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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Pursuing Healthy Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Where Are You Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Maintaining the Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I’ve Got a Secret…

I’ve Got a Secret…

I’ve been bursting at the seams since I got the news and I just can’t wait any longer!  I am going to be hosting my very first GIVEAWAY!!!  I am so excited to give you more details, but there are things that must be done before that information can be shared.  Be sure to keep your eye out for more info in the days to come!

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

Disillusionment – A Goal Killer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Celebrating Milestones!

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

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

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

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Why We Are Getting Rid of “Cheat Meals” Forever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The True Undoing to Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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