Most people try anything and everything to lose weight when first starting. They will try the latest supplements, liquid diets, eating only select foods (cabbage soup anyone), the hottest fitness craze, eating at only certain times – you get the picture. Let’s do A through Z and sticks to the wall and un-sticks my diet.
I was a proponent of the more is more approach for years and it didn’t work. Over the years as my weight climbed and my hope failed, I tried everything, many simultaneously, from being a vegetarian (failed because M&M’s are not meat!), popping Green Tea pills, cleansing in various ways, the latest exercise craze, and on and on… Then I discovered two things. Weight Watchers (WW) and the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18077875-essentialism . Both teach the same thing – Do less, but better. The key to weight loss and a better, more successful life is by correctly assessing the few important priorities, focusing on these priorities exclusively, and dumping the rest. Mr. McKeown provides how to do this in his book and WW in its classed for a Essentialist’s Playbook for Weight Loss.
You can lose 170+
pounds like me by not doing everything but these three things:
Track everything you eat or drink. The best way to know how to lose weight is to
track what you eat. By consciously tracking
your food intake, you will better understand portion control and the trigger
foods you need to avoid. You use this
along with weekly weight tracking to find out what works and what foods to
avoid. That way you focus on what works,
rather than trying everything that doesn’t!
Be kind for yourself. You can’t focus on what is important if you
are unhealthy in body or your soul. It
is therefore important to focus on your health both mentally and
physically. Take time to journal
positive thoughts, rest, and relax. A
few minutes a day of being kind to yourself will not only help you lose the
stress that sabotages most people’s health.
Take time to exercise. Study upon study have shown that sitting is the
equivalent or worse to smoking for health.
It does not take much to get the exercise your body needs and craves. Get up for 10 minutes every hour and take a
walk. Also, block out 30 minutes in the
morning to recharge and energize.
Bottom line: You do
not need to do A through Z to lose weight and be a better you! All you need is the essential 1-2-3! Go out and practice Essentialism to gain a
new body and soul.
The above is my take on e.e. cummings’ classic “In Just Spring” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47247/in-just after my first run in Spring. Everyone wants to get out and lose those 10 pounds of insulation gained during the Winter months. But before you go out and become the little lame woman or man, here are three rules to follow In Just Spring.
Take it Slow – It
is always tempting to walk that extra mile or two when the weather gets warm
and the bluebonnets are out. That is
exactly what I, my wife, and our dog Boots attempted to do on the trails on Brushy
Creek. Even with a stop at a sandwich
shop for a quick bite, we ended up struggling to make it back to our car. We ended up dragging our 70 lbs., huffing
Bernese Mountain dog the last few yards.
We are still recovering!
The lesson learned is simple. Do not overdue it with the first flowers of spring. In the winter it is a struggle to get out and about (read how so in this blog https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/12/09/baby-its-cold-outside-but-exercise-anyway/ ). Now that the weather is more conducive to exercise don’t try to catch up all in one day. Take your time to slowly build up your miles, so you too don’t become the little lame woman or man (or dog!).
Do the essential –
A corollary to the first rule is to focus on the essential. In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined
Pursuit of Less, Greg Mckeown says that the key to success to health and
life in general is to do “less but better”.
When waking up after our winter fog, it is tempting to try everything at
once to get fit. It is understandable, we
are excited to get swimsuit ready for the summer. So we take up the latest diet, try a myriad
of fitness fads, and buy the newest exercise equipment from Amazon. But it is better to focus of the
essentials. Track the food you eat
diligently, get plenty of sleep, and focus on the now. Don’t do everything! Do the essential well to
enjoy the Spring and the new you.
Be in the Moment – The flowers are in bloom and the sun is out. It is time to focus on the now and enjoy the new life of Spring. One way to take it slow is to take in nature. Sit on a bench. Take a picture. Lie in the bluebonnets like Boots the dog! Clear your mind of anxiety and enjoy the blooming beauty all around you.
Follow these rules to avoid becoming the little lame, middle-aged
woman or man. Spring into the season and
a new you!
This Friday marked a major milestone on my road to recovery from a major heart procedure. A little worse for the wear but not so bad if I do say so myself. Luckily our instructor did not end her usual unleash song, Tina Turner’s Rolling Down the River. I would have ended up breaking Rule 2 below and looking more worn. I simply can’t resist going 120 RPM’s on the chorus of that song.
