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  1. #1
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    Default SS for health - and recovery

    • wichita falls texas december seminar 2020
    • wichita falls texas february 2021 seminar
    • starting strength seminar april 2021
    I'll shorten the long story to this short form.

    • Was a fatass, quite literally all of my adult life.
    • Took me until age 45 to figure out I shouldn't be wheezing like a beached pilot whale after going up three flights of stairs.
    • Started walking, eating less, and dropped forty pounds.
    • Starting lifting (YNDTP) and made novice strength gains at best.
    • Dropped 73 lbs in 18 months, hitting my goal weight in November 2013.


    On December 4th I fainted at work.

    On December 9th I had a 16cc benign tumor removed from my heart.

    I went from walking eight miles for fun to getting exhausted going a hundred feet and back to bed in the ICU.

    Once my new cardiologist cleared me, I started lifting on SS (as written this time) in March 2014, going a slow progression as directed to protect my still-healing sternum.

    Tomorrow marks eight months since surgery.

    In twenty-two weeks on SS I've shattered all my pre-op PRs, and the linear gains are just starting to hit their second plateau. It's made all the difference in my recovery from life-altering surgical trauma to a stronger forty-seven year old than I ever was in my twenties.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    This is a pretty good story. How well do you write? We'd be interested in hearing more.

  3. #3
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    A very good story. Strength really does make things (much) better. Congratulations on what must have been a difficult recovery.
    Like you I couldn't recommend this more
    http://startingstrength.com/resource...ad.php?t=46853

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    This is a pretty good story. How well do you write? We'd be interested in hearing more.
    Sure can.

    So, summer 2012 (I think it was May) I got an epiphany that I was a fatass. The elevator was out at work and I was breathing like a beached pilot whale from climbing three flights of stairs. I remember thinking, "Is THIS what you've become? Is THIS the best you can be?"

    I took a long hard, and truthful look at myself. At the "advanced" age of forty five I'd ballooned up from my physical work weight of one hundred fifty-five pounds to two hundred thirty pounds. My BMI was 34.5, and I was a mere fifteen pounds from being classified as 'morbidly obese'. I was tired all of the time. I didn't really do anything that involved being physical. I'd stopped working in the wood shop I have. Yard work requiring more than me pushing a self-propelled mower didn't get done.

    I started walking. It wasn't much at first, a half-mile or less, then 3/4. I was slow. When I started the "long walk" of a mile and a half it'd take me fifty minutes for a blistering pace of 1.8 miles an hour.

    I kept at it. My feet stopped hurting so much, and did the "long walk" of two *whole* miles. I was still slow, but I was up to 2.5 miles an hour with my work stuff in a backpack. My Achilles's tendon throbbed after the two miles. I altered my pace and gait after reading about heel-strike running and how bad it was; I wasn't running - I was still too much of a fatass for that - but that seemed to help.

    Weight was falling off. I dropped five, then ten, then thirty pounds off pretty readily. I wasn't eating a lot different - I'd dropped all carbonated drinks and ate what I thought was fewer sugary things - but I wasn't tracking anything. I felt better. I noticed my mood was worse when I didn't get my walks in.

    I did the "long walk" of three miles in the spring. It felt like it took forever. I arrived panting, sweaty, gross - but arrived, backpack loaded with forty pounds, in one hour.

    All of this led to me starting to clear the debris from my life. I donated five large trash bags of clothing I didn't use at all, or didn't like. I threw out a bunch of trash and junk I'd accumulated. I donated over two hundred books I knew I'd never read again. I started cleaning the basement every other night and disposed of truckloads of stuff I'd never use. Even got the weight room back into some semblance of order.

    I kept at it, walking two miles each way to and from work every weekday. Summer turned to fall. Weather got colder. I kept walking, now down to a half-hour for two miles while lugging more and more gear. My pack weighed thirty to forty pounds depending on the day. Winter came, and so did my walks. I layered up against the cold and snow and kept walking, often being one of a half-dozen people on the streets between six AM and seven AM when the snow and sleet came down. It was cold, the weather was ugly, and I tramped through slush puddles wondering occasionally what the hell I was doing out in the shitty weather.

