Monday, September 29, 2008

iTunes Playlist . . .

As I get more serious about walking and trying to move my butt (and my recently-identified-as boney hands) to lose the rest of my weight, I've once again put my iTunes in charge of my weight loss destiny. If only I could find the PERFECT mix . . . anywho - here is your quarterly chance to view inside my warped mindset to see what's on my mind and what's in my ears. Enjoy!

1 - The Editors, The Weight of the World - "Every little piece of your life will add up to one. Every little piece of your life will mean something to someone." Last fall, while sofa surfing, my friend Casey and I discussed "mix tape" prowess. I'm pretty legendary, frankly (smile). The challenge was to design the greatest mix for a funeral. Then I found The Editors. They beat me to it with this CD. This song is my favorite on the CD. Great to walk to and great to blog to.

2 - Janelle Monae, Violet Stars Happy Hunting - Diddy's latest protege (have I mentioned my adoration for Sean Combs?), Janelle Monae is OUT there and I'm a big fan of "out there" when it comes to music. Say what you want but, uh, I'm Bad Boy for life!

3 - Ben Folds featuring Regina Spektor, You Don't Know Me at All - My boy Ben is back and he does NOT disappoint with his latest CD. I downloaded it at 5:30 AM on Tuesday and have been listening to it ever since. This song, the first single off the album, features Regina Spektor (my currently favorite FEMALE piano-playing pop song writing, singing persona) and it is my latest anthem for my personal change and how little I relate to the "old" me and/or how little I ever really knew "myself" then based on who I am becoming and how much happier I am with this version of myself. Another favorite on the CD . . . The Bitch went Nuts. That's for another post though . . .

4 - The Real Tuesday Weld, I Believe - When I was in high school/college there was a brief "era" of pop music where jazz music sort of melted in to everything. Think "Lucas with the Lid Off'" or US3 or Digable Planets or even Dr. Dre's The Chronic (the original, not The Chronic 2001) and you'll know what I'm talking about. Anywho - I had never heard of The Real Tuesday Weld (sorry, kids) until I was snooping around iTunes one day looking for songs that had inspiration in the title and BAM - this song hit me. I'm apparently a huge Real Tuesday Weld fan too . . . they have a song (Last Words) on the Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist soundtrack (great CD!).

5 - Landon Pigg, Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop - Forget the diamond comercial (as gooey and romantic as it is). Forget thta Landon Pigg looks like the poster child for Gap. Forget that one of the profiles I read of him called him the next Gavin DeGraw (a la Amy Winehouse - are ready for/do we NEED the "next" Gavin DeGraw?). Forget all of that. Pay your buck. Listen to the song. Get gushy inside about the hope and promise of love and finding it in the mundane places and faces of life. That is what life is all about, right? Loving the world around you? There is a line in the Wizard of Oz . . . when the Tin Man is getting his heart . . . that the heart in a man is not measured by how much he loves but by how much he is loved by others. That Wizard is a very smart man . . . and not just for the smoke and mirrors of his facade.

6 - Wyclef Jean, We Tryin to Stay Alive - I'm not even going to justify this. It is Wyclef sampling the Bee Gees. The video has a knife fight-ish dance off. I haven't heard from Wyclef in many, many years (I'm sure he's still doing his thing - I just haven't been part of it) but this song and the rest of its friends on The Carnival will always have a place in my iTunes library, on my iPod and on my playlists that aim to keep my heart rate up for 30 - 45 minutes at a time.

7 - The Laurie Berkner Band, Mr. Bassman (and Piano Girl) -I'm wrapped very, very tightly around Ava's finger (not sure how obvious that is to those who just read the blog and have never experienced the patheticness/magic in person). She's crept in to my heart, my mind and my music tastes too. This song is by one of her current favorites (and thank GOD Laurie Berkner is actually a real person, I don't like to admit that Dora, Diego and the creatures of Yo Gabba Gabba are her other fictitious favorites) and it is pretty catchy. The whole CD is catchy, for that matter. I would suggest that all of you with toddlers check it out!

8 - Jose Gonzalez, Heartbeats - When I was supposed to have my Gastric Bypass in the fall of 2005 in Baltimore, I was living in Baltimore and working in downtown DC and I pretty much hated life. I loved Joy. I was excited to be a newlywed. I loved Joy. I liked my co-workers and I had some great friends and, uh, that was about it. I would watch THIS commercial again and again and again at my desk at work. I would actually cry sometimes. Can't explain why. For some reason the idea of a million bright, rubber bouncy balls (google Sony, Bravia, rubber ball ad and see if you can find the making of stuff - fascinating) bouncing around the hills of San Francisco seemed like the escape that I was looking for. The day I found out my surgery was canceled I finally sucked it up and bought this song on iTunes and listened to it most of the drive home that afternoon. What a day. What a song. That was three full years ago. How much life has changed. I would still like to see all those balls bouncing around though (grow up and stop giggling, Joy).

