"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #18"
06 February 2002
A Super Greeting To Those I Am Blessed to Have as Family and Friends!!!!
I pray you are able to read this update in a state of health and peace. It has only been a month since my last update but it certainly feels like much longer than that!!! While life's pace rapidly continues in the express lane, I have thoroughly enjoyed my gradual transition back to a "new" routine. The New Year has brought with it a new lifestyle. My RV and mobile home of 8 months "The USS Spirit of Reduction" has been sold, piles of mail and papers have been read, bills have been paid and some sense of order and routine are again slowly becoming a part of my daily existence. The "new" aspect is the privilege I have at least for now, of working only 20-25 hours a week doing urgent care and some consulting. This allows me the needed time to do my real job of stabilizing at my new weight and spending 2-3 hours per day at the gym along with other forms of rigorous physical activity including jogging!!!! This from a guy who 9 months ago had a hard time making it to the top of a flight of steps. I have been blessed with many opportunities to share God's blessings and the joys of my accomplishment with others individually, in large groups and even with live TV appearances and interviews. Its so interesting how often I find others are much more enthusiastic about the accomplishments than I am. While thankful and blessed beyond description, I maintain a very humble and guarded attitude toward the challenge that lies ahead to make this a permanent and lasting change. I have even had the opportunity to preach and having done so recently on consecutive weeks, thought about changing my nickname to "Pastor Nick." Actually, I feel more like a beggar telling other beggars where they too can find bread. The issue of obesity is such a monumental struggle for so many that I sense desperation in the hearts of those who hear about my drastic transformation. I am still trying to sort out a concise and relevant way of sharing the "ingredients" of my success that so many are eager to hear about. Please pray for me in this regard as there are many struggling with their own weight who are seeking out my advice and counsel.
I must admit that in the midst of all this drastic lifestyle adjustment, I have missed the open road and the carefree lifestyle of a sports geek. I was definitely going through some major "withdrawal phenomenon" from being a sports spectator. I went from attending a Major League Baseball game almost everyday to not attending any sport events at all and it was quite a shock to my fragile skinny system! There's something so special about the anticipation in the air before a big game. The fresh air, relaxed atmosphere, the competition on the field and the companionship of sharing the game with someone I love, are all elements of the sporting experience that I deeply enjoy. With that in mind, I was recently invited with the rest of my family to the wedding of Mike Fatter who is the older brother of my sister-in-law Betsy. Of course, Phil and Betsy with their children and my sister Pauline all planned on going to the wedding and when I found out it was on January 26th in New Orleans, it was an easy decision for me to join in the celebration. The weekend after the wedding there was a little sporting event planned for New Orleans known as the Super Bowl!!!! Mike and Betsy's grandparents Dr. "Daddy" Fatter and Mrs. "Birdie" Fatter live in the French Quarter along with their daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Donald Ogrady. The whole family is so hospitable and they live right in the cultural heart of the city. I had so enjoyed my time there in early June and the prospect of another visit with a family wedding was something I could not resist! It was a glorious time of celebrating the creation of a new family and I was honored to witness Mike's marriage to his lovely bride Kimberly. The weekend of the wedding was also the beginning of Mardi Gras and we got to enjoy several traditional parades and take in some of the seasonal celebrations in what has to be one of the richest cultural cities of America. I felt almost guilty taking a week off as I had only been home for 2 months and barely felt like I had worked hard enough to "deserve" a break.
