Monday, May 24, 2010
On Sunday morning I get up and go to the grocery to get fresh veggies. I know Kroger stocks them around six am. My weekly treat is a fresh veggie omelet and I look forward to seeing if they stock anything new and different. I was standing in the checkout line and was looking at the stuff in my basket – mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh baby spinach and green peppers. There was a bunch of bananas in their too!
That’s when it hit me and I’m not sure why. Being the feast of Pentecost I guess it was the Holy Spirit at work. I looked in my basket and smiled. Five months ago in my pre-Spark days, Sunday breakfast would have been sausage, bacon, eggs, and probably a donut of some sort. If I was in a hurry it would have been some fast food, quick to satisfy and quick to be gone!! That’s quite a change. In, the spirit of full disclosure I did have two sausage links yesterday. They were Morningstar Veggie Links. I have come a long way.
I get so caught up in “doing what’s right”, stressing out over my weekly weigh in and continually reminding myself that I am not on a diet, I don’t see the one thing I really should focus on - - PROGRESS. I have changed a habit and if you’ll excuse the pun, it became a habit!!!
It’s different for all of us. That’s because our needs are so different. My eating habits were terrible five months ago. Thanks to the good example all you showed me I now spend time figuring out how I am going to eat healthier this week than I did last week. I read blogs, research Spark articles and plan. Back in the old days when I had a failure I’d give up. Now I analyze it and figure out an improvement strategy. Yes, I get down but never out. I have bad days, I get fed up, I get lonely and I want attention, but I rebound quickly because I’m on a quest. I am making progress.
It’s the people I hang around with now. People all over the world who are eating smarter, exercising harder and working diligently to reach those goals they set. Some are young, some are old and some are in between. Some have been Sparking five years and some five minutes. They form this community full of positive energy that is so wonderfully overwhelming. I am part of it!!! That illicits the biggest grin. I am part of this large community, this amazing life force that loves and accepts and encourages me. That is progress.
When we finished breakfast I began looking for more positive changes. I had lost 3.8 pounds last week and so I looked back a full month. I had lost nine pounds in the past thirty days!!! Considering I had a two pound gain in there that’s pretty gosh darned amazing!!! (Can you tell I love exclamation points!!!?) I had the feeling I was stuck, hitting a plateau or just done losing weight. What a boost. What progress.
Five months ago the only place I ran was to the fridge to get something to eat. Running for fun or health wasn’t something on my radar. Only “jocks” did that and jocks always hated me so why would I want to do something they did? (I’m not insecure or anything……..)
Joan and I walk everyday and we walked in a 5K. Well we ran the last quarter of a mile or so and I was hooked. I started C25K training and low and behold the biggest support I got was from the “jocks.” They encouraged me, supported me and now I am going to run a 5K. I don’t have a clue as to when but I am training for it. That is REAL progress LOL
Joan’s comment on my Spark experience is this: “Please tell those wonderful people whatever they are saying to you, to please keep it up. You are becoming a joy to live with.” (I always thought I WAS a joy to live with, but oh well.) The best feeling there is, in my experience is the feeling of being accepted for who you are. You guys have done that for me. You welcomed me and you encouraged me and you called me friend and that means the world to me.
I have three hundred fifty seven Spark friends. Each of you at one time or another has said something, sent something or simply just been there for me and helped make a difference. I often think about how I can honor that wonderful gift you have given me and continue to give me…….. I can honor you by continuing my progress, by getting better every single day and by realizing I am part of the single greatest experience on the planet.
If it hasn’t hit you by now it should. You are one of the people who happen to make a real difference in someone’s life. Yeah, you!!! Little old insignificant you who feel they only take and never give.
You make progress every day of your lives and most of it is good progress. Some days we can’t see the forest because of the trees. We sweat, we work and we worry and then one day we start to see real progress.
Take out a pad of paper, and go back four weeks. What are you doing better? You'll be amazed.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
My daughter and I were standing in line at the grocery late yesterday afternoon when she noticed a person with a popular beer in their cart.
“To bad you can’t have any of that, huh, dad?
I looked at her, like what she said didn’t actually compute.
‘The beer, dad. You can’t have the beer because of your diet!”
“Sure I can.” I said smiling. “I can have anything I want. I just choose not to.”
“But if you drink the beer you’ll get fat again!!”
“Exactly,” I responded. “That’s why I choose not to drink it”
Ever since we were itty-bitty kids we were always attracted to what we “cant” have. It really has to be powerfully good it we can’t have it, doesn’t it? So we posture and complain and occasionally put on a hair shirt and suffer, all for the sake of our health. Help me here dear friends, but is suffering really healthy?
The very minute I convince myself that I “cant” eat something I am saying that choice a is being forced upon me and is a form of punishment. It’s no secret that as an overweight guy I suffer from a degree of low self esteem to begin with. I mean, I am fat and you are not and it must be some sort of character flaw, right?
I know that thinking is a bit more than slightly flawed, but that’s how I think at times. The minute I perceive something to be a punishment, the minute you tell me I “cant” than I might as well give up because I am fat, which means I have a fatal character flaw to begin with, so I should sit around and wait for the big one. Unfortunately it becomes a vicious cycle.
It comes down to choosing. I can choose to rob a bank. If I do I will probably go to jail, for a long time. That’s the consequence of my choice. I never give robbing a bank a second thought. That choice is not in my best interest. Neither is over eating or eating foods that imperil my health. It’s not a matter of good or bad, in it’s a matter of what’s best for me and everyone I hold dear. Yet I look at it as denying myself.
