Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 814-826 Can't Ignore This Issue, One More Pound, The Tattoo Story, and More!

Day 814-826

Can't Ignore This Issue, One More Pound, The Tattoo Story, and More!

This is way too long to go between blog updates. Oh my...wow. A record of sorts, that I'm certainly not happy about. I sincerely appreciate the support and understanding many of my friends have expressed during this incredibly busy time. Not only has it been busy, but I've been dealing with a medical issue that I've kept very quiet about.

The effects of sleep apnea have had a profound effect on me lately. My needs have obviously changed in regard to the settings of my old "sleep machine," and now--a restful nights sleep is hit and miss at best. I can't waste any more time and do any more damage to my internal organs before receiving proper treatment. I really thought that my sleep apnea was 100% caused by my obesity. And it's strange, because after losing the first 100 or so pounds, I was completely free to sleep---machine free, and feel completely rested every morning. But something changed. As I celebrated my freedom from this disorder and continued losing more weight, the symptoms came back. It was sometime after crossing the 200 pounds lost point, that I noticed the return of the old and familiar effects from this exhausting killer.

I'm happy to report: I'm scheduled for a sleep study on the night of December 30th. I cannot continue wishing it away or convincing myself that I can lay in a certain "symptom-free" position. The doctor said something I've been worrying about almost constantly since---He said that the return of my symptoms could have something to do with damage to my heart caused by my years of morbid obesity and the lack of oxygen as a result of sleep apnea. He almost ordered a stress test--but after listening to my heart, considering my exercise ability, and whatever else he took into consideration---He, we---decided to wait on that test. Instead--we're doing a sleep study. If you suffer from sleep apnea--trust me, it's nothing to mess around with...and in the spirit of 100% self-honesty--I've messed around with it a bunch lately. It's about time I do something positive to correctly treat the problem.

This is the worst possible time for me to feel like an exhausted wreck everyday. With my radio schedule and the manuscript weighing heavy on my plate--I must be alert and productive. I haven't been lately, at all. And my slow progress is proof.

I made my way to Stillwater to weigh-in the other day. I didn't make a big deal about it--It was just a check up for me. I've lost another pound, despite my beautiful grandmother's request that I "not lose another pound!" Sorry grandma---229 is what I weigh today.

I still have some weight/excess fat to lose and I'll naturally and gradually make my way to whatever that number will be. I also have some weight to gain---as in, with muscle--in the new weight training area of the YMCA. So really--the number isn't going to matter as much as how I feel and how my clothes fit my smaller body. If I'm fortunate enough to have excess skin removal surgery next year, that too will effect the number. But again---I can't get focused on a number, ever. It's not about that now.

I've allowed myself "extra" calories over the course of the last month---gradually increasing to about 1800 per day. Some days I do, some I don't. It just depends. I still find myself spending way too many calories on loose snacks in the kitchen at the studio. The other day, I consumed about 350 calories worth of pretzels and nuts. That's a little much. The solution?: Preparedness. I simply need to make a point of stocking the kitchen with the kind of snacks I enjoy so I'll feel good about the calorie investment I'm making.

You want to hear a very cool story?

In March, Amber and I traveled to this tattoo shop in Southern Kansas to get our very first tattoos. My "505" tattoo is obviously very important to me--and it has been a wonderful experience to have and show people---especially people that never knew me at 505. It's certainly a conversation piece. Well--now the story gets even better.

The incredibly talented tattoo artist that evening was assigned probably one of the easiest tattoos he's ever completed. "505," nothing fancy--simple block numbers, that's all I wanted--and honestly, all I needed. He was a heavy man himself--I really liked him, and he was of course, interested in the story behind the number. So I told him all about my weight loss and this blog. We had a wonderful conversation about weight loss and our experiences with losing and gaining weight over the years. I'm sure that if we had talked longer, we would have found much more in common...a bunch more, no doubt.

He completed the tattoo and we were on our way. I ran into him not long ago at a remote broadcast and he told me that he was losing weight by eating wonderfully and exercising regularly. I think he had lost about seventy-something pounds at that point. Well--now--it's time for an update:

A recent message from my tattoo artist friend: "Great news to report!!! In the last 6 months, thanks to diet and exercise, I've lost over 140lbs!!!! Feels amazing!!!!! Thanks for the inspiration my friend!!!"

He's out there being consistent in every way---he's redefining his relationship with food and he's exercising everyday. He's taking back control of his life and leaving obesity behind. Talk about choosing change!! I had to ask him the question. Will he get a special tattoo someday, inspired by his amazing weight loss? His answer:

"Yes, a tattoo is definitely in order once I hit my target weight!!! I started at 460lbs, my goal is to get down to 200lbs. Just too feel this great again totally outweighs any desire to eat "bad food"!!! I feel so alive!!!"

I love that story. Thank you, my friend for allowing me to share.

I was back in the archives tonight--reading from December 2008, when I ran across this excerpt:

I was fasting overnight in preparation for my blood work today. By the time I arrived at the doctors office it was nearly noon. Lucky for me they got what they needed on the first stick. The other day they stuck me several times to no avail. While they were at it they decided to give me an EKG. My heart rate was 59. They said between 60 and 80 is perfect. They also said it wasn't a big deal that mine was 59, in fact the EKG looked great. The blood work was going to take a couple of hours to get back from their lab. That gave me a little time to think.

