Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I'm Not Alone

I'm Not Alone

First of all, I've been given an incredible amount of support through the comments on my last post, Facebook, email, personal visits and phone calls. Thank you very much. I've been very hard on myself over this situation and I was entertaining irrational fears about the response my post might bring.  But like most fears, it was mostly a product of my imagination, influenced by how I feel about me and where I am. I should have known my friends and supporters wouldn't treat me the way I sometimes treat me.

I'm taking small steps each and every day.  I haven't had any major struggles with food since hitting the "publish" button Saturday afternoon and that's a powerful thing. I did have a minor episode at the grocery store this afternoon.  I was going in to pick up something to cook for dinner. Immediately I started having ridiculous food cravings in the middle of the store. The signals and thoughts were coming and they were distracting me from the task at hand.  I still had an empty cart after walking around the store for ten minutes. I couldn't decide what to buy and the errant thoughts were jumping up and down like excited kids spotting an ice cream truck. I know what to do, I followed the advice of a good friend of mine (who has twenty years of maintaining a 100 pound loss) and sent her a text, "Could you remind me how important it is for me to be strong late afternoon, please? Having cravings and ridiculous thoughts...First time since Saturday." I told on it. And then waited for a reply. I stood there with chips on one side and the ice cream freezers on the other, not moving, just staring at my phone. I had no idea that my friend was actually visiting the happiest place on earth at that moment, but yes, even in the middle of Disneyland she took the time to reply with four words: "Be strong for you!" And then, "write about it."  I'm not so sure if my strategy was me being strong or not, but I quickly headed for the door...without groceries, leaving my empty cart in the aisle. I decided to have soup for dinner.  I even completed two full days of logging my food on My Fitness Pal. I made the right decisions in those moments. And that makes me feel good.

It's very easy to say "I'm letting go of the guilt and shame I feel over this weight gain." But it isn't so easy.  I couldn't bring myself to come out and actually say how much I've gained in my last post. Only one person pressed the issue on facebook and my relenting wasn't as much to do with giving in as it was the product of some careful thought and consideration yesterday morning.  Why didn't I just admit the number in the first place? I would have been correct in saying that I have every right to share or not share certain things, I mean really, we all must work within the boundaries we're most comfortable.  But since when did I start withholding numbers?? That question was precisely the point made by Tammy on Facebook. When I was losing weight, I never kept the numbers secret.  Even when I hit a stall along the way, the numbers had always been there since the first 505 pound weigh day.  So what kept me from sharing the number on Saturday?  Guilt and shame, pure and simple. So I couldn't honestly say "I'm letting go of the guilt and shame..." unless I let go of the number 143.  Yes, I gained back 143 pounds.

It's amazing how quickly I felt relief when I shared the number on Facebook Tuesday.  I sincerely appreciate the many friends who quickly defended my right to keep that information between my doctor and me, and you were right. But honestly, I needed to let it go. I needed to say it.  And I did.  And my world didn't fall in on me. In fact, I received a tremendous outpouring of love and relation. I literally wiped tears away as I read a few of the personal stories emailed to me from people who had been here, right here where I am. And the most comforting feeling swept over me. I'm not alone.  We're all in this together. 

I'm looking forward to weigh day again. I haven't been able to honestly say that for some time. And I look forward to sharing the numbers and the experiences along the way. I'll share the ups and downs, the successes and most importantly, the struggles.

If you shared your story with me recently, please know, you touched me and I sincerely appreciate you.

I recently watched a Ted Talk suggested in a comment on my last post. It was presented by Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, entitled "Why Dieting Usually Doesn't Work."  It explained many fascinating things in twelve minutes. She talks about our body weight "set point."  It was especially fascinating to me because somewhere early in this blog, I remember writing about my suspicions of some kind of set point or limit, based on the fact that I had lived completely out of control with food for many years and still, my body stayed within ten pounds of 500.  My reaction to this Ted Talk wasn't negative at all. It simply reaffirms that for people like us, maintaining a healthy body weight means maintaining a balanced lifestyle with food and exercise forever, in effect, rebelling against our brain's best efforts to return us to an excessive "set point." Again, the bottom line is something most of us realized a long time ago, only I hadn't heard it explained by a neuroscientist. Thank you New Me for suggesting I watch.

Thank you for reading, Goodnight and...
We're not alone,

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  1. I love you cousin..I know u remember my dream I messaged u about months and months ago. Very wierd u felt you but just shows how much I think and love you..stay strong and im proud of the great person you your cousin Candi

  2. Hey buddy, you text me any time! Telling on the thoughts takes all the power out of them!

  3. You can do this Sean. I knew it would be cathartic for you to tell the number because I have experienced the same thing. I have gained back 50 pounds of a 50 pound weight loss. I've been there. We can do this. We will lose this weight. Thank you for your openness and the way you have encouraged us all.
    Tammy S Jata

  4. You've got this my dear. In fact, I think knowing how NOT easy it is gives an advantage to your fight this time. We're both going to get there, I know we are. Take comfort in the fact that we are all out here, fighting the good fight side by side with you.

