By Spyros Krokidis
Mikaela here… I am so excited and honored to have my friend Spyros as my guest blogger today. His transformation story is so incredibly inspiring!
Sitting in a hospital writing my last will and testament made me ask myself certain uncomfortable questions. How did I get this way? When did I become this person? Most importantly… Can I change?
Mothers Day, May 9, 2015, I was doing some maintenance work on my house when I had to get from one part of my roof to another. Being the impatient man that I am, I decided to jump instead of climbing down. That fatal decision changed my entire life. It was about a 4 ft. drop, but being around 350lbs the weight and impact was more than my left knee could bear. My knee buckled breaking off the rear tibia plateau, completely tearing the meniscus, and severely tearing the ACL and MLC. The doctor in the ER who initially examined me said I needed, not only a specialist, but a highly regarded specialist. After the initial examination, a game plan was formulated first to treat the break and eventually the ligament damage. On the way out of the examination a nurse nonchalantly said, “if you experience any pain in your calf give us a call.” The next day I felt a slight pain in my calf but I didn’t think anything of it since the entire area behind the knee was bruised badly. I called anyways and she sent me for a blood clot ultra sound where they found not only 1, but 2 blood clots. They took me to the emergency room immediately. On my way to the hospital I recalled, my best friend who nearly lost his life 6 months before to an embolism as a result of a blood clot.
This was the first time my personal mortality became a concern. Not only because of the blood clots and broken knee but the fact I was 350lbs, pre-diabetic, high blood pressure, had sleep apnea and a terrible quality of life. Tears poured down my face as I emailed my will to 4 different people. I promised myself that if I walked out of the hospital, I would never walk back there under this condition again. Home now and immobilized in a wheelchair, my entire world consisted of an area about 15 sq. ft. Instead of self-sympathy though, I resorted to self-reliance.
From a young age I loved cooking. As a banker my only real creative outlet is cooking. Not only do I enjoy it, I am actually pretty good at it. Unable to work or leave my house, I was forced to cook every day. I wasn’t necessarily cooking healthy; I was just cooking whatever was available. Omelets, sandwiches, wings, steaks and even an occasional salad. A month after my injury I had a follow-up examination. I was weighed and had lost 20lbs!! I couldn’t believe it. How? I didn’t even try to diet. I just cooked whatever was available. I was so excited because my doctor allowed me to go back to work and I began physical therapy. I gained momentum and couldn’t wait to see what I could achieve now that I would be more physically active.
A month after beginning physical therapy and going back to work with crutches, I had another weigh in. I walked into the PT office, eagerly awaiting another drop in weight. The anticipation consumed me. I was hoping for at least another 10 pounds lost. My heart was set on it and I knew it would be a good day. The nurse helped my up to the scale, smiled and said; “346 lbs.” Devastation and disbelief quickly took over as I asked her to repeat herself. “346lbs” she said. I had gained nearly all the weight back. Never had I been so devastated. My mind was in a fog. I would never be able to lose this weight. My goal was unachievable. I had to accept the fact I was going to be obese for life. Driving home reality crept back into my perspective. Wait a minute, I had lost 20 lbs. confined to a wheel chair not being able to move more than 15 square feet while with physical therapy and greater mobility, I gained the weight back? WHY? If you ever want the truth, ask the question… WHY? Why was I able to easily lose weight at home? Why did I gain the weight back when I returned to work? Why? Behaviors – good or bad have a lasting impact. After conducting an examination into the cause of my weight loss followed by my weight gain, it’s the behaviors that made all the difference.
Typical behaviors when I was gaining weight:
- Drive through meals
- Quick processed meals for convenience.
- Fast food
- Unaware of the nutritional value of my food.
- Calories/energy consumption through drinks.
Typical behaviors while losing weight:
- No drive through
- No processed food
- Meals made and prepared with REAL ingredients
- Balancing fats, unprocessed carbs and protein.
- Drinking water, green tea, coffee and flavored seltzers
When I was home I had complete control of the food I was consuming. Once I went back to work I reverted to my previous behaviors thinking physical therapy would somehow evaporate the weight off me. The sad reality is physical activity makes very little difference in the weight loss process. The truth is, 1 cookie is equivalent to 20 minutes on the treadmill. Have a pack of cookies and you can spend all day on the treadmill and it won’t help you lose weight.
Being of Greek decent I’ve always had the luxury of the Mediterranean Diet. I had no choice; my mom only knew how to cook Greek. I’m meant to enjoy The Mediterranean Diet by default I guess. In 2019 it was voted the best out of 41 diets tested by US News and World Reports. It should come as no surprise since Greeks live forever. I always thought it was because they were so annoying; God didn’t want to deal with people like my mom. Kidding mom, maybe not.
Once I changed my behaviors I was able to lose 127lbs and maintain the weight loss for over a year. I found myself training and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I was able to do things with my body I never thought was possible. I look at myself in the mirror and don’t recognize the person that is looking back sometimes. I feel great and everyday I look forward to see where life will take me next.
Sitting on that hospital bed crying for one more chance at salvation God granted me the wish. I can’t disappoint Him and as a matter of fact it’s become my life’s mission to help as many people as I can. I understand the daily battle; I know the pain of dieting. Overcoming this is possible without drugs, or surgery, or some crazy fad diet. The power is within every individual who wants to change. We have the God given ability to be whatever we desire. Always keep in mind YOU can have results or you can have excuses, but you can’t have both. A better life is possible, change your behaviors and you will change your life.