If eating like a teenage boy isn't bad enough, I spent a lot of my high school years eating like a much bigger teenage boy than I really was. Why eat one hamburger when you could have two? Why have just a slice of pizza when you can eat the whole damn pie? Some of my habits wouldn't have been life altering if I'd still been playing football or baseball but those I gave up organized sports by the time I was 16. Slowly and without noticing it, I kept getting bigger and bigger. I finally grew into the fat person I had always thought I was.
This February, I realized that I had to do something about my weight. I'd reached a point where I was no good at my job, my weight was interfering with my health and I could see myself dying young because of it. My first action was to initiation portion control cold turkey.
One of the first or second nights of trying to curb my portions was spaghetti night. I'd grown so used to two platefuls of spaghetti, that it hurt just a little bit to walk away after just one. At the time, I had so much weight I wanted to lose that I didn't think it was possible to lose any. It was hard to see how small changes would have any impact at all. After a few weeks, it became apparent that the small changes are sometimes the most important.
I started taking a serious look at the meals I consumed. I started using The Daily Plate at LiveStrong.Com, which provides nutritional information for just about every type of food you can buy in a restaurant or at the grocery store. As it turns out, I was eating a tremendous amount of crap and in quantities that were unnecessary. A typical evening out at a restaurant for me was practically double a normal person's recommended caloric intake. I asked myself if I really needed an appetizer, a full main course and dessert. I decided that it wasn't normal to eat so much that your gut hurt after dinner.
Combined with watching what food I was putting in my mouth, our shift made a new year's resolution to work out together on duty. For the most part, we played basketball with a few junior high kids after school. I always wondered how it looked for people to see firefighters getting their ass handed to them by school kids. (It's bad enough that some people don't think we should work out on duty. I always imagined a complaint letter to the mayor saying, "and they suck at basketball, too.") When we first started playing in January, a half-court game whipped me. Within a couple of months, we were playing full court. Soon after that, I took up running on some of my days off. (It was really more like walking really fast and jogging every now and then.)
I lost 3.4 pounds between February 8 and February 12. Weighing myself every morning I went to work (which is usually every third calendar day), the display on the scale continued to shrink. With only a couple of exceptions, every weigh in was less than the previous one from February 12 until the end of June.
By June 30, I was 60 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight ever -- a mark I'd reached in January.
Once again, I was reminded how absolutely great it feels to be alive. Looking back at the previous five months and 60 pounds, it was easy to see that anything really was possible. I was proof.