A Personal Goal Challenge, A Facebook Wall Exchange, and Why There Isn’t A Set Menu
I have a goal. I want to hit 230 by September 15th, 2010---the two-year anniversary of this transformation road. On that Wednesday, my plan is to stand proudly on the scales at The Payne County Health Department in Stillwater, Oklahoma and proudly proclaim my ultimate victory! The truth is simple, I’ve already won, but since the stated goal has been at the top of this blog page since Day 1, that moment will be beyond special. Can I do it? Let’s talk about this for a moment…
My last weigh-in showed a four-pound loss for the last four weeks. At that rate, it would take me nine weeks to hit 230. And you know how I feel about time---time doesn’t matter, and I know I’ll get there when I get there. But—that idea, that philosophy shouldn’t ever create a reason to “take it easy.”
I’ve written to the point of eye-rolling exhaustion about how my strong point is the mental aspects of food addiction and my weak points have always been in the workout department. But that really hasn’t been the case…I mean, in the beginning, say—almost the first year, I’d rarely miss a day of doing some kind of productive-deliberate workout. It was just as important as my ability to stay within my calorie budget in any and all situations. Now—things are a little different. I’m only nine pounds from goal, I’m wearing size 36 jeans as I write this entry, and I’m positive I would have been here sooner, had I not allowed myself to become comfortable in my success.
I say this—because I know. I know that if I’m going to hit 230 by September 15th, I must step it up to a level where I should have been moving a while back. So what do I do? Well, my food has never been more solid. My choices have evolved naturally and wonderfully—I eat well, good stuff—90% of the time. And whatever I eat, I’ve always been and will remain consistent with my Calorie Bank and Trust. The difference, in my opinion, between me hitting 230 by September 15th or the end of October—is all in my commitment to the kind of consistent workout schedule that catapulted me to losing over 200 pounds the first year.
Since Saturday, I’ve completed two 5K’s (one on the treadmill) and a one-hour spinning class. I’ll be doing another 5K Walk/Jog/Sprint Tuesday night and something everyday after. I’ll make sure my water is at least at PEWC levels (64 ounces) everyday—and my experience tells me that with all of this, I’ll hit 230 by September 15th. Personal goal set...let's move!
Dawn is a facebook friend—and I believe she also reads this blog. I had a nice exchange with her on my facebook wall. Since it was posted public on my wall, I’m sure Dawn will not mind me posting it here:
Dawn--Hey Sean, I have a question: what do you do when you hit a plateau...or do you not have that problem? I haven't really budged in 2 weeks, but I'm still working out, still eating right. Any suggestions? And you're totally an inspiration...I see how hard you work in your status updates and I have a 'blah' day where I ...truly don't feel like going to the gym, and because YOU WENT, I GO :)
Me--Oh yes Dawn, I've had that problem! It's important to never let the scale dictate your emotions. Our weight can fluctuate for several different reasons, regardless of what we're doing with food and exercise. You must know that what you'r...e doing is right and good, and trust yourself. If you're staying true to your calorie or point budget and you're exercisiing on a regular basis---then you're doing what you need to do---Have faith and keep on, don't be discouraged my friend, the numbers will fall---the transformation will continue. The worst thing you can do is let the scale give you negative emotions. Be proud of what you're doing, be consistent, be honest with yourself---and the results will come--and chances are good---they'll exceed your expectations!! My best to you Dawn---You're doing it wonderfully my friend!!
Dawn--I do let the scale control me. I get ANGRY when it doesn't move. I threw one once and cracked it in half. But thanks for the encouragement! I've got just a little bit more to go (I say little bit, but it's 50 lbs) and sometimes it just seems impossible. It WAS 75lbs in April, so I'm getting somewhere! I'll get there and then maybe I'll share it with the world like you have :) Thanks again, Sean!!!
Me--You will reach your goal, absolutely!! Scale frustrations have ended many weight loss attempts in my past--but when we realize that the complications and frustrations are of our own creation---and you simply focus on the positive of ...your food and exercise choices--it all falls into place, and off! 50 more pounds!! I cheer you all the way!!! And seriously, you're already an inspiration and wonderful example simply by your actions---and you can and will help so many more realize that it's possible. Keep rocking this thing!!!
