Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Surrender

I Surrender

Hey, my old friend.  Good to see you again.  We accomplished so much together.  Remember Day 135, that letter, oh of my favorite times with you, indeed.  Day 327 was a game changer... and, and the day we hit the 200 pounds lost milestone, I'll never forget it!  And of course, November 16th, 2010--goal, I could hardly believe how far we had traveled.  I remember looking in the mirror and barely recognizing the reflection.  Can you believe it's been two years since goal day?  I know, I know...we're not here to revisit the glory days of this transformation.  

We have more important things to discuss. 

I owe you so much.  I've missed you.  Oh, I know you've always been here, it's been me avoiding you.  I need you now more than I did before.  I've been lost, so deeply lost---spiraling out of control, into an abyss I thought I'd never see again.  I've tried over and over to pull myself back onto the path and still, the self-destructive tendencies of addiction pull harder.  It would be easier to accept had you never shown me the truth.  I can no longer escape the truth and wisdom you've gifted me.  I can't keep running from you, hoping I'll wake up and magically feel like I did before.  I need your strength because I'm not powerful enough on my own.  I surrender.  I'm holding out my hand, please pull me up.  I don't want to go back there ever again.  Please keep me in your embrace.  I'll listen, I'll learn, I'll be patient and I'll share.

You know my heart.  You know my truest desires and passions to overcome and spread a message of hope to anyone and everyone battling obesity, especially those like me, the food addict-emotional/compulsive eater.  Maybe this is a test you're giving me.  Maybe you're tired of me ignoring you and foolishly trying to be all powerful over my addiction.  I dare not question you.  You know what?  Maybe I should simply stop trying to figure out the why and how I've found myself here and simply be grateful for the hope, love and strength you so generously provide.  Thank you for every blessing you've given me.  I'm ready to fully regain control and I can only do it with your strength and guidance.

Thank you for humbling me.  Thank you for getting my attention.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally.

My heart burst with gratitude, Lord.


Dear friends,

The last six months have gone by so quickly.  I've learned a valuable lesson, many lessons actually and it's only now I feel I can honestly sit down and write it out, honestly.

As I started to slip, I kept telling myself it would be okay and I could easily get back into my groove.  And I would, for a day or two, maybe three...then I would slip again.  I walked with a foolish confidence, full of pride in my accomplishments while ignoring inarguable truths that had brought me so far.  I would often turn to facebook and write something brimming with truthful realness in hopes of inspiring myself.  You might have thought those uplifting and inspirational posts were written exclusively for others...not entirely...oh no.  And then I started sharing my struggles--hinting at a much worse reality, but still not fully acknowledging just how bad it had become.  Remember this one?

"The key to maintaining my weight loss is squarely on my ability to understand my needs in coping with stress and emotions.  I must always understand food's role and my role.  Food isn't a therapist.  Food doesn't fix my issues within.  It's my responsibility to work on my issues in handling and understanding stress and emotions in a very direct way.  Food cannot and will not be used as an escape from this responsibility ever again."

Or this revealing post:

"Despite the glaring truths revealed along the way, I sometimes struggle by foolishly searching for comfort in food. Knowing the truth about emotional eating doesn't mean we're immune or somehow “cured.” With personal awareness, acknowledgment and support, we can overcome. Facing my own personal awareness and finding your support has been a wonderful gift. Now, I'm once again feeling the comfort that comes with consistency in my Calorie Bank and exercise choices. And that kind of comfort is so wonderfully wholesome instead of deceptive, shallow and fleeting."

