Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Week We Lost 90 Pounds and I Found a New Attitude

Here’s the weekly ritual.

I pull into the sub-garage and Israel, the best parking lot attendant in the entire city says something like, “looking good! How much, you think?”

I shrug and tell him I haven’t a clue.

He asks a series of questions: “What time is your family coming? Was it a good week?’ “How is everybody doing?”

We engage in friendly small talk and I head up to the second floor, step off the elevator and take a deep breath before entering the doctor’s office.

Well, actually, I’ll go two doors to the right and down the hall to take a leak because I am fighting for every ounce here.

After the business at hand, I step into the familiar reception area and I sign in. The office staff knows me well at this point in our long relationship.

I get weighed in first thing in the morning on Fridays. I want to know what I weigh fasting. The rest of the family visits the office after the kids are out of school later in the afternoon.

I have been seeing this team on and off for a few years now. While they have a new weight loss program, they are not diet specialists. It’s a pretty diversified practice that focuses on medical and physical therapy matters.

I first met them when I needed a podiatrist for some foot problems. Then I returned when my back needed an adjustment. As my problems started to compound – mainly because of my weight - they convinced me to take a swing at their gym-based cardio and physical training to push me into losing weight.

When you decide to "take a swing" and your head isn’t really in the game, you tend to strike out. And it’s a funny thing this whole idea of weight loss without dieting. Apparently it doesn’t work too well.

In the big guy’s brain, if you exercise for 90 minutes, and you really are NOT into exercising at all, you weirdly believe you are entitled to eat more as some sordid reward.

Yep, I know. Makes no sense. I am outrageously ill that way.

And that is pretty much how it worked for a while. The harder they worked me out, the more my mind said, “Dude, Gummibears! You can have it. You worked out.”

Every few weeks the physical therapists would ask me to take these progress tests – measuring my stomach, my thighs, getting on a scale – all the indices that would allegedly make me accountable to myself.

And every few weeks I would come up with every lame excuse, voodoo mind trick and spin in the Elzer War Chest to put it off for just another week. They saw thru the games pretty quickly and just decided to work me out harder and harder. I can't tell you how many times the lead PT guy said, "this isn't going to happen without you dieting." I listened. I nodded. I promised. 

At some point late last summer, after many months of moving in the wrong direction, even I became fed up with the insanity and futility of my little charade. On the scale of haphazard attempts, this had to be somewhere in the annals of wasted time for them and me.

So I just  walked away at about the same time they gave up on me. It was pretty much an issue of mutual abandonment. And I remember in my twisted mind blaming them for my failure.

Then came the holidays. 

I ballooned to peaks I had never known possible. I could barely fit into any of my clothes. I was a mess and unhappy.

During the New Year, I pledged something like my 30th consecutive resolution to lose weight. And like any good resolution, the diet wouldn’t really begin until the Monday after the holiday – essentially delaying whatever I was planning until the 5th day of the New Year.

But destiny has a weird way of pulling the rug out from under your plans.

I first noticed something was wrong while I was watching a movie at Sony on January 6th. From there, it was all downhill.

On January 7th I thought my back was out of adjustment and by the time I was in my car driving to the office, the pain started getting worse and worse. It hit me like a sucker punch. I immediately called the doctor while on the 405 and said I needed to get an adjustment asap. By the time I arrived in the garage, I found myself hobbling back into their office virtually unable to move.

Ironically it was the same day I was supposed to meet with another diet specialist who was highly recommended by one of the industry’s legendary heavyweights - a title that applies in every way possible.

In November, we had been doing some business together, and out of the blue he asked me how I was doing with my weight and my diabetes. I was as truthful as industry folk are to one and other. “I am doing good. Everything’s good,” I said.

He told me how he had found this amazing new program thru a studio chief who had unbelievable success losing a huge amount of weight after only a few months of following a new regimen.

He explained that for $10,000, this diet doctor to the stars was gonna give me a complete health scan including a long-form analysis of my body, and a blood screen to determine what specific foods were the best match for my genetic make up. It would be the ultimate in personalized diets.

Why do people believe if you pay more, you get more? And why did I believe if stars and Hollywood executives were going to this doctor, well then, sheesh, he was good enough for me?

