He’s Building It
Success stories are always fun to read, but this particular one is fun to write about. Why? Because it’s about my brother, Dennis, who just lost 90 lbs. in the past seven months. Here’s his story.
“What made you decide to get healthy?”
“What do you mean?”
“I was working two jobs. One as an adjunct professor and the other as a bank teller to make ends meet. As a way for colleges to save money, they don’t really hire tenured professors anymore; they essentially hire contract teachers. Once an adjunct professor teaches more than three courses per semester, he becomes eligible for insurance, so the colleges limit adjunct professors to essentially part-time work, just three courses, at a much lower pay scale than tenured professors and with no benefits. Anyway, I was working two jobs, six days a week and I barely saw the light of day. After signing up for Obamacare I went for a check-up, my first one in seven years (since I began teaching), and it was really bad. I found out I had diabetes, high blood pressure and rickets from lack of sunlight.”
“What did the doctor tell you to do?”
“He put me on medication, but I was so out of shape he didn’t even want me to go to a gym for fear that I would have a heart attack. The only thing I was allowed to do was walk. People think, ‘oh, walking is easy,’ but when you’re obese even walking hurts. My knees used to make grinding noises from the pressure of my weight. I tried to make an appointment with an endocrinologist but, here’s the downside of Obamacare, none of them were accepting my insurance plan. That’s when I called you.”
“For help with your meal plan.”
“Yeah. You told me all about clean eating, what it was, and to avoid processed foods. The bodybuilder’s diet is pretty similar to what diabetics eat: lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates in moderation. I started eating six times a day and monitoring my blood sugar and lost 15 lbs pretty quickly. My doctor was eventually able to set me up with some classes about diabetes at the local hospital where I learned what to eat to keep my diseases in check.”
“How was that?”
“Informative. I noticed a lot of people were in denial about the disease. Like, one guy was very concerned that he be allowed to drink as much beer as he wanted. Other people thought that walking around their house doing light cleaning was exercise. The class taught me a lot about reading labels. Some packages will say ‘sugar free’ but will actually have sugar alcohol instead, which is bad for diabetics.”
“How have you changed your life since then?”
“I quit the part-time job at the bank. It was causing too much stress and the extra cash wasn’t worth the toll on my health. It’s funny, one of my students had me last year for Western Civ I and then had me this summer for Western Civ II. She said I was a good teacher in both sessions, but she noted how much more energy I had after losing weight. She said I looked younger and happier, and she was right. When I lost 40 lbs. my doctor said I could start lifting light weights, but standing up, so I walked around the park with 10 lb. dumbbells. Now that I’ve lost 90 lbs. I’m off almost all medications and he said I can start lifting weights for real.”
“What are your fitness goals for the future?”
“I want to do my first bodybuilding competition this summer, in the physique division. I hired a personal trainer to help me prepare. I thought I was doing the exercises right, but apparently I was doing everything wrong. It helps to have someone who can fix your form. I meet with him once per week. I have a lot of loose skin, which is embarrassing, but he said that once I build muscle some of that will go away. My clothes are pretty loose now too. In May, before I went to the doctor, I wore size 2XX. Right now I’m wearing medium shirts and they are too big. My pants keep falling down! I don’t have anything smaller in my closet.”
“An excuse to go shopping! Before we finish up, what would you like to tell people who are overweight and have diabetes?”
“I want them to know that they can control the disease if they take it seriously. With proper nutrition and exercise they can live a normal life. If there is something like a birthday where they want to eat cake, they just have to adjust their meals for the day. I actually found it helpful to have several diseases as my office party excuse. Before, I felt a lot of pressure to eat everything in front of me or to finish the leftovers from the party so the food wasn’t wasted. Now I just tell everyone I have diabetes and high blood pressure and they leave me alone. If they really bug me I’ll tell them about rickets and that stops them right in their tracks.”
We both laugh. It’s good to see him healthy again, and I’m so proud he has taken control of his life. Hopefully, this summer we will both get to compete together in a local bodybuilding show. How cool would that be?
How about you? Do you have a success story you’d like to share?
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two. You can read more about her in her new book, “She’s Losing It!” available at Amazon.com.
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