Disillusionment – A Goal Killer

Greetings from beautiful Southern Missouri where Ol’ Man Winter has decided to finally make his grand appearance.  This year, Mr. Winter chose to use a “fashionably late” approach, but it seemed to get everyone’s attention as we are now at the end of November and that bitter chill has finally made its way into those breezy gusts of winter wind.  Only a few young2016-11-18-22.01.37.jpg.jpger members of our society are stepping outside the house while wearing shorts or missing a jacket.

This year, that wind seems to carry an extra bite as I’ve so quickly begun to shed that extra layer of defense that I have been carrying for so many years.  It’s such an amazing feeling to know my body has changed so much since Septemeber  that it is now having to learn how to handle familiar situations in new ways.  It’s mind-boggling how quickly our bodies can begin to heal when we stop inflicting damage upon them and focus on living healthy lives.  So, as I snuggle up in my winter sweater and hide from the bitter chill by staying inside with my beautiful Christmas decorations this evening, I’d like to talk about an epiphany I had this Thanksgiving:  you can’t make anyone want or desire change.  Period.

Over the past two and a half months, I have been documenting my story with the hopes of showing others in my situation that it doesn’t take a miracle to change one’s life.  Far too many times, I have been sitting on the couch watching the story of someone that lost huge amounts of weight, felt momentary inspiration, and picked up my next slice of pizza and washed it down with a smooth Bud Light.  They put forth so much fanfare and jubilation that it’s inspiring to see someone that has worked so hard being rewarded with the positive attention and gifts.   But why didn’t that inspiration lead to change?

Seeing a moving story and the possibility of achieving a goal I’ve always had, but never really pursued, was inspiring. For me, though, I couldn’t feel more than a few moments of inspiration because I felt like that person had miraculously found a way to do something I COULD NEVER DO!  My goal with documenting my journey was so that people could see that no miracle takes away 250 pounds… making better choices does.

So many people have visited with me and asked me questions about what I am doing.  Throughout the entirety of my journey, though, those that are looking for change are inevitably DISAPPOINTED when I offer that I have gotten rid of processed foods, eat more vegetables, and track my macros.  It’s like they are secretly hoping I’ve found some new, cheap wonder-drug that will help them lose the weight without actually trying or working to reach their goal.  The disappointment leads to different choices: criticize my strategy, compliment and offer suggestions for improvement on my strategy, simply admit the disappointment, offer reasons why they couldn’t duplicate my behaviors, minimize their choices by focusing on one or two healthy choices that they make… Get the picture?

People HATE change and do everything they can to remain in a place that they feel comfortable with their current situations.  No matter how obviously negative the situation or how devastating the doctor’s warning was, people actively resist making any choice that is uncomfortable.  Denial is a blanket that makes us feel comfortable and gives us a false sense of belief that we really aren’t “that bad”  and helps us to silence that small voice inside that is screaming for something different.

So, isn’t my goal for this blog a pointless one?  Considering the above information, I have to admit that it could definitely appear that way.  However, what if someattach21604_20161124_082802.jpgone has already decided to change and find me while they are actively pursuing or preparing for change?  Could I inspire them or offer those people tips for success?  That’s a big HELL yes.

With that knowledge, I’ll continue my approach with a slightly improved vision for this blog and the goals I have for writing it. I can be an inspiration, but I can’t force or create the desire for change.  That’s a personal process for everyone… just like it was for me.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 397.2 pounds
  • Total loss:  52.8 pounds (19.7% of my total excess body weight)

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Celebrating Milestones!

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This morning, I finally left the 400-pound mark behind.  Thanks for helping me celebrate, MyFitnessPal!

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 398.8 pounds
  • Total loss:  51.2 pounds (19.4% of my total excess body weight)

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Why We Are Getting Rid of “Cheat Meals” Forever

On September 11, 2016, my wife and I started a journey.  We didn’t know at the time that this journey was going to turn our entire world upside down.  At first, we had no idea what we were doing. We had set a date to start with the expectation to make a plan before it arrived, but I put off planning until it was grocery day.  We took a few minutes to look up some recipes, got a few ideas for stuff to buy ,and then we headed to the grocery store.

