Goals Are Stupid

Goals are a fruitless endeavor. More so, people who set goals, and make it known, are braggers and attention-seekers. They are immature, self-centered, and use this a means to make the rest of us feel like we’re a bunch of losers for not having goals.

At least, I use to think so. In retrospect I realize why I felt that way: I was hesitant to set goals because I was afraid to fail.

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In April 2010 I endured the most heart-breaking loss of my life, that of my dad at age 63 due to his poor health habits. At the time I was 40 years old and weighed over 400 pounds. I had a host of obesity-related health conditions and, to make matters worse, I had lost my will to live.

After witnessing my father pass away right before my eyes, I made a promise to myself and to my mom- That I wasn’t going to let my dad’s death be in vain. I told her that we needed to learn something from his poor health habits.

Over the next few years since my dad’s passing I made numerous attempts to try to lose weight only to fail over and over again. I had even contacted several local hospitals for information on weight loss surgery. After attending an information session for the surgery I decided that the risks involved were not worth it. I also felt that it was just a substitute for something I needed to learn to do in order for this change to be sustainable: Build new health habits.

In June 2014 I set out on one of the most challenging endeavors of my life. I embarked on a health journey determined to lose as much as I possibly could. I also knew that I needed to be patient and focus more on new habits rather than just focusing on the scale.

Over the next few months I did not see much physical results. I tried hard to not let it discourage me. I made many mistakes along the way, fell down numerous times, got discouraged, but I never stopped. I had faith that over time these new habits, and the consistent building of them, were going to improve my health. And it did. In less than a year I had lost over 200 pounds. Completely on my own. No surgery. No coach.  Just me,  my food tracking app, and a promise.

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Without realizing it I had set a goal. A goal stemming from a promise that I had made. I came to realize the power of setting goals. Because without them I was directionless and would never get anything done. It took me years to understand this, that my fear of failure was holding me back. I learned that these failures became opportunities to learn and make improvements. That was the only way I was going to grow.

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Over the next few years since my transition I have been setting goals along the way. Continuing to challenge myself to grow and giving me something to strive for. I have accomplished way more than I thought I ever would in my life- Losing over 200 pounds on my own, getting worldwide recognition, and the opportunity to pay it forward. This has given me a new life and a sense of purpose which I never felt like I had before.

I am blessed to be here today healthy and happy. I love my new life and the fact that my story has motivated others. My purpose and mission in life are to inspire people to take charge of their lives and their health by being an example of what is possible.

I set goals for myself all of the time now. And I still fail often, but I never give up. I have faith in a higher power which is leading me and helping me understand that my life has a greater purpose and without goals I will never realize it.

At one time in my life I felt like a loser and hated myself. I know now that I was the only one who could change that by making a promise, creating a goal that has forever changed my life for good.

Stay Awesome!

~Mike

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I Stopped Chasing The Scale

At one point in my health journey I had become obsessed with my weight. I had lost 205 pounds, more than half of my starting body weight, yet I felt that I still had more to lose. I pushed myself over the next several months, weighing myself daily (okay, sometimes twice), watching every single calorie that came into my body. I managed to lose another 5 pounds bringing me to 194 pounds, my lowest adult body weight. However, my eating disorder was getting out of control the more I pushed, and my metabolism was wrecked. I hit the wall after almost a year and a half.mike_skinny1

I had lost quite a bit of muscle mass with my weight loss. I felt weak in my upper body and my friends and family kept telling me, “Don’t get too skinny!” I remember how that use to make me so mad when people said that to me. I sometimes responded, “You’re worried about me getting too skinny, where were you when I was over 400 pounds?!” Looking back I can see I was in denial about how much weight I had lost. I was most likely experiencing body dysmorphia.

I remember I was riding home from work when I told my wife it was time for me to stop my plan for a bit. I was in tears as I told her that I was scared to death that I would lose everything that I worked so hard to do. But I also knew that I couldn’t go on pushing myself any longer without a break.

For 2 weeks I stopped tracking my food intake and stopped all exercise except for my walks during my work lunchtime. The first day or so was hard mentally, but I persisted. I even went to a Chinese buffet and ate whatever I wanted (within reason). I knew this was dangerous for a person like me with a binge eating disorder, but it was something I had been craving.

