Fundamentals of Success, Do We or Our Bodies Decide? and A Morning Workout for A Great Cause
Dave, the host of the morning show on KLOR, and I have been wearing tuxedos all week long in celebration of being in our brand new studios inside the Poncan Theatre. It's been a wonderful experience for me, every morning, looking at that "L" on the tuxedo shirt tag, and further realizing that I'm no longer that morbidly obese man I once was. I have many wonderful reminders every day, like effortlessly slipping on my size 36 jeans--even after they've just been washed and dried, but still...sometimes, it's hard to imagine or accept. It feels good, and don't dare think I'm complaining, because I'm not...I'm just so happy in this new freedom. All of the chains that morbid obesity had on me, are broken, and I must pinch myself often to believe it's not just a dream.
I never wore a tuxedo before I lost all of this weight and before I started riding several months back, I hadn't been on a bicycle since I was a kid. I thought it would be a novel idea to do them both at the same time. I did and I wrote about it in my last post. It was an amazing experience.
In my daily time travels back into the archives, I realize that some of the very basic fundamentals and philosophies that have made this time different from any other for me, were developing in a very strong way from the beginning. This excerpt is from Day 11:
"I had Subway for dinner tonight. I felt just like Jared walking into the Subway and ordering that footlong black forest ham with no cheese and a very, very small strip of light mayo. I could've had the cheese, but I saved the calories for that small strip of light mayo. I actually had enough calories left to eat the whole thing, but I just couldn't do it. It's almost as if I don't trust the nutritional information at subway dot com. I know what it says, but man...that's a lot of sandwich for 600 calories! I did eat 2/3 of it and I still have 190 calories left for the day. What's funny about this Subway trip is that I've always had stand-up material on Jared and Subway. How thanks to Jared, every time I go to Subway, everyone looks at me like I'm next! I would go on to say that Jared has made it perfectly acceptable to eat a loaf of bread and a pound of cold cuts and still lose weight...”Hey Sean, is that another footlong? Good to see you're finally cutting down”. I would talk about my plan: The Pizza Hut diet. A large Pizza Hut pizza everyday and a two liter of Pepsi, and I bet I would still lose weight...And everyone would ask...”Sean, what's your secret?....”duh, THIN crust”. Big laugh, and goodnight, I'll be here all week. This tired old stand-up routine of mine has a lot of truth in it. You can lose weight on just about anything, BUT...is a diet with a limited variety of food or all of one food really teaching you to eat right?
That's my biggest problem with Jared's plan. Eating a sub for lunch and dinner everyday helped him lose weight, and after USA Today broke the story, it made Jared a millionaire as a Subway spokesperson. But I don't think eating the same food everyday would teach me how to eat right once I had reached my goal. Of course Jared has had plenty of financial incentive to keep the weight off but I bet he really had to get a crash course on eating normal once his daily Subway trips were over."
"Every now and then someone will ask me...”so, what diet are you on?” or “what are you doing to lose the weight?” I tell them I'm counting 1500 calories a day and exercising. And they accept that. But if I told them I'm on the “hamburger, fries, sour cream chicken enchilada, deep fried chicken nugget, footlong ham sandwich, oatmeal, taco, tostada, burrito, steak, baked potato with sour cream, mashed potato, corn, rice, ice cream, and birthday cake with butter cream frosting diet” they would think I was crazy. But I've had everything I just mentioned at some point during the last eleven days. That's the beauty of counting calories. Counting calories allows you to eat whatever you want while forcing you to make wise choices and having controlled portions. It's really helped me understand the definition of a serving. If I were eating a pre-packaged bar for breakfast and a couple of shakes a day I wouldn't be getting the same nutritional education and real world eating experience. I still have a lot to learn, and it's never boring! And I can't wait to weigh on Tuesday."
It was Day 10 when some serious issues concerning the health of two people I love, created some serious stress and anxiety, things that I normally would have used as an excuse to "go easy" on myself. It's horrible, how I always looked for "an out" before---but as Day 10 and my commitment to 100% self-honesty about my behaviors with food came together, I found myself victorious in the face of life:
"In the last ten days I've had a lot of fun with this blog. And there will be much more fun in the coming days, weeks, and months. But I couldn't write this blog tonight without mentioning these two very important people and the struggles they face this evening. My day to day struggles and experiences in losing weight are so minuscule in the overall big picture, however I believe that both my friend and Aunt Violet would want me to write tonight and keep it up. So I will. Because maintaining focus and staying on track during times like these is paramount to the overall success of this journey. I know that everyday will not be perfect. I know that facing everything that life throws our way and still maintaining our focus is crucial. It's crucial because I'm not doing this just to lose the weight. I'm doing this to change the way I handle food and exercise everyday for the rest of my life. I'm not saying that I'll count calories forever, but I'm teaching myself along the way how to eat...how to exercise...how to be healthier. I'm changing old habits into new positive habits, positive habits that will be with me through many days like today. And I will continue to learn these new ways of living. For me, depressing news can and often is as big of an eating trigger than anything. For some it has the opposite effect. I just know how I normally handle things. And I've always turned to food. Not today."
