A Long Overdue Health Update
For those of you that have known me a long time, you’ve known that my weight has fluctuated here and there over my entire lifetime. A little over 3 1/2 years ago, I posted a note on Facebook entitled “My Monumental Year”, showing how I had gone from weighing 340 pounds to weighing 236 pounds in about two years time. At the time, I only was 16 pounds away from my doctor’s ideal “top” weight for me – 220.
Then, a lot happened. Life happened. Work stress, home stress, deaths in the family, and you name it – it happened. As the old saying goes, I fell off the bandwagon. Slowly I started to gain some of the weight back, all the while telling myself that I’d get back on my plan – which I affectionately called “The Lloyd Plan” – very soon. For me, losing weight has always been pretty easy. Keeping it off has been nearly impossible. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that, obviously.
Three months ago I went to the doctor for a checkup. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. Yes, I neglected to take my own advice – again. The official weigh-in was shocking: 302 pounds. Ugh. I did it again. I swore I’d never gain the weight back and I did it again. This has happened over and over and over in my life – it’s so frustrating.
Since that point, I’ve gotten back on my own plan. As of today, I’m at 272 pounds, 30 pounds less than I was 3 months ago. On October 1st, I started weighing myself daily again and started being very diligent with my plan – with very few days/meals of “cheating”. I lost 18 pounds in October. The plan works when you follow it!
So, What Happened?
Long story short, I didn’t take my own advice. I stopped following my own plan, which was stupid, considering I had motivated many others to follow it. One of my good friends – Jim Updike – started following it and lost 90 pounds over the course of one year. You’d think that would motivate me to stay on the plan, right? Well, as it turns out, there’s a lot more to it than I had originally anticipated.
I continue to be encouraged by others who have followed my plan – and other plans – and those of you who have encouraged me to get back on track. There is a HUGE psychological part to this that I have never tried to tackle my entire life. It involves my use of food as a drug, not as a source of sustenance.
My Relationship With Food and Alcohol
I have struggled with food issues my entire life. For me, food has always been something I turn to when I need a “fix”. It’s a paradox that those of us with addiction issues turn to inanimate objects to fix our very animated problems. When things are spiraling out of control in my life, I’ve always turned to food and alcohol to solve those issues. What it boils down to is an issue with control. When things are out of control, I get a good feeling about being able to control something. I had a crappy day, so I’m going to make myself feel better by having a giant burger and a shake. Or several craft beers. You get the idea. There is something cathartic about being able to have something MY way, allowing me to feel like I have some control in what would otherwise be an uncontrollable situation. This is part of my psychological battle.
Late last year, I started seeing the wonderful fabulous I can’t say enough great things about life coach named Stefanie Krievins. I had several things I wanted to tackle in my personal and professional life, and my weight was one of them. Through many sessions, we worked through some of my food issues. One of the things that we focused on was being conscious – and logging – any time I felt the need to binge eat or drink. That was eye opening for me. In the past, when I had felt the need to do that, I had usually acted upon it and ate/drank to my heart’s content. Actually stopping and recording what was going on helped me realize how much I was turning to food/drink as a “drug” of choice, and what led to that. So that was a good start. I also found that I often treat food as a reward, which is wrong. “Gee, I’ve been good this past week, I deserve a trip to the giant lunch buffet in town and the local ice cream place”. That’s one of the things that got me in trouble. I lost a bunch of weight and thought – well, I can fall off the bandwagon for a little while and still be ok, right? Wrong. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. I had lunch with Stef on October 8th and it was a good time to catch up and get back on track. Since that day, I’ve been VERY strict on my eating/drinking. As my plan entails, I drink a ton of water, cut way back on carbs/sugar, and get plenty of exercise. So thank you Stef for the reminder of my weight goals and for giving me grief about eating burgers and tots every Tuesday at Bar Louie 🙂
So, What Now?
Well, I’m posting this publicly to let you know that I’m back on the Lloyd Plan – and you’ll once again start seeing me post about this on social media. I’ll always tag my posts with #TheLloydPlan so if you want to follow that tag, feel free and you’ll see anything I post about that. I’m also posting this to let you keep me accountable. If you are in my presence and you see me making unhealthy choices, I give you permission to smack me upside the head and remind me that I’m supposed to be on the plan!
