Sunday, May 16, 2010
I caught the Spark five months ago this weekend. I have made many friends here and learned many things about myself and about my journey towards health. If I had to summarize what I have learned and continue to learn it would go something like this:
I am learning PATIENCE
When Joan and I were married in 1974 (Long before a lot of you were born!) I weighed one hundred sixty pounds. Thirty five years later the day I began to Spark I weighed three hundred twenty six pounds. In thirty five years I had doubled myself and not I a good way I might add. It took me thirty five years to create all those habits and strategies that allowed all that weight gain. It is going to take a bit longer than five months to create new behaviors that will reverse that trend. I know I am on the right path. I have lost right at sixty four pounds during that time. The last three weeks have caused me to scratch my head a bit - - - A two pound gain, a five pound loss and this week I stayed the same as the week before. I reminded myself that my body is going through a lot of changes, all of them good ones. It needs time to adjust and in order for that to happen I need to be patient.
I have found that looking at my goals rather than my progress helps me slow down, take deep breaths and remember why I am here. It also helps to celebrate what I have achieved and plan to achieve more. I am in the process of becoming healthy and a process is not a program! Programs start and end. This process will go on for the rest of my life. I am not going to fail. It’s no longer an option.
I am learning to be PROACTIVE
News flash Sparkies, no one takes care of you any better than you and if you sit in the corner and cry about the fact you are fat, well then you are going to get awfully lonely, if you are not already!!! I have to be my best advocate and I have to make sure I get the positive attention I deserve to help me become healthier tomorrow than I am today.
It means that I have to face the music about things other than diet and exercise that are holding me back. I have to face those obstacles and then find help by either over coming them or learning to deal with them. No more blaming the environment, my upbringing, my family, my friends, etc. As a matter of fact there is no more blaming period, especially of me. I am obese.
The question becomes “What am I going to do about it?”
I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help or guidance. When I want to know something about diet or exercise I write a blog that that basically says “Hey guys I want to know more about……..” And you all answer and then I know what my options are. The trainers at our gym know me as the guy who is now eternally saying, “I gots a question for you.” It may refer to how to use a piece of equipment or an exercise I can do to stretch an aching muscle or two. I want to know. Truth be known, some of them give me a five word answer and walk away but most of them take the time to help me because I am showing an interest in myself.
Despite what that bald headed charlatan on television may say it is all about you. The thing we have shoved food in for so long, that thing called a mouth? That mouth is for you to ask, wonder and learn with so you can be the wonderful you that you are.
(From time to time I wonder just how much I really fracture the English language.)
I am learning to be POSITIVE
The harder I work the more encouraged I become. The more of you I spend time with you the healthier my mind becomes. If you know me at all you know my mantra is “You are who you hang around with.” I hang around with courageous, committed, beautiful people who share my common goal: To be everything I can be.
Some days I look in the mirror and even though my mind sees a really slender me, the mirror doesn’t. It can get discouraging. I could give up or…………. I could say a prayer, read one of your really great blogs and find a friend who may need my help and assistance.
Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker once said “You will get what you want when you help other people get what they want.” I believe that. I will find my happiness and my success through all the people in my life that are looking for the same things I am. If I started detailing everyone here at Spark who has helped me these past five months I would surely forget someone because there are thousands of you. Suffice to say, if you are reading this, you are one of my posse, LOL.
Finally, and this is just a recent revelation, my life is not ruled by a number on a scale. It is ruled by my desire to be happy and to spread that happiness to other people. My definition of success has always been “To help good people become better.”
I know include myself in that definition
You should also.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
You log your food, faithfully calculate your exercise program. You get enough rest, remain active and balance your caloric intake. You get on the scale once a day, once a week, or once a month. You measure your arms, your thighs and your waist. You do all this stuff faithfully and you start all over again tomorrow morning. It becomes routine and you learn that changing your life style means that what you do becomes part of your day and while you are happy and satisfied with all of your progress it can become, well it can become awfully ordinary.
Oh, you do not have to convince me of the benefits. I am well aware of them, but some days it just seems like, well there is a line from a movie of the same name and it says “What if this is a good as it gets?” Then you get surprised. When you least expect it, when you start to wonder………
The gym Joan and I belong to is part of our local hospital system. Appropriately enough it is called The Health Park. Besides the fact that its five minutes from our house it is a good facility staffed with good people. About a month ago they sent out one of those customer satisfaction surveys. I not only filled out the survey but stapled on an attachment. I told them how I felt that along with my family, my doctor and my friends they had played a real integral part in my journey. I detailed how they had helped.
