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Weight loss and my machine 'companion'
Glenn Keller and Fit Nation Athletic Director April Burkey stretch after a run in Atlanta.
March 28th, 2012
09:01 AM ET

Weight loss and my machine 'companion'

Glenn Keller is one of seven CNN viewers participating in the 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. At the beginning of the challenge, Keller weighed more than 300 pounds and suffered from sleep apnea due to his obesity.

It's been ten years or so now that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I was told that it was a result of my being overweight. The process started with a sleep study when I spent the night in a sleep lab so that the degree of sleep apnea could be diagnosed. That way they would be able to determine settings for my new companion, a C.P.A.P. (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

I use the term "companion" because the machine goes everywhere with me. I've been unable to go anywhere without it for years and I mean anywhere.

It has gone more places with me than my wife.

When I went on a cruise ... it was there.

When I go to Louisiana to visit my mother - it's right there.

Spend a night somewhere in a motel ... and it's right there.

And yes, it's in the truck also, every time it moves.

It's really an experience going to sleep looking like a scuba diver.

My wife could probably speak more to this issue but there is nothing intimate about it. However, my wife never lets me fall asleep without it. The snoring associated with sleep apnea is unbearable. Yes our sleep apnea affects others. Occasionally while watching television I will doze off and it seems without hesitation she will wake me up and tell me "put that mask on."

Trust me, going to sleep without it was an accident. There have been a few times that I had an occasion to sleep without it. When I would awaken I would always have a splitting headache.

So here we are 10 years later - not joined at the hip - but instead joined at the face.

What has been totally ridiculous about this is that I could have done something about it. I wasn't going through this as a result of some incurable disease. I was allowing myself to go through this because I would not stop overeating. I endured over 10 years, over 120 months, more than 480 weeks and more than 3360 nights of having no sleep with this thing on my face because I wouldn't stop stuffing my face. I can't imagine the cost to my insurance provider for the sleep studies and CPAP machines over the years with all I really needed was diet and exercise.

Unfortunately sleep apnea isn't the only problem that being overweight can cause. Being an over-the-road truck driver I'm required by law to take and pass a physical every two years. They test for things like hypertension and diabetes - and both can be disqualifying. There were times leading up to a physical I would be taking garlic pills and drinking vinegar in an attempt to get my blood pressure down.

How sleep apnea can wreck your sex life

A couple of weeks ago I was at a truck stop standing in line behind someone who was buying a pickle that was in a little plastic bag with pickle juice in it. He turned to me and asked, "doesn't this vinegar help bring your blood pressure down?"

It was with a great deal of pride that I responded, "not like diet and exercise."

The last time I saw my doctor, my blood pressure was great.

That's not all diet and exercise has done for me. Since becoming part of The CNN Fit Nation Tri Challenge I've lost almost 30 pounds.

At the beginning of this blog I spoke about the splitting headaches I would have whenever I tried to sleep without the CPAP machine. While in Atlanta for Kick Off Weekend I didn't have access to it for three nights – which I had never done. I slept without it and not one morning did I wake up with a headache.

Then a couple of weeks ago, while at home, I left it in the truck and didn't realize it until bed time and didn't feel like driving back to the truck.

I just knew my wife was going to have to sleep in another room because she was not going to be able to put up with the snoring.

Much to my surprise, when I woke up she was right there. When I asked her about my snoring she said it was so mild she hardly noticed and it didn't even bother her.

What has been so wonderful is that I still need to lose a bunch of weight - but how much of a difference simply heading in the right direction has made!

What is it going to be like when I arrive?

I'm thanking God already. Dieting and exercise has been a challenge, but it's been a rewarding challenge.


soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Home Heating

    Hi everyone! Please can I get a link for the latest blog update on your blog?
    Do you have Twitter or RSS feed?
    Thank you! Julia Zynochy
    Home Heating

    March 28, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      Hi Julie this is the link for the blogs http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/category/2012-fit-nation-triathlon-challenge/glenn-keller/ and twitter is @TriHardGlenn

      March 28, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • Agee

      Glenn I was really touched after reading your story and wanted to congratulate you on your mission. It was so encouraging to read how determined you are now. Keep up the good work and i am cheering for you. YEA GLENN!!!!!!!!

      September 9, 2012 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
  2. Dona

    Good Luck! South Milwaukee is supporting you!!

    March 28, 2012 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      Dona thank you so much for the support it is very important to me. God Bless you

      March 28, 2012 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
    • Gilberto

      a really good way to lose whiegt without a diet is to drink 4 cups of water before every meal. this will fill you up, and youlle eat less, plus water is really good for you.couple this with the whiegts at home, and youlle be fine.oh, and by the way, google power of ten adam zickerman and get the bookits a workout that you do twice a week for 20 minutes, and its better than the 5 day a week, hour each day routinemy dad and i have both been doing this for 2 years, and it works really really well.so yeah, drink water before you eat to lose the extra fat, and use your whiegts for power of 10 to get musclegood luck!!!!!hope this helps!!!!!

