Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19th, 2018 Don't Be Afraid To Ask

April 19th, 2018 Don't Be Afraid To Ask

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

I attended the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters welcome dinner last night in Tulsa. I didn't know what would be served but I do know my boundaries. I made sure I had a backup plan in the car--some apple slices, a banana, almonds, and cheese.  I visited with several acquaintances, a few people I worked with a very long time ago, and other people I see at this event each year I've attended. About twenty minutes before dinner was to be served, I made my way over to the hotel ballroom buffet line to check out the offerings. I could tell right away--the entrees contained refined sugar. It's a non-negotiable of mine, I don't do it, period. I asked the person preparing the display and he checked and confirmed, yes--I was correct. I asked if it was possible to get something else--and it was without hesitation, "no problem at all."

The chef prepared a simple top sirloin for me. It was perfect. And not one single person around me noticed. Bill (owner of the company I work for) knew because he knows me and asked about it, but nobody else. I share this because it's an example of something important when dining out or at special events like this: Don't be afraid to ask for what you need! 

I can't count the number of times I've said, "Oh well, this is what I have to choose from, so I'll make the best of it--" even if it went against my food plan. If the food tonight would have fit the boundaries of my plan-- in this case, prepared without sugar, then I could have and would have made the meal work. It didn't so I made the special request and it wasn't a problem at all. If it wouldn't have been possible, I would have waited for plan B in the car.

I must always give my plan this level of importance. It's up to me to practice it each day. Tonight's event was good practice.

The almonds, cheese stick, and some apple slices became my "last food of day/drive home snack" food, finishing off today's maintenance calorie budget.

I'm upset with myself for not taking a day off tomorrow.

I'm up way too late for work in the morning. Hopefully I can take some time off early tomorrow-- certainly hoping it works out that way!

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April 18th, 2018 This Blog

April 18th, 2018 This Blog

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I met my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

Tonight, we're taking a time-traveling trip back to July 2010, right after the AOL feature came out:

Over the last week, I've received hundreds of messages from all over the world. Some simply say "congratulations," others tell me about their success story, and then there are some that hit me hard---right in the heart. Every message, every e-mail, every comment---they're very important to me, and I want you to know that. I've had to forgive myself for not being able to personally respond to every single one in a timely manner like I've done throughout this journey. I've never had to worry about this, and trust me--I'm not complaining, I'm just stressing out...filled with anxiety because I feel like I owe you for all the wonderful support you give me. Please don't ever stop sending them, just give me your patience---and I'll do my best. That's all I can do.

The main purpose of this blog was and still is, to keep me accountable and on track, to help me fully understand my addiction to food, and to help me dig deep--in a quest to unravel the secret of successful weight loss. The job of this blog was and still is, to help me understand the mental aspects and help me uncover the emotional and deeply personal issues that I've allowed to hold me back.

This blog has also taught me where I always went wrong in my repeated attempts to lose weight over the years. This blog is extremely important to me. Yes, I've invested a bunch of time in writing...anywhere from one to three hours a day, every day of this journey---but really...think about the transformation---and I'm not talking about the physical, I'm talking about the "inside" stuff. When I think about the positive effect these writings have had on me---there's no question, it's been worth every minute of my time.

As I write this Wednesday edition, it's actually late Thursday night. This is officially the latest I've ever posted, but I got busy...it happens, especially these days. I feel anxiety when I'm late with a post, I do. I think of the people that tell me they read every day and how much they look forward to reading---and I imagine what they're thinking...Sean's late! What's the deal? The reality is far different than my anxiety filled perception would have me believe---and then I calm myself by remembering...As much as I love it when someone tells me how this blog has helped them, it's still for me. I write for me---it's what I need, and I hope you write that way as well.

It's self-therapy, my friend. Even if you don't publish it on the world wide web---just write it out, get it out of you---and learn from what you find. This blog had less than 10 followers well past day 200---and I'm proud to say, the content and intent hasn't changed---and it will never change.
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Nearly ten years in and this blog is still serving its original purpose. It helps keep me well--even on a night like this when it's late and I republish from the archives.

