I’ve been struggling with this particular post for a while now. Technically? I’ve been struggling with it for about six months. As I said in my introductory post the other day I came up with the idea for ShrinkGeek over a year and a half ago, but we’ve had an actual blog running as a testing ground since November of last year. During that whole time it was always understood that at some point we’d all write an introductory post about ourselves for those of you who come to the blog that don’t know who we are already.
As I’ve tossed and turned ideas for this post around in my head I’ve tried to decide where exactly I wanted to go with it. Do I talk about my geek cred or my experience as a blogger? Do I mention the fact that I’m an actor? Do I bring the fact that I’m a parent into the mix? What about my career? Is the fact that I’m an I.T. Professional relevant to what I have to say here? Do people want to know why I reject the term nerd and embrace the term geek? Should I keep it short and sweet or is this going to be a post of epic length?
Am I worrying about this too much?
Eventually I just decided to sit down and start writing, and as I’ve been doing so I’m reminded of the way that Hollis Mason started “Behind the Mask” in Watchmen – Start with the saddest thing you know. Since this is a health and fitness blog I figure I’ll start with the saddest thing I know of in my own life that fits that criteria.
In the year 2000, when I was 27 years old, I had two strokes.
I’ve battled with my weight my entire life. I could blame it on bad genetics or the fact that my single Mother couldn’t be around to monitor everything that I ate or any number of different reasons, but regardless of where I try to point the finger the fact of the matter is that from as early as I can remember I have always been the “fat kid.” In retrospect when I was in Elementary school I really wasn’t that big looking at the pictures, but I suppose when compared to everyone else around me I was. By the time Middle School came around I was officially at the point where I was undeniably one of (if not the) fattest kids in my school.
My Mother did what she could to help, having struggled with her weight for much of her adult life as well, but ultimately I never made the commitment that was necessary to getting in shape and instead simply continued to put on the pounds. As a computer nerd (the only one of my friends to actually OWN a Commodore 64, thank you very much) and an avid Dungeons & Dragons player I already had some big social stigmas to overcome, but when you throw in my ever-expanding waist line, the fact that I let my Mother dress me, and an apparent disregard for basic cleanliness…Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty sight.
My love life? Non-existent. I dated one girl when I was in Middle School for about two weeks before she moved to Indiana and proceeded to drop me faster than you can say “This was easier than telling you no and seeing you mope around school for two weeks.” That was it until well after I graduated. Oh, I had my crushes. I had a lot of them. I think if you were female and made the mistake of saying “hi” to me during those years you suddenly became the love of my life. Fortunately most of those crushes faded just as fast as they appeared.
A year or so after high school I was working at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas. One of the locals invited a group of us to his place for a pool party during the week and someone took a picture of me jumping into the pool.
It literally looked like a pale white ball of flesh was flying through the air. The shape, to me, had no resemblance to a human being whatsoever.
A few months later I decided it was time to get into shape. At the time I weighed approximately 375 pounds. I started exercising on a daily basis and began to follow the Slim-Fast diet. It worked. I managed to get my weight down to just around 250 pounds. I didn’t do anything to help myself learn how to eat like a “regular” human being in the process, though, and when I stopped drinking the Slim-Fast shakes and started eating again, the weight came back. (In all fairness I also stopped exercising and was dealing with some serious depression due to a marriage that was continually sliding downhill.) The weight also brought friends. I wasn’t weighing myself often around this point, but I distinctly remember the day that I went to put on my 60″ waist pants and they were almost too small.
After my marriage ended, I kept gaining weight while smoking perhaps a pack and a half of cigarettes a day.
One day I was sitting at work, and I noticed that my left arm was tingling. I ignored it at first, but the tingling spread. Eventually it went down into my left leg and up into my face. I called my boss and told him I thought I was having a heart attack. I then proceeded to drive myself to a hospital thirty miles away.
Hey – I didn’t say I was always smart.
The hospital did a battery of tests on me and kept me overnight, but never found signs of a heart attack. They sent me home and set up further testing. A month or so later it happened again. I wound up back in the hospital, and after they let me out the tests got more intense. I had to get an MRI, and I had to go to a special doctor to get it done because I couldn’t fit in the tube. When the neurologist got the results of the MRI we looked over them together and he pointed to a very small black area in my brain. “That,” he said, “looks like you had a stroke.”
A stroke. At 27 years old. In all likelihood two of them.
That was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back. In January of 2001 I joined Weight Watchers. I weighed in at 419.2 pounds. Today, 8 years later, I weigh around 260. I am not at the lowest I have been in my entire weight loss journey since (232 pounds) and I have struggled to get to where I want to be, but I have kept the majority of that weight off since my initial loss.
I have come to the realization that I will be on Weight Watchers for the rest of my life. I am not a person who will ever be able to maintain a healthy weight without some kind of accountability and control in my diet. I suppose you could call me a professional dieter. I have a great deal of experience in losing weight. I know what works and what doesn’t, for me anyway, and I’ve had the opportunity to see what others have gone through. This is the knowledge that I want to share with you.
I’d go into how much of a geek I am as well, but I’m already over 1200 words on this post just telling my weight loss story. You’ll just have to trust me on the geek part.