      September 11, 2012 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
  3. MedStudent

    This is what I like to hear! Thank you and great job!

    March 28, 2012 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      you are very welcome and thank you for reading our blogs.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
  4. Glenn

    Hi Julie this is the link for the blogs http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/category/2012-fit-nation-triathlon-challenge/glenn-keller/ and twitter is @TriHardGlenn

    March 28, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Crocky

    As someone else who was able to ditch the CPAP after losing weight, I'm right there with you. Keep it going, Glenn! :)

    March 28, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      Thanks Crocky we are living proof that it's not a life sentence

      March 28, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
  6. ninalovel

    Glenn, what an eloquent and touching story- God is TRULY using you and your CNN team-mates to work for the better health of others! Keep up the good work; you will save thousands of lives by being such great role-models!

    March 28, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      I always appreciate your words of wisdom and encouragement Nina

      March 29, 2012 at 08:21 | Report abuse |
  7. @TriHardCarlos

    Glenn, way to go buddy!! I really hope I can ditch my CPAP as well! what an inspiring blog! Hey, remember in Atlanta, we were talking about crushing our CPAPS under your trucks' tires??? I still want to do that to celebrate!! Keep up the great work with your training!!

    Carlos : )

    March 29, 2012 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      Maybe we can bring them to Kona and throw them in a Valcano

      March 29, 2012 at 08:20 | Report abuse |
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    March 29, 2012 at 05:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      Thank you!!!

      March 29, 2012 at 08:24 | Report abuse |
  9. Alina

    Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from u
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    March 29, 2012 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Glenn

      thank you for folllowing our post.

      March 30, 2012 at 00:58 | Report abuse |
  10. Mandy

    Thanks for the insprirational post, I did not know that sleep apnea could result from obesity. Keep working at your healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise will yield results it just takes so long. I find that mixing up biking and running different days has resulted in the fastest weight loss. I have been making homemade smoothies as well. Get more weight loss ideas at http://www.maxbodyworkout.com/slim-in-6/slim-in-6-rapid-results.html.

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  22. Joel

    did anyone here try aiebhlrfe but didnt excersise and still lost weigh anyone plz response i just started and but i only drink the morning shakes and i eat a regular dinner but just cut back a little and a healthy snack later on and drink lots of water oh and i dont really wanna call it excersise i just dance silly with my baby sis for about 30 minutes and i dont do it everyday i also go outside to the park and stores alot so can anyone plz help ?

    April 7, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. sisrooting4bro

    Keep moving forward....

    April 9, 2012 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • glenn c keller

      Thanks Sis

      May 11, 2012 at 18:49 | Report abuse |
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  26. tatatoothy

    Glenn, you're story hits home with me, and it is one that I will use to motivate me moving forward.

    I've always been a little overweight, but not terribly so. Two years ago my wife found out we were pregnant with our first child. As most husbands do, I gained the baby weight with my wife during pregnancy and, even worse, continued to gain after the baby was born.

    I weighed 218 lbs the day we learned wife was pregnant. Today, I weigh 255 lbs.

    My blood pressure is being controlled with three different medications and I was told by the sleep specialist the other day after my overnight apnea test that my condition is so bad that my brain essentially never rests because my oxygen levels drop so severely and my number of apnea events are so frequent. She said the test showed that my body never allows my brain to enter REM sleep.

    I am going to get fitted for the CPAP next week. But what is so sad, is the doctor sat there and said if I could just lose the weight and get back to 215 or less I would probably be fine.

    Keep up with your goals and I wish you all the best. Keep the positive updates coming!

    April 13, 2012 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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      Wow thank you so much for you comment!!!!

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  28. Ramsey

    I totally relate with you and you have articulated your pains very well.I am also on path to recovery and hoping to get rid of my CPAP soon.I wish you all the best and god bless you for a healthy fulfilling life.

    May 4, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Anthony M

    Glen, when I read what you went through or are going through I felt as if I was reading my own life. The only thing that I would add is that I have been denying that I had a weight problem and I could lose it any time I choose too. All the time not please with the way I now look in my clothes. I travel a lot for work and my CPAP machine is right there with me, so when you call it your companion I completely understand. My wife sent me your article but I know this is a sign slapping me in the face of what I need to do. Thank you for sharing with everyone and in my case making me realize that I should be doing more. I would love to crush my CPAP too. My quest starts today. Thanks again for sharing. I wish you the all the best success in your goals.

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