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Monthly Archives: February 2010

I love movies and one of my favorites is Cool Hank Luke. The dialog in the movie is incredible. There are also a lot of great scenes. One of my favorites is the scene when Luke has been captured after his first escape. The warden is explaining to him that he is just making his life harder by running. He goes on to tell him that he needs “to get his mind right” or serving his time is going to be more difficult. He is really just telling him that he needs to accept his fate and give up hope of getting away from the prison. In his attempt to break Luke’s spirit, he just pushed him harder.

I get asked all the time if losing 350 pounds was hard. I used to be honest with people and tell them no, but that upset and confused people. I think people viewed it as an insult to them or arrogance from me. But honestly, the hardest part of the program was facing my problems and getting started. It took that first step to being committed and getting my mind right.

For me it wasn’t the actual process that was difficult because I had “my mind right”. I was committed to making this change more that I had ever been before. If you look at the process I am involved in from the outside, it does look difficult. But I didn’t start out with this strict of a diet plan and working out 8 times a week. I built up to it over 4 years. I had to lose enough weight just to start to work out. There was no way I could have physically done what I do now. Added steps and adjustment have been part of the process.

Once you start to see improvements, it begins to feed on itself. That’s why I said it hasn’t been that hard. Are there mornings when my alarm goes off at 4:35AM and I want to get out of my warm soft bed? Hell no…just about every morning. But I climb out, brush my teeth, tame my hair and put on my sweats. I honestly try not to think about what I am going to go do. I just do it out of habit.

I look back now and understand why past diets didn’t work. I didn’t have a high enough commitment level. I was wasting my time and letting excuses get in the way. Once I got to the right commitment level, everything else took care of itself. The good news is, once the diet/lifestyle change becomes habit, the concentration lessens and it does become easier.

I believe that part of the issue with setting the commitment is all the negative information out in the world about how hard it is to lose weight. The people putting this propaganda out are the same people trying to sell their weight loss program. Funny how that works…on one hand they are saying they “understand how impossible diets can be, and on the other hand they are saying we have the solution that makes it oh so easy. I am all for tools that will help you lose weight. I use them myself. If it takes a support group, a card planner or eating a lifetime supply of deli sandwiches to lose weight, then you should do it. At the end of the day, it’s still hard math, calories in and calories out. The programs that are out there just help you organize your food intake.

In Cool Hand Luke, Luke is playing poker and makes a bluff. The guy he is playing can’t decide on whether to call or not and Luke tells him he “needs to shoot or give up the gun”. He folds, and Luke earns his nickname Cool Hand. I think that sums dieting up, you have to commit or forget. Anything else is a waste of time.

Paul

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It almost passed today without my making note of it, but today is February 18, 2010. This marks the 4th year I have been working on my program. My weight this morning was 246.7 lbs, and my total loss in 4 years is 353.2 lbs. It really seems like I just got started. I wonder where I will be one year from today?

On a completely different note, I have a theory that working out may make you stupid or at the very least confused. I came to this conclusion because of the lost and found bin at the YMCA where I work out. The bin is always overflowing with clothing, towels, shoes…etc. I personally have found a few cell phones and even a nice iPod Touch. It seems that when people are done working out they can’t remember to pick up their belongings and go home.

Here is a photo I took with my cell phone:

It shows a pair of men’s underpants…in the parking lot of the gym. I am not sure how you lose your chonies and not know it. How much working out did this clown do that his underpants fell off and he didn’t even know it?

One of the seven deadly sins is Envy. According to the site wordnet.princeton.edu, the definition of Envy is “a feeling of grudging admiration and desire to have something that is possessed by another.”

I bring this up today because in the past, I have suffered from this sin. I used to hate to see people that were able to lose the kind of weight I have lost. I was so envious. It just pointed a big bright flashing flood light on my inability to do the same thing. I never felt that way about the people that were always fit. I always just figured those people were blessed with good genetics. It was my belief that they had that gift, while I was cursed with bad physical genetics (sorry Mom). It’s like the guys that possess that indescribable quality that make women flock to them. I possessed the antidote for that quality.

I was also under the belief that you can’t fight fate. Turns out, I was wrong. If you are just stubborn enough, you can fight fate, you just have to be unrelenting and determined.