During the break I did a lot of thinking about my next steps afterwards. This was the critical point where most people fail: Not planning for the long-term. From the beginning I knew at some point I was going to reach my goal weight and have to some toning and building. So I wrote out a body building plan with some help from a friend. He also reminded me, “Buddy, you have to eat more when you’re building.” As you can imagine, I was a bit apprehensive about that.

mike_muscle2I bought protein supplements and began my new routine. I gained weight quickly, both muscle and fat… I didn’t want to stop weight lifting, so I read up on techniques body builders use to build muscle and cut fat. I experimented with intermittent fasting and carb cycling, sometimes losing weight, but quickly gaining it back when I stopped the cycles. It was getting monotonous. Soon it became a living hell for me again, checking my weight often, and kicking myself each time I realized I was gaining.

Many people were amazed to find out that I wasn’t happy after losing all of that weight. Most of them cannot even imagine what it is like to try to maintain it.

At some point I met some people involved in the Health At Every Size movement. I did a lot of reading on the subject and began to realize that it was far more important for me to be healthy overall than worrying about reaching a perfect body and weight. Also around this time a lot of press came out about contestants from the Biggest Loser gaining weight back after the show. Reading up more on the subject I wrote an article of my own called, “The Biggest Loser Effect: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back“. Back then my focus was more on the fact that I believed that many of the contestants had not changed their lifestyles after losing all of the weight. Fact or not for them, I was struggling too.

So I decided that I needed to stop struggling altogether. Weighing myself and being disappointed was stressing me out every day. I needed to:

Stop Chasing The Scale!

So I stopped weighing myself and continued to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Some of my smaller clothes got a little tighter, partially because I gained some fat, but I was also getting a lot more muscle mass from the body building. Freeing myself from the scale was such a relief. Most of all, I feel better now.

I admit that I am still frustrated with some of the fat around my abdomen, some of which may be skin leftover from years of morbid obesity, but over time I am getting accepting that it is not worth all of the stress to try to get rid of it. I am extremely fit overall, eating healthy and getting regular exercise almost every day.

I have said it since the beginning that this is a health journey and I continue to learn more each day. At one point in my life all I could think about was losing all of the weight and being normal. I had no idea all of the things I would experience along the way, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. With a lot of hard work and introspection we can become free from the prisons we created for ourselves. True happiness comes from within, not from the world around us.

Stay Awesome!

savetheworld
11 months, 205 pounds lost, NO SURGERY

#stopchasingthescale #weightloss #health #obesity #diet #fitness #weightlossjourney

Gratitude

You were there for me at my worstmike_00051

Enduring my pain with me

Supporting me when I could barely manage

Loving me when I did not love myself

When my dad was dying, you never left my side

You never made me feel bad when we had to accommodate my extreme obesity in public

You were not ashamed of me, like I was of myself

You listened to me helplessly on so many nights when I told you that I did not want to live anymore

You supported me through my life-changing transition

You always allowed me to be ME

And IMG_20150214_154945155with your love, I have learned to love myself again

There are no words to express the gratitude, the love, the appreciation I have for you

Teresa, you are one of a kind

Your infectious laugh tickles me inside

A real woman and wife

Beautiful beyond compare

The brightest smile that lights up my universe

My Purple Artist

Schmoo, I love you eternally,

Bay

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400 Pounds and Lost The Will To Live: How I Took My Life Back

Originally posted on Linkedin on May 1, 2015

I can’t imagine that many of you have any idea of what it is like to be so obese that you cannot fit into a booth at a restaurant. But you may know of someone who is.

I was that guy

Back in June 2014 I weighed over 400 pounds. I was miserable and I didn’t care about living anymore. I felt that I had no hope for ever losing all of this weight, nor did I know how I was going to do it.

There are a lot of misconceptions about people who are in the morbidly obese category. Technically I was in a category above morbidly obese, called “Super Obese“.

