Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 320 Time Doesn't Care and Less Bread, Naturally

Day 320

Time Doesn't Care and Less Bread, Naturally

I used another personal day from work and I certainly appreciate the time. I remember how in the beginning I was afraid of weekends or days off work, because I didn't know how I would handle the change of routine. On a workday, the day can be nearly over before you know it, on an off day you have so much more time to 'watch' yourself. In the beginning I really had to be careful, now I'm so far along, that good choices have really become a part of my life. I don't worry about the days off or the weekends anymore. Like everything else on this journey, it gets easier as time goes by. Time is magical in its powers.

As much as I say “don't worry about time,” it's a crucial part of this journey. What I mean is, don't stress about the amount of time this journey will take, just let time work for you. I've allowed time to work for me. We all progress at different speeds, and time passed makes things easier to handle, it firms new habits, it shows us amazing results, it does wonders if...and this is a big IF...It does wonders if we remain consistent, holding up our end of the deal. Otherwise time can be very cruel, it'll pass on by without any regard to our situation and wellness. Time doesn't care what we do. It's job is to keep moving. If we do our job, and time is doing its job, then amazing results follow in little time. Someone once said, “I wish I had more time,” and I wanted to say “stop spending all that time wishing for more time, and make the best use of the time you'll be surprised at what you can do in a short amount of time.” Maybe you didn't need as much time as you thought. And when you've made the best use of your time, then you're actually giving yourself more time later. Time for a new paragraph.

My mom is still making wonderful strides in her weight loss efforts. I'm so happy for what she's been able to accomplish in a relatively short time. It wasn't that long ago that she could barely walk to her mail box without stopping to catch her breath. Then she started walking as far as she could...a little at a time, and it got easier and easier. In the beginning a mile seemed so far away. But she kept doing it most everyday. She made it to a mile recently, and now she's walking more than a mile every night. She's consistent with her calorie budget too. And you know what's happening? She's dropping weight. She's realizing that she can do this and she's not 'out of time,' she's actually adding time to her life. She spent my entire adult life up until I started losing weight, worrying about me. Then I started losing consistently, but she didn't completely get it, she didn't understand my approach. It contradicted some of her deeply ingrained ideas about weight loss. So it was my time to worry about her. Now, neither one of us worry about the others weight. She knows where I'm headed and I know where she's headed. It's a really wonderful thing.

I was thrilled to find that our longtime friend Rachel has started her own blog. I've written about her recently, even posted a picture. Irene and Rachel have been best friends since middle school. I've known her since junior high. Rachel and Neil and their kids have really become a part of the family, and it's always fun when we get to spend time together. Her husband Neil is a stand-up comedian waiting to happen. He has a real gift in recalling real life stories that keep you interested and result in huge laughs. The guy is awesome. I encourage you to give Rachel's blog a look. You can find it here: She writes: I am going to take a lifetime of bad habits and ways of thinking and turn them around to transform myself into the person I have always felt I was inside; a thin, healthy, vibrant woman; full of life, love and happiness. She's going to have an amazing journey and story to share, and an absolutely incredible transformation. Enjoy!

Amber wasn't feeling well this evening, Irene's at work, so Courtney and I laced up and headed for the YMCA. She grabbed her favorite elliptical and I jumped on the treadmill for some jogging/walking cardio. After a couple of miles I headed for the racquetball court for a match against the wall. It doesn't take long in that court to really get a workout. My game is simple when it's just me and the wall: Keep the ball moving. As long as the ball is moving, so am I. It works very well. You know, I thought I could fly in that court after the first 100 pounds. Now that I'm just about at 200 pounds lost, well...I know I can fly.

I found an amazing “reduced for quick sale” deal on some lean sirloin steaks tonight. Our fridge will not be fixed until in the morning, so we're on a meal by meal basis on the grocery trips. I grilled them up, warmed some green beans, baked a few potatoes...and walla! Dinner served at just under 500 calories per plate---and that's even with some steak sauce! One thing I've noticed that's kind of interesting, our bread consumption has gone way down. We always made sure that bread was a part of a meal like this. But since we've cut the portions and counted the calories, we've all just naturally pulled away from the bread. And we were such huge bread lovers! Hot rolls, you bet! The more the merrier! You know those brown and serve rolls that are always on sale around the holidays, oh my---I use to devour at least four or five of those things at a meal like this---and the butter too! Eliminating most of the bread and butter and not really missing it, has been a nice, completely natural progression. We never said: “OK—No more bread at mealtime!” No, never did. If we want some we have it, but we have all just naturally cut down in an effort to best utilize our daily calorie budgets. Speaking of those brown and serve rolls, I just remembered a not so proud past “out of control” moment of putting a whole package in the oven at like two in the morning, browning them perfectly, then rubbing butter all over them and eating nearly the whole package in one sitting. OK, not nearly...I ate the whole thing! Tell me I'm not the only one!

I haven't had time to read my blog roll today. My focus has been squarely on our personal issues within our family. I will have time to get caught up reading and commenting tomorrow. I look forward to it! Irene will be walking through the door any moment and we're planning on spending some time together. Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 319 Comfort Walking and The Bright Days Ahead

Day 319

Comfort Walking and The Bright Days Ahead

Today I did something I've never done. I laced up my shoes early and went walking at the trail this morning. We've walked the trail in the afternoon, late afternoon, evening, and late at night, but this was early morning. A completely different set of people out there in the A.M. and many with their dogs. I needed some time to think and clear my head. I took the iPod, but after listening to one song I turned it off so I could think. I didn't jog, I just walked. Instead of turning to comfort food, this was my comfort walk. The feeling you get when you discover something isn't what it seems or what you thought it was can be horrible. I discovered this morning: We've never actually walked a 10K after all. And all of the times we walked a 5K, except for the treadmill and at Boomer Lake in Stillwater, it was actually less. When we first started walking I was told that the trail we frequent was one mile exactly. I was skeptical, but after comparing our walks based on time to that of our treadmill walks, we concluded that one revolution was surely one mile on the dot. No, no it's not. The city has recently put up a sign showing the trail and giving the official distance as .83 mile. So in order to do a 5K, we need to walk almost four times around. A 10K needs to be 7.5 trips around. Wow. All this time we thought one thing and then to find out it's another. Oh well, it doesn't change or take away from our phenomenal results, but I feel like I should go back and place an asterisk beside every time I've blogged about doing a 5 or 10 K at that trail. Something like this can really bother me, but I can't let it get to me, we have more important things to worry about.

My blog last night was inspired by marital issues. Out of respect for my wife and family, that's all I should say specifically about that. It will in no way effect my journey and mission. I wanted to at least say something in regard to the inspiration for last night's blog. I sincerely appreciate all of the very kind and touching comments.

Handling whatever life throws our way without resorting to those old destructive eating habits for comfort is a very positive sign that we've made some serious mental breakthroughs. I was up at my regular time today, made a 180 calorie egg white breakfast burrito and coffee and just had time to ponder everything important to me. Instead of turning to food for comfort, I turned to exercise. This isn't the way the old Sean handled things, not by a long-shot. Is this new way of thinking and reacting really part of the new me? Yes, 100% completely. With a daily blog like this, there's always going to be days and happenings where it's not fun to think about, let alone write about. But this is my journey. This is the story that's unfolding in it's purest form. A Daily Diary. These words kept popping into my mind last night while I sat staring blankly at the computer screen wondering what in the world I would say now. I even thought about posting one line: The Daily Diary of A Winning Loser will return on Saturday August 1st. But that's not a daily diary, now is it? Why do I keep thinking of The Facts of Life theme song? You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the facts of life, the facts of life!

The fact is, there are many more wonderful milestones and events ahead for us. I'll be hitting the two hundred pounds lost marker hopefully on Wednesday August 5th...then two weeks later dropping below 300 for the first time since I was 15 years old. It's hard to believe really. Courtney's approaching the 80 pounds lost mark and Amber has lost nearly 70. Irene is down over 130 pounds from her heaviest. So major victories are behind us and in front of us, all around us! And the future, oh wow, the dreams I dream are so possible now. Dreams I never even realized I had until this journey of weight loss and self discovery. Let the good times roll.

Courtney insisted on treating Amber and me to dinner out. Our fridge is still not working even after several attempts from the repair person to fix the thing, so it didn't take much convincing. We visited our old favorite JW Cobbs. I've written about this place before. It's down home country cookin' at it's finest. It can be disastrous to your calorie budget if you allow it to be. It can also be a wonderfully responsible dining experience and a great place to enjoy the company of family and friends. We've enjoyed this place several times in the past 319 days, and every time we've gone in with a game plan—and never once have we left feeling defeated. We also love to go there because the waitress always acts shocked at our changing appearances. Tonight it was: “You don't even look like the same people, I only knew it was you because of her (Courtney's) eyes.” I think she may have been exaggerating a little, it hasn't been that long since she laid eyes on us, but I'll tell you---We never get tired of that kind of response!

After dinner we retreated to the house and prepared for our workout. Then it was off to the YMCA for a wonderful workout. Courtney hopped on the elliptical, while Amber and I picked a treadmill. I thought about getting into the racquetball court too, but didn't. I need to schedule some more matches. It's always a better workout in the court when I'm competing against a real person. I haven't officially won a match yet, but that day is coming, it's coming real soon.

