Saturday, April 19, 2014

What's Going On With Me? Part Two

What's Going On With Me? Part Two

There's an interesting psychological dynamic that unfolds when you lose a dramatic amount of weight and then gain some of it back, or a lot of it back.  I'm convinced this dynamic is exactly what makes successfully losing again seem more difficult. Suddenly, it becomes much more than controlling our calorie budgets, exercising and paying attention to our emotional state and the accompanying triggers. Now, we must do a little more "mental work" as we do our best to get past the guilt, shame and embarrassment associated with weight gain and put our focus squarely where it's most benefiting. This dynamic is powerful no matter if you blogged about your weight loss and wrote a book or not.

I was in line at the grocery store the other day, fighting the urge to grab a dose of sugar, when a man came up behind me in line and said, "Sean Anderson, I read your book. You've gained some back."  Two things happened in that moment: 1. I immediately lost any desire to grab a Snickers bar and 2. I felt a rush of guilt, shame and embarrassment.  Now, most people operate with a better set of filters. This scenario has played out more than a few times, but usually the other person doesn't vocalize the obvious.  Even when the obvious isn't stated, I'm real good at deciding exactly what they're thinking. The silent-mental conclusion is always much more harsh and unforgiving and likely inaccurate.

How will I ultimately overcome this added obstacle? Perspective. Shifting my perspective is paramount to my success today.

Inventory time!  This is where I make a list of good and not as good, qualities...and you know what?  I'll spare you the self-indulgent list and cut to the chase: Turns out I'm a pretty decent guy. Yay for that!

I'm human. I'm real. I don't know everything. I'm always open to learning.  And the things I'm learning now are things crucial to my long term success.  I'm not saying weight gain after a dramatic loss was a good thing, but if I shift my perspective around I can clearly see where I can learn from and benefit from this experience.

As this blog moves forward, I'm going to get into more of a "diary" type mode, much like in the beginning. Less "here's what I think" and more "Here's what I did and am doing." I'm excited at the idea of getting back to the roots of this blog.  Back to a diary in the purest sense. You see, I tend to suffer from paralysis by analysis. I try to understand things from every angle, take it apart, dissect the elements, reach conclusions, maybe write about my personal philosophical conclusions and then when I struggle, it's back to the drawing board.  We can study ourselves and learn, learn, learn--the applying part is the critical step that's often times hindered by the exhaustive analysis.

Much like advice I've given a hundred times to others: It's time to stop trying to figuring everything out and just do. Just be. And be okay. And move forward.  After all, much of what I learned while losing 275 pounds, I learned along the way.  Had I stopped back then to "study" it all, I would have never experienced the initial success.

Taking better care of me is critical.  The sleep issue is my main focus and concern. My appointment Thursday with the sleep specialist resulted in a prescription for Nuvigil (thank you for the suggestion, Joe!) And some suggested "positional therapy." The bottom line was: Get fit and this will dramatically improve or become a non-issue.  I told him how even at 230 I was having serious sleep issues.  He then asked, "How fit were you at 230?"  Mmmmm... And I asked, "Are you suggesting I need muscle, work out with weights?" And he told me it could make a major difference.  Body composition is important to this issue. It certainly makes sense.  And once again I'm reminded of the awesome responsibility I have in taking better care.  It's all up to me. I've understood this for awhile, cementing in my mind during the initial weight loss. It's interesting how another issue comes along and it becomes convenient to overlook this part. It is up to me.  I can dramatically improve my life.  Basically, I can choose change before change chooses me.  Yes, it all comes back to this very real truth.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Thank you for reading,
Strength,
Sean

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's Going On With Me?

What's Going On With Me?

Several friends have expressed concern for me lately and I sincerely appreciate their inquires. I thought it best to update anyone else who might be concerned: After two sleep labs and a new cpap machine, my body is still rejecting the therapy. This constant state of exhaustion has taken its toll on me in several ways. It's affected my job, my weight loss, my attitude and emotional well being—basically, it's wreaked havoc. 

It's now affecting my voice, and for someone like me who makes a living by speaking—that's pretty scary. 

I've done okay with food because I know eating more isn't the solution to the issue, even when you're too tired to care most of the time. As far as exercise goes, I haven't lately. Why? Aside from the obvious exhaustion, the lack of rest has had an effect, as if I were staying on my feet constantly, causing extreme swelling to my right leg with lymphatic issues (something that, thanks to weight loss, hasn't been an issue in over 4 years). This effect has left me very cautious about putting too much pressure on it for fear of skin breakage. That hasn't happened and I'm doing whatever I need to do to keep it from happening. 

I received a facebook message from a reader who asked, “You're obviously struggling because you're not posting regularly, so how can you “coach” others in your group with Gerri?” Great question, a fair question indeed. First of all, Gerri is the certified life coach in our group. I am a “coach” too, based exclusively on my personal experiences along this road and my ability to communicate and effectively encourage and offer support, as I've done with hundreds of people over the last five years. My struggles with this medical issue hasn't affected my ability to relate to group members, offer suggestions, inspire and motivate in my unique way. The group helps me too, especially with the support and guidance of group members—and of course Gerri Helms, one of the best life coaches in the business. 

 My goals and plans are wonderful and they're still valid, waiting, if you will, while I attend to my immediate health concerns. I'm taking care of me and doing it the best I can with self- compassion and a realistic approach. I'm scheduled to see a specialist tomorrow afternoon and I'm looking forward to finding solutions to my health concerns.

