Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 546 Weighing Less Than Him and The Mental "Breakdown"

Day 546

Weighing Less Than Him and The Mental “Breakdown”

I talked to my cousin Troy yesterday. It had been a while since we had caught up with each other. Troy is getting transferred to South Carolina and I’ve lost a little weight, so we had some things to talk about. Troy grew up in Michigan, the son of my mom’s sister, and we only had a chance to see each other once a year as we grew up---every summer. Troy was always naturally slim. Every year before he would leave, I would tell him of my grand plans to lose massive amounts of weight before he would see me again, and then next summer would come around and I would be bigger than the year before. Troy never grew fat, he just grew tall, and although we were roughly the same height most of our childhood---something happened around 13 or 14, maybe it was 15---whenever it was, he shot up past me quickly. Troy is the only person in the family that makes my 6’3” look short. Troy is 6’ 7”. But it wasn’t his basketball playing height that I envied (no he didn’t play basketball in college—he gets asked that a lot); it was his ability to maintain a normal weight all of those years. Yesterday on the phone…I told him that I might weigh less than him now. He asked how much I weighed and I told him 263. And he said “Yes, you weigh less than me!” He wouldn’t say what he weighs, and I didn’t pry. I apologized for being so giddy about this revelation. It doesn’t seem right for me to weigh less than Troy. It seems very unnatural. But very cool…very cool indeed. Thank you Cousin for understanding my glee.

Sunday morning started out late once again. Instead of breakfast fare, I opted for lunch—leftover chicken and pasta from our Friday night meal. I spent a little while reading e-mails and writing Saturday’s post. Then I organized my thoughts and planned my day, what was left. I planned on doing a 10K before the weekend ended. And I wanted to do it with the girls, but they were both visiting momma tonight. It was just me. More on that in a moment.

An anonymous reader left this comment and question on yesterday’s blog:

Would you mind writing a bit more some time about the "mental exercises"? It seems logical that those would be something one includes everyday, like physical exercises, but I'm not at all sure how to get started with...pushups for the noggin'? Anything you can share about that aspect would be very appreciated!!!

The majority of this blog is all about the mental aspects of this journey. I invite you to go back and read from Day 1. Yes, it’s a lot of reading, but along the way you’ll get what I do and how I’ve done it. Some days really stand out for me… Day 327 is one of my favorites. It’s rather long, so I will not reprint it here---but you can go back and read that day. I’ve re-read it many times. Here’s the link:

Let me say this about the mental aspects: It all starts with an “iron clad decision” to change. You have to decide that this is it. You have to be completely honest with yourself about your behaviors with food. You have to gather your “motivating thoughts” and put up that “steel curtain zone” to defend the integrity of your mission. You have to set that “importance level” to life or death. It must be at the absolute highest setting. This is too important!! If it’s not set to the highest level possible, it becomes too easy to make excuses and rationalize bad choices. You have to decide right now, that no matter what happens---no matter the circumstances or stressful triggers---no matter what, you’re not compromising this journey.

Your time is now. And if you want this to be the last time, then you’ll invest the time in talking yourself through this process. Yes, I said talking yourself through. It’s what I do when I’m hit with an urge to binge---I calmly remind myself of all the wonderful benefits being free of morbid obesity allows. In the beginning, I would remind myself of how I wanted to simply be alive…and I knew that if I allowed even one meltdown, it could, and most likely would become the beginning of the end, the end being an early death. The importance level you set is paramount. And if you apply this critical importance level, no matter how much you have to lose, 30 or 300 pounds, it doesn’t matter---you will get there.

The “Steel Curtain Zone” is an imaginary barrier between my journey, my progress---and the rest of my life. Stressful situations, disappointments, celebrations, and anything else that may try to influence my commitment to this mission---they just bounce off the steel curtain. They can’t penetrate that zone. I couldn’t let life derail me any longer. But honestly---it wasn’t life doing anything. Life was just being life—sometimes stressful, often times trying…sometimes celebratory, and sometimes defeating. I had to admit that life really wasn’t derailing me…I was derailing me and using life as the excuse. See what 100% self-honesty does? It strips away our excuses to fail doesn’t it?

I guess it comes down to simple meditation. Getting alone with your thoughts and really digging deep into your brain to discover a strength you may not have known even existed. I spent so much time on the mental aspects, I didn’t have time to get fancy on the food and exercise part. I just kept that stuff simple. 1500 calories a day and some kind of exercise, walking at first. That’s it. And remember---I didn’t care how I reached 1500---again, I was keeping it very simple. I had to keep it simple, because I was so busy doing the mental gymnastics, I didn’t have time to worry about too much else. I needed the track to be the simplest it could be. And in that, I discovered what I feel is the big “secret” to weight loss. A slow, very natural evolution of “good choices.” No more rushing out and buying special foods or plans. No pills needed. We were just eating less of the stuff we normally would eat. As I budgeted that 1500 calories per day---I naturally started making better “calorie value” choices in an effort to stretch my allotment each day. Now I’m at a point where I’m starting to care about what I eat, not just how much. So the choices continue to improve, naturally, and best of all---effortlessly. This is where I am. I wasn’t here on Day 1 or even Day 201. It’s a process. And it’s worth everything to me. I feel incredible!