For those of you follow my blog regularly, you know how much I love spin class. I fell in love with the music, movement, and madness that is spin about a year ago. It is indeed one of my favorite ways to relieve stress. But before getting back in the saddle, I first had to follow these three rules:
1. Rest, recover, relax. This first rule was the hardest for me. Having lost a ton of weight a few years ago, I was nervous that taking time off to rest and recover would throw me back off track. So, I did a very stupid thing and broke this rule. I went for a long 5 mile walk the day after returning from the hospital. Initially, I felt great as you can read in this blog. https://weightlossleadership.com/2019/02/13/a-heart-filled-with-gratitude-and-love/ But, it was not to last. During that whole week, I was recovering from the walk.
If I was going to get healthy,I needed to go back to the basics and follow this first rule. So, I took the entire next weekend completely off and rested and relaxed. It did a world of good and sped up the healing process. It is very important to take time for yourself and relax after surgery before diving into your normal regimen.
2. Ease back into exercise. The second step after taking time to rest is to ease back into exercise. As much as I wanted to, I did not get on the bike until three weeks later. Instead, I went back to basics and walked at a much slower pace and for shorter distances than that first Sunday. This less strenuous regimen provided two major advantages. First it allowed the bruise around the insertion point to heal. Second, it gave me a benchmark on my heart rate and gave me confidence the procedure had worked. I now was ready to take the plunge (or in this case the seat!
3. Unleash without fear. The last step is perhaps the most important one. Once you have taken the time to recover, you cannot be afraid to test the limits. It is the same lesson we all learned as kids. Get back on the bike when you have fallen off! I did watch my Fitbit carefully the first few songs but then gave into the vibe! You must trust in the professionalism of your Doctor’s and your own preparation. Get back in the saddle and ride!
And that is what I did and will continue doing. This coming Saturday, I will again be participating in Lifetime’s Ride for A Reason to fund the good work of St. Jude’s Children Hospital. Last year I rode all four hours and will hopefully do so again if the three rules allow. Please consider supporting the good work of St. Jude’s through a donation at the link below. The last picture is of me after last year’s event. https://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR?px=4996114&pg=personal&fr_id=103544
Last Sunday I walked Brushy Creek trail like so many Sundays
before. But something was different. It wasn’t the light rain that was falling or
the new audiobook on my iPhone. No, this
day was different because of the overwhelming gratitude that I felt as the rain
touched my face.
The morning before I was discharged from the hospital after a six-hour heart procedure. Sounds like something that might not elicit gratitude. But in me it did. You see a scant 4 years ago making it through or even to the procedure would not have been likely. Weighing in at a hefty, 358 lbs. breathless and bloated, I was stressed out and strident To read more how about how I came to this unfortunate state, read here. https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/04/09/fit-to-fat-lessons-learned-while-doubling-my-weight/
I needed a change to get healthy and I needed help to make
the change. Luckily, God set people in
my life that helped me to get fit. He
also guided the hands of the gifted doctors and the kind deeds of caring nurses
to bring me through on the other side. I
began that Friday with a heart that was broken and left with a heart filled
with gratitude and love!
As I slowly walked, amazed that I could do so after the
procedure, I looked back on five things for which I was grateful.
First is God. Throughout my journey to better health, God put people in my path, thoughts in my head, and love in my heart. One such person is Father Mike Schmitz whose podcasts taught me to love myself, love others and to love God. Another person is the ICU chaplain who is responsible for producing weekly Christian Meditations. These meditations have helped me to become calmer and look to God for answers. Less everyone think that God only works through podcasts, time and time again, events occurred at of nowhere to lead on me on the right path. One example is the company email that I got for a discount to Wellness that Works on the day I was about to give up (more on this organization in number 3). More recently, I have found passion and purpose as a Core member with my church’s Lifeteen group.
Next are the doctors and nurses of Austin Heart. This gifted group correctly diagnosed my condition five years ago and set me on the pathway to health. With medication and skill, they helped me to get my initial problem under control, so I could lose the water and weight. With a stronger heart, I was able to exercise and get fit. More recently, they were able to diagnose a second serious problem and address it with my recent procedure. These doctor and nurses listed to my concerns and thoughtfully guide my decisions.
