Things People in the ‘100lb Club’ Wished You Knew

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This month marks two years since I joined the ‘100lb club’ … again. A couple of weeks ago a coworker posted that she has also joined the club. Well, that isn’t what she said, but it was basically the same thing.

Note: my focus on the 100lb club is not intended to diminish what people experience who have lost 10 or 25 or 50 lbs or struggled to gain weight … it is more focused on the physical reality that rather than an ‘adjustment’, a 100lb weight differential represents a true body-morphing.

And further, when Lisa lost about 50 lbs a decade ago many things I talk about below happened to her – it was amazing watching some of the preschool moms change in how they looked at and treated her … all of the ‘catty’ stereotypes were in full force.

What is the 100lb club?

The 100lb ‘Club’ isn’t a club at all, but is quite simply about people who have lost more than 100 lbs. I had read about it as a term used on several forums and fitness groups to identify as a milestone for extreme weight loss. Bottom line – if you have lost 100 lbs or more … you started out significantly obese.

As I said, this month is two years of re-joining the 100lb club. Actually, I am in the ‘110lb club’ – I am approximately 110lbs lighter now than I was in March of 2012. But as I have noted – I was much heavier when I graduated college – in fact, as of my wedding in 1992 I would put myself very close to the 200lb club! The reality is I won’t step on the scale until I feel I am making positive steps, for fear of being so dejected I would quit. So when I weighed myself over 375lbs, I know I started higher. And before my wedding I was down to about 185lbs, which is 190lbs weighed difference.

My colleague posted about her weight loss as part of a Facebook ‘gratitude challenge’. What she said was touching and poignant, so I am stealing it:

I am grateful for my willpower and motivation. It has carried me through this journey to a healthier me. I am also thankful that I have found inspiration through others – their stories, their accomplishments, their pictures (thank you [redacted, but included me]). 112 baby!

She has lost 112 pounds – and it shows in every way. She looks great, feels great – and has the confidence to KNOW she looks great and be happy with that. Honestly it is great seeing that in someone else.

But something happens when you lose that much weight – the world shifts. Sure YOU change as well, but you also become aware of things that perhaps you didn’t notice before. Or maybe people feel more comfortable saying things around you that they wouldn’t have before. Either way, I thought it would be interesting to share some things I have found through the years personally, and have shared with others who have lost large amounts of weight.

We Will ALWAYS Be That Fat Person Inside

It is really weird – I have spent nearly all of the last 25 years within 20lbs of my ‘target’ (I am actually ‘below target’ now), and yet I cannot look in a mirror and see myself for the thin person that I am.

Part of that is self-image. Being so large as a child, my formative years were filled with self-identification (aided by the joys of other kids) as a fat kid. So I will always be that fat kid in my mind.

The other part is physical – losing so much weight changes your body, and unfortunately not everything falls neatly into place. The most recent public example was the case involving Shape magazine I’ve discussed in the past. The reality of ‘loose skin’ is perhaps the biggest disappointment of extreme weight loss – because all of the shows and magazines make you think you will suddenly look like one of the models they show off … or quite frankly, like a normal thin person. But you don’t.

No, Fat Jokes and Making Fun of Fat People are NOT Suddenly Funny

This one honestly shocked me when I first lost weight – because it started with people who knew I had been fat for 23 years and thin for less than a year – and yet I was suddenly supposed to take pleasure in ridiculing people who were heavy or who got out of breath easy?

For people who don’t know me, I had it explained that no one would ever look at me and think I was morbidly obese – I mean, I have a large enough frame that at 6’1″ I was on the offensive and defensive lines in high school football and was a force to reckon with … and now I have a ‘runner’s body’ and that is how people see me.

But that assumption has led people to feel it is ok to berate fat people with me standing there – someone said something last year, and another person in the group said ‘you know Mike was even bigger than that guy just a couple of years ago’. You could have heard a pin drop.

So what that did for me was to show me that that I was NOT imagining the eye-rolls, and looks and snickers and so on … because once I was no longer fat, I heard them used on other people.

We Can Never ‘Take it Easy’

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You see that tiny bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms? It has sat unopened in my work backpack for a couple of weeks now since I got handed a sample in the store.

I will never eat it. Never.

Sure you can tell me it is only 100 calories or so and not a big deal. You can compare it to other things I eat such as the peanut butter chocolate cake recipe I shared.

But it isn’t about the nutritional content – it is an ’emotional trigger’ food. In 2011 and into 2012 I would very often have a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms in my drawer at work, and one of the ‘WTF moments for me was eating an entire ‘large’ bag across two days. I felt disgusting in many different ways, and haven’t had any Peanut Butter M&Ms since I started back with running.

And for me processed and packaged ‘junk foods’ tend to fall off when I am running, but this time is different in many ways – I simply don’t want to eat them, and I am more careful than ever about what I put into my body.

And I hear about it – regularly.

