The Truest of My Goals Revealed in Less Than 1.8 Million Minutes
The question comes in varied forms and often: "What was the catalyst for your change?"
A very good argument could be made that this catalyst wasn't actually one event in time, but the culmination of thousands built over thirty-six years and held together by time and fear of what it meant to really, honestly, for once--truly change in a dramatic transformation. But to answer more directly, I offer the following.
I'm only able to identify the date and time of this, because its occurrence marks the only time in my life where everything was still. In that moment, I died and was reborn, if you will.
The "moment" is sandwiched between two very different versions of me. There's an entire life of food addiction/compulsive/emotional eating and resulting morbid obesity before it and a profoundly changed existence after.
Here's the moment, in an excerpt from "Transformation Road-My Trip to Over 500 Pounds and Back," scheduled for release right before Christmas:
“I'm done.” Two simple little words. That's what she said. I didn't know what she meant, I thought she was just exhausted from the day, ready for bed. I had no idea of what was about to come from her lips.
“I'm done watching you kill yourself. I love you, I do, but I can't stand by and witness your slow suicide any longer, I want a divorce.” Her words were filled with several different emotions. Anger, love, hopelessness, fear, desperation, and she was serious, I could see it in her eyes. Never before do I remember seeing such a look from her. This was serious and it didn't matter that we were a guest in someone's home that night.
I immediately tried to make her feel bad about what she was saying. “So, we get one off to college and you can't hold it together long enough for us to get the other one out of high school? How could you do this to Courtney? Can't we talk about this later, why now, why here?” And as she collapsed on the bed, crying, I knew that she had reached her limit. It didn't matter where we were or what we were doing. It was like she had no control over this release of emotion. Maybe it was her last ditch effort to snap me back into reality. Maybe she loved me enough to walk away, thinking that it might spark the changes I needed to save my own life.
It didn't take me long to realize that I was wrong in what I was saying and doing in that moment. This wasn't her fault, she couldn't help it, she had reached her emotional capacity. That's when I started to negotiate with her, begging for one more chance to turn it all around. She had heard it all before, why should she believe me now? But just as I had never witnessed that look in her eyes, she must have noticed the same difference in my frantic proposal. Because she was listening to me. This was my chance to promise her one last time. I owed it to her, my daughters, and I really owed it to myself to make a change once and for all. This was it.
I asked for a day to get my plan together and figure out how I was going to make this happen, and on Monday September 15th, 2008—I would start. “This time is going to be very different,” I pleaded. “It's got to be, buddy, it's got to be.” And with those words from her, we embraced and cried, cleansing our emotions and sending us to sleep with a relief, different for each of us. Her rest was made better because she released all of the emotions that had been building for so long and I rested because I dodged a bullet that night. But now, the real challenge would start and I didn't have any room for failure. I had to get it right. Sunday the fourteenth was spent contemplating how I was going to make this time different from every other weight loss attempt. My family depended on it, and so did my life, but obviously I was more scared of losing my family than I was my life. I know that doesn't really make sense, but it does when you really think about the mental dynamics.
Dying young was something tragic that happened to other people. I was a survivor, remember? Every time my obesity would make me fear for my life, I would cling to something that would make me feel better about it all. Oh, so it's not a heart attack, just indigestion? Or, it's out of control blood pressure, but that can be treated, right? I always found the outs, I always found the thoughts or the solutions that would let me off the hook and make me feel better about my inaction in confronting the real issues. My weight was killing me and now it was killing my family. And there wasn't anything I could do or say that would make it all better, unless it was exactly what I needed, and that meant getting to the bottom of my issues with food and once and for all, losing the weight.
Waking up on Monday September 15th, 2008, was very different. This was my day 1. As I laid there staring up at the ceiling, I thought about how this was the day. It was very different, because many times I would start by completely forgetting that I had planned to “start.” It was typical for me to realize what I was supposed to do, only after the sugar of my morning Coke hit my tongue. Another false start, because I would have already “ruined” the attempt. Oh well, maybe next time, bring on the fried cinnamon roll! Not this time. It was so powerful, on the top of my brain, it was an all consuming thought as soon as my eyes opened that morning.