That was a big important paragraph for me to write on Day 10. Deciding that my weight loss journey couldn't and shouldn't be affected by the everyday ups and downs of life, no matter how tragic or depressing, no matter how stressful and anxiety filled---was the beginning of my "steel curtain zone," an imperative part of my success. And made possible only by embracing 100% self-honesty with myself about my behaviors with food---Voiding the excuses and rationalizations that always made me feel better about failing. My "performance" with food and exercise had to be separated from my emotions and daily stress level, or else I wouldn't be where I am today. Because life doesn't become a bowl of cherries just because we decide to make positive changes.
Over the course of the last two years, the subject of fat-free foods have come up many times...do I eat them? Do I realize the calories I could save if I did eat them? I found a small excerpt from Day 9 that really clarifies my position on "fat-free:"
"I don’t buy or consume fat-free stuff. Yuck! Are you kidding me? Fat free cheese should be against the law. The Fat Free boom in the United States has made billions for companies all over the world. I’ve never understood how something that taste so horrible can still sell! My philosophy on the whole Fat-Free subject is real simple: In most cases, I would rather have a small portion of the real thing, then a big portion of the fat-free version. I think it’s funny when companies put Fat-Free on the label of foods that have always been fat free! Marketing, marketing, marketing!"
My dramatic slow down in weight loss, averaging a pound a week these days, has sparked some good questions and insightful debate. I don't understand all of the science behind it all, I'm not an expert or a doctor, or dietitian, or nutritionist...I'm just a formerly 500 pound guy who has found a way out. My goal is to have a relationship with food that is benefiting to my body and health for the rest of my life. If I can eventually enjoy a daily consumption of around 2000 or so calories and maintain my weight, then I'm overjoyed. My relationship and friendship with food has grown considerably over the last two years. I'm no longer an abuser. I'm just a normal eater, with favorite foods I enjoy and never plan on giving up, and understanding that moderation in everything is the answer, I'm comfortable with my relationship. Understanding how exercise plays a role in everything is another scientific, yet at the same time, very simple thing to understand. As long as I don't get too hung up on the sometimes confusing equations, and I realize that simplicity has been key to my success--I'll be fine, I'm sure. Still, it's an interesting topic:
Chris Collins writes:
"I have a question Sean. I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks, then you sort of bring it up today. First I'm really not sure how vigorously you exercise each week. Let's assume it is just what is a normal recommended amount, :30 mins or so 4 or 5 times a week. If you keep up 4 or 5 times a week, and you stay at 1500 cal/day for two more years. Do you suppose at some weight your body would just find its balance? Let's say you did this and in three months you were down to 215 then you continued on just living and working out as recommended and staying at 1500/day. Can you image your body just finding its place at 215 and staying there, healthy and stable? (or where ever your body stopped dropping) Or, do you think at some point your going to have to "quit" what you've been doing and change it so you stabilize at some place of your choosing (like 230) Will your mind choose where to stop, or will your body tell you where it wants to be at 1500/day?"
Veems agreed and added this insight:
"I agree with Chris Collins. Years ago in a hospital weight loss program -- the kind where you fast and your body thinks you are starving and you gain it all back in about a minute after you go off of it -- I did get a course in the "math" of weight loss. The reason that the weight loss slows down is simple math. It takes fewer calories to maintain weight -- so the lower you go, the more you have to exercise, or the more you have to reduce your calories. So just take your current weight and multiply it by 11 -- that's your maintenance number -- if you stay below that number, you will loss a pound when you accumulate 3500 calories of deficit. So currently you are losing a steady 1 lb a week which is fabulously healthy. If you stay at 1500 calories (which is my magic number) and stop losing, then you have to increase the exercise to create the deficit. Those math-facts are why people have so much trouble with the last few pounds. And the idea of finding your level makes sense to me -- staying on 1500 and doing what you are doing will eventually lead to a level which at which you won't lose more until you exercise more or drop your calorie allowance. It's nothing more than that."
As my exercise routine continues and becomes more advanced, dare I say...weight training, some adjustments will surely be required. In answer to your question Chris, I think that the body will naturally find it's place. As long as I give it enough fuel and enough exercise, it'll all fall into place without me getting too worked up in the science of it all. If I were to decide where it all stops, I think it would be going against my bodies natural movement and level. I personally believe that when we try to decide where we should be, it's that kind of focus and belief that can lead to unhealthy obsessions over weight and appearance. A natural progression and evolution of our choices and the consequences of those good choices, will ultimately--I believe, put us right where we're supposed to be...healthy.
