Recently, I was asked by the HR department at my company to write a letter about my journey and how the company provided Wellness Programs helped me in my success. I was happy to do so, as the Wellness program did quite a bit to help me get to where I’m at. Once the letter was done, I was asked to share the letter our Wellness Coordinator if I felt comfortable doing so. After some deliberation and though, I figure I might as well share it. At this point in my journey, I’m starting to morph as a person into something far healthier and happier and maybe even bordering on something that may closely be called an athlete.
My goals, dreams and aspirations have changed during this unfinished journey. I’ve got big, crazy ideas that I’ve dreamed of doing for years, but always assumed I’d never accomplish due to my size. All of those excuses are gone now, so I’ve adopted a ‘what the hell, let’s try it’ attitude towards it all. Along with this, I finally feel happy enough with myself that it’s time to start writing again, so I figure as I set off on these new goals and dreams, why not knock the rust off the old writing chops and get those back in shape here at the old CF as well.
So, to kick off this 2nd stage of Operation No More Mr. Fat Guy, here’s my letter. Hope you enjoy.
In 2010, I had reached a point in my life where I was no longer happy with life and myself, and reached out to the CNO Employee Assistance Program and sought out therapy. At the time, the Employee Assistance Program was the answer to all of my problems; through this I was able to identify that I had an anxiety disorder and through their help, seek out the treatment to fix my anxiety and in turn my depression. This then lit a fire in me to better myself all around.
With the stress, depression and anxiety in hand, I decided to further improve myself. I was unhappy with my pack a day smoking habit and I was unhappy with my weight and size. Through the therapy however, I knew that it was best to take on these battles one at a time, so I set forth on my own power to put my smoking habit behind me once and for all. This too was a success, as I haven’t had a cigarette since November 2nd of 2010.
With smoking finally and truly out of the way, I found myself much happier and a fair bit healthier. My latent stress and inability to deal with it was still there in the background though. Instead of handling my bouts of stress with cigarettes, I turned to food and things got worse. My weight continued to grow until around February of 2012 where I found myself at 351 pounds, my health starting to decline, my blood pressure sky high, and a sense of self-loathing and hate when I saw myself in pictures. It was not a happy time, despite the progress I had made in other aspects of my life. At this time, I vowed to stop eating poorly, begin to exercise and nip my weight problems in the bud before I neared the 400 pound mark, the thought of which was bringing the depression back on its own.
In that month of February, I made a good start. I was eating better, but still far too much. I was walking and feeling proud of myself, yet still not dropping weight due to the amount of food I was eating. I was frustrated, but kept pushing on. One day in March, I happened to be taking a break at my desk, reading up on weight loss and diet tips, when an email popped up in my inbox. It was from our Wellness Coordinator letting the company know that the on-site clinic at our office was starting a weight loss program that was free of cost, but was taking a limited number of entrants. Up until this time, I was trying to figure out how I could work in the cost of Weight Watchers to join the on-site group that our company coordinated, but then the invite for FUSE with its key word “FREE” flashed before me and I replied with my wish to apply right there and then, knowing I needed help. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knowing myself, I wouldn’t get very far without guidance, so I felt good knowing I was making the right choice.
Going into the FUSE program, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured we would be given a diet, and being told that I would be meeting one on one with a health coach throughout the program was intimidating at first. I was not feeling 100% confident in sharing the details of what I considered a very humiliating problem with a complete stranger. The first thing our coach told us on the first day of the group? That they were not going to give us a diet. We had to choose a diet that we felt like we could stick with for life. This thought was jarring at first as I expected they would be giving a diet much like Weight Watchers, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in synch with the truth of the matter; that I was changing my lifestyle, and not just dieting. The FUSE program started to gel for me for certain.
