Long ago someone asked me, “If you could only preach one sermon for the rest of your life, what would it be?” and over the course of the last 8 years that answer has been a resounding, “Embrace change.”

Don’t fight it. Don’t manage it. Don’t try to subdue or direct it. It’s a wild beast that will ruin you if you don’t learn to ride it. And this is one beast you don’t ride to transform its nature…you ride to let it transform yours.

It’s as simple as that.

Not to say that should make it easy. Not at all. It is quite possibly the most difficult thing to do. However, the truth is still embrace change or become bitter, embrace change or become stuck, embrace change or stop growing, embrace change or watch your joy, your potential and your life slowly drain away through the futility of frustration.

More on this soon…but for now…that’s a start. Welcome back.

Of Life and Death Importance: The Continuing Journey (Part 3)

This year started like most years in recent memory. There was no big urge to make a new resolution to lose weight or be fit. I was happy where I was but I was slowly killing myself. In late January, I remember weighing myself because my clothes were getting a bit too snug and I wanted to pay more attention. I weighed 243lbs. That number, at the time, seemed so normal. Throughout most of my adulthood, I had weighed 230lbs or more. At one point, ten years ago, even peaking at about 265lbs. So 243 was a reasonable number to me. I was wearing XXL shirts and my pants were 40-42″ waste. Again, my whole adulthood I had vacillated between XL and XXL, between 38-42″ pants. It was just what I had accepted as normal.

I loved myself and I loved my physical container. There was no sense of “fat-shaming” or any such mentality. However when I learned, at the end of February, that my inactivity and bad decisions were putting me at severe risk of missing out on a long and happy life, it was time to love myself better than I had been. It was time to love myself to the best health possible. It was time to love myself into a very long and happy life.

When I posted about my journey in May, my doctor had recently just cleared me to get back to physical exercise. Since then, I’ve gotten back to an increasing regiment of weight training and running. I’ve trimmed down, toned up, and continued to lose weight – at a much slower rate but still losing. It’s been exciting and challenging and the time put in every day is always rewarding: physically, mentally, emotionally. This is, simply put, life from now on. This is it. But the good thing is that this is sustainable. I’m not doing anything so drastic that I’ll burn out and give up because of an unrealistic schedule. Not at all. This is easily something I can do for years to come.

My hope is that I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m now in a true habit of living. I don’t EVER want to go back to where I was before. I can’t. I spent over 20 years there. No more.

I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m so much closer. Like I said, at the beginning of the year I was at 243lbs, in XXL shirts and 42″ pants. This morning, I’m at 179lbs, I wear M sized shirts and I’m in 33″ pants. That’s almost 65lbs lost in 6 months…and I can’t even fathom the difference in body mass between XXL and M sized shirts. I literally feel like a different person. I am by no means happier, I’ve always been a pretty happy guy. However, I am so much more relaxed and comfortable. I can’t even express how much more comfortable I am.

My original goal, at the beginning of March was to get to 200lbs. I knew that was achievable, but there’s no way I would have imagined I could reach the 170s. No way. The key for me, all along, has been to set small, reachable goals. If I hadn’t have done that, I would have been so overwhelmed that it would have been easy to give up. But giving up is not an option. To give up would be a slow, languid suicide…and that’s just not going to happen.

Small, reachable goals. That’s where it’s at. That and a damn good playlist.

(Part 1) (Part 2)

Of Life and Death Importance. Part Next. (Part 2)

So yes, of course I was ready to change my life. More so than I’d ever been. The doctor put me on some various medications to curb the immediate danger the cholesterol and diabetes put me under but then advised me about my weight. He said, “If we attack the weight and your eating habits, we KNOW with absolute certainty we can make an impact on the blood pressure and the diabetes. So, you need to make some significant changes in how you eat – but this has to be a long term commitment – not simply something to lose weight and then go back to the way you were living. If you do that, all of these problems will only get bigger.” It wasn’t a hard sell at all. This was the right thing, at the exact right moment for me.

