Weight Loss Journey

9 07 2018

I have been on a journey for over a year now.  Actually I have been on this journey for many years but was finally in a place where I was finally ready to admit I needed God’s help about a year ago. 

I have been “chubby”, “heavy”, “large”, “a big kid”, which are all polite ways of saying “FAT”, almost all of my life.  I remember when I was 8 or 9 I would stand with my arms folded at the top of my stomach.  I remember my mother telling me not to cross my arms above my stomach because it pushed my stomach out.  I was teased in school and was always part of the “last kids picked” when it came to choosing teams. 

I married the woman of my dreams in 1986 and if my memory serves correctly, I was about 180 pounds.  I remember that I was working out at the gym prior to the wedding to look my best.  After I was married, I think I lost interest in maintaining my weight.  When I got married I was working a retail job where I was on my feet for a major part of the day walking around.  A few years later, I was hired for a job that would use my computer science degree.  With the hour or so commute and a fairly sedentary job, my weight started to increase. 

So I was fat, and I knew I was fat.  Years of the doctor telling me I needed to lose weight and my wife telling me that she was afraid I was going to die early and my dad telling me I needed to lose weight didn’t cause me to get help.  I tried a trainer at the gym and spent thousands of dollars without a lasting effect.  If memory serves correctly, I managed to go from about 300 pounds to 270 pounds.  My wife and I tried a “well known” weight loss program in 2005 and that worked while I was paying to go to meetings and paying for their snacks.  However when money got tight and I could no longer pay for the trainer and when my wife reached her goal weight and we stopped going to those meetings, I gained all the weight back.  With the weight loss program I actually  managed to get down just under 246 pounds.  245.8 to be exact.

In 2010 I had three business trips traveling to Eastern Europe for work.  We always had a lay over day each way in Vienna, Austria for two trips and Amsterdam, Netherlands for the last trip.  Putting my 290+ pound body into a coach seat for a transatlantic flight, and not being able to walk around Vienna and Amsterdam got me to the point that I was finally ready to give Celebrate Recovery a try.

For those that don’t know, Celebrate Recovery is a Christ based 12-step program similar to the better known Alcoholics Anonymous.  One of the major differences is while Alcohol Anonymous refers to a “higher power” as a source of help, Celebrate Recovery specifically names the higher power as Jesus/God.  Anyway, a pastor at the church my family was attending was “heavy” and lost quite a bit of weight.  He told the congregation that the 12 steps of Celebrate Recovery is what helped him to lose the weight.  His testimony and my business trips to Eastern Europe were enough pain to overcome the fear of walking in to Celebrate Recovery.

Given my past failures with the gym and the nationally known weight lost program I knew that my weight issues were more than simple behavior modification would fix.  There were deeper issues that needed to be addressed.  I went though the doors of Celebrate Recovery and started to work the program.  I started watching what I was eating and trying to drink more water, in place of snacking.  I actually lost 30 pounds in the beginning.  However this was my doing and not what God was most interested in helping me overcome….at least not yet.

I found this walking app for my iPhone and started tracking my sporadic walks back in December of 2014.  My walks got more regular in 2016 but still not consistent. 

Back in February of 2017, I got an Apple Watch and started tracking my exercise.  As of April 1, 2017 I weighed 300 pounds.  I have been as high as 321.  This is not something that I am in any way proud of but it is worthy to note how far I have come. 

With the purchase of my Apple Watch, I decided to start walking regularly and tracking my walking progress.  I figured out the workout app on my watch and in March of 2017 had 1 workout.  In April there were 15, May was 24, June and July there were 20 each and then I started to get serous in August of 2017.

I consider my official start date of this journey August 1, 2017.  We had recently booked a family cruise to the Western Caribbean and I was looking at some of the excursions.  What took me somewhat by surprise was the fact that some of them had weight limits.  Now this wasn’t the zip line or scuba diving where I know there are weight limits.  This was playing and swimming with the dolphins.  This sounded interesting but there was a weight limit.  Those above 240 pounds could not participate.  Since I was currently close to 300 pounds, it meant that my weight was going to be what limited me on this excursion.

I didn’t want my weight to be the reason I didn’t do the excursion.  As I mentioned above, I had tried the gym, I had tried a nationally known weight loss program.  Both worked, sort of, until I couldn’t afford to pay for them.  I had gotten just under 270 pounds while working with a trainer.  I had gotten down to 245 with the weight loss program.  Neither of those were below the 240 that I needed to be under to do the excursion. 

