Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When Iím (2)64?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
With apologies to John, Paul, Ringo and George.

If youíre a regular follower of this blog, you know that 2009 has been a pretty rough year for me, health-wise. It started off with open-heart surgery to replace a bad heart valve, followed by 3 more week-long hospitalizations for post-surgery complications, some nasty problems with depression/PTSD, and most recently, a broken ankle.

While prospects for staying out of the hospital for the rest of the year look pretty good (knock on wood), none of these problems is fully resolved yet. Iím still working very reduced hours, and spending an awful lot of time with doctors and therapists.

But thereís another part of this story that I havenít talked about here before, probably because it scares me even more than all these other issues, and I havenít gotten a handle on the problem myself yet.

In the last five months, Iíve gained almost 25 pounds. This week, my ďmorningĒ weight was over 250 pounds for the first time since it hit that number on the way down from my highest weight, several years ago.

It doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure out how this happened. I went from spending 2-3 hours most days doing pretty vigorous physical activity, like biking and hiking, to being in bed for days at a time or restricted to getting around on crutches for a few minutes/day. And I never adjusted my food intake so that it matched my reduced level of activity.

But hereís the real problem: I donít want to adjust my eating. What I want is to have my life back the way it was 6 months ago. I worked hard for that life, I feel like I earned it, and I want it back. Now.

Iím well aware that this attitude is about as reasonable as the kind of temper tantrum a 2 year old might throw. I also recognize that the anger and frustration Iím feeling is a ďnormalĒ part of the grief process, and that sooner or later, Iíll have to accept my new reality and adapt to it. I know that once Iím off my crutches, back on my bike, and feeling a little better about life in general, Iíll probably be able to get on with the business of aging gracefully without minding it nearly as much as I do right now.

But knowing all this isnít making it any easier to make these ďattitude adjustmentsĒ happenóor to curb my appetite today.

Which, among other things, leaves me wondering how much use I can be to anyone else right now as a coach. I have this picture in my mind of myself arriving at the SparkPeople Convention in a few weeks, still hobbling around on crutches, and feeling and looking like a giant, grumpy pumpkin in my orange SparkPeople T-shirt. Not exactly the image Iíd like to present when actually meeting you all in person, lol.

Maybe that mental picture will give me the incentive I need to get my eating back in line with my needs and drop a few of these extra pounds over the next few weeks. Or notóIíll keep you posted.

In the meantime, hereís my question(s) for you:

How much does it matter to you that the people who give you info and advice are able to consistently practice what they preach themselves? Can you take what you need from the message even if you know the messenger isn't putting it into practice effectively? Does it help or hurt your own motivation to know that your ďexpertsĒ arenít always on top of their own issues? Why does it matter, do you think?

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Nancyjac didn't finish the quote, Dean: Those who can't do, teach, those who can't teach, consult.

At this point, you might as well have cards printed and start taking in fees! LOL...

The point is that you know all the stuff that people are telling you here...

If the people who are important to you REALLY care, then they won't care how heavy you are and they will root for you no matter which way the scale is moving...

It's your HEALTH that matters, not the number on the scale... the most important thing is XXX.. (insert: that you get back on the horse, that you start moving just today, that you stand on your head for a certain number of hours or what have you...)

The real issue is this: The food doesn't care what your life looks like now or what it looked like before you got sick.

What changes is your relationship with the food and how you feel about it.

If you were an expert in, I dunno... chicken husbandry... (and perhaps you are!) then you could write article after article about it and no one would question your authority given your credentials from Chicken U. and how many hours you've spent examining the chickens and whatnot...

The fact that I have been afraid to climb onto a scale for fear of what I would see for the past year and a half doesn't mean that I am not a total expert on diet... I know all about losing weight... I've lost THOUSANDS of pounds...

You have very good advice to dispense to anyone who wants to stop and listen... coming back from being down (or up...) is all the more inspirational to those of us who are fighting to get our lives back...

You go, Boy.

