Dear Former Self,
You are 30 and more importantly alive.
I know there were many times in High School, College and even after graduation where you thought about ending it all. Just slipping away because you thought no one would ever notice.
Well, people would have.
So thank you.
Thank you for not taking away the time I now have with the wife, friends, family and the world.
YOU are making a difference.
YOU are now brave enough to share your journey, your happiness, your sadness, your self doubts and your strengths with the masses.
And people appreciate that.
They appreciate you.
And you know what?
You are staring to appreciate yourself as well.
Now, I’m not going to tell you it is all rainbows and unicorns.
Okay – there are some rainbows – I mean you are gay after all.
But, seriously … there is actual joy in your life. There are smiles that aren’t forced. There are some serious kick ass accomplishments you are achieving.
Hello! Running The Boston Marathon in less than two weeks. I think we can classify that under Bad Ass and something we NEVER thought would happen.
But it is.
None of this could be happening if you hadn’t made that decision in 2009 to walk through the doors of Weight Watchers and change your life forever.
Over the past four years, layers and layers of fat, insecurity, pain, self-doubt and self-loathing have slowly but surely been stripped away. There are little chunks lying around here and there, but they too will be shed over time.
You didn’t have to think for all those years that you weren’t worthy of true happiness because you were.
Why did you doubt yourself? Why did you put yourself down SO much? Why did you think you were so unworthy of being alive?
I don’t know the answers. Maybe over time we will figure them out. But for now, we are happy to be moving past those.
The self-deprecating humor you used for so long as a shield is still here … but now more out of habit. A habit that we are working on changing. The hatred behind it is lessening.
Someday it will go away completely, but we save that for a letter from our Future Self.
For now, in the current state, things are pretty awesome. Just know that all the pain you went through and held on to for so long is clearing … it is being released and freed.
The heart is opening to the love of family, friends and even complete strangers you have come to meet – and love – online. The world is embracing you flaws and all and you are FINALLY embracing it back. You are sharing things with people you never thought you would.
And I have to say it feels GOOD.
So former self, thank you again for allowing me to be here … for allowing me to feel … for allowing me to live!
Your Current Self
I cannot believe we got to Boston two weeks ago today. Time flies, doesn’t it? How it is February 13th already is beyond me.
I can tell you the last two weeks have been the least stressful two weeks of my life in about 10 years … and I am kind of really liking it.
I am having an awesome time working for Weight Watchers and feeling comfortable working on the “other” side of the scale. It has been great to meet so many new faces, but I still need to work on finding my own meeting to attend. I have been listening to some great Leaders, while working, but it isn’t quite the same as sitting in the meeting as a member. I had such amazing leaders in Chicago that I will have to test a few meetings out here to try and find someone at the same level as the women I have had before.
It has been so nice getting back in touch with friends that I haven’t seen in years. I have kept in touch with many on a daily basis through gchat, text, Facebook, Twitter and phone dates … but nothing beats a face-to-face hangout. Ya know?
My wife and I met up with about eight people on Saturday night at a great bar in Kenmore Square near Fenway and it was a great time. On the ride home, I thought about how every one of those people is active in some way shape or form – either running, Spinning, gym rat or a Rugby player. I love it. They are all people taking an active approach to Life and I am happy to surround myself with their energy. Plus, I made dates to hangout with all of them in a place that didn’t have to involve food or booze … okay, after that night.
Thankfully, my wife has gotten her first week of work under her belt and I think that is helping her feel more settled. I think a set routine can help anyone get their bearings. In addition, she has found a couple hockey teams to play for, as well as a few comic book shops she can frequent. Comics/toys and hockey is pretty much all my wife needs to be happy.
(Note: I owe my wife a debt of gratitude each day for uprooting her life and moving 1,000 miles to a place where she doesn’t know too many people to help make me happy. I hope that she learns to love and be comfortable in Boston as much as I do/am.)
It may only be 14 days in, but I think this decision will pay off for the best. It will be a long six months while we stay with my parents and all of our stuff in storage. But the sacrifice now will pay off in the end. Now we can save up some money and pick the perfect neighborhood for us to set up shop.
We are hoping to move out in September and rent for a year before buying a place and really setting up roots. (Doesn’t that sound so adult? )
So my fine friends … sometimes you just need to follow your heart … look at me … my heart hasn’t been this happy in a long time!
