Your Fat Cardiologist*

Weight loss advice from a (former) fat man

Week 10 – What do you need to rep?

There are rare moments in life when you temporarily master something and are in complete and utter control.  In sports, this is sometimes called, “being in the zone.”  I experienced that once in my baseball career.  I was a pitcher who didn’t throw very hard, and so I had to rely on putting the ball exactly where I wanted.  Even the best pitchers in the Major Leagues miss their location occasionally, but on this particular night, I couldn’t miss.  Every pitch the catcher called—fastball, curveball, changeup—hit his glove without it moving even an inch.  I gave up one bloop hit and no walks in seven innings.  It was my absolute peak as a pitcher.

1 Timothy 5:18 – “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

I tell that story because it wasn’t always this way.  When I was 10 years old, I hit my absolute bottom as a pitcher.  I couldn’t throw a strike and walked something like 11 hitters and hit another couple with a pitch.  There wasn’t anybody to replace me so I had to keep on pitching, regardless of how bad I was.  So what changed between 10 years old and 15 years old where at one point, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and the other I could have hit a quarter? The answer, is reps.

My father bought me a tarp with a strike zone on it, and I spent hours with that tarp, up and in, low and away, down and in, up and away.  I harnessed my ability to control the pitches when nobody was looking, and was finally able to take that out onto the field.  The situation I described above was out of the norm—I was “in the zone”—but it wouldn’t have been close to possible without all the work I put in prior.  We all want to succeed when the lights come on.  But how many of us are willing to put in the reps?

And so it is with losing weight.  If I’m completely honest, I may have been willing to throw at that tarp over and over, but I wasn’t willing to start my morning out with a run to get stronger.  We all want to be skinny, to be perceived as sexy and desirable.  None of us want to worry about whether our eating is going to lead to an early death.  And then we return to our normal lives, not willing to put in the work necessary to get what we want.  We’re not willing to put in the reps. 

The good news is that a weightlifter didn’t start out benchpressing 300 pounds.  They got to that weight by slowly building, doing reps at lower weights and then increasing over time.  Also, do you know what I always notice when I see that guy benchpressing 300 pounds?  He always has someone there with him, to push him and to help him.  It’s foolish to start doing reps alone.  You might need someone to wake up with you, to ask you how you’re doing, or to help you when you’re dragging.  What do I need?  I need someone to give me a defined plan to execute.  I’m excellent at accepting where I am and committing to a goal.  I struggle with developing a plan and having people hold me accountable.  Thus, I’m going to ask for help.  I’m going to enlist the help of a personal trainer.

For a long time, I would have seen this as a sign of weakness.  After all, I know what I need to do, I’m just not doing it, right?  The reality is that I didn’t avoid asking for help because I knew what to do.  I didn’t ask for help because I was scared to admit I did’t know everything.  I didn’t ask for help because I was embarrassed to ask for help.  I didn’t ask for help because I was scared that the trainer would ask me to do things that I say I’m ready to do but know deep down that I’m not really ready for.  When it comes to losing weight, I need to rep asking for help.

So what do you need to rep?  Do you need to ask for help?  Do you need to accept that things need to change?  Do you need to commit to making changes in your life?  Do you need to develop a plan to move things forward?  Do you need someone to hold you accountable to your long-term goals?  My challenge to you is to write down below in the comments what you need to rep.  Don’t be too scared, too embarrassed, or too proud to admit that you need to work on things.  We all need to work on things.  Not admitting it is holding us back.  So I need to ask for help.  What do you need to do?

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 257.6 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -3.4 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = +2.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 3 Yes, 2 Maybe, 1 No
  • Goal:  Write down what I eat

Week 9 – Seek the narrow gate

This past weekend, I had a decision to make.  I had a job offer for a role that seemed exciting and would hopefully eliminate some of the things that I don’t like about my current job.  The pay was good, the benefits were good, and I really thought I would like it better.  Yet, I spent the entire weekend agonizing over whether I should take the job or not.  It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that I finally realized what was holding me back.  I was afraid.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

What if I don’t like the new job?  What if I’m not good at it?  What if I’m not able to advance as quickly, have to travel too much, or have a more demanding boss?  You see, while I may not have been in love with my current job, I was comfortable knowing what to expect.  I knew what was expected of me and could deliver at least average results.

But the problem is that I don’t want to be average.  The average American spends 2.8 hours per day watching TV.  The average dad spends 26 minutes per day providing physical care (bathing, feeding, etc.) his kids.1  The average American has over $15,000 in credit card debt and $30,000 in student loans.2  Two thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.3  Average is not a place I want to be.