So, along with my two diabetic meds, my three blood pressure meds, my cholesterol pills and now most certainly my newest trusty friend in the midst of all of this, Lexapro, I endeavored to do everything I could to get myself OFF of all these pills. I started eating as cleanly as I could, immediately. My breakfast would contain a good clean protein and some fruit. Very modest proportions. My snacks would be composed of nuts and fruit. My lunches and dinners would be mostly vegetables (as many raw as possible) a very modest amount of a lean meat and a small serving of fruit. One of the things I immediately attacked was portion size. After a week or two feeling like I was constantly starving, those misleading thoughts fled and it became clear just how much our culture overeats on a daily basis. We can live with far less food than we shove into ourselves.

After the first couple of months, I began to flirt with the idea of committing to a Whole Food Plant Based diet. I resist the word “vegan” in the same way I would resist other culturally charged words. But essentially, a WFPB diet is vegan. I finally took the leap and it’s been quite enjoyable. Of course, there’s much more to unpack on these subjects, but you can’t say EVERYTHING in one or two posts…so…I’ll end this entry with the good news.

In LESS than 90 days…less than 3 full months…I have dropped 50lbs. I have been taken off almost every single one of my blood pressure meds. Yesterday, after rechecking my blood work, my doctor actually said the words, “You can stop taking your diabetic meds now, according to the medical definition, with your new blood work, you are no longer diabetic. With the weight you’ve lost and your dietary changes, you are officially not diabetic now. You’ve done it.”

In less than 3 months. And literally, ALL I did was change my eating habits. Because of the cholesterol, he wouldn’t let me do any kind of workout at all. All I did was change the way I ate.

50lbs in exactly 79 days. Reversed the diabetes. Almost completely off my blood pressure meds. We’ll recheck the cholesterol in another 3 months.

However, as of yesterday, my doctor told me that now was the time to get back to working out. More on that in my next entry, though.

I’ll leave you with this. Below are a few pictures. The first one is from a cat’s birthday party I attended almost two years ago. Between this picture and where I was three months ago, I MIGHT have lost 10lbs or so, but this was essentially who I was three months ago. Next to that picture, are two pictures my doctor took yesterday in his exam room. Oh, and yes. I said “a cat’s birthday party.”

I can’t tell you what a difference our eating habits make…I can’t convince you that the key to health is in what you eat. But I can show you. There’s no magic to it. No diet pills to take. No meal replacement shakes. No extra money to be spent. Just simply stop eating crap.

True. Story.

(Part 1) (Part 3)

Of Life and Death Importance. The Journey Begins. (Part 1)

Sit back, grab some coffee, and enjoy this little story. To set a little background for this journey, five years ago I was diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure. When I say high blood pressure, I mean I should be dead. The last time I was not on my medication, my blood pressure was 236/124. Like I said, I should be dead. So five years ago, I started the journey to figuring out how to control this, medically. After two years of struggling with different medication combinations, my doctor and I settled on a combination of drugs that kept things at a much safer level. Three different meds, two of them taken in the morning and the third med taken three times a day, brought my blood pressure down to something more in the 150s/90s range. Still not wonderful, but much better. Once we found that cocktail, I started seeing my doctor on a regular 3 month basis to keep tabs on everything.

So…this journey actually begins about 6 months ago. My doctor, realizing that it had been a few years since I had any blood work done, sent me home with paperwork to get labs run on my blood before I came in the next time. I didn’t go. I found all sorts of excuses on why, but basically, I just didn’t go. So three months ago, I went back in and he was really bothered by the fact that I didn’t get my blood work done. I remember his exact words, “Do you not care what’s going on with your body?” He asked if I had eaten anything that morning yet, or had anything other than water…serendipitously enough, I hadn’t. So he demanded I immediately go and have my blood work done that morning. I had no excuses, so I went.

A few days later, he called me, worried and asked me to drop whatever I was doing and come see him immediately. He didn’t want to delay starting treatment based on the results of my blood work. “Treatment?” I thought. I began to share his concern, so I dropped what I was doing and went in.

I’ll never forget these words. He said, “Well, we know you’re overweight (ouch) and have struggled with high blood pressure…but now your cholesterol is through the roof and you’re apparently diabetic. Who knows how long you’ve been an untreated diabetic, since you haven’t had blood work in a very long time…but congratulations…with the combination of these four conditions, you’ve just graduated into a special group of people who could have a massive heart attack at any given moment 24 hours a day. So, are you ready to change your life?”

I was absolutely beside myself. I had no idea, obviously. I think for the first time in a life time of trying different things to change my health, I was finally ready.

(Part 2) (Part 3)