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Name: Chip Arledge
Pounds lost: 202
% of body weight lost: 52%
What inspired you to lose weight?
Thirty five years in a sedentary job (radio announcer), prodigious amounts of alcohol almost daily, a diet rich in carbohydrates and fat and virtually zero exercise took an immense toll on my body. Throughout it all, I kept telling myself "you can shut this down someday if you have to." At one point my weight ballooned to 423 pounds, I wore 5x-6x pants and shirts and was generally a physical mess, though suffering no apparent ill effects… until late 2011. I began to suffer from maladies typical for a man who weighed around 400 pounds and push came to shove. I simply convinced myself, without any outside influence whatsoever, I had to "shut this down" or I wouldn't be around much longer.
What actions have you taken to lose weight?
Losing weight isn't rocket science. Nor is there a magic pill or exercise machine. You simply have to change your lifestyle in a manner that manifests itself in watching what you eat, eating less of it, (in my case) drinking less and exercising more. There is no other good way to go about it. I began my cutting back on my drinking by 75%, (yes, I did the math), keeping my sugar intake way down and eating less calories a day.
After I shed about 70 pounds this way, I began to walk about 1 ½ miles each day through my hilly neighborhood. If I had tried to do this at my starting weight, I would've destroyed my already-compromised legs. Everything in moderation. Then, during my walk one day, I trotted 25 steps; then 50 steps the next day and gradually began a jogging regimen. Today, I run 20-25 miles a week. At the age of 55, I run a mile in less than seven minutes. Once I'd dropped another 80 pounds this way, I began lifting weights to tone my muscle structure and upper-body physique.
Muscle mass weighs less than fat, so while my weight loss obviously slowed, I've been able to drop another 35 pounds or so. And while not completely happy with where I am physically (I'd like to lose around another 10 pounds or so), I certainly cannot argue with the results.
What physical and/or mental changes have you noticed since you've lost weight?
The physical changes are obvious: my waist size has gone from 64" to 36"; my chest is 42", my resting heart rate is 42 beats per minute; my blood pressure has dropped from 130/100 to 98/62 and my blood sugar has fallen from a fasting 113 to around 90. Most importantly: I can buy clothes off the rack.
The mental changes are far more complex. I've always had a keen sense of self and knew why people reacted to me the way they did. After all, I'm known professionally as "The Fat Man." I never really felt too uncomfortable emotionally with my size. Hey, there are a lot of fat people in the world. I'd joke with people on airplanes about my size and never really worried too much about it, from a perceptual standpoint.
As someone who studies human behavior, I understood people's perceptions and belief structures when it came to dealing with those of us who are obese. I get it. I always knew it was my fault I was morbidly obese. And if others didn't like it, or didn't like me as a result…that was okay. After all, it was up to me to change. And the few times it did bother me or someone was overtly rude, I'd remind them I could lose weight. But they'll still wake up ignorant.
No, the biggest mental challenged I've faced is the curiosity I've encountered in the reaction of others to the "thin" me. Those who've known me for some time marvel when they see me. That's normal, I guess. But what surprises me is the reaction from those who didn't know me well or didn't know me at all. The adulation is odd. Curious. You see, to me, weight loss is an incredibly personal journey. After all, my decisions and my decisions alone, led me to where I am and from whence I came.
But, being in the public eye and leading a fairly outgoing lifestyle has given hundreds of folks an opportunity to remark on my personal success, to refer to me as an "inspiration," which has led me to writing this blog. You see, I accepted long ago I cannot do too much to cause someone to change their opinion of me, nor them I. But, if telling my story in a candid and forthright manner inspires someone to take better care of themselves, I think it's best that I share. And that's what I'm doing.
What advice would you give fellow Michiganders who want to lose 10% of their weight?
Foremost: remember you're doing this for yourself and no one else. While the support of others should be appreciated, that support won't always necessarily be there for you, so don't depend on it. My wife of 29 years has been very little help throughout all of this. Indeed, she has been somewhat derisive. But we've known each other since 1970 and I think, in her genius, she appears non-supportive to keep me motivated. I once asked her "Why do I get no support from you on this (weight loss)?" "I leave that up to everyone else," she replied. And so it goes. My 17-year old son, a pretty good high school football player his own self, has in the past two years of the journey twice slipped and said "I'm proud of you father." As I wrote earlier: you got yourself here; only you and you alone can get you somewhere else. Please, please remember this.
Secondly, set modest goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Then decide if you're happy with what you've done. Ask yourself "was that enough success?" Determine how difficult it was to reach that level of success and if another level of success is attainable.
Thirdly, you must budget the time and physical and mental energy it takes to lose weight. This is in no way easy physically or emotionally. Know that going in. But accept the challenge if that is your want. That is my story. That is my advice. I hope you find it interesting. I hope you find it helps.