Turning back the clock

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By James Roberts

I was ashamed of myself, at how far I'd let myself go. As I lay at the bottom of the stairwell, my doctor's advice to lose weight or lose my knee repeatedly looped in my head.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Every once in a while, I get a story that makes an impression upon me. Don't misunderstand me, I take all of my stories seriously, but some of them just hit closer to home.

Below the fold on Monday's front page was one of those stories. Jerry Knifley walked into Campbellsville Health and Fitness in January using a cane. His knee had locked up on him and he was overweight. He wanted to turn his life around. And he has.

Knifley's story had a profound effect on me. Our lives seemed to mirror one another quite a bit.

Those who know me likely have noticed that I've shed a few pounds over the last couple of years - about 115 pounds to be exact.

What they may not know is that before I lost the weight, I had gained a lot of it just as quickly.

Like most people, I like to eat. And it seems that the unhealthiest of foods are what I'm drawn to most.

Around 2005, I gained so much weight so quickly from my daily binge eating that my knees began to pop and crack. Occasionally, my left knee would either buckle or lock up on me.

My doctor noted my rapid weight gain and told me that I need to lose the weight or lose the knee. I'm pretty sure I celebrated that news with chili cheese fries.

I was on a downward spiral until a couple of things happened.

That spring, I became quite ill. I assumed it was seasonal allergies. An allergy test revealed that while I was mildly allergic to dust and mold, I was also allergic to milk.

Bad news for the man who enjoyed a hefty bowl of ice cream or cereal almost daily. I was forced to modify my diet and I lost a few pounds in the process.

About a month later, while walking down a flight of stairs, my left knee buckled on the top step, and I fell down the stairs.

At that point, I became ashamed of how far I'd gone. Waking up in the middle of the night to eat a few tablespoons of ice cream. Inhaling buffet food so fast that I'd have five plates before I realized I was way past full. Having dessert after breakfast, lunch and dinner.

As I pulled myself back onto my feet and dusted off the humiliation, I made a vow to take better care of myself.

But while I lost the weight, I was certainly not in shape. Exercise was hardly a part of my weight loss. Discipline was.

Then I met Jerry. I had wrestled with the thought of joining a gym for some time. Last Wednesday, after meeting with Jerry one more time for my story, I took the plunge.

I'll turn 35 in a couple of weeks. On that day, you won't find me at a buffet or shoveling cake into my mouth. You'll find me at the gym, perhaps trying to turn back the clock.