Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Weight-Gain-and-Loss Background on Big Loser Dave (Part 1)

I've been a little oversized all my life. Check that: I started out "a little oversized." I've contributed to that, since then.

I never was very active, growing up. I played with the other kids. Baseball with the YMCA in grade school--the kind where everyone gets a trophy. Then I became very bookish for a few years, and didn't play sports with the other kids at school. That changed when my folks got me a basketball goal to hang over the garage, the Christmas of my seventh-grade year. That summer, I wore out that goal, played on it constantly.

As a result, I played basketball from 8th-12th grade. This isn't a terribly impressive accomplishment; I went to a small Christian school where, at 5'11', I was one of the taller kids and could make the team based on brute force and size alone.

I also played flag football, as a sort of conditioning regimen to prepare for basketball. Flag football is often regarded as a sissy-sport by many macho sportsdudes, but I don't think they take into account a few key points: 1) it involves a lot of running--A LOT; 2) anyone on offense is an eligible receiver, including the center (yours truly), so everyone is encouraged to have good hands and good yards-after-catch footwork; and 3) there are no protective pads involved, and there IS contact. Lots, if you play the game hard like we did.

Suffice to say, I played high school sports and kept in decent shape. I weighed in at a solid 250, but I carried it well. I wasn't buff, but I wasn't terribly fat either. I was just stocky. Solid. A little slow-footed, but I made up for it as I could.

In college, I played two seasons of intramural hoops with my buddies, but never anything serious. There certainly were no 6 a.m. practices five days a week, like there were in high school.

And of course, in college, I gained weight eating on the meal plan, like so many other college freshman do. But instead of the "Freshman 15," I gained the Freshman 50. Lucky Charms cereal and glasses of chocolate milk became a staple of every single meal. My diet was very meat-and-bread-focused, with few vegetables beyond what they could fit into an omelette.

By the time I finished college, I had gained another 50 pounds, to put me at a non-buff, more-than-just-stocky 350. I was big. A big dude.

In the first year post-college, I had two personal setbacks that I won't get into here. Suffice it to say, I turned to food for comfort. I lacked self-control. I made bad choices. And over the next year or so, I gained yet another 100 pounds.

I didn't know how much I actually weighed. The scales at the doctor's office only go up to 375, and I had long ago beaten those weak things.

I commuted to work downtown, a stressful 90 minutes each way. Invariably, on the way into work, I would stop by McDonalds for a sausage McMuffin, or I'd swing by the convenience store for a package of chocolate donuts and a pint of chocolate milk (an addiction I'm still struggling to beat). On the way home, I'd sometimes hit up Mickey-D's again for two double-cheeseburgers (no pickles) and a large Dr. Pepper.

My eating habits at home were no better than my habits before, during, and after work. I liked pizza. And ice cream. And cake. Especially cake.

My blood pressure was high, I was on the fast track to diabetes, my cholesterol was probably getting pretty gross. I say probably because I wasn't sure. I'm still not. It's been a while, and honestly, I'm afraid.

I made small changes, to "get active," but they never really addressed the problem. The little bit of walking I did was made up for by more bad food habits. (Hamburger Helper is a bad name; it should be called Heartattack Helper, or Hamburger Killer.)

Last Christmas, I had had enough. I bought a scale online that could go up to 550 pounds. I was going to make a positive change.

On January 5, I started Weight Watchers. I weighed in for the first time in years--weighed in for real.

471 pounds. I couldn't believe it. But it was what it was, and it was up to me to change.

No comments: