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.
    • 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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My moobs are uneven…

If you, dear reader, need to know anything about me at all, it’s that I’m incredibly awkward.  What can I say?  It’s really a gift born out of a combination of humor and my relationship with tact.  Speaking of tact, you should probably know I lack it.  I’m terrible at not giving someone very honest, unfiltered, and insensitive thoughts which often makes things uncomfortable and awkward.  Maybe that’s why I’ve decided to direct my thoughts about this journey to a blog page rather than at my friends and family?  I’ll try to save the ones that are left!

That said, my moobs are uneven.  Gross, huh?  I noticed this in the mirror the other day and, to your benefit, I will not be adding a picture with which to highlight this newly-encountered quirk in my body.  You’re welcome.   However, this bizarre development is very symbolic of the stage I am in with weight loss/healthier living.  Nobody ever tells  you what a clusterf…. train wreck losing weight can be.

About the time you start to feel comfortable with your progress and decisions, you come across an article or video that sends you reeling into a wave of doubt and uncertainty.  Seriously, folks!  Why does weight loss or the pursuit of health have to be so confusing and why in the world does everyone seem to have conflicting information?  I just want to get healthy, not conduct a friggin’ chemistry experiment!

Maybe I should commit to not watching videos or reading the opinions of the “experts” and focus only on listening to my body and my doctor?  There’s a brilliant thought!  Nobody can know my body better than I do and I’m done with generalities and hypotheses from people that have never cracked 200 pounds – let alone 450!  Despite the fact that there is a multitude of articles and YouTube videos that contradict me, counting calories and being responsible with the calories that I am consuming is working for me.

What do you think, reader?  Have you encountered this confusing and infuriating crap-ton of conflicting information available on our glorious world wide web?  Ever encountered an article or video that directly contradicts changes that you’ve confidently made?  Ever step on the scale, see a lower number than expected, and a sudden flash of an old video creeps up in your mind to make you feel uncertain about how you should proceed?  Let me know in the comments below.

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

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Too Busy for Healthy Eating?

Less than eight weeks ago, I weighed 450 pounds.  Today, I weigh in at 417.4 pounds.  The question I keep getting asked is, “What’s your secret?”  I’m not working out.  I’m not starving myself.  I’m not on any pills or “vitamins” to assist with weight loss and I’m not on any crash diet.  The secret is:  six weeks ago my wife and I decided to make changes to our lifestyle that are both sustainable and long term.

2016-10-23-18.56.13.jpg.jpgUnfortunately, the pace of our lives does not support the changes that we have made.  Both of us have professional jobs and work very odd hours throughout the week.  So, I understand when anyone tells me, “I just don’t have time for all that.”  However, understanding doesn’t mean I agree.  Let me tell you something, everybody has excuses, but none of them are really any good.  Today, my wife suggested that I share a couple tips that we have learned along the way to make things as easy as possible.

  • Plan ahead.
    • Take the time to plan out your meals (including calories, fats, protein, carbohydrates, etc.) for the week.  If you know what you are going to eat and that’s what you have available, you put a bridal on all that emotional eating and spontaneous snacking.
  • Shop weekly.
    • My wife and I go shopping every Sunday.  While this may lead to a temptation to spend MORE on food than normal if you are used to shopping less often, it will help to keep the frozen stuff to a minimum.  Fresh meats, vegetables, and fruit all equate to quicker preparation and BETTER TASTE.   Get in the habit of having a good idea how your week of meals is going to look and buy the things you NEED, not the things that look good.
  • Eat more food.
    • Emotional eating and spontaneous snacking can be incredibly damaging to a healthy lifestyle.  My wife and I eat three meals and two snacks every day.  We are aware of the calories we want to have for each of those five food interactions and how that food is going to impact our bodies.  When I started this, I vowed I would find a way to do it without being hungry.  Thanks to fresh vegetables and a finding better relationships with protein and carbs, we have taught ourselves  how to eat foods that fill us up and keep us feeling energized throughout the day.
  • Prepare… Everything… Early…
    • After our Sunday afternoon trip to the grocery store, my wife and I take the time to sit down and chop, weigh, and separate into lunch or snack bags all of our snacks for the week.  Whether we are getting our lunch together in the morning or we are grabbing a snack while still around the house, it’s READILY available for us to grab and go.  By limiting access to unhealthy snacks and placing2016-10-23-19.10.44.jpg.jpg

      healthy snacks at our fingertips, we enable ourselves to stay on track throughout the busy week.

  • Prepare… Everything… Early!
    • OK… maybe this isn’t a separate recommendation at all, but I did this to highlight the importance of this habit in keeping us on track.  In addition to preparing our snacks for the week, we also take the time to cut, weigh, and prepare our chicken for the first several days of the week.  By having fresh ground beef and pre-cooked chicken in the refrigerator, we are able to have 90% of our meals on the dinner table in just about six minutes.  Thanks to this habit, we are able to have a plethora of healthy options to carry us through through lunch on Friday  which leaves open the option for a nice evening out or making a fresh dinner together at home to finish out our crazy week.