9 - Michael Buble, You and I - To those that aren't yet sure about my musical taste - let me stir the proverbial pot. I love me a Candian crooner named Michel Boooooblay. From the first time I saw him in a Starbuck's commercial, I've been hooked. From the first time I saw The Wedding Guest, I've wanted to go "Home" and from the first time I heard this song, I've wanted to dance with my wife . . . and I'm not a dancer. "It's true. I've really found someone like you."

10 - Bob Marley & Lauryn Hill, Turn Your Lights Down Low (Interpolation of "Lovin You") - First Wyclef got his love, and now Lauryn. Rest assured, Fugee fans . . . there is no love for Pras (the forgotten Fugee) on this playlist. Lauryn Hill. Where to start?! Would she rather her children starve than have "white people" buy her music? It could be true but I hope that she uses the royalties wisely none-the-less. I'm not a huge Bob Marly fan (he reminds me a little too much of Tim Clive at Camp Barton and my brief, but beloved, "pot phase" in college/grad school) but I like this song.

11 - Kenny Loggins, I'm Alright - Picture it. Hamden, Connecticut, 1995. Delene-Snoop, Cohn-an, Pezzu, TJK and Am-Trak sitting around a too-small TV and a used VCR, politely drunk and watching one of the greatest movies ever made (hate all you want, in your heart, you know it's true) . . . Caddyshack. This song makes me want to rent Fletch. It makes me want to take up golfing again. It makes me want to dance like a gopher on the fringe at the 18th green. It makes me want to "be the ball . . . scha-na-na-na-naaaaaaah." WORST case, it keeps me walking . . . if only to prove that I'm Alirght . . . or might some day BE alright.

12 - David Gray, Babylon - In the fall of 2000, I was working for a political campaign in New York and I would frequently take the train up from DC to work on the campaign and to see my "peeps" in the N-Y-C. This CD was a staple at the time. My friends, the Pezzulloes, got married eight years ago this month. When I flew to Providence for their wedding, I left my CDs at the apartment and only had White Ladder with me. This song will always remind me of how much fun we all had that weekend - and how it was the beginning of the end for my group of college friends that swore we would never drift. To be clear - we didn't drift - we evolved and found our own place in this world . . . like all good Continents do.

13 - BoyzIIMen, Thank You - I have a lot of people that I'm grateful to in this world. I want to thank them. Luckily the Philly-four do it for me in much tighter, cleaner harmonies than I am capable of . . . in the shower, in the car or on the mike.

14 - Tevin Campbell with Prince, Round and Round - Lil' Tevin. Ah. To be Prince's only male engenue (I guess technically Sheila E would fall in to grey area on this). To get to sing on Graffiti Bridge. To never really be heard from again (I bought your first two solo CDs in the 90s . . . I know the truth). One day I'll make it in the big city. And I'll be looking for a girl that's pretty. One day I'll make a play. And she will say Okay. Cuz I plan to be a cool kitty. Uh huh. Sing on, lil' Tevin. I've got you right here in my pocket, cool kitty!

15 - Fatboy Slim, Because We Can (Can) - I love Moulin Rogue. It is, despite her claims to the contrary, the first movie Joy and I watched together (I borrowed it from Ben's DVD collection - I was hoping it would show her how sensitive and romantic I am . . . and it WORKED). The whole soundtrack is great and this is possibly my favorite song on the CD. Just soooo random. Good for working out. In the meantime, I can't wait for Thanksgiving. I've missed you, Baz!

16 - Loudon Wainwright III, Daughter - Towards the end of Knocked Up, there is a powerful little diddy about a man and his daughter. I don't know if Loudon has a daughter. Or if he listens to Laurie Berkner because of her but, for me, this song brought me immediate tears and still does when I think about Ava and how much she means to me and to my life and how motivational she is to me on a daily basis. Every time she blinks she strikes somebody blind. Everything she thinks blows her tiny mind. Indeed!

17 - Jurassic 5, What's Golden - Me, Ben, Michael, Bob, Vinu. 100 - 150 wings from a man named Al. One of two men in the PS2 . . . Tony or Tiger. Empty cans and bottles all around and hilarity ensuing. Life, if not a 330 yard drive-come-Hole in One, was so much simpler then. Happy thoughts, JIM-MAY!

18 - Elton John, Bennie and the Jets - If you don't like Elton John, I feel bad for you. If you don't like Benny and the Jets, I don't have much patience for you. That is supposed to read comically but - if you took it seriously/personally . . . you probably don't like Elton John and you certainly don't like Benny, the Jets, et al. So sorry.

19 - Dean Martin, Volare (Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu) - And now it's time for our long-distance request and dedication. This one goes out to a retired priest and American veteran/hero from a boy that had long-since lost his faith in God and his affection for the Catholic Church but, under your guidance, he found a way to make the church be what he wanted and needed and found a renewed faith and love in the larger power. He'll always love you for that. And for introducing him to small, Mom and Pop restaurants in North Haven, plain-label soda, Luizi cheese, borrowed briefs and the man himself . . . Dean Martin. This one goes out to you, Father Lou!

