From 589 pounds to 220 pounds. This is my journey. Welcome to the countdown.

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The Countdown 3/17/2014

Last Week: 323

This Week: 324

Next week’s goal: 318

Magic Number to 220: 104 lbs.

Lost since Nov 2012 (561.8 lbs): 221 lbs

Lost Since Nov 2011 (561.8 lbs): 239 lbs

Highest ever weight recorded/known: 589 (difference of 265 lbs)


I was posting these regularly on Monday and the last two…late. I suppose I should be happy I was out 7 nights in a row and ended up only gaining a pound. I went places where I had no business being, ordered wisely, and walked away without my weight skyrocketing.

But it’s now going on week 4 of trying to reach 318. My trainers and team are getting nervous. Some are beginning to question my commitment level.

I can understand that. 

I could have not gone out a few nights. I could have brought my own food. Maybe exercised even more. 

But I didn’t do any of them. 

Last Friday was the 22nd anniversary of the worst day of my life. Someone I considered a friend I can no longer trust. I wasn’t wise with funds, work isn’t going well–and my bosses know it. I got into with one of them last week. Someone on my side no less. Mostly because I wouldn’t let him in with what’s going on with me. Others have noticed as well. 

People want me to strive to better or do my best and right now I just keep wondering how much more I need give. It’s almost like I’ve become a totally different person now. I keep wondering what was wrong with who I was or who I am now. Sometimes I look in the mirror and still see the same fat guy who’s always been there.

I know it’s not true but and I’ve made huge strides but I still look and see a big fat guy. I see the loose skin that sags on my body now that I’ve lost. Yesterday I thought I saw definition in my abs but really it’s covered by a layer of fat. So I get depressed looking at what I did to myself. And yet when people ask me “if I feel better now…”, I get annoyed.

Annoyed as if I was just some loser who sat on the couch all day and ate chips or something. Like I was some sort of total loser before all this. Then there’s the people who think I’m going back to being some 500+ pound guy if I don’t have structure or if I take a break. I’m a different guy now and yet they look at me like it was 16 months ago. 

I feel tired, lost, and like I’ve lost my identity. I almost want to say depressed because the last few days all I wanted to do sometimes was crawl up in a ball and not leave my bed for a while. 

And I think I can motivate people. Hell, I can’t even motivate myself right now. Inspirational my ass!

This all said, I’m not giving up. I may not have this all figured out right now but I’ve come to far. Win or lose, I’m going to keep going. Sooner or later I’m going to put the pieces together again. I’m going to figure out these answers. And call it a gut feeling but I’m pretty sure when I do, it’s all going to fall into place, and better than it ever was.

Just got to believe. 

Next week 318 and I don’t even want to know what happens if I don’t get there.



And I opened this door because…

I came back from Las Vegas and wanted to make changes. In one of the seminars, they talked about asking others as to how they perceived the same time or place. It got me to thinking about how I am perceived. So yesterday, I asked my boss.

And he told me the truth.

It’s a funny thing about the truth. Sometimes you think you want it when really you don’t. That came in the form of this revelation:

I do just enough to get by.

Now my “just enough” is pretty good but I could do better and don’t. My radio career failed because I didn’t go the extra mile. In my job, I could do more but I don’t. I claim I want to win the World Championship of Public Speaking but I don’t put in nearly the effort to do so. Even with the weight loss, if I get to 5 pounds and I could get higher, instead I take as a time to go eat pizza or something.

The good news–it’s fixable.

The bad news–I’m not sure I want to.

Yes, I want more and better but am I willing to do it? Will I put in supreme effort? Worse, what if I do and fail?

So where does that leave me?

A mess.

Nobody wants to admit they’re not willing to do something. It’s a horrible feeling. It’ll make you sick to your stomach. The obvious step is to make a change. But what happens when you’re not willing to? What do you do then? Can you live with yourself knowing you’ll never be what you could be?

What do you do when you open a door and find the answer wishing you’d never seen it?

I have a lot to think about and soul search now.

The Countdown 2/17/14

Last Week: 325

This Week: 323

Next week’s goal: 318

Magic Number to 220: 103 lbs.

Lost since Nov 2012: 220 lbs

Lost Since Nov 2011: 238 lbs

Highest ever weight recorded/known: 589 (difference of 266 lbs)

Steps for the week: 78,011

Average Steps per Day: 11,144

This was a crazy week. One of my vendors came in–and brought snacks. And while others ate some, I ate more. I’ve been having trouble with the community food in the kitchen. I didn’t used to but of late it’s been an issue. I’d be one thing if it was just a taste but usually it’s more than that.

There was a box of chocolate covered english butter toffee that I’m positive I ate the majority of. Then there were the 3-6 oreos with cookie dough filled I just had to try. Even tried bigger breakfasts to compensate but alias no–not working. Still, no fast food again this week. Two weeks in a row. I had two dinners out this weekend. One was a date and the other my Mom and Aunt.

And with all this, I’d lost a pound.

I might made this week except…I planned poorly. Saturday I had my Toastmasters club’s anniversary party. I should ate more before I went but I also knew I’d eat while there. So I tired to push through. I did it after treadmill and Zumba.

