Friday, October 18, 2013

Taking the Power Back: My Journey Starts Today

For a while now, I've felt it: out of control, out of shape, overweight, overwhelmed, and reactionary. For a while now, I've had false starts and well-meaning attempts to "do something about it." But even as I went through the motions, I knew I was just "going through the motions," because I knew I had to "do something."

Well, enough with the quotations marks: Today, I'm taking the power back on my time, my health, and my life.

How do I know this time is different?
Because I'm starting today--on a Friday. In the past, I would wait for a Monday. In the past, I would wait for the first day of the month. In the past, I would wait for January. No more waiting: This starts now.

But why today?
There's nothing particularly special about today, but I found myself driving into the Cincinnati office thinking about things I needed to accomplish. Some of them were simple tasks I've been putting off for far too long. I found myself making excuses to imaginary complaints--making excuses to myself--about why it's taken so long.

I'm an overachiever, but that's only because I overload myself. One result is that I often feel like I'm strapped for time and underperforming for my super high goals. Another result is that I feel like I'm reacting to situations, instead of being as proactive as I'd like to be. But it's not just about time management...

Three years ago, I started to let my health slide. I've had some ups and downs since, though mostly downs (which means my health has gone down and my weight has gone up). Three Octobers ago, I weighed 190 pounds; this morning, I weighed 250--for the first time ever.

If I continue down this path, I'm surely looking at diabetes, heart problems, and possibly death. I mean, after nearly dying in May of 2009, I should know better right. And technically I have "known" better, but I have "felt it"--not until today.

What am I going to do?
Whenever I teach others to do anything, I usually have two main pieces of advice (in addition to the more specific tips):
  1. Start slow and build over time.
  2. Start now.
So I'm going to start now. In fact, I've already started.

First step, I'm going through the process of identifying what's wrong, acknowledging it's wrong, and then taking proactive steps to improve the situation. I've identified problems above. I'm making a list of everything (from paying bills to leading den meetings and playing fantasy football) that occupies my time. Then, I'm going to go through that list and consider how I can do it better--or maybe eliminate it from my list.

Second step, I'm replacing soda pop (and all flavored drinks) with water. For me, soda pop is like coffee, alcohol, or cigarettes. It's my crutch when times are tough or complicated. I feel a physical and psychological dependence. I'm breaking that dependence starting today.

Third step, I'm going to make time for exercising each day. Even if it's just a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood, I'm going to exercise, and I'm going to do it every day.

Fourth step, I'm going to document my progress here. Since I'm getting started on a Friday, I guess I'll shoot to have a new post up every Friday.

Why share?
I'm usually so good about sharing the good side of my life: my poetry, my editing, my blogging, etc. But I don't usually share my bad times and struggles. That is one more thing I'm going to change starting now. Not that I'm going to be all negative or focused on the bad.

Rather, I'm going to start sharing from the low point, the point at which I feel like I can't take it anymore, and I'm going to share what I hope is a positive transforming experience. Hopefully, it will be inspirational for everybody involved: for people who read it and for me.

And I'm not going to judge anyone who's struggling, because I'm here at the crossroads of where I don't want to be and making a positive change. I know full well that it's not something someone else can make me do; in fact, I've often used people's comments about my health as an excuse to plunge deeper into the abyss. So no judging.

Also, no time tables, no weight goals, no pass/fail benchmarks. I want to improve my life by taking the power back. And I'm starting today.


Janet Martin said...

bravo! I wish you the best. it is far easier to share polished exteriors than to reveal our inner-selves. Thank-you for being brave and vulnerable today. I wish you the best.

Heather Button said...

Good for you. Don't give up. I'm glad you're making the choice today. I recently made my goal to exercize more as well, and I'm trying to combine goals. Like walk on a treadmill while reading. Just so I can feed my mind and my body. Good luck. You can do it.

Julie DeGuia said...

I could have written a very similar post. There are a lot of things that suck my time that don't get me anywhere near things I want to accomplish. I have been thinking about reprioritizing lately as well. My husband had to cut (soda) caffeine at one point b/c he would get headaches on the weekend when he didn't have it. Good choice cutting those empty calories! And good luck to you on this journey!

kelly davio said...

