Shortly after I turned 35, my wife and I had two young children and a house. I had a good job sitting in front of a computer writing code and managing a small group of software engineers. We decided it would be smart to get some life insurance to make sure that, in case of a tragedy, the house would be paid off and the kids would be able to go to college.
We shopped around and found a good rate for a 35-year-old, male, non-smoking, light drinker. Part of the application involved having a nurse come by to do a cursory exam and take some blood. Two weeks later the insurance company called. I weighed over 250 pounds and my total cholesterol was 265. They said that my premium would be double the original quote because of “morbid obesity” and increased risk of death from heart failure. They wanted me to see a doctor soon to formulate a plan to get healthy.
My doctor wanted me to start on Lipitor to knock down my cholesterol and recommended more exercise (more meaning “some” since I was not active at all). I really did not want to start on a daily pill that I would need to take for the rest of my life. The doctor understood and recommended a dramatic diet change (essentially cutting out bad fats) and insisting that I find an exercise that I liked. We would check everything again in three months.
I got the diet change down quickly and weight started to drop off. After a few months I weighed around 230 and had a new lipid profile done. My cholesterol had dropped quite a bit. No pills for me, but no cheese, whole milk, real eggs, or red meat for me. Eventually my weight and my cholesterol dropped below 200 pounds. I felt great and thought I was all set. Over the next few years, several factors interfered with my initial success.
First, I was not able to maintain the strict eating habit. I would “cheat” here and there and convince myself that what I was eating was still within the guidelines that I had adopted. I ate tons of pasta and bread and drank Diet Coke like it was straight from the Fountain of Youth. I convinced myself that it was just like water (zero calories), and the caffeine kept me going. I would drink 6 to 10 cans every day. I knew all about calorie counting and portion sizes, but self-discipline was not my strong suit. Over time, my eating was generally out of control and my weight fluctuated up and down and settled around 245 pounds.
Crap! Time to pull out the fat clothes again.
I started looking for something different to keep me exercising. In an airport, I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt. “Fighting the Pussification of America,” it read. I asked about it, and he asked if I had heard of Crossfit. He gave me a 30 second overview – hard, fast, and always changing so you can’t get used to the workouts.In June, my daughter, Katie, was looking for something extra to build some strength. She played keeper on the soccer field, ran track, and threw shot put. We found a box near home, and we went for her initial evaluation. We both thought it was awesome. I started looking for a gym near my office, and that’s when I found Crossfit 2A.
I started in July and was quite unprepared for the first several workouts. I was huffing and puffing after the first few minutes of the warm up. However, Nicole and the rest of the small lunchtime crowd encouraged me to stick with it. I kept at it and the WODs started getting easier to handle. More importantly, I was thoroughly addicted to the variety.At the end of summer, my weight had not changed much. I was at 219 pounds but felt I was making slow, steady progress. Little did I know the big change was coming.
The Paleo Challenge was a huge change for me. I had not eaten red meat or whole eggs in 11 years. I pretty much ate chicken, seafood, and tons of carbs. I decided that I would take the plunge to see what happened. Along with altering my food, I decided to go cold turkey on Diet Coke. I had tried that in the past, and the headaches and fatigue quickly convinced me to return.
This time, I focused on drinking lots of water. I got a few headaches early on, but drinking water seemed to help quickly. After the first week, I had dropped by 6 pounds. The challenge ended, I came in second, but I was not ready to be done. I found a good pattern of eating and the last four weeks of journals had pointed out what was working and what was not. I had continued on Paleo.I weigh 190 pounds today and I feel great. I have not had a Diet Coke for 2 months, and I have no plans to go back. I have a few goals still, but in general I want what most of us desire – to be healthy, fit, strong, and to look good naked.