I don’t really consider 2011 starting until the end of May. Why you ask? Well, two big changes happened in my life at the end of May:
1) I started this wonderful little slice of the Internet I like to call, Weight Off My Shoulders.
2) I was finally cleared by my doctor to resume all activity. Resume activity from what? Well that lovely back injury – herniated disc – that led to a microdiscectomy on January 28, 2011.
2011 started out at a low point for me. The back injury I suffered really sent me into a little depression. I was cruising along activity wise and weight loss wise during the 2010 (okay not as much weight loss wise, but definitely workout wise) and being forced to stop it all blindsided me. I have realized over time that I neeeed those endorphins. They really do help stabilize my mood, help me react to situations in a more positive way and really overall just keep me levelheaded. Not to mention, the gym/heading out for a run is the only alone time I get at the gym … and we all need some me time.
Thankfully I have a very understanding wife who put up with me during that whole period … even when I didn’t want to deal with myself. You never realize how important your back is until it is taken away from you. You drop a sock? Nope, can’t bend over. You want to roll over in bed? Nope, not unless you want to take the extra 15 minutes it takes to slowly, but surely inch your way over. (My wife finally did get me one of those grabby things that helped me pick up everything I dropped )
My doctor finally laid down and the law and I went under the knife on January 28. I cannot put into words how much better I felt when I woke up in the recovery room. Tingling down my leg? GONE! Ability to point my toe and not have it get stuck on the sheet due to lack of strength in it? BACK!
Oh glory glory day!
The biggest thing I learned during the whole ordeal: NEVER take moving/exercising/living for granted. For that whole time, I was stuck in the house or allowed to hit the gym – to walk. Just walk.
Since being okayed to return back to work, I haven’t allowed myself to accept any excuse not to work out – unless I had to work for 16 hours and the gym was closed before or after, etc.
But enough of the unhappy time of the year, let’s focus on June and beyond.
The final six months of the season can be broken into three main categories: 1) running, 2) weight loss and 3) social media.
“Running Changes Everything!”
Since the beginning of June, I completed 14 road races, which works out to roughly two a month. I managed to knock off about four minutes from my 5k time and completed my first Half Marathon since 2006. Wow! I am extremely proud of myself for what I have accomplished in a short amount of time.
I have a complete recap of my running adventures in 2011 here.
“Weight Watchers makes me believe”
I fell in love with Weight Watchers as soon as I began in November 2009. I lost about 20 lbs in the first two months of joining and things really started changing from there. I started focus my attention more on working out and eating right than going out to bars or restaurants. It seems as if I sacrificed a lot of people when I made the lifestyle change, but I had to do it for me. (To those that have stood by me through the journey, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!)
In 2010, I found it difficult to balance my busiest time at work and WW. I wasn’t able to attend meetings and realized I couldn’t succeed without the accountability of the weekly weigh-ins. I ended up losing about 9 lbs that year. I would lose then gain back, etc. It wasn’t consistent.
But once my injury happened, I knew that without working out – I needed to focus on my eating habits otherwise all my hard work would be out the window. I mean I managed to lose about 10 lbs while being injured – not many people could say that.
I began 2011 at 186.4 and I am ending 2011 at 159.2. That is an impressive 27.2 lbs weight loss this year and a weight I cannot remember being at ever before.
This year … it clicked. I was able to attend meetings almost every week thanks to having Weight Watchers at Work and this dear space of heaven on the internnet kept me accountable – not to mention twitter, facebook and a small group of people I text my weigh-ins to each week.
In addition, I focused on completing all 5 of Weight Watcher’s healthy guidelines every day and let me tell you my body feels the difference.
In 2006, I dealt with, and still deal with, a bad eating disorder. I turned to my wife the other day and said, “How did I go through that time not eating? I mean for months I lived on crackers.” Now, I don’t fear eating as much because I know I am fueling my body for my workouts and runs. Weight Watchers makes sure I am getting all the nutrients and protein I need. That is not to say there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about where I have come from, but I am trying to live in the moment. Think about the now.
Never in a thousand years would I have thought that I would be sitting here after having lost 50 lbs, having hit my first goal weight, having hit the 55 lb loss, to set a new lower weight loss goal. I sit here 58.2 lbs lighter than the 217.4 lb person that walked into that first Weight Watchers meeting. I am just 4.2 lbs from my new weight goal.
