Ron Daniels is about half the man he used to be, and he couldnt be more thankful.
Daniels said he was inspired to lose about 200 pounds by realizing how much he wanted to live a long life with his best friend. He and Maggie were married two months ago.
I dont know that Ive ever told her straight on, but I felt like I had a real reason to live and planned to be long living, something that made me happy, and something that made me happy was motivation to, Hey, Ive got to get myself in shape, Daniels said.
He spoke as Maggie Daniels looked on in his new law office at the Burke Lasseter firm in Warner Robins, which hired him as a part-timer this year and then made him a full-time associate partner. He also graduated from law school and passed the bar this year.
Its been a busy year for Daniels, 26. The newlyweds and Maggies family plan to join together for Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, when she wont be working a nursing shift. Ron Daniels said her family has long been drawing him in.
It wouldve been intimidating, but if I had not asked Maggie to marry me, I think they would have adopted me, he said.
And her extended family seemed to adopt him as well. Among them are a pair of nieces. The youngest, then 5, announced to a table at a Mexican restaurant that she was in love with me, he recalled with a chuckle.
So last year, after hed begun losing weight, he went to Walmart to buy $100 worth of candy for Christmas stocking stuffers for the two girls. A year before that?
It wouldve been $150 worth of candy, he said, confessing that he would have plowed through much of it himself. And its not like all thats gone away. Its a struggle, really. You pass by the fast-food restaurants and theyve got something new with bacon and cheese, and its a draw. Realistically, I could go wreck a Chinese buffet right now, close to putting them out of business.
Its a struggle. Theres a mental process, too. For so long, food was something that made me happy.
Daniels said he grew up with traditional Southern cooking, heavy on the biscuits and butter. And hell have some of that on Thanksgiving Day, when he visits his grandmother and her incredible cooking.
Hell start at 8 a.m. at the gym first, though.
Im going to watch what I eat, but Im going to eat, because nobody does dumplings like my granny, he said.
Daniels said hes thankful hes been able to lose so much weight -- though he had to give away his entire wardrobe. He went from pants with a 54-inch waistline to a size 38.
He said his inspiration to change came when he and Maggie were watching an episode of Stargate: Universe -- theyre self-admitted nerds -- and saw where a characters kidneys were failing because of high blood pressure. Ron said he hadnt been able to donate blood recently because of his blood pressure. About a month later, his dad died at age 47.
That really shook me up, Ron said.
That scared him, Maggie confirmed. He started to keep track of what he ate and how much he exercised, making sure there was always a deficit of calories.
Ron and Maggie Daniels still talk like the newlyweds they are, but theyve only been a couple for about three years. But they knew each other back at Dodge County High School, when they were on the debate team together. Neither one is willing to say the other is the better debater -- though Ron offers an extended, lawyerific, jargon-filled answer that leaves little doubt hes sure hes the better one.
He said his successes have made him more thankful when he realizes how far hes come since he was a little boy in Rhine who went on to become a lawyer.
It didnt strike a chord that I was accomplishing things that I should be thankful for, he said.
And now Ron is thankful. Maggie is as well, but she said they would never have succeeded as a couple at Dodge County High. They had to find themselves first.
Im very lucky to have him, very, very lucky, she said. Hes kind of the yin to my yang.
She paused. Hes my soul mate.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.