Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Big Bad Bob

Today marks the 11th anniversary of when I bottomed out by max-ing out.

It was 1999, and I had spent the past few weeks partying like it was ... well, 1999. I was a couple of weeks away from my 40th birthday, and I did something one morning that I had not done in a long time: I stepped on the scale.

It read 280 pounds, as it had for the past few months. This was a cheap scale that only went to 280 pounds, though, and the needle was way beyond that mark, straining to complete the loop and put me back at zero. So I stepped on the new digital scale that was up in the guest bedroom.

It said that I weighed 310 pounds.

I had spent most of my 30's building up to this. I weighed about 200 pounds when I graduated from college and began the sedentary life of a working man. In my late 20's I started fighting the weight, going to the gym, dieting when I got the itch, and then pretty much eating what I wanted when the itch passed. About the time the RandoDaughter was born the only exercise that I got was playing golf on the weekends, riding in a cart as close to the ball as I could get, whacking at it badly, and then riding on towards the green.

In 1996, RandoGirl and I went to Paris. Here's a picture of me on the tour bus admiring the Eiffel Tower.

A couple of years later, we went to England. Here's a picture of me there. I think that's a castle behind me, but it's so hidden behind my massive girth that you have to guess.

When we moved in closer to Atlanta, our neighborhood had a great club with two pools and a deck. We had the RandoDaughter's seventh and eighth birthday parties there. There are -- thankfully -- no pictures of me swimming at this pool. I did swim ... or really just floated well ... but you would not want to have seen me without a shirt.

We went to a few of the Disney parks in November of 1998. Here's a lovely shot featuring my ample backside killing a ferris wheel horse.

Most of our friends here in Tennessee never saw me when I was huge. When they come over to the house and stumble upon an old picture of me, they are pretty stunned. Many of them say that I should put some "fat me" pictures up on the blog ... that it might inspire other folks to lose weight.

I don't know about that. Real changes like this can only come from within. For years, friends and family tried to get me to lose weight. Pleading, cajoling, threatening, telling me about this new diet plan and that, buying me exercise equipment and gym memberships ... they tried it all. They did it out of love, and I thank them all for the attempt now.

But I only lost the weight when I finally got sick and tired of being fat. I wasn't having much fun. I saw the way that people looked at me, and I felt like a joke. And I began to dread the day when I would drop the RandoDaughter off at school and one of her classmates would say something about her dad, the blimp. She would defend me, but it would sting. I could not let my weakness hurt her.

Losing that weight was not easy. By 2000, I was down to 250 pounds and could start exercising without my joints screaming from the strain. That birthday, RandoGirl bought me a bike -- a hybrid from REI that I rode for years. By 2002 I weighed 220, and RandoGirl bought me a Cannondale ... a real road bike. That spring I rode my first century.

I generally keep my weight in the 180's now, depending upon how cold it is. Back then, I was borderline hypertensive and about to go on blood pressure medication. Today, when I check it in the machine at Publix it usually says 110/70, with a resting heart rate of 50.

The thing that really bugs me now is how much damage I did to myself and my loved ones during those fat years. It has left scars, inside and outside, that not even plastic surgery can heal.

When I went to write this blog, I dug through a huge box of photographs, looking for good examples of Fat RandoBoy. Take a look again at the picture of me in Paris -- there are only three pictures of me on that whole trip. I went through envelope after envelope of photographs from trips to the beach, parties, school events ... in most of them I am hiding. If the camera happens to catch me, I am scowling at it, because the camera does not lie and was thus my enemy.

I managed to miss out on fully enjoying some of the best times, and I managed to avoid showing up in the pictures. It's almost as if I wasn't there at all.

Sure, I'm doing better now. But back then? I blew it.


  1. Very well written, Rob. I'm currently part way thru a weight loss program. Having srtarted at 243 back in July, I am down to 198 as of last night. I'm eating less and walking at least 3 miles a day. Thanks for the inspiration, old friend, and Happy New Year. Nils

  2. You, too, were one of the reasons that I lost weight, Nils. You got me into sailing, and I got tired of the looks that I would get from other crew on a race when we were on the downwind leg. If the rules were different, I would have become flotsam (or is that jetsam?).

  3. If you were looking for a positive spin on your pendulous past, ponder the priceless principle you have proven to your peers and progeny.....real change starts from the heart.

    Your chrysalis can be tranformed into stunning motivational banner.

  4. My past was portly; post-deflation I am pendulous. Meanwhile, the moth metaphor brings to mind these words of wisdom: It puts the lotion in the basket.

  5. Robert,
    Great inspiration for all. You have talked to me in the past about your previous battle with weight and I am always inspired about how you changed your life. Happy New Year to you and the Randosquad! Talk to you soon!


  6. As always, very well written! Your family appreciated you, even then. We also appreciate what it took for you to make and maintain this change in your life and are grateful for how much longer we will have you around and how much happier you are with yourself.

  7. What a determination! You look great and really strong. I'm looking forward riding with you...


  8. RandoBoy, you just continue to be my hero! I'm so proud for you. It's sad to ever think about you hiding in any way.