‘Aw c’mon … you can just run another mile’.
‘You could use some extra calories, you’re too skinny’
‘You can just eat whatever you want’

And so on. Point is – once you have lost this type of weight, you don’t want to gain it back … ever. You want to maintain that great healthy feeling, so you avoid foods that make you feel lousy, and more important you avoid foods that you associate with being fat – and most of all you avoid ‘downfall’ foods. Quite often you no longer want them …

… but sometimes with food for someone who has gone through extreme weight loss, it is like waving a drink in front of an alcoholic.

Our Clothes are About US, Not You

Honestly this is true for pretty much anyone – so I am sure many people can identify with this: that moment when you go from wearing clothes that are 1 – 2 sizes too large to hide your body, to wearing fitted items that show off your body! Last Friday I wore my skinny jeans to work and realized the biggest problem with my new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was the whole issue of pockets and fitted clothes and huge phones …

I have incredible memories shopping at the Jordan Marsh back in ’89 & ’90, totally transforming my wardrobe, showing off my new looks. I never really cared before … but now suddenly I did.

You Treat Us Differently … and We Notice

When I first lost weight, I was also getting my first job, and my life was changing in many ways. But I also maintained friendships with many people from high school and college and the retail store I worked all during those 8 years … and once we got past the issue of my weight and body transformation.

It is like you are suddenly part of the ‘in crowd’ … and it feels really good, until you pass someone who is NOT … and you realize THAT person was YOU a few months before.

Some of the ways I was treated differently:
– Before Lisa and I were dating, I had a flight delay on a connection, and had a girl sit down next to me, and she ended up inviting me to come to Shakespeare in the Park with her and her family.
– I no longer feel judged based on what I eat.
– Even at 48 I have women (some uncomfortably close to my kids age) who flirt with me.
– People seek me out, remember me, and go out of their way to include me.
– I realized that for more than a couple of people my weight loss suddenly made me ‘an option’ … which seemed flattering until I realized how incredibly insulting it was.

But the biggest one is the most ironic … when I was at my heaviest, when I could literally fill a door way – I was invisible. Now I am noticed.

We Are Not Experts, Spokespeople, or Advocates

It is incredibly awesome to have people come to me looking for ‘my secret’ … sadly many people leave disappointed when I say ‘eat less, eat better, and get some exercise’ as my secret.

I have talked about it before, but I feel that just as my body seems to conspire to gain weight when I do not exercise and watch what I eat – I get into a spiral of unhealthy habits, excessive portions, and lethargy … so too does it conspire to help me when I run. When I run I want healthy foods, I tend to eat less (it has been an effort to properly fuel my running), and so on.

I am a person with a story, who has successfully lost weight – I am not a nutritionist, a fitness coach or personal trainer, or someone who can ‘help your friend/spouse/child lose weight’. Yes I have been asked to talk to someone ‘as a former heavy person’ more than once.

But at the same time, I LOVE being a sounding board, I LOVE sharing my story, what I have been through, and how much running and eating well has transformed my life. But it is hard because I become a magnet for people trying to lose weight … who then avoid me like the plague if they fail.

What This All Means to Me

To repurpose the end of this article“But deep inside, I still am and always will be a fat boy, with a fat boy’s awareness that the world is not nearly as nice as it sometimes seems right now. “

But at the same time I notice something else that I saw elsewhere and copied into a draft months ago “Turns out I was the meanest person to me while at my fattest. There was nothing anyone could’ve said that would have been worse than the constant track running through me head of “You’re a fat piece of shit and deserve nothing”.

That One Person Who Is There For You

I have heard the line countless times on TV and in movies, and I saw it again just the other night “would you love me if I was fat?” Bottom line – someone whose love is conditional upon a pant size or number on a scale doesn’t really love you.

I have talked about my love for Lisa many times, and the great fortune I feel at the life and marriage we share and work to maintain … but beyond anything else she has known me not just at my best and worst, but also my thinnest and fattest. And she loves me regardless … because beyond thin or fat there is ME. And while her weight has also fluctuated through the years, my love for her has never been in question, and neither has hers.

I have always been lucky to have the greatest supporter and teammate in the world.

One More Pet Peeve – Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege

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I had another pet peeve, something I saw in Boston (and New York, and regularly here in the Corning area), but wanted to separate it out. I have another post I am working on related to my own observations from being both very fat and very thin as well as ‘normal’ – but I decided not to clog that up with this issue. So instead you get a quickie*** on something that I have thought about for nearly 40 years since I first heard judgments passed against me based on my size and shape: Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege.

One thing that came out of the comments in the pet peeve post was something Harold said about “the general lack of people being courteous to other people”. That is very true, but I am talking here about one of the last ‘acceptable’ forms of discrimination – Fat Shaming.

But first …

Yes I know there is ‘body shaming’ for being too thin.

Suz wrote about some harsh comments she received in which she was told that the person KNEW she had an eating disorder, I know Lauren has also heard theses things, and anyone who is thin and eats very light in public has either gotten ‘looks’ or had something said to (or about) them. That sucks, and being judged and having your feelings hurt really sucks.

But as noted in this article, personal emotional impacts simply are not the same as oppression.

