My Beginning

Losing weight is hard.  A lifetime of persistent dieting had left some serious scars on my heart, soul, and mind and each failed diet left deeper wounds making it harder to start the next time.  There are so many struggles with weight loss that it feels like being asked to slay a dragon armed only with a pencil and carboard body armor.  Like you must climb a 20,000-foot mountain in a single step. If I had to summarize how it felt in a single word it would be “overwhelming.”

In my own life, I did the up and down thing.  I would gain weight, reach a point where I couldn’t take it anymore, then go on some miserable diet till I lost some weight, then I would stop the miserable diet and slowly gain the weight back.  However, to add insult to injury, each time I gained the weight back I would gain a little more.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I equated losing weight with failure and more weight gain. 

Each time I stopped dieting I would take a little bit longer to go back on another miserable diet.  I often had to wait for a massive source of motivation, a triggering moment.  Perhaps it would be a number too high on the scale, a picture of me that hid nothing, the feeling of busting out my cloths, an overly honest comment from a young child, perhaps a work competition, or maybe a special event. Whatever the reason, I would latch onto that source of motivation and race to drop as much weight as I could before the motivation ran dry.

Losing weight shouldn’t be a race and yet it was for me every time.  Not a race against anyone else, but a race against my own willingness to continue.  I needed to lose the weight before I would give up.  I started each diet looking gleefully looking forward to the day when I would get to quit doing it.  I would tell myself I was happy with the diet I was doing all along the way, but the truth is I was never happy with it.  Sure, it is fun to eat chicken wings, bacon, and steak all the time while I did Keto for the 6th time, but damn it does get old after a bit.  You can only eat so many omelets and cheese sticks.

This battle against my will continued on for decades.  Sometimes I would only lose 2 or 5 lbs. and other times I would lose over 50 lbs.  Each time ended in burnout where I would go running back to the life that made me fat. The moment something unexpected came up I would toss my plan out the window and say I will pick it back up next week.  Then I would just sort of…..forget.  No one was asking about it and I sure wasn’t gunna bring it up.  Failure…..again. 

Every time I failed there would be this moment where I would be alone with my thoughts and I would ask myself, “what’s wrong with me? why can’t I do this?” Each failed diet was another check mark in the “reasons why I suck” column that I kept in my mind. 

I felt stuck.  Like I would never get this weight off.  I felt like I was missing something that others who had been successful had.  I felt hopeless and so I resigned myself to my fate.  “I guess I’m just a big guy” is what I would tell myself.  I guess I didn’t win the genetic lottery so what’s the point?  I’ll just lose and gain forever, but I might as well find a way to be cool with being the big guy.  I would search for ways to be happy with myself.  I talked about my love for food, about my disdain for exercise.  I would do everything possible to reinforce with myself that I was okay with being big.  Of course, I did this.  Who wants to live a life being unhappy?  I sure didn’t. 

But I wasn’t happy.  In those quiet moments alone.  Looking at myself in the mirror I would feel shame.  Shame at what I had done.  Shame at my lack of self-control.  Shame in my seeming inability to get my weight and body under control.  Shame at my long string of failed diets in my past.  I was waiting for something or someone to save me…. but I was losing hope that it would happen.

The Unthinkable

It was early May 2019.  I remember the call.  My Mom woke me up at night with a phone call to tell me she was taking Dad to the ER.  His heart was beating really fast, and they were worried so they were going to the ER to get it checked out.  This set off all sorts of alarms in my head as my Dad was the kind of guy who would never go to the doctor for stuff like that unless it was bad.  He was the suffer in silence type of person.

I anxiously waited for the call the next day.  I was told his heart was okay but there was something else they found.  Scans revealed masses all over his lungs and a 10 cm mass on his liver.  Cancer.

I was in shock.  What could this mean? Cancer.  What were they saying?  Is it bad cancer? Is there such a thing as okay cancer? This sounds like it’s not good…….. Then my Dad told me he would like me to come home from Kansas City.  I knew in that moment that something was up.  I could hear the fear in the voice, even though he was trying to hide it. I immediately went home to Arkansas.   

I can vividly remember the family meeting in the living room where he informed us all that he had hepatocellular carcinoma (Liver Cancer).  It was inoperable and we were in miracle territory. The doctors gave him less than 2 months before……before he would be gone.

Later that next day I was aimlessly driving around with my Dad alone in my truck.  We were talking about what’s next.  Does he try the one potential treatment that was probably not going to work and make the time he has left miserable, or does he make the most of what’s left.  I told him that this life is his journey.  It’s his choice to make and while I do have my own thoughts on the matter it must be his choice and that I will support him no matter what he chooses.  He thanked me and we sat in silence for a bit.   

