Monday, August 24, 2009

Will it matter...5 years from now?

My wife and I were talking yesterday about the Missouri State Fair and the one time I have actually gone. Believe it or not I’m not too big into the whole State Fair scene. I’m more of a city guy, but we took the trek down to Sedalia, MO back in 2004, on a hot, humid, August day and to be honest had a humdinger of a time. I saw some pigs, and cows, and chickens, and flowers, and horses, and a dog show. You know standard State Fair* stuff, right?

* I still don’t get tractor pulls. I mean really who cares? Oh and the carnival. Remind me never to allow my children to ride carnival rides that whip upside down at breakneck speeds that just happened to be constructed (a term I use very loosely here) in less than 4 hours by Lester and his half wit carny brothers.

In addition to the wonderful odor of animal smells there was the classic aroma of “food on a stick.” I think you all know what I’m talking about. State Fair food has to be portable and it has to be deep fried. And what is more convenient than a stick to tote around deep fried food? I mean you have your classic hot dogs on a stick, Twinkies on a stick, pickles on a stick, chicken on a stick, donuts on a stick, meatballs on a stick, biscuits and gravy on a stick, ice cream on a stick, nachos on a stick, and salad on a stick? Ok there is not really salad on a stick but if there was, well that would just be gross. I mean there would be salad dressing all over the place and it just wouldn’t be very good. In addition to all this food on a stick they have smoked turkey legs that weigh roughly 37 pounds and tacos with sour cream and guacamole and quadruple cheeseburgers with bacon, mushrooms, and fried eggs on them. It is a food lover’s paradise. I was in heaven. Oh man oh man was this going to be good.
Except…. I was on a diet. The Atkins diet to boot and I didn’t want to “cheat.”

And that is why I don’t call it a diet. People “cheat” on diets which is ridiculous way to think about losing weight. I told Rachel that I cannot believe that I didn’t eat some of the things that I wanted to back then. How stupid of me to actually believe that I was never, ever going to eat carbs again. Really? No pasta or bread for the rest of my life? Yeah, that’s realistic. In the scope of my entire life that has spanned a glorious or inglorious (whichever way you look at it) 29 years, what difference would it have made if I had indulged in a couple of corn dogs and a cheeseburger and fries that day??? The answer…it would not have a made a bit of difference to me today. Not one. In fact if I went to the State Fair tomorrow I would eat some of those things and not even think twice about it. You see, when you commit to change your lifestyle, it is not a banishment of all foods that are not good for you. What a silly way to try and live, to deprive yourself of some of the pleasures in life.

That is why I know I will be ok in my journey. I can eat that food, and yes enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Dinners. BBQ’s with my family and friends and drinks at happy hour. Sure I am entirely conscience of what I am putting in my body and the effect that it has on the scale. I’m still going to eat the way I should be eating all the other times. I am too far in, to slip back into my old habits. I have way too much time and energy invested in the new version of me to let it go away. But I’m not in prison. Eating still makes me happy, but the difference now is that it is not my hiding place. It is not the shelter that I take cover in whenever life sucks. I have new habits of exercise and a new motivation to be best person I can be. I’m not afraid that eating a piece of cheesecake will make me go back to my old ways. I am confident that will not happen.
Not now or not ever.

In five years I don’t want to look back say that I wish would have eaten that fried Snickers bar on a stick I want to seize the day. I want to say dang! That was freaking delicious, now let’s go run 3 miles!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reality TV.

So I have a confession. I can sometimes be guilty of watching reality shows. *Gasp* I know, they suck. They are every thing that is wrong with the world, but there is just something fun about watching contestants go to ridiculous lengths to find love or make a quick dollar or chase their 15 minutes of fame. I happen to have fallen victim to the Jon & Kate saga, and while I’m not surprised Jon left Kate because she could be an unbelievable beeyotch at times, Jon sure is acting like a certifiable douchebag more and more every day and should really focus on his kids. Another show that has been on my radar lately is More to Love . I will have thoughts on that one really soon.

