Where you’ll join me on my journey from fatass to fitness. The goal of this blog is to document the diet, fitness techniques, and tools I use to shed the weight and become one of those fit sons-of-bitches whom you pass on the street and say, “look at that healthy bastard. God damn him.”
But first, some backgrounder, if you don’t mind.
Who are you, and why are you becoming fit?
My name is Steven, and I used to be a pretty heavy guy. I’m 6′ 2″, and 33 years-old. At the beginning of November, 2011, when I decided to start getting in shape, I weighed 225lbs, and was pretty sedentary due to being a full-time student. This is a far cry from January 2010, where I rang in at my all-time heaviest at 237.5lbs.
So in early November, after an October full of Canadian thanksgiving dinners, beer nights, halloween candy, and one too many essay-writing sessions with my formerly-trusty study partner, Jim Beam, I started to feel terrible. Really bad, in fact. I felt bloated, couldn’t sleep at night, and was often craving sugar. And after attending an Italian-themed birthday potluck for a friend, where I pigged out on spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, and so on, it went from bad to miserable.
The night of the potluck, I was awoken every 3 hours with night sweats, was constantly thirsty, and felt awful. Now, I would expect this, to an extent, after a huge and heavy meal. But the problem was this lasted 36 hours. I didn’t feel okay again — I’m not talking about feeling normal — for two days.
So I went to a walk-in clinic on November 15th,, because I didn’t have a doctor at the time. He sent me for a diabetes screen. What followed were 48 hours of intense stress, while I waited for the results, and more misery. I cut my diet back, drastically, and not in a healthy way, just because I was worried about being or becoming diabetic. I googled frantically about everything blood sugar related — diabetes, glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, carb load, glycemic index, and so on.
But the tests came back clean. I was neither diabetic, nor pre-diabetic according to the numbers…a fasting blood sugar of 5.3, where the top end of normal is 5.5. This was a huge, huge personal relief for me, I felt like this was a major wake-up call. I thought, “now is the time to stop eating like an asshole, before I do become a diabetic.”
Changing the Script
So, on November 28th, 2011, I had meeting arranged with a new MD. I hadn’t had a constant MD in years; the one I’d had for a few years, in the early oughts, retired. One I picked up in 2010 packed up and moved to Calgary six months after I saw him for the first time. But my wife insisted I needed some medical supervision, and so found an MD accepting patients, and I made an appointment. But between November 15th,when I took my diabetes screen, and November 28th, I was full of questions of the doctor, still stressing, and had no outlet. So I did what seemed to me to be the best thing: start exercising and stop eating crap.
Because my health was at risk, as far as I was concerned, I immediately started in on diet changes. To start with, I got rid of refined sugars, alcohol, coffee (sugar vector), and tea. I also drastically reduced my intake of cheese, most refined carbs like bread, and other things.
I also started exercise. During this period, I was on a study break from school and getting out to the gym there, where I have a pass, is a long drive. Plus, I didn’t quite know where to start. So I started with body-weight exercises in my living room — squats, pushups, planks, and Y-T-I raises. These were really good for working the stress out; I did these three days a week, while I counted down the days to my doctor’s appointment. I also started light running (which I’ll talk about another time).
In the end, these helped calm the nerves, and prepare my body for more serious fitness. While my diet was not great, and the exercise was not great, both allowed me to feel a little bit better.
The Doctor’s Appointment
I remember walking into the Doctor’s office pretty nervous. I had a copy of my earlier diabetes screen in hand, and was preparing to hear the words from the doctor that “you’re on the way to being diabetic. Get used to it.” I was almost dragging my feet, like I was about to go to the gibbet. But that’s not what happened.
First thing: my doctor is a practicing MD and also a practicing heart surgeon. He was young, maybe 40, visibly fit, and looked like he knew his stuff. The doctor took a look at my test results, and declared that no, I don’t have diabetes. He then looked at me, narrowed his eyes, and said, “But you need to start making healthy choices in your life. You’ll find that we focus a lot on that, in this practice.”
Thereafter, he told me that I needed to change my diet, lose a lot of weight, and exercise every day for a minimum of 30 minutes. And then he suggested that we’d meet up again in February, to revisit my progress.
Since then, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m proud to say that just a little over two months after that first visit to the walk-in clinic, I weigh in at 199lbs, and exercise 5-6 days a week. And I feel great.
In subsequent posts, I’ll be talking more about what I’ve been eating, what my training looks like, what tools I use, and how I stay motivated.
Thanks for reading, and stay healthy.