Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Every day is still a bit of a battle...

Without a doubt, I have had some pretty remarkable successes over the past year and a half. As of my assessment tonight, I've dropped 168 pounds, and continue to see the inches drop off my body. Pretty amazing... and I continue to get great feedback from many people around me about my progress and how remarkable it truly is. And I realize how lucky I am to have had an incredibly successful journey so far.

But every day is still a bit of a battle.

Let me rewind a bit. When Seb and I first started working together, he told me this whole process is going to be a about a 5-year journey. I remember, at that time, thinking that I never wanted to talk to this guy ever again... 5 years??? What the hell? I didn't want this to take five years. Not at all.... But the 5 year journey isn't just about taking 5 years to lose weight. It's 5 years of a personal transformation that can, in some ways, be broken down into phases. Phase one would be the weight loss phase, where I'm focusing on the much-needed task of dropping excess weight so that I can get my body moving in ways it has never moved before. Phase two is about moving beyond weight loss as an initial process, and into challenging myself to do things that are more about living an active lifestyle -- things like running a 10km race, taking up new activities like spinning, or finding new ways to stay active outside of the 'weight loss' mindset. Phase three is then about balancing my knowledge, skills, behaviour and passion for active living to ensure that I continue to take a healthful and balanced approach to the many many years of living I have ahead of me.

So for the past year and a bit that I've been training with Sebastien, we've been really focusing on increasing my cardiovascular endurance, my strength, and indirectly, my confidence. In Phase one, I've shed 168 pounds. My blood pressure has leveled. My resting heart rate is 44 beats per minute. Not bad for a guy who used to weight 435 pounds, eh? But we're turning a bit of a corner on this last 'leg' of phase one of my journey. I feel like we're making a bit of a turn into Phase Two. And it's starting to scare the shit out of me.

As I approached my last target weight goal, I was beginning to think that I was done with weight defining my goals. I thought that my new goals should be more about defining my success less by what I weigh, and more by what I can do. However, when I stepped on that scale, and achieved my goal two months ahead of schedule, I realized that there was one more leg to this phase of the journey. So my last 'weight' goal is to have lost a total of 200 pounds before Christmas 2009. As of tonight, I've got 32 pounds more to go... and Seb assures me that these will be the most difficult. To use his words, "The first 168 pounds are easy... it's the next 32 that are going to be tough!"

As crazy as that sounds, I know he's right.

These last 32 pounds aren't only going to be difficult because my body is likely coming closer to what could possibly be my 'natural' body weight. And if that's 235 pounds, I'm really good with that. Hell, 235 pounds is better than 435!!! And I'll be good with 235 pounds because I can already taste the possibilities of what I will accomplish as a 235 pound man. But that's also what's scary.

Part of why turning this corner into Phase 2 is difficult, is because in many ways, it will be a first test of how sustainable my weight loss and progress will be. In the months ahead, I plan to run both a 5km road race, and a 10km race. I will be taking a spinning class with my friend Liza. I continue to run at work with my friend Alison, and on weekends with my other friend Lisa. Next summer, I plan to do a 600-km bike ride to Montreal with my friend Jonathan. And the following October, my friend Troy plans to join me as I complete my first half-marathon. So these are all exciting things... what am I afraid of???

Well, I'm afraid that I could possibly end up being one of those people who talks a big game. And little else.

And why I have that fear, is because convincing myself each and every day to live a life that is committed to health, wellness, happiness, and balance can be tough to do. For example, over the past three days, there is nothing that I have wanted to do more than sit down to a dish of sweet and sour chicken balls -- even though I've never really liked them. There is still a large part of me that believes I will find comfort and happiness at the sight of an empty plate, or in this case, at the bottom of a bowl of sweet and sour chicken balls! So, as I turn the corner into Phase two, I'm a bit apprehensive because I'm not entirely convinced that I've made the full cognitive switch that is necessary for this to all be sustainable.

Or maybe I'm expecting too much of myself.
That wouldn't be the first time that happened!

I need to remember that these 'demons' have been with me for easily 25 years... is it too much to expect that I will have fully conquered them in only a year and a half?

How will I continue to challenge myself to accomplish all of these exciting new things, when my visceral instinct is still to say to myself that there's no way I can do what I've set out to do, so why not just avoid the embarrassment and give up?
Why not? Because doing so would be the easy answer. I took the easy way out for 25 years. And I went into this knowing that this wasn't going to be easy.

So I guess what I'm trying to reconcile still is the fact that I don't feel like I've been totally transformed. And I'm not sure if I ever will be fully changed. While I don't think I was necessarily a food 'addict', I have to think about my past behaviours as being addictive behaviours. And like other people who live with addiction to alcohol or other substances, I am beginning to accept the fact that I will always be, at my core, someone who lives with this 'addiction'. Where my success will continue to come from, is my ability to recognize and address those moments when my addiction has the potential to get the best of me -- the cravings, the bad food choices, the inactivity, the self-doubt, the lack of confidence, the low self-esteem -- and know how to move beyond those moments with the knowledge and belief that I have made a choice about living my life in a better, more balanced and healthier way. And yes, even though I made the right choice for me, I'm going to screw up. As I've written before, I plan my cheat nights, and anticipate my screw ups -- and if I falter, I know what it takes to 'correct' the mistake.