20 - The Unicorns, I Was Born (a Unicorn) - Imp introduced me to this song on one of her mix-CDs. I'm digging it. This is a lonnnnnng post. I'll leave it at that accordingly.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Look and Compare . . .

I was reading to Ava today and I realized that I had a great photo-op in my hands. Joy was kind enough to snap a picture of Ava and I in "my" chair. Compare to a similar picture (I would not allow Joy to take full-body pictures before my surgery) taken about two years ago today.

The difference makes me feel pretty good about myself - my ego did not go away with the weight (I mean PUHLEEASE). Oh - and it was 90 degrees here today (hence the shorts) and yes - it is true - I can and DO cross my legs (for the first time since God knows when).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ben Folds . . .

New Ben Folds on Tuesday. Don't miss it! You can preorder and get the first single now. It's called "You Don't Know Me" and it is a great walking song to have on the ol' iPod!

I'll be posting a new iTunes playlist in the next few days (I have one in draft, I just need to move it to active status). I know that you all live and die by my musical choices (smile).

Anywho - new Ben Folds - check it out!!!!! And you're welcome (smile)!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It Was Only a Dream . . .

I'm sitting in a Denny's. It's dark out. Really dark. 3:00 AM with clouds blocking the moon dark. The air is thick and sweet with aromas of maple, coffee, pork byproducts and deep-fried potatoes.

I'm with Joy and Hillary Clinton. Bill is late (as per always). We're talking about the sweatpants that I just bought at JC Penney. We're laughing.

I'm waiting on my Moons Over My Hammy with Egg Beaters on dry wheat toast hold the hash browns. Joy is waiting on her Grand Slam and well . . . who knows what Hillary ordered . . . she's mainly just annoyed with Bill at this point. Apparently he has a really, really funny story to tell Joy and me when he arrives.

The food comes. I wake up.

I wonder what it all means. I wonder what the story was.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Top 10 and Bottom 10 . . .

Now that the journey is "over" . . . I thought I would share a long-held-in-private list of the top ten things I HAVE done since my surgery and the top ten things I have NOT done since my surgery. In approximated order of significance to me - here they are . . .


10 - Learned to love soy - You're talkin' with the former King of the double cheese burger. My friend Andrea from DC used to eat garden burgers (friggin' vegetarian hippie) and I would laugh and laugh and laugh. Now TRY to get my protein bars away from me. I dare you. The easiest way to get your daily quota and all those chemical flavors . . . yuhmay!
9 - Gained a whole new perspective - I've beaten the point to death here on the blog (for that, you have my half-hearted apology) but I've gotten a whole new stance of life. What's frustrating. What's fair. What's worth it. Let me be clear - very little is really worth it and what is worth it is really worth it (read it again, it will make more sense). If I didn't figure that out - I would have probably stopped losing weight when the scale said 399. No joke - that was, to me, the proverbial brass ring of weight loss (for about 10 minutes before I realized I wanted to lose 200 MORE pounds).

8 - Set, met and reset goals - Which brings me to my next point. You have to set goals. "How you livin' Biggie Smalls?!?" they all ask . . . simple, I tell them. Here's what I did. The law of 10%. ANY diet guru (I hesitate to call them experts) that you should set manageable and attainable weight loss goals. Now, I may have argued with an "expert" at support group a long time ago (it is on the blog somewhere) but I think you need short and long term goals. I said that I wanted to weigh 200 pounds and I would get there 10% of my body at a time. 483 became 435. 435 became 392. 392 became 353. 353 became 318. 318 became 286. 286 became 258. 258 became 235. 235 will eventually become 212. 212 will hopefully become sub-200 and I'll be done. Those are my weight goals. I set over 100 other different goals and, as of post-time, I have reached or accepted defeat on 109 of the 121 that I set.

7 - Learned what an actual "portion" looks like - A serving of protein should be approximately the size of a deck of cards. Fruit juice should never be consumed more than 8 ounces at a time. Bread is no longer relevant if you have wraps/tortillas/etc. "Small" is actually an acceptable amount of food/beverage when ordering from a menu. SHOCKING to me, 32 years later, that I never didn't argue that bigger had to be better.

6 - Re-established old friendships - I'm still working on it but sofa-surfing with Casey for two months and seeing Tom Kelly for dinner and a two-hour chat with Chris Delenick and calling Kim on her birthday and voicemail exchanges with Laura and finally finding Mel in Florida all feel good. It is nice to chat with these people without feeling the dread that reflects back on me when I look at them looking at me. They've all cared about and loved me and I appreciated it then and I do now too. It's nice to help reset that dynamic . . . don't worry about me. Let's just enjoy each other in any format (e-mail, phone, etc.) we can until we meet again!

5 - Started over - I'm going to say something that might shock the masses here . . . those cynics that, like me, are fairly sure that the entire world rises and sets in what is called the "Northeast Corridor" of these United States . . . moving to Kansas is the best thing that has happened to me since my surgery which was the best thing to happen to me since Ava was born which was the best thing to happen to me since meeting Joy. Forget stereo-typing Kansans (they really aren't that gee-golly-willickers "nice" here, frankly). It's not about my new zip code, really . . . it is more about being in a place where I can truly focus on my family and no one, save for my in-laws and Tricia knows the "old Sean" at all. Sort of like going off to college all over again. I can be any one here. And I just might be!