Thank you for reading and for caring,
Sincerely,

Sean

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Redefining Our Line

Redefining Our Line

Do we feel “right at home?” To be where we are and remain here, is to live around the line of least resistance, or so we might believe. But is our place at this line really easy? 

It's familiar, yes. On many levels, even comforting, because it's what we know. But is it easy when you consider all we sacrifice in its maintenance? 

Our identity, our social interactions and our inter-personal relationships all lean heavily against us wandering too far from the line we've called home. And when we decide to change, moving away from this place can be scary. 

We gradually realize the potential effects of this liberation from what is known, transforms much more than what's on the surface; our bodies and wardrobes. 

Is it easy at this line or have we simply become accustomed to adapting as needed to accommodate and preserve our place? 

When we regain, is it in part a subconscious retreat to familiar surroundings? 

In my opinion, the heart of the matter lies in what we choose to find and maintain a semblance of comfort and peace. And what we choose often lies to us in its promise. Excess food, or excess anything, might keep us “safe,” but it doesn't make anything easy and it doesn't fix anything. 

To choose change is brave, requiring large amounts of faith and commitment. Change isn't hard simply because it's different, it's just not familiar. The only way it becomes familiar is through practice. 

We redefine our line. 

And along the way we find ourselves transforming in ways we didn't expect. The line of least resistance isn't easy to maintain. It is familiar and that provides an illusion of ease. 

Perhaps it isn't the line of least resistance—maybe it's the line of familiarity. 

And if we can embrace the changes we desire long enough to become familiar and understanding, then perhaps we can change the base line we call home.

Peace and strength,
Sean

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chasing Endorphins

Chasing Endorphins

I hadn't made it a quarter mile when the burning in my legs started whining. I decided to focus on the music and not my legs. Would I get a 5K in this evening? Probably not and that's okay. I'm not back there just yet. At about the 3/4 mile point I noticed my legs feeling better and stronger. I was determined to make it at least 1.7 miles. By the time the 2nd lap of the trail was finished, I was so into my music and feeling good--I pushed it another lap, ending with a solid 2.64 miles. That's fantastic. I honestly felt like stopping that first 1/4 mile, but as I alternated between air guitar and air drums, I was thinking about how it was when I first embarked on this trail September 15th, 2008 at 505 pounds. I only made it 1/4 mile on that first day because I was convinced another step further would literally kill me. I knew pushing it tonight wouldn't kill me and I was after those mood altering endorphins. And I got 'em, I got 'em good.

I left the trail feeling accomplished. I felt proud and happy. I made it to the store, picked up a few ingredients I needed to prepare dinner and I cooked a meal I felt good about.

Today was a good day. The choices I made alleviated the familiar struggle I often feel in the evenings. Morning to late afternoon is often the easiest time of day for me because it's more structured with my work schedule. The evening is up to me. And when there aren't any boundaries and I'm free to navigate my evening in whatever way I choose--that's when it's the toughest.

I confided in a friend recently about how I felt like I was on the verge of a calorie bank meltdown. Instead, on that particular evening, I went to bed uncharacteristically early (7:10pm), thus avoiding what felt inevitable. It wasn't a bad move, really. I did what I felt I needed to do in that moment in order to maintain the integrity of my calorie budget. But after tonight, I must question, had I exercised, how would I have felt at 7pm that particular evening? I'm betting I would have been in a much stronger mindset, influenced by the bio-chemical reactions released by exercise.

It's a positive momentum dynamic. I exercise, I feel better, I struggle less (or not at all) and I ultimately feel great about my choices. And good inspires more of the same. I must keep this in mind the next time I'm on the fence about whether or not to exercise.

I'm a pro at finding fantastic reasons why I shouldn't exercise on any particular day. Granted, I've had legitimate circumstances for a while now because of my sleep issues. But now that these are being treated, I'm getting more rest. And suddenly a long work day doesn't seem like a good enough escape clause. And why would I avoid exercise anyway? I do quite often. But I can't recall ever regretting a good workout. Isn't that interesting? I always feel better afterward. Always. And since I listen to my favorite tunes while I'm doing it, I'm actually having a blast, (see the air guitar and air drums reference above.) I've even went so far as to play air piano, air violin and air upright base.  Will somebody see me? (Somebody did this evening--I know, because they mentioned it on my facebook post) I don't care if they see me! This is what I mean when I talk about becoming "lost in the music." This is why I prefer to workout alone. My exercise time is my time to dream within the rhythm of the songs that inspire me. I've compromised before, trying not to embarrass my walking partner: I would often curb my enthusiasm. I will not curb my enthusiasm ever again! So if you've ever asked me to walk with you and I haven't accepted, please don't take it personal. It's just me being me...gloriously me!  

I've noticed a major positive difference since declaring to be more self-compassionate. The guilt and shame of regain is pretty much gone. I give an incredible amount of credit to the numerous people who have come forward, sharing their own stories of regain. Feelings of shame and guilt prefer to be alone for optimal growth. And because so many have shared with me their stories and their hope, I know I'm not alone, ever.
Getting back on track has been another big factor in alleviating the brutally abusive thoughts and resulting emotions. I know where I'm headed. And it feels good to be going in a positive direction. The hopeless feelings of a downward spiral always feel that way because of the decent. When we're back up and moving in a positive direction we suddenly realize there is hope after all.

