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CTF 2012 Karl

Making Changes

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Making Changes

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Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason C-H-A-N-G-E.  (N): The act or instance of making or becoming different.

…My buzzword for the last 12 months. Life is certainly full of change and this has never been truer for me than over the past month or so…much has happened since my last blog posting of my 2013 goals.

First and foremost, the biggest change that is happening is the Commit to Fit (CTF) program is ending for me - officially in approximately 4-5 weeks. The reality of it all hit me hard 3 weeks ago and began to settle into my mind once I saw the announcement that DIAKADI and Eating Free were searching for the 5th fortunate applicant/winner for the 2013 program. It is hard to believe that I have been at this almost 1 year. I would never have imagined my life as it is now this time last year. Can I imagine my life this time next year 2014? Yes, I can! I hope to follow in Dave’s (2011 CTF Winner) successful footsteps after my program ends and continue to keep my weight off using all of the tools I have developed - the fitness knowledge from Mike and the nutritional training Sarah has instilled in me. I will continue the work that was started during my year with CTF. I know I will be even more in shape and a fitter and healthier Karl in Feb. 2014. My journey most definitely does not end here…nor should it. My strive to be the healthiest I can be will continue over the rest of my lifetime – one day at a time, one meal at a time. One door closes but another opens bringing a new path for me to explore and travel.

A new door in my career opened last month and I changed positions within the company organization. I have stepped onto a new path. It is a great move career-wise and aligns with goals I had previously set for myself. I am very excited to be in the new position and look forward to proving myself and my abilities to my new manager and teammates. It’s somewhat scary but I am facing the anxiety and the unknown head on. All I can do is my best. One of the best parts of the job change was the shopping experience I had to go on as I needed a new and dressier business wardrobe for my new position because  I wanted to look my sharpest possible. For the first time in my adult life, shopping for clothes was not a traumatic emotional experience. Because of my new body and shape, I was able to fit into clothes and look good. I think I may have been a bit crazed with excitement because I splurged like it was Easter, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s all rolled into one festive occasion – new slacks, shirts, socks, suits, belts and shoes now live in my closet. My fat boy pants and 5x shirts have moved to the garage…next stop Donationland. I honestly hesitated before deciding to get rid of all my other clothes because they have been with me for so long, they almost feel like a security blanket for me…familiar to me as they have witnessed all that I have been through being a fat guy trying to survive in a world blinded by the quest for the perfect diet and which thinness is idolized. To help sustain the changes I have made, I kept one pair of pants and one belt as a reminder never to allow myself to get grossly unhealthy again.

With all of this change happening, I have been living mentally between two worlds – basically the world of the old me and the one of the new me. Sometimes I am caught in the middle between the two and feel like I am floating in space. Facing my weight and the changes have proven difficult – sometimes almost too much to handle – yet rewarding. I have had to change my perception of reality and of myself – doing a total 360 in mindset.  I had to understand and accept my old self in order to let him go so I could embrace my new ever-morphing self. The more I embrace my new self, the stronger I feel mentally – and this has been one of the greatest rewards I have reaped from all of the change. This has also acted as fuel to keep me motivated and moving forward instead of regressing. The changes just didn’t happen – as the definition states, I had to M-A-K-E them happen – make my life different. Change has never felt so good.

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Happy 2013!

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Happy 2013!

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Commit to Fit | Week 39

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

Happy New Year! After Christmas, this time of year is always one of my favorites. While I am a little sad that I turned a year older during December and the Christmas Tree and decorations are being taken down to be stored for another year and there is no more of the much needed and appreciated holiday vacation days from work, life offers a clean slate, a new beginning of the next chapter of life with the New Year. Expectations for the New Year and what is to come over the next twelve months are many and hopeful.

Like most people, part of that new beginning for me is the creation of my new “2013 To Do” list. The first step in this process for me is to review my list from the previous January. For some past years, this has been the most troubling part of the creation of my new list for the upcoming year because it never seemed as if I accomplished or completed very much on my list for that given previous year. Yes, I had high expectations at the beginning when making said list but then something always seems to prevent me from reaching my goals. The end of the year always finds me feeling a bit depressed and upset by this. I always found some excuse(s) as to why things I wanted to happen did not. I always blamed work, simply did not put the required energy into a task to make it happen, didn’t think I could make it happen and was afraid to try therefore did not and/or additional tasks were added to my list which shifted my priorities and focus so not everything could be completed from my list. I played the blame game. To cut through all the emotional and psychological bull*&%$ and get straight to the point – I was preventing myself from completing my list. It is difficult to admit that but admitting it allows me to address it. The blame game has stopped and there are no valid excuses when taking a cold honest look at my life and list. 2013 List #1: My main– and most important – goal of 2013 is to be completely real, transparent and HONEST with myself. Now this process has already begun in 2012 but I have to continue to recognize when I make an excuse instead of facing an issue/concern/problem face to face and work to resolve it; but additionally, I need to root out why I am even making an excuse in the first place. Being real and transparent means 2013 will be a year of action and problem solving instead of words and excuses. Clichés are so true. Actions WILL speak louder.

