Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just Twelve Pounds

Just twelve pounds, in the past that would be an immediate excuse for me to go on a binge. Let me explain. In the past when I was “dieting” and trying to lose weight, I was a slave to the scale. I would weigh myself in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I would weigh myself before a shower and then of course after a shower (hey dirt has weight too). I would take a drink of water, weigh the glass of water, weigh myself before drinking it and then after I drank it, just to see how much weight I gained. Yes, I was compulsive and obsessed with that scale.

Then numbers were a big part of this “weigh” of life. I wanted to see how much weight I lost in a day, a week, a month. Not only was I interested in these numbers but it seemed like many of my family, friends were too. As a matter of fact the whole world seemed interested. A common greeting to me, would be “Hi Mike, how much weight did you lose this week”? Believe me if that number was not high (in the double digits) many of them did not hesitate to say, “Oh, you had a bad week”? Some people might think nine pounds in a week was not bad but for Mike Hebranko it was not good enough. Not even for my own standards.

This is a “heavy” burden to put on oneself, a lot of pressure to be under. This way of life I truly believe was part of (not totally) but part of my overall unhealthy way of losing my weight in the past. Probably contributed to me gaining so many times, my weight back.

Part of my “new outlook”, my new “weigh” of life, what I like to call, my "journey down the road of recovery” is …
I do not have a scale in my home!!! I now weigh myself once every three months and that is at my doctor’s office, only because she requires it.

I do not care what I weigh. What I do care about is how I feel. Am I feeling well, am I able to do more things each day. Am I making progress and yes am I eating within my plan? If I can answer yes to these questions then I know I am getting better and better with each day.

To many times in the past, have I played the “number” games only to lose at the end, and I am not talking about losing weight. Yes, I would lose weight, only to gain it back and then some.

I knew that changes had to be made. I knew that with each experience, I had to learn something and I did. It may have taken a long time, it may have even almost cost me my life at times. I know that some people around me today may not exactly understand or even agree with me and my methods, attitudes or the way I do things. Yet I know, what is working for me. I know how I feel in my head. I have come to a point in my life (over the last few years) where I am achieving an inner peace and a certain co-existence with my own disease (my eating addiction). No longer am I in a race, no longer am I looking for the magic answers, no longer am I trying every new diet, gadget, and procedure out there to lose weight.

I have realized that food is here to stay, I will have to eat at least three meals a day for the rest of my life and if I want to have any length or quality to that life, I better find some way of life, that is going to work for me and hopefully forever.

My twenty years of serious searching and trying to win this battle, plus being in the rehabilitation center for the 36 months I have had a realization. What works for me, is not starvation, not depravation, not elimination, what works for me is simple. Exactly …simple. K.I..S.T. Keeping It Simple for Today! I will basically eat about 1200 to 1400 calories a day and simple ones. Tuna for lunch, Chicken for dinner, simply prepared, sometimes a mushroom omelet made with eggbeaters. There may be occasions where I may go to 1600 calories or a little more (a wedding, party, etc); otherwise, I try not to stimulate the taste buds to much. I am not talking about the taste buds on my tongue but the taste buds in my mind! The better it looks, the better it taste, then the more I want and boy, if I want more and if I cannot control that urge, I can eat a tremendous amount food. I know this because I have done so in the past, (remember 1,000 pounds).

Now in the old days if I was on 1200 calories, the weight would melt off and the numbers would drop on that scale like a “hot potato”. A fact, now due to all the years of yo-yo dieting, losing weight (body muscle) and then gaining it back (more body fat), and along with getting older has effected my metabolism greatly and the weight just does not come off like it use too.
That is okay, it is what it is. I am thankful that it is coming off at all.

Back to “Just Twelve Pounds”. Therefore, I am at the doctor’s office, I get on the scale with no anticipation in my body, the digital number begins to appear. I had lost another 12 pounds. That is 12 pounds in three months, a pound a week! Some may say “just a pound a week”, I say “are you kidding”? The thing is I am not gaining.

My body is slowly losing the weight and this is a good thing for me. I say, I have no goals (as far as weight numbers) this time. If I never reach that number goal then I do not have to worry about “then what”! I know I cannot lose forever and eventually I will have to deal with some kind of maintenance and I have an Idea of how to do that when the time comes. It will be a while.

Twelve pounds, when those people say, “That is not so good”; I think to myself “you are entitled to your opinion”. Some even come to the brilliant conclusion, “you must be eating”. “Guess what? I am eating. Three times a day, everyday”.

If I need to boost my ego, I could tell people or just remind myself that in the past three years I have lost over 320 pounds or that I have lost over 100 pounds since I am home from rehab. (14 months). The one I love the best for some reason is when I got on the doctors scale this week I was 380 pounds.

I love that because that means getting around better. It means having one of the best summers I had in many many years. It meant attending family weddings, christenings, going to Atlantic City for the day and even for the first time in over 15 years I was able to stand by my wife’s side when we recently had to say goodbye to her (our) dear Aunt Ruthie a lovely lady who past away. She will be missed dearly. I was able to be like any other husband and be with my wife and her family through this terribly sad time. Let me mention we traveled over 100 miles to get there and did it two days in a row. To put things in perspective, my dad past away in 1996 and the funeral was a ½ a block from my home and I could not attend.

