I do not live in a perfect world where everything falls into place inside the boxes and lines of my day planner. Few of us do. So many of us can relate to the day-to-day chaos that requires quick decisions made in the heat of battle. I don’t keep the same schedule for more than 7 days at a time. Just as soon as I adjust to day shift, I rotate to midnight shift, then afternoons, then back again. It seems like I am always scrambling to adjust, to regain my balance only to have to adapt again.
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Many of us can tell a similar story. Maybe you are someone constantly devoting your time to the care and nurture of others. Maybe you are on the road a lot. Every person has a unique set of challenges that seems to get in the way of their goals.
So how did I do it? How did I manage to overcome all of that, lose 100 pounds and train for a marathon? These are my top must-dos to gain traction on a demanding schedule.
For me, this is so much more than simply losing weight. I didn’t get to be 170 pounds overweight because all was right in my world. What pushed me to the point where I woke up one day and found a 385-pound man staring back in the mirror?
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I sometimes think that the continued popularity of fad diets, quick-fix weight solutions in spite of their dismal track record is simply because it focuses on the symptoms rather than the root cause. These quick-fix, knee-jerk solutions exploit the panic that people feel when they are confronted by their condition. Dealing with the root causes requires digging deep and peeling back painful layers of truth until an answer is unearthed. Unraveling knots is a tedious process.
I believe the path to ultimate success for me isn’t in some mystic root or berry found in a remote part of the world or some new fad fitness routine that will magically melt off pounds. How about the latest gizmo that will flatten your problem areas with just a few minutes a day? If the diet and gizmo industry had the solution, why would obesity still be such an issue?
Before I continue, let's focus on the word ultimate, which I used when describing success. Let me define. The word ultimate can be used in a sense that states that the success that you experience will be unparalleled in its greatness, but that is not the application here. ‘Ultimate’ defined in my statement “ultimate success” is the sum total of all your efforts, the final outcome, where you will finally wind up. In my journey I have lost a lot of skirmishes with my eating addictions yet I have managed to lose more than 100 pounds and keep it off in spite of my failings. My success was ultimately determined by my overall commitment to the ultimate end of reclaiming my life, not in day to day perfection in routine.
So where does the path to ultimate success lie? For me, I found it in identifying the hotspots in my life. Like a firefighter, I have put out a wildfire that threatened to consume my very existence. I have endured, fought and continued to fight the good fight; however, underneath the ashes lie hotspots. Hotspots that threaten to re-ignite with a vengeance. The fire could burn again and all my hard work would be lost.
I have found that if I do not address the forces that influenced me to get to such an unhealthy place, I will soon find myself back there again.
When I first started my journey at 385 pounds, life was difficult. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, my mind made slow adaptations to accept the limitations that each successively heavier weight imposed on my life. Limitations that would be accepted as the new normal.
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I was growing larger every year but somehow I still saw myself through skinny glasses. I was somehow OK with systematically retiring clothes to the dark part of my closet, OK with not being able to comfortably climb stairs, OK with the tightness I felt in my chest with every small exertion.
Somehow I found a way to cope and if I ignored it long enough, it would all go away… somehow.
But pictures, pictures don't lie.
Pictures have a way of ripping off the mask of self-deception. I never looked good in a picture so rather than deal with a "Kodak confrontation," I would simply avoid cameras or find something to cover up with when having my picture taken.
Finally, I could no longer hide from the truth, I was out of control.
Slowly, I started making changes. As the weight started coming off, each day became a gift, each package containing some ability that I had lost along the way. I was slowly getting my life back. While the scale was slow to move for the first few months, the changes were real nonetheless. Within weeks, my clothes were fitting a little better and I certainly felt better.
The first 30 pounds brought some profound changes. Day to day tasks were not so difficult.
Tying my shoes was no longer classified as an endurance event.
Stairs were becoming easier and less like mountain climbing.
I even jogged my first mile after months of wheezing my way from mailbox to mailbox.
After 50 pounds, I regained enough mobility and had built enough endurance to complete my first ever, real, live, genuine running event, a 10K. Wow, ME, a runner? Who would have thought?