Category Archives: Starting

What’s Behind Your No?

The first part of this post will irritate you. I promise.

Last time, I shared with you my response to the question “How did you lose the weight?” My response is “With discipline, focus, intensity, stamina, self dialog, and belief.” No very sexy, I know. I promised to unpack this a bit, so let’s start with the “other swear word” called discipline.

Merriam-Webster defines discipline as “a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders.” Ugh. If it were only that simple.

Is discipline only a matter of will power? Sometimes it is. But for those of us that struggle with weight. it is a much more complex problem. Why is discipline so difficult when losing weight and becoming healthier? Let’s look at three reasons.

1. There is no immediate result. In other areas of your life, having good discipline often results in immediate payoff. When cooking, having good discipline means a delicious meal that is consumed on the spot. The immediate feedback of your effort and discipline is happy, full tummies. This is not always true with losing weight. What is the result of NOT eating that plate of tacos? Immediately, nothing. The positive results of having good discipline with weight loss happen very slowly, and that can be discouraging when you are first getting started.

2. Having discipline during weight loss is not something that is routinely celebrated. Sure, there’s celebration at the end when you’ve shed a few pounds, but what about the beginning? What about your very first act of discipline? Can you imagine someone saying, “Hey, good job not eating that entire plate of donuts.”? Yeah, neither can I. Not many people are going to celebrate you following the rules. Most wont even notice. Having discipline can be a very lonely place at first.

3. In other areas of life, failure is seen as an acceptable, natural part of any process. Every great sports team loses a game or two, right? But when failure occurs in weight loss, men usually see this as a breakdown in discipline and personal failure, not a part of the process. The dialog sounds like “I didn’t have enough discipline to avoid the cheesecake. I am a failure.” Even though failure is considered part of every other growth process in life, there is not much tolerance for failure in weight loss.

So what to do with discipline, guys? What do we do with the failure that is sure to come by starting something new? I think one way to tackle this problem is to look at what sits at the core of all discipline. That’s the word no.

No.

It is a powerful word.

Anyone who has kids, been around kids, or was once a kid will tell you the next phrase that follows no is “why?”

And why is a fair question. Because in order to be able to have the discipline to say no, you must first discover the why behind the no.

You are at the office. The plate of Christmas cookies is going around. Everyone is taking one. It is a fun, festive time. The plate comes to you. Do you take a cookie? I mean, what harm will one cookie do? You don’t want to be a rude party-pooper do you? And really, it is just one cookie, right?

So why no cookie?

Because I chose life, over a cookie. Because I want to be able to sit comfortably in a movie theater chair more than a cookie. Because I want to see my kids graduate more than a cookie. Because I love my spouse more than a cookie. Because I hate feeling horrible, out of breath, and tired, more than a damn Christmas cookie.

You must find the answer to your why. It has to be on the tip of your tongue. I want ____ more than I want ____. Notice I didn’t ask you to pretend you hate cookies. I didn’t say try to convince the office to start eating carrot sticks. I didn’t say slap the plate out of the person’s hand and burn down the local cookie factory. But in order to have the discipline to say no to the cookies, you have to want something more than cookies, and have that thing clearly in focus in the front of your mind. Make it your “walking around” knowledge. It will help propel you through those times of temptation.

You are a white belt in discipline. You will fail at discipline for a while as you begin the journey to a new you. Keep trying. Keep your why burned into your mind. As you begin to unleash the person you were designed to be, hold tightly to the why behind your no.

Because I want you to be healthy more than I want to you to be perfect.

You are worth it.

What is the why behind your no? Leave a comment or email me directly. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

Brian

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Poster Child

Going to the doctor used to be my least favorite thing to do. Eh, worse than that. It flat-out stunk. Always bad news, never good news. Needles, samples, poking, prodding, uncomfortable questions. For some this might sound similar to Thanksgiving dinner with family. For me, it was the doctor’s office.

But things are looking up. Keep reading.

I went to the doctor this week for a check up and blood draw. My doctor was very happy with my progress (down 66 pounds but who’s counting, right?). We discussed changes in medications, diet, exercise, and future plans. Then he called me a “poster child” for weight loss.

What? Poster child? Me? Not hardly. I mean, I’ve had a little success and all, but c’mon. “Poster child” is reserved for important people, well-known people, people who move lives.