Again, thank you for reading this daily account from 505 pounds to 230 or whatever feels right! We're in the home stretch! Well, almost, we're approaching the home stretch! That's more like it! Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 318 Steel Curtain Zone Activated

Day 318

Steel Curtain Zone Activated

It's been a rough evening. A very rough evening. It has nothing to do with my food and exercise. If you've read my blog for any length of time or you've gone back and read from day one, then you know: No emotion, no circumstance, no stress, no person, place, or thing is going to steal this journey away from me. I'm succeeding no matter what comes my way, good or bad—for better or for worse. My “steel curtain zone” is taking a beating at this moment for reasons that I can't appropriately talk about right now in these writings. I didn't even want to say what I've said already, because I know it may cause a flood of calls from friends and family wondering “what's wrong?” But here's the deal. This blog is real. It's a 100% must that this blog be very real and extremely honest. So it's very hard to put on a smile and write a happy uplifting post about how wonderful things are if they're not. And up until a little while ago, I thought everything was fine. And when it comes to the integrity and consistency of this journey, it's all good...everything is wonderful in that regard. So really, keeping the focus where it should be---I'll write tonight's edition with the understanding that circumstances and emotions can be a killer to even the most successful of journey's. But it doesn't have to be. It can not be. It will not be.

When you're faced with unforeseen setbacks in your personal life, it's easy, very easy to completely stop caring about your journey. But this is when you must care even more. The embrace you have on this newfound way of thinking and living may need to be tightened, but you can't ever let it go. It's too important. The strides you've made, the weight you've lost, the victories you've won—those are yours to keep. Don't give them back for anything. Hold your head up high and boldly move forward with a determined spirit that will defeat anything that tries to get in the way of your dreams. That was for me.

I hate dramatics...can't stand it. I naturally want every single day to be perfect and happy---full of uplifting thoughts, ideas, and experiences. But I also know that when I signed up for this blog that I was making a solid agreement to relay my emotions and experiences along this journey in an honest display for anyone to read. Out of 318 days, I can count on one hand the number of days where it contained such a dramatic tone. If this is your first time to read this blog, that's too bad...because I take pride in my consistency, my success, my positive outlook, and my mission to spend the rest of my life helping others break free from obesity. Go back in the archives and read from Day 1 and you'll see what this blog is all about.

In the meantime, I'm headed out with my daughters for a good workout at the trail, and then I'm going to try getting to bed earlier. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

P.S.--this has nothing to do with peanut butter and Fritos!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 317 The Splurge Urge and Conquering The Hill

Day 317

The Splurge Urge and Conquering The Hill

Just when you think you're totally past the toughest mental battles along this road, one jumps up and bites you. I was bitten by a really strong urge to splurge today. There was no outside force making me feel weak. I wasn't depressed, I wasn't sad, I wasn't celebrating anything. I was just home for lunch and frustrated that the only thing I could find was peanut butter on low calorie whole wheat. So I guess I was frustrated. OK, I've identified the emotion, now how do I handle it? I had a tablespoon of peanut butter between two slices of the 45 calorie bread for a 190 calorie peanut butter sandwich. Let's understand something: I love peanut butter. The other day I purchased a jar of JIF for the very first time since I started this journey. Why have I avoided the stuff? Because it's right up there with half gallons of ice cream and cartons of cottage cheese on the list of foods I tend to avoid because I know myself really well. Some of my biggest control issues with food have involved those foods, along with cheese of any kind and gravy. I bought the peanut butter the other day because I felt that I'm in such a wonderful mental state---I could handle anything. And I guess I really didn't go nuts or anything (pardon the pun), but I'm not proud of what I did after the completely responsible 190 calorie sandwich. We had leftover Fritos in the house from our chili the other night. We're really in complete control with chips...we count out a serving. A bag use to last a couple of hours around here in the pre-journey days. Now we have old stale bags in the cabinet that are so old and unused---they should be thrown away. OK---I'm stalling with this confession. Are you ready for this? I stood at the kitchen counter and as crazy as this might sound, I dipped a Frito into the creamy peanut butter for a salty-crunchy-peanut-buttery taste sensation. Then I did it again. Once more and then a fourth time. I mindlessly consumed 200 calories while standing at that counter, and peanut butter dipped Fritos? What's that all about? Am I pregnant? It wasn't a meltdown by any stretch, but it was just out of character and not in tune with the new me. I don't throw calories around mindlessly, but standing at that counter eating a combination I'd never tried before (it was pretty good by the way) was very unusual. I stopped myself after the fourth one. It's like my defense system was taking a coffee break or something. It took a little longer to respond to this mindless consumption. When it did, I was pretty upset and felt guilty. I didn't wreck my calorie budget—I'm still in a wonderful place---I'm still OK. But I learned something valuable. Fritos and peanut butter rock! NO---Seriously, I learned that just because I sometimes feel invincible, I'm not. I'm still capable of feeling the crazy “splurge urge.” The difference now? I'm able to identify it and deal with what I'm doing. The old Sean would have grabbed the bag and the jar and headed for the couch. I would've thought of a wonderful excuse to take a long lunch and I would have devoured my newly discovered snack combination until I was stuffed. The new Sean doesn't play that way. Oh, and through it all those silly sugar wafers were on the counter pleading for me to have just one. I didn't. Is it possible to be 'in control' even when you're 'out of control?'---maybe. I wouldn't necessarily call it control. Awareness and the ability to correct a very minor slip before it becomes a major meltdown is more like it. I'm actually stronger from the experience.

The 5K walk/jog tonight (don't get too impressed by '5K' and 'jog' in the same sentence—it was mostly walking, maybe an 80/20 split) was refreshing to say the least. It stormed earlier and the moisture in the air has left the sweet smell of rain on everything. It was cooler, not bad at all! I notice that I have a longer jogging endurance when I'm on the treadmill. At the trail, it seems like maybe I'm too unregulated to settle into a set speed. On the treadmill I can set it on 5.0 mph and be good for a long while, but on the trail it's different. I did something tonight that was really cool. I conquered THE Hill. At the trail there is a hill that isn't really steep, it's just really loooong. The incline just keeps going and going. When we first started walking around the actual trail I had lost a little bit of weight I'm sure, but still at almost 500 pounds that hill would beat me down. I can remember stopping several times in the middle of the 'climb' because my legs were on fire and we always dreaded that thing. Tonight—I jogged up that thing like it was a walk in the park. It was a sweet little victory. That hill doesn't have anything on me anymore. My brain on the other hand does...I'm still a tiny bit self conscious about being the “fat guy jogging,” but I'm getting over that. If someone drives by and gets a laugh at my expense, so be it. They don't know who I am and where I'm headed. It would blow their minds if they only knew at whom they were laughing. Maybe someday they'll put it together-- that's the guy we use to laugh at while he tried to run! Wow, look at him now! I wish I had a body like that! Hey, it's my imagination---I can make these imaginary people think anything I want them too! And that brings me to this: My mental hangups, our mental hangups about what other people think of us---are rarely as bad as our imaginations would have us believe. Those people driving by as I slowly jog, they're just as likely thinking-- Good for him, he's really going after what he wants, makes me want to get out there too. And they're even more likely not noticing at all. Our brains can really convince us otherwise, but seriously---it's typically not as bad as we think. Irene's at work and Courtney is at a friends house this evening. Amber did the 5K with me. That girl has more jogging endurance than me. She can just keep going and going. If we're all just walking, and Courtney and I are about to pass Amber...she amps it up a few notches, refusing to let us pass. Then we amp it up trying to pass, then she really turns it on and she's gone! In the end we all get a better workout as a result of our friendly competitiveness.

I list my blogroll by latest post first. That way I can see who hasn't posted in a while. If you're a weight loss blogger and reader, I encourage you, no...let's make this a challenge: I challenge you to find someone on your blog roll that hasn't posted in a really long while. Go to their blog and offer some words of encouragement. Hopefully they're doing wonderful. As solid as some of us are on this road, we mustn't forget that some still struggle greatly. And maybe a word or two from one of us will make a difference. Maybe not, but at least we can try. I imagine you do this already, huh? A good solid support group of successful weight loss bloggers can be like weight loss superheroes to some. We all have different experiences and abilities to relate to people. So put on your cape my friends and fly into those stale blogs and see what's happening with our weight loss brothers and sisters.

Day 317 was really good despite the temporary craziness of dipping Fritos in peanut butter and spending 200 calories in the process. Seriously, not bad at all. We're headed to a wonderful, wonderful, most amazing place and sometimes we need a little variety in our performance just to keep our defenses and new way of life sharp and in focus. I'm focused on getting a good night's rest. Goodnight and...

Good choices,

Day 316 My Blog is Important To Me and Sugar Wafers? Really?

Day 316

My Blog is Important To Me and Sugar Wafers? Really?