I personally think it is good for us, well me to see that the people who give the advice are not "perfect". It makes you more like me, like us. Fall off the wagon get back on again. Report
We all have ups and downs with weight, and other life issues, but knowledge is still there. The knowledge is learned, and earned. I try to be realistic. I realize that we can't always practice what we preach. We can just try our best, and hopefully keep going, and learning along the way. Wishing you much sucess day by day. Thanks for your inspiration. ;-) Report
Remember that old adage, "those who can, do and those who can't teach". This isn't always a negative connontation., Some of the best sports coaches are not very good players at their sport simply because they don't have the physical talents or can't compete physically due to injury or age. But they understand the game strategy and mechanics and have a talent for imparting that undertanding to others. THAT'S what makes them a good coach. Report
I didn't have time to read all the previous comments, but I feel I need to add my own. I know exactly how you feel, but I can tell you that most of us will still look up to you and will learn from your advice. I think the fact that you are struggling (just as we all do from time to time), and not afraid to admit it, makes your input even more valuable. Personally I can relate to someone I know has been where I am easier than I can to someone who doesn't seem like they have ever had a weight problem. You WILL get through this down period and will get headed back in the right direction. Report
Your wisdom is still there, even if it'spackaged in a few extra pounds. And you wouldn't let the rest of us beat up on ourselves in similar circumstances. We all go through some kind of stress, probably several times in our lives. They often make following our healthy routines impossible, at least for a while.

I just started following your blog several weeks ago, and it has encouraged me through some really tough times. I look forward to reading what you write. Please don't feel that you can't be helpful to the rest of us until you're "perfect."

You're human, and we can relate to that. "Perfect" is scary.
Please don't beat up on yourself. We need you - just as you are!
thanks for sharing this /take it easy on yourself debbi Report
Coach Dean,
I think you are being way too hard on yourself. You are recovering from surgery and other challenges. I think it would be easy for anyone to gain weight if they were bedridden and unable to exercise for a while.
We are all on this journey together.
I know you would be truly missed if you didn't go to the Spark People Convention.
Stay positive and keep moving forward. Report
Yes, I will still need you! And I will always be looking for you! Your message is and has been an inspiration to me. It seems you are RIGHT ON TARGET with whatever I am feeling and you give me insight into myself. That is a RARE GIFT you have there, Oh "OZ" of Pumpkin Land. I've been on/and off crutches since the 4th when my knee popped out and relate to your frustration, I JUST WANT MY LIFE BACK!!

I have so much appreciation for what you have shared with us. Thanks Coach Dean!! Report
I too have gained weight 20 lbs actually. I han emotional, distressing start to my year. I believe I was very depressed, I did talk to a therapist, but medications aren't for me. I tried to increase MY time. Gym, walking anything. But the lbs have jsut kept piling on. With things looking a little better with the family, I have set a goal to loose this weight. I had a very intense workout with my trainer today and I intend on continuing that. I am starting to track my food and hope I can bounce back.
As far as someone giving me advice and not staying on track, I love it, we are all normal and have pitfalls, it makes me feel better tha I am not the only one going through things and having a hard time - well not better, but you know what I mean...
I hope you recover as quickly as you can and we can look back on this time and think I MADE IT!!!! Report
Yes! We'll still need you! Yes! We'll still feed you.

In part we will continually want to be in this relationship because you still feed us with the fine wisdom and integrity that is the constant diet we get from your articles and blogs.

We all face times of hardship. This IS a journey? Right?

You are showing us how you are managing this rough patch. (I know that that sounds like a huge understatement, but in the grand scheme of your life, this year is only a year. Eventually you are going to put this terrible time behind you.)
When any of us are laid up, we are going to have to figure out how to get through a time without exercise, and (most likely) we are going to face many of the same struggles that you are facing now. When you get to the other side of this, (and although you may occasionally doubt it, you are headed for the other side of this), we have every confidence that you are going to use the skills you have to get yourself back on track.

Rather than being a less skilled and reliable coach, you are going to be a MORE skilled and reliable coach.

Having gained 25 lbs. (under some highly stressful and unusual circumstances)does not negate the fact that you lost a huge amount of weight and kept it off for quite awhile. You learned some very valuable lessons along the way. Those lessons are still powerful and valuable tools for those who are trying to lose and keep off weight.

You are still a coach who has integrity because you have practiced what you preach.

Just because you are learning some new lessons the hard way, doesn't invalidate the lessons you already learned.

You will not be the last person in the history of the world to face heart surgery, depression, or a broken ankle after a major weight loss (although I have to admit, the triple whammy doesn't happen every day!). Just because you haven't fully mastered living through to your happy ending yet doesn't invalidate the lessons you are learning (and thankfully passing along) as you tackle this part of being a human being facing the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

During my weight loss I wrote some pretty wise words in my blog. I wasn't at my goal weight, but the lessons I was learning were worth sharing. You, my friend, are worth listening to, no matter how disgusted you are with the pumpkinesque physique you are currently sporting. (In fact, your dis-satisfaction is likely a key to getting motivated for your "come-back".)

We love you Dean. There is no way around it. You can't convince us that we shouldn't. We don't love you because you're skinny. We love you because you're you. Truth be told, that may be the scariest thing of all.

It's o.k. You'll get used to it eventually. Habituation happens!

(Sorry to sound like a wise ass, but it's the truth as I see it.) Report
We can't all be Jack LaLanne!

So you're a pumpkin. Be The Great Pumpkin.

Seriously, it's easier for me to listen to someone who appreciates the struggle. Sometimes people grumble about our TOPS leaders who aren't the svelte models we'd like them to be. Well, folks, these are people who understand the struggle, and who are there walking along beside us. Sometimes the best we can do is try not to let things get any worse, at least for today. Report
Your message is still the same and very helpful. It gives me insight that there is no guarantee that I can keep on this path. I will strive to get in better shape so if something healthwise happens, I will be in better shape to deal with it. I hope you can continue your journey to start losing weight again. Thank you so much for your honesty - and yes you do inspire me. Report
Your honesty helps me a lot. Right now I'm still dealing with a pulled hamstring which has severely curtailed my activities. Plus, I've recently returned from a 2 week long driving vacation without much activity and all restaurant meals. So my lifestyle of lots of exercise and feeling "buff" has changed a bit. It has taken me several weeks to get "back to business" mentally. I definitely have been feeling that vague guilty feeling. So when I see that one of the experts goes through these same emotions I can give up the guilt and get on with what I need to be doing, albeit at a reduced level right now. I just have been doing the activities that I can do, substituting new activities for the old ones (power walking, treadmill, etc.). Hang in there, Dean. This is your time for a "mental workout" and you will soon be able to get back on your bike. Report
You are the same person, don't care if you are not shipshape at this moment, in due time you will ride the wave again. I sincerely hope your energy will improve so you can enjoy the convention. I'm very sorry I will not be at the convention to see you walk in and yell my head off ""You Made It, Looking Good"

Puerto Rico Report
I salute you your forthrightness. It does sound tho' that you are in a state of hating what you have become, but the thing is, and what you don't seem to realise is that you have become even MORE human! Yes, you have gained weight, but YES, so to would most others in your situation regarding a series of health problems! As you have experienced, it often takes a while to actually twig that there is a problem and then often even more time re the cause. Now that you have identified the cause of the problem, I am sure that you will in time be able to address it. As you know, when you fall off a bike, it sometimes takes a wee while to get back up on it, but you will get there! I for one feel honoured to be able to read your blogs, and many others have indicated exactly the same sentiment. We are aware of the why's of your weight gain - and understand it. It isn't a case of going to the nearest doughnut store and sitting there pigging out on them. You have had genuine serious health issues. Make sure that you keep on with your motivational articles - not for us, but for you!

I have a "golden thoughts" book in front of me and here is a quote "I know very well there is no escape from the suffering of grief. We cannot love much without suffering much. And the very pain of the suffering is an evidence of the strength of our love, ...................................
....The very best I can wish you is that you may have courage and strength, and you will, yourself, know just where to seek and find it."

Take Care Report
Coach Dean - having lived through some of the same things you're dealing with right now, I can very honestly say that your lifestory and your successes on the wellness road are so much more than just this moment in time. The same tools that lead you to health and your wisdom thereof, are still inside you - they're all lying somewhat dormant while you heal physically and love yourself back to whole. Because those tools never leave you, once your spark reignites, your game will be stronger and last longer because of and inspite of everything you are enduring now.
So back to the question of having faith and buying into the musings and teachings of someone who might not be living the ideally perfect example of wellness...I'd much rather listen to and learn from someone imperfect who has struggled much like I have to get to healthy than someone who has simply read about it in a book. Your honesty and complete candor allow me to respect you and value your insight more than 99% of the "health" professionals I read/watch in general.
I suspect that when you arrive in Cincinnati and don that pumpkin orange shirt, your spark will reignite at the anticipation of spending healthy, quality time with the people you love who love and respect you because of who you have grown to be on this journey. And after the convention, when you land back home on the west coast, the spark will be burning brighter and hotter in you than it has since this odyssey began a few months ago.

Spark on, Coach Dean...wishing you the best ALWAYS!!!!!!!!! Report
You are so honest and modest and I think being open about your struggles and setbacks just keeps all of us from becoming too smug. Get better soon in every respect, and keep up the excellent work of motivating us! Report
If the advice you want us to see you put into practice is what we've all said and told each other since we got here - about falling off the horse, and getting back on...

Happy trails!

Hope you heal and feel better soon. Hugs, Mary Report
To me the message is way more important than the messenger, and the messengers practices and beliefs dont hold much weight to me, especially when the messenger is on the other end of a computer monitor....if Julian Michaels ate a McDonalds happy meal with a large coke and skipped days of work outs, would I care one bit, nope, would it make me throw what I know to be working methods out the window, nope, would it faze my personal motivation, not at all ;)
The important thing we need to do is be good sponges, keep tips and advice that we know work and remember that no one is perfect, life goes on, when we fall, its picking up yourself at the end of each day that really matters and its loving yourself enough to know its ok to be You.
Great blog by the way, really makes me think....I am sorry for all the hardships you are facing, its never easy to climb back up that mountain, but you have the power inside you, Obviously!
Leah♥ Report
Sending you best wishes for happy fast healing! Report
I am new to sparkpeople. Is anyone perfect I don't think so not on this earth anyway. Isn't the whole point that if we fall we need to get back up and try again, new day new begining? That is what I have gotten from the things I have read on this site. Just hang in there and do what you can. The fact that you want to keep trying and go to the convention says alot as far as I can see.

Good luck and hope you will be better soon, my prayers are with you Report
Humility is a virtue which we learn through our ups and downs. I don't believe that a "perfect" person has the ability to be humble. I think the best teachers stumble. It's the getting back up that teaches us most. Report
Yes, I can still get something of value from you even if you think you have fallen off the wagon or whatever. As every one else has said we are all human! I just read an article you wrote about building bones. You have so much to impart to us that I can only hope you will always be with us, your fellow sparkers. Report
Taking into consideration that we are all just human, I can be motivated by those who practice what they preach and FALL off the wagon. Life happens to all of us at one time or another. I know first hand how a year of health issues can impact your {mine} eating, physical activity, emotional well-being, and your entire outlook on how you want things to be! Dont give up and dont give up!

I wish you the best for the rest of the year. God Speed in your healing process so that you may get better in all areas of life. Report
Thank you so much Dean for sharing your life with us all. Having been through many of the same experiences either personally or vicariously, I cried internally at the beauty of your story. It has given me the will to get on the treadmill and complete my personal goals. Report
You know, Coach....We are only human--we fail sometimes, our emotions get the best of us sometimes, and we also need time to figure out the things that are happening or have happened to us (just human nature). To answer your question, you wouldn't be a respected Coach or Leader, if NONE of "the things that are (un)common to life" ever happened to you! It's you that we'd really want to listen to, because you've been through these things. You KNOW exactly what it's like! You're the one who can tell us how it really felt, what we'd also might experience going through something similiar, and the best part----You won't just be the one who's gone through it, one day soon enough, you'll be the one who VICTORIOUSLY went through it, and can tell us all about it. You're a Fighter, so "knock out" those "I don't want to" mullygrub feelings. Remember, you've come through everything else! I'm praying for you! Report
Honestly, it's a great help to me to know that you guys struggle sometimes. When we never see anyone else struggle (especially leaders), we start thinking that there must be something wrong with us if we struggle. Report
It helps me really to see that you all have problems like we do. I, too, battle depression in addition to anxiety and post traumatic stress, so sometimes it is two steps back and one step forward. Like it is implied on this site, it is a journey, and not all of it may be pleasant, but it is our journey and to be valued. Report
Sometimes the best advice comes from people who have struggled for their success. Sometimes the best advice comes from people who are still in the process. We're all human, none of us have this down pat. I enjoy your writing and your blunt honesty. Report
I notice that I carefully read every word of each of your blogs. I would like to be as honest about myself as you are able to be when you write about yourself. That is something to be proud of!

