Still The Same...Almost and That's OK
I'm constantly recognizing and positively identifying signs of these changes I've made. The pants, size 36, still fit--and at times, especially with increased workouts, are noticeably loose. My behaviors with food haven't been extreme in almost three years, since the start of this blog on September 15th, 2008. I'm mindful of calories and portions in a very intuitive way, something I once thought impossible, has become nearly second nature. I rarely eat fast food anymore, when before, especially the first several months, this could have been called the "amazing fast food diet." When I dine out, I always share and I always navigate the menu with an eye for great calorie values. If not sharing at a restaurant, I often order kid or senior portions.
These changes, they don't stop there. No, not at all. When I race up a flight of stairs, I'm always thinking about the past struggles of weighing over five hundred pounds and how good it feels to be free. The other day I realized something huge: In the last couple of years, the only times I've ever become winded, was during a workout. Running up a flight of stairs doesn't do it. Jogging through a downpour into a store doesn't even challenge.
While I'm packing my "man-purse" or, as I like to call it, my "European Shoulder Bag," with fresh fruits and veggies, yogurt, cheese, and other healthy snacks, I'm reminded again...This isn't like I once behaved.
I guess it's a comfort I find, in pausing for just a second to notice every difference between me, now and then. It's like I constantly need reassured I'm a free man.
And then something happens, circumstances, stress--let's call it what it is, life---and if it's stressful enough, I find myself face to face with the negative reactions that kept me over five hundred pounds for nearly two decades.
I thought I was free. I thought I was immune. I thought I would never again feel like foolishly running for comfort and shelter inside a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos or a half gallon of ice cream. I no longer run for comfort, I run for exercise....so, why do these emotions occasionally try to disprove that statement?
First, let me tell you about last Monday.
Without revealing intimate details of my personal and business relations--let's just say, I felt like everything was falling apart. I was filled with fear (both real and imagined), stress, and uncertainty. The possibility of missing yet another deadline intensified all of the above. So what did I do?
First--I drove to Braum's Ice Cream and Diary Store and ordered a junior kid sized low-fat frozen yogurt on a cake style cone (despite the name "cake," it's actually the lowest calorie option) This little eighty-nine cent treat was the start of something. Only about 130-150 calories, it was, but...regardless of the calorie value, I was comforting myself with food.
Ok, OK---maybe a little is normal...Normal, until I arrived home and immediately opened the fridge door like I had done a million times in my former existence, just looking for something more. Cottage cheese--yeah, there it is...I can't trust myself around this stuff and that's why I don't normally keep it around, but I'm in control, right? I can have a carton in the fridge and not abuse it, can't I? My daughters love it too, and so does Karen, the wonderful woman I'm dating. But as I plunged the spoon directly into the carton and up to my mouth, without the detour or portion control of a small bowl, I had a terrifying emotion.
Like--"here we go, hmmmm, I was just wondering when it would all come crashing down." I was abusing myself with thoughts of self-destruction--and possibly gorging myself silly on something, anything. What else is there? Bananas, mushrooms, apples, yogurt, eggs, chicken breast---Where's the junk???? Who is this guy anyway??? Geez--is it too much to ask for a little ice cream up in here? Or how about some frozen pizzas or burritos?
It was like an invasion of my mind and body by the Sean I left behind. Just then, I had a realization, a few actually. I'm not perfect and I never will be. I'm changed, deeply changed, but I should never underestimate the power of addiction. I must stop thinking that "Old Sean" is dead and gone, because he still lives within me, he's still capable of assuming control, should I allow my defenses down, even a little. I'm very human. And even through this gradual evolution of good choices, the incredible network of support from people near and far, and a system of accountability and example I take pride in everyday---even with all things considered---I was still on the brink of a meltdown. And it's OK.
It's OK, because something different happens now, when I'm standing on the edge. This difference was present early on this journey too---and it is this:
The honesty and willingness to recognize the dynamic in play...look over the edge, and take a few steps back, evaluating the circumstances, choices, and consequences of my decisions...and making the right choice to deal directly and decisively with the issues pressing.
Now--here's the kicker---In dealing "directly and decisively" with issues, instead of running to food for comfort and shelter, I run the risk of not handling myself in the best fashion, while dealing with others. As someone who's always avoided dealing with tough emotions directly, until I didn't have a choice, at least---it's just new to me...so...I guess I'm learning even more, about dealing with life in a normal healthy way--much like I'm learning more and more about this wonderful new friend I have in food, and the relationship we're developing...a normal, healthy relationship.
This blog has always been about educating me, all about me...the real me, in search of the new information, the epiphanies, the lessons I had to learn the hard way in my quest for freedom. And the education never stops. I'll always learn and grow. And that's OK. That's normal and healthy.
If you haven't sent me a friend request on facebook, I hope you will. It's really become an outlet for me to communicate and gain perspective on a variety of "micro-blog" topics. Yeah, some call them status updates, I call them "micro-blogs." I hereby invite you to the regular discussions! You can find my facebook page by clicking here.
I love getting emails from wonderful people who have started reading my blog pages from Day 1...Your support helps me more than you'll ever know. Going to the mailbag--I found a wonderful email like this just the other day...
I recently jumped back on the healthy eating bandwagon and discovered your blog when someone posted somewhere that they started from day 1 and read all the way through. I read day 1 and I thought they were crazy. No way was I going to read 600+ posts. Next thing you know, I'm through day 12.
Currently, I'm caught up through day 200 and I can't wait to read how this story ends! (Actually, I know how it ends as I couldn't help but notice the titles of the more recent posts.) Glad to see you discovered strength training exercises...and protein...and nutritional aspects of foods from your allotted calories... Was a little worried about the lack of these through the first 150ish days.
