This week’s weigh-in and thoughts

IMG_20140718_133538This week’s official weight is 296 lbs. The last time I was less than 300 lbs. was in 2004. I am now 53% to my goal having lost 88 lbs. on my current program. From my lifetime highest I have lost 129 lbs. total. This number (approximately 130 pounds) has got me to thinking about one of the major problems that comes with being so overweight. I used to hear people often say that all one had to do to lose weight was to eat less and get up and exercise. This is easier said than done.

I was carrying an extra 130 pounds around in fat. Think about what else in this world weighs that much. My wife weighs around 120 lbs. or so. Imagine her carrying a 10 pound weight and me carrying her everywhere I go, every moment of every day. Bricks weigh somewhere around 4 lbs. each. That means I was carrying the equivalent of 32 bricks everywhere I went. Sit in a chair and place 32 bricks in your lap (the general area where most weight is carried) and try to stand up. This should make it obvious that telling a fat person, “Just get up and do something” is either insensitive or cruel. It shows a serious lack of understanding (or caring about) their situation. It is easy for the skinny person to say this, because he has much less to lift.

Now imagine this weight being placed on you whether you want to carry it or not. You can’t escape it. Dropping a brick each week, might look attractive when you only have four or five bricks to carry, but when carrying 35 this looks like it will take forever. It is like looking into a tunnel that is too deep to see the light at the other end. This makes the overweight person depressed. What do people want when depressed? They want comfort. What is the overweight person usually drawn to for comfort? He wants food. It is often the attempt to assuage emotional lack that got the person overweight to begin with.

While it is true that the only way to successfully lose weight and get healthy is to decrease intake of food and increase the burning of calories, telling this to a fat person is like dangling water in front of a parched man. A plan is needed. Support is needed. When those small steps seem to be taking too long, someone needs to help draw the attention to how far the person has come, not how much farther they have to go. Perhaps that person can’t get up right now—you might not be able to if you were carrying along a whole other human being in weight—but can start with decreasing intake. Perhaps instead of telling that person that all he needs is more discipline, or he just needs to do it, you can encourage him to not look to food for comfort. Perhaps you can be a comforter in the place of the food.


Magic Pills? None exist!

magic-pillsToday, I saw a story on the news about some new weight loss pills. You take four or five before a meal and drink 16 oz. of water with them. The pills swell in your stomach and make you feel full so you eat less.

This reminded me of a talk I had a talk with my doctor over the last year before going on my program. The doctor recommended some diet meds to reduce appetite. I declined. My problem was not eating because I was hungry. Like most people my size, with my problems was eating more than I needed and at times when I really didn’t need to eat. We don’t only eat for hunger. Actually, if we only ate when hungry and stopped when satisfied far fewer of us would have weight related health issues. This sort of treatment really seems to approach the issue backwards—at least from my experience.

While we do eat for hunger, we also eat for an assortment of other reasons. We eat because of boredom. One book I read a while back gave some good advice. If you find yourself watching TV and suddenly want to eat something even though you aren’t hungry, most likely you are bored. Get up and do something else or change the channel to something more interesting. Another reason we eat is because the foods we shouldn’t have, but love to have, are so readily available. Warehouse stores sell snacks and fatty foods in great big giant bags. You’ve heard the old ad pitch about potato chips, “You can’t have just one.” For me you could add one more word to that, “You can’t have just one bag.” If massive quantities were available then massive quantities were consumed. “Besides it would just go bad if I didn’t eat it and that would be wasteful, right?” Another reason for improper eating was seeking something from the food missing in other areas of my life. When food is a comfort item meant to mollify other emotional needs it gets abused. Since it can’t truly meet those needs more is eaten and before long we feel worse because of all the overeating, the emotions get worse, and we go into a spiral of eating, feeling down, eating, feeling down, etc.

