Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let's talk determination...

For all my Weight Watchers friends, you know the feeling...

...you walk in the door.  Those annoying jingle bells ring (Really, what's with the jingle bells?!  Christmas is over.)  You are greeted by the smiling faces that you are used to week after week.  Before you commit to stepping on the scale, you peruse the products.

"Oooh, let's read what exactly is in the Chocolate Smoothie mix!!!  Oh, wow, look at these calculator skins...I like the abstract art one.  It says I'm creative and colorful."

Now, you have no intention of buying any of these products...Well, maybe the Cinnamon Crumb Bars.  Those are friggin' delicious (and get'em quick...they are going the way of the Dodo, so don't be surprised if you see me carrying them out of a center like a pack mule.  This is serious...serious as Elaine stocking up on sponges on "Seinfeld.")  And the Praline Bars are like CRACK...


But really, you're thinking maybe if you stare long and hard enough at the 3-Month tracker, you will be able to stare away a few ounces, just so you can score a loss...or just avoid the scale altogether.  But then, she sees you...a receptionist or a leader sees you and says "Hello!"  And they are so friggin' nice about it...and they KNOW.YOUR.NAME...There is no turning back because they are just so nice.

And you think "Oh damn, I thought I had faded into the coffee stained carpet."

...and you step onto the scale...and you LOST!!!

Alert the Coast Guard!  Release the doves!  And if the other members in the meeting room know what's good for them, they will break out into a choreographed dance number...because you LOST weight.

And everything is great.  You sit in the meeting room.  You celebrate.  You get your star!  You share this really awesome recipe that you saw on Skinnytaste...

...and as people start to head out, the panic sits in.  You have to do it ALL over again to have another great week!?!?!?  WHAT.THE.HELL?!?!

And what's why determination is key in this journey.  Sure, it would be easy if I lost every week.  It would also have been easy if when I first lost all my weight in 2005, I didn't put it all back.  It's because I wasn't determined...I didn't fight for it.

And let's be honest, if every week was a loss, the entire journey would be cakes, rainbows and butterflies...well, 2 point cakes, obviously.  But that's not reality.  Sometimes, we eat too much, we don't exercise enough, or our body just decides to betray us.

And that's okay...because Weight Watchers never promised me it was going to be easy.  It taught me to stick with it...and it taught me get my butt in that meeting, whether I lost or gained that week.  As I've said before, and as I say to members I encounter...you pay for the meeting...so you should go to the meeting.  The ONLY way I was able to get back to Lifetime this May was because I went to my meeting week after week after week.

And how awesome is this...if you've weighed in for the week, but need the support and encouragement, you can go to any other meeting you want.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!

I just realized how many sentences I begin with the word And.  My grammar school English teachers would be PISSED...

...so, why am I talking about determination?!

This past week, I did my monthly weigh-in.  Now, it was a bit late this month.  Traditionally, the first Saturday of the month, I'm there in my ratty gym shirts and ratty v-neck t-shirt, ready to weigh-in.  And yes, I head out during the winter months...when it's still dark out and freezing cold...in really thin gym shorts.

You have your sports superstitions, I have my weigh-in superstitions...don't judge.

But, the holidays definitely got the best of me.  It happens when you have an Aunt and Uncle who own and ice cream shop, a future sister in law who cooks for a small army during the holidays, and bartenders who like giving away free drinks to wish you a Happy Holidays.

And the holidays have ALWAYS been when I screw up.  I eat my cookies, I get embarrassed that I gained weight, say "screw it", and just hope that training for the Long Branch Half will help me negate all the cheesesteaks, Ben and Jerry pints, and Boneless Sparerib combos I'd inhale.

So, I was also lucky enough that the first few Saturdays in January, I couldn't weigh in.  I was also in Disney...and although I made some pretty good food choices for breakfast and lunch, I couldn't resist the Kiwi Lime Martinis (with a graham cracker RIM!) and those Mickey and Minnie frosted cookies (that made me poop GREEN!)...

...and I felt REALLY, REALLY, REALLY close to saying that I didn't want to care anymore.  But there was a small voice in my head that reminded me how far I'd come and how I had the tools to undo everything that the holiday had done. 

