Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Intersection of Hope and Truth

The Intersection of Hope and Truth

As I move forward, I find the trek is different than before.  It's a trek affected by so many variables contributed by my success, struggles and my most sincere desires of today and for tomorrow.  As someone who, at my heaviest, was a source of constant excuses and rationalizations--and then chose to rise above them in every way, I'm acutely aware and much less accepting of anything resembling an excuse or rationalization.  Is it a case of being too hard on myself?  No.  Clearly not... It's simply a place of understanding where excuses and rationalizations for not doing the best I can, are clearly identified as such--and unless they're legitimate (and they rarely are), I automatically see through them and that takes me to a deeper place in thought.  Knowing and understanding this excuse vs. action dynamic doesn't exclude anyone from struggle--Lord knows I've proved this to be true in many ways.  Once the truest nature of the excuse/rationalization dynamic is revealed--it leaves only one option: Action.  As in, doing.

Okay--so there is another option, sure--but it requires a retreat into the dark abyss of denial--a place where we forcefully ignore the truth in what we've learned about ourselves, a place where we deny our proven capabilities in exchange for self-destruction despite knowing a better way.  Why would we choose this less than desirable option?  Because it doesn't require much effort.  It's easy--we flip a switch to the off position and we proceed--occasionally reminded of the better way--and pushing it back further anyway.

Recovery takes effort.  The rewards are enormous.  The alignment with our truest desires for internal peace and happiness is found in our thoughts and actions, the doing--and there's peace to be found, instead of turmoil, instead of struggle, instead of running against the grain of good--there's peace, harmony and success--just waiting for us to break free from whatever is holding.  And isn't it a massive revelation when we discover the only thing truly holding us back, is our own thoughts?

I was so moved by a recent email I received, I decided to bring out the essence of the message for discussion on my facebook page.  I've received several similar messages over the last four-plus years--but for some reason, this one just hit me harder...And it probably did because my recent struggles have taken me back--re-acquainting me with the thoughts and feelings described.

First of all--any email anyone sends me is private--and with this respect and consideration in mind, I asked the sender for permission to share--even though she wouldn't be identified in the least.  I've done this before because sharing and relating is important, one on one--and with anyone who might be helped by the exchange.  The facebook post received several replies--including one from Dave--the radio personality across the studio hallway from me.  Of course I know Dave as much more than a radio guy--he has experience and wisdom about many things---especially recovery.

The facebook post: 
"A message I received yesterday: “I'm so lost and hopeless at this point. Why can't I grab control and do this? It feels impossible.” Where you are is a familiar place for so many of us. You're not alone. The negative emotions you're feeling and these thoughts are not giving you an accurate perception of reality. Because reality is, there's hope. And there's plenty of people who are living and managing—and at first glance, it may appear they have it “easy.” I assure you, they're no different than you and me. There's an army of support for you. Just know, you have it inside you—this seemingly impossible ability to choose change—I guarantee it's there. Release the anxiety laden thoughts trying to convince you otherwise. How do I know it's inside you? Because I once (and a few times since) felt exactly the way you've described...and I found it in me."

Dave's reply:

"If I comment on Sean's status it is usually to give Sean a hard time, which he takes in stride and good humor, but today I want to share something in hopes it might reach the person who sent Sean the message about being "lost and hopeless". You see, I once felt profoundly lost and hopeless. Those feelings were horrible, but what I didn't know at the time was that those feelings were about to be the very thing that helped me break free to a new life more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. 25 years ago I had reached the end of my rope and it was all I could do to just hang on. Then I let go of the rope with one hand and reached out for help. I couldn't believe it when the people who answered my cry for help told me to let go with the other hand too! I thought, "Cant you see I'm barely hanging on here!?!" They explained to me that what I was holding onto wasn't going to help me. In fact I was holding on to my old self, my old way of thinking. They shared with me that I felt lost because I was lost, my old map was never going to help me because I was following it when I got lost. They also said I felt hopeless because hanging onto my old beliefs was no hope and deep down I obviously knew it. I couldn't argue with them because they made too much sense AND I could tell by the way they talked that they had been right where I was and had found a way out. Well I did let go, against everything in me crying out to hang on, I let go. What I found was that I did NOT plummet to my demise as all my fears had told me I would if I let go. Instead I was for the first time in a long time free. I was free from the strongest bondage that can ever exist. Those are the bonds that hold me in place, not because they are unbreakable, but because I cling to them. So if you feel lost I encourage you to look around and realize you are lost. And if you feel hopeless know that only by reaching out for help can you find hope. Real hope, real change. After all, as it was for me, I'll bet it is the same for you: All my best thinking got me lost and hopeless. Quit hanging on. Let go and fly."

That's golden.  Thank you Dave!

To me, letting go and flying is about opening my mind to the spiritual side of this journey.  Praying for strength, reaching out to friends and continuing to take one step at a time in a direction I undoubtedly know is right and good.