I wish you the best as you figure out your next steps. As someone here has already said, be gentle with yourself! Report
You blog nearly made me cry. you have helped and motivated me for an entire year and I feel like we are in this together!! We will never (and should never) turn our backs on you...we are here for you Coach...just like you were always here for us!

I wish you a full recovery!

**Side note: I kinda felt like a huge orange pumpkin at the SD convention...but none of that mattered when I found myself surrounded by what may be the worlds most supportive team! I promise the convention will help you refocus and give you the boost you are seeking** Report
Sometimes the best thing you can do for another is to let them dispense advice. It is a way for them to work things verbally and they might need that. Everyone needs to vent sometimes. Report
Oh Coach, you have helped me so much with your emails and depression blogs that you could weigh a ton and I would still find you a source of inspiration. I went through that same grieving process when I lost my left upper lung to cancer 3 years ago. The depression precipitated a relapse back into anorexia and its been a long hard road back. I still fall off the wagon and have my tantrums as well.

I wish I could attend the convention,, just to meet and thank you personally. You have touched and improved my life with your blogs in a way very few others ever have.

Be well, be good to yourself, breathe slow and deep.

Namaste. The spirit in me bows to the spirit in you.

To answer one of the questions, while I seem to have a reaction to smokers who are also health care professionals, I don't feel the same about weight concerns.

And--you are a human. This is a stumble. You'll walk again. Be gentle with yourself.

Personally I'm tired of getting advice from those who haven't actually had adversity in their lives. My favorite boss had a saying, "get some time on the job." Wisdom is gained from experience. This may not have been the path you wanted to take, but it's guaranteed to affect how you move on. Make it a positive. Report
We all have clay feet! That does not take away from your good insights. Have a great day. Ta, Reggie Report
It is all about what is really happening. We all have ups and downs. I know that it is hard for the person in the 'down' to see that view because, like everyone else, I have been down at times too. Having real people share their successes and low points is more inspirational than looking at some 'avatar' fake anonymous photo of a slender person who shows no evidence of having real life struggles. Best wishes always on your work to get 'up' again. Report
I believe that if you are comfortable enough to share your story as you are here, it is MORE motivational. All of us are challenged with adversity and I think the big difference is what we do with it when we are. I am glad that there is the technology out there to repair your heart - you have an additional opportunity to continue life where others before you in years past did not. Best wishes on your recovery. It will happen in time with your (easy does it) gradual increase in activity. Report
Actually, it helps. Because, eventually everyone will face some type of set back, be it health or stress. So, to know that these kinds of set backs happen to everyone, even the "pros," helps. It lets me know I'm not the only to face that kind of challenge. Report
I think that your story is an amazing testament to the reality of the daily journey it is to lose weight and live healthfully. It may not feel like it, but I think it's inspirational to others for you to have pitfalls along with your successes. I have had to embrace my shortcomings and my steps in the right direction in order to get where I am and I am not done yet. When I see trainers and instructors who seem to have all the answers, their advice comes off as disingenuous and unattainable. I commend you for the progress you have made so far, appreciate you for sharing your difficulties as you continue your journey, and am hopeful for your success in reaching your goal eventually. Report
I just read your blog...and, oh my gosh...I don't even know you, having just joined SP a month ago and being new to all this, but my heart goes out to you. Of course, I want to hear and read your wisdom and advise, even if your in the pits. Actually, it makes you more real to me, more believeable, more my kind of person. You don't just say "pick yourself up", you're doing it! Don't even think of retreating into a cave of silence! Do I need to say it? Probably all the other respondents have already said it, but...this whole process is an ongoing struggle and your courage in saying (and putting in print for all posterity) your missteps is enormous...more bigger than the weight gain you're not liking. I totally commend you, admire you, and will continue to look for your input in SP. Keep up the good work and go to the SP convention with bells on, smiling at every one whether you have lost any weight or not. We all love you!! Report
Hi, I am pretty new on here, but love the article.I am a 38 year old female that a year ago was in fairly decent shape. Working as a female police officer I had to be and although at that time I could have stood to lose a few pounds, I liked who I was, and was proud of who I was. On the night of August 19, 2008 my life changed. I was called back into work after my shift was over and when I arrived on scene, there was a riot situation with a family we were dealing with to find a subject that was wanted for attempted homicide. I got into a physical altercation with one of the family members and tweeked my back, then a few minutes later as I was running through the yard at 0200 in the morning, I stepped into a hole in the yard and tore up my hip and lower SI joint in my back. After a few weeks of trying to work and wearing a 20+ pound duty belt, I could no longer work patrol. Here I am a year later, still working in a light duty status, sitting on my butt for eight hours a day dealing with the pain. I have been through two surgeries since then and am getting ready for injections in my back next week.
I too, JUST WANT MY LIFE BACK.....I am a firm believer in you don't know what you have until it is gone...So for those of you that have made a step to become healthier and can move and exercise your bodies, please wake up every morning thankful that you can.. the last year has been hard on me not only physically but mentally, I have been depressed, I have gained weight, my clothes don't fit, I cant sleep because of the pain, and cant do alot of things with my children. BUT I have decided that this is not going to hold me down anymore, I am setting a goal to be back out on the streets by the end of this year, and have a different attitude. I have my hard days, and I know that we all do, no matter what the circumstances that we are in, we all have our "things" that can hold us back, mine is an injury, but with patience, prayers, and hard work on my part, I will be that person that I was, and guess what, EVEN BETTER...
Thank you for letting me write my story, I have been a member on here since March, but have not paid attention to it until just recently, and am loving it...
Well met Coach Dean,

