Nearly half the man I used to be, but it’s a good thing

Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments

So it has been a while since my last update and things have been a bit crazy so let me just hit the highlights and go from there.

1960101_10152152048515914_1864566696_nI went on vacation recently (in fact I managed to drop 10 pounds while I was away for two weeks). I flew out and spent some time in Las Vegas where I some nice locals had a good time and then spent a second week out west in Phoenix with a friend and having not been on a vacation like that in a few years I can say it was well worth the trip. Vegas was great actually I played a little poker hit a few slot machines, saw a cool show and met a few locals and sang some drunken karaoke at 2am on the strip. 

1972513_10152151942575914_940583593_nHaving dropped now about 273 pounds since my journey started I’ve built up a new confidence as well. Sure I’m an extravert but two years ago I wouldn’t have just hit on a bartender in another city like that (let alone two). as a matter of fact I’d not have even made the trip two years ago and not just because I had issues getting around, but I was all but shut in. and now as I’ve mentioned before I’m out most nights now with friends or on an actual date with someone, which is still fairly new to me, but it’s been great. In fact I have a couple dates this weekend lined up with two people I’ve made good connections with. But tonight is karaoke night which while video evidence of my horrible singing may exist I will not share it tomorrow night I again will find myself doing open-mic night at Twisted Mikes Tap Room in Knoxville for Left Hand Comedy. I’ve done this now a few times and so far it’s been fun. If you’d like to catch my (NSFW) act check out this clip.

I’ve also been going to the chiropractor again for the first time in several years now that I’m light enough that the adjustments help. And this along with the yoga I’ve been doing as well as the walking and jogging and 1503404_10152142734350914_1808693154_nworkouts I’m to the point where not only do I not need pain meds (which I grant isn’t new news) but I’m also really starting to feel my knees have gotten stronger even if I do still wear braces now and again when I get injections and when I did the 5K at the end of last month. Which reminds me the 5K I did for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) was amazing and if you want you can still donate to the cause here. My team raised the second most amount and I raised the 3rd most personally so I was really proud of that, but they can always use more support so if you didn’t donate but would like to please consider this cause.

And in other health related news I have a surgical consult coming up soon at the Vanderbilt Plastic Surgery Clinic and while it’s likely I’m 6-12 months away form plastic surgery to rid myself of these 40-60 pounds of excess skin it will be interesting to find out just what I’m in for. And (and this is a big one) I’m pretty much apnea free now. I no longer need my CPAP device at night. The doctor told me this morning (as they reduced my pressure to the bare minimums on my device that based on the sleep study I did a few weeks ago if I avoid sleeping flat n my back and instead sleep on my side my sleep apnea (which wasn’t that bad on my back) is non-existent on my side, which means I might need to either strategically place some pillows or buy an anti-snoring shirt that essentially forces you to sleep on your side. I say this is big for me because when  I started this journey I not only had the BiPAP settings at the maximum pressure levels (assistance for both inhalation and exhalation) but I was also on 4 liters of Oxygen at night while I slept because my Obstructive Sleep Apnea was so bad I nearly died in my sleep every night (not joking). So to come from that to not needing the machine AT ALL is simply amazing.

And finally as I already mentioned I’m dating more now, even though I’d kinda been dating a little bit since December or so I’m really putting in the effort to connect with people which has been really good actually although I now seem to receive a rather large amount of Russian Mail Order Bride Spam in my Gmail so I have to deal with that now. I’ve been using Plenty of Fish and OkCupid with surprisingly good results considering the rocky start I got on PoF. But all in all it’s just been really nice to get back out there and be with people on a social level. I am a very social person and it was not easy dealing with the very claustrophobic nature of being a shut-in. This journey while not over has been very likely the single best decision I’ve ever made in the entirety of my adult life. 

1902929_10152152048555914_1169244040_nAnd with that I go back to that title…I need lose only 5 more pounds to officially be half the man I used to be. So with any luck the next time I post an update it will be just that. So for now I look forward to tomorrow with more confidence each day in myself as well as a lease on life that I can’t honestly begin to describe. If you are considering weight loss surgery or even a medical weight loss diet program I can’t promise it will be easy, and I can’t promise it will be fun every day, nor can I promise it will happen overnight, but the one thing I can promise is that the only regret you will have is that you didn’t make the decision sooner.