Third is WW, the organization formerly know as Weight Watchers and now Wellness that Works. This organization and its Round Rock lead Julie Faircloth provided lessons, tools and nurturing support that have brought both fitness and comradery. There are no better friends than my Saturday group. To read more about this amazing group, read this blog https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/04/22/the-whys-of-weight-watchers/
Lastly and most importantly is my family and friends. My wife has helped me through and loved me, through my weight gain and my journey to health. She has been a rock and helped me through the recent procedure staying with me every step of the way. She is kind but firm, leading me on the right path. She is my hero and my heart!
And then the walk was done.
The rain had stopped, and the sun now shown as gratitude flowed in my
The key to improving your health and losing weight is your environment. We in the 21st century live in a toxic environment. Artificial food, false friends, and feelings of discontent lead to stress, weight gain and self-medication. To embark on a journey toward health, we need to put away the fast food, vitriol and anxiety of everyday living to embrace real food, real experiences, mindfulness and thankfulness.
I know I lived in that environment up until a few years back
and experienced its negative consequences.
With ready access to Quarter Pounders, Diet Cokes, and M&Ms, I doubled
my size and diminished my disposition.
These unhealthy eating practices were exacerbated by too much face time at
work and Facebook for leisure. The
result was an unhealthy, grumpy middle-aged man who could not walk around the
block. Something had to change! Only when I started to change my environment
did I change my life!
There were three aspects to my environment that I decided to
change in January 2015. Weighing more
than all but three of the heaviest players in the NFL with a goods deal less muscle
tone and height, I had to take the following actions to change my environment
and restore my hearth:
Changed my food environment. The first aspect that I set out to change was
my pantry. There were several nemeses
that I had to swap out. The first was
Ice Cream. I was an absolute ice cream
fanatic. So much so that I created an
acronym for my Ice Cream addiction – ICR.
This is how it is used. Once my
kids could drive, I would call out – “Hey, Kyle can you go on an ICR. Get me a large M&M blizzard and get
something for everyone else.” ICR if
you have not figured out yet is Ice Cream Run and it supplemented the ice cream
I already had in the freezer. In
addition to Ice Cream, I kept a pantry well stocked of chips, peanut M&Ms,
and a big 1-gallon plastic container of mixed nuts. All available for ready access whenever I
became stressed. This had to change so I
sought out alternatives.
I initially replaced my DQ Blizzard with
Skinny Cow Ice Cream sandwiches and eventually Non-Fat Greek yogurt with Banana’s
(I still stay away from Ice Cream totally since it is a trigger food). I replaced peanut M&M’s overtime with WW
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie flavored bars that are individually wrapped, the
same calories of a two peanut M&M’s and less likely to gouge on by the cupful! I replaced chips with a crunchy, healthy
alternative that absorbs Salsa just as well – Broccoli. I dealt with my Mixed Nut affliction in a
similar way that I did Peanut M&Ms.
I swapped out the tub full of Mixed Nuts from Costco with individual
packets of smaller size that are less likely to gouge on in fits of stress
eating. These and other food changes got
me one third of the way to a better environment.
Changed my social and work environment. The next thing I needed to do was change up
how I spent my time. During the day and
into the early evening I was spending time locked to a desk in conference calls
or directing my team. At night, I read
the latest political debates late into the night on Facebook and Twitted. Both resulted in too much work time and not enough
downtime. Additionally, the constant
diatribe of uncivility on social media was stressing me out. I could feel the cortisol racing through my
veins as I dealt with the next work issue or latest political debate.
I decided to take two measures to change my
social and work environment. First, I vowed
to get up and move for 10 minutes each hour and to block out 1 hour for working
out in the morning. Additionally, I
vowed to leave no later than 7 PM unless the world was ending. At first, I thought these actions would
detract from my work effort, but I was wrong.
Instead, it fostered communication between my team and I and provided me
with the respite to come up with better actions.