The morphing photo was really cool. I found out today that in order to use it again I need to buy it for thirty bucks, OK---I think I will. It's a nice program, very easy user interface, and you can get really creative. I downloaded the free trial of Morpheus Photo Morphing Software from, by just typing in “photo morphing software.” I actually had a picture taken today in the exact same spot as the 500 plus pound picture from the morph. The effect was the most amazing thing. It was like the only thing in the picture changing was me. When I tried to render it for tonight's blog, it stopped me and said I needed to buy it first. It gave me the first one for free, knowing I'd be back! Sounds like a drug dealer or Baskin Robbins “free taste.” After I buy this software, I plan on “recreating” some of the exact settings and poses in many of my before pics. It'll be some of the most amazing before and “in progress” and eventually “after” picture morphs, I guarantee! If you want to skip the free trial business and just go straight to their order page, you can find it at

I'm so thankful for what this blog has done for me. It's really taught me so much about myself and this journey. What once seemed like an impossible road has become so clear through this nightly therapy session I call my blog. I had no idea what it would become to me. I really didn't have a clue. I started posting on Myspace for the first two weeks, then I discovered blogspot. Transferring the blogs to Blogspot was simply a way for my cousin to read along on his WebTV, because he couldn't go to myspace. My daughter away at college could just read the myspace version. I didn't read any other blogs back then and I had very few readers on the blogspot version. When you go back in the archives, surely you've noticed the lack of comments in the early days. All of the comments and the majority of readers were friends and family on the myspace version. The Myspace version is still up and running and it's identical in content, but the blogspot version is by far the most read of the two. I'm so happy to have “met” so many nice people who are headed down this same road right here on Blogger. If my cousin could have read it on myspace, I doubt I would have ever started this blogspot version in the first place. I credit my blog with a large part of my success. It goes back to what I've said and so many have said before me. Writing out how you feel and what you're doing is therapeutic. It has made a world of difference for me, that's for sure!

This morning I had venison and eggs for breakfast. It was wild indeed! My friend Dan gave me some ground venison and it is so good! Irene will not touch it, because she doesn't eat “cute” things. But it's substantially lower in fat and calories over beef. And it doesn't taste that far off, it's like a really lean burger. If you're a vegetarian this probably disgust you, but I can't help it! I love meat! I'm a grilling machine! I came home for lunch and enjoyed crunchy venison tacos. Why all the venison? Because our fridge is once again not working and the repair person can't get here until tomorrow. It was cook it or toss it, so I cooked it! The fridge is a fairly newish Frigidaire side by side, or else we'd just get another one. This is the best fridge we've ever had---so we're getting it fixed, again! It shouldn't cost us anything this time, they're basically repairing the repair they made before.

Had a wonderful workout tonight in the great outdoors. After we got our sweat on, I arrived home to find someone had purchased Sugar Wafer Cookies. I'm not mentioning any names or calling anyone within' my household out, but I really disagree with this snack selection. First of all, let me say this: I love these things. I use to eat an entire package in one sitting. They're pure sugar, I mean totally sugar---you know what I'm talking about right? Four small little sugar wafer “fingers,” check in at 150 calories! I haven't had any since I started this journey and considering the horrible calorie value, I'm not starting now. I know that a big part of my philosophy is “Nothing Is Off Limits,” and that's true. But at the same time, everything I eat I base on “calorie value.” If I'm not getting a decent return on my “investment,” then I pass. Those sugar wafer cookies are a horrible “calorie value.” So I choose to pass. Now they're over there on the counter staring at me. I'm not giving them the time of day, and it kills them I'm sure! They're probably thinking--But Sean, remember the times we shared? Remember all of those late nights watching TV and eating us as fast as you could, because it was fun? We can have some fun now Sean...come on, what do you say? I say they're not worth the calories. I will not sacrifice the integrity of my journey and the limits of my calorie budget for the temporary satisfaction of those little fingers of sugar. Choices. Good or bad? Either way they have consequences. I will make the good choice and leave them where they are. An even better choice would be to “accidentally” spill a bucket of water on them. They would totally melt like the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz. I wonder what rationalization I'll hear when I inquire why such a horrible calorie value has breached the security of our kitchen? I bet I know: Dad, you always say “nothing is off limits.” OK---you got me there. But realize that “investing” a bunch of calories in these things only takes away from other more filling and satisfying choices you could have had. Is that a good choice? I guess that question can only be answered on an individual basis. For me? No. Not good at all, but that's me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of cookie police. I actually enjoyed a 140 calorie oatmeal raisin cookie the other night with a cup of coffee. It was nice. But these wafer things...Oh my---I could eat probably a thousand calories worth before you could even count to one hundred.

I'm headed to bed tonight with a wonderful feeling, a wonderful feeling of confidence, a wonderful feeling of freedom. And it's something I'm feeling everyday. If you're on this road too, don't give up! Keep on coming up the road...because it gets easier and easier---and the rewards get better and better. Defend your journey from anything and everything that tries to derail you. You can't be stopped if you decide you can't. The most important word for me along this journey? Consistency. It's key. It'll save you numerous frustrations and setbacks and propel you to an amazing transformation. Be strong, be consistent, and be free! Because it feels like nothing I've ever felt and so much better than I ever imagined...and I'm not even all the way to my ultimate goal yet! Thank you for reading and offering your support. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 315 Changing Body Image and Mac and Cheese, Please!

Day 315

Changing Body-Image and Mac and Cheese, Please!

I've thought a bunch today about my self-image. How it's slowly changing. The pictures and what I see in the mirror make me feel great, but I know there's much work ahead to get to where I want to be. I've had a few people lately say “Sean, you look great where you are.” And I sincerely appreciate the compliment, because it is a compliment, but you don't see what I see. You only see what I want you to see. Is that dishonest? No, it's appropriate. If I posted a picture that wasn't appropriate, then you would see what I mean. I applaud those that can post revealing pictures, but I'm not that brave! Clothes can hide a bunch. So what do I see when I look in the mirror before I get in the shower? I see a man that has lost a bunch of weight, with all the clues hanging loosely. What can I do about that? A couple of things. I've talked about my desire to eventually have excess skin removed and hopefully donated to a burn center. That will happen. And the other thing is weight training. A dedicated, intense, and most importantly consistent weight training schedule will give me the arms I dream of, seriously, with weight training my arms luckily will not need any kind of surgery for skin removal. I'll fill 'em up with some serious guns. OK, that sounded really macho of me. I've never been a “macho man.” I'm scared of flying insects that sting. I'm like a little girl sometimes. But that's OK. I prefer sensitive, thank you very much! When I say “self-image,” I guess I really mean “body image.” I think highly of my “self,” or else I would still be 505 pounds. I really, really like the man I've become and how I think as a person. So the self-image is fine I believe. The body image, well...that's a tough one. I'll get there, I will! But it doesn't happen in 315 days. Not when you've abused your body for as long as I have. I hope I don't sound like an ungrateful idiot. But let me tell you, I want the best possible transformation possible, so I don't satisfy easily. I want the body of my dreams, the real deal, solid everywhere, built like a rock. Not muscle magazine built, just underwear model built. NO---I'm not saying I aspire to be an underwear model, not even...but you understand what I'm saying, right? And I don't want this vision of mine for any other reason than to inspire change in the morbidly obese that feel trapped and hopeless. I want one of the most dramatic transformations---the kind where you have a hard time believing those giant before pictures were ever me. I want to let those people know that they too can do this. There is hope, there is an amazing place ahead on this road, it's not impossible, it's really not!

I did more yard work today. It's tough when you realize that no matter how wonderful a job I do, it's not going to look as good as the neighbors back yard. I swear the guy was a grounds keeper for a golf course, I'm sure! The mower stopped working and I ended up calling a friend with a big riding mower. Dan came over and knocked out the rest of the yard in little time. Then he looked at my mower, and started on the first pull. I swear!!! It wouldn't start!!! It didn't look good, but seriously, it wouldn't start earlier. Must have over heated in the tall grass, I don't know! It was funny actually. My arms did get a workout from pulling the mower cord a million times. OK, maybe a million is a slight exaggeration, but at least thirty or forty times! OK, maybe twenty—yeah, that sounds right.

I spent 400 calories today on mac and cheese. This is very unusual. I can count on one hand how many times I've had mac and cheese in the last 315 days. I love it too much! I started out with a very small portion, then decided to “invest” a little more. It tasted amazing! So, nearly a third of my calorie budget in mac and cheese---then I tossed the leftovers in the trash. There wasn't that much left, and it sounds wasteful. I can't add the amount of calories I've consumed before in the name of “don't waste it!---here, let me put it on my waist!” We actually have changed the way we cook around here. We simply cook less. Much less actually. We're saving money and saving calories. We've had several meals that look like it's not enough, but then everyone gets a serving of this and a little of that, it's all gone, and everyone is satisfied. No seconds, no leftovers, and no picking while it's cooking---because, hey...there's just enough! It's taken some getting adjusted—because we always cooked so much! But our perspective has changed, our focus has changed, our lives have changed.

My workout tonight was not normal, but effective. I used the jump-rope on the patio. I don't care what the neighbors think, the garage is too hot! And the neighbors should just be glad the back lawn is mowed 'cause I'm a busy man! I did fifteen sets of ten, got very sweaty and my heart rate was racing...a great workout indeed, and it only took thirty-five minutes.

Irene is about to come through the door and my goal was to be done by the time she does, then spend some time with her and get to sleep! The alarm is set for 5am. Below you'll see a cool “morphing” photo I created. I hope it works! If it's just a picture of me at over 500, then it didn't work, and I'm not going to try to figure out why tonight. Hopefully it works. I bet it does. Thanks for reading and giving me your support. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

I'll do more of these. Kind of fun!

