Lost: My Identity (If found, please do not return.)

I haven't written a post for nearly three weeks. The reason - I feel like I've lost something.

I've been struggling for sure. Logging food has become a tiresome grind. My will to care about my long-term health is severely compromised. There is a void inside me.

Work has been tough. I use that as an excuse. How can I care if I don't have the time? How can I log food if I'm so stressed? The easy way out - excuses.

The part that really scares me is the void. I've been through this before. I fill that void with food and laziness. That's the pattern.

This time is a bit different. I'm filling the void with food and... running. Is that better?

But the excuses. Maybe the excuses and the void are related. Maybe they are two sides of the same coin. And I figured it out this time and stopped the weight gain, so maybe I'm ok. Maybe this is normal.

I know normal for me is different. When people see me and they say something about my weight loss, I am uncomfortable. And when this happens, the void grows.

After a lot of reflection and looking as deep as I can within, I think I finally discovered the truth. I'm losing a huge part of my identity. To hold onto it, I look for excuses and self-sabotage.

A huge part of my identity for nearly 30 years has been as a fat guy. I see myself this way and most others have too. If others start to see me differently than I see myself, a part of my identity is lost. What am I if I'm not the fat man?

It is much easier to go back. I can regain this identity so easily by eating a little more, regardless of how much I run. I can't run away from the problem. I want to run to a solution.

If you find my identity, keep it. I do want to change and I'll have to leave that part of me behind. Maybe I'm not quite ready but I'll get there.

#intentional #FatManRising 

These Questions Go To Eleven

I've received some questions that really made me think. I wanted to take some time to answer them. In an ode to Spinal Tap, these questions go to eleven. 

1.  What diet are you on?

A:  The simple answer is, I'm not on a diet. I do log my food. I was using LoseIt but went back to MyFitnessPal. The MFP app has more users and functionality. It feels more like a community which really helps. I use the app to approximate the number of calories I have for the day. That's my budget. If I want more calories, I have to exercise to earn them. At about over 80 days into this method, it is pretty much habit.

2.  How much weight have you lost?

A:  Not enough. Since I started the blog, I've lost 14 pounds. Which often leads to...

3.  Do you want to lose weight faster?

A:  In this Biggest Loser/reality show era, we are trained to think we can lose 5 to 10 pounds (or more) per week. I am not in a reality show, I'm in reality. I'm not playing for $100,000, I'm fighting for a better life. I've dropped massive amounts of weight quickly before and it did not work. This time, it is not about the weight, it is about the overall lifestyle I need to lead to live a long, healthy life.

4.  So, how much do you want to lose?

A:  I have put a goal weight of 175 in. I started June 1 at 226. On January 2, 2011, I was 246.6. In December 2011, I was 206. That was the lowest point for me in the last 5 years. The numbers will come. Whether the weight I maintain is 185, 160 or 175, I am working toward stability.

5.  Why didn't you confront that Young, Fit Couple?

A:  Those that know me best were shocked I didn't turn on those kids and give them an earful. The reason I didn't was a mystery to me at first. It was so far outside my nature and my instincts, I didn't really get it. Then when I received dozens of messages of encouragement full of humbling words, I knew why. I needed to write a blog post about the event and share it because so many people confront that type of ignorance (and worse!) daily. We need to be a community of support. Be human, be kind.

6.  Are you enjoying training?

A:  Yes. For the first time in my life, I am loving the journey. Running is now a part of my life.

7.  Do you really like running or just trying to convince yourself you like running?

A:  This is a more than fair question. I lied in the past to myself and anyone who would listen because I hated every step. Now, I don't like it, I love it. I consider myself a runner. Slow and steady, but always forward!

8.  Do you get a lot of support from your wife and family?

A:  Hard not to tear up answering this one. I get more support than I deserve. Gretchen, the kids, my parents, friends, everyone is beyond supportive. I'm blessed and I cannot thank them enough.

9.  What are your other goals?

A:  I'm going to do this half-marathon in October then consider what is next. I want to do a full marathon for sure. My biggest goal is to live healthier and injury free. I have some bigger things in mind too.

10.  Your dad said something in his post about a podcast. What's a podcast and are you really going to do one?

A:  A podcast is a digital audio file you download and listen to when you can. If you haven't gotten into podcasts, you are missing out. There is something for everyone. And yes, I am considering a podcast. I want to do one and need to fully prepare for the commitment. And find a good co-host. I don't think anyone wants to listen to me solo.

11.  What food do you miss most?

A:  I don't miss any food because I still eat everything in moderation. Yes, everything. If I want a scoop of ice cream, I have it. I just don't have a three scoop banana split anymore. Pizza, pasta, everything. Moderation is how I've decided to do this. See question one - no diet, lifestyle!

Thank you for the questions. And thank you all for your support!

#intentional #HOPE #FatManRising

An Open Letter to the Young, Fit Couple From My Morning Run

Dear Young, Fit Couple From My Morning Run:

First, let me congratulate you on being in phenomenal shape. As I was running from way back as you walked after your morning workout, I could not help but notice that your combined body fat must be somewhere south of ten percent. That is amazing and must take a lot of work and dedication.

