Seventy Pounds Lighter and Ready for 4-H Camp
Today will be my last blog entry for about a week as I go to 4-H camp for a week. In addition, this blog isn't going to be much about poker past some back story on this year.
For those of you that may follow me regularly on my twitter, you know that I have been in the process of losing a significant amount of weight, but I have never much went into the story of what brought me to that point, so today I will share that.
Just prior to the 2010 World Series of Poker I had a bit of a health scare out in Las Vegas where I thought I was possibly having a stroke. I had been feeling right off for days and I had a couple of episodes where it seemed my face had been going a bit numb.
After the second incident, I checked myself into a hospital that fortunately was about 2 blocks from the house I was staying. To their credit, when they read my sign-in chart that I was having heart related issues, they brought me right back and the first thing they did was give me an EKG to see if there were any heart-related issues.
I then spent the next couple of days in the hospital where they monitored me, etc but couldn't do all the tests they wanted because at the time I was 440 lbs. They put me on some blood pressure meds and released me.
For the next few weeks, I was ok but about the 2nd week of the WSOP, I started having problems again and in addition to the problems I was having, I was having mobility issues.
I spent close to a week covering the event from my house without going to the Rio and finally felt like whatever I was going through was passing. I went to cover the $10k HORSE and within a couple of hours of being at the Rio, I felt just as bad as I did before, if not worse.
Within a few days, I arranged to leave and have Merchdawg cover the Main Event for PokerJunkie. It was not a decision I wanted to make, but it may have saved my life at the time.
I came home and...survived is the best way to put it for the next three months. I went to camp that year but mainly stayed in the dining hall and was no better than taking up space.
In September is when I started to turn the corner when a doctor figured out my meds I was given may be part of my issue and switched me to something that was a bit milder and more long term use. Within a month, I was much improved but not quite right.
For about the next 6 to 7 months, I steadily seemed to stabilize and tried to lose weight a couple of different times but each time I got sick and ended up quitting. I wasn't doing anything extreme but for whatever reason, my body was rebelling.
Around late April was about the time that I finally started feeling like myself and that most of my health was back but by that point I had gotten up to 450 lbs and the weight was now beginning to take its toll on me.
My mobility was more or less shot and it was a chore just to do basic things like shopping. About middle May, I got on the scale after a short trip across state and discovered I was 458.6 lbs. I had actually put on 6 lbs on the trip.
As I sat in my restroom, having to recover from just the brief amount of time standing to weight myself, I came to the realization that if I didn't do something about my weight and soon I would "probably be dead in a year."
I had already decided I wasn't going to the WSOP in 2011 and as such I took some gigs doing remote coverage in addition to what I provided here for PokerJunkie. I had decided that I was going to give weight loss another try but it was going to be much more than a "lifestyle change" for me.
I am not a person who can force myself to eat things I don't like or don't like the taste of, so forcing myself to eat carrots and spinach, etc was not going to cut it. I was going to have to find a way to eat healthier and in a way I could live with in order to do this.
So the process began on Day 1 of the 2010 WSOP. The first experiment was changing some of the things I ate for breakfast and what I snacked on. In addition, I decided to reduce significantly the amount of fast food I ate.
The fast food thing was actually easier than you would think as I was a very streaky eater on that. Sometimes I would eat it for a while and then would have no desire for it for weeks. Snacking was the big thing that the changes affected.
My first couple of changes resulted in about 8 lbs of weight loss in the first week and about 11 over 10 days if I remember accurately.
From that point I went through and worked on different things. I reduced sodas, substituted certain foods with lower calorie or fat free alternatives that I could tolerate. Found other types of healthier foods and snacks that worked etc.
Before you ask, "what about exercise" the reality was that I was too damn fat to really do any strenuous exercise for long periods of time.
For a while, it was mostly diet until I had lost enough to where I could actually get out and do things without having to sit down every five minutes.
The first 20 lbs came off somewhat quickly and then it became a yo-yo type battle that I always pointed out had a "downward trend." Twenty became thirty, and then 40, and eventually 50 lbs.
At the 50 pound mark, I started having some minor health issues that were a bit concerning but made me wonder if it was related to my meds. I was going to go see my normal doctor at the time but he was out for a few days and I was going to wait.
However, my gut told me that I should go see the doctor now. That ended up being probably one of the wisest choices that I have made since deciding to lose weight.
The lady doctor that was assigned to see me that day was a bit different than the other doctors. When I told her that I had lost 50 lbs, she started asking a lot of questions. She asked what I weight at 18. The answer was 300 lbs.
Her next question was if I had ever been at a "normal weight?" The answer there was no as I have always been big.
"Is your family big?" That question right there told me that she had actually got it. My dad's side of the family has indeed always been big and any of you that have grandma's that like to cook big meals know that refusing to eat is not an option.
Anyway, the doctor and I discussed my symptoms and she said something that I had known but weighed too much to argue with in the past. I didn't have high blood pressure, but rather I had "weight related blood pressure."
Immediately, she cut out half the meds in the pill I was taking and just left the water pill. Her reasoning had to do with her next plan. She put me on a medication to assist with weight loss and the water pill would help keep off the water weight.
We proceeded to discuss several things regarding how it would affect me and whether or not I waited too long to fix this. While we were talking, I come to find out that her specialty was cardiac medicine.
Seriously? I come in on a random Sunday and the woman I get happens to be just the doctor I need? For those of you religious folks out there, I think you will agree with me that it seemed like God was helping me out a bit.
Anyway, since going on that med etc, I have went down another 22 lbs and am currently down a total of 72 lbs. Right now I am right at 386 lbs.
I started in the poker media in 2008 after a two year stint of playing poker semi-professionally. About that time I was right around 400. I would say I am probably the smallest I have been since around that point if not before.
My activity levels and the things I do now are obviously much different than in 2011 or even 2010. I could have come to the WSOP this year, but I chose to sit out another year for a couple of reasons.
First, I didn't want to put in 12 to 14 hour days again and I also have a side venture going on related to the auctions and yard sales that I now attend. (Basically I've become a part-time picker.)
This year's camp will be a lot different than the last 4 or 5 years. I should be able to actually perform the majority of my duties that I have had trouble doing in past years due to my size.
Don't get me wrong. I am not going to be running laps around the camp, but I am also not going to just be taking up space like I did in 2010.
This year's camp was one of the goals that I set when I started this weight loss and I am very excited to see it come to fruition. I am also hopeful and looking forward to the next year to see how much closer I can get to my eventual goal to get under 300 lbs. No, that is not my ultimate destination, but considering it has been close to 20 years since I have seen the lesser side of 300, that's a huge goal.
I'll get there. There's no "one time" needed. Weight loss is just like poker. It takes time and skill to get your goal and those that work on their game will eventually become successful.
Now I'm going to fold some clothes as I have a big week ahead. Good luck at the tables.