Transitions

Greetings everyone!  The weather can’t seem to make up its mind here in the beautiful Ozarks!  We have had warm days, storms, snow, tornados, and extremely cold days!  Mother Nature is in turmoil and she is taking out her moodiness on the Ozarks.  Each new day seems to be directly connected to her every whim as her bipolar mood swings rock on a pendulum with no predictable or sustainable pattern.

Friday was the final day of Phase One of the Slique in 60 challenge.  There has been no leader board, so I have no idea where I fell in the rankings yet.  It is my hope that they will announce the winners soon!  However, for now, I will share my results:wp-1489638341173.png

Weight:  378.8 – 348.6
Waist:  67.5 – 62
Chest:  55 – 52
Hips:  58 – 56
Right quad:  36 – 34
Left quad:  35 – 33
Right calf:  22 – 22
Left calf:  21.5 – 21
Right bicep:  21 – 19
Left bicep:  20 – 18.5

There will be 12 winners in Phase 1.  These 12 winners will be the top 2 people from each division with the largest total body transformations based on both pounds and inches lost.  There are 6 different divisions based on gender and age (Women 18-35, Women wp-1489638321645.jpg36-50, Women 50+, Men 18-35, Men 36-50, and Men 50+).  I fall into the first age bracket for men:  18-35.  Winners of Phase 1 will receive a $200 Young Living product credit, a Select 30 Oil Collection, and an Apple Watch 2.  All in total, these prizes carry an approximate retail value of about $1000!  For me, the $500 set of oils and the $200 product credit are the most exciting!

Monday started Phase 2 of the weight loss competition and it will all end on May 11, 2017.  This phase of the competition is the big one for me as they are only giving awards to the very top total body transformation for each of the six divisions.  The top overall winners from their division will be awarded:  an Apple Watch 2, a Premier Aroma Collection, and $3,000!   The grand prizes come to an approximate retail value of $6030.84.wp-1489638325868.jpg

As you can see, the stakes are higher and I have a lot of incentive to kill this fat as fast as possible over the next two months!  During the first phase of the competition, I walked 3-5 miles every day as I worked to shed these excess pounds.  For this phase, I have joined a local gym and have added the elliptical and lifting weights to my arsenal of tools to help me win that $3000 and the $2000 set of oils!

Before I end today, I wanted to switch gears and share that this last few weeks have been completely chaotic.  However, over the past few days, wp-1489638486793.pngmy wife and I got thrown a curve ball we couldn’t have seen coming.  On Sunday night, our dog began to cry as we attempted to go to bed.  My wife stayed awake with him all night Sunday night, but things only continued to get worse over Monday and Tuesday. It became painfully obvious that our beloved dog, Magnum, was preparing to make his exit from this world.

It was with overwhelming sadness that I shared on Facebook this morning that Magnum died during the night.  My wife shared that Magnum clung to her side as he came closer and closer to taking his final breath.  Having no kids, Magnum has been our shared responsibility over the past five years and his passing has been surprisingly difficult as we experience a complex mixing of conflicting emotions with his passing.  We appreciate all of our friends, family, and readers that took the time to grieve with us in our loss.  He was the meanest, cute dog you will ever meet, but he loved his family and friends.  Who knew a dog could impact your daily life so much?

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

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Destroying the Root of my Weight Problem

It’s been a difficult, but illuminating, week for me.  I began to lose the faith.  As I wp-1487178569811.pngcelebrated my 100th pound gone, I was overtaken by an overwhelming feeling of depression.  If you have been following me, I experienced a similar depression after the loss of my 75th pound.  Back then, I concluded that I was experiencing discouragement due to the fact that the man in the mirror looked the same.  Unless I utilized before and after pictures, I was unable to see the results of losing 75 pounds.  While I believe that was somewhat accurate for my point in the journey, I believe that I missed a much larger issue and I was faced to confront it this week.

Way too many non-tracked meals were consumed this week and I found myself fully smoking again as I trudged deeper and deeper into the darkness of depression.  While I should be experiencing joy and celebration, I was feeling isolated and alone.  Failure overshadowed the very tangible experience of success that I was having.  Unfortunately, for the first part of the week, I didn’t even question it.  I just went along with the FEELINGS that were clouding my mind.

