A message from my wife about my obesity

Just how big are you going to get…

Below is a message from my wonderful wife, Polly, which is the lead into my story which I give away on my website. It will give you a small idea of how my obesity impacted the love of my life.

A message from TheFatGuy’s wife, POLLY:

Just how big are you going to get…

After Michael left his non-profit job, he just sat around getting bigger and bigger and more and more depressed. He was struggling with ending a dream of working with a children’s non-profit and it was killing him. He was also struggling with how he would start over as a 360+ pound, 50+ year old man in a society that is so geared to the young and pretty.

He self-medicated with food…all kinds of food: ice cream, candy, chips, soda. And he often ate after eating. Remember the pre-barbecue scene in Gone With the Wind where Scarlett had to eat before the party so she ate like a lady at the party? Well, Michael would leave a family reunion where there was tons of food and he had eaten a huge meal and stop at the convenience store for candy and a coke to make the trip home. And not just one item but several: junior mints, Mike and Ikes, jelly beans, milk duds.

Or he would buy a 100 count box of Freeze Pops and bring 6 or 8 to bed and eat them while we were watching TV. And I would cringe as he ate them and I would feel pissed when I threw the wrappers in the trash. But I never said anything because we didn’t discuss the elephant in the room. I remember feeling desperate and angry.

At one point, I became overwhelmed and frustrated with his self destructive behavior. I remember going to work one morning and telling my friend Missee, “I’m going to ask Michael, “Just how big are you going to get?” Her eyes got really big and she said, “Maybe you should put that in a letter.”

Well, I never wrote the letter or had the conversation, but my vibe must have been strong…because in early March of 2009, Michael started on a health journey that continues to this day.

 (Note: TheFatGuy was dramatically impacting the person HE loved most!)

From Hopeless to Amazed

8 Years on My Journey and still going strong!

8 Years ago today I started my journey from Hopeless to Amazed. I was at the bottom of a very deep hole and could not find my way to climb out of that hole then. And now, well now, I’m amazed!

Prior to March 2, 2009 I had run out of hope that I could change my life. Hope that I could shed the tonnage, improve my health, rid myself of 7 medications and a CPAP machine, feel better, improve my quality of life, and just plain live happier. I was in a very dark place.FAT GUY PIC FEB 2009

What happened? I had that AHA moment where you realize something needs to be done, has to be done to change your course. The main part of the AHA moment was the story my wife told me about the most important person in a burning building. She told me about being asked the question “who is the most important person in the fire?”, while she was at a Community Response meeting in February 2009. She came home to tell me the story and what she learned. She learned she was the most important person in the fire because if she could not found her way out of the fire, she could not help anyone else. It was and is that simple.

So what did I learn from the fire story? After 3 weeks of this story bouncing around in my head, I woke up on March 2, 2009 and realized I was in my own personal fire. I could not escape the fire of obesity! If I was ever going to help anyone in my life again, I was going to have to find my way ‘Out of the Fire’!  That day I realized I had to do something. So I proceeded to start a spreadsheet to develop and track my path ‘out of the fire’.

Along the journey I have been able to do things I never thought possible. I have been able to shed 7 medications and a CPAP machine that maintained what I thought was quality of life. I have been able to move more, walk more, exercise more, do 1,000 push-ups, and climb the stands at Stoney Field 150 straight times (17 bleachers up and 34 steps down). And more than special to me, has been the fact that I am able to help others find their way ‘out of the fire’! steps at stoney by David Quick_5

So now, now I am amazed! I look back now and realize just how bad I felt and just how deep of a hole I was in March 2009. I am amazed I found my way ‘out of the fire’! I am also very blessed!i-am-blessed

 

 

 

 

Note to ME and YOU: It’s a Journey! Get on your path ‘out of the fire’ and AMAZE Yourself!

TheFatGuy

ThefitGuy

TheBEAST

I AM BLESSED

I THANK GOD DAILY FOR MY BLESSINGS

I was struck yesterday by the thought of just how blessed I am in life. I know I am blessed and I thank God daily for my blessings.

