Confessions From A Fat Doctor
by: Dr. Jeff Banas
I never intended to get fat! I am not exactly sure how it happened, but there I was a 6’2” thirty-four year old pushing close to 270 pounds. My cholesterol was high, my triclecrides were high, and my blood pressure was high. I was on a direct course for developing diabetes, increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of cancer, and a ton of other diseases related to obesity.
It gets worse. I am a doctor, a sports chiropractor to be exact and my office is located inside a health club. Unfortunately, like many other doctors and other health professional out there, I was not practicing what I was preaching.
Living in sunny Arizona, land of the endless summer, sooner or later you have to go to the lake, the water park, or you are invited to a cookout and pool party. That is when all my excuses caught up to me. Despite knowing the health risks associated with being overweight, it was the feeling of low self-esteem and embarrassment that finally drove me to action.
So there I was, a doctor, ready to get the weight off. I hate to admit it; I tried some of those quick fix gimmick supplements. I tried a bunch of the fad diets. I bought a bunch of books from all the “weight loss experts”. Sure I would lose a little weight, but I could never stick with the diet for any length of time. When I went off the diet I would gain the weight right back. Then tried working my butt off in the gym, running almost every day. That got real boring, and I found that running everyday is not the best thing to do when you weigh close to 270 pounds.
There I was again, still no direction, no focus, no drive, nothing to guide me. Frustrated about not getting any results and what to do, I thought I was just going to have to accept that I was overweight and deal with it. I gave it a real effort and it did not work.
During all of this, the chiropractor that I bought my office from mentioned that he was beginning a weight loss program at his office, which was based on his experience with triathlon training. That got my attention. I really wanted to give the program a try, but I lived too far from his office to come in on a regular basis. So I began researching the sport on the Internet.
The more I read about triathlons and triathlon training, the more sense it made to me as a way to help me lose weight. If you are going to do an event that involves swimming, cycling, and running you obviously are going to have to train that way. The idea about jumping into the pool for an exercise swim was not something I was looking forward to, and the last thing I wanted to do was to put on a swimsuit and workout. Then I remembered how painful my knees were from running around, and swimming would be easier on my joints.
I also began reading about using heart rate monitors and the affects of exercising at different heart rates. Many of the authors of the books on heart zone training were triathletes themselves, and they gave numerous examples on how using heart zone training you can track your progress and maximize your exercise program.
The more I searched the triathlon Internet sites, the more I became interested in the sport. The people who competed in triathlons looked really fit, it was inspiring. That is when I decided to take my commitment to losing weight to the next level. Weighing close to 270 pounds, I signed up for my first triathlon. Five months away, I was going to do a sprint race, which was a 500m swim, a 15-mile bike, then and a 3-mile run. This was a much shorter distance than many triathlon races, however at the time I could not do even one of the events let alone all of them back-to-back.
Using a combination of what I learned about heart zone training and from the triathlon Internet sites, I started my program. I my alternated exercise sessions between swimming, cycling, and running. I also did about an hour of weight training a week. This really added a variety to the exercise program, and it never got boring. One day I would just bike, then next maybe run 10 minutes, do a weight session, then bike for 25 minutes. Then the next day I would just swim. The next day I would swim then follow it up with a run. My knees were holding up very well with little, if any pain. At the same time I started eating better, no real diet, just common sense stuff, avoiding the sugars and white breads.
The use of the heart rate monitor became a very useful tool. It kept me from working too hard or too easy. The monitor I was using, the Polar 610, also came with software. I was able to download all of my exercise sessions into a computer. Then I was able to objectively document my exercise sessions. The software was able to track my calories burned during exercise, my average heart rate, hours spent exercising per week, and much more. After every exercise session actually looked forward to downloading my session to see how I did.
It also allowed me to exercise at different heart rates. One day I would run at 70% of my maximum heart rate for 10 minutes, then bike at 80% of my maximum heart rate for 10 minutes, then go back to running at 70% for another 10 minutes. The next day I would just bike for 40 min. But I would again exercise at different heart rates, 10 min at 70%, and 5 minutes at 80%, and 10 minutes at 75 %, and 5 minutes at 80%, and then 10 minutes at 70%. This was a fun way to exercise and I actually began to look forward to exercising, the whole process was less boring.
I kept up with this type of training for five months. On the day of my first triathlon, I was forty pounds lighter.
Some how, some way, I did it. I finished my first triathlon, and as crazy as it sounds I really enjoyed myself. I was feeling good about my accomplishment, but I still had some serious weight to lose. So I found another triathlon race six months later, signed up for it and continued training. The weight just kept coming off and coming off.
At the time of my second race, eleven months after learning about triathlons, I had lost sixty pounds.
It seemed like every week one of my patients, whom I had not seen for months, would come in for a treatment. The reactions were always the same, doc what the heck happened to you, you look like a totally different person!
I felt like a different person too, I was running without knee pain, I was happier at work, my relationship with my family was better, I was no longer embarrassed to go to a pool party or the water park, in fact I looked forward to them.
My patients and the members of the health club where my office was located were constantly asking me about my weight loss. I remember one of the gym members walking up to my desk and looking at my before and after pictures. He pointed to my fat picture and said, “That is me” then he pointed to my fit picture and said, “That is the way I want to look”. Wow, what a great feeling, I could not believe it.
As I am sitting here writing this article, it has been a year since my first triathlon. Just a few weeks ago, I raced in my third race and I actually managed to finish second in my age group.
As a result of getting into triathlons, not only do I have a new body, I have a new life.
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About The Author
Dr. Jeffrey Banas is a Chiropractic Sports Physician practicing in Mesa, AZ. If you would like to contact Dr. Banas, he can be reached at his office at 480-633-6837, or by visiting his web site at www.fatmantoironman.com