Now on the horizon? Thoughts of being a Weight Watchers leader and pass on the knowledge that I have gained, and continue to gain, during this weight loss journey.
I never thought I would be such a social media nerd…
I joined Twitter for work, but it has given me so much more in the few years I have been active on it. Twitter opens the door for new relationships that motivate me, push me and pick me up when I need a friend. (Shoutout to my Weight Watchers, #plankaday, #7daychip/#30daychip, #FFCheer &#FitFluential families)
I have found countless Twitter challenges that have helped push me in my workouts and weight loss journeys. I have been able to inspire others with my words and stories.
Through Facebook, I have found people who are also battling the bulge (giggity). People who are going through exactly what I am. People that can push me, support me and in return I can do the same for them. We don’t even need to be in the same city, state or even country!
The biggest change for me this year was this little space. I need to thank my wife for pushing me to start this blog. This has given me a space to share my successes, my failures, my struggles and my triumphs. So thank you all for allowing me to take up this space on the world wide web.
So I think my top three moments in this year would have to be…
3) Completing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on August 14 less than eight months after having major back surgery.
2) Being chosen by Time Out Chicago to be featured in their recent fitness magazine.
1) Having a wife that stuck by me through the tough times and was there to celebrate the highlights with me … and a couple of cute pups!
So 2011, you started out rough, but ended on a pretty high note … Here’s to hoping 2012 keeps that note going higher and higher!!
What a wonderful weekend it was. Thankfully the weather was 10 times better than it was last year in Iowa when we had our ceremony.
It was freakin’ cold that day … and windy … and rainy! But, thankfully Jessica got some great pics.
This year, we kicked off the one year anniversary with a nice little 10k. Being the healthier people we were than a year ago (I have lost 26 lbs since that day and the wife has lost about 10 lbs), I thought it would be a great way to start the day. It would also help to slightly offset what we would be eating that day.
I finished in 54:30 and the wife finished in 1:12.43. Go us!! We even got medals … I heart medals!
Since the race was at 7am that meant we had to get up at 5am so we definitely headed home from the run to relax for awhile. We hit up Ann Sather for a cinnamon roll each and headed home to indulge in some chillin’… We caught up on some DVR and enjoyed the deliciousness of the cinnamon roll.
We decided to head to a 12:25 showing of Puss In Boots in 3D. Yes, my wife married a 5 year old, but I don’t care. The movie was awesome, funny, adorable and just overall great. We split a small movie popcorn to help the calorie count a little.
Afterwards, it was time to do something more adult-esque … so we headed to Rock Bottom for a couple drinks and some wings.
Since we are parents, we couldn’t just stay out all afternoon and head straight to dinner. Nope. Had to head home to take care of the pups. After taking care of the four-legged critters, we headed out to an early dinner (6:30) at The Weber Grill. Mannn do I love that place. Now you know why I had almost all my Weekly Points and my Activity Points stored up for this day! There was pretzel rolls, butter, steak skewers, onion strings, mashed potatoes, steak and of course Sangria. I want to give The Weber Grill a special thank you for the amazing dessert they gave us! Yummmm…
The food was delicious as always. It was nice to just kick back with some yummy steaks and some sangria and just reflect back on the last year.
It was tough that only a month after we got married I had my back injury. That darn back injury put me into a bad funk for about 6 months. Not a fun way to spend the first half of your marriage. But, thankfully, I am back to normal – nah, I would say better than normal now.
Overall, it was a great day. I got to just hang out with the wife (since when work is busy I rarely get to do that), enjoy the moments and get to bed early since we were up at 5am. I didn’t even worry over my Weight Watchers points, but I did take the time on Sunday to write down everything I ate – even if I didn’t calculate the point values.
Sunday was a nice relaxing day. It was time to get back on track eating. I did two workouts: a 10am Spinning class and a 2pm Hip Hop/Funk class to help combat some of the damage from Saturday.
I hope that this weekend gave me just a glimpse into how AWESOME our week in Hawaii will be … especially minus the pups!
I can’t believe I am really saying that tomorrow is our 1-year wedding anniversary. How can time pass this quickly? Honestly?
Well I will have more to say about the anniversary itself this weekend, but for now I am thinking about our honeymoon inOahu,Hawaii! One week from today we will be on a flight fromChicagoto LA toHawaii.
I cannot wait to have a full week to just hang with the wife and be without the pups. It will be a whole week away from work. This is my first real vacation in 10 years so I don’t really know how to even prepare for it.
