Monday, February 13, 2017

LAKE PLACID DIET: He's got legs

Start date (Dec. 22): 480 pounds
Current week (Feb. 9): 465 pounds

My legs have never been sexy, and I've never tried to sculpt them into chick magnets, yet I did win a "Best Legs in the Tri-Lakes" contest 21 years ago, back when I was 26 years old and not ashamed of wearing shorts and showing some skin below the knees.

That all changed about six months ago when I scraped the back of my right leg getting out of a car and the front of my left leg doing something else (I forgot what). Those scrapes have not healed since July, and they were getting worse before I saw my doctor two weeks ago.

Poor circulation in my lower legs runs in my mother's side of the family. The veins simply have a hard time pumping the blood back to my heart, so my legs, ankles and feet swell up. It's bad mainly because I am morbidly obese. Now, with poor circulation, swelling and thin skin on my legs, I have what they call venous ulcers — open wounds that "weep" fluid down my legs and take a long time to heal.

I've had leg ulcers before, and they healed on their own, creating scar tissue and discolored skin on the front of my legs. Then in 2014, I lost 80 pounds while writing the weekly "Lake Placid Diet" column for the Lake Placid News and my legs were finally healthy again. With the weight loss and all the exercise I was getting training for 10K and half marathon races in Lake Placid, the swelling in my legs, ankles and feet went away. And when I got scrapes on my legs, they healed quickly. I hadn't felt that good about my body — and my legs — in years.

Then I gained back the 80 pounds in 2016, plus 10 more pounds for good measure, and my leg troubles returned. Now I'm just fighting to walk, never mind compete in a half marathon again. I get around with a cane. When people ask me why I need a cane, I just say, "old age," and quickly change the subject. At 47 years, old age is not my problem, and that's why I've been too embarrassed to share my story.

Until now.

The main reason I lost 80 pounds in 2014 was because I held myself accountable by writing a weekly journal in the Lake Placid News each week, sharing my struggles and successes with weight loss and exploring the community approach to losing weight. I took off my mask and was open and honest about my struggles. Since I was recording my weight every week, I was obligated to lose weight to get healthy. And it worked, at least until June 2015 when I walked my second half marathon. After two years, though, it all fell apart.

Essentially, I went back to my old habits of overworking and overeating, and that's why I gained the weight back.

Even though I really want to keep my current struggles private, I've finally decided to share my story again on my personal blog. Maybe it will help again. After all, the Lake Placid Diet never really ended. After 18 months, I published the highlights of my newspaper column in the "Lake Placid Diet" book. Like I said at the end of the book, the journey continues.

After gaining back the weight — three years after the Lake Placid Diet began — this new chapter of the Lake Placid Diet is the story of healing and recovery.

Part of that recovery was wrapping up my legs Saturday, Feb. 11 so I could co-announce the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Gala Parade with NCPR's Brian Mann. We had a great time! Listen HERE.