“What if my numbers are bad?” I thought. I don't know how they could be, since they were pretty good to begin with. I seem to never pass up an opportunity to worry about something, even if there's no immediate reason for concern. When I made the call for the results I was very happy at what I heard. My cholesterol was in the 180's before I started losing weight, and that was good. Now my cholesterol has dropped nearly 40 points to a super nice level of 147. It's nothing more than a genetics blessing. Like I've said before, except for the last 103 days, I've done everything in my power to give me horrible cholesterol. I'm just real fortunate to have a 147. My triglycerides were 102, anything below 150 is good. My blood sugar was 99, well below the 119 limit of normal. My LDL was 96, under 130 is great. And my Vldl was 20, which is in range. I guess “in range” is good. They said everything was in range, just perfect. How crazy is that?

I told you, I've been hiding an athlete under all this fat! I had to lay down and pull my shirt up for the EKG. It gave me a perfect opportunity to ask a question I'd been real concerned about.

A month or so ago I was laying down on my bed feeling my ribs. I'd never done that before. I came across a hard bump at the base of my rib cage where the two sides meet. It was very hard, a bone no doubt, but it was sticking up a little. I immediately wondered if this was normal. So there with my shirt up laying on the table at the doctors office, I had my chance to find out. “Is this normal?” “Uh, yes, that's your sternum.” OK, wow, silly me, of course. I was hiding a sternum in there all this time, I just never could feel it, or bothered to notice. I wonder what else I'll notice as the weight continues to melt? I might end up having a tail bone, that would be cool.

By the way, the doctor I mentioned on day 2 of this blog, you know the one that brought me to tears while describing how easily I could die at over 500 pounds? She was there today. When I saw her I proclaimed, “there's the doctor that scared the heck out of me not too long ago.” She smiled and said “It worked didn't it?” Yes, it did, and it's continuing to work everyday. She was just brutally honest, and I'm thankful for that honesty and thorough description of what my insides were going through at over 500 pounds. I'll never forget her. She really made a difference in me.


Since that day---I've discovered a tail bone, a bunch of ribs, and hip bones too! I'm thrilled!!!

AOL's www.thatsfit.com has included me in an "update" story. I'm in wonderful company too. If you check out the link below--be sure to read all of them if you can---including the entries featuring my friends Jack, Lyn, and Susan!! Here's the link: http://www.thatsfit.com/2010/12/14/best-weight-loss-success-stories-of-2010/

The Ponca City News just released a wonderful write up all about me hitting my goal. The story was such an awesome blessing. A big thank you to Beverly Bryant and the PCN!! If you live outside of my local area--you can still read the article by clicking the special link below. The story is on two different pages of the below Ponca City news PDF link. The front page of section C---and then scroll down to page 3C for the rest of the story---including an extensive question and answer interview segment. Here's the link: http://www.poncacity.com/news/docs/mw/mw.pdf By the way--This PDF link will only be available for a week---so if it's after the 29th, it's probably not active.

I recently received a message from a gentleman who just started his own weight loss blog. It turns out, we have much in common. Please check out his blog if you have the time! The address: www.505point8.com That's right---he started at 505 too!!!

I sincerely wish you a warm and safe Christmas with plenty of everything you need. Peace, love, family, and friends. Thank you for reading. I've promised myself that I will not go so long again without posting something...after all--Not every post needs to be a giant post. Look for an after-Christmas post coming soon. I have four days off in a row---and I'm looking forward to every single minute. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,
Sean

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Recent picture with my youngest daughter Courtney. She's doing so well!!! Love you sweety!!!

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This is a big before picture--Over 500 pounds---at Christmas 2007!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 805-813 Size 54 Jeans Seemed So Small, A New Relationship With Food, and "Wow" Reactions!

Day 805-813

Size 54 Jeans Seemed So Small, A New Relationship With Food, and "Wow" Reactions!

A friend of mine sent me a big box of jeans recently. Really nice jeans too! Even a pair of size 32 Lucky Jeans. I'm wondering if he meant to send those. It might take some time, workouts, and maybe excess skin removal surgery to wear them--but I think they just became my "one of these days" jeans. It was a generous gift, indeed. And perhaps I can pass along the favor to someone else someday. I will, absolutely!

Speaking of new jeans. In the archives on Day 85, December 8th, 2008---I found this excerpt, all about getting into smaller jeans. "Smaller," being size 54's:

"Today has been a really long day. It started at 5am and it's not over yet! Kelli and I went to Oklahoma City, Kelli for a birth certificate, I was driving Kelli, and since I was down that way picked up a pair of Levis at the Big and Tall store. The other day I predicted that I would fit into a mens 54. After picking out a few 54's and a couple 56's, I went in to the dressing room to get some proof positive results! I tried on the Levis 560 54 inch waist first. And from the moment they buttoned and zipped without trouble, I knew they were the ones. Eighty-Five days ago I was a size 60 or 62, then I nailed the guess the other day! And these will only cover my hide for a very short time, I know, but it felt so good to get into them comfortably. I immediately ripped off all the tags, put on my shoes, and made my way to the checkout with the jeans I wore in the store bundled in my hand. I was buying these jeans. And I wasn't even going to take them off for the ride home. They were mine. They felt good, they were Levis! It's been a while since I could fit into Levis comfortably. On the way out of the store I gave a little wink to the 36's on the top shelf, as if to say... “I'll be back for you someday soon!” And I will! I wonder what that will feel like? I can't wait to find out! Before that triumphant jean buying trip, I'll buy bigger sizes along the way, sure. Size 42 will be a milestone size. That's the size I was wearing in 9th grade. I'm really not that far away!! It felt so good to wear those jeans out of the store, I didn't even notice how tired I was."

Now, after losing 275 pounds, and having a pair of size 36 Levis that fit nicely--It's very cool to read that excerpt and realize: I buy jeans from the top shelf now, you know...where they keep the smaller sizes! I love it!