Wishing you lots of willpower and support along the way! Thanks for sharing this with us--we'll be cheering you on.

Tammy J Rizzo said...

I'm proud of you for making this decision. It's hard to admit that you need to change, let alone commit to making that change. I applaud everyone who does actually take the bull by the horns and start actually DOING what they had been talking about. I'll be rooting for you!

R. E. Hunter said...

Cutting out pop is a very good start, not just for your weight, but also for your liver.

If you really want to lose weight, cut out as much as possible refined flour products (white bread, pasta), refined sugar, rice, potatoes and oatmeal. These are things that really spike your blood sugar, which forces your body to turn the sugar into fat to get it out of your blood.

And this is going to sound crazy at first, but try to eat more fat! Not less, more. Everything you've been told about cutting down on fat is wrong. Fat makes you feel full, so you eat fewer total calories. It also slows digestion, which lowers the blood sugar spike, giving your body time to burn the sugar instead of turning it into fat. The low fat fad has been a big contributor to obesity.

If you want to learn about the metabolic issues involved, check out

I lost 30 pounds over six months, cut my blood pressure from 138/94 to 110/81, and 3 inches off my waist (the most important measurement) without counting calories or starving myself. I have more energy, more endurance. I couldn't believe how easy it was once I got use to my new diet.

irene said...

Inspirational sharing, Robert. We'll be cheering you on.

Nancy Parish said...

That's great Robert and quite brave to do publicly. About five weeks ago, I started doing P90X with my Brother and SiL and I have to say it's the hardest workout I've ever attempted outside of the pool. So far I've lost 4 inches around my waist and my flexibility has greatly improved. I highly recommend it!

-Nancy Parish

Shel Harrington said...

Starting on a FRIDAY??? I sure can appreciate the significance of that - this is serious biz. Like many others, I can relate all too well. Looking forward to he positive trip, Robert.

Jennifer said...

Good for you. As others have said, I've been there, too. Cutting out bread, pasta, potatoes and simple carbos really helped. Also substituting Stevia for sugar. And getting more exercise. I went on a plan called Turbocharge. Perhaps it would help you, too. After the first few weeks, I found I could cheat every now and then and it wouldn't be a problem. But when I cheat, I make it worthwhile: like a heavenly ice-cream sandwich made with two big chocolate chip cookies. I've lost 20 pounds in the last couple of months. It's wonderful.

Patti Hall said...

Bravo! I've just started the same thing, only focused on my writing. You taught me how to do social media, but I need to spend more time writing. I've started, today, working on that balance.
Great timing. Let's do this, as they say!!:>)

Anita Dawes said...

I know only too well where you're coming from Bob, and I will be following your blogs with more than a little curiosity!
You could just inspire me to follow suit (with your new goals, I mean) for it was almost as though it was me talking!
Best of luck!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Good luck Robert! You can do it! I think we all have those crossroad moments in our lives where we realize that somehow we've lost control and ended up in a place we didn't mean to be. So not only do we all understand, we will all be rooting for you :)

catherinemjohnson said...

Good luck with it, Robert. My husband lost a tonne of weight by eating really healthy and adding jalapenos to everything. Of course he keeps falling off the wagon but he's averaging okay. I don't have that willpower and I snack constantly while writing and doing social media. We have a treadmill so I'm trying really hard to read blogs on the playbook while walking. Two dogs walks just isn't cutting it, maybe they are too short ;) Let us know what you try.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments--and the advice!

I have to admit I was a little scared to share publicly, but I'm glad I did. I made it through day one without drinking any flavored water or soda pop (which is HUGE for me). Plus, I went for a walk at lunch and after work.

I'm looking forward to trying out other suggestions in the comments as well.

On to day two!

Lise said...

Thank you for sharing isn't easy, the sharing nor the doing. Success is yours, may the road be pleasant!

Sarah said...

Robert - it must be in the air. I've been writing along the same lines all week. A week I took to recuperate from the past 15 months of book-prep-publication-launch. You know the drill! But it was also time taken to focus on the crossroads at which I stand. I'm not quite ready to make the statement public - am just working it through - but totally resonate with what you;s feeling, how you shared it and above all, the WAY you are approaching change with complete compassion for yourself. The transparency is huge, I know; but also is the world in which I live so I'll just say well done and carry on. This is going to be mutually inspirational/beneficial for all of us. And what great timing - think of all the prompts and poems to come from this!!!