  5. Set point is very interesting indeed. I lost 100 then gained 100. TED talks are the best, I've been viewing for a year now. When I'm struggling viewing "positive" food posts and pictures helps me immensely. The negativity, isolation, and depression might be your next book, that really IS the factor of my gain. Sure, I've had huge family and work issues but the isolation I put myself in and the comfort mode that produces is the definite link now that you mention it. Thank you my crutch, I mean friend hahaha I "use" your posts as my catalyst. Glad youre back, for your health and mine.

  6. Sean, Next time text me and I will send you a shopping list for a quick easy lunch or dinner or snack. Promise. Proud of you and keep up the good work.

  7. Only 143 up? Heavens! From what you were saying I thought you'd gained it all back and then some. Sounds to me like you're still waaaaaaay down from where you started. You're catching the problem now. You're going to be fine! I'm looking forward to your posts. have an amazing day!

  8. That's one of the frustrating things about this journey; you can be completely off-the-rails and not see any immediate consequences. It's way too easy to convince yourself that you're doing okay, that you'll restart your efforts tomorrow and that your wife is using some kind of new detergent that forces your pants to shrink inexplicably. It's a slow hard slog back to the promised land. What helps me is to visualize that day, months down the road perhaps, when that first person pipes up out of the blue: "Hey, are you losing weight?"

    Hang in there, buddy.

  9. I am SOoooo glad you are blogging again!

    And thank you for being transparent about how much you gained. It makes you real and people relate best to real people! Reading fake stuff is boring.

    Hey---this is just part of your story--part two. I have no doubt it will surpass the success of part one.

    Cheering for you! Cheering for all of us!

  10. I've enjoyed your blog for years and I am so glad to see you back! May it be even more helpful to you than it has been for so many others. All the best!

  11. Hi Sean, I'm really glad the video "spoke" to you. You're a wonderful man!

  12. Two things. No, three. :)

    1. I haven't followed you for a good while (I was lost in my own Slough of Despond as I regained most of what I lost), and am so glad that I stumbled upon this post while reading another blog.

    Witnessing great courage is a profound experience--and this was great courage. Doesn't matter
    what feelings/situation prompted it--it is courage.

    2. When I began this post, I stopped and scrooled down to rad the post before it. I was struck by your comments on addiction. I had almost written a post on addiction, myself, today. I didn't because I couldn't figure out how to convey the idea that something I had blogged about years ago, thoroughly understood, and blogged about some more would now suddenly seem like a new idea to me. You did it for me.

    As I read that section, I felt the same surprise I had felt yesterday when realized that the answer to my "Why am I doing this?" was "Addiction" I was so surprised. After all that blog space I had spent on discussing addiction I was surprised that it's fingers had grasped my ankle and tripped me up. (Shaking head.)

    So, your last post was a welcome confirmation and mirror. Thank you.

    3. The need for numbers. It was okay the first post. You were getting yor feet wet. But as I read this second post and realized that you weren't disclosing the numbers, I had an "Uh-oh." moment. I knew that you had to admit to how much you had gained back for this to work for you.

    Great relief when I saw you slip it in. :) Congratulations, Sean. Now the comments and support will ring true for you. There will be no little voice whispering, "But if they really knew the whole truth, they wouldn't..." in your ear as you read them.

    Shame took one to the chin.

    Warmest thoughts and prayers,


  13. Keep posting, Sean, and don't think this is just a matter of will power. The restaurant food you've been eating is designed to keep you coming back for more. It is the layering of fat on sugar on salt and all over again that makes it overwhelmingly appealing. Detoxing from that can be brutal, but you can do it. We're behind you all the way. I also liked the idea put out there in one of the comments that you could do a second book on this experience. :)

  14. ooh my!! reading your blog really touches me and makes me understand this is an ever going roller coaster... I haven't read your blog in like 18 months and to hear that you are struggling... dang ... but it made you more REAL to me, you are real and we all struggle with this up and down life balancing act. Keep posting!!

  15. You are absolutely not alone. You have tons of folks supporting you. How wonderful!

  16. We all struggle with something, don't we? I once had the crazy idea that if we are someone who has struggled mightily with one very bad thing, then the little things wouldn't be able to have a hold on us or that no other big struggles would ever head our way in life. My, that was silly and boy do I know it now....
    But there are reasons we struggle. Of that, I am certain.
    You are meant to do something with all of this. You have done so much good already. This too will come to good for more than just yourself. You will succeed and you will share something astounding that so many will learn from. I just know it.


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