Vacaville Man In Weight-loss Fight For His Life

Gary Mullins is among the 214 million Americans — 65 percent of the population — who are either overweight or obese. Just nine months ago, he weighed 400 pounds, placing him among the nearly 80 million Americans who are obese.

But today he tips the scales at less than 220 pounds — and steadily dropping — and the Vacaville man wants to tell people like him that, while weight loss continues to be a struggle, help is available.

The path to change, he said, begins by admitting the problem and committing to change that can save a person’s life or prevent serious illnesses linked to being overweight or obese.

“I know there are a lot of people out there who suffer from the same issues I do,” said Mullins, 52, a “Navy brat” born in Okinawa, Japan, and longtime city resident. “Even though it’s very hard, I want them to know you can succeed. You can change. You just have to get up and start fighting. Never give up.”

In candid interviews by telephone and at the northwest Vacaville home he shares with wife Kim, he said the first step “is to be honest with yourself.”

“That’s probably the hardest thing to do,” said Mullins, for 22 years a welder for United Airlines in San Francisco until his weight and assorted severe physical pains overwhelmed him. “There’s a lot of help out there, but you have to want to be helped.”

Long commutes and eating a steady diet of fast food ballooned his weight — a problem his entire life, he noted — first past 300 pounds, then 350, and finally beyond 400 pounds.

Photos he emailed to The Reporter show a man who once easily filled a wide, comfy living room chair and another man, smiling and standing erect, about half the size he once was.

Over time, he read “every diet book there was” to try to find a way to lose weight and keep it off. He tried meditation, Buddhism and prayer.

But in March 2012, he decided to enter an “intense outpatient group” for people struggling with depression and personal crises, at Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center. Under the watchful eye of his physician, Patricia Tan, it transformed his life.

“I learned that I was controlled by my (eating) habits,” said Mullins, the father of three adult children. “That’s what you’re used to.”

At the same time, he came to realize that the survival of his marriage was teetering in the balance, a development, he admitted, that “is still not healed.” He hopes to save it by mitigating the stress of medical problems that have clearly stemmed from obesity.

“I’m trying to be a better person,” he said. “I’m trying to do what I can, to work on what I can change.”

His “bottom” — the realization that he would die prematurely if he continued to gain weight — came when Kim, after more than 30 years of marriage, considered a separation.

“The last couple of years, she’d seen me deteriorating,” said Mullins. “She was tired, and, financially, we’ve been through hell.”

With a job loss — and being placed on permanent disability for a host of medical problems, including spinal and neck pain — came a budget squeeze and the threat of home foreclosure during the Great Recession. He has since received a loan modification through Keep Your Home California.

“We’ve had to learn to adjust, to live within means,” he said. “It’s not easy when you don’t have much.”

But it was his obesity and poor lifestyle choices to deal with pain and depression that spiraled out of control, he conceded.

“When you get that big, it’s really hard to see your way out,” said Mullins. “It’s like trying to climb Everest. I dropped 50 pounds and that’s a lot of weight, but it’s really easy to throw in the towel. That’s why prayer and meditation help.” And also soups, he said, adding, “Lots of soups.” And the support of his three children, Audra, Raymon and Daniel.

Since March, he has exercised more frequently, walking in a nearby park or pedaling on his recumbent bicycle in his living room. Giving up overeating, fast food and alcohol have helped, but he still struggles with pain, a constant presence.

“I can walk, but I still have a problem with pain in my legs,” said Mullins, who also suffers from neuropathy and arthritis.

The pain, he noted, “wears you down mentally. It destroys the quality of your life when you’re always hurting.I’d drink to medicate. It’s difficult for people to understand.”

“You have to fight,” added Mullins, saying he has learned not to be overly self-critical in his quest to lose weight and become more healthy.

“The times you do not do well, do not let yourself get discouraged,” he said. “And don’t weigh yourself too much. Your body will go up and down. It will fool you sometimes.”

Follow Staff Writer Richard Bammer at Twitter.com/REBammer.[1]


  1. ^ Twitter.com/REBammer (Twitter.com)

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  1. Reply

    What Is Are Some Of Your Favorite Weight Loss Tips? What are some of your most succesfull weight loss tips?? I have my few that I live by, but I am looking for some tips on cutting down. Please only share different/ unique tips.
    I know about all the common ones…. lots of water lots of rest six small meals etc.

    thank you so much in advance!

    1. Reply

      Hi CollegeGirl

      In my opinion, no weight loss tips are truly successful on their own. Lots of water is not necessarily a good way, because how much water a person needs depends on the BMI of the person. 6 small meals maybe hard at times, especially when you are stuck at school or office and have no chance to eat, and then you need to eat more when you have the chance. Well, dieting is a good way to lose weight, but then it is hard to stick to a diet. For example, something like this:

      2 egg, low fat Cheddar cheese omelette – 320 calories
      2 slices wholemeal toast with thin smear butter – 200 calories
      Large slice melon – 47 calories

      Spicy Turkey Salad recipe – 304 calories

      Muesli or honey nut Health Bar “Sainsbury” – 180 calories

      Baked potato with 100g “Heinz” baked beans &/or Cottage cheese if desired – 300 – 400 calories (350 average)
      Large helping salad fruits &/or vegetables – 100 calories

      Another weight loss tip is to do interval and turbulence exercise.

      Turbulence Training is a fresh plan that requires finishing three 45-minute exercise sessions each week with marginal equipment. It is an increasingly trend-setting fitness plan with the intention of helping you in the reduction of weight.