What was different about yesterday? Why did it ‘strike’ me suddenly? I have seen a number of my contemporaries pass over the last few years and in particular this year. Some were friends, some friends of friends, past co-workers, friends of my wife, some family (my brother in-law) and parents of younger friends/relatives. It all seemed to come together as I looked at that old picture of me at 360 pounds (the one I keep to remind me of where I was, and where I will not go back to) and thought of a cousin that lost her dad several years ago.

FAT GUY PIC FEB 2009

I don’t know why my mind works the way it does, but a wave of thoughts and emotion came across me. I thought about how bad a shape I was in at 53 years old. I thought about how many people I’ve known in my age range that I/we have lost recently and over the years since finding my journey. I thought about my younger cousin and other younger friends I know that have lost parents that are my age. I thought about life, problems, pettiness, and sadness. We get so caught up in the small things in life that we do not enjoy the people we have when we have them.

The emotion that came crashing down on me was focused around the realization that I could be gone now, that I would be gone now if not for that moment of clarity in 2009, that AHA moment created by the Fire Story my wife told me. How lucky was I? Why me? And then I thought about those younger people that lost their parents much too soon. They were my age and I don’t think of my age as old. Why them? Why have we lost them so soon?

I caught my breath, sat there, and thought for a moment. I thought ‘I AM BLESSED’. Then I thanked God for my blessings and prayed for those that passed much too soon and those they left behind.

I also thought about how I was on my way out in 2009 and how I am nowhere near that now.  I was able to start my journey to healthier happier me. I was able to control my destiny. How many people get that opportunity? How many people think they are done when they may be able to change their present and future? I meet people every day that could gain that control. They feel too far gone or hopeless, but they are not. I pray these people find their moment of clarity and realize they can change and can create a journey to a healthier happier you. I know this is true because I was them in 2009. I was too far gone and hopeless. I AM TRULY BLESSED.

If I can help YOU, let me know.

Note to ME and YOU: Pray for that moment of clarity, that AHA Moment, that gets you to the healthier happier you.  I pray daily for this for ME and YOU.

TheFatGuy

TheFitGuy

The BEAST

Planning for your EATING EVENTS

I can't believe I ate the whole thing....

I celebrated at a family reunion on my wife’s side of the family last weekend. Enjoying good times with great people is something TheFatGuy loves. But, TheFatGuy loves to eat too much at food events!

As with most people, TheFatGuy has many events centered around EATING EVENTS! These EVENTS include, reunions, family meals after Sunday mass, holiday gatherings, business events, volunteer events, and soooo much more J

SO, TheFatGuy thought he would throw together some tips to help him and you to stay on track at these EATFESTS:

  • Wateris always at the top of TheFatGuy’s list: start your day with plenty of water and keep it up. Drink at least a 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight and go up form there if you are out in the heat. Drink a big glass of water before you eat and drink water with your meal. I drank a liter of water pre-reunion and one during the reunion meal this past weekend. And remember, don’t drink your calories if you can avoid it!
  • Bread, Chips, and such– These offer little true satisfaction. Refined carbohydrates will spike your insulin and have lots of calories. Choose to avoid or limit this category at your celebration.
  • What to eat first– eating salad and veggies first will help you feel full sooner. This is a tough one for TheFatGuy as he loves to go for the ribs, mac & cheese, fried chicken…… first!
  • Small plates/eat slow– these 2 strategies can help you cut your caloric intake tremendously. Studies have shown that smaller plates and utensils do help cut intake. Taking your plate away from the serving area to eat slow and mingle with family and friends will help you, also. Enjoy the special time sharing stories with family and friends while taking your eye off of the food table!
  • Desserts/refined sugar–  This again is a tough one for TheFatGuy. If at all possible, keep your dessert size small and MOVE AWAY FROM THE DESSERT TABLE! Use moderation here. AND, because TheFatGuy has a lot of problems with moderation, he will may not be eating sugar at all. He gave up sugar the year he lost 150 pounds. His ‘all or nothing’ thought process does not work well with doing sugar in ‘moderation’. Being aware of this is the first step to dealing with a strategy to manage it.
  • Everything else– Try to get your joy for the day from everything the day has to offer other than food. Enjoy your family, friends, the celebration, the games, the atmosphere and soak it all in without soaking in the calories. We, that have the control issues around food, have a tendency to make the eating the focus! Breathe in everything else and enjoy it!