Day 314 A Wonderful Comment and A Fine Day With Friends

Day 314

A Wonderful Comment and A Fine Day With Friends

Thank you to everyone for all the support on last night's blog. My dad left a very touching comment and nearly everyone after mentioned how it touched them. It touched me too and I'll be calling him tomorrow. It's been a little while since we had a good phone chat. It's wonderful to have regular contact with him. It's really been a blessing along this journey to re-connect after all these years. I recently posted an excerpt from a previous blog about my relationship with my father and I don't want to post an excerpt of an excerpt, so I'll just tell you where it is located, it's from Fathers Day-June 21st, Day 280 in the archives.

We had company today! Rachel, Neil, and their kids came up to Ponca City to visit the water-park. They stopped by to visit with Irene before she left for work and then invited us all out to the water-park. Amber, along with her boyfriend KL, decided to go. Courtney and I declined because we had to get into the YMCA for a workout and I needed to do yard work. Rachel has really been turning it up lately. She's been working out everyday and watching her calories. She's another reader that's read every single day, well almost, she did miss a few during the final few months of nursing school—but she was very busy! I've written about her recently. After yesterday's reader picture with Whitney, we decided to do one with Rachel since she was right here! I've posted the picture below.

We worked out really well at the Y today. I tried lowering my speed when I jog on the treadmill to see if I could increase my endurance and it worked. I did a nearly ten minute jog. Now it was a really slow jog, but still a step above power walking. It really got my heart rate up and I was feeling it good. The ten minute endurance was awesome.

We returned home and I immediately started on the yard. I really had let it go and my neighbor was getting really frustrated with me. He's retired and spends a good portion of his time on taking care of his yard. The back yard especially. One half of his yard looks like a golf green, while the other half looks like a fairway. My yard looks like an “out of bounds.” I'm sure he was thrilled to hear the mower start up today.

After everyone returned from the water-park, we had a cookout. I tried a turkey burger and it was really good! I'll be getting more of those! It was a great time and it was really good to spend it with them. It is super late right now. I better make tonight's post a short one. By the way, I enjoyed over eight hours of sleep last night---Wonderful!!! I didn't realize how much sleep deprivation damages metabolism, but it does! Check out this article: I was sabotaging myself! I'm lucky to have dropped what i have the last few months considering the lack of sleep throughout the work week. Thank you Rachel for this wonderful link.

I'm headed to bed. Thanks for reading and giving me your support. It's been an amazing journey for me so far, and we're not done yet! It's all good. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Longtime friend and reader of this blog—Rachel!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 313 "Investment" Decisions and Living On Water

Day 313

“Investment” Decisions and Living On Water

I felt really good today! Getting six hours sleep may not be enough, but it is enough for me to have a great day without feeling like I must have a nap. The added sleep last night really made a difference. I'll be up late tonight, but I can sleep as late as I want in the morning. I'm going for a solid eight tonight!

I spent some time all alone at the studio this afternoon. Just me and the donuts from yesterday. Yep, they were still sitting on the conference table. Some were missing (yes I looked), but again I resisted. I could have had that coconut flake donut, but I knew it was a cake donut, and those are the worst calorie offenders. I just couldn't “invest” probably 300 calories in a gourmet donut. That's the great thing about my “Calorie Bank and Trust,” it forces me to make wise “investment” decisions throughout the day. Because like money---when the calories are gone, they're gone. And I'm not issued another “bundle” until the next morning! There was a time, not that long ago, when the life expectancy of a box of donuts at the studio was somewhere around thirty-eight minutes. Now, more of us are calorie conscious, and they sit there until they get hard and somebody finally throws them away. Same with the pizzas the other day. They were discarded, a bunch of it, because nobody wanted to take it home. It's cool to see such a profound change in the habits of everyone around here.

I flew like a bird today across the top of the water on Lake Ponca. It was one of my greatest experiences. I had never viewed the lake from that perspective. I always stayed on the shore and watched other people zip across the water as I sat miserable in the sun wondering what they must feel like to experience such freedom. I found out: They feel great. I was one of them today. The owner of Team Radio has invited me to his private dock to ride his Sea Doo jet ski no less than five times over the last month or so. Today I decided I would do it. Doing things like this that were once nearly impossible is one of the quickest ways for me to get really emotional about how far I've come in the last 313 days. This is what it's all about. It's living my friend. Really living. You know what I mean? Feeling that jet ski lift up and skimming across the water as the wind hurried through my hair was simply amazing. I felt like I could fly. As I rode atop the surface I thought about how things have changed for me and continue to change. It would have been so easy to never have started on September 15th of last year. I did that my entire life. You know, think about starting, even plan starting, get excited about starting and then when the day would come (always a Monday for me), nothing but fear and giant overwhelming feelings of I can't, it's going to take too long, how am I going to do this under so much daily stress? It certainly wasn't that I didn't want it---Oh I did...but I was so busy trying to complicate the process, I couldn't get a handle on figuring out how to really do it. I always claimed “Oh, I know how to lose weight---just eat less and exercise more.” But there's more to it than that. Until I really analyzed the psychological part of the equation, I couldn't solve the problem no matter how bad I wanted it. This time is certainly like no other for me. It's the real deal my friend. The way out was found because I completely surrendered the dishonesty within, the excuses, and the rationalizations that always gave me reasons to fail. I decided to give this mission the importance level it deserves, so it wouldn't be easy to rationalize bad choices---because it's just too important. And here I am 313 days later, flying across the top of a lake, viewing a perspective reserved only for those who choose to live.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a friend and long time reader of this blog at the dock this afternoon. Whitney has read this blog from Day 1. I spoke of her not that long ago in these writings. She reads every single morning. She started her weight loss journey in February 2008. She's lost over 50 pounds and is currently 6 pounds from her ultimate goal. She's a completely different person, full of confidence and sporting a bikini. Now that takes confidence! She's got it. We snapped a pic and I've included that below.

You'll find another “On The Go” Video along with a bunch of pictures below. I sincerely appreciate your readership! The weekend is here and I plan on catching up on my blog reading and commenting. My schedule this week has kept me very busy and away from the computer. I also plan on mowing this weekend, fun! Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

This video was shot right before I took flight!

The serious look.

The Indirect look.

The this shirt doesn't really fit look.

Maybe hard to tell, but the fit and feel of this tux was really loose compared to May 14th

Same tux May 14th—over two months ago.

With Whitney at the lake. She's lost over 50 pounds and is now 6 pounds from reaching her ultimate goal. She's read from Day 1—and continues to read every single day.

Standing on the jet ski—pre-flight.

Profile—I look angry, oh my. I wasn't. Can't stand the chin---I guess the next 81 pounds will take care of that!

Strange shot in the lights.

Huge before pic, 500 plus pounds! From a co-workers iPhone. I never realized I looked so big.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 312 Taking Care of Me and Same Tux-Different Sean

Day 312

Taking Care of Me and Same Tux-Different Sean

After re-reading last night's blog, I can only explain my irrational thoughts of “super-losing” twelve pounds in the next two weeks, by was the sleep deprivation talking. When we're tired it's completely normal to get cranky. The old Sean would turn to food when a case of cranky would come about. The new Sean gets impatient and crazy ideas of doing “super-workouts” to boost already great weight loss numbers. I need to check myself once in a while and realize that the kind of success I'm having is the kind some people dream of having. I think I'm getting almost giddy about the upcoming milestones too and that certainly may have contributed to these ideas. I did go back and re-read my post about time. And it was a nice reminder. It wasn't anything I don't already firmly believe, that's why I wrote about it, and that further supports my theory that I was being altered by sleep deprivation and giddiness. Woo-hooo! Sorry, couldn't help that. I'm just really excited about the next six pounds. The thought of losing 200 pounds was a million miles away when I started, or so I thought, turns out it was only about 500 miles and eleven months away. I can't wait to be able to say “I weigh two something.” From “five something” to “two something,” What a fantastic journey. I'm completely blessed, and believe me I give thanks for these blessings every day.

I'm actually writing this blog in the middle of the afternoon. (nice suggestion Anson W!) I'll wait to post until I get home later tonight. My plan is to be in bed by 11:00pm, not a minute later. No TV on either...lights out, tv off...sleepy town. The negative effects of sleep deprivation totally play against everything this journey is about. It effects our metabolism and overall health and immune system. So just understand, I'm correcting this glaring flaw before it becomes an even bigger issue.

I haven't yet mentioned how the Team Radio downtown home office building collapsed the other night. Well, the entire front of the building at least. It's an old historic building, and the mortar between those bricks have had nearly a century to deteriorate. It was very fortunate that the collapse happened in the night during a thunderstorm with eighty mile an hour winds and nobody was hurt. I mention this because we've had some company lunches at the studios a couple of times since as a result. Today it was once again pizza. I normally wouldn't turn down a free meal, and I do like pizza, but it just wasn't how I wanted to spend my calories today. I decided to enjoy a grilled chicken wrap while everyone else had pizza. The wrap was good. Even better was sitting there with all of this pizza right in front of me and not even feeling the slightest bit tempted. Probably the sleep deprivation effecting me again. No seriously...not even the slightest temptation. That's a serious breakthrough. Then after lunch, a spouse of one of my studio mates showed up with a box of gourmet donuts from a little place called Turtles. It's not a chain, so unless you live around here you wouldn't know of them...but trust me, the recipes they churn out every morning are some of the most delicious donuts and pastries in the world. I've never had donuts and pastries in other parts of the world, but I can't imagine any tasting better than Turtles. I didn't even look their way. I had my lunch already. My calorie count was sitting pretty at 550 for the day at that point and I was satisfied completely.

