Welcome to Hell – Vol. 1, No. 1

Welcome to Hell – Vol. 1, No. 1

Or: Why Is Every Muscle Cell in My Body Yelling at Me?

Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t recognize me. It’s my face, and those are my hands, my arms, my legs. But they’re connected to something that I don’t see as myself. It’s some demented artist’s representation of myself.

At 45, I’m overweight for the third time in my life. I’m beyond overweight, in fact. I’m fat. While there are many reasons — the fall on the trail, moving to Middle Tennessee, inactivity from the pandemic, contracting Covid-19 — these reasons don’t excuse the shape I’m in. And if I’m going to hike 42 km through the Andes Mountains, as high as 14,000 feet, my biggest obstacle will be this amorphous blob heckling me from the mirror.

If the first step of solving a problem is recognizing you have one, then the very second step must be stating it in a way that is concise, honest, and blunt. I have a problem. I weigh 285 lbs.

At the same time, I lack a support structure that can help me focus on the exercise and nutritional changes I’ll need to maintain focus on losing the weight. Luckily, this is my third time riding this particular rodeo.

The first time I was overweight was near the end of my first marriage. An unholy trinity of severe depression, country cooking, and a failing gallbladder saw me balloon from 210 lbs. just before our wedding to 305 lbs. the day I rolled into surgery. My wife left, I moved back to the city, and I stopped eating dishes like stewed potatoes. At my one-month post op followup, I clocked in at 198 lbs. and the doctor almost had me committed. I was jogging three miles a day, biking another twenty, and eating a salad for lunch.

Me at a slim, 205 lbs. in 2013

At 205 lbs., I’m relatively slim and enjoy an active lifestyle. My daughter took this after we hiked up Stone Mountain in Georgia.

The second bout of obesity came with a desk job as a journalist. Here’s the thing about being in community news: you attend a lot of luncheons and a lot of dinners. Sometimes, two luncheons and a dinner crowd the calendar. Between, you’re sitting at a desk, typing out what just happened at the Greater Ouachita Republican Women meeting, followed by a 12:30 session of the Chamber of Commerce. Being a good, southern boy, it’s rude not to eat. By the end of my time as a newspaper editor, I was a hearty 284 lbs. After chest pains drove me to the emergency room on Christmas Day, 2012, I dove into weight loss using the Livestrong My Plate app to diligently count calories.

Eight months and four stone later, I could again see my feet in the shower.

Here’s the deal about that second weight loss. By simply counting calories, I was losing muscle along with fat. It wasn’t healthy, and it most certainly was not sustainable.

This time, I’m going to need help. Luckily, there is a D1 Training gym just around the corner. Earlier today, I ticked off the first major milestone and signed up for the gym, completing my first “assessment” workout with the trainer. 

There is good news and bad news. 

Planking hurts

The Face of Determination: Am I cursing my trainer or praying for death?

The good: I have the mobility to complete the exercises. We did some basic calisthenics — hopping, squatting, lunging, etc. Then we did some weights and work with straps. More squats, hops, and stretching. The bad: I have no stamina at all. The final portion of the assessment found me sprinting the 15 yards down the field with a sled, then dropping down for a 30-second plank. Until this afternoon, I had never planked. 


I got through the workout. 

Jacob, my coach, suggests in two or three weeks, I’ll have the stamina to finish the workout without feeling like death. That’s when the real work will begin.

D1 TrainingNOTE: If you’re unfamiliar with D1 Training, they’re a franchise system based out of Nashville. Their basic premise is to provide members with the same level of training that’s available to Division 1 collegiate athletes. Also, they’re really good. If you have one in your area, check them out. If not, consider opening a franchise of your own.

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