    It didn't matter what was going through my head as the subway approached the stop where I got off. A lot of mornings the doubt nibbled at me: I'm too tired. My feet hurt. I slept lousy. The weather sucks. I don't want to. And yet, when the doors opened on the subway, my legs got under me and got me moving before I had a conscious moment to stop it. Walking was now a main driver for me, above whatever else I felt.

    Spring. Two miles in under a half hour. I tried different routes to and from work. Did the "long walk" of 3.4 miles with a fully-loaded pack in under an hour. Changed routes. Looked at maps.

    I started lifting in April of 2013. I have everything I needed in the basement - a thousand pounds of standard plates, a pile of bars, 500lbs of dumbbells, a home-made pair of safety cages. All had lain fallow for a decade. I fucked around with upper body, finally moving to an AxBx upper-lower split. I worship the Goddess of Good Form, because She is a fickle bitch who in the past has sent me to Snap City gulag for the slightest of infractions.

    I joined MyFitnessPal and track everything now - weight, cardio, lifts, food. I have dead-on numbers as I continued to morph from fatness to fitness. My weight loss has slowed while my lifts and speed went up.

    The results by November:

    Weight: down from 230 lbs to 156
    BMI: down from 35.4 to 24.9
    Body fat (guessing from photos): 40%+ to ~20%
    Waist: down from 40 to 33
    Endurance: up from "Couldn't get up three flights of stairs" to "a short walk is 3 miles."

    Five months of lifts (and injuries when I fucked up):
    Bench up from 60 lbs to 140 (started before everything else)
    Squats up from 65 lbs to 160.
    Deadlifts from 100 lbs to 230.
    Bent-over row: 40 lbs to 125.
    OHP: 35 lbs to 90.

    -----

    Two weeks after I wrote the above I felt light-headed and fainted at a retirement party for a co-worker. Depending on who you talk to I was out for five to ten minutes. The ambulance took me to the ER where they did a workup and the sonogram made the ER tech go wide eyed.

    The asymptomatic myxoma lurking in the left atrium was 16cc. From what I've been reading the typical left atrium is 14cc. The entire septum was involved, and surgery stood the risk of destroying all signalling forcing me onto a pacemaker. If that's not complicating things enough, I also have a clotting disorder making any type of even minor surgery an adventure and take immuno-suppressant medication for Crohn's disease. They kept me in the hospital for four days pre-op in the cardiac unit after much debate because if it moved again when I was home, the closest hospital is at least twenty minutes away and isn't equipped for open-heart surgery.

    It's a dubious distinction to be the healthiest guy on the cardiac ward.

    Open heart surgery is an adventure. The day I fainted I'd logged eight miles on foot, and the day after they removed the chest tubes it was all I could do to walk the hundred foot hallway and back. At least the going from fat to fit put the fighting spirit back into me - when they asked me to try for four trips on the first day back on my feet, I went five. I'd push as hard as I could and still stay within the restrictions given.

    Four days after surgery I was released back to the wild. Frankly, I got damned lucky. No medications, no pacemaker, no PT (told "just keep doing what you were doing" by my new cardiologist), no lifting anything over ten pounds for three to four months, and no diet changes required.

    From there, the progression went like this:

    Week 2: Walking 2.0 MPH for an hour a day
    Week 4: Walking 3.0 MPH for an hour a day
    Week 5: Cleared by surgeon to resume all the cardio I handle at thirty days
    Week 6: Walking and jogging 4.0 MPH for an hour a day
    Week 8: Back to work, running intervals over two miles
    Week 14: Cardiologist clears me for lifting so long as I protect my still-healing sternum

    Eight months after surgery: All pre-op cardio and lifting PRs have been exceeded.