Tonight the schedule calls for a special black tie event at a major casino. I've been hired to MC and provide big band music for a recreation of the Titanic formal dining room. It's an event for their high rollers I believe. I have to be there at 4pm and I'm not done until 9pm. My workout today will be sacrificed in the name of getting home and going to bed. I would normally say---OK, I'm heading out late tonight to do another 5K, then head home to write. No. It's simple really, my rest is just as important to my health as a good workout. If this event tonight wasn't scheduled, then I would have plenty of time. I'm just excited about putting on a tuxedo again! Ted at Moore's Clothing is providing the tux, and I'm a little worried because I think I asked for the same size as before. But I've dropped twenty to thirty pounds since then, I think...I'd have to go back and confirm those numbers. Anyway...I hope it's not too big!!! Now there's a problem I'm not use to having!! I'll wrap up this edition when I return home later tonight.

The Tux I was wearing on May14th, you know the one, the one that was snug---It fit perfectly back then. Not anymore! Instead of going in and having Ted take my measurements again, I decided to just ask for the same tux. Save time I thought. Bad decision! The weight I've lost since then showed a dramatic difference in the tux fit and feel. It did not cling at all to my neck, it was way too loose. The pants were way too big, and the shirt was baggy. My mistake. Ted encouraged me to come into Moore's and measure again---But I guess I didn't think it would be that big of difference. It was—and it made me so happy. I'll have new Tux pictures tomorrow.

The dinner tonight was prime rib, a very small twice baked potato, and green beans with almond slivers. I requested a small “as lean as possible” slice of prime rib. The potato was petite and the green beans were, well, they were green beans. It wasn't that bad at all. It was kind of fancy and fun.

I had a few “wow” reactions too. One of them was a “completely unrecognizable” reaction. Same thing: “I wouldn't have known it was you if you hadn't been talking.” I never get tired of those.

I am tired. I've had less than six hours of sleep in the last two nights combined, completely crazy stuff...So I'm going to bed now. I'll end up getting six hours all at once. That's a start right? Thank you to Rachel for giving me a link to an article on the effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism. Rachel is crackin' a whip on me on this deal. And I appreciate her caring, she's a good friend. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Day 311 Burning The Midnight Oil and Weigh Day Results!

Day 311

Burning The Midnight Oil and Weigh Day Results!

I've been crazy busy today. I haven't had time to read all of the blogs I love to read and support. I feel bad about that, but I hope you understand that I'm burning the candle at both ends. It's something I must get a handle on immediately. My day started at 5:15am Wednesday morning, it's 1:08am Thursday---and the alarm sounds at 5am. Crazy? Yes it is. Unhealthy? Yes, absolutely! One of the things I've learned from experts is that the body must have enough rest to operate in an optimal way. And if I'm not operating in an optimal way, then I'm not realizing my full potential. I'm certainly not wanting sympathy, I've created this schedule---this is my own doing. But I must manage my time better and realize that I can't do everything—all the time. In the future, when weight loss motivational and inspirational speaking is my full time job, then it'll be so different. I'm not ready for that transition at this point. So I must do my best to make the most of my days and evenings---and drop in bed at decent times. I'll be working on that.

Today was weigh day at the hospital! I weighed in at 311, down another five pounds! It brings my total to 194 pounds in 311 days. I love that. Every since I stepped off that scale today I've been obsessed with the idea of losing 12 pounds over the next two weeks. I've been averaging 2.5 to 3 pounds per week, so this crazy idea of losing 12 in two weeks is probably just that...Crazy. But I know if I seriously amped up my workout schedule, I think it could happen. But I'm over that now. The idea was to shatter two major milestones on the same weigh day in two weeks. Losing 200 pounds and dropping below 300 pounds for the first time since age 15. I'm over it now because I realized that I was simply getting impatient. I love losing weight. I'm enjoying this journey every step of the way, there's nothing wrong with hitting two milestones over the next couple of weigh days. Time doesn't matter anymore, remember writing that Sean? OK, I'm getting loopy now and talking to myself. But really Sean---go back and read your own words. Let time pass, you're getting there in a very consistent fashion, and that's all that matters. And it's still a challenge. I need to lose 6 pounds over the next two weeks to hit my 200 pounds lost goal. That's completely possible. Then over the two week period after that, I'll drop below 300 with a six pound loss. So patience is the rule.

Irene lost another 2 pounds, Courtney lost another 4 pounds and Amber lost another 3 pounds. I'm so proud of them and what we're doing.

Tomorrow night I've been asked to MC an event at a major casino. We'll see tomorrow how the time management thing is going. Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...

Good Choices

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 310 Lesson Learned

Day 310

Lesson Learned

I've learned a very valuable lesson in the past couple of days. From this point forward--unless someone specifically ask for my advice and help concerning weight loss---I will keep my thoughts, opinions, and suggestions about their choices to myself. Someone mentioned once that Richard Simmons lives by this philosophy. Unless someone reaches out to him, he will not offer any advice about weight loss and fitness. I'm in no way comparing myself to Richard, I just really look up to him---and I remembered that someone with personal knowledge on the topic had shared that information about Richard in a comment a while back. This lesson came about because I read a blog where someone had decided that they would have weight loss surgery. I just wanted to reach out and offer some help, share my experiences, and let her know that I thought she could do it without a surgery. I certainly didn't mean to hurt her feelings. I think I may have. And I certainly apologize Lynn. I don't know her personally. I don't know her struggles. I can't assume that my life-long struggle is strikingly similar to hers, it may have been completely different. I have friends and family that have undergone various weight loss surgeries. Some with wonderful success, others with horrible consequences. But still, it was what they felt they had to do. For some of those friends and family members, it was the greatest thing they ever did. For a few others, they regretted the decision from day 1. One thing I've heard from even the best of cases is this: It's certainly not an “easy way out.” It takes a lot of discipline and will power just the same. It's a struggle every day, but still for many, it's the wonderful life changing thing they hoped it would be. Lynn never asked for my opinion or advice on the subject. I just dived in and gave it anyway. I was out of line. And it certainly will not happen again. I did it with sincere caring and wonderful intentions. And I would hope that anyone who reads my comments could clearly see that sincerity. I did get kind of upset after reading what someone else said in a comment about waiting two years for a consultation about surgery, then waiting another two years for the surgery. I just couldn't understand waiting four years to do something. But then again I waited over twenty years to finally do something, so...Anyway...It's behind me. Lesson learned.

Now don't get me wrong, I'll still “weigh-in” in the comment section of blogs I regularly read, and I'll continue to be the same supportive Sean as ever. I so enjoy following the blogs of others, but I'm not going to just go in and start telling someone they can do this and how I have, without them asking me for that information. And if you've read my blog, you already know how I've done it thus far. I have to mention, I've been crunched for time today and haven't had very much time to read and comment—but I'll catch up!

We took my mom back home this evening, it was a too short visit! We stopped at a popular clothing store upon arriving in Stillwater because Courtney had some birthday money for clothes shopping. That kid knows how to find the bargains! She bought a pair of jeans, three shirts, a pair of workout pants, and a few undergarments all for forty dollars! Rue 21 is an amazing little store! The best part wasn't the bargains, it was seeing her once again excited about shopping for clothes.

I'm headed to bed this evening. I really must have more rest. This journey is much easier when you're properly rested! Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 309 Courtney-Getting Out Young and Shopping For Cheesecake

Day 309

Courtney-Getting Out Young and Shopping For Cheesecake

Our youngest is now officially 16 years old. I'm so proud of the changes that she's made. It gives me the greatest happiness to watch both of our girls so wonderfully follow our lead out of the bindings of obesity. Courtney is a very social young lady. She loves spending time with friends, but even when she's away with friends, she logs on with her phone and reads this blog every day. After losing over 70 pounds, Courtney is feeling more confident than ever—and what a wonderful time for a young lady to feel great about herself—sweet sixteen is really sweet for Courtney. I'm confident that her adult life will never have the effects of morbid obesity. She's getting out young—and that's such a blessing.

Tonight I made the trip to Wal-Mart for Cheesecake. Felt kind of strange. I just knew that I would run into all kinds of people in the cheesecake section of the store. I didn't. It would have been fun to explain. “Uh—this isn't for me, I uh—my daughter made me do it---Um---Ok--I may have a small piece, know me---Mr. Nothing is off limits—right?” Courtney loves cheesecake, I mentioned this last night, so instead of a birthday cake—it's cheesecake around here! I didn't buy the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake---for all of us to have some—would have been too expensive. And to Courtney, there's no such thing as bad cheesecake, she's not picky at all. I studied the nutrition labels on several different options—I had no idea that there would be such a big difference in calories---based on brands and size. I found one that was almost 500 calories for one slice. Then I discovered the Sara Lee original cheesecake. It was small, the perfect size really—and for ¼ of the entire cheesecake it registered at only 330 calories! So what did we do? Instead of cutting it into four 330 calorie pieces, we made it eight 165 calorie pieces. It was so good! And none of us had to kill our calorie budget to enjoy. We could just buy one of these everyday and call this “The Amazing Cheesecake Diet.” Because I guarantee we'll have another positive weigh-in on Wednesday. Sometimes it might sound crazy and hard to believe---Chinese buffets and cheesecake—and we're still losing weight. We're proving what so many are discovering and proving to themselves these days. You can still enjoy the foods you love and lose weight consistently. You really can.