There is hope for all of us.  Recovery isn't reserved for the lucky few--it's claimed by anyone who truly desires and is willing to walk in the direction of their individual truth.  It doesn't have to be some grand movement--just positive movement forward with faith, intent and deliberate action.

Speaking of deliberate action... While I'm sweating on the elliptical this afternoon--getting lost in my music and pushing myself toward a good workout, I'll be reinforcing positive thoughts about this entire journey.  With intimate knowledge and experience on both sides of the mental battle, I've learned something I keep repeating every chance I can: Our thoughts have real power. We gravitate toward these thoughts--and so, minding them is just as important as planning our meals and scheduling our workouts.

I plan on weighing again Wednesday.  I look forward to sharing more of my progress along the way as I proceed to lose what I've gained.  I say this, knowing that recovery isn't simply measured by pounds on a scale.  It's measured by the level of care and importance we give to ourselves and our journey...and when we're moving forward and taking care of the inner workings of our mind--the outer results come as a side-effect.  My best to you--and thank you for reading.

Choosing change,

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Hard Rock Experience

A Hard Rock Experience

The more speaking events I do, the better I feel.  I must do more!  Identifying the things bringing us joy, things in line with our passions, and doing more of those things, is critical to our well being and success.  Staying within my calorie budget and exercising brings me joy too, gives me confidence--and when we're drenched in the positive, joy-giving good choices--it creates momentum, making it a little easier for more good to come; another vital weapon against the powerful inclinations running contrary to our best interest.

This journey is a balance of emotions.  We make the imperative effort to separate our negative emotions from our behaviors with food and we invite positive emotions to help propel us toward the best choices.  To me, it's like separating emotions into two boxes--One containing emotions and issues we must meet and deal with directly and another containing loads of positive reinforcement for the road ahead.  The first box can't be ignored for too long, or it overflows and has the potential to become overwhelming.  For someone like me, with a lifetime history of emotional eating--I speak from experience...And as my recent struggles have proven, even hitting goal and maintaining for a year and a half doesn't exclude me from this powerful truth.  A balance of emotions is the pursuit--and maintaining this balance is crucial to maintaining everything else.

The event at The Hard Rock-Tulsa was awesome.  I honestly didn't know how big the place was until I arrived.  I didn't do a search or any research prior.  I knew about the Toby Keith restaurant, I didn't realize they had several other choices too.

Since I already committed to challenging the Toby Keith restaurant in my blog and via twitter, I decided to stick with the decision and Toby Keith's place Friday night and trust me, it was a challenge.  I've yet to find a restaurant where I couldn't find something reasonable.  After a few minutes scanning the menu here, I quickly zeroed in on the only option to my liking.  If you're a fan of salads, you would be fine simply ordering one to your specifications regarding toppings and dressings.  I don't like salads, I've never ordered one--and I'll probably not start anytime soon.  I was left with one fairly decent choice for my taste and preference.  The six ounce sirloin.  I was looking at 450 calories had it not been so well trimmed--it was very lean.  A 6 ounce lean sirloin according to my calorie counter checks in at 350.  Brushed and grilled with butter (it was shiny--you could tell), I was comfortable assigning a count of 375 to the steak. 

The list of sides, to me, was as undesirable and limited as the menu--speaking from a calorie budget perspective.  I've recently made a point to cut down on potatoes.  It's not an outright ban for me--but simply a realization that I wouldn't really miss it if I cut down, and then my calories could be better spent in other ways.  Still, considering the options--the two most obvious choices were the green beans and baked potato--ordered with the "loaded" stuff on the side.  I enjoyed half the dry potato with a tablespoon of sour cream, salt and pepper.  The green beans were cooked in bacon fat and onions.  You would think this southern style preparation would be right up my alley, but no.  Not even 500 pound Sean liked such a method (500 pound Sean preferred his green beans covered in melted cheese).  I'm now perfectly content with green beans being simply, green beans.  The wild card--and nowhere on the menu was it mentioned or mentioned by the server--was the jalapeno cornbread slice accompanying every dinner.  Just because something is on the plate doesn't mean I have to eat it, I realize this--but a choice was made to at least have half...I ended up eating 2/3 of the piece.  My best educated guesstimates for the sides: 160 for the 1/2 baked potato with a tablespoon of sour cream, 75 for the small dish of bacon soaked green beans and a whopping 175 for the 2/3 piece of corn bread.  Thank goodness I always order water with my meal--because I didn't have room for any other calories the rest of the evening.  A count of 785 was only 25 calories shy of the 810 I had remaining for the day.  Normally, I would have had dinner and enough left over for a small snack later--not tonight.  I was okay with the experience.  I could have made it a better count by placing the bread on the far end of the table in an imaginary "do not eat" zone.  I could have shaved a few calories by requesting the steak not to be brushed in butter while cooking--and if I were a little less stubborn about my vegetable selection--I could have picked a side salad instead.  For me and my tastes--I did good.  The final count was a little higher than I like to have for a meal, but again--it fit the budget for this day.

