Allen Clark: A Powerful New Beginning

By Allen Clark

“CONGRATULATIONS! You made it to the final week of Lifebook’s 2018 Health and Fitness Challenge.”

I love everything about that comment. I also love that “the final week” does not apply to me. Just over a month ago I would not have been able to say that. I am inspired by the progress I have experienced so far and plan to make turn this challenge into a lifestyle.

I am 51, and on January 1, was literally twice the man I should be – but not in a desirable way. It was like doing everything, day and night, with another me on my back! So, my goal was to drop weight, along with some of the negative health side effects that came with being so physically… abundant.

Lifebook (both this challenge and the quest, which I am currently doing), Jon, Missy, and everyone who has helped… I am surprising myself because I have a lump in my throat as I type this. I know this is supposed to be short but if I can please elaborate, to help you better understand the enormity of what you are inspiring here…

The reason I said I would not have been able to say that a month ago, is while I used to embrace fitness and have a robust and enthusiastic love of life, in the past 15-20 years both of those faded to the point where my main reason for holding onto life was so my children wouldn’t have to lose their father. I was ready to go, part of me looked forward to it, and I figured at my current rate it wouldn’t be that much longer (check out my starting “fitness age” in the table below). I had occasionally begun the effort to get back in shape, but my heart wasn’t in it and there was no longer any commitment or real desire.

I am so far from that now, I can hardly believe I’d sunk that low! And I am excited for what I am continuing to create daily.

Here are some of the changes that have occurred so far, according to my scale and its app:

Weight lost: 31.7 lbs
Body Fat: -5%
Muscle: +3.3%
Fitness Age: -11 years!

I am particularly excited about the Weight, Body Fat, and Fitness Age reductions (in just one month!), but BMI and the rest are exciting as well! (Those are 22+ inches I do not miss, and I’m sending some of their friends to join them. 😁)

Here are some visual results to go along with those statistics: (Sorry for holding onto my pants in the Afters, I literally could not stick my stomach out far enough to hold them up. I tried, and you almost saw something you would not have been able to un-see… =) I wish you could see how far I’m holding them out!)

There have been SO many extraordinary results, but one of the most significant for me cannot easily be seen. A few years ago, I had a 90%-deviated septum corrected. After the surgery the pain medication they prescribed gave me anxiety attacks, so I stopped taking it. But the anxiety and panic attacks continued. They got so bad that, for example, when this challenge started I could not drink more than four swallows at a time because I would start to panic that I wasn’t breathing.

Now, not only can I drink 32 oz of a thick green smoothie in one breath if I want, I was able to sing in a choir last week with hundreds of people watching. The upper seats were warm, the row was full of big guys, making it cramped, I had my suit coat on, and was a tad out of breath from having to rush to get there on time. Instead of beginning to hyperventilate and having to rush out of the room after two minutes, I was able to sit for two hours and sing without a problem! That is life-changing huge for me – you can’t understand unless you have lived so long with anxiety and panic attacks.

For years the thought of facing my life with anxiety caused anxiety, and it is now almost non-existent. It gives me chills to write that.

Getting and giving feedback and support, like on the Lifebook challenge Facebook page, has helped keep me on track. My efforts have inspired my wife and children to focus more on their health as well, and we are seeing amazing results. Even our little 2-year old picks up the 1lb dumbbells and says, “See, I strong!” We are all eating a LOT more vegetables – I am even enjoying dishes with the ones I have “hated” since childhood. We all exercise more (my teenage daughter has been losing weight and now loves putting on make-up, dressing up, and going to school; she used to find little joy in any of those things). Everyone is sleeping better because I am no longer up working all night (For years I have dreaded sleep. I think part of it is because I have had serious sleep apnea where I stopped breathing 43 times per hour and subconsciously didn’t like feeling like I’m suffocating all night, even in my sleep. BUT, now I can lie FLAT ON MY BACK and breathe normally. For years I have slept sitting up because otherwise the pressure on my chest was too great – not very conducive to cuddling at night).