The second thing I did was make a
determined effort to spend less time on social media and to spend that time on
positive feeds. I accomplished this in
two ways. I monitored and reduced my
time reading social media. When I could
not reduce it as much as I hoped, I decided to change my feeds and to listen to
mindful podcasts. I actively sought out positive
Facebook groups such as Spreading Positivity and liked their content. Over time, my Facebook feeds have changed
because of this determined effort from politics to positive messages. Many of these serve as inspirations to my
blogs! I have switched my environment
from Trump to Tranquility!
my internal environment. The most
important environment to change to get healthy is the internal dialogue running
through your head. The change in the
social and work environment helped a lot in this endeavor, but I was still
having negative thoughts. To counter
them, I took up meditation and mindfulness.
I have used the Headspace application as well as the Christian
Meditation blog to get mind off the problems running in my head to the progress
I am making in my heart!
Changing your environment is the first step to changing to
the new you! I did it and so can you!
Recently there has been a lot of controversy on the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Now, I am not going to get into the controversy. No. Instead, I decided to use the melody, which I love so much, and make new lyrics that are appropriate for those losing weight!
Here is the song with the lyrics directly below:
I really should go play,
But it’s cold outside,
I got to get away,
But it’s cold outside,
I need to exercise,
So, I don’t get fat,
What do you think of that?
I have to go, go, go,
But my body says no, no, no,
I really should go and do my exercise,
But I despise,
The cold, the cold, the cold, THE COLD!
Most of us hate to exercise when it is cold outside. But it is a necessity if we are going to keep on our weight loss journey. So, how do you get your exercise in, when you don’t want to go out? Here are five tricks of the trade.
Bundle up and play! A key to good health is getting sun. So, the first thing is to layer up and get outdoors. Winter is a good time for high calorie burning especially if you are in Minnesota which I will be in a few weeks. So, layer up and have some fun with winter sports such as cross-country skiing, and sledding (as long as you are climbing up the hill after sledding down!) Take advantage of these great sports that are only available in the winter (or early spring and late autumn when you are in the frozen tundra up north).
Romp around in your romper! Those Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Jack LaLanne fans out there know the power of the romper. The founding father of exercise, Jack, and Abe Weisman, Tony Shaloub’s character on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel show us how it is done old school with simple calisthenics. Whether you are in the warmth you are home or in the Catskills as Abe, old school calisthenics can get your heart pumping. If you have YouTube,you might even want to one of Jack’s old TV routines shown here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4A3mdG5zbQ
Take your Dog for a walk! Some dogs are conditioned to walk in the cold. Boots, our Bernese Mountain Dog, gets way more active when its get’s colder. As you can see from his thick coat and bear like appearance, Boots loves the cold and can walk a lot further when it is 30 degrees than 100 degrees in Austin. So, take care of your body and take your dog on a walk to escape that pesky cat.
Dance fever. This last one comes from my daughter Kate the Great. When she gets done from a tough day teaching high school, she goes home, turns on the X-Box and “Just Dance”s. Whether with an X-box game or to some Venmo videos of Taylor Swift (I personally love “Shake it Off”, dancing is an excellent way to shake off the pounds!
These are just five ideas to keep in shape during the winter months. There are many more like chopping wood for your own fire or hot yoga, but these will suffice for now. Bottom line: Don’t get old, just because it is cold. Exercise and have fun!
I meant to write this blog a few weeks ago when I infiltrated the Oklahoma Football watch party for the Army versus Oklahoma game (see picture below). A devoted Army fan, I went to the only watch party for the game put on by the Oklahoma Alumni of Austin. I and two other of my West Point alumni joined close to 200 enthusiastic OU fans.
I thought I would leave the game about after 20 minutes since Army was supposed to lose by 30 points. But I ended staying to the end. For those who did not see the game, it went into overtime! Even though Army ultimately lost, they gave the powerhouse Oklahoma team a run for its money. How were they able to do it and go on to have a top 25 season (please, please stay there and Beat Navy!)? There are three characteristics of the Army Football team that lead to success both on the football team and for those trying to get healthy:
Consistency – The Army football team does not have a lot of plays, but what they do have they run in a consistent manner. Each player knows exactly were to block in their Flexbone Triple Option set. This scheme is run only at the Service Academies and it requires discipline and consistency. Each player needs to execute flawlessly due to the smaller size of the players. This type of consistency also served me well as I lost over 170 lbs! I did not have a lot of plays in my weight loss arsenal but what I did have (tracking points, walking, mindfulness), I did on a consistent basis. Each day I tracked my food, walked at least a mile, and spent at least 10 minutes on meditation. Much like Army pounds the football down the field, I pounded away the pounds with consistent execution!
