Archive for the Health Category

The struggle is real…

Posted in Family, Health, News, Personal | 13 Comments

10499578_10152323027690914_3382381482950991756_oAnd don’t let anyone tell you differently when it comes to your personal struggle for losing weight (or anything for that matter). I know (as this recent article shows) I’m doing really very well in my pursuit to lose weight but it wasn’t always this easy; scratch that it’s not this easy in fact. The struggle is real y’all.

I recently had a conversation with someone who has never been overweight their entire life. Unlike me they were genetically blessed with a metabolism that didn’t run at a snails pace (I have a hypo-thyroid if you recall) and while I won’t sit here and say none of my weight issues were my fault I thought what I would do is try and articulate as best I possibly can as to why exactly I got where I was when this journey to lose weight started back in 2012.

I’m going to start with the simple truth that this isn’t my first go around the weight loss merry-go-round. In fact I have tried (semi-successfully) to lose a significant amount of weight on two previous occasions before I was diagnosed with my hypo-thyroid. The first time was back in late 2003 (December) and at the time I had ballooned up to a, for the time, staggering 415 pounds.

throwbackstephI, and my roommate at the time decided to read Dr. Atkins book and go on his diet program. He had previous experience with the diet and for the 8 months we we’re both doing the diet supporting each other I lost around 100 pounds and for the first time in years at that point my weight was about to start with a 2 and not a 3 or a 4.

But as happens with life sometimes in July of 2004 my support system failed me in the form of changing jobs and cities and he and I both back slid horribly and I rather quickly gained all my weight back. As I approached that 400 pound mark again (around mid 2006) I decided I really needed to make an effort and for a short time I had some mild success using the Nutrisystem program, but that too failed because in the end the food was terrible and more importantly I had not implemented the much needed support system around me.

895588_10151392429902424_581355376_o (1)So flash forward to 2012 where my journey started again and for what I know is the last time. You met me here at a debilitating 555 pounds and by this point I had completely just passed over the fact I was so large in my mind. I suffered from several physical aliments but the one non-physical one I’ve really not talked about until now is the one that partly caused me to not notice my sometimes slow but mostly fact paced decent into my own demise. And that particular aliment is depression. Something I didn’t even know I really suffered from (most don’t) for years but once I was diagnosed and medicated I slowly began to see myself, for the first time in my life, as who I actually was in a physical sense. My depression didn’t alter too much of my self worth, or so I thought… truth is it did that every single day and still does some days.

Even today for example when I grab a pair of jeans that are size 40 I look at them and still can’t believe I’ll even be able to get one leg in there let alone both plus my butt, let alone need to use a belt. Some days when I look at myself in the mirror I still see that 555 pound guy who can’t walk 100 feet, that guy who needs 90mg of Morphine just to manage my pain, that guy who has little or actually no self worth, that guy who had all but given up on life. And the truth is that struggle I expect may never go away, but I’m okay with that. Because now I know that even when I feel down I have a support system, and not just the amazing folks at Vanderbilt Surgical Weight Loss,  but the people in the support group there, the support groups elsewhere, my facebook page, my friends, both locally and abroad who constantly remind me how proud they are and my family who every day knows all well the struggle I’ve faced.

So the struggle is real friends, and you need a support system to get through it. And you have one, we all have one; sometimes we need to find it and sometimes it needs to find us, but it’s there. Don’t let haters who don’t understand your pain tell you that you’re not worthy, and don’t let yourself be dulled by the what is a seemingly insurmountable amount of weight to lose because trust me, it isn’t. It isn’t ever too much until it’s too late. In 2012 I was given a year to live by my doctor and between that comment, and my best friend in the world not accepting my excuses to get treatment sparked my journey to where I am today. 

facebooktatrtooSo my struggle was to not even notice my world crumbling down around me, my struggle was to ignore in some cases and honestly just not even see the very fact I was killing myself, and not that slowly either. My struggle was to not put my life in my own hands and chose to live, chose to breathe, chose to lose weight.

Well “life is a choice” and with the help of my friends, my family and sometimes perfect strangers I chose to live it. The struggle may remain, but my will to overcome it is strengthened each and every day. I won’t lie and say it’s easy, nor will I say it’s always hard; my journey is my own, and your journey is your own, but we all share in the struggle. So if you’re reading this and are thinking about a weight loss program that does or does not involve surgery and have a question or want to share your journey with me please comment below or send me a message on my facebook page.

