Loose Skin – A Very Real Side Effect of Weight Loss

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This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been afraid to write it, but the time has arrived when it needs to be done. Not for my benefit, but for yours.

In 1990, I weighed 250 lbs. On my 5′ 9.5” frame, that was a lot of extra weight. Shortly before I turned 34 years old in October of that year, I started losing weight. It was slow at first. By the spring of 91, I was serious. I took up running and working out in the gym. I was fairly young, I was getting healthy, and I looked on fitness as my job.

My routine was pretty simple. I went to the gym every morning at 9. Three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and usually Saturday, I would sauna for an hour or so. Then I would shower, come home, have lunch, and work a bit. In the afternoons, especially on days I did not go to the sauna, I would run 2 to 5 miles. I hated running. But I got good at it, and it became a regular part of my routine. I ate very little during the day, I was not on Keto in those days. I’d never heard of low carb. Only low fat. I ate a light breakfast of toast and oatmeal, a light lunch, and then at night I’d have a big dinner.

I did this for 7 years. I lost down to about 168 lbs. I went from a 40 inch waist to a 33. I am, and have been thick waisted my whole life. I inherited my build from both of my grandfathers. People who knew me as fat, were shocked at how I’d lost and kept off my weight. People who didn’t know me as heavy were stunned to hear about my earlier weight issues. They only knew me a buff and thin.

I had no loose skin. Absolutely none. I had met a guy in college who lost a lot of weight, and he had rolls of it. It was almost frightening to look at. I had worked hard, and was young enough that I did not suffer that fate one iota. But that was then.

I was 41, when my wife and I got married. I stopped running, working out, and eating healthy. So did she. We ate everything we could get our hands on. I won’t describe some of our eating marathons, but I might come back to it in the future.

I peaked out at 305 lbs. Holy mackerel! I was a mess. To be fair, I lost down to 275, and stayed between there and 285 until earlier this year.

2.5 years ago, I had open heart surgery. I’d had a heart attack and several small strokes. The last stroke was on the operating table. It left me partially blind in my left eye. The surgeon said that I was fortunate. I could have easily died from a stroke while undergoing heart surgery. In that case, I’ll settle for a little vision challenge.

It’s ironic that it’s taken me this long to get serious about losing weight. But at long last, I got there. My wife has been practicing the Keto diet for several years. It got a whole lot easier for her once I got with the program. We are both losing weight at a fairly steady rate.

I have not been able to get back into a consistent exercise routine. Part of that is pure laziness. And part is because I’m 64 years old, and my body doesn’t work the way it used to. I used to run sled dogs. I did it for over 30 years. I ran limited class sprint races. That means 4 to 6 dogs over 4 to 6 miles for multiple days in a race, trying to get the fastest time. It’s a lot different that the Iditarod. For most of that time, I was seriously overweight. Running up and down big hills and running between the runners to make things easier for the dogs, did a number on my knees. They are scarred up badly.

For a number of years after retiring from racing dogs, I was a farmer. I worked hard. Trying to compensate for my deteriorating knees I damaged my back and hips. These days I have serious sciatic problems. My entire right side, from below my chest is affected. I am in constant pain. No one’s fault but mine. These are the results of allowing myself to remain obese and trying to live like I wasn’t.

Currently, I weigh 247 lbs. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve made great progress. I tried a body weight workout last week. It was a disaster. I will try one tomorrow. I’m not going to join the gym. Like I said, I’m 64. I don’t want to spend the money. I will stick to body weight exercises for a while and see what happens.

The thing I’ve really noticed, is, the loose skin. Frankly, it’s getting bad. And it’s pretty ugly. It’s all in my mid section. My legs and arms never got grossly fat. Oddly, neither did my chest and upper back. All my weight was in the middle. Just like a barrel, or an apple. So as I lose weight, my belly skin sags. I guess to be fair, I’ve got a good bit of loose skin on my neck, but comparatively, it’s not that bad. I’m trying to stay PG in this space, so let’s just say, there is a part of my anatomy that is pretty much covered up by hanging slabs of skin.

When I go to the bathroom, I have to drop my trousers. I can’t just unzip. I’m so sorry to paint this picture, but this is real life. I have to hold up my skin so that I have the freedom to go number 1. In public restrooms, I have to use a stall so that I don’t frighten and gross out other people. The point is, my loose skin has become an issue.

