Jerome is married with two beautiful daughters and lives in the Dallas area. He has lost 100 pounds while using the tools offered by SparkPeople, and he tracks his nutrition and fitness daily using the site. During this journey, he has become passionate about helping others realize their weight-loss goals. Showing as many people as possible that there is a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off is what keeps him going. Jerome has fallen in love with running and has completed numerous races--from 5Ks to half-marathons. Together, we CAN win the battle against obesity! He writes about the challenges of losing weight and keeping it off, with an emphasis on the issues that men face.
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Many of you have heard me say that I am on a mission to rid the world of obesity, one person at a time. I think there are many of us who would like nothing more than to see each and every one of our friends and loved ones live very long, healthy lives. We’ve all heard about financial freedom, but I say it’s time we talk about HEALTH freedom.
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You can help those you love find real freedom through healthy living. There is no better way to stay motivated than by supporting others. Below are a few tools that can be used as we seek to help others find freedom.
I had the most amazing experience recently that I want to share with you. My hope is that you can have an experience that is similar and just as rewarding.
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On a Saturday evening recently, my oldest daughter and I had a date at our church. Our men’s group was showing the movie, Courageous. Angelo King, former Dallas Cowboy and Detroit Lion, was also present to give his testimony. I’d been looking forward to this night for quite a long time. I’d seen Courageous and was anxious to see what my daughter’s reaction might be. If you’ve not seen this movie, I highly recommend you make an effort to see it with open eyes and an open heart. It could change your life.
One of the struggles in the movie is between a father and son. The son is a runner who wants his dad to run a father-son 5K with him, but his dad doesn’t see the importance. This disconnect causes a huge rift in their relationship.
Toward the end of the movie, father and son are running together. As my daughter and I were watching the movie together at church, I reached over and poked her and just smiled. She looked up at me and said, ''Yeah, dad, they run three miles. You run like, 10.'' Ouch, that sort of hurt. I hadn’t thought about the fact that, as much as she has a desire to run with me, she might be intimidated or embarrassed because she doesn’t have my experience. I immediately responded with, ''I’ll run one mile if you’ll run with me.''
My daughter and I spend lots of time talking about her desire to be athletic. She is a retired gymnast at the ripe old age of 12 (medical reasons forced her to leave the sport). She is at her best when she is active and not sitting in front of the television. She is entering the 7th grade athletic program next year and hopes to run cross country. I, of course, am very supportive and excited by this.
I get asked all the time: ''How did you do it? How did you lose the weight?''
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If you know me by now, you know that I’m perfectly willing to share my story with anyone who will listen. I share my story with the hope of inspiring others. One of the things that I always try to share is that there is no quick fix. Let me rephrase that: There is no healthy quick fix for weight loss. It took me time and effort--yes, effort--to put the weight on. The best way to lose that weight was with time and effort.
Now, it’s time for some confessions. How many of you have ever purchased ''how-to'' weight-loss books or the latest fad fitness equipment? I’ll admit that I have bought some fad equipment in the past that promised abs of steel. Wasted that money, right? How many of us have ever decided to do what a friend did to lose 20 pounds, only to falter and not lose any in the long run? Have you ever found a nutritional plan that worked for your favorite celebrity, only to find that it didn’t work for you?
We all do it. We may not admit it at first, but we do it. We follow the latest trends with all the hope in the world that it will work for us.
''The buck stops here'': many of us have heard this phrase in our lifetime. It basically means that YOU assume responsibility for your actions.
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President Truman was known to make reference to this phrase from time to time. At the National War College on December 19, 1952, Mr. Truman said, ''You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you--and on my desk I have a motto which says, ''The buck stops here''--the decision has to be made.''
The decision has to be made, but have you really made the decision? The decision to take your life back? The decision to stop passing the buck to somebody else or some circumstance and take ownership of that decision?
Sometimes, as we move through life, we tend to pass the buck in order to make it easier on us, right? There are times in our work lives that we pass the buck to our co-workers. Other times, maybe we pass the buck to our spouse for whatever reason. Why do we do that? When a decision has to be made, make it and go forward with that decision. The buck stops here, with you!
When you were a kid, what was one of your favorite things to do?
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For me and the kids in my neighborhood it was DREAMING. We used to pretend or dream about what we wanted to do when we grew up. We had big dreams back then, that’s certain. Some of the dreams included things like:
I want to travel the world
I want to be a doctor
I want to work at Sea World
I want to travel in outer space
And my personal favorite was: I want to be in a rock band.