Or how about this one--written after a Friday night binge alone in my apartment:

"Dear addiction: When I'm feeling lost and alone, I reach for you. Let me have you in this moment so I can feel good again. I'll pull you to my lips and taste your temporary and deceptive relief from my pain. You taste so good, but the flavor quickly fades, replaced by a darker reality than before. I must resist your temptation and realize, it is not you tempting me, it's the tempting allure of escape. The road to freedom isn't down this dead-end street, yet I make the turn. I pray for strength against these damning compulsions. I stare myself down in the mirror, wipe away the tears and choose change. I'm stronger for the moment, until these emotional and circumstantial realities gain ground again, just as I grow weak. The process repeats, creating struggle--and it will over and over, until I confront, dissect, better understand and find a peaceful accord inside me, thus aligning with my truest self. You see, addiction, I'm on to you and your deception and I refuse to let you win. I'm winning, okay? You hear me? I'm winning."
 As I fell deeper and deeper back into my addiction, I started feeling like a disgraced evangelist.  I was spreading positive energy, truth, wisdom and hope one day then cruising up and down restaurant row looking for a fix the next.  People know me around here.  More copies of my book have sold around here per capita than anywhere.  Rarely a week goes by when someone doesn't come up and tell me how they enjoyed the book.  And that kind of feedback feels good when I'm doing my best.  Anytime it's happened in the last six months, it's been slightly terrifying, because--What if they notice I've gained some weight?  Did they see me ordering that 750 calorie dessert at Braum's? 

I fell back into the same patterns as before--hiding my addiction, escaping--sabotaging myself and relationships along the way...straight into another drive through where my dealer awaits.  My dealer doesn't ask questions.  I give them the code number A21 and for $5.86 they hand me roughly 2500 calories of sesame chicken and fried rice.  I tell myself I'll just have a reasonable portion, but I know I can't stop.  I also know there isn't a reasonable portion of this, for me.  The poison I've chosen holds the perfect combination in unlocking the floodgates of my addiction.  It's battered and deep fat fried then coated in a sugary sweet and slightly spicy sauce.  I've come to realize several foods to be my "trigger" foods, but none quite like this dish.  The combination of sugar, fat and carbohydrates is a deadly mixture for me.  If I were an alcoholic, it would be a bottle of Jack Daniels--and I can't allow myself to smell it or even have the tiniest taste.  After indulging--the high sets in...I can feel my heart beating faster.  I hadn't paid much attention to the physical reaction of binges past, but now--every beat of my heart is a reminder of a place I promised I would never visit again. 

Releasing my special "I'm Choosing Change" leather adjustable bracelet was a brief turning point.  I put it on and felt a renewed power.  I would wear it, looking at it constantly during moments of weakness.  Eventually, I realized my struggles, my choices---my compulsions, were very much choosing change, but not the kind of change I had in mind.  In a state of self loathing, I recently took it off because I felt I was disgracing its powerful message in my wandering ignorance.  

The physical symptoms of my struggles have shown themselves in every way you can imagine.  When my size 36 jeans started getting too tight, I would squeeze into them anyway, until I couldn't anymore.  I ended up wearing more forgiving wardrobe choices, like workout pants.  Not because I was headed to the gym, because they wouldn't cut off my circulation and complicate my breathing.  

When shirts started getting tight, I quickly retreated to the same technique I once relied on as an obese  child: I started wearing a warm sweater jacket to "cover up" the evidence of my gain--even if it was too warm outside for such a choice.

Getting fitted for a tuxedo was another real moment.  Realizing I had gone from a 46 long back into a 50 long in a matter of months was sobering--truly depressing.   

And all of a sudden, instead of loving the camera for the first time in my life, I found myself hating it again and the truth it was quickly starting to reveal.

How could I have allowed this to happen???  After all the good I've experienced??  After so much success?  What about the writing from my April blog post??  Remember this:
“The illusion that food somehow makes my troubles and stress easier to handle is gone.  The tendency to abuse food like a drug is gone.  Does this mean it's some kind of effortless day to day existence?

Not at all.

I'm human.  I have cravings.  I love the taste of food.  The difference now is this: Instead of making food my number one focus and my number one go-to in the face of stress and emotions of every kind, I simply appreciate food and what it does for me.  I don't ask food to be something it isn't.  Food isn't a therapist.  Food doesn't fix anything other than my hunger and nutritional needs.  When I stopped putting inappropriate and unrealistic expectations on food, things started dramatically changing inside my head.”