It wasn’t until I had a few walks alone that I began to do some serious reflection and begin to ask the MOST IMPORTANT question:  WHY?  Why am I feeling this way in the face of such incredible success?   I wish I could say that this time of much-needed reflection was triggered by knowledge and education of psychology, but I can’t.  My saving grace came to me through a song:  You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music.  I had heard the song before, but never really HEARD the song until the lyrics penetrated my spirit and the fact that I was identifying with the song made me listen to it on repeat for the rest of my walk.

It was on the second day of walking to this song that I began to ask what parts of the song struck me so strongly and why the song was speaking to me so powerfully.  The first part that stuck out was the chorus:

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us

The other part of the song that was speaking strongly to me came later in the song:

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made

So, why?  Why were these lyrics striking a chord with me so strongly?  I FEEL UNLOVEABLE!  I FEEL UNWORTHY!   Wait… I thought I conquered these demons when I began this journey!  I thought that my overcoming these demons was the very thing that had empowered my success?!  So why in the world am I relating to these lyrics now after I have made SO MUCH PROGRESS?!

It was then that I began to realize that I, despite my training, silently thought that I would begin to experience a renewed mindset… a new self-esteem… a new view of myself… if I were to lose the weight and become the type of person that I have always wanted to be.  I would become NORMAL!  These subconscious thoughts were based on an idea that my weight causes my mental issues and that getting rid of the weight would cause some sort of revolution in my mind and I would be a happier person with a totally different mindset.

With each passing goal, with each passing day, I am physically becoming the man that I want to be.  I see me growing and changing and have NO REASON to not believe that this change will only continue.  However, my mental me… the REAL me… is the same.  Unchanged.

I’ve known for several days I would HAVE to post about this because I KNOW there will be others that must hear this:  LOSING WEIGHT WON’T MAKE US HAPPIER.  LOSING WEIGHT WILL NOT SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS.  If I continued to allow this subconscious expectation to persist, the discouragement would lead to the unraveling of everything else as I would be forced to resign myself to the fact that I am somehow CURSED and nothing I do will change that.

But NOTHING could be further from the truth!

 I have said on here over and over again that the MENTAL journey of weight loss has been wp-1488825772117.pngthe most difficult part of this change.  I feel myself growing and I feel myself changing… I’ve even posted about it.  If I my mind were an overgrown plot of land, I have been hacking away at overgrowth and vines for months.  There’s no way that my mindset has remained unchanged.  However, this week, I found a ROOT by finding that subconscious expectation.  Now, I have to deal with that root.  When the root is gone, the plant is gone.  If the root were to remain, the full plant could come back in time.

In my work, I often work with juveniles that have sexually offended.  I ALWAYS have to teach them that treatment is NOT a process that makes the temptation or thoughts go away.  Treatment is learning how to control thoughts and behaviors and LIVE the life they need to live ON PURPOSE.  By living a life of control, they can become people of integrity and character rather than allowing themselves to become a sexual predator.  It is their choices and behaviors that define them… not the poison that was introduced to their lives through past experiences that introduced the sexual crap to their lives that now strongly impacts their thoughts and behaviors.

Now, I am having to learn that, too.  By learning to control my thoughts and my behaviors, I am choosing to live a life that is DIFFERENT from the person that I have always thought myself to be!  This process is NOT A CURE!  I cannot be CURED from being me!

Even as I write this, I feel as if I am revisiting a topic that I have already discussed so many times.  However, I hope this serves to show others that THIS IS A PROCESS!  We become who we are over time.  Throughout the years, we forge our identities and the ways that we view ourselves.  It takes TIME and HARD WORK for those identities to change, but the physical state of our bodies are but a symptom of the mental issues that exist; not a cause.  As we move through this process, we MUST address the mental issues that have existed and allowed for the symptom of our weight to get so far out of control.  It is IMPERATIVE that we not confuse the process.

Does this fix it?  Am I back on solid ground?  Not entirely.  There have been, and may always be, times that I am unable to see the truth through the cloudiness and fog of my imperfect brain.  However, I have reached out to my spouse and a few select friends.  These people are my Truth Keepers.  During times where I can’t see the truth through my fog, wp-1488825906318.pngthey are the ones that light the way back to truth and keep it safe during those times that I forget it.  It will take time and persistence before the lies that plagued my reality have less control in my mind.  Until now, my mind has been their kingdom… their breeding ground.  It has been in my mind that these lies have bred themselves and taken such a stronghold that they crippled my life and pushed me to the edge of disability.  Today, I am purposefully embracing the journey of taking control back from these lies.  This won’t be an easy process, but We CAN do this!  We CAN win!  We CAN live our lives on purpose!

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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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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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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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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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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