I was up early Saturday morning and looking for coffee by 6am.  I took the elevator down to the first floor, still groggy and with my bed head hair as tamed as could be, but still looking like I just woke up, because I had.  The elevator doors opened and I was immediately faced with hard rock and roll music... naturally, because this is the Hard Rock Hotel, where rock and roll lives 24/7, I get it... But geez...I guess my age is showing in my displeasure.  I was fine with the music the night before--I loved it, actually, but 6am--no. My suggestion to the Hard Rock involves a name change from 5am-10am each day-- Make it "The Soft Rock Hotel."  Coming off the elevator to the soothing sounds of Seals and Crofts, rather than AC/DC--would have been a little more soothing.  I thought about the guy working the coffee bar--everyday he arrives at work in the 5am hour and is constantly surrounded by rock and roll...and actually, he seemed pretty maybe it was a good thing for him.  Maybe I needed to get into the rock and roll spirit or something... Maybe I just needed coffee.  Yeah, I just needed coffee.

I spent the morning enjoying coffee and an egg white and veggie scramble for breakfast while preparing for the speaking portion of this trip.  The audience would be very different than previous talks.  I was the 10am speaker for the Oklahoma Osteopath Association's Winter Conference, "The Ravages of Obesity."  The room was 98% doctors.  More doctors in one place than I'd ever seen.  It's funny--when I was over 500 pounds, I avoided doctors as much as I could--and now I'm speaking to a room full of them.  It was good.

I told of my experiences as a 500 pound man--moved into the weight loss portion, then the after-effects, the returning struggle--and finally my opinion on what can be done to help people like me.  I was once anti-medicine, anti-surgery--anti anything different than what I was doing.  My mind has been expanded--opened and has a much better perspective today.  I've grown and after four years of examining my own path and witnessing (through email communications and various correspondence) others with similar and all different paths to freedom, I've come to a very good place in this mix of options. Whatever works for the individual with a single caveat: I firmly believe, no matter what  path is chosen--if the person doesn't deal with the underlying issues--acknowledging and embracing their responsibility to self--then any solution and success, mine included, becomes a temporary diversion.  In my experience, there simply isn't a substitute for this inner work we must do in our effort to change our behaviors to ones best suited for long term results.  My point was, my morbid obesity was a side effect of my emotional eating/food addiction behaviors.  Treating the side effects without acknowledging the underlying cause is like calling a cleanup crew to a sewer line break but not calling a plumber.

The question and answer portion of the program was a great experience too.  I can always tell how well received my talk has been by the number of good questions following.  This incredible group of medical professionals had a bunch of questions.  I fielded each one--making points and examples along the way and then suddenly came a question that not only stumped me--forcing me to admit I didn't know the answer, but it also created a slight disagreement between two attending doctors.

The question was:  (this isn't a quote--I'm paraphrasing--but this was the essence of the question)
How can we help kids understand the complexities of recovery and making behavioral changes that go beyond the physical weight loss and into the most important elements needed for balance with emotional eating/food addiction recovery, thus bringing them sustainable results?

The doctor added, "How could you have been reached as a 13 year old and 100 pounds overweight?"

"By example" was my best answer, my first thought, but saying that seemed too easy.  It isn't that easy--example isn't the be all/end all solution in my opinion. Explaining--clearly describing to a developing child the mental and emotional side of this road isn't an easy undertaking in my opinion.  Kids are developing--often wrapped up in the issues of their youth--the very dynamics combining and lending to the adult they'll become.  Could it be explained and explored in a way that's productive, positive and life changing?  Could it be received in the same way?  It depends on the child, I suppose.  Would it be a welcomed interruption--a needed understanding forever changing the course of their development? Or could it be misunderstood and a negative experience, adding so many new concepts to the whirlpool of growth they're experiencing at that age.  Ultimately, I simply said "I don't know."

I was 100 pounds overweight at 13 and I'm not certain how best I could've been reached.  I'm not saying there isn't hope for the childhood obesity epidemic, I'm simply saying it's a little more complicated when we're dealing with adolescents who haven't fully developed the mental/emotional skills of an experienced adult.  We must try to reach them, by first putting more thought into the methods used to make "consumption" of the dynamics involved easier to understand.  It was a tough question.

One doctor put it all on the parents, 100%.  Another, through personal experience, contended that even a household with better than average eating habits, good choices surrounding--and an upbringing that promotes healthy choices in eating, still isn't immune to having obese children.  Kids can have a great example in front of them and still be drawn to all kinds of foods outside of the home.  Add emotional eating, food addiction and of course, lack of activity--and even parents setting great examples can and do have obese children.  It's a discussion we could talk about for hours, I'm sure.  It's an important discussion for sure.  And in my opinion, it's one that doesn't have a straight-up easy answer/solution.

I signed books afterward and enjoyed further discussion with several attendees in the lobby of the conference center.  I couldn't have imagined it unfolding better than it did.  I packed up my displays and hit the road feeling refreshed from the entire experience.  It was needed.  A big thank you to the Oklahoma Osteopath Association for inviting me to speak!

