Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Sometimes the written word isn’t adequate. Some days I sit at my keyboard and I want to express an emotion or a thought and I just don’t have a human word or sentence for it. I suspect that’s how God’s love is for us, so wonderful, awesome and unconditional that there are no words for it.
I do believe in heroes. I believe they are the everyday people like me and you who make a decision to be healthy, to be happy and to be successful. We are are never on the cover of People or the stars in a reality show. Mostly, our lives are our own reality shows, except we don’t get to hawk our own line of clothing or get paid a boat load of money when we find a pimple on our fore heads.
No, you and I are the people who get up each day and face our lives. Whether the day has been good or bad, we go to bed knowing it’s going to be there waiting for us the next morning when we wake up. That’s what makes us heroes. It is our ability to persevere and to triumph over all the adversity we face on a day-to-day basis.
We have rent and mortgages and sick kids and teenagers with issues and spouses and jobs that suddenly aren’t there one day. We sit and stare out the window and we wonder how we are going to make it another day. But we do.
We choose to be healthy. We don’t always get it right, but when we do get it, well it sticks. We drag ourselves off the couch and we walk, or we run or we cycle or we Wii-Fit it when we’d rather curl up and forget about all this nonsense.
We read about healthy alternatives to the stuff we been putting in our bodies for years and we scour the produce section of our groceries for new treats. Yes, we lie in bed at night thinking about that four layer lemon crème cake with the lemon butter cream icing, but we never eat it.
We are human. We have scars to show and truth be known, most of us try to hide them rather than show them off. We write blogs, read blogs, comment on blogs, encourage each other and get really worried when we see our progress isn’t what everyone else’s is.
Somehow we move forward. There is a “Spark” inside of us that pushes us to be the true definition of hero. We keep at it and keep at it until we get it right and when we do then we smile a most satisfying smile and move on to our next challenge. We are a great and noble people who are not smug in our victories. No, not us. We share those victories by encouraging other people and telling them “You can do it!!!” They are the people whose support and encouragement has me training to run a 5K when I never thought I could walk more than five feet.
We tend to shun the heroic because when we compare ourselves to those comic books type heroes we will never live up to their performance and frankly it’s futile to try. That type of heroism isn’t real. Ours is.
My heroes reside within this web site. They are people just like me. They are you. Those heroes write to me and encourage me and seem to know when to send me a Spark Mail that says “You been awfully quiet today. Is everything okay?”
Why did I write this? I read so much of what you write, whether it is to me personally or your own thoughts in a blog or on your Spark page. I read how frustrated you get and how you wish things would change, but I notice that you are back every day, making an effort to get it right. That’s why you’re a hero. It’s not because of all the weight you lost or the races you have run or the awards you have collected. Those are amazingly cool things but……………. You are my heroes because there is blood on every ounce and inch you have lost. There is a blister on every toe and a callus on every heel for every mile you have walked or run. Victory is an outcome and victory doesn’t make heroes. Hard work and perseverance does.
Sometimes I am not sure I have the right words to express what I feel, but I keep coming back until I get it right.
Just like you.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I have clothes that no longer fit me . They are too big. It feels good to be able to say that. I went out and got some new clothes. Remember I’m a guy so this whole trip took about an hour. Khaki pants, black pants and gray pants with shirts to match. My new clothes were snug a month ago and now they are loose.
Joan eyed me up when we got ready for church the other night and said. “I guess we will have to replace those clothes soon too.”
She looked in my closet and said “I thought you got rid of the clothes that didn’t fit? When Katie went to the shelter with her stuff I thought she was taking yours?”
I just shrugged and we went to church. It bothered me, those clothes just hanging there. My “fat clothes.” Katie asked me if I should take them and I told her no. I’d take them myself. I see them every day when I get dressed in the morning.
It dawned on me last night, after thinking about all the progress I made, I was getting into new territory here. I am hanging on to those old clothes because I am afraid to be skinny.
See, I know fat. I have been that way for gosh at least fifteen years, maybe more. I have been carrying this cargo around for so darned long that I can’t remember how darned long I have been carrying it around. I do not know skinny and healthy. Those clothes are my safety net. You know, for when I regain all the weight I lost. I’ll have clothes to fit. I have an “out.” Pretty messed up thinking, huh?
In our hope chest, at the foot of our bed is a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine from 1980. It’s not a commemorative issue or anything. It has an interview with Tom Petty. I like Tom Petty but he’s not one of my all time fav’s or anything I like that. I kept the magazine because of something he said. Thirty years later, it all made sense.
When asked what made him so successful Petty said when he was twelve he sold his prized possessions. He took the money he earned from selling those things and purchased a guitar. He was going to be a great musician and he would let nothing stand in his way. He left himself nothing to fall back on he said. If he had something to fall back on he felt he would. The rest as they say is history.
I’ve kept that magazine all these years because I have always been inspired by Petty’s story. Yesterday it made sense. As long as I hang on to those old “fat clothes” I have an excuse. I have something to fall back on. I may reach my goal but I won’t stay there or maybe I’ll give up because my old life style is calling me back. With my safety net I don’t have to put it all out there. I can hedge my bets a bit, just in case.
Talk about your major epiphany moments. I’ll admit my first feeling wasn’t a pleasant one at all. It was a bit of shame and a bit of embarrassment and a lot of “Oh My Goodness’s.” It reminded me of the poster I saw once that read “We have met the enemy and they are us!!!”
Those negative feelings were quickly replaced by an enlightened one. “Move forward, cut the ties, and oh yeah while you are at it John, start learning to deal with some of this stuff or we may have to give you an award for best actor in a dramatic role.”
The clothes are only a symbol of my fear to move forward. I wish I could get rid of that fear simply by removing my old clothes. I know it’s not all that easy. But it’s a step in the right direction.
It’s really my attitude, you know. I have made so many positive changes recently and I should be excited about what’s around the bend. I think I’ll throw that old attitude in the box with all my old clothes.
This may not seem like the most inspirational blog in the world to you reading it, but when I realized how much I was hanging on to my past, it made perfect sense to me!!!
Yeah I know “fat.”
I’m discovering “skinny.”
You are cordially invited to join me
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.
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