Second, I'm fat, not deaf. Since what you said is now seared in my memory, I thought I'd help you understand how your words and attitude can impact people. Let's take this from the beginning.

As I passed, I heard the mid-twenties fit guy say, "Oh geez, look at this." Followed by the mid-twenties fit woman's snort of derision while saying, "You can't miss him, especially as loud as he's breathing."

You are right, it is hard to miss me. I'm a 5'8", 214-pound (and shrinking!) male at the very end of a 35-minute run. The last part of the run was uphill, by my choice as I'm trying to push myself in a controlled manner as I train for the Naperville half-marathon this fall.

I was lucky enough to be done with my run at this point and started my cool down walk, so I was lucky enough to hear the rest of what you had to say. The earbuds were in, but my podcast was over, so your not-so-soft voices were loud and clear.

The young, fit gentleman then said, "I just don't get it. How do you let yourself get that fat and out of shape?" To which his female companion replied, "Tell me about it. That's one reason I hate going to the gym. I really don't want to watch all that blubber bounce." You both snickered at this line.

There are many reasons for us to let ourselves go. The reasons are important for sure because you can only reverse the unhealthy course once you understand what put you in this position. For some of us, food is comfort and escape. Sometimes we are lazy but sometimes we aren't. I think you were implying we must be stupid and lazy to get fat. While laziness can be a factor, it was for me at times, let me assure you that fat does not equal stupid.

We do notice when we are getting bigger. And let me tell you, it hurts. It hurts in so many ways. It can be embarrassing at times and frustrating at others. Sometimes it is just easier to stay overweight and put time and energy into other aspects of life. 

One really big point both of you need to understand is this - about two-thirds of the U.S. adult population is overweight, so we are the majority. In other words, you will encounter us in all aspects of life, not just on the trail or at the gym. We are business owners, managers, moms, dads, janitors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, friends, aunts, uncles, etc. Most of all, we are human beings with feelings and dreams, just like you in the fit minority.

Our lives are not made easier by encountering the two of you while we try to lose weight by exercising in the heat of a beautiful summer Sunday morning. Believe me, it would have been much easier for me to sit down with a giant plate of French toast and bacon this morning versus getting out the door for my training run. 

As I was about to cross the street to get home, I was lucky enough to hear your final comments. Young, fit male said, "That sweat pouring off him is enough to make me sick. Glad I haven't eaten yet." To which the laughing young, fit woman said, as I turned, "Oh thank God, he's crossing the street." After a pause, she strangely added, "Hope he doesn't have kids. What a crappy example to set." More snickering followed and then I was, thankfully, out of earshot.

I will admit, I came near tears because of the kid comment. I'll get back to that because I'm still hurt and angered by this particularly venomous bit of hate.

Yes, I was sweating buckets. I'm very proud of that effort today. And, just so you know, heavy sweaters occupy every body type. It just so happened that I was listening to a podcast with Olympian Shalane Flanagan earlier in my run. Shalane qualified for Rio after bonking at the trials where the weather was downright scorching. She went to get tested to figure out the best hydration strategy for Rio and found out she is a heavy sweater. Shalane found out she sweats three times as much as her training partner, and fellow Olympian, Amy Cragg. Shalane and Amy kicked some butt today in Rio finishing 6th and 9th (with American Desi Linden in 7th). Was the 6th place female Olympian enough to make you sick with how much she sweat today? I saw it when I got home and she was sweating buckets. People sweat, so you two may want to get used to that too. 

Now back to the shot at my parenting skills because I'm fat. I've been relatively nice to you two so far but his is too far. That statement is idiotic. 

My three children mean the world to me. I've worked hard to be a better parent. I don't need some kids twenty years my junior questioning the example I'm setting. Since you did, let me help you figure it out.

Here are a couple of my favorite examples. Mistakes are not important. How you recover from a mistake is very important, though. And my favorite saying has to do with choices. The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second best time is today. 

You see, I am not ashamed of being fat. I am disappointed that I am not healthy. I should have taken care of this 25 years ago. Since I didn't, I am making the choice to fix it today. 

Another lesson I'm teaching my kids is to NEVER, EVER talk about people to their face or behind their back the way you two did about me today. That type of judgment does not help anyone. Let me assure you that your speech is not motivating. It does make you look bad, though, despite your perfect bodies.

My final bit of advice to you two is to channel your disgust for fat people into a more positive direction. The one thing you had right is that we have to set good examples for the children. If we can start to reverse the trend of childhood obesity, then it should carry through to the adult population. Use your love of fitness to teach kids to live happy, active lives. Volunteer in the community and help put the next generation on track.

 I know you were glad to see me go today and, truthfully, I was more thankful to get away from you two before I opened my mouth. You need to understand that mocking a person is not acceptable. Today this is called bullying, fat-shaming, body-shaming. I just call it ignorance.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe you don't realize that fat people are human beings with feelings and hopes and dreams. Maybe you didn't realize that perfection is a great goal, but no one hits it, even you two. Maybe you didn't realize that my hearing is not impacted by the extra weight I carry. Maybe you didn't realize that my two oldest kids are incredible athletes and that my excess weight has not changed that fact. Maybe you didn't realize that I'm in the majority and that my fellow overweight brethren fight a battle every single day that, I pray, you never have to understand. Maybe you two really are amazing people and you just were having an off day.