Thank you for reading, goodnight and...

Good Choices,

 photo photo43_zpsf6c0e794.jpg
Here's a picture of the above described Toby Keith dinner.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Excitement In Doing

The Excitement In Doing

There's an excitement in my step and it's one I recognize from the early days of my weight loss success.  I'll be weighing again in a little over a week and every two weeks after and I know, without doubt, I'll find results.  I've been straight up walkin' it.  I've been doing.

And when we're doing, and we're being true to ourselves along this road, there's an alignment of joy that comes over us like no other.  This is what we're looking for.  This is what it's been about.  This is the road to where we want to go.

The other day on my facebook page I posted a "micro-blog" that generated a couple of questions--and I'd like to answers those...

The post:

"At my heaviest, I often asked an endless amount of questions “in search” of the answers I wanted about weight loss. And asking questions is a good thing. Often though, I would keep asking—collecting answers until I heard what I wanted to hear. There comes a time when the questions have been asked and answered, the advice given and received—and there's never a shortage when it comes to this exchange. But there comes a time when we must simply start doing. Simplifying our approach and simply doing what we already know—then occasionally reaching back and incorporating nuggets of advice we've collected along the way, is, in my experience—the way. There comes a time. And it's here. The time is now."

Peggy: "You got that right keep it coming because I need all the info I can get. Doc say stop eating this and that and it is not working. How about you? Any answer to that as well?  Hope to hear from you."

Peggy--There's no shortage of advise, of course.  Often, we're told exactly what would be an optimal diet.  We're told lean meats, vegetables, fruits and whole grains--or whatever.  We're given a menu of what would be this ideal consumption list.  And we're given another list of everything we should avoid--and of course it's three times as long.  First of all--The doctor is right in an ideal or "perfect" sense.  I don't know about you, but I'm not perfect.  I'm sure, in the "do and do not" foods listed, he's spot on.  What isn't addressed in this approach is what we've been doing, who we are and what it will take to get us there.  An all or nothing approach might work for some--a drastic cleaning of the cupboards and fridge---and an immediate shift to only what would be considered ideal.  For me, an approach like that would have been going to bed and expecting to wake up a completely different person.  And I might have been able to keep up the charade for a while--but eventually, I would return to my natural inclinations--my familiar territory.  This is why I'm a big proponent of changing the focus from this "ideal" list of foods--and putting it on a gradual evolution of good choices.  Doing--is setting a limit and sticking to it.  Holding a calorie limit sacred--making it the most important goal everyday...and allowing room in your food selection to naturally evolve as you go.  The focus is less about what you're eating and more about the mental dynamics keeping you honest and within the bounds you've set.  First of all--You'll naturally start making better choices simply because you're wanting to get the most value, food, for your available calories.  Secondly--By allowing yourself a natural evolution of good choices, you're eliminating the negative mental effects of "I messed up," when you eat something not on the "perfect" list.  You'll learn much about yourself along the way when you're taking the approach of portion control--eating what you like, but strictly adhering to a set budget.  Eventually you can arrive at a place where you're eating habits are drastically changed in a very natural, productive way.

Nicole: "Figuring out why we do this would be MONUMENTAL, would it not?" 

Nicole-- We do this because it postpones the moment where we take control once and for all.  As long as we convince ourselves we're ill prepared, without the answers we need--it alleviates the responsibility to take charge of ourselves.  And because we're ill prepared, we feel justified in delaying our transformation--it alleviates the feelings of guilt, because we're convinced it's not our fault--we're still a victim because we haven't received the answers we need.  We simply must do.  Enough with the seeking... The answers will come along the way.  And since we're doing, so will results.

I'm headed to Tulsa's Hard Rock Hotel for the Oklahoma Osteopath Association Winter Conference.  I'm a featured speaker Saturday morning.  The name and focus of the conference is "The Ravages of Obesity."  Indeed...yes indeed... It does ravage.  I can't wait to speak to a group very different than any other I've ever encountered: 350 doctors and medical professionals in a room. This will be good.

I'm happy to share my mom's wonderful success!  She, along with my aunt Kelli and her husband Tim are all doing well--on Day 6 of their journey.  They're all supporting one another and all three are experiencing success already.  It was pure joy to hear mom's voice last night as she was telling me how she had already lost 2 pounds... She's feeling the same excitement I talked about earlier.  She knows success is coming.  she's doing.  It's such a great feeling.

I look forward to sharing how this conference goes and what I've learned from the experience.  

I'll be facing "road decisions" with my food---navigating a Toby Keith's Bar and Grill for dinner tonight.  I'll be live tweeting that experience for sure.

I would love for you to follow me on Twitter-- @seanaanderson

More later, my friends...

