The Man In The Next Booth, Living and Learning, and Re-Focusing The Fundamentals
I walked into the restaurant with a beautiful date on my arm and a plan. I always have a strategy ready when I dine out and it's always very simple. I order water with lemon. If I want a "lemonade," I ask for extra lemons, then I use sweetener to taste. Since most restaurant portions are enough to feed two or three people, sharing is most always practiced. I avoid the appetizers and I avoid the bread, pre-meal, knowing that I'll enjoy one when the meal arrives. At Texas Roadhouse, they'll bring you as many rolls as you can handle. And they're incredible little things, really. Perfectly baked to perfection--hot, buttery, with a taste that makes you want to know what exactly it is they put in these things. I'm not sure what it is, but it's something very hard to resist, especially for a bread lover like me. But I calmly remind myself that I'll have one soon, as quickly as the meal arrives.
I love fried catfish, I think we've established that before. And this place does it so well. And the portion they put on a plate just absolutely begs a reasonably sane person to do one of two things: Either share or get a box and take half of it home. I always opt to share. 1/2 a baked potato and a couple of catfish fillets, plus a roll--makes for a wonderful meal. It's not too much or too little, it's just perfect. This is the plan and it works, every time.
I always remember "Old Sean," in these situations. I remember how foreign it would have been to even suggest sharing a meal like this. Instead of being nearly appalled at the enormous serving sizes, I would have applauded them for the value and the feast that I most certainly would have joyously stuffed in every last bite--along with extra rolls and butter--and more peanuts please! I always needed an antacid after a big meal. I never need one now. And I'm still satisfied and happy. Hmmm...This is nice.
The best part of this restaurant visit wasn't the different attitude and approach that my new relationship with food provides. It was the company in the next booth. Let me explain: As we were being seated, I thought I recognized the gentleman in the booth up ahead. When he loudly exclaimed, "Sean Anderson," I immediately knew who it was. He looked so different from the last time I saw him. It was the tattoo artist that gave me my "505" tattoo. When he gave me my tattoo, he weighed 460 pounds--Now, he's 156 pounds lighter--looks completely different, and in his words, "I feel twenty years younger!"
We talked about his journey and the questions people ask him about his "plan." When he describes how he eats less and exercises all the time, most people are less than thrilled. I've experienced that same thing!!! He mentioned how he can't wait for summer, because he'll be able to do things that he hasn't in years. His eyes were lighting up at the thought. It was genuine happiness. The beautiful lady across from him was smiling from ear to ear too. She surely sees an amazing difference in this former 460 pound man that goes way beyond the obvious physical changes. It was an amazing little visit. And as he walked away, I couldn't help but stare--and smile. He thanked me for inspiring him. And now--he's going to inspire so many more with his brilliant enthusiasm for life. The chance encounter of it all, made this night out extra special. I experienced over-whelming joy for him and his success that he's worked so hard to achieve. The guy is amazing--and it thrills me to know him.
It's always interesting that we have similar experiences when trying to answer the question, "How are you doing it?" It's so natural to look for the easy way out along this road. I did for so many years. And if someone told me that it was a lifestyle change (and they did many times), and that I had to eat less and exercise more, and battle myself to stay true to the mission of change--well, I was always disappointed. This thought is exactly what inspired a blog posting from February 2009. let's go back in the archives, shall we?
From Day 163 "The Insane Search for Anything that Works and An Unlikely Dinner"
I searched for years, well, not really actively searching everyday, but curious always at least, wondering what really works? I was conditioned by our culture and society from an early age to believe in order to lose weight, you had to have a plan. Not your own sensible plan, because that would be too simple and free, and we know that if it's free it can't work, no, no, no...we gotta pay to lose weight if we expect results. We need someone else's plan!
A plan or product someone else designed and now charges large amounts of money for. Now if this plan is all about learning portion control, self-analysis, and exercising, then great...sounds good, but kinda boring...and boring doesn't sell. I want amazing success claims! I want you to tell me that I can basically sleep and gorge all day long and still lose weight.
