On Feb. 11, 1989, I woke to one of the two happiest days of my life as a slender 26-year-old who easily slipped into his wedding day tuxedo.
Though not as fit as I could have been, I weighed only 218 pounds that day not bad for a guy nearly 6 feet, 5 inches tall.
But to my regret, I got much heavier as the years rolled on.
Two years ago this month, at the age of 48, I stepped on a scale in May 2011 to confront a frightening number staring back at me: 292 pounds.
I was moved to finally get serious about my health, though I wish I hadn't waited until I'd put on 74 pounds.
That's why I'm writing about this issue again as encouragement to those who need it because it took me years to embrace a beautiful thought: You can regain your health, even if you think it's impossible.
Two years ago, my eating habits were horrible. I constantly had heartburn from eating food in quantities too large for what my body needed.
I was addicted to sugar, salt and fat. I stuffed myself with sweet snacks late at night, which affected my sleep patterns and only caused me to overeat even more. I drank sugary, carbonated drinks packed with empty calories that didn't nourish me but made me heavier.
Worst of all, I forgot the sensation of being authentically hungry and simply ate whether I was hungry or not.
From the early 1990s to my epiphany two years ago, I tried all the major, national weight loss plans but all I ever did was lose the weight and gain it back with interest. The only thing that grew lighter was my wallet.
So how did I lose it? It may sound crazy, but here goes: I began eating right and exercising. I didn't starve myself, didn't set out to run a marathon in mere months, didn't try to lose weight in four weeks that I gained over 20 years.
But I did make some mistakes.
At first, I completely eliminated rice, bread and pasta from my diet, making me so cranky that soon my wife and my editor wanted to divorce me.
I thought I would celebrate my 50th birthday by running the California International Marathon last December, but I came to my senses and didn't.
If I had made running the race my health goal, what would happen when the race was over? A better long-term goal was simply being healthy for life. I hope to run CIM someday but only when I'm truly ready and have put in the training required without shortcuts.
So I worked carbohydrates back into my diet at appropriate levels. I'm running 20 to 25 miles a week now, because that's what my body can handle after more than a year of working up to it slowly.
I have friends who can cover far more miles at much faster paces, but who cares? I'm not racing against them. I'm racing against the heavy person I used to be.
I began using an iPhone app called "My Fitness Pal," which counts the amount of calories I need each day. If I stay within the margins, I lose weight. So I do and I have.
In fact, I now have people telling me I need to stop, that I'm too skinny. I was heavy for so long that people got used to me in that shape.
But the more weight I've lost, the better I've felt. I've ended up losing a little more than 2 pounds per month, a reasonable and doable progression.
But it goes beyond calories and pounds. My heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are all improved and normal. I used to snore terribly, but don't anymore. My daily consumption of leafy green vegetables means I no longer need vitamin supplements for eyes that were once overly sensitive to light. I need no medications at all.
At 50, I feel healthier than I have ever been. Last week, I comfortably slipped on a pair of pants I had not worn in decades pants that were part of a suit my late parents had tailored for me as a college graduation present in 1986.
And when I began writing this column, I walked over to my scale, stepped on it, looked down and smiled.
For the first time since 1989, I weighed 218 pounds again the same as I did on my wedding day more than 24 years ago.
The moral to the story: If I can do it, you can do it.