A large portion of my lifestyle has been based on getting myself together. By that, I mean deciding that enough was enough and making the effort to change my way of thinking and living. Although hard, it is not as difficult as you may think, once you get the initial “lethargy” over with as your body is readjusting. The hardest part is facing the shaking heads, the tuts, and clicks of tongues, from people who at first ask you how you’re losing so much weight, and then when you tell them how, proceed to tell you how that is not going to work, despite having proof right in front of them to the contrary. It is amazing to me the reaction you get from people, especially those closest to you when you try to share with them what you have been doing to change. It’s as if they take offense to the fact that you are improving yourself as they are being personally attacked.
They tell you all sorts of things: You’re neglecting your family! You’re obsessed and that is not healthy! You’re being a zealot!
They don’t see the full picture.
On September 2nd, 2013, I turned 50 years old. As with most people these days I do not feel like I am in my 50’s. I have very little gray, and the gray I have is in my beard. I have a full head of hair. I have no wrinkling. The man looking back at me cannot be in his 50’s!
When you go through life you expect certain things to happen. You expect at some point to bury your grandparents. You expect to bury your parents. But as the oldest of my generation, I do not expect to bury sisters, brothers, cousins, children. I should be the first to go.
Now, I know life doesn’t work that way. I am not naive. The older you get, though, no matter how you look or feel, the more you are faced with the reality of your own mortality. At the age of 46, I was 313 pounds. Something clicked one day, and I decided that I was not going to be 313 pounds anymore. My younger brother, Michael, said to me once “If I am going to die young it will not be because of something I could have prevented.”
As I stood looking at myself in the mirror that day I understood what he meant. At this point, we had both had our cancer scares (mine was thyroid, his testicular). The only difference being that mine caused weight gain. The wrong part was that I used that fact to explain my laziness and slothfulness and to dismiss it as an effect of cancer.
Don’t get me wrong. Anyone that has had thyroid cancer, or even hypothyroidism, can attest to the fact that it really screws you up. You feel tired all the time. You can’t focus. The last thing you want to do after working all day is to get on a bike or go out for a run. The “will” may be there, but not strong enough to get over the lethargy that sets in. But the result in doing nothing is a weight gain of 120 pounds. Shortly after this decision to end this spiral I was driving home and heard a radio show with a local doctor as a guest talking about the thyroid issue and its effect on testosterone production. Even though he was not in my insurance plan, I made an appointment and paid out of pocket for the test and consultation. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Not only were my thyroid meds out of whack, but my T level was also 180. So after adjusting the Thyroid and adding T Therapy, the weight started dropping. He was also the one that initially suggested that I sign up for a triathlon that was a year away (Escape from Fort DeSoto 2011). I did. And the rest, as they say, is history.
My weight leveled off for a year, and that’s where I discovered, though my Triathlon Coach, the Vinnie Tortorich podcasts, and through that the books “Wheat Belly”, “Good Calorie Bad Calorie” and a few more. After changing my eating lifestyle to No Sugar and No Grains (#NSNG) the weight started falling off again. In addition, my energy levels shot through the roof, and I am finding my body is recovering from workouts, even long strenuous ones, much faster. So, a breakthrough, and one I should share right? That has not set well with a few people. They try to poke holes in the eating method. They say it won’t work. “Calorie in calorie out” is the only true method, they posture. The problem is that, even though I am standing right in front of them as proof that “calorie in calorie out” does NOT work for everyone, it doesn’t phase them in the least. They stick to their food pyramid. You can show them the science, point them in the direction of numerous studies and academic papers explaining how wheat and sugar increases fat storage in the body, and they still stick to the old thinking. The proof, as grandma would say, is in the pudding.
We still see Facebook posts, and Twitter feeds, about people “carb loading” before a race (which has been proven NOT to work), or indulging in bad eating because “they burned it off during their workout”. A wise woman told me recently that I cannot take it personally when these guys listen to you and still go the other direction. All you can do is offer advice, and hope they listen, but if they don’t, then that’s their choice. It’s a good way to think, and easy to do when it’s the odd man on the street or casual acquaintance. Not so easy when it is someone you care about. I want these people around me for a long time. I don’t want to see them in a box. I’d prefer, as is the course of life, for them to see me in the box. I don’t think they understand that this is the place I am coming from … maybe selfish on my part because I don’t want them to leave me that way … but it comes from a true place.