I also found out from my friends that are very fit that most of them work at it. They still need to watch what they eat and they all work hard to maintain it. They all go the gym, they pay attention to not eat and drink too much. I know that everyone has a friend that always brags about how they “just can’t gain any weight no matter how much they try and eat.” They just have the metabolism that makes them burn calories like a wired ferret. You know those people, the ones you want to hit with a snow shovel in the back of the head as they are reaching for their 3rd doughnut. But, those people are few and far between and I know that old age will mostly likely catch up with them.

I would hope that other people struggling with the diet demon don’t possess this character flaw and would not be envious of me. I am far from someone that people should be looking at with envy. I have many flaws.

I would also hope that people can learn that it’s not about some type of gift or talent I seem to have. It is just plan ol’ stubbornness. I don’t like to be pushed. Human instinct is to push back. I started to look at my weight as something that was quite literally pushing on me. So, I started to fight back. I always say that anyone that sets their mind to doing it, and really wants to do it, can. I don’t possess any special skills or training.

If I had decided that instead of losing weight, I wanted to be a famous singer, let’s say the next Bob Seger or Paul Simon, I would not have a chance. First, I am tone deaf. Second, I have a voice that is not meant to sing, and lastly, I have no talent. I understand that this didn’t stop Bob Dylan, but he is the exception that proves the rule.

The good news is that you don’t need a talent to lose weight. This was one of the biggest “ah ha” moments I had through this experience. You can use that negative energy and quality of being stubborn positively.

I certainly don’t want to make anyone feel bad about their situation. I think about it when people bring up my weight loss. I don’t want to turn into one of those obnoxious reformed smokers that tells everyone about how bad smoking is for them. At the same time, I don’t want to avoid it on the off chance it might make someone uncomfortable. And, some people are really interested. It’s hard to know who wants to hear it and who doesn’t. I have had many people whose body language completely changes when I start to tell them that there is no short cut…you have to put in the work if you want the benefit. Their posture changes and they really don’t want to hear it.

My dad was an off road racer in his youth. He told me when you are in a race you don’t need a rear view mirror. He said the reason is because it’s not your concern what’s behind you. It’s the guys that are following you who needs to be concerned. It’s really their problem. You just need to focus on what’s in front of you. What’s behind you doesn’t matter on the road in front of you, and keep your eye on the finish line. I plan to keep moving forward.

Paul

I have worked in the past as a bill collector, I’ve sold auto parts, was a cashier, a sales manager, and for the majority of my professional life, I was a mortgage banker. For the last 5 years, I have been working as a “Project Manager”. My strategic thought processes are most suited for this job. It is a good fit for me.

As with many people, I got the job and then had to learn the lingo for the position. I learned there is a great many abbreviations, acronyms and professional terms used in this field. One of my favorite terms is “schedule slip”. It’s pretty self explanatory, as it means you have a set schedule and the deadline needs to be pushed back because it’s apparent that you are not going to make it. No one likes to use the term “missed deadlines” because that would appear to place blame. The reasons for schedule slip can vary, it can be unforeseen issues delaying the project, it can be an unreal expectation by management for the term to complete, it can be hardware issues, etc.

My weight loss project has suffered serious schedule slip. In the beginning, I had an unreal expectation of how long it was going to take me to lose the weight. I wanted to get it done as soon as possible, and I thought I could lose the weight between 2 and 3 years. In the first year, I lost 140lbs. I then readjusted my original goal to 300 pounds lost in 28 months.

I was right on target for the first year. I was feeling good and felt like I wanted to reward myself when I lost the first 100 pounds. I spent some money on myself and purchased a Sony PSP hand held video system. As a bit of a closet geek, I love this technology.

When I got to 200 pounds lost, I was behind schedule and for that reason, didn’t feel that I deserved to buy myself a reward. It was important to me that I maintain a schedule and drive towards it. I didn’t take into account the changes in my physical body and the slowdown in the weight loss. This was my second reason for schedule slip, hardware issues.

After I lost the first 200 pounds, people really took notice. I think most were really sincere when they told me that they were impressed and I must be so proud. I always downplayed the weight I had lost. The truth is that until I got to my final goal, I didn’t want to feel too good about where I was. I was worried that I would grow complacent. I also felt a certain amount of failure because I was missing my deadlines.

When I had lost 250 pounds, I had kind of stalled on my diet. I just lost motivation; I was still losing but was disheartened by the time it was taking me to lose more weight. I had a few good friends who suggested that we would need to take a trip to celebrate when I lost 300 pounds. We decided on a trip to Vegas when I hit 300 pounds. This got my motivation back in gear in a big way. I really had a goal that I was excited about. Nothing like a long weekend of drunken debauchery to get your morale back in gear. I got back into gear and lost the weight. We went to Vegas, smoked like chimneys, and drank like Kennedys. It was a great trip.

