Sunday, December 30, 2012

#22 - Soul Searching

Hello again.

I would apologize for my lack of posts lately, but the apology must be for something much deeper than a mere absence.   I have been lying to you dear reader.    Not directly, but a serious lie of omission has occurred.   My absence has been deliberate and born out of the self loathing I have felt over my lack of discipline and control.   It is something I am not proud of and I will endeavor to be more honest and forthcoming in the future.  

-- Half a truth is often a great lie.
                        --  Benjamin Franklin

To fill you in, I have been nearly completely off the rails for several months.   I was horrified recently to realize my lowest weight of the past year was over four months ago.   I have not been keeping my food journal.   I find excuses to miss workouts.   I have felt hypocritical as I give advice to others to aid them on their journeys.   All of this only serves to feed a growing sense of depression which is only decreasing my desire to get back on track.  Each and every weigh in at Square One only served to deepen my sense of failure and remorse.   I was spiraling out of control on a track back to weights I no longer want to see.

As usual, Marty managed to play a little mental mumbo jumbo that managed to start me thinking about fighting back and pushing hard again.   At the beginning of my journey with him, he wanted me to send him an email with a list of all the reasons why it stinks to be overweight (specifically 560 pounds).   I believe I listed a number of them in an earlier post.   After a particularly depressing weigh in, Marty re-read my email back to me.   As the tears flowed, he asked me why I was so emotional.   My response was that I didn't want to go back to that life.   However, that was also a half-truth.   I don't want to go back to that life, but the honest reason for the tears was that I was deathly afraid that I was going to be unable to prevent myself from going back there.

This isn't a feeling created from thin air.   I have a history of doing this very sequence of events.  History has shown on a number of occasions that I have the discipline to lose a large chunk of weight (if you will excuse the term) and then fall off the wagon.   Always after, I would allow my self to balloon up to ever greater weights.    Marty's mental ploy has allowed me to stop and think.   Stop!  Find a way to turn this back in the right direction.

-- The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice!
                                                                                      -- Dwight D Eisenhower

Towards that end, I feel a need to analyze my thoughts now.   The mindset of falling off the wagon is nearly as insidious as food addiction itself.   I am back in the habit of "cutting myself some slack."   Sure, enjoy that food you know is bad for you.   It is just one bad thing.   Until the next bad thing.   It is also hard just to get back to right foods.   All the foods you know are right for you seem unappetizing because your addicted brain is screaming for the unhealthy foods it wants.   And, the healthy foods you've been eating (telling yourself that this proves you aren't completely off the diet) are in such large amounts that it is difficult to return to what is an appropriate portion size.

Why do I let food have this much power over me?  Will it ever get easier?   I have to believe it will.   I don't think it will ever go away, but I need to believe that there will come a time when this addiction is more manageable.   Now, I can hear Marty and Amy telling me that it is never "easy."   I know this.   I am simply hoping that at some point it becomes "easier."

Marty and I have discussed what to do to get me back on track.   It is so stupid.   I know what needs to be done, but the doing is more elusive than I ever thought possible.   *Sigh*   It is infuriating and it may drive me absolutely insane.    I don't know if I can truthfully impress upon you how desperately I want to succeed on this journey.   Every fiber of my being yearns to be healthier, skinnier, and successful.   And yet, the same brain that vibrates with this desire is also the brain makes all these poor decisions.   You would think that my desire would be enough to push me through, but all it does is cause self-doubt, guilt and self loathing when I don't do the things I know I should.   I feel so weak.

-- He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life.   But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.
                                                                                                                                      -- Victor Hugo

So, here is my new plan.   First, I am going to get more serious about a regular work out plan.   As Marty so astutely observed, it is easier to manage the diet when you are faithfully following your workout regimen.  Start the discipline with that and the rest will hopefully follow.   Second, I am going to need to get back on keeping my food journal.   Lastly, I intend to blog here more often.   Ideally, I would like to blog weekly with a re-cap that lists my weight loss or weight gain and allows me to analyze the reasons for either.   Now don't get on my case immediately.  These plans are to be implemented in stages.   First stage, working out.

So as I look at the last 11 hours of 2012, I suppose it is only appropriate to learn from the past year and plan for the next one.   I need to simultaneously be more strict with myself while cutting myself some slack.  The strictness will help fuel the discipline needed to turn this around.  However, in an effort to love myself more, I need to realize that I am still 160 pounds less than I was 20 months ago instead of lamenting that I was once 180 pounds less.   I need to do a better job of finding the positives in life.   I recently worked on a project for a Christmas gift in which I saw all the old family pictures of my youth.   I barely remember that Kevin.  He was so positive, fun-loving, and excited about nearly everything he did.   Confident and sure, he proudly leaped into any exciting adventure he could find.   Not sure the exact moment that changed, but I need to get it back.

