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I call it my little socks machine

March 13, 2014 - Andy Flynn
This week: 421 lbs.

Last week: 427 lbs.

Start (Dec. 17): 470 lbs.

Total lost: 49 lbs.

I spent the first month on the Lake Placid Diet not wearing socks because I couldn’t bend down and put them on myself.

“Can’t your wife put them on for you?” someone asked when I told them about my sock dilemma.

“Yes,” I said. “But she’s got enough to do.”

My wife is always willing to put on my socks, and she has many times in the past. A couple of years ago, however, I stopped asking. Not only is it a pain in the butt to coordinate a time between showers to get on my back on the bed and lift my feet, fighting off two dogs with tongues anxious to lick everything. (I had to start wearing a shirt during the sock ritual because the little dog likes to lick nipples.) But it’s embarrassing. After all, I’m not an invalid, but in moments like that, I feel like one. This is a problem only I can fix. It is one that I created, and others shouldn’t have to suffer because of it.

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“I’ll put your socks on,” my wife insisted.

“I know you will, and I appreciate it,” I said. “But if I’m stupid enough not to lose weight so I can put the socks on myself, I don’t deserve to wear them.”

With the best of intentions, my wife was enabling me, and I had to stop it. So I searched the Internet for do-it-yourself sock machines. I found some for sale, but I’m on a budget and wasn’t willing to purchase one. I decided to make my own and found a YouTube video of a man who made one for himself. I copied the design, and by the Jesus, it works! Thank God it worked. I wouldn’t have been motivated to walk this winter with freezing feet. The sock machine saved the Lake Placid Diet.

The dogs still help put my socks on, but instead of laying down in bed, I sit on the edge and use my sock machine. The only thing they lick now is my shoulder. The sock machine is made from a plastic tote cover, cut to the right proportion in order to curve inward and hold a sock in place, essentially creating a tunnel for the tip of my foot. On the back end, toward me, I have two pieces of rope — one for each hand — to grab and pull, slipping the sock up and over my foot. It usually covers my heel enough so I can place the foot on a chair and pull the sock up the rest of the way. Eventually, I’ll lose enough weight so I can put on my socks the old-fashioned way. For now, this homemade machine has been a blessing. It’s amazing how much confidence you get from warm, dry feet.

My socks came in handy on Monday when I started training outside for the Lake Placid Half-Marathon. Earlier this winter, I was walking outside at the North Elba Show Grounds, but I soon got sick of the ice, snow, wind and frigid temperatures. Plus, I wasn’t wearing socks at the time, so I needed a new place to walk without freezing my feet. I started training a few mornings a week at the Olympic Center, walking laps around the 1980 Rink. I continued walking there once I made my sock machine because I wasn’t going to exercise outside in below-zero temperatures. When I started walking at the horse show grounds, I could barely finish half a mile, resting a dozen times before getting back to my car. A few weeks ago at the Olympic Center, I reached 3 miles, only resting once.

Now that it’s a little warmer, I’m back outside, training on the Half-Marathon course, which starts on Main Street at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval with a loop around Mirror Lake.

On Monday, I was glad to have the socks ... plus the boots, hat, mittens, two jackets and sweatpants. It was a day created for excuses. I could have easily said, “Nope, not going today. I’ll wait until spring.” But at this point, it’s too late to give in to excuses.

With several inches of snow overnight, the drive from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid was stressful and dangerous. I parked at the beach house, but it was still dark; Daylight Savings began the day before, and it usually takes me a few days to get adjusted to the time change. It was a cool 18 degrees when I started the 3-mile loop (2.6 miles around Mirror Lake plus a .4-mile loop around the post office block). The sidewalk sweeper had made a couple of passes along Main Street and only one pass around the rest of the lake, so it was a little slippery with a thin layer of snow. Walking on uneven ground posed another challenge for my knees and my sense of balance. The paverstones look pretty, but when you walk on them, you realize how uneven they really are. My glasses kept fogging up, so I walked most of the way around the lake with them off. I couldn’t see anything. The hills and constant dips of the sidewalk for each driveway posed another challenge for my body, which has been trained to walk on a flat slab of smooth concrete at the Olympic Center. But that’s exactly why I wanted to start training on the Half-Marathon course. My muscles need to get used to the real-life conditions I’ll be facing in June.

Luckily, it will get much easier when I shed the hat, mittens and jacket and replace the heavy boots with sneakers and the bulky sweatpants with shorts. I’m looking forward to those lighter days.

Skin me

I was going to talk about extra skin, but what’s there to say? Eventually, when I lose enough fat, there will be loose skin on my body that I’ll want removed. I see others who’ve gone through massive weight loss, between 200 and 300 pounds, and they need surgery to look normal again. I know it’s way too early to worry about extra skin, but as I try to visualize myself as a thinner guy, I keep thinking about the skin my fat will leave behind. Once it’s stretched, it’s stretched. Well, that’s a problem for another day.

New wardrobe

As I inch closer to the 50-pound weight-loss mark, I’m beginning to slowly shrink out of my fat clothes, and it feels good. I tried on a 5X shirt for the first time in years, and it finally fits, but I don’t have the money to buy a new wardrobe, so I’ll have to keep wearing the 6X shirts for a while longer. Same thing with my pants. I have two pairs of pants that need to get hemmed, and I may grow out of them before they get into the rotation.

The trouble is that I don’t know what size pants, shorts or shirts to buy because I don’t know what size I’ll wind up at the end of the year. I can’t buy a 5X T-shirt for training in warm weather because I may need a 4X by then. Buying new clothes is something many people don’t think about before starting their weight-loss journey. Luckily, there are many people who have gone through this process and can give advice.

Essentially, it all comes down to money. A new wardrobe is not in the budget, so I’ll have to wear saggy clothing until I settle on a new size. Maybe I’ll find some clothes in the attic that I grew out of years ago. That would be an adventure unto itself.

Next week: The Fitness Revolution weight-loss challenge versus the Biggest Loser TV show.

Contact Andy Flynn at


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Andy Flynn puts on a sock using this homemade contraption. (Photo — Andy Flynn)