Thursday, December 15, 2011

Entry #13 - New Beginnings

-- If we shadows have offended, think but this; and all is mended ....
-- A Midsummer's Night Dream

First, I apologize to all who have been anxiously awaiting my latest post. Tardiness is not necessarily procrastination. As this post will describe, I have been very busy lately. As I hope you will see, it has been a labor of love. However, the projects of the past month and a half are beginning to wrap up and I should be able to make a habit of posting more frequently. I also apologize for the length of this post. As I have been away for awhile, I am filled with too much to tell.

I believe we left off with Thanksgiving. For a few weeks before Thanksgiving and ever since, my time has been monopolized with assisting my trainer and friend, Marty, with the creation of a grand experiment. Marty has been taking this plan from the barest hint of an idea or dream and turning it into reality. I have been fortunate enough to help him in this task.

-- Dreams are extremely important. You can't do it unless you imagine it.
-- George Lucas

Marty is creating a health club specifically designed to help what he has termed "People of Size." Does this mean "fat people"? Not necessarily. People of Size are people who have (or have had) well over 40-50 pounds to lose. People who were once big and have lost a lot of weight can still be named People of Size because they still have the same struggles they had before they lost the weight. They deal with food addiction as well as mental and emotional issues related to having been overweight. They will equally benefit from a place of health and weight management. This place is called Square One.

What a noble project! Obesity is arguably one of the biggest problems facing the country today and it is clear that people need help to change their circumstances. Square One aims to bring help to those who need and want it. If you have been reading this blog, you can find many examples of the benefits of the Square One program. Health, wellness, exercise and nutrition are merely the smallest parts of this program. Understanding, caring, support and friendship are the largest parts. Square One isn't a solo mission gym where you go, put your ear buds in, sweat to the tunes, and then go home. It is a community of people who understand the difficulties, struggles and temptations of a person fighting for better health.

It is also a tremendous risk. It is a health club designed to target people who, left to their own devices, will allow inertia to keep them at home on the couch doing nothing instead of getting up and taking those first few steps into a happier, more hopeful world. I have said it before in this blog and I will probably say it again, but I wish I could make people understand the dramatic difference in life. If they could feel the difference between Kevin of March 2011 and Kevin of December 2011, they would come running (well, maybe walking) to the health club. How do you convince someone who has given up that hope is possible? How can you make them understand that a long and arduous journey, with the right people and plenty of encouragement, can be a fantastically fun and rewarding one?

Well, I will hop off this soap box right after I let all my friends, family, and anyone else who has found this blog know that there is hope. Go to for information. Come to the health club to see it for yourself. That first step is always the hardest, but I cannot stress it enough .... it IS worth all that effort and more! The benefits are too valuable.

-- God sells us all things at the price of labor.
-- Leonardo da Vinci

So, it has been a month and a half of painting, shopping, sanding, building, organizing, lifting, wiring, and whatever else was needed. I would like to say that I am a handyman extraordinaire who whipped through these tasks with ease. I must admit that I struggle to hammer a nail into a board straight without losing a thumb, two fingers and sometimes a toe. Marty had the expertise and I had a talent for handing him the right tool when he asked for it, clean up the mess when a certain project was finished, or remember where we put those darn tape measures (usually wherever the last project was). It was a good thing that Marty's history was in building sets for high school theater rather than working with a construction crew. I compare very poorly against a fine craftsman, but I am pretty sure I can be of more use than teeny boppers trying to look good in front of their friends (maybe). It was a lot of fun to see how these projects went from idea to reality. I learned a lot and enjoyed nearly every minute of it.

I discovered both joy and pain in the condition of my body during this time. On one end, working for hours on end was a previously impossible task for me. I could barely sit for hours a day in my old condition. On the other end, I am still a heavy person who found that standing for large portions of the day caused great pain in my back, legs and feet. I struggled to continue to be of use. I was shamed every time I had to disengage so I could sit down for awhile. I wanted to be the superman who could help with everything all day, every day. Reality, however, assured me that I have limitations and ignoring them would be paid for with pain and suffering. Ok. So that is a little melodramatic. But I really did have some days in which I paid dearly for overworking myself.

We were also assisted by several of my bootcamp friends. This made many tasks a lot more entertaining. We could chat and joke around while we kept things moving forward towards completion. The largest topic of conversation among these ladies was Bootcamp Prom. Yes, you heard me correctly .... Prom. I have to make a confession here. I thought that having a prom for adults was a ridiculous idea. I had been to several proms in my past and didn't see the need to attend another. However, it was important to these friends of mine so I worked diligently to help get the health club ready for a early December prom. It was close, but we made it. Even though I was fighting exhaustion all evening, I had a fabulous time at the prom and have to admit that I am glad I attended.

-- I grew up with six brothers. That's how I learned to dance - waiting for the bathroom.
-- Bob Hope

The past month and a half wasn't all peaches and cream. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I hit a plateau. That continued for several weeks and I was getting really frustrated. Eventually, the long days working on Square One payed off with more weight lost. I am sure to have these plateaus in the future as well and I do not look forward to them. They beat you up emotionally. Here you are working hard to move quickly towards your goals and suddenly the scale stops moving. It feels like all the work is for nothing. You want to cry in frustration at the seeming hopelessness of it all.

-- Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.
-- Buddha

Plateaus can really shake your faith that you can make it to your destination. Imagine you are walking from Omaha to Denver when all of a sudden, you are walking on a treadmill for several days. Now, sometimes you are on that treadmill because you forgot to stay on the path. Other times, you simply need to walk faster to get past the treadmill and back onto normal ground. Either way, you are annoyed at the time wasted. It is important to note, however, that if you managed to stay on track, at least you didn't head back east for a time.

This brings us to Christmas. Christmas was a challenging idea. Our family Christmas is full of opportunities for misbehavior. Tradition holds that Christmas Eve will be a time for a fatty, caloric meal and the frosting/eating of Christmas Cookies. This year, I managed to evade the cookies by spending that time cooking a healthy alternative for my Christmas morning. I managed to make it through our dinner by sticking with salad and the leaner parts of the meal. Christmas morning normally has another high calorie meal of egg casserole and cinnamon rolls. Ok, let's be honest, there is no healthy alternative for cinnamon rolls. So, I just put those out of my mind. For the egg casserole, I substituted a healthy quiche recipe that Marty shared with me (thanks Amanda for posting it, I needed it to remind me of the process). It allowed me to eat one sixth of a brownie pan for less than 250 calories. What a great substitute! It is loaded with lean protein (egg whites), flavor (green/red/orange peppers, mushrooms, turkey sausage, etc), and in such a large portion size, it seems a feast. Santa substituted protein bars, sugarless gum, and Muscle Milk for the normal stocking stuffers of candy.

It felt good to make some healthy changes. What is more exciting is that I really didn't miss the old ways. Ok, ok, I must be honest. I did have one Christmas cookie and I did manage to sneak some of the "leaded" egg casserole (I like mine better, sorry mom). I started to beat myself up for those mistakes. However, while I acknowledge my guilt and weakness so I can work on it, I also forgive myself those errors because even with them, this was by far the healthiest Christmas I've had in years.

-- We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
-- author unknown

I think I will just touch on New Year's and then call this a finished post. It feels like I am leaving a lot out of my story for these past few weeks, but it is the price I pay for not keeping current. I forget things. Not only that, the past few weeks have been pretty repetitive (sleep, work on Square One, then back to sleep). I have enjoyed it but it doesn't creating riveting drama. :)

The night before New Year's Eve, as I lay in bed, I began to cry. Now, don't feel sorry for me because it is what I would call a "good cry". I have absolutely no idea what sent my mind down this thought process, but I had begun to realize the difference between this New Year and the ones before. For close to 14 years, I have dreaded the New Year's Eve party. I felt no reason to celebrate. I wasn't going to kiss anyone at midnight (still didn't this year, but one thing at a time okay?). I wasn't looking forward to any grand prospects for my future. I was more in a mindset that each year was going to be worse than the previous one. And based off many of these years, I couldn't wrap my mind around how it was going to get worse than what I already experienced.

The last two were particularly bad. Two years ago, I attempted to go to Colorado with two friends of mine. We hit a patch of ice and rolled my car. Everyone was fine, but my New Year was colored with a sadness for having had an accident that could have killed my friends, the fact that I didn't have a car and had to "borrow" one from dad, and my normal depression at looking down the barrel of another year ... alone ... getting fatter ... getting closer to death. Sound depressing? It was. And every year got worse. Last year, I was neck deep in my depression about having no job, no life, no relationship, no mobility, and was feeling closer to death than ever. It was the worst New Year's reflection of my life (and hopefully always will be).
So in my bed on the eve of New Year's eve, I found myself crying because I had realized that this was the first year in over a decade that I was looking forward to the next year. I knew I had looked forward to new years in the past, but it had been so long that I hardly remembered what it felt like. I don't mean to imply that all my past friends and their New Year's celebrations weren't fun. I did have a good time. I was just a good deal more depressed than I let on. Now, I have things to look forward to. I am thinner than I was last New Year's (another radical first). I have more energy, health and have added a great group of friends to my already wonderful gang. I can see a chance that this next year will be a darn site better than the last. What a fantastic possibility!

At this point, it behooves me to thank some of those who have made it possible. I won't stick to my normal litany from previous posts. We all know the Wolffs and my family are wonderful. I need to thank my bootcamp buddies. Your friendship, support, example, and inspiration are a large part of the reason why this new year affords so much possibility. I might have said something about it at the party, but I don't think I could have done it without getting choked up.
I know that a large number of you still think of yourselves as having troubles or failures in your journey this last year. It isn't fair. You shouldn't be able to think that. I have seen the 2010 pictures and I have seen the beautiful chicks I now know. What amazing progress! I know it is next to impossible, but can you imagine how much better we would all feel if we could get as much charge out of our successes as we seem to be drained by our failures? Think about that! If we gave ourselves as much credit for the things we do right as we beat ourselves up for our failures, we would be taken to the loony bin for walking around with stupid grins on our faces all the time!

So here is my New Year's toast to all my family and friends: May we all remember to count our blessings and forget to list our problems. May we all revel in our successes and forgive our failures. May we learn from our defeats so we may turn them into victories. And lastly, may we identify our weaknesses so we may be made stronger by knowing them. In the end, we can overcome anything! I love you all!

-- Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy New Year!

No comments:

Post a Comment