In other words, I have a lot of work to do in 2013.   I will have to simultaneously attack the physical journey and the mental journey.   Wish me luck.

-- The New Year is a beautiful bouquet of newer unfolding opportunities to fulfill unfinished commitments with renewed vigour of heart and move-up on an accelerating speed to reach to a new milestone ... and enriching life's journey.
                                                                                                                      -- Anuj Somany

Friday, July 6, 2012

#21 - Colorado -- Take Two

If you have not read blog entry #5 - Colorado, please read it first or none of the following will seem wondrous.

--  Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion.  You must set yourself on fire.
                                                                            --  Arnold H Glasgow

We hiked to the Pool and back today!   It was such a fun experience for me and a huge triumph.   I could tell from the very beginning that I was setting a much faster pace than the last time.   Pretty soon, my father pointed out that the place we were passing so quickly was the spot I asked him how much farther to the arches.   The significance of this is that when I asked that question in the first trip, that was when I had accepted that I wasn't going to finish and was trying to determine whether to give up and turn around or to at least make it to the arches.   This time, I wasn't even a little fatigued.

Soon we 'round the bend to the arches and I can't believe how easy it has been.   We stop for a short reflection and water break.  Then we head on up to the Pool.   It feels fantastic to hit a goal like that.   It took me back to my younger days when I would set new goals and accomplish them regularly on hikes like these.   It made me realize how much progress I've made in a few short months.

The walk back was similarly easy.   By the last quarter mile or so, I was feeling some pain in my feet and joints.  Mostly due to some of the steep downhill portions and just my weight pounding my feet into some off the rocks.   But it felt great over all.

Even given my last month of nearly no progress, it is wonderful to realize how much progress I've achieved in such a short amount of time.   A hike, that I quit .7 miles early and still thought of as a death march, was now an easily obtainable success.   Perhaps future years will see me climb mountains again.   Rock climbing and rappelling.   Backpacking and camping.   Sky's the limit.

--  Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.
                                                                       --  Napoleon Hill

#20 - Struggling

-- Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.
                                        -- Edward R. Murrow

To say that the last month or more has been difficult, would be a severe understatement.  My diet has been loose and as a result, the scale has been unforgiving.   Work outs have been good and I feel stronger every day, but that is just the physical side of things.   The mental side is breaking down.

I am finding it too easy to rationalize bad food choices.   I am also eating too much of the good food choices.   And to add insult to injury, I am not keeping my food journal so I really have no idea how poorly I am eating.

All of this combined to give me the worst month of my journey.   For the entire month of may, I managed a meager 0.6 pound weight loss.  It is completely frustrating and infuriating because I know I am better than that.   I also know that if I want to make it to most of my goals, I have to produce much better numbers than that.

-- Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.
                                                    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

And now, I am faced with a family trip to Colorado.  Normally, this is something I really look forward to doing.   This time, I am scared.   I am in the least secure mental space of my entire journey.  You only have to read my blog post about my meltdown on a previous trip to know why I am worried this time.   My family just doesn't get it.  They want to help and, with good intentions, offer to cook more meals at the cabin.  This is fine and dandy, but it isn't just being at restaurants.   My difficulties with this trip are that not only will I have to watch them eat all the junk food, but I will also have to be the reason they don't get to go eat/do what they want to do.   Why aren't we going out to eat?  Kevin.   Why aren't we going to the Taffy Shop?   Kevin.   Why aren't we doing Smores over a firepit?  Kevin.   Who wants that role?  

But, in the end, I will probably go.   I will try to maintain so I can watch my niece and nephews have fun in the mountains.   But I am terrified.   I get the news that I am in the least control of my journey in 14 months two days before I go on a trip practically designed to derail me.

--  In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
                              --  Albert Einstein

As for the general problem with my journey,  I need new motivation.  All my old goals still hold true and I still feel the same desires for success that I have had in the past.  But for whatever reason, they are not providing me with the same resolve that I have had in the past.   

So, I am going to re-read these blog entries.  I am going to list my successes.  I am going to acknowledge my failings.   And hopefully, I can find new motivations or, at the very least, renewed resolve.  The situation isn't drastically different.  The path to success is more or less the same.  It has to come from me. 

-- Things do not change; we change.
                       -- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#19 - Changing Body, Changing Mind

-- Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
                                               --  Thomas Jefferson

What is harder? Changing your body or changing your mind. I don't mean changing your mind like "hmmm, I think I'll have chicken instead of fish today." I mean changing the fundamental mindsets that you have developed over years of experience. How do you change some of those core feelings, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that make you who you are?