The results of these changes have not only been better health, but a closer relationship with my wife, everyone gets along better with each other, talking more and arguing less…

For example the teenager I mentioned, rather than yelling at her 2-year old brother the other day to get out of her room, they were in on her bed and she was reading stories to him. This new peace synergy in our home is WONDERFUL! And priceless.

You may have noticed the decreases swelling in my legs and ankles. Since 2009, for 4-5 years in a row I ended up in the hospital almost a week at a time due to an infection in my leg that doctors had trouble pinpointing. It resulted in long-term swelling, and more than one person has said it’s a miracle I’m alive… which made me feel a little guilty because at one point when I was close, it was hard to decide if I wanted to stay or go. Not because of depression or “life is hard,” I just found no joy in it any longer.

My legs are no longer swollen!

I have had carpal tunnel for years. My skin has been numb sometimes to the point where I have burn scars on my hands from stoking a fire and not being able to feel that my hand was against the grate. But there was also non-stop pain down the inside of my arms and hands where, even after it diminished, it could still be difficult to pick up a piece of paper because making a pinching motion with my thumb and finger was excruciating. Today I was able to slide my hand into a narrow space and use a couple fingers to create leverage on a power adapter while using the others to pull out the USB cord – I was stunned there was no pain – a month ago I would have had to have someone do it for me or get up and move the monitor, so I could use both hands!

I’ve also found there are things people might not consider when thinking of obesity, some seemingly small, but they can add up to a lot. For example, not only does it require more toilet paper when one is eating an unhealthy diet, but it is more difficult to use. Speaking of toilet paper, not only are we saving money on that, but not spending so much on gas for food runs into town every couple days or more (at 30 minutes per trip it adds up fast), and making a few meals with healthy food is cheaper than fast food and/or processed food every day.

Also, I don’t know the equivalent pain for a female to getting kicked between the legs, but when one’s thighs gain inches there is less room down there and it gets to the point where that kind of pain is being experienced all day long… SO unpleasant, and it’s one more excuse to move around less, yet the emotional eating continues.

Clothes don’t last as long – I used to be able to wear a suit for years, but my last three suits lasted anywhere between about three wearings and four months. And suits are not cheap! But when you’re that overweight you start looking for reasons to not go out in public anyway, so don’t dress up as often. I would do fast food more often because I could use the drive-through and not have to get out – not to avoid physical exertion, but so people wouldn’t watch me eat. I looked for ways and reasons to avoid doing everything from going to church, to job interviews, to get-togethers with family and friends. I fell out of touch with many of them because of that.

I didn’t even realize it until this month, how reclusive I have become over the years. And I am not a recluse, I love being social! The staying at home a lot doesn’t go well with not picking things up, but because it is such a chore to pick them up – I had to get down on my knees to be able to reach – they often stayed where they fell. And I became drawn to slip-on shoes for the same reason – once I got down on the floor I had to prop a knee up, but out to the side to make way for my belly, then exhale and hold it as I leaned forward to tie my shoe. Hard to do when not breathing causes panic attacks. Otherwise I’d have to sit on the bed, put a leg up to tie my shoe, then get up and switch sides to do the other one.

I mentioned I am able to sleep better.

This has helped create more clarity, a better mood, more romance, more weight loss, and more productivity in every area of my life.

In addition to decreased stiffness, aches, and pains, I see improvements on things like my business and  my relationships with family and friends.

I am working on a business and spent more than half of last year trying to update it. I have done more in the last month than in the previous six!

I have played outside with my children more in the past month than in the past 10 years!

I feel more confident about myself and am not embarrassed for people to see me, and don’t worry when I take my kids to school that they are secretly embarrassed to be seen with me.

I am experiencing a level of happiness and fulfillment that I did not expect to feel again in my lifetime, and I want more of it.

One of my new goals is to live to be 120! I didn’t expect to see my grandchildren before; now I want to see my great-grandchildren.

I used to lean on food for comfort, now I lean on life. It’s a miracle, and I am certain that there will be positive ripple effects for generations to come!

I am so grateful for the changes that have occurred in my life this last month, and for the opportunity to share my successes. I hope it inspires others to make positive changes in their lives, as Lifebook did for me.

Rather than bringing the challenge to a powerful close, I would say you have brought us to a powerful beginning! 

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