Thursday, November 24, 2011

Entry #12 - Thanksgiving

-- Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.
-- Alan Cohen

It is late after a very fun Thanksgiving with my family. As is the custom with this holiday, I should take a moment to review the many things for which I can be thankful. What a difference a year can make!!

I am the same as most people. I can give the same list of thanks that most people can give. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for my health. But in this year, each of these areas require greater explanation and a measure of reflection on just how much they have meant to me in the past months.

-- The children have been a wonderful gift to me, and I'm thankful to have once again seen our world through their eyes. They restore my faith in the family's future.
-- Jackie Kennedy

My family is a fantastic group of people. If I am not careful, it is easy to take them for granted. Brian and Brenda give me joy in the raising of five wonderful children with whom I thoroughly enjoy sharing my time and diversions. Michael and Jacob have been fun playmates for many years. Michael shares a love of football and as a toddler was an anchor that helped keep me sane through some very tough times. For that, he receives my thanks. Jacob shares a love of Star Wars and video games and is a favorite pal for reliving my youth. Erin and Rich have also provided some fun playmates that give me socially acceptable reasons to enjoy cartoons, coloring and playing with toys. Elizabeth is my beautiful princess who keeps me humble by letting me know I am the silliest person she knows. And I am never at a loss for planning what to do with her, because she will tell me what to do (just like her mother). :) Ben is absolutely hilarious and is another Star Wars convert. Just this week, I was able to relive a favorite memory of my youth by introducing him to Superman and the joys of safety pinning a towel around your neck and whooshing around the house. Brandon is just becoming interesting and renews my faith in the wide-eyed innocence of youth. It is so fun to walk with him and see him get interested in the feel of bark on a tree or the mesmerizing joy of seeing a cat or dog that might let him pet them. My parents are also a joy. They are amazing examples of how I should live my life. They are generous to a fault and a cute (and sometimes nauseating) example of a couple in love. It is fun to watch them act like teenagers in love one minute and in the next, they are veterans who know exactly how to work together to get things done. For this and innumerable other reasons, I give thanks for my family.

-- Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
-- Marcel Proust

My friends are an enormous joy in my life. They give love and support when needed and fun and diversion at all times. A tragedy of this year is that the other intangibles of life have kept us too busy to hang out as much as I would like. However, despite this, I know that they will still be there for me when I need them. And I them. In many ways, friends are a sore subject with me of late. For the upcoming Saturday looms in my mind like an impending tragedy. My best friend of 30 years is set to move out of town. Brad has been a rock in my most trying of times and someone whom I can always call upon for a night out or just an ear for my problems. Despite my sadness at this change in our circumstance, I cannot help but be happy for him. He has found love in his new wife and embarks on a new adventure as an expectant father. As his best friend, I know that these life changes are huge milestones in his life. He has always wanted to start his own family. So I cannot, in good faith, be anything but overjoyed that he has found Mindi and started this new path in life. It is an overused phrase that God closes no door without opening a window, but this is really what has happened with me lately. I have found a new group of friends in my bootcamp family with whom I am finding great support, love and fun. They can never replace Brad or my other busy friends, but why would they have to? I still have those friends. They do, however, give me a way to fill some of the voids left by these other life events. For all these friends and the many rewards they give me (and I hope I can in some measure reward them as well), I am extremely thankful.

-- The first wealth is health.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the first time in more years than I care to count, I am thankful for my health. This blog lists a great many of the reasons why this is true. My gracious feelings surround all aspects of my life. I am thankful to Erin for gently nudging me to this course of action. I am thankful for my parents for their genuine support in my new life. Dad finances my efforts while Mom helps with my nutritional needs. Without this support, things would be extremely difficult if not impossible. My bootcamp family gives me support and inspiration that I so desperately need to keep going when things get rough. They also give me a sense of belonging and understanding that is crucial to my efforts. Lastly, I have to give thanks to Marty and with him Amy and Blaine. Amy and Blaine give up so much of their time with their loved one so that I may have my trainer and friend. I cannot overstate what their selfless sacrifice means to me. It is the kind of love that you hear about in songs. They believe in Marty and his mission to help others so much that they willingly give the most precious gift to so many of us. The gift of life. Marty has been a huge part of my life during the last 7 months. He has taught me so much and also become a dear and respected friend. What can you say about someone who so generously gives of himself just so you can live a longer and more pleasurable life? A cynic could cite that he does this as a job and is payed for his efforts. But the payment given is a paltry sum when compared to the priceless gift given. What price can one place on life? How much does hope cost? Marty, you are one of the greatest gifts in my life and I sincerely thank you for all the beatings :), teachings, and friendship you have so freely offered me. I hope that I can live up to the respect and promise that you seem to see in me.

-- Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
-- W.T. Purkiser

My health changes were really exemplified in the brand new way that I was able to celebrate this holiday this year. In the past, Thanksgiving was a time to impressively overeat, then sit on a couch and moan over my distended stomach while watching football. I would wait for the moment when I would have digested enough to go back for that afternoon turkey sandwich or extra helping of dessert. This is no more. Instead, I had a more sensible Thanksgiving meal and then a large portion of my family had an incredibly fun time enjoying the beautiful weather outside. For the first time I can remember, we followed our meal with an active activity. We started with a walk around Walnut Lake. I was able to push Brandon's stroller around on my own and watch his fascination with everything he was seeing. I was able to do some jogging which Brandon found immensely entertaining as he was able to chase down his siblings on the paths around the lake. Then Dad wanted to walk to Walnut Grove park (a park that is some distance away from the house). We took the whole family down there and play on the play equipment. I was able to do so without pain or second thought. We played on the swings and with the football. Dad asked me if I was having fun participating in this outdoor affair and I genuinely admitted that I was. He asked if I was dreading the walk back and I sincerely responded "no". My body was now able to handle the hiking and playing without reservation. We had a fantastic time and it was a great way to burn off some of the calories that we had eaten.

My heart is overflowing with the joy I experienced today and the many changes in my life. My family, friends, and health are combining to give me a new lease on life. It is now my job to fulfill the promise they see in me and further increase the possibilities that this new lifestyle can provide. In the end, I do it for myself. I selfishly want this to be better. Next year, I want to be able to race the kids around the tree in the park. I want to be able to play football with the older boys, chase the younger ones, and someday ... an evil little part of me wants to walk so fast that my Dad has trouble keeping up. :) He has always outstripped my own talents in healthful pursuits. Soon, I hope to be the one saying, "come on! Keep up!" LOL It continues to baffle me that I truly believe this is possible. This is the hope that I have spoken of in previous posts. It is such a great feeling to see an open vista before me. A world of possibility instead of restriction. I am a lucky, lucky person. And very, very thankful.

-- As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.
-- Terri Guillemets

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Entry #11 - Ugh, Clothes Shopping

-- Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
-- Mark Twain

It is a well known fact, among my friends and family, that I detest clothes shopping. It is the bane of the fat person. You have to go try on clothes that often don't fit. Not only that, but when you are as big as I am, many of the clothes you desire do not come in your size. One of the saddest events of my ever growing size was when I no longer fit in clothes at the Casual Male store, also known as the big and tall store even though I have never seen tall people in there. :) I was forced to buy clothes from an online source and often received clothes with loose threads and sometimes even holes in them. Being a captive audience and having immediate need for the clothes, I would often just keep these shoddy garments and deal with the fact that they were sub-par.

Let's start with the positive. The reason I was clothes shopping is my current wardrobe is becoming a problem for being too big (there's a new experience)! The neck holes of my workout shirts are so large that I am often in danger of having them expose one shoulder, giving me the appearance of a dancer from Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical" video. While I enjoy the '80s, this is a look I can do without. Additionally, I decided to try to shop at the Casual Male again. A store I have not so affectionately called Omaha Tent and Awning. I was happy to find that I was once again solidly in their "big" category, but able to buy their clothing. One final positive of this affair was that I was happy to find that in most clothing items I was two sizes smaller than I had been a few short months ago. While on this journey, I must revel in these moments to motivate me to future successes.

-- They can because they think they can.
-- Vergil

Now to the negatives. I hate, hate, hate clothes shopping. It is a hassle to go and try on clothes. It is always an aggravation to deal with the limited options that they have there. Plus, the Casual Male has clearly decided that all fat men are either comic book nerds, drunks, or happily fat people because all their t-shirts seem to either be superheroes, alcohol advertisements or statements meant to shout out "I'm fat and I'm proud" (a feeling I have never shared). However, the biggest negative I've found with my shopping is that the Casual Male KNOWS that you have to shop there. The lack of other options for the fat person means they can charge you anything they want for their clothing. Now, being a capitalist myself, I am willing to admit that there should be some markup for the fact that we do require more fabric in the making of our clothing. But $70 pants and $50 shirts make me want to scream. These are not designer labels. They are not made of gold thread! Why is it acceptable that my 1 shirt, 1 pair of workout pants, 1 pair of jeans, and a belt would cost $280?!?! I don't have a lot of money and this made it so I could not replace all the clothes that I needed to replace. So, I will have to continue to risk the appearance of the '80's female aerobics chick at all my workouts. I am sure there will be pictures if I do.

