Sunday, January 28, 2007

The old, LONG story

I never posted this here before. It was on my old site, so I figure I should, before it gets deleted.

It's something I did to chronical my thoughts/feelings while they were fresh. I've always hated the length and lack of creativity in this piece, but it not intended to be creative. Just that facts. So, with that cavaet, here 'tis.

How do you lose 100 pounds?

First, you must know...

How does one become 300 pounds in the first place?

Louie Anderson used to have a punch line…”It’s not like I woke up one day, looked in the mirror and said, ‘Oh no! Look at what happened.’”

But that’s kind of what it’s like. You don’t gain it all at once. You don’t see it go on. It was only about 10 pounds I gained my first year in college. Then another 10 the next. Throw in a bad relationship, a failed business, and ten years later, I wake up and said, “OH NO!”

If you could actually know what was happening, when it was happening, it obviously wouldn’t happen. However, the problem with denial is, well...it’s denial. You simply cannot face what has happened, and what is happening. So you keep lying to yourself. Telling yourself you’ll get in shape for next summer, when the weather’s nice. Then next summer, you again cannot take your shirt off on the lake, and you’re talking about getting in shape in the winter. Winter comes around and you say “after the holidays.” The holidays pass and you’re too damn depressed to get up at all, and the cycle goes on, and on, and on.

So how do you stop it? You simply do. Change may take years, but in the end, it happens in a moment. There is a moment, however brief, that you finally just decide. Not think about it, not plan it, not talk about it, you actually break down and get serious with yourself. In one moment, that voice inside your head finally speaks clearly to you. And that is it. No fancy plan here.
I look at it as a cycle. If you can imagine a wheel spinning, you have a cycle. If that cycle is a negative one, get out a wrench and throw it into the spokes. It’s not a process, it’s a moment.

Get real with yourself!

What really happened, the details.
I was honestly at the Taco Bell drive through. I had thought about losing weight for about 10 years, but never did anything besides lie to myself about it. And then it happened, in a moment.
My normal routine was to get really trashed at the bar each night, drink another few at home alone, and pass out on the couch. Wake up, get some coffee and cigarettes, then a couple white bagels with butter. After the nicotine, caffeine, insulin buzz subsided, I’d make my way to a fast food joint. And that’s where it happened.

I backed out, and drove to the store. All I knew at the time, June 2003, was that everyone was losing weight low carbing. I had heard of no one that didn’t lose 5 pounds or so the first week. So I figured, what the hell? I had never lost weight before, and figured I’d start out making sure I would lose.

And lose I did. I dumped 5 pounds, as predicted, week one. Another 5 the next week. Six weeks later, I’d lost 30 pounds. I felt great about the weight loss, but that was all I felt great about. I knew eating bacon and eggs every morning, and bunless double cheeseburgers at night wasn’t the smartest thing to lose weight. The lack of energy and constant constipation confirmed that. If you want to know what carbs do, try eliminating them from your diet.

Phase Two, Intelligent weight loss.

So I began my real search. I was on the hunt for what used to be Cybergenics. I wanted the workout, the meal plan, and the supplements in one box. I wanted it all. It doesn’t exist.
HOWEVER, my search led me to Body For Life, by Bill Phillips. It was the closest thing. The supplements were simple; Myoplex meal replacements. The meal plan was simple; eat 6 smaller meals a day consisting of protein, carbs, and a fruit or vegetable. And the workout? Simple. Weights one day, cardio the next.

I read the book in one night. The next morning, with new inspiration, I began the cardio portion Body for Life style. I walked, then jogged, then ran for 20 minutes. With 270 pounds crashing down on my legs, I got shin splint so badly that I didn’t run again for another year.

HOWEVER, I stuck to the diet. A few weeks later people started to take note. No one had said much during the low carbing. Amazing, 30 pounds and I didn't look much better. But eating a balance of carbs, proteins and healthy fats, and I was looking better, as well as feeling great.
Stalling out.

By eating right, and more often, ala the Body for Life plan, I managed to lose another 20 pounds by that November. So why would I stall out?

