I was honored to be interviewed by Nikki Stone of WILK, for Veterans Day and my book, “War Springs Eternal.”
In case you missed it and would like to listen, just click, or copy and paste, the below link and then press the play button at the bottom.
As I commemorated my fifty-seventh birthday, I have contemplated changes over the last eighteen months.
January 2020 was not all that long ago. I was fifty-five years of age, I decided that the bastard obesity had finally won the war. I was ready to give up, not solely on life, but on living itself. Mounting stress and ill-treatment had allowed my frame to morph into a shell of the person I had once been. It was time for that shell to accept, even seriously consider hastening, his demise.
For some unknown reason, I opted not to hasten. I cannot say why, but in February, again for an unknown reason, I opted to fight back. I was NOT going to lie down, I was NOT going to roll over, I was NOT going to “go quietly into that night,” or any night – at least not with the bastard obesity as the ultimate victor.
Along the way, I have had the support of many. For that support, I am grateful. To say I have been touched, would be a gross understatement. To say I have been humbled, would not do justice to the word humble.
Each step down from 375lbs was met with highs and lows. For every high there was excitement, for each low there was stronger determination. I would not lose this battle with the bastard obesity.
Earlier this year, my friend and colleague Dr. Scott Leslie posted his following of a young man with Down Syndrome being the first such individual to not only compete but complete an Ironman Distance Triathlon. He had not overcome some bad lifestyle choices; he had simply played the hand which he was dealt. He did not let “perceived” limitations stop him. He went ahead and achieved.
His achievement inspired me.
I started looking around for a triathlon in which to compete. Initially, I was looking for an Ironman distance. Scott talked sense to me. Next, I found an Olympic distance race and entered. However, with COVID-19 still dominating our lives, I found no way to get into a pool to swim, that didn’t happen until the end of April. Additionally, winter had decided to go out with a vengeance, so getting out on a bike was also not happening, that didn’t happen until the beginning of April. With only about two months of triathlon specific training ahead, once again, the rational mind of an experienced triathlete helped me see that the Sprint distance was the way to go, and the organizers made no argument in changing my registration.
As of this past Sunday, just days before my fifty-seventh birthday, I completed by third triathlon in a four-month timeframe. There are a lot of people who helped me along the ways. I have mentioned them at various times. I feel the need to mention them again. When naming names, it is always possible to miss someone. If I missed anyone, please do not take offense, and please message me so I can revise and include. Remember, I am going to be seventy-seven years old (in 20 years 😏) so my memory isn’t what it once was. 🤭
• My little dog, who means the world to me.
• My sponsors, Mark Leffler for providing the bicycle. Ed Charney, of Charney Farms, for providing the swim gear. Racquel Hettesheimer, of Tailored Kneads, for providing therapeutic massage. Dr. Adriene Zulkoski for Chiropractic needs. Mary Ann, Nicole, Jennie, Kim, Nicole, Nicole, Nicole and Shawn who donated via GoFundMe. Patient Amanda Reardon who wanted to contribute the entry fee to the latest triathlon. I’ve been treating Mandy since she was fourteen years old, I am grateful, because she is much more than simply one of my first patients nearly a quarter century ago, she is a close friend who entrusted the care of her family to me; so for more than the fee, but for that trust I am eternally grateful.
• Annie and Racquel. My co-workers during the worst of COVID. We helped each other get through crisis, and you two helped me stay focused and on track.
• Florence who kicked me in the ass when I was ready to completely quit.
• My friend Brian, who had to listen to me prattle on about highs and lows. Yet, still had me on his radio show to discuss my journey.
• My sister Oliva, for allowing me the use of her SUV to transport my bike and myself to the first two events. It alleviated a great deal of stress, worrying about taking the bike apart and putting it back together on race day.
• Each and every person on social media and my blog. Your thumbs ups, words of encouragement and reassurance have been a big help along the way. And you wouldn’t allow me to quit on myself.
• My accountability buddies, initially Carol, and now Monica, Candace, Karen and Bernie. Keeping each other on track made this all possible.
• A MONSTEROUS SHOUT OUT to Sharon and Matt Detwiler, who when they found out I had no one accompanying me to the first event, asked if they could make the trek up to Lake Wallenpaupack and be my side. Tears touch my eyes as I type these words. Thank you, you made one of the best days of my life a day which I did not have to experience alone.