Along the way, I’ll post updates and milestones. My next big milestone will be when I get to 250 pounds, which is about 20 pounds from now. I’ll let you know when that happens. I had a small victory yesterday when I went through the entire Halloween day without eating a single piece of candy. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. In my life, this is a battle for my mind, so let’s chalk that up to a victory for my mind and body yesterday.
Thank you again to everyone who has encouraged me along the way. Consider me back on The Lloyd Plan, and if you’d like to follow along, let’s keep each other accountable!
For reference, I’m including my original weight loss Facebook Note that I wrote 3 1/2 years ago. Please continue to read below if you’d like to know more about how I originally lost weight. Let’s do this – again! 🙂
My Monumental Year (Originally Posted 3/1/2016)
On March 1st, 2015 I started a new life. After years of ignoring my health, my weight, my doctor, my activity, my food intake, and in general, my life, I came to a point that I knew I had to make a change. A few days before, I had visited my doctor for the first time in years. Oddly enough, I was avoiding him because I was too embarrassed of my weight. Literally, I thought – I need to lose weight before I see him, to avoid embarrassment. That’s like saying you need to fix the drain before calling the plumber because you’re too embarrassed that you have a clogged drain. It’s stupid… but that’s what this disease does to you. It’s the disease of denial. It’s the disease of rationalization. It’s the disease of procrastination. It’s the disease of using food as a comfort and medication. It leads to an early grave.
My doctor shared the bad news with me. I weighed 320 pounds. I had high cholesterol. Never had that before. I had high blood pressure. Never had that before. I had severe type 2 diabetes, with an A1C of 9.5 and a blood sugar level at 170. I had persistent headaches. I was constantly tired. And, perhaps worst of all – for the first time ever – I had a heart condition. I had always thought “well, at least I have a good heart”. Not anymore. The latest scan was showing some blockage. My doctor looked at me straight in the eye and said that this was the worst he had ever seen me. The truth is, I was even worse the year before and I know I had stepped on my scale at home and weighed in at over 340 pounds in 2014. But the fact remained – I could no longer avoid the truth: I was killing myself. Slowly. I was headed for an early grave. Shortly.
My father passed away when he was 54. His father (my grandfather) passed away when he was 54 as well. I come from a long line of men who ignored their health. History was bound to repeat if I didn’t do something about it. My doctor looked at me – and at the time of my visit, I was 49 years old – and he said I’d be dead within 5 years if I didn’t do something right away. So that was it. I knew I had run out of runway. I knew all of the times I had told myself “I’ll work on that later” or “I’ll join a gym sometime” or “I’ll look for a new diet to try”, etc, had caught up with me. I was out of time. I needed to stop my unhealthy habits immediately, or face the fact that I might not see another 5 years. Let alone 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. After visiting my doctor on 2/27/2015, I went to the pharmacy the next day and got a bunch of medications. That night, I went to dinner and had a giant meal of Chinese food. I then went to a party and proceeded to eat about everything in sight. I felt horrible. Like, really, really horrible. I thought I was going to die. In my insanity, I had thought that it would be fun to have a “last supper” and enjoy one last meal. I was wrong. I was miserable.
I knew the jig was up. I was fooling nobody but myself. It had been a long time since I was “serious” about losing weight. I had lost a fair bit of weight in 1996 and in 2002, but of course it never lasted. And diets. Oh, my the diets. I tried them all. Nothing stuck. I got in a pattern of losing a little weight and then rewarding myself for losing weight. And then I’d gain it all back, and then some more. I had even gone out and bought a treadmill at one point, thinking that I could walk on it while watching TV. I did that. Once or twice. It collected a lot of dust and clothes over the next several years. I had even joined a gym or two, but failed to go on a regular basis. I used to joke that I went to the gym religiously – once around Easter and once around Christmas. Then I’d joke that I was going to rename my toilet from John to Jim so I could say that I went to the “gym” several times a day. To me, my weight was a laughing matter. It was ok to be fat because I could joke about it. And everyone would laugh. I rationalized everything. I was the fat, funny guy who would make everyone laugh. But I was killing myself doing it.