My best always---thank you for reading, goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Monday, January 14, 2013

Taking Care of A Renewed Spirit

Taking Care of A Renewed Spirit

Taking care of a renewed spirit requires constant care for me.  I find myself being overly cautious (not sure that's possible or a bad thing at all); applying thoughtful intent with every choice I'm making.  It's simply a matter of stopping long enough to question what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  And not the bogus reasons an addict creates, but real solid, honest reasons why.  If my choice passes the truth test, I proceed.  It sounds like it might make for a long day but it doesn't really because these decisions, choices develop quickly--and the most honest, right and good ones are the easiest to recognize because they don't require long explanations or fancy word rationalizations.  You know they're right from the start.  If a choice is taking too long to "pass," then it's likely not the best choice for me, at this time.

And as I've said from the very beginning--I'm not perfect, never will be.  But I can and I am doing my best everyday.  My original goal of a return to daily posting hasn't exactly happened yet and that's okay.  Eleven posts in the first two weeks of the year is a great start considering I've posted fourteen updates a year for the past two.  The first twenty-two months of this blog was daily and it's when I experienced my greatest success.  I'm remembering what an important role daily blogging played and again, I'm doing my best today.  My biggest challenge is resisting the urge to write more.  Let me explain: When I sit down to write, I have many updates in my mind.  I also have my insights, philosophies and opinions... and I sometimes have an issue keeping to a timed schedule.  If I say--"okay, I'll update daily, but I'll give myself a time limit of 30 minutes"---it sounds good in theory...then an hour and a half later I'm hitting the post button.  I'm afraid anything less and this blog would be a very different type blog.  I guess I feel at home here.  I may not know you personally, but I know if you're reading this, chances are good we have some things in common along this road.  So, that "at home" feeling...yeah, like you can talk--open up and be understood, is a powerful draw to me.

I've cooked a bunch lately.  From turkey burgers to lean venison, some kind of crazy Hawaiian chicken creation to simply grilling a chicken breast.  I'm still fairly limited on my vegetable profile---green beans are a staple along with yellow squash and asparagus.  I'm using mushrooms and green peppers in my breakfast omelets and of course, I've had a supply of Joseph's Oat Bran-Flax Seed-Whole Wheat 60 calorie pitas too.  I'm limiting potatoes, almost completely out of my menu actually.  For me, I think part of my loyalty to the potato was simply routine, because I'm finding if I don't have it, I don't miss it.  Eggs are a big part--I go through at least four egg whites a day in the morning (above mentioned omelet), and sometimes I have a couple whole eggs, scrambled for a mid afternoon protein snack.  I have a giant stock-pile of steel cut oats and after recently ruining a crock pot full, I haven't made another attempt.  I do like them--and I like how I feel when I eat's simply a convenience thing that I don't, very often.  Although plenty of suggestions have come in on how to make them, store them and enjoy them.  It's just a matter of taking a little time for preparation.  I stick with apples, oranges and pears for fruit--and occasionally baby carrots make their way into my bag for snacks.  Today, ill prepared--I ended up snacking on a 100 calorie snack bag of Pop Secret popcorn and a few pear slices a co-worker shared with me.

I made a triumphant return to the spin studio at the YMCA this evening.  Okay, maybe "triumphant return" isn't the right description.  I awkwardly climbed onto the spin cycle in the far back corner of the room...after a long absence from this class--and I proceeded to...uh...stay positive Sean...I did okay.  Yeah--I made it through the entire class and I stayed on the suggested gear the entire time.  That's a victory today.  My RPM's might not have been what they were at one time, but I was there and doing it and it felt very good.  The biggest thing I enjoy about spinning is the completely drenched workout it gives me.  I never leave a spin class wondering if I had a good workout.  There isn't a doubt.  It's very good for me.  I'm planning on spinning a minimum of twice a week with an intent of finding a third on a Friday or Saturday, depending on my schedule.

I'm feeling very good about a number of things lately.  I've been exercising my spirituality lately, now more than ever and it's clearly making giant differences in my perspective. I don't dive into my most personal spiritual relationship, but as you might imagine, it's a monumental part of my recovery. My attitude has made a crucial shift, my focus has tightened and suddenly I have greater strength to move consistently forward in the right direction.

When I post something to facebook--it's sometimes just a quick update or a picture of a meal.  Other times, I take a little more time and thought in posting what I call a "micro-blog."  The challenge for me--is to communicate an idea or something I've experienced first hand along this road in a very quick/concise fashion. Today's:
"It's exciting when we realize the power we posses to accomplish our truest desires. And what a relief to know we don't have to figure it all out beforehand. We have faith to simply put one foot in front of the other and move forward in step with right and good. When changes come along, we're within sight—able to see what we once couldn't imagine in our wildest. That's exciting. Happy travels." ;) 

Thank you for reading and for your wonderful support.  Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our Most Powerful Thoughts

Our Most Powerful Thoughts

I've spent a bunch of time in the past day or so catching up on emails and messages.  I sincerely appreciate the amazing outpouring of support.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write me a message.  One of the biggest questions I've received lately is "How do I get back/find the mindset I need?"

When I started struggling again seven months ago---It terrified me. I started focusing on so many negative thoughts... "I can't gain back weight" "If I continue this destruction I'm nothing but a fraud" "I can't seem to regulate my emotional eating anymore" "I know exactly what I need to do but I still choose not to do it..."

