My name is Mark. I'm 5'10 and I weighed 210 lbs when I decided to become healthy. That probably doesn't sound too heavy to some of you, but according to the BMI charts, I was just into 'Obese' territory. I became a bit obsessed with the BMI, as you'll see.
Before the epiphany, I was a daily drunk. I'd have 3-6 cans of beer or several rum and cokes *every* night - more on weekends. I wasn't a sweets eater, and never have been. My weaknesses were corn chips, french fries, hamburgers, and mexican food. That and the alcohol. I was a perfectly functional drunk.
Then along came Grace, who changed everything. We adopted a little girl - took her home from the hospital at birth. For me, nothing changed. I still drank like a fish, and ate whatever... It took three months until the hammer blow came. I still don't know why it happened when it did...
When Grace was three months old, I was feeding her the pre-bedtime bottle - and drunk as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. She was sucking away and staring up at me with her beautiful innocent blue eyes, and suddenly I had this moment of total clarity that I've *never* experienced before or since. I had this sudden realization that I had to get my s**t together - stop being so self-indulgent and mentally and emotionally negligent - for her sake. That moment of clarity changed my life. I have no idea why it took three months of being a parent for the full responsibility of it to finally click. Sadly, for some parents (and their children) it never does... It was the day after Halloween, in 2003.
I stopped drinking. I had a complete physical. Not surprisingly, my new doctor (why bother to have a doctor if you don't care about yourself, right?) told me it would be wise to lose some weight. So I took that to heart. For the first time ever, I decided to take control of my well-being.
I'd read Atkin's 'New Diet Revolution' in the mid 90's, and had gone on and off the LC 'diet' a number of times - the consistent failure being that I wouldn't stay away from booze. As one would expect, each time the weight came back with a vengeance, plus several pounds extra.
But this time I was at a turning point, and the reason was an innocent and totally dependent child relying on me. I had decided that my life had to change in fundamental ways. I started LC fully intending to make it a lifetime habit (since changed, but you'll see why).
I haven't mentioned my wife, and her family, who live nearby. They were less than supportive. They are also all obese, and don't seem to be concerned about their health and the future. So I was alone in a family of people scoffing at me, and telling me that it was OK to drink again
I searched the internet. Mostly I was looking for recipes, because I was never very fond of the menu in Atkin's book. Eventually I stumbled across this website, and life changed once again for the better. Here I found the support from like-minded people that was lacking at home. Better yet, I found information on nutrition and exercise - health tools that everyone should have, but they don't.
Lo and behold, my head came out of a haze, and my body started shedding pounds! It was wonderful! For the first time I was controlling (no, I was dominating) my body. I dropped down to 170 lbs. That's just inside the BMI chart zone for 'normal'. But that wasn't good enough. Not enough wiggle room to keep from going back up to 'overweight'. Oh no... I wanted to be in the *middle* of the 'healthy' zone. That took me down to 156 lbs. And I did it. I was obsessed with BMI...
Six months into my little LC adventure, I ran into a neighbor whom I hadn't seen in a while. He had this look of deep concern on his face and asked if I was OK. I said "Yes, I've never felt better." He said that I looked a little thin and asked if I'd been sick. He was clearly worried by how I looked. So I had yet another epiphany - this time leading me in another direction.
I realized then that I'd gone way too far with LC - that in fact my wife and in-laws, obese though they were (and are), were right that I was 'too thin'. (Amazingly, even at this gaunt stage - ribs clearly showing - I still had small love handles! Stubborn little things...) I decided that it was necessary to *gain* some weight back. But I also realized that it would be stupid and meaningless to start eathing poorly again and put fat back on.
That's when I decided to start lifting weights. I was down to skin, bone and muscle - and there wasn't much of the latter, hahaha. So I did some more reading, for the first time delving into the exercise forum here. I learned about how to eat to build muscle while minimizing adding bodyfat. That knowledge is why I am no longer exclusively LC. I also learned how to perform exercises correctly and safely, and found the encouragement to keep going. Lifting at home can be a painful and lonely experience - especially when there's no support for it. I am sensitive to, and encouraging of, the handful of others here in the same situation.
So in March 2004 I bought a set of adjustable dumbells and started working out. By April I had to buy more plates. I wondered if this would be a passing phase, and wasn't sure whether to invest in more equipment - I've had a radio-controlled airplane half assembled for several years... In June I threw caution to the wind and bought a bench press rack, olympic bar, and 200 lbs of plates. I've never looked back. I've become a bodybuilder, although not in a competitive sense. It's a personal challenge that I seem to need in order to avoid some of the pitfalls of life...
So far, I've gained back about 25 pounds, most of it muscle. I still think about the BMI scale from time to time. I'd kinda like to someday get back up to the 'obese' range - only this time at about 8% body fat
I don't think that will happen though - I seem to have the genetics of a marathon runner rather than a linebacker.
Every night after Grace has gone to bed, I go lift. The wife has adjusted to the idea that I'm not going to be with her in the late evening. Most importantly, I'm always there for my little girl - emotionally, mentally, and physically. I'm *never* drunk, or too tired, or too distracted for her.
And you want to know something? Even with all the swings and wrong paths, it's been a really empowering and enjoyable journey so far. And *that* more than anything else is where I see success.