A conversation with their Fire Chief about the matter of my size (something about a lard butt as I recall) led to me to a meeting their Director of Physical Education. After declaring me a lost cause, and giving me a harsh lecture about the error of my ways, he deemed me marginally worthy of receiving a copy their recommended high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. He closed the conversation with a brusque comment that he did not think I had what it takes.
Talk about being exposed to a master of psychological motivation. I tore into that diet plan and by the time I left the service in June of 1970, I had dropped better than 40 pounds. Over the course of the early 1970's I was able to corral my weight problems in the range of 240 to 275 pounds. At one point, I was down from my peak by over 100 pounds.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of going on a fad liquid diet program during the late 1980's. I need to make weight for a National Guard physical and this was the only way (I thought) to get the job done. Let me assure you that the results were truly only a short-term fix. By the time I returned to regular food and got done rebounding, I was suddenly up near 300 pounds again.
This little faux paux led me to lose my position as State Fire Marshal for the New Jersey Army National Guard when I was passed over for promotion because of my failure to maintain a proper weight profile. I guess this was their attempt at saying that I was too fat to be promoted. Had I been a thin man, I probably would have retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, since I had completed all of the necessary educational requirements and worked in State Headquarters.
Let me suggest that being over weight comes at a steep price. Sometimes, the cost comes in the area of clothes and sometimes it is in the area of ones health. In this case, my lack of focus and motivation cost me a military career. Fortunately, I was able to lock in my pension rights and retire with my monthly stipend intact. Luckily I dodged a serious bullet there my friends.
Anyway, life has a way of allowing us to get lazy. Over the years, I drifted back up well over 300. I danced the dance of denial with my personal physician each year. She would say lose weight and I would say OK. What she could not explain was that even in spite of my heavy weight, I still had a blood pressure rate in the range of 118/68. All of my blood work was good and my resting pulse dazzled her. She kept telling me that this would go away one day, but it never did. My blood pressure, pulse, and test results were always on target.
Things began to change a couple of years ago. I stopped trying to diet and ceased my constant up and down, yoyo style of weight control. The results were not unexpected. The number of shirts and trousers I could wear dwindled to a precious few. The number of suits and sport coats I was able to don dropped off to just one (and I had to buy that one special).
Let me assure you that I knew I was in trouble when the tailor at Franks Big and Tall told me that he had done all he could for my three business suits. I ended up buying two suits at a size so big that I am ashamed to mention it. Further, my fire company uniform had also been expanded to the outer limits of its ability to wrap around my lard butt. I went to the uniform store to cure that problem.
Finally in September of last year I decided I had had enough. When I went in to my physician, the first thing the staff had me do was get on the scale. Since I had stopped weighing myself some time back, the results of this 'tipping of the scale' ceremony nearly floored me. As I sat in the little examination room, my spirits were sinking as surely as the sun sets in the west each day.
When my doctor came into the room, she looked at me and asked what was wrong. I made a really simple statement. I told her that I actually, "… felt fat." I told her that I lacked the energy to get my work done and that I was feeling especially clumsy lately. I told her about some spells of dizziness which I had been experiencing. I shared my simple feelings of being out of sorts.
Dr. Peters sort of smiled and nodded knowingly. She said, "… well I was going to mention that you had gained quite a bit of weight since the last time I told you to lose weight." She then said something which I believe set the tone for the rest of my life. "… But I am not going to give you a lecture Harry. You know what you have to do." That statement really let the air out of the balloon of my ego. As we left the exam room, I told her that I would do what I can. Let me share with you that this little with her visit took place on the Thursday before Labor Day.