--  We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
                                                        -- Buddha

Clearly, I am showing my bias that it is more difficult to change your mind. This is a scary concept to me because changing my body is a long and difficult process. To face the prospect that I may have a harder journey of the mind ahead of me is more than little daunting. And timing is everything. My inclination is to say "Right now, I am working on my body. I will work on my mind when this first journey is over." But it isn't that simple. So much of this journey to better health is tied into those pesky mental pitfalls. Thus, I must begin to look at them if I am going to make significant progress in the changing of the body. For example, I must understand why I packed on 350 extra pounds if I am going to be able to effectively make the life long changes necessary to lose the weight and keep it off.

This is such a convoluted issue that I cannot possibly address all my mental battles in this one blog.  However, here are a few that challenge me.

--  There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.
                                                                                                        --  Ronald Reagan

First, and most crucial, I must start addressing self image.   It is almost universally true that overweight people have a self image problem.  We can debate whether this is due to a dislike of our appearance or a reaction to the way a society that reveres the thin judges and treats the obese.  But the reason for the self image problem does little to help me on fixing the problem.  However, it is a crucial mental attitude to adjust because we have seen so many people who lose the weight and still don't like the way they look.   Weight loss can certainly help the self image, but it is clear that if you are not comfortable in you skin long before you lose the weight, you may still be uncomfortable with the newer, thinner you.   I wish I could offer my solutions on the matter, but this is a continuing struggle for me.   I can say that making progress on my journey and working in a club designed to help others is doing wonders for the self image, but it has not eradicated the image issues I've had for a long time.

--  Giving up represents a choice you make when you decide not to take action on something over which you actually do have control.
                                                                                                        -- Darren L Johnson

Second, one makes a great many mental resignations as they get older and fatter over the course of many years.   I have made a number of them.   In nearly every case, they are a giving up of things you really want in order to be more comfortable in your worsening situation.   It hurts to make the resignation, but helps in the long run because once you admit it isn't in the cards, you stop wishing for it or being sad that you don't have it.   One of the biggest of these resignations for me was a decision that I was going to finish life alone.  Never a boyfriend, never a husband, never a father.   I decided I would be content to be a good uncle, brother and friend to those around me.   I had managed to convince myself that it was ok that, in my opinion, I was unlovable (in a romantic sense) and I was too old to pursue the goals of love and family.   How does one re-establish that connection to the heart?   How can one make himself believe?   And most worrisome, has one waited too long?   Again, I don't have the answers.   I will say that the hope this journey offers makes some of this seem more possible, but it is a nagging concern.

--  It is not death or pain that is to be dreaded, but the fear of pain or death.
                                                                             --  Epictetus

Third,  the catalyst.   Many overweight people have some sort of event in their life that serves as a catalyst to truly getting out of control.   A lot of people at the club report that they have struggled with weight their whole life, but the truly obese always seem to have an event of some kind that made them really start gaining weight much more rapidly.   I don't know the psychology of this, but if I had to guess, I would think there is something that occurs to make a person stop caring about the struggle.   Something that damages their self-esteem to the point where they no longer worry about fighting their weight.   A death of a loved one.   An abusive relationship.   A truly embarrassing situation.   It could be any number of things.

I have been trying to find this event in myself.  It is difficult to pinpoint because I have had a general progression to higher weights for a good portion of my life.   Where did it get worse?   Where did I stop caring about how much I gained?   As near as I can figure, my catalyst was .... a girl.   I felt I was in love and that person rather abruptly left my life.   I think this began a cycle of emotional eating and marks the moment where weight became my shield.   I used it to push away potential romantic interests so no one could hurt me again.   If I was unlovable or unattractive, good!   I may not be completely happy but perhaps my heart would be safe.   This is a difficult thing to overcome because it becomes so ingrained that it is nearly completely subconscious.   I wish I knew how to change it, but it is a part of my struggle.   Again, no answers.  But hopefully acknowledging it here will give me some reminder to be putting my mind to changing this within myself.

The mental journey, just as the physical one, is a forever one.   Even if you reach your goals and handle some of these issues, it will more than likely just reveal more.   However, I am hopeful that by honestly accepting these failings within myself, I can begin to make them better.   And in so doing, I may help myself continue on the path to better health.  Both physically AND mentally.

--  All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.
                                                                                                           --  Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#18 - One Year ..... Many Accomplishments.

April 12th, 2012.

"An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow."                                                                                 -- Author Unknown

As you may or may not have noticed, I mentioned that I started my journey with Mr. Marty on April 12, 2011. This makes today particularly significant in the progress of my journey. One year. An Anniversary. A chance to reflect on how far one has come and where one wants to go.

