The Twilight Zone of Obesity and The Awakening
Thank you for the incredible patience that many of you have given me over the last few months. As I further prioritize my life and pursuits, I realize that this blog must be a part of my life, probably forever. Yeah, pretty sure, forever.
It has given me so much strength, power, insight, wisdom---all about the dynamics that I allowed to keep my over five hundred pounds for so long, and most importantly, the power to never go back to that existence. The choice was made on Day 1. This would be different than any other weight loss attempt in my past. It has been, in every way.
In my last post, I talked about making an effort to write this blog more often---and that is still the plan. For the next three days I'll be sequestered in a suburb of Tulsa finishing War and Peace. Ok--that was a joke. But you might think it'll be that long after the time I've allowed to get it finished. I will be officially finished with "Finding Transformation Road" on Thursday evening of this week. I have rolled right past every deadline to get this manuscript finished---and although I believe certain excuses are not excuses, rather, circumstances---I'm not a fan of delivering a long list of reasons why I haven't finished---But oh, what a glorious day it will be, to turn it over to the editors! Anyway---enough of that.
I had a scare with my mom last month. If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you must know how much I love my mother--and how she, for years, worried herself sick over my morbid obesity, and how I worry about her the same way, now. Mom was taken to the hospital with alarmingly high blood sugar, so high in fact, they immediately admitted her, so they could battle it back down. They stabilized mom and assured her that she wasn't "there" yet, instead---she had 90 days to lose weight and remove herself from the edge of needing daily insulin shots. They gave her counseling from a diabetic nurse and showed her exactly how to properly check her blood. They also sent in a clinical dietitian to assist mom with proper eating choices. I was in the room during her initial consultation with the dietitian---and I was trying so hard to remain quiet. I was showing respect--after all, she was obviously a college educated expert of sorts, so of course, everything she was saying was exactly what mom needed to do. She was explaining all of the proper foods and portions, and explaining the benefit of each---and suggesting ways to prepare certain things. And mom was nodding and agreeing, and when asked if she was understanding everything--mom replied "yes," And that's when I couldn't contain myself another second. But first---let me explain something.
Just because you have text book knowledge of proper nutrition and how the body responds to certain foods and portions, it doesn't give you immunity from morbid obesity. The proof of that statement, surrounded my mother. I'm not mentioning any names--I wouldn't do that--but my mom's doctor is morbidly obese, so was the clinical dietitian, so was the diabetic nurse, and so was 80% of the nursing staff on the floor where my mom was staying. Everyone involved in my mothers wake up call--was more than 100 pounds over weight--and a few, even more. I felt like we were in an episode of the Twilight Zone.
As the dietitian tried to explain to mom what she must do from now on--point by point, pausing to ask if she understood--and mom saying she did--I had to interject.
I'm not an expert at anything, other than being a 500 pound man. I'm pretty much an expert based on my experience, in that department. I know, that telling someone what they must do, or desperately need to do---and giving them portions, recipes, ideas, and a special menu plan---most of which is opposite the habits and lifestyle they're accustomed---can be overwhelming and very unnatural. If they stay with it to the letter--positive results will come. But will it be permanent? What good is a temporary suppression of our habits? To me--because I did it for years--It's like a trade off---I'll do exactly what they're telling me I need to do--while I suppress the issues and behaviors that have brought me to my present physical condition. That way is the biggest struggle---that way is hard---because it's unnatural. I've said it before---many times---Telling someone what they need to do or must do---is like calling a cleaning service to clean up the mess of a broken sewer line--but not fixing the sewer line.
I had to speak up---I could see it on mom's face--so much information, so much urgency--it was starting to overwhelm her...and I know---I was there many times. It gets scary--and confusing, and complicated. I couldn't keep my mouth shut another second.
Me: "Don't you think--that---if losing weight is the goal, and losing weight is what will save her from becoming an insulin dependent diabetic--that maybe she should keep it as simple as possible? Maybe do a set calorie budget and exercise everyday. She'll learn about portion control as she stays within the bounds of her budget. The weight will come off--and she'll realize that the battle doesn't have to be with the food, but it does have to be with ourselves---The mental battle to maintain the integrity of that calorie budget--That's where she should focus, don't you agree?"
Dietitian: "Well, I don't want her eating 1200 calories worth of sugar everyday."