And it isn't even like I can relate to your story. Oh, I mean, I can empathize, but only somewhat. I'm one of those "high metabolism" guys you used to "hate"...or more accurately, I used to be. Now I guess I'm more of a "normal metabolism" guy. In the past couple of years, my waist to inseam length ratio has crossed into the forbidden ">1 zone", but still, not exactly a problem I'm going to whine about (too much). (If only I could figure out how to persuade my wife to read your story...but I know, I know, you can't drag people to that place where they need to be to start their own journeys.)
Anyhow, the point of my rambling email is to say, way to go. I'm really enjoying the read through so far...(despite an occasional cringe from a misused affect/effect =P )...and I definitely will be ordering your book as soon as it's available.
Back to work...and then back to reading...I'm just a few posts away from another weigh-in day...(and I predict this one will far surpass the previous two of "only" six pounds each)...
Thank you "J" and thank goodness for editors!!! The great thing--you have the power to have an amazing impact on the ones around you--and I bet, with your enthusiasm for change, you'll be seeing some wonderful participation and change in others! I'm not sure I would be as disciplined. I would probably skip ahead. Of course, those of us who know--know that you're in for some surprises along the way. Some good, some not so good...Thank you again for your support and happy reading--and transforming!!!
The book is very different from the blog and I must say, I feel so blessed to be receiving such wonderful reviews and endorsements. A friend of mine suggested I might be a little insecure--and perhaps I need the constant reassurance the reviews give me. Huh...probably true. I mean, really---I have a huge insecure side of me--but I also have an equally confident side. It's like a tug of war...
I also realize how important it is to share early reviews in an effort to generate interest. And speaking of---it will not be long before pre-ordering starts!!
Jean Brace is a bookstore owner and longtime sponsor of my morning radio show. It's absolutely fitting to have the very first book release signing in her store. I'm looking forward to that day--and Jean will be a good one to ask about the book, because she's already read the entire thing....You knew this was coming---I'm so predictable sometimes:
"Reading Sean's story has given me a window on the day-to-day realities of a life ruled by food. I admire the courage he shows by revealing intimate details of his life, not sparing himself, not blaming others, and respecting the dignity of others. With the creation of his simple yet profound "Calorie Bank and Trust" concept, Sean provided himself a means to accomplish genuine, sustainable weight loss when all his previous attempts had failed. I am eager to introduce my customers to the inspiring story of this man of extraordinary insight, determination and compassion."---Jean Brace, Brace Books & More
Dr. Marty Lerner PhD is a World renowned authority on eating disorders and addiction recovery. His endorsement means so much to me:
“Transformation Road” takes the reader on the long and often tragic journey of Sean Anderson’s battle with food and morbid obesity spanning just about his entire life. His experience with declaring war with himself graphically depicts the tortured soul of most of us who face an addictive and pathological relationship with food. Having won many a battle but inevitably losing his war, Sean offers us some insight as to who the real enemy has been.
To be sure, compulsive eating, binge eating, and the many “flavors” of related forms of food addiction and eating disorders [e.g. bulimia, anorexia] do not all lend themselves to a “one size fits all” solution. However, there does seem to be a common thread among those, like Sean, who find their way to recovery- namely rigorous self-honesty, an open mind, and, as Sean would remind us, an “iron-clad” willingness to change.
“Transformation Road” takes the reader away from the typical weight loss fixes and asks the reader to consider the nature of emotional eating and the “symptom” of obesity. The author reveals his “moment of clarity” and the resultant decision to declare a truce with his war with food. What follows is Sean’s recipe for food addiction recovery. Although incorporating some suggestions that run contrary to some recovered food addicts, Sean’s experiences are worth learning about and considering.
As someone who has worked with patients suffering with all forms of eating disorders for more than three decades, I think Sean’s book is a must read for anyone touched by the effects of food addiction and obesity. More important than his weight loss is his ability to testify to the basic tenets of recovery from any addiction- namely honesty, open mindedness, and willingness. In some recovery circles this is known by an acronym H.O.W.
Marty Lerner, PhD.
CEO, Milestones In Recovery
Eating Disorders Program
A couple of my fellow weight loss blogging buddies have recently contributed their reviews too...
Including the one and only Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit: click for Jack's review.
And the incredible Anti-Jared, Tony Posnanski: click for Tony's review.
Basically---Instead of releasing the book, it'll just be personally distributed to each person, one by one---and we'll just read their reviews here. I'm kidding! Actually--that's it for reviews, I believe--until it's released, of course---then I hope you'll review it for your friends and family too!
By the way---I plan on starting something I've talked about over the last couple of years--and I'm just now getting around to actually committing to it in a big way. A C25K program!! Jack has done it---and so have many others around these parts---
Well, here's the deal---There are two 5k runs coming up in October--and I would really enjoy NOT coming in last. I've participated in several "runs," but honestly---I mostly walk fast/jog---and then walk fast some more, followed by more walking. I must keep you updated on the progress!! I will, right here! Have you done a C25K program? How was the experience?
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
Gerri Helms, Author of "Trust God and Buy Broccoli" introduced me to Peter Murphy of WMEL AM 1300 in Florida. Peter invited me on his show as a special guest--and the above player is the entire 42 minute extended interview. Thank you Gerri and Peter!!!
Photo Credit: Kelli Anderson--Kellidee Photography Mom and me.
Celebrating Courtney's 18th Birthday!
With Amber and Courtney. I can't believe both of my daughters are in college!!!! I'm so proud of them, in so many ways. They're the greatest!
My recent grocery shopping basket. A gradual evolution of good choices, indeed.
Big Before picture of me and the girls