My writer friend wrote last week about “roots” in conjunction with being from the east coast (mostly) and living in LA. It reminded me of how a lot of this journey began. This post is about roots – and how your bloated weight is a symptom of items that need to be killed at the root-level.
Yesterday morning, I celebrated hitting 60 pounds of weight loss – so I’m coming to the game with some experience here. While swimming this morning, I knew I wanted to write today – and “excuses” came to my mind, and how there’s a fine line between excuses and “reasons”….and how nasty roots can really create sour fruit from the tree.
Let me also describe my situation to you:
- I’m 312 pounds, down from 372 in Sept 2016.
- I have a 90 minute commute, and work in the office every day. I would guess that I put in 65 hours a week between driving/working. I have 70 direct reports and my job is stressful.
- I do all of the shopping for groceries, 95% of the cooking, mowing, and about a third of the cleaning for the house.
- I walk the dog 95% of the time and try to walk the dog 1.2 miles a day 5 times a week
- I have a child every other weekend
- I get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- I eat 2400 calories a day
- I work out hard once a week with the trainer. Between training sessions, I try to work out once moderately for 30-40 minutes with weights.
- There’s never enough money to go around, even when you do extremely well for yourself. There’s just other shit that pops up and causes financial strain.
- I own two other houses that have causes me significant stress over the years.
The point of the above is to try and remove some of your excuses upfront by showing you that things can be overcome, if you look at the root of your issues.
Roots. Again there’s that word. For me, I had many years of internalizing great pains – or apparent pains. People ask how you are, you smile and tell them things are GREAT! Facebook/Instagram are mostly a lie with how perfect everyone’s lives are. Some people have done REALLY well for themselves, and I’m so happy for them. But you know what? You hear the whispers. You know things aren’t peachy with the couple you just had dinner with a few months ago. Everyone has issues. Everyone. The thing is, people like myself who had issues, really didn’t deal well with things. I started to write about my childhood issues, but sometimes the family reads these things when they are on the shitter so probably not going to bring some of that out. Suffice it to say, I had substantial familial challenges to overcome.
Much of my anguish in life I felt deeply. Being a kid who sometimes had extra weight isn’t easy as well. Your self confidence is beyond non-existent. You kinda show up late to the dance when learning about dating rituals or getting your first kiss. You feel things deeply, but have to laugh things off or else you are the Debbie downer and no one wants to be your friend. You absorb things.
And then you need release for your emotions.
I can tell you from my personal experience, shitty foods really do a number on you. I have been a part-time student of the gut flora articles. Big fan of explaining how food and the foods you eat promote certain gut flora, which then send chemical signals to your brain. Certain foods for me then have me “feeling” things more deeply. Sugars, fats, processed foods – all of the shit foods in my life had me feeling things emotionally very deeply. A mysterious, mysterious thing happened when I started eating better. I really didn’t feel things as deeply. It’s not that I wasn’t emotional, but my brain chemicals just seemed to be a lot more balanced and able to deal with stressful situations much better. While I will have the occasional slice of pizza or two, I generally employ a 90/10 rule of sorts. Usually for every 9 or so “healthy” meals I eat, I might have one that isn’t the healthiest. Before…it might have been 10/10 unhealthy meals.
When I made change, I was also confronting fear. I had smoked off and on for so long, it was a part of me. I loved to smoke at times. But part of my come-to-Jesus moments with my health had to confront how smoking was a root cause of a lot of issues in my life. I had a lot of fear that I would fail, again. That something stressful would hit me upside the head one day and I would feel it so deeply that I would just run out and get a pack of smokes. I feared “giving up” foods I loved. What kind of life is it when you can’t enjoy foods you love? Some funny things happened when I started eating healthy PRIOR to giving up my smokes…
- It seemed that when I quit, my brain chemicals seemed to be pretty balanced and I just didn’t feel things deeply enough to have to go get smokes
- Stress in life just didn’t get to me the levels at which it used to, which then didn’t require me to order a pizza and wings and demolish myself with it.
This is also where I got these charts from that I made up…
Now, I’m going to help you confront some of your root causes of being overweight – and by addressing these root causes, it should remove the “excuses” you have.
- Don’t want to give up my favorite food! Try eating better. Try the 90/10 rule, or approximation of it. Let’s just say I was eating 4 meals a day, about…that’s 28 meals a week. Two to three of these meals I might have something that’s not extremely healthy. But – I still stay within my calories for the day. This allows me to mathematically still progress with weight loss while not completely giving up foods I love. I also might make a “healthier” version of the food I love and use that for a “cheat” meal – so I have variations of it. For example, making up tacos at home I loved to eat once in a blue moon. Two weeks ago, I made up ground turkey with a packet of the taco sauce and put them on romaine lettuce leaves. Loved it! Low calorie. I called that a “cheat” meal.
- I don’t want to stop smoking! Vices like smoking due to stress need to go. You think short term on this, as if it’s helping you in the next hour, but it’s taking 10-40 years off of your life. If you start eating much better, you may have a much better handle on your brain chemicals and it may reduce the swings in mood you have or how hard you feel things. Even when life crushes me at the moment, I kinda shrug it off and go walk the dog. Wife gets on me about the dishes, I’ll come here and write some shit or take a bath and listen to music. For many years, my escapes were baseball, chess, and trumpet. When you “grow up”, time comes at a premium and you don’t have time for this anymore – but if you can limit how your body feels about things, you might not need the vices to begin with!