Persistent – The Army football team persistently pursues its playbook even when behind. They do not stop running and driving even if they have to catch-up. Passes are few and far between as they methodically drive down the field. They never stop pursuing their game plan. This persistence is also necessary to successfully restore your health. When I started out, I could barely walk around the block. But little by little, through persistence, I was able to workup to 50 miles in a single day. I did not do it in a week or a month but through persistent exercise over the course of a year and half. Be persistent like the Army Football team and stick to your plan. You will get healthy!
Attitude – The Army Football team stands undaunted against any foe as they demonstrated in the OU game. They stay positive even when facing incredible odds. Also, even when they come up short in the end (like they did in the OU game), they do not let it get them down. They just pick themselves up and win the rest of season, driving into a top 25 spot! You need the same attitude when tackling a weight loss journey. Setbacks will inevitably happen. Like the time you gain 2 lbs in a week because of work demands cut, or eat too much for Thanksgiving (while watching football no less). But at these times, it is important to have a positive attitude and continue marching to your goal, just like the Army football team marches down the field!
I would like to end with a rephrased Army fight song for those driving to their weight loss goals:
Wellness and work usually are not thought to go together. Phrases such as “You will work yourself to death” and “work/life balance” have slipped into our lexicon. The Japanese even have a word for it – Karōshi which translated literally means work yourself to death. Beyond these terms, most have experienced stress eating or skipped workouts because we were either too tired or had an early morning call.
I used to think like that! I was the literal work iron man or so I thought. Before I changed my ways, I would work 16 hours days while eating Plucker’s fried wings and macaroni washed down with cupfuls of peanut M&M’s and Starbucks. I thought I was masterful but I was being mastered. It did not work out. By the end of 2014, I was an over-stressed, overweight, and disgruntled man trying to keep my head above water. I was neither felt well or worked well.
I began to realize that it was neither work over wellness or wellness over work. The key to working at your peak is to enact wellness that works! What do I mean by wellness that works (beside it being the new name for Weight Watchers)? It is the synergistic effect that wellness and work can have on each other. Get more healthy and you can work more efficiently. Work more productively, then you have more time for wellness. Sounds too good to be true? Well, my story is a testament to the potential positive effects that wellness and work have on each other.
Let’s roll back to where I started off – the end of 2014. I had put work over wellness for many years. The end result of this exercise occurred in October, 2014. I was walking out of the delivery center at 3 AM – the last man out the door. Tired and sleepy, I missed a step, tripped and was knocked myself out. When I came to, I could not lift myself off the ground with all the weight I was carrying. I ended up crawling until I could get to the bumper of my car and use it as leverage.
Then and there I vowed that I needed to do something different. So among other things (joining WW, going to the doctors), I enacted Don’s four rules for wellness that works:
(1) Well rested, well tested, never bested! – The first thing that I did was to get more sleep. Sounds easy? It wasn’t. At first, I thought I would miss something if I was not on each and every late night call. I was driven to be in the know and show the “manager’s flag” on every call.
But that attitude was making me unhealthy and also was not the best leadership style. Sure it is important to get on critical calls at critical times for support of your team and to add to the solution. But not every call and not all the time. Hovering over everyone makes them think you do not trust them and may even detract from the solution. It also makes you tired and unable to think.
It was really hard at first checking off the phone after providing guidance. But when I did, three things begun to happen. I sometimes came up with the answer as I rested and slept on it. My team realized I trusted them but was there when they needed me. Lastly, I was overall less stressed and unkind during the day. My team appreciated my new disposition and I appreciated feeling better. Bottom line: when anxiety starts to creep, go to sleep!
(2) Workout and Work Go Together! – I used to know this back in my Army days but forgot it as a consultant. As a soldier, we were paid to work out each morning. It was a necessary and important part of our job. Being fit helps you not to quit!
But as a leader in the private sector, I forgot that important point. My convenient excuse was that I couldn’t work out because I had to go to work. It was only after I again realized that you can work out while working and that working out helps you work that my life begun to change! I begun to block out time at least three times a week to workout and refused to take calls at that time. Also, I got an app on my iPhone that notified me every hour to do a simple set of exercises for 3-5 minutes. The best way to get rid of stress is to sweat it out. It also helps you stop the negative talk in your head as I wrote in this previous blog Stop the Negative Talk and Take A Walk.