Me: "She knows better than that! She doesn't do that now--it's portion control, she eats well--just too well, too often."
Mom: (to the dietitian) "He's lost a bunch of weight, over 275 pounds, and he's done it like this. He writes a blog all about it."
Dietitian: "Really? Wow, congratulations!"
Me: "Thank you, really, you understand what I'm trying to say...what I hear you telling her is not in tune with her natural lifestyle and behaviors. This lifestyle and these behaviors can change---gradually evolving over time, but in my experience---it doesn't change as soon as I'm handed a special diet. You see what I'm saying?"
Dietitian: "You're right--portion control and exercise is exactly what she needs, but she also needs to be aware of what to avoid."
It was a very pleasant and positive exchange. Later, after I left, the dietitian returned. This time, she was inquiring about my weight loss blog.
Mom is going to make it. She still struggles--and I know she doesn't mind me writing about her, because I have so much. It's all based in love and understanding. I love her dearly and I understand her struggles. I wish I could do it for her, or for my Aunt Kelli, or for other loved ones...but I can't. Each and every one of us must have our own Day 1, when it's just different than any other attempt before. We must all have our own unique awakening. And although the circumstances of that awaking might be different for each one of us--The mental clarity, the philosophies, the epiphanies that set us free, are nearly identical---across all addictions, not just food addiction.
Gayle Williams is a long time friend and co-worker--who has read every single day of this blog. She understands what drives me, she understands the thoughts, philosophies, and epiphanies that I hold very dear. So when she runs across a written word that she knows I'll appreciate, she points it out. The other day, she found the following. It's called "The Awakening." It's by "anonymous" or "author unknown," and if you know the author's name---please share it with me. It describes the awakening in such a wonderful way. I write about "Choosing change before change chooses you," and this is what I'm talking about. This is how---this time is different from any other weight loss attempt, ever. Enjoy this---I know I did!! Thank you for sharing this with me, Gayle!!
A time comes in your life when you finally get it. When, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks, and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out… ENOUGH! Enough fighting, crying, blaming, and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears, and begin to look at the world through new eyes.
This is your awakening.
You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change. Or, for happiness, safety, and security to appear over the next horizon as if by magic.
You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you. And, in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect, and that not everyone will always love, appreciate, or approve of who or what you are, and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.
You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself, and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
Your stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you, or didn’t do for you. You learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.
You learn that people don’t always say what they mean, or mean what they say. That not everyone will always be there for you, and everything isn’t always about you.
So, you learn to stand on your own. You learn to take care of yourself, and in the process, a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers. You begin to accept people as they are. To overlook their shortcomings and human frailties, and in the process peace and contentment are born of forgiveness.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing. You begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.
You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing. You stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.
You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.
You learn that you don’t know everything. It’s not your job to save the world, and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry, and that martyrs get burned at the stake.
Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are, not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.
You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility, the importance of setting boundaries, and learning to say NO.
You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over, and ignoring your needs.
You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.
You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty, so you take more time to rest. You learn that just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So, you take more time to laugh and to play.
You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for. That wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.
More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline, and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.
You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into, and through your fears because you know that whatever may happen, you can handle it. You learn that to give in to fear is to give away your right to live life on your own terms.
You learn to fight for your life. Not to squander it by living under a cloud of impending doom.
You learn that life isn’t always fair. You don’t always get what you think you deserve. That sometimes, bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. You learn not to always take it personally.
You learn that nobody’s punishing you, and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong, and to build bridges instead of walls.
You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy, and resentment must be understood and redirected. If not, they will suffocate the life out of you. They will poison the universe that surrounds you.
You learn to be thankful, and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted. The things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.
Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself. You make yourself a promise to never betray yourself. To never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire.
You make it a point to keep smiling. To keep trusting. To stay open to every wonderful possibility.
You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.
Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand. You take a deep breath. You begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.
Beautiful, isn't it? Gayle has worked with me for over a decade--she knew 500 pound Sean well, and now she knows me even better. She knew this would be right up my alley. Thank you again Gayle. And thank you again for hosting my radio show over the next three days while I finish the book. Don't laugh Gayle---seriously, it will be finished! ;)
It's time to visit the mailbag:
"Sean I have read and enjoyed all of your blogs..I don't even need to lose much weight at 156 and 75 yeats of age but just love the way you inspire others. I come on now and then to see if you are still so handsome:-) You haven't mentioned your girl friend Hope that is Ok.