I better wrap this up. I've enjoyed some wonderful perspectives on facebook recently. The other day I posted:

"I've heard from several people recently who have told me they're “starting over." First, realize you're not completely starting over. Now, you're armed with new information about yourself—some you may not have considered before now. Every “failed” weight loss attempt in my life wasn't a failure, it was a teacher. With this new perspective--approach with simplicity, confidence, and joy. And know: This time will be unlike any other because the focus is heavy on YOU and the real changes you desire,—the ones you once thought impossible...they're not, they're yours for the choosing."

Michael Prager, Author of "Fat Boy, Thin Man" commented:
 "I start over every morning, regardless of how yesterday went. I only have today."

Isn't that the most wonderful perspective we can embrace? What if we let go of yesterday and fully embraced today? Now, if yesterday was awesome, then fine---but still, today is all we have. Truly, this is a one day at a time road we're traveling.

I invite you to friend me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/seananderson505 On Twitter: @SeanAAnderson and on My Fitness Pal: SeanAAnderson

I keep most of my food pics and "in the moment" type stuff on twitter. I micro-blog and interact on facebook and I log my daily calorie bank, exercise and water consumption on My Fitness Pal.  And of course, this blog is...well, you're here...

Thank you for reading,
Goodnight and...
Strength,
Sean

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Thing About Focus

The Thing About Focus

I'm ready to amp this amp as I head into March.  I've been rocking my Calorie Bank and Trust to the tune of 1700 or a little less each day. I haven't fully committed to an exercise schedule and it's okay, but that's about to change! My goals for the upcoming week include being better prepared for lunches at work, exercising of some kind each day, increased writing and more water! I can do this. These are things in need of my focus. And when I apply myself toward this positive focus, incredible results follow.

A very important element for me and any of us, is to be very careful of the thoughts and things we lend our focus.  I'm a huge believer in the law of attraction. Basically, what we focus on the most is what we get more of along the way. I have numerous things in my life where I can dissect the dynamics and follow it back to where my focus was strongest. Most times, a negative focus is grounded in fear.

Fear of regaining can be paralyzing. And when you're in the middle of regaining it feels like the focus is hijacked into a very negative and dark place where nothing is working anymore.  I had "505" tattooed on my arm as a reminder of where I've been and a nod to never go back.  BUT... if I could go back in time, I would change the number to 230. And I may still have "-275=230" added.  Why? Because as I was losing and after hitting goal, I spent a whole lot of focus on the number 505. I named my start up "505 Industries," the tattoo of course and several other thoughts and practices were centered around that number. It got to the point to where I started seeing 505 everywhere. My purchase at the store would come up $5.05, I would notice the clock at 5:05 all the time and when the security code on one of my cards showed up 505, I smiled and thought, "How perfect?"

But how could I break away from this five hundred pound identity if I'm choosing to constantly focus on the number 505?  I can tell you with absolute certainty, had it not been for the support of people like you--I'd be back to 505 or beyond.  Changing our focus isn't easy. And changing our deep seeded identity is where it gets extremely challenging.

In my opinion, in order for us to eventually, slowly but surely, accept a new identity--we must focus on where we are and where we're headed, not where we've been. You've heard people say "never look back" and I agree. Then someone pops up with, "Don't ever forget where you came from!" And then what?  Well, we don't have to forget where we came from and we likely couldn't if we tried, but we can keep that identity from being our main focus.

This focus on where we're headed puts the law of attraction to the test. Long before I watched "The Secret" documentary on Netflix, I experienced this powerful dynamic. As I started losing weight back in 2008, I employed the law of attraction without realizing what I was doing. Everyday I would look in the mirror and smile at myself. I was complimenting myself for doing a great job and then I would intensely focus on where I was headed. I would envision how my appearance would change.  And no, simply doing this isn't the only thing needed---but what happened was, it affected every choice I made. I was locked into my transformation. I was focused on the positive changes coming my way in regards to physical and mental health and of course, appearance. I was imagining the possibilities and with each passing day, week and month--those possibilities were happening.

An entire book could be written about this topic of focusing and then another book could be written on the effects of the transformation as it applies to our identity and how it affects our relationships with others and more importantly, how it affects our relationship with self. I imagine if I search a little, I could find some good books already written on these topics!

I'll tell you right now, the big guy in some of the photos below--I never properly dealt with losing him. The truth is, I never lost him--it's me, but the identity and all of the personality and heart invested in that existence was transformed right along with my body and wardrobe.  It felt like "old Sean" died. It wasn't until the last year or so that I fully understood why my ex-sister in-law cried the first time she saw me after hitting goal. She was mourning the loss of  "old Sean." I did recognize this then, but I didn't fully get it until about a year ago.  So the work continues.

For me to understand that the positive effects of being at a healthy body weight far outweigh the attachment to my old identity, takes a committed and consistent focus.

I want to live as long as God plans for me to live. I want to be healthy and experience life to the fullest. And doing this means letting go and allowing myself to transform without focusing on negative emotions tied to my previous normal.  There were many positive and wonderful qualities in that guy, but the lifestyle was one that isn't conducive to longevity.  Instead of focusing on a perceived "loss," I must continue to focus on a hybrid version of me--one that combines the positive qualities of the past with the lifestyle and focus of today, giving me the best shot at a longer and healthier life.

Where is the focus? That's a question I must keep on the top of my mind. As long as I remain attentive and aware of this focus, I can continue making positive strides toward my goals.