Part of our plan quickly became the inclusion of a cheat meal.  The rules for the cheat meal 2016-11-19-10.56.26.jpg.jpgwere simple:  calories don’t matter with the expectation that we don’t go completely crazy.  As we reached our first cheat meal, though, we felt guilty and stayed within our calorie limit for the day.  It wasn’t until several weeks into our change that we finally let loose and had a funnel cake when we went to a local haunted corn maze with friends.

The longer we are doing this, though, the more that the idea of a “cheat meal” bothers me.  With each passing week, this change becomes more and more integrated into our lives as a lifestyle choice rather than a diet or weight loss strategy.   Not just in theory, but in reality.  This is what makes the idea of a “cheat meal” or “cheat day” so unacceptable to us.  We’re not cheating on anything.  We’re just living our lives.

Think about it for a second.  To maintain the idea of a “cheat meal,” it means that we are cheating on something.  If we are implementing a lifestyle where healthy foods are the priority, why is it cheating when we exercise our ability to have something other than our typical food choices?  Rather than cheating, wouldn’t it be best to think of it as using our ability to make good, healthy choices?

Cheat meals aren’t all bad, though.  By only allowing ourselves one per week, we have been training our bodies that less healthy foods, though great tasting, are terrible choices if eating frequently.  Cheat meals have helped us to learn the art of eating less healthy foods in moderation. This process has been great for helping us to solidify our changes, learn how to establish boundaries, and maintain those boundaries.  However, that seems to be where the effectiveness of cheat meals starts to fade.

This past weekend, I fully enjoyed a wonderful cheat meal with my wife as we elected to have sushi.  With our best guestimates, we are both relatively sure that we took full advantage of our cheat meal.  Yet, on Saturday night, I elected to give myself another treat:  alcohol.  Yep, even though I had sushi on Friday night, I was extremely proud of 2016-11-13-18.02.58.jpg.jpgmyself for all of our accomplishments and I decided to have another treat.  So, I went to the local liquor store, bought a 2 oz bottle of Knob Creek, and a 20 oz diet coke.

Now wait…  Didn’t I promote that I gave up smoking, soda, alcohol, and bad foods in order to regain my health? When I started this journey, soda and sweet tea were the only fluids I ingested.  In regards to alcohol, while nowhere near being an alcoholic, I regularly enjoyed several glasses of whiskey over the course of a weekend.  Does having this treat make me a failure on these goals?  Do I have to start my count over?  Heck no!  I’m still doing fantastic!  For me, having this treat did not tempt me to go back to old patterns.  I simply exercised my choice to have these things in moderation in accordance with the standards of my new life:  less healthy foods only being eaten in light moderation.

I’m certainly not wanting to use this blog to tell anyone how to live his or her life .  If you enjoy the practice of a “cheat day,” I’m all for it.  As for my wife and I, though, we’re done feeling like we are cheating on a diet.  We are just living our life.  Does our lifestyle still have boundaries?  Does our lifestyle still have caloric expectations?  You betcha!  But we’re not cheating when we have our weekly date night meal together or springing for that special adult drink.  We’re just living our life.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 401.4 pounds
  • Total loss:  48.6 pounds (18.2% of my total excess body weight)

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The True Undoing to Change

It was bound to happen and it finally did.  After doing so well over the past several weeks, one of us finally cracked and splurged on the chocolate.  I was standing at work talking to our wonderful support staff when my wife texted me with a confession:  “I messed up… I had candy… sorry for slipping.”  My first feeling was my heart cracking as I realized my wife must be hating herself for breaking such a wonderful track record.  I quickly responded, “I love you so much.”  Then I added, “You don’t need to confess, but I’m glad you are holding yourself accountable.”  Turns out, she had been comparing our weigh ins and was feeling extremely disappointed and vulnerable.  Then, later in the day, our good buddy Chocolate started whispering out his usual promises of comfort.  Who wouldn’t be tempted to say, “Screw it,” and give in?

If you’re one of the lucky ones that have never struggled with your weight, you may not understand.  The rest of us know, however, that the process of making life changes is so difficult that the changes are often abandoned quickly enough that the phrase, “It’s not a diet. It’s a life change,” has almost become a tired cliché… even to us!  Ever heard someone make that statement and you silently groan and wonder how long it will last this time?   Yet, that is what this entire process has been:  a life change (more like EXTREME LIFE MAKEOVER).  It has been 11 weeks since I quit smoking, 9 weeks since have had soda (or any liquid calorie other than milk), 9 weeks since I had a taste of whiskey (I know – liquid calories, but I’m proud), and 9 weeks of eating fresh foods at home.  In those 9 weeks, I’m proud to announce that we have lost a combined total of 73.4 pounds!!!