~rev (282 pounds)

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life is a choice

Posted in Personal, Weigh-In | 3 Comments

What a long but fun weekend I just had. I hopped in my car Friday night after work with my friend Tami and headed to Fayetteville, NC to get some new ink at Sacred Heart Tattoo shop near Fort Bragg by artist Jenni “The Wild Yenni” and while I do have to go back in a few weeks to finish it up (and will share those final shots with you) I wanted to share the progress thus far because this tattoo is simply amazing.

The tattoo to remind me that life is a choice, one I have willingly made instead of giving up and the dates under the tattoo (which will be tied in when I have the piece finished in a few weeks) each have a meaning:

12.09.1977 – day I was born and I chose to take my first breathe

09.04.2011 – day i quit smoking and started breathing again

11.09.2012 – day my doctor told me I would not live another year

04.01.2013 – day I had my weight loss surgery

As you all know by now I started my journey at a staggering 555 pounds and this weekend I not only got some new ink I also lost another few pounds so the icing on this proverbial cake was stepping on my scale at 5:30am when I woke up to read the numbers TWO HUNDRED NINETY-SEVEN (297) meaning that I can officially kiss the 300s good bye and if I’m being honest, which I do try to be, I cried for a moment after stepping off the scale and sitting down, because for the first time in quite literally more than a decade I’ve not had the number TWO (2) lead off my weight read out on a scale and even though I knew this number was approaching and I thought I was ready for it, I actually wasn’t.

So as I seriously contemplate the next phase of my life in doing far more than I ever thought I would with this weight loss journey I find I am truly rediscovering myself, and in ways I’d not anticipated even in the slightest. I’m working on a podcast network which I’ve mentioned already, but I’m also thinking about getting back in you comedy which while I’ve talked about for years haven’t done in more than ten and in the background I’m also writing a drum cover for an up coming YouTube video on my personal channel that I’ll share once I do it…

I’m rediscovering things that make me happy, I’m re-examining things that make me smile, laugh, cry, relate, want, and love. I’m not even done with my journey and as I approach now being literally half the man I used to be (which is only 20 pounds away) I’ve started to find that I wasn’t prepared for how my life would feel at this point. I knew my taste in food would change and I was as ready as I could be for how to approach eating and exercise, but nothing has prepared me for what I can only describe as my rebirth into the person I am becoming. While I know at my core I am still very much the me that was over 500 pounds I also know that I am a very different person in how I interact now, and I’m learning slowly how to take a compliment when someone say’s I’m attractive instead of just seeing the fat guy in the mirror, and this isn’t a negative post, this is a positive one so when  I say these words I say them not to you, but to myself to remind myself that life is a choice and I chose to live it, I chose to embrace it, and I chose to take it for everything I can. And while I’m still trying to figure out the next phase of my life I do know whatever it is, or how ever long it will be, it’s gonna be freggin awesome because I chose it to be, PERIOD.

And with that I do hope you will al continue to follow this journey with me as I try now not to simply find my lean, but also find myself in ways I can’t even describe, know or imagine.

~rev (297 pounds)

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Posted in Health, Personal, Weigh-In | 5 Comments

As I approach the 300 pound mark for the first time in I can’t even remember, and I am getting closer by the day, I wanted to stop and take a moment to talk about some of the personal trials I’ve endured over this journey because I don’t want it to seem like things are always perfect. So sit back and bare with me as I ramble on for a moment or ten.

Starting all the way back in April of 2013 (and FYI this will like be a Pulp Fiction timeline) having just had my surgery and still taking Morphine Sulphate at the rate of 90mg per day it should be needless to say, but pain management is not an easy thing for me. You all know by know my ability to walk more than 100 feet prior to starting this journey was non-existent but what you may not know is entirely why. It’s true the obvious nature of my size made it difficult to walk, but my lower back problems which I’ve had most all of my life, my two bad knees and over all poor health had in general put me past Tylenol and Advil..beyond the reach of Hydrocodone and even OxyContin and was soon going to go beyond the ability for Morphone Sulphate to ease my pain which by the way leaves pretty much only diacetylmorphine out there as an option, which for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a very science-y way of saying Heroin.