I always thought that the secret must be in a product or system somewhere on a store shelf near me. When I would run into someone who had lost weight, my first question was always: “How did you do it?” This is often the first question that comes to mind for anyone. I always wanted to hear about a miraculous new product that would magically melt away my fat in the middle of the night while I slept regardless of my food intake or lack of exercise. As crazy as that idea sounds, that's exactly the message I've watched before on an infomercial in the middle of the night. Perhaps you've watched the same one. Did you notice the fine print too?
“Product to be used in conjunction with a regular diet and exercise regimen.” Really? I have to make an effort? Then why would I want to take these again? Do they even contain anything other than a placebo and a slick marketing campaign that targets the desperate and dangerously overweight at 2am?
But for years I had an open mind and a willing ear to listen to anyone that had any information on what worked. As long as that solution didn't involve certain things, like personal responsibility, educating myself on portion control, understanding, analyzing, and reconstructing my behaviors and please don't say exercise! Noooo! I can't move! What? You want me to kill myself?
Listen, I understand the hopeless feelings that consume grotesquely obese people. I've been one for years. The dream is a miracle cure, that never comes along. Oh sure, people lose weight on all kinds of products and systems. I'm not saying you can't lose weight on some of these things. People do everyday, but it's like spending money on cleaning up the mess from a broken sewer line, but not fixing the broken sewer line. Sorry, that's a gross but effective example...but you see what I mean, right? That's why so many people gain back everything they lost and more! They cleaned up the mess caused by the real problem, but they didn't address the real problem.
When they repeat the process over and over they call it...”Yo-Yo Dieting.” I've always heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result...that's yo-yo dieting! What has driven me to get down to the honest bare truth behind my lifelong battle with obesity? I don't have time to yo-yo any-mo-mo. That was kind of lame, but it made me laugh, so I'm good. I'm learning everyday about food and how to properly handle it, I'm learning about exercise and how to properly do it, and most importantly, I'm learning about me on a level I didn't know existed.
For the first time in my life I'm finally finding what I was looking for, and the strangest thing is, it was inside me all along, but I wasn't looking there. It's like searching for your lost car keys for 30 years, then one day finding them in your pocket where they'd always been.
It's time to read some wonderful mail! I absolutely love opening messages like the following. it's like a gift someone is giving me. It's feedback. It feels good to feel like we're making a difference. And I can't thank this reader enough for the wonderful time and energy they put into this email gift. In consideration of their privacy, I've taken out the name. This feels good:
I just finished reading every day of your journey from the very beginning and I’m truly sad that I’m now all caught up and just waiting for you to write again. I started my journey on Oct 25 and by some miracle found your blog and started reading. As many people have stated, you are one hell of an inspiration and I truly am grateful that you wrote your journey down for the world to read. I too am counting calories and exercising and am proud to say that I now have dropped 30 pounds as of this morning and on the road to another 30 and then 30 more. Like you I love food and found it funny that you used Velveeta cheese in your last seminar to signify the weight loss as Velveeta is one of my weaknesses and that’s one food I haven’t touched since Oct 24. I too started with the “anything goes” philosophy but have found that the longer I go the more I don’t seem to care if I eat chocolate, Velveeta or KD. Weird how the mind set changes over time. I’m loving that I am down 2 sizes and can’t wait to be able to walk into any store and buy anything I want, right now I have to go to a “special” store that caters to us heavier people. I too just recently started to get the “have you lost weight” comments and man, does it feel good. I really was starting to wonder why nobody was commenting on it but now it seems every day I get at least one person and it thrills me every time.
Thank you for all that you have written and the knowledge you have passed along. I am forever grateful that I could read you any day when I thought I just couldn’t do this anymore. You have kept me on the right path and for that I am eternally grateful. I was talking to a friend this morning and she is starting her journey and I told her about your blog and that she should start from the very beginning, she plans on doing that right away and I hope she pays it forward and so on. I am so excited for you and all the wonderful things that have happened in your life. When you’re sad I’m sad for you, when you got the divorce I cried for you and when you’re happy I’m happy for you. I don’t know why some people have to be cruel and say things like “get over yourself” but damnit, those are the people that are either jealous or sick in some way and aren’t worth the worry. How anybody could not be amazed and inspired by you is something I do not understand. I totally get why you have to sometimes just stare at yourself in the mirror and marvel at what you’ve done as I too in the privacy of the bathroom have to do that myself. People that haven’t had a bad body image or have never had to fight with weight will never understand why we have to “admire” ourselves every once in awhile. The feeling of accomplishment is something we have to force our brain to see.
