July 23, 2017 I began my journey on Weight Watchers. The picture of me from Devil’s Tower Wyoming is from the that day. My dear wife of 31 years had joined Weight Watchers and I initially joined solely to be supportive to her needs. So she would not feel as if she was trying to lose weight on her own with no support in the home. On this day my weight was 238 pounds and despite being heavy for my frame, I felt like I was in pretty good shape. I was a power lifter, and pretty strong to boot. I was running a couple miles every other day and felt damn good for being a month shy of turning 54 years old. The only ailment I thought was wrong with me was my blood pressure was borderline pre-hypertensive from stress. My truck driving job was demanding and my wife was having serious health issues. My assumption was it was entirely stress related that my blood pressure was elevated. I was wrong. It was because despite working out like a mad man and running, I was a fat ass who needed to lose weight. Fuck me to tears, turns out not only was my blood pressure elevated, my liver functions were abnormal, my good cholesterol was too low, the bad too high as was my triglycerides were as well. How in the hell did I allow this to happen to myself when I have been very health conscious for almost most of my adult life? Well, it’s not rocket science how this happened. I had simply become somewhat complacent about my health and wellness. I was doing what I knew was not sustainable. I was trying to out exercise a bad diet and had no concerns about my health as I was one of the strongest people I knew and had very intentionally and methodically gained my weight on purpose. I had been eating 6000 calories a day to fuel my weight training. Getting as strong as I could possibly get was an obsession following my spinal injury from 2009 which damn near crippled me and actually did bankrupt me.
I enlisted into the military at the ripe old age of 17 years old in 1981. A teenage man of the world and bad ass extraordinaire, in my own mind. I went into basic training and found out I was not in the shape I had thought I was. And after graduation from basic training I went off to my technical school in Millington, Tennessee where I became a Aviation Ordnanceman. My rate, MOS for other services, was one where I worked on aircraft weapons systems, bombs, missiles, small arms and other ordnance. It was a rate where functional strength was definitely a requirement as Navy ships do not carry all the fancy weapons loading equipment that the Air Force utilizes. This is where I found out I had better be working on becoming strong if I wanted to make it in this field. Later in my career, I transferred to my third command, Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron Four out of Naval Air Station Norfolk Virginia. Our mission was SpecWar Support of SEAL Teams out of Dam Neck Virginia and Combat Search and Rescue. We were on a 72 hour contingency to deploy anywhere in the world in support of special operations missions with aerial helicopter gunnery, insertion and extraction of SEAL squads into areas of operation and Combat Search and Rescue. We were the guys who would fly in to extract squads that were either finished with their mission or in need of quick extraction from gun fights etc… We were the guys who would swoop down into any situation to save downed aircrew in combat zones. We were some bad mother fuckers who worked hard and played even harder. We were also a command where top level physical fitness was a requirement as it was never known what kinds of circumstances we could find ourselves in.
Then in 1997 I had been forced onto shore duty after 12 consecutive years of sea duty. This is also when I lost my career, basically as a result of not playing the political game at my new duty station. It embarrasses me to say it, but once my career had gone belly up, I found myself depressed and licking my nuts over something I really could, or should have, prevented. I was drinking too much for about a year after my discharge, feeling pissed off and bitter. Feeling sorry for myself. Going completely against my character and viewing myself as a goddamn victim. The only problem was, I was a victim of my own doing and not of anyone else.
About a year after my discharge I had the epiphany that I needed to quit being a pussy and get my shit back together. It was time to get my ass back into fighting shape whether I was in the Navy or not. I had licked my nuts far too long and had got terribly out of shape. I began using all the knowledge I had been neglecting in regards to physical fitness and nutrition and got myself back into shape. I began watching everything I ate, running and weight training. In 2005 after recovering from hernia surgery I got serious about learning more about power lifting. I had fooled around with weights for years, doing all the bro splits and other bull shit that came out of muscle magazines and such, but somehow realized I did not know how much it was that I did not know about weight training and physiology. I became a prolific reader of all things power lifting and put that new found information to use with my barbell. By 2008 I was in the best condition of my life. I was weight training very seriously 3 days a week and riding my mountain bike 60 to 70 miles per week. 2008 is also the year I returned to military service in the Kansas Army Reserve National Guard. Because of my previous rank and past experience, the Guard brought me back in as a Staff Sergeant. I went to the Army’s Warrior Transition Course at Fort Sill Oklahoma where despite being 15 to 20 years older than everyone else in my class, I graduated number 36 out of 248 troops returning to service. WTC is training just like boot camp, only it’s for veterans returning to service. At almost 46 years old, not only was I doing everything that 18 year old basic trainees were doing, but as a Staff Sergeant, I was made a Platoon Sergeant and lead my platoon in our physical fitness training and formation runs every morning. My ranking of 36 was based on my physical fitness testing scores, which I pretty much aced, but also on land navigation, marksmanship and other Army requirements. As a Platoon Sergeant I lead my platoon in our timed ruck marches with 100 pounds of combat gear on our backs. I lead these marches from the front. I did not let my age be an excuse to not lead from the front. I accept no excuses and have always taken full ownership of my positions. In August 2009 disaster hit me though. I blew out my spine at L5 S1 while on my civilian job. It was a life changing event and a career ender for the military. However, I was allowed to medically retire at 18 1/2 years of service in October 2010. Not a total loss.
