Just before this past Christmas, I was hardly the poster child for healthy living.
In fact, hardly a day in the 47 years I’ve been on this planet (minus my childhood, I suppose) would I believe I had a positive plan when it came to taking care of myself.
But in mid-December, the light bulb flipped on — and completely by accident.
Fast forward to last Monday, five months and four days from when my journey officially began, and I can proudly say I’ve now shed 100 pounds from a frame that should never have held as much weight as it did.
It’s been an up-and-down struggle all my life, but since finding the people at Weighless MD here in Kenosha, listening to everything they told me to do, learning a whole bunch and applying that new knowledge, I can safely say this train is finally on the right track.
I’ve thought a lot about this journey since some of my colleagues and our Executive Editor Bob Heisse here at the paper suggested I pen a column about my story.
Why did I ever get that heavy? Why didn’t I do something sooner? Why was my weight loss such a yo-yo affair for all these years were just a few questions I asked myself.
But then I stopped myself. Looking backward does nothing positive. I can’t change the past, I can only control the present with the hope that the future is better.
And that’s where I am today. Maybe, just maybe, with a healthier future ahead of me.
From a fall to a life-changing move
OK, maybe I will look backward, just once, to that moment when everything changed.
Back in December, I took a nasty spill on some hidden ice while walking and ended up with two fractured wrists for my troubles. As a sports journalist who writes for a living, it’s pretty difficult to navigate the keystrokes with two bum wrists.
And it was darn painful to boot.
So the next day, I took myself to a walk-in clinic, and long story short, the first thing they do is put you on a scale (why my weight had anything to do with broken wrists, I’ll never understand). And when I looked down and saw the number, I was shocked, terrified, mortified and truthfully, down right scared about what my future held.
And at that very moment, I knew I had to bring in the big guns, professionals to help me get this right. Three weeks later, after much hemming and hawing before I finally realized just what had to happen, I stumbled onto a Facebook advertisement for Weighless MD.
Speaking to the staff there, meeting dietitian Elizabeth Kletti, nurse Amanda Picord and owner Cheri Stoka, quickly let me know I was in capable hands.
And so the big plunge to a healthier lifestyle finally happened. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for how these people and the rest of the staff there have changed my life.
Between a drastic change in diet that trimmed my caloric intake to about 800 a day and daily injections of hcg (medically known as human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone), things started to happen.
The first week, there was a 13-pound weight loss, but mostly water weight. The second week was just three, and I wondered if it would ever happen for me. But then as the weeks went on, the numbers continued to be crooked (to borrow a sports term) … five pounds a week was about the lowest, and at one point, I had a 9-pound loss in a nine-day span.
Maybe even more impressive is, through this last weigh in, I’ve only lost eight pounds of muscle and 87 pounds of body fat. That number blows me away. The rest of my loss to get to the 100 pounds can be attributed to water.
And it wasn’t just changes nutritionally that made the biggest impact. It was Amanda and Elizabeth’s understanding, their knowledge, their compassion for someone like me who clearly was in a bad, bad place. I threw myself at them and vowed to follow their instructions to the letter.
And more than five months later, I still haven’t strayed — not even once. That’s a fact I’m extremely proud to state. I’m in this thing to win it, and after a lifetime of struggling with my weight, I’m bound and determined never to go back.
Now, am I proud of where I was? Absolutely not. My weight ballooned to more than 400 pounds at its heaviest. As I write this, I’m only 20 pounds away from getting below 300, which is quite the jump in the right direction in just five months and a few days.
Am I ready to run the Boston Marathon? Not quite yet. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say.
Making big changes
From there? Who knows. I have no end date to this thing. This isn’t a diet that will see me suddenly revert to old habits. This is a lifestyle change.
Where I thought I was doing all the right things, I realized quickly, I was doing all the wrong things. I’ve changed my thought process when it comes to food and exercise. But I had to get to that point where I had had “enough” of my former life. I was ready to make this change, my brain was ready, my body was certainly ready, and here I am.
