It’s Time To Celebrate!

I’m tired!  Today, after a long night of severe thunderstorms and a terribly frightened, whining puppy, I am tired and had no motivation to get out of bed!  It seems my loving wife was feeling quite the same way as she rationalized that we still had enough days in the week to meet our goals if we stayed in bed this morning.  With no real encourager or motivator, we stumbled outside solely due to the lack of either one of us wanting to be the one to make the decision to skip our morning walk.  Once on the road, we walked silently and beat out our four miles.

wp-1488381561412.pngWe have some very good news to share this week!  We have been excited by the fact that my wife’s plateau has finally given a little bit and she officially lost her 50th pound. This accomplishment has been just out of reach for almost two months, so to see the scale FINALLY reflect a number that shows her progress has been exhilarating.  We have both experienced frustration as she has struggled so long without losing anything on the scale.  However,  she struggled with temptations to give up on the changes we have made as it felt like her efforts have been in vain and she has been depriving herself of her favorite foods for no reason.

Speaking of good news, I stepped on the scale to discover an unexpected surprise:  I have finally wp-1488378918003.jpgpassed my fourth 25-pound goal!  Today is day 171 of our journey towards improved health and, in less than six months, I have seen 100 pounds melt away!!  I thought that I would cry when I reached this point, but that is not what I am feeling.  I want to skip my adult responsibilities and CELEBRATE!!! I want to go play pool, head to a casino, watch a movie, or just see the people I love.

I feel like 150 pounds is a HUGE accomplishment for us and I know we need to take the time to reward ourselves for all the hard work, but we have no idea how!  I also want to take the time to do something fun to thank everyone that has played a part in making this dream a reality!  Your support is HUGE in keeping us on track and encouraged.  So, I am asking my readers for ideas!

  1. What can we do to celebrate our success?
  2. What can we do to say thanks?

I can’t wait to read your responses!!!

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 348.6 pounds
  • Total loss  101.4 pounds (37.9% of my total excess body weight)

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I’m Only Human

Boy, I tell ya, I had a really weird experience last weekend and it left me a little dizzy.  I mentioned it on Sunday night, but we had a Young Living event last weekend:  White Out!  This was a major event for our team and over 500 people came together to learn about toxins hiding in our homes, the devastating effects of using them, and the importance of getting rid of them.  It was quite an event and I met a lot of new people!

After the event, our team had dinner at a local restaurant.  My wife and I arrived relatively early and decided to sit outside because of the phenomenal weather.  As people started to arrive, we invited them to join us as we waited for our event hosts to arrive.  Due to the length of time I have been involved with Young Living and the size of the event, I only knew a few people, but we all wore white so it was easy to spot people that were showing up for dinner.

The first person that arrived was a young lady named Megan.  She introduced herself and her son and then I introduced my wife and myself.  Megan quickly responded she knew me from a weight loss group that I am in and my blog.  It was fantastic to meet someone I didn’t know that has been following the blog.  We sit together for quite a bit trying to keep her little man out of trouble and entertained.  As more people arrived, it was so enjoyable to get to know more and more people that share my new passion for alternative routes to wellness.

Later, at dinner, a few other ladies came up and introduced themselves and shared that they, too, read this blog.  We even spent a few minutes discussing how it is weird to meet someone online and then feel like strangers when you meet in person.  As we talked, one of them joked that our chatting was like meeting a local celebrity… most everyone present at dinner has been exposed to my blog or knows about my weight loss journey and I knew only a couple of them.

That’s when I realized a very unnerving truth:  I was meeting people that I knew NOTHING about that knew quite a bit about me.  The power dynamic in that situation is definitely wp-1488069298284.pngunbalanced and, to be honest, a little unnerving.  As a person that has ALWAYS struggled with social situations, I found myself extremely uncomfortable to know that REAL people have access to all of my weakness, my vulnerabilities, and struggles, and I may meet them at any point in my day.

Blogging my vulnerabilities online has always felt somewhat anonymous despite the fact that a lot of friends and family follow my blog.  My family and friends already love me and know several of my weaknesses.  However, in my head, the rest of my readers have always been faceless people in the vast universe of the world that I will never meet.  That false sense of anonymity had created an environment that protected me from the realization that I’m actually speaking to real people that may know me or may know me in the near future.  An environment where sharing my vulnerabilities was without consequence.  Suddenly, I found this environment shattered and I was left with several days of disillusionment.  In turn, I avoided everything that had to do with this blog.

As the struggle raged on, questions raced through my mind and my gut reaction was to shut it all down and hide.  What if someone I work with in the future has found my blog and read about the worst parts of my struggle?  Will I be prepared for discussing my vulnerabilities in an area where I am supposed to be the professional?  Will I be mentally able to maintain focus if an uncomfortable truth is presented from my blog and I am forced to handle the interaction on the fly?

A month ago, I had 80 some followers and 99% of them were my friends and family members.  However, thanks to you guys sharing my site with others over the past few weeks, the number of followers has skyrocketed to over 450 people and, now, the majority of people that are following my Facebook page are not people that I am actually friends with on Facebook.  Since I am not friends with them, I know they exist, but I don’t get any more information than that.  Those 350+ people could be from thousands of miles away or my next door neighbor and I would never know.