 

Basically, it all comes down to choices and knowing yourself. So to make it easier, make a plan now and structure your plan and choices now for that big eating event.  Have a great time knowing you have a plan.

TheFatGuy says, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE! And remember, your alcohol drinks have calories!

 

Note to ME and YOU: Enjoy your day, family, friends and life with a plan that works for YOU!

TheFatGuy

TheFitGuy

TheBEAST

Transformation

If you want something different, you need to do something different

I’ve been blessed to see major transformation in my life, help others to find transformation in their lives, and help organizations transform.

What do all of these transformations have in common? Commitment, vision, knowledge, energy,  and a can-do attitude!

  • Commitment to the transformation is key. In each case people fully committed to make a change, and in some cases a radical change. If you do not commit, then no other steps matter.
  • Vision toward where you needed to go was also a common thread in these journeys. People developed a vision and started down the road toward that vision
  • Knowledge was gathered along the way to travel the roads toward the vision. Knowledge about self and knowledge about the task at hand were key pieces to each transformation.
  • Energy is seen in each instance. People develop a certain energy to move toward transformation and they harness that energy to get where they need to go.
  • A Can-Do attitude is needed to make the transformation happen. Yes a positive Can-Do attitude can get you a long way down the road to transformation!  As TheFatGuy says, you choose your attitude each day regardless of your life circumstances. You will make good, sometimes great life choices with a positive attitude.

You should know that YOU can transform your life at anytime!  I have been blessed to have it happen in my life and blessed to see it happen in many other lives and situations.

Note to ME and YOU: Transformation can get you from where you don’t want to be to where you dream to go!

TheFatGuy

TheFitGuy

TheBEAST

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April Fool! (Who ME?)

Fooling Myself was Easy!

As I look back, I can see that many days, if not most, were April Fool’s Day for me! I fooled myself for many days and many years.

TheFatGuy Cat in the HAT 2014A

How did I do this? I did this by ignoring me, ignoring my own weight, health, fitness, and life. I was pretty good at helping others and not so good at helping ME. I Fooled myself into ignoring these things. I immersed myself in the needs of others, thinking that if I took time for me I would be taking away from my efforts for others.

I went from 300 pounds to over 360 pounds in 3 ½ years working to save a non-profit I felt passion for and helping youth I wanted so much to help succeed in life. I did immerse myself in the organization and the needs of others during this period of time. I worked 70 hour weeks for 3 ½ years to save this organization and did nothing much of anything else. I failed to do many of the things that helped me through life. I failed to properly embrace family and friends. I failed to manage my own life. I failed to create balance in my life. I completely failed to “ Take Care of ME!”

While I may have done much good for the youth I served over 3 ½ years, I took major hits in health, fitness, body, mind, and soul. I did nothing to “Take Care of ME”. I do not tell you this to feel like I sacrificed so much for others, or for some altruistic feeling this might give me. I like helping others, it’s what I am good at in life. I was actually disappointed in me. When I started my journey and looked at what I did, why I did it, and what I wanted to do, I realized just how much I was fooling me.

I was not only fooling me, I was cheating myself of the ability to be the best me for me and others I my life. Ultimately I ended up at a point where I was in such bad shape, I was no longer able to help others the way I wanted and it was not a good place to be. SO on March 2, 2009 I realized that I needed to be the best me for me and to best help others in my life. I know and talk to many people that are great at helping others and not so great at helping themselves. I see it all too often.

I have to remind myself every day that to be the best me for me and everyone else in my life, I have to “Take Care of ME!” It is not a selfish thing, it is the best thing for all.

Note to ME and YOU: Don’t be an April Fool and Fool yourself. “Take Care of YOU” so You can be the best YOU for all!