Most People Reading This Have No Idea What it is Like to Be Obese

I know many folks have dealt with weight loss, and some started running and healthy eating to help control weight. But I had it put in perspective for me by someone I worked with for 10 years, during which time I got back to 220lbs once and 240lbs another time. She said after reading one of my posts that “I had no idea you struggled with weight.”

Because gaining and losing 20 – 40lbs on a body that has a healthy weight of ~190lbs or so is really not a big deal. I might look at pictures and think I was fat, but it never impacted things the way it did when I was >275 a couple of years ago, and especially when I was over 375 lbs and pushing out of a 48 waist pant size (for reference I now wear a 30).

The reason I note that most people I know who are runners have never been obese, is that they generally benefit from ‘thin privilege’, and having never ‘seen the other side’, chances are they don’t know.

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What IS Thin Privilege

To say that the treatment from strangers is different when you are 375+lbs compared to 185lbs … is an incredible understatement.

If you look at my food posts – my huge ice creams are celebrated on Instagram, and also in real life. I got one at a recognition lunch that was way too large for its description and everyone was enjoying checking it out and there was nothing uncomfortable or judgmental. And at our department boat trip I wanted to have dessert and share it, and when there was some left one person noted that the calories ‘were like rounding error’ for the amount I burn on my runs (remember- these are all math geeks like me!).

At this point I am lean, apparently look like a runner, and people treat me differently than I ever have been in my life. I am reaping the full benefits of ‘Thin Privilege’.

Here are some examples of Thin Privilege from this article:

– You’re not assumed to be unhealthy just because of your size.
– Your size is probably not the first thing people notice about you (unless you’re being thin-shamed – the opposite of fat-shamed).
– When you’re at the grocery store, people don’t comment on the food selection in your cart in the name of “trying to be helpful.”
– Your health insurance rates are not higher than everyone else’s.
– You can expect to pay reasonable prices for your clothing.
– You can expect to find your clothing size sold locally.
– You can expect to find clothing in the latest styles and colors instead of colorless, shapeless and outdated styles meant to hide your body.
– You don’t receive suggestions from your friends and family to join Weight Watchers or any other weight-loss program.
– When you go to the doctor, they don’t suspect diabetes (or high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other “weight-related” diagnoses) as the first/most likely diagnosis.
– You don’t get told, “You have such a pretty/handsome face” (implying: if only you’d lose weight you could be even more attractive).
– People do not assume that you are lazy, based solely on your size.
– You’re not the brunt of jokes for countless numbers of comedians.
– Airlines won’t charge you extra to fly.
– You are not perceived as looking sloppy or unprofessional based on your size.
– You can eat what you want, when you want in public and not have others judge you for it or make assumptions about your eating habits.
– You can walk out of a gas station with a box of doughnuts and not have people yell at you to “Lay off them doughnuts, fatty!” (This actually happened to one of my friends.)
– People don’t ask your partners what it’s like to have sex with you because of your size.
– Your body type isn’t sexually fetishized.
– You’re more likely to get a raise or promotion at work than someone who is fat.
– Friends don’t describe you to others using a qualifier (e.g. “He’s kind of heavy, but REALLY nice, though”).
– The media doesn’t describe your body shape as part of an “epidemic”.
– You can choose to not be preoccupied with your size and shape because you have other priorities without being judged.

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How Fat Shaming Becomes Oppression

Fat Shaming is a well-enough known term that I don’t have to elaborate, but it is quite simply ‘active discrimination’ based on your weight or body shape (which also applies to thin shaming) … it is only one type of shaming, and people will get judged for pretty much everything. But Fat Shaming is a ‘special case’, because not only is it common (see ‘Fat Shaming Week’), it is held as acceptable to society. In fact, and as shown through many advertising campaigns, it is often seen as more than acceptable – it is seen as a GOOD THING, because some believe that fat shaming will lead fat people to stop being so fat. And if not, then they DESERVE what they get … at which point it crosses into oppression.

Oppression is a very strong word, but look at the definition:

Oppression involves “the systematic subjugation of a group of people by another group of people who have access to social power, the result of which benefits one group over the other, and is maintained by social beliefs and practices.”

Another Everyday Feminism post looks at the oppressive aspects of Fat Shaming:

1. It is pervasive.

It is EVERYWHERE in our social and societal institutions, to the point of becoming something of a shared consciousness. An example of this is fat jokes – everyone gets them immediately. Heck, there are TV shows based almost entirely on fat jokes.

2. It is restricting.

In the same way gender discrimination limits the paths of women, and racial discrimination limits opportunities for minorities, so too does fat discrimination limit opportunities for larger people .. just look at the ‘thin privilege’ list for a few.

3. It is hierarchical.

In much the way that the old discrimation joke said ‘I always pick the best person for the job … it isn’t my fault that the best person is always white, male, Christian and Republican’ … so too do we see areas where someone who isn’t thin has an inherent disadvantage.

I mean, it has come up before, but ask yourself – would you hire a fitness coach or nutritionist who is 50lbs overweight? Is their knowledge and expertise somehow lesser because they are fat? No – but because they are not fat we are allowed to pass judgment that they are unskilled (otherwise they would be thin, right?)