God Bless You & your girls and your Mom"
Rita, thank you, my friend!! Since you've read every single day--you know that I've learned some very hard lessons on keeping some things a little more private than others. Karen is a wonderful woman--and I have chosen to be very guarded about my relationship with her. But it is very good.
Chrissy added me on facebook, where I update nearly every day. She writes a very short facebook message here....and sometimes I get carried away with my reply, as you'll see.
"You are doing so well. I am still envious!! I have all the power to "fire myself" up....just don't have the motivation to stay that way!! HOWEVER do you do it?!?"
My facebook reply:
"Fire up your "Steel Curtain Zone" and decide that this is of life or death importance!! ;) We must decide that nothing will derail our efforts. We must DECIDE that this time, it's different...this time--nothing---No person, place, thing, circumstance, or emotion will become an excuse or rationalization for failure. We will not allow the same patterns of our past to dictate and determine our future.
Chrissy--You can make this powerful decision---a decision that puts the choices and consequences squarely where they should be---on us.
It's the same if you have 20 pounds to lose or 200---it's a mental attitude that nearly ensures your success.
You have the power, my friend!!! I didn't think I did for over twenty years near, at, or above 500 pounds...But I did have it the entire time---it was just too easy to ignore---and gravitate to the line of least resistance.
It's so easy at that line....But it can be a very hopeless and depressing place to hang out. Rise above that line and realize that you're worth the effort. Make that "iron-clad decision" to succeed. And get ready---success like you've never known, awaits!!!
You're incredible, my friend---Thank you for the support!!!"
"Sean, I began reading your blogs in September 2010 as I was beginning to get serious about losing weight. As of yesterday I am off Metforim-which I have been on for three years- for insulin resistance and down over 40lbs. Your blogs helped me get back on track when I fell. I would click on one and then read for while. Always found something that would inspire me. With your blogs and the encouragemnet of good friends, I know I keep my healthier lifestyle
Thank you anonymous!!! I'm absolutely thrilled for you!!! Actually, this person is a facebook friend, who would rather be anonymous, and that's very cool.
"I just wanted to stop by this morning and tell you that you have been such an inspiration on my journey! I love reading your blog (I was turned on by a friend) and have used your lessons to guide my steps on this path! Since mid November I have lost over 50 lbs and I continue to work on those last 50 with the help of wonderful people like you! Thank you! God Bless and keep on moving forward!"
Andrea--wow!!! You absolutely rock, my friend!!! Thank you so very much!!
"Sean, having read thru your blog and looking at your photos here on facebook, I hope that you include in your book all the amazing meals that you have made or combined."
Lyn, a collaborative cookbook project is in the very beginning "talking" stages. It would be one that would include many other winning losers--not just me. Besides---I'm not sure I could fill a cook book on my own!!!! Could you imagine?-- "The Amazing Pita Pizza and Omelet Cookbook!" But I certainly appreciate your confidence!! Thank you!!
"I am reading your blog and have found it to be extremely motivating! I'm getting back on track again. Thank you! Thank you! Your blog is awesome!"
Betty--Thank you very much. Even when I don't post very often these days---I feel like the heart of this blog is the stuff that really counts. The latest stuff is important as far as maintaining--and I sincerely plan on being more active with this blog in that direction--But going back to day one and reading forward---is the best way to get the full perspective. Sometimes I feel like I've written everything I believe---and to keep saying it, only in a different way, is sometimes the challenge.
Laura Ward--AKA "Zaa Baby," from www.zaaisshrinking.blogspot.com writes:
"May of 2008....and May of 2011 everything is so different! What exciting times you and I live in Sean! How wonderful that things are different for not just you and me but hundreds of others whose lives you have affected! I will always hold you first in my heart as the one who made the most impact on my weight loss. Waiting patiently for my SIGNED COPY of your book. I predicted it, didn't I, oh so long ago?! Much hugs to you and yours."
Laura--Yes you did, my friend...Yes you did!!! Your success warms my heart, Laura. You're amazing my friend!!! And thank you for sticking with me---even when I wait a little too long to post something new!!! You will absolutely get a signed copy--right in your mailbox. You've been such a wonderful supporter!!! Thank you again!!!