I did a little research (read nerd here) on the term “poster child.” It was typically used originally with a negative connotation. Fundraising campaigns, mostly for charities supporting cures for diseases, would create posters showing photos of people inflicted with said disease. The photos were meant to stir a person’s heart, make the disease more real, and motivate a person to take action or donate money.

Yeah, that’s more like it. I’ve been that kind of poster child for sure.

Middle-aged balding, overweight guy. Tired, sweaty. Knees that crack like dry spaghetti. Jovial on the outside, in pain on the inside. Hardworking on the outside, unmotivated inside. Outside, talking big dreams. Inside, paralyzed to do anything about them. Know anyone like that? I’m not suggesting all overweight men are feeling this way. I’m just telling you how it was for me.

A more modern understanding of the term poster child also exists. Poster child can also be interpreted as one that epitomizes a certain condition. By this definition, we also add the possibility of a poster child as someone who is a positive example. Someone to look up to, held in high regard, or even followed.

So what does this have to do with weight loss? Well, everything.

I began thinking about if what my doctor said was true. Am I a poster child? Could I become a poster child for weight loss? Could I inspire other men to begin their own journey toward life and wellness?

Ask me this question a year ago and I would have scoffed at the notion. Literally I would have made a sort of scoffing sound like a cough-snort-hacky thing.

Have you seen what I look like in the morning? Do you know who I am inside?

In that way, I was a poster child for a life less lived. For mediocrity. For a male, hiding from himself, behind layers of fat.

Today, I submit to you a new poster. I am beginning to see a new possibility that exists. A new world is starting to open in a way I never dreamed possible. This is a world filled with energy, and muscle, and attitude, and focus.  Momentum, focus, discipline, attitude, and intentionality have brought me to a place of transformation. This is where I literally shed myself, and recreate myself in a new way, in a new world full of possibilities. A new poster child. Is this world for me? I’m beginning to think yes.

What poster child are you?

If I put your picture on a poster, what would be the title?  Would you be a poster child for self-doubt? hopelessness? Would you be the scarfing-drive-thru-in-your-car-because-it-is-too-embarrassing-to-eat-it-in-public guy? Would you be a spokesperson for the “I don’t deserve it” club? How about “I can’t do it”?

Instead try this.

I want you to imagine yourself as you go through your day-to-day life carrying a large poster. This poster is blank at the start of the day, and gets gradually filled with images from your daily life. Thoughts you had, ways you interacted with others, food you ate, places you went, and things you did. At the end of the day, this poster is to be hung up. I want you to imagine this poster, this very intimate, vulnerable, real look at you, being hung on a refrigerator door.

You know the one. The fridge where parents hang a report card, proud as they can be. Where an upcoming wedding invitation gets hung, full of hope and pride. Where pictures of funny grandkids doing silly things get admired.

Imagine it’s going to be hung on your fridge. And my fridge. And God’s fridge.

Now step back, scratch your chin, and look at that poster.

What will the poster say?

Will it be something you or me or God will be proud to hang on our fridge?

What do you wish it to say?

The myth is to believe the poster has already been cast. The reality is this poster, the one with parts that you are ashamed of, is painted by you. The myth is to believe the poster made with permanent ink. The reality says otherwise. It is not set in stone.

It can be an endless image of hope, possibility, and rebirth. It can be strong, brave, and powerful.

What kind of poster are you ready to create? What poster will you be willing to hang for the world to see?

Leave a comment or e-mail me directly. I’d love to hear about you, “poster child.”

Thanks for reading.

Brian

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Surrender to What is Next

“When we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”

Man, I hate that.

Rhyming self-help mantras are the worst too because they reduce complex issues into syrupy, sticky phrases that gum up my mental gears. Yet, I found myself perplexed by one that got me thinking about planning. Maybe syrup isn’t so bad?

Keep reading.

Last week, I wrote about finding a plan that works. I discussed the notion that weight loss is not primarily about discovering the correct set of meal plans, exercise plans, and eating regimens that helps you lose the weight. I believe the plan that works is actually a plan that already resides in you, placed there long ago, waiting to be unleashed. I contend getting your mind right is the key to a successful weight loss journey.