Three hundred and eighty pounds means a little more freedom than 400 pounds and a lot more freedom than 700 pounds.
As long as I stay focused, stay positive; continue to love life, my family, friends and the good Lord himself things will be okay. I know I have to Keep It Simple, and as long as I can stay “light” in my head, smile as often as possible, my goals will be reached. None of those goals involve numbers (scale numbers).

I will share with you one new goal that has been popping up in my heart lately. When I was a teenager one of the happiest days of my life was the day I opened up the mail and there it was, my “drivers license”, wow what a feeling of joy. Well I had to give up my license and I have not driven now it has to be since about 1993. I am going to drive again, not sure when but I am going to do it! I feel it in my bones, I just have to get my legs to work a little better and be sure to be able to fit behind the wheel, and then…..I am off!

Who knows, maybe I be driving through your town one day and we can say hi!

My friends take it from me, do not play the number games, do not get crazy on what that scale says today, and do not let it rule your life. Better still, concentrate on “change” (do I sound like a politician)? The kind of change that will better the quality of your life.

Let me share something with all of you, even my friends that do not suffer from the “weight” struggles. Change is good (for the most part) especially if it will better your life. If you could smile a little more, feel better about yourself, be more comfortable within your surroundings and with the people around you then begin to make the changes necessary.

Twelve pounds does not drive me crazy, it makes me happy! I lost twelve pounds, I have had a steady loss for three years, and it is a trend and new life for me. More important I have not “binged” for three years. Now that is something I cannot believe I can say. So that twelve pounds represents a new life for me and at 55, a new life is pretty cool! I am a lucky guy!

Lucky to have the people around me that I have, lucky to be able to share my blog with you, lucky to be alive and living better each day!

Have a wonderful day, and appreciate what you have for there is someone out there who has a lot less.


Friday, August 15, 2008

“Man Plans and God Laughs ….”

I am writing this on August 16, 2008 and just three years ago on this date, I experienced one of the most joyous events in my life (right up there with the birth of my son and my wedding day), it was the birth of my grandson. I speak from two points of views, the first is like any proud grandparent. A grandchild is such a gift, such a pleasure, they usually come in the “autumn of our lives” and if I may say so my self, the timing is just perfect. When my grandson is near me, or he calls me “GaGa” or I am holding him, every single ache and pain is gone. I can think of nothing else but being at his beckon call for every moment, he needs me. Nothing but pleasure and the most joyous thoughts are in my mind. To, even just look at him brings a feeling of euphoria all throughout my being. Let me share a story with you with this game between him and I that just melts me. My wife (and son) has taught my grandson to enjoy teasing me and he loves to and gets the biggest kick out of it. For example; I will ask him “how much you love everybody in the whole world”, he will proceed to stretch out his little arms as far as can be and say “this much Ga Ga”. Then I will say and much do you love me and he takes his cute little thumb and pointer finger and squeezes it close together and say “only this much Ga Ga” then he will get hysterical laughing. I just melt and eat it up (and at the same time could eat him up too.).

Being a grandpa is a feeling that I just cannot explain. I am sure all my grandparent friends out there can understand, exactly what I am talking about.

Today is special for me for another reason. Now do not get me wrong, I have the greatest amount of respect for the medical professionals (especially my current doctor and the medical team that helps keeps me going) but until I found this current team did I go for an emotional ride! ….

Since I was “eighteen” years of age, all that doctors and many lay people would tell me was “Michael you are not going to live to twenty-one years old, especially if you do not lose weight”.
Then at “twenty-one” the doctors said “for sure you will never see ‘twenty-five’ years of age”. At “twenty-five”, I was told “at over 500 pounds, forget seeing “thirty” years old.

In addition to all that good medical advise, from the time I was ten years old I remember my grandmother saying if I, didn’t “lose weight I would never find a girl to love me and marry me”. Over the years, other family members felt it was there obligation to tell me the exact same thing.

The best was when I did get married I had doctors tell me “at 450-500 pounds you will never become a father you definitely have to lose weight”.

Well, “Man Plans and God Laughs”.
I found a girl to love and marry me and it just happen to be the girl of my dreams. She is not only my best friend, she is my soul mate, my life long lover and she comes with a great family. I am proud to say we will be married “thirty-three” years this coming June. I also became a daddy at twenty-four years old and yes, I was over 450 pounds
(I am not bragging, just saying what is so). By the way, I will be fifty-six on my next birthday.

Besides who ever thought, I certainly did not in my wildest dream ever think, that someday I would be celebrating the third birthday of my grandson. I love humankind and for the most part human beings are great but God is better.

Hey, I am not saying that those doctors were all together wrong, they were basing their opinions on scientific facts and statistics and common sense. Unfortunately, 400, 500-pound people do not live long lives. The quality of life at 800 pounds is compromised. My grandmother and family meant well in their own way, I know that.

Yet you cannot live your life in fear! You have to do the best you can, make the best out of the situation and have faith. All things are possible if you believe. First, you believe, next, you hang on and then you finally do something to make changes.