I honestly felt like this was my last chance. The changes that would come if I failed were too horrible. I would lose my family as I knew it and die young. I had to grab control and choose the change. I had to keep it together and be consistent like never before. But how? How would this time be different? I honestly didn't know the answer, but I decided that it would work itself out along the way. I knew that I had to constantly remind myself to stay on track and if I could successfully keep myself from blowing it, then maybe I could finally break free. The focus wasn't on the food, it was squarely on the mental dynamics, I was walking a tight rope, where it didn't matter how I stayed balanced—as long as I didn't fall. It was the beginning of, what I would later realize and appropriately name, my “Steel Curtain Zone.”
Many things have come to pass since my last blog post. I've celebrated my three year anniversary of Day 1, my one year anniversary of maintaining my weight loss, I turned forty years young on October 23rd, enjoyed my fourth Thanksgiving holiday since choosing change, and have brought the dream of my first book to the brink of release, where a new chapter surely starts.
All of these things, each and every one, would have once earned a spot within their very own blog posting. The daily writing for over twenty-two months was exhausting at times, but in the most wonderful way possible. I was learning, from Day 1, things about myself I never before considered because I wasn't willing to step outside of my self-imposed chaos long enough to appreciate or in any way understand what was ultimately happening. And what was happening was tragic: I was slowly fading away--headed to an early death, oblivious to the power within and completely void of the tiniest shred of self-responsibility and honesty.
This self-imposed chaos isn't always a thing of the past and with that said, it's understood how easy it can be to become occupied with many things, some very important, and others not as much. But regardless of their importance level, none of these "occupants of my energy" have had even a handful of the power this little old blog has gifted me.
If you haven't, I encourage you to read the blog archives from Day 1--every day, like a super long book of sorts. In doing so, you'll have a unique perspective into my thoughts, emotions, fundamentals, and the crucial mental dynamics along the way, as they were discovered--day by day, hour by hour, and often--minute by minute. My hope is, you may find similarities in our unique, yet surprisingly similar existence. And in seeing yourself, you might discover a shift in your perspective.
This "shift in perspective" is crucial to each of us finding our own "click." Because as I've learned--the moment of clarity, the "click," must come from deep within each of us. It can't be given to us by anyone or anything, and for me, every time I foolishly thought it could exist outside of myself--I was systematically slammed back to reality--over and over, time and time again, like a violently possessed yo-yo with really sharp spikes.
It wasn't enough to just take me up and down in an endless insane emotional game, it occasionally would poke me in painful fashion. Instead of it getting my attention, I would just hold it further out from my body--keeping a safe distance between me and the truth dripping all over the floor.
One million, seven hundred and two thousand, and eighty minutes have passed since I opened my eyes on the morning of September 15th, 2008.
I will proceed with loving devotion to my dear blog and I certainly appreciate your incredible support along the way. In fact, if you're a regular reader of these writings, you're rightfully appreciated and acknowledged in the opening pages of my book, "Transformation Road." Your support has been nothing less than a precious gift and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my much healthier heart.
--Sean A. Anderson
"What are your goals?" A simple question, to be sure, but the answer given isn't always accurate.
"I want to fit into normal size clothes--wear a size 36 or smaller jeans, wear a single XL instead of a 6 or 7XL."
"I just want my health to improve, yeah--that's it, my goal is better health."
"I want to show up at the reunion and stun everyone in the room!"
"I want to lose enough to look good in a bathing suit this coming summer."
"I want to fit into and be able to buy a small economy car."
"I want to run and play with my kids/grand kids."
"I want to lose XXX pounds."
"I want to set a better example for my children, family, and friends."
"I just want to love what I see in the mirror, once and for all, finally."
"I want to be considered cute, instead of hideous--not by others, (I have no control over what others think of me or how they see me--and it is of no consequence, nor should it ever be)--but considered cute, not hideously beast-like...by me."
And every single one of these are valid and wonderful goals. But oh my--I had no idea of the power time and perspective would/could have on my truest goals. Not the goals I stated in the beginning, but the ones having developed slowly, gradually over time---right along with the rest of this transformation of mind, body, and soul. A gradual evolution of good choices. That's it, yeah--that's what I'm talking about.
My truest goals are revealed by the awesome experience and wisdom of time:
"My goal is to improve my relationship skills with all people--including and most importantly, me."
Our whole lives are built on relationships along the road of life. And often, when these relationships aren't perfect, the resulting detours end up teaching us about life as we develop good and bad habits, dependencies, and shelters from it all along the way. (and lets face it--relationships rarely are perfect, or expected to be--and shouldn't be, honestly. But there's a difference between perfect and healthy, and healthy is just fine, desired actually, in my opinion.)
"My goal is to redefine my behaviors with all food one choice at a time."