I've had several emails asking me about my plan for maintenance. Like everything else along this road, I'm gradually getting there. I'm not quite ready for maintenance just yet. BUT---I am slowly increasing my calories. My budget is flexible now, anywhere between 1500 and 1800 is fine with me. I must say though, there are days when I still have trouble hitting 1500. Let me explain, because for some, that must sound really annoying to read. I have become very practiced at getting the most bang for my calorie "buck," and that natural tendency to trim calories where I can is kind of hard to shake. Instead of an egg white omelet, it's OK to throw in a whole egg, maybe two sometimes. I can add a little cheese to that baked potato. I can "afford" to spend a little more occasionally, on things I would normally trim or delete. The bottom line is this: I'm just eating like a normal person, not like a food addict. I no longer depend on food to make me happy. I make me happy, not ice cream or gravy. Food is good. I love food, always will. But food and I have a new and wonderful relationship that isn't dysfunctional. And it's something I never really thought possible, but now I know it is, because I'm living it everyday.

An example of this new understanding between food and me was very clear just last weekend at a wonderful place called: (Cue scary music) The Cheesecake Factory!!! I did my research going in, and really--I didn't like what I discovered. Their menu is loaded at almost every turn. Even things that look and sound innocent enough, must be prepared with butter, grease, and heavy cream, because the calorie counts are anything but innocent. I was really shocked. I was surprised too, about the cheesecake. A big regular slice was just over 700 calories, slightly under 360 for half--and that's what I did, half. It was a bit more calories than I normally "invest" in dessert, but that's just something that happens sometimes. I need to make that a t-shirt: Cheesecake--It happens, sometimes...was it good?

Yes --It was by far the best cheesecake I've ever consumed!! Before the cheesecake, we enjoyed a meal. The strategy was simple: Karen and I would share a meal. We picked something good, that didn't seem too loaded. We would be guesstimating at best, because the pecan crusted catfish was a "special of the day," and not a part of the calorie counts I found online. And oh, by the way--the calorie counts I found online were from a person in the Northwestern United States, a place where calorie counts are required by law, who took digital pictures of the entire menu--with calorie counts. The eleven ounce catfish fillet was "crusted," but seared, then baked. I had half--along with half a serving of the potatoes (which qualified as a regular serving) and half the corn succotash. I'm confident my plate was under 600 calories...add the calories of the cheesecake, and this was easily a thousand calorie expenditure. But it wasn't three or four thousand calories--and I think Old Sean could have made it that way. I had managed my calories a little short earlier in the day, just for this trip. That's not always the best thing to do metabolism wise, but it's something normal people do. "I knew we were going out later, so I had a light lunch." See--completely normal rationale.

I experienced a couple of "wow" reactions recently, that really left me feeling wonderful. I just love running into people I haven't been around in over two years. The only thing recognizable about me, is my voice. That's it! And often times, that's what is said: "If I hadn't heard you speak, I wouldn't have known it was you!" I really enjoyed this one: "Sean, is that you??? How much weight have you lost, dear Lord---look at you!" Yeah--that was very cool. I NEVER, never, never get tired of those...ever.

I'm continuing to work on the manuscript for my first book, "Finding Transformation Road," a weight loss memoir that chronicles the road to and from over five hundred pounds. I sometimes wish I could share some of it with you here, but I can't. I'm so excited, because it's really been a positive experience. I can't wait for you to read this---If you have enjoyed reading this blog from Day 1, then you'll appreciate this upcoming book.

I've allowed my work schedule combined with my sometimes poor sleeping schedule, to effect my writing schedule this week, but I'm always mindful of what pays the bills at this point in my life, and that's my broadcasting career. I still struggle with getting enough quality sleep, and that's not good at all. I must also remember--sleep deprivation can have horrible effects on ones health and well being---including metabolism!!

I try to post regularly on my facebook page. I enjoy the dialogue that sometimes develops along a comment thread. You can learn some very good information! And often times--people who have opened their own "Calorie Bank and Trust," post updates on my wall---and it just absolutely thrills me!!! If we're not facebook friends--then please, by all means---search for me on facebook and friend me!!! I'm listed under my email: seanboy105@hotmail.com

To the kind and caring friend that reminded me that "there's no room for vanity in heaven." I say this: I've spent my entire life hating the way I looked, feeling like the ugliest person in every room, feeling like a freak because of my morbid obesity. Even now, I'm still highly insecure about how I look in so many ways. So, I appreciate the loving guidance and intent--but I will not apologize for kind of liking the new me. Call it vanity if you wish, whatever. I've been very blessed along this road, and I give thanks everyday---in between taking new pictures, of course. I'm kidding. Seriously---I never forget from where I've come. That's exactly why I have my "505" tattoo. It reminds me everyday...and that's good.

Thank you for reading, my friend...seriously, thank you! Goodnight and...

Good Choices,
Sean

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I love my tattoo!

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At over 500 pounds!

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Photo courtesy of Cathy Cole!

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My "Speedracer" jacket...

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I found these amazing ice cream bars from Breyers--for only 130 calories each!!! Love 'em!!!

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The pecan crusted catfish dinner from The Cheesecake Factory--as served.

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My half was plenty of food--very nice!

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Homemade beef tacos and homemade guacamole---almost qualifies as a salad...almost.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 798-804 After Thanksgiving Post, Day 78 Revisited, and A New Jacket

Day 798-804

After Thanksgiving Post, Day 78 Revisited, and A New Jacket

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner and enjoying the family and friends of the holiday was so special to me, especially since hitting goal. It's a nice feeling to be in control, to enjoy food instead of abuse food, to be normal and healthy...to be happy and content. To be me.

