Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 25th, 2015 I Don't, So I Won't

July 25th, 2015 I Don't, So I Won't

We were celebrating. Everyone was gathered at the restaurant in good spirits, drinks and food ordered, conversations circulating and plenty of laughter frequently breaking out. I was at the end of the table looking over the menu, checking my calorie budget and deciding on what would become my dinner. I already decided water-no ice, with lemon and lime, would be my drink choice. After I ordered the 7oz sirloin with double asparagus, the question came from a friend across the table.

"Do you ever cheat?"

"I haven't in almost sixteen months."

First of all, let me make it very clear--this isn't a boast. This is simply a fact. Further--let me stress how incredibly surprised I am that I can honestly say that.

How in the world could I do an about-face, a 180--a total turnaround from where I found myself sixteen months ago? The answer isn't a simple sentence or source. It's a bunch of things working together on several different levels. Spiritual, emotional and mental work, and different levels of support--from group support to one on one support, to the accountability measures put into place to help guide me along--keeping my awareness level high and my routine consistent.

This turnaround from relapse/regain wasn't a simple declaration of "starting tomorrow things will be different." I tried that approach several times without a shred of success. I wasn't creating an action plan and then, when things remained the same the next day, I'd sit around feeling hopeless and doomed. It was like throwing the same thing against a wall and hoping it would somehow stick this time. It didn't, several times.

I needed an action plan. Once an action plan was created, that's when things started changing dramatically.

The list was long: Return to writing this blog daily, as the name suggests. Weigh and measure my food as much and as often as possible. Log every single thing in MyFitnessPal. Tweet a picture, description and calorie count of every bite, every day. Make sure what I do eat, I enjoy, 100%. Commit to a regular exercise plan. Re-commit to giving and receiving more support via group and one on one interactions. Abstain from refined sugar. And treat all of these elements with an importance level in the highest, most non-negotiable way.

Honestly, the list felt a little over-whelming, at first. The very first thing I did was try to figure out reasons why it wasn't possible for me to do this thing. I remember one session with Life Coach Gerri, that mirrored almost word for word what was asked by my therapist at the time. I was talking about how I was way too busy to return to daily blog posts. Gerri immediately challenged me with some good questions: When you experienced so much success before--and you were blogging daily, were you not just as busy? Very true. Good point. I was just as busy. And she didn't stop at making a good point: So, what you were doing was working well until you stopped doing it, right? Well, when you put it that way, but...

I kept throwing out objections and Gerri kept persisting with questions designed to challenge me into changing my perspective. Suddenly I stopped coming up with reasons why I couldn't do it and I started coming up with ideas and solutions proving I could.

Besides, I thought you said that writing brings you immense joy. Why would you stop something that not only contributes in positive ways to your success--but does it at the same time it's bringing immense joy into your life? Damn it. She's good.

Okay, okay--from this moment forward, I'm blogging every day. That was over 450 days ago. I haven't missed one since. Sure, occasionally time constraints require a short one--and sometimes a "tweets only" one...but it's done, each and every night. And it's made a profound difference.

The MFP and Tweets really bothered me, mainly because I knew that if I committed 100%, the only way it would work is if I applied a very strict code of honesty. The first time I eat something without logging and tweeting it--it's all over. I knew that going in--and it seemed extreme and beyond necessary to tweet everything. Turns out, it's helped me in monumental ways. The Tweets inspire me to eat well. I eat much better now than I ever did before. The Tweets and MFP logging have encouraged me to slow down and enjoy the process of planning, preparing and enjoying my food. I make the time to take good care--and in this care, I'm honoring my commitments.

