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Re-evaluating life as I approach 50

April 5, 2019 - Andy Flynn
A childhood friend of mine died last week, just shy of his 53rd birthday. I’ll be 50 in September, and it gets me thinking, “How do I want to live for the next 10 years?”

You’d think that my own near-death experiences in 2011 (hemorrhoidectomy) and 2017 (blood clots) were enough to scare the crap out of me and get me to lose weight. They helped motivate me a little, enough that I’m more than 50 pounds down from my highest weight of 492, recorded in 2011, but not nearly enough to drop below my morbidly obese status.

This friend’s death that hit me much harder. Even though our circumstances were different and we weren’t close, I look at photos of him on Facebook and see myself. And I wonder, will I even be alive in 10 years?

After dropping 13 pounds in the first two months of 2019 — 457 to 444 — I didn’t lose any weight in the following four weeks. I didn’t gain any either, which is progress, I suppose. Yet over the past week, I’m down to 435, a total of 22 pounds in 13 weeks.

What got me losing weight again? Well, there are several things.

First of all, I started another part-time job this week to help pay the bills, requiring me to stand on my feet for at least four straight hours. I don’t know if you’ve ever stood on your feet for four straight hours carrying about 440 pounds on your body, but it ain’t easy. In fact, I’ve been using a cane to walk since 2016, when I began gaining back the 80 pounds I lost in 2014.

In order to make it easier for myself to withstand four hours on my feet, I needed to make a better effort to get stronger and lose more weight. So I did.

Sadly, the effort was too late for this job. While I’m stronger this week than I was last week, I still have a lot of weight to lose before I can stand on my feet at least four hours. My new part-time job lasted one day. I’m not proud of that, but I had to give it a try. Those four hours were extremely painful for my legs, and I could barely walk the rest of the day. After a lot of soul-searching, I realized that I just can’t handle that job physically for now.

The lists

Several days before my friend died, I made two lists for myself, and they’ve helped me focus on my weight-loss goals.

The first list is called “The next 10 years.” It begins, “I want to ...” Then I filled in the blanks by making a list. Below are some examples.

I want to ...

- Be healthy.

- Be happy.

- Be financially stable.

- Take care of my family.

- Have more fun.

- Travel.

- Spend more quality time with my family and friends.

There are also career-oriented entries, such as “become the best storyteller and journalist I can be.”

It’s a list that comes from that moment when I was sitting on the emergency room bed on Sept. 6, 2017 and the doctor told me I had a massive blood clot near my heart — and one in each lung — and he couldn’t promise that I would survive the night. He basically said I could die at any moment.

I kept mumbling to myself, “I’m not ready yet. I’m not ready yet.” And it got me wondering, if I died that day, would I have anything to show for my life? Had I made a difference in the world? I couldn’t honestly answers any of those questions with a positive response. I came to the conclusion that I may have wasted the greatest gift of all — my life.

So that’s what the 10-year list is all about. It gets me focused on the important things in life, and if I live according to that list, I would be content knowing that I did the best I could to make a difference in the world before I go.

The next list is called “Who am I?” It begins, “I am ...” Then I filled in the blanks by making a list. Below are some examples.

I am ...

- A physically fit half-marathon walker.

- A person who takes care of his body, mind and spirit.

- A person who takes care of his family.

- A person who is financially stable.

- 220 pounds.

You’ll notice that I am currently not all of these things. It’s a wish list, one that comes from visualizing what I want to be in the future. I’ve heard some people say that in order to make severe changes in their lives — such as losing more than 100 pounds — they began living like the people they want to be, not the people they are. So if I begin living like a physically fit half-marathon walker, maybe I’ll slowly morph into that person.

One entry that changed my life last week was “I am ... a person who does not use a cane to get around.” Since I wrote it down last weekend, I have not used a cane — even after that four-hour shift on my feet. It’s been difficult at times, especially when I get up from a chair or a bed, but setting aside the cane was the best thing I’ve done for myself this year. I’m now stronger, and I feel like a new person. So I guess that list thing is starting to work.

I’ve also written down “I am ... a person who eats small portions” and “I am ... a person who does not eat junk food.” Those are slower to catch on, but I’ve made some progress thanks to another entry, “I am ... a person who is confident in his abilities.”

So there you have it — real changes in my life that will hopefully lead to progress as I try to re-capture my weight-loss success from 2014.

I can’t thank the team at Fitness Revolution gym in Lake Placid enough for their support. While I’m still struggling to get to the gym on a regular basis, the time I’ve spent there so far this year has given me the tools and space to get stronger. That will certainly come in handy when I’m finally able to stand on my feet for four hours at a time without being in agony.


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