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Get out there and live.


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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hands down, the one question I get asked the most is "What made the difference this time?" What separated this weight loss attempt from all of the others? In other words, why did I succeed? In reflection I can tell you it has nothing to do with counting calories, restriction or doing everything perfectly. The difference was choosing to live again. Deciding that life begins today and not at some mythical moment in time.

In short, dieting sucks. There is nothing positive about it. The whole premise is based on the fact that something is wrong with me, wrong with how I look, or maybe my health is going down the drain. It's all negative from start to finish. Who can live within a paradigm like that for very long? I know, I tried to and failed. I was 385 pounds. I had chest pains, chronic fatigue, high cholesterol, and the only thing I dreaded more than a long stair climb was to climb stairs with an audience. A close second was to have someone see me try to tie my shoes...equally bad. Yet, in spite of all of this, doctors couldn't scare me into another diet. I couldn't be nagged into compliance. The more one nagged me, the more rebellious and set in my ways I became.

I love my chicken wings, pizza, Chinese, and fried foods and NO skinny, white-smocked, pencil neck geek is going to take them away and make me eat bunny food. I'm still breathing, I'm still upright, and therefore I don't have a problem. Period, end of discussion...now, pass the ketchup please.

You cannot take something that a man loves and finds comfort in and replace it with nothing but discomfort, restriction, and burdensome obsessing over every little detail. So what made the difference? I fell in love. For love, a man will cross oceans, climb mountains, and do some of the craziest things just to further himself in his cause. No sacrifice is too great, no effort is too much. Those habits I would have gone to blows to defend were willingly surrendered when love entered the picture.

Let me explain. When I started my job at the mine, I spent SO much time in a dump truck. I only got a 10 and 20 minute break in an 8 hr shift. The rest of that time was spent with my butt squarely planted in the drivers seat.. It got to the point that I wanted to go walking, not for weight loss, but just to get a little fresh air and movement. Then I noticed things. I noticed how fresh the air was after a rain, the pine smell of a damp forest, how beautiful it was to listen to the birds sing farewell to another day. I would feel peace and contentment. I would also miss this if I let it lapse. Reasons why I missed didn't matter, I still missed it and I would long to experience that again. You see, life will pull you away, but love will bring you back.

As I got more fit, walking was not enough. I bought a mountain bike and then the affair with fitness really heated up. I was well over 300 pounds at this time still but life just got more exciting. The woods and the beauty therein was awesome. I was feeling more like a little kid, exploring, wanting to make it over the next hill. Life was no longer just drudging along from one shift to the next, was no longer being measured by empty energy drink cans. Life had some spice, some speed, some fun. A funny thing happened. As I became more active, my weight started to slowly fall. Funny, all I was doing was having fun. I mean after all, dieting sucks, but this.... this is fun :)

I began reading mountain bike magazines, I gobbled up what I could about my new passion. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and this was no different. I wanted to experience what THOSE guys experienced, the fun, the awesome rides, the coolness of it all. Most of all I wanted to LOOK like those dudes. That was about the time I started in with a personal trainer. I also started jogging. I remember when I was in the military, I would go for a (infrequently mind you) jog and how awesome it felt. As inconsistent as I was, I remember how it FELT and wanted that again. That was when my trainer suggested I try a local road race.

Several months later, I crossed the finish line of my first race, a 10k (6.2 miles). With that finishers ribbon in my pocket, I was 10 foot tall. I had done something I had never done before, even when my weight was not a problem. With each race I would feel alive, in the moment, and most of all, I was a champion. The affirmation, empowerment, and self-confidence I gained from finishing something that I trained for is a feeling that I never got from stuffing myself while watching a movie. This was real and I wanted more. Once you taste personal victory, everything else becomes a cheap substitute.

Up to this point, you will notice the absence of the word diet, or restriction, or calories. The first step of my success was that I became emotionally connected to exercise in one form or another. I was more into what it did for me and how it made me feel. Most of all, I was growing as a man and I liked what I was becoming. I had gotten into living life not dieting. As I became more intense about what I was doing, my nutrition had taken on new purpose. I now had a reason. I call it purpose driven fitness. Everything I was doing revolved around being a better runner, cyclist or swimmer because I LOVED what I was doing and wanted to get better at it. That involves honing my nutrition. When you start crafting your approach that way, the pounds will follow. It is a far cry from restricting myself because I hate how I look or feel. I do what I do because if I want more of the thrill that personal victory brings, I need to bring my "A" game and I can't do that if I am constantly making the wrong choices.

Now it comes down to choices. Eighty percent of the time, I am wooed by the memories, the thumping of music at the finish line, the thrill of doing something epic. The other twenty... "Yes, I'll take fries with that"... and I'm perfectly ok with it, hey, I'm still human.