There wasn't any desire to stuff myself sick, in fact, my plan of allowing 2500 calories turned out to be a good one, but kind of a challenge. I know that must sound crazy, especially on Thanksgiving, but I'm so prolific at getting the most bang for my calorie buck--sometimes, I should relax a little and eat a little more maybe, but why? If I'm eating decent amounts and I'm satisfied, then I see little reason to push it to 2500, just because it's Thanksgiving. I wasn't deprived in the least! Having this kind of relationship with food is nothing short of a dream come true for me. I owe it all to my "nothing is off limits" philosophy and my "Calorie Bank and Trust." Had I restricted certain foods or only consumed certain foods in my efforts--then I wouldn't have recovered from my food addict ways, because I would have been avoiding the issue--focusing on a means to lose weight, and not the behaviors with all food that always kept me morbidly obese. I will always consider myself a food addict, but I'm aware and mindful of from where I came--and now, food and me...well, we're friends. Life and food, is good...absolutely!

I haven't really touched my calorie budget just yet. I'll get there. I'll cruise under 230 a little and really start to decide where I want to take this body of mine. The new YMCA facility opens Monday and I'm thrilled about getting in there and using everything! Oh my---it's beautiful! I received a nice tour from the senior program director, and I must say, I'm impressed beyond description. The "cycling studio" has an amazing sound system and stadium style levels for optimal viewing. The pools are incredible too---and the fitness area with treadmills and everything else you could ever want---it's unbelievable! I'll be broadcasting from the new facility Saturday morning from 8 to 10am--can't wait!!

I never get tired of getting wonderful messages from people who are having incredible success of their own. Jamie Fisher gives me regular updates on my facebook wall--and I look forward to each one. Here's the latest:

"Sean, was reading a couple of your blogs from the beginning. Its funny, It hit home with me in so many ways. I eat at least 1 meal a week from Wendy's, Grilled chicken sand(no honey mustard) and large chili, very satisfying for 610 calories. I don't want to jinx it, but I am pretty confident when I weigh in on Friday(e...nd of week 19 133 days) that I will eclipse the -100 lb mark, wow what a mile stone in sight. PS wearing even smaller chefs coats yet again, and i officially don't own any clothes that fit me."

I LOVE that! Jamie--can you believe it??? I'm so happy for you!!!

Leah writes:

"Well Sean....today I finally caught up to the present of your blog. I've been reading it since July after reading your story on AOL about losing weight without eating one salad. As I mentioned recently I've lost 31 lbs while getting my daily inspiration from you. Now that I've finished your blog and understand your not writing daily I will go back to the beginning and read one a day as well as your new posts as you post them as I want to continue to be inspired by you daily. I know you get told this often by probably thousands of people now but I just have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the life change you have helped me through. I only wish I had come to this understanding 25 years ago! I'll definitely be looking for your book. Thank you again!"

Pat writes:

"Hi Sean, have a great day. I have to brag a little. My husband and I went to Missouri for the Thanksgiving holidays for five days and he lost 2 pounds and I lost 1. We ate what we wanted but kept our calorie count in check. You have helped us so much with your attitude of this is not a diet, we can eat anything we want, we have to stay in our calorie range. You do not feel like you are missing out on anything. My husband has lost 15 pounds and I have lost 20 so far."

Jamie, Leah, Pat--I can't thank you enough. When I receive messages like these, it just fills me up with joy, it's a constant blessing everyday. It truly makes me overwhelmed with happiness!!

Today, I traveled back in time to December 1st, 2008--Exactly two years ago, and found a very tough installment of this blog:

From Day 78 December 1st, 2008--

Not Perfect and That's OK

This has been a crazy day. Some days are so easy and then for no apparent reason I have a day like today. I've battled my will all day long. Then we took a nap at 3:30 with plans to get into the YMCA by 4:30 so I could get assistance with the machines and we ended up over-sleeping. After dinner I started getting sick to my stomach and a headache. So there ya go, a really challenging day, out of the blue without any obvious reason. I've had every last single calorie I can have today already and it's been a real struggle to not go over. I'm really going to have a long talk with myself before I go to sleep tonight. This is day 78, we've come too far to start having self-destructive urges. I wish I understood why? Usually there's some kind of stress trigger or emotion that I can pinpoint, but not today. I've been through these trying days before (see Day 60) and I've survived by focusing on getting to the next day intact. I just need to survive a couple more hours and I'll be in bed ready to put this day behind me. I am pretty upset about not working out, and now that I'm feeling sick and Courtney's not feeling well, we'll probably miss our workout tonight. That's not the worst thing in the world. We've missed some in the past, but it's certainly not an everyday thing. Considering the circumstances, I'm not going to feel too bad about not getting out there tonight. As long as I can get to bed without going over my calories, I'll count this day as a victory. I've learned that no matter how determined and strong willed I am on this mission, I mustn't try to be so darn perfect all the time. I'm way far from being perfect. I'm doing the best I can do and on 97% of the days that means I stay within my 1500 calories and I exercise. It's days like these, the days that test me, these are the days I'll remember most when I reach my goal. The near misses, near breakdowns, the unexplained absence of will power in critical situations, and overcoming them all, these are the victories that mean the most. I can and will do this all the way.

Sometimes the person that needs to read my past blog post the most is me. Before I ever experienced a tough day I wrote about how easy this was. In the right mindset it can really be a breeze, but like I've said before, this is a learning process. I've never claimed to know everything, all I have is my vast experience in being severely overweight my entire adult life and trying many times to lose weight. This is like weight loss school and every now and then there's a pop quiz that totally boggles me. I've studied my past behavior patterns, I've re-played failed attempts in my head, I've studied every label and calorie count I come across, and I'm still learning something new all the time. All I have to do is keep doing what I've been doing, stay strong and focused, and every thing will be alright, alright!