First, I must apologize. It has been a great amount of time since the last entry. I can only blame a fantastically busy life at Square One. Recently, Marty and Square One were featured in the Omaha newspaper (yours truly was also quoted, but I won't let it go to my head). This article set off a firestorm of interest in the club. We have been inundated with people who want to be a part of something this special. In just a few short weeks, we filled up to capacity by increasing our number of clients by 110-120%! Now we are awash with plans to expand so we can continue to grow. We have maxed out on Marty's time so we will have to get some new trainers. We have maxed out on space so we will have to look at new locations. It is a large amount of work, but it is definitely the way we want to be headed.

Back to the anniversary ....

Before After
550+ lbs 392 lbs
Unable to walk without pain Recently did a 4.4 mile hike
9x shirts, 58 waist pants 4x shirts, 52 waist pants
No work outs, but started with 2 a week working out 6 times a week (at least)

These are just markers of the true benefits received.

I have talked before of the incredibly wonderful change in attitude and esteem received simply by worked towards health instead of towards death. One might say that is overly dramatic wording, but it serves to show how I really felt at 550+ pounds. On this day, I reflect of the difference in my daily life. 

 I was alone. Eating junk food 100% of the time. Unable to move and depressed. Sitting in the recliner and watching hours of TV.  I was so out of shape that despite crushing depression and loneliness, an invite to get together with family and/or friends had to be seriously considered because it was a huge exertion of energy and a tremendous amount of pain.   I used to scoff at the people you would see who were bedridden and unable to move.  How could they let themselves get to that point?  How could they live like that?   Fortunately, I bypassed that stage (barely) but I can see how one would get to that point.   It sneaks up on you.  Today's decision not to force yourself out and about, not to incur the pain movement causes is one step closer to being stuck.  

Now, I am eating healthier.  I am moving without difficulty.  I am happier with a new mission of helping others.   I have a new group of friends to supplement my loyal friends of the past.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that these changes have been made.

Sorry this post is so short.  I promise more is coming.  I have two ideas that I intend to write this weekend.   One will discuss the mental side of this journey.   The other will be my soap box moment on obesity, specifically with regard to it being one of the last acceptable prejudices. 

"The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving."  
                                                                                            -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#17 - Super Bowl and other dramatic changes.

-- People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.
-- Vince Lombardi

Hello sports fans! Welcome to a new world in sports enjoyment!

That crazy Marty. He read that the Super Bowl is America's second largest consumption day of the year. Amazingly, the average American consumes around 3000 calories during the Super Bowl. Let me clarify.... That isn't 3000 calories on Super Bowl Sunday. That is 3000 calories in the 3 1/2 hours that the game plays! What's worse, that 3000 calories is comprised of fatty foods, high sodium foods and alcohol. So, he decided it would be a good idea to change things around.

A group of Square One Clients, Marty and his wife Amy joined together to try and do our part to re-write the statistics on the Super Bowl experience. Instead of eating and boozing our way through the game, we spent the entire run of the game on cardio equipment and other exercise activities (push ups, sit ups, step ups, etc). If we look at the average per person calorie total of 3000, we can show that by exercising for 3 1/2 hours we avoided the intake of 45,000 calories. But the swing is even larger! We burned over 23,000 calories. We took control and changed our collective destinies by over 68,000 calories! That is a combined total of almost 20 pounds!! We were extremely tired by the end but also very proud of ourselves.

-- A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead

I must speak to another revelation I had during this event. As I get to know my fellow Square One folks, I am constantly brought face to face with the difficulties of weight loss. Most are unhappy with how quickly the pounds are coming off their bodies. They have low opinions of their appearance and are constantly thinking themselves weak because we all have moments of weakness as we succumb to temptation. None of this matches what I was seeing from them on Super Bowl Sunday.

What did I see? I saw athletes. I saw victorious people. I saw people who were leaps and bounds above where they started. Who works out for 3 1/2 hours straight (well, we did stop to watch Madonna, drink water, and have some healthy snacks)? Even people who showed up late simply knuckled down and worked out even harder so their contribution to our total would be significant. For all of you who read this blog, I want you to take a hard look in the mirror. Take a moment to forget the negative things you see. See the successful, hard working person who can do this amazing feat. All you see is the remaining weight and the crazy self image that truly no longer applies to you. For the most part, we started as weak, dying, unhealthy people suffocating in a mountain of fat and self loathing. Last Sunday, you all proved yourselves to be AMAZING, powerful people. There may still be fat on your body but there is clearly a strong, capable person inside those remaining pounds. Use that strength! Continue to work out and melt that remaining disguise off your body so the image matches the reality. And for God's sake, love yourself! Love what you have done! Love what you are becoming! Give you self a little slack so you can begin to believe in the new, healthy person fighting to get out. I could not have been more proud of myself and the beautiful, capable people I with whom I was burning this impressive amount of calories!