When the dust from the wedding settled and all the out of town guests other than myself were gone, I now faced a dilemma. The Super Bowl was coming to town and I had no ticket. I was ticketless in New Orleans!!! I hit the streets in search of an affordable seat but the cheapest I could find from a scalper was $900 for a single ticket!!! The prospects were bleak and I was convincing myself how fun it would still be to just be present in the same town as the world's ultimate sporting event. Most of my family and friends were a bit skeptical about what I was trying to do and were not too enthusiastic about my prospects of finding a ticket. I was struggling with the appropriateness of spending lots of money for a ticket especially since I have only been working part time and finances have been quite tight recently. And yet, I had experienced a legitimate ticket miracle for Game 7 of the World Series and though in the scope of real life this was a trivial dilemma, I found myself again praying and asking others for prayer with help in finding a ticket. I spent a lot of time the week between the wedding and the Super Bowl exercising, reading and catching up on some correspondence. It was a very relaxing time of solitude mixed with some great fellowship and visitation with Betsy's grandparents, aunt and uncle. By Friday afternoon, I had decided that I would go down to the stadium early on Sunday morning the day of the game and try to find a ticket. If I could not find a reasonably priced seat I would return back and watch the game with the Fatter family at their home. I was near the end of my daily workout at a local gym laying on the floor doing abdominal crunches trying to tighten up my flabby tummy and it's abundant skin when my cell phone rang. I normally would not
have answered it in the middle of a workout but this time I did and a very excited voice on the other end said "I have 2 tickets for you to the Super Bowl!!!" It was Anamaria Repetti the Executive Director of the Palomar Pomerado Health Foundation. When I asked her to repeat what shehad just said she stated "I have your tickets to the Super Bowl." I started to weep with joy out loud on the spot. It was such a funny scene. I am lying on the middle of the floor of a busy gym on my cell phone dripping with sweat and sobbing like a baby. In disbelief, I staggered to my feet announced to the whole gym full of strangers with tears streaming down my face "no need to worry about me, it's great news" and floated right out of there on my new little cloud. I was in shock and so blown away. Two tickets worth $400 dollars each at face value given to me for free!!!! I could not stop crying. Why I cry when so happy I do not know, but boy the tears were freely flowing!
As it turns out, a gentleman from Poway named Brent Wilkes who is President of a Company called ADCS had purchased the tickets at a charity auction and on Friday afternoon decided he was not going to use them. We have never met but someone who works for him is married to someone else who works for Palomar Pomerado who knew I was in New Orleans trying to get to the Super Bowl. They contacted Anamaria who rocked my world with a single phone call. In a state of euphoric shock there was now yet
another dilemma. I was only looking for one ticket but had two!!!! Unfortunately, none of the local family in New Orleans were healthy enough to be able to attend the big game with me. I urgently called my
brothers thinking somehow, though it was now late on Friday afternoon, one of them could join me for the weekend festivities. My brother John was interested but we realized the challenge of finding an affordable plane ticket this late in the afternoon for the next day. The blessing avalanche continued as he was able to find what would have been a $1600 round-trip flight for $75 by using frequent flier miles and only having to pay the penalty for booking on such a short notice. That night I was so excited, I literally could not fall asleep. I could not believe it. What I had considered to be almost a trivial silly need in the broad scope of life, God had provided for and in a manner way above and beyond what I had even considered.
The next day, weary with joy from euphoric insomnia, I spent fishing with Mr. and Mrs. Samaras who live in the area and own a camp out on the bayous where they spend most of their weekends. Their son Mike is a good buddy here in San Diego and my dad and I had spent time shrimping and fishing with them back in June. I remember the struggle I had being around so much tasty seafood but not even having a taste of it. New Orleans in general was one of the toughest cities to visit while being on a liquid protein diet. What fun it was to return for an encore fishing experience but this time be able to eat some of the catch. We had a wonderful day of fishing though it was very cold and my muscles were all sore from so much shivering. We caught 11 large red fish that we grilled as soon as we got back to camp. YUMMY! Talk about fresh fish! It was swimming in my mouth and tasted oh so very good. I went back to the French Quarter with a bag full of fillets and met my brother John who had just arrived by shuttle from the airport. What a great time we had as brothers catching up, walking around the whole city, drinking coffee and gitty with anticipation and excitement with what the next day would bring.
