How and why I went from simply existing to truly living; my trip from fat to fit!
Do you walk into a restaurant and look for a table because you can’t fit in a booth?
Do you always take an elevator because even one flight of stairs leaves you exhausted and out of breath?
Is the simple act of tying your shoes a contortionistic maneuver?
Not all that long ago, my answers to the above questions would have been a resounding and embarrassing — yes!
I had finally tired of compromising my life, so on a fateful day in March of 2008, for the first time in two years, I hopped upon my dust-covered scale. The spring moaned and groaned as the needle revolved past the end of its’ limit and ventured into the “additional” numbers printed smaller and in red. The pointer bounced several times in a range of about ten pounds. I hoped it would stop at the lower end — it didn’t. I held my breath and peered down over the beach ball ballooning from my abdomen — I couldn’t quite see the rather large and over-sized dial. With a gale forced inhalation I sucked in my gut and strained once again to see the dreaded digits.
There it was, scales don’t lie, 3… 4… 0…
That is not a typo; three hundred and forty ponderous, pachydermian pounds. In just over a pair of years I had added more than one hundred pounds to my previously well proportioned frame. I released my breath and heaved a heavy sigh. At least I could console myself with the ten pounds that clothing adds — never-mind; I was only wearing a pair of light cotton shorts.
Eventually, I stepped back. I paced the floor stunned and in disbelieve. I knew I had gained weight, but there was no way I was over 300 pounds, let alone close to 350. Surely, after so long without use, the scale must be out of calibration. Yes! That was the answer. I looked around and found a forty pound dumbbell. I placed it upon the platform expecting the number to possibly reach 80. No such luck — the indicator stopped spot on at 40.
It was official — in medical terms I was morbidly obese.
In layman’s terms, I was just plain fat.
The initial step to overcoming many problems is to first admit you have a problem. Even with the numbers staring me in the face — I still wasn’t ready to admit it. Later that day I arrived at my practice and had my office manager photograph me from the front and the side. I downloaded the pics to my PC and was prepared to see just a large, big-boned guy staring back at me — what I saw was anything but.
The visage on the left is what I saw. There I was with a stupid grin on my face; a pin sized head atop a rotund, pear-shaped body.
Finally, reluctantly and sadly I was ready to admit it — I had a problem. I closed the door to my office and for almost a full hour I sobbed, sullen in self-pity. Then I stood up, looked at the photo and shouted, “Wipe that smile off your face and get ready to disappear!”
When I arrived home, I dug deep into the closet and found some old clothes. On the bed I placed them side by side with my current wardrobe. It was eye-opening. There is a stark contrast between a size 38 and a size 54 pants, between a size 56 and a size 46 sports coat, and you wouldn’t believe the difference in the lengths of the belts. I shook my head wondering how this could have happened. Oh yeah, then I remembered, plenty sugar, starchy over processed burgers, fries, pizza and pasta, followed each night by two servings of ice cream — blasted Ben and Jerry for those single serving container.
I went through my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. Every bit of food that was processed, sugared up, a starchy carbohydrate was removed and dumped in the trash. I took out a sheet of paper and wrote up a grocery list of natural, whole low carbohydrate foods. Then, on another sheet of paper, calling upon my education and experience, I drew up an outline for a daily menu broken out into 3 main meals and 3 small snacks. Finally, on one last sheet of paper, I wrote out an exercise program that included both progressive resistance and endurance exercises. I knew this was about much more than appearance; it was both literally and figuratively a choice between fat and fit, illness and wellness and as cliche’ as it sounds; between life and death.
I wrote in blue marker, on the bottom of each sheet of paper: WEIGHT LOSS IS A SIDE EFFECT OF FITNESS; FITNESS IS NOT AN END RESULT OF WEIGHT LOSS!
The very next day I headed down to Danko’s and reactivated my long dormant membership. The owner, Larry Danko, cheerfully greeted me. I told him I had to get back in shape and with an optimistic and confident tone he told me, “You can do it.”
The date was March 5,2008.
I have recaptured my physique, but more importantly, I have recaptured my wellness. Being a health care professional I am very aware of the potential damage I may have done to myself. However, I am blessed with being cared for by a cadre of skilled physicians. Dr. Sordoni, my general practitioner, has ensured my overall well-being with complete and thorough exams. Dr. D’Alessandro, my cardiologist, has run me through ECG’s, EKG’s, a stress test and even a cardiac catherization, encouraging me that my heart is okay. And Dr. Juan Gaia, of Valley Open MRI, read my coronary CT scan adding his reassurance that, at least for now, there are no apparent signs of damage.
I find it extremely difficult to swallow when overweight people tell me that they are happy the way they are; God knows I dropped that line myself enough times. It is impossible to be happy going through life struggling with simple, every day tasks. More importantly though, is that I have lessened my risk for obesity related maladies.
Obesity is a direct cause of some serious diseases; serious, PREVENTABLE, diseases. Obesity is not just a concern among adults. It is a growing, dare I use the word, epidemic concern with our youth. Type II diabetes, which is commonly referred to as adult onset diabetes, is showing up in children as young as ten years old. We have a grave public health problem, one that does not need to exist.
Utilizing what I like to call the three D’s; desire, determination and discipline, if you suffer from the ailment of obesity, you too can conquer it. I didn’t have surgery. I didn’t use any drugs. I changed my eating habits and I exercise seven days a week. It isn’t glamorous, it isn’t hip, what it “is” is just old school logic and self-control.
I was asked recently that if now that I lost the weight, I thought I was going to live longer. I pondered the question and paused before I spoke.
I said, “I honestly don’t know, however I do know one thing, I am living better.”
Chiropractor, Dr. Joe Leonardi is the author of the life changing book, A Life Beyond Weight Loss. He is available to appear on any talk radio, internet podcasting or television outlet. He has appeared on WILK’s The Sue Henry Show, Magic 93′s Frankie In The Morning, WBRE’s PA Live, SSPTV’s News 13, Public Television WVIA’s State of Pennsylvania and Call the Doctor; Entercom’s Outlook on Northeast PA with Shadoe Steele, Citadel Broadcasting’s Sunday Magazine with Brian Hughes, Lisa Davis’ Your Health Radio; Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low Carb podcast; Hank Garner’s Podcast, Dr. Robert Su’s Carbohydrates Can Kill Podcast.
Dr. Joe Leonardi also will come and speak to your group; to learn more about his motivational speaking fees and availability contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his web site www.betterlifeseminars.com.
************The posting that I write do not apply to those with an underlying medical or hormonal condition. I advise anyone embarking on a weight loss and fitness plan to have a thorough medical evaluation. You want to be sure that you are physically able to exercise and you don’t have any underlying medical conditions.*************