A quest for health & fitness in middle age

May 1, 2000
At 234 pounds with a 43-inch waist, this dentist knew he needed to change his ways if he wanted to see his two boys grow up!

At 234 pounds with a 43-inch waist, this dentist knew he needed to change his ways if he wanted to see his two boys grow up!

Ed McElroy, DDS

In 1998, at the age of 48, I was fat and out of shape. My beautiful wife of 26 years was a jogger and regularly used the barbell/dumbbell set we had in the garage. Even though we were the same age, she looked 10 years younger than me!

As the father of two young boys, ages 6 and 8, I realized that I needed to change my ways or I wouldn`t be around to see them grow up! I was doing little or no exercise, my diet was horrible, and my size 38 pants were getting so tight that in the evening when I took them off, I had a "ring" around my waist!

My practice was doing OK, but the stress of dentistry was getting me down. I would come home each evening, put on some comfortable clothes, grab a beer, and head for my easy chair in front of the TV. By 8 p.m., I would be starved, and start searching for something to eat. Many times, I would hop in the car and head to the nearest fast-food restaurant to bring something home.

On weekends, I really would "let loose.". I would eat everything in sight, especially if it was great tasting - i.e., high in fat! My body weight ballooned up to 234 pounds, with a 43 inch waistline! In high school during my days as a "jock," I had to struggle to get over 200 pounds!

In late May of 1998, to add insult to injury, my left knee began to give out on me. My wife and I took our two boys to Sherman, Tex., to visit their grandmother (my mom). While we were there, I took my boys down to a park to play. We decided to take a walk. On the way home, I noticed a sharp pain in my left knee. My mom`s house was less than one mile away, but I was limping by the time we got back.

Upon our return home to El Paso, my orthopedic surgeon checked my knee. He told me I had torn cartilage and needed knee surgery. I put him off for a few months, so it would not ruin my summer, and we scheduled the surgery for late October.

A life-changing article

In June of 1998, my wife and I attended the annual meeting of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) in Vancouver, B.C. Since this was also a vacation, I really cut loose with my eating! At the airport before the return trip home, I purchased a magazine with an article in it that literally changed my life!

The magazine was Muscle Media. In it was an article about the magazine`s "Physique Transformation Contest." What caught my eye were the amazing before and after photos of the contest winners from the previous year. They were regular people of all ages, who had jobs, families, etc. Yet, they were able to make amazing "transformations" in their bodies in only 12 short weeks. Some were even older than me!

Coincidentally, the deadline to enter the 1998 Physique Transformation Contest was two weeks away. I still had time to enter! As soon as our plane landed in El Paso, I called the magazine. Within a few days, I received the entry form and the rules to enter the 1998 Physique Transformation Contest.

Now that I was officially enrolled as a contestant, I had to take some measurements - i.e., height, weight, waist size, and some single calculation to determine my percentage of body fat. I also had to supply some "before" pictures, which I was too embarrassed to have any one except my wife take. Even today, I cringe when I see my "before" photo.

I had 12 weeks to train with weights, diet, and to do some form of aerobics. Fortunately, the editor of the magazine, Bill Phillips, realized that many of us "competitors" would need help, so he suggested routines with weights, diet ideas, and other recommendations. I was now an official contestant in the contest!

The training program

I began the program in late June. I lifted weights in my garage three times a week for up to one hourlonger than one hour. I woke up 30 minutes early three times a week to do my aerobics session on my Lifecycle, since my bad knee prevented me from jogging. From Bill Phillips, I learned that a person burns 30 percent more body fat if he/she does their aerobics on an empty stomach after they have been "fasting" all night - i.e., sleeping! So, I would get out of bed, drink my cup of coffee, and hit the Lifecycle for 30 minutes or less.

My diet consisted of six meals a day. Three were low fat meals that included such things as salad, grilled chicken, turkey, and egg-white omelets made with Egg Beaters, etc. The other three meals were one quart of water mixed with "Myoplex", which is a complete meal in powder form from EAS, a supplement company.

Again, I followed the advice of Bill Phillips, the magazine`s editor, and even included Creatine in my shakes for enhanced muscle growth. I would never take any steroids, even in my days as a "jock."

I drank a gallon of water a day, dividing it up into four equal doses. I even allowed myself a "pig-out night," but only once a week! According to Bill, this serves two purposes. First, it helps you psychologically by letting you have the foods you most crave once a week. As a result, you don`t feel "deprived." Secondly, it fools your body into not thinking you are going into "starvation" and slowing down your basal metabolism rate (BMR). This happens on many "fad diets."

The transformation begins

Soon, some amazing things began to happen! My pants no longer left the ring around my waist. I had much more energy all day, even at 4 p.m.! I noticed I had a great "feeling" all day, especially on my days when I did my a.m. 30-minute aerobics sessions. The daily hassles of dental practice didn`t seem to be as hard on me as before.

At the end of eight weeks, I began to receive really nice comments from patients concerning my weight loss. They could see a change, even though I was wearing long-sleeved scrubs! I even noticed my production/collection had increased, probably due to my increased energy level and self-esteem!

The final month was really fun. I began to tan outside on the weekends,and hit a tanning booth twice a week after leaving the office in the evening. I hired a professional photographer to take my "after" photo. One week before the photo shoot, I even did a full body shave, with the help of my wife!

The results

At the end of the 12 weeks, I purchased and fit into size 34 pants. Tears came to my eyes when I told my wife that I had not worn that size in over 30 years! My knee even quit hurting. The orthopedic surgeon re-examined me and said my knee surgery was no longer necessary! It was no longer necessary because I had lost so much weight and strengthened my leg muscles.

Did I win my age division (40-50 -year-olds)? No! But it was a wonderful experience! I was sleeping very well, had tons of energy, and my self-esteem skyrocketed! My practice even improved!

Looking back over my experience, what advice would I give my fellow dentists who would like to improve their fitness levels?

(1) Purchase Bill Phillips` excellent new book, Body for Life. It is a top 10 best seller in bookstores across the country. I wish it had been available back in 1998.

(2) Check out the following web sites for help and motivation:www.bodyforlife.com, www.musclemedia.com, and www. eas.com

(3) Even if you do not want to enter the competition like I did, try Phillips` 12-week program, outlined in his book. It will change your life!

(4) Join a gym and consider investing in a personal trainer to help you. Your progress will be much faster and you will miss fewer workouts!

(5) Do your aerobics first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Your day will go better, and the many little problems we face each day in dentistry will not get you down.

(6) Enjoy the journey and your new "body for life"!

(The author would like to give special thanks to Scott Warman, the owner of Pro Gym in El Paso, Tex., and to Christina Martinez, his personal trainer.)

For more information about this article, contact the author by phone at (915) 593-8815. A biography of the author appears on page 10.

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