In September 1993, the thing for men was silk long-sleeve shirts hiked to the elbow, and bold, brightly colored ties.
Radio stations played The River of Dreams by Billy Joel, Runaway Train by Soul Asylum, and Reason to Believe by Rod Stewart. True Romance, A Bronx Tale and The Joy Luck Club flickered on movie screens. Television’s offerings included Murphy Brown, Roseanne, and Seinfeld. The Internet – as we know it now – didn’t exist. Email was in its infancy (but I’m sure there was spam). Our president was Bill Clinton with Tom Foley as the Speaker of the House. Finally, news stories included PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands; and the continued legal fallout from the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco.
The biggest news story in my world was my 39th birthday on September 28 and that my life was careening out of control.
I suffered from severe back and chest pains; my finances were a mess; my marriage was hanging by a thread — and I topped the scales at 250 pounds. Taking self-inventory, I came to the shocking realization that what was in common among all these difficulties was me; I had become my own enemy.
From past experience, I knew that my canary in the coalmine was my eating.
When I got that under control, everything else fell in place. But if you added up all the weight I had lost (and then regained) over the course of my not-quite-forty-years, I’m sure it would have been in the thousands. I had even helped others lose weight. Yet, I always regained it, reverted to old habits over time.
Defeated, overwhelmed, and hopeless – but seeing no alternatives — I opted to try “one last time,” promising myself that by September 28, 1994, I’d be “fit, fun, and fiscally sound.”
It was that despair that led me to action. I went to a meeting; I reached out.
A small step, yes, but still it was movement. When I entered the room, I wanted to fall through a hole in the floor. It took every ounce of will I could muster to prevent from turning and running to the nearest bakery.
Yet I stayed; one more small step.
Shedding several pounds the first week was certainly exciting – but I had such a long way to go that it seemed a drop in the bucket. I decided I needed more support; I expanded my circle of friends and began therapy – more steps. I took a walk daily; quite literally lots of steps.
As my weight changed, my sense of control began to return. I smiled more often and hurt much less. I felt lighter – literally as well as figuratively. My old self was shedding, revealing a new, more confident inner being. With the exception of my faltering marriage, my relationships deepened.
My wife, seeing obvious changes, asked, “You’re losing weight because you want to leave me, aren’t you?”
Compassionately – but honestly – I replied, “No, I’m doing this because I’m going to be healthier. I hope you’ll come with me – but I’m going either way.” Sadly, we parted ways soon after.
September of 1994 saw the release of The Shawshank Redemption, the premier of Friends and ER. Radio stations played I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz II Men and the top news story that dominated the headlines was the beginning of the OJ Simpson murder trial.
For me, it was that I lost 70 pounds in 364 days and reached my goal on September 27, 1994 – one day before “deadline.”
Twenty two years have slide into the past, but I’m still here; struggling now and then and also often surprised by new victories I didn’t expect. After all, how could I? I’ve never maintained a weight goal this long.
Yet when asked recently, “What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from this?” It’s easy to answer. It all starts with asking for help and taking one small step; putting one foot in front the other and not worrying about how far is the road nor how long it will take.
After all, if we could do it on our own, we would have already done it – whatever “it” is.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known weight loss expert for baby boomers and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com. He is available for coaching and speaking. His new book (co-written with his sister), “The Busy Baby Boomers Motivational Guide to Weight Loss” is now at www.BabyBoomersGuides.com