4 - Drove, alone, half way across this beautiful land I call home - Speaking of picking up and starting over . . . if you ever want to just totally reset your brain and your perspective - do this - pack up your car at 6:00 AM on a Tuesday, go work a half-day, say "goodbye" to your co-workers and head West. Drive. Pack protein bars and bottled water. Stop only to fill the gas tank and to drain the urine tank. Enjoy the scenery (even when the scenery is a "lack of" issue). Enjoy the local radio stations (even when all you can find are country, Christian or hybrids of). Reset your clock as you cross the Indiana state line. Wonder when you will drive back - and what will be the reason for the drive. Wonder if you will ever again see the people that each mile you drive puts them a mile further away. Speculate on how your first day at your new job will go. Daydream about how Eutopian your life will be. Watch out for deer in Illinois. Laugh at the billboards that alternate between messages of Biblical importance and XXX stores ahead in Missouri. Cry a little (at the beauty) as you speed through the Flint Hills of Kansas. When you arrive in Wichita, have flowers for your wife. Kiss her. Hug your daughter and your in-laws. Go Trick-or-Treating (if you happen to arrive on Halloween, as I did). Best 1,300 mile drive of my life - and I've driven a LOT of miles.
3 - Flew without my seat belt extender - I've done it twice. Imagine almost ten years of dreading flying (and yet doign it every few months (if not more frequently)) not because you didn't want to go far away or not because you didn't want to have adventures but because you didn't want to be "that guy" on the plane that no one wants to sit next to. That gets special seating based on the comfort of those around you vs. for your comfort. That won't eat or drink any thing on a plane for fear of the eye rolls. Now imagine getting on the plane without a worry in the world. Not even the creepy air marshall behind me could have ruined that first flight. Or the ones to come.

2 - Lost my "love" of food - How great is eating when you don't want anything from the food beyond nutrition? It's not my friend. Not my soul mate. Not my crutch. Not my partner. Not my enabler. Not my downfall. Not my pick-me-up. It's just FOOD. Enjoy it - or don't - it doesn't matter anymore. Beautiful and delicious, this type of freedom is.

1 - Lost just-shy of 250 pounds - No elaboration needed on this one, I would not think. I mean I lost .45 pounds each day (on average) for 549 consecutive days. Beat that with a wiffle ball bat!


10 - Got back to all the places I've called "home" - I still need to go see my "people." It has been over a year since I saw my brothers. Two years since I saw the Thomases and Ben. Longer since I saw Chris and Bruce. The list could go on and on and on. I wanted to see them all in the 18 months I've been on this journey. I'll catch them in the next phase for sure!

9 - Replaced food with another obsession (sorta) - I went to a support group just a few weeks after my surgery and an article about a woman who had GB and went NUTS with the ol' credit cards was shared. LOTS of money spent. Broke the bank type shopping. We were all warned we would all take on an obsession to replace the emotional rush we felt with/from food. They even hinted some of us would turn to excercise for that fulfillment (ha, ha, ha - I laugh because that is FUNNY). I don't have any vices today. No smoking. No drinking. No eating. No drugs. No affairs. No cheating, stealing, lying. No nuttin'. Okay - I spend too much money on clothes but that is because I can finally shop in stores and I like clothes. It is not a problem. I can stop at any time. Right?! RIGHT!

8 - Lost my perspective - I've had a few days and moments in the last 18 months where I wanted to start dipping my toe in the bad-food waters. I wanted to wander. I wanted to yell and scream at people. I wanted to break a few necks (figuratively, of course) and I wanted to let Old Sean out of the box in general. I focused though. I have a Chinese Fortune Cookie fortune in my wallet that I got a few months after my surgery (I didn't eat the cookie, relax) it says "A journey of 1,000 miles can end with one small misstep." Hilarious and true.

7 - Lost my hair - How to Scare People Who are Considering Gastric Bypass 101: The Side Effects. Your hair will all fall out. You will become frail and weak. Your spine will curl. Your love of pastel colors will be used against you. You will start to believe George W. Bush has a good idea or two on his resume. NONE of it has turned out to be true for me. I've been lucky. I've worked hard. I've been lucky. I've been lucky. I'm still balding but I blame my genetics for that - not my surgery.

6 - Lost my cool - It is part of my perspective but, let's be honest . . . anyone that knows me is not sure they can believe that in a year and a half I've not just freaked out on ANYONE?! For ANY reason?! I mean - I HAVE lost my cool a little bit here and there but - no classic meltdowns. Even when challenged. Kept my cool. Kept my perspective. Kept on that journey of 1,000 miles.

5 - Had a pronounced, long and awkward "plateau" in my progress - God bless those of you that push through them and scratch your heads and re-apply yourselves and get over the hump. God bless the families and friends that support you through it. God bless that I didn't have one (I had a few scares and the weight loss has slowed way, way down but no loss-stopage to report) and God bless that I didn't have to work through it. I'm pretty lazy about some things (just ask my gym membership).