But why  has the idea of a life change become such an irritating phrase to hear?  After years of diets and exercises that only worked temporarily, I can tell you that CHANGE is hard… VERY HARD.  More than once already I have been tempted to take a quick drive thru on the way home as both of us were getting home late from work and the idea of cooking/cleaning left a sour taste in my mouth.  It’s no wonder that over 95% of people that attempt this journey have failed!

Moments of weakness can become patterns of behavior if we allow ourselves to give in and, FAR WORSE, allow guilt to keep up trapped in a negative cycle.  When my wife texted me, I sensed that she was teattach20043_20161107_202351-2.pngrribly disappointed in herself.  When I shared I was writing this today, she expressed her irritation as the guilt of that moment still seems to be plaguing her.  Yet, when we got home that night, my wife’s moment of weakness was two fun size pieces of candy and she was still WITHIN her calorie limit for the day!  (Yes, she has reviewed the completed post and has given her blessing.)

As I think back to all the times I have tried to change my life or lose weight, I recall so many times that guilt and disappointment led to the unraveling of my progress.  Stress, anxiety, disappointment, anger, guilt, hunger., etc., all present so many attractive doorways to temptation and it is SO hard not to take one when you feel like all your efforts are literally doing no good. Then, we are left feeling worthless and guilty as we revert from a victim of our circumstances to a failure for giving in.  The cycle is paralyzing and can easily send anyone back to the patterns they are trying to leave behind.

Let me tell you something, it is virtually impossible to wreck your entire process of change in one day.  Unless you allow your emotions to keep you stuck and your incident of failure becomes a pattern of failure, one terrible day will cause nothing more than a lightly felt bump in the road.  The best thing you can do when you give in is to accept it and move forward.  False guilt, shame, feelings of failure, etc., will only exacerbate the problem and set you back.  That’s the beauty of having a partner that is taking this journey with me.  Together, we were able to accept her “failure” and move on.  In our case, there was no damage, but there could have been if guilt and shame were allowed to take root and begin the unraveling of such a beautiful journey.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today: 404.6 pounds
  • Total loss:  45.4 pounds (17% of my total excess body weight)

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Healthy Eating on a Budget

20161023_105616.jpgWhen you think of healthier eating habits, what’s the next thought you have?  Do you think about losing weight?  Do you think about vegetables?  Do you think about starving yourself to death?  Our society has equated healthy eating habits with several of those things.  However, my first thought while I was in the contemplative stage of change was the cost.   Prior to starting this journey, my wife and I were already spending way too much on food.  The mere idea of increasing that bill was a very unwelcome idea.  Sound familiar?

Take a second and type “healthy eating cost” into a search engine.  No really, I’ll wait.  What were your results?  Did you find articles that would discourage change?  I did.  Once I set out to the grocery store to embark on my new journey to health, I was IMMEDIATELY questioning whether this would be something we could maintain after we got that first $300 bill.   That question got worse after we ended up needing to go grocery shopping only a week later.  I don’t consider myself to be poor, but I definitely can’t afford a $300/week grocery bill.

Today , I would love to share some tips I have learned to cut our bill down by over 71% from that first week – a cost even LOWER than our original unhealthy grocery bill!!!