OK---I’m avoiding the 10K subject. Yeah---didn’t happen. I hit the trail and completed a very nice 5K. But I let myself off the hook on the 10K, citing my cold and congestion—and sneezing fits that were all over me. It wasn’t an excuse, rather—a circumstance. I made it a great 5K with lots of jogging and the rest power walking. I made sure I was sweating---although I rarely break a sweat the first mile. Isn’t that amazing? A mile back in the beginning was like death looming over me…and now a mile is the easiest thing.

I was excited to find a comment from Pam on yesterday's post. Pam was so ready to throw in the towel after losing nearly one hundred pounds. Different circumstances had made her feel like she couldn't continue her very successful and inspiring mission...So, I was thrilled to read this:

I love the fact that you are encouraging your cyber friends, just as you encouraged me last week. You are a special guy, and I hope you always remember that! (BWT, I ended up not giving up, I just needed a clean break and a fresh start, which meant a new blog!) Thanks again...your words did not fall on deaf ears ; )

Thanks Pam! If you get a chance, pop on over and check out her brand new blog. I'm so happy for her. Here's the link:

What a wonderful ride so far. And we’re not even done! That’s exciting my friend. It’s very, very exciting to me. Thank you for reading! Goodnight and…

Good Choices,

Irene, cousin Troy, Troy’s wife Stacy, and “Old” Sean---over 500 pounds

Another before picture that got my attention just now. Irene, Amber, and Me---all at our heaviest.

Recent “In-Progress.” Notice that Oklahoma State Pull-over? It’s the same one Irene is wearing in the above photo. It was hers. It’s mine now! ;)

My Girls. Amber 20, Courtney 16

Irene after she lost 140 pounds.


  1. Sean,

    I am keeping Day 327 easily accessible for those rough times. I know it will walk me through. I loved readng about changing your mixed tape - I agree that changing our thought patterns is so critical in this journey.

    I am so glad you've done this for yourself. The ultimate gift.

    Diet Buddy Girl

    ps. love the pics

  2. What a wonderful post!! I have a mental war with myself when I have to work out at home instead of the gym. I really want to make it second nature.

  3. Bookmarking your day 327! You are such an inspiration, thank you for sharing your journey!

  4. Thanks Sean, you give such good advice. It's really the mental stuff I struggle with - like not talking myself out of this journey when I've made bad choices. I like your "good choices" sign-off. It's a good reminder of the daily choices we have. I put a link to you on my post today!

  5. Wow! Exactly what I was wondering about in my inquiry from yesterday! Thanks for taking the time to expand on the topic and to provide the 327 link! Extremely helpful!!!! I'm already composing my new "mixed tape." What a kick (as in kick start!)

    BTW, I'm sure you've heard this a lot before: you look like a younger, taller, and more attractive version of Tom Cruise!!! Surely I'm not the only one who sees it? (Sorry, Tom, if you're reading...) :-)

    More important: Thanks for being YOU!!!

  6. Wow! I've seen the pictures before, but every time I see them I am amazed at the change you've undergone. Good work!

    You are really very handsome, much better looking than your cousin!

  7. Awesome post. So true. Beautiful pictures. The last two of your girls and wife are stunning. Love ya!

  8. Sean, I looked at that old picture of you with your cousin and just thought "He must feel sooooooooooo much better, it isn't even funny'.
    I know I do and I have only lost around 95 lbs. Great job bud.

  9. Hi Sean,

    I love your blog, and as others have mentioned, it's always amazing to see your before pics to see how far you've come. You were handsome as a fat guy, but now you're devilishly handsome!

  10. It's great to read about the simplicity of your plan, Sean. I agree that having a slow, evolving process which comes naturally is what works the best!

  11. well its working nephew..its working for you and for me..thank you for inspiring me along the way!loveyou,kelli

  12. So much time is spent on finding the right exercise plan and the right diet, but I think your way is better. Spend a lot more time focusing on the mental part. Get your mind right and keep the rest simple. It's obviously a plan for success. I definitely need to spend some more time on the mental!

  13. Thank you so much for the shout out! I really appreciate it, more than you'll ever know. I totally agree about it being so much mental/ emotional work, and sometimes, it gets even harder than the physical.
    I am also THRILLED to see that you ate gearing yourself more toward nutritional value instead of merely caloric now too - that is going to make you feel even that much better!

  14. and that would be are, not ate...that is what I get for making a comment at 5:44 AM!!

  15. Sean, "A mile back in the beginning was like death looming over me" screams into my ears....BUT it was 1/3 of a mile that was like death looming for me! ;)

    I have pictures like that second one of my wife and myself to which I refer to as our "fat and happy" pictures, all smiles in spite of the weight, I think that people are very resilient and though some of us may have or had more weight on our bones than we should smiling isn't always out of sight.

    and your daughters are beautiful.

    As Ever

  16. Gorgeous family, and your collective commitment to your health is truly inspiring.
    9 weight loss

  17. You are always an inspiration! So glad you weigh less than Troy - that must make you feel really good. You look terrific, Sean! I'm sure you'll do the 10K another time...


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