Many self-help gurus and strategic thinkers tout the importance of careful planning and strategy when making changes in life. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, one of the reasons I was able to accelerate my weight loss  over the last months has been by following a plan, a path, a strategy.

This weekend, my pastor preached about vision. His sermon laid out the 10 year vision for our church. The compelling sermon was based on one of those sticky mantras I mentioned earlier:

Conceive….Believe….Achieve

This is a great one, and not just because the pastor said so.  When setting a goal, you must first conceive of the idea or plan. Then, you must believe in this plan more than anyone else around you. Lastly, you must get off your rear-end and get it done!

So how does this apply to weight loss? It does not take much thinking to see how this mantra applies to the weight loss saga. Tell me if you’ve heard this before guys.

Step one: Picture yourself as a thin person. Image out loud what it would be like to be thin. Think about what it would be like to be at your goal weight today. How does your body feel? Imagine increased energy level, stamina, and strength. Find a picture of your ideal body type and think of yourself as this person, and looking this way. Got it? Great!

Step two: You must believe this is possible. Know you are worth it. You can achieve it, and losing the weight is important in your life. Sure you’ve tried and failed in the past, but today is a new day! You cannot lose the weight for others, you must be the one who wants to lose more than anyone else. Believing in yourself is critical to weight loss success.

Step three: Having conceived of the ideal you, and having told yourself you believe in the goal and your ability to make it, now it is time to act. You must get off your rear end and start working on your weight loss goal. So put on your sweat pants (yes, the good ones), and get out there!

And that works for a while.  It might work for a week, a month, a season. Then the holidays come around. Then a new project launches at work.  Then your family member gets sick suddenly. Before you know it, life settles in. Old habits settle in. And your old comfortable fat self puts its arms around your neck again and squeezes.

Why?

See, I think the experts are right. Just not quite the right order.

Don’t misunderstand me here. Conceiving and believing are big parts of the necessary steps to unleashing the real, authentic you into the world. You must not skip those steps.

When I first started on this weight-loss journey, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no real strong plan. I had a vague notion of what I wanted to try and what my doctor had told me to do. I had poked around on the internet a bit. I even think I scratched out a shopping list. But I had no strong conception of who I wanted to be. I had no muscle-clad, vein-popping, sinew-bulging body image taped to my fridge. I wasn’t sure what I believed was even possible. I wasn’t sure if it would work at all quite frankly. I was unclear, scared, and uncertain. I can recall clearly telling my wife “You’ll never going to believe what he wants me to eat for breakfast!” I had lots of doubt, and little solid belief it would work.

In the early stages of weight loss, I think it is easy to get trapped by the notion of conception and belief. Too often we are told by experts we must have a goal and a strong plan before taking that first step towards changing your weight. I don’t believe this is the truth when men lose weight. I believe, in the early stages, we have to tap into who we are as men at a very primal level, and begin by taking an action. Let me propose a new mantra for starting a weight loss journey.

Here’s what I said to myself as the first few days unfolded, and I invite you to say this too:

Right now, I have no idea what I’m doing. Right now, I’m scared this wont work. Right now, I don’t have a clear path with a solid goal in front of me. But what I do have is the desire to move from this place where I am to somewhere different in my health. I am not willing to spend one more day with this body, with this weight. I do not know how long this will take, or how hard it will be. But I cannot stay stuck here any longer and live.

I surrender to what is next.

Surrender to what is next. Open yourself to the presence of something new. Don’t get hung up with the first planning steps. You are going to be horrible at first anyway. The process will come, the plan will come, You will get good at eating the right things. You will get good at planning your day. You will get better at seeing the vision of the new you. But for now, I need you calm and open to something new. I need you to begin to move a little bit in your life. Take a small action, and see where it leads you. Yes, order that book. Sign up for that blog. Make that doctor appointment.

Will you start something new?

Will you surrender to what’s next?

Leave a comment or connect with me via e-mail. Thanks for reading.

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Lost on a bathroom floor

It had snowed a bit the night before. I was headed to work one morning last February and my car was iced over. After starting my car and flipping on the blasting heater, I got out to scrape. I reached up my right hand with the plastic scraper to stab a small ice chunk off the windshield, when I felt it.