I'll tell you one thing, it's days like today when this blog really keeps me from a self-destructive binge. The accountability that this blog demands is very important to my mission. I've said it before, it's like therapy for me. I can't imagine not writing every night. A lot of times these blogs flow easy, some times it's harder, as I search for words to describe what I'm feeling and experiencing. The support that I receive everyday from my wife and kids, readers like you, and people that I run into that notice the difference in my appearance is incredible. That support is the most important resource I have along the way. The blog is like a back up re-enforcement. I sincerely appreciate you reading everyday. Thank you very much. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I will learn how to do the machines properly at the Y, tomorrow I will erase any doubts that this day presented, tomorrow is day 79, and I'm ready.

Friday morning found me and my friend Karen at JC Penney for their big doorbuster sale. I needed a coat, a jacket--a leather jacket was the plan. And I found a great jacket at a wonderful price. To just stroll into a store and grab a jacket off the rack and have it fit---and to realize it wasn't the biggest they had in stock---in fact, it wasn't even in the "big and tall" section---that is a wonderful NSV. These are incredible days!

I just received word that I'll be featured again, real soon--on AOL's thatsfit.com, as a "best of" success story of 2010. I'm thrilled! The doors that have opened because of that initial AOL feature, has been amazing. I swear--someday, I need to give a special gift back to Martha Edwards, the writer, and AOL. I sincerely appreciate their incredible support!

My focus for December must be squarely on finishing the manuscript for my first book. By Christmas, without fail. It's my Christmas gift to me!

Thank you for reading. I feel like there's so much more to talk about--but not enough time right now. This weekly posting is very tough for me to accept, but right now, it's necessary. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,
Sean

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My Thanksgiving plate. It was simple, plenty, delicious, filling, and wonderful!

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I was so excited to try the dessert Karen made--I had consumed a few bites before I remembered to snap a picture!! That small slice of pumpkin pie there, that was all the pie I consumed on Thanksgiving...Very nice!

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Courtney and me--Thanksgiving 2010

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My daughters--I love them sooooo much!

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With grandma on Thanksgiving--She's the sweetest, most precious grandmother in the world!

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Mom and me--Enjoying Thanksgiving in her kitchen!

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With my Aunt Kelli on Thanksgiving

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Eating the turkey...I mean, uh---carving the turkey--yeah, that's what I was doing!!

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My daughters, Karen, and me. Karen's help on Thanksgiving was wonderful!! She made the most amazing dessert--a chocolate truffle type dish that totally rocked--and several other dishes. If you've read every single day of my blog, you know that I've learned tough lessons along the way about keeping my personal life private. Karen and I are certainly dating, but that's all I'll say about that! She's been an amazing friend! ;)

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The new Jacket

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The serious jacket pose---ha! ;)

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Big before picture--Over 500 pounds...and looking miserable, oh my...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 790-797 Thanksgiving Eve Post, Thank You, and The Lonnnnggg Answer To: How?

Day 790-797

Thanksgiving Eve Post, Thank You, and The Lonnnnggg Answer To: How?

I'm writing this on the evening before Thanksgiving, having enjoyed a solid week after hitting goal last Tuesday. The overwhelming support and constant flow of congrats over the last week have been pleasantly intoxicating. I'm thankful for all of the support--and yes, this blog continues. I say that to answer a few people who have asked recently and anyone curious. This journey isn't about a final number where everything is perfect. This road is about redefining a relationship with food and exercise, overcoming food addiction, and embracing life along the way. The weight loss becomes a side effect of our good choices. So, as this blog continues and gradually transforms into a weight maintenance blog, I remind myself to not get too stuck on a number--because a number on a scale doesn't make me happy. It was important for me to have a stated goal, sure---but living life to the fullest as a normal sized man with a normal food relationship--who's healthy, comfortable, confident, full of energy, and for once in his life--has a very honest understanding of himself and his behaviors--that's the real goal, that's happiness. And I'm living that happiness everyday. And why did I switch to talking about myself in third person?---That's so annoying.

I received some amazing messages on facebook and email recently that just absolutely make me smile from ear to ear. Some of them have brought me to tears of happiness. I'm happy for their success--and I'm thrilled that my story, my writing, my transformation road has resonated within them--awakening the power that was always within them to begin with---the power to choose change before change chose them. Sometimes, I want to post those messages here--and I have--either anonymously or by permission, but I wont tonight. But when I do, please understand--it's not about me. It's about showing you the immense power and joy that some people exhibit along this road. It's inspiring--it's powerful--it's real--and I'm thankful for each one received.

My plan for Thanksgiving will be identical to the last two. Twenty-five hundred calories afforded me plenty of food the last two Thanksgivings--so I can't think of a good reason to increase that number for the holiday. I'll be very relaxed and confident--and as always, the focus is on the family and friends around me--the closeness, the blessings we share--these are the important things. The food? Oh sure--it's going to be amazing! But it isn't the main focus. And for the third Thanksgiving in a row, I will not need some kind of antacid afterward. I will not feel sick from eating too much. I will be cooking, visiting with the ones I love, eating, smiling, and loving life.

Along the way and especially after big milestones, the number of people asking "the question," increases. It's the first question that comes when someone learns of my weight loss success...It's human nature for most of us. The question is simple: How did you do it?

I know I've posted and re-published this many times--and here, I'll do it again. The following is the long answer to "How?" with "The Wrong Battle" analogy at the end:

Readers of this blog know that I've struggled my entire life with obesity. So why am I having so much success now?