I hope you learned something today. I know I sure did. And, in case this will impact your schedule, I plan to be out there sweating my butt off and putting in huge efforts to be better on and near the path from this morning. If I see you again, I will only smile and wave. If  you are lucky, I might stop to ask if you got this letter. I really think it could be good for you.

Kind regards,

FatMan

#intentional #HOPE #choosemypath #FatManRising

Friday Craving - One Donut Won't Hurt, Right?

When I worked at Hub Group, they generously brought in pastries and bagels on Friday for the employees at corporate HQ. That Friday fix was awesome. 

The craving has gone away for the most part. But there is one particular piece of perfection that still haunts the deep recesses of my internal fat guy. The chocolate donut. 

This is no ordinary chocolate donut. This donut is perfectly balanced with just enough chocolate covering the succulent pastry. Every bite is bliss. And they were rare, which only added to the legendary status in my mind. 

People waited to race to the break rooms to grab one before they could be snatched up by another. We would grab two if we could to help out a friend in need. The disappointment of missing out for a week or two only added to the delight. 

Why the company didn't order more is a mystery. Where the donut came from is also a great unknown. We know the bagels and most of the pastry came from Panera. Yet Panera does not sell donuts like these, at least to the general public. 

I thought about trying to track down the donut. Now I've reconsidered. The memory is enough and I don't want to ruin the taste that lingers in my mind. The calories in my memory equal exactly zero. If only the actual donut did too.

#intentional #HOPE #FatManRising

Too Much is Always Too Much

I was talking to a fellow fat person the other day and they were bragging about being able to, "Eat a ton of this stuff and it was only about 200 calories total!" I asked what constituted a ton and they said it was the equivalent of four full servings. The item was a snack food and it meant eating the entire large package.

I asked what else they were doing about health. The subject didn't change from food as they explained how they would eat four to five sugarless jellos to satisfy their sweet tooth. I asked about exercise and they said, "Nah. I'm not ready for that."

This was tough to hear for me because it was like looking in a mirror where I could see myself in the recent past. I now believe this approach is not only wrong but also dangerous. This approach is not conducive to a long-term strategy to maintain weight loss and health.

If you eat too much, it does not matter if it is potato chips or kale chips. It does not matter if it is chocolate cake or sugar-free lime jello. It does not matter if it is grilled chicken or a perfectly marbled rib eye. The fact is this - too much is always too much!

Today, you may be able to eat those kale chips in volume and the calories are reasonable. If you think that you won't slowly revert back to potato chips or Cheetos, you are likely not being honest. There is a very small percentage of us in the overweight category that will be able to eat kale chips the vast majority of the time for the rest of our lives. That is the exception, not the rule. 

Most of us will slowly drift back to eating cake, cheese puffs and rib eyes in the same quantity we were eating the "healthy" foods. We need to change our habit of overindulging in anything if we want to capture the ever elusive realm of long-term success.

Learning about moderation is not easy. That is why I now track every single meal, 51 days and counting. That doesn't mean I never overeat. I'm not perfect, but logging the overeating keeps me honest about it. I no longer seek out volume foods to stuff myself in order to capture that euphoria so many of us overweight people chase. In order to not overeat the "bad" foods, I cannot overindulge on the "good" stuff. 

The volume habit is a tough one to break. I am still learning how to be hungry. When I talk to friends that are thinner, they tell me they are often hungry and have learned to deal with it. Not starving mind you, but a low-grade bit of hunger that lingers. I am starting to understand this and how to deal with it. It's ok to be a bit hungry. It may even be healthy.

On the other end of the spectrum, too little exercise is just as bad. Activity is critical. Just upping my activity on a daily basis by a moderate amount has paid dividends in how I feel throughout the day. I expect it may pay off on the scale in the long run too but that's the lagging indicator.

Too much volume of food with too little movement is a recipe for disaster. You may be able to lose weight with this formula because that is simply based on calories in versus calories out. However, I am highly skeptical of any type of long-term success with this approach. The rate of recitivism from this approach has to be high. I know I've failed with it at least five times. You know what they say about people who do the same things over and over again expecting different results...

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

A Vacation Epiphany: Live a Life of H.O.P.E.

Our family vacation was a road trip to Nashville. The drive was nice and it gave me plenty of time for personal reflection. 

I thought a lot about how much effort I've put forth so far to lose some weight and get healthier. In general, I see these efforts as a success. Some specific areas are frustrating, especially the number on the scale.

The drive did help me have an epiphany. I have been struggling with how to simply live my life. Writing that down sounds like a huge problem. It really isn't. It is more of my take on a philosophy of life. How can I take my experiences and goals and synthesize them into a way of life?

Then H.O.P.E. hit me. The acronym stands for - Humility, Opportunity, Passion and Effort. These guiding principles should make for living a pretty darn good life!

Humility is something I have struggled with forever. My tendency to always be right is one of my worst attributes. Practicing humility will allow me to be wrong without care and right without having to point it out. Humility is one of the most attractive qualities I see in other people I admire. Given all of that, it is definitely something I need to strive for.