And that certainly wasn’t always the case. I’ve had varying degrees of success when it comes to weight loss throughout my life. But for whatever reason, I always stopped and returned to bad habits. During those times, my brain wasn’t ready to get my body in the right place.
That’s what derails many people. They just aren’t ready. I was the classic excuse maker. It’s too hot to walk. It’s too cold. One piece of pizza won’t hurt a thing. Those Doritos look tasty. I could make a laundry list of ways I used to get away from a healthy lifestyle.
But that’s clearly in the past. Forever.
Losing weight is pretty much the most difficult thing to do, especially for those of us who have struggled all our lives. I finally have a metabolism that is working, even at 47 years old, and now things are rolling right along. The weight continues to fall off the natural way, and there’s no stopping me now.
But it hasn’t been an easy process, either.
To make this happen, there had to be major changes in my life. I’ve given up bread, alcohol, all processed foods, chips, snacks, etc. ... basically anything I used to like, I’ve wiped off the menu.
In their place has been tons of proteins, more salads than I can shake a stick at (to the point where I travel with my own dressing and other condiments), chicken, fish, turkey … The last time I didn’t eat “clean” was the day before I started this program when I gave myself a “final meal” of pizza and breadsticks.
It’s crazy to think that was 100 pounds ago already.
As my journey has continued, I’ve had many people tell me how inspirational my story is. While I am clearly appreciative of that, and really of all the support I’ve received from friends and family alike, I’m not so sure if I see myself in that way.
What I see is someone who finally got to the point where if something drastic wasn’t done — and soon — I would not have had many more days on this planet. To be at over 400 pounds with such a sedentary lifestyle is not the recipe for living to be old and gray.
As a longtime high school coach in three sports, I also came to the understanding with myself that it was hypocritical of me to demand that my athletes work hard, give great effort and expend all this energy if I, as one of their coaches, couldn’t walk a flight of stairs without stopping to catch my breath.
So from that standpoint, I owed it to those athletes to push myself to do this. I could hardly blame them if they didn’t take me seriously as a coach if I was this badly out of shape and this overweight.
So what happens from here? The plan after 30 days away from the injections was to return to them for another 12 weeks. But I’ve continued to have so much amazing success that we (and by we, I mean my team of Amanda and Elizabeth and myself) have decided to venture into something new.
The immediate future will include diving into intermittent fasting in the next couple weeks, which is really an interesting and exciting way to continue to make things happen. And soon, very soon, there will be a much bigger focus on training and working out.
With all the weight I’ve lost, now I can honestly say doing that not only doesn’t scare me — it excites me. I look forward to the days of taking long walks, of heading to the gym, of just being more active than I have ever been before.
I make no excuses for how I used to live, but what I am proud of, is how I’ve changed my path. Talking to my mom the day I reached the 100-pound mark, she told me this was the best thing I’ve done in my life.
And truthfully, I can’t really argue. I’ve accomplished some cool things and overcome a lot, like many others, and hopefully, there are other big moments to come. But when it comes to taking control of my health and finally getting comfortable in my own skin, yeah, mom, I agree.
You’re never too old to fix a bad situation. For years, I just accepted the fact that I was a “big guy” who liked his pizza, liked his Captain Morgan and Spotted Cow, who enjoyed writing and being a journalist, and whatever happened, happened.
But on that cold day in December, all that changed. It took a big fall and a lot of pain to finally reach that point.
And ironically enough, I couldn’t be any more thankful that my two left feet and a bit of ice caused my face-first fall on that blacktop. That certainly set everything into motion to where I am today.
They say everything happens for a reason, and that was one moment in time that changed it all.
There’s more work to do, more goals to accomplish, but so far so good.
And I’m never looking backward again.
Dan Truttschel is a sports journalist with the Kenosha News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.