About the buffet and my food selection. “Piling” is acceptable depending on what you're piling. I could've mentioned this last night, just forgot. If you're piling fresh veggies and things you know are really low in calorie, that's one thing. But you could clearly see the kind of stuff I go for. It wasn't really Chinese food at all...but it's what I like. And what I like cannot be piled and still be within a calorie budget. I know this about me. I'm not a veggie kind of guy if you haven't noticed.

We've had my mom with us since last night. I didn't think we would have room for her in the vehicle last night, we were in Irene's car, but we all squeezed in. This would have been impossible over 400 pounds ago. We've freed up a lot of room!

I took my mom to the foot clinic today. Her increased activity---she's up to a mile when she walks---is sometimes painful because of common foot problems that can be easily corrected. She was so nervous going in to the doctor today. I reassured her that it was going to be OK...and then the situation suddenly took me back to my childhood when I was the scared little boy and she would reassure me that everything was going to be alright. And it always was. And it was today too. Now she'll be getting a pair of specially fit orthopedic shoes that will make her walking so much easier. She'll be doing a 5K someday, you just watch! And what a wonderful progression she's made. From barely being able to walk across the street, to walking a mile straight. And her weight loss has become so consistent too! It's really a pleasure to witness. She's finally understanding what I've been talking about for so long. She's been on information overload about so called weight loss right and wrongs---that she didn't know what way to turn. Now she's on the road to a new Beverly—my mom. I always knew she could do it! Now she believes it too!

Thank you for reading. I'm dropping in a little earlier than last night. Many things to do tomorrow! I must rest now. Goodnight and

Good Choices,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 308 More Egg-Less Calories and The Chinese Buffet Showdown #2

Day 308

More Egg-Less Calories and The Chinese Buffet Showdown #2

A day of rest was in order today. I even took an afternoon nap! It was awesome my friend. I knew that the evening would be packed with celebrating Courtney's birthday in Stillwater, working out, and blogging, so it was good that I rested. I needed to be alert and on my A-game for another buffet showdown in China Town. More on that later in this post.

This morning I finally gave in and gave up whole eggs. I've been told by a bunch of people how much better egg whites are and how horrible whole eggs can be. But still, I was stubborn. And if a two egg cheese omelet checks in at 200 calories, then where's the harm? After several people told me the wonderful benefits of egg whites, I realized that not one of them mentioned the calorie content. Curious, I went straight to Google and searched “Large egg white calories.” I was thrilled to find a large egg white contains only 17 calories. Seventeen! That's it? That's all the convincing I needed. I quickly separated four large eggs, with the high calorie-but tasty yolks going straight in the trash. I grabbed two high fiber whole wheat tortillas (8 grams of fiber each!) and warmed them for ten seconds in the microwave. Then I scrambled those four egg whites with pepper and some onion powder. I planned on adding some salsa, but we're out of salsa. I divided the egg whites between the two tortillas and used my expert burrito rolling skills to make two very filling breakfast burritos---and all for an amazingly low 228 calories! What? Yes! 228 calories. The egg whites were only 68 calories total and the tortillas were 80 each. 228. Very, very nice. Had I used whole eggs, those two breakfast burritos would have checked in at 440 calories. Big difference. I'm sold on egg whites. I'm not like “Rocky” sold on them, but I'm sold.

Tomorrow our youngest daughter turns sweet sixteen! We decided to celebrate tonight mainly because with Irene's new position, she can't take off tomorrow night to celebrate. We decided to meet my mom, grandma, aunt Kelli, and uncle Keith at a restaurant of Courtney's choosing in Stillwater. Something I may or may not have shared before is Courtney's love for Chinese food. She loves it dearly. And since we've started this journey, she's developed an understanding of Chinese food calories. Much of the stuff is loaded! Let's not even consider the sodium content. The calories are enough to seriously consider a ban on Chinese food, but remember, nothing is off limits! Courtney's birthday dinner, she wants a Chinese buffet, she gets a Chinese buffet. I remember this Chinese place from early on this journey. If you've read the archives, perhaps you remember Day 49 “The Buffet Showdown.” Here's an excerpt:

I knew someday I would face-off against a buffet like two gunslingers standing on Main Street in the middle of Dodge. The showdown was set. As we approached the scene of the dual I kept remembering all of our previous trips to this same locale. This was the place that made me like Chinese, mostly because they have a bunch of non-Chinese items. Did that even make sense? Anyway...They have amazing food! Their coconut shrimp is the best ever, I've had an entire plate before. The little stuffed mushrooms are incredible, the deep fried everything is amazing, and they have a nice big selection of fruit and deserts. I knew going in what I was up against. I was armed with my desire to stay true to my mission and a 49 day perfect record. I knew they would beat me financially, because there was no way I was eating the $7.95 worth, but they had a really tough opponent as far as will power was concerned. As we arrived I made some game time mental adjustments. I reminded myself of what I had to do and what I couldn't do. I had a cocky confidence walking in and then it was like everything was in slow motion. I made eye contact with the man at the register and he glared back. His stare told me that he's seen my kind through those doors many times. Really big guys like me that go in and pay $7.95 for $30.00 worth of food. I don't know for sure, but he probably alerted the kitchen of my arrival. But my opponent wasn't any one individual in that restaurant. My opponent was five hot lines, two cold lines, a desert line, and a sushi line. My first strategy was ordering a big tall glass of ice water. Then, without hesitation, I gave one last pre-showdown look at my family and headed straight for the battle. Like an old west gunfight, we (The buffet lines and me) stared each other down. I had my plate ready in my trembling hand. Then I started evaluating everything in front of me. It never took this long to decide before. Usually I would load up pretty quick, and head back to my chair, knowing that I would go back for more later. But this time was so different. There would be no going back this time. To win this fight I had to get in and get out as fast as possible, and never return.

The strategy tonight was nearly identical to the strategy used 259 days ago. A taste of this, a little of that—and one plate! OK, I had two plates, but one was for fruit. I didn't want the fruit juices to mix with my dinner selections. I avoided breads, like those little deep fried-sugar coated biscuits. I also avoided the fried rice. But the biggest strategy at 'Chinese Buffet Showdown #2,': No piling. One plate with zero piling. You know what I'm talking about. Piling: The art of putting as much food as scientifically possible on a single plate, resulting in what appears to be a mini-mountain of mixed edibles. I made sure to grab some of my favorites like mini-stuffed mushrooms and the creamy coconut shrimp. Instead of the fried potatoes, I chose the small baked potato slice topped with cheese and bacon. A single layer of food was the rule. The calories wouldn't be exact here, and I'm OK with that. As long as I'm completely honest with the guesstimate---I'll be alright. I guesstimated my plate, including the fruit---at 700 calories. It may have been less, but I seriously doubt it was a calorie over 700. This violated my personal guideline of keeping meals at or below 500 calories, but still I was well within my calorie budget for the day. I enjoyed every bite, but I enjoyed the company and celebration of Courtney's sixteenth birthday even more, that was the main focus. Not the food. Courtney's not big on cake, so we didn't have a traditional birthday cake. She's a cheesecake kid. We'll probably split a slice of cheesecake tomorrow. I might even splurge for a Cheesecake Factory slice. When the dust had settled---We were once again victorious at the Chinese buffet, and I'm sure the restaurant staff was relieved that our “victory” didn't mean eating up their profits.

As soon as we returned to Ponca City, I laced up and headed for the trail. I wanted nothing less than a 5K tonight. And that's exactly what I did. I power walked the entire 3.1 miles, without doing my normal spurts of jogging. I'm still taking it easy on this right leg. I control the intensity of the power walking to fit my idea of a good workout, and it was good, real good my friend.

And so, here we are. Another successful day in the books. I tried to produce another “On The Go” Video from along side the buffet lines, but I kept attracting strange and concerned looks from the restaurant staff. I decided on a quick version on the way out---It's posted below along with a picture of my food selections. Thank you for reading and following my transformation. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Here's another "On The Go" Video from outside the scene of the showdown.

700 calories worth of yumminess. Maybe even a little less, but I would nearly guarantee not a calorie over.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 307 A Friends Success, Struggling Friends, And Becoming A Good Friend of Food

Day 307

A Friends Success, Struggling Friends, And Becoming A Good Friend of Food

One question that has always perplexed me is this: How was I able to maintain a weight between 500 and 520 for so many years, when I was doing absolutely nothing to “maintain” that weight? I'm not complaining, no, not at all. But it's just weird. Do our bodies have a preset limit to how big we can become? Was it that I maintained just enough daily activity to keep me at that weight range despite my enormous daily caloric intake? It's all behind me now, but when I get deep in thought I try to figure that one out, and I can't. I'm very lucky I guess. Very lucky.