And while it is true I’m saying this in part for the dramatic effect I’m also saying it because to be honest that’s pretty much where I was headed. and not due to addiction to pain killers. I was still in pain much of my day even on that much morphine. So much pain in fact when I took a shower I had to then sit for nearly an hour just to recuperate form the pain that even eating morphine pills like skittles didn’t seem to keep enough at bay.

This brings me back to April 2013 and my issues with pain management meant that I was put on a hydromorphine drip post surgery, you may know it by it’s more formal name “Dilaudid” and even that wasn’t entirely enough to ease my pain to the point it didn’t hurt, which I was fine with as I’d accepted I’d always be in some amount of pain my entire life. What I was not however ready for was what happened after and this is the point. Once discharged from the hospital I was obviously no longer on my IV Drip meaning that what little Dilaudid I still had in my system was wearing itself off, And when that happened, and I mean the second that happened I went form mild discomfort to earth shattering pain like I’d never felt in my life. I rarely cry due to pain, and it’s not because I’m macho, it’s simply because that for the most part when you’ve lived with pain like I have you’re whole adult life it tends to not hurt that deeply. This however was not my normal pain, and no amount of tolerance to pain prepared me for what happened. It felt literally like my insides were being pulled apart and I swore something had ruptured. In the end nothing was torn, no stiches undone, it was all completely just my problems with pain management finally catching up to me as I was readmitted to the hospital to basically suffer for an entire day with the bare minimum amount of pain killers they would offer as I’m sure they assumed I was an addict or something. And while it’s now been approximately 8 months since I’ve taken any pain medication (and even then I was all the way back down to Hydrocodone) I will never take for granted what little amount of relief I do get form the medication I take when I need it, ever, ever again.

Moving from Surgery pain (which BTW is not the norm) to something we can all relate to whether you’ve had surgery to help you lose weight or you’re doing the diet and exercise methods…I would like to take a second and remind you that even as good as I’ve done and as much weight as I’ve lost since October 2012 when my journey began the weight loss plateau is a struggle that I’ve had to overcome a few times and am at the time of writing this in the last states of one. I’m not here to offer advice on how to get past one because honestly I‘m still figuring that out. But I am here to say that it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia and sometimes I need to make sure I remind the reader that my journey is just as trying at times as is yours because I don’t want to be the person who talks about the good. And with the weight loss plateau comes the pretzels and yes that wasn’t a typo. I can eat them but I now know I should likely never buy another bag of them again as long as I live because for the first time since surgery I found a food that I’ve struggled stopping eating to the point I felt sick because of it. Granted for me that’s a lot less in volume now than it used to be because for me to feel sick it only takes me eating about two cups of pretzels in a short period of time to accomplish that, but it can and has happened and if I buy another bag will happen again.

I talk about it because I don’t just want you to know I also want to remind myself that as good as I’m doing I’m NOT superhuman in the effort to lose weight and if I am not careful and I fail to identify these issues I can and will end up back to where I was before starting this journey or worse. And by worse I mean dead, because as morbid as it sounds that is the only direction I was headed in and in all likelihood could very well be dead now instead of writing this article reflecting on my journey thus far and contemplating what the next step in that journey is.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that no matter how motivated I get keeping up with my gym time is hard at best. I work out three days a week for the most part but more often that I care to admit I fail to do so because I still fall prey to the predator that is my inner excuse machine. And while it does seem to get a little easier to go to the gym it’s still very very easy not to go at all and to find a reason why that is just okay and that I shouldn’t feel bad about not going, but I do, deep down I know better and I know I need to push myself more to do better.

1601250_10152850867452366_473942457_nSo all in all while I know in my heart my journey has gone better than most in a lot of cases I admit I still sometimes feel defeated, I sometimes look in the mirror and see this guy –> no matter how much weight I’ve lost and while I joke sometimes about the fact I still can’t look at a pair of pants, that according to the size inscribed on its tag I know in my head will fit me perfectly or even loosely, without my heart telling me there is no way in hell you’re getting your giant fat ass in those. and Even though I do honestly have as I put it to a friend earlier charisma oozing out my pores I must admit to myself, and please don’t mistake this for a self-deprecating pity party because I promise it honestly is not. I’m simply not used to being what other people may find as attractive, I’m not used to being someone who is as I put it to another friend just today the “sought after” type and before I start sounding brag-y about how hawt I think I am, I honestly don’t. I still don’t if I’m being entirely open. And the notion that anyone finds me physical attractive is for lack of a better word, odd to me.