For me, understanding food wasn't the enemy after all, was a life changing epiphany. Food's only job is to nourish my body, giving me nutrients I need to live. I can still appreciate food, love food, cook food, dine out on food, bring food to an occasion, and pull up a chair to a holiday table full of traditional favorites spread across an entire room---and still exhibit reasonable and sane behaviors. I can eat a portion and appreciate the experience and the nourishment.
What I could no longer do is use and abuse food. I could no longer try to make food do something it was never supposed to do. Food wasn't responsible for fixing me or anything broken inside of me. It couldn't do it if it tried--food wasn't/isn't capable of doing these highly complicated things--it already had the complicated task of providing nutrients to every cell in my body--a task it always makes look easy...and it does, because that's what food does, it's a natural thing for food to nourish us.
And on a lessor scale, but monumental still: Food wasn't an appropriate shelter from the issues I was trying to soothe, forget, or simply avoid.
Every failed weight loss attempt of my past had a common thread: It was simply a means to an end. A temporary diversion from who I was--just long enough to satisfy the first set of goals listed above. Ignoring my truest goals--the important acknowledgements crucial to change, meant--as soon as the temporary detour ended--I would return to the old familiar and foolishly trusted--"being me road." And since my goals along the detour were simply to change my size in a pursuit of shallow expectations and not my brain---and since what we think of ourselves is really is what we become--then, I was destined to naturally return to my previous level of obesity, even bigger--every. single. time.
You can squeeze a Nerf ball all you want, but toss it back onto the toy pile and you'll watch it quickly assume its natural shape.
"My goal is to share my experiences along the way in hopes of inspiring someone like me (Just kind of like me--Not Exactly like me--because we're all one of a kind) ...to do something courageous--Choose change before change chooses them."
It doesn't matter if you have ten pounds to lose or a hundred--twenty or forty, or three or four hundred. It's all relative--Unique to you and your experiences--and the road out cannot be exactly the same for any two people, because of our unique affected life experience. But we all can find common ground and similar truth in these experiences--and I believe it's where hope can be transferred from one person's success to another person's seemingly impossible dream. Because it is possible, for every single one of us.
"My goal is to become a best friend to me instead of a deadly enemy."
"I'm my own worst enemy." I said it so much in the past, I actually accepted it as rule. That's just the way it had to be--because it's human nature, of course!!! You can't change human nature!! Although there's some truth in that last statement--When the "human nature" excuses horrible choices and behaviors--relieving me from the responsibility of change, that's when it becomes nonsense.
Day 1 didn't find me contemplating this dynamic--it was too soon. My goals were stated but not defined completely. And that's okay, because, in my experience, the only way to define our truest goals is to add the element of time and perspective.
And for me--It was about time... time to change my perspective. Thank goodness.
Thank you for reading and your support along this road. Please friend me on facebook--because I'm there nearly everyday--and we have lively discussions about the topics explored in this blog and more. You can friend me on facebook here: www.facebook.com/seananderson505
And please--Visit and "like" my facebook page for the book. If you need--you could wait until you read the book before you give me the gift of your "like." The page dedicated to the book is: www.facebook.com/transformationroad
Also--On my website www.transformationroad.com You can pre-order a first edition signed copy of "Transformation Road-My Trip to Over 500 Pounds and Back," and I'll personally ship it your way upon release!
The cover for the book has a bunch of cool symbolism, some obvious, some not so much. Christina Rich-Splawn is an amazing graphic artist!!
Some pictures from the recent Sikeston, MO speaking event:
At a recent speaking even in Sikeston, MO
This headline certainly attracted some attention. The story is correct--just the headline has it off by a couple hundred pounds. ;)
Back cover author photo credit: Darryl Cox
Posing with a promotional piece of the book cover.
Pink Heals Tour came to town---and the emotional power of it all, was just incredible. If you ever have a chance to see and experience Pink Heals, please do.
My facebook status update reflected my thoughts on this before the evening started:
"Too many times, I allowed my morbid obesity to hold me back, imprisoning me into an existence where certain things couldn't be enjoyed, simply because I foolishly decided these things were not for people “like me.” I never made it to the prom, or a formal of any kind, ever. Tonight, that changes. Suddenly experiencing the richness of life and all of its precious gifts, because now I can see: I was worth it all along, but I didn't believe it until now. Putting on a tuxedo and headed to The Winter Ball at the Marland Mansion. Pinch me, wow, what a dream." The beautiful woman pictured is my date, Ms. Kelly Rains.