My number one goal was to go into the week feeling happy with myself. I am on Day 11 of tracking everything I eat and have been doing activity everyday. As some of you know, I also hit goal on Tuesday so I want to make sure I don’t undo all my work in one week.
We talked in a meeting one time about vacations. You can be in one of three states of mind: 1) I don’t care what the scale says when I come home; 2) I am going to keep tracking in mind, but not deprive myself or 3) I am tracking everything.
I am going to most likely be in the second mind frame. I have done the “I don’t care” mentality before and it doesn’t bode well for me.
I know I will not be able to track everything I eat or be in control, while on vacation – but I do plan on bringing some tools with me (measuring cups, food scale, etc).
I am uber excited to get some outdoor activity in … while it isn’t 39 degrees out. I think a run along the beach will be a great change of scenery. I also am pretty psyched to be hiking up a volcano. How cool will that be?
Thankfully, we did not buy the “all inclusive” package for this vacation. Now, I know I will not be hitting up a ton of buffets or drinking more than I want to just because we paid for it.
The one biggest obstacle will be clothing. I don’t really have any summer clothing that fits so I will be rocking a lot of my Lululemon workout clothes and possibly purchasing a couple items while down there.
What tricks do you have to walk the line between vacation and on plan?
This is not a post about being sad about being married or anything like that. I love my wife and happy with our little family. This is more about the actual wedding ceremony.
I am not sure how many of you know about my wedding. Tori proposed September 15, 2010. The night before my birthday. It was great. I was thrilled. We knew we had to get married in November or December because of my work schedule. Now, gay marriage is not legal inIllinoisso we knew we had to travel. On a weird note, the closest state toIllinoiswith legalized same-sex marriage isIowa. Yup, you read that right. So in order to have a legal marriage we were going to have to go toIowaat some point. Now we had originally decided on 11-12-11 for our wedding (I am a math major so I like the ring of the number). But, if we had done everything in 2011, we would’ve had two different wedding anniversaries: the legalIowadate and theIllinoisceremony date. That bugged me. So I came up with the idea that we would go toIowaand have the legal ceremony on 11-12-10 then have the bigChicagowedding 11-12-11 that way we kept the same anniversary. Also, we were worried it was going to be possibly taken away fromIowathen we wouldn’t have had any state close to us with legal gay marriage.
So we planned a great little ceremony inIowaand had three of our closest friends with us:
We set up to have the ceremony with an officiant I had found online in one of the conference rooms of the hotel:
Then we took some shots upstairs on the roof:
Well the day itself was lovely, I was so happy that El, Mel and Jessica were able to be a part of it. What was actually funny was as we crossed the border back toIllinois, Tori turned to me and said “And now the marriage certificate means nothing.” We both laughed at the absurdity, but it was true. This was beforeIllinoispassed Civil Unions. We crossed the border and had the same rights as we had before … none.
As life got back to normal after adding a little puppy to our happy family, we realized that we would not be able to afford to have the bigIllinoisceremony we wanted. One big thing that set us back was my back injury and subsequent back surgery in late 2010/early 2011. So we had to make the decision to cancel theIllinoisceremony.
This was so hard for me to do (as I tear up as I write this). I had always pictured the big wedding with tons of friends, the white dress, the flowers, the dancing, the joy! But, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for us. I know this is how life goes sometimes. It is something I still need to accept.
But, it is hard. As more and more of my friends get engaged or have their weddings (especially since it is the summer), I feel these constant pangs of jealousy and sadness. The pictures and planning updates online are hard to look at. I’ve stopped watching “Say Yes To The Dress.” They all get to plan the perfect day. They get to have exactly what they want. And I don’t. Sure, we can plan a ceremony down the road, but it won’t be the same. It just won’t be what I had imagined in my head for all those years.
Hopefully, while inHawaiiin November on our Honeymoon, we can have a small civil union ceremony on the beach. My wife has always wanted to get married on a beach. I would like, at least one of us, to have a wedding dream fulfilled. Especially since she had to sacrifice having it in November because of my work schedule.
So, now that I have written my feelings down, I want to move on and think about the Haves rather than the Have Nots. I have an amazingly incredible wife. I have loving little puppies. I have friends that continue to love and support me. I have my health. I have a roof over my head. I have a job.
It is time to stop being jealous of my friends and to support and share their happy moments…