Life is full of opportunities. Every moment presents a new one! The issue is seeing the opportunity through all the junk surrounding it. Finding just one more opportunity to act on each day will improve life immeasurably. Today the opportunity was writing this post to get it all started. A small opportunity to seize but they all count.

Passion does not have to burn white hot. Too many times I use this term incorrectly. Having a passion for something means suffering a nearly uncontrollable urge to act upon it. It should hurt to not exercise or to not spend meaningful time with my family. There is no need to define passion because it will be obvious. What I have to do is act with urgency to fulfill that which I am passionate about. 

This all leads to effort. This is where I have fallen down all too many times. Often I tell myself I am passionate about something (maybe running or blogging) but my effort does not match. My effort to eat amazing food and drink great wine has never been a problem. I've never had an issue finding time to put forth the effort to sit on the couch and watch television. Now what if I turned my efforts toward tasks that will make a much more positive impact on my life? What are my limits if I choose to put forth more effort every day toward these core values? I guess we will find out.

I believe there is so much more lurking inside me. I don't mean there is some 165 pound Adonis with six-pack abs. That ship sailed a long time ago and is superficial. What I mean is that there is a happy, healthy, productive, impactful person inside that I have to slowly coax out. I cannot let the mental fat win. Mental fat guy says my capabilities are limited. I hear the voice warning, "You are older. Know your limits." My answer now to that mental fat guy is a firm - Screw you!

H.O.P.E. will make my life better. I believe it and now it is time to put it into motion.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising 

Digging for Truth: Examining Indecision, Willpower, Motivation and Priorities

Indecision is exhausting. I don't think I'm alone here. The time and effort it takes to fret over, well, anything is so darn taxing. 

I think I use other words for indecision sometimes. The two that come to mind are willpower and motivation. Having the willpower to not eat that entire pizza is really a decision between doing it (the easy choice) and not doing it. When I question whether or not I have the motivation to exercise is really a form of indecision. Given how often I have these internal battles, no one I'm so tired every single day!

Now I'm thinking that indecision, willpower and motivation are all dishonest personal assessments. What I'm really saying with all of this is health and fitness are not a priority. 

Priorities are the key here. I may not want to go to work every day, but it is a priority so I do it without (much) question. My kids don't go hungry or neglected because they are a priority. I guess that means that watching TV on my butt is a priority because I do it without thought or question. When I really think about it, if something is a priority, it just gets done. It becomes part of life. 

That means health and fitness have not been a priority. They still aren't because I continue to have internal battles over what I should do. I can say that eating better and exercising are priorities, but my actions do not prove that out.

Self-honesty is at the heart of this journey. This is not easy because there are raw emotions and unfortunate truths that come pouring out. When I tell someone that I wish I had their willpower or motivation, I'm really saying I wish I had their priorities.

Understanding how I really view my priorities is an extremely difficult realization. It hurts to know that my actions and my intentions are not in sync. If I want to really achieve my goals, a giant shift in priorities has to happen.

Time to quit using the wrong words for what is really happening. This is not about indecision, willpower or motivation. This is clearly about my priorities. Only my actions will tell me when I've figured it out.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

Pre-Guilt (Or Why My Upcoming Vacation is Slowly Driving Me Nuts)

Sunday will start a family vacation. We'll pack up the car and hit the road for a full week. Eight hours in the car with three kids, including our 15-month-old baby, isn't my biggest concern, which is saying something. Instead, I'm already dreading food decisions.

The other night I got four hours of restless sleep. It took me a couple of days but now I realize that I was in an all-out panic about what I'm going to eat on vacation. Um, that's a problem.

In the past, I would have thought about all the local favorites I would get to devour. We're heading to Nashville and this is the home of hot chicken! Plus, we're south enough that you know biscuits and gravy are going to bad so darn good. Now those iconic foods scare me to the point of not sleeping.

Letting food hold that kind of power over me contributed to the mess I call my body already. Before food beckoned me to eat it and I had zero willpower to walk away. Actually, that's not even quite true. I didn't WANT to walk away. I wanted that food - in volume.

Now, I still want that food but I only want a bite or two to try it. I don't want to ruin what I'm driving toward for a few minute detour of flavor nirvana. The calories in the great foods of Nashville have me worried.

This feeling would not be different if I was heading anywhere else. Eating out for a week when you are trying to shed fat (physical and mental) is daunting. Most of the time I would rationalize by saying things like, "You are on vacation. Enjoy!" Or, "It's only one week, just watch a little." Or, worse yet, "You deserve that food. You've worked hard and earned it." Oh, that last one is what keeps me up!

I have worked hard, so is excess calories really the reward I'm looking for? Here's an analogy. If you work hard to pay off your credit cards, should you, as a reward, head out and charge them back to the max? Seems like you'd just put yourself back in a financial hole if you did that. So, should you then go out and just charge an extra couple of hundred? I mean, what's the big deal, it is way better than before. Sure, that's true. However, that couple of hundred will still, likely, take weeks, if not months, to pay off. That's the crux of this problem and it is impacting me.

