First Person

The Baltimore Sun

After receiving the doctor's diagnosis that I had high blood pressure and diabetes, I realized my life had to change. In about a year, I lost 143 pounds, but the process of getting there wasn't easy.

I tried every diet there was before finding one that worked for me. I tried the no-carbohydrates diet; didn't work. I tried Weight Watchers; didn't work. I tried the diet where you eat all of the meat you want somehow thinking that that is going to miraculously cause you to lose weight. (I really enjoyed that one.) The diet definitely did not work.

Then I tried high-protein diets, low-fat diets, no-fat or fat-free diets, and I kept on gaining weight. I tried one meal a day; kept on gaining. Two meals a day; never lost a pound. Three meals a day, and needless to say the same old habits produced the same old results.

Finally, I tried this diet where I ate six small meals a day, hoping that the frequency of eating smaller meals would jump-start my metabolism and hopefully cause me to burn calories and lose some much-needed pounds. The only thing that seemed to get off to a good start, however, was my day. My body remained in the same dismal and pathetic state.

Under the advisement of a friend, I went to a holistic doctor who told me that in order to correct my problem I needed to reshape my thinking and consider a necessary realignment with mind, body and spirit.

I had reached a desperate state in my health. I was a diabetic who was taking sugar pills and insulin daily, sometimes two and three times a day, as well as blood pressure medications.

Not to mention that because of these diseases, I was going into renal insufficiency (loss of kidney function). My metabolism had slowed to a snail's pace. I had no energy and could barely walk from the garage where I parked to my office only a block a way.

Several of my colleagues offered me free memberships to various gyms. What they didn't know is that I was in such bad physical condition that I was too embarrassed to go to the gym. I had some friends who were even willing to work out with me and help me get on a steady regimen of diet and exercise.

With the persistence of my wife, family, friends and the provocation of my faith, I finally said enough is enough. Thank God for support systems. It was because of my vastly diversified support systems that things began to look up.

I had friends who would literally come by my office and ask me what I was eating for lunch. The secretary in my office evaluated the content of every meal I had for lunch. At home, my wife was extremely meticulous about what I ate. In fact, many times she ate one meal, while I ate another meal specially prepared for me.

My nieces and nephews would remove the high-sodium condiments, such as hot sauce and seasoned salt, from the tables.

Not only did I change my eating habits, but I incorporated a modest exercise plan. Complicating the situation was the fact that my medication caused weight gain. At one time, I was losing 1 pound and gaining a pound almost immediately in fluid. Prayer, massage and meditation helped regulate my circulatory system and my fluid retention.

I had to become disciplined in my life. I come from a family that loves good food and fellowship. Eating good-tasting food makes us happy. But everything that tastes good isn't necessarily good for you.

Over the last year, I have learned how to eat again. I have learned to replace my bad habit of eating late at night and going to sleep. I eat earlier rather than later, and when I eat late I monitor what I eat.

I have learned to stop eating my way out of my predicaments. I've learned to stop eating as a nervous compulsion. I have learned not to celebrate my victories by eating food.

As I continued to lose weight, the benefits proved to be rewarding. My primary-care physician, who monitored me very closely during this process, found my blood pressure and sugar lowering. Today I am very proud to say that I don't take any diabetes medication and my blood pressure has been under control for months. What a difference a change of bad habits makes.

Although the greatest battle is over, the war has not yet been won. I am consulting with a personal trainer now to physically tone up my body. Feeling good creates a healthy self-esteem. Looking good is icing on the cake. If I can do it, others can. Don't wait until it becomes critical to make the lifestyle change. Do it now.

David Brown, 46, is 6 feet tall and weighs 212 pounds. He is the public relations officer for Baltimore's Department of Transportation.

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