What have I learned in the last few months? I've learned that in all the changes I've made--My changes in behavior with food is pretty solid. I don't look at food the same and I never will. I still love food, I still enjoy food, I'm still a food addict--only "recovering," always recovering---And that's OK. Because a new friendship with food is what it's all about--and that friendship will never be abusive again.
When ice cream "Dream Bars," get freezer burn because they've been in there for months---or an entire bag of 45 calorie Snickers minis (A gift) are completely forgotten about in a kitchen drawer...That's a major change. And I love it. It's a sweet freedom that I once thought was impossible to capture. But it's not impossible. It's very real, and very possible---because if someone like me can make it out--after twenty years near, at, or above 500 pounds--I believe anyone can.
I've also learned that I'm not naturally into exercise. That was really supposed to be a part of my lifestyle change--it was, and is---but I'm extremely flawed and faulty when it comes to keeping a set schedule for workouts. It is imperative for me to naturally evolve into a more consistent workout schedule. It's strange--when I started--nothing kept me from walking---it didn't matter--my schedule, the weather, stressed, tired---whatever---It was non-negotiable---But now---so far from the urgency of "do or die," I find it a little too easy to claim-- "I'm really tired," or "My schedule is just too crazy today," or whatever the circumstance might be---when really, I could and should make the time, every time.
Thank you for reading---This would be an epic post like no other if I took the time and space to catch up on everything that has transpired in the last month--so I'll wrap with some photos instead.
I sincerely appreciate your patience and readership--thank you again. Goodnight and...
My grandfather on my dad's side---Silas Haynes--passed away on Mothers Day. I wasn't able to make the trip to Alabama to be with everyone, but I sincerely cherish my trip from last November, even more. Here we are together. I'll have this photo forever. He was an amazing man.
This amazing dessert is just under 100 calories---and totally incredible!! Picture blurry---I use my phone---I really should buy a camera---Geez!!
Hosting The Poncan Opry. Photo credit: Rick Logan
Uh, yeah---I don't really "do" cowboy hats well. Not my style, I guess. But I still love country music!! I love all music---You know that!!!
In my cabin at Camp Wood--getting ready to speak to the Kansas State Alliance YMCA Gathering. Thank you Kansas YMCA's for having me!!! It was awesome!
I love this breakfast--The 60 calorie Joseph's Pita is perfect--the cheese---the egg, oh my--great breakfast!!! With a whole egg and two egg whites--still under 220 and VERY filling!!
Recent lunch. I'm in a habit of taking all kinds of good stuff to work. When I do---I grab less of the little snacks that live in the kitchen at work. Pretzels are awesome---but three hundred calories worth isn't always a good idea!!!
Karen prepared this amazing dinner for me. I wasn't that big on salmon before--but wow, she adjusted my perspective with a perfect grilling and a squeeze of lemon. It was divine. I actually insisted on the small sirloin, because I was convinced I wouldn't like the salmon. I liked both!!
Amber received two scholarships at the SWOSU Education department Awards Ceremony. I am so blessed to have such amazing kids. Wow---I'm a very proud dad!!! We're acting silly here--because that's what we like to do!!!
My beautiful momma--wearing my sunglasses. I love this picture of her--In fact, it's the picture that pops up when she calls my phone!!! ;) Love you momma!!!
OK--Enough with the cowboy hat pictures. We've already established---not my look.
I had a sinus infection gone wild in this photo. I missed work and everything. Very painful infection---I know it looks like something is in my cheek---But nope--nothing--well actually, something was---but we don't want to go there---It was full of infection. Thank you antibiotic shots and medicine!!! Wow---it was getting scary, real fast.
Again this year--I put on the heels for the "Walk A Mile" campaign to raise money and awareness for the Domestic Violence Program of North Central Oklahoma. You can visit their website and find out more: www.dvpnco.org A wonderful organization and cause---and what an amazing event!!!
Another scrumptious meal!!!
Momma and Me. I love her so much. We were at KFC--eating grilled chicken!! I love that stuff--because I can enjoy an entire meal for under 400 calories--at KFC, never would have thought that possible before KGC. Maybe too much sodium--but calorie wise, it's really nice.
I love this photo of her.