Discouragement

I stepped outside last night to walk a friend to his truck.  The evening had died down and he had to get back to his home town in order to pick up his daughter from work.  As we summarized the week and reminisced about the enjoyment of our evening, he lit a cigarette and puffed on it passively.  The smell of the burning cigarette ignited my temptation and my only thought was how much I would give for just one more cigarette.  The mere thought of giving in again caused my hands to begin trembling and my mouth to salivate.

Thanks to the bitterly cold wind and a clock that never stops ticking our time away, our goodbyes had to be cut short and my friend’s cigarette was tossed away only half-smoked.  As he moved to enter his truck, the temptation of the sudden availability of only half a cigarette, which luckily landed with the filter in the air, overwhelmed me.  I retrieved the cigarette and, without thinking, took a deep drag.  Damn! It felt good.  As the smoke entered my lungs, the tightness in my chest from months of cravings was released and the weight of the pressure of quitting rolled off my shoulders.  I felt truly relaxed for the first time since I quit on August 26, 2016.

It was as the pure satisfaction of complete relaxation hit every fiber of my being that I remembered something:  my friend isn’t a smoker.  The harsh contradiction forced my eyes open and the realities of my mental world faded like a wisp of smoke torn apart by a gust of wind.  I had been dreaming and none of it had ever happened.  Despite feeling so very, very real, everything that had just occurred for me was nothing more than a visualization in my mind… driven by emotion.

Emotions can be a tricky thing, can’t they?  Some days we feel on top of the world and nothing can bring us down from our high.  Other times, though, we feel insecure or defeated and it seems nothing can shake us out of it.  On Thursday morning, I did my daily wp-1484414623586.pngweigh in and discovered that I had officially lost my 75th pound.  However, I wasn’t overtaken with joy or pride.  I felt discouraged.  As I made my breakfast, I knew that what I was FEELING was out of sync with the realities of my weight loss situation.  Determined to get myself out of the funk, I opened my favorite music app and pressed play.  It resumed with the song I had been listening to on the way home the night before:  Last Hope by Paramore.

Paramore is one of my wife’s favorite bands and, over time, I have moved from tolerating them to respecting the talents of their young, female lead singer.  This particular song became somewhat of an anthem for me early last year as I began to confront the mental demons that had led to my unhappiness and, ultimately, my weight problem.  Yet, I realized that only one phrase from the song was getting stuck in my head and the end result was not encouragement, but discouragement.  Rather than feeling the “spark” that is just “…enough to keep me going,” I was being plagued by another lyric in the song.

Every night I try my best to dream tomorrow makes it better

And wake up to the cold reality that not a thing has changed

-Last Hope, Paramore

But why was this lyric plaguing me?  Why was the source of so much inspiration now creating the exact opposite feeling?  The answer took me most of the day to work through and a lot of conversations with a lot of people.  As I worked through this, I realized that I have been having a subconscious, but very real, thought as I look in the mirror:  I look the same.  This thought was so subtle, I barely noticed it slowly poisoning the image that I see when I look in the mirror and twisting my ability to see the realities of the changes that are happening. All I could see is a VERY fat me pretending to change my life and, even if I was making progress, I have more than TWO more 75-pound victories to celebrate before I reach my goal.  #notpossible

Faced with the overwhelming feeling of failure, I pulled out my last set of before and after photos.  The only time that I see a difference in myself is when I look at before and after photos.  The truth is undeniable when I see the pictures side-by-side.  However, I haven’t been doing as many of those because the changes haven’t been as dramatic.  With the reduced frequency of comparison photos and this poisonous thought occurring under the surface, the lyrics of the song struck me in a totally different way than normal and the end result was:  discouragement.

Thanks to my profession, I knew how to respond.  First, I  turned off the song and moved to more encouraging songs.  Secondly, I realized I had to live by what I KNOW to be true rather than what I FELT to be true in that moment.  I had to force myself to go through the motions despite having so many temptations to return to old habits and feel sorry for myself.  The feeling didn’t go away at all Thursday.  In fact, in some ways, it just felt like it was getting worse as I talked about what I was experiencing.

When I got home from work, I upped my game.  I turned on some worship music and I then began to clean my environment.  I don’t know about anyone else, here, but our house is struggling by Thursday if we have had a busy week.  I did the dishes and scrubbed the counters.  When my wife got home, she noticed what I was doing and straightened the living room.  She also encouraged me to diffuse some oils.  With my surroundings looking much better and a constant source of encouragement through worship, I felt better by the time we went to bed and I woke up refreshed on Friday and ready to face our ice storm… tee hee…

That’s when I realized I need to share my experience.  Never underestimate the power of wp-1484414615783.jpgyour FEELINGS.  If we are not in control of our emotions, our emotions will be in control of us.  This week, it would have been so easy to backslide and play the victim to the FEELINGS that I was having.  It is so crucial that we choose to live our lives based on what we KNOW rather than how we FEEL.  If our lives were like a car, our knowledge and choices need to be the front wheels of our car and our feelings and physiology (the way we feel inside our bodies) need to be the back wheels.  The back wheels, though crucial, have no turning power.  Despite their necessity for the functionality of the car, they are only guided by the front wheels to where they need to be.