I broke the silence after a minute to I asked him a question.  He was my mentor in business, in life, and my friend.  I got his advice on so many things and he was always teaching me lessons.  Letting me make mistakes and helping me find the lessons in my errors while he helped me wipe the dust off to keep moving forward again.  I was beginning to realize that I was about to lose this in my life. I said, “Dad, if there are any lessons you have been sitting on.  Things you have been waiting to tell me till I was older, or till I have gone through some experience, could you tell me now? Even if I won’t understand.” He said he would think on that and let me know. 

The Final Piece of Advice

A couple of weeks later he called me and said he did have something to tell me.  A piece of advice.

He told me to stop waiting around.  That if there is something I want to ask for it and if I don’t get it to move on.  To stop being so afraid of what might happen.  At the time we were talking about work things as I had been really wanting a promotion at work but had never asked for it.  I realized later that he was talking about so much more than work.  It was about life. 

Stop waiting around.

Reflection Point

I was alone. 

The unthinkable had happened. 

This wasn’t supposed to happen!! He had so many plans.  There was supposed to be many more decades of happy memories. There was so much life that was supposed to be experienced.

It’s not fair! Why did this happen?!?!

What do I do now?

I never felt more lost and alone than I did in that time.  There was a hole inside of myself so big that it felt like it would swallow me up whole if I looked too far into it.  I just wanted to escape the pain.  To bury it up and not look at it but it was too large to ignore.  It was not something that could be covered.

All my normal modes of escaping my emotions didn’t work anymore.  The shock and grief and pain were so great that it would blast right past all my normal coping and emotional avoidance methods.  I felt I would crumble from the weight of it.  I was exposed to something I had never been prepared for.  Not that there was preparing for this.  I didn’t understand that grief of this magnitude was possible.

My father’s passing flipped switches in my head that I didn’t even know where there.  It fundamentally changed how I viewed the world.  How I viewed life.  How I viewed the most precious of all human resources.  TIME.

I now truly realized and understood for the first time that time is a finite resource.  There are no refunds or take backs.  Time spent cannot be gotten back. Regrets are pointless because the past can’t be changed.  However, I did have regrets.  While I hoped that my Dad had no regrets, I knew that he did.  He was human after all. 

In the wake of my fathers passing, with this new perspective on time, I began to reflect on my own life.  As I did so I would think about his final piece of advice to me.  I internalized and summarized his final piece of advice into a single powerful phrase.

Stop waiting around.

I began to realize there was so much in life that I was waiting to do.  Waiting for someone else to come and save me.  Waiting for some mystery motivation to come. 

Of course, as I looked over my entire life, my battle with my weight was front of mind.  I wanted to tackle this but….I just couldn’t emotionally handle another failed diet.  I was in so much pain already and I didn’t want to also be miserable on another diet. 

The Challenge to Be Different

There I was, unsure of what to do next. I didn’t know where to go but I knew I couldn’t stay here. I had to stop waiting around.

Then came a moment.

A simple moment in time that altered the trajectory of my life.  A simple challenge to do something different.  If I was not looking for it I might have missed it.  I might have stayed the same. 

A week or so after my Dad’s passing I was back in Arkansas for the funeral.  The day after the funeral I was getting food at Chic-fil-A with my sister Evelyn and her husband John.  We were wrapping up our meal, the kids were playing in the playground, and we were just quietly talking about life. 

In the middle of the conversation there came a moment of silence.  In that moment, John looked at me and said “I’m worried about you man…”  I was such shock from the passing still that I didn’t have much energy to react poorly to this, so I just listened. 

He continued, “I want to give you a challenge.  I just want you to move for 20 minutes 3 times a week.  Anything you want, it doesn’t matter what it is.  Just move.”

Instantly I was thinking inside my head, “come on man. Of course I can do that! I am not THAT bad……..” 

Of course, I then immediately thought to myself, “well if it is SOOO easy, why haven’t I been doing it?”

“I can do that.”  That’s what I said to him.  I told him when I get back home from the funeral in a couple of days I will start.

The First Steps of my 125 lb Adventure

This challenge came at the perfect moment in time. 

I wanted to lose weight, but I needed something to start with that wouldn’t make me miserable. 

