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