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April 17th, 2018 Just Information

April 17th, 2018 Just Information

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I met my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

That first "today" part is something I take very seriously. I put it first because everything I do starts with the daily practice that keeps me well. 

Where you are is providing valuable information you can use in the development of your plan. If things are going well, what's working? If you're struggling, what are your biggest barriers? 

Answering these questions challenge us to give the elements of our plan the focus they need to thrive. And sometimes it's half & half (and I'm not talking about coffee- although that sounds good right about now).

Take me, for example: What's working well: My food plan and commitment to staying connected with support, my daily practice, and the willingness to maintain a hold on these rails I've created in my plan. 

Where I struggle: Getting enough rest and creating a doable exercise schedule/routine. No shame around here- just information. Now, I have a choice. I can either beat myself up for the elements challenging me, I can rationalize them into oblivion until I feel justified for my inaction, or I can create an action plan that isn't afraid to start as small and simple as it needs, with the goal being consistency, not intensity.

I'm choosing the latter.

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Monday, April 16, 2018

April 16th, 2018 Human Element

April 16th, 2018 Human Element

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I met my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

I can't tell you what to eat. I believe we must create that list based on our own preferences.

I eat what I like and nothing I don't. And the choices I'm making are made because it's where I am, now.

I previously lost 275 pounds eating much differently. It wasn't right or wrong then and my eating habits are not right or wrong now. They're simply reflective of where I am today. I like what I'm doing. It's working for me.

And that's key, in my opinion--finding what works for you. Discovering what you can do, what you like and how you like it, is imperative.

I don't like labeling anything "right or wrong/good or bad." Food is food. Eat what you like, just set a budget and consistently stay within the budget. Trust that your choices will evolve in time.

If you've ever been handed a pre-set food plan and told to follow it to the letter--and you didn't like everything on the list, but you choked it down anyway--that's a means to an end.

The experts creating the perfect food plans are not wrong, necessarily, they're just not taking into account the human element.

If whatever we're doing isn't something we can do forever--if it isn't sustainable, then it's temporary. We can white knuckle it and adhere to a food plan in the name of "I can do anything for a short time," and we'll see those results, but as soon as it's over--it's back to what we prefer, and that's why, in my opinion--we should just start with what we prefer in the first place, allowing our plan to evolve as we maneuver our budget and boundaries.

If you've been a regular reader of this blog for the last nine and a half years, you might remember days where a Snickers Bar, Ice cream, cake, fast food cheeseburgers and Taco Bell all made their way into my budget. I don't look back on that time and think, wow--I didn't eat very well. I look back and think, that's where I was and needed to be at that time. I'm not saying it's a good idea to rush out and stock up on these things. I'm just saying...

Having been 500 pounds for so long, I instinctively knew that I wasn't going to change a lifetime of habits overnight. And I felt like if I tried, it would end up another failed attempt. In my opinion, the "nothing is off limits" philosophy is still valid and important, because it allows us to be where we are, be ourselves--growing and developing in a natural organic way.

We learn about ourselves along the way. I've learned that I can't do refined sugar. It's by far the single most important recovery decision I've made along the way. It took a 164-pound relapse/regain to arrive at that conclusion. Some things, for me, are harder to learn. And that's ok.

But not everybody is a food addict like me, addicted to refined sugar with over three decades experience in stuffing emotions and stress with food. Abstaining from certain food substances may not be what's right for you.

The main reason why I've always been a proponent of simplicity when it comes to food is because along this road it's about so much more than food and exercise. The mental/emotional/psychological elements in play are all bigger and more challenging than "what should I eat?"

In my opinion, if the greater focus is placed on the food and exercise instead of the mental/emotional/psychological dynamics--then we end up facing the biggest elements unprepared. It becomes "diet mentality." A focus on a simplistic food plan based on our personal preferences and backed up with solid accountability and support has a really good chance of working well for the long haul.