When the doctor recommended the meds I asked what it did. He told me that it would reduce my appetite. Fortunately, I had spent enough time observing myself that I was able to say my problem wasn’t hunger or appetite, but eating when I wasn’t hungry and I doubted such meds would help me. The doctor agreed and pointed out that my only real hope was working through the other issues I was trying to fix with food.

This latest miracle pill is going to be no different. It is simply going to give people an excuse to make poor choices. Even if it helps get the weight off, it can do nothing about the issues causing the weight problem. Also, the stomach can stretch. What happens if you take these pills to fill your gullet, then, because of other issues, continue to stuff yourself to bursting? In time the stomach increases volume and the problem gets worse.

There is no magic pill to weight loss. The only option is to work through the issues causing the problem, learn to make healthier choices, support those choices with a plan, then reinforce the plan with support, and accountability.

Another week, a smaller me!

IMG_20140613_071344Today’s weekly weigh-in is my eighth since starting the program. I started out at 384 lbs. Today I weighed 318 lbs. I’ve lost 66 pounds and 40% of my weight loss goal.

The difference this has made is astounding. I am sleeping better. I get around easily, without getting out of breath. When I was at my heaviest (425 lbs.), I got out of breath walking to the refrigerator. I noticed back then that I always breathed heavily. It even affected my speaking—and since I speak for a living, it reduced the enjoyment of my job.

When first starting this program, the first few weeks were very easy. You would assume that it would get even easier because of familiarity. I just keep plugging along, and have to put little thought into it, so it should be a snap, right? Actually, I’ve noticed temptations that never caused problems early on have gotten harder. Early on, this was new. I was seeing the weight falling off and was so relieved to see a change that the old foods didn’t entice me in the slightest. Now, I feel so good, it can be hard to remind myself of the need to keep going. Now I am in the stage of, “Just hold on and keep going.”

One thing I try to remind myself is that while I feel so wonderful right now, I am not at a healthy weight. The last time I weighed this amount was when we lived in Idaho back around 2005. I didn’t feel healthy back then. I felt terrible. I feel wonderful now, for two main reasons:

(1)    I am comparing myself to when I weighed 425 lbs. and not when I weighed 225 lbs. That lower weight was so long ago that I cannot even remember those days. Feelings are always relative. If I were looking at today from my maximum weight days I would tell you that I feel great. I I looked at today from my goal weight, I would tell you that I am nowhere near being healthy, and not really feeling healthy. Right now I am not feeling health. I am feeling relief from my most unhealthy days.

(2)    Blood sugar has a huge impact on our feelings. I don’t feel so great right now just because of the weight. I feel this good because the program helps me to maintain my blood sugar level through the day. I am not experiencing the highs and lows, the cravings and the desire for sugar, or the draggy feeling as my body tries to consume all the extra sugars. If I dropped off the program and went back to my old habits, I’d feel some of the relief of the lower weight, but the old feelings of ill health would come back and before long these would drag me right back up to my old “laying at death’s door” weight.

Every day now is a reminder to keep going forward. This new life has to become habit. I need to get to the point that I eat right, not because a program tells me to do it, but because the good foods, in the healthy amounts and the right proportions are what I actually want. This can only come through building habits. Habits take time. There is no miracle pill taking us from bad habits to good or from illness to health. Now that the newness has worn off, the real work, and discipline come into play.

One thing my coach recommended was going back to the early creativity in preparing my Lean & Green meals. When we first IMG_20140613_071412started I wanted to find new things that I liked. I wanted to develop new tastes and learn to prepare new foods. After a few weeks of that I’ve gotten lazy again and try to get by with preparing the easiest quickest meals. To turn this back around yesterday I made myself a steak topped salad. It is one of my new favorites. It is romaine, spinach, and celery with a bit of Feta Cheese and dressed lightly with a Balsamic Vinaigrette. I then grilled about 4 ounces of steak, sliced it thin and laid it on the salad. I am attaching a picture. Sorry for those who are squeamish. I cook my steaks the right way—Blue Rare.

