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My Background
My name is Jon Blackburn, I live in Zionsville, IN and work at Hendrickson Trailer Suspensions in Lebanon, IN. I am 45 years old and have been fat (more or less) for most of my life, the majority of the last ten years I have been morbidly obese.  The methods I have used to change my body have not been easy, but have absolutely been worth the effort. I have worked diligently with planning and persistence for the results. I don't believe there is any magic, quick, easy way to lose lots of fat. If someone tells you there is, watch your wallet. I went into this Journey expecting years of torture and really have had one of the best years of my life.

I had given up hope - resigned to being fat for life, I had tried many diets and had lost weight and then gained it back with interest. I also realized that if I didn't do something I would not live to see my grandchildren and the remainder of my life would hardly be worth living. In December 2002 I began to make lifestyle changes in what I did for exercise and nutrition and recorded my progress. This announcement is a celebration for me, but not an end. I will continue to drive my body to meet new fitness goals.

It is my hope that this site will help you to make healthy changes in your life, I am proud of what I have accomplished in my physical transformation but I am not writing this to draw attention to myself but to help others understand the process I went through and how a similar process might work for them in improving their level of fitness.

I have never in my life until now considered myself at a desirable level of physical fitness. I have varied from somewhat over fat as a boy and a young man to way too fat as I matured. I have always had a very aggressive appetite and enjoyed eating lots of food. I believe I ate a pretty typical "modern American diet" and lots of it.

Although I have had a few athletic spikes in my life including wrestling in Junior High School and jogging for a few months in the Navy I would not consider myself an athlete by any definition of the word. I was pretty sedentary as a child watching way too much Television and continued the "sitting in front of the tube" practice as an adult.

I recall as a boy I was considered "big" and was one of the heaviest but also one of the tallest boys in my class. I knew I was to fat and had a round soft belly. My earliest memory of dieting was when I was 12 my mom asked me to go to weight watchers with her and I did, I really liked it, the speaker was pretty cool and the eating plan was not bad. I lost a fair amount of weight and liked having the old ladies clap for me when they announced how much I had lost the previous week. I don't believe I ever made it to my goal weight in weight watchers and my weight would rise and fall over the years. I could lose weight pretty easily, I had a high metabolism and when I was careful about what I ate I would drop pounds quickly. I could also eat voraciously and would eat huge quantities of food, I was one of those boys that you have nightmares about buying groceries for.

I was teased at times by other guys, and called fat, but I didn't look real fat in clothes. We had to take showers together after gym class and I definitely looked fat naked; I was pretty embarrassed of my fatness when it came time to take showers. After High school I went into the US Navy, I remembered that I was concerned about boot camp and the rigors of PT, I weighed about 220 pounds when I graduated from high school, I worked out and ran some to get ready for boot camp. I was over the recommended weight for my height when I enlisted in the Navy, but was not fat enough to have to go to the "fat boys" unit. I made it through boot camp pretty well, the running was tough, I finished the required distance run in just under the maximum time. I have been right at 6 feet tall my adult life including boot camp, I entered the Navy at about 210 pounds, and dropped to about 195 after boot camp. I lost weight in boot camp more due to marching everywhere than the Physical Training, I also remember eating was not an entirely pleasurable experience and there were no snacks. My weight stayed in the 200 to 220 range for several years after that, one period when I was down around 200 I met my wife and looked pretty good for the wedding pictures.

My weight increased some after being married a few years, I got out of the Navy after 6 years and went to Ohio State to study engineering. My mom had been coming to Columbus and was on a liquid diet program and suggested I do that too, I lost about 40 pounds on a diet of 5 or 6 "shakes" a day, it was pretty miserable and expensive. I hear the same program advertised on the radio today and they claim they will "teach you how to eat", I almost have to pull over when I hear those commercials because I get so mad. How are you going to learn how to eat when you are drinking shakes all day every day? This is like someone telling you they will teach you how to swim by having you hang by your ankles and watch instructional programs about swimming. After suffering through this ordeal, meeting my goal, and quitting smoking for the last time, I really packed on the pounds. By the time I was 30 I weighed around 260 and generally kept adding to that every year approaching 300 pounds, I had a brief period of good eating and exercise when I was about 35 and got my weight down to around 250 and was doing pretty well, I had developed many good habits. Around this time I changed jobs and we moved, my habits changed and I was back on the feed bag, doing nothing for exercise, just getting bigger and bigger.