Don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you it’s not possible, don’t let anyone discourage you form sharing your journey, your success or your struggle. Relish in the victories and learn from the defeats.

~rev (275 pounds)

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GoFundMe Campaign for Skin Removal…

Posted in Health, News, Personal, vlog | No Comments

So my insurance has denied my claim of about $8500 to have some extra skin removed and as this is the first of 3 surgeries it is obvious they will deny the other 2 as well which in the end will all cost around $25,000 (USD) Watch the video below and check out my campaign. Anything helps.

Thanks Internet!

~rev (280 Pounds)

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Posted in Health, Personal, Weigh-In | 5 Comments

As I approach the 300 pound mark for the first time in I can’t even remember, and I am getting closer by the day, I wanted to stop and take a moment to talk about some of the personal trials I’ve endured over this journey because I don’t want it to seem like things are always perfect. So sit back and bare with me as I ramble on for a moment or ten.

Starting all the way back in April of 2013 (and FYI this will like be a Pulp Fiction timeline) having just had my surgery and still taking Morphine Sulphate at the rate of 90mg per day it should be needless to say, but pain management is not an easy thing for me. You all know by know my ability to walk more than 100 feet prior to starting this journey was non-existent but what you may not know is entirely why. It’s true the obvious nature of my size made it difficult to walk, but my lower back problems which I’ve had most all of my life, my two bad knees and over all poor health had in general put me past Tylenol and Advil..beyond the reach of Hydrocodone and even OxyContin and was soon going to go beyond the ability for Morphone Sulphate to ease my pain which by the way leaves pretty much only diacetylmorphine out there as an option, which for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a very science-y way of saying Heroin.

And while it is true I’m saying this in part for the dramatic effect I’m also saying it because to be honest that’s pretty much where I was headed. and not due to addiction to pain killers. I was still in pain much of my day even on that much morphine. So much pain in fact when I took a shower I had to then sit for nearly an hour just to recuperate form the pain that even eating morphine pills like skittles didn’t seem to keep enough at bay.

This brings me back to April 2013 and my issues with pain management meant that I was put on a hydromorphine drip post surgery, you may know it by it’s more formal name “Dilaudid” and even that wasn’t entirely enough to ease my pain to the point it didn’t hurt, which I was fine with as I’d accepted I’d always be in some amount of pain my entire life. What I was not however ready for was what happened after and this is the point. Once discharged from the hospital I was obviously no longer on my IV Drip meaning that what little Dilaudid I still had in my system was wearing itself off, And when that happened, and I mean the second that happened I went form mild discomfort to earth shattering pain like I’d never felt in my life. I rarely cry due to pain, and it’s not because I’m macho, it’s simply because that for the most part when you’ve lived with pain like I have you’re whole adult life it tends to not hurt that deeply. This however was not my normal pain, and no amount of tolerance to pain prepared me for what happened. It felt literally like my insides were being pulled apart and I swore something had ruptured. In the end nothing was torn, no stiches undone, it was all completely just my problems with pain management finally catching up to me as I was readmitted to the hospital to basically suffer for an entire day with the bare minimum amount of pain killers they would offer as I’m sure they assumed I was an addict or something. And while it’s now been approximately 8 months since I’ve taken any pain medication (and even then I was all the way back down to Hydrocodone) I will never take for granted what little amount of relief I do get form the medication I take when I need it, ever, ever again.

Moving from Surgery pain (which BTW is not the norm) to something we can all relate to whether you’ve had surgery to help you lose weight or you’re doing the diet and exercise methods…I would like to take a second and remind you that even as good as I’ve done and as much weight as I’ve lost since October 2012 when my journey began the weight loss plateau is a struggle that I’ve had to overcome a few times and am at the time of writing this in the last states of one. I’m not here to offer advice on how to get past one because honestly I‘m still figuring that out. But I am here to say that it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia and sometimes I need to make sure I remind the reader that my journey is just as trying at times as is yours because I don’t want to be the person who talks about the good. And with the weight loss plateau comes the pretzels and yes that wasn’t a typo. I can eat them but I now know I should likely never buy another bag of them again as long as I live because for the first time since surgery I found a food that I’ve struggled stopping eating to the point I felt sick because of it. Granted for me that’s a lot less in volume now than it used to be because for me to feel sick it only takes me eating about two cups of pretzels in a short period of time to accomplish that, but it can and has happened and if I buy another bag will happen again.