I love The Biggest Loser and I cannot not even count the number of times I told my wife that if I was on that show I could win the whole thing. I felt like I needed that show to force me to lose weight. I needed Jillian and Bob and a giant scale to force me to exercise and eat right. I always knew in my heart of hearts that only if I could be on that show, I would lose weight and change my life. As it turns out all I needed was a little kick in the pants. That said though, my weight loss journey coincided with the last season that started in January 09'. For the first 2 months or so, I would have never fallen below the yellow and would not have faced elimination. It helped motivate me and inspire me to keep doing what I was doing. I saw that if those guys could do it, so could I. I saw them busting their butt everyday not only for the cash prize, but for the ultimate prize of life. They constantly talked about changing their life. Each and every one of them was of comparable size to me and each of them was given a gambit of health tests and evaluations and were told that they were going to die soon if they didn’t change. So was I.

More recently the show started to focus on the question “why are you overweight?” Sure you eat too much and lay on the couch watching reality TV, but the answer is deeper, way deeper. The real question is why don’t you care enough about yourself, why don’t you respect yourself enough, why don’t you think you are worth it?

Most of us that are morbidly overweight have the same story. We struggled with our weight all our lives. We were always the fat person that was funny and would do spot-on Chris Farley impersonations. Our self confidence was non-existent. Maybe we didn’t feel loved enough or maybe we didn’t feel as though we were meeting expectations or maybe we just wanted to just go away and be forgotten. Food was a refuge. It made us feel good, because it didn’t judge, it did what it was supposed to do and it filled that emotional void.

I had a conversation with a couple of people at work who said that when they see overweight people with giant McDonalds sacks full of food or fat people getting on the elevator to go up 1 flight of stairs, that they had no sympathy for them and actually spoke as if they were quite disgusted. My co-workers are not bad people, but how can they be so judgmental? Fat people don’t want to be fat. You know when your high school counselor asks you what you want to be when you grow up. A morbidly obese person whose internal organs struggle to sustain life everyday is not the answer that they get. Food is an addiction, just as powerful as any drug or alcohol addiction could ever be, with one huge difference. A food addict can feed their addiction way easier and cheaper than a heroin addict can. It takes all of $4.32 to buy 4 double cheeseburgers from McD’s which happens to total 1760 calories and 92 grams of fat. That’s a helluva deal at only $0.0025 cents per calorie. The calories though, aren’t even the worst part – that comes after you gobble down the 4 double cheeseburgers in about 6 and a half minutes and you feel guilty and disgusting. I know this for a fact.

I’m not sure how to reach out to people that are in this place; because I know when I was at my heaviest the “I can’t” attitude reigned supreme. I didn’t want to hear it. I knew I needed to make a change but I wasn’t willing to. I wasn’t ready. I had to be ready mentally and emotionally to change. I had to answer the question of why am I fat? Once I was ready to face that question, I was ready to conquer my food addiction and lose the weight for good. That is why I refuse to call what I do a diet. Diet insinuates a short term fix. What I do, is for a lifetime.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wow.

Wow. All I have to say is wow. After my last post I received so many comments, well wishes, and overwhelming support that I wasn’t sure what to say. Thank you all. You have no idea how much those comments mean to me. I would never have considered myself an inspirational person, but if my journey and my story can help someone going through the same struggles then that is great. (and Chad, of course I remember you and thank you very much for your sentiments) It seems to me that we are all connected, regardless of age, education, political preference, religion or appearance. In spite of all of our differences we are all pretty much the same. I have learned that most of us do struggle to find our way and figure out just exactly why we are here. And each and every time we have an interaction with someone, whether in line at the grocery store, over the phone with a loved one, or even by reading a blog, that we can have a profound effect on that person’s life. Everything we do or say changes the course of events during the day. Maybe not in a dramatic way, but think about it. What if that person who waited on you at Subway was more polite and friendly? In turn would you maybe be nicer to your spouse when you go home? Who would then be more willing to skip the game and take a walk? The list is infinite. I know I’m not the first person to think of this, but it’s food for thought.
My journey is far from over for I have many more pounds to lose and even more life challenges ahead of me. I am glad to share it. I was initially embarrassed to write with such emotion, but it has been therapeutic to me and I anticipate that it will continue to have that effect. I would also be lying if I didn’t say that the comments don’t help motivate and inspire me. Initially this was just supposed to be a chronicle of my weight loss on Myspace, and it has turned into so much more. I am in the process of discovering myself. Facing my fears, and strengthening my weaknesses. It is proving to myself that I am worth it. That my family is worth it. I am starting to believe. Believe in myself. Trust in my ability and not just live up to my potential but exceed it.
I would be remiss not to mention that this blog, Sean Anderson's Day 327. It is hands down one of the best things that you will ever read. Everything he says is true. Every. Last. Word. I am still in the transition process. I am changing for the better. “I can’t” will soon be eliminated from my vocabulary. It has been and will continue to be a hard road to follow, and it will be a daily struggle, but I am ready.
My weight loss was just the start. That was the easy part. It was the first step. If I hadn’t taken on that challenge I wouldn’t be ready for the next phase. I owe a lot of my success to my wife, Rachel. She has been my rock and my support. I will repay this debt by being the best husband and father that I can be. That is a promise.
Thanks again for reading and a thank you for all of your support,
Joe

