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Fat to Fit: The Beginning


Summer 2010 – 260 lbs

I was 260lbs on June 29, 2010. Here’s a pic from that date:

That was the high water mark. Ironically, my half marathon time was 2 hours at that point. That’s not blazing fast by any means but I think I discouraged some people I passed along the way (unintentionally as I ran past them). I was just a fat runner.

When I show people pics like this many say the same thing: I don’t remember you being THAT big. I don’t either. And I never felt that big.

But I was.

One of the many lessons I’ve learned over the years:

My feelings can be great indicators of what is going on inside of me. And in fact I’m trying to learn how to listen to them and experience them more.

But more often than not my feelings are lousy truth tellers.

So on June 29, 2010 I knew I had some work to do. And I slowly started doing the work. It started out pretty simply: I was in the habit of running 2 times a week 3 out of 4 weeks a month. So I started trying to run 4 times a week 4 weeks a month and I added swimming 2-3 times a week.

I began making progress. But the truth is over the next 9 months I made a LITTLE progress (maybe 10 lbs worth) but not much considering how far I had to go. The problem was I hadn’t done much to deal with my eating.

Another lesson learned:

There is no way for me to address losing weight without dealing with the quantity of food I eat. Period.

I was stuck in a belief that many are stuck in: if you workout enough you can eat what you want. At least for me, I know that food is very often the reward. So food is the reward for working out. I was stuck on this one big time. I’d used My Fitness Pal (which is a great tool) to track everything that I ate. Then I would add up the exercise calories burned and created an equation that worked, in theory anyways. But it didn’t make much of a difference.

I plodded along. I made VERY slow incremental change but it wasn’t much. I dropped from 260 to about 245 or so over 18 months. But I wasn’t changing much and I wasn’t changing quickly.

2 things happened at the end of 2011 that were life changers.

The first was that after 15 years of borderline high blood pressure my doctor checked my blood pressure and it was very high. I don’t know the exact reading but whatever it was he wanted to take action immediately and prescribe something for it. He said there were two options; you lose weight or you take drugs. So I took drugs for a while.

It didn’t help.

The second thing that happened was a little more dramatic. After a routine family dinner out one Friday at Alonso’s I woke up during the night in the worst pain I’ve ever had. My abdomen had a sharp pain that had me curled up in bed moaning. After an hour or so of trying to endure the pain I went to the emergency room where they diagnosed a gallbladder attack and suggested I should have it removed. I scheduled the surgery for a few days later.

I went to  GBMC for a very routine outpatient surgery expecting to be done in an hour or so, recovered a few hours later, & home that night. 4 hours later I woke from surgery. Elise was next to my bed. She’d obviously been crying.

The surgery hadn’t gone as planned. The surgery was difficult because my liver was enlarged. I had organ damage because of my poor health.

The message from the doctor was simple: change and you’ll likely stop damaging your organs and live a normal long life or keep going the way you are going and see a drastically reduced lifespan.

I was 39. So I left the hospital after an overnight stay with one determination: my life had to change.

Written by

I am the CEO of Blue Ocean Ideas, a creative agency in Baltimore, Maryland. My job is to clarify the strategy and take care of my team. I am married to the beautiful Elise Rittler and we have four great kids. When I’m not at Blue Ocean Ideas or with my family I am riding a bike, running, playing ultimate frisbee, eating, or sleeping. There is a little more about me here.

3 Responses to “Fat to Fit: The Beginning”

By Heath Plumb - 13 January 2013


By Lori - 14 January 2013

Greg, I really appreciate your post – it is very motivating. Thanks! Lori

By krister - 15 January 2013

Keep telling your story, Greg!

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