When I stepped on the scales this morning, I weighed 235. I have lost 82 pounds in a little less than six months. I hope to lose 25 more before calling this venture a success.
Please pardon the personal nature of this column, but I tell this story in the hope that it might encourage someone else who is fighting the battle I must fight. Like dealing with alcoholism, it is a battle that can be truly understood only by those who must fight it.
For most of my childhood, I was what I guess people would call pudgy. I wasn't terribly fat, but skinny I have never been. From my late 20s, what had been an irritation gradually became a significant problem.
I have lost hundreds of pounds over the years, but the end result was always the same. Somewhere along the way I would falter and, sooner or later, I'd gain those pounds back and add some more.
I have been blessed in that I haven't experienced many of the problems--Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.--that often come with being overweight. But it was just a matter of time if I didn't do something.
There were plenty of reasons I was so grossly overweight. I love sweets like a little child. Show me a coconut cake and I didn't want a slice, I wanted the whole cake. I didn't want a bowl of my wife's banana pudding. I wanted the whole thing. I didn't want two fried pork chops. I wanted half a dozen. You get the picture.
I knew that had to change or nothing positive was going to happen. But I also knew that alone was not going to be enough. I had to change my mindset, literally change the way I lived my life.
I cut back severely on carbohydrates, but more importantly, I drastically reduced the portions I ate. Other than a couple of days when I faltered, I have abandoned junk food and sweets altogether. If I just have to munch on something, I munch on peanuts. If I just have to have something that tastes sweet, I eat a handful of grapes.
Mike Goodlett, a good friend and the best doctor I know, gave me some good advice from the start. He told me that diet was very important, but if I was going to obsess about something, to obsess about exercise.
Other than a couple of weeks in February--when I was recuperating from minor surgery--I have been at HealthPlus Fitness Center in Auburn or in a hotel fitness center at least five days every week.
The results have been gratifying. My life truly has changed.
It's no fun to look in the mirror and not like what looks back at you. It's no fun to feel self-conscious about your appearance every time you go out in public. And the public often doesn't make it any easier.
Lord willing, I won't have to endure again:
• Being addressed as "Hey, big man," or "Hey, big guy."
• Hearing in a buffet line "You'd better get in front of Phillip or there won't be any left."
• Having to ask for a table at a restaurant because I can't fit into a booth.
• Having to hold my breath to fasten my seat belt on airplanes, and those were the times I could actually fasten it. I could never bring myself to ask for an extension.
• Having to stop and rest after climbing from the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium to the elevator level en route back to the press box.
• Going for a physical and seeing the doctor write "morbid obesity" as the diagnosis.
I have no doubt that, in the next couple of months, I will reach my goal. The key, of course, is staying there once I get there. I'm convinced I can do that as long as I continue to exercise and eat intelligently.
Hanging over my computer in my office is a photograph my wife took of me opening presents on Christmas morning.
It is there to remind me of where I was and that I don't want to go there ever again.