Oh, the dreams we had a kids. Yes, I wanted to be in a rock band (going to space was a close second though). I even remember myself and three of my friends in my small town dressing up like KISS. It wasn’t Halloween. It was a DREAM and we were doing what we could to following that dream. We had costumes, make-up, pretend microphones, wigs, everything. There are pictures, somewhere. It was SO easy to dream as a child, right? There was no hesitation in our ambitions. We just went for it. Whether it was jumping a ramp on my bike with 15 bricks stacked high or pretending to be Ace Freely.
Dear Evil Twin,
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I’m writing this letter because I have a few things that I need to say to you. Please understand that I call you my evil twin with all due respect. As a reference, I am including a picture so there is no confusion as to who I am talking to.
I wanted to write and finally tell you THANK YOU. I feel like I owe you that for teaching me so many things about myself.
First and foremost, I want to thank you for teaching me that I have the ability to change. I really didn’t think I could for a long time. So many times I settled for the way things were. I now realize that I do have the power to change. I did not have to settle for life as I had come to know it. I did not have to settle for the life I was leading for myself or my family. It was a difficult lesson that took me awhile to learn, but I did learn it and I credit you for that.
''Yikes! It is hard to believe, huh?! We lived through it and didn't realize how bad it was until we were on this side of it.''
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That is an exact quote from my wife about the pictures you see.
I’m not sure if it’s funny or sad that sometimes we are so busy with life that we fail to pay attention to ourselves. Isn’t that how it works most of the time? I know the women would agree with me, but what about the men out there? How many men out there are so caught up in their career or caught up in other activities that they don’t’ even realize what has happened to their bodies?
Maybe it’s not even our schedules that allow us to let ourselves go. Sometimes it’s nothing more than the fact that we get comfortable with ourselves and don’t even realize what’s happening to our shapes--and, more importantly, what’s happening to our health.
My family recently had a rare weekend free of commitments so we started looking for something in the Dallas area that would be fun for all of us. We came up with a solution that satisfied all four of us and I wanted to share this experience with you.
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We agreed on a field trip of sorts to three different markets: the Dallas Farmers Market, Central Market and the Hong Kong Market.
The Dallas Farmers Market was for me, Central Market for my wife and Hong Kong Market for our daughters.
For some, a trip to the farmers market isn’t unusual, but for me, this was truly an adventure. I have always been a very picky eater and haven’t really eaten many fruits or veggies in my life. I am usually stopped by textures. I love most flavors, but I just can’t handle the textures of different foods. However, as I continue to free my mind and keep moving forward in my quest for a healthy life, I am working toward jumping this hurdle as well. I was very excited about this trip.
Let’s face it; we all have outside influences that affect us every day of our lives. I know I do. Daily, sometimes hourly, there seem to be obstacles that just get in the way of my journey.
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I want to share with you a very personal situation that affected my journey in a very negative way.
At the end of the summer of 2011, I started a new job. This job was something that I’d set out to attain several months before. I spent several hours in phone conversations with the management of this company. Many of these phone calls happened very early in the morning--good thing I’m an early riser! This job was everything I wanted. I would be working for a company I’ve had a relationship with for several years. I would be working from home, and talking to people, helping them to improve their own understanding of how business operated and how I could help make it better. These are all things that I wanted and, quite frankly, things that I am good at. I was told it could take several years to fully learn all the different software adaptations available within this company and I was willing to move as fast as I could to learn it all.
This journey has been incredible.The support and accolades that I have received have been so humbling. I have sat and cried several times over comments people have written me. I know that what I have been able to accomplish and maintain over the last few years is something to be proud of and I am VERY proud of all I have accomplished.
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Can I let you in on a little secret?
I hate that I ever had to be on this journey in the first place. It is an embarrassment that I had to gain 100 pounds, sleep years of my life away and see myself in the mirror and not like who I was, in order to finally start living my life to its fullest. I hate that my marriage suffered because I simply gave up for a while.I am incensed that when my daughters were little I couldn’t participate with them like they deserved.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the knowledge that I gained coming through this experience is instrumental in fueling my passion for life now. For that, I am grateful. I truly embrace where life has taken me now, and I will continue to encourage and support all of those who are now on their own journeys and are seeking my help. You probably know the type I’m talking about: those that have reached their lowest point or their highest weight and don’t know where to begin. That is what SparkPeople is all about after all-- supporting each other.
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Excuses, excuses, excuses. I’ve heard them all and I hear them all the time.
"I just can’t seem to get motivated to exercise.''
''I’m just not feeling it today.''
''I have no energy.''
''I have to help a friend move next weekend.''
How do you find the motivation?
