Weight Loss, An Analogy

August 19, 2010

A little over sixteen weeks ago I weighed almost 212 pounds. Today, I weigh about 171.  My goal is 150.  I’m 2/3rds of my way there.  When people ask, “how long it has taken,” I say that I’ve been on this diet for about sixteen weeks, but I’ve been trying for twenty-four years.  What has made it so hard?  Is it the right diet? Or exercise?  These technical facts cannot be ignored, but truth be told, in the last twenty-four years I’ve read, studied and even tried many different regiments, some of which have worked for countless others.  They did not work for me.

I think the biggest challenge for me is that twenty-five years ago I went on a diet, it worked, and I gained the weight back so fast I barely had time to go out and replace my wardrobe. The resulting sense of failure and frustration has been a hard mountain to overcome.

What finally moved me forward occurred last Christmas Eve.  The number 212 seems to play an important role in all of this because this past Christmas Eve I was hospitalized with blood pressure of 212 on fears of a stroke.  One could reasonably expect that my dear wife would have been sympathetic to my plight, but as I lay in the hospital bed with tubes poked in my veins, I could tell that she was really pissed.  To my wife, the type “A” attorney that she is, being pissed is her way of dealing with fear.  She was angry that I’d let this go on so long, had not taken care of my self and she was afraid I was going to die.  The anger was what she was willing to show.

I looked at my 9 year old, whose Christmas was being disrupted and the concern in my 24 year old daughter’s eyes.  I want to see more of their life than I was on a trajectory to do.  I want my wife to know that I would do anything for her.  Neither of those things were happening at the moment.

I wish it hadn’t have taken all of this to get me to act, but, the fact is, it did.

Two-thirds of my way to my goal weight, I’m recognizing that many challenges that I have in my life bear a striking resemblance to my issues with weight.  Most all of the issues I have, are deeply ingrained, of long standing to the point that I’ve almost come to accept them as normal.  I just accepted that I was over-weight.  I’d come just say, this is who I am.

Twenty-nine years ago, I stopped drinking.  At age 26, I had, God willing, my last drink.  There had been times when I looked in the mirror of the bar, or above the sink in the Men’s room, and stared into my drunken face and said, “You are just a drunk.  This is who you are.”

For generations, deep into my family tree and broad into every member of the family to which I was born, alcoholism reigned.  I said to myself, “I’m just a drunk and this is just who I am.”

On a hot July morning, in 1981, I woke – or came to would be a better description – and saw my wife curled up in a fetal position in the corner of the bed.  I was never blessed with black outs.  Like a puzzle, shaken up inside my head, events of the night before came tumbling out to me, one piece at a time.  The most humiliating pieces of the night came first, sending a cringe up my spine.  The cringes came in waves.  I reached out to her and she flinched.  The night had been a nightmare to her.  Often she’d seen me stumble in drunk, but never had she seen the process of me deteriorate through the night, from jolly, to boisterous, to humiliating and humiliated to ranting, to giving up and collapsing.

That morning, I sought help, 29 years ago.  There wasn’t much about that night that was different than hundreds of other nights.  But, the combination of things and feelings brought me to my knees.  That was much like Christmas Eve and missing Christmas morning with my family.

As I look forward, from the vantage point of where I am now, in my life and business, I want to change without such extreme circumstance.

Weight is what I’ve carried and it is what I am shedding.  As I shed it, I also want to shed everything that it represents and to do it in a transparent way so that others may understand it for all that it is, and grow from it in every way that I can.




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