I hadn’t left my past life in the past. Through it all, I was still holding onto the old, fat, unhappy me. Steve Chandler, in his book, “100 Ways to Motivate Yourself” talks about selling your house. Not the physical house you live in, but the emotional house you’ve become attached to. You see, no matter how messed up that house is, you still have a hard time selling it because it’s your house.

During the week I was healthy guy. However, when the weekend hit, it was game on. I had lost 50 pounds, was looking pretty good, wanted to go out and drink and show off a bit. So I did.
Then Friday and Saturday night turned into Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was football season after all. So then, who could skip Monday night football? And Tuesday nights are pint night at a local watering hole, and well, so why not get cheap beer? Before I knew it, I was right back in my old house.

I didn’t gain weight here. I just stalled after incredible momentum. How could I have let that happen? In hindsight, I realized how terrified I was to leave that old emotional house. You see, I hadn’t been in any serious relationships since I had become 300 pounds. Now, the ladies were noticing, and I was going out on dates. In my mind, dates could lead to romance, romance to relationships, and relationships meant pain. Subconsciously, I sabotaged my progress by staying fat. The ladies I attracted were marginal in appearance and personality, so there was no risk. I could remain safe. I could remain in my house.

How to make a change-Step one, a have massive anxiety attack.

Skip to July, 2004. I’m on vacation in Texas, starting at 240 pounds. Another 10 down, even through all the partying. Upon arriving in Texas, I meet up with an old high school friend, and begin drinking beer and eating Jack in The Box tacos...at 9 am. The vacation went downhill from there, and nearly 2 weeks later, I’m on the road home to Indiana.

Somewhere in the middle of Arkansas, with the nerves shot from the previous night’s partying, compound by the massive amounts of caffeine I ingested in an attempt to counteract the hangover, I begin to feel some anxiety. Within a few miles, I’m at the next exit, paralyzed by it. I find a motel, and lock the door. I promise myself I’m done. I’m finally going to get it together.
Upon returning home, again, I don’t follow through. It’s amazing what it takes to change. I had gained 15 pounds on vacation, freaked out to the point I should have been at a hospital, not a hotel, and I still cannot get it together?

The real way to make a change-Surround yourself with positive people

For the first time in my life, I surrender to the idea of asking someone to help me. I went searching for a trainer. I knew if I was to spend the money on a trainer, I wouldn’t spend it in the bar. I might have wasted a lot of time, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste my money.
Fate, karma, God, some higher power, whatever, sent me into Healthkick, a local nutrition store. I immediately noticed two biceps attached to someone seated behind the counter. Later I learned it was Ryan Benroth, owner and operator. He gave me a card for Dane King, personal trainer. So it was on, right?

Sooooo...September, I finally make a call to Dane. He gave me a pretty hard sales pitch. I knew I needed to change, but was still resisting. However, in a moment, I finally gave in, and signed up for 4 weeks. In the end, a decision is just one moment.

Like this story has drug on, the time it took me to change drug on, and on, and on. The only thing I regret today about my weight loss is that I didn’t do it earlier. I know that sounds cliché; but it’s 100% dead on. Of course I knew that I should lose weight when I was fat. But if for one moment I could have felt how I feel now; the pride, the self respect, the confidence, all the things I feel today, I would have not hesitated a moment. Oh, if only the new me could go back and give the old me a swift kick in the ass.

But it matters not now. The past is in the past, and must be left there. That’s half the battle of losing weight. You get into such a cycle of beating yourself down further because you have let yourself go. In doing so, you defeat yourself before you start. So the negative cycle spins further down.

Allow the positive cycle to spin

I now give everyone the same advice on losing weight. Don’t fight it, and DON’T FORCE IT. Of course, then everyone asks, “What is that supposed to mean?” You have to go through it to understand. The best I can describe it, you simply surround yourself with the positive circle you need, and then allow the cycle to spin. It’s not about psyching yourself up. Will power is overrated. If you’ve truly made your decision, you won’t be fighting urges, or forcing yourself to go to the gym. You’ll simply do it.