There are no right or wrong foods. Eat what you like and allow yourself a natural evolution of good choices along the way. The practice of maintaining the integrity of a calorie budget can have a powerful impact on this evolution because we're trying to get the most value for our calories. The evolution only occurs with a sacred level of self-honesty and a willingness to reach out for support when we recognize a breach coming on, otherwise, there isn't a reason to navigate the calorie budget for the best calorie values if we're constantly violating the budget.

And please, never compare what you're eating to someone else's food. Remember, we're all different. I'm in maintenance mode with a generous calorie budget and a food plan evolved over the last nearly ten years. I don't eat refined sugar because for me, once I start, I can't stop. You may not share that addiction with me.

Sometimes, the biggest mental hurdles come when we compare what we're eating to our own expectations or what we perceive to be what we should be eating or what we've heard is best or the healthier choice. Take what fits you and leave the rest. Don't harshly judge your well-fitting food plan. 

My best advice is to let it go. Just be you and give yourself room to grow and develop. Ultimately, we're wanting to arrive at our healthiest weight--and if we arrive at a healthy weight range for our body--and along the way our health improves dramatically--and we do it in a way that fits us, individually--then we've successfully shifted the focus away from the old diet mentality--we've accepted and embraced the plan we've created specifically for us--and now, how does it all compare to the pre-planned diets of old?? The ones that were nutritionally sound but lacked a human consideration--the ones difficult to sustain--the ones challenging our ability to remain consistent??

Simple is sustainable, sustainable encourages consistency and consistency beats intensity, every single time.

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 15th, 2018 Abundance

April 15th, 2018 Abundance

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

Today was a day of rest, recovery, and putting in a little work on a personal project of mine. This evening was mom and Raegan time! My first little granddaughter turned one month old today. Mom and I stopped by for a visit with her after our Sunday evening dinner out.



























































































It's during special evenings like this when I often remember what my mentor and friend, Gerri Helms has said on many occasions, "I traded an abundance on my plate for abundance in my life." Because back in my 500 pound days my number one pursuit was the food. Now, I do my best to practice a plan each day that places food in its proper place and perspective, and if I continue to make that practice important each day, I'll continue noticing and fully experiencing the blessings all around. I'm grateful.

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Saturday, April 14, 2018

April 14th, 2018 Real Heroes

April 14th, 2018 Real Heroes

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

It was a long day. A good day, but long and busy. I had two back to back location broadcasts and I emceed a fundraiser for our area autism support center tonight.

The event tonight was the third annual Heroes For Autism Silent and LIVE Auction and I've had the privilege of being the emcee each year. It's a very very small contribution from me to show up and do what I do. The real heroes are the volunteers who dedicate countless hours, the staff that makes this more than their job, it's clearly their passion, and the families affected by autism and also those who showed up and wrote large checks tonight in support of this center; a place that provides life-changing services every single day.

Annual events, for me, also serve as reminders of where I am along this road. I thought I'd share photos from each of the last three years. I've been roughly the same size, give or take a few pounds, each of the last three years. Maintenance continues to go well. It's a daily practice, for sure, and one I take very seriously. I feel very blessed and immensely grateful.
2016

























2017

























2018




















I decided to plan dinner after getting a chance to evaluate the buffet spread at the venue. It was an impressive buffet--all of the highest quality, unfortunately for me, every entree included refined sugar. I almost went with the chicken but inquired with Donavan first (Donavan knows me very well--and knew exactly what I was asking and why I was asking), he's the lead host/server for a bunch of events I've attended. He's amazing. He checked with the chef, and sure enough, the rub on the chicken contained sugar. Not a worry! My backup dinner plan was super simple: I'd wait until a late dinner. As soon as the event ended, dinner was offered and I accepted! I ordered the salmon, grilled and seasoned simply with salt & pepper--and no lemon caper sauce, baked potato with sour cream only, and grilled asparagus. It was an amazing dinner. After a long day, it was perfect because it meant no late night cooking!
I love salmon. This was perfect!















I'm looking forward to sleeping in well tomorrow morning.

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Friday, April 13, 2018

April 13th, 2018 That's Great Too

April 13th, 2018 That's Great Too

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I met my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

I haven't gone anywhere today. I slept well, that's for sure!