Yesterday morning as I was feeling sorry for myself about God’s know what now, my phone rings. On the other end was the membership director of the Health Park. She told me how she had read my letter and was impressed with my journey. She went on to tell me that a few times a year they print a supplement that goes in our Sunday newspaper. They usually profile a member who has had some success. Would I like to be that member in June? I was speechless. She told me they would set up a photo shoot and arrange for a reporter to contact me for an interview.
“I don’t know you personally know you John,” she said. “But I understand from my staff you are quite an inspiration.”
I almost had to pull the car over to the side of the road. I started calling everyone I could think to call. I got home, changed clothes and did my C25K training and yeah I hurt a bit but I had this huge grin on my face. I WAS A SUCCESS.
I couldn’t help but think about a quote from a new friend here TRACEY5280. She wrote a response to my blog yesterday. She said “A quote I saw yesterday - "the bad news is that you are the problem, the good news is that you are the solution". That is so true.”
Amen. Enough said
Those days in the gym, passing up the cookies, cakes and pies, the sore joints? They suddenly became worth it all. I had achieved a success in my life and if I had one then I can have two and maybe three and then God knows how many. So I will hold this in my heart and I will enjoy it and I will realize that it is all worth it and it will carry me through until my next success, which I am coming to believe is right around the corner.
So is yours. When you least expect it.
I will publish the link to the article when it is published
Have a good Saturday.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Many years ago, when I worked in Human Resources I used to comment t that the real good things we accomplished no one ever knew about. They were all confidential. I used to feel good whenever we were able to help someone. No one ever knew we did it.
I thought about that yesterday as I was driving around between appointments. I get a lot of private comments on my blog postings, stuff that’s not posted for the public to see. To be honest some of it tears my heart out.
People will write me and ask me to “reach out” to a Spark person they may know who is having difficulty in their lives or who may be burdened. They hope I can inspire them to possibly overcome some type of adversity in their lives. I am not telling you all of this so you will think I am some grand and wise person. I am telling you this by way of explanation. There are a lot of “someone’s “who helped me. Some of them are here at Spark and some of them are people I have known forever. All I can do is be me and share my story. I can only hope and pray that might help someone else the way the things I have learned have helped me.
In 1989 I was hospitalized for panic/anxiety disorder and mild depression. I had suffered from this affliction for around two years and was hospitalized because a group of well intentioned doctors had medicated me to the point of being a zombie-like person. Joan hit the roof, with the doctors, when we went to Wal-Mart one Saturday and I simply stood smiling at The Kraft American Cheese display.
Fortunately, we had a close friend who was a rehab counselor and Joan and I went to see him and ask him what to do. I kept having panic attacks and the doctors kept increasing my medication. Ever seen a zombie have a panic attack? Our friend put me in touch with a doctor who simply told me I was on the wrong medication. Okay no problem. Off the meds we come. Small snafu here. He told me that based on the combination of medication I was on, that in all likelihood I would have severe seizure coming off of the meds. So he put me in the hospital.
One of “those” hospitals.
I spent ten days in a detoxification ward and while I didn’t have any seizures I did have an amazing and fantastic experience. If you are familiar with detox, you are segregated and you eat, sleep and live with ten other people in the same boat you are in. I met some heroes. I met some people who had so much adversity in their lives and they were struggling hard to overcome it. I sat side by side with people who kept struggling with the same chemical dependency over and over and kept coming back for one more try to get healthy and whole. I felt a little small, actually. Some of these folks had been struggling with life and death issues for years and I was the victim of some doctor’s error. I learned three things while I was there and they have served me well for the rest of my life.
The first was: “John quit being the victim.” Amazingly, when I got this through my thick skull my panic and anxiety attacks decreased dramatically. Yes, I had issues in my life that often went beyond my control and if you suffer from the same disorder you know what a royal pain a panic attack can be. I had to decide if it would control me or I would control it.
I was really no different than anyone else on the planet. I had issues. Playing the victim is an easy role. People feel sorry for us, they cut us a little bit of slack but one thing I found out was that while they are doing all this, they actually discount us and lose respect for us. Who’s inspired by someone sitting in the corner crying?
You may think I am being cruel. I am not. As they say “been there, done that and I got a major award to prove it.” Once all the drugs were out of my system my new doctor told me he didn’t believe in treating my disorder with medication unless it was completely debilitating. He told me “to go live my life and learn to cope with my issues.” I did and I have. I quit using it as an excuse to not get healthy and improve my life.
The second thing I learned is that you can be positive or you can be negative and it’s not going to change the situation you are in so you might as well be positive. I could sit here all day and tell you how I have turned really bad situations into really good ones, over time, by simply adjusting my outlook on life. There are people who hate to see me coming because I am always spreading sunshine. I just figure that there are enough people spreading gloom and doom, why shouldn’t I do just the opposite?