My avoidance continued through to this morning when one of my inspirations called me. She confronted me with love and wouldn’t accept my evasive interactions as she stubbornly persisted until I found myself facing the topics I had been avoiding all week.  As we talked, I peeled back more and more layers of unaddressed worries and fears and finally reached a point of understanding that my fear and avoidance was based in the remanents of my failure identity hiding in plain sight.

My discomfort was that people would know and reject me because they have a window into the information I hide from people in everyday life.  This information compromises the mask that I show the world.  The mask that I have created and put forth to others as the LOVEABLE and ACCEPTABLE version of myself.  By building a following and practicing regularly transparency on my blog, I have been giving people access behind the mask.  When that was tangibly experienced in everyday life, it was like a bomb went off and I had no idea why.

As our talk came to a conclusion, I was filled with hope and confidence as I was reminded that I am only human and people cherish people that are honest.  Despite my profession and the very efforts that I have made throughout my entire adult life, I am a completely fallable man, it’s okay for me to accept that, and there is NOBODY on the face of this planet that I need to kill myself to please or earn their friendship . If someone chooses to reject me, whether online or in person, I am who I am and I have nothing to be ashamed of and I have no shame in continuing to be real on this blog.

My conclusion to this conundrum is that I hope it continues.  I want to reach people and I want people to find inspiration to live healthier lives and engage in their own weight loss journies.  I can’t grow if I’m not authentic.  I can’t grow if my friends and family didn’t share my story with their friends and family.  I can’t grow if those friends and family don’t share my story with their friends and family.  As a result, it is a very real possibility thatwp-1488069302170.png local people will find this site and they may know quite a bit about me before I ever open my mouth.  If that is the cost, though, of reaching and inspiring more people, then I consider it a very small price to pay.

So, share my story!  Share my story with everyone you can!  If you know me or if you have friends that know me, share my story!  If you don’t know me, share my story!  If everyone took a few minutes and invited friends to follow my Facebook page, I would continue to grow and reach more people.  It may result in more surreal introductions, but I welcome it!  I want my story to reach everyone that struggles with weight issues whether they need to lose 5 pounds or 250!  The more that I hear about people that have found inspiration and have started losing weight, the more I am encouraged and desire for my blog to grow.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 352 pounds
  • Total loss  98 pounds (36.7% of my total excess body weight)

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I’m a Fraud

It feels so bizarre to have mid-70s temps, be able to have all the windows open, and to go wp-1487560683955.pngon a two-hour walk in shorts DURING THE MIDDLE OF FEBRUARY!!!!  There are so many ways that I could view this weekend and I’ve probably viewed it from each of the different angles as the weekend progressed.  As I have shared before, it is one’s mindset that creates the most significant impact upon how that individual proceeds into their future.

I weighed myself Friday morning to find that I am 5.8 pounds away from reaching a HUGE goal:  100 pounds lost.  As you can imagine, I’m overwhelmingly excited about being so close to this number.  As a result of my excitement, I vowed that I would not have any meals without tracking calories and that I would not sway from my healthy choices at all until I reached my 100th pound.  However, I failed miserably.  No… I failed in the biggest way that I have ever failed since I started this life change.

I, like everyone, have a very busy life.  It seems if it is not one thing, it’s the other.  My wife and I regularly have dinner with a friend on Friday nights and it is typically a meal that calories are not tracked.  Saturday, I attended our team’s Young Living event:  White Out! where we learned about the toxins that exist in cleaning, beauty, and other household products and the alternatives that are available for those that aren’t into DIY projects.  Afterward, our direct team went out for dinner.  To finish the night, I went out and played pool with a friend.  As the weather has warmed up and I’m getting out into the world more and more, it becomes increasingly difficult to live in the healthy food choices bubble that I have created in the past several months.

Despite setting out on this journey of free will, there has also been an enormous amount of pressure that I put on myself.  Pressure to resist temptation nearly every second of every day.  Temptation has been everywhere and it changes its mask every time I see it:  smoking, unhealthy food choices, staying in bed, skipping exercise, etc.  To be honest, the positive affirmation from others has been like a drug.  I love it and I regularly get it.  Everyone… EVERYONE… is fantastic at telling me how awesome I am doing and it makes me feel so good inside.  That positive affirmation has pushed me to continue with behaviors so that I could keep getting it, but I failed… epically!

About a month ago and a half ago, we added walking to our weight loss journey.  I found this change hard, but the mounting pressure from outside sources forced me out of my bed and onto the road.  No regrets, but it gave me another avenue to temptation and pressure.wp-1487560724699.jpg  It also put me into an active neighborhood during the time that people are waking up and having their morning smoke.

I caved and bought a pack of cigarettes about two weeks later.  Being the true logicist that I am, I rationalized that I could employ a “cheat meal” with smoking as a way of managing the constant pressure.  So, I created a rule that I could have four hits off a cigarette once a week.  That shortly grew into 2-3 times per week, but I haven’t increased it further nor was it fully utilized each week.

On top of my smoking failure, I caved all weekend.  The bridges came tumbling down very quickly when I broke my vow to myself and ate a full dinner at Rib Crib without tracking calories. The devastation only continued as I had a couple adult beverages at dinner Saturday night.  I didn’t make terrible food choices, but I did call a friend and entice him to come play pool which resulted in several more adult beverages.  By the time the night ended, we were still at the bar at closing time and I’ll admit that I am glad I was not driving.

