The Weight Loss Story: Chapter IV

Read chapters one, two and three

I looked like shit.

I was beginning to outgrow size 42 waist pants and had already purchased dress shirts with a 19-inch neck so I could stretch them across my torso. None of my suits fit. I looked…swollen.

I felt like shit.

Energy? Riiiight. My lower back, which has always been a trouble spot, was in horrific pain. My upper back was constantly out of alignment, likely because the muscles were busy lifting and moving a mass they were not accustomed to. I was breathing heavier and shallower. I could not get comfortable.

Prior to visiting Dr. Scinta, I was (physically) a mess of a person.

By the time the snow had melted (Side note: It snowed on Mother’s Day 2010 in Syracuse.), there had been significant progress. My 30-pound checkup on April 16 (14-15 weeks) showed:

  • Weight loss of 39 pounds (2 pounds of muscle, 6.5 pounds of water and 30.5 pounds of fat)
  • Body mass index down 5.1 to 38.8
  • Fat percentage down 4.7 to 38
  • Four inches off my waist
  • Resting BP of 118/74 (my kickoff BP was 132/84)
  • Resting pulse of 68 (was 91)
  • Fasting glucose down 23 to 68
  • Fasting insulin at 12.1, well within the healthy range. My first measure had been, wait for it, 717.
  • A1C of 6.0, down from 7.3.
  • Cholesterol at 119, down from 253.
  • ALT (liver enzymes) down 17 to 24.
  • Vitamin D levels up from 6 to 33.

The new joke was that by getting under a 40 BMI I was no longer morbidly obese. Instead I was obese and morbid.

Better, I had energy. I could get around without pain. I was sleeping at night and not keeping The Wife, now seven months pregnant, awake with my snoring.

Meals were still blah, but the mindset had changed and, trust me when I say this, that was half of the battle. My three nights of teaching each week meant dinner was often a salad with some cold chicken. I was drinking a lot of coffee, but that was really my only vice at this point.

You see, I had stopped drinking.


I think I was 10 when my cousins first started slipping booze in my soda at holidays, a sort of “Let’s try getting Jared drunk game.” They weren’t terribly responsible people then and the threat of a cousin-on-cousin asskicking was enough for me to just sit there and take it. When I was 15, my cousin Guy got me so drunk on Christmas Eve that it was difficult to serve Midnight mass. I did a lot of bobbing and weaving.

Alcohol had long been a problem/vice/source of pleasure in the Paventi-Mancini universe. My earliest childhood memories were spent sitting a on a black fireproof safe or playing pinball at Ducky’s Tavern in Solvay, a neighborhood dive bar frequented by my father and some of The Wife’s family. My parents were surprisingly trusting in terms of alcohol. On Christmas Eve, I would have a glass of ouzo or anisette with my father, uncle and cousins and, as long as it was in a cup, I would sneak a beer at 4th of July. I recognize that this is not the healthiest of behaviors, but it should also be noted that I was not getting shitfaced drunk.

My sophomore year of college was actually a big turning point in terms of alcohol. Prior to that, my beer fueled freshman year had been courtesy of a friend Scott, who would be cajoled into a Saturday afternoon beer run with the kickback of cash in order to subsidize his own drinking. Scott was two years older than me, on the staff of the newspaper and an all-around good guy. He moved in with a group of my junior friends that year, making the procurement of weekend booze even easier. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I’m sure it involved my asking Scott to get a 12-pack of Red Dog. Scott refused and decided to take me under his wing, introducing me to good beer. Samuel Adams, Pete’s Wicked Ale and the limited, but robust selection of microbrews and higher quality beers available at Tops Friendly Markets. I never turned back.

I tell this long-winded story to illustrate the fact that I love beer. Not because getting drunk is some sort of fun thing (though I enjoy it), but because finding a new beer is like a quest for me. As we speak, I have stashes in the house of stuff that came back from different states, as if it were a rainy-day fund of beer. Going off the sauce was one of the most trying challenges of the diet.

A few days after the April 16 doctor’s appointment was the baby shower. Some husbands accompanied their wives and we congregated across the street at a newly opened restaurant that happens to have about 40 beers on tap. I had three that day and was completely hammered. My tolerance was gone. What had actually happened was all of that weight loss had removed the extra fat stores where alcohol can hide and the sugars can be converted to fat.

It was as if I was *gasp* healthier.


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