[Skip to Content]

Healthy Monday: Humorist Jeff Kramer gets serious about his health

Healthy Monday: Humorist Jeff Kramer gets serious about his health (1/2)By Jeff Kramer

There are many things we can do to motivate ourselves to lose weight, but here‘s one I don‘t recommend: Getting rushed to the E.R. with symptoms resembling a heart attack.

Yes, it‘s an effective appetite suppressant -- I won‘t deny that. My life-long cravings for burgers, pizza, pancakes and pastry have miraculously vanished since 8 p.m. Friday, May 27. At that hour, while fumbling with the remote to watch the Stanley Cup Finals, I was overcome by intense vertigo and a terrible pounding in my chest that left me almost unable to speak.

“Call 9-1-1. Heart!” was all I could tell my wife. Then I sat down in a chair, all 305 pounds of me, broke into an icy sweat and waited for the sirens. Once or twice I turned my head to look at my two bewildered young daughters. By the time the paramedics arrived, my wife had sent them down to the basement. They don‘t need that kind of drama in their lives, and neither do you. That‘s why I hope you‘ll join me on this new adventure in health and wellness.

The premise behind my mission is simple: I‘m going to lose 50 pounds, maybe a bit more, by using every applicable weight-loss weapon in Upstate University Hospital‘s arsenal. Then Upstate is going to help me keep it off. Some day, deep in the future, the battle will be won and the focus of my mission will be revised. But for now it's all about shock-and-aweing all those extra pounds out of existence.

Healthy Monday: Humorist Jeff Kramer gets serious about his health (2/2)My qualifications to be your guinea pig are as follows:

--49 years old. 6-foot-2. 305 pounds.

--Often referred to as "Big Guy" even by those who don't know me.

--Recently broke examining table during follow-up exam.

--I love food. Healthy food. Unhealthy food. Pet food. It doesn‘t matter. Somewhat incongruously, I also love vigorous exercise. The evidence suggests that I love the former more than the latter.

I do have a few things in my favor: genetically low cholesterol and, apparently, a healthy heart, based on my treadmill test at the hospital.

At present I‘m feeling weirdly lucky about my Memorial Day weekend scare. My annoyingly thin doctor believes my episode might be sleep apnea-related. He also believes most of my health issues -- apnea high blood pressure, acid reflux, arthritis in my left knee -- will be greatly alleviated by weight loss. Of course, he has said this for years, but sometimes it‘s hard to understand his obtuse technical jargon, phrases such as, “You‘re too heavy,” “We need to get some weight off you,” and “You‘re overweight.”

But the message has finally registered. All it took was a ride in an ambulance.

It's time to get to work. Let‘s roll. Make that half a roll. No butter.

Recovering “Big Guy” Jeff Kramer, a journalist for 25 years, will write in each issue of "Upstate Health" magazine and every month in the "What's Up at Upstate" blog about his efforts to slim down with help from Upstate Medical University.