When I woke up this morning, the guilt was enormous.  Thanks to my habit of only drinking water, I had no hangover.  However, I had thrown everything away and had crashed on all of my goals and my weight loss vows.  As I contemplated the need to get out of bed, I had a quick confessional conversation with a good friend, mentor, and inspiration, but even in that conversation, I didn’t reveal the entire truth.  Rather than judge or condemn, she met me with love as she reminded me that God renews us each morning and that I am best suited to live in that knowledge and get back on the wagon and keep going.

However, as I sit here tonight, I feel like anything BUT a failure.  I feel like a champion and I feel like I had an EPIC weekend!  I don’t feel like I deserved it, or earned it, or that I gave into peer pressure, or I even failed at all!  I feel like I made choices that I haven’t made in a long time and it resulted in me having an amazing weekend and my weight loss isn’t going to notice more than a slight bump in the road.  That being said, I do know that smoking is a terrible choice and that I have to address this situation head on before I logic my way back into a habit, but I have honestly lost all the guilt over my food and alcohol choices this weekend.

This blog has been about saving my life and living my life to the fullest.  When I started, I was losing mobility and quickly headed to a constant relationship with my bed due to having incredible difficulty with movement.  I had difficulty putting on my shoes, problems with regular back pain, and even difficulty taking care of myself in the shower, on the toilet, etc.  Thanks to my progress, these issues are only distant memories.  Yet, while I have LOVED getting out and getting into parks and taking morning walks, I LOVE doing other things, as well.  Things that I always intended on doing after my weight loss was done.  Maybe the answer here is balance rather than rejection.  Perhaps, I have to establish healthy boundaries and the ability to make good choices for my weight RIGHT NOW rather than living in a strict bubble that makes me feel like I’m constantly being crushed by some unseen force.

So, maybe I’m not a fraud.  Maybe I’m just a human that enjoys the additional aspects of wp-1487560689018.pnghis life that have come with losing weight.  However, I may also be a human that enjoys a night on the town filled with choices that I don’t regularly make anymore.  To me, it seems like a very dangerous place to walk.  Maybe that is why so many fail at losing weight.  Maybe it is safer and more effective to live one way or the other.  I don’t have any answers, but I want to be me and I want to be free to make choices for myself without experiencing pressure that I am letting myself or anyone else down.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 355.8 pounds
  • Total loss  94.2 pounds (35.2% of my total excess body weight)

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Embracing the Adventure

wp-1486954712248.jpgGood Lord, I can’t get enough of these beautiful weekends!  I relish every minute outside in these absolutely gorgeous Spring… er… Winter days.  I can’t even believe how that sentence needs to be typed.  It’s WINTER and the temperatures got into the 80s yesterday!  I would love to have a situation where I worked two days of the week and had the other five days off (and make the same paycheck… or more… of course!).  I simply can’t get enough time to spend outside doing what I love the most:  exploring nature and getting healthy!

This weekend brought me a fantastic visit with my family!  I was given a last-minute opportunity to jump in the car and drive to my home town and spend the day with my aunt, uncle, cousin, mom, dad, sister, brother, nephews, nieces, and some in-laws!  For the first part of the day, I visited with my inspirations:  Uncle John, Aunt Melinda, and my cousin, Anna.  You see, three years ago, they set out on a journey to find true health which wp-1486954487893.jpgled them to the jogging/running lifestyle!  Given the content of my last blog post, you can bet your prized goat that I wanted to talk to them about SHOES and, boy, I found my way to the right people!

From 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., we talked about life, oils, and health!  I can’t even believe how long and how easy it was to talk for this length of time without once thinking of food or having any realization of how much time had passed.  I learned from them about shoes, they learned from me about oils, and then I learned from them about health building tools!  It was an amazing time and I can’t wait to see them again.  If not sooner, I know they will be joining me on my upcoming Color Run… our first 5k!  It’s gonna be epic.

If you know me, then you know that when I get my sights set on something, I pursue it with everything I’ve got.  With the VAST AMOUNT of information I learned, I had to act on the information they shared with me.  So, today, I woke up with the goal of visiting the shoe store they recommended.  I must admit, I was easily distracted from my goal when our buddy, Liz, called with a seducing offer of a hike at Lake Springfield.  So, with a quick calculation of times, I set a preliminary itinerary and we set out for the day.

wp-1486954386337.jpgFirst, we went to Lake Springfield and hiked around the park for at least two hours.  We may not have walked very far (three miles), but we did a lot of off-road hiking and A LOT of steep, large hills.  The change up was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!  Our neighborhood has slight hills, but we can also choose how to take the worst ones.  However, at the park, there was no foreknowledge of what was coming or how to take it… we just went.  I was blown away at how far my body has come.  I wasn’t nearly anything close to fast, but I did it without dying or having to stop for a break.  I felt so empowered.

As we wrapped up our hike, we all realized we hadn’t eaten yet.  If you follow my Facebook page, I’m sure you know all about that!  HAHA.  If not, you can still feel free to click the link below to take a visit and see more about this part of our day on my Facebook page!

