Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 13th, 2015 A Breakthrough

January 13th, 2015 A Breakthrough

Days like today are the best kind. When you face down irrational fears, trust whatever bad you're imagining isn't the truth and what everyone is telling you is, something powerful happens. I think it's best described as a breakthrough. 

I've had several of these over the last six years, dating back to Day 1 when my youngest daughter, Courtney, accompanied her 505 pound dad to the walking trail. My irrational fear that night was that I would surely drop dead at the slightest exertion. I took it very slow, waddled really, and I made it, maybe a 1/4 mile. It wasn't far in actual distance, but psychologically it was to the moon and back. The truth was, even at 505 pounds, I could move without dying. And I could do just a small amount more each night, until eventually I could do whatever distance I desired, without fear. 

I remember returning to the YMCA after my relapse and dramatic regain. It was tough to walk through those doors again. My irrational fear was born from me projecting how I felt about myself onto everyone around me. If I was ashamed and incredibly disappointed in myself, surely everyone else was too. I was convinced that I would be confronted, shamed and maybe scolded as a fraud by the people who once watched me speak an inspiring and motivating message to large crowds in that very building. I put it off and put it off and finally decided to face whatever was coming. What came, couldn't have been further from my imagination. I was embraced. I was encouraged. I was congratulated. I was perfectly fine. From that first trip back, it was easy to go. The elliptical was set on level 2 and I wanted to quit after 5 minutes and now, with consistency over time, I can do level 14 for 30 minutes straight without ever feeling the need to give up.

I remember the paralyzing fear I had of taking my shirt off and swimming in public. I just knew everyone in the pool area would gasp with wide eyed disgust over the loose skin and stretch mark battle scars I've earned over the years. Why would I even put myself in this position to be humiliated?? Because I wanted to feel the water. I wanted to experience my own weightless buoyancy. I wanted to feel the freedom it represented. I was upset with myself for ever bringing it up. I was changing in the locker room and thinking , why did I ever bring this up? It was too late to turn back. As I waited by the door, with the pool on the other side, waiting for what I didn't know---until a larger man, bigger than me, confidently walked past and out into the pool area, like he had done it a million times. That's what I was waiting for. I followed and I did it. I swam. It was an emotional moment when I realized how completely wrong my irrational fears had been over the years. Nobody laughed, nobody even paid attention really. It wasn't a big deal to anyone else, but me. And it was a big deal that also required forgiving myself. Why? Because the reality I discovered that day was that the only one who was judging me, was me. Now, although I don't swim very often, I could easily do it anytime, any pool--without hesitation.

Today was similar to these experiences. Perhaps a little less dramatic, but still--a big deal to me. My hangups about weight/strength training are long and storied, dating back to childhood in the school weight room where I held the title of the weakest kid in the district. It was embarrassing then, to not even be able to successfully bench press the bar. What made me think those school kid faces would return thirty years later and repeat their cruel and obviously entertained reaction? Irrational fears. Nobody wants me to fail. They want me to succeed. Nobody is waiting to get their kicks by watching me struggle with a lightweight dumbbell. (I did struggle!) But most importantly, I did it. And now, with reality proven, doing it again and again will be a choice unencumbered by incredibly unrealistic and irrational expectations.
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I walked over to the free weights for some bicep hammer curls and it was crowded. A couple of women were using 25 pound free weights. I reached for the 12.5 pound weights, because--hey, they're not the smallest! I quickly realized I wasn't ready for 12.5 pounds. So without hesitation, I returned them to the rack and grabbed the 5 pound weights. It's a start. And everyone starts somewhere, right? Nobody noticed either. I was doing my thing. Everyone else was doing theirs.

I was impressed with the machines requiring back and shoulder muscles. I could push and pull some pretty good weight! This is good to know. I'm looking forward to my progress. Today was my "level 2" on the weights. If I'm consistent as I plan to be, I'll be handling level 14 before long.

My Tweets Today:

Thank you for reading and your continued support,


  1. Very proud of you, Sean. You've got this. And hey... I own some 5 lb weights. They feel really heavy to me. Maybe I'll follow your lead and actually start using them.

    It's funny, I'd be much more self conscious about doing something like the treadmill in public. Scared of getting sweaty and gasping for air and passing out in public... LOL.

  2. I just went and picked up the 5 lb weights and think I'd better actually try the 2 lb weights.

  3. I think everyone in the weights room is just looking at the,self in the mirror, not at anyone else! Not for vanity (well, some) but to make sure their form is good.

    It is a strange and humbling and freeing thing to realise that most people really don't care what you do or what you look like. They are too busy with their own problems and joys. Maybe only kids, with all the free time in the world, care to point out the differences.

  4. Oh my goodness ..... YOU DID IT !! YOU DID IT
    You made a promise to yourself and you knew you were worth keeping it.

    So proud of you and so excited for you.

    Well done

  5. There you go! Nice job!

    “Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - Christopher Robin to Pooh

  6. Yay you did it! You're kicking butt in the rout Department,Sean! It's very inspiring

  7. hi sean,

    first of all let me tell you , i have been following you for quite long. I must say you are one of the biggest reason for my body transformation today.
    Could you share your opinion abt Printable weight loss excel and shall i maintain it for better results?

    hoping for a reply

  8. There ya go, Sean! No doubt in my mind that you wouldn't get it done!
    And I had a good chuckle today when you wrote .."a cute little omelette!"
    Not sure how come it struck me funny, but it did!

  9. You know what I always say, "People aren't paying attention to us." LOL. When I go to the gym, I'm not watching what others are doing, I'm selecting my own, right exercise for that day. Kudos to you, bro!

  10. I've been looking forward to this post! Congratulations, Sean. You're only competing with yourself - and you're certainly winning!

  11. Congrats on keeping your promise to yourself of accomplishing the exercise of weights/strength training. Proud of you!

  12. One word: HURRAY!!!!!!! Oh, and love some Aldi.....

  13. I've heard people say that a lot of weight training is just knowing HOW to lift the thing. If you learn to do it properly, you can lift more than if you aren't sure how and hold the thing wrong, or hold your body wrong while you lift it. I think they call it "proper form." Not that I'd know personally; I was also the sort who couldn't press the bar. :-)

    It always bugged me how gym "teachers" actually teach nothing whatsoever. They just get a bunch of kids in a circle, throw a basketball in the middle, and start yelling. I am willing to bet my retirement that your gym "teacher" just stood you in front of the thing and said, "Pick it up," without teaching proper form, how to stand, how to grip it, or anything else. The kids either caught on or didn't. Could you imagine if they taught math or reading that way?

    Can you tell I always HATED gym class?

    Anyhow, you'll improve. Just start low, go slowly, and use scrupulously good form. That's what a good trainer can help you with.

  14. My mentor used to say "We wouldn't worry so much about what others think of us if we only knew that they're not. They're probably thinking about themselves." Loved this post, Sean. These NSV's are as big or bigger than the weight loss. Also, found a FB page for a guy who lost from 511 to 185 just like you, eating right and exercising. Interesting story, if you have time.

    1. Forgot to add...his FB page is Lessofles.

  15. I too want to say Congratulations Sean. You did it!! Although I'm not surprised. I could tell by reading your post the other night how determined and excited you are....even with all your dots ;) Congratulations on reaching another goal!

  16. Great job Sean, I knew you would eventually do it. I have no doubt you will be soaring at this in no time.


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