Posts Tagged ‘Savor’

What a year! It’s been one full of change for me. The most obvious one is that I started the year at about 320, saw my weight go up to 330 and now I’m down to 269 with more weight loss on the way. Sure, I went into 2010 making a half hearted attempt at resolving to lose weight, just like everybody else, and by February I’d forgotten about it. And now, at the end of the year, I actually did it. Honestly, it still seems like I’ve pulled off the impossible. I’ve literally lost 18% of my body. Poof. Just gone.

My BMI was at 42.4 and now it’s down to 34.5. That’s an 8 point drop in my BMI in about six months. That’s an amazing change and the fact that I’ve been able to keep my weight moving down all this time has me very encouraged. I had a bit of a setback in December as I struggled once again with my depression but I have been able to work through it and not let it stop me. I think that’s the biggest victory I had in the past year.

There were so many other changes in 2010 too. I started the year really struggling as I was dealing with a serious inner conflict as I finally came to terms with the fact that the faith I had grown up with was no longer mine. Seriously, if I had to chose between losing my weight or losing my faith, I’d pick losing weight any day: it’s significantly easier to do.

2010 also saw me go through some of the worst of my depression. I’ve written about the worst of it in previous posts so I’m not going to dig it back up here. Even though the memories of this illness are not pleasant, they are cherished because they allow me to see how wonderful everything really is.

I started a new job in 2010 and it has been a great one. Moving back into an IT role as a programmer was one of the better things I could do for myself. I enjoyed being where I was as an analyst but I am much better suited for the mental challenges that come with creating software solutions.

I discovered Savor in 2010. This was probably the biggest surprise of the year for me. It opened up a whole new world for me and gave me the inspiration to be able to make the changes in my life that I needed to make. Without this book, I would not have learned about mindfulness and I would not have come to a realization that Buddhism and meditative practices offer real, concrete answers to the struggles and pain of everyday life.

I had never meditated before 2010. Now, I meditate between 30 minutes to an hour each day. I find that meditation brings me clarity and helps me to see things as they really are. Living mindfully and meditating make it very hard to lie to myself about why I do what I do. I notice the difference on days when I don’t meditate: they just feel harder to get through than days when I do.

I started to write on a regular basis. I have always enjoyed writing and expressing myself through words but I had a hard time keeping things going. However, this time I have been able to maintain my writing and create a post every day or every other day (on average). The reasons for this are that it helps me to keep a record of where I’ve been, it helps me sort out my own thoughts about what I’m going through and it gives me a way to inspire and encourage others. I have made connections through this blog that have become very valuable to me. A small community has built up here and I’m blessed to have it as a part of my life.

I didn’t just write in this blog. I’ve got another writing project that I’ve been working on and getting over the depression and building up good writing habits has encouraged me in working on that project as well. I don’t know if anything will ever come of it but it’s a fun project to work on even it it’s only for myself.

The coolest thing I’ve learned this year though is the real secret to losing weight and keeping it off. People pay a lot of money to have someone tell them the “secret”. I’m about to give it away for free. The fact is that losing weight is not a matter of dieting or of exercising or of doing this or that or another thing. Weight loss, real permanent weight loss comes from changing ones lifestyle. Just going on a diet will not work for long term change. Exercise is critical to becoming healthy but if you aren’t able to do it for whatever reason (and I have not exercised nearly as much as I “should”) you will not be able to maintain the lost weight. No, changing the way that I live has been the key factor in becoming healthy and happy and lighter (both physically and emotionally). Changing my lifestyle has had serious implications on what I eat but the changes in lifestyle brought about the changes in my diet and this made it much easier to do. Since I wasn’t clinging to my old way of life and trying to eat differently, it didn’t feel like I was depriving myself of starving myself or going without. In the past six months, I’ve lost 60 pounds but I don’t think I’ve ever once felt like I’ve starved myself.

The lifestyle that we’ve adopted in the U.S. has been the key factor of our obesity epidemic. We won’t find a way to end the problem of obesity until we come to terms with the way we live. That’s why it’s going to be one of the hardest things we, as a country, have ever done. Harder than the Great Depression, the Great Recession, World Wars or Reaganomics (that last one was a joke OK?). We can’t go on living the way we do. We either change, or we die. It’s as simple as that. In 2010 I chose to live.