It hit me.  This is a lifestyle change and I CANNOT imagine living any other lifestyle.  I also thought about how easy it would be to treat my body like a dumpster again...and I punched myself in the face.  I mean, as much as I love pizza and ice cream, I don't really like being a 38 waist and getting winded from riding the elevator.

I was determined.  I wasn't going to let history repeat itself.

So, I came home from Florida, and tracked the heck out of my food.  I was a faithful WW member and was determined to ensure that I had my 8th month of Lifetime.

And I did.  I got on that scale and was below my goal weight....because I had the determination to make sure that I was living the life that I had committed to when I stepped back into that meeting room.

It really is a journey.  It really is a lifetime.  And I hope that people out there who may have given up on Weight Watchers or who had a few rough weeks understand that the journey isn't easy all the time...but without the struggles, we wouldn't be able to celebrate the victories.

Because the 8 months at Lifetime wouldn't feel so good if it had come easily.  I worked for it.  I sweated for it.  I cried for it.  I even tried tofu for it...

...and it was worth it.

Happy Tracking!
-e



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Running 13.1 Miles in the Happiest Place on Earth...

So, I did it!  I ran the Disney Half Marathon (and so did Melissa...yay, Melissa!) I mean, she clearly knows how to go big!  If you're going to run a Half-Marathon, it might as well as be through Disney, right?!


Now, sure, I've run half-marathons before...but this one is THROUGH DISNEY!!!  Did I point out that I got to run a race through Disney?!  Yes...Magic Kingdom and Epcot...We're talking through Cinderella's Castle and past the giant futuristic ball thingy.

First, we get on a bus at 3:30 (yes...in the MORNING), sit in traffic, just to walk 20 minutes to set up in a corral like cattle.  In a perfect world, a 3:30 AM wake up call would've meant a giant cup of coffee...but, who wants the coffee to start percolating while you're running a race through the Happiest Place on Earth?  I sure as heck didn't.

And Mel was there for a very important milestone.  I got rid of my Fat Kid thermal.  You may remember it from previous races, such as the Long Branch 2009 Half-Marathon.

So, photographic proof of my catharsis -



And since all clothes are donated to charity, I can only hope that my shirt will be able to keep a family of 15 warm or be used as a sail on some African boat that ships food to disadvantaged kids.

So, the greatest thing about Disney races is that they have opportunities for you to take pictures with characters.  And as I reached Mile 3...and ran past the line for Darkwing Duck, I told myself I was going to run for time.  

Let's review my attempts at picture taking and running -

This is Mile Marker 2 -


This is the entrance to The Magic Kingdom -


So, yeah...the whole running and picture taking thing wasn't working.  And I also knew that if I stopped long enough, my butt wasn't gonna start going...

So as much as I'd love a picture with one of the Incest Bears (Mel had never seen the Country Bear Jamboree...so you can understand her confusion why people were taking a picture with a creepy bear with buck teeth)...I was here to run.  And run I did...

...and with all that running, I finished the race at 2:19:24...and got a medal that could be used as a weapon.   Seriously, this thing is HEAVY -


And I cried.  Every.single.time I cross a finish line.  I cry.  

I just get overcome by the fact that I achieved another milestone in my life.  If you had asked Fat Eric if he ever thought he would ever run a Half-Marathon, he would've said "No way...pass me some cookie dough!"

Now, here I am, being able to say I ran my second best half-marathon.

WAIT...WHAT?!?!  All you did this past week was post about Disney and you didn't even beat your best time?!?!

Yeah, I was pissed too.  I was angry at myself for peeing a second time...I was angry at myself for taking a break to take a picture of Cinderella's castle and Epcot...and I was pissed that I hadn't run harder.

(However, I wasn't pissed that I ran into the girl who stopped in the middle of the course just to take a picture of the Mile 1 Marker...she had it coming.)

But, then I remembered that I had just run my fourth half-marathon...and it became a "Positive Self Talk" only zone.  Honestly, it was about the fact that I used to say "I can't"...and here I was, proving that I could.

