Firefighter Wellness Testimonial: James McCauley

( The Volunteer Firefighter )

I am a volunteer firefighter of 40 years. I’m an Ex-Chief and Commissioner in the North Merrick Fire Department.

For a majority of my life I have been a big guy, six feet and 300 pounds. I played softball up to the age of 50 and raced on the fire department team up to 45 years old.

My job for 27 years was on the New York Fire Patrol, working in New York City at fire scenes. The job entailed a lot of climbing stairs in buildings throughout the city.

Like most “vollies,” I had a “see food” diet, never watching what I ate or drank. After I retired from the fire patrol in 2007, I noticed that I started to have pain in my left hip. Eventually, I also had pain in the right hip.

The first orthopedic doctor I saw said I needed to lose weight, but how could I? The pain made it too difficult to exercise. Finally, I found a doctor that did the operation on both hips.

My life was back. Unfortunately, I fell off my bike and fractured my femur. The right hip had to be replaced, followed by other operations to fight an infection. All along through operations and physical therapists, I was told to lose weight.

I was still having pain in the right hip. In January of this year, I decided something had to be done. A plan was put together by my nutritionist and Vice Chair of the FASNY Health and Wellness Committee, Jamie Rockwin. I would change my diet to a clean-eating paleo diet – or “caveman diet” – you pick the title.

I took sugar and carbohydrates out of my diet. Goodbye to Arnold Palmer iced tea, ice cream, soda, pasta and any types of bread. Hello to water, seltzer, spaghetti squash, fresh fruits and vegetables.

I also exercised 30 minutes a day and now I’ve dropped 53 pounds since January 1, from 310 pounds to 257 pounds. The pain is gone and my wife and I are planning to take more trips instead of staying at home because I was too big to move.

I know what you’re all thinking: “Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to hear it.” I can tell you that medically all your bad numbers will go down and you will feel a hell of a lot better.

I guess what I’m saying is this might not be for everyone, but it might be a path for some. I know so far it has saved my life. It’s not a diet but a change in lifestyle.

– James McCauley, North Merrick Fire Department