Sharing the story of my friend Ron Allison who is a good friend from Dayton Ohio who I have met several times on trips to my Air Force Reserve home of Wright Patterson AFB. Ron is inspiring others that yes you can do this and the journey although challenging, is filled with joy of a restored health and vitality for him and his family. Ron will be my guest at Freedom’s Run this year September 30. www.freedomsrun.org. Thanks Ron for sharing your powerful story. Pictured below- Ron finishes the Marine Corps Marathon 2016 on an unseasonably warm day as well as past and current pictures with his daughter.
WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE? WHEN DID YOU START GAINING WEIGHT AND HOW DID IT IMPACT YOUR CHILDHOOD?
I come from a hard working loving family. When I was 4 my parents divorced and my younger brother and I lived with my Dad and his parents. It was a dynamic situations because my grandparents became a second set of parents. We saw my mom regularly as well. Most of my family has always been overweight. Sweets and breads were a staple in our home. I was always active. I spent most of my childhood running around and playing soccer. I started getting “husky” in middle school. I use this term because I hated getting new pants. My grandma would go to the store and ask for the “husky” section. My childhood was good. My dad did a good job filling in the gaps and we were all very close. As I got older the weight continued. I was chunky and uncomfortable. I would swim with a shirt because I didn’t like the fact that I looked like I should be wearing a bikini top. As I reached my teenage years something dangerous happened. I realized I was awesome. My self esteem became amazing. I was now comfortable with who I was and didn’t care anymore. The reason I say this was dangerous is because I was fine with being overweight and I didn’t care what anyone had to say.
WHAT WAS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
If you asked me then, I ate what I wanted and what I liked. We would eat out a lot and appetizer and dessert was normal at most meals. We would pick restaurants based on the desserts that they offered. Food was for pure enjoyment! As an adult we planned vacation routes to eat at specific places. My grandfather had open heart surgery when I was 12 and we temporarily went to a low fat diet but it didn’t last. I ate for enjoyment and personal satisfaction.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EATING HABITS PROIR TO YOUR LIFE CHANGE AND HOW IT FFECTED YOUR EMOTIONS, JOBS, GOALS, OR ANYTHING ELSE ?
I truly ate what I wanted. I rarely ate huge portions but would eat what I wanted. I ate a lot of bread and sweets. Reese’s Cups and Coke was a huge staple. I loved soda and drank at least 4 Cokes a day. I never really knew that what I ate affected my emotions until I started eating healthier. I never thought I ate out of depression or boredom until I started eating healthier. As a matter of fact I would argue that these were not the cases. I have always said that it effected my career. I have an extensive background in management and managing high performing teams but there was always something that held me back when I left traditional retail and entered professional sales. It’s funny how people take your more serious when you look the part. I will say that I wore my clothes different back then though. This made me look sloppy. I would wear my pants under my belly and they always looked like they were falling off in the back. The aggravating part was when someone asked me at work if it was nice now that people took me seriously since I have lost weight. I was awe struck because I never thought of it as an issue professionally. I would say it started to be an issue personally when my 7 year old daughter came home and told me that the kids on the bus were making fun of me and she was sticking up for me. I realized as confident as I was it wasn’t fair to her but it still wasn’t enough yet for me to change.
WHAT WAS A TYPICAL EATING DAY BEFORE LIFE CHANGE?
Breakfast-Nothing except a large Coke
Lunch- Chinese food was a favorite with multiple sodas. I also loved sub sandwiches. Usually about 1500 calories
Dinner- we always ate out this would include desert and appetizers. If we did eat at home I loved mashed potatoes loaded with noodles and lots of soda
Late night snack- cinnamon rolls (like the whole pack) with milk
WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINT?
As I discussed earlier I was a pretty confident guy. I was (still am) happily married with a beautiful family so I was ok with my weight until October of 2011. My father who was also my best friend was overweight all his life as well. He had an abdominal hernia from the size of his stomach. Every year it would slightly strangulate the intestine causing a partial blockage. He had 2 surgeries in the past to repair it. It honestly was pretty routine for us. He would go to the ER for the pain once a year. They would admit him and tell us it was to risky to fix. He would be on a week of bowel rest and then back to work and home. This time it would be different. After 3 days in they made surgery a matter of life and death. They did the repair and he spent 101 days in the ICU with bowel perforations and battling sepsis off and on. He passed away on Feb 6, 2011 at 52 yrs old. It was a few months later that I realized I was an emotional eater. I gained about 24 lbs and now was 5’6″ 321 lbs but that didn’t stop me. It wasn’t until December of 2013 I decided it was time to change. It was about midnight and I realized that if a confident person like me was effected so much by the passing of my dad then I was going to do whatever I could to get healthier.
HOW DID YOU START LOSING THE WEIGHT?
Once I decided I wanted to be healthier I went and talked to my family doc. I started eating a diabetic type diet and walking. I told my doctor that I wanted to lose 100 lbs in 1 year. I also made it a personal goal to run a 5K. I stopped soda and tried really hard to limit sugars. It was a huge learning curve. I tracked everything and if I messed up I started right back on the next meal. I started the couch to 5K program to convert my walking to running. I set up a reoccurring monthly appointment with my family doctor as an accountability measure. I also began praying about my situation as well. My journey was going to encompass not only physical but spiritual and emotional as well!!!!!
NEW DAILY NUTRITION?
I stay under 20 grams carbs a day. I also do not eat any sugar. I eat a high fat moderate protein diet. My meals consist of what grandma used to make. Eggs and bacon for breakfast and a meat and vegetables for lunch and dinner. I also do a once a week 24 hour fast. I think it’s important to know that the way I eat today is not how I ate 1 yr ago. I do not diet. I just continue to eat healthier and healthier. It naturally happens as you feel the difference after you start eating better. The key is I was always progressing though.
WHAT IS YOUR NEW FOOD OUTLOOK?
Food is fuel. As cliche as it is I eat to live not live to eat. I still enjoy food but it’s different. It’s amazing on how you become what you eat. What I mean by that is if you eat bad you feel bad but if you have always eaten unhealthy then you have always felt bad. You don’t know what you are missing.
HOW HAS YOUR FAMILY LIFE CHANGED?
We are all more active. My family never wants me to go back to my old self. The most important thing is I feel like I am reversing the generational bad habits that was established decades ago. My goal is to keep my kids and their kids from battling weight and unhealthy habits.
I lost 121 lbs the first year of healthier living. I lost another 40 lbs the next year. I went from 321 lbs to 160 lbs. I have lost as much weight as naturally as others do with weight loss surgery. I have went from walking to running 3 full marathons. It is possible. No one can make you do it though unless you really want to. It is a commitment though. You have to decide. Surround yourself with people that make you better and build you up. Don’t be afraid to research and ask questions. There is no need for a gimmick but just a decision to do it right. Most of all love yourself. You must have focus and determination. You can’t focus unless you are determined and you can’t be determined unless you are focused on the result. I have become passionate about helping others. I will not go back. I have a wonderful wife and three amazing kids counting on me to move this legacy