The Blackburn's Summer of 2002

Medically speaking
When I was 27 years old I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, I kept an eye on the blood pressure and it continued to climb. I went on daily medication at the age of 36, as my weight increased so did my blood pressure and my medication. In 2002 I was taking 5 medications for blood pressure and it was still too high. When I was 35 my wife told me that in addition to snoring very badly I would frequently quit breathing. I was incredibly tired and sleepy all the time and finally had a sleep study done and was diagnosed with sleep apnea at the age of 39, I began using a CPAP breathing aid to sleep at night and my sleep situation got much better. Another medical issue I struggled with was chronic lower back pain. I would frequently have spasms and was very limited in my movement and activity because my back wouldn't allow it. In addition to the medical issues that are mentioned above that I believe were directly weight related, I had an episode of melanoma skin cancer when I was 40 that was removed and did not require treatment for spreading.

So in addition to not getting good sleep, having high blood pressure and digesting huge quantities of food to support my size and habits, I had to carry around 160 extra pounds. This picture shows me with my kitchen table and chairs, the weight I lost is the equivalent of the table and all six chairs together. Imagine carrying that table and chairs with you all day long every day. It is no wonder that I was physically tired and felt rotten.

How I felt emotionally
I had so much going well for me in life I should have been jumping for joy. I have a great wife who I love and who loves me, our marriage is excellent. I had 4 children whom I was proud of. I was an Engineering Manager and had a great job I really liked. My family and I were plugged into an excellent church. The majority of circumstances in my life were great, and I didn't care whether I lived another minute or died right on the spot. There are worse things in life than being fat, but I have a lot of compassion for the obese and morbidly obese. I felt terrible about myself, how I felt physically, how I looked, I felt like a walking freak show. One of the experiences I'll never forget was going to an amusement park with my family during the summer of 2002. My wife and kids had ridden several coasters and I watched, at the family's encouragement I rode one coaster and although it was a very painful fit into the seat I survived the ride. Then it was on to the next ride, there was a sample seat at the entrance to the ride which I checked out and felt would be OK. We waited about an hour in line, finally got to get in the ride and with 300 people behind me waiting and watching I got into the seat. Try as I might I couldn't get the seat to latch, the attendant came over and helped push on the locking bar to get it to latch, no good. He calls to another attendant "Hey, I can't get this guy in, come help" so two attendants tried and we couldn't get the seat to latch. In engineering terms I exceeded the design parameters of the ride, In the mind of 300 people the fat guy couldn't get in the seat. The attendant apologized and told me I needed to get off the ride, so I stepped off the ride, waved to my family and told them to have a good time. I wanted to disappear, I just wanted to be gone.

Resigned
One of the questions I ask myself is why didn't I start my journey sooner, why did I get so fat. The best answer I can give to myself today is that I was absolutely convinced in the lie that that was just the way I was, I was fat and nothing I was going to do would change that. I bought into the genetic theory that my family is fat, I'm fat, and I just need to get past it and try to enjoy life the best I can. I had accepted my weight as a genetic given, like my height. I had no hope and didn't want to hear anything from anyone that suggested I could change, I had tried and tried hard, I was just the "way that I am". I believe that many fat people are in the same condition today, they feel that they have tried hard and feel they just can't lose weight.

340 pound couch potato
In summary by December of 2002 I found myself in a very miserable condition. I felt bad physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was doing nothing for physical activity, I would get out of breath climbing one flight of stairs to my office. I was eating whatever I thought would taste good and continuing to dig my grave with my mouth. I went to a Christmas party with the guys I work with, I recall the waitress asked for my order and I told her I wanted the BBQ ribs, she asked if I wanted the half slab or the full slab, One of my friends across the table said laughing, "Does he look like a half slab of ribs guy?" I confirmed I wanted the full slab. I slept about 10 hours a night, and was still physically tired often through the day.