Sunday, February 23, 2014

Of Clarity and Perspective

Of Clarity and Perspective

Just a day after my Monday appointment, I received the call about my sleep study results, including the pressure needed and the home health prescription. The same day, the home health place called and starting working on my insurance company about getting me a new machine.  More on that in a moment!

Wednesday I transported mom to her eye specialist in Oklahoma City. I've been preoccupied during so many visits with mom and she notices every time (call it a mother's intuition). I can't count the times she's asked, "What's wrong, son?" or "Is everything okay?" And most of the time I would sugar coat my answer in an attempt to save her from worry. But she knew. She always knows when I'm "out of alignment" with my truest self. And instead of me "saving her" from worry by clamming up, her concern becomes amplified, because now she must play a guessing game as to what's wrong with her son.

Something was very different during this time we spent together. The difference maker is, I'm taking good care and I'm on the right track. I'm feeling good about myself. I'm maintaining a calorie budget again and I'm dealing with all stressful triggers head on, instead of ignoring them and simply managing the stress they create. We all know how I choose to manage stress. In other words, I'm taking charge of my life on different levels. I'm treating the root cause and not just managing the symptoms, if you will. My preferred treatment of "symptoms" is to eat, and eat some more, taking a temporary escape route where nothing is solved, only made worse by the added guilt and shame that floods in after the brief hiatus from caring. At that point, everything negative is magnified, the result of my natural coping mechanism.

It isn't easy to break away from these dynamics. Not easy at all. But when we declare our independence from these ingrained ways, positive things start clicking and we have some of the purest interactions with the ones we love.  My trip with mom on Wednesday was one of the best we've had. Mom's eyes are doing great, by the way. Again--no surgery needed and another checkup was set for late June. Mom said "I've laughed more this morning than I have in a very long time." I live to see that woman smile and her laugh is music to my ears. We discussed issues important to both of us, with some serious points along the way, but for the most part, we enjoyed observational humor and improvised "stand-up." It was pure joy to laugh so hard and feel so free and once again enjoy our time together, instead of being preoccupied with the countless distractions the quicksand of a downward spiral brings about.


Getting the call from the home health supply place was good. A new machine with precisely the settings I needed was waiting for me. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed this paper attached to the wall:

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I can personally attest to most of this list. If my recent doctors check up is any indication, I may have dodged the cardiovascular health issue, at least for now. It would have become a much more serious issue had I let it go, unchecked and rampant, without putting on the brakes and admitting it needed immediate attention.

I left their office with a new machine and a truckload of hope and anticipation of the incredible differences being properly rested will bring. I've had three nights on this new machine and the difference is profound. It isn't perfect as I try to get accustomed to a new headgear and mask, but even with this adjustment period, I still feel more rested than I have in three years. Exactly as I hoped.


A little more than a month ago, I received a message from a man who said he wanted to meet and talk about his weight issues. He told me we had communicated once before about this, but now more than ever, he was ready to sit down and discuss how to start, because like many of us at one time or another, he was stuck in the place where the question "Where and how do I start" weighs heavier than any number we've seen on a scale.  We set a time to meet face to face at the studio and we talked for a while before walking to Subway for a low calorie dinner. If you condensed the resolution to our discussion down to three words, it was "keep it simple."

We met up again Thursday evening and it was a different man in front of me. He was thrilled with the simplicity of using My Fitness Pal for calorie counting. He had been maintaining his calorie budget despite an upside down schedule and a high stress kind of job that takes him to the streets of North Tulsa five nights a week. His recent doctors appointment showed a loss of 6 pounds. He's gained a confidence, calm and patience that was shining through with every word and expression.

He thanked me for taking the time to meet with him again and discussing this road we both travel. And I thanked him. Because let me tell you something---as much as he thinks I'm doing him a favor...he's doing me one equally significant. The support we give and receive is so crucial to our success. And he's the one doing this. He's the one shifting his perspective and making the big and small adjustments. He's the one inspiring, not only me, but everyone around him. He has a very positive road ahead and I'm honored to be riding shotgun.


I received an email today from someone who has devoted the last several years to his education and in that pursuit has accomplished his goal of starting a profession that will serve him and many others for the rest of his life. As he prepares for the most difficult final exam of his new career, he was questioning if his reluctance to fully commit to losing weight and the better health it provides was justified or if using his intense education schedule as the barrier, was simply a "cop out." I spent some time thinking about and composing my reply and I think it's something very important to remember:

Whether it's a cop out or not depends on your perspective. My opinion is, it's a valid reason. That's my perspective. And there's a good reason for this perspective.

We both know that it was/is completely possible to take care of our calorie budget and exercise no matter the circumstances. I think we both agree there's a place, a zone that exist, where it doesn't matter...nothing stress, situation, emotion, nothing...nothing, nothing stands in the way... And that's all well and good, except it's missing something.