There was pizza.

Crappy Little Casears Pizza.

I had 1 slice….then 2…then 2-3 more. And of course as club president , I felt obligated to eat the cake that was made.

Sunday morning…up a pound.

If not for my error, I’d been close this week. Instead–2 pounds. I know I shouldn’t complain but damn it I really wanted to be further along before Vegas. Normally I’d be more annoyed but things have been great. Had an amazing date Friday night and I’m headed for Vegas on Thursday.

As I mentioned, it’s the first time I’ve flown in 20 years. My schedule for Saturday and Sunday is pretty packed too. It’ll be nice to get out of the cold for a few days too. This weather is absolutely driving me nuts. As I write this the snow falls…AGAIN! It’s just maddening how much cold and snow there’s been this year.

The real trick will be finding the time to get in a workout and keeping the eating healthy. It’s Vegas, I’m positive I can get what I need. The question becomes will I have time or what will I need to do in order to make it all work? If anything, I’m worried more about the drinking. It’s Vegas and free drinks. I could gain and not have eaten anything.

The sorta good news? Looks like I don’t weigh in until Wednesday next week. It screws up the next week but depending on how Vegas goes, it could be interesting.

So next week is 318. 18 pounds from 300 and 98 pounds from 220–the goal. A fun and challenging week lies ahead. Vegas baby!

20 years later…

Next week I head to Vegas for a 4 day weekend–place I’ve not been in 20 years.

It reminded me about the time I could have gone to Vegas and didn’t. About 4-6 years ago, I was President of non-profit game group. We helped run and promote games like Monopoly, Dungeons and Dragons, and Magic the Gathering. An industry magazine had decided to create a trade show and approached us about having members demo games for companies in…Las Vegas. It was all expenses paid. Further, they were giving me an opportunity to create a seminar talking to the biggest and best in the industry. Given my penchant for public speaking and hunting for a career opportunity this was an amazing break.

But it never happened. I never went to Las Vegas.

I told friends it was fiances and I couldn’t get of work.

A total lie.

I didn’t go because I knew I wouldn’t fit in a plane seat. Because I was scared what would happen if I had to go to the bathroom and I couldn’t fit in it. Because I didn’t want to ask them to pay for a 2nd plane seat.

And so my friends boarded a plane and I stayed at home.

And that was the first time I realized what I’d done to myself. That my weight was indeed an issue. That it had hindered me and I missed out on an amazing opportunity. And in typical fashion, it made me unhappy, depressed, and caused me to eat even more. Because at that time, I could grasp how I’d ever could be anything more than the overweight man that I was.

I told myself there’d be another chance and I’d go next year. There was no next year. The show folded after one year. I missed out because of my issues with weight. Now I’d like to believe it was all for the best. That maybe it all needed to happen. That it was the beginning of my awakening. That it made me think about doing something. That I started to look at places like Structure House.

But the truth is we’ll never know. But I do know this: on Thursday night I’ll board a plane for Las Vegas.

The last time I was on a plane?

Before 9/11–when it didn’t cost you to check a bag.

Yeah, that long ago.

The true test? Will I need a seat belt extension? I’m hoping the answer is no.

The last time I was in Vegas, I was 21. I’d always though I’d be back sooner. A lot has changed in 20 years and I plan to see all of it. And a lot more. Thursday night marks the biggest milestone so far–I can travel on a plane again. Even when I went to North Carolina to Structure House it was a 2 day drive there and back.

But now things will be different now. I am never putting myself in a position like that again. I’ve got places to go and people to see. Well as long as the airfare isn’t too high. But 20 years later things will now be very different from now on.

The Countdown 1/20/2014

Last Week: 334

This Week: 332 (Goal was 329)

Next week’s goal: 327

Magic Number to 220: 112 lbs.

Lost since Nov 2012: 211 lbs

Lost Since Nov 2011: 229 lbs

Highest ever weight recorded/known: 589 (difference of 257 lbs)

I think the past week was some elation and celebration for finally breaking the 340 mark. And of course I celebrated with food. Perhaps the Panda Express for lunch that Monday wouldn’t have been a problem if later AFTER eating dinner I had chicken wings AND mac and cheese. Perhaps I didn’t need Wendy’s hash browns on Tuesday morning. Or maybe I didn’t need to add sugar to my protein shake to give it more flavor that evening.

Or the two days in a row with an ice cream cone from McDonalds. Or TGI Friday’s on Friday night. Certainly not the Dunkin Donuts breakfast with hash browns on Saturday morning. Is it any wonder I even lost two pounds with all that? Even when I pulled two a days of exercise on Monday and Wednesday.

While 2 pounds is nothing to sneeze it, it’s clear I need to be far cleaner if I’m going to lose 5 a week and get to 300 any time soon. I’d hoped with pounds just melting off last week I could be more lax.

I was wrong.

It takes a ton of mental energy to always make the right choice. Especially when it’s clear one wrong food choice a day can cost you. I will either need to be cleaner or exercise more and/or harder. I’d almost rather the latter but that means making even more time. It’d probably mean morning and night sessions.

