associated with muscle growth and hard work.

Now, when I go to the gym I see other guys lifting weights and doing exercises that I don’t currently do. I’ve set a routine for myself that gives me a good overall body workout five days a week. I’m not looking to become the Incredible Hulk. I just want to continue to improve my strength, grow muscle and burn fat.

For those who might be interested, this is my weekly routine. I’ll leave the actual weight amounts out but each exercise is done with 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Monday (Upper Body)

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell), Triceps Extension overhead (Cable), Triceps Push Down (Cable), Side Bends (Dumbbell), Chest Press (Machine), Pull Down (Cable), Arm Front Raise (Dumbbell) and Bent-over Row (Dumbbell)

Tuesday & Thursday (Leg Day)

Leg Press (Machine), Calf Extension (Machine), Leg Curl (Machine), Leg Extension (Machine), Dead Lift (Barbell), Squats (Dumbbell) and Abdominal Crunch (Machine)

Wednesday (Upper Body)

Bicep Curl (Barbell), Lateral Raise (Double Cable), Shoulder Shrug (Dumbbell), Bent-over Row (Barbell), Seated Fly (Machine), Standing Fly (Double Cable) and Rear Delt Pull (Cable)

Friday (Upper Body)

Pull Down Triceps (Cable), Side Bends (Weight Plate), Upright Row (Barbell), Bicep Curl (Dumbbell), Bench Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbells) and Lateral Raise (Double Cable)

And that’s it. Nothing too fancy or extreme but just enough to work most of the muscle groups I want to improve. I’m sure someone with a lot more experience would look at my routine and probably laugh at it for being so simple or missing something but I’m happy with the results so far. Some exercises I go for maximum reps and others I go for maximum weight to build big muscles. Well, I hope to build a few big muscles.

Now that summer is coming I might have to cut back to 3 days a week so I can golf more and take advantage of the nicer weather while it’s here. But I’ll try and increase my routines to include leg days on those days to make sure I still hit all of the muscle groups I need to each week.

So there you go. That’s what I do at the gym now that I’m moving from simply walking for my exercise to adding strength training. Of course my other favourite activity at the gym is to sneak the odd peek at the pretty ladies but just a peek only. I’m all business don’t you know.

Weight Loss Update: I now weigh 247.3 pounds and have lost a total of 171.5 pounds to date. So I'm still doing something right.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Making Up For Lost Time

Lets have some fun! I have a time machine and I want you to join me on a trip back to the mid-80’s to mid-90’s.

Those were amazing times, I was in my teens and early 20’s. I was graduating high school and going to college. The music of that time has stuck with me and is more or less the soundtrack to my entire life. I was young with no big worries except what time my next football, rugby or baseball game was. I had a core group of close friends who I did everything with. My life revolved around them, from sports, to patties, to camping and lots of drinking and eating.

I would go so far as to say that these were the best years of my life so far. And they were also the most difficult and emotional as well.

During this time I was a big lad who could hit a baseball a ton and could lay the body on opposing players. I was always up for a good time out on the weekends which always started on Wednesday night I think. I loved my friends and would do anything for them. But it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

I was pretty sad back then. While I'm not gay I certainly felt like the gay friend at times. At the very least I was the third wheel. I was the guy all the girls could talk to and confide in. I was the guy who could make people laugh and smile. I wasn’t the guy that the girls wanted to date or have a relationship with.
Click to see larger.
It wasn’t because I wouldn’t treat women right. I loved women and would do anything to make them happy. No, it was obviously because I wasn’t a good looking muscular sexy hunk of man meat. I was smart and funny but no matter what a woman tells you, the only thing that really matters is how good you look as a couple and no women wanted to have me on their arm. This isn't about feeling sorry for myself, these are just the facts as I interpreted them then and perhaps even now to some extent.

Now I was able to live with that. It sucked, and still sucks today but I made the most of it and tried my best to find relationships and romance but it just never happened. “I like you as a friend” became the phrase that made my heart bleed over and over again.

Eventually I just kinda gave up. What was the point? No amount of flowers or chocolates or romantic gestures could hide the fact I was over weight and unattractive.

So when I started my weight loss journey my main goal was to get healthy and improve my life expectancy. But I won’t lie. A part of me wants to get thin, muscular and in shape to not only improve my chances at finding that which has eluded me all these years but to maybe have those girls who shunned my romantic advances all those years ago look at me and think, “gee, had he looked like that back then, I might have dated him.”

Of course I’m still not where I want to be or need to be but it is nice to get noticed now for being thinner and healthier rather than people pointing and laughing at the big fat obese mess I used to be. Every day I go out I seem to run into someone who can’t believe how much I’ve changed my appearance and it sure is nice to hear. Maybe I’m being a little vain but that’s one thing I’ve never been before.

As far as the ladies go, I’ve actually been on a couple of dates recently. All very nice ladies and it’s fun to feel like someone might actually be attracted to me. I feel like a teenager again. I guess that’s because most teens go through this at that age and here I am well past my teens feeling things I’d never felt before and it’s kinda nice for a change.

As for my progress, I’m happy to report that my new low weight is 248.8 pounds which means I’ve lost a total of 170 pounds so far. It fluctuates daily but it I keep it within a few pounds and get it back down. And the other new milestone of sorts, I tried on a pair of size 40 waist jeans the other day and actually got them done up. They're still a little snug but that wasn't going to happen when I was wearing size 60 waist jeans. So my weight isn't changing much but my body is still making gains.

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