On March 1st, 2015 I woke up and knew this was it. The night before I had binged on everything and I woke up feeling absolutely horrible. After work, I went down to the workout center in the office I worked in. I had belonged to the workout center for many months, but had never used it. It’s amazing how just belonging to the workout center is not enough. You actually have to use it. Wow. Who would have ever thought that? 🙂
I stepped up to the treadmill and just started walking. And walking. And walking. I started playing with the settings and saw that I could walk a 5k if I wanted to. I had never done that before – at least, not intentionally. I had my tennis shoes and jeans on and the shirt I wore to work that day. I was very ill-prepared to do any kind of workout of any sort, but I was determined to see this first step through. It took over an hour, but I finished my first official 5k. And I felt great.
I didn’t stop there. I did the same thing the next day. And the next day. I dug out my old gym clothes. My shirts at this point were 3x and 4x. My pants were size 44 in the waist, and I really could have used a 46. My shoes were worn and uncomfortable, but I didn’t know enough at that point to know that I should get better shoes. I bought a fitness tracker to track my steps. My doctor said I should try to get 10,000 steps in a day and I was tracking every step and every item I ate and every pound lost like a hawk. I don’t know why, but something in me just clicked. I guess for anyone who wants to make a change in their life, they won’t get very far until they want it – until they own it – until they resolve to make better choices. For me, it was a daily battle and I had to keep telling myself I needed to do this or die.
I started to branch out from my usual burger/fry/shake meals and try new things. Not just salads and crappy substitutes – but real nutritional meals. It’s amazing how much you can learn by looking up the nutrition value on any given food, whether it’s bought at the grocery or as part of a meal at a restaurant. In general, I tried to keep my carbohydrate and sugar intake to a minimum. And, I drank a lot of water. I mean a LOT of water. I also cut my intake of diet soda out almost completely. I walked all the time. Even when I took vacations in Florida in March and April of 2015, I continued to walk a lot. I bought new shoes and started wearing old clothes I had not fit into for a very long time. I started to see some progress, and it was very rewarding.
Throughout June and July, I took every opportunity to walk that I could. I took every stair. I walked during any break I had during the day. I walked in the morning before work, in the evening after work. I walked every weekend. If it was sunny, I was walking. My doctor had told me NOT to run because running would do more harm than good, especially at my weight. At this point I was still hovering around 255 – 260 pounds, which was far too heavy to do anything too strenuous. I ventured out a bit and did some more biking here and there and other things like the elliptical machine. In general, I was much, much more active than I had been in the past few decades.
It was about this time that a neighbor of mine told me about the Monumental Marathon. He said it takes place in November, and I should try walking the half marathon. I made some goals for myself to try to get to a point where I could do some serious training to participate in the Monumental. When I got under 250 pounds, I started to focus on my muscles. From June through August, I did some intense training on my upper and lower body to try to regain some of my previous muscle tone that I had during high school. I played football, soccer, basketball, baseball and wrestled in high school. Needless to say, I didn’t have a “weight problem”. I was so active that I burned off all I took in and more.
Focusing on weight training as well as weight loss was both rewarding and frustrating. It was rewarding because I could feel myself getting stronger, but frustrating because the weight was not coming off as quickly as it had been. Still, I could feel my body changing shape. Shirts and pants fit much easier now. I had kept old clothes around in boxes in the hopes that I would someday wear them again. I was going through clothes very rapidly, and about 3 weeks after I started wearing size 40 pants, I was ready to downsize to size 38. In late September, I donated all my “fat” clothing to friends and charities. It was hard to see a lot of my sentimental stuff go, but the clothes didn’t fit me anymore and they reminded me of the “fat” me. I didn’t want them around. My closet and dresser were nearly empty.