• Another MONSTEROUS SHOUT OUT to Candace and Christopher Kopiak who ventured down to Quakertown to be my support system for triathlon number two. They cheered me on, took pictures and helped me with my gear. They touched my heart and made sure I would not forget the experience. As Sharon and Matt had done for event number one, they were there to ensure I did not have to experience the results of hard training alone.
• A BIG SHOUT OUT to the staff and volunteers and other competitors on each race day. You were encouraging from the moment of arrival, to the first steps into the lake, and along each mile along the courses, making each race an experience which this newbie will not forget.
• And one more BIG SHOUT OUT to new friend Janet, who I ran into with her friends, Sophia and Jill (who was not only competing, but is also a fellow indie author) as we trekked the mile from the parking spot to transition area. Janet would not take no for an answer and lugged my gear back to my car. Additionally, she took some photos for me to commemorate the day. I am learning the triathlon community is one of which I am glad to be joining.
Going through all of this allowed me to realize, that for whatever the bad in life has been; I am blessed much more than I deserve. Even at the times of a momentary lapse in that realization, when self-pity and anger express themselves in annoying venting, in the long run, I vow, I will not forget exactly just how blessed I am.
The Aloha Spirit with one and all.
Last triathlon, at least I think so, for 2021 tomorrow..
Bag is packed, gear is ready.
Alarm(s) are set.
For tomorrow’s post race celebration two bottles of Kona Brewing Company’s Longboard Lager is chillin in the fridge along with 5 hard boiled eggs, 2 for dinner with my salad later and 3 for breakfast tomorrow morning.
Honestly, it is hard to believe that looking back a year and a half ago when I was tipping the scales at 375 pounds that tomorrow I will be participating in a 3rd triathlon in 4 months.
The low carb lifestyle can make such a difference in health, wellness, fitness, mental energy and living a better life. Aloha and Mahalo to everyone of you who hav been here for the ride. I did not do this alone, and these achievements are not mine alone, you all share in them and each of you will be with me during each phase of the triathlon.
When I see an a pic from a mere 18 months ago, sometimes, I find it hard to believe where I was and where I now am. I had some serious doubt about ever dropping all that weight, and I never imagined I would one day call myself a triathlete.
A big shoutout to David Michener who not only, with his team of volunteers, put on a fantastic event; was kind enough to send me the STEELMAN tee-shirt I forgot to pickup on race day.
Just about a year and a half ago, due to slothful gluttony, I tipped the scales at a ponderous, pachydermiam THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE POUNDS. You read correctly, I was knocking on the door of FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS, and to paraphrase Bum Phillips, I was getting ready to kick it in, and not in a good way. I was ready to completely surrender to the bastard obesity and quit.
What was the point of continuing? At that level of poor physical health and well-being, everyday activities were laborious tasks. Hell, walking up a flight of stairs took so much effort; it was avoided at all costs. And, if I had to go from the basement to the second floor in one shot, that was hailed as a monumental achievement.
In February of 2020, I made a decision not to let the bastard obesity continue its current victory. Propelled by many of you here on social media, my blog, Annie and Racquel at work, and the biggest fan of my writing Nicole, I hefted that massive, ponderous, pachydermiam bulk and started to walk a short quarter mile. I re-read my books, “Obesity Undone,” “Sometimes The Bastard Returns,” and “Carbohydrate Addiction: A Slow Suicide.” Those books put my mental ENERGY where it belonged, I changed to low-carb EATING, and necessitated by COVID, designed a new EXERCISE plan.
I found my DESIRE.
I became DETERMINED.
I focused on being DISCIPLINED.
Just as in the past, slowly and steadily, the numbers on the scale counted downward. Each week I walked a little further, I lifted weights a bit more intensely. One step at a time, good health and well-being replaced labored breathing and bloated features.
Sometime in early 2020, a colleague and friend, Dr. Scott Leslie encouraged me to try a triathlon. I had one goal, to complete the distance in the allotted time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Two months ago, I accomplished that goal, coming in just under the wire at 2:26:57.1.
Now, two months later, I am getting ready to compete in a second triathlon. My goal this time is for a slightly better time. I am in as good a physical condition as I will be. The high intensity training is, for now, given a reprieve. The countdown has begun, and this week will be half-distance bike rides, jogs, and swims and only two weight training workouts.
Here goes nothing, and everything.
With love and respect,
Aloha and Mahalo,