Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23rd, 2018 One Person Not Two

April 23rd, 2018 One Person Not Two

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.

Almost eight years ago on August 28th, 2010, I found myself struggling a little bit with the dramatic transformation of appearance. The following is an excerpt. And it comes with its own excerpt... It's an excerpt from an excerpt:

I've looked at the pictures over and over, and it's strange, but I really do kind of miss that guy. 














I "get it." That guy was affected in so many different ways. Ok, I need to stop talking about my previous physical appearance like it was someone who passed away. But, in many ways, it is just like that.

I was that big for so long and my personal appearance, the morbid obesity, helped shape my personality and social behaviors. What has remained the same are my thoughts, beliefs, fears, and personal values--the stuff I know inside when I'm all alone---just me. That guy is exactly the same. I love that guy too. It all reminds me of the reaction of my now ex-sister in law when she laid eyes on me for the first time in a long time.

Wait-- I need to interrupt this excerpt--because I noticed something noteworthy. That was written nearly eight years ago. I listed the things remaining after dramatic weight loss--- Important things, for sure--thoughts, beliefs, fears and personal values. Knowing what I know now--some critical things were missing from the list. The core elements of me go far deeper. I didn't mention my likes, dislikes, passions, talents and core qualities--all of the things that contribute to personal happiness. 

No wonder I hit goal a few months after that was written--and still wasn't truly happy. I couldn't even acknowledge them--forget about nurturing these core elements.

Okay--now, let's go to the excerpt within the excerpt---this goes back to 2009:

My sister-in-law is staying the night with us. Irene has several sisters, and this one hasn't seen me in a really long time. I really don't know how to take her reaction to the much smaller me. She was shocked, I mean in total disbelief. She told me I looked great and that she was happy that I was healthier for the effort and then she did something unexpected.

She started crying. It wasn't tears of happiness, these were grieving tears. 

She was grieving the loss of the old me. She said, “My entire life you've looked the same and now that person is gone.” 

I assured her that I was still me inside. I still have all of the memories, all of the feelings, all of the humor, I'm Sean Anderson, that will never change! She kept wiping away her tears and we hugged, to which she replied: “you don't even hug the same.” 

I guess I didn't realize how much she loved me. It really touched me deeply. I love her too. Judging from her reaction, you would have thought I had died. And I explained to her that I would have died in the next five or ten years more than likely, had I stayed at over 500 pounds.

She just kept going on about it. She'll never see the old Sean again, and that just devastated her completely. It wasn't the reaction I expected at all.

It's really a swim through a giant pool of emotions when I look at my before pictures. I can absolutely relate to the feelings my sister-in-law expressed. I look at those old pictures and I feel sorry for that guy. He's gone. He'll never be back. He'll never walk into the room. He'll never walk onto that stage. That guy died a long time ago.

WAIT JUST A SECOND....

I must correct my 2010 self. I didn't die.

That guy is me. That guy didn't die, he came alive. 



















I love that guy. (and the little guy pictured here!)

He's alive and living. Not dead and gone. The opposite of dead!

My perspective has been transformed. I don't look at before pictures the same as I once did. I also don't look at "now" pictures the same.

I look at "Before" and "Now" pictures with a perspective focused on the core elements of me. I see one person. Not two.

It feels great to be transformed and live life at a healthier weight, for sure. And I hold my recovery tight because I value the benefits of the healthier weight. But...

My happiness is no longer found in external sources. My happiness is found and was always available for discovery, in the core elements of me. 505-pound me back then, and healthy body-weight me, today--same person, same core elements and the same opportunity for happiness.

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22nd, 2018 If I Do

April 22nd, 2018 If I Do

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.

My grandson Oliver turned one year old last Wednesday. Today was the day we all gathered to celebrate his birthday! It was a very special day spent with both my daughters and all four grandkids. I picked up mom on the way to the party, too--and she had a great time as well.

It's special days like today that serve as reminders for so many blessings. I'm grateful!

