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...
With Courtney last week after hitting goal! Courtney is an amazing kid!! I'm so blessed, thank you Court!
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!!
Illene O, helping me with my bowtie at the Team Radio private party open house last Friday night.
With Dave May, on stage Friday night at the party...
With Amber, Wednesday morning in studio! Amber did an incredible job co-hosting my morning show. It was very nice!
With our studio monitors on---yeah, rockin' the country!
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!!
Big before picture---oooohhhh---side view, ouch.
At Amber's High School Graduation--May 2008