It’s been a while …

I haven’t shared anything for a few months now because I’ve been dealing with some unexpected health issues. Oddly enough it was one of the health issues that provoked me to lose the weight initially. Somewhere around September of 2013 I was diagnosed with hemorrhoids. At the time I was told that it was due to my weight (438 lbs) and my sedentary lifestyle. Over the last year and half I managed to lose over 200 lbs and I adopted a more active lifestyle. So I thought that this condition was behind me no pun intended, but around the middle of May I began excruciating pain and was forced to go to the doctor. Apparently my hemorrhoid had developed a blood clot and was causing me to be in a substantial amount of pain. I was prescribed some expensive medication and was sent home to heal. I took some time off from work and things seemed to be getting better the pain had subsided.

On May 14th I showed up to work and began my day as per normal I was preparing some notes for a morning staff meeting when all of the sudden I began to feel dampness from the area where the hemorrhoid was located. I made my way to the rest room and discovered that I was bleeding. I didn’t think much of it on account that I had experienced this issue before when I was first diagnosed with the condition. The problem was that the bleeding would not stop and I kept having to attend to myself. Eventually I felt that I had no other recourse than to go the local Emergency Room. By then I had managed to bleed thru my clothes and I was feeling quite scared. Fortunately the staff at the hospital gave me some peace of mind in that the color of the blood was bright which meant that there was no infection. My hospital visit ended up with my having to have emergency surgery to remove the hemorrhoid. As you can imagine the recovery process for this type of surgery has been quite slow and as a result it limited my ability to stick to my workout schedule.

Over the last 2 months since I had the surgery I’ve managed to gain back about 16 lbs mostly because I found myself slipping back into old habits to help me cope with emotional stress. I gravitated towards junk food giving myself the excuse that I desserved to relax my nutrition while I heal up. I was maybe a bit resentful that my hard work and dedication to weight loss did not keep the hemorrhoid from becoming an issue again. As it turns out the cause of the hemorrhoids was due to an issue with my digestive system which as a result requires me to use a stool softener as a part of my life from here on out. I haven’t been going to the gym because the medication that I’m taking has resulted in some less than pleasant side effects. I’ve been trying to find a way to regulate the medication so that I may find a comfortable way to return to my fitness routine but the process has been slow.

For the last few weeks I kept finding myself repeating the old cycle of eating garbage and thinking to myself on Monday I will get back to my healthy eating habits. I realize that in the grand scheme of things 16 lbs is not a major disaster but for me it has been incredibly alarming. I thought that I would never want to go back to the way I was, but I can’t lie and say that the idea of being carefree and not paying attention to what I put into my body has not been attractive to me. My clothes have started to feel tight and old aches and pains have been returning. I’ve been feeling pity and shame for myself because I’ve allowed myself to slip back into my old ways.

This is the first week in which I’ve been able to stick to my guns and I have not slipped up even though temptation has been at every corner. Today I stepped on the scale and saw that I was 243 lbs a number which instantly startled me because prior to my surgery I weighed 227 lbs. It was a sobering number to see and it helped me to refocus today because I was starting to feel the pull of the old self to give myself a treat. I had avoided stepping on the scale since the surgery because I wanted to focus on healing and not worry about any potential weight gain as a result of not being able to keep up my previously active lifestyle.

I share all of this as a way to help me stay accountable for what is going on in my life and in the hopes that it will help remind us all that there is no finish line to this journey and that we will come across obstacles and setbacks but we must never give up.

“it’s not how many times you fall down. it’s how many times you get back up” – Vince Lombardi

Weekly Update #28

You’ve always had the power…

Earlier this week as happens often lately a co-worker stops me while walking down the hall and inevitably asks “Alright, what’s your secret?”. This question always gets a chuckle out of me mostly because I’ve never pictured myself as an example of healthy living, but also because we all know that it’s about hard work and dedication.

I remember a time when I sought the proverbial secret and all I found was a long chain of disappointments along the way. I was listening to an interview this week and in the course of the conversation the guest made a reference to the Wizard of Oz that resonated with me. Granted when he was using it he was making fun of project management certifications but none the less it made me reflect on my weight loss journey.