A huge “way to go” goes out to Rachel, a regular reader of this blog from Day 1. She's allowed life to get in her way for so long. While following my journey, she would occasionally experience epiphanies, but then very little would change...until now. Rachel is grabbing control, she's working out at the YMCA everyday and finding support among her family that didn't seem to be as strong several months ago. Rachel just became an RN, in fact she's officially been an RN for about a week now. As a nurse, I'm sure she's witnessed the devastating effects of morbid obesity on her patients. She's taking charge and leading her and her family out of this horrible place. I'm so proud of you Rachel! Rachel and my wife have been best friends since sixth or seventh grade. I've known Rachel since my freshman year in high school. When I first met Irene, the two of them were inseparable. At first I was confused who was who, so much so, that I went home and carved “I 'heart' Rachel” on the wood desk in my bedroom. I meant Irene, but I thought her name was Rachel...I was confused!! Imagine the comedy that ensued months later when Irene discovered the carving! I'm not sure that Irene viewed it as comedy, but it was hilarious to me, because I was innocent! I had some serious explaining to do. I'm not sure if she believes me to this day! Rachel and I went through a period where we couldn't stand each other at all. But we're in a wonderful place now that we're all seasoned adults. We all love each other and care about one another. And that's why I'm so thrilled over Rachel's recent commitment and consistency.

Irene and I are without children tonight. Amber is at a concert festival in Kansas and Courtney is sleeping over at a friends house. I prepared a wonderful candlelit dinner, her favorite of grilled sirloin steak, baked potato, green beans, and salad. After I finish tonight's blog, we're walking all the way to the Redbox DVD rental location and picking out a nice movie, then we're going to snuggle up and watch it! It'll be a workout, but not our best, but that's alright tonight. We're in a good place.

I know of a few friends, some that blog, some that don't, that are experiencing some really tough times with their weight loss efforts. Two of them have already lost nearly 100 pounds, but still are experiencing horrible relapses in their behaviors with food. For them I offer this: It's not too late to get back in that groove that has given you so much success so far. But as you return to that groove, consider a couple of things. Have you been focusing on the things that you know will drop the pounds, and ignoring the necessary mental changes that will keep you consistent? Just eating less and exercising more doesn't do it for the long term. Like any weight loss plan, it will work, but you know that true change only sticks around when we change our minds about food. Are we trudging through, struggling every step of the way? Or are we rejoicing in a new found way of thinking, where the weight loss becomes a side effect of our transforming brain? This new way of thinking means no longer using food irresponsibly. No longer using it like a weapon against our emotions, it's so easy to write and read on the screen, but seriously...think about this. A huge part of this transformation for any of us, is realizing that food is our friend. And treating food right, instead of abusing that friend. It's a relationship that we must recognize. In the past, I used and abused food. Food was treated horribly, I used it as a weapon against my emotions, I used it when I was stressed, when I wasn't having a good day, when the world seemed completely stacked against was my way out. A way to find something that was good in what seemed like a horrible existence. This way of using and abusing food is so widely accepted, we refer to certain foods as “comfort” foods. And that makes it OK, because everybody knows that mashed potatoes and gravy or ice cream---well those are “comfort” foods...we're suppose to drown our sorrows in them. Baloney! It doesn't have to be that way! This isn't something I realized from Day 1, I had to develop along the way. I had to understand my relationship with food, and once I did, once it was clear...I've been rejoicing in a new found way of thinking ever since. And when you truly decide that food is no longer to be used to combat emotions or comfort your feelings, it forces you to deal with your issues in other positive ways, leaving your journey unscathed through it all. At first, you may feel like a gunfighter without a gun, but after a while it gets easier. You become aware of how you're treating food, and you end up changing the pattern. We've all heard the phrase “Eat to live, don't live to eat,” but have you ever really thought deeply about that phrase? Or when someone says “it's got to be a lifestyle change,” sure, absolutely! But are we really understanding what that truly means? It means becoming a responsible friend of food. You don't have to be afraid of it anymore. You can make a new friendship with food that will benefit you the rest of your life---and the side effect? Losing weight and feeling great! Put up your steel curtain zone and defend your journey from the desires and abusive ways you've used food in the past! Make that decision that nothing, and I mean nothing is going to keep you from reaching your goal. A goal that isn't just about a certain weight, it's a goal that means complete control for the rest of your life. This journey is too important. You deserve this success! You deserve to feel what I'm feeling after the first 189 pounds has come off me. It's like a whole new world opens up to greet you. Drop the excuses, and the rationalizations that have made you feel justified in your past behaviors, stop blaming everything for your struggles, and get super honest with the most important person...YOU. Get honest with yourself, brutally honest about those behaviors...and embrace 100% accountability and responsibility for your own behaviors and choices with food. It'll change your life my friend. It really will.

Thanks for reading and following my journey from 505 pounds. I sincerely appreciate your support. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 306 A Walking Confidence and I Was Missing Many Things Including The Real Me

Day 306

A Walking Confidence and I Was Missing Many Things Including The Real Me

I had a vacation day today. I didn't do my radio show or any production, but I did end up doing a remote broadcast on a last minute fill-in type deal. Good thing we didn't leave town! The one thing I noticed today was how I completely have this confident spring in my step. It's a walking confidence I never had at over 500 pounds. It's hard to describe really, but I'll try: It goes beyond feeling lighter on my feet. It goes deep into my brain. I still may be slightly self conscious about my appearance, but nothing like I was at my heaviest. Not even close. I dreaded running into people I knew back then, now I hope I run into people I know. Walking across a big parking lot and not even feeling the slightest bit winded is a huge thing. The way I feel now makes me think I could do anything. Before at 505, I wasn't sure about a single thing. Today I was wearing my shades, you know the ones, and I like them. I really like them. I was going in and out of the store during the broadcast, and I just left the glasses on even inside the store. One of the employees of the place, one that knows nothing about me or my journey, commented “his future is so bright, he has to wear shades even indoors.” It was a pointed comment, but I just kept thinking she has no earthly idea just how bright a future I have in front of me...No idea how accidentally correct her pointed comment was.

I had a wonderful walk tonight. I power walked for forty-seven minutes, a 5K I'm sure---But it wasn't at the trail. It was throughout my neighborhood. It was a nice change of scenery, very nice. I need to add more scenic walks to my workout plan. Seriously, it was nice. Very nice.

After my walk I made dinner. It was a pasta dish with beef and mushrooms in a tomato sauce over rigatoni. I remember how scared I was of pasta in the beginning, I just couldn't imagine eating a normal portion and being satisfied. When we fixed pasta, we always fixed way too much and we rarely threw any away. We might have leftovers, but they eventually would be scarfed—usually late at night. Tonight I calculated a serving to be 350 calories. I had A serving. I enjoyed it slowly. It was delicious, completely delicious and satisfying. I didn't go back for seconds or thirds like I always had to do with pasta. I'm not afraid of pasta anymore. I understand why I was, but I'm in control now. I'm the one who decides how much I eat. It's my choice and nothing is off limits when a normal responsible portion is the rule.

I still have a wonderful ways to go before hitting my goal. And the rewards along the way just keep getting better and better. The way I feel has been a blessing. This is what I was missing all those years. I was missing me, the real me. When I think about all of the years behind me, when I was covered in over 500 pounds of life suffocating obesity, I get really sad at all I've missed. My girls aren't little girls anymore. I missed a lot of wonderful things during their young years. But then I think about the future and I get happy again. I can't wait to enjoy so many wonderful things with them now, now that I can enjoy them, instead of being a walking giant of misery. This journey has brought my family closer than ever before. It's a wonderful gift that I truly cherish. Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Day 305 Ten Months Yesterday and Discovering A Wonderful Blog

Day 305

Ten Months Yesterday and Discovering A Wonderful Blog

I didn't even recognize it last night, but yesterday was my ten month anniversary! I've said it many times before, I'm just not that focused on how much time it takes to get to my ultimate goal. But at the same time, I think it's cool to recognize and feel proud about these journey length milestones. You know how a young couple counts the months? Young couple: “This is our ten month anniversary!” It's like that with me and my mission. I guess you could say I'm in love with this journey. I kind of feel bad about forgetting my ten month anniversary yesterday, but my journey is cool, it doesn't mind. Wow, ten months and 189 pounds. I have zero business feeling anything but ecstatic. And I do, believe me I do. The best thing is, I know that the next ten months will bring about an even greater transformation in my body, mind, and career. Oh yes, this is only the very beginning of a fantastic new way of living.

I felt horrible today when I realized that I hadn't yet discovered and read a blog from a regular reader. If you're a regular reader and I haven't yet discovered yours, I will! I found a comment she left on another blogger's page where she mentioned reading every single day of my journey. Every single day from day 1, and I hadn't yet visited her blog. I felt like such a jerk. I'm certainly not a jerk, so I made my way over and found a wonderful blog so full of life and success. In six weeks she's lost 22 pounds. Her writing is wonderful and her transformation in her body and mind comes through clearly in her writing. She's on her way with her steel curtain zone held high...She will make this the last and most successful weight loss of her life. She's really got it together, completely. I highly recommend you checking out her blog at tell Zaababy I said hi!

Today was a long workday. I put in a rare ten hour day. It was a must considering that I'm taking a vacation day on Friday. I completely violated my own rules on metabolism management. OK, they're not really my rules, they're universal truths about our metabolism. I always try my absolute best to eat every three hours, something...anything. But today I worked straight through lunch without eating. It wasn't the best thing to do considering the metabolism and I really should have planned a little better and packed something. But anyway, sometimes our schedule dictates how, when, and what we eat. It doesn't mean we have to make bad choices, it just provides a nice challenge in making the good ones.