I apologize for such a long post.  I always try to make my posts short and sweet.  However, I have always worked to be open and transparent here and, today, I felt this just needed to be said.

For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back…

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 372.6 pounds
  • Total loss  77.4 pounds (28.9% of my total excess body weight)

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12 thoughts on “Discouragement

  1. I read this as I was eating my lunch. My healthy lunch mind you. You described one of my days this week. Feeling emotional after being discouraged by “friends” I quickly thought of something to soothe my pain. I thought of it for just a few minutes and turned my van around and bought it. I rationalized it in my head saying “you only bought a small” and “no one really cares if you loose weight anyway”. While those two things are mainly true I gave in! I did it! I chose to eat out of emotions! I was very upset with myself and even told my healthy eating group. This is not an overnight process and reading your blog today makes me realize that even more! I also realize that I am going to have to arm myself with some scripture and action steps to help me through rough patches in my life because those will never go away. Life happens and how I respond to that makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for sharing, making me cry and helping me reflect on what I can do differently next time because I know there will be a next time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. There will be a next time. This was my first big one, but I have had others that didn’t shake me as badly. You will find the change you are looking for. I have wanted to loose weight all my life. I decided I was going to last January, but it took me until September to truly commit. Our process be our own and for us and us alone!

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  2. Look at this way – you’ve lost 75 pounds. That’s the weight of a ten year old. You’ve lost an entire ten year old off of your body. That’s impressive.

    And while your dream was very real, and taking that drag off of that cigarette was awesome …. once you’ve quit – and you start back … oh, it tastes nasty. I had quit for three years and when my uncle died, I picked them back up and it was horrible.

    Keep up the good work. 75 pounds is amazing. The loss will slow down some, once you plateau – but don’t let that discourage you. Some loss and even stagnancy, is better than gaining.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, as always, for your continued reading and participation in this community. Your comment is encouraging – especially to my wife that has hit that plateau and sometimes wonders why she’s not losing.

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  3. Wow! Two years ago I was 65 lbs lighter. When I looked in the mirror I could not see it. Even tho everyone I knew saw it I just couldn’t & I was horribly annoyed by this. And saddened. I knew I had lost weight, I had to buy smaller clothes, 4 sizes smaller. Yes, I did stay in my old clothes way too long. It was a shock when I bought new clothes. But still I could not see the change.The only time I did actually see it was when I would walk by a mirror or a window & I would catch a glimpse of myself. It was surprising to see! It made me happy. But some things happened & everything spiraled out of control again. And now I am starting over. Again. I had started my oil journey 2 1/2 years ago, but about the time things were spiralling out of control I was done with the oils, I had no support or guidance on what could help me. Now I do, I feel like I am back on track. After reading some of your blogs it’s like I wrote them. I don’t feel like I am the only one going thru these feelings. Thanks to Amy Duffy for suggesting I follow you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading your comment brings me to tears of joy. Sometimes putting yourself out there creates a vulnerability and you ask yourself why you do it. This is why. We are stronger together and it is SOO encouraging to know we aren’t alone. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  4. This is a very powerful post. Anyone bothered by its length doesn’t understand the significant role emotions play in the outcome of life. Your words describe a very REALISTIC battle within yourself. This battle is faced by many people who need to hear (or read in this case) the story and the complexity in achieving a successful conclusion. Most people give in to emotions choosing a path providing the least resistance. This path commonly leads to further destructive choices. As the reader sees the difficulties and challenges you face and recognizes the enormous effort required to overcoming this obstacle, the reader also begins to understand the commitment necessary to achieving the goal. It becomes obvious the phrase, “just say no to poor choices,” is so much easier said than done.

    This mission is similar to fighting in a war. One’s life is at stake and mandates a commitment commensurate to the mission. Your words express the REALITY and enormity in achieving this task.

    Don’t apologize for the word count. The emotional impact of this posting required each and every word!

    Always stay focused on the BIG PICTURE (QUALITY OF HEALTH {PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL} AND FUNCTION) and the weight (and aesthetics) will take care of itself. As you know, the weight is merely the SYMPTOM. SYMPTOMS dissipate when the ROOT CAUSES are discovered AND CORRECTED.

    Thank you for your willingness to take the time to express your conscience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Charles your posts are NEVER too long. My attention span is very short when it comes to reading blogs and I swear, every time I read one of your posts I am always disappointed when I get to the end!! You are a great writer, and you are doing an amazing job with your incredible life changes. It is very inspiring. YOU are very inspiring.

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  6. I loved to read this post. First of all, it is so well written. The way you have expressed your feelings is so subtle and yet powerful.
    I could not maintain the consistency of my journey for a very long time and eventually succumbed to my feelings. The feelings which keep on reiterating that I would never be at that ‘ideal’ situation, so why start at all!
    But reading your post reminds me of why I started in the first place. It reminds me how much I wanted to be better. And it makes me realise that it would’ve been so much better if I had not failed my self.! This journey, not only physically, but even mentally and emotionally; is a hell of a journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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