After our lunch/dinner, my wife and I headed to our local Fleet Feet Sports in Springfield, MO, and embarked on an entirely new journey for ourselves:  good running shoes.  Thanks to the information and recommendation I got from my aunt and uncle, this was the starting point for us to learn the proper footwear for this new endeavor in our lives:  walking.

As we pulled up to the building, we both werewp-1486955172737.jpg overcome with similar feelings of embarrassment and shame.  We were daunted and, honestly,  believed that we would be laughed out of the store by the people that really should be in there.  So, as I walked to the building, I decided that I was going to document our journey.  This blog has been started by a man that knows very little about what he is doing and I have been learning in front of you readers from the moment I launched the site.  If I feel daunted and silly going into a store targeting runners, I know others that find their way here will experience those feelings, too!

Neither of us had ever been in a store with so little variety in products.  Shoes, tools for runners, clothing for runners, etc.  That was the extent of it.  Additionally, neither of us wp-1486955200247.jpghad ever been in a shoe store where there were NO boxes of shoes on the showroom floor!  While we were there, our sales agent evaluated our feet, examined our stride and detailed how a shoe needs to fit our feet to meet our specific needs!  After this very invasive feet interaction, she began retrieving specific shoes that met the criteria we had discussed.  She accepted our feedback and retrieved items we requested, but both of us ended up going with the recommendation from our salesman as they truly felt the best on our fewp-1486954419224.jpget!  It was a new and empowering experience as our sales agent educated us about the characteristics of a walking shoe that will meet our needs and improve our walking experience.  Our sales lady was so observant that she confirmed something I had began suspecting, but never had evaluated, for a few years – I have one leg that is shorter than the other!  She also found out I have been wearing a size 12 shoe and I should be wearing a size 10.5!

When I started this journey, I began on the premise that I was going to do this on my own and I was going to show people you don’t have to pay a company hundreds of dollars to help you loose weight.  However, I have learned this week that it is OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP and it is IMPERATIVE TO OBTAIN the proper gear to protect my feet, ankles, and legs, so that I can keep wp-1486954430072.jpgmaking the progress that I have been making!  Coming from a guy that has NEVER spent more than $30 – $40 on a pair of shoes, I can tell you that I experienced an entirely different type of step today.  The wonderful pair of shoes I had been wearing weigh than twice what these shoes weigh and feel nowhere near as comfortable for walking!  After getting home, I took a quick 1.3 mile walk in them so that I could get an immediate feel for them.  I literally felt like I was gliding as the cushion, which adds to my height substantially, absorbed every step and my feet began to develop a new relationship with the harsh pavement that has been beating the hell out of my feet and ankles!

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s full walk with my new pair of HOKA walking shoes and putting them to the full day’s test.  Now, do I want to do 4 or 5 miles?  Hmm…

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 358.4 pounds
  • Total loss  91.6 pounds (34.3% of my total excess body weight)

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Revelations and Frustrations

Anyone else excited for warm weather?  These last few mornings have been absolutely beautiful and my insides are crying for the regularity of warmer weather and the life that comes with Spring.  For now, though, I am enjoying the sun as it rises earlier with each wp-1486571562543.jpgpassing morning and the beautiful songs of the birds in our neighborhood that continue to remind me that warmer weather is on the way.  The added activity of squirrels and bunnies also help to create the scenes that reassure my soul that the chilly days of Winter are limited.

Last week, I think I pushed it too far.  My beautiful wife was ill for a few days and I had to walk by myself.  As a result, I was left to my own devices to determine the days, speed, distance, etc., that I would be walking.  It was difficult to walk alone and, since I wanted to be lazy and stop, I reacted by pushing myself every single day.  What I didn’t plan for was my wife getting better and wanting to utilize the remaining days of the week to get moving!  I also didn’t know the weather was going to become extremely beautiful and I would find it IMPOSSIBLE not to be out in such amazing weather.  As a result, I ended up walking 7 days without taking a day to rest and I was left with a hugely sore ankle.

This experience left me with a few revelations that I would like to discuss today and I’m hoping y’all have some insight into these situations that will help me be more effective than I was last week!  Yes, I exceed all my goals for last week.  However, by being more effective, I mean I want to be fully confident and comfortable so that the changes and success continue!

