About my weight loss
Hi! I wrote this in an interview format because quite frankly it’s more entertaining and I’m able to express things a bit more concisely if I’m ‘talking’ to someone. I hope it is (entertaining), and I hope it conveys that I really want to help and share the things I’ve learned about myself in relation to my own weight loss. And also that I started pretty much where everyone else starts with it.
You often say you put the weight on without realizing it. What do you mean by that? How could you not realize it?
I think a lot of people do. Actually it seems a little funny when I think about it now. I can remember friends saying “Wow man, you’re really putting on a lot of weight”, and just shrugging my shoulders and thinking nah, whatever. It was mostly lifestyle choices that led to the fairly rapid weight gain. I acquired a real taste for beer right around the time I started playing high school football. And along with beer comes late nights, and fast food. But the football practice kind of balanced it all out. 3 months of boot-camp style practice every fall was enough to burn off the extra calories of my lifestyle. So I only started really putting on weight toward the end of high school. When I quit playing football, the fat really started piling on. I think I just hung on to the thinking that it was ‘normal fluctuations’ and that the overall picture wasn’t changing. I remember I had a pair of button-fly jeans, and at one point I couldn’t do the top button, then a couple months later, the top TWO buttons. Eventually I had to retire the damn jeans altogether, yet even with that evidence, I was STILL not admitting to myself that my weight was getting out of control.
What happened that you finally realized it?
I’m pretty sure it was a combination of lots of different things, but one memory that really sticks out is the chair story.
The chair story?
Yeah, I’ve told this story alot as the sortof ‘epiphany’ moment. I was working as a computer programmer, sitting on my chair in my little cubicle, and I was leaning way back in the chair trying to figure out some computer programming problem, and I had my arms open and hanging back over my head so that I was kind of suspended there (my ‘thinking’ position.) Anyway, as I was leaning back like that, and all of my weight was being suspended by the chair, I suddenly got this little flash of awareness of the huge amount of pressure my body weight was putting on all the bolts and hinges and all the other connecting pieces that held the chair together. And when that hit me, I jumped up right away because I suddenly thought it might just fly apart under me! I’m probably embellishing the story a little but that’s when it really hit me hard for the first time. I distinctly remember leaning over, putting my head down, and whispering under my breath to myself, “Man, I am massive.”
So it all came in one flash moment?
Well, it was an accumulation of evidence, but I think there’s always a point of fairly significant realization that’s like the last straw, and once you break to it, it becomes impossible to ignore. You can try to keep ignoring it, but it becomes a really painful existence. A big part of my work is about identifying and working with the various stages of transformation. First, you’re in denial or ignorant, and you just keep on functioning the same old way. Then, you get this hit of awareness, and you are thrown into the next stage whether you like it or not. Usually not!
How come not?
Well there was a lot of guilt once it started sinking in what I’d been doing to myself for those years. It got me thinking a lot about everything I ate or drank, and started really scrutinizing myself and every little thing that I did or ate. And the things I previously had no problem with (like eating an entire large pizza at 2am) I couldn’t be ignorant about anymore, it’s just impossible. It’s like the pink elephant in the room, you know? You can’t not think about it once you start thinking about it, but this is a particularly hard stage, because you’re aware of the problem, but haven’t yet made any changes, and don’t even know where to start. I believe alot of people are stuck at this stage. Every new phase or stage in the process starts with a big realization of something new that changes things forever.
For me it was pretty sloppy, because I was doing it entirely myself with no guidance. But that also allowed me to become intimately knowledgeable of both the healthy and unhealthy ways and pitfalls of going through the process. I don’t recommend the guilt-yourself-into-it method, since it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re treating yourself like a piece of shit.
So what you’re offering here is help for people in navigating that process, however it might look for them specifically.
Exactly. I’m not a dietician or a certified fitness instructor or anything like that. I just know that I lost 100 lbs and have kept it off and I have alot of insight on how to do that, and an approach that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
That’s a remarkable accomplishment. How can you help others do the same?
Well, I’ve spent the last 6 or 7 years figuring that out, in a roundabout way. The truth is I stumbled around a lot. I’m pretty stubborn and a really private person, so when I finally decided to do something about my obesity, I pretty much did my own trail blazing. The only thing I could think to do was join a gym. So that was my starting point. You get a free consultation with a fitness trainer, yada yada, so I got going on a little program. I would alternate between one day of cardio-type stuff and one day of weights.
So it really does all come down to exercising and eating healthy?
Well yes and no. Mostly no. I think the most important thing that happened through all that fitness program stuff was just a general wake-up call to my body. I hate to admit it, but I can’t say I really believe the weights and running on the treadmill did very much for losing weight. If you’re just going through the motions, ‘putting in time’ while generally hating it, you don’t get nearly the energy built-up that’s necessary to actually burn a significant amount of fat. I hated treadmills and running bores me to death. That gym had squash courts though, and I found out that I absolutely love playing squash. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Squash is an amazing fat-burner. Treadmills and weight machines? Mmm, ask somebody else! I’m sure they have their place, but I’m not that interested in recommending them as a starting point. If you’re already into them, great – by all means keep going. But if you have a severe allergy to them, there’s no need to see that as an obstacle. Like I said, if you’re not really into an activity, you’re not going to exert enough energy and intensity into it to actually get any results. I would deplete so much mental energy just getting my ass to the gym and on the treadmill, that by the time I got there I was just going through the motions, watching the clock, and begging for 45 minutes to be up. I’d try and pump myself up with techno music and energy supplements (which I’ll talk about later), but again that’s all coming from the outside, and it’s inside motivation that keeps you going.