What makes me successful? I train and eat with purpose. I love being out there, I love living life. As a result, the side benefit is that fitness also translates into my everyday life. What ever your activity of choice is, excel at it. Feel it as you are out there whether it is cycling, hiking, running, swimming or whatever, find your passion. When I (often) stray, passion calls me back. Having something or some event to shoot for gives far more meaning to a workout than doing it just because you have to or worse yet, because you are unhappy with who you are.

Through this process I have learned that when I take care of myself first. I have spent so much of my adult life like a worker bee, laying down all of my life’s energy for the collective good that I wound up on the bottom with nothing left. Experience your best life now. Find your passion, what makes you feel alive, and go for it. When you do so, you will find that you are far more able to give. You only have one shot in life, make it count.

Look at the race results of a major marathon or triathlon. I have noticed that, over the last several years, the lists of 60-70yr+ old age group finishers are GROWING.... Maybe my name will be there one day. What better goal to strive for? I'll take that over the certainty of an oxygen tank, a needle, or pining away in a nursing home somewhere if I neglect my health. When the excitement of the race is over, the rush, the thrill of accomplishment is past, the quiet chirping of birds still awaits.

The simple enjoyment of being alive, the warmth of the sun on my face as I jog a quiet forest trail, or unwinding from a stressful day on my bike is all there to greet me every day. It is the simple pleasures of just being out there that got me in, they are also the things that get me to stay. I love this new life that I now live.

I challenge you to get out there and see what I mean.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
CATNCAG 7/9/2014 2:18PM

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LORIVIOLA 2/15/2014 6:14PM

    Awesome. Thank you.

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THESAME6LBS 8/13/2013 3:27PM

  I read many blogs every day and comment on few. This one however, is so well done that I have to thank you for the inspiration. I was just thinking how I may skip exercise today.. mostly just because I don't feel like it,... but you've reminded me of why I love getting outside to run, hike, walk, etc. Time to get my shoes on. :)

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NDKARIKARI 8/12/2013 10:27AM

    I'm floored by how awesome this blog is. Thank you. I needed to read this. It's wonderful to hear you talk about purpose-driven fitness and nutrition. I'm inspired to look at my own goals through this lens! emoticon

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TYKXBOY 8/6/2013 1:25PM

    Wow, wow, wow! I haven't been so caught up in blog in a LONG time. I've been down in the dumps so much that even the usual race reports that I've always loved seem so blah. Yet this one kept pulling me in and I was yelling "Yes! Yes! Yes!" in my head as I read along. Thank you for the moment of clarity and inspiration, Robert! That's why you are awesome. Whenever you publish your inspirational story as a best-selling book, I will be first in line!
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IMSMILEY88 8/6/2013 11:09AM

    "Passion" keeps calling me back, too! I don't love every minute that I'm out running, but I love many of them! And I don't want to give that up. And, I love almost every minute of cycling! With both activities, I feel so 'alive' both while I'm doing them and usually for the rest of the day. This IS living!

I wrote a post yesterday while feeling down in the dumps with 2 more injuries... or at least nagging pains. I was ready to quit (kind of). I have more aches & pains now then when I sat on the couch! But, my SP friends reminded me that I need to pay attention to strength training & to my nutrition - both of which are kind of hit & miss.

My daughter, who is 12, gave me the best advice. "Don't give up on your dreams!" and, she's so right! I also want to be an example to her. I won't give up on my dreams,

I'm excited to be doing my first race since last October in less than 2 weeks! It's a sprint duathlon. I'm so excited! The thrill of the 'race' is something I've been missing.

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ABYGAILSMOM06 8/5/2013 1:23PM

    Wonderful blog!

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EGGBASKET1 8/5/2013 2:45AM

    GREAT BLOG !!! IT MADE MY DAY !!! THANKS FOR SHARING.

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GEORGE815 8/4/2013 5:02PM

    Glad you figured the weight loss thing out!

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TIME-4-TINA 8/4/2013 5:50AM

    Whenever my friends say, "how did you lose so much weight"? or "how are you so dedicated and go to the gym everyday"? I say the same thing. I found my passion. I see people at the gym and they look miserable. Trudging away on the elliptical. Now don't get me wrong, they may love it. However, they just don't look like they do. I am smiling when I work out. Smiling!! Now, I told you that I swam a lot before I started zumba. And trust me, I was not smiling. Finding your passion is half the battle. I believe that everything else regarding nutrition will fall into place after that.

Your passion for running and biking is what is going to get your through this upcoming race. Looking forward to seeing the pictures you post afterwards! Have Fun!!!

Comment edited on: 8/4/2013 5:55:24 AM

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COCOONGIRL 8/3/2013 8:53PM

    I truly believe that this is the BEST blog I have ever read....I am so thankful today that I read this....I needed to hear this!!