My spinal injury was pretty severe. My disk had ruptured and fully encapsulated my sciatic nerve which was left permanently damaged and causes me chronic pain on a daily basis. I went through a series of injections into my spine which did nothing to help. Then I underwent a laminectomy/discectomy which helped get the pressure off the sciatic nerve, but there was little to be done for the nerve damage. I went through 2 months of physical therapy and from the time of my injury it took me a full year to learn to walk normal again. To walk without my right foot trailing off to the side and at an extreme angle from the way it should track. My family doctor recommended I go onto full and permanent disability and bother her and my surgeon advised me to never lift weights again. I never went back to my family doctor, and in order to get my life back to normal I began lifting weights again, but with an empty barbell at first. I have cried tears of pain during my recovery process, but never felt like succumbing to the chronic pain. No matter what, I was going to regain my life. David Yochim is nobody’s pussy, by god I was going to come back stronger than before. And, I did with a lot of work, pain and tears.
I was told to never lift over 75 pounds again in my life by my neurosurgeon who did my spinal surgery. I heard the same thing from my family doctor. I began with an empty barbell squatting, bench pressing, dead lifting and doing over head presses. My mobility was horrible and it took a tremendous amount of work in order to get to proper depth on the squat and into a good starting position for dead lifts. No matter what it was going to take to get back into the shape I wanted to be in, I was going to accomplish it. Once I got my mobility back, I began working on building up the weight. It became on obsession to prove my doctors wrong about what I should or should not lift. Through countless hours of hard work and tears of pain, I achieved a full range of motion squat with 465 pounds on my back and was able to pull 450 pounds for a couple reps on the dead lift. I was eating 6000 calories a day to fuel this lifting and in order to put on mass. My last weight gain was very intentional and methodical. I became a Correctional Officer in our local maximum security prison where I resigned after a year. It was chaotic beyond my imagination and one night I actually was not sure I would walk out alive after a “Hands up Don’t shoot” uprising. I took stock of my situation and decided that since I got out of my military career alive, maybe I had pushed my luck far enough. Them fucking inmates in D Cell house in Lansing Correctional Facility are animals of the worse kind. It was also a horrible place for someone like myself with Post Traumatic Stress to be working. My Captain tried real hard to get my to promote and remain there, but I was done with it. It was a job where you can not come home and honestly tell your spouse about your day. If you have any decency, you can not talk about a grown man being ass raped in the cell house. You do not want to talk about cleaning up after a murder or cutting an inmate down who had hung himself between your security rounds. The insanity behind the walls was more than I felt like dealing with anymore. Which brings me back to the present.
Since I had a CDL, I decided to go back to truck driving. I slacked off on my weight training for about a year and a half after getting back into trucking because my wife was having bad health issues and I was working 6 days a week for my first year on the job. I was still lifting but it was sporadically. I had days where I would get emergency calls on the road, and days where I was not sure what I was going to come home to since she had heart problems and COPD pretty bad. The reality is I knew I should be working out, but was really making lame excuses not to. I did begin lifting again about a year and a half ago, and was surprised at how strong I was still, and how far I could run after slacking off.
One of the best things I ever did was to join Weight Watchers with my wife. By joining, I was making myself accountable for my health and wellness again. It is not like I did not understand what I needed to do nutritionally, but the added accountability was a great help. I lost weight pretty quickly and got involved on Connect. It was my interactions on Connect where I decided that with what I knew and with my experience in physical fitness that I could put all that to work helping others. Despite slacking off a couple times, the knowledge has been with me for years. I have studied weight training, cardiovascular conditioning and nutrition to a great extent for several years. I enjoy helping others, to try to do something good after all the bad I have seen in the world. By sharing exercise and nutritional information I can keep my mind at bay from Post Traumatic Stress. It helps me to help others. I have decided to start my own blog where maybe I can still help others and do so while just being me, my unfiltered self. I know that some on Connect think I may be extreme and too blunt in some topics so in order to not feel a need to self censor myself, you will get me 100 proof.
I finished today with a top sirloin steak dinner after my workout at the gym. Today I consumed 25 points for 1620 calories, 59.9g fat, 99.6g carbs and 136.6g protein. I think I need to eat a little more.
Todays workout was Sheiko No. 37 W2D1
Sit Ups, 50
Pull Ups, 50
Push Ups, 50
Squats, 10 sets 235 pounds
Bench Press, 10 sets 170 pounds
Dumbbell Flyes, 5 sets 35 pound dumbbells
Squats, 6 more sets 215 pounds
Good Mornings, 5 sets 135 lbs