I talk about it because I don’t just want you to know I also want to remind myself that as good as I’m doing I’m NOT superhuman in the effort to lose weight and if I am not careful and I fail to identify these issues I can and will end up back to where I was before starting this journey or worse. And by worse I mean dead, because as morbid as it sounds that is the only direction I was headed in and in all likelihood could very well be dead now instead of writing this article reflecting on my journey thus far and contemplating what the next step in that journey is.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that no matter how motivated I get keeping up with my gym time is hard at best. I work out three days a week for the most part but more often that I care to admit I fail to do so because I still fall prey to the predator that is my inner excuse machine. And while it does seem to get a little easier to go to the gym it’s still very very easy not to go at all and to find a reason why that is just okay and that I shouldn’t feel bad about not going, but I do, deep down I know better and I know I need to push myself more to do better.

1601250_10152850867452366_473942457_nSo all in all while I know in my heart my journey has gone better than most in a lot of cases I admit I still sometimes feel defeated, I sometimes look in the mirror and see this guy –> no matter how much weight I’ve lost and while I joke sometimes about the fact I still can’t look at a pair of pants, that according to the size inscribed on its tag I know in my head will fit me perfectly or even loosely, without my heart telling me there is no way in hell you’re getting your giant fat ass in those. and Even though I do honestly have as I put it to a friend earlier charisma oozing out my pores I must admit to myself, and please don’t mistake this for a self-deprecating pity party because I promise it honestly is not. I’m simply not used to being what other people may find as attractive, I’m not used to being someone who is as I put it to another friend just today the “sought after” type and before I start sounding brag-y about how hawt I think I am, I honestly don’t. I still don’t if I’m being entirely open. And the notion that anyone finds me physical attractive is for lack of a better word, odd to me.

I don’t say any of this do be self doubting/loathing, because I have self confidence to spare and I am comfortable in my own skin…all of it, even the extra baggy bits, I’m honestly just saying it as a matter of fact. It’s just how I feel, wrong, right or indifferent it is what it is, and I don’t let it stop me from being social or active now either which is why I say I don’t say any of that in a negative connotation, or at least not purposefully so.

Lastly I wanted to share something that both made me giggle but admittedly is a nice stroke to my ego, and that is with regard to recent conversations I’ve had with friends about a topic I don’t feel like going into here, but the over all consensus from my friends is that I’m too nice…am I really too nice? I mean really? I only mention this because for those who know me personally and those who have been able to glean this particular trait about me through these posts know that I basically don’t put stock into what people think about me, but having people call me nice kinda touched my hearts (both of them).

And with that I choose to end this on a positive note and remind you that I’m training for my first 5k and that I have lost now a total of 253 pounds and hopefully my next message on this site will be about how my scale dropped below the 300 pound mark, or and one last thing….I’m getting a new tattoo very soon and I don’t want to talk about it just yet, but will post pictures and talk about it’s meaning once I’ve had it done, so be on the look out for that.

~rev (302 pounds)

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Support for NEDA Walk in Nashville, TN (March 22)

Posted in Health, News, Personal | 3 Comments

Hey All,

I’m competing in a 5K in Nashville on Saturday March 22 to support the Local Chapter of the National Eating Disorders Association. So I’d like to ask for your help. I’ve named my team “I NEDA Break” and If you are close to Nashville or want to join my team please do, but if you can’t make the event you can still help by making a contribution to my personal page or my team’s page. As most, if not all of you know I’ve been on a mission to finding my lean and do so as healthily as possible. So far I’ve dropped 247 pounds over the last 17 months and am still moving forward, and now that I’m able to do these types of events I will be doing as many as I can find time for. As someone who has personally struggled with food  my whole life this particular cause is for obvious reason close to my heart and if you are not able to attend or help I completely understand and ask simply that you share this with as many people as you can.

As many as 24 million Americans struggle with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and EDNOS – eating disorder not other specified). In spite of the unprecedented growth in the past two decades, eating disorders research continues to be under-funded, insurance coverage for treatment is inadequate, and societal pressures to be thin remain rampant.  So I’m writing to ask you to support the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in a NEDA Walk in our community. I hope that you will join me and other walkers to raise awareness about eating disorders and funding for NEDA, the leading organization in the United States working to fight eating disorders promote early intervention and treatment.

Your participation and support goes a long way!

· $30 pays for 30 minutes on the NEDA Helpline.

· $50 provides NEDA Toolkits on CD-ROM to 33 parents, teachers , coaches and volunteers.

· $100 assists 23 people who call the NEDA Helpline to seek recovery for themselves or a loved one.

