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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.


Posted by David Bogner on June 23, 2014 | Permalink


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It's not easy losing weight. And keeping the new weight. And sticking to a healthy routine with as few exceptions as possible. But it's not entirely impossible, only a life changer. ;)

Never mind! It's your birthday. Happy Birthday!!!!

Posted by: a. | Jun 23, 2014 1:06:23 AM

I knew this would happen because you blog about good things to eat and make and almost all of them are high in sugar and insulin raising carbs. Weight lost fast come back. Take a 3 year low carb diet. It will take off weight permanently. I did it and do it for your kids.

Posted by: Gil Brenner | Jun 23, 2014 4:50:46 AM

That is just great, you must feel amazing. But I hope you don't start posting recipes here.

Posted by: Baila | Jun 23, 2014 7:33:01 AM

a... I've missed hearing from you! Hope you and yours are all well. Thanks for the advice and good wishes.

Gil Brenner... The recipes I post are rare treats. The lifestyle that got me where I am was a daily lack of good sense. I have cut back on carbs, mostly because they seem to comprise most of the junk and empty calories I was consuming. But I'm not looking for an atkins-esque diet. I need something that will work for me long term.

Baila ... Recipes? No more than usual (which is to say, one every year or two). I promise not to proselytize. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 23, 2014 10:58:29 AM

Sorry if this sounds like a promotion, it's not meant to be. I have been a big fan for a long time and you were even the motivating factor in us moving to Efrat when we first made aliya. However, as someone who went through a similar struggle just a few years ago, I highly recommend contacting my wife, to help you get over the hump. she is a holistic health coach and helped me adjust my lifestyle so I could lose the 35 pounds and keep it off for the last 3 years while not feeling like I was sacrificing the things that I love. Even if you don't speak to her, speak to someone who can help you see your choices as things that are positive, rather than sacrifices, so that you can keep it off, without feeling like you are missing out. I would be happy to give you here contact info if this interests you. either way כל הכבוד, keep it up

Posted by: Max Power | Jun 23, 2014 8:07:11 PM

In the photos you`ve posted over the years,you look like a normal mid-aged guy. Very hard to believe that you were 90lbs over an ideal weight.

Posted by: ED | Jun 23, 2014 9:42:01 PM

Well done on the weight loss so far, and may the other naughty pounds that are so attached to you flee into the mist. It is tough losing weight, because you have to change habits, and that isn't easy for any of us. You are an inspiration. BTW Ruti M gave me some great advice - use a smaller plate. It tricks your brain into thinking you are eating a lot, but you are eating less on a smaller plate.

Posted by: Kiwi Noa | Jun 23, 2014 10:37:52 PM

Much respect for your accomplishments to this point!

I think your young self actually had it right. You might find that light to moderate strength training for an hour or so 2-3 times per week will really accelerate a positive change in body shape. Changing shape is really what this is about after all - once you have that moving in the right direction, combined with your changes in activity (the extra walking) and portion control, the precise lb/kg numbers really aren't that meaningful except as ballpark generalities.

Posted by: HDS | Jun 24, 2014 12:31:47 AM

Happy birthday and good luck!

Posted by: Stefanie | Jun 24, 2014 2:57:28 AM

Sorry - I'm a little late to the party but I have the opposite 'problem'. I grey up 'Husky' a name that still give me the shakes. I lost a lot my year in Israel, and promptly gained is back reaching 102 kg. I lost weigh slowly running in the YU gym and was 93 kg when I got married. Whenever my wife would go on a weight loss plan after the birth of our kids I went on the plan too, and since I never got pregnant the weight did not return. I am about 72 kg now, but I still consider myself husky. At the beach I never go our without a t-shirt on, feeling that I look grossly overweight, even though I am not - so I understand the power of mind over matter.

Best of luck continuing the healthy push!

Posted by: Aharon Fischman | Jun 24, 2014 8:31:05 AM

The Missus calls it the Slippery Slope - our tendency to lose weight and then gradually resume those habits that got us in trouble.

The good news is, you can do this... and you will feel better. The downside? New clothes. (For the Missus, that's an upside.)

Posted by: Elisson | Jun 24, 2014 11:03:28 PM

I guess this means no more egg nog recipe.

Posted by: Gary | Jun 25, 2014 6:22:44 AM

Congrats!! That's quite an achievement.

Posted by: Jonathan | Jul 4, 2014 12:31:34 AM

Hah! We at Chez Mizrachi are on the same new journey, for the same reasons. May we all be successful. Belated happy birthday. May your (and the Dearly Beloved's, and my) new path help to ensure that we are all around to celebrate for many long, happy, healthy years!

Posted by: Ruti Mizrachi | Jul 4, 2014 7:55:29 AM

Hi David,

(Warning: this comment contains extremely boring high school references, you may find yourself dozing). As one of your friends from high school, who was on the aforementioned wresting team, I heartily congratulate you on your endeavor and on your success so far. I was impressed when you came out for the team, especially since you knew what you were getting into. And you are correct, Coach Faustitch led the most brutal workouts imaginable and we started two months before the season actually started. Worked too, we were second in the state open tournament and only wrestled 10 out of 12 guys (one knuckle head got suspended and one did not make weight). Small world - I'm fat too and have lost 35 pounds over the past year walking with the dogs or on the elliptical. For the beginning stretch (started last summer) I exercised every day for 100+ days. Darn if the dogs are not slimmer too. I still have a ways to go but drag my but out of bed most days at 5:20 AM so I can get it in. Hang in there, you can do it. Bet you feel better too, no? I certainly do. Nice to get out of the fatty pants and size down. Now, if I can just cut down on the beer... Happy belated Birthday.


Posted by: Andrew McCarthy | Jul 11, 2014 11:03:03 PM

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