    My current lifts are:

    Bench: 160lbs
    Squats: 210lbs
    Deadlifts: 235lbs (my form needed so much work!)
    OHP: 105lbs

    My cleans are a mess as my flexibility is poor; I can't seem to rack consistently with elbows up. I'm looking to change those to explosive barbell rows as the basement ceiling's too low for snatches or other overhead work.

    All told, I'm not doing bad for a forty-seven year old who weighs in at 164lbs.

    Getting fit saved my life.


    ------

    And that's the long version. Sorry you asked?

  5. #5
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    Not sorry at all. Linking to this from my Q&A.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2007
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    That is a great story. I love the part about the walks in the snow and ignoring the "voice" that says to give up, mental strength is a prerequisite for physical strength. I agree getting fit did save your life, if you never would have started and fainted while still a "fatass" you're body may very well have not had the strength to recover. I am very glad to hear that you are doing well, good luck in the future!

  7. #7
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    May 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_iz_a_fatass View Post
    Sure can.

    So, summer 2012 (I think it was May) I got an epiphany that I was a fatass. The elevator was out at work and I was breathing like a beached pilot whale from climbing three flights of stairs. I remember thinking, "Is THIS what you've become? Is THIS the best you can be?"

    I took a long hard, and truthful look at myself. At the "advanced" age of forty five I'd ballooned up from my physical work weight of one hundred fifty-five pounds to two hundred thirty pounds. My BMI was 34.5, and I was a mere fifteen pounds from being classified as 'morbidly obese'. I was tired all of the time. I didn't really do anything that involved being physical. I'd stopped working in the wood shop I have. Yard work requiring more than me pushing a self-propelled mower didn't get done.

    I started walking. It wasn't much at first, a half-mile or less, then 3/4. I was slow. When I started the "long walk" of a mile and a half it'd take me fifty minutes for a blistering pace of 1.8 miles an hour.

    I kept at it. My feet stopped hurting so much, and did the "long walk" of two *whole* miles. I was still slow, but I was up to 2.5 miles an hour with my work stuff in a backpack. My Achilles's tendon throbbed after the two miles. I altered my pace and gait after reading about heel-strike running and how bad it was; I wasn't running - I was still too much of a fatass for that - but that seemed to help.

    Weight was falling off. I dropped five, then ten, then thirty pounds off pretty readily. I wasn't eating a lot different - I'd dropped all carbonated drinks and ate what I thought was fewer sugary things - but I wasn't tracking anything. I felt better. I noticed my mood was worse when I didn't get my walks in.

    I did the "long walk" of three miles in the spring. It felt like it took forever. I arrived panting, sweaty, gross - but arrived, backpack loaded with forty pounds, in one hour.

    All of this led to me starting to clear the debris from my life. I donated five large trash bags of clothing I didn't use at all, or didn't like. I threw out a bunch of trash and junk I'd accumulated. I donated over two hundred books I knew I'd never read again. I started cleaning the basement every other night and disposed of truckloads of stuff I'd never use. Even got the weight room back into some semblance of order.

    I kept at it, walking two miles each way to and from work every weekday. Summer turned to fall. Weather got colder. I kept walking, now down to a half-hour for two miles while lugging more and more gear. My pack weighed thirty to forty pounds depending on the day. Winter came, and so did my walks. I layered up against the cold and snow and kept walking, often being one of a half-dozen people on the streets between six AM and seven AM when the snow and sleet came down. It was cold, the weather was ugly, and I tramped through slush puddles wondering occasionally what the hell I was doing out in the shitty weather.

    It didn't matter what was going through my head as the subway approached the stop where I got off. A lot of mornings the doubt nibbled at me: I'm too tired. My feet hurt. I slept lousy. The weather sucks. I don't want to. And yet, when the doors opened on the subway, my legs got under me and got me moving before I had a conscious moment to stop it. Walking was now a main driver for me, above whatever else I felt.

    Spring. Two miles in under a half hour. I tried different routes to and from work. Did the "long walk" of 3.4 miles with a fully-loaded pack in under an hour. Changed routes. Looked at maps.

