My name is Hank Garner and I am a former fat guy. Some of you may know me from my blogs mylowcarbjourney.com and hanksjourney.com. About two years ago I found myself in a total mess. I was in my late thirties and my health was a wreck. I had always struggled with my weight, but it had really gotten out of control. I started looking for help and found lots of information about low carb diets. I figured I would give it a shot. With the help of a lot of great people I was able to change my diet – and my life.
Several times before I had made short term changes, but I’d always struggled with making it stick. To combat this bad habit, I decided to blog about my journey. I figured that if I put it all out there, I would have the accountability that was needed to keep myself honest. I set out to change the way I ate and the way I thought about food. The crazy thing is, it worked. Sure, I had my ugly days, but once I made my mind up, it was a low carb downhill run.
“Over the course of a year I lost 130 pounds, started exercising, ran a half marathon, dropped over a foot in waist size, set my sights on bigger and bigger goals and generally became a brand new person.”
Everything was wonderful, until……..
In the summer of 2011 I started having pain in my right foot. It was just an odd discomfort at first, then a strange bump appeared on the top of my foot. I ignored it as long as I could, then decided to see a doctor about it. I went to a podiatrist and he told me that it was probably just a little bone chip that should not give me much problem. He injected it with cortisone and sent me on my way. I was optimistic.
But it didn’t get better. It got worse. Much worse. The bump kept growing, getting so painful that I could not put pressure on my big toe. I started noticing that I was rolling my foot when I walked and ran so as to not put pressure on my toe. This is a real problem for someone who aspires to be a serious runner. To me, running was the proof that I really was a changed person. I always joked that I was not built to be a runner. I was built to run about five yards and hit something really hard. That was a major cop out to side step the real issue. I was built to do anything I wanted to do. I had saddled myself with all this extra weight and health issues, then blamed not being able to do anything physically demanding as just “not being designed for that”. What a load of hogwash. I decided to see another doctor. This time I went to a highly recommended sports medicine doctor. He didn’t have good news for me.
After tests, x-rays and an MRI, the doctor told me that I had an arthritic condition that was causing the bones in my toes and feet to grow together. I would have to have surgery if I ever wanted to move my big toe again. I scheduled the surgery and hung up my running shoes. What I was not ready for was the psychological struggle that would come from having the thing that meant so much to me, my daily reminder that I was a new person, taken away from me. The days that followed surgery were very painful, frustrating and depressing. Hobbling around on crutches reminded me very much of the state that I was in a couple of years before: Always in pain, uncomfortable and not liking myself.
“During this time, I gained about 30 pounds as I tried to rehab my foot and figure out just how I was going to move forward from this.”
When you have done so much to change your situation, only to get a kick in the teeth, depression can very easily set in. I started eating junk carbs. I withdrew from my support community. I started feeling sorry for myself, letting the circumstances dictate what I thought about myself instead of looking at the big picture. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I poured myself into work and things that I thought I could control. I so easily forgot that change happens in your mind and will first, then shows up on the outside.
After coming down with a horrendous chest cold and sinus infection, I wound up in the doctor’s office for the second time in a couple of weeks. There I stepped on the scales and saw that I had indeed regained about 30 pounds. I snapped out of the fog that I had been walking around in. Why did I do all this work? What was it that actually made the difference for me? Had I forgotten all the basic low carb things that had helped me to change? What if I could never run again? Did that mean that I had to fall into a lifetime of bad choices and go back to eating every crappy thing that came my way? I knew better than that. I immediately went into damage control mode.
“When things get hairy, go back to what you know is true.”
I know if I want to drop fat, I must limit my carbohydrate intake. I immediately went into low carb induction phase, drastically dropping my carbs. I cut out the things that I know are triggers. Processed foods and junk had to go. I ate lots of good meat and increased my fat.
There is something so freeing and right about going back to what you know is true. The weight started dropping back off. I have lost almost 20 pounds of that 30 that I put on. I have started running again. It took a little while to ease back into it, but it is coming back. I am plan to race in November, not because I have anything to prove, not because I feel like I must to keep my weight under control, but as a reminder of the new person I am.
Thanks to everyone who has thought of me over these months and who has sent positive thoughts and prayers my way. I appreciate it more than you know. If anything, this experience has made me more compassionate and sympathetic to the plight of others. No matter what the hurdle or struggle, you can change your life. Sometimes it seems like it will take a miracle to change your situation. In a way that is true. Like Morgan Freeman said in Bruce Almighty “Parting your soup is not a miracle, Bruce. It’s a magic trick. A single mom who’s working two jobs, and still finds time to take her son to soccer practice, that’s a miracle. A teenager who says “no” to drugs and “yes” to an education, that’s a miracle. People want me to do everything for them. What they don’t realize is they have the power. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle.” I would add to that, “Looking adversity in the eye and deciding not to be defeated by circumstances, instead sticking to your decision to not go back, that is a miracle, and you have that power in you.”
I hope that me sharing my low carb story encourages you to stay the course, or to take that first step on your journey. You have the power.
To support and encourage Hank, visit his updated web site http://hanksjourney.com and read his new and archived posts as well as download his many podcasts including interviews with some of the top low carb and paleo writers, doctors, bloggers, and success stories.
Hank will also be a regular writer here at CarbSmart.com.