  1. It is incredibly difficult to walk this journey alone.
    • Over the years, I have made numerous attempts to try losing weight.  Despite the various methods that I attempted to use to meet this goal, I always had someone that was engaged with my efforts on some level.  However, in each of those cases, the person that was engaged with me did not follow through and I dropped out of the efforts shortly thereafter.
    • One major difference this time was that my wife got involved in the changes and has been committed to them.  Having a partner in this pursuit has resulted in us always having someone pushing for healthy choices on those days when we don’t feel like it or are tempted to be lazy.
    • Yet, when you are walking the road with someone that is not participating or is not as committed, the temptations to quit or stop are EVERYWHERE.  On the road, your body cries out for you to stop and there’s nobody around to push you forward.  At meal time, it’s incredibly difficult to stick to healthy eating if someone around you is eating things you enjoy but are choosing not to have. Having had to cook most of our meals as two entirely different meals, I can also understand how freaking inconvenient it would be to cook one meal for yourself and another for your family.
  2. It is incredibly difficult to walk this journey with someone.
    • My wife is over 100 pounds lighter than me and is working at a different pace than I am.  So far, we have been able to walk together just fine.  However, as we progress, our goals are starting to take different turns and we have begun talking about whether our best bet would be to separate our exercise times or not.  This could be directly related to my ankle, but my wife has been having to set her pace off me.  So far, this has been fine, but what if I get to a place where my speed just isn’t enough to beneficial for her?
    • Each week, our scale comes calling and it’s time to weigh in.  While I have been losing weight and can see those results on the scale, my wife has been plateaued.  Her clothes continue to get smaller. Also, we have added walking and have clear proof that her calf muscles have developed AMAZINGLY, but the scale has become a point of contention.  For the last four weeks, despite doing everything right, she hasn’t lost a single pound.  She fluctuates between the same four pounds… just ounces away from her goal of losing her 50th pound.  It has been extremely hard for her to celebrate my losses on the scale when she continues to struggle to get below her next major weight goal which is so very close for her!
  3. I am in huge competition with myself.
    • The first five-mile walk that I did was the first time that I had to walk alone.  I didn’t think much about it because I had been challenged and I wanted to meet that challenge.  During this last past week, though, I learned that this was not an event… it is a condition.  Each day last week, while I was walking alone, I would set a mental distance goal before starting my walk.  However, I found that I went further each day and began seeking faster and faster times.  I also experienced a significant amount of frustration when I was unable to beat my previous times.
    • However, the voice inside that is constantly pushing me to work harder, go further, etc., is not the only internal voice that I struggle against.  While I was out there alone, I also struggled against other internal voices.  Voices that challenged me for pushing myself so hard or torturing myself.  Voices that tempted me to find faulty logic to abandon some of my goals and re-establish a more balanced way of life.  Voices that constantly begged me to stop… slow down… rest.  By the end of the internal conversation, I got confused and give up.  I mean, seriously, there is a time for everything.  The key to this everything has to center on BALANCE and finding balance in a world filled with such extreme changes can be SO difficult.
  4. I never knew how much the various aspects of a step could impact the execution of a comfortable walk. 
    • I have come to realize that I need a personal stepping coach.  When I first started walking, I didn’t even think about how I walk let alone analyze the way that I move my feet.  Lately, I have been noticing how important everything wp-1486571531159.jpginvolved in the process of a step actually is.  HOLY MOSES!  Learning to lose weight or how to exercise should come with its own Bachelor’s degree. Seriously!
    • I have a tendency to walk with my right foot, but only lift up and drop my left foot which causes a lot of pain if I am not conscious about how I am taking my stride.  Once I started paying attention to that, I found that I wasn’t following through the entire stride of my left foot which caused increased tension and soreness in my left foot.  Am I really a person that has pay THIS MUCH attention to something I have been doing my WHOLE LIFE?!
    • I also have to admit that I am a complete moron when it comes to knowing what makes a good walking shoe and what would make a good walking shoe for me and my wife.  I own these wonderful Sketchers with memory foam or whatevers, but I have NEVER paid attention to whether my shoe is actually good for walking five miles!

I don’t know how you feel after reading all of this, but I feel incredibly frustrated.  I have never put forth on this blog that I am an expert or that I even have a clue what I am doing when it comes to exercise and weight loss.  Honestly, though, I have always tried put out information that I know or that I am confident with.  Today, I feel like I am just verbally venting to anyone to anyone that may read this blog!  I don’t even know if that’s against the rules of blogging or not.  Haha!  Oh well, I guess I have made it clear that I am pursuing openness, vulnerability, and honesty.

Let me know in the comments below what struck your thoughts as you were reading my revelations.  Maybe you, dear reader, are holding an important key that I have been missing or have been overlooking.

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

  • To avoid an even more unhealthy relationship with the scale, I will only be doing weigh in information during my weekend blog post.  Thanks for understanding 🙂

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Weight Loss Competition Update

I missed my weekend blog!  The biggest surprise is that I knew I was going to miss my weekend post and I did nothing to salvage the situation.  You may have noticed, but the WHOLE theme of my blog is reclaiming and actively living my life.  With the temperatures in the 60s and 70s, the last place I wanted to be was in front of my computer screen!  So, I missed the blog because I was out living my life!  I’m cool with it.  Hope you are, too.

So, I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was entering a competition!  We are quickly closing slique-maintainin on the halfway point of the first phase of the weight loss competition.  I know I just started with Young Living, but everything that I have used from them has been amazingly effective.  The money-back guarantee and a weight loss product from them were too much for me to resist… especially when you look at the awards for winning the competition!

The requirements of the competition have been to make some health goals, track my measurements, and purchase/use at least one of their CitraSlim kits.  I have been utilizing the cheapest option which is the Slique Maintain kit.  Slique Maintain comes with one box of Slique CitraSlim and one bottle of Slique Essence.  I also order a second box of Slique CitraSlim so that I have a full month supply of the capsules. You can read more about the product here:  Slique CitraSlim Product Information Page

So far, I have lost over 17 pounds on the scale since I started taking CitraSlim despite the fact that I started walking and my leg muscles have obviously been developing quickly to keep up with me going from NO physical activity to walking between 3 and 5 miles a day.  I’m ecstatic!  Additionally, on the third week of taking CitraSlim, I had everyone – including people that see me every day – telling me how much thinner my face looked.  I can also share that I went down another pant size!