I guess part of why I may be thinking this way is that in addition to the amazingly reaffirming feedback I get, I also get reactions from people that make me a bit uneasy. I've had a couple of people talk about me in such a way that I've made this drastic life transformation and that somehow, it's easier for me because I already spend so much time working out. There's this sense of comparison -- that I couldn't possibly know what it's like or them because I've already battled my demons. I really hate this idea that this is in any way easy. If anyone had a true sense of what the debates in my head sound like when I have to convince myself to go to the gym, and not sit at home with the blinds closed eating a pizza, they may only then begin to understand that this is in no way easy. It's a constant battle against my worst enemy -- myself.

And when you are your strongest offense and your strongest defense in the same game, that's one tough battle to win.

I've also had some people (thinking I'm not listening to them) say things like "He can't be eating." Or, "There's gotta be a gimmick." Someone even asked Seb if I was really eating a balanced diet to support the level of activity that I'm cranking out each week. Doubt makes me feel unsettled. I already wrote one blog entry about how much hard work this truly takes. I've also written quite a bit about what a battle this really is. And to have people wonder what my 'trick' is, or assume that I'm obviously doing something 'wrong' that's going to bite me in the ass later... well, it's offensive. The doubt simply, is disrespectful.

So why am I writing this tonight? Well, in some ways faithful readers, I'm preaching to the choir. My sense is, that by being a reader of this blog, that you already 'get' what it takes... and how difficult this is. But I guess I write this entry tonight because I hope to instill in people, and perhaps you will share this with those around you, that this is not just a 5-year journey. This doesn't end once I've hit my target weight. I will not be 'better', 'cured' or 'normal' after Christmas this year. This is a journey for life. I do not anticipate arriving at a moment at time when this will all end.

Some people have asked me, "When will you be done." My response? Never.

The battle is ongoing. I continue to grow my artillery. My ammunition gets stronger. But the counter attack that I will continue to face is that voice in my head -- that devil on my shoulder -- that romanticizes my former life. It's a voice that continues to try to entice me back to a place where the easy answer was the only answer; where if I didn't confront my fears, that they would simply go away. But as my body grows stronger, so does my spirit. And so does my resolve to tell that voice to shut the f*%k up.

But the voice will always be there. Sometimes I won't hear it. Other times, I'll hear it and choose not to listen. And other times, I'll listen and begin to think that what the voice is saying makes a lot of sense. And I hope that those who read this, or those who dare to doubt me from near and far, never forget that the voice will always be there. And to question my success, or to assume that the voice is gone and that my demons have disappeared, is to judge my journey. And to judge my journey is to doubt my resolve. But at the end of the day, don't ever doubt the power and potential of a former 'fattie'. 'Cause if the doubt doesn't kick you in the ass first, I will be there to kick it for you.

All that said, thanks for indulging my rant... had to get that off my chest. I feel better now -- and have always felt great knowing that there are hundreds of people out there reading my story and supporting me from the sidelines. That helps me build my resolve. Thank you for being a part of it.

Kia kaha.
Stay strong.

1 comment:

  1. I am doing a study on being a leader as you know I have this new role in my job and the word leader is always daunting and perhaps a bit self-gloating. Perhaps instead of a leader I should have the title elearning support person - elearning enthusiast...anyway the reason I say this is part of your blog above talked about some criticism you have encountered due to your success....and a quote came to me from this book - " You know you're out front when you're getting kicked in the rear." Well Christopher - you've been kicked in the rear - I cannot pretend to know their wil always have people - even those who read the blog - think you MUST HAVE had to have at least some part of you stapled, tied, a magic pill etc....because the TRUTH is a far much harder way to do things. Even those in your gym who are already at their goal - healthy - will doubt and question your success because you are being totally honest with yourself and who you are and how you got to be a fat person - they perhaps have not looked inward to see what makes them a doubter, a resenter - whatever.
    Honesty is the programme you're on and it's free to all but hard to follow.
    So don't allow anyone to put a chink in your new healthy armor because you ahve f***ng earned it. Let them question - our answer won't ring tru with them - they're not ready for the truth or their own honesty - you just own who you are and the journey you're on. Perhaps they can't see their journey and in that case you should feel pity for them because thay's what is sad.

    I am so very proud of you to the point where I just cry so no one better hurt your feelings cuz I am a serious ass kicker. I just haven't posted my videos .LOL.

    All my love and support my dear brother and the doubters need not read anymore.

    Kia Kaha,Andrea xxo