An Awakening

WOODBRIDGE, VA
Note: Originally titled Surgery to Save my Life, after being diagnosed and having surgery to remove cancer, I changed the titled to this: An Awakening.
I view June 22 as the day my life was saved. Sure, I was getting ready for surgery. But it’s far more than that. June 26 would be the day of the actual surgery to “clean up my knee.”
I went a number of years without stepping on a scale. Why? Because (a) I knew how much I weighed and (b) I didn’t really want to know how much I weighed.
I was active. Very active. Beginning in 1986 until 1995 I played softball almost year round. At work we opened a fitness center in 1989 and my lunchtime became exercise. We played Ultimate (Frisbee) on the Mall in D.C. every Wednesday which soon became every Tuesday and Thursday. That eventually became every day.
After softball I started coaching soccer and was always active with the players. I went to a doctor in 1990 for pain in my heel which would have me sit for weeks at a time. It was diagnosed as Achilles Tendonitis. Whether it was misdiagnosed, I will never know.
By 2001 I had a new bike and Andrew and I rode a lot of the rail trails and even ventured to Pittsburgh once. (We abandoned at Antietam Creek due to a mechanical.) In 2003 I rode back from Pittsburgh, by bike.
I was playing Ultimate daily and refereeing. I had been riding my Trek Navigator (hybrid) quite a bit. People were used to seeing me on a bike. I was feeling fit.
Many of my older shirts didn’t fit as well and it was clear that they had been washed too many times in hot water.
Every time I had been to the doctor, be it foot or knee, if I was asked my weight I gave it as 180, 185, or maybe, gulp, 190. At the hospital, they weighed me.
I took off my shoes and stepped on the scale.
219.6
It had been a long while since I had been weighed. I knew my weight was creeping up but not this much. OMG!
I was scared. Honestly scared. Was my heart ready to blow right then and there? Instantly, I knew a lifestyle change was in order.
Diet and exercise. Most people can alter both but I was already very active. I couldn’t exercise much more than I was doing. I would have to change my diet. And I did.
I made a concerted effort from that day forward. No more seconds. They’re good, but who NEEDS them? Order the smaller portion when available. A hamburger instead of double cheeseburger. I wouldn’t go hungry but I wouldn’t eat until I was real full either.
While I was still on crutches I started riding my bike. Just slow spinning at first but it was easier to bike than to walk.
And I forced myself to get on the scale. In 11 days I had lost 8 pounds and was down to 211. And I worked harder, more exercise, and did skip meals. I know I lost too much too fast. Only July 26, one month after my surgery, I broke through the 200 pound barrier.
I can rattle these numbers off because I kept (and keep) a fitness journal. And maybe the biggest motivation of all came on August 8, 2006. It was on that day that I made a note that I wanted to bike up Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. And I didn’t want to compete as a Clydesdale (190+ lbs).
On August 16 I broke the 190 barrier on my way to my goal of 180 which has basically, been my adult weight for as long as I could remember. Or pretend.
By September 15 I had dropped below 180. In less than three months I had lost 40 pounds.
I started hanging around The Bike Lane more looking at road bikes. I found the more I rode the more I wanted to ride. And I was riding almost exclusively on paved roads or trails.
If nothing else, just having the surgery and facing the reality that my weight had crept up, would save my life. The weight came off and stayed off and biking brought me a new lease on life.