We’ve had 2 quick exchanges in the last couple of months but this is the biggest writing I’ve done to you as I know you are so very busy and trying to get the book done so I don’t like to bother you. I’ll probably never meet you in person but that’s okay, I still think of you as my weight loss buddy and will forever remember you and your amazing transformation and look forward to more writing on the blog.
CONGRATULATIONS on reaching your goal, I was thrilled when you got there, way to go!!! And I hope your sleep apnea gets fixed and that you can finally rest and get a good nights sleep, you deserve it. And I’ll be added to the long list of people that exclaim that you are one handsome man and I hope you find a wonderful lady that deserves you, or perhaps you already have with Karen, but that’s none of my business, I’ll shut up now.
Take care of yourself...a Canadian fan…"
What a blessing! Thank you, my friend! I'm so thrilled for your success!! You're absolutely doing it--and this time is different from any other!!
Sleep apnea. Oh my--yes, it's wreaked havoc on me in the last several months. I've now completed two sleep lab studies in the last month and I'm currently awaiting the final results and will soon be receiving a new prescription and setting for a CPAP machine. It has absolutely hurt my productivity in many ways. I'm always tired it seems and no matter how well I think I've slept, I'm always ready for a nap, even if I've only been up for a few hours. I'm really looking forward to experiencing real good rest again--The kind of sleep I remember from nearly ten years of sleeping successfully on a CPAP at my heaviest.
A couple of my blogging buddies stopped by the blog and commented recently. Tony "The Anti-Jared" Posnanski is truly an inspiration to me in so many ways. He has an amazing sense of humor too. I love his arms and he loves my voice, apparently:
"I want your smooth voice. You are listening to WRQZ in Orrrrlando. Coming up, Hall and Oates, but now, Hit me with your Best Shot, it's Pat Benetar. See, not even close to your voice."
You absolutely crack me up, Tony! Thank you, friend!!
Jack Sh*t, the king of weight loss blog comedy, but also someone with a very serious and caring heart--with a keen observant eye, and a genuine concern--writes:
"Boy, that not weighing in for a month scares me, Sean. The problem when you get out of that tightly focused losing mode is that it's a lot harder to shift it into gear than it was before (or at least that's what I've found). But you're right... it's still FANTASTIC, but the key is to keep it that way!"
Jack--thank you for this! You're absolutely right. And now, I still haven't weighed. I've been trying to trust myself at every turn, keeping myself in check, eating like a normal person--and seeing what happens. It will be interesting to see what the scale says. I didn't really set out to try this scale free six week period, but it certainly has become an interesting study within myself. And what have I found?
I'm not ready. I'm just not ready to be "normal." What is "normal" anyway? I need the structure that has brought me this far, I do. I need to lose a little more. And finding that balance that will maintain me for life--well, that is something I'll gradually and very naturally evolve into. For now--I'm tightening up the fundamentals that have delivered me from 505 pounds. And that tightening--includes weighing this week.
I have some amazing friends in this weight loss blogging community--and these two guys are very special to me. Thank you both, again!!!
After a friend gifted me with Truvia and Agave Nectar, I've been giving it a try instead of Splenda. I even purchased some Sun Crystals, the stevia/sugar hybrid stuff--at 5 calories per packet. I'll be honest--I prefer the taste of Splenda. But I'm giving this natural alternative a wonderful try---and I know it's better for me. But you know me--I don't always consume something just because it's better for me! After all---I've never had a salad. Ever.
I hope that you'll friend me on facebook. Just search for me by my email: firstname.lastname@example.org I update facebook almost daily and we have some pretty lively, sometimes helpful and informative discussions on my facebook wall.
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
My oldest daughter Amber. I love her so much! She was in town last weekend and we had such a wonderful time at the Liverpool Legends concert!
From the upcoming Lose To Win Youtube video segment--available soon, right here and on facebook!
I always include a giant before picture every time. I've included this one a couple of times--and it always shocks me to see it again.