However, you need to set up the cycle around you. The means leaving some old “friends”, figuratively and literally. You know who and what they are. They need to be left behind. Trust me, once you change, you won’t miss them. In the beginning, my biggest fear was that I would lose my favorite friends; drinking and smoking. Today? Are you kidding me? I enjoy a beer ten times more now that I rarely have one. Smoking? I tried to go back to it once after quitting. With a new, healthy LIFESTLYE, it was mental trauma to try to inhale.

Looking back, I didn’t just start working out, or start a “diet”. I started a new life. I would wake up, eat, get dressed, and head to the gym, first thing. The workout was simple enough, with weights Monday, Wednesday and Friday, followed by cardio, and cardio alone on the other days. Sundays? OK, maybe on Sundays I was still a drink. Hey, it was football season again.
But the other 6 days I was living a healthy lifestyle. The workout was followed by a stop off at Healthkick to grab a post workout shake and discuss weight loss/muscle building theory with Ryan. Upon returning home, I’d usually surf the web for more info while cooking a post workout meal. That is where I first found bodybuilding.com. I tore into information on insulin and cortisol, testosterone and human growth hormone, whey and casein, whatever I could wrap my brain around, and some articles I couldn’t quite understand at the time.

I ate 6 meals a day, Body for Life style, and was spot on for 6 days. How did I maintain such a strict new life after being such a clown for so long? I had a support group I had surrounded myself with. Ryan, Dane, and Maggie. Maggie?

Even though I was 250 pounds of flabby misery when I started, I had started. I was feeling great every day after I got out the gym. Before the weight came off, I developed a new glow, a new confidence, and a new girlfriend. And she was into working out! I could cook healthy meals with her, do some extra cardio with her, and also go to the gym to do some extra cardio with her. Most of all, I had yet another person to be accountable to.

So the cycle spun faster. I felt like I was making a positive decision waking up to work out. Upon completing the workout, I’d get this wonderful euphoria that would last for another few hours. I knew from the information on bodybuilding.com, that I needed to feed the muscle, so I ate great. Eating great made me feel better, eliminating the highs and lows I previously had from starving and stuffing. I was doing great, and dropping weight, every week. Everyone I ran into was telling me how great I looked. The cycle spun and spun.

I lost a little, and Maggie would tell me I’m doing great. She also gave me a little encouragement in the personal appearance arena. I cut the hair. That really got the cycle spinning. I went out and bought some new shirts to keep updating the look. Some I bought to wear right away. Others I bought skin tight, as I knew I would be wearing them soon. And soon I was. What a time. Positive energy breading positive energy.

The scale is only one tool. Measure, measure, measure.

Before I knew it, it’s the middle of February, and I’ve dumped 25 pounds. Twenty five doesn’t seem like much, I know. But I wasn’t just taking it off. I was adding lean mass almost as fast.. I had the measurements from when I started with my trainer, and my current measurements. I could imagine what it was like 25 pounds ago, let alone 75 pounds ago. It just didn’t seem real.
That is, until I took the first after pictures, and got them developed along with my before pictures. I was beyond shocked. I had actually believed that I didn’t look that bad at 250. After all, I was 50 pounds lighter than 300, right? Well there I was, side by side with my new self, and the reality set in. I almost broke down in a confusing mess of resentment at my old self, and pride of the new self. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

I got these two pictures back February 19th, 2005. That’s only 25 pounds. It’s not about the scale.

Those pictures are now up a lot of places. I don’t even relate to the guy in the before pictures. I don’t want to know him anymore, I cannot understand why he liked the things he liked, and I certainly don’t want to be him again. I wouldn’t even want to hang out with him. It’s really a different person to me.

Weighing in is only part of the story. A small part. If I had relied on the scale, I would have failed for sure. Thanks to my trainer, I had measurements taken every 4 weeks. I continue to measure inches and body fat percentage along with weight. Of course, I continue to update the pictures. Whenever I’m feeling down, and think I haven’t progressed, I’ll measure again, or take another picture. It’s hard to see the little changes, especially of you only are measuring the weight.

I’m going to preach a little more about the scale, as I think it’s important to totally, completely and fully hammer home the point that it’s NOT ABOUT THE SCALE. I weigh in everyday. I highly recommend daily weigh ins. Not to see weight loss, but to see how pointless a pound or two, even three or four can be. I fluctuate as much as 4 pounds from day to day. When I was 250, it was more. Why?

