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"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #19" 

02 April 2002

To You Still Generously Interested and So Supportive,

Thank you for taking the time to read this update.  I pray that it may be a morsel of encouragement if not entertainment for you.

There are times in life when one's heart cannot be adequately expressed with mere words.  I confess to be in one of those moments of time right now.  It is the one year Anniversary of my new life.  To know my heart and frame of mind at this exact moment you would have to see the tears, the red swollen eyes, the goose bumps, the shake of the head, the thump of the chest and the tremble of the hands as I try to type.  My feeble words cannot do justice.  You would also have to grasp a range of emotions so broad and vast that even I have an inadequate perception of them.  You see, exactly one year ago to this hour, I stepped up and straddled two scales only to be in shock and mesmerized at the realization of what I was about to experience.  One year ago right now my physical existence was turned around in a completely new direction.

It was 7:30 am on Sunday morning April 1, 2001.  April 1st.  April Fool's Day.  My personal day of infamy.  I was feeling like a fool for allowing myself to get to a point of morbid obesity and poor health.   At the same time I  knew that I would be a fool not to pull the trigger, take this huge leap of faith and embark on the ultimate weight loss adventure. While people play pranks on each other on this day, it now was about to take on much deeper significance and meaning to me.  It has become my new personal holiday of remembrance and reflection.  The fool's Thanksgiving Day.  The day I began a new life.  The first day of the rest of my life. On this day I left behind a very rewarding and productive yet unhealthy lifestyle and put my personal integrity and character on the line.  I made a very transparent and public decision to make a major change in my life.  From now on, it will be a day that I set apart to reflect on my own vulnerabilities and give thanks to the Lord God Almighty for giving me the strength to respond to them accordingly.  I am a fool saved by grace!  

One year ago at this hour I was so foolish that I really thought I weighed a lot less than I really did.  I knew I was large but knowing the scale at home peaked out at 350 pounds, I had no idea of the magnitude of challenge that lay ahead.  I had to lay 2 scales side by side, put one foot on each, hold my breath, add the two numbers together and come up with my weight at the moment.  I was so shocked at my calculations I had to get up and down about 8 times to be sure it was accurate.  467.  467 pounds.   You loose accurate self perspective when facing dilemmas of that magnitude.  We all experience it.  Justify that habit you cannot break.  Don't take responsibility for your actions towards God, others or yourself.   Rationalize the error of your ways till you find yourself continuing to do it and perpetually struggling as the conviction gnaws at you knowing that you need to change.  I clearly had fallen victim to that pattern of thinking.  I had lost  accurate awareness and realization of how out of hand things had gotten and in an instant harsh reality was thrown into my face like an ice cold bucket of water.

A size 60 waist with a very limited wardrobe.  A medical professional and a political leader who was forced to dress very informally.  Unable to fit into an airplane seat.  Driving an oversized car out of necessity. Always hoping for the aisle seat at a game, movie or play.   Dreading going to a new unfamiliar restaurant thinking I may not fit into the booth or chairs with sides on them.  Being judged and assumed to be a lazy couch potato.  Often ignored as unattractive and undesirable. Unable to go to the beach, wear shorts or be comfortable in many other social situations.  Barely able to make it up a flight of steps without getting winded.  Having to overcompensate with humor, self put downs and publicly cracking jokes about myself.  Such were the thoughts and realities of my life as a huge man.  They called me "dr. Nick; the big man with the huge heart."

Well, thankfully the hinge moment had come.  There hopefully comes a time like this in life for every one of us.  We call them defining moments. The instant when we proclaim this is it!!!  Time to put it all on the line.   Such was this moment.  I stepped off the scales, took hold of God's hand asked Him to lead the way and started a new way of life.  I had taken a mortgage out on my house to pay for it all, given a one year notice at work, not run for reelection to my public office and against the advice and skepticism of many took drastic action.  You see big problems need big solutions.  I had a strong God given conviction that a radical lifestyle transformation had to take place.  Leaving it all behind I set out for the open road in search of balance, health and fitness.

We humans love to have symbols of remembrance.  Something tangible for us to reflect on.  Call it a monument, a keepsake, an heirloom or any form of memorabilia, we all have things from our past that we hold on to as reminders.  After stepping off the scales that day I stripped myself of my clothes and dignity and stood naked before my brother Phil and my new digital camera.  Having a 467 pound body was something I was ashamed of but at the same time felt like it would help to have a memorial of the moment.  Pictures were taken from every angle in every direction.  So though perhaps a little more detail that you wanted to hear, that is how my adventure began.  With a photo shoot of my naked, swollen and oversized body.  I look at those pictures now and am in sheer amazement that I allowed myself to get to that point.  They serve as very effective, safe and cheap appetite suppressants. And reminders. Reminders of a miraculous transformation that has taken place in my body. An so began my journey towards becoming less than half the man I once was.  A year ago to the hour of writing this.

And what has happened since then?  In the last 365 days, I have lost 257 pounds going from 467 on April Fool's Day 2001 to 210 this morning April Fool's Day 2002.  257 pounds!  The ideal body weights of two adult 5'4 women have been shed from my body. All of that while visiting every State in America and every Major League Baseball Park while attending 110 Major League Baseball games.  God put me in the right place at the right time to save two lives.  I attended perhaps the most memorable World Series and Super Bowls of recent memory.  I arrived in the New York Metropolitan area the night of September 10th only to see the world change before my eyes the next morning.  I got to visit hundreds of family members and friends that I had only loosely stayed in touch with over the last decade.  I got to spend high quality time with my dad, grandfather, pastor and select friends and colleagues while driving over 38,000 miles in an RV that had not a single mechanical glitch.  I was blessed with generous hospitality and encouragement from so many loved ones and friends.   E-mail allowed for such powerful inspiration and motivation as I gave up solid food completely for 8 months.  I arrived home the day before Thanksgiving only to taste my first bite of solid food and have it broadcast on Television.  I came back clueless as to what I would be doing only to be blessed with wonderful and rewarding work serving indigent patients again and advocating for the most vulnerable members of our society;  physically abused and neglected children.   And on and on and on.  So much has been given to me. Thank you Dear Lord God Almighty for such a miraculous experience.  Every day I find myself in disbelief and amazement with what this last year has been; Simply Amazing.

So what now?  Well I just got back from a wonderful one week visit to Hawaii the last of 50 states to visit with my buddy Jon Petersen.  50 states in 50 weeks was quite an enjoyable way to see America.  I have been spending at least 2-3 hours at the gym every day, am working about 25-30 hours a week, excited to have the opportunity to share the blessings on my adventure in a variety of settings and focusing on making these lifestyle changes permanent.  In terms of the future, that is definitely in God's hands and I am enjoying the privilege of truly experiencing a day to day existence.  While I am open to writing a book, doing larger scale public speaking or running for higher political office, I maintain a wait and see attitude.  While these are things I get encouraged to do daily, I am waiting for some form of concrete confirmation before embarking on adventures of that magnitude.   It makes me so uncomfortable when people complement me and heap praise on me for "my" accomplishments.  It is not I but Christ within me.  I wish that people would not see a man who did great things but rather that great things can be done through a man who's will is submitted to God.

I again am obligated by my heart to express my thankful appreciation to you collectively for providing the accountability, motivation, encouragement and enthusiasm which so many have so generously and willingly shared.  I am so very grateful.

Ephesians 3:20 &21 says:  "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!!!"  And might I add to Him be glory in my body and for the wonders He has blessed me with over this past year.
Amen.

Respectfully,
Thankfully,
Humbly,
and Enthusiastically as Less Than Half the Man I Once Was,

dr. Nick Yphantides

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