One of my favorite movie quotes which I have used over the past several years to inspire more actions from myself is: "Una vida con miedo es como la vida medias." / "A life lived in fear is a life half-lived." -- Fran, Strictly Ballroom (1992)--This movie is about a dance studio whose main dancer, a male, needs a partner for regional championships. He and his former partner have split, leaving an opening that is a challenge to fill. The position is filled at the last possible moment. As a human being, I try to live each day to the max (life is short) and not live in fear of defeat--a negative force that will result in a stagnant and unsatisfying existence. With a positive attitude to start with, one has the ability to live a life with a health-driven focus, good times, friends, family, and all the rest that constitutes a fulfilling life. Piggybacking on #1, 2013 List #2: Stop living in any fear.

2013 List, #3: Continue on my journey of healthy living – includes both exercise and food. Looking back at January 2012, I had little hope (but still had a micro-hope as I always do…) that I would ever be below 300lbs and in a gym.  It has happened though. I never believed I would be eating salads and fruits on a daily basis instead of McDonalds and Jack-in-the Box but I am now. Both of these major changes will continue into 2013 and for a lifetime. I probably will not even consider these as part of my 2014 To Do list as these will be engrained in me as second nature by December 2013.  I am amazed at the shift my life has taken by simply being a part of the CTF program. As far as  exercising and gym workouts, while I may not be able to accomplish it all, lift 500lbs by the year’s end or be in the World’s Strongest Man competition, the fact that I am making the effort and going to the gym is most important. Healthy eating means be responsible in monitoring my food and intake and making the right choices for my life. My trainer and nutritionist are incredible motivators, teachers and cops but cannot continue to police me. For the first time, I am looking over my own shoulder and monitoring myself. From this though originates 2013 List #4: No beating up self in 2013! Accept any small failures and mis-steps in 2013. Learn from them and MOVE on. No dwelling on the negative allowed.

I believe the 2013 List of 4 above are the most important and the foundation for all other goals in 2013 for me. These 4 are goals I have NEVER before actively set for myself with a sincere desire to succeed at all of them! My work on transforming my life does not stop or slow down because it is a new year, it only intensifies in 2013! Smaller goals I am setting for myself include more specific challenges: 2013 List #5: Weigh 200 lbs by 06.01.13. #6: Be able to complete 50 continuous pushups by 04.01.13. #7: Actively make time for my hobbies in 2013, including taking a glass blowing course and to paint more. #8: Begin yoga or a stretching class in 2013. #9: Speak and be with/visit my family more in 2013. #10: Advance my career.  Overall, I am very happy with 2012 and I am excited about 2013. 2013 can be everything I want it to be - and WILL BE! Happy New Year!

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The Best Christmas Present

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The Best Christmas Present

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Commit to Fit | Week 36-38

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

My weigh-in continues to record progress on my journey, as I have entered 260sville.  As of 12.15.12, I have lost a total of 63.2 lbs. I now weigh 264.6 lbs.  I’m still on track and feeling good about the upcoming holiday.  I know I have the tools necessary for me to be successful in continuing to live a healthier lifestyle.  I just need to ensure I use them and don’t rest on the past couple of weeks’ losses. I will continue the work because I now am recognizing and feeling the value of doing the work.

Rather recently I turned 44. I have never really ever felt my age and definitely not 44. If I had to choose an age, I would say 32, maybe 33… I see myself as young in spirit with good skin. I have never felt as young in mind, soul and body as in the past 2 weeks. I had some benchmark moments in the past weeks. The first was that I shopped for clothes for the first time at regular stores and not the big & tall store. I had a much larger selection to choose from and could try on – and fit into – at least 20x the available merchandise a big & tall store even carries. At one jeans store, I fit in a size 42 waist jean and had to get a new belt. It was the first time in my adult life I bought pants outside of the big boy store.  I wondered if anybody could ever really know the satisfaction of buttoning those jeans and feeling good in them.  It didn’t matter. I knew and felt it. It was a private joyous explosion of feelings in public, leaving me feeling a bit exhibitionistic. It definitely boosted my confidence and self-esteem. It was the happiest I have felt in a few months. I have also gone down to a size 2x shirt. I immediately began to make a list of all the stores I have waited years (in some instances a lifetime) to shop at. The list became quite extensive quickly.  I did a mental check to before I proceeded with a shopping rampage. There was no rampage –this time at least.  My list continues and I am extremely happy that I have given myself new and exciting options on all of my life’s fronts.

