Monday, June 23, 2014
The first day of the rest of my life
Hi, my name is David Lindsay Bogner... and I'm fat.
[all together now] Hi David!
The funny thing is, I've always been slim. In 7th grade I was so skinny I started browsing around the store at the mall where they had all those protein supplements endorsed by bodybuilders.
I didn't have the cash or stomach for those awful shakes, but I did start trying to build up from skinny to 'slim'.
In 8th grade I went out for football, got cut, but stayed on the team anyway as a pity case... the coach's pet. The practices beat the snot out of me, and probably would have killed me if I hadn't broken both thumbs on one memorable (but failed) attempt at a fumble recovery.
By the time I got to high school I was lifting a bit. Nothing organized, but I was hanging out with the jocks and pumping enough iron to see a small improvement in muscle tone, if not size.
It was while working out in the school weight room that I got the idea to join the wrestling team. I'd heard the workouts were brutal, and all of my friends on the team were totally ripped. The coach accepted me to the JV squad at the 155 pound weight class (a mark at which I could binge eat and still safely come in at 5 pounds under), and although I wasn't a particularly dedicated (or skilled) wrestler, the workouts did their job... by the end of the first season I had successfully graduated from skinny to slim.
I would remain firmly entrenched at 'slim' throughout my years in the navy... during my time in Israel... and even through my university years.
After graduation I went to work, started dating, eventually got married, had three wonderful children with my lovely wife... all while remaining 'slim'.
The problem is, I remained slim only in my head.
Physically, my metabolism had slammed on the brakes somewhere around 22, and the trajectory of my waistline could best be described as one long skidmark up the weight chart my doctor handed me last year on my 52nd birthday.
Every year on or near my birthday, my company pays for a full medical work-up. It is an early morning affair starting with blood work, followed by a full stress test, vision and hearing exams, and capped off by a physical exam so intimate that, for propriety sake, the doc should have to make me breakfast afterwards.
As it turns out, my company springs for a voucher for a free breakfast following the physical, so I get the meal without having to make small talk with the person who has just been handling my junk.
Exactly one year ago today my physical ended with the doc sending me off to enjoy my free breakfast having just informed me that I am officially 'morbidly obese'.
I'm here to tell you that nothing, but NOTHING, kills a free breakfast like those two words.
As I sat watching my food get cold, I was at a loss as to how I got where I was. I had always been slim. Even as recently as this morning when I got out of the shower and walked past the mirror, I was still slim.
But what slowly dawned on me was that I'd gotten to those two words - morbidly obese - one bite at a time. I'd ignored the tire screech of my metabolism shutting down, and kept right on eating as if I was 16. I did that for more than half my life.
And not one person, friend or family, had the decency to tell the emperor that his clothes needed to be sourced from the 'Big & Tall' store.
A normal person would have taken that birthday wake-up call and used it to make some hard decisions. Being something other than normal, I decided to hit the snooze button for 6 months.
By the time December rolled around, I'd added another 5 pounds for good luck.
I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but a decision had to be made, and counting the days from January seemed, somehow, easier.
I didn't do anything drastic or jump on any trendy fad diet. I just started watching what I ate. And instead of picking up the phone to call colleagues at work, I got up and walked to their offices to see them face to face.
Then I cut back on the sweets and junk food. And I started watching my secretary's breaks. Whenever she went out to smoke a cigarette, I went out and walked the security track around our campus (exactly a kilometer).
Once I was walking 4-5 kilometers a day at work, I started also walking on the treadmill at home. And I kept watching what I was eating... taking smaller portions and eating slowly enough to feel myself filling up before I was tempted to take seconds.
Today I turned 53, and I weigh 38 pounds less than I did on New Year's Day. But I am still fat.
I have at least 52 more pounds to go before I reach what the medical charts say is the ideal weight for my height. But even then I will still be fat.
You see, I can never again allow myself to think of myself as slim. That word is a license to kill... and it almost killed me once.
I'm writing this here, not because I expect so many people to see it... but because, on my birthday, I needed to see it in print... so I will remember that today is the first day of the rest of my life.