Friday, April 27, 2012
Larry’s been out of school for twenty years. He told me the last class he remembers was his PE class two days before he graduated from high school. You can imagine the adjustment. Larry was struggling with, English 101. Larry had to write composition after composition and it was weighing him down. As Larry told this story, I shared my philosophy of writing. I believe that writing is like any other process in our lives. It requires dedication and practice. I usually write for thirty to forty minutes each day. Some days I just don't feel like writing but I do it anyway. Larry looked at me and said: "Well you are a really good writer."
"Uh-oh," I thought. "Here comes the moment that involves the plastic smile and a modest thank you."
I was quite surprised, however. My reaction was genuine and sincere. I felt very calm, very peaceful, very focused; as if Larry's recognition validated many things I have been working towards. My” thank you” to Larry was a sincere one. I have a hard time accepting sincere and genuine thanks and praise. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I was raised in an environment that taught me to ferret out every bit of good and positive achievement and offer it up for some souls languishing in an alleged place between heaven and hell. Never mind that I was good at what I did, that was not the point. The point was that people who took credit for what they did were guilty of false pride and arrogance. I have to practice what I preach. I have to work very hard to live my mantra: "I am worth all the effort I put into myself." My confident acceptance was a validation of that effort and hard work.
How many of you, feel you’re overweight, unhealthy, and unhappy because of something terrible you did earlier in your life? How many of you feel that no matter how hard you try you are never going to achieve and accomplish the things you really want to because unfortunately, you are just one of those people who's not supposed to get what they deserve? I am not proud of it, but I was one of those people. There was no sense, and there was no use in trying to improve myself because I just had the odds stacked against me. "Pity, party of one, your table is now available."
So often, people would genuinely complement me for something I had done well. My face would flush, my heart would beat rapidly, and I'd find some words to discount or negate the complement. After all, if they only knew all the mistakes I had made my life and all the attempts I had made to reach my goals, only to fail they wouldn't be heeping all this praise on me. That's a tough way to live your life. You work very hard, and truth be told you probably don't fail anymore or any less than any other person; it's just that your successes are so far and few between that you never seem to notice them.
Whether it's health and fitness, whether it's writing, knitting, hitting a golf ball or running a marathon if you don't believe you are worth all the effort you put in to your activity no matter how much you tangibly accomplish deep down inside you will never feel as if you were successful. My” thank you” to Larry yesterday was heartfelt and sincere and just between us friends it felt really good. I enjoy writing and I believe I write well. I am proud of my writing and I enjoy sharing it with other people. My writing in many respects may be considered my way of "paying things forward." There's no arrogance and conceit in what I say. My “thank you” to Larry was simply a beginning. That's where it all starts. I have a choice to build on that strong feeling or to simply replaying my mind repeatedly and let it wither on the vine.
What about you? What do you do well and how long have you kept the wonderful talents and amazing things you have to share a secret? You and I have heard repeatedly that a good house is built on a strong foundation. My health, my fitness, my overall sense of well-being doesn't come from a lot of self-discipline but from the pure, clear fountain deep inside my soul that tells me I'm worth all the effort I put into my success, and so are you. Some days it seems that the harder we work the further behind we get and then we have that moment when a Larry looks across the table and tells us something we know is true.
If I can do one thing really well then there's no limit to the things I can accomplish when I believe I am worth all the effort I put into myself. You see, my "thank you" was really just the beginning.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
If you cant view this video here it is also availible on YouTube @
Monday, April 23, 2012
Thank you Carl. It took twenty years for me to get. Every morning when I’d walk into your office sitting on your desk, was a simple message. “By an inch it’s a cinch. By a mile it’s a trial.” I looked at it every day for two years and its meaning didn’t hit me until about a week ago. You were telling us to take it slow and easy and one day we’d all wake up and go “OMG, I reached my goal!” But, like a lot of other people I chose to win the whole game with one swing of the bat.
When I joined Spark two and a half years ago I was heavier than I’d ever been in my life. I weighed in at 326 pounds. (Yikes!!!) I was ready to change, or so I thought. I jumped in with both feet. I joined a lot of teams, accepted a lot of challenges, went through the obligatory C25K, ran in three 5K’s started spinning and low and behold I lost 79 pounds. I was well on my way to reaching my initial goal of a 100 pound weight loss. I hit the dreaded plateau. I tried everything. Maybe a new Spark team, maybe exercise regimens changes. I hired a personal trainer, got rid of diet soda, gluten and quite frankly ended up being really miserable. The scale never moved. You know what happened next. Many of you have been there. The closet door opened and out popped the monsters. Their nasty little voices told me “See, you are never going to make it!!!” In a way they were right, it’s what I believed. In May of 2011 I hurt my back and my exercise was significantly curtailed. The weight didn’t creep back on it roared back on! In early March I thought I had a handle on it, thought I’d gotten back on track. My dad suddenly died at age 88. Being an emotional eater to begin with this only added insult to injury. I could barely close my pants and began telling myself I knew it was a mistake to get rid of my fat clothes.
An old friend once told me “God creates from nothing and until we are nothing God cannot create.” Yoo Who, God, I believe I get the point.” I’d regained all but seven pounds. Slowly I began to realize that in my zeal and my hurry to get healthy I’d taken on way too much. It was like juggling ten balls at once. It’s hard to keep up! It was like I had to make up for a lifetime of poor choices all at once. That’s when I remembered what Carl said. If you look at it in small increments it’s more manageable, isn’t it? I want to be healthy. That’s a milestone. A milestone is like way huger than a goal. It’s like standing at the bottom of a mountain and declaring you’ll climb it without ever having climbed a mountain before. You get up the mountain a bit and you are lost. You purchased all the correct gear. Why isn’t this working? It’s because you didn’t start with the small hills, build up your confidence and then scale Mt. Everest. Our goals lead us to milestones which lead us to major life accomplishments and I’ve realized that my whole notion was slightly skewed. I was swinging for the fences.