 As of this morning, I am down to a weight of 247.6. I have lost 352.3 pounds. I think my final goal will be 235 lbs. This will depend on what my appointment with the nutritionist tells me. I am actually prepared for them to tell me I need to lose more. But, I have been working on 235 as the final number where I feel like I have accomplished my goal and can feel successful.

My next step will be to concentrate on strength training and try to regain the muscle I have lost over the last four years. That’s the great thing about being a project manager, once you finish one project, you get to move to the next one with a clean slate.

Paul

I read the lyrics from a Johnny Cash song, “The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars.” I can completely relate to this sentiment. I am pretty sure Johnny was referring to binge drinking/drug use or just partying too much on the road. While I don’t have those issues (we can only hope, maybe someday), I can relate.

About 2 years ago, I was driving to Seattle to visit some friends. It’s not a long drive from my house, only about 3 hours. But, when you consume the amount of water I do, road trips tend to take a bit longer considering the pit stops.

At one point, I pulled off the road and was sitting in a drive through coffee shop. It was one of the little stand-alone glorified garden sheds that serve overpriced hot drinks. Just before that, I had hit the drive through at Mickey D’s and purchased a happy meal for my daughter. As we waited in line for the coffee, my daughter was showing me her happy meal toy. My attention was distracted for maybe 10 or 12 seconds. The line had moved forward and I apparently wasn’t pulling forward fast enough for the guy behind me. So did he give me a small tap on the horn to catch my attention? No, he decided with his limited brain cells that the thing to do was squeeze between my car and the building and pull around me. I looked up when he came into my peripheral vision and was amazed at his attempt to move around me.

I was immediately enraged. The beast was out. I pulled up behind him, very close. He had rolled down his window to place his order. I rolled my window down and wanted to calmly explain my displeasure at his driving skills. What happened wasn’t exactly what I had intended. I leaned out and yelled, “HEY FUC*%R, what was that move all about, I will F*#K you up like cancer!” I was not sure why, but I went right to DEFCON 1. Thank god he did what he did, which was to place both his hands up, palms exposed, out of his window and say he was very sorry that he didn’t know what I was doing. I am so glad he didn’t get out of his car. At my level of rage, I am sure he would have been spitting out his teeth like so many bloody Chiclets . I don’t normally use language like that in public and especially not in front of my 7 year old daughter. I like to let her learn those words from watching Sopranos reruns on cable just like all her friends.

For the most part, I think I am a pretty calm, controlled person. My job deals with upset people on a consistent basis. In my previous jobs, I have repossessed cars and been a collector for collection agencies and finance companies. I never ever lost my cool like I did that day. I have had much bigger reasons than that to reach critical mass and it would have been justified. I never got mad at people that threatened my life, for crying out loud. But that day, it really felt like an out of body experience. I was watching myself lose my cool in the third person. I was amazed that my anger just boiled over. I am not sure that cutting line is a capitol offense. As soon as I pulled up to the cashier, I instantly felt bad. The barista was looking at me like I was standing there holding a pitchfork full of kittens.

When I got back to work, I was chatting with a friend of mine. I won’t name him because (while I would never admit it in front of him) I look up to him a bit. I would hate for him to get a swelled head. He inquired about my weekend. I relayed the story of the car episode back to him as one of the low lights of my trip. I told him I just didn’t understand where that anger was coming from. I told him lately I had been really quick tempered. He just started to laugh. He said, “Just think about it. You’ve been dieting for quite a while. Number one, that makes you cranky. Number two, that takes a great deal of control and effort. It only makes sense that you would lose it over something else.”

As soon as he said that, I knew he was right on the button. I instantly felt better. For some reason, just knowing where that anger was coming from was able to help me defuse it. I am not saying my temper hasn’t been short, but I no longer have this level of stress. Only occasionally do I want to go Norman Bates on someone for kicking the back of my chair at the theater. What can I say, you can take the boy out of the country…you know the rest.

I think this must be the same type of mental struggle that people quitting smoking go through. It’s some sort of growing pains. At the end of the day, being hungry sucks and it makes you cranky! Remember the first rule of dieting…no one talks about fight club.

Paul