Whenever I accomplish something that I used to think impossible because of my weight (and my lack of self-confidence)...I'm amazed at my own ability to achieve the impossible.  Mel kept saying "mind over matter", and she was right.  I could've walked...I could've quit...I could've not signed up at all.
But there I was, at the finish line, in tears, because I had done something I never thought possible.  So, to all my readers out there (the 5 of you...and Mom, you don't count, because you HAVE to read this.  It's your motherly duty....), if you put your mind to something, you CAN DO IT.  Get out of your head, stop making excuses and DO IT!  The only thing holding you back is you!!!

In a perfect world, would I have beat my best time of 2:12 (yep, 2:12...I'm clearly more awesome than I gave myself credit for in the previous blog)...sure.  Could I have pushed myself harder...absolutely.  But, there's always next year...and who knows, maybe it will be time to finally run that Full Marathon everyone is pestering me about.  I would get to run through all FOUR parks!!!

...but don't suggest the "Goofy  Challenge" just yet.  I may no longer be Fat Eric, but I'm still not crazy enough to run a half-marathon and a full marathon the day after.  I enjoy the post-half celebrations (with alcohol) way too much....and it wouldn't be fair to the other racers if I stank of beer and/or vodka the next morning.

And I'm already excited to register for the Tower of Terror Ten-Miler in September.  That one has villains...and in that one, I'm taking pictures with all of them!!!

And no blog entry would be complete without a shout out to our other travel companion, Lisa...She was the Disney guru...and with her, there was no second wasted...and I learned about "Hidden Mickeys."

Those sneaky Imagineers have hidden Mickeys throughout all their parks in the rides and attractions...and it's your mission to find them.  I was going to post all of them, but I think it would be more fun if you look for them next time you journey to Walt Disney World...(or you can just look at my Facebook pictures and find me on Twitter...lazy.)

Okay, okay, okay - Here's one I found in Epcot -



And to Mel...thanks for being a great friend and for getting me to sign up to do this.  I wouldn't have traded the experience for the world -


(Oh...and how did I miss that beauty in the green bandana on the course.  RAWR!)

Happy Trackin'!
-e

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eric's Amazing, Incredible, Weight Loss Journey...IN 3D!!!

So...
...here's the deal.  I had started this blog in Summer of 2010...just to start a blog.  It was a "thing."  Everyone was doing it.  But like my supervisor pointed out - "I'm going to get a t-shirt that reads 'More people will read this t-shirt than my blog.'"  It was funny, because it was true.

I think I had 4 followers...and 10 posts, 4 of which actually made any sense.  The rest were these random observations, and had you not known me, you may thought you stumbled across some 14 year old girl's blog about life.  Seriously, throw a pokemon backpack on me, dye my hair black, give me a part time job at "Hot Topic"...that's what the voice of my blog was.  So.very.sad.

In rethinking it, I decided I wanted to revisit this whole "blog" thing.  I read Geekologie.com, skinnytaste.com, and dlisted.com (DO NOT JUDGE ME.  EVERY GAY MAN NEEDS A SOURCE OF TRASHY CELEBRITY GOSSIP!)...and they are fun...and appointment web reading.  And some of my Facebook friends have started blogs, and I enjoy them...and right now I will plug them, even without their permission, because they are fun -

My friend Jenny's - http://magicinthekitchen.wordpress.com/
(Yes...she bakes a lot.  Counterintuitive to the whole weight loss thing...but I'm sure the things she makes are delicious.  Plus, she was the kind of bohemian, artist type who secretly smoked in high school.  Super cool chick.  I'm sure I'll read her novel one day)

My friend Jackie's - http://www.jackiereeve.com
She is just such a quirky library lady...with fun art projects...and a British husband.  If liking her blog is wrong, I don't want to be right!

Anyway...back to how awesome MY blog is going to be.  But any good blog needs a good "point."  So, I figured I'd talk about my weight loss journey...Because it's the one thing that I have CLEAR knowledge of.  And now that I've lost the weight (a few times over, in fact), I now need to learn how to make it my life and MAINTAIN the weight loss.  I'm sure throughout the posts, I'll make observations about other things (For example - if I ever meet the people who leave their gum on the treadmills at Gold's, I am punching them...hard...in the face.  It's just.so.gross!)

