Today I have an interesting story to share with you. I want to tell you about the specific reasons I decided to change who I was, my body, and my life. If you’ve read my story about how I became fat and my about page by now you know quite a bit about who I am and where I’ve come from.
Read on to see what it took to find my turning points, and what it took to push me over the edge onto the other side..
The fit and healthy side.
Let me tell you this quick story to give you some background…
Shoot! This Doesn’t Fit
Once I turned about 17 and broke the 300 pounds mark, even when I was remarkably overweight, I actually felt pretty decent (or at least what I thought was decent when I had known nothing else). I didn’t feel remarkably slow or disabled or unable to perform a particular activity. In fact, I participated in the marching band and walked to class as a freshmen in college with no problems. In my mind, everything was perfect and what I saw in the mirror wasn’t a true reflection of what I had really allowed myself to become.
Let me fast forward a second. We all have to buy new clothes, so I went shopping a few times. It seemed like every time I went to the clothing store I had to get a bigger size and every time I went, it was a bigger waist size.
(…you might say I was a fat guy in a little coat)
I never did break the 50″ mark even though 48’s got pretty tight. I wore pants below my belly, I suppose if I had tried to cover my muffin I could have easily wore pants over 50″, since my belly spilled way over my waistline. I even broke XXL into XXXL just to find shirts that were comfortable to wear.
At that point in my life, I didn’t mind much. Oddly, it was something totally strange and unexpected that actually got to me distraught more than the pants or the shirts fitting.
I literally couldn’t buy any normal pair of flip-flops or sandals unless they were adjustable because my feet were too fat and thick to fit into the normal, everyday summer sandal you’d buy from any store.
I felt pretty crummy about it. Not as crummy as I would start to feel however.
I started having some strange symptoms and I didn’t pay attention to them because I thought they were pretty normal. On occasion I’d look at my feet closely and noticed I had a lot of dry, cracked skin. At the time I didn’t think much about it. I ignored it, after all it was just a bit of dryness.
It wasn’t long after I started getting extremely dry feet began that I would start waking up in the middle of the night to pee. I didn’t think much about this either. I thought to myself, “Gee, I should probably stop drinking earlier in the evening so I can stop waking up with this full bladder”.
I tried that, but for some reason I always had to pee.
I shrugged it off.
Before long, I was getting up twice and three times a night to pee and not just a, “I gotta pee a little bit.”
It was a, “Holy sh*t! I have to PEE RIGHT NOW!!”
It didn’t really make sense, but I shrugged it off. After all, I was 18 and felt invincible.
Soon after that I would start to wake up with the most intense dry mouth imaginable. When I woke up, the tissue in my mouth literally stuck to each other and it felt like my mouth tasted like swamp water.
I’d eventually get sick. I had a lot of sinus infections around this time in my life. I suffered from allergies pretty badly eventually finding out I’m allergic to dust, pollen, cats, and feathers. It wasn’t uncommon for me to get 4 or 5 sinus infections each year, each one requiring an intense treatment of antibiotics and taking me out of commission for 5, 10, even 15 days at a time.
I had a doctor’s office that I liked to go to called Mecosta Health Services. It made sense that I came back here because I had sinus infections so often, if and when I tried to go to another doctor they always give me antibiotics that didn’t really work to make me feel better.
At Mecosta Health Services there was a physician named Channing Finkbeiner. I would venture to guess he doesn’t even remember me since I haven’t seen him in at least 9 years, but Dr. Finkbeiner would be the first person to give me a reality check.
The good doctor thought it would be best if we did some tests to figure out why I was peeing all the time and my feet were dry. I’m sure with his expertise, he knew right away what the problem was. Sure enough, some blood panels and a A1C test would reveal extraordinarily high cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar levels.
I remember it pretty clearly.
Dr. Finkbeiner looked at me and said, “Tim, your symptoms and tests are in line with a Type 2 Adult Onset Diabetes diagnosis. If you don’t change your habits now, you will eventually suffer from pancreas failure and you won’t live to see 50.”
It was scary but for some reason…
Some part of me still wanted to ignore it.
The doctor said “Here’s a few months sample of Actos. Take this, and it will fix your blood sugar levels.”
In my mind subconsciously I must have thought, “Problem solved! If I just take this magic medicine, I won’t have to worry about anything!”
The medication carried a hefty list of side effects, but nobody pays attention to those anyway, right?
(Side effects of Actos/Pioglitazone according to Drugs .com)
Along with its needed effects, pioglitazone (the active ingredient contained in Actos) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking pioglitazone:
- Chest pain
- decreased urine output
- dilated neck veins
- extreme fatigue
- irregular breathing
- irregular heartbeat
- problems with teeth
- shortness of breath
- swelling of the face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
- tightness in the chest
- trouble with breathing
- weight gain
- Pain or swelling in the arms or legs without an injury
- pale skin
- trouble with breathing when active
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
As much as you think it would, the threat of a shortened life wasn’t enough to scare me into eating healthy or making any significant changes.
If the diabetes symptoms weren’t enough, I always had intense rashes from my thighs rubbing together.
(Thank god for Goldbond powder!)
The fact of the matter was I wasn’t going to be scared into change.
It was something that was going to have to come deep from within.
Not Fitting In
In high school, I actually had a lot of friends. After graduating and moving away from my small town, things were dramatically different.
When you’re 17, 18, 19 years old it’s nice to fit in somewhere – to have friends, be accepted, and have fun. In fact this is true of any age but especially so through this time of life.
