|In Louisville, KY February of 2012|
Life happens fast or at least that is what they say. May 22, 2012 – or one year ago today I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning, removed my CPAP Machine (sleep aid for sleep apnea) and struggled to push myself up out of my bed. I sat there as I often did gathering myself before trying to obtain the energy necessary to move 452 pounds. I had made a choice to go through with having a life changing surgery. My vertical gastric sleeve surgery was scheduled to take place bright and early at 7 am, which meant I needed to arrive at the hospital at 5. My mother in law came over to be with our children while Meghan and I went to the hospital for what we thought was going to be a quick and easy surgery. What I am about to tell everyone are the events that unfolded that day, things didn’t go as planned and because of that I feel it has changed my outlook on life. What I am about to share has only been shared with close friends and family. I feel as if it is time to let everyone know what happened that day. I credit this experience for being the motivation and drive to succeed. I never again want to experience these events or anything similar.
I kissed Meghan and promised to see her in a short-while. I was carted into the operating room and laid out on a cold stainless steel table. It was far from comfortable but after the anesthesiologist showed up I don’t remember a thing. The surgery ended and all I remember is being in the recovery room puking. I was in and out of it and remember hearing someone say “we got a puker”in an excited voice. I was carted to my room and didn’t have the slightest clue as to what time of day it was. I remember Meghan being by my side the entire time. When I came to I was able to get up briefly, but after that, things changed drastically. I started to feel an abnormal amount of pressure in my chest. My blood pressure began to fall, the nurse came in and asked that I get up again and walk. I didn’t feel like it but knew it was an important detail to recovery so I tried, as I attempted to stand up I fainted and down I went. All 452 pounds of me went limp and collapsed to the bed. Meghan of course was terrified. I came to and there was Meghan with eyes as big as could be and the nurse standing over me seeking a response. My blood pressure continued to drop and it was not long before it was dangerously low. They called code blue and ushered Meghan out of the room. There must have been 15 people in that hospital room and my surgeon was at the head of the bed ordering people around. He was amazing under pressure, the kind of person that you would want in that situation. I was being poked with IV’s left and right and they quickly came to terms with the fact that I needed to be in the ICU. After carting me to the ICU and several attempts to get my blood pressure to stabilize they realized that a second surgery was needed. At this point I was terrified, as was Meghan and the rest of my family. I was in tears and was carted in for a second surgery, it lasted several hours and what they found was a chest cavity full of blood because the blood supply to my stomach was leaking. I am not sure who or what was to blame; truthfully it didn’t and doesn’t matter. I spent the next week in the ICU as after the second surgery I was not healing as they wished. There was even talk of a third surgery and that was not something I neither wanted nor could’ve handled. That week, I don’t remember much. I was out of it the majority of the time. I was doped up on morphine and slept a lot. The whole experience is sort of a fuzzy memory to me at this point, but what I remember most was a moment when my surgeon came in and explained that if nothing changed, I would need a third surgery. I know it sounds corny or even silly, but at that moment I looked up and made a promise to God and myself that if I could get out alive I would give it my all to never again live a life that my family and health was not my number one concern. Things took a positive turn and a few days after I started showing some progress and I was allowed to go home.
|October of 2011|
That one week of my life in the hospital put many things into perspective for me. Prior to my surgery, even that morning I don’t think I was mentally prepared for my journey. I am 100% certain that without this week of hell, I would have found myself to be in a different category. I think I would have seen some success but found myself backing into old comfort zones and lacking ambition to change. The small details that I left out of the story for good reason humbled me as a man. I didn’t ever realize until those moments that being 452 pounds was going to kill me and even more importantly what it was doing to my family. When I got home, things where still not easy, I struggled to sleep and even do basic things like use the restroom and shower. Life was far from enjoyable, I spent some time feeling sorry for myself and regretting the surgery all together. As time went on, and days passed, my strength multiplied. After one week at home, I went from taking a walk to the end of the drive way to around the block. For the first month all I could do was walk, so I did that when I had enough energy. I remember Meghan saying she as concerned that I was still not getting enough exercise. I was back to work after being home for a week and to be honest I went back too soon. My energy was drained half way through the day but it was manageable none the less. Then on June 25, 2012 my 29thbirthday I took my first step back into the gym. I went on my lunch break. My goal was to do the elliptical for 30 minutes straight. Going to the gym was not something I was accustomed to so naturally I forgot to pack gym shoes, but I didn’t let that stop me. I changed into my gym shorts and shirt and wore my dress shoes, I got a few looks but I didn’t care, that was the day Warrior in Training was born!!!
|The first day in the gym.|
There have been many ups and downs over the course of this past year.This year I have accomplished more than I ever even dreamed. My entire first few months were focused on Warrior Dash, at the beginning it seemed nearly impossible and now it would be what I would consider an average workout with the addition of mud. From day one, I used races and events to continue my training. It always seemed to assist with providing focus on my goals and taking temporary focus away from the scale. Over the course of this first year, I completed my first 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Mud Run & Triathlon. I even did more than one of a few of these. The adrenaline rush that I get from doing races helps to fill that void that still exists from emotional eating. I realize I cannot do these races on this level and pace forever so I am still working on ways to manage the mental aspect. Outside of what I have accomplished in the race arena is what I have accomplished from a health perspective:
Today I weighted in at 237 pounds exactly.
I have lost 215 pounds
I no longer snore or have sleep apnea
I no longer have high blood pressure
I no longer have high cholesterol
I no longer am diabetic
I took medication for all of these things and no longer need any of that!