It was at this point that some real rewarding things started to happen: I actually enjoyed looking for new clothes. I used to loathe shopping. Each time I used to buy something new, I’d be embarrassed at the size of the clothes and how I looked in them. It served as a reminder that I was obese. But not now. I was down to a size 36 in jeans and I had more and more old clothes that fit me that I hadn’t worn in 15-20 years. And, I had a bunch of new stuff that I had bought – not to reward myself, mind you – but just to simply have stuff that fit correctly.Most of October was spent training for the half marathon. At this point, I was walking about 5-10 miles almost every day, so I was hoping that doing 13.1 would not be too hard. I had gone out and gotten myself a real pair of running shoes and some good socks and athletic gear. My gosh, I NEVER pictured myself looking like a “runner”, but here I was wearing running gear and shoes and everything. The day of the race came and I remember getting into downtown Indy really early and just sitting in my car for what seemed like a half hour. I guess it was just some time to think about where I had come and what I was about to do. The race itself wasn’t too bad at all. I listened to music most of the way and walked really fast. My feet didn’t hurt at all. I was amazed to see how many people were there to cheer everyone on. I also had several friends texting me and encouraging me during the race. It was awesome.
I had heard people say that the last mile was the hardest. That wasn’t my experience at all. In fact, I felt myself more motivated than ever by the last mile. I knew I was doing something I NEVER thought I would accomplish ever, let alone in the same year that I had been given a virtual death sentence from my doctor’s report. This truly was a monumental moment for me. I decided to record some thoughts during my last mile… basically a reflection on the last year and what led me to this point. Then, I crossed the finish line and saw a friend of mine (Jeff Carmichael) who was waiting there to congratulate me. It was truly one of the greatest moments of my life. Here is a link to my recording of my last mile. It’s about 13.5 minutes in length and you can view it here: https://youtu.be/-cE2IeJ7rvU
After the race, Jeff and I hit a local pub and had a beer. Because, of course, that’s what you do after a half marathon, right? 🙂 Then, I met my coworker Kelly Settles Hamilton and some other friends for more post-race celebrations. It was truly one of the most amazing days of my life. I am eternally grateful to all the friends and family who encouraged me.
Since that day, I have continued to make progress. I continued to walk daily, trying to get my 10,000 steps a day in. I continued to do weight training. I participated in more 5k events, including the Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving Day of 2015. Surviving the holidays was hard. While I didn’t gain weight over the holidays, I didn’t lose it either. I think I went into a mode where I lost a little and then didn’t watch what I ate and would go up and down a few pounds here and there. This is very dangerous ground for me. This is what got me in trouble in the first place: the idea that I somehow deserve to go back to my old habits as a reward for how far I’ve come. That is what we call “stinkin thinkin” and it will destroy you and everything you’ve worked so hard for.
Today is March 1st, 2016 and my “official” weigh-in this morning tells me that I’m at 234 pounds. That’s 86 pounds less than I was one year ago and 106+ pounds less than I was two years ago. I feel like a new man. I have a new lease on life and a renewed sense of energy and purpose. I look forward to exercising and walking. I look forward to competing. I look forward to challenging myself to reach new heights. I look forward to buying new clothes. I look forward to encouraging people as I continue on my daily progress. I welcome any questions you may have, and I’d be glad to set aside some of my own time to help you on your journey. I don’t have all the answers, but I can share what I have learned and perhaps that will help you as well.Even after all that has happened this past “monumental” year, I have a long way to go. I still have 14 pounds to shed to get to the 220 mark, which is the MAX that my doctor would like to see me weigh. I’d like to get to the point where I can maintain my weight under 200 pounds, and that will take some serious dedication and work. And, most of all, I can’t do it alone. Nobody can. We need each other to encourage along this journey. To be there when we fail. To be there to help celebrate when we win. There is no way on earth I could possibly thank all the friends who have helped me along the way, both in the past year and in previous years when I have tried and failed to accomplish this, but I would like to make a few shout-outs to specific people.Thanks