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More of a twinge really, and small enough that I didn’t really notice it at first. I got in the car and went to work like every other day. It was mid-morning when I began to feel stiffness across by lower back. By the time I was ready to head home, I was in full-on back ache mode. I got home, took some ibuprofen and went to bed early.

The next morning, I thought I was paralyzed.

I attempted to swing my legs out of bed, and I could not move them. At all. Then a wave of pain washed over me. I gasped, and discovered I could barely breathe in. From my midsection down was immobilized with searing pain. My wife could hear me struggling to move and breathe. I was in full-on panic mode. How did this happen? What did I do to myself? I considered calling 911, but after my wife helped drag my legs over the edge of the bed, I was able to slither down to the floor and crawl across the room to the bathroom where I collapsed, barely able to breathe.

That was my moment. My “I’ve had enough” moment. It comes to all of us eventually. It may have already come to you. It may be in your future. But make no mistake, it will show up on your doorstep. For me, that was the moment I decided that anything would be better than the pain. At that moment, I would have given anything, ANYTHING, to get rid of the pain.

Through a combination of heating pads, ice packs, and ibuprofen, I was able to hobble around my house for a few days, trying to decide what to do. I didn’t have a regular doctor since moving back to the Denver area in 2011, so I contacted a friend who recommended a physician in town, Dr. Jeffrey Gerber. I’m not sure if it was fate, luck, or God’s presence that put me in Dr. Gerber’s care. I will forever be changed by it. More on that in another post.

Dr. Gerber competently treated my back and luckily, no permanent injury. But I was a terrified man. I had experienced pain before, but nothing that debilitating. I never wanted to feel that way again. As I slowly got better, I worked up the courage to make another appointment, this time to discuss my weight. It was the scariest, most vulnerable appointment of my life. My back was slowly healing, but I was a broken man. I had tried to lose, and failed. Then tried again, and failed. I’d had enough. I was finally willing to surrender myself to something new. I was finally willing to say “I will try anything. I will learn anything. I will do anything. I’m done with the old fat me.”

So what are the secrets to losing weight? There are none. Before you will be able to shed a single pound, you must first be willing to lose yourself. Lose the old you. Lose the anchor of your old, fat self. Your old methods, as broken as they are. Surrender yourself to something new. Decide you have had enough. This far, but not one donut further. You may have to hit rock bottom. You may have to be scared for your life. You may have to lie on a bathroom floor, gasping for breath. Yet, once you are willing to let go and be open, only then will you begin to take the first step towards healing, health, and life.

Turns out the first thing I lost was lying on that bathroom floor. I lost myself. It was the sweetest loss of all.

What will you be willing to lose?

Thoughts? Share them in the comments or you can e-mail me privately using the “Contact” button above. Thanks for reading.

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Starting is hard

Since I am not a professional blogger yet, these first few posts will stink. I learned from Jon Acuff  it is ok to be terrible at first when hardly anyone is reading your blog anyway. (Hi, mom.) So we’ll have to live with that together, ok?

This is my bold declaration: Since the beginning of 2013, I have lost 60 pounds. I have dropped from a 40 inch waist to a 34 inch waist. I used to wear size 3XL Tall shirts. I now wear XL off the rack. So there.

That’s where I am now. But not too long ago, I was a different story. For most of my adult life, I’ve been over weight. I have, over the years, tried numerous weight loss plans, diets, and programs. Most are great weight loss methodologies that have transformed millions of lives. Just not mine. Not permanently anyway. During my weight loss regimens, I got down to as low as 270 pounds (thank you Gym Bag Bible.) But I also blossomed to a high watermark of 319 pounds between attempts (yes, I’ll bring pictures). Sound familiar? Yeah, me too.

I can recall the roly-poly feeling of 319 vividly. I began each day by sweating. I sweat in places I didn’t know I could sweat. I might have actually been a little steamy, but not in a good way. I discovered my shoes had to go on my feet that were waaaay down on the other end of my legs. I would get winded walking down the stairs. I felt as if I was slowly being strangled by my own body. Been there?

So this first blog post is dedicated to starting something new. Starting is hard. Momentum is not easily gained. The solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle provided a combined 6.6 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. Just to get off the launching pad. That’s some serious starting power.

Do you have thrust like that in your life? No?

Neither did I at first. I mean, who am I, right?

Who am I? Who are you? Let’s find out together.

Brian

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