I have to pretend I've cut up my calorie credit card. I have to spend only what's in my account. Logging helps me do this along with the Fitbit activity tracker. It gives me a great running balance of what I'm able to spend. Knowing this, I need to relax and let food be fuel most of the time, with a little "in budget" fun. Maybe the compromise is not thinking about nutrition for a week. Come to think of it, I haven't thought about nutrition much this week. Maybe my instinct was to have a trial run prior to next week. 

Whatever I do, I need to stop worrying because it is hurting me in so many ways. I haven't done the exercise again that I need to do. I'm only hurting myself with worry and excuses. My mental fat is winning the war right now. In order to turn the tide, I need to concentrate on individual battles. I need to break down this long-term goal into manageable, winnable short-term battles. 

Vacation is supposed to be fun. I owe it to my kids to get this under control in the next few days. The trip is going to be great. I won't let my issue with food destroy it. That's a winnable battle.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

The Joy of Logging

When I started logging food 30 days ago, I didn't know how long it would last. Like many who try to log food intake, I have a love/hate relationship with the process. I knew when I started that this had to change into much more of a love affair.

To my surprise, this actually happened. Sure, it can be painful, but what true love doesn't have difficult moments? I now embrace every aspect of this as a challenge.

I love figuring out what to eat when I'm out. I love the complete honesty of inputting what I eat, whether it is "good" or "bad." I love inputting new meals into the app. I even love that moment when I check the box to say I'm done for the day and the app tells me when I'll get to my goal weight if every day was like this one.

One pivotal moment came when Gretchen decided to log too. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know how much that helped me. Something to work on. Hopefully, she reads this in the meantime and realizes how much I appreciate it.

Logging has just become something I do. I'm not sure how long I need to do it or how long it will last. Knowing what I'm eating helps perspective and self-honesty. My instinct tells me this will have to be in my life for a very long time. 

Oh, and my weight loss started back up after my last rant. I'm down over 10 pounds now. The energy I wasted on worrying about the number is done. I'm going to use that energy to get my butt moving now. That half-marathon isn't going to run itself.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

Nine Freaking Days and... NOTHING

I'm about to rant. Some will fully understand what I'm about to say. 

I weighed in for the first time in nine days and lost... NOTHING. Not an ounce. So, I tracked everything I've eaten, even when I fell off a bit, stayed close to the suggested number of calories and didn't lose any weight. Tracking less than 1,800 lousy calories per day and no results.

Rant over. Now I return to my regularly scheduled quest for health and the elusive silver lining.

I have talked about even bothering to weigh myself. In the end, I thought it was an important data point. That's all it is, though - a data point.

If the scale becomes The Scale, then I'll take a huge step back. In 42 days, I've lost 8.4 pounds. More importantly, I feel better and my clothes are getting loose. The Scale has to remain the scale.

When the scale doesn't move it is so easy to give up. I wanted to grab a pizza, a bottle of wine and a gallon of ice cream. It took everything I have not to. It still difficult and I don't think it will end even when the scale moves lower in the very near future.

Part of how I've tried to figure out what I need to do is to talk it out with my brother, Joe. He is always there to listen and, although he isn't the healthiest eater, he is a master of moderation and an amazing runner. Joe's advice is simple - Trust the process. My response was not quite so positive as I said, "I'm trusting a process that clearly isn't working. At what point is that insanity?" 

Joe replied back to try monitoring activity. Maybe my activity levels aren't where I think they are at. Now that is a solid, and likely true, observation.

I believe that this is about more than getting a scale to read a certain number. Joe helped return my perspective to where it needs to be. Now it is up to me to follow through.

Here's the plan - trust the process and get my butt in gear. I'm in desperate need of more training for the half-marathon. I'm in desperate need of strength training. I'm going to turn that desperation into action. Get moving and trust the process. Simple.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

Fat is Not a Four-Letter Word

I've received a lot of support, both public and private over the last few weeks after posting my blog. One sentiment that's been relayed more often than any other goes something like this - "You know, you really aren't (that) big."

When I've been able to engage people about this statement, the overwhelming belief is fat is a horrible word. They feel that others are bigger than me and I shouldn't call myself fat like it is some sort of slur. A couple of people told me they felt like they were "f-bombing" me if they acknowledged that I "may be overweight."

I get it. I told myself for years that I wasn't that fat and carried my weight well. Maybe, maybe not, but that is not the point.

The thing about most fat people is that we know we are fat. When you see us as we are, fat, it is not like a racial slur. It isn't like an f-bomb. Well, it kind of is since fat is an f-word. 

I don't recommend going around calling people fat. Most people, even if they realize it, don't like the word. I believe that is mostly due to the word being hijacked by non-fat people. When a woman asks, "Do I look fat in these pants," then the word becomes derogatory. The idea that a non-fat person can be made to look fat by pants or a dress or a shirt is where we lose the meaning of the word as just another descriptor.

My goal is to own the word, to take it back. My life is better now that I've taken control of the word and not let it control me. I know it makes people uncomfortable when I call myself fat. I've cut way back on doing that because I've actually become more comfortable that it is a mere fact versus something I'm afraid people won't notice. When you are fat, you can , at times, feel like the most obvious thing in the room while simultaneously believing no once sees you.