    I started lifting in April of 2013. I have everything I needed in the basement - a thousand pounds of standard plates, a pile of bars, 500lbs of dumbbells, a home-made pair of safety cages. All had lain fallow for a decade. I fucked around with upper body, finally moving to an AxBx upper-lower split. I worship the Goddess of Good Form, because She is a fickle bitch who in the past has sent me to Snap City gulag for the slightest of infractions.

    I joined MyFitnessPal and track everything now - weight, cardio, lifts, food. I have dead-on numbers as I continued to morph from fatness to fitness. My weight loss has slowed while my lifts and speed went up.

    The results by November:

    Weight: down from 230 lbs to 156
    BMI: down from 35.4 to 24.9
    Body fat (guessing from photos): 40%+ to ~20%
    Waist: down from 40 to 33
    Endurance: up from "Couldn't get up three flights of stairs" to "a short walk is 3 miles."

    Five months of lifts (and injuries when I fucked up):
    Bench up from 60 lbs to 140 (started before everything else)
    Squats up from 65 lbs to 160.
    Deadlifts from 100 lbs to 230.
    Bent-over row: 40 lbs to 125.
    OHP: 35 lbs to 90.

    -----

    Two weeks after I wrote the above I felt light-headed and fainted at a retirement party for a co-worker. Depending on who you talk to I was out for five to ten minutes. The ambulance took me to the ER where they did a workup and the sonogram made the ER tech go wide eyed.

    The asymptomatic myxoma lurking in the left atrium was 16cc. From what I've been reading the typical left atrium is 14cc. The entire septum was involved, and surgery stood the risk of destroying all signalling forcing me onto a pacemaker. If that's not complicating things enough, I also have a clotting disorder making any type of even minor surgery an adventure and take immuno-suppressant medication for Crohn's disease. They kept me in the hospital for four days pre-op in the cardiac unit after much debate because if it moved again when I was home, the closest hospital is at least twenty minutes away and isn't equipped for open-heart surgery.

    It's a dubious distinction to be the healthiest guy on the cardiac ward.

    Open heart surgery is an adventure. The day I fainted I'd logged eight miles on foot, and the day after they removed the chest tubes it was all I could do to walk the hundred foot hallway and back. At least the going from fat to fit put the fighting spirit back into me - when they asked me to try for four trips on the first day back on my feet, I went five. I'd push as hard as I could and still stay within the restrictions given.

    Four days after surgery I was released back to the wild. Frankly, I got damned lucky. No medications, no pacemaker, no PT (told "just keep doing what you were doing" by my new cardiologist), no lifting anything over ten pounds for three to four months, and no diet changes required.

    From there, the progression went like this:

    Week 2: Walking 2.0 MPH for an hour a day
    Week 4: Walking 3.0 MPH for an hour a day
    Week 5: Cleared by surgeon to resume all the cardio I handle at thirty days
    Week 6: Walking and jogging 4.0 MPH for an hour a day
    Week 8: Back to work, running intervals over two miles
    Week 14: Cardiologist clears me for lifting so long as I protect my still-healing sternum

    Eight months after surgery: All pre-op cardio and lifting PRs have been exceeded.

    My current lifts are:

    Bench: 160lbs
    Squats: 210lbs
    Deadlifts: 235lbs (my form needed so much work!)
    OHP: 105lbs

    My cleans are a mess as my flexibility is poor; I can't seem to rack consistently with elbows up. I'm looking to change those to explosive barbell rows as the basement ceiling's too low for snatches or other overhead work.

    All told, I'm not doing bad for a forty-seven year old who weighs in at 164lbs.

    Getting fit saved my life.


    ------

    And that's the long version. Sorry you asked?

  8. #8
    Brodie Butland is offline Starting Strength Coach
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    Wowsa. This is a terrific story. You've done very well, OP...keep setting those PRs!

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Great story!!

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Those are some cojones. You have my respect sir.

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