“I was facing every single meal as a life and death decision.”
This is Andy, describing losing 100 pounds of weight.
I went in because I was 31 and it was time to go in and get a physical. I hadn’t been into the doctor in a decade because I’d broken my arm in my teens and I’d spent so much time with doctors and so much time working on my health that my twenties, I didn’t care, I’m done with this, finally. No more doctor visits every day, I was just sick of constantly worrying about my health, so I just didn’t. Footloose and fancy-free and enjoyed myself.
He took my blood sugar the first day, but he didn’t give me a diagnosis. I could see that… “We need more tests, we need you back here next week.” They had gotten the total test results from the week before and they were running more tests and he just sat me down and said “Look, you’re diabetic.” I thought “Nah, maybe I’m a little bit diabetic.” That whole “pre-diabetic” condition that a lot of people have. And it was no, I wasn’t just pre-diabetic, I was full-blown and not just a little bit; an A1-C of a healthy person is below 6 and I was 11.8; my average blood sugar was over 400 ml/dl and healthy doesn’t get over 160.
As soon as he told me it just came crashing down on me. I just went home and drank, basically. What else do you do? Just mulling it over, just how diabetic I was, I was not expecting it, because I didn’t see any of the symptoms that I had. It was all pushed out of my mind. I was at a high point in my life quite honestly, I had a new girlfriend, it was great, I was riding high. And that day just knocked it right out from under me. All that confidence that I had just built up, that happiness that I’d just crawled my way back into, had just been chopped just a couple of months after I’d really gotten my shit together.
I thought about wether or not I really wanted to do anything. Do I just continue on and die by the time I’m 40? But no, I couldn’t do that, I knew I had to fight. I had to fight it somehow. Didn’t know how, didn’t know what I was going to do. I called my parents to tell them I was diabetic, which was little difficult. I got my dad, I let him know that I knew what I was going to do, I was starting in a week and a half. I just wanted a week and half of everything, you know, eating candy bars and drinking the beer and enjoying myself and just went on a bender for that week. But he chastised me “Look, you can’t wait a week, you don’t have that much time.” My dad, stern to the end.
He told me something about my grandfather that I did not know. My grandfather, that I grew up next to, had watched his father die from diabetes, slowly and painfully, in the hospital–losing his eyesight, his fingers and his feet. Just never took care of himself and just destroyed himself. So he just watched his father die and he vowed at that he would never be in that situation and a year later, after his father died, he was diagnosed as diabetic. He controlled it his entire life, to the point where, I grew up next to this man and I we spent all sorts of time together, I ate at his house and never knew. Never knew he was diabetic until my dad told me that, at that point. At the time I was very, very scared because I had just been diagnosed with an incurable disease that just as easily kill me. It was as a scary moment in my life.
But I was able to look up to grandfather who’d been dead for years–of course hadn’t talked to him about any of that. I was able to think “This is a man I’ve looked up to all my life and if he can do it, there is no reason–this puttering old man who can barely put together a pair of stairs–if he can do it, I can do it.”
It really didn’t sink until I went back to the doctor the next week to pick up the meter. Just leaving my house at that point was so difficult, because I knew once you pick up that meter, once you are pricking your hand twice a day, it is over, you are diabetic. In my mind once I picked up that meter, that was me admitting it and I didn’t want to admit it. I just… I wasn’t able to make it out of my house without completely breaking down in tears. Total waterworks, it was one of the hardest drives I’ve ever made. It didn’t stop, all the way from my house to the doctor, I was crying uncontrollably. I had to sit there in the parking lot for about 15 minutes and gather myself, because I didn’t want to walk into the office like that. Just took a big breath, gathered myself, walked into the office and picked up the meter. And that was it.
I threw myself into it. Because it was all I could do, I was so depressed over the diagnosis of becoming diabetic, that I was just reeling and I needed something to just sit down and focus on. And it became food. I became intensely focused on food, so I just threw myself into the kitchen and enjoying cooking and enjoying every single meal. I threw my entire budget behind my food budget, I mean, every dime I could scrape up. It didn’t matter how expensive the ingredients were, how lavish the meal was, it just didn’t matter as long as it was the kind of meal I needed to be eating. Didn’t matter how much money I spent; if I’m eating filet four times a week, then fine, I’m eating filet four times a week! It just didn’t matter as long I was eating something that kept my blood sugar crashing and kept the weight going down.
It was weird because it happened very, very quickly. Even thinking about it a couple of years later, the fact that I was able to drop 100 pounds from March to August 1st. March 1st to August 1st is a huge… that’s fast. I had a goal in mind, nebulously, but because I had never been thin my entire adult life I didn’t know what my goal was. People would ask me “How much are you looking to lose?” and I didn’t know! I was being honest. It just melted off just intensely fast, because of the fact that I never, ever strayed from anything. I was facing every single meal as a life and death decision. That serious about it. There was nothing that could sway me, it didn’t matter how tired I was coming home from work, how hungry I was, there was no stopping at that McDonald’s–the only thing open at 11 o’clock at night–when I was rolling home from work. It didn’t matter that I might be cooking until 1am, it just had to be done.
Last week of July I was like “I’ve lost a lot of weight, the doctor is telling me I shouldn’t lose any more weight, my friends are telling me I shouldn’t lose anymore weight, I don’t think I should lose anymore weight.” But even though I wanted to stop, at that point I’d lost 90 pounds, I couldn’t. It wouldn’t stop. No matter what I did. Because I couldn’t change my diet enough to keep from… stop losing weight. So I spent the next month and a half altering my diet and just trying to stop losing weight. But every time I tried to add different things in, my blood sugar would spike back up and that wasn’t going to do. So I’d rather lose weight than have my blood sugar high. So I just kept on losing weight. Until it finally bottomed out when I’d lost a hundred pounds.
August 1st, which was when I’d hit that was Defcon in Vegas. Of course, I’d been at my end weight at that point all of two, three days. I went to the department store to buy clothes for Vegas, my first real new clothes that I’d bought for myself. I had no idea what size I was. I was sitting there looking at a mirror in my hotel room, putting on this tiny little medium shirt that, I can’t even wrap my mind around that this would fit around my arm, let alone my entire body.
There is a lot of little things that you notice; like I the size of my pockets is the biggest thing. I was used to being able to carry more things in my pockets, because my pockets were much bigger. And my clothes don’t have them anymore, they are small pockets! I don’t know how I’m supposed to get all my crap in my pockets anymore…
Losing Something by Jody Stephens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.