Your Fitness Story; Fighting Back Against Disease and Losing Weight

Bill Moore at 318lbs

I have waited for this day; the day I could tell my story! Miracles come in many forms; however, the most rewarding Phenomena are those that require personal effort. I believe in Miracles because I now live one daily!

I was at the end of my rope: my blood pressure readings were ranging from 180/90 to 190/105 mm Hg; my glucose readings were running anywhere from 120 to 129 and I had sharp stabbing pains and numbness in my feet and lower legs (which meant that I was teetering between pre-diabetic and diabetic). To top off everything I had been diagnosed with an aggressive debilitating form of psoriatic arthritis.

Life was not going well; my hands had become completely deformed, all except for my left pinky finger, my hands feet and wrist were swollen beyond two times their normal size and the mobility in my neck, hands, wrist, knees and feet had been reduced by 75%. To make things worse my rheumatologist informed me that I most likely would be in a wheelchair within five years, he began prescribing medications that would help me cope with the pain and hopefully slow down some of my deterioration.

Upon the news of my bleak future I spent the next year in bed, watching television and wrestling with feelings of anger. Due to the pain, swelling and inability to move freely, I could not carry out simple functions around the house, I even needed help getting dressed and undressed. Worst of all, I could not even pick up my grandchildren, nieces and nephews, the pain in my hands and wrist kept me from being able to complete even simple tasks.

My grip was so poor that I couldn’t lift anything that weighed over a couple of pounds! Within the first year of the onset and diagnoses of the disease, my strength and energy deteriorated rapidly; I would struggle with things like opening the front door of my house and removing the gas cap from my vehicle.

I remember a certain day where a friend of mine was following me back home from helping run an errand and I had to stop for fuel. Instead of going on my friend waited at the entrance of the station, I spent at least four to five minutes wrestling with trying to remove the fuel cap, I was so upset that I started to cry. My friend noticed that I had not yet started pumping fuel and figured out that I was having trouble, he quietly walked over and reached in and removed the cap for me, he could see that I was upset and said, "no one will ever know, but, you and I."  I knew I had no one to blame for this condition but myself, years of inactivity and unhealthy eating habits had taken their toll.

I had spent over eight years of my life on the road as a successful medical device sales representative. Unless one uses great caution, it is very easy to develop extremely unhealthy habits while on the road.

I seriously believe that I spent those first two years after the diagnosis in shock; “how could this happen to me, I used to eat fairly well and work out on a regular basis?” Within just a few years of being on the road my weight had skyrocketed to 318lbs, and even on days when the arthritis wasn’t keeping me from being able to move freely, my obesity was! I was buying new suits every few months due to my increase in size and never paid it one bit of attention until the morning I woke up and could not move. That morning was the first time I had really looked at myself in the mirror in years, over the years I had subconsciously desensitized myself to the unhealthy person I was becoming. That morning I hated what I saw and it frightened me.

After I was diagnosed, I knew that I had to take positive action to overcome the disease; however, the size of the mountain before me was very intimidating; nevertheless, I had to climb it! One would think that the experience with the gas cap would have served to wake me up to the realization that I had to take positive steps in my life to regain my health. However, all that experience did was serve to put me into a downhearted state.

Notwithstanding, there was an event that was to be more humiliating than the fuel cap experience, not only was it the most denigrating experience of my life, it was also the one that served as a wakeup call. One afternoon I was at home alone, I had gone into the walk-in closet to grab a new bottle of aspirin from one of the built in dressers. At that time I was eating aspirin and Tylenol like they were m&m’s, just in order to take an edge off of the pain and reduce a bit of the swelling. Upon retrieving my new replacement bottle I dropped it and it rolled under one of the shelves in the closet. I slowly got down on my knees to retrieve the bottle, reaching underneath the shelf served to be quite the physical experience but nothing could have prepared me for what was next. Once I had the bottle I then attempted to get back on my feet, I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried I could not get up! I struggled and struggled just to try and get myself up from all fours at least up to my knees, no matter how valiant the attempt I could not get up. Things got worse from there, I thought that maybe I could use one of the shelves to help pull myself up, I knew at my weight that an attempt like that could prove risky, it did!! I wound up breaking the shelf and pulling everything down on me!!

