GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - I stepped on the scale, expecting it to read about 230 pounds. And that would have been wonderful. That would have meant I lost 19 pounds from the Fourth of July to the end of September – quite an accomplishment for a nearly 45-year-old man who, because of a new management position at WLOX, sits at a desk for up to 12 hours a day.
Imagine how shocked I was on this final day of the 2010 CEO Healthy Heart Challenge to look down at the digital read out and see the number 225.9 emblazoned on the screen. I weighed 225 pounds. I lost 24 pounds, not 19.
When I was turning 30, weighing 225 was cause for alarm. This morning, it was cause for celebration.
I'd been in the gym all year, trying to get my heart pumping, and my stomach shrinking. But I wasn't losing weight. Then, one day in the late spring, Roy Anderson asked me to participate in the heart challenge. Ah ha, I was suddenly in a competition. And I hate to close competitions.
My wife mapped out a healthy eating plan. No more fast food. No more cake snacks. Cereal for breakfast, salad for a lunch, and chicken, steak or pasta for dinner. Good bye Diet Coke, hello water. Chips were replaced by peaches, nectarines and bananas as my between meal snacks.
Back in the gym, I got more serious. Cardio work became more intense. That, combined with a variety of stretching exercises and abdominal crunches helped me turn a corner. Weight began to disappear.
I started this program at a fat 249 pounds. In two weeks time, I was below the 245 threshold. I set my sights on 240. And once I crossed that barrier, I concentrated on reaching 235 pounds. That's when I thought my weight loss days were over.
It was the end of August, and I was about to embark on a couple of trips that no doubt would require me to eat – a lot – and not work out very much. But much to my surprise, I watched what I ate. And when I could find a cardio machine in a hotel gym, I used it.
By September 15, I was at 232 pounds. My pants no longer stayed on my waist. But instead of buying new clothes, I added holes to my suddenly oversized belts.
Last Saturday, I played in my weekly basketball game, and then I mowed the yard. Afterward, I stepped on the scale. I was at 225 pounds. But I knew it was water loss, and I wouldn't stay there. I didn't. By evening, I was tipping the scale at about 230 pounds again.
So on Sunday morning, Monday and Tuesday nights, and early Wednesday morning, I worked out, hoping this final push would get me under the 230 plateau. But I wasn't very optimistic.
My goals during this competition were simple. I no longer wanted to see TV shots (or pictures) of me with such a fat face. I wanted my gut to shrink. I wanted sport coats to fit. I wanted my self respect back.
On Wednesday morning, I got all that, and a lot more, when I looked down and saw my final weight. In my family, 225 pounds means I'm still the president of "The Fat Boys Club." But that's okay, because I say that knowing I'm back in shape. And with my blood pressure normal, and my good cholesterol number improving, I should be around for a long time to come.
Thank you Roy Anderson. Thank you CEO colleagues. Thank you American Heart Association. Thank you Memorial Hospital. Thank you Liz. You all forced me to look at myself in the mirror. I did. And consequently, my heart is healthier, and my weight is lower.
I may not "win" the 2010 CEO Healthy Heart Challenge. But when I stroll down Gulfport's 2nd Street on Saturday at the Heart Walk, I'll definitely feel like I'm the competition's biggest winner.