4 - Became a "grazer" - I'm back to snacking. I eat. Not just at meals. I know, I know. Slippery slope but I'm not buying a bag of M&Ms and stretching them out over the day to not dump. I'm not buying chicken nuggets and letting my computer fan keep them warm through the day. I'm not eating chicken parm subs in quarter pieces. I'm still eating all foods that I would eat in front of my surgeon (that is my new test - WWDZD?). I'm handling my food and my urge to eat. It's not easy but it's not impossible either - yet.

3 - Called one particular "old friend" - You ever have that one person that you just don't know what to do with/for? Could be an old intern that sucked but wants you to be a reference. Could be that one co-worker who wants to stay in touch. Could be that old friend that you just don't know what the reason to still be friends might be? Sure you do. We all do. I've got one. Get an awkward e-mail from them every now and again. Have considered trying to address things with them by phone but when I tried to get/give closure by e-mail it went terribly wrong and I am really proud of #6 above. This person is a test to me. I love them and always will but I just can't figure out what they want from me any more. And I'm not willing to ask. And I'm not going to give in and call them. It is a trap. I will lose - my cool and my progress.

2 - Got down to my goal weight - It's not a huge thing. I wanted to get there but I'm at peace with the fact that I'm not. I will get there and it gives me a glaring goal on my latest set of goals.

1 -Dumped - My hair falling out was not a big concern. It is just hair and it is all going eventually either way. Now DUMPING . . . I'm scared of that. Can't even think about it without getting nervous. I won't eat some foods in restaurants or social settings for fear of hidden sugar. I won't eat some foods that say they only have 1g or 2g of sugar for fear that I get that one serving that has an overly concentrated dose of sugar. I won't look at sugar. I won't taste sugar. I won't graze on sugary foods. No sugar = no dumping. No dumping = the goal. 18 months and counting. Goals in sight. 1,000 mile journey still under way.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Some Pictures . . .

I have been going through trying to find some old pictures of me for a project I am working on. Here are a few of the "gems" of the collection.

Note the constant presence of black and dark, dark tones but also note the presence of people that loved and support and accepted me.

These pictures truly humble me and center/focus me on how important is that I not let all that I've accomplished slip.

"Never again." I just keep repeating under my breath

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Statistics . . .

Here is a final breakdown of the "math" of my post-surgery journey. Not bad. I fell 36 pounds short of my TOTAL weight loss goal (still lost 247) and I fell just short of my waist goal (I can SQUEEZE in to a 38" if I HAVE to but . . . it's not comfortable by any stretch (pun intended)).

NOTE - I can't figure out how to make this chart larger. My apologies to those who might actually strain their eyes in the process of trying to view it accordingly.

I will get my last pounds off and I will get my waist down in the process. I'm very much at peace with the end results of this journey and - seeing it on paper - realize just what a success it has been.

NOW for the next journey . . . getting the last pounds off and a lifetime of maintenance! God give me strength!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Journey's End? . . .

Today is my 18-month-ary. Yep. That's right. It's over!

I won't (unlike for my Surgarversray) be asking people I know and love and admire to fete me. I won't be overly dramatic and heart-string-plucky in discussing it with you because, frankly, today is a VERY complicated day for me, emotionally.

Here's the rub . . .

It is SCARY to be this far out. I don't remember my pre-surgery life. I really don't. So much has changed since then. We've moved. Ava has learned to walk and talk. Joy is on the cusp of finishing the first stage of school - a 15 year "journey" of her own about to come to an end. I've lost almost two hundred and fifty pounds. 250! Two Hundred and Fifty. CCL - for my friends in Rome!

If it was not ME that did it - I would be in awe of the person that pulled it off. I would want to know all about how they did it and how great they feel and how different life is and what they are going to do next. As it is me that pulled it off though (but for the grace of God and the love and support of some wonderful people) . . . it just sort of scares me.

I'm not at my goal. I didn't "make it" and I don't like to "fail" or "fall short" or "not succeed." I know, I know . . . I did accomplish a ton of wonderful things. I can wear a white dress shirt now without being confused for a vessel competing for America's Cup. I can see my feet. I understand what a healthy portion of food is. I've severed all ties with Little Debbie and her band of delicious treats. I can walk without getting winded. I don't fear stairs. I can RUN around with my daughter and not fear falling and breaking every bone in my body or having my heart just straight-up explode while playing "tag." I've added 20 - 30 years to my life. QUALITY years too (not those lazy-boy sittin', remote control clickin' years I used to dream about (smile)).

But - this is it. I'm on my own now. All the Danbury Hospital did for me and all the prep and all the post work is done. It's my life now. I don't even think about the surgery as part of my diet any more. Sure I still avoid and live in fear of sugar/dumping and I try to not eat fatty foods and I try to avoid the pitfalls of a life poorly fed BUT - let's be honest - I'm not just eating chicken breast and reduced fat cheese any more either. I'm livin' life.