In my book, Transformation Road, I wrote about my philosophy on cheat days or cheat meals--or cheating, period. If what I'm doing is so restrictive and against the grain of what I can do for the rest of my life, then perhaps I need to change what I'm doing. For me to accept a "cheat day," suggests that what I'm doing the rest of the time is just a means to an end. If I'm constantly looking forward to the day when I can cut loose--then I might want to inspect the daily restraints. This isn't about defining restrictions, it's about refining solutions--making this something enjoyable, doable--workable, delicious--satisfying...and if we can make it all that, then why would we feel the need to deviate into old behaviors for a day or a meal? If what I'm doing is a temporary means to an end--and I'm forcing myself to do something unnatural to me and what I like--then I'm setting myself up for a monumental problem down the line.

The abstinence from refined sugar has made a profound impact bio-chemically--effectively turning off the "binge switch" and ushering in a peace and calm I never knew. But as I've discussed before--it doesn't stop the other side of things--the deeply ingrained pattern of seeking comfort with food in times of extreme emotion and high stress. I've had three very close calls in the last fifteen plus months--one of those three happened recently, on Wednesday July 15th. Each time, reaching out for support--texting it or talking it out, has made a HUGE difference. It's not as easy as simply agreeing that excess food doesn't fix anything--or that food isn't a therapist. It doesn't matter how long or how much success we're experiencing, I've learned that unless I reach out for support, I'm perfectly capable of talking myself into the comfort food dynamic.

Do I ever cheat?

Why would I want to cheat myself out of the tremendous blessings this road brings? I don't, so I won't.

My success isn't a guarantee. I'm not entitled. It's not automatic. If I stop doing the things I'm doing, I'll quickly fall hard.

This here thing, is a daily practice--a one day at a time practice of uniquely crafted fundamental elements. I just want one more day feeling as good as I feel when I'm honoring my commitment and maintaining the integrity of my plan. I'd like a whole bunch of one more days . 

If this were a blog about sobriety and abstinence from alcohol, would the "Do you ever cheat?" question even come up? Likely not. This is why it's crucial for me to treat my continued recovery from food addiction with the same reverence as someone in successful recovery from other things.   
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Today took some planning. I had a location broadcast this morning, immediately followed by a wedding reception where I was providing the music and announcements. I navigated my food well and I made it important to get what I needed, when I needed it. Hauling around the sound equipment and moving it from where it's stored and into a truck--then into the venue--then load out and back into the place it's stored--especially solo--is all the exercise and strength training I needed for one day.

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After being told today that my face looks too thin and I've lost too much weight, I started snapping and analyzing selfies. Even though I promised myself I wouldn't let the comment bother me in the slightest. After careful consideration, I've determined that person was wrong. I haven't lost too much or look too thin. Geez, why do otherwise well meaning people say things like that? I think it's sometimes meant as a compliment by someone unfamiliar with the struggle and life of a formally morbidly obese person.
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And I'm feeling slightly silly tonight. This selfie facial expression-collection was fun.

My Tweets Today:


























Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

19 comments:

  1. Thank you again! You stop me in my tracks, and make me reconsider the meaning of "cheating."

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    1. Amy, I'm so glad it made you think! I appreciate your support, always!

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  2. Wow, Sean your honesty and insights about your struggles, victories and epiphanies are so moving and inspiring. Please don't ever quit or think that your blogging doesn't matter. As someone who has struggled with food and weight issues for nearly 40 years, lost and regained probably over 200 pounds in that time, struggled with despair and shame so oppresdive i thought my spirit was shattered beyond repair, your writing inspires me, makes me feel less like alone and less Ike a failure who can't get it together and overcome these problems once and for all. Thank you for doing what you do and sharing it with your followers in cyberspace. You give hope, courage, light and some measure of peace to those of us lumbering and stumbling along the same path behind you. Thank you and God bless you for opening up yourself to us.

    .

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    1. Anonymous, not sure I know how to articulate my level of appreciation for this kind of appreciative review of your experience here.
      You're not alone, my friend. It's very important to me to not only share the here and now--but go back and accurately describe the emotional dynamics and reality of the "before." It's important for you to know that there is hope. There's truly hope, here. You're so welcome. And believe me when I write, this blog and what it does for me has been and continues to be a tremendous blessing in my life. I sincerely appreciate your support.

