The first memory happened back in my bachelor days about 20 years ago when my friends and I went to Magic Mountain, a fun amusement park in southern California. I was a very hefty dude at the time — somewhere in the mid-300s — which made going on rides an awkward adventure.
We were hopping on the Batman ride when an unfortunate thing happened. The over-the-shoulder safety restraint couldn’t come down all the way to fasten up because of my big belly. At one point, two employees were pushing on the bars to try to squeeze me in. This caused a bit of a scene as you might imagine, and I remember my friends chewing out some people in line who were mocking me.
I laughed it off, but it was an embarrassing incident.
On another occasion, I was at Lagoon in northern Utah and decided to try the old, rickety wooden rollercoaster. Suffice it to say, this rollercoaster’s seats weren’t as wide as my seat. I uncomfortably contorted my body in a sideway angle and managed to get the lap bar to click. Once. It was a terrifying and painful ride.
Earlier this summer, I wrote a blog about taking my kids to our town’s carnival. I’d only been on my optimal health program — sounds much better than a diet! — for a few months so I hadn’t lost enough weight to do rides. I mentioned how going to an amusement park was one of my weight-loss goals. A kind friend told me she could help get discount tickets to Lagoon when I was ready to roll, so our family decided to head there on Monday.
The excitement of going to Lagoon, where I hadn’t been on real rides since 2011, was exciting and nerve-wracking. It felt like being at the airport last month. Just as I wasn’t sure if I’d need a More of Me to Love Belt (seatbelt extender) before that flight, I wasn’t quite sure if I would fit in the rides on my much-overdue amusement park experience.
Incidentally, my first test came on a ride called The Bat, a ride that is similar but much less wild than the Batman ride at Magic Mountain. I sat next to my 11-year-old son and anxiously brought the restraint down over my head and shoulders. It took a bit of squeezing, but it clicked just fine. I’d lost just enough weight to go on this ride. My son isn’t exactly a ride-lover, so it was fun to have a short thrill with him.
After lunch, we tried another short but fun rollercoaster in the kids’ section of the park, Bombora. I fit in this one with no problem. On this ride, I had my 3-year-old son next to me. About a minute later as the ride approached the docking station, I looked at my son and noticed a strange look on his face. He then smiled and said, “Let’s go again!” So we did. Two more times.
Lagoon has a freaky new rollercoaster called Cannibal. It has the steepest drop in North America and holds the world record for the tallest beyond-vertical drop on a roller coaster, according to the Internet so it must be true.
My wife, daredevil 7-year-old son and I decided to go on this insane ride together. The good news? Its safety restraint is a lap bar. The bad news? My lap bar only seemed to click a couple of times, so I pretty much figured the weight of my body was going to pop it open while we roared around the track at 4.2 Gs while hanging upside down, sideways and every direction in between.
“That was epic!” my son Aidan exclaimed.
It was epic, indeed. But the added thrill of thinking I was going to be ejected out of the seat because of my weight made it a bit too epic for me. Heather and Aidan went a second time while I took the other kids to another ride. I eventually ended up on the Tilt-A-Whirl with my 9-year-old daughter.
The two other rides I went on kind of brought back memories of previous amusement park trips.
I needed the help of a male employee to push the bar down so it clicked against my stomach on the incredibly freaky, 200-foot-tall Rocket Re-Entry ride. Other than the moment when my heart zoomed out of my mouth on the quick fall, it was awesome.
The last ride I went on was the old, rickety wooden rollercoaster. I fit in the seat better than I did last time when only one cheek fit into the narrow spot, but it didn’t click many times and my hip fat wasn’t all contained. I might need to lose another 50 pounds before I try it again. Every single bump, twist and turn pounded my body like I was being beaten up by an MMA fighter.
I was happy I did the ride, but was also happy when it ended.
Five months ago, when I weighed 373.7 pounds, I wouldn’t have fit on any of these rides. I wouldn’t have had the energy to go on the slides at the water park or the ability to walk and walk and walk all day there, either.
If you could have seen the smile on my face and the smiles on the faces of my children as they had fun with their dad, you’d know how much this experience and my health progress mean to me and my family.
- Starting weight (March 6): 373.7 pounds
- Last week’s weight (Aug. 5): 289.1
- This week’s weight (Aug. 12): 284.6
- This week’s loss: 4.5 pounds
- Total loss: 89.1 pounds