So, on your marks, get set, and go...

Eric's Amazing, Incredible, Weight Loss Journey...IN 3D!!!

I had always been a fat kid.  No, seriously...fat.  My mother would tell me I was husky...big boned...and that I'd grow out of it.  But really, what 13 year old needs to shop at the Big & Tall store?  I have a vivid memory of my mother insisting I get this horrendous green, purple and white polo shirt...merely because it was horizontal stripes and it would be slimming.  Oh, great...fashion advice from my mother.  And with all the fashion advice, I was still fat.  And thanks to the wonders of Facebook, some of those chubby teen years have made their way into cyberspace...forever.

Let's review, shall we?!  What kid wears a THERMAL to a summer resort?!  Oh right, this kid, because normal T-shirts didn't fit.  Billowy shirts seemed to work best...to hide my fat, apparently.  Yeah, clearly, that method didn't work -



So, imagine how awesome high school was.  Apparently, I did sit ups and push ups in gym class?!  Who knew I even had the ability.  I was just a chubby theater kid, had my fair share of friends, but I knew I wasn't the jock.  I had always admired them (not in the gay way...although let's be honest...as a kid with sexual confusion, the locker room did have some rather nice eye candy...okay, okay, okay, I'll stop.)

And my family tried...Mom bought exercise machines.  She would try to stock up the fridge with healthy food.  There was the year that she put Wheat Germ in EVERYTHING.  For a day, I journaled my food...yep, for a day.  She had even asked my doctor, who recommended cutting my portions in half.  Fine, I'd only eat half a gallon of ice cream for breakfast on a Saturday while everyone else was sleeping.  One day, that even came back to haunt me...I had inhaled an entire bottle of Reddi Whip...and it totally didn't mix with the eggs Mom made earlier that morning.

I liked to eat...a lot.  And I didn't like to exercise...at all.  Well, if you count dancing to "Kids Incorporated" and "MMC" in the living room exercise, I loved that.

Started college...still awkward...still fat...I would run on a treadmill in the gym on occasion, but nothing regular, nothing long term.  One morning, I even woke up BEFORE class to go to the gym.  Again, ONE time.

Around the same time, I started to really accept the fact that I was gay.  I was in college, meeting different people, and figured I didn't really need to hide it that much.  But hide it I did...the only gay community I knew was incredibly shallow.  And I could always write off the fact that I didn't ever have a girlfriend because I wasn't attractive enough.  But, if I was eventually going to date...I needed to do something about the way I looked.  Wearing an XL sweater to a gay club is NOT a good look...believe me, I know.

During my time in college, my Hall Director had gone on Weight Watchers and transformed herself.  Seriously...when I'm looking at old photos, I look at her BEFORE Weight Watchers and AFTER Weight Watchers and cannot believe that it's the same person.  So, in Summer of 2002, I went with my sister Tracie to my first Weight Watchers meeting.

And at my second Weight Watchers Meeting EVER, I lost 5 pounds.  5 POUNDS!  This is the kid who had been 235 for as long as he could remember...And thus began my 3 year journey to Lifetime Membership with Weight Watchers in January of 2005.  In those three years, I had stopped and started...especially with the difficulty of eating right in college...but I had accomplished TWO major goals.  I had hit lifetime membership...and my weight finally began with a 1.

A few things to point out...I didn't do a lick of exercise in that time nor did I stay for a decent portion of meetings.  I half-assed it and cut corners, but somehow managed to get where I wanted to go.

I hadn't even been aware about how much my body had changed.  I  was working at American Eagle at the time and went into buy clothes for a party I was hosting at my house (Don't tell Mom...she'd kill me if she knew I hosted a party...with alcohol...while she was away.)  My manager, Carolina, accused me of having "sag ass."  I was still wearing size 38 jeans...and I had no idea that I could fit into a 32.  NO idea.  And for the first time in my life, I could actually fit into a Hollister shirt.  Sure, it was an XXL (Not my fault...their clothes are clearly made for twigs), but I could wear Hollister.