I picked up the birthday cake at the bakery. It was on my way and saved Courtney a trip, so I was happy to do it. Walking into a bakery area surrounded by things that are in no way, shape, or form on my food plan might sound challenging. First, my abstinence from refined sugar comes with a deep understanding of the reasons why it's important for me to continue my refined sugar-free embrace. Instead of challenging, I'd call it affirming because part of my defense mechanism is to immediately think about the good that has come from the last four years without refined sugar. I don't live in fear of relapse, I live with enormous respect for the knowledge that relapse is always one choice away-- and plenty of those choices were all around me in that bakery area of the store. What's helped most for me, is a shift in perspective-- a reframing, so instead of looking at these as things I can't have, these are things I choose not to eat because I'm thoroughly convinced of what happens next if I do. If I hadn't lived through proof of what happens next, I'm not sure I'd be so convinced. For me, the effects of eating refined sugar aren't a theory, it's fact.

If my brain ever needs reconvincing, I have plenty of support connections to help me reconnect and realign my thinking.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21st, 2018 Super Short

April 21st, 2018 Super Short

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.

Tweets only tonight...Oh wait, I don't do that anymore!! Still... Taking a little break.

Keeping it super short tonight. It's been a good day.

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20th, 2018 Unless You're Training For The Olympics

April 20th, 2018 Unless You're Training For The Olympics

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.

Some notes from a good day- It was a very short night of rest before a longer than expected work day. I made sure to make a late afternoon nap important. My two grandsons, Noah and Oliver stopped by on their way to the carnival. Noah was super excited! Noah's enthusiasm for life is incredibly inspiring--everything is exciting to him! I attended and made the opening announcements for a concert hosted by our local arts and humanities board of directors, of which I'm a member. I dined out alone this evening--it was chicken tacos at my favorite Mexican place, grabbed a few things at Walmart and enjoyed a nice visit with mom. Actor James Marsden was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Mom was super excited because Mr. Marsden's hometown is ours--and Colbert made the segment all about Stillwater. It was very cool!

One of the questions I'm asked quite often: Should I add extra calories to my daily budget in consideration for exercise calories burned?

I don't recommend adding calories to your budget for exercise unless you're training for the Olympics or for a marathon or something else that requires intensive training.

The most important thing is maintaining the integrity of your calorie budget. If you violate your budget in exchange for exercise, then you run the risk of stunting the growth and evolution of your food plan. You also set yourself up for a constant tug of war between food and exercise. Adding calories in exchange for exercise calories burned is a recipe for making this process miserable. 

The only exception is if your exercise calories burned brings your net calories below 1,200-- in that case, it's a good idea to add at least enough to bring you to 1,200 net. If you're eating a generous 1,800 calorie budget and you burned 700 calories, your net calories check in at 1,100. Instead of adding back hundreds of extra calories, add 100 to bring your net to a minimum of 1,200.

By the way, this isn't my formula or creation--I learned this from several different nutrition and fitness experts. The opinion isn't just mine. MFP does calorie budget calculations that ultimately confuse many people. My best advice: Ignore the suggested "adjustments" and maintain your budget.

Micheal Phelps eats 10,000 calories a day when he's training. But he's in the pool 8-10 hours swimming.

Can you see how, if you're allowed to violate your budget by adding more exercise, then the way to keep eating compulsively is to simply exercise more and more? When we do that, we're trying to find an out- a way to justify eating more than we need... and again, the result is, the perspective gets wonky- and the food plan never develops- never evolves, because it doesn't have to. It's here where we run the risk of falling into an over-exercising routine--and the biggest: We end up stunting our growth in the non-food/non-exercise areas because if we're able to constantly and consistently violate our calorie budget, we haven't a reason to develop accountability and support measures that are designed to help us practice a plan that doesn't involve compulsively over-eating.

This process is about changing perspectives and patterns of the past.

If the old perspectives and patterns brought us here, then clearly we must be willing to shift them if we want different results.

Today's featured Tweet:




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

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





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