It’s Not About Weight, It’s About Getting Healthy

Wii Fit says I'm Obese

If you’re reading Firgs’ blog (and you should be) then you know today she posted a shout out to the FPB, a space on the web where photographers from around the globe have gotten together to support & motivate one another to get healthy. I caught Carlos‘ announcement on Twitter earlier this month, and he had originally made the challenge to SWPB members. It’s no surprise that folks were interested, albeit reluctant to post revealing images of themselves. Today I join the ranks of those looking to get in shape. However, desire is not the same thing as achievement, which only comes with action.

I haven’t always been heavy, in fact, I was kind of the cute potbellied kid growing up. As an adolescent teen, I was always too skinny–like the kid in the comic book ads–and my father fed me all kinds of stuff to put weight on me. My favorite was the chocolate malt with wheat germ served up in a half-gallon container. I’d drink two of those a day as well as an assortment of potatoes, rice and plenty of starchy carbs. Still, when I graduated highschool I weighed about 125lbs, but I wasn’t so scraggly looking. I probably would have stayed skinny if not for the alcohol. Truly, I think that was the beginning for me. Nothing like alcohol to kill a super fast metabolism. Factor in all the things that come with being an adult, regular work hours which leads to money which leads to lots of partying followed by poor sleep habits exacerbated by a lousy diet all of which is ignored when you’re younger because “Hey! Why change things if nothing’s broken?” and it’s not surprising to me that I was in denial about my weight for so long. Let’s be clear, I’ve known I was getting heavier, but when I looked in the mirror I did not see the heavier version of me. My weight was not depressing me. When I looked in the mirror, I always saw my potential not my reality, and this time reality was going to slap me right upside the face.

2007 My weight about 225lbs.

I realized I needed to do something when I took a look at our maternity pictures taken last year. There was my wife glowing, and staring me down was a face I did not recognize. When did my head become so round? Where did my neck go? Did my wife & I really look like two tugboats bumping when we kissed? It was cute when Michelle was pregnant the way people kidded me about putting on support weight. That quickly turned to “WOW, did you get pregnant too A.J.?”, which didn’t have the same bit of humor. It wasn’t long after that my doctor put me on high blood pressure pills. Still the reality of my current condition didn’t inspire much of a change.

To quote Garfield, “Diet is DIE with a T on the end of it.” Let’s be honest, I’ve known exactly what I need to do to get healthy since last year. I need to eat better. I need to exercise. I need to use more calories than I consume. Pretty straight forward stuff, and yet here I am standing 5’6″ weighing in at 198lbs (which was a surprise as I weighed 215lbs at Photoshop World Vegas). According to Wii Fit, I’m considered obese with a BMI of 31.57, and as I write this I’m thinkin’ about Thai Food and a beer. Time my constant companion & most egregious excuse, just simply won’t bend to my control, or rather I’m not putting forth the effort to make it.

(Yeah, I’m suckin’ the gut in on the right. I do that subconsciously now, all the time, I have very strong ab muscles)

Left is relaxed, Right is how I always stand.ajwood_heavy_001

But then, I look at my daughter, and I think of my father who passed away when he was 57. I think of the history of men in my family ALL whom have died from heart disease. I don’t want to leave my wife & daughter before I am ready. In today’s world my daughter needs me more than ever to face the challenges life has to bring. So that’s it then. That’s my motivation. Lord willing, I’ll use that to make the changes I’ve been procrastinating for so long.

My Daughter is a constant source of Inspiration

P.S. – If you really must know about the tattoos, you can read about them in this old post.

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  • Carrie Krein December 11, 2008   Reply →

    Drop me an email.

  • Mike True December 11, 2008   Reply →

    I understand and know exactly how you feel. You and I have a lot in common. I was a skinny kid to, always told to put some weight on. Fed the most fattening foods. Good nutrition was not even thought about. Then age 30 came and so did the pounds. I too loved my beer and didn’t even think about my health or the extra pounds. Then I went to a family reunion and people started joking about my weight. I started crazy fad diets that made me lose 10 pounds and then I would tire of them and gain 20. It took me 20 years of diets and weight loss plans to figure out the right way to lose weight. This year I lost 55 pounds so far and want to hit the 200 pound level by Jan. 1. I am 6’1” and will to get to 185 soon. I have finally got my nutrition and exercise habit down to a science and love the way I feel. Hope the same for you. Have a good life and be healthy, Mike

  • Jeff December 12, 2008   Reply →

    You’re a freakin’ tool. Get a life you douche.

  • Firgs December 12, 2008   Reply →

    You can do it AJ!! 😀 Hummm.. I think I may have the bf read this. Can you talk some about your Wii Fit? I’ve been on his case to get one so we can both use it , but I think he needs a little persuading. 😉

    Oh – ps – thanks for linking my shizzle. 😉

  • mitzs December 12, 2008   Reply →

    I’ll do it with you AJ. Joe got me walking the river this summer and even helping me to swim. I was doing good with my leg by the end of summer. Since winter has set in and pain with it I’ve not really wanted to get out of my chair much. I pretty much have to have flat ground to walk on but my road is a big hill. If I start walking that everyday I think it would help me and my body. I know I feel better and don’t need the meds as much when I am more active. So if you’ll eat better and use more calories then your taking in. I’ll try to do that dam hill let say 3 to 4 times a week? I’ll leave it up to.

  • Janine December 12, 2008   Reply →

    Great post, AJ. I’ll continue the theme Firgs started and you carried over, today on my blog. I feel for you, and maybe my experience can help you, maybe not, but I’ll be with you, all the way!

  • carlos benjamin December 24, 2008   Reply →

    Dude….. I haven’t commented on this yet? Where’s my head?

    I’m pulling for you, bud. And I finally got around to linking to this on my latest FitPhotographers entry.

    I haven’t been monitoring my BP, but my blood sugars are way down since I’ve started. You could probably get off the meds if you you slim down.

  • Bill Millios January 15, 2009   Reply →

    Hey.. I followed Carlos’ link over here… Great story. Keep up the good work.

    I’ll be watching… But not from the sidelines. I’m on a business trip right now, starting my “change of life” as soon as I get back. Carlos’ idea for the FitPhotographers was a great one.

    With friends like that – you can’t lose.

    Bill Millioss last blog post..VIDtychs – Swimming on [site]

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