Because I've decided. I've written before about making that “Iron-Clad Decision,” and it's that decision to succeed, that rock-solid commitment to consistency that has given me these incredible results. I found out that you have to give this journey an amazingly high priority. You have to make it one of the most important things you do. You have to defend your journey from anything and everything that might try to derail it. You have to protect it from yourself. I was always my own worst enemy, I understand that.

When you make it this important, it really makes it hard to rationalize bad choices, you know what I mean? As dramatic as it might sound, this is life and death stuff my friend. And no matter if you have 30 pounds or 300 pounds to lose, if you give it that “do or die” level of importance in your life, you're less likely to fail. But is it that easy? Just decide? Really?? Make it important? What?? No.

Along with my “Iron-Clad” decision, I decided to throw away every single misconception I had about weight loss. I knew I wanted long term results, I really wanted to change. So I eliminated any plan that wasn't completely natural. I needed something I could do that would keep me thin the rest of my life. I needed to learn what a normal portion looked like. I didn't want a 'meal replacement” type plan, or a pre-packaged food “weight loss center” type of plan. I knew those type of plans were simply a means to lose weight temporarily. I needed to confront my behaviors with food in everyday situations, and it had to be head on with real food like everybody else eats.

I then determined that nothing was off limits. I could eat anything I wanted, and I mean anything! That element of my journey has been one of the keys to success, because if nothing is off limits, then I'll never feel deprived...and I'll never feel defeated because I enjoyed something that conventional weight loss wisdom says you can't have if you want to lose weight. It's not the food, it's the portions. Counting calories was a natural choice for me. It's taught me about proper portions and it's forced me to make better choices along the way. I opened the “Calorie Bank and Trust” in my mind, treating my calories like cash. Every morning I would be issued 1500 new calories that I could use however I wanted, but beware! I quickly learned that good choices meant making wise calorie “investment” decisions. I had to spread those calories out all day long, or run short as a consequence. The “Calorie Bank and Trust” doesn't have an ATM. When the calories are gone, they're gone until the bank “opens” the next morning. It might sound silly, it's not---look what it's done for me.

But those urges to binge, how do I control those nasty things? Those crazy thoughts that sometime come from out of nowhere, stealing away my resolve, making me fantasize about eating large quantities of anything that I love, yes they existed for me just like everyone else. How have I handled that? Motivating thoughts plus accountability plus writing out my thoughts every night in this daily blog. That's how I've handled those journey breaking meltdowns. I tell people: Cling tight to those motivating thoughts, defend your journey like your life depends on it, in most cases it does. Decide that nothing...no emotion, no circumstance, no person, place or thing is allowed to steal this away from you. I deserve this success. You deserve this success. It's too important my friend.

One of the biggest elements is self honesty. This means calling yourself on all those excuses and rationalizations that we tell ourselves in order to feel better about bad choices. Honesty, 100%---at all times. And exercise? Anything...just move. All I could do in the beginning was walk and I could barely do that for very long. But I was moving. And the more you move, the easier it gets. All of a sudden my 505 pound near deadly quarter mile walks became a mile...then two, then three, and so on. In the beginning it doesn't have to be anything special. There's no machine to buy or membership required. Just movement. After a while you can get fancy. But set a solid foundation of success first by mastering the basics.

I've discovered something that many have discovered before me, and that is this: It's really 20% about food and exercise and 80% about the mental aspects. Someone who has really helped my mental development is Ralph Marston. I've read very little of Mr. Marston's writing, but this one life changing work from him is something I've read countless times:

“Set Yourself Free” by Ralph Marston---"There is no outside force holding you back. You are holding you back and you are blaming it on someone or something else. The way you are able to continue holding yourself back is by maintaining the illusion that you're a victim. Once you realize that illusion, you will naturally and easily move forward. In fact, it is easier to fulfill your best possibilities than it is to avoid them. So let go of the blame and watch the limitations drop away. Certainly there will always be challenges that hold you back. For each challenge provides you with a pathway through which you can move toward fulfillment. It is your very nature to accomplish. Lovingly accept your destiny, and allow that accomplishment to be manifest through you. Set yourself free to follow your purpose. Set yourself free to truly live." Visit Mr. Marston at http://www.greatday.com/

This food relationship understanding, the clarity involved--in analogy form, was one of the the topics of discussion with mom the next morning at breakfast. Over an egg-white veggie omelet with hashbrowns, we talked about the battles of weight loss--and more specifically, the enemy we're battling. Let me explain:

When I look back at my many failed weight loss attempts, I can clearly see a crucial error in my battle plan. This mistake was the reason for my yo-yo dieting. This mistake was why it was always a struggle every single day as I lost weight in the past. This flaw is one that is made by millions of others everyday along this road...it's the reason for the madness, it's the reason why we're conditioned to believe that weight loss is hard. What is it? Please read...

I was always fighting the wrong battle. I didn't know who or what was the real enemy. How can you effectively battle, if you haven't identified the real enemy? I made food my enemy, that was the battle. I was always determined to put the food in its place---I would try to defeat food at every turn. Food wasn't going to win. That was my battle. The perceived enemy: food. But while I was busy battling food, the real enemy would sneak in from the side and defeat me every time in a battle that I didn't even realize I should be fighting. The real enemy?: ME.

Food never wanted to fight me, food was my friend, my ally...but I was convinced otherwise. It was food that made me fat, right? NO. I made me fat by using and abusing my friend in food. But I could never admit that before. So the battle with my perceived enemy of food would continue...I'd make special list, set portion sizes, count those calories---resist temptation at every turn---battle it, fight with everything I had---but in the end I would always lose the fight. Why? How? It kind of sounds like what I've done this time...but wait...it wasn't and isn't the same.