The second sentence there was obviously not true.  I honestly thought it was gone.  I was, in a way--renouncing my addiction and proclaiming I no longer had those compulsions to abuse food.  I will always be a food addict.  Does this mean I'm doomed?  Not at all.  There's plenty of truth in the above paragraph too.  Maybe better with some slight modifications:

...Instead of making food my number one focus and my number one go-to in the face of stress and emotions of every kind, I will remember to appreciate food and what it does for me.  I will not ask food to be something it isn't.  Food isn't a therapist.  Food doesn't fix anything other than my hunger and nutritional needs.  When I remember to stop putting inappropriate and unrealistic expectations on food, my dream of maintaining a healthy and appropriate relationship with food becomes easier to navigate.  

So, what in the world has been bothering me so much over the last six months?  In other words, what emotions and circumstances have I been avoiding and stuffing with food?  I'll not go down the list for a couple of reasons:  1. Treating my emotional and circumstantial realities like a list of excuses isn't appropriate.  I'm attending weekly therapy sessions and they're proving to be extremely helpful in gaining a better understanding of me on levels I hadn't explored.  I highly recommend counseling of some kind to anyone wanting to explore and face facets and patterns of their life that are sometimes very hard to understand.  2. Sometimes the issues are simply too personal and writing about them, again--would read like a list of excuses and in my opinion would be considered inappropriate, or "tmi" content.

So what about now, today?  How much have I regained?

I've avoided the scale for a very long time.  I've even told close personal friends the gain is around 30 to 40 pounds or so.

I recently weighed again and discovered the truth.  If I'm to reclaim my freedom from this relapse--blog about it along the way and enjoy your generous support, then you need to know and deserve to know the truth of where I am. 

289.  A 59 pound gain.  It could have been much worse.  My intermittent awakenings over the last six months must have kept it from becoming a 100 pound gain... I don't know.  I'm very blessed to be present again, aware and moving in a positive direction.

Here we go, my friend.  If you're struggling too, please join me--I'll support you too and we'll choose change together.

It's back to the basics for me.  Calorie Bank and Trust--Daily exercise---Steel Curtain Zone...  And writing in this blog...

This time, I'm armed with new information about myself.  I'm not Superman and I don't have to be... I have a higher power I'll lean on for strength.  And some of the most incredible friends all over the world offering support.  You're a wonderful blessing to me. Thank you.

Also, I've finally admitted that although I once proudly proclaimed "Nothing is off limits," there certainly are some things I must declare off limits for me.  A21 at the Chinese Express isn't an option for me, ever, for any reason.
I just put on a new "I'm Choosing Change" bracelet.  It feels good.

Thank you for reading, goodnight and...

Good Choices,


  1. Hi Sean, You can do this!!!!! - you have done it before and will do it now. Way to go for taking the steps of the brave soul you are and putting your truth out there- and taking action. I SO relate and will be cheering you on from afar. This is a lifetime journey and dealing with any addiction is no small feat. Have you ever looked at Overeaters Anon for extra support? I will be thinking of you and wish you all the very best on the next chapter!!Ps-Be kind to yourself like you would be to anyone else in this situation. Talke carexo

  2. dude, I am in! I am at a 65 pound gain from my best efforts. How about a partnership? I'll read your blog daily and you read mine?

  3. Sean,

    You were my original inspiration in my losing almost 80 pounds over two years. I still have about 50 to lose to get where I'd like to be. After two years I find myself doing exactly what you've written about here. I just came off of a two day binge this past weekend. It's becoming more and more difficult to maintain my positive thoughts about weight loss. I'm just plain tired. But, I know that I can't give up on myself. I may never reach my goal of 120 pounds, but I simply cannot allow myself to put the weight back on. At my age (55), if I do, I may never take it off again. This is the thought that, more than anything, keeps me going.
    I love this posting of yours because I, too, have come to realize that I cannot do this without God. I have to look to Him for my strength. I will keep you in my prayers.