· $250 pays for one day of our Proud2Bme.org teen website, including hosting the site, graphic and content updates and managing volunteer moderators of the forums. (We need 365 contributors at this level to host the website for an entire year.)

· $500 provides resources to students and community volunteers during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

· $1,000 allows us to add a new computer, and phone line for a Helpline Volunteer

http://neda.nationaleatingdisorders.org/goto/stephenrea

 

I do have a real post to write soon about my recent weight plateau so look for that soon, but for now I really hope you can support me in Nashville or better yet join my team and do the 5K with me!

 

~rev (307 pounds)

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Happy New Year….

Posted in Health, News, Personal, vlog, Weigh-In | 2 Comments

I talk about my weight loss over Christmas, my New Year’s Resolutions, and more. Sorry about the rambled tangent.

~rev (311 pounds)

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230 lbs 40 inches and some personal reflection…

Posted in Health, News, Personal, Weigh-In | 2 Comments

Yes I said 40. So I’m down to a size 48 and at the rate I’m moving again after a small plateau I’m very likely to see 44 or even 42 by the end of January but I don’t want to get ahead of myself I do however want to push a small update about the last couple weeks as I likely wont post here again until after the new year. So here goes…

1461409_10151956768540914_947493076_nI’m down to 220 pounds so while I’ve only lost a couple pounds since my December 3rd update I’ve lost as many inches from my waist, actually more perhaps. I’m down an astonishing 36 inches  since this journey began…and even this morning as I put on my now size 48 pants I held them in front of me and simply could not believe I’d get then on let alone button and zip them up..but the truth is I’m a loose 48 and can put on a size 46 though they are too tight to wear at the moment. And I just can’t believe it. I bought these jeans at a thrift store as I’ve either been buying them at goodwill or thrift shops for a while now because I can’t wear them for too long. (6 weeks is the longest so far) and I have 3 pair of size 54’s to either take to goodwill or at some point when I’m near Nashville again I can drop them off at Vanderbilt @ 100 Oaks for the clothing drive for other pre or post surgery candidates who might need them.

I mentioned already I’m working out 3 days a week, well I’ve recently started adding some Yoga to the mix though I’d hardly call what I’m doing yoga I have been doing the plank challenge and so far I’m up to about 30 seconds. Each day I honestly feel better than the last and my heart rate when doing cardio is staying around 145bpm which for me is pretty fantastic. But my journey isn’t over, it’s only just getting started.

So shifting focus from health and weigh-ins to something more personal. I’ve been quite social again over the last few months (increasingly so as time goes on) but I recently started dating..and while I’m not really in a point in my life for anything serious it has been quite nice to just go out, be social and be…well me again I guess. I’ve also launched a podcast network and we shot our first podcast last weekend (the episode is live so go check it out) though I must warn you it’s not entirely safe for work as my co-host and I dropped one or two f-bombs. The podcast we started is around geek culture and I’m working to launch a political podcast as well to pick up where one of my old blogs left off years ago as well as many others. I’m really working to build an entire network of podcasts, some of which will hopefully last. and while it took much longer than I wanted it to thatstupidpodcast.com is finally launched and under way.

On a more personal note and I’ve really not been very personal lately I wanted to just ramble on about a few things so bare with me… I recently turned 36 (or as many of my girl type friends might call it 29) and for the first time in about 8 years or so I feel blessed. Coming from someone who suffers form depression my weight has always been somewhere in my thoughts, either up front and obvious or hidden pushed away and repressed, but always there. For the (honestly) first time in my entire life that I can remember my weight is in the front of my mind but not in a negative connotation, No instead I’m feeling liberated and confident about who I am and how I look. Am I still over 300 pounds? Sure but it doesn’t bother me anymore because I know it’s moving in the right direction and I feel great and I don’t even care about the actual number. While I’m using it as a way to pave milestones in my journey, and I’ve said this in the past, the end game if you will…that “final magical weight” loss number is completely irrelevant to me. I’m already happy and I’m already in a good place and sure I know I’ll need surgery again, this time to get rid of all the extra fleshy fun bits hanging under my arms legs and stomach it doesn’t matter because those are good problems to have (my 48 is more likely a 44 already if you removed the sagging skin).

