06 March 2017

In which I no longer resemble Kevin James (or the lies we tell ourselves)

I bet most of you have heard of the idea that we all have a doppelganger. For some people, mine was Kevin James:

My reaction to this comparison usually followed a pattern:
1. It's because he's funny, right? Because I'm funny?!?
2. We kind of have similar hair?

Eventually I would accept the real reason- We were both kind of fat. But it was the friendly kind of fat, the jovial sort, well-distributed and just part of the package.

Just before Isaac was born, in March 2010, I went to the gym and decided to check my weight on the scale. I was waiting behind a former Gator quarterback, a pretty lean guy who, at 6'3", tipped the scales at 217 or so. I stood on the scale and saw 267 lbs.

I had become very relaxed in my exercise (I wasn't) and eating (I was), and it showed. Call it sympathy weight during the pregnancy, or laziness, but I was not taking good care of myself. I hadn't really admitted this yet, because I had become very good at lying to myself. My shirt is too small? Must have shrunk in the laundry. My knees hurt when I run? Old age comes to us all. This is a small sample of the kind of things that I would tell myself, rather than make difficult and necessary choices about my health. The photo below is from February 2010:

I was ready to make some changes, and started by running a few times each week, usually short distances. I didn't change my diet very much, but by August I implemented a program of eating and exercise (explained here in a February 2011 post). I had made a lot of progress over that year, and at that time was hoping to get below 200 lbs. By June of 2011 I had gotten there, and set a new goal of 195 and then 190. It took me quite a while to hit it "officially," but I did so in May 2015.

So I set a new goal, 185, and I'm still working on it. I can now say that I've lost 80 lbs since the day in March 2010 when I saw 267 on that scale. My goal is more than a weight number, even though those numbers still have a lot of power for me. I'm trying to get faster, stronger, and leaner.

I weigh myself every day, twice a day, though I only record my weight on Mondays and Fridays. I enter all of my meals in MyFitnessPal. I workout at least 5 times a week and love to track my activity on my Garmin watch. I'm more relaxed about my diet than I was 5 years ago, but I'm also trying to make better choices with my diet, not just focusing on the calorie number (though focus I do).

The lesson for me has been to protect myself from self-deception. The scale provides an objective measurement. By measuring and recording, the self-comforting (false) narrative that can be so tempting and easy to form dies in its infancy. More than anything, this has been the key to my ability to maintain and improve my health.

In addition to this (healthy) obsession, other things have changed for me:
  • I don't instantly start perspiring when I walk to my car in July- this is a big deal for this proud Floridian.
  • I have more energy- One of the things that inspired these changes was my desire to be a more energetic father to my kids. I also want to model a healthy lifestyle that might help them make better choices.
  • I'm a runner- It took me years to accept that the term applied to me. I have run a mile in less than 7 minutes twice, including this morning. Considering my 5th grade soccer coach called me "Slow Joe," I take real pride in this.
  • I feel good about how I look. It would be nice if it didn't matter, but it does (to me). 
I still see room to improve, and I don't think this desire goes away. In his wonderful little book on improvement, Dan Sullivan explains that we often focus on the Gap between where we are and where we want to be. By recording my progress and reflecting on it periodically I can see the progress I've made and focus on that, instead of just focusing on where I wish I was.

This might be the last thing I want to share this evening. Making improvements in my physical self has had an effect on my professional, emotional, and spiritual selves. It started by realizing that I wasn't happy where I was, and by stepping on a scale, giving myself the objective truth about why. 

Then I started moving.

1 comment:

TF said...

This hits home. I guess I can't blame the washing machine for my pants not fitting me anymore. The exercise part I do, I just have a hard time with the food. Thanks for sharing your journey to health. It is a true inspiration!