Change is such a funny thing. You know basically I have either been home bound, hospitalized or in a rehabilitation centers over the last 15 to 18 years, so therefore I have not been out in the world a lot.
Over the last year, I am out at least two to four days a week.

One of the changes I have experienced is, that here in New York (and maybe over the rest of the country)when you go into some of these family type (chain owned)restaurants, they now (on the menus) list the calories counts for the items.

This is a great idea and I believe it is going to revolutionize the way people eat out in the future. It will help change the way people eat. It helps you to do a reality check. An example is that “grilled chicken fajita” that you thought was healthy and a good choice, you are now find out has over 900 calories not to mention the baked potato, sour cream etc.

I now go into these restaurants and just tell the waiter or waitress, “ah, just bring me 165 calorie appetizer and a 400 calorie entrĂ©e, It doesn’t matter to me what it is, it could be paper, all I know is I want about 600calories”. They look at me as if I am crazy!

Things have changed out there and it takes time for me (any of us) to adjust but I love every moment of it and I love the opportunity to be able to be a participator rather than a spectator.

Change is good, especially when it is going to improve our life in general.

Yes, I love and appreciate all that my doctors have done for me but I know in my heart that there is a greater force that works through them. That beautiful force I call God.
In spite of what man has said over the years, I get to do something that at age 18, I never thought would happen. I never thought I would even be alive, and yet I did get married have a child and imagine I get to see my grand child celebrate his third birthday!

Thank you Lord, thank you for being in my corner, giving me the strength, sending me the right doctors, the right people in my life, my wife, my son, his beautiful wife and my grand baby….

In addition, I want to wish my “little Ga Ga” a very Happy Birthday to you …even though you only love me a little bit!!!!

To all my friends …… don’t ever lose hope, as long as there is life there is hope, there is a chance. The spark of life burns inside of all of us!

I hope and pray you have a great day and that you do something special for you!



I am thinking of starting a Newsletter, please read the details on the right side of the blog page thanks!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What is Important …

As a little child what was important to me as I can remember was … not getting a beating, my daddy not coming home drunk and my mother and father not fighting. This was an important thing for me. As I got a little older (11-13 years old) the things that were important to me were the same things as a little kid but now there were even more things to add to the list. It was important to bring home good marks from school and for my teachers and neighbors to tell my mother what a “nice kid”, “a good boy” I was. It was also important to me if my few friends I had were, going to play with me without making fun of me (because of my weight). Then there was puberty, the teen years, and a completely new group of things that were important to me. Still holding on to all the things that were important to me in the earlier years (although in all due respect my dad had stop drinking, by now, only with an “occasional backslide”) there were additional important things. Girls, my future, career, car payments, a job and college.

Many things happened to me in my twenties and the things that were important to me were interesting. Oh some great things happened to me in my twenties (some of which how great they were I really did not get at that moment). I got married, I became a daddy, I was successful in business, and I bought a house, cars, and things.

Things! I think that is what was becoming more important to me … things. I was the first in the neighborhood to have a “radar oven” a VCR (as big as a TV almost) Sound 8mm movie cameras and projectors and screen, phone in the car, taking vacations. These were important things to me. Working long ours, making money and not being poor were important to me. I was poor as a child and I did not want to be poor as an adult or for my child to want for anything. I remember as a child if I wanted something (and I was an only child), we would have to save forever before I would get it. I did not want this for my son or for my family. It was important to me that if the three of us wanted it we got it before the end of the sentence came out of our mouth.

All these things, that were important to me, came with a price! First, it was an opportunity for me to feed my disease (literally feed it). I had unlimited money and resources. Working so hard and such long hours allowed me not to take the time to take care of myself. The other big price I paid was that, trying to take care of my family so hard, I lost out, on my family so much!

Working so much took time away from them but even more not taking care of myself took its toll on my body and health and in the end robbed my family of me. Slowly I could not or would not be part of their lives on many levels. I tried in many ways to be there but it was not the same.

It amazes me even now as I write about the “then me” how I have changed. I do not know the day or time it happened but I do know now that now in my fifties “things” are so not important to me anymore.

What is important to me, now? People are important! My wife, my son, his family, oh yes my grandson, oh how I adore that little guy! He brings me such joy, and he loves to tease me and I love every minute of it.

The truth is I never got the joy from my “Radar Oven” or VCR that I got from being in a swimming pool this weekend with my grandson. Experiences are important to me.

I find now that the things that are more important to me now are less the things that I can buy but rather the gifts of life itself.
My family and friends are important to me. They are gifts of life. The opportunity to take care of myself is important to me, this is a gift of life (my chance again).

If along my way in my journey I can touch someone else, help someone else, educate someone else about my struggle (our struggle) then this is a gift of life and important to me too.

Yet if it is meant to be for me to spend the next 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, 5 years, or 25 years being a good husband, father, father-in-law, GRANDPA, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, uncle, friend then that is great for me!

It is more important to be a good person, to be a loving person, to be a happy person
rather than to have a billion things!

Hey, my friends have a great day, think of what is important to you …