(3) Work Hard, Play Hard! This is an old saying and a good one. But I give it a slightly different bent. Most people think you first must work hard to get to play. Others note that when you play too hard, you can’t go to work the next day! But you can have fun at work and playing hard can make you work harder. Take sometime to talk and joke with your team to break up the day. Find a hobby that helps you unwind. For me, I love Karaoke. I sometimes even sing in the woods, as this blog attests Why Not? I’m Singing in the Woods!
(4) Join Wellness that Works for wellness that works! The last rule is perhaps the most important. If you want to learn additional ways to increase your wellness and you work productivity, join Wellness that Works (the organization formerly known as Weight Watchers and still goes by WW). The weekly meeting provide more lessons on how to mix wellness with work such as mindfulness and goal setting. I could go on and on about WW (and I did in this blog The Why’s of Weight Watchers!), but rest assured it is wellness that works!
I will end with a picture that shows that work and wellness can go together. Here is me at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin taking a call that ultimately resulted in us getting additional work. The old Don would have take the call in the hotel and skipped the time with my daughter. Instead I took it from the top of this mountain. If I was not well I could have not climbed up to get reception and do my work! Be well, do work!
Over the last few months, I have been training to be a Spin Instructor. The thought that I could be a spin instructor a few years back was unimaginable. Cresting at 358 lbs., I could not ride a bike for more than a few minutes without one of two things happening. Either I would throw out my back, or so much pressure would be applied to a certain area that it would become numb, worse yet.
I only started to do spin after I had dropped some weight. Then, I fell in love with spinning. Part of it was the music, part of it was the exhilaration, but most of it was my instructor, Corey Ellis. You can read more about this hero of health in this blog. Heroes of Health Series, Episode 2 – Corey the Cycling King
I knew I had to go that extra step after finishing 4 hours of spinning during Lifetime Fitness St. Jude’s Fund Raiser – Ride for a Reason. I decided to get certified as a Spin Instructor. The added benefit is I get to be trained to Corey. See the picture of me, Corey, Kaisa, and another cyclist after the Race for the Cure.
On October 20th, I will get the chance to teach part of a Spin Class for the first time and I am totally stoked. I have come up with my Simple Set (a series of spinning intervals timed to a music) that speaks to both my weight loss journey and obstacles that we all need to overcome in life.
I have come up for a title and a subtitle for my Simple Set. The main title is For Excellence We Strive. The secondary title is called “Don’t Stop Believing, Even When You Are Living on A Prayer, Because You Could Be on The Edge of Glory” (a careful read will tell you the name of my songs!). Here is the meaning of the two titles.
The main title is “For Excellence We Strive” for two reasons. First, it is the motto for my class at West Point, the class of 85 (more later). The second reason is during the training, the cyclist will have three opportunities to strive for excellence only to be beat it in the next interval. Why? Because the excellence of today is the mediocrity of tomorrow. You must always strive for excellence, and when you achieve your goal, it is not time to revel and become complacent. No, it’s time to strap on your cycling shoes, clip in, and race to beat your previous best!
I will not repeat the second title but instead tell you why I picked the three songs:
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey. This first song represents the start of my weight loss journey and simulates climbing up a hill that slowly ascends. As you make the first few steps on the path to health, it is important not to stop believing you can do it. Even though the climb is getting harder after the first few moments of success, you need to keep pushing.
Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi. This second song is prefect for the mid part of any weight loss journey. Three times in this song, you climb up as you pray that you overcome the next obstacle that is in your way. And three times, you reach the exhilaration as you find success; only to meet the next hill. I also picked this song because it has the lyric “Oh your half way there, oh Living on a Prayer”. I remember my half way there moment on my weight loss journey. It was at my 30th West Point Reunion when I had lost one half of my weight goal (see picture below)
Also, many times as I got stuck, I was Living on A Prayer. Praying that I would not give up. Praying that I could do it. Praying for a New Life!