So I’m going to be starting a new challenge soon with this job.  I am definitely scared about what that means, but I would have regretted it had I not taken the chance.  There is a distinct possibility that this transition will allow me to be significantly better than average, but the possibility also exists that I will be below average.  But that is the question you ask yourself whenever you take a risk.  Some of us even get frozen in a bad situation because of the fear.

I did that for a long time with my weight.  I was stuck in a place where I had become comfortable with where I was.  I was stuck in a place where I didn’t think I could do any better.  I was stuck in a place where it was easier to accept that I was obese rather than take the risk of failing and make changes in my life.  I was stuck in a place where I was scared to ask for help.

How did I make the change?  I started talking to friends about what I wanted to do.  I started examining my behavior and figuring out how I could change it.  I started writing down what I was doing so that I would have a record.  But most of all, I decided that if I was going to let fear drive my decisions, it was going to be a fear of being average rather than a fear of failing or a fear of the unknown.

So you’re ostensibly reading this because you’re overweight.  What’s keeping you average?  What’s keeping you from downloading the E-book and actually reading it?  What’s keeping you from reaching out to me (will@fatcardiologist.com) or reaching out to somebody who cares about you for help?  What’s preventing you from signing up at the gym, hiring a personal trainer, or consulting a nutritionist?  You have all sorts of excuses.  I did too.  But at the end of the day, it was fear.  It was not wanting to take a road less traveled and find that I had been chasing fool’s gold.  But Jesus tells us that we should want to take the narrow gate.  We should want to zig when other people are zagging.  We should reject our fear of the unknown for a fear of being average.  We should seek the narrow gate.

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 255.4 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -5.6 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = -2.8 lbs
  • Good Days = 5 Yes, 2 Maybe
  • Goal:  Write down what I eat

 

  1. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm
  2. http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-card-data/average-credit-card-debt-household/
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

Week 8 – Today is Always a New Start

Three priorities gleaned from my obituary.

Three priorities gleaned from my obituary.

I gained weight this week.  But after reading back through my E-book, it is clear why and—believe it or not—I’m actually okay with it.  You see, I met new people on Friday over lunch.  Then I went out Friday night like I normally do with my wife and kids.  Saturday my parents, sister, and brother-in-law cam into town and we had a cookout.  Sunday was my birthday and we went out for dinner and ate too much of my favorite cake.  On Tuesday, I went out for a beer with an old friend.  None of these events are ringing endorsements for weight loss.

Neh 6:2-3 – “I am doing a great work; I can’t come down.  Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?”

But they are consistent with my goals.  If you look back at a post from last year, I wrote my own obituary.  Afterwards, I wrote my three priorities.  They’re shown in the image above, but the thing that becomes obvious to me is that all three are based on relationship building.  My overarching goal was not to lose 40 pounds, it was to build stronger relationships.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to lose 40 pounds too—and the obituary will come sooner than I’d like if I don’t—but the thing I value most is cultivating relationships.  So when the time came to enhance relationships versus eating right, I chose relationships.

The issue I’ve had this week—and I think everybody has this—is that once everybody was gone, it was incredibly hard to stop eating cake, to get up in the morning to exercise, and to stop eating all of those delicious leftovers.  My one thing last week was relationships, but it needed to switch back to being healthy this week and I had difficulty making that transition.

It’s a sports chiche, but it is true that you have to take it one day at a time.  You have one day to decide whether you’re going to eat right.  You have one day to decide whether you’re going to exercise.  You have one day to decide whether being healthy is going to be your one thing—your priority—that you won’t sacrifice for anything.  Oftentimes—and I’ve certainly been guilty of this since Tuesday—we let yesterday affect how we act today.  We let tomorrow be the starting point rather than today.  The truth is you only have one day you can control, and that’s today. 

So I gained weight last week?  So what?  I made new friends, became closer to old friends, and spent time with family who is important to me.  This week I may need to do extra time on the elliptical.  I may need to hit the gym an extra day.  I may need to skip a college football game (the horror!) to exercise.  I may need to order a salad or a soup instead of a burger.  But in my world, last week was worth it.  But today….well today is a new start, and I’m in the middle of a great work and cannot come down. 

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 258.2 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -2.8 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = +2.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 3 Yes, 2 Maybe, 2 No
  • Goal:  5 Yes days

Week 7 – No F*&#ing Way!