Now that it’s January, I’m sure there will be a lot of people making a resolution to lose weight. A lot of people may have already broken that resolution (or at least think they have) since it’s 8:30 P.M. on January 1. I hope that people who find out about this site as they look for resources to assist them changing their life for the better will be able to find something here that will help them. It’s not easy to do but it can be done. I’m 61 pounds into it. I’m excited to see where I’ll be in another 365 days as I look back on what I have gone through in 2011.

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Don’t believe everything you read. For example, the title of this post is a lie. I guess that’s just one other way that losing weight isn’t like baseball. I’m not admitting to crying or anything, but there has definitely been a lot of ups and downs and time spent in some uncomfortable territory. That comes from not only trying to lose weight but from losing my old relationship with food. As the saying goes,  breaking up is hard to do.

Now, we’re entering into the frenzy of the holidays and all of the food that comes with it. In less than two weeks, we’ll be heading out to California for Thanksgiving with my family. I’m really looking forward to the trip but I’m also feeling anxious about the massive amount of unhealthy food I’ll be exposed to. Fortunately, we’ll be in California so it will be vegetarian friendly. I’m trying to get myself mentally psyched up for the holidays this year because this is going to be a time full of some of my favorite foods. I don’t know about you, but I love eggnog. I love pumpkin pie and dressing and mashed potatoes and corn and gravy and ham and turkey and everything that goes along with a holiday meal. One year, I spent most of Christmas in the kitchen with my brother and we actually made a Christmas goose with traditional chestnut stuffing. Then there’s the cookies and candies and cakes and candy canes and those little hard candies that magically have a Christmas tree in the middle. I love that stuff and I’m sad that I won’t be indulging like I have in the past. I’ve been asking myself what’s more important to me though: eating holiday food or becoming healthy. The truth is that it’s more important to me that I continue to live a healthy lifestyle than it is for me to eat all the Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies.

Ever since I hit the 55 pound mark for weight loss (as marked by my much more generous bathroom scale that puts my weight in the 260’s) I’ve had a hard time continuing to be as mindful as I was when I was in the 300’s. I stepped on a scale at the gym today and it also had my weight at 275 instead of the 260’s I’ve been seeing every day. This really had me down for a bit this morning but it also renewed my resolve to work hard and continue to lose this weight. I’ve had nothing but water to  drink today (about 4 liters) and I’ve eaten only salads for my meals. I also spent extra time working out today. I spent 45 minutes in the gym and burned 450 calories between the arc trainer and the treadmill. That made me feel good about myself and I’m pleased that I was able to exert that kind of effort without pushing myself too hard but I really did want to eat something other than a salad today for lunch or dinner.

I’m going to have to spend some time thinking about why I’ve been feeling this way lately. My last post pretending to wonder why I was still up was just that: pretend. I knew I’d had too much caffeine and then had an energy drink in the late afternoon and my body was in no shape to handle that. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have been phased by all that caffeine and other stuff but I’m not that person any more. I think maybe I’m in a bit of a grieving mode. I’m realizing with a bit more clarity just how hard it is going to be to maintain these lifestyle changes. I’m determined to do it though and I’ll get through this mental blockage and then get through the holiday season as a changed person. I’m nearly 60 pounds lighter than I was in the middle of this year and by the time next June rolls around I think I’ll have lost a hundred pounds. I’ve got hope about that but trying not to get attached to that coupled with a desire to not be attached to my old habits has me felling a bit adrift on my journey. One of the techniques to deal with these feelings I learned in Savor is to list out the reasons I have to be happy about where I am in this adrifted state.

  • I’ve lost nearly 60 pounds
  • I have more energy than I did in June
  • I’m no longer suffering from the effects of depression
  • I know how to eat healthy foods
  • I am able to share my thoughts on a blog where other people have come and been inspired
  • I no longer fear dying early of a heart attack
  • I’m only obese now instead of morbidly obese
  • I’ve already had to buy smaller clothes once and I need to go out and do it again very soon
  • I have family and friends who love and support me
  • Even after a large effort in the gym my body really isn’t in that much pain from it
  • I am more focused and able to be more efficient in my work
  • I look for ways to help others and enjoy doing it
  • My creativity is at an all time high in writing and in designing solutions with computer applications
  • I have an inner peace that is not being disturbed by the shallow emotional stuff I’m going through
  • I have the skills to cope with my feelings and make the right decisions
  • My life is significantly better now than it has been in a very long time
  • I have goals that I am able to work toward and I see progress toward those goals
  • I am loved in ways I can never know and I feel that love inside me
  • My blood sugar is very low and I do not fear diabetes
  • My cholesterol is low and in a very good place for someone my weight/age
  • My blood pressure has gone down a significant amount and I am no longer considered pre-hypertensive