  4. Hi Sean,

    I am really touched by your story because it's my story also. I know the heartbreak of getting into a new life and slipping back. Into the abyss of food.

    I've been trying to stop a 2 year spiral and I'm in such a hard place feels like walking death...

    I've been tracking your posts for quite a while and hope you can heal and maintain your intention
    I hope that I can draw from your moment of strenth to come out and move forward in a positive direction

    Have a good day and thanks

    Frank carbone. Ojai CA

  5. I have never met anyone who was obese and lost all their weight, reached their goal, who found that new virgin territory feeling like HOME. In fact, they found it was a brand new foreign country and the elation of having "arrived" didn't last very long because the newly acquired job of staying there was as hard if not harder than actually losing the weight.

    But you are more blessed than most Sean because you did not just go on a plan to lose weight. You developed a plan that addressed the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of changing your LIFE along the way. And I see this gain not as a failure, but a struggle to find your way at a healthy weight.

    There's a boatload of folks on youtube that have a video about weight loss but very few a year after that. And I don't think it's because it's not possible but because most do not change inside as their outsides change.

    Your experience was the opposite. Your change was inward and the smaller you got, the less it had to do with a skinny body and more about living a whole new quality of life and a life that gained a deep purpose along the way.

    I have no doubt in my mind and heart that you can and will do this, and I will continue praying for you because this struggle will teach you things you probably never imagined you needed to learn. To get to goal is huge. We all celebrated with you after months and years of working so hard. But living there requires an effort that is as brand new and difficult as it was on day 1 of your weight loss journey. I think we often think that the end of a very long road of hard work is goal weight and then we can relax and rest on our laurels of yesterday.

    Any of us who have gotten close to goal know that the opposite is true. It takes using those great tools you developed along the way even MORE when you are at a healthy weight.

    This is a good day, and one the future Sean will be grateful for one day because you will be able to look back and not just be grateful for the day you reached goal, but especially the day that you made the choice to turn things around in mid-track… choosing LIFE over it’s alternative. This one choice well lived, will give you the hope and the assurance necessary to live at maintenance a day at a time, from this point on. It will take away all the excuses because you will prove to yourself that not just living at maintenance is possible, but thriving there is too.

    Thank you again Sean for being real and so transparent. There’s strength in numbers and you are surrounded by a community of friends who are doing this with you, and who love and support you. I hope you can sense it.

    shirley madewell

  6. It has to be especially hard for you, Sean, since you have been such a role model for others who are addicted to the taste of fattening foods and have put yourself in the public eye. I appreciate your honesty in admitting that you are human, that you have fallen off the wagon just as many a recovering alcoholic has done. We can't hide the consequences of succumbing to our food addictions, though, can we?

    You know that I have supported you from early on in your journey, my friend. I continue to support you in your struggle to get back on track, "on the wagon", and back to the healthy lifestyle you chose years ago and continue to choose now. Please continue to write about how you are handling this struggle, as a means to help yourself and as your way of helping those of us who also need encouragement in our own quests for a healthier lifestyle.


  7. I have been secretly following you for a couple of years. I am slowly losing weight and your life has been a comfort to me. I am down a mere 15 pounds for the yeat. I need to pick up the pace. I am 52 and cant afford this slow weight loss. I am encouraged today to bukle down and do this. Thank you for your honesty!


