The following excerpts are pieces of a blog post during my initial weight loss and then an excerpt from a much more recent post during this turnaround.
Since writing the first excerpted post: I hit my initial goal, maintained for a 1.5 years, relapsed/regained for 1.5 years--gaining back 164 pounds--and now I'm twenty-one months into the recovery and turnaround. I've been in maintenance mode now for several months, and I'm currently maintaining an overall 296 pound weight loss.
I was still eating sugar and had a slightly different perception of food addiction when this first post was initially published. But what the following excerpt contains is a foundation philosophy I stand behind 100%. My natural evolution along this road has led me into a deeper understanding of my food addiction and more specifically, my addiction to refined sugar and its effects. You'll notice this difference between the two posts featured in tonight's edition--One from July 2010 and one from October 2014.
My personal plan, the one that works for me today, is different than it was back then-and these differences came about through the experience, the trial and error--the living it each day and exploring what was working well and what wasn't working at all. Okay, here we go back to July 2010, shortly after AOL ran a feature story about this blog and my weight loss:
I started this morning in a rush, with little time to do anything other than shower and dress. I can skip some things if I absolutely must. Checking email and facebook? I didn't have time. Morning non-weighted strength training exercises? They'll have to wait until later. Breakfast? No time for that stuff, right? Uh...the biggest NO in the world. It's a must no matter how late I oversleep. Breakfast might be grabbing some fruit and cheese as I fly for the door, but it's never missed. And remember, I was always a "no breakfast" or a "junk breakfast" kind of guy. By "junk breakfast," I mean convenience store fare---Doritos, snack cakes, real Coke, maybe a deep fried cinnamon roll or two. My breakfast choices have dramatically improved, and what has improved even more is my absolute insistence on something good to wake my metabolism. It's a non-negotiable part of my morning routine.
It happened after the Tulsa World feature article several months ago and it's happening now with this AOL story. People get the wrong idea about my approach based solely on the headline of the story. The World article listed my "Fast Food Tips and Tricks," and the AOL headline mentions my weight loss "without eating salad." I can't blame the media, it's all information I've supplied them. And it's all true. I don't like salads. But---don't get the wrong idea, because I eat fruits and vegetables--and I'm not on some crazy "fast food diet." I eat what I like and nothing I don't. But what does that mean?
My choices had to gradually improve over time. I just knew that if I started forcing myself to eat foods I really didn't like, I would lose weight. What? Yes, I would lose weight, but I would be miserable the entire time, and eventually I would revert to my old habits, my food addiction couldn't tolerate salads or pre-packaged foods too long before I had a meltdown---and I knew that about myself. It was one of the crucial errors I had made in past weight loss attempts. Maybe you're familiar with making that special grocery list, "because tomorrow we're starting!" I decided on Day 1 that I didn't need a special list of foods. I wanted to beat my food addiction---and I knew the only way to do that was face real food, in real everyday real-life situations. That's the reason for my "nothing is off limits" philosophy.
This philosophy completely eliminated a couple of things: Feelings of deprivation and feeling like I was cheating. OK---I might be able to do this!
I've never felt deprived and I can't feel bad about myself if I eat a serving of potato chips. Here's what happened: My choices started to gradually improve throughout this journey. A mid-day snack in the beginning may have been a 110 calorie pack of Funyuns. Somewhere along the way, that mid-day snack evolved into fresh fruit. My calorie budget is all about eating normal portions of anything. And since I'm on a budget, I have to make what I call "calorie value" decisions.
People still freak out if they see me eating something like a piece of pizza, candy, or even a soft-serve lowfat ice cream cone---because hey, aren't you that weight loss guy? Uh, yeah sure---but what I am more than anything is a normal person.
A normal person, eating normal portions of normal food, in normal everyday food situations. If I'm having dinner at your house, there's no need to prepare something special "because we know you're on a diet." I'll navigate my choices in a very normal, very responsible way---with self-honesty about portion sizes and an eye for the best calorie values available at the moment. When I end every blog with "good choices," I'm not saying perfect choices...just good choices. And what that meant on day 1 and what it means today is a little different. The choices evolve in a natural fashion, based on what I like. So my good choices may be different from yours. I like and often enjoy vegetables. I love fruit. I rarely eat fast food these days...all a gradual evolution of my "nothing is off limits" approach. A big salad? Never...and that's ok.
It's interesting for me to go back and read a post like this. I am a "normal person," but at the time of that blog post, I was still very much in search of "my normal," something I've written about extensively over the last twenty-one months.
The above post was from July 2010. Now let's leap to October 2014:
One of the things I've given a lot of thought to lately is, what does it mean to be "normal?" I've concluded "normal" is a relative term. Your normal isn't my normal. We're all different.
