200 pounds to 175 pounds
36" waist to 32" waist
There's an old saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It's actually French, I think, but I don't remember how it goes. This
contest has been about making changes so that things will not stay the same.
And for the first six weeks of the contest, that was my focus: being the
person I used to be, the person who was committed to their health and
fitness, the person who made that the top priority. At about Week 7, I
realized that I couldn't continue with that perspective. That perspective
would doom me to failure, regardless of how well I fared in the contest. I
was taking a "Second Six Week Contest" view, still thinking about the
changes. Now, however, I'm interested in something far more personal: how do
I re-orient myself so that what was originally a change in me becomes ME,
becomes the thing that stays the same no matter what else changes?
Twelve weeks ago, I was 200 pounds. I had been working out and running. I
could eat what I wanted and, as long as I kept working out, I would hover
between 200 and 215 (I was actually 215 on January 4th, when I was
originally going to enter the contest- I dropped about 15 pounds in two
weeks (the holidays were brutal!) and realized I had forgotten to take a
picture with a newspaper!) I carried my weight well, I'm told.
I had a beautiful wife and great daughters. I had a house to build while we
lived with my wife's family. I had every single reason to just be okay with
how I was, to wait for a better time.
But something inside of me had fundamentally changed; or, perhaps a better
way to explain it would be to say that a person had returned to my life who
I thought had left a long time ago. It was the guy I liked being the most,
the one who couldn't go with me about eight years ago when I started making
excuses, started allowing myself to "enjoy life" and worry about the extra
pounds another day.
It was the old me, the one who didn't do things the way other people did-
the guy who had gotten up at 6 AM to work out, gone to class sweaty, rushed
home to grill chicken and eat vegetables, then gone to an afternoon class...
and then worked out again.
And that guy kicked my ass and told me to get it together so we could
start "really enjoying" life again. I let him take over. And I'll be honest:
I love every minute of it. I love being the guy who eats celery sticks and
tuna and tries to beat Craig Ballantyne in a per capita vegetable intake
I love the bleary-eyed drive to the gym at 5 AM, the silence in the streets.
The other morning, I remembered an earlier time in my life, getting up and
going for a run at the fitness center on campus when I was 20. There's not
much going on in a college gymnasium at 5 AM while you look like an idiot
doing suicides. I even remember the lady's name who called me "honey child"
when I checked it- Roberta.
Now, driving through my small town at 5 AM, I remember what kept going
through my head while I huffed for breath, while the couple who played
badminton tried to ignore me. I was thinking the same thing the other
morning: I thought It's my world, right now, while everyone else is asleep.
It's my sweat that comes out first, before anyone else is even out of bed.
That's empowering. That's the kind of melodramatic personal stuff you don't
tell anyone you think. That's the kind of BS that will set your will on fire
and keep you going for months. That's who I am... I was going to
write, "That's who I am now." Instead, I'll say, "That's who I am, again."
I owe Craig Ballantyne and Turbulence Training so much credit. Craig
introduced me to Brad Pilon's work with Eat Stop Eat, which literally was
the first tool that EVER gave me control over my eating. Once you've fasted
for twice a week for a month, you can control yourself in ways you never
knew needed your attention.
And the people on the TT message boards introduced me to Martin Berkhan and
Lean Gains, which took me another step, allowing me to realign my eating so
that it fit MY schedule. Now, I love that feeling at 2 PM: unbloated,
energetic, free from a need to eat something.
I'm going to steal from a famous poet, Walt Whitman, who was so inspired by
Ralph Waldo Emerson 160 years ago that he revolutionized poetry. I'm going
to say what Whitman said about Emerson, but I'm going to say it about Craig
Ballantyne, because I'd spent three years using programs, running,
pretending to be in shape, letting myself believe I was in shape, always
seeing my old self over my shoulder, always feeling something was about to
happen, about to change:
I was simmering, simmering, simmering. Ballantyne brought me to a boil.