Life is busy and it seems that we are always needed somewhere other than the place we most want to be.  However, we are learning new ways every day to make healthy eating fast and sustainable despite our hectic lives.  We hope you’ll find our tips useful and begin to adapt these tips to your own life.  We also hope you’ll share the tips you’ve learned with us. For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back…

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True progress…

God, it’s a 14639847_181386232315476_5366285076460421272_nbeautiful Saturday here in my little Missouri town!  The sun is shining, the temperature is in the 70s, and there’s just enough wind to counteract any excess heat that may still be making its way through our atmosphere on this magnificent October day.  But wait?  This post is supposed to be about progress, right?  Well, I was inspired to write this random post based on the fact that I even know this information at all!

You see, dear reader, my Saturdays used to be spent only doing mandatory activities and hiding away from the world.  However, my Saturdays have been tremendously different over the past month and a half.  With the pride that I have in myself, my self-esteem and energy levels have skyrocketed.   I’m proud that I’m making these changes and that I know they are going to lead to the desired changes I want in my weight, as well. The result?  I have access to information that I otherwise would not have had until I got up the energy to step outside for my first cigarette.

Over the past several weeks, however, I’ve been out EXPERIENCING our weather.  Fall festivals, shopping, going to the park, going out for nice dinners with my wife, hanging out in public with friends, walking through a haunted corn maze, and even HOUSEHOLD CHORES are things that I’ve gained back while on this journey to healthy living.  I’m regaining things that I had lost or given up with a direct connection to my weight, low energy, and poor health choices.

We are starting week seven in our journey tomorrow 14642042_10154473251715856_4467704680970546831_nand my weight loss has slowed from the leaps and bounds that I have been seeing to a slower, but healthy, pace.  Despite the fact that I know what my goals are, seeing a lower number on the scale still created doubt (more on that later in what was supposed to be my second post) and discouragement. Today, though, as I blasted through today’s activities, I was amazed at both the MENTAL and PHYSICAL progress that I have made over this past six weeks.

This journey isn’t about the number of pounds I need to lose.  It’s about being able to wear my wedding ring again, being able to live life without back and sciatic pain, getting out into the community, and EXPERIENCING my life while I’m still young enough to enjoy it.  Please don’t let the number on the scale be your primary method of measuring the value of improved healthy choices. It really is about so much more!

I’m so grateful for anyone that takes the time to read my blog.  If you enjoy it, please let me know you’ve been here (like, comment, or follow).  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts regarding progress and motivation for a journey to a healthier lifestyle.  For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back…

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It’s time to start living my life!

me1Ever sat on the couch and watched an inspirational story of someone that lost 100 pounds, quit smoking, kicked the alcohol, and thought, “That would be so amazing!”?  I have… a hundred million times.  Three months ago, I was an extremely defeated man that had just about every negative vice you could imagine.  I loved nicotine, alcohol, and food!  Can anyone spell death?  I could, “M…e…”  At over 450 pounds, I was smoking, drinking, and eating myself to death.

Despite the increasing difficulty that I experienced in everyday life, I continued with my negative choices and found myself not really caring whether I would wake up in the morning or not.  My weight continued to balloon and back aches, sciatic problems, and an inability to reach my feet became my norm.  My sedentary lifestyle became worse as it was easier to stay home and play XBOX than going out into public where I was faced with disgusted glances, uncomfortable seating, and shortness of breath whenever I had to walk more than a few feet.

About eight weeks ago, I was enjoying a Marlboro Light when I had an epiphany, “Would I ever purchase 20 small vials of poison from a distributor if I knew that the contents would taste good, but slowly kill me?”  Of course I wouldn’t!  So why was I buying cigarettes?  I mean, seriously!?  I have been paying a company to slowly poison me while having the knowledge that these little bastards would eventually steal my life?  I never bought another pack.  Fast forward two weeks and I had a similar experience with food.  Why was I paying a company for food that I know is unhealthy for me and is making my obesity problem worse?

So, here I sit tonight, with it being eight me2weeks since my last cigarette and five weeks since I quit drinking alcohol, gave up soda completely, and started making choices with my nutrition that are working to save my life.  Is it working?  Well, my last recorded weight was 419.6 pounds and I’ve never felt better.

How am I doing it?  For now, I’ll say that I’m eating different foods and counting my calories and a few select macros…  My biggest key is that my wife has been taking this journey with me.

Why a blog?  I don’t know what the hell I am doing, but I don’t want to be a success story that you hear about after I’m done that inspires a few seconds of hope.  I want to be a Work In Progress that inspires the beginning of a journey.  So, despite the fact that I’ve probably already broken a lot of blogging rules, I’m at the start of a very long journey and I hope someone finds this blog and is encouraged to take this journey with me.

What’s the goal?  I’m in this for the long haul.  I want to reach a healthy weight for my height/age/gender.  There will be a lot of challenges.  It has been one thing to learn what my body needs to loose weight and it will be another challenge to learn what my body will need to maintain a healthy weight.

If you are interested, attempting, contemplating, or finishing weight loss, please leave me a comment and bookmark this site.  For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back…

Find me on Facebook @250pounds2forever