Saturday morning started earlier than most Saturdays around here. I was up early, getting ready to participate in Carter's Run for Autism Speaks. It was an organized and certified 5K or 10K, I chose the 5K. I know, I know---I did the YMCA 10K last November, and I probably could have survived...check that, I would have survived the 10K Saturday, but still---I was happy with the 5K, and very happy to support a wonderful cause. A bunch of people showed up, the turnout was over the top! Dr. Amy was there, I've written about her many times in these writings---and it was a pleasure to walk/jog alongside her in this event. At one point, we even broke out into an all out foot race/sprint. Imagine that...how foreign the mere thought would have been to 505 pound Sean. It was incredible.
I met Jill Albright, who told me that she's been a regular reader of this blog since Day 1, and that was incredibly cool!! I also had a chance to walk/jog/run alongside a devoted reader and big supporter, Lisa Love. Lisa and I actually crossed the finish line at the same time. As we both approached the finish and were about 50 yards shy, we decided to give it an all out sprint. The official time (and I have no idea--didn't check) wasn't anything to write home about I'm sure, but it was a great time for a great cause, and a wonderful workout on a beautiful Saturday morning---and that's worth writing about every time.
As I focus more and more of my time in writing the manuscript for my first book, I find myself getting more comfortable with posting only a couple of times a week on this blog. When I do post, it's usually a giant post with a bunch of pictures. This new focus for me is challenging in many ways, but it's a good experience, incredible really. I've had several people express that they truly miss the daily posting schedule that I maintained for 22 and a half months straight, and I understand, and I know you do too. This chapter of my journey is imperative to my development, just as writing daily was for nearly two years. I do update my facebook on a regular basis, most usually everyday, so if you're not a facebook friend of mine, friend me! Just search for Sean Anderson, and use my email or picture as the identifier-- firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
I was trying to figure something out on the computer monitor while snapping a picture that shows a different perspective in the contours of my slimmer face. This one did the trick. Lisa Risner, a facebook friend writes in response: "You don't just look different, you LOOK different. Healthy looks great on you."
Another tuxedo picture. I was so tired of wearing the tuxedo, I took it back to Spray's Jewelry, Gifts, and Tuxedos minutes after changing. Once in a while is awesome, feels good...but five days straight...oh my goodness.
Big before picture---at over 500 pounds, with Courtney--my youngest daughter.
This meal, oh my...I needed some green, I'll admit, but let me tell you...I love this stuff. Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, and Kraft Mac and Cheese---oh yeah. By the way, this is the first time I've consumed any of the Kraft mac and cheese on this journey--and probably the last. As prepared, the calorie value is unbelievably bad...sickening really. What you see on my plate here is 110 calories worth, exactly a quarter of the "suggested" serving size and calories listed on the box...I measured it out with my digital food scale. This meal actually checked in a little higher than I usually allow, at 620, but at the time, I still had slightly over 800 calories remaining in my "account." Enough room for a 205 calorie dessert that looks like 600, check this out...
Angel food cake, 130 calorie portion...fresh strawberries allowed to "juice" under the influence of a little real sugar---50 calories, and a dollop of Cool Whip for 25 calories. Tell me that doesn't look like a 500 or 600 calorie dessert...it was amazing!!
Showing off my "505" tattoo and taking a picture with Dr. Amy Cox!
Again with Dr. Amy. Her and her husband Dr. Jeremy Cox have an incredible practice known as the Ranch Chiropractic Wellness Center. They do incredible things there, that go way beyond simply getting "adjusted." It's a whole wellness approach that really energizes and enthuses their patients.
I met Jill Albright!! She said to me: "I've been reading your blog since nearly Day 1," and she's local to me...I can't believe we hadn't met before now!
With Issac Cervantes. Issac is an incredibly talented child actor. He most recently can be found in the independent film "War Stories." Issac played my character's son in the play "Call Me Henry" last year. Having a lead role in a production like that was a real dream come true for me, something I doubt I would have ever experienced as a 500 pound man.
Remember this picture with Issac from a year ago:?
Lauren Donahue is in the background as "Doris," wife to my "Hank." Issac played "Henny."
With friend, reader, and big supporter, Lisa Love. Congrats Lisa--you did wonderful!
With Melody Young, one of the organizers of this big event. Melody is in a group of Ponca Citians that are in training for the New York City Marathon in November. It's funny, before I met Melody in studio earlier this week, I actually passed her and her NYC Marathon training group as they ran in the 5am hour---and I was in my tuxedo, riding my bicycle to work.
Leftovers...very nice. Minus the mac and cheese and with roasted red potatoes instead of mashed, the calorie count was just over 400 calories for the entire plate. It was soooo good, even the second time around. As you can see, I enjoyed this meal at the keyboard, writing and eating...it's what I do.