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scared?

I have lost 117 pounds to date. I have made the choice to change my life and eat better and exercise more. I have probably added 20 plus years to my life. I did it for me. I did it for my family. I am a better man because of it. I am still scared.
I often do not like to divulge many personal feelings in my blog. I am the happy go lucky person that enjoys life, at least on the outside. My wife and my circle of friends could tell you of a different Joe. One who is still sad. One who still sees his life as unfulfilled. One that wakes up everyday trying to figure out what his purpose is. Sure I have changed my life, but I did not solve anything. Some people may read this and question my love for my family, but that is not what this is about. I have the best wife in the world. My kids are fantastic. I live for my family. I may be a little grumpy, okay a lot grumpy with them, but I love them with all my heart and would sacrifice everything for any of them. I should treat them better, they deserve way better.
My problem is between my ears. I cannot get out of my own way. My weight issue has held me back for a long time. It has kept me from chasing my dreams and I have never stepped out of my comfort zone. I may have lost weight, and even gained some confidence, but I’m still scared. Scared of another failure. Even without the weight I am being held back by my weight. Somehow, someway, I must confront this demon. Step outside my comfort zone, take the leap. I deserve happiness and so does my family.
But…the last ten years of my life has been littered with poor decisions and failures. I never found my way, if you will. I was content just getting by and most of the time I barely did that. I stayed in a “career” that I knew wasn’t a good fit for me just because I was afraid. Growing up through school, I was smart, never anything special, but I didn’t have to work too hard at anything to succeed. I never developed a solid work ethic and always expected things to come easy to me. Wrong! In college I did the same but instead of A’s I got C’s and eventually I quit. Quitting became the motto of my life. I quit my marriage to Rachel, I quit many jobs by simply not caring, and I quit myself. I was in a dark place. A place that I am still slowly crawling out of. At that time I could have lived or died and did not care. I floundered like that for many years. I kept seeing my best friends become successful doctors, engineers, and artists. I saw my brother become a manager of a major restaurant. I saw my sister go to school to enter the health care field. I saw my wife give up everything to support our special needs daughter and thank goodness because I was absent, not physically, but let’s just say that I had checked out. I was witness to all of this and it pushed me deeper and deeper into the depths of depression. I was The failure. I was The one who hadn’t realized his potential. I gained more and more weight and even hoped to have a heart attack. Everyone would be better off I thought. My daughter deserves more than loser like me. These are the thoughts that crossed my mind. Everyday. Day in, day out. Every hour, every minute, every second. Thank God for Rachel. She never stopped believing in me.
I did finally got a job that I liked. It didn’t pay very well but I enjoyed the work. It was a good fit for me. I even felt a little better, but I wasn’t cured. Rach and I had our second child in June of 2008. A little boy. This should motivate me right? Nope. I never understood how people got to weigh six, seven, eight hundred pounds. Suddenly I started to understand. I understood that it is a conscience effort. People don’t accidentally weigh 800 pounds. I was well on my way.
In August of 08’ I popped the buttons off both pairs of pants that I wore. I decided that enough is enough. I vowed to lose the weight. I even bought a giant poster board and drew a weekly chart with weight and measurement columns. I saw that poster board in the closet the other day. It had the first week and second week filled out. Yep, quit again. Another failure. More depression. What could I do? How could I motivate myself?
So I inquired about going back to school. As it turns out they don’t care how much you weigh as long as the bill gets paid. So I started back on a Tuesday night at 6:00pm. It was a big step for me. I was scared to death. I wanted to leave as soon as I got there. I was always social around people I know, but in a classroom full of adults and professionals. I was horrified. I was also the fattest person in class. I hated myself for this. During presentations I was embarrassed and ashamed. No one takes a morbidly obese person seriously. How could they?
