Adam Slack is looking for the emergency room doctor who changed his life.
He'd like to hit him.
Then hug him.
The doctor, whose name he can’t recall, didn’t mince words when Slack was wheeled into the emergency room at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center City Campus in June of 2008.
Then a casino security guard, Slack had nearly passed out during a work shift. He had trouble breathing. His blood pressure was “258 over something.” He had Type II diabetes.
And he weighed 585 pounds.
The physician was blunt.
“He said, ‘Mr. Slack, What do you want in your obituary? Do you want a long one or a short one? The hospital will pick up the cost.’ ”
“I told him to get out of my room,” Slack said. “I was so angry.”
Two hours later, the physician again asked to talk with him. He told Slack he was eating himself to an early death.
Slack had heard it before.
Always a heavy kid, he got used to making a joke on himself before someone else commented on his size. “If you put food in front of me, I ate it.”
He’d avoided scales. Taken for a stress test before the emergency room incident, the treadmill didn’t move. And the treadmill was good for patients up to 500 pounds—he’d been lying to himself and others and claimed his weight was around 350 pounds.
This time the message sank in.
“Every one of my doctors had told me I had to lose weight, but for some reason, what he said clicked. He wasn’t trying to be rude. He helped save my life.”
Discharged, he made small changes. He started by walking Thunder, the family dog, but just two blocks. “And I had to stop each block to catch my breath.”
He also started changing his eating patterns.
Not a fan of breakfast foods, he’s started his day in the past with a leftover pizza or hoagie. But instead he started with a protein shake and water. Lots of water.
He dropped 50 pounds with those simple changes.
But he resented seeing his family continuing to eat frozen pizzas, chips, French fries, bacon. “They got those habits somewhere.” Slowly, his family made changes, too, substituting seltzer for soda.
He joined AtlantiCare as a security guard in October 2009 and learned he could join the Wellness Center at a reduced cost, with the dues taken straight out of his paycheck.
His fitness assessment showed he was “way out of whack.”
Not a fitness class kind of guy, he talked to trainers and observed other members' workouts, fashioning his own program.
Now he’s at the gym three days a week, beginning at 5 a.m. He works out for 2.5 to 3 hours. His favorite activity is bench pressing free weights. For cardio, he favors an elliptical machine “for at least an hour.”
He still has a weak spot for French fries—but now he acknowledges it and compensates when he indulges.
His wife has joined the gym and she recently lost 15 pounds. Sometimes his son comes with him to work out. He’s off all medication—down from nine pills a day.
He has enough energy and mobility now to coach a baseball team.
Slack weighs in at 216 pounds right now. He’d like to be at 190 pounds within another five months, but he’s stuck at a plateau for the moment.
But he knows he can work through it.
Adam Slack’s Tips
- Be true to yourself. Set realistic goals. Remember, he started out walking just a few blocks.
- Drink water. Lots of water. It fills him up. And also helps as he burns fat.
- Know the difference between good calories and bad calories.
- Don’t ever let someone judge you on the basis of your weight, degrade you, treat you as though you aren’t smart because you are heavy.