I've spent a lot of time on the mental and emotioal parts of "me." I have done every bit as well there as I have on my weight itself. Shedding a couple of 1,000 pound anger and rage gorillas helps with weight loss and maintenance. I've tried to address the parts of my life that got me to 530 pounds. I've tried to look at who I am, who I've been. My mistakes. My correct decisions and my in-the-middle actions, words and deeds and I've tried to make ammends to those that I've hurt, harmed, ignored and alienated. I'm ready to move on.

SO - it is complicated. I have been given a great tool for living a long and healthy life. I've used it. USED it. And now it is gone. Time for new tools. New strategies. New goals. New discipline. New benchmarks. New outlooks.

Much thanks and love to ALL those (especially my Pop Tart and Bidders McG who, every day, give me two wonderful reasons to be better and to aspire for greatness) who have loved and supported me and for those who have become friends through this blog and this shared journey (much love to my BGBFF Kate, Christine, and Techia, etc.) and my regards, encouragement and admiration to all the people who are through, on or about to start their journey.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take my daughter to the park!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Being Heavy Will Cost You (in Alabama) . . .

An interesting strategy for managing obesity among state employees in Alabama . . . lose weight or get charged a premium on your insurance rates for it.

The state will soon enact a policy where 3,000 employees are evaluated and, if their BMI is over the obesity limit - they will get ordered to see a physician and lose weight or they will be charged more for their insurance.

You KNOW how I feel about this issue. Best start charging more for the smokers and people that do other things that make them more likely to lead to cancer (including holding and using a cell phone, according to some).

I DO think the state is smart in that they will refund the money if people address the issue of their weight and they are not just doing this based on BMI (as you know, a very muscular or pregnant person's BMI could make them "obese" by the BMI standard).

Our company is also doing something to incentivize healthy living and minimize insurance costs for our company and our carrier. The program, called Vitality, offers incentives for healthy living and, as we can all agree, there is NOTHING wrong with that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Five Month Goals (Two Weeks to Go) . . .

It is almost here. My 18-month-ary. The "end" of my journey. I figured I would do one last update on the old goals I had set (a new list will be appearing here shortly). I'm only listing the ones that are not completed or are in the works. The ones I DID check off (or the ones that I know I will NOT accomplish are not worth really talking about - I punish myself in my obsessive brain enough as it is (smile)!

7 - Weigh 200 Pounds by March 20, 2009. In the works. I currently weigh 237 pounds. I believe at least 20 - 25 pounds of that is excess skin. If you saw me naked (dare to dream and/or throw up now) you would know what I'm talking about. It looks like the rest of the weight is mine to lose . . . and it is going to take WORK!

That's right. Just ONE goal left to deal with from the original 15. That is how goal-setting works, my friends. I feel pretty good about having taken care of 10 of the original 15 and the four that I did not/will not move to the "been there, done that" column don't really plague me. It is part of life to fall short from time to time. It is okay - as long as you learn from it!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Silent Sunday . . .

My friend Brandi does a thing on her site every week called "Wordless Wednesday" where she just posts a picture that might even spark conversation. Not one to "steal" a great idea . . . I decided to start Silent Sunday. I hope to post a picture or chart or graph or diagram every week that might inspire some laughs, some conversation or maybe some "rage."

Without further words I give you my first Silent Sunday with an honest statement to hopefully start the conversation . . .


(NOTE - The photo above, for those who aren't "experts" on knowing the pieces of a sugary mess when they see it, is of an oversized donut that was first glazed and then sprinkled with confection sugar and then frosted and then had Fruity Pebbles cereal sprinkled in to said frosting. It was available for $0.38 at my local Dillon's.)

PS - Yes, Chris Delenick, I can and will send you a dozen (and I know I owe you two phone calls - I love you, kid)!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Striking Out . . .

So, I had another one of those "firsts" tonight and it was a BIG ONE. One that I really needed to immediately blog about (insert sarcastic eye roll here). Yep. I had another first all right . . . I went BOWLING again for the first time since my surgery.

Here's the thing . . . I'm not a sports "guy" - the less movement the better, I've always said but there were a few sports that I have always enjoyed. Bocce. Croquet. Mini-Golf. Bowling.

I have a friend named Joey who is a very serious bowler. He's got a few 300s behind him. His father has more than that. I once drive 40 minutes just to WATCH the two Joes bowl. They are pretty good! My friend Kim's husband Brian, on top of being a great guy, is a bowling COACH who's team goes to the state championship year-after-year. I know bowlers. I know great bowling. I am NOT a great bowler.

But I ENJOY bowling. There is a little something for everyone at the bowling alley, right?! Stale, smokey air? Check. Pizza? Check. Beer by the pitcher? Check. High schoolers making out in the arcade section? Check. Rental shoes? CHECK! Terms like "strike," "spare," "turkey" and "7-10 split"? Check. But what is MOST enjoyable about bowling is that the whole family, regardless of skill-level can go and at least enjoy (if not partake) in some bowling.