I think there is a whole psychology to this non-sense that goes something like this: if you pay more, you are more apt to not want to lose your money – so, in a weird way, you commit to the cash, not the diet. Money talks, bullshit walks.

Not exactly the bedrock of behavior you should be looking for when you want to change your life.

Now let’s forget for a second that when this very kind man offered up this new savior, he read for me his personalized list of things he could and couldn’t eat. It sounded like the “duh” kind of dieting to me. No flour. No starches, yes this, no that.

So I took the guy’s name and did a little internet research and did what the desperate do.

I was gonna give it a try. For me, the drive behind the hype was the idea that this guy was gonna finally crack the code by getting all sorts of data from my body and then, after I had been poked and prodded, he was going to teach me the magic answer.

Then my back interrupted his chance to cash a big fat check (pun intended).

So there I was on Jan 7, wincing while trying to walk. I saw the chiropractor in my group and knew immediately after the adjustment and the heat treatment and electric stim, this pain was not like the other times I had thrown out my back.

And if you have been following the blog, you are familiar with the fun and games that followed.

Given my less than illustrious and sometimes colorful track record with the staff in this office, I would lay down even money that when we signed up as a family for their new weight loss program, there was probably a betting pool somewhere within this practice that had good money that I would be over and out within days, if not weeks.

I have to face the facts. 

I was the guy on the treadmill proudly telling my physical therapist about the 8 course meals I had the night before.

So when I returned for the sixth consecutive Friday weigh in yesterday, and the scale said I had dropped another pound, I figure someone somewhere in the building probably wasn’t the only one losing.

Don’t get me wrong. I think this team is truly terrific and completely rooting for every pound. But I can’t ignore that I behaved like Bluto in Animal House and my diet GPA was a zero point zero.

For me, it still is despite my success to date. 

Yesterday, as I walked into the gym to fill up a water bottle, one of the guys stopped me to tell me how proud he was of the work we were all doing. He said after years of game playing, he never thought he would see this kind of progress.

Neither did I.

Something has changed as I enter the 7th week walking down this road.

Yesterday, when I saw I had lost a pound, I wasn’t in a funk and I was genuinely happy. In week 2 and week 3 when I was staring at that frickin' scale looking at only a 2 pound loss, I was beyond peeved.

Now, I finally get it.

The random way the pounds fall is something I can’t expect or explain.

When I lost 7 pounds a week earlier, I didn’t go to the gym and I barely drank the 130 ounces of water a day they want me to consume. I just followed the diet and the weight flew off me.

This week, I went to the gym 4 times. I worked over that treadmill like it was the thing responsible for the drop in my 401 K. I was as hard on myself as any of my personal trainers ever were. And I figured I would finally see the big, bad drop.

Not so much. One. 

That’s all you get, pal.


There is no real rhyme or reason with how the fat seems to shed. And I no longer really care. Like my stocks and my financial portfolio, I just want to look at this long term and see where we are. Whether it’s 1 pound or 7 or 2, my head is in a great place.

I have a pile building by the day of clothes in my closet I can no longer wear. I am very close to a waist size that is 6 inches smaller than where I began. And next week, we are flirting with an experiment that will take me off blood pressure medicine completely.

To quote my President, that is change I can believe in.

My family and I have now lost 90 pounds in 6 weeks.

That, too, is change I can believe in.

I look at my kids and I see for them everything I was unable to accomplish as a child struggling with this issue. My dream for all of us is coming true day by day and I am over throwing a petulant and silly pity party because the scale dissed me.


I am down 30, Amy has shed 26, Lucas is down 18 and Hannah has lost 16. If in December, someone told me we would be 90 pounds thinner in 6 weeks, I would have booked that bet and taken the under.

The kids are close to maintenance now and how we continue to keep the family focused while Amy and I travel the long journey is going to be a major challenge.

Those who have seen me in Vegas know I am a betting man.

Anyone wanna lay some money on how far this goes?

 Steve Elzer, 2009

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  1. Oh, I know exactly where this is headed. Down, down, down.

    I'm envisioning a trip to Hawaii, and every morning Steve goes with Sydney (and maybe we have a few more takers now) on a beautiful 4 mile walk to the fish ponds. And then everyone says, hey, let's drive over to 'Akaka falls and do the stairs!

    Yes, I see where this is headed.

  2. What a great success story. Congrats. I too know how hard it is. xo Mary

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