Our thoughts and feelings become our reality. Even when our thoughts and feelings are pleading to run contrary to the negative--the negative reinforcement is powerful.... and if we're not careful and mindful---These self-defeating thoughts will take us back to places we once thought were forever in the past.

Making it a priority to re-frame our thoughts into positive affirmations is paramount to regaining control. The most powerful advice I can give has little to do with food and exercise and everything to do with our thoughts.  What messages are we feeding ourselves? Are they positive and empowering or fearful and defeating?

We get back whatever we choose to focus on the most.  You've heard "You get what you give," and believe me, it's very true.

My little brother Shane was terrified of walking on ice covered sidewalks. He was so focused on his fear of falling, he actually attracted more falls. He would fall with every attempt. It came to a point that, if there was ice on the sidewalks, he was inside until it was gone completely. One day Shane and I planned to go out for lunch. I knew there was ice on the ground---but I decided to help him as much as possible, and take as long as we needed to get him in the car. I had ice melt ready to spread in front of his every step. When I pulled up--my phone rang and I answered.  It was work calling, and I was distracted... As I continued my conversation, I witnessed Shane do something miraculous... 

He walked with confidence from his front door to the car, opened the door and got inside the car without any hesitation or help from me.  He didn't realize we received a coating of ice overnight. He thought it was simply wet. His mind was convinced this was just a wet sidewalk--not a sheet of ice. His focus was unimpeded.  His intention was to get into the car, and he walked without fear and did just that.  I was stunned. And when I told Shane what he had done, he was stunned too. I walked ahead of Shane the rest of the day, spreading ice melt wherever he stepped.  But I'll never forget the powerful lesson he taught me. 

The law of attraction is real and powerful. And you can use it to your advantage. The mindset you're looking for exists inside you.  This is the biggest battle.  It's us--our thoughts and feelings. 

The sacredness of the limits you set...The "no-excuses" workout policy...All is affected by the thoughts we're allowing. 

For me, I know emotional eating and how it can snowball.  And if I allow, it's devastating to everything I hold precious.

Food's job isn't to comfort me and my emotions.  I must deal directly with my emotions instead of stuffing them away with a temporary escape.

I am once again dealing with my emotions differently. My desires, my dreams, my losing this extra weight I've gained back--It's all a matter of time now.  I've decided and it's happening. 

And I know--Choosing what will be my dominant thoughts is just as important as choosing what I'll eat and how I'll exercise today. 

Thank you for reading.  Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Real Good Day

A Real Good Day

Friday was a great day.  It was non-stop busy and at the same time awesome.  The medicines prescribed me have made a major difference, mostly good, some not so good.  The steroid pill, I'm pretty sure was the culprit in keeping me awake Thursday night.  Even the cough syrup couldn't counteract the effect of the steroid pill.  Despite only four and a half hours sleep, I made Friday fabulous.

I had a speaking event at 12:30pm for a local community service civic organization.  The room was packed and although I carried some nerves into the event (I always do), it turned out to be a wonderful experience.  It was shorter than usual, only 20 minutes plus Q&A after, followed by signing books.  Every time I do one of these events, the passion is refreshed within me.  And although I've talked about my life and transformation to groups of people numerous times, I still get a touch emotional in the same places along the way.  An additional element of the presentation has included my recent struggles and re-gaining.  After the event, after books were signed and everyone was leaving--I was approached by one of the attendees who asked "How have you stopped the slide?"

I told her about the incredible support system of friends far and near, like you--reading this post.  I told her about how once you've reached a point of truth so deep into recovery, it's simply impossible to forget.  Obviously it's not impossible to ignore, to stray--but the universal truths never change.  And understanding that getting realigned with the truth is truly a matter of life and death, it becomes a priority again.  And then I told her about some of the powerful messages I've received and continue to receive from people far and near.  I told her how these messages touch me, how I understand what they're going through and how deeply moved I am when they express gratitude to me for helping them in some way.  It's an awesome responsibility and one that I cherish always--and although I'm taking care for my own personal health and well being, doing this for me--I also do this for others. That's important to me.  I want to be another positive example (and there have been many before me), a resource of hope and inspiration to anyone dreaming of a life free from the mental and physical restraints of morbid obesity.  Returning to 500 pounds would only be an option if I didn't care about anything or anyone, or did care but chose to ignore and suppress the feelings all the way back up the scale. I care. I refuse to ignore or suppress this feeling.  And I can't turn it off.  This is what I was meant to do with my life and I fully believe this to be my personal truth.

I made my way back to the studio after the event and finished my broadcasting duties.  It was getting late in the afternoon and I was getting hungry.  I had a filling breakfast and a small lunch, so when I pulled away from work I was immediately thinking about dinner.  I had to go grocery shopping.  And I was going to do it while hungry.  That's usually not a very good idea.