I'm going to try very hard to stop pointing out I'm fat. I'd like those around me to stop pretending I'm not, though. Maybe then the world will be a little brighter and a tad simpler to navigate.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

Oh Geez, It's Back

Every noise bothered me. My mind just would not shut off. I lay awake fighting the urge to eat. Then I get up, walk to the kitchen, get out a cereal bar and a glass of water. I cave.

That was last night. It could have been worse. Luckily we have cleaned out most of the food that would really do damage. And that is all I have, so that is a small victory.

That's not really bothering me. What led up to it is. Not the sleep issue. This is much deeper. An enemy has returned. My old nemesis - Doubt.

I'm over 30 days into this latest attempt. I've logged my food for the past 20+. I've upped my exercise, even though it isn't where I want it to be yet. I've done the steps and had success. Actually, this stuff has become part of my life and I only think about it when I need to log food or exercise. I thought this was life now.

Doubt haunts the corner of my mind and the deepest recess of my soul. This nemesis lurks so deep down that I often forget it is there. When Doubt surfaces, there is a physical jolt. The power is unbelievable and it stops me from sleeping.

There is no rational reason for Doubt to talk to me now. I'm growing and succeeding every single day. Doubt doesn't seem to care. Doubt only sees the slow, steady progress and tells me that I'll never do enough. It tells me the process is forever, so I might be ok now, but what about five years down the road. 

Then Doubt starts telling me how I'll never make that half-marathon goal in four short months. It mocks me. There isn't laughter but a derisive and dismissive snort. I can feel the smirk and eye roll. Doubt's full power is being unleashed.

I need to fight this thing off. Stay the course, work hard and do not give in. One of my favorite quotes is, "Adversity doesn't create character; it reveals it." I believe this and I will find out what my character is as I fight Doubt.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

Hit Reset Now: A Mid-Year Resolution

The year is halfway over on July 2nd. This is the perfect time to hit reset and make a new resolution. 

One of my favorite podcasts - Two Gomers Run For Their Lives - they choose a word to represent their goal(s) for the upcoming year. That word is so powerful. I've talked about my word already for the rest of this year - Intentional. 

I want to live an intentional life. Be intentional about every aspect - loving, giving, eating, accepting, exercising, working and everything else life brings. 

This type of resolution, centered on a positive word or mantra, is much more impactful than saying, "I'm going to lose weight; exercise more; be nicer..." The single action type of resolution is easy to break. Once broken, they are too often left in the gutter of life.

But a word. A word you can find again. A word you can commit to again. A word can easily be found in the next moment after you lose it. Words are powerful. I took control of the word "fat" and am changing my life. Now I want to embrace the word "intentional" to improve every aspect of the world I live in.

The Gomers ask their fans (known as "The Nation") to share their words every year. I'm going to go find that post and read it carefully. I'm also going to challenge people around me to choose a word and share it. The only thing more powerful than the individual commitment to this word is having a support system to help you stay on track.

#intentional #choosemypath #FatManRising

My 93-Year-Old Hero

Last Sunday was a special day. There was a surprise party for my grandma, 93 years young, and over 80 people came out to celebrate with her. Every person in that room was there because my grandma touched their life in special some way.

There were many others that were not there in person but were there in spirit. She heard from a lot of people and some even commented on how they missed being there on a video I posted on Facebook.

The party was a surprise. The plan was to have my little girl walk to her Nonni to distract her from what was going on through the double doors at the end of the hall. The baby is just starting to walk and, seriously, what in the world is cuter than that? To Nonni, there is nothing more precious in the world than her family and the great grandkids hold a special place in her ample heart.

As gram approached the room, I put my hand through the door to signal for the crowd to quiet and the hush was immediate. The look of shock is captured on video and was simply amazing.

This celebration of my grandma's life helped me understand even more why I put her at the top of my hero list. Her kind, loving heart and devotion to friends and family is a shining example of wht I want to be. She rarely complains, which is a trait I unfortunately don't possess. Gram is always doting on people. When someone comes over, she always makes some delicious dish that she's not so sure about, but we always love it. 

She says how blessed she is and she is right. What I don't know is if she fully appreciates how blessed we are to have her. My gram's strength, kindness, love, devotion, spirit - they all inspire me to be better. She is a huge reason why I'm determined to be a healthier, more active version of myself. 

#choosemypath #FatManRising

Weighty Thoughts: Why a number will NOT define me

Not surprisingly to a fat guy, this is my third time writing about an arch-nemesis - The Scale. One huge goal is to turn The Scale from a villain into an invisible bit player in my life.

Most of my life has been with The Scale in one of three ways. The first is avoiding it altogether. What better way of not dealing with a villain than just staying away? If I don't step on you, you don't exist.

The second type of relationship with The Scale is as validation. If I'm doing well, then The Scale is the ultimate say in my progress. This only makes sense since the first question from "society" is, "How much have you lost?" If the people want to know, then I better have the answer.

The final way The Scale plays in my life is a pure devil mocking me with a constant reminder of failed attempts to shed my physical fat. The Scale haunts me every single time I get ready to shower. The Scale whispers to step on it, then, if ignored, shouts taunting jabs daring me to just try and walk away. The Scale spends most of the time this way in my life and it is time to change.