I feel better already. Seriously, I do. Just the act of having to think about the things I’m happy about and seeing them listed out in front of me is a great thing. Sure, there are times when I’m going to feel down and I’m going through one of those times momentarily but the fact is I have a lot more happy in me than I do sad. So, now that I’ve finished writing this post that I started 12 hours ago I think I’m going to drag my tired body up into bed and collapse into something like a coma and sleep long and soundly. As long as I get more than 5 hours of sleep tonight I think I’ll be good. I do not want to be writing on this blog at 1 A.M. again.

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Last Saturday night, the kids really wanted spaghetti for dinner. It had been a long time since we’d had it so I whipped up some sauce and made the spaghetti. Overall, it was a good, quick dinner. I even kept my portion down to a reasonable level. It was great for me since I hadn’t had pasta like that in a long time.

Later that night, after putting the kids to bed I found myself back in the kitchen doing a little clean up work. That’s when things went sour for me. I saw the pot of leftover pasta and I grabbed a few strands to “test” them to see if it was still OK and able to be saved. The next thing I know, I’m shoveling handfuls of cold pasta down my gullet like some kind of hungry bird at a worm farm.

This was not the first time something like this has happened to me. That used to be my normal way to” put away” pasta. I absolutely love the stuff and I used to eat pasta four to five times a week. The thing is, I wasn’t planning on eating that way this time. As soon as I had eaten two strands of the pasta, I just kept doing it mindlessly. It felt so comfortable that I didn’t have to think about what I was doing. This is what Savor calls “habit energy”. It is habit energy that allows us to eat mindlessly and put away calories without realizing what we are doing.

The thing about habit energy is that it’s a lot like inertia: once it starts, it just wants to keep on going. For a number of months, that particular part of my habit energy had been at rest and had been pretty happy being at rest. However, it didn’t take much of a push for it to get moving again and it wanted to make up for lost time. I probably ate another one and a half servings of spaghetti before I stopped myself and walked away from the kitchen the rest of the night and went back to learning about programming for the Android. This was the harshest lesson I’ve had in the power of habit energy yet.

Besides giving in to an old habit, the thing that annoyed me the most about this was that  I had just written a post earlier that evening about finding things that keep our minds busy and prevent us from mindlessly eating. I think I was mad at myself because I’d been caught up in pride about my ability to resist giving in to bad habits and influences only to fall like that about 2 hours later. So, I’ve gone back to the beginning and worked on forgiving myself for engaging in this unhealthy behavior and I’ve done some self-examination about how to prevent it in the future. For me, the easiest thing would be to put the food away as soon as I’m done eating and am full enough to not want to eat anything more. I’d also know that the item is good to store and saved for later. If I wait for a couple of hours, I will have allowed myself to get hungry again and the thought of shoveling back handfuls of pasta could be too appealing for me to resist.

That’s how I plan to deal with this in the future when confronted with this situation. The past can’t be changed and there’s nothing I can do about it. The great thing about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path is that it provides a framework for me to think about what the right action is to take when presented with this situation again. I need not suffer needlessly for giving into my habit energy if I plan ahead. I’ve already figured out how to do this with the upcoming holiday season. If you don’t have a plan for navigating the dangerous waters of Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of the food and deliciousness that accompanies them, work out your plans now. Don’t wait until “Fat Thursday” rolls around to try and mitigate the problem then. It’ll be too late. I’m doing the same thing now with Halloween candy. I had my one piece of it last night with the kids and now I’m done with it (hopefully). Planning is easy, putting the plan into practice is harder. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it and continue on my way to reaching the 250 mark later this year. The weight that I have on this site is actually the middle point between the two scales that I weigh myself on each day. One says I’m at 265 while the other has me at around 275. Regardless of which one I’m going by, I’m still on track and still losing weight. As long as I keep my habit energy at rest I should be able to continue to ride my positive energy through the new year and into 2011 with a body that is healthier than the one I had in 2001. Regardless of what happens, it’ll be a fun ride.