I’ve also pretty much decided to just go with the flow for a while. I’m just excited to see where life takes me on this roller coaster of a journey and as I turn the page I welcome the next chapters of my life with an open mind and enthusiastic optimism. That said my life does have very little room for what the kids simply refer to as “drama” have added that to my very small list of things I will not spend any of my short precious time on this earth tolerating. And when I say my list is small I mean it…

The things I will not tolerate are:

  • infidelity
  • that thing the kids call “drama”
  • domestic violence
  • bigotry of any sort

And before you smirk, yes I’m well aware not tolerating bigotry is itself a paradoxical irony that cannot be undone, but it is what it is. And in the end I am who I am after all. This reminds me of a friend’s recent facebook status which simply asked a question about flaws in how they relate to how you relate and that really got me thinking. And as I sat for a moment trying to work up my usually off the cuff quip I discovered something about myself or rediscovered something I should say. I remembered for the first time in quite a few years I simply have no flaws….and that’s not to say I’m flawless (far from it) but this one innocent facebook status reminded me of an old blog serious I wrote (on greymatter if that tells you how long ago this was) titled “Back to the Basics.” It was a short mini blog series I wrote about on along defunct blog where I talked about my simple philosophies for life and while people to change over time, myself included, these simple philosophes have not. Below is that facebook status…

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Maybe someday I’ll rewrite those “Back to the Basics” blog entries that deal with my views on everything from regret to soul mates to basic human equality, but for now I really must bid this already rather lengthy entry adieu.

rev (320 pounds)

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The tale of turkey and weight loss

Posted in Cooking, Health, Personal, Weigh-In | 1 Comment

It’s been a while since I posted an update because I’ve been a bit busy and while I meant to do a video for this post if I didn’t write something today it would be another week before I posted so I wanted to share some updates with you all.

So I seem to have misplaced some weight, 5 pounds to be exact. I had it before Thanksgiving Weekend, but now it’s gone…So not only did I manage to enjoy my Thanksgiving Weekend with family but I also managed to lose weight doing it. I even had a bite (and I mean one bite) of apple pie on Thursday and one bit of Pumpkin Pie on Friday.

So where does that leave us? Well it means that soon I’ll drop below 300 pounds (maybe even before my next checkup) and it means my waist has dropped another couple inches or so and my 54” jeans are now baggy and falling off me as I’ve dipped down well into the upper 40s.

It also means I’ve started working out about 3 days a week.image Monday/Wednesday/Friday I get up at 4:45am and get ready for the gym. I do 10 minutes on the elliptical followed by a “30 Minute Express Circuit Workout” which is basically 60 seconds of cardio (stepping stations) every other minute with a weight machine sandwiched in the middle. I work pretty much every muscle group this way (seated row, leg press, leg curl, ab curl, biceps curl, leg extension, chest press, shoulder press, lat pull down, and triceps extension). Once done I do a “cool down” 5-10 minute elliptical session and then I’m out. For the more serious workout types this will seem rather tame, but for someone who couldn’t walk a year ago or so this is pretty damn good.

1467291_10151935122370914_2038150135_nWhich brings me to my missing 5 pounds and my holiday weekend. Last week while working out I was chatting up a friend and he said, “oh man I feel bad for you this year for Thanksgiving.” When I asked why he talked about the how much he loved eating until his pants button popped off, etc. I told him it didn’t bother me because I’ve had 30+ years of doing that which is how I ended up in the predicament I’m in now, but the truth is..I wasn’t honestly sure how’d I feel about the food aspect of the holiday and as I drove the 5ish hours to my sister’s house Thanksgiving morning this thought stuck with me most of the way there.

1424280_10151935127395914_801547576_nI ate two (what would be considered) thanksgiving meals at my sisters house. Once on the day of and again a whole new dinner on Friday. And I sampled pretty much every dish. I ate turkey of course, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce (not the can shaped crap) sweet potatoes, quiche, apple and pumpkin pie, and the list continues. And I enjoyed every single solitary bite. The food was amazing even if the entirety of my two days of eating was still less than an average person’s dinner off holiday I came out of my experience not feeling left out, not feeling like I’d been deprived of some ritualistic eating right of passage, and in the end smaller…5 pounds smaller in fact.

I made gingerbread cookies1474431_10151935098565914_470925001_n (didn’t eat any) with my niece and nephew. I chased around the house and generally had a great time. I met some of my sister and brother-in-law’s friends and enjoyed their company, especially when Keoko (I’m likely spelling that wrong) read my tattoo from across the room perfectly (validating I managed to pick the right characters) and talking to her husband Chuck and on and on….so no, this Thanksgiving was not ruled by food or my addiction to it, it was ruled by joy companionship and family. Do I feel I missed out this year? No, not even in the slightest.

~rev (322 pounds)

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