7 Years on My Journey! WOW!

Taking Care of ME

7 Years on My Journey! WOW!

Me at 342 on my weigh to losing 150!

Me at 342 on my weigh to losing 150!

Yep, on March 2, 2009 I officially started my journey! I weighed 351 pounds that day and was over 360 pounds in early February of that year. I was a mess! The weight came with 7 meds, a CPAP machine, multiple ailments, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and so on. Life was not good, not fun, and I was helping no one, most of all myself.

On that date I committed to ‘taking care of ME’. In my very first log entry the morning of that day I included this statement: “I need to take care of me so I can best help my family and community.” You see, I was not good at ‘taking care of ME’ so I could not help others the way I wanted to, the way I needed to help them. That is why I wrote “Fat Guy Diary: Out of the Fire!” I was not able to find my way out of my own personal fire, so I could not help anyone else find their way. I could not take care of ME so how was I going to help anyone else. I give my story away because I feel so blessed to have found my journey and see so many that need to start their journeys, that want to start their journeys. .

Back to the journey. I lost 150 pounds in 363 days. I have challenged myself in many ways since and have been able to do many things I never thought possible. Things like:

150 Reps!

150 Reps!

  • Coming off of the 7 meds
  • Doing away with the CPAP machine
  • Doing 150 reps of the stands at Stoney Field
  • Doing 493 pushups in 30 minutes in a fundraiser
  • Appearing on a Total Gym infomercial
  • And more that I can list here…..

It has not always been easy. I have worked hard to establish better lifestyle habits over the past 7 years. BUT, during stressful times the almost 53 years of bad lifestyle habits creep in or other times, come screaming back. The biggest spikes have come when I have lost a loved one from my life. I’ve lost my father in-law, mother in-law, mom, and last week, my brother in-law. I can deal with most things, but these life events really impact my life. I am all about family so this makes sense. It also makes sense that I need to continue to work on my newer, better habits. This is very important.

It is important because I would have not made it through these times if I was not in shape and healthy. I would have not been able to help my family, if I was not taking care of ME. My family deserves the best ME to be there for them, I deserve the best ME to be there for ME. As I continue to set my habits in ‘stone’ it will make it much easier and better for me to help my family and others the way I want and need to help them. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE HABITS, THE HEALTHY HABITS.

The more habitual I make healthy choices the better off I am. The more habitual I make eating smart and moving more the better off I will be.

Note to ME and YOU: Good Habits and Good Choices lead to a Good Life, a Better You, a Healthy You!

Mike, TheFatGuy

PS The best way I know to honor those that have gone before me is to take care of ME and help others

Pickens using what I have! d_0

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Moderation and TheFatGuy

How do YOU define Moderation?

Moderation and TheFatGuy

How do YOU define Moderation?

Moderation was a foreign word to me for a long long time. Actually, several years ago, I told Dr.J of Dr.J & TheFatGuy that I had no idea what the definition of moderation was.

Dr.J and TheFatGuy (ME) have done different TV and radio spots promoting healthy living, making the healthy choice the easy choice, and anything promoting a healthy lifestyle. Dr.J is a wonderful person that works with MUSC and is, what I would call, the queen of moderation. She is in great shape and health, no body fat, and so on. When we started doing our spots together I noticed she always brought up moderation and doing things in moderation. Sounds like a smart thing to do, huh?

Well, we walked out of a session one day and I said, “You know, I have no idea what the definition of moderation is. If I did I would have never reached 360 pounds!” She just laughed, but I was a little serious about it and how moderation pertained to my journey. Moderation is much easier said than done with a person like me. You see I quit drinking in 1984 (recovering alcoholic), quit smoking in 1986 (nicotine addiction, 2 packs a day), and started my wellness journey to losing 150 pounds in 2009. Now does that sound like someone that knows what moderation is?

When I describe myself to people I typically use the phrase “all or nothing kinda guy”. I am like a light switch that has no dimmer. I am ON or OFF! It has been this way with alcohol, cigarettes, and sugar. There are probably a few other things I could toss in for good measure.