When I started this whole thing I was making use of the LoseIt app and after setting up my account the application said that I would reach my weight loss goal in 587 days. That number was so overwhelming to me it seemed like an Everest sized mountain. I remember confiding with my best friend and she didn’t blink and said “You’ve got this I believe in you”. Her faith in me gave me the initial push I needed to get going because I lacked faith in myself.

Just like Dorothy I found a way to surround myself with people that would give me courage, love and wisdom. I’m grateful for this welcoming community that we have.

Today is day 512 and I’ve learned much along the way but the most rewarding lesson is that I always had the power I just needed to learn it for myself but not by myself.

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?

Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.

Dorothy: I have?

Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?

Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

Weekly Update #27

Progress Picture

I was looking back through my Facebook photos and found one of myself from back in 2009 prior to starting my weight loss journey I was 34 at the time. It’s shocking to me how much I’ve changed. I don’t have many pictures of myself prior to my weight loss because I was ashamed to get photographed.

I have dinner with my Mom & Sister every Friday evening and this last Friday we got a surprise visit from my Brother, Sister-In-Law and my Nephew. They showed up with a Pizza and some Pizza Dough Donuts. Fortunately for me I had already finished my meal and was not hungry. Even though they tried to insist that I partake of their food. Pizza is one of my major weaknesses when it comes to food but I’m glad to say that my discipline won over the temptation.

We sat around the table and had a fun talking about old times. It’s fascinating to me how much I allowed my weight to become my excuse from having a meaningful relationship with them. I was in a very dark place of my own making. I really love them and being around them but the fear of rejection and judgement kept me away. Losing this weight and learning to love myself has made me free to open up to them and welcome them back into my life. It’s these little things that make the most difference to me and continue to keep me motivated.

Weekly Update #26

Birthday Cards

Last week I had the good fortune to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’ve accomplished a lot in this last year and I am extremely proud. I love to imagine what my dad would have had to say to me. I’d love to hear him say that he was proud and I would love to exchange one of our silly secret handshakes. But knowing my dad all he would have said is “… [live a] life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” – Colossians 1:10

I was in my early 30’s when my dad passed away do to complications during surgery caused by his Multiple Myeloma. The day before the surgery my dad spoke with me and asked me to take care of my mom should anything happen. I walked out of that room with no fear that he would be fine and that the surgery was going to be a success. Sadly things didn’t turn out as we had hoped and that would be the last conversation I had with my father. Up to that point in my life I’d been a rather carefree person focused on my career. My father was my compass he helped me thru tons of situations in my life and now my compass was gone forever.

At this point in my life I was already at least 100 lbs overweight. I remember not crying when my dad first passed away but a few months later I found myself on the side of the road with a flat tire and the reality that he was not there any more sunk in and I lost it. I was lost in this limbo for several years I dealt with the loss the only way I knew how which was by burying myself in my work and eating junk food. I had quit hanging out with my friends and became a recluse (something I still struggle with today). Eventually I got myself turned around and I took control over my life which helped me get healthy.

I’m sharing this because even though I’ve managed to lose over 200 lbs the habits that helped me get to 438 lbs are still a part of who I am and I think that it’s important that I acknowledge them so that I may be able to change them.

Weekly Update #25

FitBit Company Challenge

Last week was pretty fantastic if only because something that I never imagined would happen. The company I work for has decided to put together a FitBit challenge as a way of encouraging folks to get healthy. I personally thought that this was a great idea because it would be something that all staff members would be able to participate in on account that it wasn’t weight loss specific challenge as we have had in the past. I realize not everyone needs to lose weight at a company so making the challenge more focused on accumulating a 10,000 steps per day with the over all goal of reaching 3 million steps as an organization is a fair way to include all. Well shortly after the challenge was announced I called my HR representative and asked to join the challenge. About an hour later I received a phone call from a random co-worker from our headquarters in Virgina whom I’ve never met because I work out of a satellite office in Florida. I answered the phone with my cheerful hello how may I help you tone when all of the sudden I hear this voice on the other line ask “Are you training for a marathon?” I started to laugh like I haven’t laughed in a long time and I told him no. I had get to take a look at the company challenge leader board to see how I ranked. Well it turns out that I eclipsed the entire company in number of steps by a significant amount. The sad part was that the reason for the phone call was because they were wanting to determine if they should even participate because it was clear that non of them would even have a chance to beat my placement on the leader board.