Another side effect is that my trousers don’t fit right. I have a huge bulge just below the belt line. My trouser sizes are not going down as fast as I’d like, because the loose skin is replacing the fat, and it looks odd.

My wife is having loose skin issues as well. She’s a lot younger than I am. She’s broken her back twice, and the loose skin is causing her pain. She will have surgery once she finishes losing weight, and Covid allows travel. I will not have the surgery. Like I said, I’m 64. In my mind, that’s an expense that doesn’t have enough ROI in my case. I’m too old to spend that kind of money for cosmetic surgery that won’t have a huge health benefit for me. I will live with the loose skin. My situation is so much different than my wife’s. She’s in her mid 40s. She’s not too old. And the loose skin causes her pain. She needs the surgery. Unfortunately, insurance won’t cover it, so we’re saving up for it now. We don’t put things on credit cards, but that’s another topic for another day. Check out my book IOU NO MORE. Its old now, and it’s only available on Kindle these days, but it’s still available.

I am telling you about our loose skin, because it’s real life. If you are on Keto, with only 25 or 30 lbs to lose, this might not be something you’ll face. If, though, you’ve got 100 lbs or more to lose, or, like me you’re getting a bit older, you will face it. It’s one of the prices we have to pay for decades of being morbidly obese. And the more we know, the better prepared we are for side effects.

In my case, I won’t ever be even a 36 inch waist. If I get to 38 I’ll be lucky. It will also affect my weight goal. I know I will have 7 to 10 pounds of extra skin affecting the scale every time I get on it. That’s reality. It’s a price I have to pay. We weighed up the benefits vs cost of having skin removal surgery and for my wife it makes sense to pursue it. For me, it will be like giving away money. I won’t do it.

You need to be aware of the reality of loose skin. Some people have it in big pockets on their upper arms, their waists, and even on their legs. It can be gruesome. I’ve seen the photos on Instagram. You need to think about it now, so that you can decide whether or not you will pay for the surgery. The odds are greatly against insurance covering loose skin surgery. Don’t let either the existence of waves loose skin, or the cost of getting rid of it, catch you by surprise. Be ready. Be wise. And good luck. This journey is worth the hassle.

Weigh In Day…Sigh!

Image result for bathroom scales images public domainIt’s been about 6 weeks since I started the Keto lifestyle. That’s pretty impressive for me. So far, I’m not craving bread at all, or sugar, for that matter. But I’ve only lost 8 pounds. That’s rough on the ego. It’s rather discouraging to work as hard as I have, and to see such a small weight loss.

To be fair, I’ve found out part of the reason. My medication. One of my pills causes fluid retention. And another actually has significant weight gain as the number one side effect. Fortunately, I ran out of those pills a week ago, and I have an appointment next week to get the medicine changed. The fact is, I’m not going to take it anymore. I’m not prepared to trade one health issue for another. That dog don’t hunt.

As far as the fluid retention goes, that comes from my blood pressure medication. I’m less than a year removed from a heart attack, 4 strokes, and triple bypass heart surgery. I need that medicine until I get the weight under control. My blood pressure is phenomenal right now. It’s better than it’s been in 15 years, at least. I’m not going to mess with what’s working. My goal is to be able to get off the blood pressure meds, but I’m a ways away from that. In the meantime, I can take a diuretic pill once in a while.

Another problem I’m having is exhaustion. I have no energy at all. I’m getting plenty of sleep, but I don’t have the energy to go to the gym. When I go to the greenhouse, I can put in an hour of hard work, sometimes two. Then I have to quit. It’s so weird.

Looking over my macro tracking, I see that I’m cheating myself on Carbohydrates. Most days I only get 10 or 15 total carbs. I know that people on the Carnivore Diet think that sounds normal, but for me it isn’t. I believe I need to raise my Carbs to about 25 to 30 grams a day and see how that works. I’m not going to raise my calorie limit, so will bring down my fat intake a bit.

