100 Pounds Lost – Meaningfully Marking a Milestone
This past Friday it finally happened, I stepped onto my scales, and I weighed in at 214.9 pounds. A 100 pound weight loss!!!!!!!!! Three years ago when I started seeing Rachel, my nutritionist, and I took my life back into my hands on my thirtieth birthday, I didn’t really think it possible that I’d end up here. But the more I lost, the more I learned about nutrition, about my body, and about myself, losing 100 pounds became a more and more reachable goal. I shed bad habits, and I shed the shackles of trying to be someone I wasn’t that caused me to cling a suit of
armor – fat – for most of my adult life. As I lost the weight, I embraced myself for who I really was. For those who are wondering, yes, it involved coming out as a gay man, but it also involved just getting comfortable with me – on all levels. And no longer needing to hide behind a physical barrier. With that mental weight lifted, the physical weight followed. I still have a ways to go, but the idea of losing 35 – 40 more pounds is really nothing at this point.
When I look at myself in photos from when I was well over 300 pounds, I recognize the man in the pictures, but I see a lot of pain. When I look at me now, I see hope and confidence and freedom. The highest I ever weighed on a
set of scales was about 304 pounds. This was on an old set of scales that weighed me about 3-4 pounds lighter than my current scales, therefore the highest I weighed (when I began this journey on my thirtieth birthday) was about 307-308 pounds. BUT – that weigh in was after a good month of trying hard to lose weight prior to even stepping on the scales, so I’m sure I had lost at least 7 or eight pounds when I weighed in then, which is how I estimate my highest weight to have been 315. In all honesty, I think it’s likely it may have been higher than that. When I look at pictures
of myself from when I lived in Houston after law school, I’m almost certain 315 may be a conservative number for my highest weight. I was not weighing at all for a period of years, and I think the likelihood I was much higher than that is great, but 315 is the number I’m comfortable marking – and saying confidently I’ve now lost 100 pounds.
So – being confident that I finally reached 100 pounds lost, some of the people in my life made me feel really special. Rachel, a couple of co-workers, lots of Facebook friends and church friends, and on Saturday, my parents, when I went to visit them. And it was during that visit that I ended up marking my 100 pound loss in a most unexpected, but incredibly meaningful way, having to do with a tangible connection to my grandparents.
As background, my dad’s parents, Grandmother and Granddaddy, were such influential people in my life. They were local to Atlanta, so I grew up with them being constants – from early childhood, through young adulthood (Grandmother died when I was 22 – just before starting law school, and Granddaddy when I was 28 and living in Houston). They truly have the most amazing love story I have ever known, and they are my model for what I want to have with my husband when I find him. Grandmother grew up in Dublin, Georgia, but yearned for the big city, and came to Atlanta to attend what was then called “business school” but would be akin to what later would be called secretarial school. She took a room in a boarding house on Atlanta’s famed Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Granddaddy grew up in a small German suburb of St. Louis, and when he was a young man, a friend who was moving to the exotic Southern city of Atlanta, asked Granddaddy if he would drive one of the friend’s two cars to Atlanta to help him with his move. Granddaddy agreed, and when he arrived here in Atlanta, he decided he really kind of liked it here and would stay. He, too, took a room in a boarding house on Atlanta’s famed Ponce de Leon Avenue. It was there that the lives of these two amazing people crossed, and they were married shortly before Granddaddy enlisted in the Marine Corps and began fighting in World War II. While he was gone, their first child, my aunt was born, and when he returned, my father was born. They built a life here in Atlanta, Granddaddy working for the phone company and Grandmother for the Federal Government. Grandmother had a tendency to “wear the pants” in the family, even in the face of this hard-nosed marine. Because when it came to Grandmother, Granddaddy was totally devoted and in love, as Grandmother clearly was, as well.
They retired, loved their grandchildren, and both being adventurous spirits, began to travel, enjoy their new home on the lake, and their time with each other. They were in the absolute prime of their lives, when Grandmother began having back problems in her late 60’s. She was scheduled for back surgery, but in the weeks leading up to her surgery, it became clear something was terribly wrong as she lost all feeling in her legs and became paralyzed – a true paraplegic. After much testing, and weeks in Emory University Hospital, Grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma that had set up at the base of her spine, causing her paralysis. She underwent treatment, and miraculously her cancer was cured.
But the damage to her spine was permanent. She would never walk again, and the damage to the nerves left her in pain that would draw her lifeless legs to her chest, although she couldn’t even move them on her own. She had no control over her bodily functions, yet she never had to be put in a nursing home. Because Granddaddy, the tough marine, cared for her completely. He bathed her, dressed her, changed her, cooked for her…..he loved her, in a way I can only hope I can one day love and be loved. She faced her illness with courage and strength, though it was the antithesis of the adventurous way she lived her life. The two of them together got each other through. As I said at the beginning of this story, it was the most beautiful love story I’ve ever known.
So yesterday, after weighing in with my 100 pound weight loss, I was looking for old photos at my parents’ house, and I came across a small leather pouch, obviously quite old and worn, and it was heavy, obviously with metal inside. I opened the pouch, and I came across various items, including an old ID bracelet with my Granddaddy’s name and military ID number engraved on the front. The bracelet appeared to be so small to me. I marveled at how small Granddaddy’s wrists must have been as a young man as he wore this bracelet at Guadalcanal and throughout the South Pacific as a Marine in WWII. Not thinking for a minute it would fit, I attempted to clasp the bracelet around my wrist, and much to my surprise, it fit absolutely perfectly. Then, I noticed a small latch, and I pulled it open to see that the ID bracelet held a small photo of my Grandmother. Even in the jungles of the South Pacific, Granddaddy kept her near and dear. Not knowing that fifty years later, in sickness and in health would be a vow he would keep better than anyone I have ever known.
This bracelet would never have fit me three years ago when I was over 300 pounds. There’s just no way. I always claimed to be big-boned – I think that’s a common claim of the morbidly obese. But when I clasped this seemingly small bracelet around my wrist yesterday, I was somewhat overwhelmed, as it was clear I wasn’t all that big-boned, and that I could actually wear something so meaningful to me that my Granddaddy had worn. I drove home from mom and dad’s house with the bracelet on, thinking of how this weight loss has done so much for me, but I never would have expected it would allow me to carry a physical and tangible reminder of two of the most important people in my life with me on my wrist everyday. As Granddaddy kept Grandmother close with this bracelet when they were separated by an ocean and a war, I can now keep them both close though we’re separated by death. And I can hope that one day, now that my weight loss has given me the confidence to live fully, I too, will find the kind of selfless love they had for one another. I hope they know wherever they are how much I love them, and that I’m doing okay. And that I’ve changed my life for the better.