Part of the motivation for this comes from group of us blogging dads, spearheaded by Brent Almond from Designer Daddy. We call our group "Chuck the Chunk: The Road To The Dad 2.0 Summit." We've all agreed to throw down to see who can get the fittest/healthiest, with some pretty bad ass prizes. Unfortunately, I can't make it to Dad 2.0, but I'm still participating.
As some of you know, I used to be in the military. When I got out of USMC basic training, I was 150 pounds, but I generally plateaued around 180. I spent 4 years in the US Marine Corps, followed by a year in the US Army. That year in the Army was originally supposed to be 6, but something happened. Our spine has a disc between each vertebrae, and two of those discs in my lower back bulged out to the point that they're pinching on nerves. I was a healthy guy in decent shape. No one is really sure how, but somehow this happened, and that diagnosis is what changed my life.
I went from being a guy who was on a clear path, working to become an IT guy in the Army, to a guy with nothing. I was fairly recently married. My wife was pregnant. We were far away from family. I had no idea what was going to happen to my life now.
The first big change was that after the problems with my discs was found is that the Army made me stop doing PT (physical training, working out). I went from a guy who was 180 pounds, and doing intense exercise every weekday to a guy who was 240 pounds. I was eating the same, but doing none of the physical activity to burn off the calories.
After I was fully out of the military, we moved back to central Massachusetts. We found a great apartment, in a good area. I was paid a severance from the Army based on my time in service and rank, so we had some money to live off of. I started working a job that I didn't really like but could tolerate. Then it hit me. I completely hated what I was doing. I was going no where in life. I spiraled into depression. I didn't want to do anything, but was able to fake it at work. My wife helped me get involved with the Veterans Administration, and get on antidepressants. Fortunately, the medication I was on helped me lose some of the weight, but I was still around 220.
Then the next big positive thing happened: I got a real job, one I would generally enjoy. It was June of 2009, and the job was (unfortunately) 2 hours each way from home. It sucked, but I kept on through it. Then it happened. Remember the pregnant wife? I timed my getting off of active duty so that the 6 months of military health care would cover the due date in September. She was pregnant with twins, so having the military cover all that cost was wonderful. It turns out that we didn't need all 6 months. In mid July, I got a frantic phone call. My wife was just under 30 weeks pregnant, and her water broke. Fuck.
The kids were born, and it was stressful (with NICU time and everything), and eventually we had another one a couple of years later. One thing that hadn't changed over the years was that I never got back down to the weight I used to be. Was it all to blame on being an involved dad and not having (or taking) the time to go to the gym? Probably not. But now that things have stabilized a little bit, I'm still that chubby guy. I'm out of shape, and I don't like it. With the job that I started a few weeks ago, I have access to a free gym.
I've finally got the opportunity to get myself back to a healthier weight. Maybe it will help my back feel better, but my back was still in pain while I was smaller. But you know what, if being healthier helps me be a better and more involved parent, great. If it helps me feel better about myself, even better. While I've fixed lots of things about myself over the years, as I've become the dad and husband I am now, this is the next hurdle for me. Time to be a little less chubby.