I’m no genius, but I suspected for many years that I was fat. I would say as much to my lovely wife, and she insisted that I was being ridiculous. Her reassurances would allay my anxiety over my perceived fatness until I would see pictures snapped of me at family outings or office parties. I’d look at the images and wonder, “Who is that old fat guy?” A melancholic haze would envelope me when I realized I was the old fat guy.
I took my fat frame to my doctor for my annual checkup. BTW – It was annual in name only. I hadn’t seen him in about five years. I subjected myself to pokes and prods that inebriated travelers pay good money for in Taiwan, and at the end of the exam he sat me down and told me I wasn’t fat. I was, in fact, obese. My testosterone was virtually non-existent. My blood pressure was much too high. My cholesterol was approaching a danger zone. Clinically, I was a mess.
While he put me on some meds to correct my condition, he made it very clear that he wanted the drugs to only be a temporary solution. He told me they wouldn’t be necessary if I exercised and lost weight. So, I did something I usually don’t do with doctors. I listened.
As my wife likes to say, I illegally started following the Weight Watchers diet. Meaning I didn’t join, but I followed their point system by keeping a daily food journal. I had followed before without the food journal, and I had great success losing weight. I didn’t have success keeping it off, however. The journal has been the real key for me this time. For the first time in my life, I’m aware of what I’m eating.
In addition to the diet, I restarted the P90X program. Again, it was a program I had success with before, but I got bored with it after the first 90 days, and only did it sporadically after that. This time, I decided that I would only do the routines from the program that involved muscle development for no other reason than I liked those routines better than the ones designed for cardio. I was unhealthy enough that it wasn’t smart for me to go crazy with cardio anyway. My plan was when I got below 200 lbs I would add a cardio routine at that time. That was about 15 lbs away, so I had time to come up with a routine that would keep me interested.
I started doing some research on testosterone. Frankly, more than the other trouble areas my doctor found, the low testosterone issue bothered me the most. My understanding of the hormone at that point was that it was what made a man a man. While that is true to a certain extent, it’s also the hormone that helps you burn and metabolize fat. Not only that, my lack of exercise and intake of ultra fatty foods over the years had suppressed my testosterone levels. My doc put me on Andro Gel to boost my levels, but I wanted to gear my diet to help my body produce testosterone naturally. I found the foods and supplements that would do the job and settled into my new lifestyle.
That was in February of 2011. By April, I dropped below 200 and added a light cardio routine that centered mostly on the P90X abs routine. It’s very low impact and you can get it done in less than 15 minutes. By May, I dropped below 190, and I added running to my cardio days. Why? Because I actually had excess energy to burn, I needed to do something with it. I hate running. It bores me to death, so I don’t do normal running. I run a set of hills in my neighborhood. It’s much more challenging, and I actually get a kick out of it.
Two days ago, I went to see my doctor and I weighed in at 175. Down from about 215 lbs they recorded on my first check up. I’m off all the meds. My cholesterol is copasetic. My blood pressure is normal. My testosterone is normal. I’ve actually been off the Andro Gel for several months because a previous visit to his office revealed that my testosterone levels were too high, so it was no longer necessary for me to artificially support my body’s testosterone production. My doc put his arm around my shoulder and congratulated me on my progress. He was so happy I began to worry that maybe I was closer to death on that initial visit than I realized.
I took a shirtless picture of myself before I started this process just to see if I would be able to see the change when I reached my goal weight. After I took the picture, I looked at it and vowed never to lay my eyes on it again. It was awful. After my doctor’s visit, I decided to dig up the picture and remind myself what he saw back then. I was shocked at how unhealthy I actually looked. It was more than shocked. It shook me. I took a comparison picture, and not only does my body look completely different, it looks like I had a face transplant. While I’m not prepared to post a shirtless picture of myself, I am posting here the transition my face (and head) made. I can see now why my doctor was so enthusiastic about my progress. I really looked like I was close to death.