Time to change things, isn’t it? When I make the choice to be healthy the first thing I do is honor myself and my Creator. I am saying that I think enough of me and He who made me to do the things that benefit me. In other words “I am worth it.” Those choices to eat the apples and grapes in lieu of the cookies, cakes and pies honor every good thing about me. When I choose to remain active I am stating in an emphatic way that I will not tolerate the laziness of my past. It’s gone for good.
Ya can’t say can’t. Well I guess you can but then you’ll be stuck. That’s what I’ve found every time I get stuck. That nasty little voice in my head says “YOU can’t do that, John!!! You are, too old, or too fat, or too stupid or…………”
Yes, I can. I can do all those wise things that honor me and my health. It is my choice and I have to make it every moment of every day and no it isn’t always easy. The payoff is worth it.
There is a story in the Bible where Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Good old bombastic Peter, shouts out an “Of course I do!!!” Jesus asks him three times and Peters answer is always the same. Then Jesus adds the question “More than these?”
There are some Scripture scholars that suggest the “these” Jesus was referring to were the tools of Peters’ trade, his boat and his nets. When Peter said yes again, Jesus looked at him and said “Then feed my sheep.”
We all have sheep to feed. We are all called to be part of that most wonderful tapestry called creation. The call we receive is the choice to leave behind our bad habits and our faulty thinking and sincerely believe we are worth it.
You who read this feed my soul every day with your beautiful friendship and amazing support. It is the amazing choice you make to extend your hand to someone and share what’s inside of you.
You can, and you do.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
There are not a lot of benefits to spending half your life in your car. I guess the main was is you have a lot of time with you, and you get to know you really well if you have the courage to do so.
I have satellite radio so I have a lot of music to choose from and I do so like to flip around.
I was driving home last night and an old Dionne Warwick song came on and I thought about all my friends and that includes you guys and so today in lieu of my wisdom I thought I would share hers:
Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
In good times, in bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
Oh, that's what friends are for
Have a good Thursday
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
My living room looks like a bomb went off in it. There is thirty six years worth of photographs strewn all over the place. Our middle child, Paul is getting married in September and his fiancé has requested a photographic history of his life. This meant, and I am not using literary exaggeration here friends, six huge Rubbermaid tubs that had been tucked away in various nooks and crannies were pulled out and the sorting process has began. Thirty six years of collected family history.
On the up side there was a lot of “Do you remember……..? And “OMG look how young we were.” It’s nice to walk down memory lane every now and then, just as long as you keep on moving. The word “journey” is a verb and it’s intended to inspire action.
One of the ways I often shoot myself in the foot is to try to go back to them “good old days.” Seeking happier times and all those mangled metaphors. The happiest time in my life should be right now. The “glory days” should be today. But as I looked over the mess in my living room and all the collected emotions associated with them I couldn’t help but realize that the past was often a larger part of my life than the present, whether it is through a positive or negative memory.
My journey towards health involves me creating happiness, health and abundance in my life today, not reflecting on past mistakes, bad decisions and failed relationships. They are important only from the perspective that they landed me at the place I am today. In twenty four hours today will be over and it will not come back no matter how hard I click my heels three times and will it to be so. So I must enjoy it, learn from it while it is here and then let go of it when it is gone.
I notice that when I get very close to reaching a goal or when I receive some sort of recognition or praise that I slowly want things to go back to the “good old days” where things were safe and predictable. They were also the days I was morbidly obese and extremely out of shape. Aches and pains abounded, but yeah, bring back the good old days and then I won’t have to deal with today’s challenge or an area I need to improve.
The glory days are safe because we are in charge of how we remember them. I can dredge them up when I want to create a safe buffer or wall between me and reality and then I can either complain and moan about them or get a dreamy smile on my face when I recall them.
Memories are good when they serve to inspire me. Joan showed me some pictures of one of my grandfathers and I remember how gentle he was, even though he died when I was eight. He had a great sense of humor and was always ready to laugh. He lived upstairs for us and the highlight of my day was to wait for him when he came home from work. When the weather was nice he would hold on to my hand and we would walk down the block to a tavern. He would order me an orange soda and a huge pretzel stick and I would spin around on the bar stool while he and his friends solved the world’s problems. When he finished his one beer we would walk home and eat dinner.
I take lots of walks with my granddaughter and we talk. I’m a lot younger than my grandfather was, but I was inspired by his patience and his kindness and I try to mirror that in my life.
“But John, back in the old day’s people prayed more!!! That’s what’s wrong with the world, people don’t pray!”
Then pray and be an example. Conjuring up some old memory from thirty years ago isn’t going to drive a single soul to their knees. The example I set in my life may cause someone to take notice of how I live my life and inquire about it, but moaning about the good old days only wastes time.
“Family values are dead.”
Then you and your family work hard to create those values in your home and let other people see what a wonderfully happy family you have. Don’t blame the political system, the educational system and any other excuse I can create.
Be a change agent.
Pining for the good old says isn’t going to make me healthier. My body reacts differently at fifty six then it did at twenty six. I can still be healthy and looking at old pictures of really thin John isn’t going to make me any thinner or any healthier.
The picture that inspires success for me is the one I take every morning when I stare in the mirror and realize that the very best me, on that very best day is standing right there.
So why ya sittin’ here? Go look at your best picture too.
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