Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 621 What Is Willpower? and Everyday, We Write The Book

Day 621

What Is Willpower? and Everyday, We Write The Book

Yesterday at my Oklahoma Blood Institute broadcast, a regular listener said to me, “you must have amazing willpower, I don't know how you do it.” I smiled and replied, “Thank you, but it took many years of having zero willpower to get to where I am today.” But what is willpower? To me, it's that “iron-clad” decision to change, it's letting everything that life can throw at you along the way, bounce off of that “steel curtain zone.” But how do we install this imaginary curtain? What do I believe that makes this decision and zone so powerful?

I've thought about that a bunch over the last 24 hours. It's strange how, when you're thinking of something with intensity, confirmations and examples of your beliefs make themselves very clear. During this philosophical dip below the surface, into the “how and why,” I chatted with a friend that has a most amazingly triumphant story---a powerful path, that would leave 99.9% of everyone else waiving the white flag of surrender. She refused to surrender—and took control, navigating a recovery still unfolding. She's making her way forward and free, without hesitation, without fear---just the pure raw power of an iron-clad decision to live, survive, and take back what was taken. She's demanding the best, and refusing to settle, refusing to give up. She's fighting for herself and winning. It's a beautiful thing to witness, it really is amazing. The full scope of her story and victory, when told, will ultimately inspire and give countless others hope.

When I noticed a facebook friend had posted a video of Elvis Costello singing “Everyday I Write The Book,” I listened, and it brought me back into this intense study. It's a cleverly written love song, but it was the title that struck me in a deeper way.

I've written before about how we're all authors of our own story. And let me say this before I go any further: I fully understand and believe that we're at the mercy of a most divine and powerful editor—who ultimately decides when and how our story ends. But at the same time, if we're fortunate, we're given the freedom to take control of our story and rise to the challenge of making it whatever we want it to be.

Will our story be tragic or triumphant? Will we take control of the plot, accepting 100% responsibility for our actions, complete with a self-honesty level that clearly stares down what has held us back? We write the book everyday along this road. My life, or book, was headed for a very sad and tragic end at over 500 pounds. My “character” was depressed over his obesity. He was sad and out of control, feeling hopeless for change---playing and fully accepting the role of victim in so many circumstances, slowly drowning in the sinkhole of life, holding on to all that was good and right—the family, the friends, the blessings---but still sinking, almost giving up and letting go of himself, everything, and everyone. Almost surrendering in a way that would surely leave his family and friends heartbroken.

But wait! I'm the author of this story, you're the author of yours! Is it going to end this way? Nobody can write it for us. We have to be the one to turn it all around for the record. If it's ever going to change, we have to accept the challenge and rise above our circumstances. We make that iron-clad decision, we put up that steel-curtain zone, and we do it because we've decided that tragedy sucks. Our story can be a happy tale, full of triumphant victory---that happy ending where everything seems right with the world. And should our most divine and powerful editor feel the need to give it a tragic and sudden twist, for reasons unknown to you and me, then we can still feel good about and appreciate that we made a difference with our individual vision of how our story could be and what we did to make it that way.

That's what drives my willpower. It's much deeper than just being able to say no to overeating. That kind of control is just the surface. What's below the surface is the driving force toward freedom, a freedom I never knew and always believed was out of reach. Until now. Reach for it, realize that you're the author of your own story and write it with your actions. From someone who spent nearly two decades near, at, or above 500 pounds---I know you can really do it. It's in you--so grab it, write it, and live it!

Ok, this is the Daily Diary---so what about today you ask?

I overslept this morning. I really wanted to hit the 9:30am spinning class, but if you want a cycle, you have to be there by 9am. I chose to stay out a little late last night and I chose to sleep a little long this morning---so getting there by 9am, unfortunately wasn't happening today. I made it a great day by not dwelling on that misstep---and moving forward. I prepared breakfast, spent some time writing, and went out to buy a few much needed things for this apartment. By the time I returned, it was time to workout and think about lunch.

