Many of the answers in life are common sense. We just choose to ignore them. We always have a “good reason”, but every now and then, we just have to call ourselves out and say to ourselves “nope, you’re not as smart as you think.”
Slightly more than one year ago, I finally admitted this to myself and on November 17, 2016, I received a vertical sleeve gastrectomy performed by Dr. Paul Cirangle. This is otherwise known as “making my stomach smaller”. Today, I am 95 pounds lighter and a lot smarter about how I stay healthy.
I like to say that the answers were always hiding in plain sight. I just chose to ignore them. In the spirit of inspiring others to think about their long-term health, here are my top 11 insights.
#1 – Listen to your friends – Jim Weiss, who had similar surgery nine years ago, is someone I talk about business with on a regular basis. He would occasionally ask me about my weight, mention his experience and provide me with Dr. Cirangle’s information. Jim knew I would eventually see the answer right in front of me and act before I knew it. I’m thankful Jim cared more about my health than I did at the time.
#2 – Focus on the numbers that matter – what’s your waist size and your BMI (body mass index)? If you are putting on weight, just admit it. Don’t rationalize that it is ok. Weight gain is a slow-motion movie.
#3 – Weigh yourself every chance you get – maybe your blood pressure is fine. Or you don’t have diabetes. You have some rationale. You are ignoring the part of the iceberg you can’t see.
#4 – Think of fuel vs. food – my food pyramid starts with protein, then vegetables and usually ends there. I don’t start with carbs or sugars or anything else with no real value. I think of how the body is fueled, not how it is fed.
#5 – Imagine your coach blowing the whistle – would your coach say it is ok to sit on your butt watching games or would they tell you to get moving? I imagine my coach is there every day. So, if I need to, I do a workout at 10pm or go out for a 2-3 mile walk at night in whatever city I am in. It’s not that hard actually. It’s really just taking that first step each time. Right coach?
#6 – Partners matter – my wife, Donna, is highly focused on eating right, exercising and staying in shape. It allows us to keep a clean house and limit temptations. If you live with someone else, you are in it together. So, if you are that other person, ask if you are helping or hurting.
#7 – Don’t overthink devices, but use them – I didn’t sleep enough. I didn’t weigh myself often. I didn’t track what I ate every day. Now I do via a Fit Bit watch, a Fit Bit Aria scale and the MyFitnessPal app. For the cost of one expensive dinner, I can now track myself every day all year round.
#8 – Realize why we overeat – our stomach contains cells that contain Ghrelin, the hunger hormone that drives our appetite. With far less Ghrelin receptors, I am just not all that hungry. Your need for that next slice of pizza is more your body playing with your head than it is a physical need.
#9 – Who needs sugar? – I drink my coffee black, drink water with crystal light and just don’t drink sodas anymore. The world hasn’t ended.
#10 – Moderation is my middle name – I took a one year hiatus from alcohol. It wasn’t really that bad. And now I have new rules in place. I won’t drink unless I am at a special event on a personal level. Gone are the days where I will drink on an airplane, for example.
#11 Establish new rules – I exercise 3-4x per week. I don’t miss. I always reach 90-120 grams of protein a day. I don’t miss. Basically, I have rules for how I will live each day. None are hard, all are easy to follow.
So, on a weekend of being thankful, I want to express thanks to my wife, Donna; my surgeon, Dr. Paul Cirangle; my friend, Jim Weiss; and all of my friends who have been encouraging, inspiring and behind me 110% to get healthy for the rest of my life.
Note: surgery is a personal decision. I found that the surgery was the right move for myself. I can take the weight off and keep it off forever, which is my goal. How you lose weight is a personal choice, so I will never advocate one way.