The second benchmark that I recognized over the past weeks: I have more energy and felt I could handle a fuller more active day. In the course of my weekend, a friend and I followed a group of Santas and elves around town seeing what holiday cheer and trouble they were causing which was fun. I didn’t feel following partying Santas, running errands, finishing up those final holiday tasks to make it a more relaxing holiday for everyone, especially myself, and shopping were laboring to me in any fashion. For the most part, I was on foot traveling around town, not requiring rest in between as had been needed in the past. I found some stamina. This pleased my eco-conscious friend to no end. He pointed out now I saw the value in opting to walk and/or use public transportation as opposed to driving all of the time. I added that it saved all that money usually spent on parking and meters and reduced my carbon footprint all while getting exercise. I benefit and the environment benefits too. Overall, I felt more productive and knew I had managed my available down- time much better.  I was DOING and more importantly getting life lived.  I was not procrastinating and saving life to be completed at a later time. The only time I realized is now. There is no other time.  I reflected on the years I have spent as a couch potato and time waster NOT doing, always seemingly being in a stupor caused by food or boredom or the dangerous combination of both. I have spent countless hours watching TV and being involved in so many other people’s lives and issues, I totally had not dealt with myself and my issues – weight. Time to deal.

By not facing my weight issue head on until recently in the scheme of my life, I was accepting less than - way less than – mediocrity for and from my life. Its mind boggling I have not made the connections before. What do you say to yourself about that? There is not much to say…I stopped abusing myself a few months ago and are only being positive and encouraging from now on.  The true success for the past few weeks is that for the first time in the entire program, I had a major shift in my self-perception. I do not feel like the outsider fat kid any longer. This has been at least 35 years or so in the making. I do not feel victimized in any way for the first time. I now have control.  I feel like I matter. Yes, me mattering…new and strange concept. Bottom line – Karl’s got a new lease on life. It’s the best Christmas present ever!

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Thankful for a Time of Change

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Thankful for a Time of Change

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Commit to Fit | Week 33-35

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

Two weeks ago, for the first time during my participation in the Commit to Fit program, I plateaued and didn’t lose any weight during my weigh-in. Sarah, my nutritionist, advised that this is typical as individuals lose weight and is most likely attributed to the body adjusting to the changes which are happening to it. Sarah advised to expect additional plateaus in the remaining course of the program. I understood but was somewhat disappointed. On 12.01.12 when I weighed in, I lost an additional 4 ½ lbs. Total weight loss to date: 59.6lbs. No plateau this time. I was surprised but thankful, still feeling the Thanksgiving glow from last week’s holiday, a holiday very different for me this year compared to past Thanksgivings.

I have always loved Thanksgiving. Traditionally Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, for reflecting on events and happenings of the previous 365 days one is grateful for, and of course food. Unofficially, it has always seemed to be one of the few times in life that society silently condones gluttony by turning a blind eye to the exaggerated amount of food consumed by the average individual on this holiday . For those individuals striving to live a healthier lifestyle or trying to diet (a word I have tried to stop using in my vocabulary), Thanksgiving is a holiday of temptation, nothing more than the devil’s mistress seducing us away from a more common sense approach to the festive meal, using copious amounts of carbs like potatoes and rolls, sugars which are magically transformed into pie and pounds of butter to lure us into a calorie-and-fat-laden stupor by the time the second football game of the day starts.  Most people end up stuffing themselves. I always stuffed myself.  I don’t ever remember a Thanksgiving not stuffing my gut; thinking back on one year where I had to change into sweat pants complete with stretched out elastic waistband because I had eaten 2 or 4 or 6 too many rolls dipped in my beloved gravy.  I knew no other behavior myself before this Thanksgiving. OK, I just lied. I DID know other behavior but chose to throw it all out the window for Thanksgiving chalking it up to a “holiday situation” and then vowing that I would start eating right and maybe exercising on the upcoming Monday. Monday never showed up. I may sound bitter about Thanksgiving, I am not. 30+ years of this twisted holiday rationalizing contributed to my weight and food issues. This year I knew I had to be proactive in making a change in my usual holiday thinking.