-- The "self-image" is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self image and you change the personality and the behavior.
-- Maxwell Maltz

This was not my only revelation this week. A common failing of people on this journey is that we fail to see a lot of the progress we are making until something brings it to light. I don't know why this is so surprising to me. On the way up the scale, I would often fail to see how my increased weight was affecting my life because it came on gradually. I would simply make allowances in my life for my heavier self and become "content" with the new restrictions on my life. So it only stands to reason that it would happen in reverse as I go back the other direction.

Today, I was reminded of how far I've come by a simple stock image taken off Google images. Marty was designing a pamphlet to show some of the struggles People of Size face in their struggle to start a health program. He pulled a picture off the Internet of a large man sitting on a park bench. As I saw the picture, I said to Marty "Look at how he is sitting. I know exactly what he is doing." Marty didn't know what I was talking about. It was then that I not only realized what my life was like, but also how I have changed in the past few months.

I explained to Marty that the man was sitting somewhat awkwardly on the bench for several reasons. First, he will not lean all the way back on the bench because he is fearful that his weight will break the back of the bench. It is a common worry for the extremely overweight person. It is humiliating to break furniture in your own home. It can make a person near suicidal if it happens in public. Second, he is somewhat perched on the bench because he is operating under the delusion, as I so often did, that if he feels the bench begin to give way or hears a loud crack, he will be able to quickly stand up so he doesn't fall to the ground with the bench. This is laughable because at our heaviest weights we take several seconds and a lot of groaning just to stand up. We aren't the most agile folks on the planet so it is laughable to think that we could react quickly to this event and "hop" up to avoid embarrassment. Lastly, he had positioned his arms and hands in a very familiar position. I recognized the position from my own history. You try to place your arms in a protective fashion around the belly as if to hide some of the embarrassing girth your have obtained. Again, another laughable concept. It would take one heck of an optical illusion to let your small arms hide your impressive belly. Deep down, you know it is illogical, but in the end, you must try.

It was crazy how quickly I got back into this mindset. I so easily placed myself in his position and understood the discomfort he had by just being in public. He had very few options though. He had to sit. If he was at all like me, it was too tiring or painful to stand for very long and his only recourse was to sit on the bench. In the end, it is another of those things you come to be accustomed to doing. So much so, that many of the thoughts and worries I describe are unconscious. But I do remember the fear. Anytime I was at a friend's house, a restaurant, or any public place, I was so careful sitting on furniture because I knew that I would be absolutely mortified if I damaged the furniture with my tremendous weight. The bigger you get, the worse the fear. It encourages the solitude of obesity. Why go out and be with people if there are so many opportunities for humiliation? Loneliness, worry and fear combine to accelerate our ever increasing feelings of self-loathing, depression and hopelessness.

-- Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.
-- Mother Teresa

I have said before that I wish I could impress upon others how much this journey can help them. It is so easy to not even try because all you see is how long it will take to reach your goal. It is a daunting task to set out to lose 50, 100, 150 or even 250-300 pounds (my eventual goal). But here's the thing.... There is so much benefit along the way if you are just honest enough with yourself to see it. Yes, I am not at my goal. I am not even close. But I can move. I can sit on furniture without fear of destroying it. I can work out for 3 1/2 hours and change my destiny. These are amazingly good feelings. You don't have to reach your goal to change the pattern of self loathing. You merely have to work to go in the right direction. In fact, if I were to break a couch, bench or chair tomorrow, I would not have the same level of embarrassment and humiliation that I experienced in the past. This is because I know I am working to change my life. It is easier to smooth over your own ruffled feathers if you know that you are working hard to make sure that these things don't happen ever again.

-- Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
-- Winston Churchill

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#16 - May I never see them again

-- The remarkable thing is that it is the crowded life that is most easily remembered. A life full of turns, achievements, disappointments, surprises, and crises is a life full of landmarks. The empty life has even its few details blurred and cannot be remembered with certainty.
-- Eric Hoffer

I like this quote. When I was depressed and rotting in my apartment, the days blurred into the monotony of a day to day existence which was, in essence, a lazy acceptance of a slow march towards (to be quite frank about it) death. Once you put yourself out there and DO something, you open yourself up to success and disappointment. But either will serve as a landmark to the moments of your life. Landmarks come in many shapes and sizes. And sizes are exactly what made a new landmark for me.