Any BMI ≥ 35 or 40 is severe obesity

A BMI of ≥ 35 or 40–44.9 or 49.9 is morbid obesity

A BMI of ≥ 45 or 50 is super obese*

 

I was not lazy, nor did I want to be in this condition. In fact, I have been fairly active most of my adult life. I have heard people say some very short-sighted things about people who are obese.

She just needs to get off her butt and justget some exercise.

I don’t understand why he keeps dieting and then gaining it all back.

Ugh. Look how fat that guy is.

That last statement was one I had heard walking back to my office. The person who said it appeared to be mentally ill, though I get the feeling that she was just saying what many people were thinking. No matter how much I try to shrug off those type of comments, I allowed them to affect me. Perhaps even infect me.

I already felt ashamed of myself and my body. This shame carried over to every aspect of my life and was holding me back. All of that fat was weighing me down not only physically, but smothering my ability to enjoy life.

I had tried most diets, exercise plans, weight loss groups, diet pills/patches… you name it. None of these tactics gave me any long-term results. I needed to do something different.

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ~ Tony Robbins

I think Henry Ford originally said something similar to the quote above. One thing I admire about guys like Henry and Tony is that they challenge what the rest of the world tells us to do. I well realized that I needed to do something different in order to get healthy, lose all the weight, and make it permanent. I was being told to consider weight loss surgery, take pills, do crazy exercise routines, and to go on a diet.

Ugh. Been there. Done that.

I wasn’t about to be another guy who lost a bunch of weight, yet again, only to gain it back and more (I’ve been that guy many times). So I decided to embark on a journey to get healthy on my own using the wealth of knowledge I have gathered through the years.

There’s a way to do it better – find it. ~ Thomas A. Edison

What I learned was that for me, diets and intense exercise routines did not work. I was not losing very much weight, feeling deprived, and usually giving up. So what was going to work for long term? Making small changes gradually over time so that my body and mind could adjust. I needed to reinvent myself.

I needed a “Mike-over

(See my other related posts, Small Changes Lead to Big Results, Reinventing Yourself: Meet a Brand New You, and Inspiring Others – Gives You Fuel)

What I realized about myself was that I had no idea how much food I was eating. I had a lot of what I call “food vampires”, little bits of snacking (or lots) throughout the day, that I was not paying attention to, but were sucking the life out of me.

I remember times that my wife was running late to pick me up, so I would run over to the sushi place around the corner from my job and have two sushi rolls for a “snack”. Back then I thought sushi isn’t that bad. It’s just fish and rice… low in fat… But high in calories! The average roll has about 350-500 calories. And I was eating two before having dinner. That’s an additional 700-1000 calories!(I know you smart folks can do addition)

I did not get up over 400 pounds in a short period of time. It was gradual since my early adulthood, building up each time I lost weight and gained back even more. I need to do the reverse of what I had done to get fat.

I needed to get “unfat

This is a concept that I came up with regarding the process I needed to go through both physically and mentally in order to carefully remove all of the toxic matter in my body and mind.

I decided to use an app which allowed me to track all of my food intake and exercise. In addition it allowed me to gradually reduce my intake over time so that the change was small and my body (and mind) to have time to adjust.

For my exercise I started with very moderate weight training and walking. I gradually increased over time as I lost weight to the point of daily walking.

Walking gives me several advantages as an exercise:

  1. It’s easy and can be done almost anywhere
  2. It’s FREE
  3. Lower intensity is better for fat burning
  4. It has replaced my stress eating urge
  5. It’s sustainable for the long-term

So, almost 11 months later, I have lost around 190 pounds and vastly improved both my physical and mental health. I feel better than I had in 20 years.

I walk every day at least an hour. I have a new found love for hiking. I could not wait for winter to be over (I live in the Northeastern United States) so I could get out and enjoy nature. I find that walking in nature brings me back to life.

I love my life now and can’t wait to get out and try new things!

I took my life back!

Me longboarding with my son the other night. It’s amazing what I am discovering I can do! I just jumped on and started riding!

 *From Wikipedia’s Classification of Obesity

Check out my other articles:

Small Changes Lead to Big Results

Reinventing Yourself: Meet a Brand New You

Inspiring Others – Gives You Fuel (featured in LinkedIn’s “What Inspires Me” section)