Sodium (salt) makes you retain water. So does carbohydrates. Just having water in my stomach will cause me to weight in a pound or two heavy some days. What if you weigh in one day and haven’t passed things through your system as much as the previous day? That will add a few pounds. The most I remember fluctuating was 9 pounds in a week.

With all that said, looking at a scale once a week can really throw you off. What if the scale reads the same one week? Did your body fat stay the same? Or did you lose fat, and gain muscle? Did you actually gain a pound, but are more dehydrated? There are too many variables to tell for sure. So weigh in daily, and just make sure it is trending downward.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

As well, I kept a food journal. The journal was a HUGE part of my success. I planned all my meals ahead of time, then recorded what I actually ate. You must plan on succeeding to succeed. Most “diets” fail not because of lack of willpower, but simple lack of planning. If you don’t know what you’re going to be eating next, there’s a distinct possibility that you’ll be caught unprepared, and make less than ideal choices.

Planning ahead insures you’ll be eating the right things. As well, if ever I felt as if I was hitting a plateau, I had a record of why. And those days I weighed in too high? It was easy to trace it to something I had the day before.

I also planned my workouts upon going out on my own. The planning process, I believe, is key to continuous gains. My routine has changed many times. Keeping a record of planned workouts, and actual workouts has been a key to keeping the progress going. Again, if ever I get down, I can look back at my workout log, and see how far I’ve come.

And how far is that? Take a look at that first before picture, with the long hair. Now picture that guy showing up in the gym, 10 AM. He’s got a pair of giant yellow swim trunks on because he hasn’t bought a pair of shorts in 6 years. The t shirt he wears is from the Go-Kart track he got fired from, and is XXL. The sweat is so profuse anytime he turns his head his wet hair sends sweat flying. His three sets of bench press are 85, 75, and finally 55 pounds. All three sets need a spot to get to 10.

Fifty five pounds. To be clear, that is the bar with two fives on it. We’ve all gotta start somewhere. Just start. The people in the gym aren’t judging you in a negative light. They admire you, and are think, “Hey, at least he’s trying.” Really. I know, I’ve been on both sides.
So where does it end?

Good question. I don’t think it will. I learn something new about myself nearly every time I go to the gym. I continually impove upon my diet, as I learn new things and get new discipline. Do I do everything perfect now? Hell no. Far from it.

I think that’s a big misconception when people start out. They believe they need to go from total failure to 100% success without falling. Guess what? Notgunnahappen. Nor should it. Take your time, and learn a little about yourself along the way. Most of all, enjoy the journey, it’s a GREAT one.

I’ll be waiting for you on the other side. The view from here is AMAZING. When you get here, drop me a line and tell me how you got here, so we can direct others to where we’re at.

5 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

Fantastic story, and one where I can relate in a lot of places. In my own quest I've lost 95lbs so far, and the point you make that is so true, is that it has to be a lifestyle change.

My aim has always been to be healthier, and the weightloss has been a side effect of that.

And the battle is not with the food, it's with myself.

What I keep saying to people is that before you can ever hope to lose weight and keep it off, you have to understand WHY you over ate in the first place. Whether that's just bad habits, or a lack of self respect, self-knowledge is the vital tool.

Cheers,

-Sir Man Boobs

Natural Weight Loss said...

Wow, glad to have had you post your story. It was a long haul, but seems like lots of personal growth involved. I should hook you up with Peak potentials, then have you take warrior camp. That will take your life to the next level for sure.

Spider63 said...

Great story, I really appreciate reading it. Thank you.

Twice the Man said...

http://twicetheman2.blogspot.com/

new location, new blog, new pounds to get rid of

Misplaced said...

Since this is an older entry, I'm not sure if you're even going to see this comment. But believe it or not your amazing progress pics and blog pop up when one googles Bill Phillips (images). The little thumbnail of your transformation peaked my interest and I had to check out your blog.

This post is really inspiring and I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story!

I too know what it's like to truly change your life vs. just dieting. Kudos to you for making the change!