What The Scale does not know is that those numbers it so proudly displays do not define me. When I was 256 pounds, I was relatively the same person as when I was 176. Sure, I was lighter and in better shape. Sure, people treated me differently and I got this false sense of hope. However, I was no dumber or lazier when I was 256. Thin people thought I was but they were flat-out wrong.

The Scale does not know that the numbers are only that - numbers. The Scale is now the scale. The numbers are numbers and only one small marker of progress. When I step on the scale, I k now I am only trying to figure out if I need to tweak the way I'm living. I no longer panic over gaining a half-pound. I no longer put too much emphasis on losing a half-pound.

The scale is barely visible to me. I have to set a reminder to step on it so I can get a sense of where I'm at. I'm much more concerned now with living my life, not finding validation in a number so I have an answer for society's main question to fat people losing weight. I'm much more concerned with how my clothes fit and not being out of breath going up a flight of stairs. I'm much more concerned with being able to get on the floor and play with my one-year-old. I'm much more concerned with being able to go on a long hike with my older kids. I'm much more concerned with feeling good day in and day out so I can contribute more to my family and the world around me.

That number box that sits in the bathroom is not capable of giving me the answer of how to make friends with my mental fat. That number box does not have the answer of how to become healthy. That number box is only a tool to use to help me understand one small part of the progress I am making. I don't hate that number box anymore and now it really cannot define me.

#choosemypath #FatManRising

I'm Fat: How owning a word is changing my life

I recently listened to a This American Life podcast where they discussed this movement of people coming out as fat. In so many ways this seems ridiculous. This is not like someone coming out as gay or transgender or a Cleveland Browns fan. You can't see those things necessarily but you can clearly see I'm fat.

But that isn't 100 percent true. The problem is that when I lose weight, I'll still be fat. There are two types of fat - physical and mental. The physical fat can be resolved (usually). The mental fat stays for life.

In my head, I am a fat guy. That will not change. There is no time in my life where eating a lot of calories won't appeal to me. I know, and now accept, that I will always be a fat guy. That does not mean that I cannot control some of those impulses. It may, or may not, get easier. I can say with certainty it will not go away.

My mental fat is not that of an anorexic where I see a fat person even if thin. My mental fat is not any type of disillusionment about what my physical shape is taking at all. My mental fat is simply the fact that the guy who wants to eat the wrong things the vast majority of time will always be a part of me.

Accepting this fact is changing my life in a way I never thought possible. I celebrate the smallest of victories over my mental fat. If I stay within my calorie goal, I celebrate. If I go over by a reasonable amount, I celebrate. If I exercise the tiniest bit, I celebrate. By celebrate I mean congratulate myself in the same brain where mental fat guy lives. Every celebration makes that fat guy in my head shrink a little or pushes him toward a corner. I no longer celebrate by allowing myself some sugary snack. The celebration is intensely personal and overwhelmingly emotional.

This has been a process and this is only the beginning. I'm going to fail. I have failed over the last month. Besides celebrating, I also don't get down on myself and just give up. When I slip, I do so intentionally and get right back on track. In other words, I do everything I can to not feed the fat guy upstairs.

In a way, I guess this is coming out as fat. I'm fat now and forever, at least in some sense. My guess is there are a lot of people like me. We don't talk about this stuff much, especially in a productive way. Mostly we get lectures or platitudes. The platitudes are worse than the lectures I think but not by much. If someone is fat, please stop telling them, "You carry your weight well" or "You're not that big." Bullshit. Fat is fat. That doesn't mean we are not attractive to someone. It simply means we know we are fat and, telling us that we aren't, does not create some magic illusion where we see ourselves differently.

Lecturing us is not much better. We are all well aware we need to eat less and move more if we want the physical fat to go away. We aren't motivated by you telling us what diet worked for you or your fat friend. 

What does help is understanding that when we turn down a piece of cake, we need to and that just a small piece may not work for some of us. What does help is going for a walk or a slow run or a bike ride or a hike or any other physical activity we can do together. Every moment spent moving is better than one spent sitting. (Yes, rest is necessary, but you get the point.)

This may sound like a bit of an angry rant. It isn't at all. This is meant to help me gain perspective about what being fat means. If it helps anyone else understand or gain perspective, that's a bonus.

I own this word now - fat. Fat is no longer going to rule who I am and how I live. Fat will no longer hold me back or tell me I can't do something. I own you fat - physical and mental. And now that I am in control, the hard work really starts. 

#choosemypath #FatManRising

That Time I Lost 80 Pounds

Not long after The Reflection, I resolved to do something. I watched my dad melt off weight and I wanted to too.

I knew what my dad was doing and it seemed desperate, mostly because it was. He needed to lose a lot of weight. I needed to lose a lot of weight. So, I went where my dad did.

The program was a doctor supervised very low-calorie diet. How low you ask is very low? 500 calories per day. 500. For the day. It involved shakes (and some other things I didn't really like) and going to meetings. We would talk about success. Rarely was failure discussed. You did get one-on-one time with a nutritionist leading up to the time where you would transition off the shakes and start to add back food and calories.