On the Edge of Glory – Lady Gaga. I will not lie. I picked this last song as a tribute to Lady Gaga after seeing her performance on a “Star is Born”. But, then I realized how well it fit. Ask any Lifetime member of Wellness that Works (the organization formerly known as Weight Watchers) and they will tell you the last few pounds to your goal are the hardest. But it is essential not to stop when you are on the Edge of Glory. The song is perfect for this last set because during the verses you climb large hills but then at the end you feel the exhilaration of the chorus as you spin out at 110 RPMs!
So, there you have it. I am on the Edge of Glory and hopefully I will achieve it on October 20th. If interested, message or text me when we solidify the exact time. It will be at Lifetime Fitness Austin (still trying to figure if it is North or South).
Last Thursday I had the pleasure to attend the Austin Chamber of Commerce Business Awards with some of my Accenture colleagues from the Austin office. We were finalists for two awards – the Employee Wellness and Environment award for large offices. Here is the group at our table.
Smiles abounded at the table even though we did not win. Why were the smiles so broad? I can’t speak for my friends, but I can speak for myself. I was smiling because Accenture’s wellness programs helped save my life!
This may sound like an overstatement. I promise you it is not. Before I became an active participant in Accenture’s wellness program I was on a downward trajectory. Too much stress and not taking care of myself drove up my weight and ruined my fitness.
The bottom hit at halftime at my son’s senior homecoming game. My son was nominated as Homecoming King and I and my wife were to escort him on the football field. Carrying over 300 lbs. on a hot Texas evening, my calves became so tight I could barely move. I had to momentarily move behind the bench and stretch out my legs. Luckily, just before I took the field my legs stretched out enough so that I could hobble onto the field.
My wife and son were kind but that was a close call with my health and only one of many. I had to do something. So, I explored Accenture’s wellness programs and they came to the rescue. Specifically, these five programs helped me to lose over 170 pounds, restored my health, and improved my outlook on life and ability to handle stress.
Wellness check-up – Each year our company provides for a free wellness checkup for employees and their spouses. The wellness checkup is followed up by recommendations and assistance as well as a discount on your insurance. The wellness checkup indicated that I had a health issue. I was contacted and followed up with a more complete physical (also discounted through the company) that verified the issue and provided the proper diagnosis. With the treatment prescribed, my shoe size shrunk back down two sizes. It also helped provide me with enough energy to seriously attack my weight problem.
Employee Discount Program for Weight loss program – I now had the immediate health issue under control, so I looked around for a weight loss program. I was toying around with a liquid-based diet since it worked in the short term in the past when an email appeared in my email box offering half off on Weight Watchers for a year. With that single email and discount, my life was forever changed. Those who regularly follow my blog know the impact Weight Watcher’s has had on my life; leading me to lose over 170 pounds in a year and a half. The Why’s of Weight Watchers! I still attend every week. But the first step to this life changing program was the Accenture discount email that I received on January 1, 2015 (Yes, I kept the email as a memory!).
Accenture Active – Another program that was key to my transformation was Accenture Active. I was one of three leadership journeyers during the first year of the program. In this role, I was afforded weekly sessions with the other journeyers and a fitness coach. In addition, I had the opportunity to blog on a weekly basis as a means of encouragement to me and to others. Also, the program provides a Fitbit to each employee and their spouses as well as a program called JIFF that allows you to get prizes for meeting wellness goals and tasks. With the Fitbit and the encouragement of JIFF rewards, I went from being able to walk 1000 steps a day to 10,000 steps or more daily.
Mindfulness Training – With my fitness on the right trajectory, I had to tackle the underlying problem for my health issues in the first place – my reaction to stress. Accenture again came through with a program. My boss worked with a local company to provide mindfulness training for leaders. In the class, I learned the practice of meditation and mindfulness that I use daily. I may still have some moments, but this program has really helped me in focusing on the now and not worrying unnecessarily about the future.
Truly Human Campaign – I had my head and body half way in order, so I now had to turn to my heart. Accenture has a program for that also called “Truly Human”. It provides programs and advice on how to leverage the unique talents of individuals. It provides exercises and tips on how to be kind to both yourself and your colleagues. I wrote about the importance of taking care of your heart as well as your body in this previous blog. Feed your soul, heal your body The Truly Human campaign helped reinforce my daily practice of thankfulness journaling and capturing positive events in a happiness journal.
I want to thank Accenture for my new lease on life. To end, I will close with a catchphrase from my time at Accenture Active – Life’s Attractive When Your Accenture Active!