  8. Sean, I thank God for you and the gifts you share through your blog, Facebook and speaking engagements. I am rejoining the struggle and appreciate all your blogging and posts on Facebook. Among fellow pastors I have heard it said that we often preach what we need to hear ourselves. So I see your blog, posts as your way of preaching to yourself. Your generosity and ministry is also to share it with all of us in a very public fashion. Thank you for choosing change and being a rational, loving voice to help not just yourself but me and thousands of other folks.
    Bless you
    Karen Stoffers-Pugh

  9. Oh Sean, it's a slippery slope and we're just teetering at the top. One wrong move and we fall ALL THE WAY DOWN to the bottom. It's so very scary. I do have been struggling for at least the last six months. I hit an all time low on Oct. 30, last year, then proceeded to put on almost 20 pounds, while still staying below my 160 lb. goal. But still....I knew that trend was bad, and 160 lbs. was inching ever closer on that scale. I wasn't binging or gorging, but I knew I WAS over-eating. I started buying a bag of candy here and there. I would hide it in the car. These were all indicators that my addiction was rearing its ugly head again and yet I tried to deny it was happening. I was eating in secret, eating sweets, eating eating eating.

    Then I applied to be on the Today Show, the Joy Fit Club segment. When they called last week telling me I had been accepted as the newest member and would be on the show Mon. 11/19, I knew it was time to rein myself in and get control again. It's only been one week, but it's been one fabulous week. I feel so much better about myself and my choices, no more guilt! It's funny where we can find motivation--mine was the fear of looking fat on the TV show. I'm losing weight again, back down to 151 this morning, and hoping to get below 150 by Monday, since I put down that I weighed 150 lbs. on the questionnaire I filled out for the show.

    I wish us both luck. WE CAN CONQUER this evil addiction, even if it's one moment at a time.

  10. Sean, this isn't failure my friend, this is simply taking it to the next level. The experience, the test, whatever you want to label it was necessary for you to go farther in your journey. You'll be twice the changed man you were through this next path. And I don't mean heavier. :)

  11. Dearest Sean,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, strength and hope. I really got so much from your sharing. I most certainly relate to everything you said. You tell my story over and over and over again. For me, after weeks of clean eating the scale barely budge! I cried at my weigh in this morning because I have been doing everything right but the scale only showed a one lb loss. I felt so angry and frustrated and disappointed and thought about giving up because I too am a food addict/compulsive overeater, and this disease wants me dead! I sat with feelings and I thought to myself… eating on plan is hard but being face down in the food is hard too. I guess I need to pick my hard. I do know that no matter what ails me, food is not the answer So, I have decided that I am going to continue my food plan. I must prepare, protect, and plan each and every day. I too must abstain from certain foods because they cause the phenomenon of craving of more and more and more. One is too many and one thousand is not enough.. Food is my drug of choice. Today, I am working a food plan that lessens the chatter in my head. I am carbohydrate sensitive and man-made sugars and starches create a craving of more of the same. Only complete abstinence from these sugars and starches allow the chatter in my head to lessen. Some days I think how am I ever going to do this for the rest of my life?!?!?! Well the truth is, I don't need to concern myself about the rest of my life. The only thing I need is a shred of willingness to do this one meal one day at a time.
    For me, every day I have to push the reset button. This disease is out to kill me and never rests. Unlike the alcoholic who can just surrender to complete abstinence from alcohol, we compulsive overeaters must take the beast out of the cage at least 3 times a day. Today, like you, I am reaching out and asking for help. I am working hard not to isolate as much. It's hard to ask for help. I am so glad that you shared your truth today. For me, I just have to keep remembering that I have another meal coming. I can enjoy my food within the boundaries of my food plan. I am learning to put life in one hand and my food in the other and not clap. Together we can do what we could never seem to do alone.

    God Bless,
    Linda in Oregon

  12. Fight! Fight for your life! We guessed this was where you had gone, because you are human. Every time I came here and you had not posted, I prayed for you. You are a man who needs a goal and once that was met, well, I think you need a new goal to meet after reaching your goal weight. What shall that be? I can't wait to find out because it be exciting and helpful to humanity as much or more than your weight loss journey.
    Megan in Texas

  13. Sean your honesty is inspiring. I floundered for quite a while and I've got my head back in the game. The one thing that is good is that we realize we can never give in or give up. We must fight for what we want. I look forward to following you again through your blog and I have no doubt you will inspire me.