In January of 2005, I started working for Monmouth University...and thus began my reinflation.  There was legitimately one winter break where all my co-workers and I ate was cookie dough, Chinese food and pie.  All while playing hours and hours of video games.  Also, I liked to drink...a lot.  And when I drank...I ate a lot...

Let's review Exhibits B and C -





No, no...these are not stills of Jabba the Hutt from "Star Wars" or John Goodman's "Roseanne" casting video.  This was me when I gave up on Weight Watchers and ate everything in sight.  I think we have had to hire a new Hall Director because in a fit of drunken hunger, I ate one of them accidentally.  Or, what Chris always says - "It looks like Eric got stung by bees...10 times..."

I also think I was harboring a pretty nasty "One Pint a Day" habit.  Who knew that Ben and Jerry's WASN'T a healthy dinner?!

And let me tell you, I couldn't have been happy.  I enjoyed my work, but I knew I wasn't healthy.  I had gone back to wearing large sweaters when I could to hide the fact that I was a balloon.  Or, I convinced myself that I could wear sweaters that I shouldn't have been wearing.  It was utterly heart breaking to have to donate all the clothes I had bought that were a size Medium or Large because they didn't fit anymore...and I told myself I'd never fit into them again.  I told myself it's because I had shrunk them in the wash or they were "Slim Fit"...but I knew I had gotten fat again.

And during ALL this time, I would rejoin Weight Watchers...and I would stop going because I got lazy...I'd join again, the holidays would come, and I'd just give up again.  I knew it worked, I just didn't care enough.  I wasn't ready to give up my weekly drinking and eating binges...Although I'd wake up the next morning feeling like utter crap.

Then, something happened.  My best friend, Chris, challenged me to run the Long Branch Half Marathon in 2009.  He had run marathons before...and I saw this as an incredible opportunity to exercise AND to get back on track with Weight Watchers.  I had NEVER exercised, and I knew if I followed the plan faithfully AND exercised, I'd be back to that Lifetime Goal in no time.

In May of 2009, I completed the Long Branch Half Marathon in 2:27and was back at my goal weight.  I had done it.  I had taken on a challenge, and I had succeeded.



Exhibit D - and yes...that's me, in a thermal.  My friend Megan calls it my night gown.  I wore it for symbolic reasons.  It had been one of my fat shirts in college...and as you can tell, it was a bit big for me.

And I won't lie and say I was faithful to Weight Watchers between then and now.  But I can say that I knew exercise was important for me to maintain my successes on plan.  Sure, I can eat well all I want...but it means nothing if I'm not getting my ass into the gym.

But I also realized that I wasn't going to run a half marathon in a day.  I remember trying to run even a mile on the treadmill at a 4.5 mile an hour pace on my first day of training...and almost DIED.  But, I had gotten on a treadmill, because I was going to exercise and I was going to run a friggin' half marathon.

And not to get ahead of myself, but now I can easily run a 7.5 mile an hour pace...

Either way, I got cocky, thought I could do the whole "maintain my weight loss thing" without WW...and without exercise...and I definitely put on some weight.  I also didn't train as religiously for Half Marathon #2 (which was a total cop out, since I had moved to Pier Village by that time, and the gym was friggin' downstairs).  I also did not run this weight at goal...had actually run it a bit over 200 pounds...but still managed to finished at 2:47.  I had almost quit...I didn't want to run in the stupid race.  And it was HOT...disgustingly hot...like, grossly hot.  I almost quit at Mile 6...I was going to flag down a Race Crew Member and beg to be taken to the finish line.  But as fate would have it, my friend Kaitlyn, who I hadn't seen since COLLEGE, ran past me at the time...and we ran the majority of the race together.

Look at us run -


And no matter what I did, I still wasn't staying for the meetings.  I was paying $13.00 a week, I'd weigh in and I'd leave.  I wouldn't ask for help...I'd feel sorry for myself when I lost...and then I'd just stop going because it was too hard.

I'm not sure when I decided to start again, but it had to have been sometime in October of 2010.  I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting and decided that this was going to be it.  I was going to commit...I was going to get back to lifetime...and I was going to be sexy.  I was going to look good.  I was going to exercise, I was going to eat right, and I was going to kick ass on program.

And thus began my journey to Lifetime for the third time in my life. 

