It felt like it happened overnight. How could this skinny kid wake up one morning and have ‘expanded’ into the 190s. Of course it didn’t happen that quickly. And took a lot of practice and hard work 😉 eating all that pizza, burgers, tacos, beers, a lot of beer. I am pretty sure I perfected an approach – 🌮 🍕 🍔 🍪 🧁 🍺 🥤 – to gain weight – physical weight to hide behind and protect the emotional weight.
As the days, months and years continued, I began to allow myself to play the victim role. When an event occurred that may have presented a challenge, there was probably another pound or 10 added to help bury what was going on inside. It’s amazing how when people ask how we are, even when we may not being doing or feeling our best, we have a propensity to say ‘I’m doing well, how are you?’. Now we could try to say that this is really just surface greeting in our society, and it’s not appropriate or meant to be answered with depth or truthfully. But especially in the age of social media, where everyone always seems to be doing super well, it’s inconceivable to answer that you may be having a bad day, week or year.
So let’s talk physical weight. It may be surprising, but I believe addressing the physical weight was easier than acknowledging my emotional weight- and for me, that’s where my journey started. As I approached 40, I knew how much I weighed, but didn’t necessarily see, or at least accept, the roundness of my face. And in reality clearly didn’t see what others must have seen. I didn’t acknowledge myself as being overweight. My thoughts were more about the diagnosis of sleep apnea, not wanting surgery, and definitely not wanting the c-pap fighter jet mask to be a part of my nights. It was the ridiculousness of taking anti-acids daily – usually multiple times at night for acid reflux. Those things got my attention, and I knew lifestyle changes were needed, but me overweight?!. Then, and probably not coincidentally, I saw an old picture of myself holding my oldest daughter. It was a nice profile shot. It finally hit me that my midsection was round, really round. I knew, but hadn’t accepted that I wasn’t buying XL shirts for fun. So there I was, a first diagnosis with most likely more to come, and finally a slap in the face from that picture. Skinny Dave had become fat David (I know that word may not always be popular, but I grant myself permission to refer to my late 20s and 30s self that way ❤️).
Well, at almost 40, what was I to do? I knew I was in trouble and couldn’t continue the way I was going. One diagnosis, would most likely bring a second if I didn’t make changes. Would it be high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, all of the above? About 45 days before my 40th birthday, I drew the line in the sand. No more soda and soft drinks. Yes, I still drink the occasional beer – c’mon a guy is allowed to have fun 🍺 🥨 ⚾️ 😎 And honestly I love having fun. This was just me choosing myself, my health, and wanting to be around as long as I can be. So, I committed to getting in 40 workouts in the 45 days before my birthday. And lo and behold, when my birthday arrived, habits were already changing. I was beginning to put my physical self first. I made sure I created time in my daily schedule for a visit to the gym, and was eating better. But I could see that my initial changes in eating habits weren’t enough. Well, maybe it was more being naive than just not being enough. Believe it or not, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, apple, and pretzels may not make the most wholesome meal. Yes, it was better than my supersized fast food meal, but I had most definitely hit a plateau. Eating a bit better and 45 minutes to an hour on the elliptical machine 4 – 6 times a week only took me so far.
With my wife Deb, we researched organics and whole foods. We cut out ‘the whites’ – sugar, salt and flour – and learned about supplementation. We are blessed to have found the nutritional program we have used for over 7 years and will continue to use. Now it was time to take the physical transformation into overdrive! 🚀 I was, and continue to be, on a regimen of 2 superfood shakes a day and a couple of my favorite whole food ingredient meals. I focus on heathy snacking and realize now that not all fruits are my friends when it comes to my body. I choose lower glycemic fruits and conscious carbs. Some of my favorite meals include an incredible salad with grilled chicken. A steak with yummy veggies – would you believe I have grown to love brussel sprouts! And again, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a slice of pizza, a burger, Chinese food and sushi. But I rarely crave ‘bad stuff’ anymore, and these are treats (not cheats!). We also introduced nutritional cellular level cleansing into our lifestyle – this is the number one cleanse, it is not a number 2 cleanse (not 💩). As result, I know I am getting, all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients I need – and also benefit from some amazing Ayurvedic ingredients like ashwaganda and rhodiola! I’ll also admit one of the things we love about the changes were how our kids embraced them – and how easy it was and is. Taking a road trip, shakes and bars for the drive. Traveling for work, shakes, bars and greens in my suitcase. Even our then 2 year old was getting the most amazing breakfast by enjoying our shakes and bars – and all 4 kids do to this day.
While we also learned that our physical fitness is a result of about 80% of what we do in the kitchen, and 20% from the gym, I still had to get serious about the workouts. I liked the elliptical, could catch up on sports or news, but cardio wasn’t going to cut it for me to push myself to where the nutrition would take me. Enter a HIIT and hybrid cross-fit workout. And that was the catalyst. Body fat was leaving and muscle was returning to its place. I maintained this regimen on some level for 5+ years, and age and injury spoke to my ego. Deb, who is an amazing yogi talked me into starting yoga. I had done some yoga in the past, but it supported my other workouts, and wasn’t my focus. But now I have transitioned to just yoga, and maintain a regimen of 4-6 hot yoga sessions per week. And still, now just having turned 52, I am the leanest and in the best shape I have been since my 20s.
To say that the physical transformation was just the beginning is an understatement. In reality, I hadn’t even made it to ‘Go’ on the game board yet. But almost 11 years ago, a journey that still continues was on its way. At 44, I had lost the last 30+ pounds that I will never gain back. I was still pressing along the corporate track, working for promotions and increases. But, was I happy? Had I gotten rid of the victimhood? Was I free? I will address that question in part 2 of this blog post. And speak in more detail to the emotional weight loss.
Let’s connect, I’d love to hear about your life journey, and share more of mine. Sending love, light and laughter! ❤️🙏
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We believe health is your greatest wealth. For Deb and Dave’s favorite nutritional supplements, check out – http://www.debstrauss.isagenix.com