This picture of Janet and I was taken about three years ago. At the time, I was 127 kg (280 lbs) with a waist of 112 cm (44 inches). My height was 170 cm (5’7″) which is about a 2.5 cm (1″) less that I was throughout my life. I understand that a lose of height is normal as you age. I was around 63 at the time of the picture.

In spite of my size, I was in good health. Then (and still today) I was free of any routine medications. My only ongoing complaint was a constant pain in my right knee. It was pretty much bone-on-bone and I was offered a half-knee replacement which I decided to decline at the time.

I hate this picture but the camera didn’t lie. I was obese. I empathize with others who are my size or bigger. I didn’t plan to look like this nor did I like looking like this. I allowed myself to become this way. Like so many in my cohort, there was little activity in my life and my diet was unchecked but normal by today’s convention. That is the recipe for obesity which was easy to become and difficult to combat.

That is where I was but I am at a different place today just three years later. My motivation for setting up this online space is to share my challenge with cancer. My chances of survival are better because I took control of my life three years ago, more by accident than design, and today I am strong, fit, eat healthy, am medication free, don’t smoke, exercise regularly and other than having a problem swallowing, I am the picture of health. I feel so much better throughout each day than I did just three years ago. My transition from fat and lazy to fit and active improved the quality of my life. More importantly, my body is better prepared to tolerate radiation, chemotherapy and surgery than would have been the case just three years ago.

There is no one I know who thinks they will have a battle like mine on their hands. None of us know what the future holds. If right now you are like I was and my ramblings influence you to take control of your life to become strong and fit, then I will see my effort as mission accomplished.

2020-01-18 – In a telephone call with Elsie today she mentioned her decision to stop smoking only to discover two years later that she had her own health battle on her hands. That decision and the subsequent improvement in her health prepared her to better tolerate her treatment. (Note: Elise is my sister-in-law married to Janet’s brother Mike)

The reason she mentioned this was to suggest that my decision to climb on a bicycle in June 2017 was no accident. It was fate to prepare my body for the battle ahead. I think she wanted to be more spiritual but wasn’t confident that I would find it meaningful. I took hold of the conversation and said “It was a sign from God to get me ready to do battle with cancer. My current challenge is a test to prove my worthiness for something important in my future. I don’t know what that is but I plan to prove I’m up to the task.”

Lifestyle Change

I believe this current chapter in my life-story started on June 3rd, 2017 when I climbed on a bicycle and drove to the end of my street and home. That 2 km (1.4 miles) ride was torture. My legs ached, I was out of breath, my heart was pounding in my chest, and my butt was screaming in pain. All I could think was I must have lost my mind when I agreed to cycle every day my little brother Brad and his daughter Alexis rode in the Trans America Bike Race. That race started in Astoria, OR and passes through ten states to the finish line in Yorktown, VA. They rode 262 km (163 miles) on day 1 so my little ride paled by comparison. There is more story to tell but for now, suffice it to say, this is how it started. I didn’t have a grand plan. I didn’t expect this moment to have such a profound impact. I didn’t set out to be a source of inspiration for anyone. I simply agreed to ride daily while Brad was on the race and given how I felt on day 1, my only thought was “get this over with!”

2020-02-01 – This picture was taken a few moments ago. I am still 170 cm (5’7″) tall but I think I stand straighter without the weight of my belly pulling on my spine. I am 82.5 kg (182 lbs) with a waist of 89 cm (35 inches). I’ve lost almost a third of my body weight and if I suck in my breath, I can fit into size 34″ jeans.

With this transition after three years:

  • I can fit into any restaurant booth without my belly rubbing.
  • My stomach no longer rubs the steering wheel in my car.
  • I can wear clothes from Brad, my son Drew, and Brad’s son’s Brett and Brady.
  • My bone-on-bone right knee hasn’t changed but I no longer have any pain. The muscles around the joint are strong and when you lose weight, the reduced pressure on all joints is remarkable.
  • It is easier to roll over in bed at night.
  • I can comfortably reach my shoes and tie my laces with ease.
  • I can reach everywhere in the shower comfortably.
  • When driving with others, three in the back seat is no longer a problem.
  • I can reach down and pick up anything without getting dizzy.
  • And the list goes on.

My point in presenting the list above is to share how the quality of my life is improved and I am sure my former cohort of obese folks can easily add to the list above of the frustrating challenges they face day in and day out.

If looking at me you think I’m something special, you are wrong. I am just a regular guy like you. My journey to better health started by chance but I did make an active decision to keep the ball rolling and had the fortitude to stick it out. That doesn’t make me special. It does mean I made a decision and stuck with it. I guess that’s a little special but within anyone’s grasp.

I am so much happier today because I made the decision.