Well, I'm back. On May 9, I posted that I'd be taking a break to focus on my health, and that's what I've been doing for the past several months.
On April 22, 2016, I had a doctor's appointment and received what was, for me, pretty disturbing news. At my last visit three months prior, my doc had told me my blood pressure was a little high, but he wanted me to monitor it for three months and come see him again before taking action. Like a good geek, I took my blood pressure every day and recorded it on my iPhone, so I was able to tell him that I was averaging 130-140/95-105. He matter-of-factly wrote me a prescription for a medicine to keep it in check.
This hit me pretty hard, because I'd been trying to watch what I ate - avoiding fried foods, trying to limit sodium, but it hadn't made a difference. My BP had been creeping up into the pre-hypertension, then hypertension range, for a couple of years. I knew that I didn't want to end up taking BP medicine for the rest of my life, so I asked him, "Is this a forever thing? If not, what do I need to do to get off it and keep my BP under control."
My doc looked at me and said, "You need to lose weight - a lot of weight."
I weighed myself before seeing him that day, as I always did since, as a fat guy, I've always kidded myself by saying the weight at the doc's office doesn't count since my shoes and clothes (and phone and keys and wallet) weigh a lot.
I weighed 312.6 pounds that day.
Bad Back - A Lucky Break
My back's bothered me for years, especially after I took a tumble off a curb at work and landed in the street. Several weeks of physical therapy helped, but my back's never been the same. Carrying well over 300 pounds on my frame (my Fitbit logs show me averaging 320-330 for most of 2013-2016) didn't help my back, I'm sure.
Things got so bad in April of 2016 that I had trouble walking, getting up and down the stairs, and even turning in my chair often hurt my back so bad that I had to fight the urge to scream. My wife sometimes had to help me in and out of the car, and carrying groceries or other items into the house was out of the question.
A coworker referred me to her chiropractor, Dr. David Shreve. Meeting Dr. Shreve at this time was the best thing that could have happened to me. Not only would he begin to work with me to resolve my back issues, he gave me the kick in the pants that I needed to realize that wake-up call I'd received from my primary doc was something I couldn't ignore.
After being placed on BP meds, the I attended a class Dr. Shreve teaches on nutrition. There were more than a dozen folks in the class, and I was by far the youngest at 46, with the average age probably being closer to 66. Lots of those older folks were using walkers, and many of them raised their hands when Dr. Shreve asked if they had diabetes. He laid out a fairly simple plan for eating - 7 things to do, 7 things to avoid, and it made a ton of sense to me.
I met with Dr. Shreve the next week to share my latest blood lab results. We discussed my blood sugar, which was in the pre-diabetic range but my A1C was "normal", as well as my cholesterol, which was high enough that my doc suggested I consider starting medicine for it, and other aspects of the blood panel I'd never had explained to me before.
As Dr. Shreve put it, I was in bad shape, but at 46, I had the opportunity to turn things around in ways that his older patients might not have. I recall him saying that his methods probably seemed extreme to me, but that those older folks were in a medical crisis, whereas I was just working my way up to one. He told me if I'd follow his advice on what and how to eat, he was sure I'd lose the weight I needed to lose, get off the blood pressure meds, as well as drop my blood sugar and cholesterol.
A New Mission
I walked out of Dr. Shreve's office and texted my wife, "I have to make some serious changes. I've lost and gained weight so many times, and my way hasn't worked. What this guy says makes sense, so I'm going to do it."
I've spent the last several months focused on eating right, losing weight, and getting my health back. You can see the results from my MyFitnessPal chart here. I feel good about it, but I'm nowhere near done.
So many people have encouraged me to share my experience, and I have in a more limited way via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I almost scrapped this blog completely because I can't imagine ever writing another review of a giant cheeseburger or fried chicken again.
But I've decided to write about my health journey here. I spent a few years writing about loving food and eating out as the Geek Food Critic. Now I'm going to write about eating well, losing weight, and getting healthy as the Geek Food Critic.
Look for more detailed posts from me soon about what I've done, how it's going, and where I'm going from here.
My hope is that in seeing what one middle-aged very overweight guy has done and is still working on, someone out there in the same boat I've been in can find the inspiration or motivation to get healthier.
p.s. As a fat guy, I've never liked having my picture taken. The one on the left is me and my son at Legoland in May of 2016. The one on the right is me on September 21, 2016. I look at both of those pictures and mostly see myself as too fat, but the scale doesn't lie about the weight difference even if I have trouble seeing it myself.