- It costs too much to eat healthy! Well, this is a load of shit I kept telling myself. I have 5 pounds of chicken breasts in the fridge now for $10. This will make me 10 meals, and I add 1 cup of brown rice and lots of frozen broccoli with it. It might cost me $1.50-$1.75 for each one of my healthy frozen meals that each are 500 or so calories of ridiculously healthy foods. My veggie soups probably run me $1.50-$2 for a pint size. I also buy bulk in the store with grains and staples like pearled barley, rice, oatmeal, lima beans, black beans, etc.
- I don’t have any time to work out! My time is at a premium. One problem I used to have was I watched (and was hooked) on too much damn TV. I started putting everything I liked on DVR and no longer watch pretty much anything live. I have a gym downstairs as well, and if I really want/need to watch some things, I’ll put it on WHILE I’m on the treadmill or exercise bike. Even if it’s walking for 20 minutes after dinner, do it. What I have learned with my weight loss is that you do NOT NEED TO GO TO THE GYM EVERY DAY to lose weight. Your weight loss starts and ends with meals – and supplement a healthy diet with weight training and some cardio. I used to run 30-45 minutes at a time. Over time, it would cause me to get injured. I go to the trainer once a week on a Saturday morning. I just walked my dog 1.2 miles. You can find ways to add activity daily. Do things you enjoy. While I love to run, my body doesn’t love me back when I do it. Add swimming, golf, walking, biking, tennis, softball, going to parks – get out of the house!! I’m going to then ask you to prioritize your life around your health. All of the investment people tell you to pay yourself first with putting money into savings. Well, pay yourself first with activity. If you have to miss one of little Timmy’s soccer games from time to time, you’ll live. And Timmy will thank you when you’re 95 and were there to see his kids grow up. I don’t think being a parent means that you spend every waking second ensuring little Timmy is just fine at the expense of your health. Being the parent means taking steps to be healthy and to teach little Timmy how to be healthy so he can see his kids grow up. Maybe you take little Timmy on a walk with you or do an exercise video when he’s in the crib. I figure when I now live to be a grandparent, I can then spoil little Timmy’s kids rotten!
- I don’t have time to cook! Yup…this was one of the things that got me for years. There’s a way around this – meal prep! My blogs here are filled with a lot of my meal prep adventures. So, maybe I will make up a large amount of rice, broccoli, and chicken. It could take me one hour to make 10 meals, then put them in the freezer. My life has changed 180 since I started doing this. I almost entirely stopped eating out. I still cook a decent amount, but I do when I have time and I’m looking forward to cooking up something fresh. If I’m EVER in a time pinch, I go out of my way to get one of my prepped meals. I take them to lunch with me as well. I probably avoided $200-400 per month from eating out now. And – the best part, I can control every calorie that goes into my body. I use MyFitnessPal to track everything, and it helps a ton!! The below chart I quickly made in Excel might give you an idea of how I might plan a prep. I usually do 8 ounces of a protein, a cup of starches, and 1/2-1 cup of veggies. These usually come out to 450-600 calories, and you can create a lot of different styles.
For example, maybe I love me some pasta! Well, I’ll do a cup of that or so, maybe have some ground beef or ground turkey meatballs with it with some sauce, and add some broccoli to it for Italian. But my biggest staple is the chicken with rice and broccoli. Sometimes if I’m REALLY hungry and have mad calories left over, I’ll do 12-16 ounces of chicken and 1.5-2 cups of rice, but that starts to get in the absurd levels there. To be fair, it’s about 1000 calories for it, and it’s a gut buster. To put it into perspective, that’s about two slices of pizza worth of calories.
6. I have too much stress! Well, guess what. If you follow all of the steps above, you’re going to be worn out, well fed, well exercised, and sleep AMAZINGLY. Believe it or not – when your blood pressure normalizes, your blood sugar normalizes, your heart rate reduces – things that get people in a tizzy will only barely mildly affect you. You will be able to function better with better sleep, your body will be a well-oiled machine, and you will just feel better all the time – which will make others around you at ease and reduce everyone’s stress. If you need an outlet beyond that? Blog. I like to write, so it helps me. Volunteer. Walk your dog. Take a bath. Go shopping. Go fishing and enjoy nature. There are literally sooooo many things you can do to de-stress.
7. I don’t feel well! I felt like dog shit every day. Tired. Terrible sleep. Aches, pains. Coughing from smokes. Acid reflux. Joint pain. Guess what? If you follow steps 1-6, all of that goes away! The only issues I have now are the occasional mild strains from gym activity or those days where my trainer punishes my muscles and I ache in such a good way for 3 days. The secret is to follow the damn chart above. Once you put good fuel into your body, you exercise, and suddenly you sleep better!
There you have it folks. Those with excuses need to have this forwarded to them. I could rationalize anything away. You cannot get anyone to change. Those that DO want to change, they need to read this. Those that do NOT want to change, there’s not a goddamn thing you or I can do for them. I feel like most people like myself do have their own come-to-jesus moments. I have had a few of them, but most of my weight loss projects lasted 1-4 months resulting in some decent weight loss, some injury, then putting it all back on in no time flat. I’m going past 9 months now with zero stopping me this time.
I found the roots of my issues, and I ripped them the fuck out. I planted new seeds, and I’ve tended to them to produce sustainable results. 60 pounds down and going strong!