4. The dominant group has the power to define and name reality.

The terms “normal,” “real,” or “correct” are defined by the dominant powers. They define what is average, and what is ‘preferable’ or ‘desirable’. The problem is that the inverse – what is abnormal and undesirable – becomes obvious, and is accepted for scorn, pity and discrimination.

The article closes by noting how Fat Shaming as oppression differentiates from being made fun of for having scrawny legs, as one example that was used:

When you have hurt feelings – legitimate as they are – it isn’t the result of subjugation.

The negative attitudes toward you as a privileged person aren’t pervasive, restricting, or hierarchal.

You aren’t losing out on anything just because someone’s words, actions, or beliefs had an emotional impact on you.

Fat Shaming is EASY

We all know that body shaming – or shaming anyone for ANY reason – is wrong … but in many cases it is easy.

Take grocery stores – as noted at XOJane, “because I am fat, the contents of my shopping cart — and anything I put into my mouth, at that — are open to public scrutiny.”

I am very sensitive to fat shaming and public ridicule, and am generally very good about not judging others as an overall rule. Several of us have talked about how elements in our childhood play into things we like, dislike and are sensitive to as adults. This is one for me.

Yet I am not perfect … I have noted that my running, losing ~110lbs, and so on have been ‘inspirational’ to people at work and I had several people come up to me in 2012 as they were on their own journey, and also last year in Kentucky. The problem is when you have someone ask for advice, talk to you about their issues … and then you see them engaging in self-sabotage. It is hard to NOT judge, and I hate myself for it.

*** OK, reading through I see I planned this as a ‘quickie’ … um, totally failed. Oh well, you guys know me better than that by now! 🙂

What are YOUR Thoughts Fat (and Thin) Shaming, Oppression and Anything Else?

From the Archives: A Reminder About Fad Diets From ‘The Ghost of Weight Loss Past’

As a reminder, I am on vacation this week and planning to be ‘mostly offline’ – so I scheduled a few post ‘reruns’ from the very early days of the blog (when I had very few readers)! This one was originally posted here.

Rice Cakes

I like to call fad diets ‘fail diets’, because unless you look at one and think ‘wow, that is pretty much how I eat anyway’, you are probably being asked to totally cut out some food group you actually love … and for me that is a sign of ‘rebound failure’. You will feel like you are denying your self and depriving yourself … and then end up on a binge spiral. The degree to which people can totally cut out things they love to eat … well, it is shown pretty solidly through obesity statistics.

I think the mindset needs to be ‘modification’, and NOT ‘massive alteration’. Of course, when I first lost weight there was some of both.

I was reminded of this as someone on Facebook posted about their weight and health issues and how their habits were in dire need of a change … and so they decided to go vegan. Not regulate their intake, not reduce portions and control the balance of processed and fried food, not even go vegetarian … but full-on vegan.

That is a radical change – I am NOT calling becoming vegan a ‘fad diet’, but when people jump to it as a magical cure for weight and health issues, it might as well be. I am again reminded of Bloom County:

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Back when I started losing weight a year out of college in 1989, things like yogurt, rice cakes and fat-free salad dressings were all the rage. And because I love salads, love yogurt and fruit, I was easily able to switch over to having grapefruit and plain toast for breatfast, simple salad with fat free dressing for lunch, yogurt & rice cakes for a snack, then a simple dinner.

As I have noted, I lost about 175 pounds when all was said and done in 1989 through a combination of diet and exercise. There is little doubt that I used deprivation and the feelings of hunger to motivate myself. But there was also no way I was giving up steak or ice cream completely. But what is interesting is how one of the staples of my weight loss – rice cakes – is such a terrible food.

Rice cakes: Considered as one of the ultimate ‘diet-food’ in the late 1980s and 1990s, don’t let yourself get fooled by this dish. Rice cakes have a glycemic index of 91 and can make your blood sugar go sky-high. They are bad for weight loss and your overall health.

Fat free salad dressings are another one – full-up with HFCS, they mess with your system. One that I used last year when I started losing weight again was grits. I thought they were like oatmeal – fill you up, good for you. Well, only half of that was true! Grits are absolute crap, as it turns out! Once I found that out over a year ago I quit it immediately.

My point is that for many of us weight control is a lifelong struggle. And there are MANY multi-billion dollar industries that have sprung up around it. But think … what would happen if everyone learned how to lose weight and just lost it and kept it off using nothing but products from their grocery store without needing special pills, chemicals or books? That would be terrible for the industry – and so you have to remember that this industru doesn’t succeed when too many people succeed.

So beware of fad diets and miracle products – because it is not in their best interest for you to succeed.

From the Archives: What Is A Runner’s Body?

As a reminder, I am on vacation this week and planning to be ‘mostly offline’ – so I scheduled a few post ‘reruns’ from the very early days of the blog (when I had very few readers)! This one was originally posted here.