I grabbed the bike and made my way to that old familiar trail. The bike ride is always good---and my walk/jog, well---it wasn't really a jog at all. Just a good brisk walk. It didn't take long for the sweat to start pouring down in this 90 degree weather. I walked and rode to the tunes that inspire me---that speak to me, that empower me. I only did 1.7 miles, two times around, then hit the bike back home. I was actually feeling hungry by then.

I prepared a chicken breast on the Foreman Grill, opened a can of green beans, and baked a serving of fries with ketchup. I thought about making the chicken a sandwich, but I didn't want the extra calories. Yeah, it was a great lunch----I loved it! And at just under 400 calories, my calorie budget loved it too!

I had so much more to write today, complete with an excerpt from a year ago, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow. I had a wonderful evening that started with my oldest daughter and ended with a late night shopping trip at Wal-Mart. I have mushrooms again! I feel complete! Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,


  1. Yes...Elvis Costello doesn't receive all the musical credits he really should for his talents. A great, motivational message for us all.

  2. Hey Sean....I didn't know u were on facebook...if u get time please add me...I'm under Susan Astramskas Simpson. Enjoying your are looking great...

  3. Mushrooms are essential regardless of time of day. I'm glad you feel complete. :)

  4. Also, your friend is undoubtedly thankful for what you see in her as those changes unfold. It's a beautiful example of the way we should all look at each other - with depth and without blinders..

  5. Thanks so much for the words today I needed to hear them. What a great way of thinking I need to write my own story and the realisation that I can change the ending its not too late thanks again

  6. Sean, I myself have thought SO much about the things your shared in this post about taking ownership and responsibility for my own life and to refuse to be a victim anymore. We write our own books and can change it from a tragedy to a success. That is what I am trying to do and I feel SUCH determination this time!

    You are amazing. I feel the SAME way about mushrooms too!! You are really a gifted writer. :)


  7. "If it's ever going to change, we have to accept the challenge and rise above our circumstances."

    This whole post... so powerful, and when applied, absolutely life changing. Just the reminder I needed to read today, thank you so much for sharing it!

    I look forward to reading about your friends triumphant journey. When the time is right, don't forget to give us a link. :-)


  8. Great post as always my friend. I think "steel curtain zone" sounds like a great title for one of the chapters in your book. With your writing talent you absolutely have to write one. And when the movie comes alive maybe Tom Cruise can play the lead. Reach for the sky! You are limitless...

  9. Keep writing your book - it IS a great read

  10. Really cool post babe...I like the thought of being the author of my own book. That's a great way to put it. Hope you're having a fabulous weekend! :)

  11. Love this post and that song!

  12. What a powerful post, Sean. Thank you.

    What struck me is what you said about how tragedy can still leave us with the good of our intentions. I find that my journeys downward with weight, and my ability to tolerate myself in my journeys upward, are strengthened by good deeds. In some ways, the only true self-esteem is knowing we did something to make the world slightly better at the end of the day. And that's something we can do whether we are fat or thin, at peace with our food plans or at war with them. So let's applaud each of our good deeds and know that if we can embrace world-improvement, we can embrace self-improvement.

  13. Frances, thank you is all I can say!

    Sean, green beans! Yay for you! The real stuff tastes better don't they?:)

  14. Consumers fight back with shoddy products and services, at The Consumerist. 50 weight loss tips. I actually got inspired by them, when reading them, but today I made cupcakes and cheese enchiladas. So I think I lost. Example: Tip 31: “Counteract the “Rainy Dayâ€�? principle. If you decrease your calorie count without necessarily increasing your physical activity level, your body is going to crash. It’s going to say to itself: “Holy sh*t! I better store these calories as fat,” Tired of getting credit card offers in the mail? Here’s a quick way to solve that problem. I love this idea of having flowchart-esque diagrams to show how to cook. Cooking for engineers. See, for example, the diagram near the middle of

  15. 1.  It’s been proven that men can lose weight more rapidly than women can, which is likely due to our physiological makeup (women are supposed to have more fat than men, because they’re the birthing gender). This isn’t a sexist statement to make – it’s pretty much the truth. As such, females should expect to set separate goals than males – especially if you’re working on losing weight together, side by side.


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