I knew that there were deeper issues behind my weight that simple behavior modification would solve.  I decided to pray about this and ask God if this was the time for us to work on my weight.  I started walking and trying to watch what I ate.  The weight was starting to come off.  In November my prescription for blood pressure medication ran out.  I called the pharmacy to refill it and it was denied.  It turns out that my medical insurance was now insisting that I see the doctor every 6 months while on long term medication.  There was no way I was going to get in to see the doctor before Thanksgiving so I decided to start recording my blood pressure daily and see the doctor after Thanksgiving.  I took my record of blood pressure measurements to the doctor and he was concerned.  Not because my blood pressure was too high but there were several readings that were too low!  With that my doctor decided that I could be off the blood pressure medications and we would check it again in April when I had my annual exam.

In January I was going to the gym because walking when the outside temperature was below 50 was causing my hands and feet to be cold to the point of pain.  I also got an app to start tracking what I was eating.  The combination helped me break through the plateau!

I had my annual physical in April part of which was the usual blood tests.  The doctor was thrilled with the amount of weight I had lost.  When he got the results of the blood tests, all my results were excellent.  Where I had been on both blood pressure and cholesterol medications in the past, and had even had a liver biopsy in the past to determine I had a fatty liver, I am now off all prescription medications.

As I write this I am 56 pounds lighter than I was in August!  As I shared in my travel post, I was finally below 240 and my weight would no longer be the reason for not playing with the dolphins!  I am also down two pants sizes since I started in August and actually 4 pants sizes down from where I was at my heaviest.  At my heaviest, XXL shirts were tight, actually very tight.  Now large shirt are tight but with God’s help, they won’t be for much longer.

I continue to work at losing weight.  My next goal is to break through the 225 pound barrier with my ultimate goal to see if I can get back to about 180 pounds which is where I think I was when I got married. 

Until next time…

Paul





Our Foster Care Adventure (Part 1)

28 10 2012

We are getting closer to being licensed Foster parents.  It has been an adventure so far and I imagine that the real adventure is just getting ready to happen.

So how did we get started on the path to foster care?  Well back in March of 2012, the Pastor, Mark Connelly, at our church, Mission Community Church, did a mini-series on the biblical basis of a new initiative the church was embarking on.  The initiative is called Esther’s Hope and it represents our efforts to help drain the foster care system in Arizona of children needing homes.

During the mini-series, I became convicted that God was asking my family to take some role in this effort.  I didn’t know what we were supposed to do but I was convinced that we needed to do something.  I didn’t say anything to my wife because, honestly,  I was afraid of her reaction.  There was an orientation meeting scheduled and I finally decided to talk with my wife about what I felt God was calling us to do.  I told her that I didn’t know what we were supposed to do as part of Esther’s Hope but that I was certain God was asking us to do something.  It turns out that she was feeling the same way and was waiting for me to say something about it as confirmation of her feelings.  That was confirmation for me that it really was God asking us to be involved.

We went to the orientation meeting and were astounded, as were the folks doing the orientation, at the turn out for the orientation meeting.  The orientation meeting was held in a room that holds 450 or so and it was standing room only!  After getting information about the foster care system in Arizona and how Christian Family Care was participating as a licensing agency, the group was divided in to two smaller groups.  One group was those that were interested in becoming licensed foster parents or adopting.  The other group were the folks that were interested in supporting foster families.

This was our first decision about what our next step was going to be.  We decided to stay with the group interested in becoming foster families or adopting.  I still wasn’t sure whether we wanted to adopt or foster.  Honestly I was leaning towards adoption because it sounded easier.  Being a foster parent means you are on the front lines so to speak.  When CPS determines that a child needs to be removed from a home, foster parents are the first to help the child deal with this traumatic experience after they have been processed into the system.  The goal for foster kids is reunification with their biological parent(s).  That means that after weeks/months of loving on and becoming attached to a child, assuming the parent(s) got their act together, the child is taken away from the foster parents and returned to their biological parent(s).  While being with their parents is really best for the child, it is still going to be heartbreaking to have them leave.  After the presentation was over, we talked and decided we  were going to go down the path of becoming licensed foster parents.

With the decision having been made to follow where God was leading to become licensed foster parents,  this was going to mean some major changes in our lives.  We had training classes to attend, a bunch of paperwork to fill out and reviews of our home and our lives by state agencies.  Not to mention a level 1 federal background check!  Did I mention that there was lots of paperwork to fill out?  We are clinging to the promise that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.

Obviously there is more to this story we are several months beyond the orientation meeting as of this blog post.  I didn’t want to make this too long so I am going to break this up into several posts.

Until next time….








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