We marked my sister-in-law's 30th birthday tonight! Hard to believe our little Stephanie is now officially "one of us" in the 30+ category but - it is true. We had a great dinner and then hit of North Rock Lanes for some fun.

Even Ava got in to the act. Yep. They put the "bumbers" in the gutters and lil' Ava strapped on the smallest pair of rentable footwear I've ever seen and even got herself a SPARE in her first frame of bowling ever.

I learned two things tonight . . . one, my other-mother is a SERIOUS baller. She bowled like 108 and two, I don't have any real muscles left. That's right. I struggled to pick up, carry and toss a 16 pound ball . . . the 20 or so times it was expected of me. I need to hit the gym to start regaining some weight . . . in the form of muscle.

Anywho - it was great to hit the lanes again. It reminded me of the last two time I remember bowling . . . once was in Vermont in the fall of 2002. My friends Ray and Phoebe from high school were getting hitched and we hit up the lanes in Rutland, Vermont before we went on for an evening of maybe the randomest barring EVER. The other was my brother Patrick's 30th birthday a week after Joy and I got married in 2005. Friends, family, celebrations . . . BOWLING.

Oh - one last thing - Joy is convinced that I intentionally share only pictures of her that are unflattering (hair, makeup, stuff in her teeth, butt-enlarging angles, etc.) SO, to prove that I am an equal opportunity poster . . . here are a few pictures of me that are not so flattering. I love you, Pop Tart!

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's ALMOST Back . . .

Just watching the teasers for this season of The Biggest Loser made me cry. Could be a long, emotional season for me BUT I've got some boxes of kleenex in reserve and I'm ready for the action to begin on Tuesday but you can watch the first HOUR of the first episode now, if - like me - you are just too excited to wait!

In the meantime, here is a great article for those of you that enjoy the show as much as me that looks at life "behind the scenes" on the ranch/campus/whatever they will call it this year!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

UPDATE - The Cats Have Been Named . . .

Breaking news out of the Great Plains States today . . .

Wichita, Kas. - September 10, 2008 - Joy and Sean Amore today, in a rare showing of quick decision making and not over thinking things, announced the formal naming of their two newly-adopted-and-to-be-named-cats at a press conference earlier this morning.
Less than 24 hours after taking parental duties and responsibilities for the cats, the Amore family announced Franklin and Eleanor (with a reference to "The Roosevelts" when speaking of the cats collectively) the official names for the short-haired domestic mutt cats.

"I've always been particularly fond of the Roosevelts and all they, as a couple, did for this nation," said Sean. "I was a little nervous to approach Joy with the names but she really liked the idea and thought it was a great way to keep the number of 'flaming liberals' in Kansas growing."

Ava was pleased as well.

"I wike Fwan-kin and Ele-nur. They koot," she explained at a press conference held at the family's home.
Joy added that the cats will likely be identified almost as exclusively as The Roosevelts, Frank and Ele as the family has no need to be overly formal with people and things that they love.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Can Change . . .

Well, the evolution of "Sean" is all but complete. On the eve of the end of my "journey" I did the almost unthinkable . . . I changed it up again . . . I proved my agility and my willingness to accept that what I once thought was true I can now know to be false.

I did something NUTTY, folks. While Joy was in class this evening I was an active participant in adopting not one but TWO cats.

Meet Boy Cat (on the left) and Girl Cat (on the right). They are a pair of nine-week-old siblings with real names coming soon and they are the newest additions to the Amore family.

For those that are rolling their eyes in disbelief (Casey, in particular, comes to mind), let me explain.

Joy and I have long been considering adopting a dog or a cat for Ava and, as she potty trains and Joy and I become increasingly aware that our little girl is growing up . . . we figured it is time for some new challenges in the house.

We chose a cat over a dog because, well, we live in a big old house that has some "draft issues" - as in holes just big enough for smaller four-legged creatures to come in and out of, if you know what I mean. As summer turns to fall and our four-legged freaker-outers look for homes for the winter, it was time to arm ourselves.

We got two cats because I am a sucker that didn't want to break up two siblings and the woman at the Kansas Humane Society assured me that two is better than one in terms of them being able to entertain each other and so on.

This will, of course, mean I have to add some medicine to my life (I am very allergic to cats). Nothing comes without a charge (smile) but - I have to say - I'm sort of smitten with both of them and am very happy that we have some pets.

Yes. I, Sean Christopher Amore, of questionable mind and soundening body am a cat owner.

That is cat owner - not a cat PERSON.

Just when you thought you knew me, right?!

One of Just the Kitties . . .

Here is a picture of just the cats (they are holed up under the easy chair in the guest room - where they might stay for a day or two, according to the woman at the Humane Society).
You can see just how cutey-cute-cute the little schweedies really are (if you look closely at this crappy picture).
Say it with me "Ahhhhhh, so cutttttttttttttttttttte!"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Walking at Night . . .

Apologies to those that apparently look forward to a DAILY update on this blog . . . things have been a little nutty this week (as they sometimes are). Anywho - no real post for you tonight BUT I did want to share some new video . . .