That was the first time I really realized what type of condition I was in. This time to use the word “crying” would be a major understatement; I started sobbing like I had not done since the death of my grandpa. I thought maybe that I could crawl into the bedroom and use the bed to get back on my feet, my wife was due home in forty-five minutes and I did not want her to see me like this!! I crawled into the bedroom and still couldn’t pull myself up, due to the fact that our bed was so high. What I feared most happened, about forty-five minutes later my wife came home to find me crying lying on our bedroom floor. She helped me up and held me but then she looked me in the eye and with a stern yet compassionate voice she told me that I had to lose weight and start taking better care of myself so this would never have to happen again! That was the wakeup call that I needed!! Things were going to be different from here on out!!

So,  a little over twenty-four months ago, I decided that I should lose some weight, I started eating better with an elimination of most between meal snacks. I started to see the weight come off slowly, at first it was nothing to get excited about but it was progress. I dropped from 318lb to 310lb in about a month; following that I went to 290lb in about another month's time, by the end of summer 2011 I was down to 260lb.

I made it all the way down to 240lb before I got lazy again and started gaining a little weight. I had become a little too comfortable with my weight loss and got back up in the 250-255lb range. I had started eating somewhat unhealthy again and started back up the scales! Even the gain of 10 to 15lb did not send up any red flag or wake me out of my slumber, until one night… In December of 2012 I awoke out of sleep with a throbbing and some swelling in my right knee, over the course of about a week the pain was such that I was only getting about an hour of good sleep a night.

Then one morning I heard the popping of calcium build up, that scared me because I knew that it meant my knee was fusing. I have already lost mobility in nine fingers and four toes, if my knee locked and drew up my life would be forever changed. I had to get completely serious about HEALTH!! I knew that I was still overweight at 255lb, I was still wearing pants with a 38 to 40 inch waist, I was down from 46 but my body was letting me know that I was far from healthy!! I was conscious of the fact that it would take more than diet to get to my goal of great health!! I had to incorporate healthy eating habits along with physical activity.

The desire to change my condition provided motivation; however, that motivation was somewhat negative in form. I was standing in a very deep valley always looking up towards the top of what seemed to be an insurmountable mountain, which was discouraging at the least. I needed positive motivation to keep me on track, something that would cause me to focus on each step, instead of how far I still was from the top of the mountain. I decided the best way to stay motivated was to set incremental goals and focus on the short term instead of focusing on the long term, which for most people only leads to frustration and discouragement.

I started out by setting monthly goals for Weight Loss, Mobility and Strength; I would track my workout progress daily so I would have a way to gauge my monthly improvements in that area. For weight Loss; I tried to stay off of the scale as much as possible during the month, knowing that while dieting and exercising weight fluctuates tremendously! My problem in the past was getting on the scale every morning, one day I would jump for joy and the next day I would hang my head low due to a half pound or pound gain in weight! After researching trends concerning weight loss and noting that one has to look at the overall trend and not the day to day losses and gains, I ditched the scale for at least a week at a time but made my official entries in my ledger on a month to month basis!

As far as mobility I would keep track of my ability to reach and bend on a monthly basis, setting markers to progress along the way. Every month I would track my progress and set a goal for the next month based upon the previous month’s improvement. I would always strive to do a little better each month, by approaching my overall goal this way I was able to meet monthly goals, which in turn has brought me very close to where I desire to be!

Starting a workout program was definitely like preparing for an operation, there was so much preparation. I was very rusty and the weight training proved to be difficult at first because I had no grip to speak of! I live 35 miles from the nearest mediocre health club, so this path was one I would have to cut on my own, a bit overwhelming at first. However, I knew I had to Buck Up; HOPE would be my only partner! I started on 01/20/13 at 254.2lbs and 36.8% body fat, wearing size 40 jeans and XXL shirts. I had some equipment in storage; I pulled it out and turned our walk-in closet into a gym! I had a bench, adjustable dumbbells, a couple bars and 200lbs of weight. In the beginning I used wrist straps to keep the dumbbells in my hand, a pain; however, it helped me develop the strength I needed and I no longer have to use them! How little I had to work with did not matter, my life was on the line and I was determined to make this work!!