“Stop waiting around” kept swirling around in my head.  Just start! Where to start?  I took a moment to ponder on that.  I didn’t want to walk.  I didn’t own a bike and didn’t want to buy yet another bike to not ride and sell later.  I was a member of a gym down the street that I never went to but it did have a pool and many years ago on a prior weight loss journey I had gotten into swimming and really fell in love with it.  Let’s start there.  20 minutes of swimming 3 times a week.  Seems simple enough.  I even owned all my swimming gear still.

If I am going to lose weight I figured needed to do something with the food part too.  I knew enough from a lifetime of dieting that just moving 20 minutes 3 times per week wasn’t going to be enough, but I didn’t want to experience failure again…. What do I do?

I was starting super small with the exercising, so why not start super small with the food too? 

I sat with that for a week or so.  What do I do?  What could I do with 100% certainty?  I couldn’t handle failing something right now so I lowered my expectations to the point where success would be an almost certainty.

As I thought about weight loss in its purest form, I knew that I certainly was eating too much but what is “too much?” I didn’t know.  However, eating less…. I could do that.  There was literally nothing that could stop me from simply eating less than I normally do.  I decided that I would not eat unless I was hungry or unless it was a meal time.  That’s it.  I wasn’t going to worry about what I ate, just going to only eat if I was hungry.  I gave myself permission to say no to food if I wasn’t hungry no matter who asked me to eat.  No one controlled what I put in my mouth but me so let’s just run with it. 

Little did I know that these two changes were going to fundamentally alter my entire life.  I had made the smallest of course corrections to the heading of my life.  Two small changes. 

Accepting my Ignorance

Okay, so I am swimming a bit and eating less.  What now?  I wasn’t so naïve as to think these two changes alone would solve my weight issue.  If it were that simple we would not have an ever growing obesity crisis in the world.  However, I have decades of diet experience under my belt. 

I decided that rather than doing the same stupid-ass diets again I was going to try something new.  I was going to take a concept from business that I used all the time. 

To get results you have never gotten before,

you must do things you have never done before. 

Okay, I need to do something new.  I told myself that my intuition was not something I could rely on like I had thought I could before.  If I could intuit how to lose weight I would have done it by now. 

I decided I was going to take the Eddison approach and stop looking at my old diets as failures and instead just ways to not try again because they didn’t work.  But what do I do instead?  What do I change next? All I have successfully done with this exercise is to recognize that I had no idea what I was doing.

I have a problem with no known solution.  No obvious path forward.  This should have left me stuck but it didn’t……..I felt……..excited. In this moment of cluelessness it suddenly hit me.

The Realization

It was so obvious! Why had I not seen this before?!?!  I suddenly knew how to answer my question about what to do next.

While I was never able to conquer my weight and health, I had become very good at my job.  I sacrificed my health and wellness for my job for decades.  I spent a large portion of my life pouring all of myself into my work. Naturally I had gotten quite good at what I did as a result of that sacrifice. 

Over my career I developed myself into a system and process guy.  I referred to myself as a problem solver.  My passion is creating change and creating processes to drive sustainable change.  The bigger the problem and the more complex the change initiative the better for me. 

In my professional life I wanted the problems no one else wanted.  The unsolvable problems.  The ones that would require insane amounts of intense study, dedication, creativity, and outside the box thinking.   I prided myself on the ability to make the connections that others couldn’t see.  To see solutions in a field of noise and chaos.  It was my happy place.

So I view myself as a problem solver and had spent decades crafting and creating a framework for change management. I had used my framework many times on very large projects with success for other people. 

So why was I not using this in my own life for me?!?!? 

I have the most intense and challenging problem staring me in the face.  My weight! 

I remember the moment where I made the conscious choice to manage myself like I managed work.  This small and simple mindset shift was yet another of countless tiny changes that propelled my life in a new direction.

This is who I am, a problem solver. It was time to turn that skill towards myself.  Towards my own life.  I decided that I was going to start using my skills on myself.  Might as well, right?

It was time to turn my skillset towards myself for once. To work my process for the betterment of my own life instead of just my employer. 

The best part about doing this for my own life is that I was free to work unencumbered by the process of company red tape, office politics, or needing to convince bosses and peers to do something they didn’t understand.  I would no longer be hindered by the need to explain my own intuition to others.  I could truly do what I think is best without the need to explain myself to anyone.  I was starting to get really excited about this. 

Time to get to work!

Are You Ready to Learn What I Did?

This story was just the beginning.  Over the next 2.5 years I learned how to lose weight and keep it off.  

I want to teach you everything I know.  I want to teach you how to lose weight without needing to give up foods you love, or by being "that person" who can't eat anywhere because of some fad diet.  

The Guild was created to give you the knowledge and support to help you achieve your weight loss dreams.