I am sorry to break the news to you this way. It is incredibly shocking, I am sure. You probably had no idea about this unless you have ever met me, seen pictures of me, or talked to anyone who knows me.
There it is. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about why I told you this.
Flashback: It’s 1996. I’m entering my freshman year of college. I was generously listed at 120 pounds and draped in baggy clothes because everything was too loose on me. I can still hear my mom yelling at me for never eating.
I drove her nuts. I was picky, never hungry and burned plenty of calories by playing team sports. She always tried to get me to eat things like veal and fish by disguising them as chicken cutlets. I wouldn’t buy it. I went so far as to declare myself a poultratarian, someone who would only eat turkey and chicken. This lasted 11 years.
By the time it ended, I weighed roughly 160 pounds.
Hopping off of the wagon was not the reason that I got fat, although my sudden quest to find the best burger around did not help. To this day, I still prefer the taste of poultry over red meat.
I also rarely drink. You can easily track my drinking nights because I talk about it candidly on social media. I have sent out my fair share of “I’m drunj” tweets over the years.
Still, I do not have a beer belly. It is just a fat, out of shape gut built on a solid foundation of poor sleeping and eating habits, a lack of exercise and sedentary behavior.
I could reiterate the excuses I have made over the years but I will not do so here. It is my fault. I own that.
Oddly, I am not ashamed of this. I am just disappointed that I let it go this far.
That should probably stop, right? I should probably change my habits and get healthy, no? Do you think that publicly shaming myself and putting my private information out there for anyone to see might force me to stick with said changes?
Yes? Good. That’s what I am doing here.
So, let’s flash forward to a month ago. The nurse at the doctor’s office asked me to step on the scale. She pulled and pushed the weights around until everything leveled off.
“You weigh 280 pounds,” she said.
I believe I quipped that I should not have carried that 80 pound weight onto the scale with me. If I did not say it, I certainly had the bad joke lined up to make light of the situation.
It was the most I had ever weighed in my life. I knew a change was imminent but it was not immediate.
Flash forward a few more weeks.
Sarah Baicker, of CSN Philly fame, asked on a social media account if Fitbit worked. A friend and fellow Untied conspirator, Hal Greenblatt, vouched for the company. If I remember the numbers correctly, he was 70 pounds heavier he bought one. He is very healthy now. As far back as I could remember, he was always in good shape. I could not believe it.
Immediately, I reached out to Hal and asked him for his thoughts on Fitbit. He said it worked for him and that he recommended it. The company’s products were not some sort of magical cure-all. It was a motivating factor that turned daily activities (steps walked, calories burned, calories consumed, etc.) into visual bits of discernible data.
I thought that was intriguing. I have had moderate success on Weight Watchers, losing up to 40 pounds during a stretch, until I hit a wall or unsubscribed from the plan due to the high recurring costs.
Weight Watchers considers its plan not to be a diet but a way of life. That is because the average user is often dependent upon their costly service to keep up with the program. Fitbit seemed like a different approach that offered much more than WW without the expenses.
After speaking with Hal, I turned to a very fit and highly active coworker and asked her for her thoughts on Fitbit. She said that it was of no use to her. She was already in a routine and Fitbit would not have much of an impact on that. I then turned to another similarly fit coworker and got the same response.
They did, however, both agree that such a product could be beneficial to someone who needed to get on track and learn a little bit more about the consequences of (in my case) his decisions.
Fitting that bill, I borrowed a Fitbit Flex from someone, immediately registered for an account and downloaded the app to my phone. The next day, I ordered the Aria Wi-Fi scale.
Before continuing any further, I should make it clear that the Flex just so happens to be the device I have. In no way am I endorsing the company or its products. There are plenty of other activity trackers out there and, under a different set of circumstance, I just as easily could have ended up with a Nike+, Jawbone, or Samsung product.
You know what was more important than what black rubber blinking band was around wrapped around my wrist? The support I received from Hal and my family. Hal has been checking in on me on a regular basis. He has been sending me helpful articles and talking me through rough patches. He, as well as my family, promised to be there for me, offered me encouragement, and planned to get me out to the gym regularly.
I am not ready for the gym, though. At this size, my activity level should be fairly low impact to prevent myself from causing an unintended injury. Instead, I set a target weight for myself and said I would hit the gym after losing 40 pounds. I knew there was a chance I would hit a wall at that point and would need to push through it.
I also knew that, based on previous experience, that I would lose weight quickly at first. After 11 days, I have averaged just shy of a pound lost per day. To be honest, that number should be higher but I went into self-destruct mode after Fitbit’s PR company sent me a generic and vague email stating they would not collaborate with me on this endeavor. It was a terrible response on my part to think I was somehow slighting them by getting out of my routine and putting on three pounds in three days. I am back on track now, though.
As of the time of writing this, I weight 267 pounds. My target weight is 190 pounds. According to the plan I set for myself, I need to lose an average of 1.5 pounds per week to hit my goal weight by July 18, 2015.
As part of the plan to keep myself on pace, I plan to write a weekly column about my progress and this is my introductory piece. I will openly discuss setbacks and roadblocks as well as achievements. I plan to interview fitness trainers, dietitians, people who have gone down this path before and people who prefer other weight-loss options. A little public humiliation along the way will only serve as motivation too.
If you are a Fitbit user, feel free to add me as a friend here. I will happily take this journey with you. I sincerely hope that, regardless of whether I succeed or fail, this will help someone along the way.