Jeanne Meeks said...

Wishing you the best, Bob. This first step, this decision has already gotten you halfway there.

Maren O. Mitchell said...

Robert, congratulations! Only you know how deep this decision goes, but you will be the one who reaps the greatest benefits. I sincerely wish you well.

Ms Hanson said...

Atta Girl, Robert!*

Start where you are.

Here's a technique I find useful across the board:

Identify one major potential factor - it could be soda, late bedtime, poor posture, taking on one more project.

Eliminate the factor entirely for 30, 60 or 90 days. Log the effect that absence seems to make - no more bloating, better sleep, freedom from chronic aches, focus on work.

Re-introduce the factor for 30, 60 or 90 days, and track the return (if any) of symptoms or feelings.

Note: this method works on positive changes as well. Add a dietary supplement, exercise, farming out mundane or repetitive work, meditation. Note gains or losses with the addition of new factors to determine if they are worth the time, money or effort.

I uncovered a milk allergy that emerged undetected by tests by experimenting in just this manner. After 6 months without any milk products I ate an ice cream, and the symptoms were almost immediate. Another 6 months without dairy, and I tried a cheese pizza slice. Same results. Saved my live, cost zero, and my cholesterol plummeted.

Anyone else try this simple method?

*BTW, Atta Girl is the non-gender-specific Pat On The Back I award to local heroes here. People work hard for my Atta Girls.

De said...

Good for you, Robert. For me, these things always have to be daily choices. I've been off sugar and processed flour since October 1, something I've done before for a month at a time...but this time, I'm calling it Everyday Plan A. There will be days (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) I may choose to break the fast, but this time I won't call it "falling off the wagon" or "failing...I'll start again next Monday."

I LOVE that you started on a Friday. That says it all, right there.

You wil rock this.

Rachel said...

Go, you!! I've been feeling kind of blah myself lately, and keep saying, "I really need to start exercising again... maybe on Monday." Perhaps I'll do something radical and start on a Sunday!

I look forward to seeing your updates; I'm sure they'll inspire a lot of people to take healthier steps themselves.

Gail Kushner said...

Good luck! Know that you have a supportive group here. We are all in the same boat: needing fewer calories and more activity. Just keep "leaning" in the right direction.

aphroditesmusings said...

Good for you. As some commenters have said, it feels like I could have written this post as well. So much that I need to prioritize and attend to!

I also decided to cut some dependencies, like beer during the week when I get home from work. I found it wasn't difficult, but more of a habit. If I want something with flavor (not just water), I might add lemon or a splash of grapefruit juice or cran-raspberry to my water.

I started drinking watter with Bragg's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar in the mornings as a cleansing tonic. It has live hoping it helps with digestion and general digestive health.

Good luck to you!

Laura Diane said...

Thanks for sharing such a personal leap. This is why support groups work because once you've gone public there are people out there expecting you to follow through. It will be invigorating and motivational to follow your progress as I have also made some "jump of the cliff" changes recently. Good luck, good thoughts, and lots of support.

Mary Bauer said...

I am impressed that you would make such a public statement. So many of your readers are rooting for you.

Anonymous said...

Good job, Robert, for owning up and making public. I was up to 250 myself and my dictor recommended the South Beach Diet. I liked it because its not really a diet; it teaches you how to change your eating habits for life (in phases). I did the SBD, stopped drinking pop, and exercised twice a day. I dropped 40 pounds and keep going. The realistic goal is to lose one pound per week. You can do it!

Amy Miller said...

I love reading this, Robert. You're doing good for yourself and for others with your brave declaration of something that so many of us have felt or are feeling right now. You have a community of supporters out here, and we in turn are supported by your openness and honesty.

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Nataly Eliyahu said...

Best of luck!
I've had a hard time to get the daily exercise habit.
Here's what finally seemed to work:
It has an engaging story, and I'm now running every day - if you're having trouble with sticking to an exercise habit, I recommend trying Zombies Run :)