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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Pursuing Healthy Living

It happened this week… the magical Winter of Christmas came this week and my Christmas decorations missed it.  Oddly enough, most everyone’s Christmas decorations were already down by the time our snow hit. I shared with my wife as we drove through the nasty, white sludge the pain I felt of being robbed again as the “magic” was left as little more than an annoyance and an unpaid day off work.  I guess that’s just how life goes sometimes…

I’ve debated whether or not I wanted to use this forum to discuss another lifestyle change that we have made. Back in November, my wife and I added a perfect compliment to our new healthier eating patterns.  Until now, I have not shared that information here as it is not why this weight loss blog was originally created.  However, in the interest of transparency, I’ve decided it is necessary for me to discuss an upcoming decision I have made regarding my weight loss with you all.  To do so, I must talk with you about my decision to invest in essential oils for my family.

wp-1483903726304.jpgBack in November, I asked a group of friends if they would be willing to listen to a co-worker share her passion for essential oils.  My goal was simple:  be a supportive friend for someone I care for deeply.  Honestly, I sat through her sharing quite critically and spent the entire time looking online for information to debunk the things my co-worker was sharing with our group.  Sorry Jenni 😉

When she finished with her presentation, I made it quite clear I felt that the information she had shared was “bullshit,” but was grateful that she had take the time to share something she feels very strongly about with us.  As a result of my efforts in setting up the class, I won a sample… a sample of any oil I wanted.  Ever the open-minded researcher, there was one oil I wanted to try:  Panaway – an oil known for its soothing qualities on tired and sore muscles.

After the class, my wife and I went to Hobby Lobby and I decided to try my sample before we went in.  “Look honey, ” I said sarcastically, “I’m rubbing the magical oil on my ankle.” With that, we went into the store and began our shopping.  About 20 minutes later, I texted my co-worker from the store and said, “Oh my lord I think it really works.”  With that, I explained to her and my wife how, though I still felt the origin of the issue I used the oil for, I had experienced a warm, numbing effect that brought me significant relief.  My interest was peaked.  For the next week, I could hardly do anything but read about essential oils and listen testimonials online.  To make a long story short, my investigative process led me to find out that the oils I wanted to try were more expensive than the starting kit, so I just bought the kit.  wp-1483903777135.jpg

What has happened in the weeks since, has been nothing short of a miracle.  Both my wife and I have found natural relief from everyday struggles.  The major areas of improvement have been sleep quality, natural aides for managing headaches and sore muscles, and relief from allergy/cold symptoms without resorting to medicines.  However, my biggest testimony comes from the improvement of the skin on my right hand.  Since I was very young, I have had a special type of eczema that I could not control or eliminate despite using every lotion, soap, and even through use of steroid creams from my doctors.  With my essential oils kit, this condition has become a memory  (only six days after I received the products I used on it).

So, why am I telling you all this on my weight loss blog?  Well, I’ve made a decision.  Young Living is starting a two-part weight loss challenge tomorrow which will run in two 60 day phases.  I have decided to enter this competition.  Why?  Well, the prizes are amazing and it could result in me getting my hands on more oils and even some cash.

This will not altar anything else that I am or have been doing in my life.  However, I will be taking a product that they offer and, thanks to the last four months of my life, I will be able to tell if this makes any change to my current weight loss or not.  If anyone wants to know more about the product that I am taking, you can email me and I’ll tell you individually.  However, I’m not advertising, nor do I get any money from using this product.  My ONLY reason for using the product and entering the competition is the chance to get those prizes… PARTICULARLY the oils because they have made such a difference in my life.

I know this may sit badly with some of you that are reading my blog, but I hope you can respect my decision to make choices as I see fit for my life.  This blog will not become about the challenge, but it will include my experiences and my progress.  Otherwise, you can expect the same great (haha) content that you’ve always encountered here.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 376 pounds
  • Total loss:  74 pounds (27.7% of my total excess body weight)

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Where Are You Christmas?

wp-1483407716012.jpgGreetings from a depressingly normal Southwest Missouri.  It didn’t feel much like Christmas this year as all my favorite Christmas traditions got thrown out the window and the weather only rarely dropped lower than 50 degrees.  I miss the snow. I miss the kids outside playing.  I miss the mental sleigh ride I take across the gloriously white countryside with my wife and a cup of hot cocoa.  I miss the magical WINTER of Christmas… but Christmas is over and I just feel robbed.