PENINSULA coconut cake

Picture taken on our anniversary!

Sugar is one great example of all or nothing. No moderation, no dimmer dial. I worked at giving up processed sugar for 363 days while losing 150 pounds. The only processed sugar I knowingly ingested for those 363 days was 2 bites of coconut cake on my wife’s birthday in November 2009. It was Peninsula Grill’s world famous coconut cake. It is delicious and loaded with calories. Presently one slice has 2,400 calories in it! Yep, about a dozen regular candy bars. But, I had 2 bites and that was it! YEA!

I gave up sugar during this period because I knew I would struggle to lose weight, to stay on the journey if I did try to ‘manage’ eating any sugar during this period. I still struggle with it, but I do recognize my struggle and my issues with moderation.

That is what I want to share with you today. I know moderation in many things in life is an issue for me. I know I struggle with the idea of replacing an ‘ON/OFF’ switch with a moderation dimmer dial. Creating honest communication with ME (TheFatGuy) has been a key factor in any success I have seen in my journey. I always go back to honesty, self-honesty. It is the toughest honesty I have ever experienced and many people I know feel the same way. Taking a hard look in the mirror and realizing there are things I cannot control or do well.

SO, I may not be able to master moderation like Dr.J, but I am fully aware of what I do well and not so well.

Note to ME and YOU: You don’t have to master everything! Just look in the mirror and master YOU!

TheFatGuy

Me June 2008

ObliqueNDp17 a_2

I’ll Never Forget How Bad I Felt

Feeling bad was NORMAL!!

by TheFatGuy

TheFatGuy was involved in an all day Obesity Summit (Conquering Tri-County’s Obesity Epidemic: Challenges, Changes, Choices) in Charleston, SC on December 2012. He had the great pleasure of addressing the group of 100 invitees with the story of his journey to health, fitness, and wellness. He spoke of a number of things during his 15 minutes AND 15 minutes is a very short time when you are explaining what you have done over 1376 days!

One thing that TheFatGuy highlighted was the fact that we now have close to 98 million men, women, and children in the ranks of OBESITY! That is 98 million people that he wishes to see start their journeys to health, fitness, and wellness. As TheFatGuy has talked about before, if obesity was a type of cancer we would ALL be beating the doors down trying to find a cure. But OBESITY is a complicated issue wrapped in 98 million individual stories and a wealth of need for changing policies, systems, and environment. If we could ‘cure’ obesity there might not be a health care crisis!

The other thing that stuck with TheFatGuy about this day and his talk was a question he poses as he shows a picture of himself at 360 pounds with his wife (Polly) and Godchild/niece (Sara Jane). The question: “Just how BAD did I feel?” This is a tough picture for him to see and a tough question for him to answer.  He will try to answer it for you with a little more detail than he gave in his talk that day.

febr 12 2009a2_0

In February 2009 TheFatGuy felt terrible. Just moving was a chore for him and exercise was a very distant thought. On the day this photo was taken he was at Wando High School for a production of 42nd Street by the students. HE was there with family and should have been enjoying a fun event with them, but he was not. He had to literally squeeze into the theater seats like one too many sardines in a can of sardines! He was uncomfortable (not the most accurate word) during the entire performance. He was struggling at best. At this time he was taking 7 different drugs to control or manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, sleep, migraines, asthma, and joint pain. AND, he used a CPAP machine to sleep! This was the short list of health issues that his obesity caused.  He avoided steps like the plaque, as even scaling one flight of steps would wear him out! He knew where ALL of the elevators were wherever he went. He was the guy that circled multiple times to get the closest parking space wherever he went. Yes, just moving had become a struggle. Can you imagine him struggling to pick up the dogs bowls from the floor in the morning to feed them and replenish their water? He would warm up for this endeavor by first bending over to get the coffee from a lower cabinet to prepare him to bend all the way to the floor to retrieve the dogs bowls. This is sad and funny all at the same time. It’s OK for me to say this as I know TheFatGuy all too well!