I was in shock how far I’ve come in this last year the thought that I could intimidate anyone because of my physical fitness would have been beyond belief a year ago. I contacted the HR department and told them that I would pass on any prizes or rewards in the interest that other individuals at my company would not be motivated to participate. Not to mention that the phone call alone was an amazing reward in that it boosted my self-esteem tremendously.

In other news today is my 40th birthday and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve achieved several of the goals that I’d set for myself and my outlook for the future is quite bright.

Weekly Update #24

Current Weight is 231.4 lbs
Previous Weight was 232.4 lbs

I lost 1 lb this week I was aiming for 1.42 lbs. I worked out 6 days last week and burned an average of 2787 (In the interest of clarity 1978/day as estimated by workout equipment. The other 809/day are from FitBit which causes the number to be skewed on account that some of these calories have been accounted for by the workout equipment) calories per day in exercise. Consumed an average of 1700 – 2000 calories per day.

206.6 lbs lost

As of today I am 26 lbs away from my goal weight and I’ve decided that starting next week I will no longer be posting my weight though if you are interested you will be able to see it on my LoseIt profile. This is a change that I am putting in place because I want to take the focus off of scale and more towards just my general happiness and health. The focus of these weekly updates is going to shift to talking more about my accomplishments during the week. This change will help me in my transition into my maintenance phase and help me keep a positive attitude and hopefully serve as encouragement for all of you. That being said I want to start by sharing a look back at my journey into physical fitness.

When I started tracking my activity back on December of 2013 I barely moved more than 3.23 miles in an entire week. It wasn’t until February of 2014 that I chose to introduce the gym to my weight loss process mostly due to the fact that I was to heavy for most of the equipment.

3.23 Miles

But now after a little over a year I’m able to knock out almost 50 miles worth of movement in a week. I remember that prior to losing any weight I would always have to park close to the entrance of whatever place I was going to because I couldn’t walk very far without losing my breath. Standing for any length of time was a struggle because my knees would start to hurt which meant that I was constantly sitting. I’m incredibly proud of how I’ve turned my life around.

49.29 miles

Goal for this week is to consume no more than 1650 calories per day. Burn an average of 1772 calories per day in exercise over 6 day period. Weight loss goal is to lose 1.41 lbs.

Weekly Update #23

Current Weight is 232.4 lbs
Previous Weight was 232.6 lbs

I lost 0.2 lbs this week I was aiming for 1.45 lbs. I worked out 6 days last week and burned an average of 3633 (In the interest of clarity 2341/day as estimated by workout equipment. The other 1292/day are from FitBit which causes the number to be skewed on account that some of these calories have been accounted for by the workout equipment) calories per day in exercise. Consumed an average of 1700 – 2000 calories per day.

Not sure if I'm hungry or depressed.

This past week was a bit of a struggle for me. I managed to stick to 80% of my nutrition plan but the other 20% was driven by emotional eating. Emotional eating is something that has been difficult to overcome. Using food as a source of comfort is part of the thing that got me to weight 438 lbs. I tend to be a very guarded person because of past experiences as a result it is very difficult for me to open up to others. Last week I reached out to someone whom I’d known in a causal way for a few months and it resulted in polite rejection. The situation immediately put a pit in my stomach. Feelings of anxiety and depression often drive me to food for refuge. It was no different this week since I did allow myself to indulge in less than ideal foods. As can be expected the food did not take away the feelings. I was feeling sad and confused.

One of the positive psychological benefits of systematic exercise is the development of a sense of personal mastery and positive self–regard, which we believe is likely to play some role in the depression–reducing effects of exercise. —James Clear

My emotional eating was not totally out of control thanks to the healthy habits I have developed over the last year. The thing that helped the most as it turns out was throwing myself into harder and longer workouts. At first I felt as if I was dragging thru a tar pit because of how I was feeling emotionally. Eventually that pit in my stomach went away and was replaced with pride and an increase in my self worth. I had come to the conclusion that I was hinging my self worth on what other people thought of me and the feeling of rejection. This is something that I need to work on as I continue to move ahead thru this journey. I feel frustrated with the fact that I seem to keep needing to learn this lesson over and over but I’m hoping that by documenting it here I will leave a formal reminder to myself.

Goal for this week is to consume no more than 1653 calories per day. Burn an average of 1486 calories per day in exercise over 6 day period. Weight loss goal is to lose 1.42 lbs.