Tomorrow will be a very different story. I have two back to back location broadcasts scheduled before serving as emcee tomorrow evening at a big fundraiser event for Positive Impact of Oklahoma's autism support center. It will be a full day! I have a good plan in place to help me through. I may or may not eat at tomorrow night's event--depends on the selection. I'm certainly no stranger to late after-event dinners. I'm not real worried about it. The bottom line is I will not sacrifice the boundaries of my food plan. If I can make it work, great, if I need to wait, that's great too.

I'm headed back to bed.

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April 12th, 2018 Consistency

April 12th, 2018 Consistency

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

Taking a couple days off, resting and relaxing after a minor medical procedure today. Instead of writing a long post, I'm republishing a post from the archives.

Original publish date: September 23rd, 2014

The topic of consistency has come up a few times of late. Consistency is key, for sure. This road isn't about perfection. Striving for perfection is the quickest detour to disappointment. Consistency is the goal along this road. If we can be consistent, we can accomplish amazing things. But how do we remain consistent?

In my opinion, it starts with narrowing our focus. Not once have I sat down with a calendar to try to figure out when I'll arrive at some predetermined number. I haven't even stated a particular goal weight, opting instead for a "healthy weight." Who knows what that will be? It doesn't matter how long it takes or when I'll get there because my focus is on today. My goal is to make it through this day with the integrity of my food plan intact and if it's an exercise day, that too. Today is the day. I'm not obsessing about how much time it will take. It will take however long it takes. If I focus on how long it will take to "arrive," I'm suggesting that my efforts will end at some point. And making my food and fitness a big priority in my life is something I do not plan on ending, ever. 

Keeping it simple is important in keeping us consistent. It's super easy to make this really difficult. You can quickly overwhelm yourself with a multitude of numbers, rules, self-imposed requirements and rock solid expectations. Keep it as simple as you need, to fit where you are. If you're planning on waking up tomorrow as a completely different person with completely different habits and behaviors--it could become very difficult, really fast.

I recommend setting a calorie budget or points budget, whatever you prefer, and making the limit you set, sacred. Sacrificing the integrity of this budget shouldn't be something taken lightly. Treat it with the highest importance level. Then, find an exercise of some sort that works for you and your body and do it. Worry less about content and more about maintaining the integrity of your budget and exercise schedule. As you progress and you become more comfortable, you can get fancy all you want!! Allow your food to become a natural evolution of good choices. My choices today look very different than when I first started losing weight six years ago. I wouldn't categorize myself as a "clean eater," but I'm at least 80% clean and that's a big difference for me.  Had I tried eating like this on Day 1, September 15th, 2008, it likely wouldn't have gone very well.

And that brings me to the "joy factor." I believe we must enjoy what we're doing in order to maintain consistency. If we don't enjoy--and I mean truly enjoy what we're eating, how do we expect to keep doing it? I eat what I like and nothing I don't. This doesn't mean I'm not willing to try new things. It simply means if I don't like it, it will not be on my regular "foods I enjoy" list. Somewhere over the years, someone decided that losing weight had to be about eating things you choked down as a means to an end. And as soon as the weight loss goal was reached, you could go back to eating what you like. I say nonsense!! Why not eat what you like and enjoy from day 1? Then, if they're not the best for you, gradually and naturally improve upon your choices. But never sacrifice by eating things you can't stand!!

My first food question isn't "Will this help me lose weight?" My first question about any particular food is: "Do I enjoy eating this?" If the answer is yes, then the second question is, "Will this food help me lose weight as a regular part of my day to day selections?" If the answer to that question is "No," then like it or not, it goes. An automatic "no" for me is sugar. I enjoy eating deep fried egg rolls, fried anything, really, and plenty of other things that if consumed regularly, would have a negative effect on my efforts. The key is finding foods that give you a "yes" to both questions.

The same "joy factor" applies to exercise. Find what you enjoy! If all you can do is walk slowly for short distances, do that. But make it enjoyable. Listen to music, an audio book, or carry on a conversation with someone--whatever you got to do to make it fun and enjoyable. When you're ready to make it something more intense--again, make sure it's something you truly enjoy doing.