Join me on facebook at www.facebook.com/seananderson505 (notice the 505) and on twitter @SeanAAnderson and My Fitness Pal: SeanAAnderson.

Tuesday evening starts the 6 week group teleconference coaching sessions with my good friend Life Coach Gerri Helms. Gerri has maintained her 100 pound weight loss for 21 years and has helped countless people identify and reach their goals in weight loss and other areas of life.  The 6 week session is $60 dollars and includes the weekly call, additional text support when needed, a private Facebook group for conference members only and an incredible chemistry for support from the group. For an average of only $10 per week, it's a bargain! If you're interested in signing up, it's not too late! We keep the group small, so space is limited. Send an email to me right away to sean@transformationroad.com and I'll reply with a link for you to click and register.

I've included several pictures below. I am focusing on where I'm headed, not where I've been. I am focused on a future where I speak and write for a living and one where I experience the positive effects of living at a healthier weight everyday.

Attitude. Perspective. Focus. It's powerful, my friend.

Thank you for reading,
Strength,
Sean

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big face

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Stand-up comedy head shot and stage profile shot

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This idea of focus, attention and the law of attraction, has me questioning if I should ditch the before picture and old size 64's for future speaking engagements.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Of Clarity and Perspective

Of Clarity and Perspective

Just a day after my Monday appointment, I received the call about my sleep study results, including the pressure needed and the home health prescription. The same day, the home health place called and starting working on my insurance company about getting me a new machine.  More on that in a moment!

Wednesday I transported mom to her eye specialist in Oklahoma City. I've been preoccupied during so many visits with mom and she notices every time (call it a mother's intuition). I can't count the times she's asked, "What's wrong, son?" or "Is everything okay?" And most of the time I would sugar coat my answer in an attempt to save her from worry. But she knew. She always knows when I'm "out of alignment" with my truest self. And instead of me "saving her" from worry by clamming up, her concern becomes amplified, because now she must play a guessing game as to what's wrong with her son.

Something was very different during this time we spent together. The difference maker is, I'm taking good care and I'm on the right track. I'm feeling good about myself. I'm maintaining a calorie budget again and I'm dealing with all stressful triggers head on, instead of ignoring them and simply managing the stress they create. We all know how I choose to manage stress. In other words, I'm taking charge of my life on different levels. I'm treating the root cause and not just managing the symptoms, if you will. My preferred treatment of "symptoms" is to eat, and eat some more, taking a temporary escape route where nothing is solved, only made worse by the added guilt and shame that floods in after the brief hiatus from caring. At that point, everything negative is magnified, the result of my natural coping mechanism.

It isn't easy to break away from these dynamics. Not easy at all. But when we declare our independence from these ingrained ways, positive things start clicking and we have some of the purest interactions with the ones we love.  My trip with mom on Wednesday was one of the best we've had. Mom's eyes are doing great, by the way. Again--no surgery needed and another checkup was set for late June. Mom said "I've laughed more this morning than I have in a very long time." I live to see that woman smile and her laugh is music to my ears. We discussed issues important to both of us, with some serious points along the way, but for the most part, we enjoyed observational humor and improvised "stand-up." It was pure joy to laugh so hard and feel so free and once again enjoy our time together, instead of being preoccupied with the countless distractions the quicksand of a downward spiral brings about.

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Getting the call from the home health supply place was good. A new machine with precisely the settings I needed was waiting for me. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed this paper attached to the wall:

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I can personally attest to most of this list. If my recent doctors check up is any indication, I may have dodged the cardiovascular health issue, at least for now. It would have become a much more serious issue had I let it go, unchecked and rampant, without putting on the brakes and admitting it needed immediate attention.

I left their office with a new machine and a truckload of hope and anticipation of the incredible differences being properly rested will bring. I've had three nights on this new machine and the difference is profound. It isn't perfect as I try to get accustomed to a new headgear and mask, but even with this adjustment period, I still feel more rested than I have in three years. Exactly as I hoped.

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A little more than a month ago, I received a message from a man who said he wanted to meet and talk about his weight issues. He told me we had communicated once before about this, but now more than ever, he was ready to sit down and discuss how to start, because like many of us at one time or another, he was stuck in the place where the question "Where and how do I start" weighs heavier than any number we've seen on a scale.  We set a time to meet face to face at the studio and we talked for a while before walking to Subway for a low calorie dinner. If you condensed the resolution to our discussion down to three words, it was "keep it simple."

We met up again Thursday evening and it was a different man in front of me. He was thrilled with the simplicity of using My Fitness Pal for calorie counting. He had been maintaining his calorie budget despite an upside down schedule and a high stress kind of job that takes him to the streets of North Tulsa five nights a week. His recent doctors appointment showed a loss of 6 pounds. He's gained a confidence, calm and patience that was shining through with every word and expression.

He thanked me for taking the time to meet with him again and discussing this road we both travel. And I thanked him. Because let me tell you something---as much as he thinks I'm doing him a favor...he's doing me one equally significant. The support we give and receive is so crucial to our success. And he's the one doing this. He's the one shifting his perspective and making the big and small adjustments. He's the one inspiring, not only me, but everyone around him. He has a very positive road ahead and I'm honored to be riding shotgun.

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I received an email today from someone who has devoted the last several years to his education and in that pursuit has accomplished his goal of starting a profession that will serve him and many others for the rest of his life. As he prepares for the most difficult final exam of his new career, he was questioning if his reluctance to fully commit to losing weight and the better health it provides was justified or if using his intense education schedule as the barrier, was simply a "cop out." I spent some time thinking about and composing my reply and I think it's something very important to remember:

Whether it's a cop out or not depends on your perspective. My opinion is, it's a valid reason. That's my perspective. And there's a good reason for this perspective.