I’m sure some of you have questions about what is in the supplement that I am taking for this competition.  I will share these panels with you so you can see the natural goodness for yourself!

 

citrislim-nutrition

After the first phase of the competition is over, I will post my goals, starting and final measurements, and whether or not I won the first phase of the competition.  I can’t wait to see where I end up!  Expect to hear more in just a bit over four more weeks!  I will immediately be launching into the second phase of the competition which has the opportunity for much greater rewards!

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 361.2 pounds
  • Total loss  88.8 pounds (33.2% of my total excess body weight)

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I Got Scammed by a Multi-Level Marketing Scheme

Greetings from the beautiful Ozarks where the birds have my body feeling like we are in the fourth week of March rather than the first week of February.  Each morning as I embark on my morning walk, I long for the first few minutes of sunlight as the world begins to wake up and my neighborhood begins to come alive with a flurry of workers preparing to head off to their jobs.  Just before they do, though, with just the first few rays of sunlight, the birds begin to sing their songs and Mother Nature begins to radiate with a joy and beauty that humanity has yet to even recreate effectively. It is my favorite part of the day!

Earlier this week, I talked about the mental journey that has accompanied this life change and the importance it played on me getting started and sticking to these changes that have been occurring.  I’ve also talked about the next phase of my journey before:  healthy, fresh foods!  However, I have yet to openly share about another aspect of my journey and it has been just as crucial to my pursuit of health as anything else.

I work as a mental health counselor.  My typical clients are teenage boys, but in my private practice, I occasionally get to see marital clients, adults, etc.  During my time as a counselor, I was introduced to one of the most interesting people I have ever met.  Let me introduce you to Jenni.  Jenni works in our office wearing a variety of different hats.  For most of the week, she works as a life coach, a kickass Zumba instructor, and a parent aide.  For a small part of the week, Jenni works around the counseling office as an office assistant (which is a professional way of saying she does everything)!

Back in August, Jenni began a new adventure in her life.  I heard about this adventure and I internally wrote off her choice off with criticism and concern.  However, I’m a GOOD friend and didn’t tell her my thoughts.  Rather than thinking I am somehow better at making her choices than she is, I chose to ask how I could help her get started.  A few weeks later, we were having a class.  Jenni and her friend, Amy (remember her from a previous post?), were sharing Jenni’s new adventure with us.

wp-1483903726304.jpgEssential oils have been something I have been toying with over the past year.  I’ve used mainly lavender and tea tree oils.  Despite having some minor success, I wasn’t experiencing anything to write home about.  So, as Jenni and Amy shared their information, I stayed planted on my phone… researching how to prove them wrong.  After they got done, I even looked at them and willingly asked their first question.  Per my recollection, my question was, “Y’all know this is bullshit, right?”  I’m relatively ashamed of my thoughts and opinions and my QUICKNESS to dismiss something before giving it a solid chance.  However, I’m completely ANTI-HIPSTER FAD/NONSENSE.  To me, that’s all this oils crap sounded like.

Because I hosted the party, I won an oil of my choosing (smart move, Jenni) and I selected an oil that I felt would help with something I was actively experiencing.  After the party, I tried the oil with much sarcasm and, honestly, condescension. Twenty minutes later, I was texting Jenni to say that I believed the oil was working.  The first time, my wife and I both wondered if the change I was experiencing was a somatic effect.  However, it kept working and then it worked for my mother and my sister.  My curiosity for exploration was peaked.

Being the logical guy that I am, I evaluated the costs of the products that I wanted to try and compared it to the price of their starter kit – which would make me a member.  For the three oils I wanted to try and the diffuser, the total cost was going to be about $170 dollars (I must mention that I wanted some very expensive oils.  Most oils tend to cost $20 – $30 dollars).  For the kit of 12 oils and the diffuser, the total cost is $160… which do you think became the better value?

Before I could make my final selection, though, I had to address my feelings about MLM schemes.  More than once, someone I love has been involved in these stupid things and it has never worked out well.  At best, my loved ones fell into a business that required money and promised money that never came.  At worst, my loved one purchased tons of product he could not sell and he ended up throwing away over $750 worth of stuff and struggled to pay his bills for several months afterward.

The idea of an MLM company terrified me and I didn’t want to end up in a system where I was ultimately being ripped off so the people that engaged me in the product could profit off me.  However, there was something different about Young Living – I already knew that one product does way more than the distributors are even permitted to tell me thanks to regulations.  Also, there was only one minimum to keep my membership and maintain the 24% wholesale cost:  $50 a year on product.  Was it really that easy?  A no-risk MLM that’s not designed to gain money off me?  No closets filled with useless products I won’t use?  Just buying the products that I want for the health goals of me and my family?

