Thirteen Pounds To Goal and An Email Exchange With A Friend
I absolutely let yesterday's schedule throw me off a little. I should never be so busy/exhausted that I miss my bi-weekly weigh-in. But I did, and really--it's not that big of a deal, so I'll refrain from beating myself up. I made my way into the doctors office today, fully expecting four or five pounds lost. I know that might seem like a little too much, but honestly, I feel it in the way my clothing fits. The pants I started wearing for the play "Wanda's Visit" have been replaced with some a little more snug fitting. I can tell you exactly where the last chunk of weight came from, not only because of my clothes, but I can actually see the difference in the size of my hips.
I walked into the doctors office and was immediately greeted by one of the nurses. He remembers me from my heaviest days. He remembers very well. He smiled and told me that he runs into people all the time who mention my weight loss, and it kills him that he's not legally able to tell them more of the story, because of confidentiality laws...but he does smile big inside, knowing that he has intimate knowledge of 505 pound Sean. Boy, does he ever...I had some very embarrassing moments in this office...all from complications of my morbid obesity.
I approached the scale with confidence today. My workout schedule of late has been horrible, I've let it get that way...so that was the only worry I had. Still, I could just feel and see the loss this time, so I was confident regardless. I love it at this point! Every pound can make such a big difference. I stepped on the scale and found 243! It was good for a three pound loss, and now we're only 13 pounds to goal! It was simply amazing! Sure, I was predicting four or five, but really---I couldn't be happier right now. I can clearly see 230 on the very near horizon, it will not be long...and that weigh-in will be something very, very special.
When I reach that point, when we're super close---my weigh days will be spent traveling to Stillwater, just like in the beginning, so I can weigh on the scales where it all started. Those are the scales (at the Payne County Health Department) where I always started on the countless weight loss attempts in my past. I imagine it will be a weigh-in filled with a range of emotions. I get excited just writing about it---so excited!
I treated myself to a 150 calorie serving of guacamole and chips this afternoon, after a most unusual lunch. I've never been big on frozen meals, never---and I can count on one hand how many I've consumed in the last 676 days. But today I tried something from the Weight Watchers line of "Smart Ones." The Shrimp Marinara checks in at 190 calories (3 points for WW members) and it looked so wonderfully delicious. Although I've always concerned myself exclusively with calories, I can't help but note the sodium in a frozen entree. This selection has 650mg, or 27% of the recommended daily allowance. I don't even know if that's good or bad. All I know is, the calories rock...and so did the dish! Wow, I honestly enjoyed this frozen meal. I prepared it in the oven instead of the microwave, because I think it makes it better---and I was impressed totally. At 190 calories, this absolutely qualifies as a "good calorie value." See the picture below...of course I emptied the tray into a nice bowl, in an effort to forget that I was eating a frozen meal. I have zero complaints--it was good. I probably will not make it a habit, but in a pinch--I could totally rock one of those from time to time.
I had an interesting e-mail exchange with a regular reader and someone I absolutely consider a friend. After receiving my weigh day mass e-mail, he replied with this:
If you can ever get around to responding to this one, I do have a question (you can include it to all of us in post, if it's easier). I am still focused on the long term goal and still show progress on a monthly basis. But you seem to show progress almost daily or at least weekly. Did you ever have times when you went for days or a week or two by going off your calorie bank? Again, congrats my friend.
I did reply to his e-mail with this:
Never. It's too important to just "go off." That's the pattern that kept me losing and gaining it all back for so many years. This time HAD TO BE DIFFERENT.
We have to evaluate our importance level along this road. It must be serious, life or death stuff---or else it's too easy to just "go off." The attitude of "Oh well---I'll do better tomorrow, or next week, or soon" is exactly the kind of excuses and rationalizations I write so much about....they're deadly.
My advice would be to take your focus off the long term goal and focus on each day---redefining your relationship with food...fully embracing the "nothing is off limits" philosophy, because it's that philosophy I credit with many of my breakthroughs along this road. It's eliminated any feelings of deprivation, I never feel like I'm cheating, and it's taught me to handle all foods in a responsible way---because I must stay within my calorie budget. And that calorie budget is giving me the training I need to someday, take off those training wheels and eat like a normal person, with normal portions---without counting anything...Just being me---a new relationship with food---that's what it's all about. I love food, I do---and I always will...and there's nothing I can't enjoy---But it will be enjoyed in a normal way, with a normal portion---do you see what I'm saying? There is no substitute for changing our behaviors with food. If this journey is a challenge every day---a struggle, where you're trying desperately to stay within your budget--focusing on the rewards of your transformation---while suppressing or avoiding the issues you have with food...then you're not in the proper frame of mind for the long term. Sounds harsh, but really---I'm just being honest. You don't want this to be temporary, you know that.