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I’ve been on this weight loss experience for almost 4 months now. In the past 4 months, I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I’ve made a lot of changes in the way that I live and the way that I eat and the way that I experience the world. One of my motivating factors behind making so many big changes was due to my desire to give myself such a big push that it would be very hard, if not impossible, to go back to where I was before I started. I know full well that when a person loses weight, especially if they lose a lot of weight quickly, they are apt to put it back on plus more. This thought terrified me. If I started at 330, dropped a bunch of weight and then put it all back on plus some, where would I end up? 340? 350? I didn’t want to think about it because that thought is too unpleasant to entertain. So, I’ve worked very hard at making changes that will be permanent rather than temporary. I eat a lot better now than I used to and I do not enjoy the tastes of foods that I used to like. A lot of those foods also make me feel sick to my stomach when I eat them now. I’m a vegetarian except for one or two meals a week. I am exercising regularly which is something I never did before. I am also able to enjoy the experience of doing it which still amazes me. I meditate and live in mindfulness so that I’m not filling my body with calories for no good reason. I am aware of myself in ways that I never knew possible and this gives me hope for the future and helps me to see that I won’t be returning to my old weight.

With that said, I’ve found myself dealing with a lot of cravings lately. Bacon, sausage, steak, chips, salsa, cheese, fried foods, greasy foods and sweets are entering my thoughts again as I think about what I would like to eat. Pastas call to me when I see them in my pantry. “Look at me,” they cry, “I’m vegetarian!” I pause and look the boxes of pasta over and then I go back to grabbing whatever healthy ingredient I was going for. I remind myself that being vegetarian isn’t the point: the point is eating healthy. I could be the world’s fattest vegetarian if I wanted to. I love pastas and carbs and breads. There are plenty of unhealthy vegetarian options for me out there. Pretzels are a great example: I love the darn things and they’re meat free. Same thing with potatoes and chips and dip and salsas. Sugar is vegetarian and I could easily dump a bunch of it into something for extra sweetness. So, I find myself in a new position once again: having to fight off the force of habit.

In Savor, there is discussion of “habit energy”. Habit energy is compared to sitting on top of a runaway horse: it just carries you along helplessly as you struggle for control. I made a big push to get beyond that habit energy with my positive changes. Now, I think the horse might be trying to break free from the stable that I put it in to get into a fenced in pasture. Unfortunately, I can’t do that yet. I’ve not come far enough yet to allow myself to eat some of these things even on occasion but I’ve come far enough that I don’t want to eat them anyway. My desire is to remain on the weight loss path that I’m on but I’m finding my brain trying to push back against it and return to old patterns of thinking and eating.

So, I’m asking myself a lot of questions again: why do I want to eat these things? What good will come from my eating these things? Will eating these things really make me happy? What need am I trying to fill with these foods? How do I feel about myself and my progress so far? What else can I do instead of eating junk? Most of the time, I’m able to use these questions to help me see the reality of what giving into my cravings would do to me. Sometimes I screw up anyway. Twice in the past few days in fact. One time I was with my son and I got some tiramisu gelato. It was so sweet and delicious and a wonderful treat. It also made me want more and more of it and I’m finding myself craving sugary stuff. The second time was yesterday. I grabbed a bag of Reece’s Pieces on impulse as I was in the cafeteria at work. I didn’t think, I didn’t care, I just grabbed them. Then, I proceeded to eat the entire bag over the course of an afternoon sitting at my desk. So much for the salads that I ate for lunch and dinner.

I felt like a failure yesterday afternoon. I had given into a craving and I couldn’t even figure out why. I just acted purely out of impulse and, as far as I can tell, I wasn’t trying to deal with any emotional issue or problem or stress factor that would lead me to eat like this. If I had acted with a reason at least I could have addressed it. This was pure habit energy rearing its ugly head and trying to run off with me. So, here I am today writing my confession and restating my desire to move ahead with my weight loss. I’m past the honeymoon stage where everything is easy and wonderful and I’m going to be fighting my brain more now. I’m a food addict. Plain and simple. My addiction has left me alone for a while as it does for many addicts. Now comes the hard part of me dealing with the realities of that addiction. I’m not going to lose this fight. It means too much to me, my family and my friends. Whatever it takes to get where I need to be, I’m willing to do it. I’m 50+ pounds into this fight and I’m not willing to go backwards. I will continue to live in mindfulness and continue to eat in a healthy way. I will not allow one or two mistakes to derail me. The present is the present, the past is the past, the future is the future: I will not mistake one of them for another. I will look for new ways to address my mind when it starts pushing for unhealthy foods. I’m not sure yet what those will be but I will be doing a lot of experimenting and I’ll keep posting here about what works and what doesn’t. I’ll also keep celebrating every single pound that I lose. Each one is a small victory that, in the end, will win the war. My desire is stronger than my habits and I will do everything I can to create new habits that don’t clash with my desires: it’s the only way to go.