So you didn’t really have any ‘system’ that worked?
Not explicitly, no. But intuitively, I just kept paying attention to all the changes going on, and actually more importantly, the connections that I was starting to see between my body, the food I ate, energy levels, how my muscles worked, and just my general level of happiness. Looking back on it I’m actually really glad I didn’t have some rigid 10-step program that I had to adhere to. It felt great to discover things I enjoyed, and it was way more motivating to be losing weight because of doing things I loved doing, and then seeing results week after week. And so the enjoyment of being able to play more and better squash games, outweighed the enjoyment of over-eating and over-indulgence that I knew would slow me down. So it didn’t feel restrictive at all; healthier choices got simpler. Now for me, those connections are second nature and inform all my food choices – which are still far from ‘pure’ by any means! (See my April food journal). I just didn’t yet have any framework for understanding the different perspectives that influence our choices. And that’s what I have now and want to offer other people in with the Weightloss Blueprint.
So you started making connections intuitively, is that how you came up with the Blueprint approach?
Actually, no. My understanding of the various interior and exterior perspectives on personal development (which I see as layers of a blueprint) didn’t come up until years later, when my roommate gave me a book called ‘A Brief History of Everything’ by Ken Wilber. I was blown away by his descriptions of how everything – everything (certainly not just weight loss) can be looked at from this set of distinct perspectives, and that only by doing so do you get the whole picture of what’s going on with whatever topic you’re examining. I’d already seen a lot of these kinds of models that try and put things in classes or types and simplify things into one category or another, but this was something entirely different. It was more of a ‘lens’ through which to look at ‘content’, rather than a statement about that content that you read and then decide if it’s true or false. It suggests that no one way is right but that they’re all important in some way. It’s philosophy heavy, but incredibly powerful. A bit heady I know, but it made so much sense to me at the time that I pretty much dedicated the next 4 years of my life to understanding how to turn an empty philosophical framework into an application for helping people, and helping myself. But by that time I’d already settled in to a normal weight and wasn’t really thinking about weight loss any more. I’d gotten into the field of professional coaching.
Like coaching sports teams?
No, not exactly, but similar in a lot of ways. Personal Coaching as a profession started in the 50’s but has really only been taking form since the mid-80’s to early-90’s. Before that it was a technique used in therapy and counseling for getting rapid results. Psychotherapy has a stigma of being a lot of hot air and talk and you hear about people being in therapy for years and years and still being as mentally un-fit, or even more so, than when they started. There are a lot of bad therapists out there for sure, and coaching developed out of a need for a more practical, goal-oriented way of working with a person to achieve a particular result. If therapy was about dealing with the past, then coaching was about dealing with the future. When I did my first training workshop, I was so excited after the first day that I could hardly sleep. I think the coolest thing about it was that it really just gave form to what I had already naturally wanted to do with people. I’ve always had a knack for seeing problems from a very broad view, and this was an opportunity for me to use that talent to actually help people.
So I started studying and practicing and became involved with others who were trying to help define and lay the framework for this kind of direct way of working with people. Coaching is similar but distinct in a lot of ways from therapy or counseling, in that you get to see immediate results. But I learned quickly there was a lot of debate about what the ‘rules’ of coaching should be, and I lost interest in being part of the larger discussion as I wasn’t very impressed with a lot of so-called coaches and how the field was quickly becoming about how to make money. Because there was no academic distinction or regulatory bodies, everybody and there dog was suddenly a ‘Life Coach’. I continued developing my own approach, using the inside/outside perspectives as the framework.
I’ve always been fascinated and thrilled by helping people get clear about the important things in their lives. I started off in a very general way, working with people on just about anything – jobs, relationships, life purpose and spirituality, etc. But it was more of an ad hoc approach. I would engage whatever was coming up for clients, often in wildly successful and effective ways, causing some major shifts in beliefs attitudes and habits that were keeping them stuck. But I wasn’t doing it with a sense that I was accomplishing any big picture goal. The small wins were enough to keep me interested, but not enough to be clear about an overall intention that I wanted to commit to for the long term. I learned that I needed that clarity of purpose. When I would have low days, as all of us do from time to time, there was no over-arching intention that I could tether myself to and keep going. Eventually I stopped practicing coaching, and went back into business management type work so I could settle down for a while and let the clarity come to me. Then, the idea for combining weight loss with coaching hit me like a ton of bricks, and I re-opened the whole can of worms.
So you decided you wanted to use your own experience with weight loss and coaching in order to help people lose weight?
Yeah, it completes the equation for me. The fact is: I lost 100 lbs 10 years ago and never gained it back. I have an extensive background in coaching and personal development frameworks. And I am trying to make a really big-picture impact on the world. So not only do I get to create supportive relationships with individual people, but I also get to address a growing societal issue; skyrocketing obesity rates are putting a severe strain on our systems – medical and otherwise. I don’t expect someone with their own personal weight issues to be worried about it on that level, but it gives me a lot satisfaction to feel like I can help put a dent in the problem in a big picture way, by helping at the personal level. I’m excited about that, and it gives me motivation to put everything I’ve got into helping as many people as I can achieve the same long-term success that I’ve been fortunate enough to have figured out how to do.