BeforeI guess the first thing to do here, would be to introduce myself. My name is Ed Merkel, I am 30 and live in Roanoke Rapids, NC.  I have been married almost 4 years to Sarah.  I am originally from Carlsbad, NM. I found my way to the East coast through my job as a Youth Pastor at First Christian Church, which we have been at for 3 years now.  I am a Dallas Cowboys fanatic, and adore being outside hunting, fishing, or hiking.

Weight has always been a struggle for me, though I was never a “fat kid” until the last few years, where it really became an issue, as I topped 325..350…and it didn’t stop.

I started considering and researching weight loss surgery around this time last year, where I was really convinced of my condition.. The following is from Oct 19, 2010:

“So i feel terrible, so I went for a run today. I am ashamed to say that before today, i had never been on the canal trail. I had a great time, and i while running, i was listening to a playlist that consisted of a wide array of Christian music. I bet that particular list has 200 songs on it, so i am never quite sure what is coming up.

See, today i was hit hard …i was convinced of my poor physical health.... Not that i am sick or have any physical illness, but i am obese. At the moment, i am around 350 pounds. Now, i have never been a skinny kid, but i have never been this unhealthy.

When i graduted high school, i weighed around 230 pounds. I was in pretty good shape, and was pretty athletic. When i graduated college and moved to California in 2004, i weighed 265 pounds.... In 2007 when i moved back to Lubbock, i was at 295. My wedding in Feb. of 2008, 315, and as i said, today, 350.   In just 10 years, i have gained 120 pounds. I have girls in my youth group that don’t even weigh that. I am carrying around an extra person!

Have you seen the Dave and Buster commercial on tv where the guy and girl have smaller versions of them that tag along, and they call them their "fun"…I feel like everywhere I go, I bring an extra person, but in my case, it certainly isn’t fun, its a burden…. i pick  my extra person up, who is still twice the size of everyone else’s, and decided to carry them along in my life.....
Everywhere i go...... When i am too big to ride an amusement park ride, and the guy operating the ride humiliates me for it.... He is there. When i dont have the energy to be a good husband to my wife and help, yep, thats him weighing me down. When i didnt have the energy to keep up with my kids at CIY this summer, it was because "little ed" was there....always there..... When i went to an elementary school last week to have lunch with one of my kids like i do every friday, and a kid pointed and started laughing hysterically screaming "OH MY GOD, WHY IS HE SO FAT!?!?" it was because i had to make room in my 4X shirt for the extra person i am dragging around.... Those things hurt... Even for someone like me who doesn’t find it hard to laugh at himself.

But now what, i am tired of being called Big Ed, Big Boy, Big Guy, Fat Boy, Gordo, Big Un....etc. So today i set out to make changes.....

Back to my run.....while running (and i use that term loosely, i did 2 miles in 30 min) i was amazed at what i saw... All of the fall colors are coming out and it is a canopy of vibrant red yellow and orange set in green and brown. I saw more deer on that run than i have in 2 weeks from my hunting blind. I saw 2 bald eagles, squirrels, and ducks... it was all quite breath taking.....

Around a half mile, i got a bit emotional. I was slammed with what seemed like a ton of bricks.... All of these things are amazing....beautiful.....but..... None of them have been made in Gods image......Of all of these
beautiful things....i was chosen.... Me!
About that time big daddy weave's "Audience of One" came on.....and i was hit again.... Amusement parks, little jerk kids, my laziness, my energy level, the names i am called, what i see in the mirror when i get out of the shower.... They are not the problem. They are a symptom. the problem is my disregard for my temple. My neglect of the pursuit of glorifying God with the one thing that he created in his image......
I want to be the best man, husband, son, brother, minister, friend and someday a dad that i can be.
But i never will..... Until i am the best Ed i can be, the one that i am called to be.
So as i sit in this deer stand typing this on my iphone, with tears rolling down my fat little cheeks, I feel....... Not free, but more like i am figuring my bondages out......more to come”


Today it is still difficult reading that. But that experience on the canal trail turned out to be a “watershed” moment for me in my journey.  In February, I went to a weight loss group class. Here is an excerpt from that days journal

Through this journey,  I have caught myself in a long term love affair that I never understood the emotional attachment and severity of until I have turned to face losing it…. How can someone turn on, and face your life long “best friend” and “lover” and tell them that you don’t need them anymore. That they have made you hate life, and despise who you are….. Food
I have begun to explore the possibility of weight loss surgery. I went to a class yesterday, with my mind set on Lap Band. I had done my research, and that was what I wanted. After all, it is less invasive… safer…. I have a BMI of 54. You have to be 50 or below to qualify for the band. I cant believe it! I am too fat for surgery for fat people! I would have to lose 40 pounds to qualify. IF I COULD JUST LOSE 40 POUNDS ON MY OWN, I WOULDN’T NEED SURGERY!!!!!
Upon urging of Shannon, I went in with an open mind. I learned about how the bypass is more invasive… somewhat more dangerous, painful, and certainly more permanent. (also more effective)
But none of those things scare me.. Those aren’t the things making me have second thoughts (they are for Sarah) I am afraid of losing food. It is the only thing that has been with me from day one. It was there, holding my hand through every crisis and hardship in life. And now??? Really???
I don’t know that I am ok with never eating at a Brazialian Steakhouse again. Key Lime Pie, Crème Brulee, Chicken Fried Steak, BBQ (Texas that is….i could let go of NC) , oh… Mexican food. Milk shakes, double cheese burgers from McDonalds that just cost one measly dollar, PIZZA, pork rinds, ice cream, CHINESE BUFFET!!!!… how can I let it all go? Where is the loyalty?
But my affair is ruing my life. Have I not paid enough? Is the cost of giving up intimacy in my marriage, my self worth and esteem, inadequacy of my job, pick up basketball, racquet ball, a nice golf swing, and being able to fit on roller coasters….. walking my little girl down the isle (if I live long enough to have one), and just plain liking what I see when I look in the mirror not been high enough of a debt to just turn around and do it. I can gain all of those things back.
But there the food is….like a 6’ blonde that renders a man useless…..
Help me break my affair God….

11-18-2011So that brings me to Aug 18th 2011… a day that will always mark a new beginning for me. My weight at the beginning of my pre-op diet was 378 pounds.  Day of surgery I weighed 358.

Today, just a few days past my 3 month “surgiversary”  I weigh 301 pounds. I have lost 60 inches… YES, THAT IS 5 FEET!!!! Most notably, 9 inches in the waist, and 11.5 from the belly.

My energy level is insane! The last 6 weeks, I have been involved in CrossFit, where I drive to Rocky Mount 3 times a week for.  I have never liked lifting weights. I always found it boring. Crossfit has answered that. Never boring, never the same, but always a great workout. I am sure I will talk more about it as time goes on.

Not really looking forward to tomorrow…. I learned at the church thanksgiving meal that turkey is one of those things that at this point, I cannot keep down. Thankfully, that list isn’t very long…. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.