That being said, I am happy that I am fitting into smaller clothes. I have also managed to get enough clothing to deal with the cold weather and get myself to Christmas where I will be asking my family for new and smaller clothes.

-- As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do.
-- Zachary Scott

On to a happier subject .... Halloween! A lot of my bootcamp family were worried about this holiday, especially those with children. It is a problem for the food addict to be surrounded by that much candy. They must find ways to work around this because no one wants to rob their children of the joy this holiday can be. So what do you do? Many gave out candy and then when the hour grew late, they just dumped the remainder into a child's bag. While this probably made some kid's day, it probably annoyed their parents. :) Those with children bringing home candy were making plans to lock it up and let their less addicted spouses control the flow of candy from locked cupboard to child. This is a great plan. I am fortunate enough not to have to deal with this problem and ... oddly enough ... candy really holds no power over me. I rarely crave it and don't feel deprived if I don't have any. In this regard, I am extremely fortunate.

This Halloween was a landmark holiday for me. I have four nephews and one niece ranging in ages from 1 to 15 years of age. This year marks the very first time I was in good enough shape to walk the neighborhood with the trick or treat troupe!! I could focus on the negative side of this and be depressed about the years of trick or treating that I missed with my older nephews. Those are years and events I can never get back. Instead, I rejoice at my ability to carry Super Brandon (dressed as Superman) and watch SpiderBen and Princess Elizabeth go door to door. In the end, I did not go far because SpiderBen lost steam early so I took him and SuperBrandon home while Princess Elizabeth and her dad continued on the incredibly important quest for candy. However, I am happy to note that I was not too tired to continue. I could have gone to many more houses if they had wanted. I am so excited that this is one of the moments that I can now share. No longer will I be forced to stay at Erin's house passing out the candy to kids I don't know while everyone else goes out for the fun. I am also happy to announce that I made it through the evening having only eaten one M&M. 1-year old Brandon thought it would be nice to share and shoved one in my mouth.

-- Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.
-- Walter Elliott

Lately, I have been battling a strange fatigue with my workouts. It isn't that I don't want to work out. It isn't that I hurt. It is just that when I go to my workouts my body doesn't seem to want to do as much as I want it to do. I think it is probably diet. Additionally, the pounds have not been coming off like I would like them to do. I have broken away from journaling so I have rededicated myself to that act in hopes of getting back on track with rapid weight loss and to track the foods I am eating to see if there is a nutritional reason for this fatigue. In the final analysis, this is simply a plateau. I need to work myself through it and keep going. Have I gained weight? No. Am I still losing weight? Yes. So things are still moving in the right direction. I just want it to move faster. At this pace, it would take years to get to my target weight. I understand it will take time, but I would like it to be as quick as humanly possible.

I continue to be hopeful that this blog will be helpful or inspiring to others. I have received some nice feedback from many people about it. My bootcamper family says that it does help them and I dearly hope that it does. And yet, I am not satisfied. I am ever hopeful that it will spark other people into starting this journey. I know what it is like to be overweight and all the negative self images and feelings that go along with that. I am a first hand example of the nearly immediate change these workouts can do for those images and feelings. If I could simply implant my mindset into the minds of others, they would join immediately just so they could experience the change from depression and hopelessness to joy and hope. Food addiction and depression really don't stand a chance when viewed with the positives of shopping for smaller clothes and walking with the children on Halloween. Someday, I hope I can impress upon all my larger loved ones that their lives will be changed by the simple effort of trying. One success leads to two. Two lead to hope. Hope leads to a future.

-- Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
-- John Wooden

How many of us large people have had the thought "I just have to live with the fact that I will always be fat. I will die younger than I should and that's just the way it is." IT ISN'T TRUE! You can do something about it. You don't have to run out and do a marathon. You don't have sacrifice your body to the effort. You simply have to be willing to move and change. Move your body and change your habits. The changes come more quickly than you might think. Choose life rather than accepting what is. Choose action not victimization. Choose hope over regret. It will make all the difference in the world.

-- Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-- Dylan Thomas