  • Do some research.
    • Spend some time online collecting every recipe idea that you can find within your desired food or calorie limits. You may never make ANY of these recipes (we haven’t), but these will get you started in training your brain what foods to be looking for and how they cooperate with other foods.  From these recipes, you can also begin to build a list of basic, repeating foods that you can buy and use in multiple healthy food creations (ahem,… chicken… cough, cough).  This will help you to prioritize where to put your money for the most impact on your diet.
  • Visit alternative food stores.
    • Let’s face it!  We are creatures of habit.  My wife and I fell into the same ritual when it came to buying food.  New stores had moved in and old stores had renovated since we developed our routine.  Though we always planned to visit/compare, we never actually did that.  While we were going through our routine, a local Aldi store went through MAJOR renovations and had begun taking plastic forms of payment (a huge plus for us) and focusing on the healthy food market.  Who knew?  Probably millions, but the important thing was we didn’t.  Take the time to visit other places to obtain your food supply.  We have visited several grocers and even local farmer’s markets in an attempt to find the cheapest places to buy our food.
  • Think outside the box (well, my box…).
    • I have a very dear friend that saves about $30 a week on groceries by utilizing cheaper forms of protein than meat.  Meat tastes great and that is my preferred method of eating protein; however, there are many other sources of protein that you can build a meal around that are much cheaper.  Try using beans in your recipes or adding walnuts to a salad to get those healthy fats and proteins into your meals.  I am no longer buying fresh fruit to add to my plain, greek yogurt.  These days, I buy a package of freeze dried fruit that I can crush into a powder and use at my own pace rather than having a small window of freshness to consume them.
  • Buy in bulk/online.
    • As I was walking through Wal-Mart this weekend, I noticed that they are now carrying a brand of coconut oil that I purchased online.  The big difference?  I purchased a container that was at LEAST five times bigger for a few dollars more than the small container they were selling.  Sometimes those bulk prices can be scary, but making the initial sacrifice can lead to HUGE savings in the future.
  • Buy local.
    • Foods that are packaged, frozen, and transported long distances are often more pricey than foods that are grown, caught, and sold locally.  Spending time to find places that you can buy local berries, meat, and fish leads to foods that cost less and are frequently more fresh than the stuff you may find at the grocery store.  There are local farms around here that sell all kinds of produce at great prices while their crops are in season.  Take the time to stop and buy those great foods and freeze them to get you through those long and pricey seasons that these foods aren’t in season.
  • FORGET ORGANIC!
    • While there is a legitimate market out there that is trying to make food available that is grown in as natural methods as possible, there is also a market out there that is designed to take your money!  Educate yourself on what it means when a food is labeled organic and the potential dangers of “organic” processes before you make the decision to spend your money on a label.  My wife and I don’t make this an issue in our grocery shopping, but our decision may not be right for you.

When we started our journey, our first grocery bill was $300!  It was insane.  However, by learning these lessons, we have been able to drop our grocery bill to about $85 each week on average.  Our grocery bill is even cheaper than it was before we started this journey!   It is my hope that you can take our experiences and avoid those first few weeks of terrible grocery bills.  Remember, this is not a forced process.  Slow down, take a deep breath, and then invest the time to shop smartly (this will take time), but it gets easier.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today:  411 pounds
  • Total loss:  39 pounds (14.6% of my total excess body weight)

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Top 5 Pet Peeves With Skinny People

I’m an internet junkie.  I can get online and waste hours without even trying.  If I get on a good run with YouTube, you might as well send a search party; I’m gonna be there for awhile.  I can’t count the hours of sleep that I have given up because I read an interesting article and then got stuck in a loop of clicking on one of the intriguing attention-grabbers on the bottom of the page.  Surely I’m not the only person that has gotten led astray by an article that looked too good to resist.  It’s 2:30 a.m., but I MUST know the 34 uses for a toilet paper roll or the REAL reason that one of my favorite actors is unhireable by Hollywood.

Come on, you’ve been there!  Those things are DESIGNED to get our attention and they wouldn’t be returning to the model if it weren’t effective!  They know we get in moods where we can’t help but click those terribly disappointing, but awfully tempting advertisements.  Today, I’ve had one such article type revolving endlessly in my mind as I have pondered the things that all fat people hate that skinny friends and loved ones do.  While I could compose an entirely new article of the things I hate them to do while I’m trying to lose weight, these are going to be things that I experienced while fat and mostly uninterested in change.