I am shelving long term goals for now. Yes, I know it goes against the grain, but for me, weekly goals will keep me better focused and are completely manageable. Each Monday, I’ll set a health related goal for the next week. Each week I’ll build on that accomplishment. This week I am going to work very hard at making the right food choices. I’ll know I’m on target by looking at my tracker and making sure I stay within my limits. Easy you say? I have a question. How many of us who DON’T track our food intake on a regular basis stay healthy and maintain our desired weight? I know I didn’t. Next Sunday I will evaluate my progress and add to it. I’m not living beyond next Monday morning.
Like so many other people I tried to do too much at once. Am I bitter, shoot no!!! I am grateful that I see what needs to be done. Yes, it took over two years but for the first time in forever I feel like my focus is clear as well as my intent.
Do me a favor, I need some help. If you have time this week shoot me a Goodie or Spark Mail and ask me how I’m doing? I’m not ashamed to admit it; right now I need some accountability support.
“By an inch it’s a cinch……”
Sunday, April 22, 2012
I was traveling a better part of last week which meant I had to play the food challenge game. This used to really bother me. I’d get all bent out of shape and mutter nasty invectives about the skinny people who wanted to stop at The All You Can Eat Carb Bar and wash it down with three or four high calorie beers and I just had to sit there. I swear I’d see my tummy grow the minute we walked in the door.
Thursday morning, while I was dressing it dawned on me that I was AS important as the people I sat around the table with and I indeed had my own voice. Maybe it was time I used it for my own good. Us overweight people often have self-esteem issues amongst our luggage. We feel lucky just to be allowed in the room, much less participate in the fun and games. So we sit in the corner, hoping no one sees us there. Slowly but surely we lose our voice. You know the voice, right? It’s the one that allows us to move front and center and assure our basic needs are taken care of. When your self-esteem is really bruised and battered you lose your voice. You rationalize that “you’re being selfish,” or “you don’t want to make any waves.” I’m not talking about an in your face sort of style. I’m talking about a quiet assuredness that knows what’s best for me and you. The more weight we gain , the more false starts we endure, the smaller our voice becomes. We get lost and feel unworthy.
Cold hard fact: No one will look out for you until you begin to look out for yourself. No one will intervene on your behalf but you. Friends, family, co-workers may express concern about your health but no one will intervene. It’s up to me and you. Those thoughts went through my head the other morning as I dressed. I got a bit angry at myself. I am reasonably intelligent. I should have seen this. No worries. I believe God turns a fresh page every morning and because he loves me in a most amazing way he gives me an opportunity to learn from yesterday. I have learned that the best time to begin anything is RIGHT NOW. It’s not next week, next month or next year. I’ve learned that your level of commitment to a new project or behavior will never be stronger than RIGHT NOW.
I met my client in the hotel dining room. He had already hit the omelet bar. His plate was loaded with eggs, three cheeses and every meat known to man. I could hardly see his face from all the steam rising off his plate. No time like the present John. I patiently waited my turn in line and said the following words: “I’d like an egg white omelet with spinach, tomatoes, green peppers and mushroom. No cheese please and could you cook that in cooking spray rather than butter?” He asked if I wanted sausage or bacon. I told him fruit. He told me that would “cost extra.” I told him no worries. I sat down to eat breakfast and my client asked “Not hungry, John?” I could have launched into a speech about healthy eating but instead I just grinned and said “Well I am going to be teaching today so I want to be light on my feet.” He laughed, I laughed and when I went back to my room I did a modified version of the happy dance.
You know how us overweight people bemoan the fact that one bad behavior, one misstep, leads to us sliding down the side of the hill and drowning in a sea of French fries? I do it all the time. I’ll snag a donut on the way out the door and as far as I’m concerned I’ve undone three weeks of good and the rest of the day is a sugar and carb stupor. I might as well give up. You been there? Seems like every fault and flaw pushes front and center and reminds us how big of a failure we really are. Do we look that way on positive behaviors as well? One really healthy decision in the morning leads to a strong foundation for the rest of the day. Fortified with that knowledge, I dusted off my voice and used it for my own benefit at breakfast. I was able to use it confidently the rest of the day. Funny thing though. I had some challenges. Some I navigated successfully, some I didn’t. I never blew it but when faced with a bad or worse choice my self-esteem wasn’t flushed because of it. I knew the next opportunity offered me a chance to make best choices for me. A chance to use my voice
Practice makes perfect. We all have a voice. Wouldn’t it sound amazing your voice and mine, part of a most amazing chorus?
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I honestly do try to respond to all the blog comments, Spark Mails and Goodies I receive from all of you very wonderful people. In all honesty after a bit I get overwhelmed and my responses become a bit mechanical and from rote. If you have added me as your friend: THANK YOU. If you took the time to comment on my blogs: THANK YOU. If you took the time to send a Goodie with an encouraging note: THANK YOU. I am quite capable of writing forever and ever, on how much I appreciate your love and support. I will simply repeat those two words from my heart and spoken sincerely.
Get An Email Alert Each Time JOHNTJ1 Posts