One of the things I noticed about this day is how the errant thoughts--you know, the ones suggesting choices better left ignored, were totally gone.  Battling these type of negative-bad-choice loaded thoughts is something I've had to do a bunch over the last seven months and of course, as you know--I've lost some battles along the way.  But on this day, it was as if those thoughts surrendered, taking with them one of the most challenging aspects of my recovery.  I'm not saying they're gone for good, I'd be a fool to believe that, but I can say I felt incredibly empowered, overwhelmed with a sense of purpose, pride and passion.

Back at the store parking lot and feeling hungry, I approached with caution.  Not letting my guard down, I made a strategic grocery shopping decision: I would hand-carry my selections.  I was simply after ingredients for dinner and Saturday morning breakfast, both meals for one--just me.  There wasn't a reason good enough to convince me I needed a basket.  The items are pictured below.  The best photo wasn't snapped--it would have been of me trying to keep everything from crashing to the floor. This strategy worked very well.  There wasn't anything I grabbed that I didn't need.  I made it out of there safely and feeling even better about this state of mind dominating my Friday.

I've had moments the last seven months, so off, so dark--that now that I'm emerging from the darkness, so to speak, I still question the origins of the good.  I felt positively high on life.  Was it the medicine?  The steroids are messing with me, huh?  Or is it simply a renewed confidence, a refreshed perspective and a re-framing of where I've been and where I'm headed?

I'm getting comfortable again with my food choices.  I have learned a lot about myself along this road and some of them I've talked about from the very beginning.  Like one of my most important goals: To become someone who eats normal portions at appropriate times.  To become someone who doesn't automatically turn to food for comfort and numbing of emotions.  These goals have evolved to include becoming someone who eats better, healthier selections at all times, regardless of circumstances and the issues of the day.  This isn't a temporary deal.  This is for life.  My pursuit isn't about perfection, it's about making the choices best for me at any given time with special consideration and attention on my personal food profile, if you will.

I'm looking forward to the coming days as I return to 100% health wise.  I also look forward to once again watching the scale go back down with consistency.  I'll be weighing every two weeks, just as I did originally--and of course I'll be sharing those numbers along the way.

Thank you for reading and for your support.  Goodnight and...

Good Choices,

Some pictures from Friday and Saturday morning:

The single green apple almost threw it all out of balance.  The eggs--I clutched them like a football player with a ball.  I wasn't losing the eggs!

This isn't a recipe of any sort--Just an experiment.  And it was okay, very good actually--even though it didn't come out looking like I had envisioned...

Saturday morning breakfast.  I love making a giant omelet and then marveling at the calorie value.  I used mushrooms, red onions and green peppers--one whole egg and three egg whites for a big, filling breakfast and still, the entire omelet checked in at a low 140.  I didn't use cheese this time, that helped keep it low.  The green apple and some left over pineapple chunks rounded out this wonderful breakfast!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

That's The Cough Syrup Talking

That's The Cough Syrup Talking

Me: I haven't been sick like this in years.  I can't remember the last time.

Long time friend:  This is like "fat Sean sick."

Me: Yeah, it's been that long, sure has.

This conversation has been on my mind all day.  And it's not what I want on my mind.  And still, I've chosen to allow it to bother me.  Has gaining back nearly 60 pounds weakened my immune system?  Do you see what I do to myself?  I know it's raised my blood pressure.  At and around 230--for a year and a half--never sick.  Gain nearly 60, sick twice in the last couple months.  You know what?  This isn't productive, this train of thought.  There's silver linings and a wonderful future to think about.  Like "fat Sean sick," I keep thinking about it. He (my friend) didn't mean anything bad by it, it was simply an observation.  500 pound Sean was sick all the time.  500 pound Sean probably missed a month or more of work a year.  If not a month, pretty close I'm sure.  Anyway... What about those silver linings...

Enough of that garbage.

The good news is, I feel better.  The 2nd trip to the doctor was a great idea.  Oh--I didn't share that here did I?  Yes, Wednesday I made it to work--and made it home even worse than before.  I tried to nap Wednesday afternoon but the throat pain accompanied by headache and nausea wasn't letting me sleep.  My over the counter plan (suggested at my first doctors visit) wasn't working.  Late afternoon (Wednesday) I decided to return to the doctor.  This time it was a different doctor, a PA actually.  She was good--she immediately recognized a sinus infection and seemed to understand exactly what I needed. I needed my throat to stop hurting.  Hurting to swallow is expected with a sore throat, but hurting to breathe and laugh?  That's super sore.  She prescribed an antibiotic, a steroid and the best--worst tasting prescription strength cough syrup with narcotic pain killer in the mix.  Three prescriptions later and I'm doing much better.  My throat pain is gone.  And that's a big one for me.

It's a good thing I'm hardly ever sick, because I'll admit--I'm a BIG BABY. 

Let's discuss healthy stuff, like exercise...

The Sean that's super hard on himself: You realize you haven't had a good workout all week?

Me: I've been sick?

The Sean that's super hard on himself: Yeah yeah, whatever...And you wonder why you've only lost one pound in recent weeks.

