5 years ago today Tracy and I were picking out all the new things with for our new home. Tile, grout, carpet, paint, etc. 4 days prior was a completely different story. It was a normal trip to the grocery store with Tracy and the kids. I distinctly remember standing in the dairy section of the H.E.B. in Lincoln Heights when it hit me like a ton of bricks. The sharp pain in the chest that nearly dropped me to the floor. It scared the absolute shit out of me but I quickly pulled myself together and finished the shopping. Tracy hadn’t seen and I didn’t tell her until we got back to the car. I don’t really remember the details of what happened next but it wasn’t more than an hour later that I was laid up in the ER at SAMMC. Tracy wouldn’t have it any other way. How did I end up here? I was knocking on 35’s door and had a 3 month old daughter, a 2 year old daughter, a 6 years old daughter and a 15 year old son. I knew I was over weight, but I didn’t know how much of a problem it actually was to be 300lbs, but there I was laying in the hospital bed thinking that I was going to die. While they were never full able to determine what actually happened to me that day, it was not a heart attach, but that beside the point.
As the steady stream of friends and family filed through that hospital room, I knew right then that something had to give. Before then I never really knew just how unhealthy I had let myself become. How could I expect to raise these kids with my wife, if I could not keep myself healthy and active? How could I expect to be there in my 50’s when my youngest daughters were in their teens? I’ve dieted before, and I’ve even implemented some crazy workout regimens, but this time had to be different. I needed a long term commitment that was both fun and interesting. “Fun and Interesting” turned into Idiotic and Stupid” when I decided that a 13.1 mile ruck march was the way to go. I began training right away.
Much to my surprise and despite all of the shin-splints and blisters, my efforts were starting to payoff.
8 months, several blistered heals, and a sprained ankle later, it was game time. The 2012 Rock n’ Roll Marathon was here and I could not be any more prepared than I was. Luckily I had my best friend and brother by my side to help motivate me and drive to the finish. I can honestly say that I’m not sure I would have finished the race without him.
3 hours and 46 minutes is just 1 hour longer than my Air Assault 12 miler back in 1998. To this day is the my biggest accomplishment, though I wish I could say the wave I was riding kept going. Life is life and it wasn’t long before I settled right back into old habits. The next three years followed the same yo-yo of physical health and before I knew it, I was back up in the 290’s. I’d been working with my weight management doctors at the VA for years and spend most of that time resisting their suggestions for weight loss procedure. It always seemed like too drastic of a measure and and easy way out of something I should have enough will power to control on my own. After some serious soul searching and long talks with my family and medical professionals I gave in and took the step that would be the first day of the rest of my life.
On February 24, 2016 I had a Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass surgery. I was optimistic and had ZERO expectations, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the work that was involved or the outcome I would see. I can say with a certainty that food addiction is a very real thing, and while I now have a stomach the size of a lemon, I still, one year later, look at everything I eat through my “fat eyes”. Just this past weekend, I was in NOLA with my girls, trying to convince myself that a pound of crawfish was not enough food and that I would leave the restaurant hungry. Boy, was I wrong. I was stuffed. I was also wrong for thinking surgery was the easy way out. The forced lifestyle change that came along with it has literally been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. What I think I can eat and what my body can actually take in are far different and reconciling that in my brain is a test all it’s own, but I’m slowly getting used to the this new life I have in front of me. One year later and I am half the man I was when this journey began just 5 short years ago. I am lighter now than I can remember ever being in my adult life. In fact, I had to have a weight waiver to join the Army at 191lbs back in 1997. My doctors at the VA actually want me to gain a little weight now.
My only regret is not taking this step sooner. I wish I’d had the courage to do it 10 years ago. It a little strange to the least. 160lbs feels weird. I feel bony. People I’ve worked with for years walk by me without recognizing me. I look at old pictures of my 300lb self and can’t believe I was ever that big. I really did not know I was fat. It was just normal. Here’s to the new normal. Here’s to a long and healthy life. Here’s to being and active husband and father. Here’s to feeling good about myself. I’ll be 40 in 1 month and I’m in the best health I have ever been and simply cannot wait to see what the next 10, 20, and 30 years have in store for me and my amazing wife and daughters.