The other day in her otherwise great post, Laura said “I don’t even “look” like a runner”. My first thought was ‘SURE YOU DO!’ … but my second thought was ‘I know EXACTLY how you feel!’ In fact, just before I started this blog I did a guest post on the subject for Ann’s Running Commentary. Here it is:

Here’s a quick mental exercise: close your eyes and think of a large group of people. Maybe folks you work with, go to school with, ran your last race with, or whatever. Have them in your head? Great – now separate them into two categories: those WITH runner’s bodies, and those who do NOT have runner’s bodies. OK, now place yourself in a group.

First off, I am going to assume that most of you put yourself in the non-runner’s body group. If not, you probably don’t need to read this … at least not for yourself!

Next, I am going to further assume that the division you made was very easy for some body types and difficult for others. Morbidly obese = non-runner; looks like Ryan Hall = runner. But what about someone who looks like Kara Goucher but is 50 pounds overweight? Or someone who has short legs, awkward joints, but is thin and muscular? And when you got to the ‘toughest’ group, what divided them?

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Right around college graduation

Now to break it down further, select 5 people from each side. Five runners, five non-runners. Choose gender as you wish to break down the differences. At this point you should have a pretty distinct idea about who does and does not have a runner’s body – and what it is about YOU that puts you in the ‘NOT’ category.

But what if I said that ALL TEN of these people had just completed a marathon? Suddenly you would start reassessing your decisions. And if I further said that of these ten, four had ‘Boston Qualified’ … but only TWO from the ‘runner’s body’ side? Again your decision-making would be thrown into turmoil.

So … What is the Deal with the ‘Runner’s Body’?

For many of us who came to running not as a high school or college sport but as a purely optional activity later on in life, weight loss was at least part of the motivation. Perhaps overall fitness, but even in that case it generally starts with dissatisfaction over how we look.

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At a convention the summer before college senior year

As I mentioned before, I graduated high school at 275 pounds and college at 375 pounds … so it is a fairly safe assumption that I was very unhappy with how I looked and felt. As I also mentioned, for me running was all about weight loss and maintenance – and after that the ability to eat more or less whatever I wanted with few consequences. Well, other than the consequence of never really hitting my ‘ideal’ weight, and that when I stopped exercising the weight would gradually come back.

But for the last year or so my goals have been about speed, distance, and seeking constant improvement in my running as well as my diet and overall health and fitness. It might seem like the same thing, but in reality my outlook, priorities and goal system is very different than ever before. I concerned myself with running shoes (instead of whatever fit and felt decent and was less than $50 on sale at Foot Locker), running clothes, form, pace, and general tracking.

I also learned about looking at food as fuel. Again, it is something I have always known and my eating habits tend to be naturally pretty good, but I learned about losing weight by myself with the advice of others in the 80s and again when my wife was in Weight Watchers a decade later. And frankly, aside from ‘eat real food and avoid processed crap’, most of that stuff was wrong. So now I am properly fueling and eating more ‘superfoods’ and learning great (and not so great) new recipes every week.

To go along with it, I started caring more about my appearance. Whereas before I was happy running ~12 – 15 miles a week and being ‘thin’, now I am asking more of myself. Not just more mileage, but also more speed, variety, and overall fitness.

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Early in the 2012 weight loss process … still close to 250lbs

I lay this all out for a reason: for the first time in my life people are quick to assume I’m a runner – I have been told that I ‘look like a runner’ in some form many times this year. Before I would get a ‘oh, you’re a runner’ reaction that was not dismissive but also did not do much for my already crappy self-image. Now I will get comments like ‘you can save on car rentals by running to the plant’ from people I have never directly mentioned my running.

It is weird – because I certainly do not see a ‘runner’s body’ in the mirror. What is it that holds me back? It is pretty simple: I do not see myself as either small or thin. Let’s take those one at a time.

I do not see myself as small: look, I played on the high school football team for a year until a faulty set of pads combined with a well placed hit gave me a hairline fracture on my sternum. More importantly? I played on the line. I played intramural football throughout high school and college – always on the line, where I was a force to deal with. My waist is a 32, and I am not likely to ever be smaller than that. That is small – but not something likely to put me on target for a ~0.5 height to weight ratio typical of elite marathoners. So … I will always see myself as ‘big’.

I do not see myself as thin: part of weighing 375 pounds when I was 23 before I started losing weight is that there are remnants that will never fully go away. By remnants I mean ‘loose skin’. Yuk, I know. Also, having regained 50 pounds a couple of times and the 100 pounds I lost in 2012 means more ‘skin stretching time’. Basically at the top of my stomach I have a ‘six pack’, but by the bottom I have a small ‘spare tire’ that will never fully disappear. While I KNOW it is loose skin in my head, the ‘u r fat’ voices in there always manage to drown out that knowledge when I feel vulnerable.

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2013 Finish of PA Grand Canyon Marathon

So … I have a ‘Runner’s Body’, but I don’t.

And that is where the problem begins and ends – inside of my head. Because since I started running in 1989 I have been a runner – and I’ve had a runner’s body. And so do you. It might not be your ultimate goal weight or fitness level, and you might not have the arms or legs or butt or abs you would like. But you have a runner’s body.