Speaking of being robbed, I was awoken this morning by the sound of chainsaws outside my window.  Might I highlight that this was just as disturbing to me as it sounds?!  Nobody called to tell me the landlord had paid people to come cut down some overgrowth and an unruly tree.  A very special thanks, though, to those wonderful tree trimmers again for their hasty job of taking down my beloved Christmas decorations.  My Christmas decorations were around the tree and, as such, had to be removed. Now, my desperate attempts to cling to my favorite season have been halted and the timeframe of socially acceptable Christmas decorations forced the decision to just pack them all away until next year.  The hope for the magic of Christmas is now packed away in too many storage totes patiently waiting until next Christmas when they will finally be reclaimed from those dark storage containers.  I feel robbed… again.

If I would have known then what I know now, I would be incredibly satisfied with the food choices that I made over the holidays.  Thanks to my loving wife, we preserved the major culinary traditions of our Christmas holiday and I enjoyed way too many Peanut Butter Balls and a couple helpings biscuits and gravy.  Before the parties started, my wife and I talked about how to deal with having so many celebrations over the course of so many weeks.  Together, we decided that calories would not be counted anytime we were at a holiday celebration.  Additionally, we didn’t track calories on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  These same rules applied to New Year’s Eve.  With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and more than 6 holiday parties, we had over 15 calories-not-being-tracked meals in two weeks.

wp-1483407773113.jpgAlso, during the holidays, I didn’t do a lot of other things, either.  I didn’t blog and I didn’t weigh. Blogging has been a hobby for me.  This is a place where I share my journey and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop the holiday train to spend the few hours it takes to type out a blog post.  This is starting to sound like we committed lifestyle change homicide, but we didn’t.  Thanks to the power of making informed choices even in settings where we weren’t tracking calories, both of us CONTINUED TO LOOSE WEIGHT.

Though somewhat slower than it has been, I lost my 70th pound and we are solidly back into the routine of our normal lifestyle choices as the remnants of Christmas have all gone away.  By applying the principals I shared in We Are Getting Rid of Cheat Meals Forever, my wife and I survived the holidays without unnecessary shame, guilt, gaining weight, or being the downers at parties that explain to everyone their inability to eat “that kinda stuff.”  Life is too short to get bogged down in the relentless pursuit of a goal in such a way that it steals away the simple joys of the holidays or a rare moment shared with several friends.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 378.8 pounds
  • Total loss:  71.2 pounds (26.6% of my total excess body weight)

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Maintaining the Lifestyle

I’m not the biggest fan of Ole’ Man Winter!  The sun has gone into hiding and the beauty of the Ozarks has faded into death. The foliage that makes our landscape so beautiful has died and the bitter cold of Winter reminds us how fragile our bodies truly are.  My body struggles through the cold death of Winter.  The warmth and rejuvenating  power of the sun is such a powerful force in my life. When Winter comes, the sun retreats and bleak, gray days lead to the wintertime blues.  Thank God for the next couple weeks of Christmas lights.  These cheery bulbs of color always seem to delay the full impact of Winter from hitting until after they have been stored away for another year.  However, the dead trees and cloudy days serve as warning signs along the road as we head quickly towards January

It’s funny that this time of the year is concurrent with the 90 day mark in our weight loss journey.  The past 90 days have been filled with excitement as each pound disappeared and the onslaught of compliments made it exciting to go out in public. During the first month or so, I could post progress photos on Facebook and be met with an overwhelming response of support.  Now, it seems, that this support has changed or evolved in some way.  The annoucement of another 10 pounds lost or a picture of the latest clothing size change seems to have become the normal and the response, though positive, is less dramatic than it was in those first few days.  Yes, my world is changing everyday and the excitment of those changes is still very real and raw for me, but maybe others have other things that take their attention.  This is not to sound like I feel like I’ve been abandoned.  No, I know everyone is still out there.  However, the weight loss is no longer shocking and the new lifestyles is more of a normal or expected thing.

Have you seen the movie, Elf?  I know… Will Farrell… however, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to draw on that movie to represent how I feel.  The big point of conflict in the movie is that Santa becomes unable to fly his sleigh as the belief (support) of people lowered too far and there wasn’t enough Christmas Spirit to fly his sleigh. Likewise, for me, as the unexpected becomes the norm and we continue to hold true to our lifestyle change, the expressions of support have significantly decreased and the level of temptation has increased.

I didn’t start this journey for attention, but I’m finding this train moved fantastically well off the steam produced by the support I was getting, but now it seems that I am having to supplement that support with my own willpower and determination.  I’ve had several days this past two weeks in which broccoli didn’t sound appetizing and the temptation to pick up something on the way home was almost too strong to resist.  I think this is called:  The Maintenance Phase.