Scale Addiction!

scale-cryToday is the day I share my weekly weight. I have to say I’m pleased, because earlier in the week I gave in to the temptation to watch the scale. Though my Ketostix showed I was in fat burn, the fluctuations of the scale made me apprehensive. I thought I might have gone into a plateau—or even gained a pound or two. Fortunately, my coach was a quick text message away and we talked about it. My frustrations had also been escalated by a gout flare up. Here I was looking at the scales and seeing what looked like no progress and also experiencing one of the conditions caused by my weight. This along with some problems with one of my meds combined into a perfect storm in my head.

I have to admit the question came up, “What the heck am I doing this for?” This was short lived. I spoke to my coach. I also reminded myself that even with what I am seeing right now, I have still vastly improved over just a month ago. I also had to remind myself that part of my reason for blogging about this and sharing with others is to help others who might be struggling in the same way. Like most of my experiences in life, plateaus simply give me another experience to help me serve and encourage others who are struggling.

Now for those who think it odd that I would admit going to my coach for help in getting through this time, let me explain that this is sort of similar to the person who goes to their pastor for counsel, or to someone in a Twelve Step program calling on their sponsor to help them through a rough patch. It is refusing to call out for help that is a weakness—the weakness of pride. The strong person recognizes their own difficulties and chooses to seek help where and when needed. I think the best part of this program has been having a coach to go to for guidance and help. Is a doctor somehow less of a doctor when he consults with a specialist? Is a mechanic somehow less of a mechanic when he consults a manual? What about someone who calls their doctor for a quick bit of assurance about a newly noticed symptom? These people are not weak for seeking help. Neither is it weak to have and seek the assurance of a coach when making a complete change to one’s life. There is no need to knuckle through alone! Doing so does not show one to be strong. Refusing to get help just increases the likelihood of failure. Which is a better sign of strength: success with assistance or failure alone? Yes, some will say, “But I want to prove that I am strong enough to do this!” Go for it! However, let me ask one question:

If a person were strong enough to completely change his or her life and go from obesity to health with no help, why didn’t that strength keep that person from becoming unhealthy to begin with?

You see, being strong does not mean going it alone. Being strong means having the strength and courage to assess one’s self honestly, making a true evaluation, and call for help if needed. I am now convinced that even more important than the right program is the right support structure and coach.

You may notice I have placed my weight report here, after the “sermon.” Guilty! I considered waiting until Monday to report because I am waiting on some more good news from my doctor—at least I hope it will be good news. I already have some other medical news to report. I’ll post the other later.

This morning I weighed 335 lbs. Remember what I said before about being discouraged a few days ago and frustrated. Well, it turns IMG_20140523_095307out that I lost seven pounds this week. I’ve also lost a total of 49 pounds in five weeks. It looks like the frustration was for naught. On top of that I also got some great news from my  doctor. Shortly after starting this program, I stopped taking one medicine. It was a daily injection of Victoza. I met with my endocrinologist yesterday and after only five weeks on program he reports my A1C is down to normal, he agreed with stopping the Victoza, and he said I am no longer prediabetic (he did hedge this statement, being cautious to see further improvement).

I’ve noticed, besides these apparent changes, some not so apparent. I am happier—except for brief times of scale apprehension—and more encouraging of others ( a good thing for a pastor). Before I started losing weight I was sad much of the time and depressed. I was just waiting to die—not really a fun person to be around.

IMG_20140523_101546The best thing I’ve done for myself is to go on this program to make a complete change of my life. To tell you how radical of a change I’ve made—today I decided to have my Lean & Green meal for breakfast. I made myself a veggie omelet with Egg Beaters. First of all, had you told me a month ago that I would ever be eating (much less cooking) a veggie omelet, I would have told you, “Go home! You’re drunk!” For me, the words veggie and eat were never used in the same sentence. However, I have to say I enjoyed it. I was shocked at just how large it was—I followed the plan limits exactly. I was barely able to finish it. Here is a picture of it. Keep in mind I am a meat smoker and a BBQ cook, but not very good at cooking eggs.