Monday, December 12, 2011

On the Scale - An Official Weigh In

Normally, I don't post much about myself.  This blog isn't about me, it's about my view of the outdoors, and what I can share with you.  But now, there's a turning point in my life.  My direction has changed, and below is the story why.  Perhaps what I'm going through can help you some day, however you decide to do it.

The name "Fat Boy" was originally coined by me as an internet user name, or handle, on one of the first web forums that I had the pleasure of joining,  Why pick such a name?  I don't ride a Harley, but I do ice fish.  And a popular ice fishing jig at the time, and still today, is called a Fat Boy, by Systems Tackle.  At the time during ice season, I used them to ice many crappie, yellow perch, bluegills, largemouth bass and stocked rainbow trout from the hard waters of Maryland and Pennsylvania.  The name stuck, and I've been using it ever since on all my fishing forums amongst a few others.  Anyway, when I picked the name, it had nothing to do with my physique.  However, as time went by, my stature tended to resemble my user name more and more.

A few months ago, I dropped below 230, and felt much better.  I climbed down the bank to lip this bass, something that I couldn't have done even six months earlier.
Nine months ago I hated the way that I felt.  I let myself go since I got married twenty years earlier, and I had to either suffer the consequences or do something about it.  At one time during my marriage, I tried the Atkin's Diet and lost a bunch of weight and quickly, I might add.  I went from a fat 267 pounds down to 211, not quite my goal, but not too bad.  The 56 pounds came off in a matter of a few months.  Several deaths in my family took a toll on me mentally, and along with the added stress of that to an already stressful sedentary job forced a war within my mind, leading me to eat everything except perhaps my cat and family, and gained it all back and then some.  If it was edible and not nailed down, I ate it.  Originally, the purpose of the diet was to lose the weight, then change my lifestyle and keep it off.  Part one worked, part two never got underway.

As my lifestyle changed and weight piled on, I became more and more apathetic, especially towards fishing and hunting.  My friends drifted away, or perhaps I drifted away from them, to the point that the prospect of going on a fishing or hunting trip didn't much appeal to me any more.  And, with my brothers passing just over three years prior to my accident, hunting became a reminder of him.  It should have been a positive reminder, but it wasn't...I took it the other way and lost the desire to be in the woods.  He most definitely wouldn't have wanted that.

The Fat Boy ice fishing jig
Other factors contributed to my outdoors apathy.  I was coaching girls travel fastpitch softball as my daughter progressed through the sport.  That takes a lot of time. It did provide some measure of physical activity which may have kept me from becoming a shut in, but not enough to stay in any form of good physical condition.  The lifestyle may have contributed to the weight gain.  Travel players and parents are always on the go, away from home, and that often means eating out at odd hours.  More times than not, the food either isn't healthy or the portions are massive.  And, as an eat-a-holic, the massive restaurant portions appealed to me.

A few weeks prior, I was in an auto accident that was serious enough that it could have taken my life, but the good Lord and also wearing a seat belt saved me along with a well designed car.  I was lucky enough to escape with a few scratches, sore muscles, seat belt bruising, and a severly sprained ankle that bothers me to this day.  During my recovery and physical therapy, I decided that life is way too short.  Not only would losing weight assist in my recovery and aide in the healing process of my ankle, but that too could save my life.

My desire to improve my health also changed my attitude about the outdoors.  I craved to fish and hunt again.  I wanted desperately to reverse the couch potato trend and hit the outdoors as much as possible.  I started with my food intake again.  About the only advantage to having a pendulous paunch, is that you can tuck a napkin at a restaurant under it without worrying about the napkin dropping to the floor.  I was ready to trade that one advantage for a better life.

This spring, my first trip on my buddy's boat felt good to be back in the swing of things.  At this point in my diet, I had lost about 15 pounds.  There's a lot of pizza still in that mid section, and plenty of cheeseburgers in those chins.
The problems as an outdoorsman carrying a bunch of weight are many, in addition to daily life issues with weight.  The simple things, like tying my hunting boots, were a real chore.  It was embarrassing having to come up for air after bending over to tie a bootlace, only to go back down to tie the other one and rise up gasping for air again, as if I was drowning.  The other option was to tie both of them really fast and risk passing out from lack of oxygen with the veins in my forehead feeling like they were going to pop.

It's also embarrasing when I'd go on a fishing trip in the rain, and my bib overalls wouldn't zip up, leaving my belly hanging out unprotected from the cold and rain.  Thank goodness for the oversized waterproof insulated parkas to cover that embarassment up.  But, when temperatures warmed, I'd either sweat or have to expose the basketball that I'd swallowed to the public via fishing pictures on my camera.