I don’t say any of this do be self doubting/loathing, because I have self confidence to spare and I am comfortable in my own skin…all of it, even the extra baggy bits, I’m honestly just saying it as a matter of fact. It’s just how I feel, wrong, right or indifferent it is what it is, and I don’t let it stop me from being social or active now either which is why I say I don’t say any of that in a negative connotation, or at least not purposefully so.

Lastly I wanted to share something that both made me giggle but admittedly is a nice stroke to my ego, and that is with regard to recent conversations I’ve had with friends about a topic I don’t feel like going into here, but the over all consensus from my friends is that I’m too nice…am I really too nice? I mean really? I only mention this because for those who know me personally and those who have been able to glean this particular trait about me through these posts know that I basically don’t put stock into what people think about me, but having people call me nice kinda touched my hearts (both of them).

And with that I choose to end this on a positive note and remind you that I’m training for my first 5k and that I have lost now a total of 253 pounds and hopefully my next message on this site will be about how my scale dropped below the 300 pound mark, or and one last thing….I’m getting a new tattoo very soon and I don’t want to talk about it just yet, but will post pictures and talk about it’s meaning once I’ve had it done, so be on the look out for that.

~rev (302 pounds)

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My First Date DO’s & DON’Ts

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

So as I’ve been losing weight (248 pounds as of writing this entry) I’ve begun dating a little bit and I wanted to stop a moment and break completely form my normal posts about weight loss and talk about what I think are some obvious DOs and DON’Ts of first dates that I’ve started to figure out and understand. Some of these are realizations from my own first dates as well as stories I’ve heard from friends recently.

But before I get into the full list I wanted to share with you what I look for in a “first date” and it may surprise you that to hear me say I’m a little old fashioned, well at least in the single sense that I tend to be an in-person type who doesn’t use a text message to ask a girl out. Text messages are just too impersonal to me, which is why internet dating is a complicated maze of weirdness to me at times, but that is a story for another day. In direct converse proportion to my self-proclaimed old-fashioned nature however when it comes to first dates I tend, rather, to be more non-traditional. To me a first date is ruined by a movie; not because the movie sucks, but because it distracts from conversation, and conversation is key to a good first date. And even in my case, while I’m not looking for anything serious at the moment (in terms of a relationship) it doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to or get to know a girl. So ideally a good first date is any activity that forces conversation to occur. Whether that be something as simple as dinner and putt-putt or something more relaxing like a night out at a park for a nice conversation and a stroll or even to the zoo or an aquarium to something more energizing like hitting up a roller rink or bowling alley, or taking a hike. But whatever that first date may be it should as I mentioned allow for conversation…mutual two-way conversation at that. Maybe later on at some point I list my more ideal first date activities and more specificity. In the meantime I give you the list:

Do…

The unexpected. First date’s that break with the tradition seem to almost always go better. Especially if they allow for more interaction.

Wear comfortable clothing. Be stylish yet comfortable.

Wear sexy underwear. Even if sex on the first date isn’t your thing. Wearing something you feel sexy in makes you feel more confident and confidence is always key.

Bring a travel toothbrush or two. I’m never far away from something I can use to excuse myself to clean my teeth in the bathroom. Your date will thank you even if you don’t kiss him/her.

Talk about your date even before your date. Friends can give a good pep talk.

Facebook him/her. I’m not saying stalk them, but it’s more than acceptable this day and age to do a little pre-homework on the date if you have the option.

Be positive. The more positive you are the more he/she will be also. A Smile is infectious and can turn around a date that maybe didn’t start iff as well as one had hoped.

Share stories about your life at a high level. It will help you both determine where your interests meet.

End the date if you feel you just didn’t click with him/her. Don’t go to a second location if you don’t like him/her.

Break all the conventional “rules of dating” and call him/her after whatever period of time YOU damn well please. You can be fun and call someone without the stigma of being weird.

Don’t…

Get ahead of yourself. Slow the eff down…this is your first date so set the expectation lower and you will very likely have a better time.

