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Reflections On A Year Of Weight Loss

Hi gang,

One year ago today, I woke up.

THE BAD

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That’s really the best way that I can describe it.   I’ll try to explain.  When you are 383 pounds, your entire life is foggy.  You are tired all the time.  You cannot think very well.  Your brain automatically finds reasons not to move, and the irony of it is that your brain is trying to help you.  Because you CAN’T move.  Not very well, anyway.  It is hard to get out of a chair.  It is hard to walk upstairs.  It is hard to walk around your office. You are, in a way, sleepwalking through your day.

You may certainly say to others that you are happy, but you are not happy.  Sure, you can fake it for short bursts of time, but it’s never real. The physical weight is so oppressive that it actually smothers your soul.  It hides it way down deep where not even you can feel it, let alone try to share it with others. It affects everything you do and every interaction you have with people. You begin to lose your identity and your personality. You don’t really find joy in anything.

When you are out in public, if you are lucky, people will ignore you.  It’s a very strange feeling to be walking around and notice that nobody makes eye contact with you. It’s an awful feeling to catch somebody ribbing their partner and pointing at you, or hearing someone mutter “dude, dial 1-800 workout” to their buddy.  People can be mean, but what’s really stunning is that your self-esteem is so low that you don’t blame them for thinking that way about you.

I really wish that I had a good story about waking up, but the truth is, on January 30th, 2009, I simply walked into a local gym and signed up.  Nothing had happened to me that day in particular that gave me my wake up call – no obese relative had suddenly died, my children didn’t point at me and say “you’re fat, Daddy!”, I couldn’t suddenly not fit into a pair of shorts – it was nothing like that.  I just…had a moment of clarity.  I came out of the fog for a second at the right place and at the right time and by some miracle, I did the right thing.

So I woke up.

To me, waking up means that you are finally able to align two very major forces within yourself, which are a) what you think you should be doing, and b) what you are actually doing.  I am a smart enough guy to know that eating at Taco Bell is not good for me, but yet I do it anyway (drive through diet, Taco Bell? Please). I’m bright enough to know that I should get out of my chair and walk, yet there I sit. Trust me, most obese people know that they are doing the wrong things, and yet they simply don’t do anything about it.

So, that fateful day, for some reason, I thought I should go join a gym and deal with this nightmare – and I actually did it.   I even had the sense to know that I needed help, so I hired a personal trainer that day as well.

Waking up for a second is amazing – staying awake is just nuttytown.  I’m not going to lie to you – the first few months with the trainer and the diet were tough. Sometimes, the best plan is to just do something, and thats exactly what I did.  I put my faith in my trainer and crafted the best diet that I could with all the years of diet knowledge that I had, and just..started…moving.

THE GOOD

In the past year, I have lost 79 pounds. A pound of fat contains roughly 3,500 calories.  So I’ve burned an excess of 276,500 calories in one year.  That’s a big Twinkie.  Since I’m allowing myself to look back at the last year today, I’m going to say that that’s a good start.  Of course, there are other things that have changed as well:

My BMI index – which, simplified, is your % of body fat – one year ago was an alarming 44.19% .  Basically, thats classified as Super Obese.  I’ve always wanted to be super at something – this wasn’t it.  Today, my BMI is 28.2%, which moves me out of the Obese category altogether (passed through Morbid and Severe on the weigh down), and now I am simply Overweight.  Medically speaking, the goal is to get down below 25%, which is considered Normal.

Here are my measurements from one year ago vs. today:

Neck

Shoulder

Chest

Waist

Stomach

Hip

R Bicep

R Thigh

R Calf

A year ago

17.5

57.5

57.5

64

62

60.5

18.5

29

18.5

Now

16.5

53

52

48

53.5

52

14.5

23.5

17.5

Difference

-1

-4.5

-5.5

-16

-8.5

-8.5

-4

-5.5

-1

Total Inches Lost:

-54.5

Most important to me is that I can FEEL again.  I laugh a lot more often.  I listen to a lot of music.  I’ve picked up hobbies now like piano and reading.  I get a lot more enjoyment out of interacting with other people.  My personality is returning.   I am PRESENT much more often.  I can show my emotions – good, bad, and ugly – much more easily than before. I’ve been known to do a little drinkin’ and dancin’ recently as well.  In short, I am enjoying my life again.

THE TRUTH

The simple truth is that 95% of all diets fail.  That’s a big…damn…bummer.  95 out of 100 people who diet to lose weight will gain it all back, and maybe even more.  That tells me a few very important things:

1.  The medical community is absolutely failing at our obesity problem.

2.  Food companies, diet companies, and fast food restaurants are NOT acting in our best interest.

So the question I often struggle with is – How can I succeed when so many others fail?

This weight journey for me is like driving to Vegas from L.A.  When you first get in the car, you are PUMPED UP! You’re high-fiving your buddies and screaming “Vegas, baby!”.  The euphoria lasts for a little while, but then wears off and you just want to get there.  After a year, I can safely say right now that I just want to get there.  The struggle for most of us on this path is not to focus on the summit of the mountain, but to enjoy the journey.

How can I succeed when so many others fail?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that yesterday is over and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet.  The only thing I can control is today, and today I am going to eat right and probably exercise. When I let myself think about the past or the future of my weight loss I tend to either feel satisfied that I came this far or hopeless that the goal is so far away, neither of which help me at all.  So I focus on just today, and it all seems bearable.

The truth is that losing weight is hard, but it is worthwhile.  Anything worthwhile has to be hard.  It has to test you.  The reward is in the overcoming of the obstacles and of the doubt and of the pain.

See you at the summit,

Kevin (Twitter: imadness)

Before:

before

Now:

after2

About the Author: Kevin Harmon

Kevin Harmon is a freelance e-commerce business consultant and blogger. He is the former CEO of Inflatable Madness, LLC, one of the largest DVD and CD sellers on eBay and Amazon, and Red Shorts Media, LLC, which operated multiple e-commerce media buyback websites.

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