Weekly Update #22

Current Weight is 232.6 lbs
Previous Weight was 234.2 lbs

I lost 1.6 lbs this week I was aiming for 1.45 lbs. I worked out 6 days last week and burned an average of 2936 calories per day in exercise. Consumed an average of 1500 – 1700 calories per day.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates. Although incorrectly attributed to Socrates it’s message still rings true. It’s origin its actually from book published in the 1980s by Dan Millman titled “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”.

Goal for this week is to consume no more than 1647 calories per day. Burn an average of 1385 calories per day in exercise over 6 day period. Weight loss goal is to lose 1.41 lbs.

Weekly Update #21

Current Weight is 234.2 lbs
Previous Weight was 235 lbs

I lost .8 lbs this week I was aiming for 1.45 lbs. I worked out 6 days last week and burned an average of 2595 calories per day in exercise. Consumed an average of 1500 – 1700 calories per day.

Year Of Fitness

Yesterday was my one year anniversary of not only owning a gym membership but actually using it. After losing an initial 58 lbs (438 at start) I was finally able to use the equipment at my local gym. I got on the Treadmill on the back row of the cardio equipment section of the gym. The back row partly because I was embarrassed to be seen in the gym at my weight and also because it was close to the stairs to the first floor. I remember that just walking up to the cardio equipment section alone left me winded.

I remember stepping onto the Treadmill with fear because I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I grasped the arm rests on the sides of the machine to steady myself at my weight I was uncoordinated and had already had occasion to lose my balance and fall. The last thing I wanted to do was to fall in such a public place. I set the Treadmill at a speed of 1.5 mph and zero inclination. I kept my eyes closed because I didn’t want to be aware of anyone who might be potentially staring at me. After 30 minutes I was exhausted, my legs were in pain and I was feeling light headed. I ended up having to sit on the floor for 10 minutes so that I could gain enough strength to make it down to my car. My thighs were bloody because of the friction generated by them rubbing against each other. When I got home I did the best I could to tend to my injuries.

As I sat there in pain I started to question if I would be able to go back. I walked out of my room and started to share my experience with my room-mate who accidentally helped me stumble upon the thing that would help me to get past my hurdle. He suggested that I try wearing cycling shorts and sure enough it worked. Eventually my closing my eyes was more because of the meditative benefit that I got from it rather than the fear of humiliation. After a while I made friends with the regulars which helped me stay consistent because they would wonder were I was if I didn’t show up. There interest had nothing to do with my progress but more to do with my friendship which helped me overcome my many concerns about being in public.

As you can see in the photo I have made incredible strides. Today I’m 147 lbs lighter then the first day I stepped into the gym. Currently I set the treadmill at it’s maximum inclination while moving at a brisk 3.5 mph. I’m able to easily knock out a 10k without feeling worn out. I may not be the fastest person but I sure have heart and quit is not in my vocabulary.

Goal for this week is to consume no more than 1647 calories per day. Burn an average of 1363 calories per day in exercise over 6 day period. Weight loss goal is to lose 1.41 lbs.

Weekly Update #20

Current Weight is 235 lbs
Previous Weight was 238 lbs

I lost 3 lbs this week I was aiming for 1.45 lbs. I worked out 6 days last week and burned an average of 2540 calories per day in exercise. Consumed an average of 1500 – 1700 calories per day.

Me at age 27 or so

My cousin recently posted pictures of me when I was 28 or so (the only reason I think this is because there is no gray in my beard) I was not at my highest weight yet. The thing that strikes me the most about this picture is the smile it was not genuine. I know because I’m showing off my teeth a super rare occurrence I’ve never been one to grin like that. For many years I was a victim of fear. I let fear dictate how I dealt with life. Don’t get me wrong fear is an essential part of our survival instinct but I think it was more designed to protect us from physical harm than emotional harm. Fear drove me to make many mistakes in my life where I chose to set aside my feelings so that I would make others happy. That type of generosity has a way of eroding the person that you are after a while. As I continue to go through this journey I’m starting to unearth the person that I was meant to be. I’m not referring to the body that I see in the mirror but rather the emotional self that was buried under all this weight and I’m very proud of who I’m becoming.

Goal for this week is to consume no more than 1656 calories per day. Burn an average of 1236 calories per day in exercise over 6 day period. Weight loss goal is to lose 1.41 lbs.