I was never going to make it. Quitting again I thought to myself. Figures.
Except something happened. Something deep within. Something I cannot explain. It coincided with New Years in 2009. It wasn’t a resolution but something more. A commitment to myself. A commitment to my family. I’ll never forget that night on January 4th. Rachel and Bella were playing with finger paints at the kitchen table and I had my shirt off so as not to get paint on it. I was so fat I could barely muster the energy to play with paints. I told Rach that this was it. Never again. I’m losing this weight for good. I said it with conviction. Of course I’ve said it many times before, but this time I meant it. Rachel drew a red smiley face on my belly and wrote the word bye-bye, and she took a picture. I looked like the freaking Kool Aid man. I put the picture on myspace and started a blog. How embarrassing. How humiliating. How disgraceful. How motivating? How inspirational? I received several words of encouragement on that first blog. I lost 20 pounds my first week. Then 7 pounds. Then 8 pounds. I took a picture every Monday and wrote a blog about my weight loss experience. It helped me. Soon I was below 300 pounds. I changed my thought process. I didn’t want to have a heart attack any more. I wanted to live. I want to be something. But I’m still scared. I may have lost all this weight, but I’m still that fat person who fails. I’m still a loser. That is what I’m dealing with right now. Overcoming those thought pattern that filled my mind for the last ten years. The voice in your head that says “you can’t do it” “you’re too stupid” “you know you will gain all the weight back”
Yeah that voice is still holding me back. But, losing this weight has also put another voice in my head. He says “you can do it” “you are worth it” “if you want it, go for it” “you deserve this”
They battle it out on a daily basis. My own little rockem sockem robots in my head. Some days the negative fella wins, but you know what? With every pound, every success, every ‘A’ in my college class, my confidence grows. The positive voice wins most of the time. I am starting to heal. I am almost ready for my next step.
You see, I have wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a little kid, when I sat in my living room with my Mom and watched my first episode of LA Law. I love the theory of law. I love analyzing situations, seeing the angles, and arguing my point. I will make a great lawyer. I never concede defeat. My #1 dream job would be playing for the Royals, becoming a lawyer is #2. Actually I might try out for the Royals at this point, but really, being a lawyer is my calling. Unfortunately, I wasted my opportunity when most people grasp it and chose not to finish college. Now at 29, I am scheduled to graduate from college in May 2010 and I am going to take the LSAT in September, maybe December. I’m still scared though. Can I do it? Can I even get into law school? If I do get in, can I cut it? The answer is yes.
Literally as I have written this blog, I feel better. I feel stronger. Maybe this is the first step to conquering that demon that is known to me as the bad rockem sockem robot. The weight loss was a catalyst, but to continue I must face my fears. I will succeed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I won Reel Big Fish Tickets Today!


My favorite band of all time Reel Big Fish will be in town on Sunday. I love RBF, and have been a huge fan since about 1996. You might remember their one hit that they had back in 1997's Summer of Ska. It was called Sell Out and it completely rocked. See I was a band nerd back in high school, shocking I know, and I played trombone. Since ska bands then had horn sections I really got into it. Well, 13 years later, 4 concerts, and about 5 CD's I am still as big a fan boy as ever.
The local alternative station in Kansas City 96.5 the Buzz was giving away some tickets and I thought to myself, I'm going to win those tickets. Well guess what. I did. I will be attendance for the most awesome rock show ever.*
*I understand for most folks RBF might not be the best rock show ever, but it's my blog.
What does this have to do with losing weight? Not much, I'm just really excited, because #1. The concert is going to be great, especially since my wife gets to go experience the greatness that is RBF and #2. I've never really won anything in my life.
Maybe I can shed a few calories dancing the night away.