The worst part of it all is that feeling bad had become the norm in TheFatGuy’s life. So much so that he did not even realize ‘how bad he felt’ until he started losing weight and feeling better. That is a terribly scary thought that someone could feel bad for so long that it had become normal and accepted. He had lost touch with what feeling good, fit, and healthy was like. He now knows just how bad he felt. That is why the picture with this story is the desktop photo on his phone. He DOES NOT want to forget how bad he felt. He does not want to travel the journey back to that place where he felt terrible.

Now TheFatGuy wonders just how many of the 98 million men, women, and children are in the same boat he was in 2009. Has feeling bad become the norm for them? Have they accepted their obesity and all of the issues that come with it? Do the even know what feeling good is like? Do they remember or have a reference point for it? TheFatGuy feels sad when he thinks of someone else thinking that feeling bad is the norm when he knows what it is like to feel so good now.

Note to ME and YOU: If you are one of the over 98 million people struggling with obesity now, PLEASE start your journey today! If you are lucky enough to NOT be in this number, help someone that is starting their journey to health and wellness.

Mike

TheFatGuy, TheFitGuy, TheBEAST

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Unconscious Calories? Really!

DO you really need to eat that?

Unconscious Calories? Really!

As I settled into the New Year, I realize just how many unconscious calories I consume. Do you do that, too?

The entire first three years of my journey were based around tracking calories, trends, habits and so on. I kept a spread sheet the entire three years because I did not trust ME! 53 years of bad lifestyle choices and habits will do that to you. I had to really work to break bad habits and work to develop/build good lifestyle habits. Hard but very worthwhile.

So, back to unconscious calories. After logging and tracking for three years I realized how many ‘unconscious calories’ I was consuming when I was 360 pounds. No thought, no effort to track, no conscious healthy choices. Some things I did that can still creep back in at times are :

  • Well first, I am sitting at Starbucks right now AND I use to drink 2 to 3 Venti Caffe Mochas a day! WOW, almost 500 calories a pop. 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day with NO nutritional value and loaded with sugar—45 grams per drink. Does have 5 grams of fiber !
  • SO that leads us to ‘unconscious calories’ that we drink! I use to drink sodas and since I use to go to fastfood joints, I would ‘supersize’ them. These sodas and more that I dank during a day could lead to another 800-1,000 calories, See a trend.
  • Fastfood- talk about ‘unconscious calories’! I supersized everything. Lets just look at one place, BK> small fry and coke to supersizing equals 280 to 880 calories. It’s simple, “Sir, would you like to supersize that meal?” Sure, what’s another 600 calories to a guy that weighs 360 pounds.
  • Sugar (processed, the white stuff), the emptiest calories I know. Candy, ice cream, gum, and just about anything sweet! Bag of candy, yes please. Large ice cream, yes please. ……….
  • There are all sorts of empty calories we consume every day— gum, chips, that last item at check out, half & half, and the list goes on.

I have these bad habits, these ‘unconscious calories’, calling my name to this day. They find their way into my life when I’m stressed, tired, in a rut, almost any way they can. 6 plus years of working on healthy habits still does not ‘outweigh’ 53 years of bad lifestyle habits.

So what to do? What do I do? What do you do?

  • DON’T kick yourself. If you recognize it, you can fix it.
  • Create a log for at least a week of everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, you consume. Then, LOOK AT IT.
  • Make this commitment, do NOT drink your calories. WATER, WATER, WATER.
  • Try giving up the processed sugar. I had to do this for a year and still struggle with it.
  • Ditch Fast Food or at least try to search out the healthy choices. Ummm, NEVER SUPERSIZE.
  • We are all online. Google it if you are not sure.
  • STOP! If it goes in your mouth, STOP for a moment and ask, “What am I consuming? ‘Unconscious calories’?!

Small changes and a focus on new healthy habits can make a world of difference.

Note to ME and YOU: Just think! Think about what you are putting in your body and then make the smart choice. (Not always easy, but soooooo worthwhile)

Mike, TheFatGuy

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