Narrow the focus to one day at a time, set your limits and maintain the integrity of your limits, enjoy what you're eating and love what you're choosing to do for exercise. And a big one: Develop a support system that focuses on accountability. Don't remain all hush about your efforts--share it, tell your friends and family--make some declarations and ask for support from those you're confident will give it. Keep a MyFitnessPal food diary or something similar and make it accessible by the friends you accept.

And another big one: Write, write, write--how you're feeling, what you're doing, describe your challenges, write about what you plan on doing to overcome these challenges, and write about how determined you are to succeed once and for all. Get it out on paper, in your personal diary--or on a blog, on your facebook--somewhere, anywhere--just write for you and your own personal clarity. There is no right or wrong. It doesn't matter if you fancy yourself a good writer or not--that isn't the point. If the only person who understands what you're writing is you, mission accomplished.

Consistency brings results. If the results aren't to your liking, change the elements of your consistent efforts until you find the balance you desire.

It's important to find what works for you. We're all different. What works for me may not work for you.
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Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April 11th, 2018 Bare Minimum

April 11th, 2018 Bare Minimum

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

I'm taking a couple of days off tomorrow and Friday. Today was a long one, but I made it through well. I'll get to rest in the morning!

Keeping tonight's edition bare minimum.

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

April 10th, 2018 Each Brand New Day

April 10th, 2018 Each Brand New Day

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with good support.

It was a good day today--a busy one, but structured and nice. I enjoyed some wonderful support calls tonight and rather than cooking late after my calls, Cindy kindly treated me to dinner.

Doing a DDWL flashback tonight from over two years ago-- written in February 2016:

I try my best to learn from everything I can along this road. I found some interesting parallels between what happened yesterday and maintaining my recovery each day. It was about the dangers of over-confidence.

Confidence is a great thing. Over-confidence can derail quickly because it encourages a loosened grip on even the most basic elements needed for continued success.

My relapse/regain period really taught me some valuable lessons. That's why, in relation to my continued recovery and weight loss maintenance, you'll never again hear me say "I got this" or any variation of the phrase.

I've learned the hard way, as soon as an over-confidence is embraced, it immediately starts chipping away at important foundation elements. My continued recovery and maintenance are never guaranteed. I don't have it down. What I do have is a daily practice of elements, disciplines--that I make important each brand new day. If I become loose with these, it's the beginning of the end. 

And they're specifically designed to suit me well. I enjoy these elements. I enjoy the structure they provide. And I enjoy the continued recovery and maintenance they encourage.

You'll find many examples of this anti over-confidence philosophy in the world of sports. Some of the best athletes are often the ones who always show up early for practice and stay late. Why would Kobe do so much practice on his own time? Why would Pete Rose, back in his day, take extra batting practice after team practice? 

In my high school days, I remember Todd Wright, one of the best high school kickers in the state of Oklahoma, out there--after practice, every day--kicking field goals over and over and over. 40 and even 50 yard-plus attempts happened throughout his senior season and he almost always got the points. Todd went on to kick on scholarship for Arkansas.

I'm not comparing myself to these athletes, don't get me wrong--I'm just drawing a parallel. If any of the above-mentioned athletes had started embracing an "I got this" style of over-confidence, their game would have suffered. Their success was due in large part, to the daily practices they continued to embrace.

Some of the most successful comedians make it look so easy, right? But what you don't see are all the guest sets and special "workout" shows they're doing in preparation. Chris Rock just hosted the Oscars. You may have laughed, cringed or a little of both, but what you may not know is, he was at The Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard opening for Louis CK the night before. He was working on his material for the Oscars telecast. And he was there the night before that. And the night before that. 

I'm not good at losing weight and maintaining weight loss because I'm some kind of exception. I'm NOT. I'm as human, flawed and fallible as can be, most days. 

I'm currently experiencing exceptional recovery and maintenance because I've been good at embracing, practicing, and maintaining the fundamental elements of my recovery, each brand new day. 
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Hitting the pillow a touch later than I wanted to tonight, but still, it's an improvement. Progress not perfection, right? Thank goodness!

Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean





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