Stress has also been a factor. It’s easy to stop binge/stress eating when you have money to spend on other things to keep you occupied. Well the result is I’m taking some financial hits which means I need to tone down the insane spending. Not easy and even more stressful. Combine that with sluggish sales at work and you can imagine stress has been raised.

And when stress is raised and I can’t find means to compensate then my mind starts to wander. It looks towards food for comfort. Things like carbs, peanut butter, and ice cream. That last one explains the two ice cream cones this week.

Next week the goal is 327. It’s clear if I’m going to make it, I’m going to need to figure this out.

The Mayor of Lifetime Fitness?

“Hey, I was just wondering, how much have you lost?”

Every time I walk into the Lifetime Fitness at Old Orchard, this question or a question similar is asked to me almost daily–sometimes multiple times a day. The days I don’t get asked are more of a shock than when I do. I’m told by both Matt and Miranda that they’re often asked about me even when I’m not even in the Lifetime Fitness building. Matt jokes I’m there so often and well enough known that I’m the Mayor of Lifetime Fitness.

He might not be wrong. But when you drop 200 pounds in a year’s time, people notice. They notice a lot.

It wasn’t always like this. When the countdown really first began, it was on the day I weighed 543 pounds. When you weigh 543 pounds and you walk into an upscale health club–one filled with young, urban families, beautiful people, and regular patrons–well, you sort of stick out–and not in a good way. So IMHO, there was a little bit of a carnival act mentality. Come see the 500+ pound and see if he can will indeed get smaller or end up quitting. I was an oddity.

If you read “Four Guys on a bench”, you know who my first “fans” were. Right there with them were those who were taking the aqua fitness classes on the weekend mornings. The ones who’d see me show up at 7:45am, take class, then work for another 30-40 minutes in the pool on my own. Most of the trainers were next. They saw I was determined, never gave up, and see me sitting on the couch half dead to the world.

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure when I went from oddity to inspirational. When the gawking became thumbs up, the questions began, and people stopping me became routine. At first I wasn’t sure how to take it. I was no where close to goal. How could I be inspirational? And how was I inspirational? Policemen, firefighters, people who cure cancer–those people are inspirational. I’m just a guy who needed to lose 300+ pounds.

Then there’s the days I don’t make goal or a week where things aren’t going well. What do you say to someone who says “great job” when you gained 7 pounds because you ate taco bell and pizza this week and missed goal? Monday is the worst. If I don’t make goal, I’m usually in a pretty shitty mood. It’s the worst time for someone to approach me like this. It’s gotten to where Matt has run interference sometimes.

But sometimes those comments come at just the right moment. If you read my Georgette post, I can only tell you that’s one of many moments like that. During my 340s period, a man named Bob approached me. He’d noticed I’d been frustrated lately and wanted me to keep up the good work. What’s amusing is I didn’t know Bob so how he knew I’d been struggling lately is beyond me. Or maybe it’s one of those moments where I don’t want to get back on the treadmill and Steve, who again I don’t know, says some nice words and I feel motivated to get those last steps in to reach 10,000 that day.

That’s when I realized, even when I didn’t need it or deserve it, it was important to say thank you, introduce myself, and get their name. Because it’s not often in this world people go out of their way for anyone or anything. And everyday I someone does that for me when they didn’t have to. It’s also when I knew I needed to return that to others. When there’s somebody who looks like me in the building and I see them, I make sure I introduce myself. I also try to help and talk with those who ask because it’s important.

Because it’s kind of who I am now. After all, I’m the Mayor right?



Back in the spring, I came back from vacation and I’d gained 7 pounds.

(Note: if you’ve noticed a trend, you’re not alone. Vacation equals things don’t get well from Jeff. This usually includes a weight gain–sometimes deserved and other times mind boggling.)

At first I wasn’t worried. I’d had gains like this before. They were usually followed with close to double digit losses. So as usual, I put my head down and worked harder. But by Thursday morning, the scale hadn’t budged one inch. I was still 7 pounds away from where I needed to be. And I’d been doubling my usual efforts.

To say I was frustrated was a major understatement. I was past frustrated. I was at find me a pizza–this week is over.

That is when I met Georgette.

There I was at a true low point when she came over and said the following:

“Hi, you don’t know me. My name is Georgette. I see you in here everyday and how hard you work. And when I think about not coming in, I think about you and it makes me want to come in. You’re doing a great job–keep it up.”

It’s moments like this when I truly believe in the powers of the universe. Here I was at a true low point and out of nowhere this woman decided NOW was the time to approach me and tell me this.

After pondering the recent events of the moment, I walked over to Georgette and told her the truth, How I’d gained 7 pounds, how they weren’t coming off, and how seconds before she walked over I was ready to throw up my hands and give up. And that her words couldn’t have come at a better time.

She gave me a hug.

Four days later the 7 pounds I fretted over were gone.

I still see Georgette. We say hi to one another usually in passing.

It’s easy to say people are mean and don’t care any more. It’s not true. Yes people are more cynical and weary but if you work hard show you’re genuine, they will stand with and behind you.

Because you never know when your moment of kindness can help someone else at a moment when they could use it. Like that moment I met Georgette.

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