One year ago things were drastically different. I never envisioned my life to be where it is today. I am still seeking that elusive 225 pound mark. Over the course of the last month I have stalled out slightly on the weight loss. I did find myself on a slippery slope and it has taken me some time to get things wrapped around my mind that I am not comfortable. I have posted previously about how I was comfortable and the truth is, I was. Over the course of the last few weeks I realized that I am not 100% happy with what I have achieved and seek progress. I still have weight to loose or rather ounces to shed, I want to increase my strength and muscle mass. I know these things seem trivial to some but to me I feel as if it’s important. It is not about being skinny or having big muscles, to me it’s about being fit and athletic. I want to lead an athletic, healthy life encouraging my children and family to do the same. I enjoy taking on new challenges and living my life to the fullest and doing things that once seemed impossible is addicting with out a doubt.
These past few weeks, we can call them the Post Wildflower weeks have been tough. After wildflower wrapped up, I felt like I had made it. There existed a sense of complacently within myself. I had trained hard for it and my result far exceeded my expectations and for that I felt like I was OK to take some time away. My work outs slowed down and my eating picked up, a combination that could lead to a very scary place. I realized over this past weekend that my one year mark was fast approaching and it dawned on me that I was close to my goal but not there. I took a look in the mirror and while I am proud of what I see, I seek to improve. It’s now more than ever that the Warrior in Training needs to come back. That inner spark that led me to the gym the first time needs to burst into flames and light a torch that can be carried by my inner self to the end of my life. It sounds silly I know but it’s what works for me.
This year is going to be all about family. I am going to be doing some races, but I want to make sure to shift some of the focus away from my health and into time with my boys. I still plan on working out everyday, but my weekends might be filled with kiddie soccer games and swim lessons. I still seek to finish my 70.3 Half Iron Man distance Big Kahuna on September 8th of this year. I will still complete my first full Iron in November of next year. I am sure I will sprinkle a few more as time permits! 😉
This year could not have happened of course without the support of so many.
|Meg & I at an A’s Game|
To my wife & best friend – Meghan: What a year we have had together, I have come so far but often times your success gets shadowed by mine. You my love have done such a wonderful job. You took on this battle with me, fighting to take back my life and yours. Your continued dedication to improve has been infectious, your support has been amazing and our relationship has only grown stronger because of all of this. This journey has only just begun; it’s not going to be an easy road to ensure that we live a healthy life for years to come but anything worth having doesn’t come easy. I am so proud of you for all of your accomplishments! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there to support me and my crazy ideas. You are my best friend, biggest fan and supporter and the most amazing wife and mother of my our boys I could have ever asked for.
To my boys – Eli and Mason: You both are amazing little souls. It’s been a crazy year with your dad spending a lot of time in the gym. You two little crazy monsters have grown so much and it amazes me how fast it happens. I recall the nights we brought you home from the hospital for the first time like it was yesterday. I made a promise to you both, one that you still will not understand. But one day your mother and I will share this blog and our story with you. I will never again lead a life that doesn’t put you boys, your amazing mother and my health first. Living a life at 452 pounds isn’t something that I will ever be proud of, but it happened. I love you both more than you will ever know. I want to give you the world and give you the best opportunities in life, starting with a healthy and happy childhood. No matter how much this blog and my journey are highlighted, you two are the biggest accomplishments in my life. There is nothing on the planet that makes me as proud as being your daddy. I love you more than you will ever know.
|Daddy- Lego Time|
To my Grama Bru: I still find it somewhat surreal that this has come to fruition. The countless conversations that we had are only a thing of the past. You will never truly know how much your concern pushed me. I am so grateful to have you in my life. There is no question that you are my guardian angel. Thank you for always being concerned and never letting up, even when it was the last thing I wanted to talk about. You are one heck of a Grama and I love you!!!!
To my Pops – Eli: I feel like I have shocked you the most and I think thats cool. When we talk about my journey you just smile from ear to ear. For as long as I remember you have always said “show me, don’t tell me”. Pops, I am still working on it and plan to show you that my life will never again be the same. I take each day one at a time and work hard to make the best choices possible. I do not always succeed, but my failures are then turned into lessons. Thank you for being such a big part of my life. I love you!
California Mom – Margie: Thank you for continuing to show support. I can tell you are very proud of my accomplishments, you speak of them often! You like my Pops, often just smile when it becomes the topic of conversation. Your support is so very important to me, thank you and I love you!
My Great Friend – Jacob: My brother, you have been there every step of the way! Always there to take to my next challenge, I think Wildflower was your last straw and I can respect that. It’s been an amazing year and our futures only looks brighter. Your dedication to fitness has been very inspiring on my journey. You truly are a brother to me!
|Coach Brian and I|
My Coach – Brian Nunez: My man, you have created something that is bigger than all of us. It’s an amazing community that exemplifies what you and your dreams stand for. The workouts are never easy, but truth is that’s not even the most important part of FNS to me. The cohesiveness among our athletes is amazing. We all push each other to improve in and outside of the gym. There exists a true sense of community, one that is based on healthy strong living. You are an amazing leader, and inspiration to many. It’s an honor to have you as my coach and friend.
FNS Coaches and Athletes: All of you are amazing, you continue to push me past my known limits week in and week out. I love that there are so many new faces starting to join us. It’s only a testament to what we already know, FNS is an amazing place with amazing people. It can be an intimidating environment so remember that when you see a new face walk into the gym. Thank you all for being such a big support system!
|FNS 2013 May Athlete of the Month – A true honor|
To Everyone Else: My support system is far from small, I have friends some new and some old. Online communities and even actual support groups that meet once a month. All of these places and people along with readers of my blog have played some part in this journey. Thank you all for the encouraging and kind words. I am often my biggest critic and have sometimes been very hard on myself. Your words of encouragements and congratulations have played a big part in picking me up in those moments when I was down. I am forever grateful!
Until Next Time – Warrior, Wildflower Finisher,Training for The Big Kahuna
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