I never know what moments will grab my attention along this journey. It can be as simple as "that food didn't temp me ... wow" or as complex as the emotions and exploration of my self worth and growth. I don't always realize these things at the time events are happening. Many times it is in the quiet moments of reflection at the end of a day.

I really recommend this reflection time to anyone on this journey. It allows you the opportunity to look over the successes of the day and review the difficulties. You must make sure to find both for yourself each day. Do not be so happy as to not acknowledge some of your problems and definitely do not be so negative as to only see the bad in a day. There is always some of each. I like to take mental stock of the positives and enjoy them, but the most benefit I find in this process is the opportunity to re-frame my defeats and/or difficulties in my mind. I have learned that every negative moment on this journey usually has a positive to find within the midst of it. The problem is that we just get so caught up in the "downer" side of things that we can't see the forest for the trees. It doesn't matter how bad my day went, I can usually find something positive or, at the very least, remind myself of why I am doing this. I can give myself renewed strength and resolution for the next day if I spend some time reminding myself of where I was, where I am, and where I want to be.

-- Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.
-- Peter Drucker

Well, this brings me to the events of last Friday night. I was in bed thinking through my day when I was thunderstruck to realize that I had waltzed past a landmark moment without even realizing it. It is so easy to float past these moments without marking their significance. I am so I happy I didn't miss this one. It may be simple and plain, but for me it was meaningful and dramatic.

I was preparing to have a get together at my house for all my Square One pals. In doing so, I was straightening up a lot of the clutter in my life. I decided to organize my closet. I took out all the old clothes that are getting harder and harder to wear because they are ...... wait for it ..... too big!! This is quite literally the first time in my life that I cleaned out my closet to make room for SMALLER clothes! And I had done it without even thinking. All the size 58 pants, 9x shirts, and impressively large underpants are now being boxed up to be taken away. Make room for the 52 pants, 6x shirts and new undergarments. Still huge clothes, but a darn sight better than the old. AND, they are beginning to need replacement as well. Now, as I was about to drift off to sleep, it dawns on me that this was a momentous occasion and should be celebrated. So I sat up. Gave a little cheer (scared the cat to death). And then settled back to rest in the glow of this moment. Unfortunately, it is difficult to fall asleep with a little voice in your head going "woo hoo! .... yeeehaw! .... hot diggety dog!"

It is so easy to get caught up in the difficulties. I have spent many days worrying about the number on the scale or how many calories that I took in. I am just so happy to take these little "woo hoo" moments and use them to celebrate this journey while simultaneously giving me the motivation and courage to keep going. To draw from a previous post, let's all take a moment to enjoy the view of where we are. We are all successful merely for what we have already done, let alone for what we are doing. Measuring success by the chaotic movements of a scale is a ridiculous concept. Why would that matter? I know, I know ... It is a tangible, logical measure of our progress, but can't we also take in an understanding of how much better we feel and what more we can do? So much progress is made that has absolutely nothing to do with the scale. I'm not saying it is ok to pack on the pounds, but rather, I am pointing out that it isn't the end of the world if the scale isn't moving as you think it should. There are other important measures.

Keep it up folks. I am proof that it can happen. I may or may not be losing weight as fast as I would like, but my closet is cleaner and the Olivia Newton John shirts are going away. And that is pretty amazing to me.

-- Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
-- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, January 15, 2012

#15 - Meltdown

-- All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Well, I have put up enough happy-go-lucky posts. Perhaps it is time to portray the seedier side of things.

I hit the wall today. No, I didn't fall off the wagon, but I had a form of mental and emotional breakdown.

To fill you in, this weekend is my family's JGW. For the men, this is the Just Guys Weekend which entails a trip to our family cabin in Colorado. No rules and plenty of burping, scratching, and other such things that mothers frown upon. For the ladies, it is Just Girls Weekend and I don't exactly know what they do. They stay in Omaha and I think manicures, Hobby Lobby, and other such things are involved. The JGW is something I look forward to. We have a great time and I jump at every chance to go to Colorado (especially if it is free). However, this is the first JGW I have attended while trying to eat healthy.

It started really early on. We left Omaha and made it as far as Lincoln before we stopped at Dairy Queen. You see ... this is the first stage in being "naughty". We get ice cream and then call Mommy and laugh when she yells at us for eating dessert before dinner. However, this time, I found out it wasn't quite as entertaining when my role was to sit and watch them eat their ice cream and watch Rich eat his chili dog.

Then came the rest of the car ride with stops at fast food restaurants and the smells of gas station snacks wafting through the car. So far, I was doing pretty well. It was an assault on the senses, but I was hanging in there. I had planned ahead for the fact that gas station food was not going to work. I purchased some protein bars, granola, and gum in preparation for this.

