Maybe some of you know this. Maybe some of you don’t. Can’t hurt right? I’m a 37-year-old male, born in the Philippines but of Chamarro and Japanese ancestry. I’ve been married to a beautiful Filipina for going on 13 years. We have an intelligent and energetic five-year-old daughter, who is excited to start kindergarten this fall. Our first child died in 2007 from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). He was 3.5 months old. I’m the youngest of three brothers. My older brother took his own life in 2013. My oldest brother, well, his lifestyle recently caught up with him. He suffered a stoke two weeks ago. He is only 43. He got lucky. If he does the physical, speech and occupational therapy, he is expected to make a full recovery. Heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes run in my family. My mom is relatively healthy. My dad will be 76 in a few days, has high blood pressure and is diabetic. He manages them both really well.
About a year ago, I decided it was time to get fit. I told myself I want to be fit by 40. At the time, my blood pressure was in the pre-hypertension and borderline Stage 1 range at 148/92 (normal is 120/80). I weighed 229lbs in a 5’4” frame, that’s a BMI of 39.3 (obese). My cholesterol, particularly my triglycerides were high at 393 mg/DL. A1C levels were starting to creep into that borderline area as well at 5.9 (<5.7 is optimal). I was on two blood pressure medications (Toporol and Losartan) and one cholesterol prescription (Fenofribrate). Every three months my numbers (weight, blood pressure, A1C and cholesterol) kept creeping in the wrong direction and I feared more prescriptions, in higher doses, were in my future. It was time to get my doctor to put down the pen and time for me to actually do something.
I thought exercising was going to be the hardest part. So exercising was my initial focus. I started off by joining many of the neighbors as they walked around our neighborhood lake in the evening. I’m not a real competitive guy but I did get a thrill passing the old Asian guy with the tennis balls on his walker. The track around the lake was paved and they had distance markers…1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4…after my first lap, I was winded and went home, proud that I did all 4/4 miles around the lake. They have since repaved the track and that’s when I discovered that those were quarter mile markers. The new markers are in tenths of a mile. I started slowly…one lap, two laps, three laps…you get the idea. Then it got cold. I was intimidated about joining a gym. I wouldn’t know how to use any of the equipment and everyone looked like they knew what they were doing…I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’.
I bit the bullet and joined Planet Fitness. Hey, its only $10. The elliptical, treadmill and other equipment may not be as fancy as Walt’s gym but I haven’t felt out of place like I feared I would. Although, I didn’t expect people to actually use the shower at the gym…seeing wang first thing in the morning can be a bit disturbing (that’s what she said).
A year later, I’m feeling great and not killing myself exercising. I feel it’s a sustainable pace. I got down to 199lbs at one point (then the holiday season arrived…damn you Thanksgiving) but I’m hovering in the 204lbs range, down 25lbs with a BMI of 35 (still obese). My blood pressure has gotten much better (103/66) and I’m off the Toporol. Just taking the Losartan. My cholesterol has improved to ‘below average risk’ with my triglycerides down to 118 and I’m off the Fenofribrate. My A1C…well that number is still going the wrong way, up to 6.1. I have another three month checkup next month and I’ve been monitoring my blood sugar levels and working on my diet. Hopefully that number starts moving in the other direction.
This is me, I am Jerry…a work in progress. More on my journey to come…pssst…exercise turned out to be the easy part.