Because you know what defines a runner’s body? The body that carries you through the miles of running.

My ‘Paleo Journey’ Guest Post, and ‘Six Places’

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Last week I had two guest posts on my weight loss and running journeys at The Gluten-Free Treadmill, and the response was … well, just incredible. I can’t thank Laura and all of the amazing folks who commented both here at there on the post. But guess what … I’m back! Today Laura is hosting part #1 of what I called the ‘Paleo journey of our omnivore family’. Check it out to learn how we worked on changing our family diet to adapt to Lisa’s allergies and intolerance issues – and for all of us to eat better.

While we’re on the subject of diet, the whole subject of Gluten has become a mess. Someone decided that cutting out gluten helps you lose weight, and suddenly being gluten-free went from being a way to deal with allergy and intolerance to a trendy fashionable thing … like this (NSFW language):

Anyway …

10 Day You Challenge

Day 5 of the ’10 Day You’ Challenge is ‘Six Places’. This is easy and hard – easy to pick great places, hard to choose six. I left out my homes in Stoughton, Acton, Townsend MA and Horseheads NY, and also my workplaces through the years. I also left out MOST of the vacation spots and even a number of great work destinations I have visited. It made me realize that while not a world traveler’ to a huge extent, I have been to plenty of places and had amazing times!

Day Five: Six Places

1. My college fraternity – even though it is a bit weird going back now, the years I spent and the things I did and went through built who I am today.

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2. Antigua Honeymoon with Lisa – we were so young when we got married (though older than any of our siblings and most of our friends), and it was really weird suddenly being someplace filled with OTHER people with your exact same wedding date. We had so much fun, and saw so many different types of couples, including many who seemed to build their days around not spending any time together … wonder where they all are now … ?

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3. Wherever the roads may take me – this picture is from the trails at 8500ft in Park City, Utah … which was an amazing trip paid for by Hyundai in late summer 2012. I also had one from San Diego, and some from everywhere I have run these past coupe of years. As I noted before, running for me is now part of my way of exploring new places … and gives me new perspective on old places.

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4. Washington DC – we seem to have great memories from every vacation we take – which I think is because we work hard to make it all fun, even if things don’t go as expected. This vacation everything seemed to click, and each day was just filled with great things – we explored everywhere and had an amazing time.

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5. Cape Code & Boston with the family – I have already talked about how much we love Boston and the Cape, and wanting to be retired along the beach … I have so many Cape Cod memories since camping there as a little kid to our vacation in 2012.

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6. Anywhere with Lisa/strong> – Yeah, I KNOW! But it is true – whether it is coffee on the porch, a fancy dinner, or whatever … we find and make our own fun. This picture was in the big chair they have out front where we went apple picking last year. Sure it is there mostly for kids to play on … but who says WE can’t be kids as well?!?

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So what is YOUR diet like, and what are some of YOUR favorite places and why?

Wednesday Wandering Mind, “I Run …”, Stopping the Streak, and My ‘8 Fears’

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It has been a while since I did one of these Wandering Mind posts, but not for a lack of randomness! Since I have so much stuff … let’s get right to it!

1. Shaking Up The Workplace

A really interesting article at HuffPo last week looked at the worst places in the world to work. The worst places had obvious problems such as “murder and disappearance are regularly used to intimidate workers”. Denmark was the only country to meet all 97 worker’s rights criteria. How did WE do? Not so great … and really not a surprise to me.

The U.S., embarrassingly, scored a 4, indicating “systematic violations” and “serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers.”

OK, that is fine – but what should YOU do?

Well, a few articles this week look at a variety of options. First off, you might need to deal with shifting workplace standards like this woman who suddenly found herself with a much younger boss. Personally for me the difficulty has always been the boss themselves, never the age – old, young, same age … who cares, doesn’t matter is they are good. Actually doesn’t matter is they aren’t good either – except that perhaps there is the opportunity for feedback to help them out more if they are younger (and if they are older and are lousy, that is really unfortunate).

You might even try to make big changes at your company – I know I read these posts about good and bad habits of various companies and see both sides in pretty much every company I have worked for or worked with.

But, ultimately maybe you have found yourself in a job or company you know you hate – check out this list of 10 reasons you need to quit your job in 2014 and see if it is time for a change.

2. National Running Day

Cori is hosting a link-up for National Running Day, and while we discussed the insular nature of many of these sorts of things (i.e. most of us will ‘run for running day’ … same as any other Wednesday), I still think that any effort to get people moving is a good thing – even if it is a ‘greeting card holiday’ (e.g. Brooks is sponsoring some of the efforts around, which gives them free advertising).

For my ‘story’ … well, I am going to be lazy and just refer back to my posts on the story – because it was just last week! Here is part one, and part two – which point to my guest posts for Laura here and here.

For today? Like I said, I got up and ran. And with no watch, no GPS, nothing – and I tried to mix up my route as much as possible in the time I have. Did about 9 or so miles, and felt lighter and speedier than I have since last week.