Heaven forbid if I'm out fishing and drop a bullet weight on the ground.  I'd either pass out bending over or risk splitting my drawers in the field.  Nobody wants an unplanned  trap door at the seat of their coveralls or waders.  So, I'd just let whatever I dropped be, unless it was expensive, like a spinnerbait or a crankbait, and it was easy enough to see that I could find it quickly without running out of air.

And, consider shark tooth or fossil collecting problems.  As I increase in age, my eyesight declines, like many people.  My belly stuck out far enough that looking straight down, where things are easier for older eyes to see, impossible.  My effective range to view objects on the ground started at about a 45 degree angle out from my belly.  And, not only was it difficult to see artifacts on the ground, but still difficult to bend over and pick them up.  Finally, with regard to collecting, when wading places with blown down trees and the like, you have to navigate around or over them.  Often, I'd choose to go under, even if it meant getting wet, because lifting my massive body over those obstacles became nearly impossible.  I'm no weakling, having lifted and played college athletics in my younger days, but my weight gain exceeded my lifting ability as time went on and my muscles atrophied over the years.

And, don't even think about buying a new tree stand at a bargain price.  All of the ones on sale have maximum weight recommendations, including gear, and I exceeded all but a few of them...which, by the way, never go on sale.  I have two climbing stands that I use, and neither of them were rated for my ballooning weight.

Many tree stands have weight recommendations.  Now I don't exceed them, and I feel a lot more comfortable in them that I did a year ago.  And, it's easier to climb too!
I also avoided early ice fishing season.  Who would want to fish with me on the ice during such times?  Four inches of good solid clear ice is good for a small group as long as they aren't too close to each other, but if I weighed as much as a small group, I'd better have six inches under me.  That meant, you guessed it, that I'd pass up early fishing trips in the ice.  That's a great time to fish through the ice as the fish are still really actively feeding, and I was opting to wait for later ice when they became less active.

I won't be self conscious about pressure cracks being my fault on the ice any longer!
Trudging through snow, dragging my shanty and equipment, really became difficult too.  And while in my shanty, I had the same issue with dropping tackle, having to bend over to pick it up, even while sitting my my bass boat modified seat in my Fish Trap proved a real hassle to find what I dropped.  And, my belly blocked my view of fishing a hole near me or viewing my underwater camera.

Now, bending over to pick up this fish in my shanty won't result in me losing my breath, and I can more easily fish over the hole.
On the ice, one of the keys to success at jigging up panfish is to stay mobile.  You use your electronics and your auger to find fish, cutting lots of holes in a methodical calculated manner, searching logically for locations that you'd expect fish to be.  When I was heavy, it made me apathetic, lazy, and easy to stay in one spot, cozy and comfortable in my warm Fish Trap, not willing to move when the bite slowed.  Rather than fish several good holes, I'd stay on one good hole and wait for the fish to return rather than go find them.  This meant catching less fish than I used to because of my apathy.

From a health standpoint, my blood sugar and blood pressure were high, leading my doctors to think that I'd soon be on medication for type 2 diabetes, and more blood pressure pills to boot.  In addition, my back ached daily, and my feet would get sore on all day fishing trips, not to mention a lack of stamina to even climb the shortest set of stairs.

During my first run at losing weight, on the way down to 211 pounds, I walked fast, as fast as I could, everywhere.  This probably helped in my weight loss.  I'd make it my goal when walking in from the parking lot at work to pass as many people walking up hill as possible, at a brisk walking speed.  This past March, when I made the decision to change, my weight combined with my ankle injury, wouldn't let me pass people in canes or walkers (bless their hearts).  It became a viscious cycle...can't exercise, get depressed, eat more, gain more.

The only way I knew that I could lose weight was the low carb thing.  I've tried other diets, but couldn't stick to them for one reason or another.  Cutting portions didn't work either as I just didn't have the will power.  So, I opted for low carb again.  This time, the weight didn't fall off like the last time.  You see, on this diet, you're basically fooling your metabolism into thinking that you're starving, and it burns your body fat faster.  But, the next time that you try it, your metabolism isn't easily fooled, and it comes off a lot slower.

The first month, I nearly quit doing it, because it didn't seem to work.  Normally, on these diets, the "induction" phase lasts two weeks, and you drop about 10-20 pounds.  I was at five pounds...could have been only water weight.  But, I stuck to it anyway, and eventually saw improvement.  After induction, you add more and more carbs, but good carbs...from nature.  Limit or cut out potatoes, rice, beans, fruit, sweets and especially bread.  Doing that is difficult, especially since I LOVE to eat.