See a movie. This being your first date should be more about getting to know someone and you can’t really do that in a movie theater.

Wear overly sexy attire over your underwear. This goes along with being comfortable but more importantly helps draw the lines of the respect you deserve as a human being. Don’t dress like meat and you won’t be treated like meat.

Take shit from him/her. This goes along with the above DON’T because no matter how you dress do NOT tolerate assholes.

Drink and Date. Sure one or two glasses may be fine, but don’t get hammered on the first date. It will very likely set an example of who you are that isn’t what you want him/her to see.

Order something that you wouldn’t normally order at dinner. Be you, and if he/she doesn’t like the fact you ate too much that’s their problem not yours.

Talk about your ex. EVER.

Get too personal in the story sharing. In the end you need to remember this is just a first date.

Talk about sex, because it rarely comes off as anything more than creepy and awkward.

Add him/her to your Facebook friend list after the first date. It’s just weird.

 

I will undoubtedly have more to add to this list, but I just wanted to take a short moment and share it. In all likelihood people will read these and disagree with them and if you do please let me know, also leave a comment about your DOs and DON’Ts of a first date.

~rev (307 pounds)

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Support for NEDA Walk in Nashville, TN (March 22)

Posted in Health, News, Personal | 2 Comments

Hey All,

I’m competing in a 5K in Nashville on Saturday March 22 to support the Local Chapter of the National Eating Disorders Association. So I’d like to ask for your help. I’ve named my team “I NEDA Break” and If you are close to Nashville or want to join my team please do, but if you can’t make the event you can still help by making a contribution to my personal page or my team’s page. As most, if not all of you know I’ve been on a mission to finding my lean and do so as healthily as possible. So far I’ve dropped 247 pounds over the last 17 months and am still moving forward, and now that I’m able to do these types of events I will be doing as many as I can find time for. As someone who has personally struggled with food  my whole life this particular cause is for obvious reason close to my heart and if you are not able to attend or help I completely understand and ask simply that you share this with as many people as you can.

As many as 24 million Americans struggle with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and EDNOS – eating disorder not other specified). In spite of the unprecedented growth in the past two decades, eating disorders research continues to be under-funded, insurance coverage for treatment is inadequate, and societal pressures to be thin remain rampant.  So I’m writing to ask you to support the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in a NEDA Walk in our community. I hope that you will join me and other walkers to raise awareness about eating disorders and funding for NEDA, the leading organization in the United States working to fight eating disorders promote early intervention and treatment.

Your participation and support goes a long way!

· $30 pays for 30 minutes on the NEDA Helpline.

· $50 provides NEDA Toolkits on CD-ROM to 33 parents, teachers , coaches and volunteers.

· $100 assists 23 people who call the NEDA Helpline to seek recovery for themselves or a loved one.

· $250 pays for one day of our Proud2Bme.org teen website, including hosting the site, graphic and content updates and managing volunteer moderators of the forums. (We need 365 contributors at this level to host the website for an entire year.)

· $500 provides resources to students and community volunteers during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

· $1,000 allows us to add a new computer, and phone line for a Helpline Volunteer

http://neda.nationaleatingdisorders.org/goto/stephenrea

 

I do have a real post to write soon about my recent weight plateau so look for that soon, but for now I really hope you can support me in Nashville or better yet join my team and do the 5K with me!

 

~rev (307 pounds)

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Happy New Year….

Posted in Health, News, Personal, vlog, Weigh-In | 2 Comments

I talk about my weight loss over Christmas, my New Year’s Resolutions, and more. Sorry about the rambled tangent.

~rev (311 pounds)

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230 lbs 40 inches and some personal reflection…

Posted in Health, News, Personal, Weigh-In | 2 Comments

Yes I said 40. So I’m down to a size 48 and at the rate I’m moving again after a small plateau I’m very likely to see 44 or even 42 by the end of January but I don’t want to get ahead of myself I do however want to push a small update about the last couple weeks as I likely wont post here again until after the new year. So here goes…

1461409_10151956768540914_947493076_nI’m down to 220 pounds so while I’ve only lost a couple pounds since my December 3rd update I’ve lost as many inches from my waist, actually more perhaps. I’m down an astonishing 36 inches  since this journey began…and even this morning as I put on my now size 48 pants I held them in front of me and simply could not believe I’d get then on let alone button and zip them up..but the truth is I’m a loose 48 and can put on a size 46 though they are too tight to wear at the moment. And I just can’t believe it. I bought these jeans at a thrift store as I’ve either been buying them at goodwill or thrift shops for a while now because I can’t wear them for too long. (6 weeks is the longest so far) and I have 3 pair of size 54’s to either take to goodwill or at some point when I’m near Nashville again I can drop them off at Vanderbilt @ 100 Oaks for the clothing drive for other pre or post surgery candidates who might need them.