  1. People insisting that I am not fat.
    • Ever been in a situation in which a fat person says something like, “My God, I’m fat!”  Was your first reaction to comfort them?  Did you offer a supportive statement like, “Stop that!  You’re not fat.  You’re beautiful!”  Seriously, folks, if you tell a man that weighs 450 pounds that he isn’t fat, you are a part of the problem.  I may be the best lookin’ fat guy I’ve ever seen, but living in denial of the gravity of my situation was a VERY REAL part of my problem.  When I did have moments of clarity, often after seeing a full-body picture of myself, the last thing I needed was for someone to comfort me and contradict the truth to which I had just been exposed.  Being so freaking fat means I often avoided full body mirrors and I was completely content with my natural upper body hotness being displayed in the mirror and allowing the rest of my body to be filled in by my creative, and much more pleasant, imagination.  Can we all admit that, if the camera does add 10 pounds, it’s literally unnoticeable on a person of my size?  I was appalled because I was being forced to see the real me rather than the mental image I create every time I look in the mirror.
  2. Listening to a person of relatively typical height/weight complain about their weight or make statements that they are becoming fat.
    • Being 450 pounds, it’s not very often that I am in a room with many, if any, people my size or larger.  Yet, I can recall countless times that I would be in a room with people that I would LOVE to look like and hear them make statements about how they are getting fat or need to lose weight.  Can I share some perspective with you?  When I’m standing next to you and you are in a weight class that I haven’t experienced since 2nd grade, you make me feel absolutely worthless.  Not only are you calling a size much smaller than mine “fat,” but you are literally comparing your five extra pounds (or bloating) with my extra 250!  The old saying that nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission is garbage.  Nobody ever asks me before they make a few extra pounds seem like the worst possible consequence they could experience while I’m carrying so many right next to them.
  3. People assume that, because I’m fat, I know nothing about healthy living and feel entitled to inform me when I’m making good choices.
    • Thanks Coach!  I’m not sure why you feel like I am completely unaware of any type of nutritional information, but I KNOW it’s a good choice.  That’s why I made it!  Your approval doesn’t do anything more than make me think you see me as a third grader that needs you to teach me important lessons for survival.  Unless I have given you that role in my life, I’m really not looking for your approval.  I got this and I know it.
  4. People assuming that I love desserts because I am fat.
    • I love when I’m offered pie, cake, or your Grandma’s fresh cookies.  By love, I mean absolutely loathe.  Sweets are NOT my major temptation.  You offer me cake and ice cream, I’m going to decline 90% of the time.  When I do, though, someone ALWAYS has to do a double-take and ask, “Really?” Yes, really.  Despite your obvious shock and disbelief, I enjoy sweets occasionally, but my belly was not created by my inability to keep them in their proper place.  My unhealthy habits had very LITTLE to do with sugar until you get to the realm of soda and sweet tea.
  5. Someone telling stories about how they used to be “huge.”
    • If you’ve read the rest of this post, you probably have a good idea where this is going.  Hearing someone talk about how they used to be a “fatty” or they “used to be huge” has the power to make me feel worse than many of the interactions that I attempt to avoid in public.  Why?  Because you are putting down the old version of yourself that was much smaller than me.  If you have that opinion of your old self because you were so large, my natural line of thinking then begs the question:  “How do you really feel about me if you hated yourself so much for being overweight?”  Nothing makes me feel more unloveable than someone demonstrating with one sentence that they completely disliked an individual (themselves) for carrying significantly less weight than I’m currently packing.
  6. BONUS (from my wife):  People asking if I’m pregnant.
    • While taking our morning walk, my wife excitedly exclaimed that I should add this to my post before I published it today.  My first thought was she should share this part with you as I’m sure my female readers would totally connect with what she has to say.  However, she declined.  So, I’ll put this out there the best I can from what she shared with me.
    • Having someone… anyone… ask if you are pregnant is ALWAYS a horrific experience.  Whether asked by friends or strangers, being asked this question always carries the implication that the asker is looking for an “acceptable” reason that the other person is so fat or is eating more than deemed appropriate. Not only does this potentially touch on issues if the person is or has been trying to get pregnant, but it makes the person feel as though they are worthless for carrying so much weight if not justified by the process of creating another human being.

Listen.  Opinions are opinions and you may not like mine.  I’ll just go ahead and say that any negative comments won’t be approved.  I’m not here to start an argument, but this is my page and I’m allowed to express myself freely and that’s what I’m doing.  I love my family and friends.  They have all made statements like this and that’s okay.  I STILL LOVE THEM.  You see, I’m a human and I make mistakes every day, too.  Maybe this will just let you wear my shoes for a moment and consider how you might feel in my position.

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

  • September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
  • Today:  413.6 pounds
  • Total loss:  36.4 pounds (13.6% of my total excess body weight)

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