After asking tons of questions (thanks, Jenni and Amy), I embarked on my new journey.  I did buy the 12 oil and diffuser starter kit (thanks to a special promotional oil).  As I obtained my oils and experienced the desired improvements, essential oils did become something to write home about.  What I didn’t know before meeting Young Living is that the essential oils I had been buying may not have been 100% unadulterated oil.  You see, the only requirement for a bottle to be labeled 100% Pure, Therapeutic Essential Oil is that the bottle must only contain at least 5% of the pure essential oil on the label.  That is a DEVASTATINGLY LOW level of quality.  Young Living does everything from planting the seeds to processing the oils so there are not various companies trying to profit off a bottle of oils which results in dilution and oils that have been processed from plants grown using toxic methods.  Young Living doesn’t use these toxic methods and guarantees a 100% pure and NONTOXIC oil.

I wish I could tell you all the success stories that I am having since I added essential oils to wp-1486002107617.jpgmy family’s wellness and weight loss goals.  I have taken pictures and utilized Fitbit to track these changes for myself.  The success I am having is not somatic… it’s real.  I have no shame in the fact that I have joined Young Living.  The ONLY product I have ever spent money on is products that I have wanted to try and I have experienced significant success with EVERY SINGLE ONE.  The only storage that I have built is the products that I don’t want to run out of because they have become vital to my everyday life.

But wait… I thought the title of this post was that I got scammed.  Well, you see, I did.  I was the indirect victim of two MLM schemes that were designed to make their money off their distributors without concern about their distributors being able to make any money or not.  What I am finding with Young Living is that I got scammed into believing that MLM companies are all scams designed to steal your money by the two schemes that my loved ones got involved with.

Today, I see multi-level marketing happening all around me.  Whether I am buying a product at a brick-and-mortar store or online, the amount of money I spend for that product has been increased in cost to help pay for everything that got that product to me: the creator, manufacturer, truck driver, owner of the store, the manager of the store, the lower level employees at the store, etc.  With Young Living, I get products I want and the profits go to pay for Jenni’s house payment and Amy’s car payment, etc., rather than some CEO’s vacation home or monthly vacation.

I’m not going to use this blog to try and sell you any oils, but I will be mentioning them from time to time because they are a part of my life and they are a HUGE part of my journey towards wellness as I have used oils to aide in everything from my sleep to my digestion.  Have any of you used essential oils as a part of your pursuit of living above the wellness line?    Let me know in the comments below.

Sign up now! 

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

  • To avoid an even more unhealthy relationship with the scale, I will only be doing weigh in information during my weekend blog post.  Thanks for understanding 🙂

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Failure… My Mental Journey Of Weight Loss

Failure is a familiar concept for most of us!  How many times have we made a commitment to ourselves only to find ourselves falling short of that commitment and feeling like a failure?  Come on, now, be honest with yourself.  January 1 just passed and the largest majority of us have already failed at something we committed to just mere weeks ago.

I’m no stranger to the crushing guilt of failure and I’ve shared that with you all previously on this blog.  Unlike last time, though, this time the failure is my own.  I fell short of my goals this week.  Sitting in this chair last Sunday, I made a commitment to add a Wednesday morning blog post and I missed it on my very first week!

When I was contemplating the creation of this blog, the one thing I read over and over again was the importance of consistency.  Every successful blogger stressed the importance of consistent posting and following through on commitments.  I’ve butchered that this week.  I could outline all the excuses that I have for why I missed my commitments, but I feel that it would be a waste of time and energy.

While I’m on this topic, I felt like it would be a great time to share how failure has impacted me.  Several months ago, I was in a therapy session with a teenage boy when I realized my words, while amazing, were kicking me right between the eyes.  In that moment, it literally dawned on me that my weight was nothing more than an externalization of the internal feelings I had about myself.  I hated myself.  I felt like a horrible failure.  I wasn’t good enough.  I wasn’t strong enough.  I wasn’t man enough.  As a result, I had punished myself and literally buried myself under 250 pounds of excess fat.  I had become the very physical representation of the thoughts I had about myself every day because I viewed myself as a failure at life.

It wasn’t until I faced that very difficult reality that I was empowered to begin the process of change.  You see, losing weight has been so much more of a mental journey than a physical journey.  Before I could truly be successful at losing weight, I had to be honest with myself about the problem and face the reality of the situation I had put myself into.  I had to drop the inner defenses I had built to protect my ego from the crushing reality that I weighed 450 pounds.  It was only after I had this moment of self-awareness that I was able to fully grasp the problem and begin the process of planning and pursuing change.

How many times do we deal with our uncomfortable feelings through an unhealthy outlet?  For me, the weight problem was the culmination of multiple issues:  eating to improve my mood, using my weight to hide from others and attempt to hide from uncomfortable life experiences, and the externalization of nasty and hateful opinions I held about myself.  Despite having a life filled with success, I had a failure identity forged out of my failure to properly acknowledge my successes and an unhealthy commitment to cling to the life events where I had missed success.

Taking on the goal of losing 250 pounds of excess body fat takes a large degree of self-confidence and self-esteem.  Before I could be successful at that goal, I had to face down the issues that kept me mentally paralyzed and had created the issue in the first place.  With this round of weight loss, I originally committed to beginning the weight loss journey on January 1, 2016, but I didn’t actually start until September 11, 2016. Why?  Because it is impossible to find it in yourself to form and succeed at a goal like weight loss if you have no inner resolve or self-worth to enable such a journey.