People who can spout rhetoric that they learn in a book about how things "should be done" and are considered experts don't carry a lot of weight with me (pun intended, hehe) ~ Give me the person with life experience dealing with what I'm going through. The person who has never struggled with depression, loss, weight issues, or any other challenge who tells me "I understand how you feel" will automatically get my wrath. Unless someone has actually walked the same path as I have, they DON'T understand, and are lying to me and themselves.

Others have said what I want to say with much more eloquence than I can. Seriously though, give me the teacher who has felt the touch of Chaos and was able to ride that wave. Those are the teachers that I will pay attention to!

~Kitz Report
I love your article - you are a sparker and your advise is based on experience - that counts plenty. I feel your grief and understand how frustrating that must be to know what to do, want to do it - but have been limited with an obstacle beyond your control, so you can't do it. Please consult your physician to see if perhaps using stretch bands to get some form of exercise in is acceptable to him/her. You will feel better soon and be able to become more mobile - don't let the weight gain win. You lost it once - you will lose it again.
Know this... You have inspired me to do something... because I am blessed to be able to move around - and I don't. I know what to do - want to do it... but for some reason - I don't feel motivated. That can be frustrating too ;)
Friend, find a way to include some form of physical activity, you are a winner... stay close to the site and know you are not alone. Report
i prefer real people with some of my same issues be the ones to give me advice. Not someone that has never been there or done that. Report
The thing I love about SP is that it feels like real life. The people are real people, with all the problems and challenges that we all face. Some health and fitness sites are full of pictures of people who are the size and shape that is just not realistic for most of us. You'd have to be a professional athlete to look like that! Not to mention hairdresser / make up artist on call all day.

So good luck with your health and please keep doing what you do. It's inspiring. Report
Nice to know you are just as "human" as the rest of us. I have a great admiration for you and for all that you write. You are "one special person". Report
It matters more to me that my leaders and coaches can relate... That they have been in the trenches and fought the battle and can understand my worries, fears, and anxieties. I think that even if you aren't "on your game" right now, it doesn't make you any less able to support your fellow Sparkers on our journeys. Each of us is on an individual path. We can support each other no matter what stage in the process we are currently working through... Report
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