I curse…often.  It’s something I know I should change, but not something that’s really been a priority, even after my daughter learned to finish “son of a…”.  It became a priority earlier this week.  The reason it became a priority is that I was at a business function and was talking with a colleague.  This person was extremely positive about work and life in general, but then described an acquaintances’ kids as “little f*&#ing monsters!”  It wasn’t this person’s opinion.  I’ve heard it (and probably thought it before).  It wasn’t the use of the word, as I’ve certainly heard (and used) it before.  What hit me was how my completely positive view of this person switched with the venom associated with the vulgarity.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

So why is a weight loss blog talking about cursing?  It’s because they are related, I believe.  It’s related in that cursing—while seemingly harmless—can come across as disrespectful and affect how someone sees you.  Now, this isn’t a case of me being offended, as I’ve clearly used this type of language before.  I’m not turning into a prude where I won’t hang around with people who curse.  If you want to curse around me, feel free.  But for me, I am going to try and change my behavior.  Because if the possibility exists that I may cause someone’s opinion of me to switch for the same reason that my view of my colleague switched, then it’s not worth using the words.

The last time my Grandpa traveled to Florida, we went out to a Red Lobster for dinner.  I had just started a diet that week for what seemed like the 50th time, and this one failed too (not that night, but shortly after).  This was probably around 2004 and only God knows how heavy I was because I wouldn’t get on a scale and most scales couldn’t measure my weight anyway.  Probably 6 years later, we went to visit my Grandpa at his house and I had lost close to 100 pounds by that point.  He turned to me while we were sitting on the couch and told me that he had watched me waddle away that day in Florida and had feared that I would die before he would.  He was exaggerating….sort of.

What this made me realize is that my weight loss is not an individual endeavor.  Just like the language I use can affect others, so can the choices I make when it comes to taking care (or not taking care) of my health.  So I can say that “I deserve” that pizza, but does my daughter deserve it?  I can lie to myself that “I’ll exercise later tonight”, but can I lie to my son?  I can buy enough life insurance that even if I die, my family will be taken care of, but is that fair to my wife?  Am I treating my family with the same venom that I heard in my colleagues voice?

Grandpa died a week before Christmas in 2012.  He had a profound impact on my life, whether it was on my finances, my love of sports, or even my love for arguing about politics.  But the most profound effect may be that he made me realize that other people were worried about me, and how sad it was that they were more worried about me than I was.  And the question I had to ask myself—that I pray you’ll ask yourself—is whether those people you love most deserve to be treated like that?  In my case, the answer was (and is) easy.  No F*&#ing way!

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 256.0 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -5.0 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = -2.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 5 Yes, 1 Maybe, 1 No
  • Goal:  6 Yes days

Week 6 – Changing Circumstances, Changing Processes

This week has been a challenge.  I had been preparing really hard for a 3.9 mile race early in August and had continued to choose running as a form of exercise as my knee got stronger.  But then my heel started hurting.  A quick check of WebMD (because who needs a doctor when they can self-diagnose poorly?) indicates that I likely have plantar fasciitis, which if it is what I have, is as painful as WebMD would make you believe.  The recommended treatment is ice, ibuprofen, and 6-8 weeks of rest.  This would be ok, except that I’ve been using running to offset a few snacks at night.  I haven’t been terrible, but I haven’t been on-point with my eating.  Well, now my circumstances have changed.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

If you look at the good day/bad day rate, I actually did better this week than last week.  However, because my circumstances changed, my definition of a good day needed to change.  Unfortunately, it did not, at least not until later in the week.  Instead, I snacked like I had the previous week and overate on our usual family night out.  Without the ability to run the calories off, I was left only being able to use the elliptical machine, which forced me to have to drive to the gym, which I got lazy multiple times and didn’t do.  So the reality is that while this injury runs its course, I need to redefine what a good day is in my mind.  I need to change my process because of the changed circumstances.

We all do this, right?  Our circumstances are always changing, but I always feel like I’m slow to make changes in my routines.  Just in the past year, I’ve moved from Chicago to Philadelphia, torn my patella tendon and had surgery, spent lots of time on this blog, seen my daughter start kindergarten and my son start preschool, starting leading a men’s group at church, and taught a local class on weight loss.  All of these have been major changes that have impacted my time and/or ability to execute the plan that had become routine.  The problem wasn’t the plan.  The problem was me.

I was holding on to the processes that had worked before, rather than reformulating my plan through the principles that are necessary for success: acceptance, commitment, planning, accountability, and motivation.  So my definition of a good day can change based on my circumstances.  My definition of a bad day can change based on my circumstances.  So can yours.

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 258.2 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -2.8 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = +1.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 5 Yes, 1 Maybe, 1 No
  • Goal:  6 Yes days

 

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