-- All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that can't be broken down, provided it is the right temptation, put in the right spot.
-- Henry Ward Beecher

Day 2 dawned bright and early with breakfast at the Egg and I where I had my "healthy" breakfast (I found out later that it had a bunch more calories than I thought) and watched them eat things with syrup, gravy, and/or loads of sausage. We managed to keep it pretty well in line the rest of the day, but then they ordered pizza for dinner. They kindly got me a Subway sandwich for my dinner. Again, I felt like I weathered this one pretty well too. But it was more difficult. Pizza is probably my greatest weakness and just the smell of what they were eating was about too much for me. But, I focused on my sandwich. Wolfed it down. Then left the table.

Day 3 - new breakfast restaurant. Classic greasy spoon with wonderful egg dishes and things .... mostly cooked with butter or grease. I stayed strong with two eggs, a small (4 oz) sirloin steak and dry wheat toast. But once again, I am seeing/smelling foods so sinful I won't mention them here for the benefit of my fellow addicts.

--Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.
-- Frederick William Faber

It is clear to me at this point, that the "victories" I was celebrating from all of these good choices were also slight chips in my resolve. Yes, I was making it through each meal with a healthy choice, but I was also taking a blow to my will power each and every time.

By the time I left that breakfast on the 3rd day, I was beginning to get cranky. If you had asked me at the time, I probably couldn't have expressed in words what was making me so cranky. I think I was slowly reaching my boiling point and at the time, I didn't know why.

We went into the park and did some sight seeing and then on the way back to the cabin, we stopped at a gas station ostensibly to get Ben some gum and Rich a fountain soda. Unfortunately, this gas station had an A&W in it. Ok, remember ... will power is low. I get back in the car and behind me are two boys sipping on root beer floats, my father is in the front with another one. Then my nose is assaulted by the chicken nuggets and fries that my nephew (sitting next to me) has obtained. Finally, my brother-in-law lands in the seat directly in front of me with a chili dog and fries.

I slammed my hand across my face so I could only smell the fabric of my gloves and asked them to get me home soon. And .... my dear friends ... I had a meltdown. I couldn't deal with it. I barely waited for the car to stop moving in the driveway and I bolted from the car into my room for a breath of air that was clear of the taint of greasy food. I had myself a good cry and spent a lot of time simply alone with my thoughts.

Fortunately, I didn't resort to food. In fact, they kept trying to talk me into going to Subway or someplace healthy. I had more power bars and granola at the cabin as well. But I knew that this battle couldn't be won by eating. I don't know if I am being clear, but somewhere inside, I knew that I shouldn't give into the idea that their eating should trigger my eating (whether I make a healthy decision or not).

-- On the other hand, I believe there's hope, because the breakdown and the repair are happening simultaneously.
-- Kathryn Bigelow

Knowing that I had a difficult time with what they had done, my family tried to make amends. In a way, it was very sweet. They ate their food outside and took the garbage to the garage trash cans so no odor would be in the cabin. They called home to my sister to get an idea of what they could make for dinner that was healthy. So we had a healthy meal of chicken, green beans, and salad. They had good intentions but in the end it backfired. I had such a light breakfast an no lunch to speak of (due to the meltdown) that I was chock full of possibilities for a dinner meal and had come to the idea that I could enjoy a slightly naughty meal at whatever restaurant we went to that night. Oh well, it is better for me health-wise to eat the meal they prepared for me. I guess it will be a desert of protein bars and granola to make up the difference.

At this point, I must apologize to all my food addict friends. I have mentioned a lot of things in this post that will do nothing to help your journey. And this is what my family really doesn't truly understand. The healthy meal was a sweet gesture, but the damage had already been done. As a food addict, the seeing of the food. The smelling of the food. These are the triggers that have affected my brain. Even as I type this at 12:16 at night, I am still craving the crap that I have been witnessing all weekend. The thought that there is leftover pizza in the fridge right now is causing me to want to break my legs so I don't go in there to get some. And my family thought that keeping the smell outside would make a difference. It doesn't. It is still swirling around my sinuses and in my brain.

I guess the best way to describe it is that I am now the proud owner of several cravings. Those cravings will haunt my waking hours until one of two things happen. First option, I could give into the craving. This is something that the modern Kevin won't do (I hope) because the giving into one craving can lead to two and then back to 550lbs. Second option, I have to fight this craving with all my might until such time that it fades away to nothing again. Who knows how long it will take and how hard it will be.

Let's be honest, I probably have to come to terms with the idea that this could go on for the rest of my life. It happens everyday. Driving down the street and you see a fast food sign or advertisement and that will trigger a craving. A sight, a sound, a smell, even a sensation (i.e. early summer evening = 4th of July food) can trigger them. If I am going to make it, I have to be able to fight it. In general, they come at me too infrequently to be a problem. It just got the better of me this weekend.

