Wednesday, July 23, 2008


So I have been hinting at this for some time, and today is time to tell the story 17people’s last four month dedication and obsession to health and fitness.

While health care is an issue that is obsessed about in politics in this country, people’s personal health in this country is an equal if not greater problem. We eat like shit, work too many hours, and veg out on the couch or in front of a computer too much.

As a result our country has put on a lot of unhealthy weight which has led to more obesity, higher blood pressure, more cases of sleep apnea, and a rash of Type-2 Diabetics.

By being a healthier, more active country we wouldn’t need to go to the doctor as much and be able to stay off the plethora of medications out there which mask the problems that many of us have inflicted upon ourselves.

On Saturday March 15th after a night of drinking and partying with my friends a challenge was made. Two of my friends were going to be in a weight loss competition judged by percentage of body weight.

A “Biggest Loser” competition of sorts. The bet between them was a trip to Vegas. Another of my buddies heard of the bet and asked to be in on it. He then called me and asked if I wanted in. What he may not remember is as I was stumbling home from a bender that concluded with me eating an end of the night breakfast at one of my favorite Chicago places, ‘Nookies’. If I remember right after a number of drinks I ended up eating my favorite meal there, ‘Crunchy French Toast’. For those of you who don’t know what that is, think French toast that has Corn Flakes cooked onto it.

The next day, crippled with a series of brutal hangovers the “PRAA Biggest Loser” competition was formed. The four of us would weigh in the next day and every subsequent Monday until July 7th.

Being the kind of person that makes small deals into much bigger deals I went to ‘Bed, Bath, and Beyond’ and bought the best digital scale I could so that we had a common scale to all weigh in on each week.

The next day all four of us weighed in. I will not tell any numbers of any of my friends because their weight is their business.

While I don’t like to divulge too much about myself putting my results here for all to see will serve as another motivator to keep the weight off and stay healthy. I started the competition at an embarrassing and pathetic 196.2 pounds (yes, the scale had decimals). My BMI was 31.7. So according to the BMI scale you can use at I was in the ‘obese’ category. I was wearing 34” waist pants and my BP was 140/100.

Why should people be interested in how I worked out, ate, and trained the past 17 weeks?

Because it has worked, and produced incredible results that are both noticed by people who know me, but more importantly, are felt by me.

The results are.

- At the end of the competition I dropped 36.8 pounds to 159.4 pounds.
- My BMI dropped from 31.7 to 25.7.
- My waist shrunk 4-5 inches depending on pants
- Most importantly for me, my blood pressure dropped from 140 over 100, to 112/68
- Have reduce my mile time to around 6:45 when I could barely run a 8:45 mile when I started
- Have gone from being able to do one, maybe two chin-ups to being able to do 13 now and 5 sets of 6.

I mean I fit into a pair of 29in pants the other day!? That's crazy to me, I don’t know the last time I could say.

The whole thing has been awesome. I feel great and while it sounds vein, I looove seeing people now. The last couple weeks I have seen some friends for the 1st time in over a month or three and I have heard the following comments quite a bit.

"You look so much younger"

"You look great! Ugh, not to say you looked bad before, but, you look good now."

"Holy shit!"

"You look you did when you were in high school."

"How'd you lose all the weight? Can you help me do it?"

The last line is why I am going to write about this at length in this blog. Above any vanity, I feel great, I’m sleeping better, and other than the fact I have to buy all new clothes this has been about the best thing I have ever done.

The problem with the answer to the question is that it is not a quick one. I worked my ass off (literally) to get myself in the shape I am in now and it wasn't done by just running a lot or by buying a video or machine off an infomercial.

It was a strategic tireless, dedication that required discipline and self control on things I have not done well on in the past.

I remember at the end of the Biggest Loser last season that Ali, who ended up winning, said that when she trained, she was training as an athlete. That is where I feel I have gotten myself too and I still have more goals for myself to accomplish.

By sharing what I have learned, I hope someone out there will learn something new they can do to enhance their workout or eating habits.

As I wrote yesterday my dad has always talked about the importance and meaning of health. How I feel now compared to 4+ months ago has transformed how I view that belief.


Patrick said...

That's really awesome. I couldn't believe how different you looked at the wedding.

So...did you win the contest? is it over?

Sarah said...

Congrats Johnny! Your story is funny and inspiring. I think it's great that you've decided to talk about all of these things and not just politics. I've really enjoyed reading your take on Tim Russert and all of these people that have sacrificed their health in an effort to "get ahead". You chose not to take that path when I know the pressure to do so must have weighed on you heavily (pun kinda intended).

I've been able to relate with you in many ways as you've talked about all of these things. People have a hard time understanding that I'm healthier now that I'm out of the Marines than when I was in, but it's the same type of situation.

People underestimate the impact stress has on their bodies. I agree with you when you say that we are over medicated. I'm not saying that health care is a total farce but I do think that it is something that masks problems and enables us not to look at our health in a more holistic perspective.

You should post before and after pictures. It would be neat for people to see what you've done.

Take care Johnny and again, Congrats! Good luck with Bikram. (My Bikram instructor kinda reminds me of being in the Marines again, have fun with that.)