3. Powerful, Poignant Slam Poetry

My kids participate in an after school club called ‘WAS”, which stands for ‘wider arts society’. My older son did a slam poem at one meeting recently, and he previewed it to use … powerful stuff. This video was put up on YouTube a month or so ago and I have had it in a ‘drafts for later’ post ever since. It is something everyone should watch … and if it doesn’t move you, check your pulse.

4. On the Santa Barbara City College Shootings – Yes, The Onion is Satire, But …

I don’t even know where to start with the recent mass killing in California, but it was interesting that The Onion did a take that was poignant enough that there wasn’t the normal confusion over whether or not it was real, and people on my Facebook link just expressed sadness. I am not sure exactly what to do with that … but I’m pretty sure that it is meaningful.

Also, Mark Manson has an article on how we miss the point on these shootings. Thought provoking stuff.

5. Ending My Runner’s World Streak

I talked about the brutal hill repeats I did with my 12.5 mile run on Sunday on Instagram, and coming after my 14.5 mile long flat run on Saturday, as well as coming after 3 rest days in all of May … well, my body was telling me on Sunday that it was exhausted.

So I woke up on Monday ready to NOT run … and that was exactly what my body was telling me. I got up out of bed … then went back to sleep. Because a running streak is essentially meaningless – but listening to your body, is incredibly important.

6. Own Your Happiness

The other day Suz talked about regrets, and Sara in her ’10 Day You’ post ‘called BS’ on people who “don’t have at least one thing they wish they could go back and change.”

Over at Greatist, they take it a step further – rather than looking backwards, they look at the NOW. What can you do NOW to be mindful of all the little decisions we make every day to control our happiness? It is a fun little read – and it is always worth looking at the things we can do to improve the quality of our lives.

7. OK … just randomness

I love this video of a reporter trying to keep up with elite marathoners at the Stockholm Marathon.

What happens to our body when we stop drinking water?

More on Water – from Medium: ‘An Explanation of Water and Our Bodies’:

I drink lots of water but still feel thirsty!
This happens to a lot of people. Some research groups have calculated that about 95% of North Americans are constantly dehydrated. Normally trying to drink the right amount of water every day can fix this (side note: the ‘correct’ amount of water for you is half your weight in ounces, meaning a 150lb person should drink 75 ounces per day, equal to 2.25 liters), but most people don’t drink that much.

I have talked before how I really don’t like all of these artificial ‘love’ and ‘celebration’ days – Valentine’s, Mother’s, Father’s, Bosses, Grandparents, and so on. I love this Penny Arcade comic on the subject … because regardless of what we say, there are almost always at least minimal expectations.

I am often posting about the BS of the music business, and how much of what we think we ‘choose’ has been force-fed into our brains. So if you think music has become more diverse, or your tastes are ‘I will listen to just about anything’ – there is a REALLY big chance you are very wrong. Why? Because 1% of Artists Earn 77% of Music Revenue. So those few names you hear? The industry makes sure to concentrate YOUR dollars there to keep up their (the executives) revenue streams … which in turn makes a very few people very, very rich. All of whom are mainstream and have massive teams who do most of the work behind whatever you hear.

Are you a fan of the classic story Strega Nona? Here is a Barnes & Noble ‘Online Storytime’ feature on the book.

And finally – and assuming everyone knows already how I would feel about this … “11 Signs You’re A Men’s Rights Activist”

1. You have no problem with the gender wage gap. But you hate having to pay for dates.

2. You insist that it’s a scientifically proven fact that men are stronger than women. But you complain about society believing that it’s worse for a man to hit a woman than for a woman to hit a man.

3. You believe that the age of consent is unfair and that there’s nothing wrong with having sex with teenage girls. But when you find out that a teenage girl enjoys sex, you believe she’s the biggest slut in the world.

4. You hate when a woman automatically assumes that a man is a douchebag before getting to know him. But when you like a woman who likes another man, you assume he’s a douchebag just because he’s not you.

5. You believe that if women want equality, they should be drafted into the military. But you also believe that the military is not a place for women.

6. You hate when women assume that men are like wild animals. But you believe that a woman who doesn’t cover up and make herself invisible to men is just like someone wearing a meat suit around wild animals.

7. You hate the fact that men are bullied for not conforming to their male gender roles. But when you find out that a man disagrees with your beliefs about women’s rights, your immediate response is to try to emasculate him by comparing him to a woman as an insult.

8. You hate when women assume that there are no nice guys. But you call yourself a nice guy and act like it’s a rare quality that should cause women to be all over you.

9. You hate when women assume that men just want to get laid. But when you find out that a man is a feminist, you assume that he’s just doing it to get laid.

10. You hate when women make generalizations about all men. But when a woman calls you out for being sexist, you claim that all men think like you.

11. You insist that women should be responsible for protecting themselves from being raped. But when they follow the one piece of advice that actually works, which is being aware of red flags, you complain about them assuming that all men are rapists.

10 Day You Challenge

OK, so now I am up to Day 3, and the theme is Fear.

Day Three: Eight Fears

1. One of the boys dying – they say there is no worse feeling as a parent than losing your child … and honestly I never want to find out.

