When I started this journey back to being fit last year I wore pants with a 36 inch waist. Ok, technically, I should have been wearing 38 inch, but I was stubborn and wouldn’t admit I was that far gone.
36 inch pants were tight on me and I’d spill out over the edges. Muffin top. And when I’d try to tie my shoes, I thought my head would explode like a giant red zit. 38 inch pants I could breathe and wasn’t so prone to the vapours.
I had reached 230 pounds (maybe even more when my thyroid died in 1999 and I bloated up like the Michelin Man. If I find the one photo of me then, maybe I’ll post it). 230 pounds! That was 100 pounds over my weight when I joined the Navy.
Yes, I weighed 130 pounds when I was 19. I had a 28 inch waist. 28! On a frame that was.almost 5 foot 11 inches. I was rail thin. Not an ounce of fat (but not much muscle either).
As an example, my youngest son used to wear my Navy Petty Officer dungaree shirts to school when he was 12. He outgrew them by the time he was 14. And he isn’t a big kid! This prompted my mother-in-law to snidely ask my wife, “Are you sure he was in the Navy and not some junior service for kids?”
Yes. The United States Navy as an adult.
Navy food and boot camp put a little weight on me, but even when I got out at 25, my waist was still only 30 inches.
By the time I got out, I had taken up running and other exercises.I was a regular reader of all the running magazines, and there were a ton in the 80s. I also read Muscle and Fitness, and was a huge fan of Joe Weider, the man responsible for the surge in popularity of body building and making household names of Lou Ferrigno, Arnold Schwartzenegger, and others.
But my body isn’t designed for muscle, not massive muscle like body builders get, so I had to resign myself to just having a runner’s body. Which was fine.
But then, as I’ve explained ad nauseum, I developed shin splits. I thought I could just run through them. Every run was excruciating until about 10 or 15 minutes in and the throbbing would subside and I could enjoy the rest of my daily 12 mile run.
But it kept getting worse, to the point where I could barely walk up stairs the pain and weakness was so bad. So I stopped running.
I tried biking but it seemed a poor substitute. I couldn’t reach the physical exhilaration I felt running. Nor did I ever approach the same level of aerobic benefit. Biking just didn’t seem to keep me fit enough.
And then my thyroid went wonky. I didn’t know what it was. My doctor didn’t know what it was. I was tired all the time. I mean physically exhausted and wanting to sleep all the time. I was cold all the time, even when it was hot out. I started to gain weight. I developed carpet tunnel. I was irritable and short-tempered. The hair fell off of my legs. This prompted my wife to say, I bet it’s your thyroid.” And I’d say, “How do you know that?” “Because Bucky lost the hair on his legs when he had thyroid problems.” Bucky was our pet ferret, who did indeed lose the hair on his legs when he developed thyroid problems and had to be put down. “I’m not a ferret.” (How ironic is that?)
The scariest part was when my legs swelled up and you could push on them and it would leave an imprint, like pushing your fingers into putty. I started to panic that there was something seriously, possibly fatally, wrong with me.
Well, it took my doctor a long time to diagnose my problem. He sent me to nerve specialists for my carpal tunnel. But finally he figured it out and apologized because a thyroid condition should have been the first thing he checked for.
But today, I’m losing weight, I’m getting fit. I’m down 20 pounds and I’m wearing pants that have a 34 inch waist. I’m still not where I want to be by a long shot (maybe returning to a 28 inch waist isn’t a realistic goal at my age), but I’m getting better.
I put on a pair of jeans shorts the other day that I wear all the time and couldn’t figure out why they were so baggy at the waist. Turns out they were 38 inch. It made me happy because honestly, the mirror doesn’t seem to reflect it.
Or my visual expectations are just set too high.
So now I can has cheezeburger?