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One of the things that the book Savor touches on in a few places is the power of food advertisement and how it impacts our desire to eat things that aren’t good for us. One thing that I’ve done to try to make positive changes in my life is to seriously cut back on the amount of TV I watch. I guess that’s why I hadn’t seen this commercial or not been aware of it until recently. I’m not sure what makes me madder about this commercial: the message that it’s presenting or the fact that it’s aimed at kids. If I weren’t getting so many new visitors to the blog thanks to the generosity of Savor’s Facebook page linking to me, I’d unleash a stream of profanity at those responsible for this commercial that could burn holes into any monitor it appears on. The commercial in question is for McDonald’s Happy Meals®. I used to love getting them when I was a kid and they were a brand new concept in marketing food to my generation. I guess we’d gotten tired of listening to some clown and his cohorts dance around the screen on Saturday mornings interrupting our He-Man and Smurfs cartoons telling us to go out and buy more food. I can still hear my brother and I thinking, “if we go to McDonald’s, we can get a box with a toy and some food in it! Isn’t this great?” or, “If I go to McDonald’s, I get a toy!”.  Why is it that every major fast food chain does this? Because it works. Getting kids hooked on instant gratification and shiny new toys that break the day after you get them home is good for the shareholders. Who cares if they’re killing kids by making them fat right? Their bigger bottoms are good for a bigger bottom line so it’s all OK.

My kids are just like most others and when we ask them what they want for dinner they usually give us the name of whatever fast food joint currently has the coolest toy being hocked on TV. Right now that’d definitely McDonald’s because they have Star Wars skateboards and my son is just as crazy about all things Star Wars as I am. Most of the time we don’t do the fast food thing but reinforce the message that just because a toy looks like fun on TV isn’t a good reason to go get food. It’s become a lot easier for me to do this now that I don’t eat at McDonald’s any more (though I do crave a Big Mac every so often).  Recently, a lot of parent’s groups have started to complain about using toys to get kids to want to eat at these restaurants so McDonald’s is trying a different marketing tactic. Check out an example of it below.

How many things can we find wrong in that commercial?

  1. It’s got a catchy happy tune that’s designed to make you associate that feeling with the brand.
  2. It’s got a cute kid in it whose space man helmet is too heavy for his head. Once more, positive feelings = brand message.
  3. It’s got a doggie playing with the aforementioned kid. We have a cuteness overload here people! How can the brand not be wonderful just by association?
  4. The animation is interesting and well executed. It’s visually appealing and slick. It makes you want to watch it and listen.
  5. It’s got a mom giving her special little spaceman boy “all his favorite things”. That’s right, the food from McDonald’s is right up there with a mother’s love. Isn’t that great?
  6. The message. We can’t forget the message. “Joy is a gift. This is the box it comes in.” If you give your kids a happy meal, you give them joy. You wouldn’t want to be a bad parent and deprive your precious little snowflake of joy would you? Look how happy the boy is. Don’t you want that for your kids?