What ended my past weight loss battles? It wasn't food. It was the real enemy: ME. Armed with excuses, rationalizations, and slinging blame wherever I could---the real enemy would show up on the scene and completely stop me in my tracks. Even if I had lost 115 pounds like I did in 2004---the real enemy would step in and take it all back, plus some...and it happened time and time again. And it happened because I was fighting the wrong enemy. I was waging war on an ally, whose only desire was to be my friend---nourish me, keep me healthy, provide my body what it needs to live. No wonder I failed so many times at losing weight! It wasn't until this time, when I discovered the power of self-honesty and 100% self-responsibility in my behaviors with food, that the real battle became clear.

And now I know the real enemy. But the goal isn't and never has been to pummel this enemy---the goal has always been to turn this enemy into an ally. It's about becoming friends with yourself---and that's what's happened over the course of this transformation road. I realized the enemy wasn't really food and that food was always my friend and I realized that although I had always been my own worst enemy, I had the power to call a truce---with a self-honesty/responsibility pact that would leave me good friends with this former enemy. Friends with food and friends with myself.

The needless battles are over...there's no peace in those battles. But here---oh my, there's all kinds of wonderful peace and freedom. Freedom to live, breathe, eat, and continue down this road without the frustrations that always plagued my past weight loss attempts. When someone asks "So, you worried about gaining all that weight back?" I smile and say "no, not at all." It might sound over-confident to them...but when you haven't an enemy to battle--the fight is over and all that's left is gentle understanding and warm peace.

I'm looking forward to a wonderful Thanksgiving with family in Stillwater. Amber is home this year, something we didn't have last year!! ;) I'm thrilled in so many amazing ways. I'll wrap this post with a bunch of pictures--and I'm looking forward to another post real soon!! Hopefully sooner than a week--It's been crazy busy lately.

Thank you for reading, my friend. I sincerely appreciate your support. I'm continuing along this road in a confident fashion. Some challenges I'll be facing in the coming days, weeks, and months: Finishing my manuscript for the book. Getting more exercise. Increasing my calories. Lifting weights. Maintaining and shaping what I have, into what I desire--with compassionate understanding of my imperfections and a self-honesty in my march forward that leaves no other option, except success...in every way. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,
Sean

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With Courtney last week after hitting goal! Courtney is an amazing kid!! I'm so blessed, thank you Court!

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With Nancy New in Alabama. Nancy is a family friend who was at the birthday celebration for my grandfather. She had recently discovered this blog, had been reading through--and I was thrilled to snap this with her!!

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Illene O, helping me with my bowtie at the Team Radio private party open house last Friday night.

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With Dave May, on stage Friday night at the party...

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With Amber, Wednesday morning in studio! Amber did an incredible job co-hosting my morning show. It was very nice!

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With our studio monitors on---yeah, rockin' the country!

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With KPNC winner Angie Adkins. Angie won a Thanksgiving Feast and $200 dollars cash on my show this morning. She's sharing the dinner with her family--and with the cash---she's buying Christmas toys for less fortunate children. Very nice Angie!!

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Big before picture---oooohhhh---side view, ouch.

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At Amber's High School Graduation--May 2008

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 787-789 Goooaaaaallllll!!!!!!! 275 Pounds Lost in Two Years, Two Months, and A Day

Day 787-789

Goooaaaaallllll!!!!!!! 275 Pounds Lost in Two Years, Two Months, and A Day

From Day 2--A comment from my daughter Amber: "Not only does this motivate me, but I sense a little humor in there too. I seriously love reading this ... keep it up Daddy! I can't even tell you how proud I am of you. You will do this. We all will."

From Day 3--A comment from my daughter Courtney: "Daddy, your blogs are amazing! You have such a talent to write, I really hope this blog does motivate you in every way possible ... I'm very proud of you daddy, I know we've been saying we need to lose weight for quite sometime, but this time it's just different. All together as a family, we will lose weight. No doubt about it. Keep up the good work Daddy. I love you with all my heart."

Courtney couldn't have been more right with her words, "this time it's just different." She could tell on Day 3. She knew that this day was coming.

Today--789 days along Transformation Road--and 275 pounds lighter...I hit goal. I stepped onto the same scale where more than a dozen of my past weight loss attempts started--the same scale that weighed me 505 on Day 2. Now it shows me 230.4 OK--If you know me from these writings--you know that the .4 is messing with me!!! But I've always rounded up or down. Had it been .5---I would be at 231. I feel like I've lost a good four or five since last time, judging by how my clothes and body feels...so I'm not sure how to accept a two pound loss. That sounds so silly to say--and crazy to write, given the monumental weigh-in it was---so I'll stop that line of thinking and celebrate. The bottom line is simple: I'm 230 pounds. I did it.

Happy tears are so beautiful and cleansing. They felt good on my face--and I couldn't help it, I'm so happy and emotional. It's just a number that I picked out of the blue when I started, but it's turned out to be a pretty good guess.

Amber left a comment tonight on my facebook status update--and I immediately called her, I needed to hear her voice. She writes:

"I LOVE YOU DADDY! I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT! Your amazing. I'm so proud of you. You are such an inspiration to me and so many other people. I don't think I ever told you this...but I always use to worry about you not being here anymore...about... you passing away...and you missing out on so many things me and sissy graduating, getting married...grand kids....and stuff...you have no idea how much your journey means to me. I love you so much...and I always knew you could and would do it. I know now that you will be here...cheering me on in the stands as I walk on graduation day....you will be there to walk me down the aisle when I get married...and you will see my kids one day. And now I'm crying...but it is good tears daddy...good tears. I love you so much. I'm so happy for you daddy! You are wonderful....the best daddy in the world."