This guy wanted to be normal. He wanted to have a normal relationship with food. He had fixed in his mind a vision of what it meant for him to be normal, you know, like people who are of normal weight with normal eating behaviors who wear normal clothing. To him, in order to be normal, he had to simply eat less and exercise more, yeah--that would be some kind of normal.
What this guy failed to recognize is, he was already normal. He was his normal. In order to achieve weight loss success, the perspective on "normal" had to change. It couldn't be someone else's normal, it had to be his own kind of normal. He could mimic someone else's normal for a while, but eventually his normal would override the abnormal impersonation of normal--and everything would go back to being his normal.
Okay--enough of the third person--it's annoying. What I had to embrace was my normal. I had to let go of the idea that I wasn't normal because in that, I was constantly suggesting I wasn't good enough or something was wrong with me. I am good enough and there's nothing wrong with me--as long as I'm not trying to be someone else's normal.
My normal is: I'm addicted to sugar and if consumed, it triggers bio-chemical reactions that send me searching for more and more--and not just sugary items--I'm talking loads of carbs and high fat-- it's on!! Nothing trips my trigger like sugar--it is my normal. So I abstain, one day at a time--and it's my normal and I'm okay.
I enjoy a drink of alcohol on rare occasion, perhaps once or twice, maybe three times a year. It doesn't negatively effect me beyond a slight feeling of intoxication. It doesn't trip anything for me. That's my normal. I have close friends with decades of sobriety, who--if they tried to mimic my normal, it would ruin their lives for who knows how long, maybe even kill them before they found recovery again. That's their normal. So they abstain, one day at a time, it's their normal and they're okay.
Embracing my normal is imperative to my success. My normal means that I take extraordinary care with food. My normal means no sugar. My normal means I remain active in seeking and offering support. My normal requires my attention and a rock solid commitment in doing what I do for my recovery. I fiercely protect it and never apologize for it.
I know many people who will enjoy their share of Halloween candy in a couple of weeks and it'll not be a big deal at all. That's their normal. If I tried to mimic their normal, you would witness a much different turnaround on these pages.
The biggest key for me to be my best, requires me to embrace and accept my normal, not someone else's. I hope and pray I spend the rest of my life celebrating my normal. Because if I do, I can't lose.
This is what "finding what works for you" is all about. Sometimes that statement is misunderstood to mean "Find the plan or procedure" that works for you. I'm suggesting that "finding what works" for you and me, starts with honestly defining our personal normal, then fashioning a plan that gives us what we need.
I no longer want to be some idealized version of "normal," I just want to be mine.
My normal. I love that.
Tweets Only as far as today is concerned. Tomorrow is maintenance weigh-in day!
My Tweets Today:
Good Tuesday morning! Two tablespoons half & half in my medium roast X 3 cups. 120 cal. pic.twitter.com/ocRBXrsyrG— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 2, 2016
Breakfast in MFP... pic.twitter.com/wMhuWlE4q4— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 2, 2016
Two whole eggs & Two egg whites, 135g avocado seasoned simply with salt & pepper. 5.4oz orange & 6.2oz apple. 548cal pic.twitter.com/5Il9lU6ZVQ— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 2, 2016
Lunch in MFP... pic.twitter.com/i3PEWaJiRw— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 2, 2016
FF/SF bean, cheese & sour cream tostadas w/130g beans, 70 cal. string cheese, salsa & 30g sour cream. 320 cal. pic.twitter.com/GwrxAcQtx2— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 2, 2016
Afternoon snack in MFP... pic.twitter.com/DxjHksGPPe— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 2, 2016
Chicken crispy tacos with 4oz chicken, 30g sour cream & 1 slice mozzarella. 350 cal. pic.twitter.com/o3DindfRcH— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 2, 2016
Late afternoon coffee with two tablespoons half & half. 40 cal. pic.twitter.com/sgcuY1ubbC— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 3, 2016
Dinner side dish in the pan... pic.twitter.com/6UpHzz67i4— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 3, 2016
Dinner in MFP... pic.twitter.com/OJSjCsLLn0— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 3, 2016
2 small chckn drumsticks, 289g swt.pot.w/onion, yellow & orng pepper & mshrms-w/3secOOSpray. 2mini ear corn. 658 cal pic.twitter.com/iql7caz6MF— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 3, 2016
Home body weight strength workout tonight. Pushups, squats, planks and wall sits. Here we go.— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 3, 2016
Really good workout. I sweat. I was breathing hard. And I didn't disturb my downstairs neighbor (at least I don't think). #feelsgood— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 3, 2016
5.7oz apple w/21g (1.3tblspns) nat.peanut butter, 4.1oz orange & 2C H2O. #wateraccountability #lastfoodofday 264 cal pic.twitter.com/NCKjX4ECKA— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) February 3, 2016
Thank you for reading and your continued support,