Understand that you can eat like a normal, responsible person...and food is your friend. It is! treat it that way. Control it---don't let it have so much power over you.
Putting food in its place is very important.
I wish you nothing but the best my friend...Sean
And he replied to that with this:
Thanks, Sean. I appreciate your honesty and wisdom, gained from your successes and hard work. I'll consider it carefully going forward.
I think what I have felt is that time like this past week for me, should allow some exceptions without feelings of failure. My family was away, except me and my 9-year-old. After a few days of healthy eating, he wanted things like waffles and some treats. He is super skinny and I thought it was a decent compromise. I guess I still think that I have room on this journey for a few pauses or stumbles. If it really is a fatal flaw, then I need to know. Is this what you are saying? Thanks, my friend, for your response whenever your time allows.
I decided to share this exchange and make this reply a part of the blog. Here we go:
My friend, when you said "After a few days of healthy eating," it showed me that you're still separating "healthy eating," or unnatural eating habits, from "whatever eating." It's all the same my friend. You're eating. And eating while living a normal healthy life isn't always perfect, and it shouldn't be perfect. The idea that we must eat only "healthy foods" to lose weight, completely by-passes the most important element of this transformation road, and that is, learning to eat anything and everything in a very normal, responsible fashion. Waffles are awesome! I love waffles too! "Treats" are absolutely necessary--I have treats all the time. But here's the difference:
If you have convinced yourself that these foods are forbidden for successful weight loss, and then you have them--you're making yourself feel unnecessarily defeated. You're over-complicating this process. You must be a very intelligent person. I say that, because I've discovered that really intelligent people are usually the first ones to over-complicate this entire philosophy. There can't be any "bad" foods, only bad quantity choices. And that's where your "calorie value" decisions come into play. Will I occasionally enjoy a waffle?--Sure, I could...but I would evaluate the calories--with butter and syrup, and then decide if it's worth it at that moment. Perhaps I would split a waffle if I found the calories a little too high.
I'm just saying--In my opinion, you mustn't separate "healthy eating" from "whatever eating," it's all just eating, period. As far as breaking the "Calorie Bank and Trust," I wanted consistent positive results, and that's exactly what I've enjoyed---and maintaining the integrity of my "Calorie Bank and Trust" is a huge part of that. When we start making the excuses and rationalizations that make us feel better about robbing that bank, that's the beginning of the end. That's when we start getting super inconsistent, that's when we gain weight back. At least it always was for me.
You understand, I hope, that my advice comes from years and years of trial and error. I've analyzed my past failures to determine the how and why they went wrong. And it always comes back to self-honesty. Because ultimately--that's what keeps us on the straight and narrow. When we start making excuses for ourselves and rationalizing bad choices---that's when we start telling ourselves the lies that keep us fat. We're the ones in charge of our choices, we're responsible, we have to decide our importance level.
Are we ready to really lose the weight once and for all---and this time make it forever? If the answer is yes, then stop complicating the process. Keep it incredibly simple. If your goal is to be a super healthy eater, great---you'll get there with a natural evolution of good choices. But remember--it must be natural, not forced. And what's natural is different for each of us. That's what I meant when I said "I eat what I like and nothing I don't." And even with that attitude--my choices have naturally and dramatically improved over the last 676 days---and now look where we are...thirteen pounds from goal.
How can this not be a constant struggle? Because we embrace a confidence that there isn't a food we can't enjoy at one time or another. We don't have to feel a sense of loss because "we can never eat that again," because we can and will eat that again. We can drop the resentment toward this process, that feeling of it all being unfair because we have to "watch it" constantly. We're learning how to handle food responsibly, and for me--it's the first time in my life. I'm eating like a normal person and not like an out of control 500 pound food addict. It's a new attitude toward food. It's a friendship, a peace with food that I've never known before now. It's a confident patience...and it all makes sense, unless you decide to over-complicate. Then it must be more difficult. And it can be, complicated or struggle free, either way--your choice.
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
My incredible guacamole snack. I picked up the guacamole from a local Mexican restaurant.
190 calories...and very good! The Weight Watchers Smart Ones Shrimp Marinara
Huge before picture, on the streets of Guthrie for the centennial celebration--November 2007