We were planning on a road trip straight up I-35—half way to Minnesota, but now those plans have been canceled. In the spirit of following the doctors advice about the superficial vein situation, I'm going to go ahead and use this vacation day to rest and relax. It'll be a nice three day weekend, I need it. I do plan on working out, but only with the proper low-stretch support wraps securely in place. Once again, I didn't work out today and I hate the way I feel when I don't. I didn't, not really because of the busy day...I've never been one to use my schedule as an excuse. But mainly because the hardened superficial vein really hurts! I'm hoping it drastically improves over the next 72 hours. I'm sure it will.

Thank you for the wonderful comments and support from last night's blog. The biggest scare yesterday wasn't my leg, it's going to be fine. It was Irene's medication, or should I say bottle of poison. That was scary. I'll never again give her a hard time for being overly obsessive about that allergy. I always ask for a penicillin substitute because we don't even want it in the house! That was a real scary deal. Had she just trusted the doctor and prescription, and in a hurry, opened it up and popped a dose...well, I don't even want to think about what could have happened. Thank God it didn't.

My calories have been right on the money today despite the several hours I didn't eat while working. I've had exactly 1500. I typically leave anywhere from twenty to a hundred “on the table.” I try to use them all, but sometimes it gets late and I don't want to eat before I go to sleep. I have before, but I prefer not. For dinner I grilled some lean hamburgers. These really lean burgers are so good on the grill. They don't flare things up and since there's less fat, there's less calories. There's over a 100 calorie difference in the highest fat version vs. what we use---an 85/15 blend. And I honestly can't tell the difference.

Thanks for reading and following my journey. Check out zaababy's blog if you haven't already, it's a good read! Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 304 Hoping To Help and Living On The Outskirts of Tragedy

Day 304

Hoping To Help and Living On The Outskirts of Tragedy

Very rarely, but sometimes I don't know where to begin. I got home not too long ago and found an e-mail from Tammy, a fellow weight loss blogger, who is doing wonderful I must say! She had discovered my Day 135 “Thank You Letter To Morbid Obesity.” That post touched her and compelled her to include it in a post she titled “Sean's Letter.” You can find her post here: Reading her post brought me to tears, right back where I was when I originally posted the letter. But it wasn't the letter that touched me the most this time, it was her reaction, her genuine, sincere words about it's effect on her. I have to tell you, it is a wonderful blessing to be able to share my story and journey out of morbid obesity and to be able to connect with people on such a profound level. I'm further blessed by numerous blog friends that have inspired me along the way. It's truly an honor to be in your company. Thank you.

I visited the gentleman with the heart condition today. I shared my story with him, I explained where I was emotionally and physically before and on Day 1. I explained to him what I've done and how I've done it...with the food and exercise fundamentals---and a bigger focus on the biggest element: the mental part. I talked about my “Calorie Bank and Trust,” I spoke of the “Steel Curtain Zone.” I talked about the power of a decision. I gave him a weight loss seminar in his living room. And I suggested he consult his doctor about all of this first and foremost. But I don't know if he was listening, really listening. I hope and pray he was, but I got the feeling he wasn't. I've done all I can do. I hope he gets the help he really needs.

I picked up a prescription today that Irene was given by her doctor for a sinus infection. I got home, gave her the bag and told her to take it before she left for work. She almost did, but stopped just in time to notice the label was for a medicine in the penicillin family of drugs. I'll never forget the day we discovered Irene's deadly allergy to penicillin. It was more than a decade ago, nearly 14 years actually, I was on my way to work, ready to leave our little apartment. We didn't even have a home phone and we only had one car at the time. Irene had just taken her medicine and I was running late. As I bolted for the door, Irene begged me to stay. Something was wrong. I told her I had to leave and that she should lay down and rest. As she struggled to breath, the look of fear in her eyes immediately gave me chills and I snapped to attention. I'll never forget that look of I'm dying, don't leave, help me. I rushed her to the hospital and she collapsed on the floor clutching her medicine bottles as she walked inside. They saved her life in that emergency room that day. Today, the circumstances were different, but the result could have been deadly. She was given the wrong prescription, not by the pharmacy, but by the doctors office. Very scary. Let this serve as a reminder, always check those bottles, always.

I felt something strange in my right leg this evening. When I discovered what felt like a long hardened vein, I got scared. Deep vein thrombosis is a deadly condition, and I immediately started thinking the worst. This rock solid vein stretched from the middle of my lower right leg all the way up to my upper, inner thigh. I didn't tell anyone what was up, and I quickly made my way to the urgent care clinic. The doctor on duty examined me and quickly decided to send me directly to the emergency room across the street for an ultra sound. At this point I was getting extremely worried. I was scared. This can't be happening, I thought. I prayed and I prayed. I had friends that prayed. I just kept thinking of what a horrible irony it would be if this turned bad. I finally get my life turned in the right direction away from an early death from obesity and then bam, deep vein thrombosis kills me. The waiting for the test results was brutal. I figured that I could tell if the results were bad based on how the ER staff came back in the room. If they were hurried and carrying a syringe of super strength blood thinners, then it wasn't a good test. But I was peaceful in knowing that I would be taken care of regardless. When the door opened, the doctor walked in at a normal pace and told me everything was fine. The clot was in a superficial vein, not a deep vein situation. The prayers were answered. Thank you. I left with fairly simple instructions and zero prescriptions. Try to rest the leg, apply heat to the affected area, take aspirin as a mild blood thinner, and ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory. I would be just fine.

I didn't think much about food today, but I did manage to consume 1470 calories, with 500 coming late, right before writing tonight's blog. I enjoyed a lean hamburger patty with mustard and a turkey sandwich with low calorie whole wheat. Kind of a strange dinner, but it worked. I do not feel one tiny bit guilty for not working out tonight. I was a tiny bit pre-occupied.

Thank you for reading and following my journey through this most wonderful transformation. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 303 We're All Leaders

Day 303

We're All Leaders

When I refer to myself as “the leader,” I'm of course referring to my role within my family. We're really like a flock of geese flying in formation. When the leader is tired, or not at his best, he drops back and another takes the lead for awhile. When I'm taking a nap and the girls try to wake me up to no avail, but they take the lead and go workout anyway, they're the leaders. I can't tell you how many times I haven't felt like lacing up and hitting the trail, but then the girls insist. Their enthusiasm for this journey is always enough to snap me out of any laziness I might be visiting at the moment. For so many years, I was the leader of a different sort. We lead by example, and my example was a perfect recipe for becoming morbidly obese and dying young. That's where I was leading this family, straight into tragic situations and consequences. To become a responsible leader of this family and share the leading duties with Irene and the girls has been an amazing turn around in our lives. As far as leading others, I don't know if I would call it that. But I do know that I plan on spending the rest of my life sharing my story and trying my best to inspire and motivate people to free themselves from the prison of obesity. And that's the wonderful thing about this journey for all of us. Your success has the power to inspire others, your commitment and consistency will give you the results that may end up providing the inspiration that brings someone to the point of control. The point where they too make the decision to change their lives for the break free, to live. You can't do it for them, although we wish we could, but you can provide the most inspiring success you can and it will spread to others without much effort on your part. When someone thanks me for inspiring them, it sincerely touches me, it further fuels my efforts and success along this road. And then the success that person experiences can and will do the same for others. It's a wonderful circle of inspiration and motivation. It's a powerful thing. We're all leaders—capable of spreading wonderful inspiration.

I received a call today from the owner of the company where I work. He had received a call from a man that desperately needs to lose weight before a critical heart surgery. Someone had told him of this blog and my journey, and he was trying to reach me. I called him tonight and we talked for a little while. We decided that I would visit with him tomorrow at his house. Without sharing his name or any personal details, let me just say this. He is at that critical point where a life or death decision must be made. The doctors have given him little hope for survival, but he's not going to take it. He's going to break free too. He wants to live, or else he would have never made that call today. I'm going to share my story and offer him the best advice I can give---I don't really know what to expect when I meet him tomorrow. But I sincerely hope and pray that it's the beginning of a most dramatic turn around. I believe it certainly can be all of that and more.

We had a wonderful YMCA workout tonight. The treadmill provided all the cardio I needed! On the way in, I noticed someone in the racquetball court who I know has lost over 100 pounds, we haven't been face to face since I it was the first time I've had a chance to see him and him see me. I don't think he recognized me at all. I watched him and his buddies play, and finally I caught his attention, and he gave me a blank look in return for my thumbs up. No, “hey Sean,” no, “wow, I didn't recognize you at first.” He just didn't recognize me period. I knew it was him despite his drastic change, partly because his truck was in the parking lot. Now I'm NOT Mr. Perfect, never claimed to be...But from what I've heard, this gentleman has lost the weight in a very extreme way. He's practically starved himself. A good source informed me that his approach has been one of just a few hundred calories a day. He's such a confident guy, was even before, I would hate to tell him that he's needlessly starving himself. But he is. I guess I'll stop by and congratulate him, he'll see me and realize who I am, then maybe he'll ask me what I've done. I'll tell him and see how he reacts. I have no business giving anyone an unsolicited opinion on what they're doing. I really don't. But if he ask, I'm going to share. And if he confirms what I've heard about the extreme low calorie approach...I'll explain why that's not good. He may not like me. But when I hear someone is starving themselves, it just drives me crazy. It doesn't have to be that way!

I'm feeling really good lately, really good. I'm so excited to be approaching the milestones directly ahead. 200 pounds lost and getting under 300 for the first time since 15 years old is so awesome. I can't wait to experience these...I'm so impatient!!! I want it now!! But it will come, it will come. Thank you for all the wonderful support you give. Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

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