I’m not going to add in bread, pasta, or sugar. I’m trying to get those out of my life forever. But I am going to raise the amount of vegetables I eat. And I’m going to add in new potatoes, once or twice a week. I will slice and soak them in water to reduce the starch. I’m also going to add small portions of other root vegetables, like parsnips, and some carrots. Since I track all my food, I’m not worried about overdoing it. And by adding them one at a time, I can see what works and what doesn’t.

My hope is, that this will provide me with the energy to work out. I’m starting that change tonight. I’ll keep you posted. I wonder if others out there have had similar issues, and how you addressed them.

Oh, let me add that all the fat has seriously given me stomach issues. If I have a meal or a snack that’s too high in fat, I’ll have a stomach ache and cramps. Every. Single. Time. I document everything, that’s how I know. The worst offender is heavy whipping cream (AKA double cream to you Brits). Melted cheese and pepperoni can also cause it. Oh, and back bacon, if I have more than two slices. It’s delicious, but dangerous.

That’s why I think I’m on the right plan by tweaking both my fat, and my carbohydrate intake. Stay tuned.

That’s about it for this week’s update. Thanks to all of you who’ve begun following this weekly rambling session. You make me smile.

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I joined the gym today. Let me explain. As you know, I started a new eating plan about 4 weeks ago. And I got off to a great start. I lost about 10 pounds in 10 days. Yay me.

Then I had to go to the hospital for a health problem unrelated to my weight. The doctor put me on some medicine to relieve my long term pain. For the first three weeks, there was no effect. Not any pain relief. She told me to expect that. This week, the medicine is beginning to take some effect, I think. The problem is, the medicine has caused me to gain back 7 of the 10 pounds I lost.

I gotta tell you, that has been discouraging. I was excited about the possibility of pain relief. I’m not so excited at the moment. Partly, it’s because I haven’t had a great deal of pain relief. Just weight gain.

Here’s the deal. I’m eating less than 2000 calories a day. My target is 2350. That’s a lot of calories. My personal target is 1900 calories. Most days I beat that. Some days I get a little closer to the 2350. Only twice in the last month have I gone over the 2350. I should have lost considerably more than 3 pounds.

I have a Dr’s appointment tomorrow morning, in which I hope to either get some different medicine, or to get some understanding on what I can do besides starve myself.

In the meantime, I’ve decided that it’s time to try had get this old frame into some kind of shape, one last time. I know how to do it. I was once very active in the gym, and trained with some of the greatest Body Builders and Wrestlers in the USA and here in Britain.

The basic problem is I have an obstacle. Something unexpected hit me from behind. I was so frustrated. I wanted to scream. Getting on the scales is so hard. But I refuse to give up or give in. I’m going to go to the gym three days a week to begin. And we’ll see after that. After I see the Dr tomorrow I will decide whether or not to reduce my calories even more.

I have a goal. I have an obstacle. I refuse to give up. I’ve got to understand all the circumstances and consequences of my situation. And then I must adjust as needed. Giving up is not an option.

Right now I’m frustrated and discouraged. Tomorrow is a new day. Let’s try again. Let’s do this.

Transformation – Let’s Do This

As part of a Church Planting preparation conference, Brittan and I are attending in July, I was asked to create a Personal Development Plan. One of the areas I’ve made public is related to health and fitness. I have neither! I want both.

I’ve identified my obstacles (excuses) as being: Too Old, Too Fat, Too Sick, and, Too Broke.

In future episodes, I will rebut each of those excuses.  BTW, these are the same kinds of issues each of us faces regardless of the areas of our lives we wish to transform; be it, physical, like me, or career, finances, relational, or even, spiritual. They are lies we are told and that we tell ourselves.  Please subscribe to my YouTube page to follow my journey, and watch here for regular updates along the way.

Before I go here are some of my goals:

Weight: currently – 275 lbs, Target – 175 lbs; Time table: 18 mos. Mid term goal: Jan. 1, 2017, 199 lbs

Fitness; Complete a 10k in 2 years. Keep in mind that I can’t run at all for health reasons. Watch the Video.

Clothes: Current: 46 trousers; xxl and some xxxl shirts, Dress Shirts are 19. Goals: Trousers, 36 by goal weight, 40 by Jan 1. 2017, Shirts: xl by Jan 1,  dress shirts – 17.5 by Jan. 1 and 16 by goal weight.

Stay tuned – more to come.  Next time, I’ll describe my eating plan.