Me: I hadn't mentioned that yet.

The Sean that's super hard on himself: Well, what are you waiting for?

Me: I was getting to it.  I thought I would talk about my walk tonight first.

The Sean that's super hard on himself: You mean that little two mile stroll in the park?

Me: You're not good for me.  It wasn't little.  I've been sick.  Two miles outside was enough tonight. It's cold and damp out there...honestly, I shouldn't have been out there to begin with...

Okay--enough of that nonsense.

It was a conversation like this that led me to the trail tonight in the first place.  I made it a couple miles and called it good.  It wasn't my best, but I'm not feeling my best.  It was good for me, right now.  Good for me tonight.

Yesterday at 5:40am I was standing on the scale inside the locker room at our local YMCA.  It's one of those balance scales. I know these are supposed to be the best, but I prefer a digital readout.  I'm seriously contemplating driving every two weeks to the health department in Stillwater just for the trusty digital scales I used during the first three quarters of my initial weight loss.  I'm not complaining because I lost 1 pound.  I'll take it.  I'm okay.  I was expecting a few more actually--and I'll get them, they're coming off.  No worries. For now, at this moment--I weigh 288.  I don't like that at all.

I stopped at the post office today to ship a few orders from my website and I ran into someone who's known me for some time.  She asked how I was doing--and of course I immediately thought she had recognized weight gain--and so naturally I start explaining---"well, yeah---I've gained some, 59 pounds and..." And she interrupted me and asked... "Really?  I hadn't noticed. You still look great."  Now--I'm not sure if she was being nice or if she just didn't pay close enough attention before...or maybe I feel and notice it more than anyone.  There's a noticeable difference.  I've had a couple people come right out and say it... So I know it's noticeable.  59 pounds--well, now 58...Is noticeable.  I'm lucky I'm 6'3 and carry my weight as well as I do.  By the way-- I did say thank you to the nice lady at the post office. (even if I didn't fully believe her)

Tomorrow I'll be doing what I love to do: Speaking to a group of people about weight loss and all of the dynamics I've discovered and continue to discover along the way.  I'll be speaking of success, struggle and the balance we find along the way.  I'll be speaking of this blog and my book too and how sharing my life so openly has helped me while at the same time, challenged me.

Next Saturday I'll be traveling to a speaking event at the Hard Rock Hotel in Tulsa where I'll be speaking to a conference of doctors.  I'll be giving them my experience, philosophies and insight on obesity and weight loss.  It'll be an interesting experience, I'm sure!  I'm truly honored to be invited to their big conference!

I haven't been doing my metabolism any favors the last several days.  I've come in under budget because I simply haven't felt like eating. Lots of eggs, soup and jello.  Easy stuff.  I'll be back to feeling like me again 100% in a day or two, maybe three tops as I continue to take this arsenal of medication. 

I better call it a night.  Thank you for reading...goodnight and,  (if you think this post is loopy--I blame the cough syrup)

Good Choices,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Good Sick Day

A Good Sick Day

Today was another sick day for me.  But it was a good day.  I thoroughly medicated my sore throat with plenty of Cepacol Lozenges and hot honey-lemon tea.  I had eggs, chicken soup with extra chicken and jello today.  I may not have had enough calories, in fact, I'm sure I didn't.  I was sticking with what I had on hand and what wouldn't be too rough on my sore throat.

I'll once again face the scales tomorrow morning.  I've had a couple of days to reflect on the past four years and you know what?  I'm okay with whatever the scale says.  Considering I've had a decent string of days food wise, it might even be down a few pounds.

I'm very lucky to have experienced all I have along this road.  I've learned so much in the past four years, and combined with incredible support, I'm in a much better position now than it might have been otherwise.
I could have just stayed astray and quickly returned to over 500 pounds, instead of gaining back only 59 of 275.  I'm very fortunate.  Oh--it very well could have happened, it does all the time.  But I have many friends, much support and I've learned too much along this road to ever go back.  I once heard a recovered drug addict say "recovery is a buzz kill."  I get that completely.  These truths we see can't be unseen.  They can be ignored, and still they're always there asserting themselves even more when we try to go the opposite way.  It's great news for people like me.  It's a very good thing.

I'm a little behind on returning facebook messages and emails sent to If you've recently sent one, please know I'll be replying very soon, and thank you for sending it my way and for your patience.

I've been taking this time to quietly assess where I am, where I want to go and what I'm going to do to get there.  And I can tell you, I'm full of some exciting ideas.  Some short term, some long.  And all supported and made possible by my continued recovery...and the bottom line is, that's the most important thing... My recovery.

I've proven I can maintain when everything is sailing along beautifully.  Learning to take the curves of life and still maintain control, is a practice; a pursuit of emotional balance.  It's often been said that when we take care of our inside, the outside takes care of itself.  I believe that.  I've lived it.  I've ignored it.  And I'm living it again.

I must get some good sleep tonight.  I hope you do too.

Thank you for reading, goodnight and...

Good Choices,

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