I remember the exact moment that something changed for me.  I was sitting in a meeting...and let's be honest, I'm not your typical Weight Watchers member.  How often do you really see a 20something male walk into the doors of Weight Watchers center?

Either way, at this meeting, it seemed like it was chock full of 60+ hairdressers.  Each and every member was speaking about how they were on their feet all day and that they refused to exercise...and I almost raised my hand and said "Then you're in the wrong program and you're wasting your money."

I almost gave up.  If the people around me weren't going to give 100%, why should I bother.  I had this horrible image of me being 65...a hairdresser (yeah, not sure how that would've happened...but it shows you how messed up my imagination is)...and still making excuses as to why I couldn't keep the weight off.

Not to mention, they were talking about the NEW program!?!  Wait, what?!?!?  I knew my Points, I loved my Points, I had followed and ignored my points for almost 8 years...I  was nervous about the change. And I also needed to find a new meeting.  I knew Hairdressers R Us was NOT going to work for me.  I had NOTHING in common with those women.  Now, don't get me wrong, I wish them all luck on their weight loss journey, but I needed motivation, not more excuses.  If I wasn't feeling challenged in the meeting room, I wasn't going to challenge myself.

And on the last day they were revealing the Points Plus Program (right BEFORE the holidays...WHAT.THE.HELL?!), I met Louise.  Louise was a vision in a sensible tweed jacket and fashionable brown slacks.  She might've been wearing a classy brooch as well.

And that's when it clicked.  Weight Watchers wasn't just about losing weight.  Weight Watchers was about changing my life.  Weight Watchers was about not only eating less, but EATING better.  Weight Watchers was about tracking, exercising, and attending the meetings EVERY week...whether I gained or lost.  And I had 45 POINTS PLUS A DAY!  I could probably eat a cow for that day's allowance.  33 to 45 Points a day?!  Oh, this was friggin' awesome!

And finally, the last piece of the puzzle clicked.  I needed the support and encouragement that the meetings gave me.  I was finally part of a weight loss community.  I looked forward to my meetings and actually SPOKE to other members before and after the meeting.  We were a group of people all looking to reach the amazing goal of Lifetime Membership.

In May of 2011, I hit my Lifetime Goal again (In my defense, I changed it to 189...with a personal goal of 185), 2 weeks after finishing my 3rd Long Branch Half Marathon with my best time (2:17) -


And I am proud to say that for the first time in my weight loss journey, I have maintained my lifetime status for 7 months.  I track.  I work out.  I go to meetings.  I meet my Good Health Guidelines.  But I still live my life.  I still grab drinks with my friends.  I still enjoy ice cream.  But I have NEVER been happier (and healthier) than I am now.

I also never realized how much I had to give to those who were struggling with their own weight issues.  I just contributed at meetings because I felt it was something I needed to do.  I saw people struggling, and these people needed to know that if I could run a half marathon, they could do anything they put their mind to.

And that's when Louise asked me to speak at a store Grand Opening.  She wanted ME to share my story with others.  The Weight Watchers Head Honchos wanted me to talk to other members about the success that I had.  Even thinking about it now, I am so humbled to have been given the opportunity to share with others my journey.  Never would I have thought the kid who was excited over a 5 pound loss would be the one inspiring others to stick with it and make the change in their lives.

So, after 8 long years...I am putting the Life in Lifetime Membership at Weight Watchers.  My life is changed.  Every Saturday, my butt is in the meeting room, getting and giving the support and encouragement that I need to continue this journey.  During the week, my butt is in the gym...spinning, running, Body Attacking...and my butt is in the kitchen, trying new recipes in order to keep the program fresh, new and exciting.

I cannot put into words how great I feel about myself.  And it's not just about looking good...It is about confidence and it's about strength and it's about being able to look into the mirror and smile because you've accomplished something.

There is no other choice for me.  I will not go back to 235 pounds.  I don't want to be that person...I am NOT that person anymore.

So, hopefully this gave you a little glimpse of who I was before I began this journey and who I am now...and hopefully you will stick with me as I share about my continued journey to continue my Lifetime as a Weight Watchers member.

Happy Tracking!
-e