It took that extra time for me to begin the journey of identifying and unpacking the life circumstances and thought patterns that had forged the failure identity that was keeping me buried.  This process took me from January to September to complete enough to be empowered to make this change, but I still have to fight this battle every single day.  Despite the fact that my wife and I are both mental health counselors, this change was not easy and it took a LONG TIME.  Unfortunately, this new way of thinking and living is NEW and UNCOMFORTABLE.  It fits like a glove that is too small and it doesn’t happen for me naturally.  I have to FORCE myself to live within my new life choices.

Therefore, despite my overwhelming failure with my goal on this blog, I experienced overwhelming success in the area that I put my attention and energy:  walking.  Last week, I was excited to announce that I had walked over 10 miles.  This week, my wife and I walked much further and even seen our best pace ever.  Thanks to another friend of mine, I had been challenged to work up to five miles in a single walk prior to February 1, 2017.  Yesterday, I met that goal when I walked five miles in a single walk and achieved my best pace to date:  19 mins, 43 seconds per mile.

So, as I sit here relaxing on this beautiful Sunday evening with Stress Away rolling out the top of my diffuser, I turn my eyes to another week without any unnecessary guilt or inner turmoil over the areas I fell short this week.  I call them unnecessary because they won’t fix the problem, but keeping those emotions around could definitely create a failure identity that keeps me trapped. Rather than allowing my human condition to create an atmosphere of failure and defeat, I am celebrating my successes and looking only to build upon them in the coming week.  I will reach my health goals and I will succeed at building a place here that inspires others to find their own path to wellness.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 364.8 pounds
  • Total loss  85.2 pounds (31.9% of my total excess body weight)

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Challenges

Greetings, readers, from the medium that I have come to think of as home.  Welcome to my comfort zone.  Regardless of my goal for openness and honesty, my blog has become my shelter where I can share openly from in a way that feels safe to me.  Just a little bit ago, however, I tried on a new platform as I was challenged to step outside of my comfort zone. Today, I embraced Facebook Live.  Yes, everyone, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I spent a few minutes giving some tips to a weight loss group I am in.  These tips were largely drawn from a post I shared earlier on this blog about preparing at the beginning of the week to enable a successful week of eating.  It was odd and uncomfortable, but I jumped in and gave it all I had.

This week has seemed to focus on one thing:  challenge.  Oddly enough, this challenge has all seemed to come from one source (ahem… AMY!!!!… ahem).  Despite my overwhelming success in the area of weight loss, Amy took it upon herself to encourage me to seriously make a full-hearted run at winning the weight wp-1485141516049.jpgloss competition that I have entered.  Unlike everyone else, I’m well into this process and I’m not getting those impressive first week numbers.  I’m losing at a steady pace and the introduction of the weight loss competition went almost unnoticed.  This also led to a rather passive participation in the competition.  Maybe I didn’t really believe I had a shot since I won’t be losing those big numbers.

However, Amy sent me a message and asked how she could encourage me to start doing exercise as a part of my weight loss.  She also did a live video demonstrating some exercises she is incorporating as a way for her to get moving and try and loose those pounds for the competition.  People… you never get to choose when inspiration strikes.  For me, when I saw Amy and her workout partner, Amanda, struggling with these exercises on LIVE VIDEO, I realized that 1)I’m not the only person that is out of shape and finds exercise exhausting, 2)they had the courage to do these exercises on LIVE VIDEO as a way of encouraging our team and 3)I had no more excuses to hide behind.

This week, Amy challenged me to step out of my comfort zone with weight loss.  I’d love to wp-1485141480076.pngtell you how miraculous the results are, but I haven’t dropped any impressive numbers.  I can, however, tell you the increased level of energy and the joy of accomplishment I have felt as I racked up  10.59 miles on the road this week.  To ensure that I continue to work at this goal, I have registered in my first 5k run.  It is in Springfield, MO, on April 22, 2017, and I would love for anyone to come out and join us!  Message me if you’d like to join our team!

It has been these challenges that have encouraged me to push further, press deeper, and work harder at the goals that I have had up to this point.  I want to loose this weight, but I also want to win this competition.  I may not get those big numbers that the newbies are seeing, but I have one thing they haven’t got:  four months of consistency.  This isn’t a crash diet or short-term commitment.  This is a real life change and I’ve settled into a stride that keeps me consistently losing weight at a very healthy pace.  This week, however, I found a way to increase my efforts as I seek to be the top male in my age group.  I want to win and I’m going to work for it.

Similarly, though, I have felt the need to increase my efforts with this blog, as well.  I want to reach out to those that want to lose weight and show almost every single one of them that there is someone who is worse off than them that is doing this successfully.  I want to be in contact with every person that is discouraged or passively dreaming that they didn’t have to struggle with the excess weight that impacts everything from their daily self-care rituals to their mobility or self-esteem.  I don’t think I can do that making one post a week.

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to do it, yet, but I am going to be increasing my efforts with this blog, too.  I started this to be a community of support for those that are wanting or striving to lose weight.  If I want that goal to be realized, I’m going to have to work at this goal more intentionally.  I am committing to adding one more blog post per week.  Up until now, I’ve posted mainly once per week on the weekend.  Now, however, I am going to post once on the weekend and once on Wednesday mornings.  I have several other ideas, but I’m not ready to commit to any of them just yet.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 369.6 pounds
  • Total loss  80.4 pounds (30.1% of my total excess body weight)

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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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