It's missing the element of self-compassion. When we're in that zone, we set the bar so high that suddenly any deviation whatsoever--even if not acted upon....yes, any deviation, even in thought---becomes a target for self-ridicule and negative emotions.  And that negativity starts an unraveling, then suddenly we feel like we're a million miles away again. This dynamic starts with a resolve based on perfection. Not necessarily perfection in our choices...but perfection in our consistent ability to maintain the budget and exercise.  When our thoughts and actions fail to live up to this level of perfection, we turn on ourselves with blame, guilt and shame...
We must include a level of compassion for ourselves.

I believe the pursuit isn't perfection, it's pursuit of a balance. That balance we're looking for is a place where eating good and exercising naturally becomes part of our daily lives, no matter what we're experiencing. And we accept that it doesn't need to be perfect. We accept that we shouldn't label every circumstance an "excuse" or "cop out." And we know the difference because we're intelligent people. In this "compassionate state," I believe we're actually able to accomplish more than we did before and in a more solid, sustainable fashion--because we're not sabotaging our emotions with negativity.  So the simple answer to your question is, no, it's not a cop out. 

This issue has been a big factor for me this time. This whole self-compassion dynamic has been key for me the last six weeks. I'm practicing compassion and I'm finding balance and success. It's like I'm learning to crawl again, lifting myself up and eventually walk again and then, I will run again. The pressure to be "perfect" has been dismissed, replaced by the ruling majority of better choices and taking one day at a time, one step at a time. And I'll get to where I envision and I'll arrive stronger than I ever imagined.

Proud grandfather alert!!!
The video below is my grandson Noah a day after he figured out how to crawl. He too is off to the races and soon he'll be walking, running and jumping. He doesn't ever have impatient thoughts about his development, because he hasn't developed the references needed to form and qualify them. Instead, he happily, confidently and patiently proceeds, doing his best...growing and learning, and progressing on a schedule unique to him. My tender connection to him was never more profound as it was while watching him become emotional and fight against taking his medicine. Without thought, my lip started to quiver and emotion swept through me, as if we had transmitting cables connected between us, feeling each others emotion on the deepest level. Dear Lord, I love that boy.

Now that I'm feeling better rested, it's time to exercise more regularly. That's my plan as I continue on, maintaining my 1700 calorie budget. Giving and receiving support is a must-have element to my success. I'd love for you to connect with me on Facebook (, Twitter (@SeanAAnderson) and My Fitness Pal (SeanAAnderson).

I'm teaming up once again with Gerri Helms to offer a weekly conference call support group where our small group gets on the phone and we talk about this road, we set individual goals, we share stories and we offer one another tremendous support. This group starts Tuesday March 4th at 7pm Central and every Tuesday after for 6 weeks. The group chemistry that naturally develops through our shared pursuits and struggles, is significantly positive. We still have some spots available in this group if you're interested. For more information, simply send me an email:

Thank you for reading and your tremendous support,


  1. Very excited about our upcoming group, Sean. I'm thrilled that you are now getting proper rest, as well as the drive to get out there and move your bod again!

    The key is support! I see it with you and many others who realize that the war against weight is better won by a team effort.

  2. Thank you Sean. I can only speak for myself, but this helps and encourages me more than you can possibly know.

  3. Hi Sean, Wow, you hit the nail on the head "balance", that's it! I learned being a single Mom then a caretaker for several years not taking care of me lead to an imbalance. But life can get complicated at times but learning to keep balance takes work but it's not impossible. I'm glad to hear you Mom is doing well. Oh us Moms do know our babies, when something is wrong you can tell by just a look or if it's by phone you know it from their voice. Now that you're getting to rest you will certainly start to feel better. I went through a really dark period in my life last summer when my Mom passed away. I had such bad insomnia, it's just been recently that I'm getting my "7 hours" in. I've never been one to sleep a lot but it's crucial to losing weight and basically survival. Oh your grandson is just adorable. Grandbabies are so amazing, mine live in Enid and I go through grandbaby withdrawal sometimes. I talk to my daughter just about daily and hear them in the background and they are so much fun with the things they say. Such a joy. I tried to add you to "My Fitness Pal" but it didn't work but I'll try again. I started using it early last summer but then I had a lapse but recently started using it again. It really is a great tool to find out what you are taking in and the work outs too. Well my friend, best wishes to you this week. Jules

  4. "I am my own worst enemy" comes to mind. I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Compassion is definately necessary and something I hadn't considered before now. It's so hard to have compassion with ourselves sometimes; to remember that we are only human and will make mistakes sometimes. It seems more often than not, it's "all or nothing." Thank you for sharing your insight. It is more useful than you know. :-)
    BTW - Noah is a handsome boy! I can't believe how fast they grow... He's lucky to have you for a grandpa.


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