One thing I would add for Dawn--is perhaps adding some calories. Adding some calories to your daily budget, for just a little while, can jump start the metabolism.
Another reader question comes from Elizabeth in L.A.—
I found your blog by chance today and I'm overwhelmed by your strength, courage, and determination. I need to lose 100 pounds and I know with your blog to help me, I can do it. I read somewhere on your blog that you listed some of your menus. Can you please send me a link to them? I would love to see more of what you ate. Thanks so much. Take care. Elizabeth
Elizabeth, there are no set menus. You can eat anything and everything. I do see how that can seem like a scary thought, devoid of any structure or instruction that we’ve always expected and counted on having for a weight loss attempt. But really---if you read my archives, it becomes very clear—that this “nothing is off limits” approach is key for long-term consistent weight loss.
But how and why? Let me find an excerpt that fits. Here’s my explanation of why the “menus” for each of us should be and can be vastly different, unique to the likes, dislikes, and trigger foods of each person individually. This excerpt is from July 15th, 2010:
It happened after the Tulsa World feature article several months ago and it's happening now with this AOL story. People get the wrong idea about my approach based solely on the headline of the story. The World article listed my "Fast Food Tips and Tricks," and the AOL headline mentions my weight loss "without eating salad." I can't blame the media, it's all information I've supplied them. And it's all true. I don't like salads. But---don't get the wrong idea, because I eat fruits and vegetables--and I'm not on some crazy "fast food diet." I eat what I like and nothing I don't. But what does that mean?My choices had to gradually improve over time. I just knew that if I started forcing myself to eat foods I really didn't like, I would lose weight. What? Yes, I would lose weight, but I would be miserable the entire time, and eventually I would revert to my old habits, my food addiction couldn't tolerate salads or pre-packaged foods too long before I had a meltdown---and I knew that about myself. It was one of the crucial errors I had made in past weight loss attempts. Maybe you're familiar with making that special grocery list, "because tomorrow we're starting!" I decided on Day 1 that I didn't need a special list of foods. I wanted to beat my food addiction---and I knew the only way to do that was face real food, in real everyday real-life situations. That's the reason for my "nothing is off limits" philosophy.This philosophy completely eliminated a couple of things: Feelings of deprivation and feeling like I was cheating. OK---I might be able to do this! I've never felt deprived and I can't feel bad about myself if I eat a serving of potato chips. Here's what happened: My choices started to gradually improve throughout this journey. A mid-day snack in the beginning may have been a 110 calorie pack of Funyuns. Somewhere along the way, that mid-day snack evolved into fresh fruit. My calorie budget is all about eating normal portions of anything. And since I'm on a budget, I have to make what I call "calorie value" decisions. People still freak out if they see me eating something like a piece of pizza, candy, or even a soft-serve low-fat ice cream cone---because hey, aren't you that weight loss guy? Uh, yeah sure---but what I am more than anything is a normal person. A normal person, eating normal portions of normal food, in normal everyday food situations.
If I'm having dinner at your house, there's no need to prepare something special "because we know you're on a diet." I'll navigate my choices in a very normal, very responsible way---with self-honesty about portion sizes and an eye for the best calorie values available at the moment. When I end every blog with "good choices," I'm not saying perfect choices...just good choices. And what that meant on day 1 and what it means today is a little different. The choices evolve in a natural fashion, based on what I like. So my good choices may be different from yours. I like and often enjoy vegetables. I love fruit. I rarely eat fast food these days...all gradual evolutions of my "nothing is off limits" approach. A big salad? Never...and that's ok.
My planned excerpt for today comes Day 349 in August of last year:
I've been doing a bunch of tough thinking lately about why some struggle so hard while others seem to be so solidly on their way. Why some say they “get it,” but continuously give in to the temptation that's trying to take this away. I think it's actually harder for people who are exceptionally smart. Let me explain: It's nearly impossible for someone to really learn something if they already believe they know. Especially when the solution has been broken down into very simple terms and easy to understand mental exercises. It can't be that easy, they might think. And so their search continues---looking for books and articles to break it down into slices that challenge their intelligence. Some people insist on complicating things. It doesn't have to be complicated. It can be easy if you accept that it can. Once you turn off the excuses. Once you accept 100% responsibility for your behaviors with food. Once you become completely self-honest about your consumption. Once you realize the importance of consistency. Once you stick to a lower level of calories. Once you commit to a real exercise schedule, once you do these things—it's almost impossible not to succeed. And yes, you have to fight. You have to bring out the fight inside and often times battle that little devil on your shoulder. If any of these vital components are not in place, it can seem very difficult.