Third, if you have good friends, cherish them, feed them, water them and they will develop deep roots right alongside of you. During the ten days I was hospitalized I received one inquiry, other than Joan. It was from my best friend. She didn’t care what kind of hospital I was in or what I was in there for she only had one question, “What can I do?” She offered to help Joan out if she could and told me not to hesitate to call her no matter what time of the day or night.
Find a friend and be a friend. That’s the best advice I can give anyone.
I still have panic attacks. I live with them and I have learned some strategies to keep them at bay. They don’t rule my life. I overcame that obstacle and now I am dealing with my weight. I will overcome that obstacle too. I am not a victim, skinny, fat or otherwise. I am positive about my approach to this journey and truth be known I am enjoying it.
Finally I learned that if you want a lot of friends you have to be a friend. The first friend you need to make is you. You are your best friend. I’ll be there for you to cheer, to help, to guide and all that other neat stuff, but you and I will never stop playing the victim until we realize the issues we have in our lives and learn to first love ourselves. We need to see that all of this, good or bad is simply the life we live and it is indeed, what we make of it.
I could sit here until tomorrow making excuses for being overweight and unhealthy or I can, like the Nike commercial says “Just Do It.”
If I can do this, so can you.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
My favorite story from The Bible centers on Moses, a whole bunch of cranky people, lack of water and God. Moses leads the people into the desert where they wander for forty years. They are hot, they are tired and they are thirsty. They put a lot of trust in Moses and I am quite sure he felt the murmurs and whispers that he had lost it. It seemed as if he could do nothing right.
Moses goes up on the mountain for his daily meeting with God. He tells God that the people are grumbling, irritable and most likely a bit smelly because they haven’t had any water in quite some time. God ponders all this for a moment, and points at a rock. He tells Moses to take his staff, walk over to the rock and strike the rock one time and one time only and the people will have more water than they know what to do with.
As Moses is walking towards this rock he is looking down the mountain and looking at this mob that wants to cut his throat. “No way,” he thinks. “No way, is one tiny tap gonna supply all the water we need. I mean He is God and all but I better give it more than one bash, just to make sure.”
So he does. He hits the rock three times. Out bursts the water, problem solved and Moses figures he can move on to other issues. With a smile on his face and a song in his heart Moses descends the mountain. God stops him.
“Moses” God asks. “How many times did I tell you to strike the rock?”
“Uhm, one time.” Says Moses. “But I figured that I better hit it more than that, just to be sure.”
“You figured?” God asks.
The long and short of the story is that God tells Moses because of his lack of faith in what he was asked to do; he will not enter the Promised Land. In other words he won’t get what he has worked so hard to attain.
What does this have to do with C25K training? Well it comes down to being a matter of trust. It means trusting a program I believe in and trusting me to succeed.
I decided to train to run a 5K. “Use the C25K program John. It’s proven to work!!!” Person after person gave me that advice. So I sat down, read the program and decided it would work for me.
I started on Monday and I have to tell you the first week seemed awfully skimpy!! I mean three times a week for twenty minute a session? That didn’t seem like a lot. Better that I added some additional training on my own and on the days I wasn’t doing C25K training I needed to step it up a bit. The end result was late Tuesday evening I had a hard time moving. The heck with the program!!! I knew better!!!
Now I know none of you have ever done anything like this. I mean no one would ever consider eating way below their calorie level because they figured that by doing so they would lose weight even quicker. I mean no one should eat THAT MANY calories. So maybe we eat a lot less, our stomachs shrink and don’t lose any weight at all. We don’t follow exercise regimens because we know better and wind up hurt or dejected because we did too much.
Along with diet and with exercise this change I am going through has to incorporate other things I never thought would enter the fray. I have to learn to build and develop trust, not only in the programs I use but in John. I can’t trust me, however, unless I really care about me and I can’t care about me if I don’t value me!!! It means that even when I don’t feel beautiful, handsome, charming and witty, I believe I am. I believe I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to even though at the precise moment I may feel like a total and complete failure.
It means I trust and if it says on the package,” hit the rock one time and one time only”, then I do.
On top of being really good looking I also read minds. I know what you are thinking. “Yeah John, I trusted before and I got messed over.”
Me too. Been messed over more times than I care to count. But even at my heaviest, in my darkest moment, when every time I stepped on the scale and it went upward, I kept telling myself “You will get this John, you will find a way. This weight will come off. No matter how many times you fail you will get this one day.”
Then I found Spark and I found you. Yeah, you, reading this right now.
I hit the rock once.
I didn’t know this until a few months ago but do you know it took Moses and his followers forty years to make an eleven day journey? I think I would have fit right in
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