to those of you who donated to my campaign to raise money for Riley Children’s Hospital during the Monumental Marathon, including: John Purcell, Mike Mast, Kelley Tortorice, Susie Smith, Dave Leininger, Shirley Williams, Kelly Settles Hamilton, Kevin Murray, Cory Johnson, Kathi Knox Hammond, Jenna Looney, Brian Donnelly, Marietta Crawford. A total of $725 was donated due to your kindness! Thank you, and please forgive me if I forgot anyone!Also – thanks to those of you who have been an inspiration or encouraged me along the way. My family and friends have been great. I am lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart and I can only hope that I will be an inspiration to someone like you have been to me. A few specific people I’d like to give shout-outs to that have inspired me or encouraged me along the way (either directly or indirectly) include: Rick Drumm, Steve Drye, John Yarbrough, Kurt Krauter, Kevin Murray, Jeff Carmichael, Mindy Irish, Jenna Looney, Craig Boyer, Finney Jack, Dave Bolander, Mike Buchanon, Todd Stallings, Nate Meyer, Corrie Meyer, Kelly Settles Hamilton, Amy Snow, Stephen Clark, Olivia Ramsey, Tim Long, Kevin Petty, Damon Grube, Bo Railey, Jeff Unruh, Dan Skinner, Steven Isaac Work, Amy Duchemin Work, David Work, Patrick W. Albrecht, Luanna Duchemin Albrecht, Polly Robledo and I’m sorry but Facebook won’t let me tag anymore people, but THANK YOU!
FINALLY – Because I’ve been asked this a ton over the past year – here are some basics for those of you who are just getting started:
- Go to the doctor. If you don’t have one, find one. You need to be medically supervised during any weight loss program. Make sure you have all things checked out so you can monitor progress.
- If possible, use some meds. I take several pills for many different “ills”, including but not limited to: Metformin, Wellbutrin, Adderall, Losartan, Invokana and some multi-vitamin pills. That’s a lot! But it’s working.
- Walk, walk, walk. Don’t park closest to the building – park farthest from the building. Take the stairs. Find any excuse you can to get moving. Get some good shoes. Track your progress with a fitness tracker. Aerobic exercise is best – whether it be walking, swimming, biking, etc. Something that will make you sweat. Save the weight training for later, especially if you have a lot to lose. Focus on getting to a good weight first, then focus on toning.
- Drink tons of water. Don’t drink pop at all if you can, but even if you do, do it in very small doses. Continually drink water all day if possible. This is very important as it helps flush out your system. Cut out sugary drinks and artificial sweeteners that have aspartame or other harmful chemicals in them. Cut back on alcohol, especially craft beers, which can be very high in calories. If you can cut it out completely, that is best – if not, drink in moderation and be very selective when you do have a drink.
- Eat right. Pay attention to what you’re eating. Cut down on carbs and sugars. Look up nutritional value for everything you eat. Branch out and try new things. Have lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other healthy snacks available to eat between meals if you are starving. Don’t binge. If you mess up, don’t sweat it. Pick it up the next meal. Avoid fried foods.
- Eat appropriate portions. Just because something is put on your plate doesn’t mean you have to eat it all. Take a doggie bag home. Split a meal with someone or split it up front and tell yourself that you’re only going to have half of the meal. The portion sizes for today’s restaurants are HUGE and way too big for one person to eat in one sitting.
- Slow down when eating. Don’t inhale your food. It takes 20 minutes for your food to reach your stomach and your brain to start realizing that you’re getting food. Try to look up from your plate and have conversation with others at the table.
- Don’t eat after 7pm. If you need to snack because you’re starving, eat something simple like an apple or some nuts.
- Don’t put food on the table. I know that sounds weird, but if you have food sitting on the table, you’re more likely to have 2 or 3 portions instead of one. Make a plate – don’t stack it – with simple portions and leave it at that. Same goes for buffets – avoid them if possible; but if you do go, get one plate – and not a heaping one at that!
- Get good sleep. Research shows that people can’t lose weight effectively without good sleep.
- Be accountable to friends. This past year has shown me how important having a good friend network is. You CANNOT do this alone. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will help care for you and encourage you. Don’t hang around people who are a bad influence – who are always encouraging you to “cheat”.
That’s it for now. Again, thanks for reading this and thank you to those who have been part of my journey. I look forward to another monumental year with you all!