You must not forget that I too am a food addict. You must realize and remember that I too spent my entire adult life until now, struggling the same way. I was out of control. So if you read my words these days and think Oh Sean, you make it sound so easy don't you? Never forget from where I've come. And realize that if I can get to this place, then it's not impossible for you to get here too. And you don't have to understand everything to get started. I didn't. I didn't know or practice anything but the very basics on day one. You might even say I was going through the motions at first. Along the way these simple truths came out about my past failures and all of a sudden things started making sense. I started to have a better understanding of why I always struggled before and why I was struggling less now. Epiphanies started happening, they're all documented...go back and read them. So if you're trying to get everything in order in a way that makes complete sense before you start succeeding, you're complicating the process. The things that must be rock solid from day one are your commitment to fight. Your resolve must be “iron-clad.” Your desire to succeed must exceed your desire to binge. It's that importance level thing again. Set it dramatically high. And fight for your life. Defend this journey from those evil thoughts within that threaten your success along this road. And find comfort in the fact that you will learn things and have epiphanies along the way that will catapult you onto different levels of understanding. But in the beginning you must fight. It's a fight worth fighting, it really is.
My new blogger feature today belongs to Jen. I read her Day 1 post from last month and it’s filled with apprehension. A clear and certain level of anxiety about sharing her thoughts and experiences along the way. Jen—I completely understand. I encourage people to write, because I know what it’s done for me—without this “writing project,” I doubt I would be where I am today. Never lose focus of why you’re writing. It’s first and foremost for you---to educate you on the behaviors and habits that have brought you to this point. It is also a wonderful tool in discovering where things went wrong before and how to correct them now.
If you approach your writing with completely open self-honesty, you’ll be surprised at the therapeutic benefits. As you grow in your own success, others will read your story and be inspired---and at a certain point, you may feel a level of responsibility to your readers—but even then, we must remember the number one rule: It’s for us. It’s to ensure our complete understanding of our transformation from all angles. If every single person that has clicked follow, clicked “un-follow” all at the same time—and traffic on my blog came to a complete stand-still---I promise you, I’d still be writing this blog. I had less than 10 official readers until sometime after Day 200—so remember---use your blog for you…dig deep, and discover yourself in your writing. You too can discover Jen at http://www.jenbythesea.blogspot.com/
Thank you for reading. I’ve been taking a bunch of food pictures lately. I do it to simply show how wonderful it can be to stay within a calorie budget. Understand that my choices have evolved over 707 days---and that these pictures would be vastly different in the beginning. Instead of that incredible meal below—it might have been a McDouble without cheese and a small fry for (if memory serves) 550 calories. This evolution of good choices stuff has been the freedom train for this (formerly) morbidly obese man and (lifetime) food addict. Goodnight and…
A mushroom and cheese pita pizza---Using Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat flour 60-calorie pitas. Using a tablespoon of pizza sauce, a 50 calorie slice of mozzarella, and fresh mushrooms---this amazing treat checks in at a low 130 calories. Want more cheese? Add a slice and make it 180 calories. It’s completely adjustable to fit your calorie budget and whether or not you’re having a meal or a snack. What does a pita pizza meal look like for me?---check this one out:
This is a chicken breast and fresh mushroom pita pizza. The entire thing, complete with 75 calories worth of mozzarella and a small sliced grilled chicken breast—checks in at 285 calories.
This Mexican dinner—even with a serving of chips and homemade guacamole, plus sour cream on the beef and salsa mixture—checks in at 520 calories.
Dinner the other night: Italian style chicken breast, 1.5 servings of mashed potatoes, green beans, and grilled mushrooms! Total calories: 460
I enjoyed lunch over the weekend with my youngest daughter Courtney at Pizza Hut. We didn’t order pizza. I had what you see here. The soup is tomato basil. Courtney enjoyed the soup with an awesome salad. (I said that “awesome salad” like I love salad---Uh, no…still don’t) ;)
Today’s featured before picture—with Courtney