Sunday, February 22, 2009

Healthy Living - It's Gotta Start Somewhere

Working on getting healthy has become the main focus of my life. I didn't realized it until the other day when talking to a friend of mine. We went to lunch, and I haven't talked to her in a while. My focus on getting healthy comes with advantages and downfalls. One of the downfalls is this is all I had to talk about. When thinking about creating this post, and staring to actually get it down, I've realized that it's going to take me more then just one post to get all my thoughts down. So I'm going to start from the beginning and then go through it the best I can. I need to go through my motivations. Just typing this opening paragraph, my head is swimming with different ideas on where I should start. I guess, I have to start with how personal this issue is to me. Saying that, it being a personal thing, you have to understand one other thing first. I am a rather introverted person. I didn't realize this term described me so well, until I talked to another old friend last week. She picked up on it and threw the term at me and it sparked the light in my head. I sort of already knew this, but this is really the first time someone really slapped me with it, and I was open to hearing it. So writing this, and actually put this out to the public, makes it a little cathartic too. Ok, let's get out of this pool of ideas that I'm swimming in, and start this post.

I've been overweight most of my life. There was a period, albeit short lived, back at the end of high school where this changed. I was by no way thin, but I was in pretty good shape. This was the only time in my life when this was true. I had a good group of friends, but always felt like the odd man out. I don't know what that is. I felt good about myself (not great, but good). I still had underlining issues, where I felt not good enough. This is an issue that still haunts me today. Part of my problem is, I seem to make causal friends fairly easy. Now I have to explain, my idea of a good friend I think is a bit different then other people's idea. I'm the kind of person that will drop just about anything for a friend, personal comfort be damned. This is how I've lived most of my life, and has affected the way I relate to my friends. This may be why also I may get the "odd man out" feelings. There have been times throughout my life where I've needed a friend and have felt left out. Now, I know (or at least feel I should know) that I'm setting them up for failure. Just because these friends don't react the way I think they should doesn't reflect on me. There's part of me that just can't get over the feeling that it's because they really don't think of me more then just a casual friend. I know I'm just being a needy person and that can be part of the problem too. That's an issue for another time. Something that I am tackling, just not something that I'm focusing on now. My focus now is this issue with my weight. My personal view of myself is part of my self-esteem issues, and something that I believe I must tackle first, before I can go after these other issues.

In the summer of 2007, I was just waiting for life to come to me. I've been single for many years, and not really doing much about it. As I look back at it, I was really spiraling down. My weight was getting really out of control. This was crushing my self-esteem more and more. Though I really didn't show it much to people around me, I was really getting rather depressed because of it. Until something just snapped. I have to do something to change. This just isn't working for me. I'm pretending to be happy and really I'm not. I had to look at my life and figure out what it is that's bringing me down, and keeping my self-esteem low. There are quite a few, but what is something that I could really do right now. Something that I feel would be the best first step for me. Yes, it's only one part of my overall self-esteem issue, but something I could really work on now, and it was a place I could start. I am way overweight. I am a fat guy. The sad part was, I was starting to just accept it, and that needed to change.

I've tried many different approaches to fix it in the past. All were just loose it fast kind of things. They were just diets, and diets don't work for me. I did make a good go at it about 8 years ago, but quit because I let work get in the way. This just made things worse. For those whom may be reading this, that don't know what it really is to deal with an issue like this, I'll explain. Yeah, it's easy to get started, but if you don't do what's right for you, you quit, and it just makes things worse. You end up gaining more, and quicker then you were gaining before. This also makes the issue seem seem futile. So this was going to take a different approach. I decided that I'm not going to try to do everything at once. I'm going to make a small change here and there. I've heard people using this approach for other problems. The theory is this; when you look at the enormity of an issue, it can overwhelm you, and make the problem seem really too big to take on and get done. Believe me, my issue with my weight was a big issue. I started out to attack this issue at 340lbs. I was doing a lot of things wrong to keep me here and make it worse. It was time to at the very least stop the bleeding.

I knew I had to start giving some things up. The first thing for me was soda. Now, I just didn't go cold turkey. It may sound dumb, but this is what worked for me. I first gave up caffeine. I used to drink at least 6 - 8 cans of Mt. Dew a day. If I wasn't drinking Mt. Dew, I was drinking Coke. I didn't have an issue with the caffeine itself. I could drink a pot of coffee and go to bed and sleep no problem. So, to start off with I stopped drinking sodas that had caffeine. Once I got used to this, it was time to go after soda itself. So for lunch I'd drink lemonade instead of getting a soda here and there. It was my way to wean myself off soda. Then, I stopped soda altogether. I would only drink lemonade with lunch, and a glass of milk with dinner. Then it was time to kill lemonade. I keep a bottle of water with me in my truck and I only drink water now. Don't get me wrong, nothing is absolute. I can't deprive myself of something completely. It just makes me want it more. It's a delicate balance. I still will have an occasional soda. Like when I'm at the movies, I have to have popcorn and a soda. It's just part of the experience. To deny myself of just this one simple pleasure, would make me want more of the other stuff. Today the soda battle is won for me. I couldn't have done it all at once. I couldn't just say, "I'm only going to drink water from here on out". It just wouldn't work. It's too much of a big step. People still give me a little look when I go to lunch with them, as I'll just get water. It's kind of like going to the bar with someone and just order a soda. They look at me like, "What are you doing? Why are you here? You have to at least have a beer." That's part of the battle for me too.

I'm a strange person. I'm a fat guy, and I don't like people seeing me as such. On the same note, the same things I have to do to correct this issue, bother me because I still have the underlining need to fit in. I want to order that soda/beer when at lunch or dinner with friends, because I don't want to be different. I don't want others to feel uncomfortable. I don't want people to think I'm judging them. It's so prevalent in our society now. Something, I've never done, and am really happy I have never started, was smoke (you can see an earlier post on that). As soon as those same smokers stop, they start judging those that still do. I don't want people to think I'm trying to push my beliefs on them, as I don't want others to do the same to me. As this isn't my goal. It's something I'm doing for me, not something I'm trying to tell them to do.

Well this is just the beginning. I still have a long way to go. It took me a while to drop the first 60lbs, and just not drinking soda isn't the only way I've gotten here. I'm just trying to work on it 5lbs at a time. I have an ultimate goal, but that's not my focus. I think that's the point I was making earlier. I've been doing other things too. I still want to go through what I did to get myself working out, and other eating habits and changes I've made. I still also want to get to future issues I need to work on. That's what this entire series of posts are going to be about. What I've been doing to try to get to a healthy life for myself. I figured I had to give a little history to my motivations, so I can get to where I am now and where I want to be. The pitfalls I've tried to work on avoiding and some of the successes.