We both know that it was/is completely possible to take care of our calorie budget and exercise no matter the circumstances. I think we both agree there's a place, a zone that exist, where it doesn't matter...nothing penetrates...no stress, situation, emotion, nothing...nothing, nothing stands in the way... And that's all well and good, except it's missing something.

It's missing the element of self-compassion. When we're in that zone, we set the bar so high that suddenly any deviation whatsoever--even if not acted upon....yes, any deviation, even in thought---becomes a target for self-ridicule and negative emotions.  And that negativity starts an unraveling, then suddenly we feel like we're a million miles away again. This dynamic starts with a resolve based on perfection. Not necessarily perfection in our choices...but perfection in our consistent ability to maintain the budget and exercise.  When our thoughts and actions fail to live up to this level of perfection, we turn on ourselves with blame, guilt and shame...
We must include a level of compassion for ourselves.

I believe the pursuit isn't perfection, it's pursuit of a balance. That balance we're looking for is a place where eating good and exercising naturally becomes part of our daily lives, no matter what we're experiencing. And we accept that it doesn't need to be perfect. We accept that we shouldn't label every circumstance an "excuse" or "cop out." And we know the difference because we're intelligent people. In this "compassionate state," I believe we're actually able to accomplish more than we did before and in a more solid, sustainable fashion--because we're not sabotaging our emotions with negativity.  So the simple answer to your question is, no, it's not a cop out. 

This issue has been a big factor for me this time. This whole self-compassion dynamic has been key for me the last six weeks. I'm practicing compassion and I'm finding balance and success. It's like I'm learning to crawl again, lifting myself up and eventually walk again and then, I will run again. The pressure to be "perfect" has been dismissed, replaced by the ruling majority of better choices and taking one day at a time, one step at a time. And I'll get to where I envision and I'll arrive stronger than I ever imagined.

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Proud grandfather alert!!!
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The video below is my grandson Noah a day after he figured out how to crawl. He too is off to the races and soon he'll be walking, running and jumping. He doesn't ever have impatient thoughts about his development, because he hasn't developed the references needed to form and qualify them. Instead, he happily, confidently and patiently proceeds, doing his best...growing and learning, and progressing on a schedule unique to him. My tender connection to him was never more profound as it was while watching him become emotional and fight against taking his medicine. Without thought, my lip started to quiver and emotion swept through me, as if we had transmitting cables connected between us, feeling each others emotion on the deepest level. Dear Lord, I love that boy.

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Now that I'm feeling better rested, it's time to exercise more regularly. That's my plan as I continue on, maintaining my 1700 calorie budget. Giving and receiving support is a must-have element to my success. I'd love for you to connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/seananderson505), Twitter (@SeanAAnderson) and My Fitness Pal (SeanAAnderson).

I'm teaming up once again with Gerri Helms to offer a weekly conference call support group where our small group gets on the phone and we talk about this road, we set individual goals, we share stories and we offer one another tremendous support. This group starts Tuesday March 4th at 7pm Central and every Tuesday after for 6 weeks. The group chemistry that naturally develops through our shared pursuits and struggles, is significantly positive. We still have some spots available in this group if you're interested. For more information, simply send me an email: Sean@transformationroad.com

Thank you for reading and your tremendous support,
Strength,
Sean

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Numbers

The Numbers

What a wonderful feeling it is to be taking care of me. I'm taking good care.  I'm being proactive, facing issues head on and getting results. My second sleep lab Friday night was very good. I didn't sleep as long as I wanted but I slept soundly and perfectly for the first time in over three years.  It was only five and a half hours worth but it was quality.  Again, no instances of central apnea. And now the doctors have the data they need to prescribe me a cpap setting for optimal rest. Yay!

Proper rest will make an incredible difference for me. I'm so excited, I can't even properly explain how much. The self-critical part of me really wants to berate me for waiting so long to fully address the issue. But I'm silencing that inner voice. Because really, inner voice, what good do you expect to accomplish by bringing that up? What's done is done. I've traveled this way for a reason. And now I'm getting back on the main road. I'm not lost anymore. After learning from the previous detours, the only things that matter now are the things ahead.

Today was my blood work follow up doctors appointment and weigh-in. I spent some time replying to a facebook message today concerning weighing and how the scale can affect our emotions. And these effects can be devastating if we allow. As I typed the message, I was also reminding myself to be okay with whatever the results show today.  I've lost 10 pounds.  Is it less than I thought? Yes. Am I okay with this pound every 3.5 day average? YES.  And I'll tell you why I'm okay with it...

With my sleep situation in a critically severe state the last several months, it's taken all the energy I can muster to get back on solid ground with my food. Exhaustion can breed depression and it certainly has with me. I've allowed myself a very lax schedule as far as exercise is concerned. I would have to go back and count the days on my fitness pal, but I'm pretty sure I've purposely exercised maybe 6 times in the last five weeks. This has been an act of self-compassion, a temporary allowance if you will, while I get my sleep situation and food under control. And quite honestly, maintaining a 1700 calorie budget has been a big enough challenge, especially after being "off the rails" for a while. I'm proud of this 10 pounds.  It proves that I can lose weight again!!!!