The message from this commercial is what really gets me angry. I feel like going of on a rant that would make Lewis Black hand me some blood pressure medication and remind me to breathe. Who in his right mind would be so evil as to come up with this piece of manipulative crap? Who would then take that evil to a new level and make a national advertising campaign out of it? Who approves all of this stuff and why am I not seeing more critiques of this piece of commercial filth? Telling people that eating fatty foods is joy is just plain wrong. There is no way to justify this. Telling people that feeding their kids fatty foods is joy is even worse! Equating positive and happy feelings with a specific brand that’s dedicated to creating suffering and death and disease is an outright act of commercial propaganda that we should not tolerate. I used to fall for this garbage hook line and sinker in the past and I’ve personally eaten more Big Macs and fries than I could ever hope to count. At one point in my life, you could have probably found special sauce in my blood work if I would have ever had it done back then. I know full well the power of how these advertisements work. I’ve been involved in marketing companies in the past and I know the methodologies used by them to create these branding messages. It’s sick. It’s twisted. It’s unacceptable that I have to constantly fight these messages that are bombarding my kids. We have done a lot to cut back on the amount of television that they watch but when McDonald’s runs a commercial like this every single time Nickelodeon stops for a commercial break they can’t help but see or hear the message. I also try to point out to my kids how the commercials are trying to make them do something. They’re getting better at seeing this stuff for what it is but I don’t know who’s winning the fight for their minds. What happens to other kids who may not have restrictions on how many hours of TV they watch? What if their parents don’t spend time critiquing commercials with them? What message do they pick up when they hear over and over that food is joy. This is just one commercial for one company. Every kids movie, every cartoon, every toy brand all have a special tie in with one restaurant or another to promote themselves. Some of the stuff they do is pretty cool too. I’ll be the first one to admit that. Hell, if I were still a kid, I’d be all over some of the toys offered in these meals. In fact, I’m looking at an Einstein bobble head figure that came in a McDonald’s happy meal that my son gave to me. It was a tie in to a movie and I love seeing it on my desk. I just don’t want to see any more kids grow up to become obese adults. I don’t want people to think that unhealthy food is a source of joy or that giving this food to the people that matter the most to them will bring them joy. It’s an outright lie and it’s killing us all. Even if you don’t eat at these restaurants we’re all paying for the extra costs brought on by treating the diseases that eating too much of this food brings. We’re all suffering because of it.

I think I’m done ranting for now. I still can’t believe this commercial and I hate it to the very core of my being. I’ve said everything that I can without going too far. I feel sickened by the thought of what this commercial is doing to us and our kids. I feel saddened about my own poor choices in the past from buying into these lies. I want the world to change and be better. I want others to complain about things like this in order to get it off the air. I hate the fact that McDonald’s is one of the better fast food companies as far as social responsibility goes and actually does make an effort to do the right thing (sometimes). They lose their moral credibility when something like this comes out. Pay attention to the ads that you see and listen and analyze their message. Think about how they effect you and others. Unless you fear that they might make you sick.

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Once I hit 250 pounds, I hope to reveal my face to the world in a before/after set of pictures. To that end, I’ve been looking at some pictures taken of me over the recent past and found a few good candidates for the before shot. Right now, it’s very obvious when you look at my face/neck just how much weight I’ve lost. Earlier this morning, I was looking at some pictures of me from Christmas 2006. Besides bringing back a lot of great memories about the kids when they were younger and how much fun we had that special day, I saw some pictures of me with the kids. Even those pictures show me just how much weight I’ve lost. Back in 2006, I was obviously bigger than I am now. I wasn’t sure about just how much I’d really put on because it’s hard to remember exactly what you look like over time as we’re used to seeing ourselves every day. The changes happen slowly and we don’t realize they happen. It’s hard to think that I was bigger four years ago than I am now. In talking with my wife, she says that I’m smaller now than I was even seven years ago. I trust her judgement on this matter more than I do mine and I’m still trying to comprehend the importance of that.

I’ve turned back the clock at least seven years. I’m traveling backwards in time while being firmly grounded in the present moment. It’s a hard concept for me to grasp. When you’re obese and you feel as if you will never change, you stop paying attention to what your body looks like. That’s one way that we allow ourselves to deal with the trauma of what we have done to our bodies. We’re aware of our obesity but we don’t allow or we’re unable to comprehend the enormity of our situation. By remaining in ignorance, either by choice or by our inability to perceive things as they really are, we further our suffering. It was only when I embraced the Four Noble Truths and began to examine things as they really are that I really became aware of the extent of my obesity. This is not a fun process. It sucks. It hurts. I even threw my Savor book across the room once. Incidentally, I’m glad I hadn’t gotten the Kindle edition for my iPod yet when I threw it!

