A Basket Case Study

"I can put you on more meds -- or you can stop being a fat shit and get your act together." The 'aha' moment that led me to a healthier lifestyle and better quality of life.


There's nothing exceptional about my story.  I'm sure it's happened a million times over.  The moment that someone realizes, and it actually sinks in, that the way they are living is not only harmful to themselves, but to their family, their friends, their pets and everyone they come into contact with ... and something's got to give.

My goal here is not to write some preachy, self-congratulatory post about how I turned my life around - because I'm a work in progress, and I think we're all works in progress.  My goal is that, in sharing a bit of my story, maybe it'll ring a bell or two and get you thinking about your path and whether or not there is anything you should be doing to take some corrective measures in your life.  We are all changing.  The question is are we progressing in the right direction and feeling better ... or are we headed in the opposite direction.

By way of background, I'm a married 57 year old with two adult kids (I guess we'll always call our kids 'kids').  I've had what most would consider a successful career as an entrepreneur, business owner and media personality.   Along with my career came the pressures of just trying to figure it out -- building a business, earning a living, being married, raising a family, deaths in the family -- all the usual suspects.  As a family we've had many successes for which I am very grateful and we've also had many trials and heartaches.  However, I don't consider any of this unique -- because we all have stuff.  We ALL have BIG, GIANT, TERRIBLE stuff ... but it took a toll over the years and I was an unhealthy mess.

At 6' tall, the recommended weight for my body type and frame is around 170 lbs.  At my worst, I weighed in at 216 lbs, was pre-hypertensive, on cholesterol meds, suffering from panic attacks, paranoid, depressed, inattentive and generally just a complete basket case.  I could go on but no one has the time or energy to hear about all the things that were either wrong with me or that I thought were wrong with me.  And for all the reasons and excuses, real or imagined, I simply wasn't doing anything about it.  I wasn't taking care of my health.  It wasn't a priority.  I knew I was heavy and completely uncomfortable in my clothes.  I've always been afraid of being unhealthy or something terrible happening to me, but everything else was more pressing and more important ... until that life-changing doctor visit.

For whatever reason, this time was different.  Believe me -- I had seen plenty of doctors before.  I started seeing a cardiologist when I was 28 years old because I was having panic attacks and was sure I was either having or about to have a heart attack.  And when that doctor told me that there was nothing wrong with my heart and that my symptoms were most likely caused by stress, I didn't believe it and went to another doctor, and another doctor and another.   So it's not that I wasn't being proactive about my health and seeing doctors, I was.  They just weren't telling me what I believed to be true, that there was really something wrong with me and my health, beyond stress.  Since I didn't understand stress, and because I thought i was smarter than all the doctors, for decades I just kept on doing the same things -- gaining weight, feeling shitty and living in some sort of denial.  Until ...

I remember getting on the scale at the doctor's office and watching the nurse slide that weight on the bar until it settled at 216 lbs.  I thought it had to be wrong so I did everything I could to get the number down which included taking off my shoes, taking my wallet out of my pants, taking off my watch, cap, etc.  I weighed again and it went all the way down to 215.  Then we went into the office where she took my blood pressure.  It clocked in at about 150 over 95. I told her it must be wrong and asked her to take it again.  She did -- same result.  I then described to her that I must have what's called 'white coat syndrome,' which is when your blood pressure rises because you're nervous about seeing the doctor.  She said "take off your shirt and the doctor will be in shortly," which made me even more uncomfortable.  So the doctor comes in and we exchange pleasantries and he takes my blood pressure.  Guess what - - still high.  I then get on the table and he does an EKG which turns out to be fine as they always had been in the past.  He then listens to my heart, checks my pulse, etc.  We start discussing my overall health as he's looking over my chart from the last few years and he says "well, your blood pressure has continued to rise so we need to put you on a blood pressure medication."  I vividly remember the sinking feeling.  I was already on a cholesterol med and it sounded absolutely insane that I would have to take another med -- so I told him I didn't want to go on another med.  He said "well, we've sort of run out of bullets.  You have two choices - either I can put you on more meds, or you can stop being a fat shit and get your act together."  Now I'm not sure those were his exact words but that's what I heard and that's when everything changed for me.  I told him that I was actually going to make some changes this time and if in three months my blood pressure was still so high, I'd start taking the meds.

As I drove away from the doctor's office, I called my wife and told her I'm changing my eating habits -- for real this time, and asked for her help.  Now remember, she is a vegan, marathon running private fitness trainer who had been very patient and tolerant with my poor eating and fitness habits over the years.  She was always supportive every time I said I was going to get my shit together and never pushy, because you know, giving advice to or taking advice from your spouse is tricky.  But I think even she recognized that this time was different.  And it was.

That day changed my life.  I was very fortunate to have a doctor that would tell it to me straight, a live-in resource to help put me on a path to healthier living and perhaps most important, be at the right place in my life where I was actually ready to make a change.  I'm very lucky I decided to make that change to my health before something really tragic happened.  On that day I changed what and how much I ate and drank..  I changed my exercise regimen -- I remembered that I loved playing tennis and started playing regularly again.  We got a dog (who calmed me down) that I started walking everyday -- and guess what, I started dropping pounds ... and feeling better ... and feeling positive for the first time in a long time. 

Fast forward to now, approximately five years from that life changing doctor's appointment.  I weigh 178 lbs., my cholesterol levels and blood pressure are in a very healthy range and, in fact, at my last checkup the doctor said they are the best they've ever been.  I feel good, I look pretty good and I can't tell you enough how getting my health together has changed my outlook and perspective on everything.  Don't get me wrong, I still have much work to do.  I'm still a bit of a germaphobe, have some level of OCD, could probably drop another 10 lbs and continue to eat even better, but I've taken control of my health to the extent we can ever be in control.  I think the people who know me would tell you that I'm a different person today and I think they're right.  

Some of what you see on BFD reflects my personal journey because seriously, if I can do it -- you can too..  But I needed help and guidance and you probably do too.  I'm very lucky to have professional resources at my disposal and our intent is to give you access to those resources.  Like I said, we're all on a path, the question is, in which direction are we heading?