Maintenance is “the act of maintaining.”  Wait!  I thought we couldn’t use the root word to define a word?  Well, “maintain” is defined as preserving from failure or decline.*  Yep, that sounds about right!  My wife and I are officially in the maintenance phase of this race.  The overwhelming cheers of supporters may be behind us now, but the time has come for us to find our pace and ride this out if we want to be successful in this endeavor.  If we don’t, we’re not going to reach the finish line.

I’ve had a few of you request that I talk about avoiding temptation.  I still have temptation and I still give in.  However, my allowances are very planned and controlled.  Initially, this was done through the use of a cheat meal.  Throughout the week, my wife and I would talk about and plan what we would like to include in our cheat meal.  Now, we have learned a variety of methods that allow us to stay within our calorie expectations, but color outside the lines with moderation.  This makes the act of healthy eating a choice rather than a punishment or restriction.

Lastly, making this change has followed a line of thinking that got me to quit smoking.  One day, while enjoying a smoke, I wondered to myself if I would purchase 20 small vials of poison from gas station solely because they would temporarily make me feel emotional pleasure and taste good despite the fact that they would kill me.  The answer was simple.  Similarly, with food, would I pay $2.00 to a vendor at the market for something that looked like food and tasted like food or would I pay $3.00 to a vendor at the market for actual, real food?  Eating what I eat has become a pursuit of health by way of eating real foods that I know my body can use and process.  Nowadays, those unhealthy foods feel a lot like those vials of poison.  They may taste good, but too much of that stuff is gonna kill you.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 387.4 pounds
  • Total loss:  62.6 pounds (23.4% of my total excess body weight)

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*”Maintain.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

 

We Have Our Winner!

First, I want to offer a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that participated in my first giveaway.  Thanks to The Butter Bay, my wife and I found a way to get rid of unhealthy margarine and continue our life change of consuming real foods.  Also, I want to thank Jerry Scarrow and his team over at The Butter Bay for your many words of encouragement and your support of this endeavor!

Well, the end is finally here and the random number generator has spit out a name.  JENNI SCHMIDT, you are our lucky winner!

Again, thank you EVERYONE for your participation and support!

It’s Giveaway Time!!!

This contest has ended!  Thanks to everyone that entered!

Did you know that one of the most important things you can do in a journey to healthier living is eat REAL food?  During the first few weeks of our journey, my wife and I were forced to face the negative health consequences of consuming margarine (Thanks Liz!).  We, like everyone else, had turned to using margarine years ago due to the convenience and healthier looking label on margarine.  However, margarine is a man-made fat that our bodies were not designed to process.  In looking to rid our lives of this unhealthy fat, I turned to researching online for tools to help me have a regular supply of softened, real butter.  That’s when I discovered The Butter Bay!

Thanks to the generosity of Jerry Scarrow, the inventor of the Butter Bay, and his team over at Butter Bay, I am giving away ONE blue ceramic Butter Bay!!!  Never heard of one?  Take a moment to watch this video and you will see why this thing is now an important part of our day!

This video and MORE INFORMATION about the Butter Bay can be found here.

So, how do you enter?  Go to my Facebook page, like the contest post and comment what kind of content you would like to see coming from 250pounds2forever.com.  My goal here has always been to try and encourage people to live healthy lives and reach their weight loss goals!  To do that most effectively, I need feedback from you guys about what content I can be putting out there that would be most effective in helping you!

Giveaway Terms
Terms & Conditions

  • This giveaway will run from December 2, 2016 until 9:00 p.m. CST Friday, December 9, 2016.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter the giveaway
  • No alternatives are offered and the product/service can not be exchanged for cash
  • The number of winners is outlined on each giveaway and only this number will be selected
  • The winner will be drawn randomly by number generator
  • Odds of winning are based on the number of entries
  • The closing date is outlined on the individual giveaway
  • Only one entry is allowed per person
  • Anyone 18 or over from the continental United States may enter. Shipping will be covered.
  • This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, or endorsed by Facebook.
  • By entering this contest, you are giving Facebook a complete release for any connection with or obligation to fulfill the giveaway offered through this contest.
  • If you win you will be contacted via social media. We will contact the winner within 5 days of the closing date of the giveaway. You will have 15 days to respond. If we do not hear from you within that time then another winner will be randomly drawn.

Good Luck!