A couple of weeks ago I published a series of posts about the transformative experiences I had during a one-week stay at the Biggest Loser Resort. Last week, I was thrilled to host a fellow guest and friend, Todd, as he shared his story here. And today, I couldn’t be happier because I get to introduce you to another friend, John Baker. His story plays out a little differently to Todd’s, but is one that may be very familiar to many of us: the struggle to stay on the path to better health.
As I sat down to write my story, I looked back at my life, at my successes and failures.
As I considered them, I realize it really has been an amazing ride, with huge successes in education (two engineering degrees and an MBA), a very successful career that continues to be rewarding, and an amazing wife and children. But there has been that one thing….
I grew up an athlete. My first “type cast” happened in 3rd grade football when I went from tight end to offensive tackle after failing to make weight for the “skill positions”. From then on I was a lineman, a catcher, a shot-putter, a discus thrower, a competitive power lifter. Essentially all the sports/positions for larger kids.
Within my own family I was the youngest and always the littlest which led to a comfort level with my size that I should never have had. Additionally, I grew up in an environment where food was ALWAYS the center of every gathering, every day, and eventually with cable TV, with every show!
Seriously, every vacation I took as an adult was preceded by a phone call from my father detailing the Food Network’s recommended restaurants for that destination. Oh. and some of them have been awesome! But I digress…
I am actually really good at losing weight.
Unfortunately, I am equally as talented at gaining it back.
I am NOT very talented at maintaining a healthy weight…. yet.
After a brutal 3-year period in my career, where I worked 7 days a week, I gained 50 lbs. This was my wakeup call. I decided I needed to try something different, and I wasn’t afraid of doing something drastic. I did some research and subsequently signed up for a two-week stay at the Biggest Loser Resort in Malibu.
Why there? In a word: hiking, I really enjoyed hiking and, in talking with Biggest Loser representatives, Malibu sounded like the best choice for me.
I went to BLR Malibu to work hard, and I did! The hiking was excellent and turned my previous enjoyment into something between and love and an addiction! The best part of that two weeks though was the people I met and the nutrition and life basics I learned.
My story has not been a fairy tale since I returned home though. I continue to stumble as much as I excel. Life has an amazing way of working against you when your will power is at its weakest.
So next I will focus on what has gone well and where I still struggle.
I grew up in Columbus Ohio but had never been to “Old Mans Cave” in Hocking Hills. Now, not only have I been there, but I’ve hiked it!
We traveled many times to the Pacific Northwest when I was growing up; it was a favorite of my dad’s, but had never hiked there. I have now.
Theresa and I have been traveling to Kauai since we got engaged there in 2004. In 2013 I hiked about half the Kalalau trail and I plan to complete the rest of it in 2015.
Before that I had not stepped foot more than 500 yards from the car, admiring it instead from a distance.
There may not be a more beautiful place on this planet than the Na Pali coast and the Kalalua trail and Hanakapia’i Falls! If you get the opportunity to visit, don’t hesitate!
Now the rest of the story. I struggle with nutrition EVERY SINGLE DAY!
I have gotten about 50% of my meals under control. Nine out of ten mornings I nail my breakfast! I love greek yogurt and blackberries, I love oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk. But occasionally I will give in to a bacon and egg burrito.
Lunch has become a crossroads, every day I plan to have a salad or healthy wrap/sandwich with fruit. Half the time I just make the wrong choice.
If anyone knows why PLEASE let me know.
Dinner is a disaster for me as eating at night has always been a challenge. I do well for bursts, one week, two weeks, sometimes a month at a time but then I snap and fall into my old habits. This continues to be the biggest challenge I face every day. Even as I type this I come off almost a week of being on point followed by a night of pizza… too much pizza, UGH!
I spoke of hiking as my biggest positive, and it is but I have started over more times than I can count over the last 18 months.
I have crappy excuses like “I live in Arizona, and its 120 degrees out!”
I have “good” excuses like “I need to spend more time with my family” or “Work is too demanding right now. I have no time for hiking.”
And I have the real and irrefutable excuses that life throws at us: my dad passing away this past March, plus a couple of injuries that forced me to slow down.
At the end of the day though, they’re all excuses. And there will always be excuses. I just need to find a way to prioritize on hiking.
I have had some great support along the way! As you can see, my family has joined me in many of my hiking adventures. I have friends that keep me motivated (or re-motivated) as well like my sometime hiking buddy Dave. Additionally, I am in contact with a couple people from BLR, like Nancy and Todd and JD.
After reading Todd’s guest post here on Nancy’s blog, I guess I have no excuses left! Wow!
So to wrap up my story, I’ll share where I’m currently. As of today I am 10 pounds lighter than where I was when I started at BLR in November 2012, and 35 lbs more than I weighed 18 months ago.
Still, I know that every day I have the opportunity to choose what I put in my mouth and where I take my body.
This is my focus now. What will I choose for my next meal? How will I be in better shape tomorrow than I am today? How will I lead by example for my family and provide a different path in health than we have followed in the past?
…And how do I make sure I hike all 22+ miles of the Kalalau trail in April? 🙂
Thank you John for having the courage to share your whole story with us: the triumphs and the obstacles. This is real life. And real life isn’t always easy. You are an inspiration to anyone who continues to strive for better health. I cannot wait to hike with you in AZ. Soon, right?? 🙂