I mentioned already I’m working out 3 days a week, well I’ve recently started adding some Yoga to the mix though I’d hardly call what I’m doing yoga I have been doing the plank challenge and so far I’m up to about 30 seconds. Each day I honestly feel better than the last and my heart rate when doing cardio is staying around 145bpm which for me is pretty fantastic. But my journey isn’t over, it’s only just getting started.

So shifting focus from health and weigh-ins to something more personal. I’ve been quite social again over the last few months (increasingly so as time goes on) but I recently started dating..and while I’m not really in a point in my life for anything serious it has been quite nice to just go out, be social and be…well me again I guess. I’ve also launched a podcast network and we shot our first podcast last weekend (the episode is live so go check it out) though I must warn you it’s not entirely safe for work as my co-host and I dropped one or two f-bombs. The podcast we started is around geek culture and I’m working to launch a political podcast as well to pick up where one of my old blogs left off years ago as well as many others. I’m really working to build an entire network of podcasts, some of which will hopefully last. and while it took much longer than I wanted it to thatstupidpodcast.com is finally launched and under way.

On a more personal note and I’ve really not been very personal lately I wanted to just ramble on about a few things so bare with me… I recently turned 36 (or as many of my girl type friends might call it 29) and for the first time in about 8 years or so I feel blessed. Coming from someone who suffers form depression my weight has always been somewhere in my thoughts, either up front and obvious or hidden pushed away and repressed, but always there. For the (honestly) first time in my entire life that I can remember my weight is in the front of my mind but not in a negative connotation, No instead I’m feeling liberated and confident about who I am and how I look. Am I still over 300 pounds? Sure but it doesn’t bother me anymore because I know it’s moving in the right direction and I feel great and I don’t even care about the actual number. While I’m using it as a way to pave milestones in my journey, and I’ve said this in the past, the end game if you will…that “final magical weight” loss number is completely irrelevant to me. I’m already happy and I’m already in a good place and sure I know I’ll need surgery again, this time to get rid of all the extra fleshy fun bits hanging under my arms legs and stomach it doesn’t matter because those are good problems to have (my 48 is more likely a 44 already if you removed the sagging skin).

I’ve also pretty much decided to just go with the flow for a while. I’m just excited to see where life takes me on this roller coaster of a journey and as I turn the page I welcome the next chapters of my life with an open mind and enthusiastic optimism. That said my life does have very little room for what the kids simply refer to as “drama” have added that to my very small list of things I will not spend any of my short precious time on this earth tolerating. And when I say my list is small I mean it…

The things I will not tolerate are:

  • infidelity
  • that thing the kids call “drama”
  • domestic violence
  • bigotry of any sort

And before you smirk, yes I’m well aware not tolerating bigotry is itself a paradoxical irony that cannot be undone, but it is what it is. And in the end I am who I am after all. This reminds me of a friend’s recent facebook status which simply asked a question about flaws in how they relate to how you relate and that really got me thinking. And as I sat for a moment trying to work up my usually off the cuff quip I discovered something about myself or rediscovered something I should say. I remembered for the first time in quite a few years I simply have no flaws….and that’s not to say I’m flawless (far from it) but this one innocent facebook status reminded me of an old blog serious I wrote (on greymatter if that tells you how long ago this was) titled “Back to the Basics.” It was a short mini blog series I wrote about on along defunct blog where I talked about my simple philosophies for life and while people to change over time, myself included, these simple philosophes have not. Below is that facebook status…

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Maybe someday I’ll rewrite those “Back to the Basics” blog entries that deal with my views on everything from regret to soul mates to basic human equality, but for now I really must bid this already rather lengthy entry adieu.

rev (320 pounds)

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