Friday, April 29, 2011


Joe Estep, the one friend I've had since childhood who I trust with my life, had gastric bypass surgery in March 2007. It has transformed his life in more ways than even he could count, both physically and emotionally. He has lost in the neighborhood of about 200 pounds ... amazing.

I'm proud of him beyond what words could ever truly express.

That's one side of my own weight-loss story. If Joe can do so well with the surgery, maybe, just maybe, I could as well. But here's the flip side. Both of my parents had stomach-stapling surgery in the early 1980s, back when such procedures were still relatively new.

The surgery very nearly killed my mom, because what was left of her stomach opening closed up. She could get no nutrients, none. She went from well over 300 pounds to a virtual skeleton. She eventually had to have the procedure reversed, at which point she gained quite a bit of weight back.

The roller-coaster was not kind to her.

My dad's reactions were not as severe, but to the day he died in 2008, he had problems with eating too much and getting sick. The memories I have of my parents' surgeries are not good ones, not in the slightest, tiniest bit.

Yet on the day of the crushing embarrassment of my run in the Space Shuttle simulator in Houston last June, I called Jeanie very nearly in tears and told her that I was having surgery. I went through the whole process -- counseling, meetings, food diaries -- and had a date set in October for a banding procedure. It was only an insurance issue that kept me from having it.

Normally, that would have been a perfect excuse to quit trying. This time, it did not. I kept going, determined never to let anything like those first few minutes in the Shuttle sim ever happen again. Those belts would, by gosh, fit now ... ALL of them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Good News and Bad

First, the good news.

Today, I bought a pair of jeans that were a full six inches smaller in the waist than the last pair I purchased. I went by myself, picked them out and actually tried them on. I told the clerk that I didn't think they would fit, but wanted to see how much more work I needed to do.

I actually laughed when I buttoned them up without the first hint of a problem. The first thing I heard was the sales clerk asking from the other side of the door, "I guess they fit, huh?"

Why, yes. Yes, they do.

Here's the problem, though. I long ago lost track of how many pushes I've made in my life to lose weight. Many times, I have bought new clothes only to use it as an excuse to not try quite so hard thereafter. If I can fit in new jeans, then, by gosh, I can afford to have that hamburger. Or pizza. Or candy bar. Before I know it, the new jeans don't fit any more and I break out the old ones ... the fat ones.

No more.

The jeans I've been wearing are far too big, so I just cinch 'em up with a belt and go about my baggy business. Jeanie fusses. Friends fuss. I put on my pants and then walk right back out of them if I've not yet buckled my belt. Say a prayer for me and that my excuses to slack off cease forevermore.

See you at the Y!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


One of the most crucial parts of my workout routine is my iPod, one of the greatest inventions mankind has ever known. I pop my earphones on, turn on the tunes and for the next hour or so, I'm in my own little world.

I don't want to go all Rocky Balboa/"Gonna Fly Now" on anybody, but my music keeps me going. I put together a "Workout" playlist, and it's a rather eclectic mix of Christian contemporary, rock and praise music. Some songs hit home harder on certain days, but there are a few that are absolutely perfect no matter when they come up.

For instance:

"Praise You In This Storm" -- Casting Crowns

"Glorious Day" -- Casting Crowns

"There Will Be A Day" -- Jeremy Camp

"Grace Like Rain" -- Todd Agnew

"I Can Feel It" -- Third Day

"I Will Rise" -- Chris Tomlin

"Let It Rain" -- Michael W. Smith

"Lift Up Your Face" -- Third Day

"Live Again" -- Stryper

"Reborn" -- Stryper

"Strong Tower" -- Kutless

"Take My Life" -- Jeremy Camp

"Trust In Jesus" -- Third Day

"Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)" -- Chris Rice

"The Voice Of Truth" -- Casting Crowns

"Word Of God Speak" -- MercyMe

"You Raise Me Up" -- Selah

"10,000 Years" -- Stryper

If you've not already done so, an iPod is one of the very best investments you can make when taking those first few tentative steps toward losing weight. Play around with your playlists. Be creative. Download an audiobook or podcast.

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Jock I'm Not

It's the fall of 1984, and I'm a DuPont Senior High School Bulldog. Sort of.

To say that I played football in high school is a little misleading. Technically, I was on the roster and even made the cover of the program twice -- once in the team picture and the other as one of the seniors.

Playing, however, was another matter. Five varsity plays ... that's it. I had never played football before, and I went out to impress She Who Must Not Now Be Named. Here's the kicker. I paced the sidelines -- we weren't allowed to sit on the bench -- for a team that went 0-10.

Our leading scorer was a linebacker. We scored 44 points the whole season. And there I was ... a dummy holder.

This is all to say that I'm not an athlete, although I've dearly loved sports all my life. I have never seen "The Rookie" and not bawled like a baby. Just think -- an older guy gets the chance to pitch in the major leagues. Awesome. I'll never get that chance.

That's what made March sort of special at the Y. I've been lifting weights since late last year, and last month, I finally made the top-10 list! Of everyone who lifted last month, I ranked fifth overall in total weight at about 1.7 million pounds for the month. That's not all. I was ... drumroll, please ... FIRST in my 40+ age group.

Yesssssssssssssssssssssssss ...

It was the first time in my life where I had actually "ranked" in some sort of athletic enterprise. Yeah, I got a couple of Little League trophies for being on the team and I lettered in varsity football at good ol' DuPont. I got medals for completing the two 5Ks that I've done so far. EVERYBODY got 'em.

This is different. This is about lifting weight until it feels like my arms and legs are going to fall off. This is about heading to the Y even though every ounce of my being is telling me to stay home and take it easy. This is about those heart-breaking days in Houston and Talladega.

This is for me and my family.