How we go about a journey of self discovery to get at the root of our suffering isn’t really important. For me it came through a lot of introspection and questioning. Then, it came through sitting in meditation. If you are trying to get to the roots of your own suffering, you must find a way that works for you. The thing to remember is that you must have compassion for yourself. In order to transform our suffering, we must learn to embrace it and allow ourselves the time to grieve. As we get to the roots of our suffering, accepting them without judgement is the ideal way address them. However that’s easier said than done. This is because we have a false idea of our “self” and we’re mad for not living up to that false image. Inside us, we have a thin healthy person who always makes the best choices and always exercises self-control and doesn’t struggle with cravings and is perfect and happy and beautiful. That person doesn’t exist. We can never be that person. No one can ever be that person. No one is that person. We want to become that person so badly that we hate ourselves for not being that person. It’s our attachment to this fake person that makes it hurt so much when we see that at our innermost being, we’re nothing like that person. Inside myself, I’m insecure and anxious and judgemental and full of cravings and “delusions of grandeur” (to borrow a quote from Han Solo).  Inside myself, I don’t have it all together and I’m not in control. That’s just the way it is. I recognize this and I accept it for what it is and now I’m embracing my real self and working on making sure that I live my life in the best way possible in every moment. Most moments I fail. Sometimes I even screw up royally. At those times I really feel my old self wanting to come back and judge me for not living up to my intentions. That’s when I really need to remember to embrace my “failure” and accept it and move on. I’m not very good at doing that yet, but I’m getting better. In addition to seeing that I’m losing all this weight, it’s nice to see that I have a another Before & After that I can celebrate.

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Today, I’m wearing smaller pants and a smaller belt. The pants that I’m wearing are ones that I hadn’t worn for a long time but I saw them hanging in the closet and thought that I’d try them on to see how much further I had to go before I could wear them again. Imagine my surprise when they fit. I couldn’t believe it. They’re comfortable pants and I always liked wearing them because they have a lot of pocket room for the gadgets I carry with me wherever I go (2 cell phones, an iPod and a pager at minimum – yes a pager: don’t ask). The smaller belt I picked up yesterday after I realized I wasn’t even unbuckling my belt any more when I took off my work pants. That’s always a sign that you need a new belt. FYI, the pants I’m wearing are a 42 inch waist. I hadn’t seen 42 inch waistline pants in a couple of years so I’m happy to be wearing them again. Eventually, I’d like to be back to a 36 inch waist but that’s a long time from now so I’m not dwelling on it. I’m too busy celebrating the first downward step in my waist size.  

I did have a bit of a disappointment this morning when I stepped on the scale. After eating very well yesterday and exercising for over an hour, my weight was back up to 306. I couldn’t figure out why it would have gone up but I didn’t let it bother me since I know these things fluctuate. As I stepped out of the shower this morning, I put on my glasses and got a different view of the scale from a different angle. It was then that I realized it wasn’t aligned properly: it was 2 pounds over 0 when there wasn’t anything on it. I readjusted the scale, stepped back on and, sure enough, I’m still at 304. I’ll take that as a win for the morning.

Last night, I also had a small victory. One of the things I’ve been learning about while reading and re-reading Savor is to recognize and control my habit energy. In the book, they refer to habit energy as a horse that you are sitting on that’s running out of control. A rather nasty habit energy of mine used to be what I call grazing. It’s when you have an opportunity to consume a little bit of a lot of different foods. It was one of my favorite activities because when you do that and then go back for round 2 and then rounds 3 & 4 you feel like you’re not eating that much because you’re only taking small portions of each thing. It’s a way of overeating that doesn’t feel like overeating and it was something I’d do a lot of. Last night, I had an opportunity to graze in the kitchen. There was leftover cake, cupcakes, shrimp, macaroni & cheese (one of my favorite foods of all time that I’m not eating right now) and fruits and soda and snacks along with the BBQ tofu that I was making myself for dinner. As I was in the kitchen preparing my meal, I really felt the old habit energy coming back to just have a bite or two of different things. One or two bites won’t really hurt will it? I mean how many calories are in a bite really? I ended up popping about a dozen shrimp into my mouth and really enjoyed them but I realized that my habit energy was trying to run off with me and I stopped what I was doing, embraced my habit energy and I focused on my breathing. I reminded myself that I wouldn’t keep it to just one or two bites and that I’d harm myself if I chose to graze through the kitchen. I got off the horse of my habit energy and didn’t run wild. I enjoyed the dinner I prepared for myself and then I cleaned up and left the kitchen behind. Later that night, after I’d posted about sitting, I felt the urge to go back into the kitchen again and instead, I went upstairs with Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and read for about a half hour before going to sleep. It’s good to be free.

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