2. Lisa dying – at this point in my life I know people who have lost spouses. Not to freak accidents, but to cancer and heart attack and so on.

3. Being Unable to Provide for My Family – Getting laid off put the impermanence of things in perspective … and coupled with the info above about the US as a not-so-great place for workers, I worry that something will happen and I will not be able to work and keep us going financially.

4. Being stuck someplace confined – I don’t have severe claustrophobia, but I remember being a kid and having a narrow spot between rocks to get through … twice, and barely making it. Being larger than the other kids didn’t help.

5. Becoming Mentally Incapacitated – the threat of Alzheimer’s disease is very real and very scary. On the good side I look up and down both sides of my family and there is no history of dementia. But the thought of being unable to function in that way scares me.

6. Losing my vision – I am very fortunate to have great vision, but I have also noticed in the last couple of years that my up-close vision isn’t as strong as it used to be, to the point where for really small print I will just use the magnifier on my phone. I know reading glasses are in my future – which is fine … but the thought of being completely unable to rely on good vision? Not fun.

7. Losing My Love for Running – I hope to always remember that awful feeling of trying to restart running in March 2012, because (a) it makes me appreciate how far I’ve come, (b) it helps me empathize with others just starting out and (c) it is a reminder how different my post-thyroid landscape is.

8. Getting Fat – Yeah, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. I know it is one of few things on this list entirely under my control, but it is still a deeply held fear that motivates me in many good and not-so-good ways.

Bonus. Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett – Last Concert of the Bitches Brew Era

From November of 1971, a DVD was made of the Miles Davis group that disbanded later that month. The group consisted of Miles on trumpet, Gary Bartz on saxophone, Keith Jarrett on electric piano and electric organ, Michael Henderson on electric bass, Leon Chancler on drums, and Mtume and Don Alias on percussion. The band represents the last links to the “Bitches Brew” era. The concert is sublime, and as the DVD is out of print, a YouTube version is available that no one seems worried about taking down.

Here is the entirety of the concert:

So what is wandering through YOUR mind today?

Thought for Thursday – Rewriting My Eating Disorder Story

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As I have said before, if you were to look at my eating habits at this point ‘on paper’, you wouldn’t take a second glance. If you saw me on the street, there wouldn’t be an ‘OMG get him a cheeseburger STAT!’ reaction. If you compared my workouts and my food intake, you would not think they were out of whack. According to my doctors I am at a healthy weight and all of my blood levels are solid.

Yet if you could look inside my head, you would know that I struggle. I struggle with eating because I don’t want to become fat again. That fear is a major driving force in my life; for a long time I stayed right around 200lbs, but after getting all the way back to 275 after my thyroid died, I am now concerned about maintaining my fitness and weight loss. That doesn’t always lead to the best behavior or choices – but I like to think that awareness also prevents me from going too far in the other direction.

That is why I say I have ‘disordered thinking’ – I have never been diagnosed, am neither binging nor restricting, but I will always have a ‘complicated’ relationship with food.

My initial intent was to write about handling this relationship on a daily basis, but in the last few days I have come across a few great posts that have inspired me. Someone on Twitter linked to a post called You Get to Choose Your Story, and the next day Danielle posted about rewriting her post-divorce story.

Then Cori posted a great image in a post called ‘insecurities’ (since the image IS the post, I won’t put it here … worth a visit for sure) that had me thinking about how my own body image issues impact those around me. And finally as I was finishing this post up this morning there was an inspiring post at Snack Therapy called ‘You’re Allowed to Love Your Body’. Yes, yes you are.

Choosing My Story

Here is the thing – rewriting your story doesn’t mean you get to rewrite history … you just change your viewpoint on events. Danielle and Sarah discussed it in the context of relationships, and of turning from looking at the outcome as a product of their failures, but instead as a milestone that allows for learning. They do this by looking at two different stories. So that is my approach:

Story #1: I will always be the fat kid – I was obese until 23, got really heavy again by 45, and am one bad choice away from heading right down that path again.

Story #2: I have left behind my obese childhood, and lost my post-thyroid weight and have a plan. I am in the best shape of my life, and lighter than I have been since before I stopped growing (i.e. before entering high school). I have learned so much about eating, fueling, running and myself that even through my life will likely have hills and valleys in the future, I have left behind the disordered approach to weight loss and maintenance through extreme restriction and replaced it with healthy choices and proper fueling.

My choice? I choose Story #2, and am going to OWN that story.

It seems obvious – but it is not easy. It is easier to point to our shortcomings than to our victories, easier to look at how we might fail rather than how we are succeeding.

But it is REALLY important to choose the story that empowers you rather than drains you; gives you inspiration to move forward rather than a fear of falling back. By choosing our story we enable ourselves to develop a clearer vision of where we are going and where we want to be headed.

So I choose to look at where I am now in life and be happy – happy that I have learned, that I am healthy, happy and loved and supported, and that I am in a position to stay in good health enjoying my favorite hobby for the forseeable future while enjoying the foods I love!

How are YOU Choosing Your Story?