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ROXYCARIN 8/3/2013 3:07PM

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JPRSAVETTE 8/3/2013 9:58AM

    you found the golden ticket!!!!

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LWADE1963 8/3/2013 9:22AM

    thank you for this blog. you are right. it is not about focusing on counting calories or points. it is about being active and finding your passion and then living your life and eating around that.

thanks for helping me see this

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LINDAK25 8/2/2013 9:35PM

    I think you've found the magic. Fantastic!

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HONEYCAT22000 8/2/2013 7:37PM

    I've never heard it said better. A big AMEN to everything you wrote!

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MANILUS 8/2/2013 2:23PM

    Being in nature and enjoying it cannot be replaced by anything. You are also right about loving what you do, it makes all the difference. Great job discovering what works for you!

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RUNNINGYOGINIRE 8/2/2013 1:45PM

  Great blog about keeping health for the long run in perspective.

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MRSRIGS1 8/2/2013 11:54AM

    Thank you and YES I will get out there and LIVE!

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JUSGETTENBY42 8/2/2013 9:45AM

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JIBBIE49 8/2/2013 9:27AM

    emoticon Great to see your blog featured in the Spark Mail.

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CORNERKICK 8/2/2013 1:36AM

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MARYJEANSL 8/2/2013 1:24AM

  Good stuff! I only wish I could fall in love with exercise. Somehow I doubt it'll ever happen for me, but one can always hope, right?

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ROXIGIRL 8/2/2013 1:20AM

    Great blog ! Thank you for sharing.

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BLUEJEAN99 8/2/2013 12:42AM

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ACTIONHEROFOX 8/1/2013 11:56PM

    What is not to like about this blog! Inspiring to say the least and I will be back to review it for inspiration.

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ROXYCARIN 8/1/2013 11:52PM

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LDRICHEL 8/1/2013 11:28PM

    YES!

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ALIHIKES 8/1/2013 10:57PM

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing your insights and inspiration. I love the outdoors (hiking for me -- I'm near the mountains and I really want to be able to get to the wilderness). And it is a major motivator! emoticon

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MEMKEEPR 8/1/2013 10:42PM

    Very inspiring! I'm glad you fell in love with biking and running and wish you much success.

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TONYTHETSANGEL 8/1/2013 10:28PM

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Find your passion! I'm going to make that my goal!

Thanks another awesome blog! Wow!

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ONLYTEMPORARY 8/1/2013 9:46PM

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JOANNHUNT 8/1/2013 9:44PM

    AWESOME AND VERY EDUCATIONAL.

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KKLENNERT809 8/1/2013 8:59PM

    I agree with you on many points you have covered and I also live a simple life, enjoying many of life's simple pleasures. The outdoors is always my first choice to exercise. So keep up the great work, you are in a good place in your life!

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NOMORECRASH 8/1/2013 8:51PM

  good job

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JUDYRAUL 8/1/2013 8:46PM

    I love this. Falling in love with living life to its fullest, instead of thinking of it as dieting.

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CLAUDEM1 8/1/2013 8:37PM

    What an awesome post! You are such a good writer, and because of that I could really visualize and therefore get what you are saying. You are an active participant, rather than a sleepy spectator. Great blog!

Claude

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TORONTOGIRL11 8/1/2013 7:20PM

    Great Blog!!

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CICELY360 8/1/2013 6:43PM

  Good blog

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SANDRALUVSLON 8/1/2013 5:36PM

    Very motivational. emoticon

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IN102WIN 8/1/2013 5:31PM

    Thanks for sharing, I don't like exercise much but I have to do it, you are blessed!

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STEVIELG 8/1/2013 4:56PM

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ALIDOSHA 8/1/2013 4:33PM

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IAMAGEMLOVER 8/1/2013 4:31PM

    I totally agree. I have lost the weight, now I have to maintain. I will never put the weight back on. I will succeed. in keeping it off just as I succeeded in taking it off.

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AJB121299 8/1/2013 4:22PM

    nice

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MLDRLD 8/1/2013 3:40PM

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LIVELYGIRL2 8/1/2013 3:31PM

  Sometimes I used to say, the one two times ago, or whatnot was the best blog... but you keep cranking them out. This was so moving, really. Isn't it all about about passion, energy, quality of life. Actually enjoying and noticing every facet ?

I also realized that I'm bored with my routine . I need something I love...

It would nice to find an exercise partner here. I have one but we only do it 1 day a week. I was surprised to look here for my city. I finally unplugged this group, because I couldn't find someone. We are a huge city.

Thanks Robert! I love reading your things. emoticon emoticon

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WORKNPROGRESS49 8/1/2013 3:13PM

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JSEATTLE 8/1/2013 2:56PM

  I love mountain biking too! Heading for the trails this weekend

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PATRICIAANN46 8/1/2013 1:39PM

  What a great blog........... emoticon

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