Prior to doing this diet thing, in my mind, the basic food groups were pizza, cake, soda, chips, and cheeseburgers.  And portion control really meant how much a paper plate could hold without collapsing.  I had a reason to celebrate and eat too, and those reasons came often in the form of office parties, family parties, my own personal solo parties, and holiday parties.  I was addicted to food.

Now that I'm back on my diet plan, and sticking to it, not ever cheating, things are starting to improve.  I didn't even have a piece of birthday cake at my birthday party!  I've lost 57 pounds and I'm now down to 215.  I have three goals, and I'm determined to reach all of them.  The first goal is to reach 211, now within reach, and I'm hoping that my metabolism will allow me to reach that goal within a couple weeks.  The 211 goal will tie the lightest that I've weighed since my marriage over 21 years ago.  After that, it's the 200 milestone.  I hope to reach that goal by the new year.  And my ultimate goal is to reach below 190, my playing weight when I played college baseball 32 years ago.  I know that I won't be in the same shape, but at least I can do more than when I started.  I won't stop until I reach that goal, no matter how long it takes.

Last month, I broke the 220 barrier.  At least now my weight alone didn't exceed the capacity of my buddy's Coleman Crawdad!

Already I am feeling the benefits of my weight loss.  Here are some of them:

1)     I can bend over and tie both boots and still breath, and take my time if I so choose. 
2)     My insulated rain gear bib overalls fit nicely, and actually zip up all the way without me having to lay on a bed and hold my breath to put them on. 
3)     I feel comfortable now in both of my tree stands.
4)     My hunting gear fits perfectly.  I can even get into some coveralls that I couldn't even zip up last season.
5)     My waders fit, and I can wear a jacket underneath without having to hold my breath to pull the waders over it.
6)     I can save money by not leaving inexpensive tackle items on the ground when I drop them, as I can now pick them up easily.
7)     I spend all day fishing without my back aching having to hold up that basketball belly.
8)     When fishing on my friends boats, I can carry 57 more pounds of tackle than before without adding more stress on their boat motors.  Or, put another way, carry the same amount of tackle as before allowing their boats to get on a plane much faster.
9)     When fossil collecting, I can actually see shark teeth at my feet.  Heck, I can see my feet!  I was wondering what the heck they looked like after all these years.  Man, are my toes ugly by the way.  The only drawback of that is that when I go to the beach, I can't rely on my belly shade to protect my feet from the sun.
10)     I can put my tree stand on smaller trees if I so choose, and not worry about the tree bending to the ground with me in it.
11)     When at the beach, people may no longer confuse me with a beluga.
12)     Health wise, seriously, my blood pressure is down, and so is my blood sugar, and I feel great.
13)     My clothing, from hunting and fishing and casual wear, to work apparel, fits much better.  I can button my shirt collar and wear a tie without my face turning red, or worse, blue.  And, when I bend over, I don't have to worry about a button shooting off and injuring my fishing pal.
14)     When ice fishing, pressure cracks happen all the time especially when ice is building, and when they do, I won't think that it's my fault any more!
15)     Finally, when taking fishing pictures, the fish will actually look bigger, or at least their true size, and, I won't need to use a wide angle lens for my fishing pictures.

Okay, so what about the future?  Will I go back to my old ways or stick to my plan?  Only time will tell.  But right now, I have no intention of going back.  This is a lifestyle change.  Moderation is the key, but so is continued will power.  I won't quit eating carbs, but I don't need three pizzas a week, by myself.  I can limit my intake to a couple slices, once in a LONG while.  I don't need two double quarter pounder with cheese supersize extra value meals along with a huge regular soda.  I can eat a normal size sandwich meal, with a regular order of fries, and a bottle of water.  I don't need ice cream or cake daily, or desert for that matter.  Instead, I'll opt for a fruit bowl and limit the intake of sweets for special occasions only.  I didn't quit drinking soda, but did quit drinking regular soda.  In addition, I limit my diet soda consumption to only a couple of them each week.  I drink a lot more water and zero carb sports drinks.

I don't want my blog or user name to represent my shape.  I'm tired of that, that part of me is over.  I'm feeling good and I want it that to continue for the rest of my life.  I'm enjoying my time outdoors again, and it's special.  There's nothing like it, whether it's being in a tree looking for that perfect shot at an ususpecting buck, or walking the bank of a terrific lake in search of lunker bass, or walking and wading a remote shoreline in search of that huge megalodon tooth.  The outdoors is life to me.

Well, let me restate that.  My family is life to me.  I want to be around, and be there, for my wife and daughter.  I owe it to them.  Along with that, the outdoors is life to me.

1 comment:

Jim C. said...

Welcome back to your outdoor life, Kev. Let the good times roll!

Jim C.