      Delete
  3. you inspire me SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much!!!

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    1. Karla, I'm so glad. Thank you for your constant support and loyal readership! :)

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  4. You're doing great, looking quite handsome and definitely not too thin.

    One of my WW leaders used to make jokes about people whose only comment about a large weight loss was that they could "see it in your face." Uh, thanks for noticing. :(

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    1. Caron, thank you! I appreciate your opinion. You've experienced this dynamic throughout your transformation, I'm sure. I always give everyone the benefit of the doubt--or at least I try, and I truly believe it is most often a compliment--just twisted a little-- and for me, it triggers a --oh my, are they right? Even though I know they're not.
      "I see it in your face." Yep--I've heard that countless times!

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  5. Haha, my first thought when I saw that selfie was wow his face is so thin! With that being said maybe that's who you are and were just now seeing it.

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    1. Robin--great perspective!! Maybe so! Thank you!!

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  6. I have to laugh, I left you a comment this morning and just now realized that I never posted it to your blog... what a ding dong louie! ha..
    Anyways... what I saying was that always, always when I say I can not do this anymore or don't want to I come here and read your blog and instantly I want what you've got. You've got the want, the power, this incredible insight! I want that. And by God, I'm going to get it.
    Your selfies are to funny.
    To thin? In who's eyes? As long as YOU like you, then that's all that matters!
    Have a good week and thanks again for the push!
    Rosie

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    1. Rosie, I promise you, my friend--it is yours for the taking. Truly. I had fun with the selfies--it started out as a "maybe they're right--maybe my face is too thin," and turned into, "nah--they're wrong--I'm fine, and I feel great."
      You said it... "As long as YOU like you, then that's all that matters!" Exactly!
      Hope your week is awesome, too, Rosie. You're welcome and thank you for your loyal support!

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  7. Your face just looks likes one fit dude. People are funny!
    Megan in Texas

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  8. Sean, I've been lurking here for the past month or so, and think it's time I spoke up too to tell you that your blogging matters. I'm so tired of the daily shame and self-consciousness and self-hate. It's so much a part of me that I hardly know what it's like to go through the day without it somewhere in my mind. I just got back from weeklong meetings and they showed a slideshow of everyone on the last night - ten minutes that felt more like an hour of pure misery to me as I felt so much less normal than everyone else. I know it's not rational, but it's hard to stop that thinking.

    I've lost weight before but regained - you know how that goes. And last year when I got into Zumba, did it religiously 4-5 times a week, worked out harder than I ever remember doing AND lost nothing, I was crushed! I almost lost all hope. BUT now I'm taking it one day at a time, trying again to hit all the elements of my plan. Reading your experiences and thoughts daily encourages me - much to my surprise! So I am thankful each morning to find a new blog entry from you. I get to read it when I'm done with my workout!

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    1. SLM, I truly appreciate your comment. And i totally get what you're describing. Question-- Have you gone back into the archives to read May 15th and May 19th entries from 2014? Those epiphanies have made a profound difference in the way I look at myself.
      I know it's difficult. I've been there. It's important for you to know that your worth doesn't have anything to do with your size/weight. It's easy for someone to say-- it's sometimes very hard to apply it to ourselves.
      I'm rooting you on as you get your elements in place, SLM. I'm so glad you're here and reading each day. Thank you very much.
      Please read those two archived posts mentioned above.
      My best!

      Delete
  9. Great work Sean. I saw the cup that said "I'm a walrus". It's cute. I'm curious, I hope you like comedy. Check out the picture " TUSK"

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  10. Great work Sean. I saw the cup that said "I'm a walrus". It's cute. I'm curious, I hope you like comedy. Check out the picture " TUSK"

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great work Sean. I saw the cup that said "I'm a walrus". It's cute. I'm curious, I hope you like comedy. Check out the picture " TUSK"

    ReplyDelete

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. Thank you for your support!






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