Vanity is one very good reason that some people find their motivation. That’s right, vanity. In today’s world, it seems that looks are everything, right? Well, if that’s what it takes for a person to have motivation to get healthy, so be it! I’ll admit that there was part of me that hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t like those puffy cheeks, didn’t like the fact that I didn’t have a neck anymore.Vanity is one reason for a person to find motivation.
It seems that one of the biggest obstacles folks have to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the kitchen.
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Cooking healthy and fresh food isn’t as daunting as it seems. You just have to approach it like you approach exercising. Plan your time.Be proactive.
Here’s the deal: the Spark rule is to start with 10 minutes of fitness a day, right? This way you aren’t overwhelmed, but you still receive the benefit. Shouldn’t this same rule be applied to the kitchen? I know it can be overwhelming to attempt to plan your week ahead of time in this fast and furious time that we live in.
What kind of examples did you have while growing up? Who were some people in your life that helped shape your habits and behaviors?
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My grandfather was probably one of the largest influences in my life. Maybe that’s because I was named after him? I will always admire my grandpa. He was a man of character. He lived his life by working extremely hard, loving God and taking care of his family. Grandpa set so many examples for me, just by the way he lived. He knew that there were others watching, and he knew how to live his life by example. I hope to live my life the same way.
As we move about in our daily lives, there are people watching. Some of those people may be none other than your children, your co-workers, and your family. Do you realize that everything we do, is helping to shape an ‘image’ of us based on what others see through our actions? Here's a metaphor for you: Say you're in the car driving and there are very simple arrows painted on the road that tell you which lane can turn, go straight forward, etc. You realize that you are about to miss your turn and so you decide to completely ignore those lines and turn right from the center lane, cutting off the driver next to you, which causes them to slam on their brakes, along with the multiple cars behind them. Instead of going around the block, it is easier for you to do what is convenient and not what is necessarily right. Or maybe you’re working on a project at work and you find a shortcut that doesn’t correct a problem permanently, but will work for the short term. That way it can be someone else’s problem later. What sort of example have you just set? What are you telling the world about how you live your life?
I am declaring war on a six-word sentence.
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You may know by now that I started my weight loss journey on December 28th, 2009 with a goal of losing 60 pounds. I managed to lose 100 and I did it within one calendar year. I lost that weight by fueling my body with the rights foods and working hard-- very hard.
I’d like to share with you a phrase that I’ve heard during my journey: ''Yes, but men lose it easier.'' Although this phrase is only six words long, it can have a much more disastrous effect than it might seem. Have you ever heard these words while on your journey? Have you ever used those words to another person on a weight loss journey?
This phrase can be used as encouragement for some. For others it is used as an accusation, as a means of denial, as a crutch. It is the epitome of the double-edged sword. These words can cut like a knife, no question about it. I am certain that people who have uttered these words either to me or to another individual did NOT mean them in a harmful way. When a man is working hard and doing all things right and is finding success with his journey, why are folks so quick to knock his success with the phrase, ''Yes, but men lose it easier''? It is a complaint really, isn’t it? It isn't usually said in praise. Here is the deal: this phrase is hurtful. It can deflate all the sense of accomplishment that a man feels for the work that he has done. This phrase says that his work doesn’t count, that his struggles don't count. Chances are, that man will not give a complete picture of what he is going through. There is a mental battle that is being fought right alongside the physical one. I’ve said before that the emotions of this journey are sometimes the hardest part. These six words can do a great deal of damage that will require even greater work to overcome.
Have you heard of the ''Butterfly Effect''? In 1963, a man named Mr. Lorenz had a theory that was fairly simple and was laughed at by many colleagues. His theory stated that a butterfly could flap its wings in Texas and, as a result, air molecules would be moved. Those air molecules would cause other molecules of air to move, maybe in Tennessee, then in Florida, and eventually moving enough molecules that it would be possible for a violent storm to form on the other side of the planet. This theory was proven true in the 1990’s, and not just with molecules of air. I feel that this principle relates in a lot of ways to the formation of SparkPeople.
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While SparkPeople's CEO, Chris Downie, was working at P&G, he knew there was something more for him. He already had passion for his health and he put a plan into action. Soon enough, SparkPeople was born and his dream became a reality to ''spark'' others into better health. You see, Chris spread his wings and moved a few molecules in the universe, and those molecules are still moving.
That is the beautiful thing about the Butterfly Effect. Chris started SparkPeople because of his passion for health and helping others. He put the word out about a new weight loss website; others heard about it and joined. Those new members had success and enjoyed the site, so they told their friends and family about SparkPeople, which lead to another person, which led to the guy I heard about SparkPeople from, which lead to my own wellness and this very blog that you are now reading. That is absolutely amazing when you really think about it.
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