Even though I was a fun loving guy it was next to impossible to build a social circle when I went to college.
I was a mess and I didn’t even know it.
I had people I associated with. I associated with my roommates, with my classmates, and people in the music program. At the end of the day though, I just couldn’t seem to make any “real” friends. I was a little baffled because I knew lots of guys in their later 20’s who always said that college was the best time of their life and they made a lot of life long friends there.
This wasn’t the case for me.
I didn’t have much life experience and was in a serious relationship with a girl from high school and she was quite heavy so top of being “visually unappealing” I had less reasons to try to expand my network. I was also the youngest person in my high school graduating class and that put me in the youngest 1% of freshmen at 17 years old and everyone was way older than me – and it certainly didn’t help that I didn’t have much money.
Fat Guy Problems
For a little icing on the cake, I had broken at least three different chairs just from sitting down too hard on them.
Getting out of the car in narrow parking spots was nearly impossible.
I was always sweating everywhere I went (It didn’t help I let my hair grow super long – I’m still not sure why I did this. I thought I was being a rebel I guess).
As days passed by it seemed like normal everyday things became more and more of an inconvenience.
People would always challenge me to food eating competitions – and I would go. I have my name on the wall at three different establishments for different food eating feats including:
Well, at least I was good at something.
Around this time in my life I got a job at Taco Bell. I only worked there for about six months, but I’m pretty sure it was this six month period that I had gained more weight in a short amount of time than any other time in my life.
I went from around 300 to 330lbs in this six month period from eating free and discounted food AND eating dorm cafeteria food.
Everyday was literally a food binge.
Not only was I eating all of that extra food, but drinks were free while I worked.
You couldn’t wrap your head around how many 44 oz. sodas I drank.
Looking back I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I ate more in a 5 day span back then than I do now in an entire month – calorie for calorie.
Without getting too graphic you can say what goes in must come out, and when a lot goes in…
You know what I’m getting at 😉 (A lot of uncomfortable time spent in the facilities!)
So by this point you must be reading this and saying, “Dang Tim. You were sick all the time, your clothes didn’t fit, you were sweaty and smelly, breaking chairs, couldn’t even park where you wanted to. Sounds rough! You couldn’t even make any friends!”
Oddly enough, it was the only thing I knew.
I thought it was normal.
On one particular day when I thought I had enough of it all, I took a good long hard look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t like the reflection looking back at me, so I did something drastic.
I made a mistake.
I remember once my brother talking about this weird diet that was based around eating nothing but lettuce, water, and multivitamins that some military guys used to cut weight. At that moment, I decided, “What the hell! I’m going to try this.”
I was going to do it.
So I did.
I ate nothing but lettuce, water, and multivitamins for about three weeks straight and I got down to 299 for the first time in a long time.
Guess what happened?
I got sick – really sick. I was almost blacking out wherever I went. My body was totally messed up. I was weak – who knows how much muscle I lost in those weeks. Completely malnourished. I’m not even sure how I had the willpower to stick with such a crazy diet for that long.
It wasn’t long before I went back to my old eating habits and within a week I gained back half of what I lost.
But it was a start!
Inspiration: The Light Bulb Moment
I didn’t have many friends, but the ones I had were great ones – lifelong friends that I still talk to and hang out with to this day.
One friend was especially important, his name was Brian Snavley.
If you happened to read my post where I talked about five ways to lose 100 pounds, you might remember me talking about Brian and sharing some of his story.
Brian was a good athlete in high school that gained about 65 pounds around the end of high school and beginning of college. He was my best friend and he was having some weight problems (although not as extensive as mine, still a good deal overweight).
Brian invested in a personal trainer who taught him a lot. In only a few months, Brian lost over 50 pounds and looked amazing. He sat me down in his house and showed me a DVD of his before and after photos and my jaw so hard it must have hit the floor( if it didn’t dig in a few feet deep!).
I had to know his secret.
Brian would go on to tell me the important of resistance training (weight lifting) to keep his metabolism burning high and keep his muscle mass up which was important to “look good” after losing the weight. He would tell me about his regimen of protein shakes, his high protein diet, and how he balanced his carbohydrate and fat intake. He helped me understand calories and how many I should be eating.
It all made so much sense!
It wasn’t long after adopting his regimen that I would lose 50 pounds myself and I became hungry…
Not for food, but for knowledge.
I needed to do some recon – I had to know everything about nutrition and exercise if I was going to go to war with my fat!
I couldn’t let my fat cell enemies get the upper hand!
So after massive amounts of research, starting to exercise and after losing that first 50 pounds, I felt better than I had in years.
My blood sugar levels started testing normally on a regular basis. I got sick from sinus problems and allergies way less often. I was amazed at just how important treating your body right nutritionally and physically really was.
So looking back – I made a mistake trying to starve myself, but it gave me something I never had.
Momentum, combined with inspiration and knowledge from my best friend were the three major turning points in my obesity.
If you’re sitting there reading this article and have a tough time getting started, I want to empower you to think about these three things, the three turning points that allowed me to face obesity head on.
- Find your inspiration
- Enhance your knowledge
- Build some momentum
These three things truly set me free. They gave me exactly what I needed to take action and start a change that would change me forever.
Through my actions, words, and this blog I want to inspire you and as many people as I can to do these 3 things and make a change that will last forever. Be sure to subscribe to the blog to read more of my stories and get actionable advice you can use to help you make a jaw dropping transformation.
I can’t wait to see your success.
(P.S. – If you’ve faced obesity and made a major change I want to know what the turning point was for you. Please share your story in the comments below!)