  14. Thank you to each and every one of you for these wonderful words of support. I'm so very blessed and full of gratitude. You inspire me more than words can express.

  15. Daddy,
    I love you. I know you have been struggling, but don't let it get to you. I can see from this post, you have been honest with yourself. And that is the first step in getting back to the basics. Continuing to choose change. I'm so proud of you. You inspire me in so many ways. Daddy, you are my hero. I know you can do this. Remember, one day at a time.

    I love you with all my heart.

  16. Just wanted to stop by and tell you how glad I am for you, that you are back at it. I understand your post, since I've been struggling for a few months, too. But as you've found... "draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." I know you will learn from this and become stronger and wiser.
    Hugs, Loretta

  17. Thank you Sean...more than you know.


    My "Sean Anderson is the MAN!" level just went up a notch. For you to put this out there like you have takes STRENGTH. And to let me share in your journey is just awesome! Sooooo glad your blogging again!

  19. Welcome back. We are stronger together. Glad you are getting to the root causes and addressing them. You are not alone in having foods that are off limits. Safe travels , strength and courage for the next steps. You are worth it, we are worth the work it takes.

  20. Sean, Thank you. I really needed to read this today. You have inspired me on my weight loss journey through your blog and Facebook and I, too, have been really struggling with getting back on track. For me, I have to write down every thing I eat and stick to that calorie bank. I am an emotional eater...need I say more? Today, I start writing again and try to keep my emotions where they belong. One day at a time, one pound at a time. Have a blessed holiday.

  21. Sean, you know I can identify for sure. What I've realizes during my 5+ yrs on this journey is being accountable is one of the most important things I can do for myself because as an addict it's so easy to find myself wanting to isolate. Accountability also opens up addiction and puts the light on it which I know for myself I need to constantly have.

    This journey is still about really living that inner love we claim to have for ourselves, it's a process that will be life long far past the compliments and "atta-girl (or boy)". We have to find all we need within ourselves not seek it from others or other things but then I know you know that. Having spent so many years hating who I was loving myself doesn't come easy and it's so easy to fall back into old thinking and habits. I call it self punishment and it can happen for so many reasons. But the bottom line is you are strong and reaching out for the support is what will get you and keep you where you want to be. I know for myself without TOPS and having that scale to look at each week I wouldn't be where I am. It is a life long addiction. I do see though as each year goes by it does get a bit easier. We are here for you 100% Sean :) Glad to have you back.

  22. you continue to be an inspiration . I'd maintained a 100 lb wt loss for 2 years and then went on to lose 35 more lbs and then immediately lost my mojo and regained. I'm turning it around too after many stops and starts. One day at a time..

  23. Sean,
    I don't know how I missed this post, but thankfully, I found it today. I have so much respect for you and your complete honesty here. You're human, like the rest of us. You have struggles, like the rest of us. You're life has ups and downs, like the rest of us. That's why I always loved reading your daily posts. I could relate to them!

    I said in a previous comment that I was glad, for selfish reasons, that you'll be back to posting daily. I need the daily encouragement. I'm pulling for you, Sean.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  24. BTW, the "nothing is off limits" approach worked for you for a good while; it wasn't WRONG, it's just ceased to be applicable anymore. You've just worn it out, like a good pair of sneakers. Time to discard it and move forward with some additional wisdom that a couple years of maintenance have brought: that sesame chicken and pecan pie are both a no-go.

  25. Sean,
    I surrendered today and on returning to your blog I saw that you too were struggling just like I am. It was not a negative moment at all.

    I feel discomfort in just moving around again and I am eating those trigger foods again.
    BUT I did restart my exercise program which I do 2-3 times a week at home.
    I know that I am human and being human is never a straight road but now I know that I am on the right road again.
    I am so thankful for your honesty. I am so glad you are back.

  26. Reading this reminds me there is no "done" it is a daily process. This reminds me how important my blog is and how important it is stay connected to people


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