It’s time. You know it is. It has to be. Your doctor has told you. Your wife has hinted or your husband has avoided the hornets’ nest for the most part. You’re too fat, right?
I remember the first time I peeked into my medical chart when the doc left the room during an annual physical and saw the terribly hurtful word, “obese” describing me. Ouch! Obese? Hey, I knew I was a little chunky but “Obese?” I was at about 225 pounds.
I convinced myself that I really wasn’t eating a lot. Heck, there were skinny people who ate more than me. I’ve always been “big-boned.” My weight kept climbing.
At about 40, my doc told me I was “morbidly obese” and twice as likely to have a heart attack. I was at 275 pounds. That scared me a little so I exercised for a few weeks and cut my calorie intake. I lost 15 pounds. GO ME! Let’s celebrate with a banana cream pie!
I went through my diet phases – Weight Watchers, Slimfast – and my mom kept sending me every new diet book. She wasn’t able to pronounce my condition so she called me “obeast.” Uh huh, Robin and I, Beauty and Obeast. All I learned about diets was that I sucked at them and always ended up heavier after the initial thrilling loss.
In 2005, after gall bladder surgery, my doc told me I had “fatty liver disease” and he talked like it was a big deal. He kinda scared me a little so I was good for a few months and then … pass the Meat Lovers Pizza! Up, up, up.
In 2007, my fatty liver disease got a new name, NASH ( Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis ) which meant my liver was enlarged and irritated. It had more fatty deposits in it and was getting more and more damaged. That was really scary to me because Doc said that some NASH patients get so much damage that their liver dies. I lost about 25 pounds after that one … and then I gained 50.
In 2009, I went to Magic Kingdom with my family and it finally hit me. I was killing myself with food. At 306 pounds, my feet were swollen, my back hurt and I spent a lot of time sitting on benches. “No, really, you guys go. I’ll meet you when you get off the roller coaster.”
Sitting on those benches watching 400 pounders roll by me on their electric scooters, it hit me. I was already dead in some ways. My weight was separating me from my family and keeping me from building memories with them. “I might just as well be gone,” I thought. And that’s when it clicked and my attitude changed.
A former student, Jason Stolkner, and I reconnected on Facebook after 20 years. He encouraged me to start moving every day. He was wise telling me not to go out with grand plans to run a mile or join a gym. “If you can only walk 50 yards, walk 50 yards. Just do it every day and try to push a little farther each day.” He told me to set achievable goals and dump the get-thin-fast mentality for a pound or 2 a week loss target.
The last piece was simple math. My Lose-It app on my iPhone told me I needed 2,286 calories a day to stay where I was. If I could just cut 300-400 calories a day, I’d start losing slowly without starving myself. I could eat anything as long as my tracker showed my calorie total at 1800-1900 a day or lower. Exercise impacted my number too and rewarded me. I lost 60 pounds in about 18 months and felt great.
In 2011 my health declined rapidly. Despite my efforts, my liver numbers were going downhill. At the first of May, I ironically was back in the vacationers’ paradise of Orlando. Robin and I spent two days walking parks, riding roller coasters (I fit!) and enjoying each other. But then, severe pain put me in Florida Hospital where I had a doctor coldly tell me that if I did not have a liver transplant soon I would die. She called it “End Stage Liver Disease” and told me my liver was “shrunken” and basically useless.
Dads, do you know what goes through your mind first when a doctor tells you you are going to die? You immediately think of your wife and kids and the pain they will go through when they lose you. You mentally go through finances, insurance and wills. And then, you ask questions.
- How will your wife feel standing alone during senior night on the soccer field when your son is recognized?
- Who will walk your daughter down the aisle?
- Will your future grandchildren miss out on grampa spoiling their dinner with ice cream?
And I had one more thought, “How could I have done this to them? Why didn’t I listen?” There were no answers, only deep regret and guilt. I don’t know what goes through a woman’s mind when she stares death in the face but I imagine that her questions are no less painful.
So, mom and dad, I beg you to put the excuses aside, dump the self-defeating attitude and determine to change the way you live. Look into the eyes of your children and ask yourself the questions I asked above.
Yes, NASH has a familial, genetic connection too but weight and diet cannot be denied as a contributing factor. Your liver might be smooth and pretty, your cholesterol and blood pressure might just be fine. But, trust me, you will feel so much better when you lose that weight.
Don’t go on a diet. Diets start and end. Change your life. Love yourself and your family enough to make some changes.
Can I help?
Or are you not conscious that your body is a house for the Holy Spirit which is in you, and which has been given to you by God? and you are not the owners of yourselves; 1 Cor. 6:19 BBE