So, as I go off to sleep, I have to try and mentally rebuild my walls so I can survive the car ride home and whatever joyous assaults I will face on the way. Let me add here that I do not blame or begrudge my family their choices. God help me, I would eat the same way if I could. I don't hate them at all. I hate the food. I hate the craving. I hate my weaknesses.

In the final analysis, I made it through with my diet intact. I suppose that is a victory, but it sure doesn't feel like one at this point. Maybe things will look differently in a week or two. I hope I didn't tempt anyone two much with all the food talk, but it is a part of my journey and something I need to record and work on.

-- After all, tomorrow is another day.
-- Margaret Mitchell (Gone With The Wind)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

#14 - Good Vibrations

-- From small beginnings come great things.
-- Proverb

Let the fun begin. Marty has opened his new health club to the public and the people are starting to join up for this exciting journey. I am so excited to be a part of this project to help myself and to help other people. We are throwing pebbles into the community pond and I can't wait to see what effect our ripples will have!

-- Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself. And that's a lot. Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect.
-- Rob Reiner

As a part of this effort, we have had an opportunity to talk with some new people about their struggles with weight and their own limitations. It has brought my mind back to the way I used to be. To help them make their decision to join the gym, I have told them of where I began and where I am now. It gave me the opportunity to really reflect on these changes. If you have read this blog from beginning to end, you know many of these things, but it is just amazing how I've gone from someone who was depressed, immobile, and sprinting headlong over a cliff of poor health to a person who is happy, uplifted, active, and beginning to spread his wings and really soar. I get pretty emotional when I think about it. I can't wait to see what is around the next turn of this journey.

My friend Amanda has a blog herself. I won't "out" her on this posting. I hope she shares her story because she is a fabulous writer who has a lot to offer with her own struggles. Anyway, I posted something on her page and she told me I should put it here. It is a typical Kevin story (long-winded and full of analogy), but it may help others.

I posted on her site in reaction to her statement that she was having a rough time thinking of how long her journey was. It is a common problem for People of Size. We all want desperately to quickly have the skinny body we all think will solve every one of our problems. I think this is a big part of our journey is to come to terms with our own mental issues along the way because being thin will not actually solve these problems. Sooner or later, we have to come to term with our "demons" whether we are fat or thin.

Oops, went on a tangent. So I told Amanda the following story in hopes of helping lift her spirits about her journey.

Kevin said...

I totally get it. You will go nuts looking at how long the road ahead of you is. Take it from someone who is MILES away from their goal, we CAN do it.

A short anecdote if I may ...

As a young boy, my Dad and I did a lot of hiking and climbing of mountains in Colorado. I was active in the boy scouts and we were constantly challenging ourselves to bigger and better accomplishments.

One of the many accomplishments I had as a boy scout was that I climbed Mount Harvard in Colorado. It is a fourteener. This means it is over 14,000 ft above sea level. Not only that, it is the fourth tallest mountain in America (outside of Alaska ... they got really big hills up there). As I was climbing that mountain, I was EXHAUSTED. It is hard to breathe at that altitude and you really have to persevere just to make it. I learned quickly that if I looked towards the summit, I would become disheartened and want to stop. Not only that, but there is a phenomenon called "false peaks". You could think you have made it to your goal, go over the ridge and see a whole bunch of mountain still ahead of you. How disheartening! I learned that to make it, I had to do two things.

First, I focused on my feet and the path before me. One foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward. Breathe. If you just keep it going like a machine, you can churn through some miles in a hurry.

Second, pause to look around you. Take in the scenery. Above timberline has some of the most incredible views you will ever see in life! Soak it in. Be renewed by the beauty all around you.

So let's apply this to our journey!

Focus on your feet! Focus on those things you can control. Journal. Exercise. Be active. All those little steps will churn through the miles. Work that machine!

Enjoy the scenery! Soak it in! You ARE healthier. You ARE improving. Do not be discouraged that you aren't on top of that mountain! The view from this location is also spectacular. You are no longer way down there at the bottom where the trees block your view. You are here. It is beautiful (as are you). Be invigorated by the accomplishment you have already made. It will push you to the end of your journey.

Keep your chin up baby! I'm rooting for you!

It is good advice for all of us. Focus on the now. If we spend too much time looking towards the future or how far we have to go, it can discourage us from doing what we so desperately need to do.

Well, I'm exhausted from all this schmoozing with the Square One folks. It has been a long 2 months and I am so excited to see what dividends can be reaped from this work. We kept our eyes on our feet and now I am enjoying the view.

-- Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

-- St. Francis of Assisi