Having stayed up quite late on Saturday night, and not having slept at all on Friday night, I anticipated having a relaxed Sunday morning before heading out for the game. Originally, I had planned to go out looking for a ticket during this time but instead now anticipated a relaxed morning of scripture reading and brotherly fellowship with John. While still in deep sleep, our day instead started quite abruptly with frantic pounding on our apartment door. Dr. Fatter, Betsy's 88 year old grandfather was unconscious and unresponsive at his bedside! Half naked, I rushed to his room only to find him with no palpable pulse and taking very irregular shallow breaths. To make a complicated medical situation short, he was having a medical crisis in which I was able to intervene and provide life supportive measures. Memories of my experience at Wrigley Field in Chicago were circulating in my head and ironically, three days before Dr. Fatter had gifted me with a Chicago Cub Jersey he has had for many years. God again appointed for me to be in the right place at the right time and after seeing him off in the ambulance, I realized how different things may have turned out had I been out looking for a ticket during that time as I had originally planned on doing. The significance of the ticket miracle now meant more than just free entrance to a game. The tickets all of a sudden had much deeper significance than that for myself and to the entire Fatter family. I praise God for his provision and for providing us with what we need, when we need it and how we need it. I am just amazed. Thankfully Dr. Fatter is doing fine and is now back home in the bosom of his family. Your prayers for his continued health are sincerely appreciated.
The game of course was one for the ages. The atmosphere was electric and despite the heightened security there was a real atmosphere of patriotic celebration in the air. Earlier in the season, I had been to Foxboro Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots and seen them play the San Diego Chargers. It was a last minute decision I made while driving back from Maine on my way to Boston to visit my sister-in-law Eleni's family there. Always pulling for the underdog, and having had a playful time bantering with the Patriot fans as what felt like the only Charger fan in the Stadium that day, had endeared me to the team and their fans. That game against the Chargers was Brady's first as a starter and he led a last minute comeback against them as well. Their fans are a boisterous and passionate group that were very hungry for a championship. They came to the Super Bowl as major underdogs to the heavily favored offensive machine known as the St. Louis Rams. And what a game it was. A classic. Perhaps the best in history. There were many celebrity spottings, incredible pregame and half time shows and all it taken in by hearts bursting with praise and appreciation for such an incredible way of getting to enjoy it all. In one year I have had the privilege of attending the World Series and the Super Bowl both of which were of the highest competitive quality with legitimate ticket miracles on each occasion. A great time was had by all (except the Ram fans) and my brother and I returned back to the Fatter house with happy and content hearts.
The next day while working out and thinking I had seen it all and with a heart still abuzz with euphoria, I am lumbering along on the treadmill at the local YMCA when who else but basketball legend Magic Johnson would start exercising right next to me. Already out of breath, I stepped it up a notch as being in the presence of such athletic greatness motivated me to push a little harder. My brother John came in just shaking his head in disbelief at all the things we were seeing and experiencing. Later that evening as we were having dinner at the legendary Champion's Palace Restaurant, a few tables over we spotted Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg enjoying dinner with some friends. As an attorney my brother John was quite impressed. I've been playfully telling folks I worked out with Magic Johnson and had dinner with Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg all in the same day!!! We are now back home and I just can't wipe this silly grin off my face!
As far as the diet goes, the progress continues. As of this morning I weigh 224 pounds bringing my total weight loss to 243 pounds since April 1st with 14 pounds to go before reaching my final goal of 210. I continue to praise God each and every day for the health I have been granted despite such drastic weight loss in such a short period of time. My recent personal medical evaluations have been fine and other than some arthritis in both of my knees as a result of old sports injuries and my morbid obesity, everything else is well. I continue to exercise vigorously while trying to add muscle mass and tighten up what is an impressive amount of extra skin hanging from my new body. If you need some extra skin, come on by! I have plenty.
It has been said that hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change. My personal faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ is what makes my hope possible. Hope has been the single most important personal ingredient in changing my physical condition and lifestyle. From a ticket to a game, to a healthy and uneventful weight loss journey, ultimately, these are all generous gifts from God for which I am so very thankful. As one humble beggar telling other beggars where to find bread, I am eager to share my joy and experience with others. I am seeking to honor God in the way I care for the body he has given me in which to live. I Corinthians 6:19 & 20 states: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, HONOR GOD WITH YOUR BODY."
I am also mindful of the vital role that the prayer of family and friends like yourself has played in this adventure. For that I remain genuinely grateful. May God bless each of you as you have so richly blessed me.
Striving to honor God with my body,