“Allow People to be Wrong About You.”

Hello friends!  If you have been keeping up with my blog posts, you may be a little confused why my weight loss blog has taken a dramatic turn in a different direction.  I have had some major insights into myself lately.  When I was focused on my ability to control my decisions and use those decisions to change my life, I was finding extreme success with my weight loss goals.  Unfortunately, as I began to focus on the number of pounds lost and winning the weight loss competition, I began to stumble on my journey and some of my negative thinking cycles began sneaking back into my life.

That’s when I asked myself whether I created this site to brag about my success or tell you how I’m doing it.  With this new strength, gained through insight, I decided that my blog needs to ditch the weekly weigh in and take its focus in a different direction.  I could give you recipes and weekly menus, but those things are literally splashed on every corner of the internet. What isn’t as focused on?  HEALING THE MINDSET THAT ALLOWS FOR THE WEIGHT LOSS PROBLEM TO EXIST!  How many times have I said that the hardest part of my journey has been the mental one?  So, why am I not focusing on what’s changing THE MOST?!

Changing My Mindset

My last post focused on the damage of being a people pleaser, but I want this post to take it a step further.  We say we are a people pleaser because it sounds like we are a selfless, giving person, but it really means that we are liars that are constantly failing to please everyone and our relationships and mental health are suffering for it.  Today, I want to introduce you to a new, revolutionary figure in my life:  Brooke Castillo.

Remember when I mentioned my life coach buddy a few weeks ago?  He introduced me to Brooke.  He asked me to listen to her podcast episode on self-confidence.  I was immediately hooked.  Brooke spoke on a concept that I have known, but never fully understood quite so clearly.  Seriously, I have been needing to hear this all my life:  “Allow people to be wrong about you.”

Brooke shared that we often times allow the perceptions of others to define us and we are constantly doing everything we can to make people see us in the best possible light.  In my case, this became the unhealthy habit of people pleasing.  By always trying to please others, I was neglecting and abusing myself.  I would put other people’s thoughts, opinions, feelings, and desires above my own.  In doing so, I was constantly reinforcing the highly damaging thought that others are better than me and my identity ONLY comes from their thoughts and opinions about me.

I have done soooo many things all in an effort to ensure people like me.  At best, I would allow others to make my choices for me.  At the worst, I let a former “best friend” constantly berate me while always making him one of my top priorities.  In working so hard to make others like me, I created an environment that reinforced my negative thinking patterns and made me into a person that I really didn’t like myself very much.

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So, what does this have to do with allowing people to be wrong about you?  Well, in ending my people pleasing ways, I have had to accept the truth that I can’t make anyone like me, but I’ve also accepted the truth that who I am is not defined by what others think of me.  As I discussed in my last post, I’m learning to live honestly.  Now, when I am tempted to give an excuse or tell a lie in an effort to control how another person views me, I give my honest answer without excuse, explanation, or lie.  If their resulting opinion of me changes to the negative, I have to allow them to be wrong about me.

Last week, I gave a hypothetical situation:  You get asked by your best friend if you want to help her daughter’s girl scout troop sell cookies outside of Wal-Mart on the first pretty Saturday your area has had in weeks. You had planned to spend the day with your hammock and a good book because your kids are spending the day at a birthday party and you finally have some much-needed time alone.

You want time to recharge your batteries, but you don’t want your friend to be mad at you.  You may tempted to help despite not really wanting to.  You could choose to lie and give an excuse that will relieve you from the situation, but also any potential judgement by your friend.  However, the best option is to simply give an honest answer without worrying so much about how your friend perceives you.  If you tell your friend that you are unavailable to help as you are spending the day focusing on recharging your batteries and she thinks you are selfish, her thoughts about you don’t change who you actually are at all.

When you are always honest, people learn that you value them enough to always tell them the truth.  I’m not saying everyone will like it, but you will always have people that don’t like what you are doing.  I had people that didn’t like when I started losing weight and some even tried to talk me out of it, others that constantly told me that I was going to fail, and others tried to sabotage my weight loss.  I had to allow them to be wrong about me.  Some got on board with me and others didn’t.

Allowing others to be wrong about you is a very difficult thing.  It’s hard to be confident in who you are when you’ve allowed those around you to define you all your life.  However, by fully embracing that you are who you choose to be, you are empowered to break the bondage of always needing the affirmation of others to know who you are and you recognize your power to be the person you choose regardless of what others think.

For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back.  Find me on social media:

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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I’m Only Human

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Failure… My Mental Journey Of Weight Loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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