The one thing that definitely helped me in my planning of a routine was finding a workout routine online. The first thing I came across were YouTube videos that laid out dumbbell workouts for every part of the body and that is just what I needed, due to the fact that dumbbells made up the majority of equipment that I possessed. Being rusty I needed some refreshers on proper execution so that I would not injure myself and make matters worse.

My blood pressure reading is now consistently at 120/75 mm Hg and my glucose readings are normal, consistently under 100, no more sharp stabbing pains. The psoriatic arthritis has left its mark and I still have to work through pain at times. However, the arthritis is in remission, my hands and feet are no longer swollen and I enjoy more pain free days than days filled with pain. Every day I suit up to push iron whether I am in pain or not; I know that every day I do so I am one step closer to a completely disease and pain free life!!

Another item that I witnessed within the first three months of my transformation is that my strength increased, actually increasing at a rate quicker than what I previously remember. In no time at all, about ninety days, I was doing dumbbell bench presses with 50 pounds in each hand, not bad when you consider that I had to start with ten pounds in each hand! I did this all through diet, exercise and proper supplementation, NO MEDICATIONS!!!!

I feel amazing, as if I added 50 years to my life, I am very proud of my accomplishments and know that the best is yet to be! I plan on using my victory to help others suffering with disease, turn their dreams of health into reality!! My story can convince many that they can turn life around. I want that first step that I took sixteen weeks ago to be not only my first step but a giant step for others, a step over the gulf of disease!!

Discipline is the key, once the mind is focused on the goal, you can move forward leaving obstacles lying crushed behind you as you continue on your path!! I am determined more than ever to keep going, I know I now have the discipline and I will live the rest of my life in RELENTLESS pursuit of excellent health!!

I am now five months into my transformation, I have decided to become a certified personal trainer and have started the ball rolling in that direction. I want to help others. I desire to see people who perceive that they have disabilities overcome their fear and live happy productive lives! I know that I have been called to inspire people to live healthy and happy, for themselves, as well as their loved ones. I desire to serve, to remind others that no matter how bad the situation looks, there is hope as long as we will reach upward and fight!

The most rewarding experience is receiving an email that says, “I am very unhealthy, can you help me; your story has given me hope.” That is an experience that will put you on cloud nine as well as humble you at the same time! I am so thankful that I have been put in this position! I love the feeling that being able to reach out and help others gives to a person. It gives a great sense of satisfaction to know that what you have done has an impact on others. I am going to make it my life’s quest to see that the ripple that has been created does not stop but keeps traveling out and touching lives! Being able to share my story with hundreds of people as to how I was able to restore my health and knowing that this is just the beginning inspires me to go forward even more so than before. I have already been blessed with being able to help people take control of their health. Hearing the hope in someone else’s voice when they see what you have accomplished and hearing how it motivates them to do the same, is such a positive feeling that I cannot begin to describe what it does to the heart.

There is a quote by David L. Weatherford that states: “You never stand taller than when you stoop down to help someone who has fallen”. A month ago I thought that I was standing tall due to what I had physically accomplished in my life. However, that feeling pales in comparison to what it feels like to help someone else who is in the type of condition or a worse condition than what I used to be. Before I had the physical and somewhat mental satisfaction of a job well done, a mountain climbed!! Now the feeling I have is one that makes me whole, it affects not only the physical and mental side of a person but the spirit and the heart. My journey is one that is now beginning to lift others, the path that I have cut will soon have other footprints upon it and that makes me feel taller than any selfish accomplishment I could ever dream of achieving!

As I have already stated, to know that my story put hope in someone’s heart is the most humbling and satisfying experiences that I have ever encountered! During May I slightly injured my neck and knee which forced me to modify my workouts for about eight days; however, Even with a slight setback I was able to lose eight more pounds and I now weigh in at 201.8lbs for a total of 52.4 lbs. in five months and a grand total of 116.2 lbs off of my heaviest weight of 318lbs two years ago!!

I had to come up with my own rule for inspiration, on days when I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted to see I would go back and read something that I wrote at the beginning of the challenge: Keep Going Forward, No Matter How Slow You Seem To Be Traveling!!!! For One Day You Will Look Back From The Top Of The Mountain!