Not surprisingly, this worked like a charm. This was only about discipline and will-power with no, or at least limited, choices. If you could gut out the first week, you could do this for a pretty long time. My dad did it and so did I. I went from 256 to 176 pounds.

I kept it off for awhile. Then it started to creep back up. But this time I knew how to lose it - I'd just get more shakes!

The shakes came back and I about lost my mind. There were literally moments that I cannot remember or I'd say something outrageous. There were times where I was so weak and dizzy that I thought I was in big trouble. My body was rejecting this idea of massive calorie cutting and I just stopped.

I gained back 60 pounds and tipped the scales again at 236. I started this round of, "I have to do something once and for all," at 226 pounds. 

The program, by definition, was a success. There was no way it wouldn't be if I only had 500 calories a day. Yet, I would call this a colossal failure.

It is easy to lose weight. Eat less, move more. Expend more calories than you take in. That isn't rocket science, it is simple math. The issue is not losing weight for fat people. The issue is keeping it off. Maintaining weight is the true enemy of the fat person.

The program did the easy part very fast, so it looked awesome. (See every episode ever of the Biggest Loser.) Fast weight loss is sexy. Slow weight loss is frustrating. We all want the magic bullet. This program promised the magic bullet and fully delivered. However, it did not do nearly enough to help you figure out how to maintain the weight. Thinking back, how could they? Anyone espousing 500 calories per day as a healthy way to lose weight could not dare tell you how to maintain weight at 2000. I'm not blaming the program at all. The program (and all like it) aren't really there for my best interest. They did what they set out to do. I failed moving forward.

I also want to make it clear that I don't blame my dad for singing that siren's song. He lost weight and has, unfortunately, gained it back. He and I talk about it often. We struggle and try to encourage each other. Maybe it's time to share this blog with him. But I digress...

That time I lost 80 pounds was great. I felt incredible. The issue was then exactly what it is now - I'm fat and I have to make wholesale, methodical changes to fix what ails me. The problem is that even if I lose the weight, I'm still fat. There is physical fat and mental fat. Physical can disappear but that mental fat is with me forever. That's what I'm working through. And I know so many others are too. 

Time to #choosemypath. Watch me. #FatManRising

Tracking Intake and Eating Out

I started tracking food three days ago on the Lose It app. This isn't so bad if you are eating at home or if the meal is already in the app. It is a bit of a pain, but necessary for me if I want to get myself under control.

The key wins of tracking meals are conscious eating and self-honesty. When I track, I think about what I'm eating in a different way. I can't convince myself that, "It's only a small scoop of ice cream." It is a small, 300 calorie scoop of ice cream. And what is a "small scoop" anyway? I guarantee my small scoop is way bigger than a thin person's small scoop.

Then there is eating out. This is a whole different issue. Oddly, eating at national chains, especially fast food, is easy in terms of determining calories. When I eat at my favorite places, those small, independent restaurants, it is nearly impossible to determine calories. The reason that food tastes so good is it is loaded with butter, oil and salt. That's not necessarily bad in and of itself. It is that I don't know what is in the food so I cannot determine true caloric intake.

So, I'll do my best. I can determine a portion and try to find chain restaurant equivalents. I need to put only the portion I'll allow myself on the plate and get the rest in a box and out of sight. This is not easy. And contrary to so many people's platitudes, it will not get easier. If it did, I would never have stopped doing it.

Losing weight is easy. Maintaining weight loss is hard. That's a blog for another day, though. #chooseyourpath #FatManRising 

So I Weighed In...

After a fitful bit of sleep, I decided I had to weigh in. I started this lifelong journey at 226 pounds on June 1. On the morning of June 17, I am 223.9 pounds.

Most people in my situation (aka - fat) would not be happy with this but I'm thrilled! My goal is slow and steady, attainable and retainable weight loss. My goal is to steadily become more healthy. My goal is to take off weight a bit at a time as I find my inner athlete. My goal is to make this loss as meaningful in 2026 as it is in 2016. My goal is to show my kids that bigger is not necessarily better. My goal is to find a way to balance life in a whole new way.

Losing 2 pounds in 16 days is not sexy, especially in the era of The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss. I don't really care. I'm pretty sure this is a much more sustainable approach and I refuse to give in to every bit of pop culture weight loss advice. I refuse to amuse myself to death. #chooseyourpath

Weighing Weighing

I've been struggling with when to weigh myself. Like any upright citizen, I went to the Internet for answers.

My Google search has provided at least three solid answers - weigh in daily at the same time; weigh in weekly at the same time; never weigh in. As you can imagine, I'm more confused than ever. 

To better understand what thinner people do, I asked a few. The overwhelming answer was they never weigh in. I did find one that weighs in religiously several times a day, which I discarded as an outlier. 

How do you stay thin if you never weigh yourself? The answer is elegant and simple - if clothes get tighter, cut back on calories. My question is, will this work for a fat guy?

I'm not really sure if this will work or if it is the best approach. I do find it fascinating that the people around me that are already at an ideal weight most often use this method. This has made the decision all the more difficult as this is against conventional wisdom. As much sense as it may make, it is difficult to go against what is "known."

I end where I began - with weighing in weighing on me. I'll continue to weigh the options while I attempt to live a better life.