As I mentioned, I am very serious about this whole "moving" thing (we won't call it excercising as I've been advised not to (long story)) and we bought Ava some new sneakers that will allow her to not only walk with me BUT - should we walk at night - she can actually light the way.

Have a nice weekend. I'll get back in a routine on Monday-ish.

PS - No, Ava is NOT a Yankees fan. The sweatshirt was a birthday gift from her Uncle Ryan and she wears it out of love for him and him alone!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Excercise . . .

IMPISH CO-WORKER: Do you want to go to yoga with me on Mondays?
ME: Uh, no. I don't excercise and I do NOT go to yoga.
IMPISH CO-WORKER: I know. I read your blog!
ME: Well played, Imp!

That's all it took.

I realized that I had to (let's all welcome the pun to this post) walk the walk if I was going to talk the talk on my blog. I DO need to excercise. I DO need to get moving. I DO need to lose the rest of this weight to finish what I started.

Joy got home early from class last night and agreed to put Ava to bed for me (I thank God for the little miracles) so I strapped on/sinched/belted and otherwise floated inside the 2XL sweat pants I bought last fall (I'm getting new ones TONIGHT), found my "good" sneakers, put the earbuds of my iPod mini in and hit the "mean streets" of Wichita's College Hill for a 45 minute walk. I enjoyed and was inspired by what felt like the first real burst of fall (in reality it is just the remnants of Hurricane Gustav) and even RAN (without even being chased) for one small block of my outing.

It felt nice to get out in to the cool air and move. I got my heart rate up. I got a little sweat going.
I will NOT be taking yoga with Impy-Dimpy-Do (as much as I enjoy her company (she reads the blog - I have to be polite (smile))) any time soon BUT I do hope to get out and walk at least four days a week and hopefully get more intense about excercise in the coming weeks. I'm even planning to get the flat tire on my bike fixed this weekend so I can revisit that commitment/goal of mine.

It's time to get moving! AND it is time to get back on the scale (insert nervous shiver here) too!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Where Does the Time Go . . .

The Barenaked Ladies have a song called "The Great Provider" - it is about the angst between a father and his son. I don't have said angst towards my father BUT I do like the lyrics of the song - particularly when they ask "Where does the time go when it's not around here?"

Joy and I looked at each other this weekend and realized . . . we've technically lived in Kansas for a YEAR (I was sofa-surfing for the months of September and October last year but Joy and Ava have been here for a year). It doesn't seem possible.

Life is sooooo different today than it was a year ago. Ava and I flew out last year (Joy drove) and she was barely walking and only uttered a few words. She now has a vocabulary that puts mine to shame and has more energy, a higher vertical leap and a faster running speed than I ever feared she might ever have (smile). She slept almost the entire duration of both flight legs when we flew out. She didn't nap at ALL yesterday and she was up and down throughout the night.

She was barely able to identify Joy or I by name and now she can identify the entire extended family by face, from pictures or voices on the phone with ease! She can count to 10. She knows most of her colors. She can sing A - J of the alphabet (she can go further if you sing with her). She doesn't know what 1 - 10 or A - J MEAN or their significance but she knows them, in order, and can recite them on cue!

Being here a year makes me realize that I'm only a few weeks away from the 18-month mark following my surgery. My "journey" is all but over. I've lost about all the weight I'm going to lose from my surgery. I sit here today well over my initial (or modified) 18 month weight goal and well aware that the last 25 or-so pounds that I need to lose before I assume the rest is all excess skin is going to be HARD to shed.

I wonder if I've squandered parts of this opportunity. I didn't excercise nearly agressively enough. I didn't watch every single bite I put in my mouth. I allowed myself to break some promises (I actually vowed to NEVER AGAIN eat anything "fried" the day before my surgery).

Truth is . . . I focused MORE on the internal and mental parts of the post-surgery experience than the physical parts. I know myself well enough to know that if I didn't start to get that under control (and trust me - I'm nowhere near done with the internal and emotional struggles with food) and if I didn't ensure I would be a better person instead of just a skinnier person - I had NO shot, long term, of not becoming that fat person again.
Do I regret it? HECK NO!

A year ago I was in the mid-300s (330s, 320s). Today, I'm in the mid 200s (I have not been on a scale in MONTHS (will be rectifying that this week, I promise). I may not have learned any more letters or numbers than I knew a year ago and I'm NOT sleeping any more than I was then (grimace) but I'm faster, smarter, leaner and friendlier than I was then. I'm more patient. I'm more understanding. I'm more accomodating and I'm more likely to turn the other cheek when my patience, understanding and accomodation is tested.

I have more weight to lose. Big deal. In my entire LIFE I've had weight that I could stand to lose. Nothing to worry about there.
I'm perfectly happy knowing that I will actually have to WORK to get the last pounds of fat off my body and then I'll have to dreadful task of actually putting muscles back on my body. This whole thing was supposed to be about "work" - right? It was never supposed to be "easy" - right? Fat people shouldn't have any easy solutions or quick fixes, so says the uneducated.

I do wonder where the time went though. Clearly it was not around here!