      Interval training is the fitness world’s equivalent of a visit to the in-laws. The shorter and more intense the visit, the better. An interval is a short period of exercise performed at a given intensity for a specific length of time. Each interval is separated from the next interval by a short rest or lighter activity. There are no strict rules on how long or how intense the interval must be, however, changing the interval length or intensity changes the way your body works and responds to exercise.

      But people have a short willpower. It may be strong at the beginning but will eventually fade as time goes on- as they realize that going on a diet is not actually as easy as they think it is. Of course, the strength of willpower differs from one person to another. This is the reason why there are people who can actually maintain a diet and exercise program for 1 year and there are people who can only maintain it for few months. Nonetheless, willpower is a big factor that dictates someone whether to continue losing weight or not.

      And in my opinion, besides sticking to a diet and exercise plan, it is the ultimate willpower to stop yourself from overeating that is the #1 tip to lose weight. But that is the hardest part if you are accustomed to eating lots of food even though your body does not need it. It is partly because of the delicious taste of the food causing a craving for more. There are certain ways to fight this craving ad I found one that maybe helpful. It is a type of chocolate that can actually suppress your appetite. It will can provide Good Energy that promotes a healthy weight by providing energy while burning fat. And it helps suppress cravings for sugary snacks.

      Good luck!

      PS: Information on the Special Chocolate that I mentioned can be found on the website in the source box. Recently, they are giving away a one month free trial.

  2. Reply

    Does Anyone Know Any Good Weight Loss Tips? I’ve been struggling for the past few months to drop the last few pounds I need to fit in my cheer uniform from last year. Does anybody know any good, fast, sufficient weight loss tips that can help me drop 10-15 pounds by at least January? Please help!

    1. Reply

      The best advice I could ever give you is losing weight takes time. If you’ve tried and failed many times (which is what I am going through), you have to start slowly. Maybe start cutting out bad things in your diet little by little. You can’t expect to go from eating sugary processed foods and not exercising much to extreme healthy eating and exercising 7 days a week in one day, or even one week. You have to learn to control yourself and that means start small and keep everything under control. Another VERY important thing to remember is to NEVER EVER EVER give up! No matter if you go a whole week eating junk foods and not exercising, that does not mean you have to give up and never reach your goals. Just think, well, next week I’ll do better and get back on track. You have to believe you can do it. You have to want it for yourself and no one else.

      Exercise at least 5 times per week. I suggest strength training and cardio. Let’s say Monday you walk/run for 30 minutes, then Tuesday you would do push ups and sit ups and planks, and squats and then take a break Wednesday and start back up on Thursday.

      As far as your eating you really need to watch what you eat! That is the most important step. Portion control is important. If you normally get a big dinner, then cut the amount of food you get in half and that will help a lot. Another way is to get your plate and only eat 3/4 of the food you have on your plate.

      Eating healthy, lean meats, whole grain breads, and staying away from sugary things and high calorie foods. Always remember that cutting out something bad with something healthy really makes a difference. Drinking sodas and eating candy bars is empty calories. If you replace those things with a whole grain waffle or one small piece of dark chocolate it will really help.

  3. Reply

    Can Someone Give Me Some Weight Loss Tips? I do gymnastics and dance. I am a female, 13 yrs, 5’4 and about 130 lbs. I feel gross. I at least want to be 100. I am planning on running in the morning along with an excersize video, at school we run for 5 minutes every day, in the evenings I will take my dogs for a walk, and doing gymnastics/dance stuff downstairs. Can anybody give me any weight loss tips.

    1. Reply

      Drink more and more water and don’t eat oily and junk food . Walking, gymnastic and dancing are good way to reduce weight. You will achieve your desired weight in some days.. Keep going..

  4. Reply

    What Are Some Good Work Out Routines And Weight Loss Tips For A 16 Year Old Male? I’m a 16 year old male and I am about 6foot 2 and weight around 185-190lbs. I was wondering what a good work out routine I can start and any good weight loss tips?

    1. Reply

      Just get into the habit of swimming every day or two and stick to it.

      Also for a normal (non drastic) diet that works you might want to see:

  5. Reply

    I Am 5foot 11 Inches Tall And Weight 230lb. Can Any Body Give Me Some Weight Loss Tips Or Diets? Hi. I am a 15 year old kid, who is 5’11, 230lb. And I need some weight loss tips before school starts. I work out alot. I play high school football, and competitive baseball in the summer. During football I lose all of my weight, but after that I gain all of my weight for baseball season. Please HELP!!! What can I do?

    1. Reply

      No fats , no sugars and no junk food plus all the exercise you can manage ,

  6. Reply

    What Websites Have Good Weight Loss Tips? Does anyone know of any websites that have helpful (and free!!) weight loss tips?

    1. Reply

      Try this AWESOME diet program — “Spark People”. It’s a FREE website (www.sparkpeople.com) that actually works!! It’s SOOO helpful in losing weight, finding exercises, and tracking your progress! It is run by nutritionists, and it encourages a healthy/balanced diet (no fads!). You can track food eaten, read articles about nutrition, exercise, and motivation, talk to experts, receive motivation from other dieters, look up exercises that will work for you, and SO much more! I belong to it and LOVE it!!!! Please check it out – you won’t be disappointed!!!!

      If you join, please state that I (matcm81) referred you. Thanks and GOOD LUCK!!

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