You know what I mean? When you're in the free-fall of spiraling weight gain it sometimes feels as if losing weight can't possibly happen again. Well, this is proof positive, I can lose weight again!!

I've been so sleep deprived, it's a wonder my metabolism still works at all.  Apparently it does. Perhaps not optimally, but we're going to get there. One step at a time.

My blood work came back phenomenal.  Glucose: 89. Total Cholesterol: 190 Triglycerides: 73 Bad cholesterol: 137 Good cholesterol: 38 Liver: Perfect. Kidneys: Perfect... Sean: Lucky; just flat out blessed.
It's genetics. It's gotta be genetics. I'm truly blessed to get back these kinds of numbers.  Oh--and I almost forgot--my blood pressure was wayyyyyy better. Slightly elevated at 140/88, but a drastic improvement from my last appointment. It wasn't like last time when it was at an "Oh my, this is scary high" type level. Instead the doctor was happy to see it had improved. And it will continue to improve!

What's the plan now? I will continue to allow 1700 calories per day. I will gradually increase exercise (especially after I get the new sleep setting around the end of the week), I will increase my water consumption (something at which I've been notoriously inconsistent-even during my initial weight loss) and I will maintain my level of support through through all the channels I currently use.

Support is key. It's absolutely crucial.  We don't have to attempt to do what we're doing alone. This isn't a solo deal.  I'm using a wonderful social network of support via Facebook, Twitter, this blog and My Fitness Pal.

Starting March 4th I'll add to my support by being a co-facilitator/moderator on a weekly conference call support group. I'm once again partnering with professional life coach Gerri Helms. We still have five or six openings available if you're interested in being a part of this exciting group. The six week session cost $60 total. I can't wait to get into another 6 week session with the calls! It's Tuesday nights at 8 Eastern, 7 Central, 5pm Pacific.  If you're interested, simply email me for more details: sean@transformationroad.com

Wow. What a good day. I really wanted at least 15 pounds, I did---I really did. But you know what? It's coming.  It's straight ahead. And when you're feeling that feeling of determination mixed with a balanced control, the anxiety is lessened... There's peace.  And all of the goals feel attainable once again because you know, aside from a few adjustments here and there, the only other variables you need are patience and time.

Thank you for reading,
Strength,
Sean

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Familiar Determination

A Familiar Determination

Today is Valentines Day and what would have been my little brother Shane's 37th birthday. If you've read my book, the chapter titled "Shane's Gift," then you know how much Shane meant to me, and still means to me today.
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This photo is Mom and Shane before his high school prom.  He loved putting on the tuxedo!

I've been doing very well lately. I feel a familiar determination I haven't felt since my initial weight loss.  More and more, I'm exploring valid reasons why I deserve to feel better. In the heat of temptation or cravings, or both, I pause long enough to think about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  If it seems to be a "driven" type thing--then I quickly text someone and explain the situation. Then it's better.

The pursuit this time is different from before. Having been there, I know what it's like to be at goal and live in the smaller clothes and have this normal sized reflection staring back at me in the mirror. So the mystery is gone, the anticipation of what it will be like isn't the same as before. So my goals have changed.

I don't know if it will be 230, or 220, or 250...It really isn't about a number this time. It's about taking care and living a balanced life with food. If I live a balanced life with food and exercise, I'll not be overweight.  And whatever I need to do to maintain a healthy balance and relationship with food, is what I'll do. Meetings, support groups, writing and of course, texting when I'm tempted to seek comfort in food or seemingly driven toward sugar and high fat items. I will continue seeking out and confronting issues in my life that need handled instead of trying to smother them with food.

So that's my goal. And there isn't an end date. For someone like me, maintaining this balance will be an everyday discipline, required in order to live at a healthy body weight. The biggest mental hurdle is accepting and being okay with that requirement.  It's important to come to terms and realize, this isn't a temporary reprieve I'm after. I want to feel better the rest of my life.

Speaking of feeling better. I'm about to head South for Stillwater where I'm spending a couple of hours with mom before heading over to Stillwater Medical Center for my next sleep study. Tonight should be the best sleep possible.  If all goes well, I'll feel more rested than I have at any time in the last three years.

I keep updates on Facebook and Twitter, plus My Fitness Pal.  I'd love you to join me on those other social media outlets!

I'll write more over the weekend.

Thank you for reading,
Strength,
Sean

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I had a chance to visit my grandson Noah last night. He has pink eye and in this photo he was fresh from the doctor. He has good medicine and he'll shake it in record time, I'm sure! He so cute!!

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This is one of my favorite pictures of mom and me. It was January 2012 at my Hastings book signing.
Looking forward to seeing mom this evening!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why I Do What I Do

Why I Do What I Do

Someone asked me the other day why I share the way I do and why it's so important to me. They suggested, in their opinion, I sometimes "over-share." They were interested in the motivation behind my efforts.  Is it for attention? To be loved? To feel important? Is it the product of some kind of deep seeded deficiency dating back to childhood? 

My response started with a question. What is it about what I do, that stirs you to the point of having these questions? Do I touch a nerve or two? Does what I write and share occasionally hit home on points too uncomfortable to handle, so instead of questioning yourself, your defenses go up in the form of questioning my motivation? 

Only two people have ever witnessed my raw, emotional reaction when I receive an email or facebook message from someone sharing their story with me. Nothing reduces me to tears faster than reading some of the most sincere, empowering words from someone who is finding their inner strength to choose change. When I tell someone I'm overjoyed for them, I mean it. 
I suppose it's very hard for some to grasp. 