Sitting on the far side of the program, now down to 243 pounds with more yet to lose, I see where the FUSE program teaches weight loss in a healthy way. They teach that losing weight is not so much a diet, but changing your lifestyle to something you can maintain over life. This is a factor that is a huge stumbling block for many, including myself in the times I tried dieting before. I quickly came to see the FUSE program as something more akin to therapy than a weight loss group. They are teaching you the proper tools, tools that you weren’t aware of, so that you can fight this battle yourself. So many other diet plans give you strict guidelines and tell you to do this and nothing else, whereas FUSE teaches you how to live a healthier life, and to be happier with yourself and your choices. Healthier in weight, health AND mind.
Another key aspect of the wellness program is our access to one on one health coaching through the clinic. This is attached to the FUSE program; however you can utilize these services outside of the weight loss program as well. While the group meetings for the FUSE program were a big part of my success, the one on one health coaching has been the biggest factor of my success. There are times in the weight loss journey where all seems lost. Your weight will plateau and you will become frustrated and want to give up. Your health coach is there for you to sit down in complete privacy and air out these frustrations. They let you get them off of your chest, they help you learn the proper tools to be able to work around these issues, leaving you rejuvenated and confident that you can press through. For me, the coaching provided by our wellness program is the key ingredient to my success. There’s been so many times that I have felt upset or even overwhelmed or under confident; my coach has been there every time to talk through every one of these issues and to help me find the best course to be able to combat them. The key here is that she teaches me how to do these things, rather than tell me that I have to do it this way. This leaves me educated so that the next time I come across the same feelings, I know how to combat them.
When I had my first doctor visit for FUSE, I was 345.6 pounds. I had a BMI of 47.6. My Blood Pressure was 130 over 86 and my LDL cholesterol was 121. I was pretty embarrassed to say the least. I had started cutting out bad food and walking a good month before this time. The only stats I know for sure from before the start of FUSE are that the very first time I stopped in at the clinic to weigh myself, I was 351 pounds.
Today, I am a different person. A new, better, happier and fitter person! My most recent weigh in found me at 243 pounds. 108 pounds down from where I started in February of 2012. At my last biometric screening, my blood pressure was 120/64. My LDL cholesterol is now 88. My BMI is 35.9 and getting better every day. I have a resting heart rate of 49 bpm.
My weight loss journey has changed my life. Parts of my depression in the past stemmed from a fact that I was 38 years old, living the life of somebody much older. My family and I didn’t go out and do much as far as activities go. I found myself making excuses to not take my daughter to the pool because I was tired and the thought of being seen with my shirt off was terrifying. We never went camping or hiking because I felt fat and exhausted. I felt trapped at home and this brought my self-esteem down constantly. Now, we are far more active. I come home from work, I no longer feel like I need to take a nap. I get home from work; I’m ready to go do whatever. At work, I no longer feel exhausted and irritable all the time with a need to spend my lunch hour napping in my car in the parking lot. Now, I’m ready to go and too much idle time at my desk makes me feel nervous and twitchy! The excuse to run and do tickets to fix peoples computers is welcome, just because it’s a chance to move!
As I said, I am no longer the man I once was. I am no longer on high blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medicine, antidepressants or even anti-anxiety meds. In fact, the only medicines that I take regularly these days are my allergy medicines! In this past winter, I didn’t even catch a cold, or my annual sinus infection! I’m far happier, no longer snippy with my family and seldom find myself depressed or anxious. When I do feel those come on? I head out for a run, or to the gym (where I receive a discount thanks to the CNO Wellness program as well) and all of those feelings fade away. Most importantly to me, I no longer feel like an old man stuck at home. I feel like a man who is preparing to turn 40 looking better than he did at 30, chasing dreams that he once held as a kid but figured he would always be too fat to obtain. These days, I have 5 races under my belt, I find myself preparing for my first marathon or two and running 25 to 30 miles a week. Things I thought I would never be able to add to my list of accomplishments.
I firmly believe that without the help of the CNO Wellness programs, the FUSE programs and the ongoing support of my Health Coach, I may have been somewhat successful on my own. I wouldn’t be near as far as I am today with such a new outlook on life, healthiness and self-worth. Without them teaching me, I don’t think I would have had the resources to make the choices that I now make without second thought!
Thanks for that.