My lifelong struggle with body weight got even tougher on Dialysis.

July 16, 2016 | By Terry | Filed in: Default.

When I was a kid, I was as normal as they come. I wasn’t weak, but I wasn’t strong. I wasn’t skinny, but I wasn’t overweight.  I was 90 lbs in 8th grade, shot up to 130 in 9th, and graduated high school at 160 lbs.   Standing at 5’11”, 160 lbs was about as normal and average as it gets. I wasn’t an athlete, and I wasn’t a couch potato. I loved to play backyard sports with friends, but wasn’t strong enough to play on the competitive high school teams.

I went to college, and finally graduated at age 25. At that time I was in the best shape of my life. 5’11”, 210 lbs, a habitual weightlifter. I wasn’t ripped or anything, but had some muscle on my bones, and not much fat…  If only I’d have had this size in high school hah – I could’ve helped good ‘old Jennings County win some football games 🙂

Anyway, after graduating college and starting real life work as a cubicle jockey, my body started making some drastic changes. By age 30 I was in terrible shape.  Up to about 230 lbs and zero muscle definition. For the first time in my life I had a “spare tire”, as they call it.

For the next 10 years, my body weight was a roller coaster. I’d let myself go, shoot up to about 250, 260, 270… but I’d go on these 6 month workout/health binges where I’d drop 20 or 30 lbs… but then gain it right back in the next 6 months.  Finally I ballooned up to over 280 lbs at age 43.  Now granted, I do wear it well for some reason. I’ve never had that giant belly you see on some overweight people. But I definitely poofed up in that region, as well as everywhere else.. arms. legs, face, you name it.

I knew I had to do something drastic to lose about 50 lbs (I’d never lost that much before in one sitting… haha)… So I read up on the Paleo diet, and lived that lifestyle pretty strictly for about 7 or 8 months.  I did lose that 50 lbs, I was back down to 230 lbs… by no means in the best shape of my life but I was happy to be there.   I then slacked off on the strict Paleo guidelines, but used it’s principles to loosely base my diet on, keeping things balanced from there on out. I pretty much kept the same weight for 2 years.. which was a huge accomplishment for me. My body was so used to going through extreme changes each year (big  ups and big downs).  So it was GREAT to actually be a normal human being, having the same body year round!

Well then comes year 2015…  If you’ve read my blog at all you know all about year 2015. The failing kidneys, the being sick for half the year… losing my appetite, nausea, going to bed at 6 pm every night, extreme fatigue…  yada yada yada.  I started hemodialysis in August…  weighing in at 235 lbs.

I instantly felt like a million bucks. All my energy was back, my appetite was back, I was like whoa! This is awesome! Over the next few months I put a few pounds back on, but nothing too drastic. I was in my low 240’s when I switched to peritoneal dialysis in October of 2015.

As you know from my previous posts, this is a wonderful treatment program because it frees me from the clinics, I can do the treatments myself at home.  Or on the road.. In hotel rooms, on cruise ships, I’ve done it all in the past year.  That’s a very nice perk – the mobility.  But the downside – as I’ve found out – is that my body just goes crazy sucking in all that sugar water.

From October 2015 – April 2016 I gained 30 pounds.  “Here we go again” I thought. In 6 months I’ve shot up 30 pounds, to 265 pounds…  doesn’t this sound familiar? Who’s to say that I won’t be 300 pounds in 6 more months?  I knew if I allowed that to happen, then I probably wouldn’t be a transplant candidate anymore, and I’d be inviting other issues to my body.

Something had to be done – and pronto.  I knew that all this dialysis sugar water is the culprit – and it was ballooning me up faster than a parade float on Thanksgiving morning in New York. I knew it was going to be tough to “lose” weight – but I had to combat it somehow, I had to stop the gaining.

The main pavilion area of NIFS. This pano shot does it no justice - it's huge. That basketball court you see on the left is an old NBA court from Market Square Arena.

The main pavilion area of NIFS. This pano shot does it no justice – it’s huge. That basketball court you see on the left is an old NBA court from Market Square Arena.

So, I signed up to my favorite gym in the city – NIFS.  (National Institute of Fitness and Sport). It’s an amazing facility on the IUPUI campus here downtown, just a mile from my apartment. They have a slew of personal trainers, group classes, and any and every kind of equipment you could ask for.  It’s a massive facility, has a 1/8th mile indoor track, sprint lanes, and an official NBA sized basketball court inside the track. (It is the SAME court that the Indiana Pacers used in the old Market Square Arena!)

Anyway, I signed up for their “weight loss” program, which includes 2 personal trainer sessions per week, a monthly meeting with the on-staff dietitian, 2 Bod-Pod assessments, 2 Fit-3D assessments, and a ton of accountability and encouragement.

My first session was April 28 … I was extremely out of shape, sore, tired, didn’t want to be there. But I kept at it. After a couple weeks I started feeling better. I was getting into the routine, I was actually liking going to the gym.

By the end of May and into June, I was on a roll. The workouts were increasing in intensity, but I was doing really good at them. I was walking out of the gym each time dripping in sweat, and feeling amazing the next day. I also noticed the scale wasn’t going up anymore. I wasn’t losing any body weight either, but the bleeding had stopped! I knew I was getting stronger, gaining muscle – but I also knew that my dialysis treatments were still going against me. So I wasn’t discouraged. I kept at it.

I muscled my way though June and into July. Before I knew it, my 12 weeks were up… in fact my last workout was yesterday.  Tonight I had my final Bod-Pod and Fit-3D assessments.  I finished the program right where I started it – at 260 lbs.  However it’s a different 260 lbs.

Something is whacky with the BodPod… over the 3 months, it told me that I gained 10 lbs of fat and lost 5 lbs of muscle… lol.. Whaaaaaaat?  That’s impossible. I am a hell of a lot stronger in every category than I was 3 months ago. My body has gotten bigger in every muscle area, I’m more defined/toned than I was – there’s no way I gained body fat and lost muscle mass.  My trainer and I figure it has to do with my dialysis treatments, as the machine is very sensitive to water in your body. I know the inside of my abdomen is a wreck, my peritoneal cavity all stretched out and displaced – because of this it doesn’t appear that I’ve lost any midsection weight at all, even though I have.  Anyway, I’m not discouraged by those numbers as I know they aren’t right for my situation.

What I do know is right is that I am back on the right track. I’m more toned, stronger, I have a habit of exercising, which is something I will need the rest of my life.  It has to be a year-round habit… I can’t just quit doing it and take 6 months off anymore. I’ll balloon up extremely fast while on dialysis, as I’ve found out.

Since the program with the trainers is now over, I’m moving on to a normal membership. I have great habits now, and I have to prove to myself that I can keep them up year round.  Rest assured I”ll be in there this weekend for my first workout on my own.  I’ll still meet with a trainer once per month to give me a program to work on and keep me in line.

My goal? Keep reshaping my body – don’t worry about what the scale says – as I know with dialysis it’s impossible to beat it like I used to be able to. I just have to work my ass off to “maintain” that scale… and replace more fat into muscle mass.

Just wait till I get a new kidney – all bets are off then – I’m gonna get into the best shape of my life!  Speaking of – I don’t want to jinx it but there’s potential good news on the horizon. I’ll just leave it at that. Trust me you’ll hear as soon as I do 🙂

— T

July 15, 2016


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