This is what it's all about: Family---and Living, loving, laughing, caring, and sharing.

My favorite post isn't Day 327, or Day 1---those are big ones to me, no doubt. But Day 135 is a way of thinking I'll never forget. It's a great thing I was morbidly obese for all of those years. I was lucky and blessed that it didn't kill me when it had the chance--And I was also blessed, because it made me the person I am today.

From Day 135--Here's my "Thank You Letter To Morbid Obesity:" (note--I've re-formatted the letter for easier reading--the content is identical to Day 135)

Every now and then I challenge myself to really think on a deep level. I strive for a better understanding of behavior. I try to dissect things on a psychological level, and since I have no formal education in psychology, I can come to some pretty far out reasoning. It doesn't really matter if I'm right or wrong because these are studies within myself. Today I started thinking about how it's good to find the positive side of all things. Even things that can't possibly have a good side, if you look hard enough, maybe it does. I hit a wall when I thought about applying this positive philosophy to being morbidly obese. By the way, I use the term “morbidly obese” because I hate that term. I don't like the way it sounds at all, and the first time a doctor used that term I thought he was making fun of me! To me, it was the same as him saying I was “disgustingly obese,” and when the term used is “grotesquely obese,” well that's even worse. If the doctor would have said “Sean, you are “making me want to throw up obese” it would have felt the same. Isn't “gross” short for grotesque? I've had both terms used on me by medical professionals and they were perfectly in line with medical terms. How could I find the good in my life long career of being “morbidly grotesque?” Ooh, combining the two is even worse. Anyway, I thought long and hard and finally came up with this: My “thank you” letter to “morbid obesity.”

Dear Morbid Obesity,

You suck. Sorry about that, it just popped out. Let me start again.

Dear Morbid Obesity,

Thank you for teaching me how to be compassionate toward others. By making me different and the subject of so much weight related bullying as a kid, you taught me to always care about other peoples feelings.

Thank you for making me unique in an age when I was often the only fat kid in class, because it gave me added attention that I may have felt was lacking in other parts of my life.

Thank you for giving me a very strong opinion against discrimination in all it's forms. By showing me the pain of being discriminated against based solely on my looks, you taught me to never judge a person based on appearance.

Thank you for giving me the defense mechanism of a good sense of humor. Although it was sometimes masking emotional pain, laughter and making others laugh has always carried me through.

Thank you for protecting me from every dangerous thing I would have tried had I been able to fit on that ride, or into that harness, or on that horse, or in that sports car, or whatever the dangerous situation could have been, you were there keeping me safe inside your embrace.

Thank you for giving me a fashion sense born from complete insecurity. I know you don't give this fashion sense to every morbidly obese person, but it kept me from further ridicule because I never wore things too small, ever. You saved me from the spandex revolution, how can I properly thank you for that? To make me want to wear a big jacket when it was ninety degrees outside just to cover my boy boobs, well I have no choice but to conclude that you must love me more than other fat people, because if I had a dollar for every morbidly obese person I've witnessed in spandex and a shirt three sizes too small, I'd be wealthy.

Thank you for giving me the ability to spot shallowness in others. I'll never forget the first time I was completely rejected by a girl who said out loud, in class “eeewwww, I would never go out with you.” She didn't take the time to see the good guy I was inside, to look into my heart and see the eighth grader that would have cherished her and respected her in a most grateful 8th grader way. She was shallow and without you I may not of recognized that side of humanity for many years.

Without this “shallowness radar,” I may never have recognized the pure spirit in the eyes and heart of Irene Brake, my high school sweetheart and wife of nearly twenty years.

Most of all, thank you for my life. Without you I don't know if my path would have been the same. Would I have my family that I hold so dear? Would I have found a career that felt so perfect for me, a career that allowed me to hide behind a microphone and communicate with people without them being able to see me?

Without you, maybe, just maybe I would have become a complete jerk.

Thank you for bringing me to this point in my life and keeping me in one piece along the way. But despite the flood of gratitude in this letter, you know your days are numbered here. We can't continue our relationship. Morbid obesity, I'm slowly shrinking out of you. I'm moving on to a life free of all the dangerous effects of our relationship. But I'll never forget all of the wonderful things you taught me, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my overworked heart.


Sincerely,
Sean

Thank you so much for reading. I had planned on writing more about my trip to Alabama on this post, but hitting goal took over. I will say this: Getting to know my family in Alabama has been good for my soul. It was a very positive experience in many ways and I look forward to many more wonderful times with my 'Bama family in the future. Below, you'll see a picture of me with my grandpa Haynes at his 88th birthday party. I absolutely cherish that picture.

On the way home from Alabama, I stopped and met Shane Griffin. His incredible success is wonderful to witness. See our picture below! In fact--we have a bunch of pictures and memories to look back on...

Again, thank you for reading and cheering, and for just---all of your support. I wish I knew the words to say that would properly express my gratitude. I don't. But I'm forever grateful. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,
Sean

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The scale today.

Before pictures--all over 500 pounds:
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Pictures from along the way:
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And there's hundreds more...

Here and now:
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With Shane Griffin from www.losingitforthefamily.blogspot.com

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With my Grandpa Haynes--Celebrating his 88th birthday!!!

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Recent--with my two beautiful, smart, mature beyond their years, talented, compassionate, creative, and amazing daughters---Amber and Courtney. Love you girls!!





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