This blog started as a tool for me, for my benefit. I started it to keep me focused and true to myself with the added accountability factor of a publicly shared journal. This blog was a way for me to dissect, analyze and unravel the inner mysteries keeping me over 500 pounds for so many years. Very few people followed along, reading each post, before AOL ran a feature story on their home page. Then things started changing. I started connecting with more and more people and I started realizing how this wasn't just helping me, it was helping others. Did I get caught up in the commotion of it all? Perhaps. But nothing brings me back home to the most raw, emotional place--like reading someone else's story of liberation.

I write this blog for me. It must be for me, first and foremost. If it wasn't, then I would have continued a song and dance during the darkest periods of regain. Instead, I retreated from what was best for me in many different ways. Some say it would have been helpful to read the "off the rails" version of things...And I get that, but again--where I was wasn't a place inspiring me to write anything helpful to me or anyone else, really. Coming back and sharing about where I've been and where I want to go, is as good as I can do. 

Occasionally, I might write a piece as if I were in the middle of the fall--kind of a time traveling concept...might be fun and therapeutic for me.  But maybe not. I mean really, could be kind of scary. 

I also don't do this for money. Yes, I would very much enjoy doing what I do for a living and there isn't anything wrong with that at all. But to this point, the relatively small financial reward hasn't been a big component of what I do (Just ask my creditors!). 

The last sentence of my Day 1 entry still holds true, "I believe it will help me stay on track and maybe along the way it will inspire someone else to stay on track."  Pretty simple.

That's what it's all about. I don't do what I do for attention, for love, to feel important or any other slightly bent off-center motivation. I do it for me, to help me and when what I do in helping myself affects someone else in a positive way, it's the most wonderful bonus of all. 

I am loved. I am important. And those facts were true long before The Daily Diary of A Winning Loser or Transformation Road came along.  

There's still plenty of road ahead. And I'm honored you're choosing to ride along. Thank you.

Jon in Wisconsin is someone who's story completely moved me. He's blogging now on Spark People, so if you have a Spark People account, I highly recommend connecting with him. His Spark People ID: WEWRTFO 
He recently wrote a blog entry about how we came to know one another. Here's an excerpt:

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Back in February of 2012 I stumbled upon his book on Amazon, at the time I did not know Sean. I found the reading of the book absolutely riveting and powerful. Being similar weight, height and body type the motivation from his book hit me like a home run. At the time I was a very private person and not one willing to discuss my own weight issues with others. 

I took at chance and emailed Sean hoping for a response. Here are some quotes from my original email. 

( " thank you for help me grasp, come to terms with what I need to do, have been wanting to do, have been putting off the past 20 years.") ("Yeah, definitely over ready almost as if your book was written for me. The mental aspect part of it and being accountable for my own actions.") ("Perhaps what sticking most in my mind is I see a mirror image of myself reading your book.") 

I was very excited having Sean respond. Here is some very powerful quotes I will never forget in the first email Sean sent me. 

("Okay--after reading your story--I must say, I can't wait to see your transformation!!! Jon--you're discovering something so wonderfully liberating....You have the key---and you're free now...The weight will come off without struggle when you exercise this power you have to choose change.") ("on--this is about getting to know yourself---and getting super self-honest with yourself. You have all of the answers already. Look in the mirror and realize---when you do---you're looking at the only person in the world that's gonna do this like no other--or fail...either way---in the mirror is the one responsible for the turnout....Nobody else--and nothing else....no person, place, thing, circumstance, emotion----Nope....)") 
"(Steel curtain zone it, Jon....Tighten your SCZ---and decide you're going to live like never before. Jon---YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE LIKE NEVER BEFORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ") 

Back in February of 2012 this was very powerful motivation, a man who truly cares about helping others with there own weight issues, and have stayed in touch with Sean ever since. If not for Sean, I would not be blogging or have created my Spark People page. Since February 2012 I often visit Sean's blog archive or read his newest post. Sometimes pick up his book or exchange emails. My one constant go to source that has enabled me to get to the point where I am at today. I encourage anybody who has not read Sean's book, please do so. Thank's Sean for being such a great friend and motivator! 


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This is why I do what I do.

The only thing missing from my response to Jon back then, was how important it is to connect with your spiritual side. Whatever that is, is totally up to you and your understanding. And for some, this connection is very natural, going hand in hand with making changes. But for me it's been a learned element through trial and error. I've always been one to learn things the more challenging way. But in that, I've learned a great deal I might not have otherwise. We're not alone along this road, ever. 

Someone who recently purchased one of my "I'm Choosing Change" adjustable leather bracelets
sent a very nice message describing her recent grocery store situation:

"Today is two weeks since I started eating healthy again and exercising minimally , but have managed to lose 10lbs. At the store last night, for no good reason other than habit, I walked up to the ice cream section, opened the door and reached for my all time favorite non-narcotic drug of choice, but mid-reach, as I spotted my bracelet, I thought to ask myself if the calories and self- loathing to follow my treat will be worth it, and I imagined you and all of your supporters there with me in that moment, as I allowed the door to close. I continued to shop, without a battle raging in my head for and against the ice cream. It was like an out of body experience thinking of all the other people out there who say no too, and made it, in that moment, easier than it has ever been in my recent memory to walk away empty handed. Thanks Sean"

Reading this also empowers me! Do you think I could possibly be in the frozen "treats" section of my local grocery store without remembering this message? No way. We've helped her. And she's helped us. 

This is why I do what I do.

I would love for you to connect with me on My Fitness Pal (SeanAAnderson), Facebook (facebook.com/seananderson505) and Twitter (@SeanAAnderson). Each of these social media platforms have a different type content and do different things for me. I post a bunch of food pictures to Twitter. My daily food diary is public on My Fitness Pal and Facebook is a place where I connect with friends the most, often through what I call "micro-blogs" and various other postings.

Quick update on where I am: I'm keeping a 1700 calorie budget. I haven't been exercising regularly, yet, and that's okay for the moment. I'm having another sleep study the night of the 14th to at last determine the proper therapy enabling me to finally feel fully rested. My doctors appointment that was the 11th had to be rescheduled for the 17th and that's when I'll have my first official weigh-in since "coming back to life." I'll continue with monthly weigh-ins from that point forward.

I sincerely appreciate your continued support,
Thank you for reading,
Strength,
Sean

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I'm Worthy Of More

I'm Worthy Of More

I'd be grossly misrepresenting if I pretended this week has been a cakewalk. Poor choice of words. It has been very difficult to maintain balance. I've stayed within my calorie budget. On the surface that's a wonderful thing indeed.  Below the surface, I've fought very hard to keep the calorie budget intact. Call it steel curtain zone or whatever you want, it's been a battle. But why?

Stress triggers reactions and for someone like me, those reactions are hard wired and often circumvent the rational part of the brain, the frontal cortex. This dynamic is addiction, pure and simple. I've watched some incredible documentaries on the subject, the best being "Pleasures Unwoven." 

The only way I've been able to survive is through prayer, meditation and reaching out to friends in moments of weakness. I've been staying "visible," instead of isolating. It's amazing how something as quick and simple as sending a tweet, sending a text or responding to an email or facebook message, empowers me, brings me back around and gives me strength. And hope. Because there's plenty of hope. And that's an important thing to hold tight, especially in the face of stress.

So what to do? I mean really, stress is a part of life, right? Yes, it is. The question is, can I face the stress and handle it in ways that work to alleviate the stress? In other words, deal with issues head on? Yes. Yes I can.

My recovery is very important to me. It's much more important to me than it was during the initial weight loss. Why?  Because I understand it better now.  I understand me on  a level much deeper than before. And this understanding is met with a greater respect.

Suddenly, my goal isn't a number, or a particular size of jeans, or anything external. Sure, some of these will be visible milestones.  And I'll be sharing those along the way.  But I'll always, forever-more keep my eye on a higher definition of success.  My truest and most important goal is raising my level of self-care and self-love to where it needs to be for optimal living.  Having compassion for myself is the biggest component in this quest. No longer is self-loathing and internally abusive thoughts okay. I'm worthy of more than I've given myself.  Let me say that again:

I'm Worthy Of More Than I've Given Myself.

I understand that many of the stresses in my life were created by me and then made worse by my attitude and perspective toward them.  And that's okay. Isn't that interesting? It is to me. When I dissect particularly stressful elements of my life, I can clearly identify how they were created, when they were created and I can honestly evaluate how I've reacted to them. This is a breakthrough for me. And this isn't another chance for me to be harsh on myself, not at all--quite the contrary, in fact. If I can clearly identify the stress I've created, then I can change my attitude and perspective toward it and alleviate its power.  I can face these things head on and armed with a new attitude, I can manage them one by one.  And you know what that means?

Less stress equals less struggle.  Alleviating some stress might require simplifying certain things and that's a good thing. Simple is good. I like simplicity.

The other day when I chose the meatball sub full of fat and sugar, I knew it wasn't the best choice. I counted it and moved on. I didn't beat myself up for the choice. I did however, acknowledge it and evaluate the choice.

One of the things that's helping me stay on track is my food planning.  I do not, under any circumstances,miss breakfast. Well--except tomorrow and I'll explain in a minute.  I start each day with a good breakfast full of protein and one that taste good.  Typically, it's a combination of whole eggs and egg whites, with veggies and low fat-part skim mozzarella cheese on a Joseph's Pita.  If I want more, I add some yogurt or fruit. I keep posting similar breakfast photos on twitter and lately with the resolution to switch it up some--- maybe some oatmeal with fruit every now and then. While I'm preparing breakfast I'm also preparing snack baggies of fruit.  I'll include some string cheese too. And sometimes, not always, but sometimes a lunch of some sort.  I've been coming home often in the middle of the day to nap before going back to work for the "second half." I'll normally have time to work out lunch during this time. I've been doing this because of my sleep condition.  Not feeling rested is an enormous issue.  I return for another sleep study on the 14th.

Tomorrow morning I'm fasting for blood work. I can have water and surprisingly, black coffee. I'll take it! When the nurse said "Nothing except water and if you're a coffee drinker, black." I was shocked. I'd always heard just a sip or two of water was best. But I'm not arguing with the professionals. I'm happy to have coffee in the morning. It'll be very different not eating breakfast early.

My regular doctors visit will be the 11th.  I'll get the blood work results and weigh in at that visit.

I'm keeping active on Facebook (facebook.com/seananderson505), Twitter (@SeanAAnderson ) and My Fitness Pal SeanAAnderson. If we haven't already, I'd love to connect with you on any of those social media platforms.

Thank you for reading,
Goodnight and,
Strength,
Sean





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