Thanksgiving 2012 saw this change in how I approach the holiday. Above all else, I concentrated on the important people in my life as I was fortunate enough to share the holiday with my chosen San Francisco family of close friends. I also reflected on what a blessing the Commit to Fit program is, its many lessons offered, and the people involved (Mike, Sarah, Billy, Dave M, Chip and David) in supporting and pushing me further along have been in 2012 for me.  I am thankful that CTF has given me the tools to save my life. From a food perspective this year, I was concerned my guests had yummy traditional foods.  I ensured those foods were prepared in a healthier manner, using organic and sustainable foods while using less fat and less sodium as much as possible.  To start off my Thanksgiving morning, the first thing I did was made it a point to have a good breakfast with whole grains, fruit and lean protein. Doing this meant I was not snacking throughout the day and was not filling up on empty potentially high-fat calories. When it was time for the main meal, my plate wasn’t a mountain of food and I made a choice to have minimal tasting portions, to eat more of the fresh veggie offerings, to skip some of the foods I knew would trigger me to overeat and not to beat myself up no matter what happened. Yes, I had stuffing. I also had the smallest sliver of pumpkin pie, had a couple rolls and even gravy. I unfortunately didn’t have any cranberry sauce because I realized that after several courses of delectableness when the meal was over, I forgot to put the cranberry sauce on the table. I laughed but then thought “less sugar for everyone today! Yeah!”  I didn’t deprive myself of the iconic foods but I didn’t stuff myself either. It was a balanced approach. It was a new approach I look forward to using at Christmas and many other holidays to come. I actually celebrated the holiday spirit and the people not the food. Food will never again take center stage of any holiday or celebration in my life.

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What’s That in Your Hand?

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What’s That in Your Hand?

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Commit to Fit | Week 29-32

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

During the past month I have thought many times that the time I have left in the program is slipping away too quickly. I am starting the eighth month of the program and am wondering what the future brings. Everyone tells me not to compare myself to past contestants and their progress, but it is hard not too….sometimes I feel like I am failing. I know it is just my old mental hang-ups trying to sabotage my updated mental self. I know I have written on this before and I apologize it is a topic again but discussing it allows me to deal with it in a more rational way as it is continuously on my mind. I am starting to panic now some though.

I spoke with Mike about this a few weeks ago, told him my concerns and fears and asked what happens if I don’t meet my Commit to Fit goal and what kind of major discount (…and I MEAN major –like 90% off services - LOL) he will give me so I can continue training with him. After I got Mike to stop laughing, he told me to seriously chill and continue on my personal and unique path I was on. We would cross all those bridges once the time came.

My weigh-in on 11.03.12 was good. I dropped another 3.4lbs in 2 weeks for a total loss now of 55.6lbs. I now weigh 272.2 lbs. My next weigh in is approaching soon. What will it bring? Weight Loss I hope! Sarah at Eating Free has me expanding my carb selection for variety but I am expanding all areas of eating to include a larger variety of new items…so far in the past 2 weeks I have had a few foods for the first time including quinoa and black rice (carb family) and pluots, persimmons, quinces and celery root (fruit/veg family). Variety is spicing up my table and lunch box.  I have enjoyed going to the local farmer’s markets on the weekends to explore and am finding it inspirational and good exercise.  I have also been exploring more recipes on the Eating Free website too. She is also having me identify non-food rewards for myself as I reach the next few goal stages over the next 5 months. I have not been doing that with the weight I have already lost. I am still deciding on the reward once I reach 250lbs but I have confirmed that once I reach 225lbs, I will go skydiving. I have been twice but have never actually skydived. I am usually holding down the picnic blanket and lunch basket and hanging with the kids, snapping pictures of folks actually participating in the fun at their request. While my past role has never really bothered me before, it does a bit now. I dislike being sidelined due to weight issues (as 250lbs is the weight limit for tandem skydiving). I am very much looking forward to getting in on the action and having MY picture snapped as I fall in the sky. Once I reach 200lbs, my actual goal weight for Commit to Fit, my friends are suggesting I go to Disneyland since I have never been.  Although I do love roller coasters, I am not sure how I would look in mouse ears so the jury is still out on that one… but I will keep everyone updated…

I am really striving to participate in the here and now – to be consciously present in the now whether while at the gym (which I am valuing more and more each day as “me” time where I forget all else going on in the world/life) or while out and about exploring what the world has to offer – and realized that in worrying about the future so much recently, I may be hindering – even blocking – my progress in the now. Crazy I know. I just need to stay focused and on track. Success is in my hands – and for those on any type of self-bettering journey - yours!

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Commit To Fit in Action

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Commit To Fit in Action

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Commit to Fit | Week 25-28

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

My last weigh-in on 09.22.12 brought me down to 282.8lbs, another five gone for a total of 45lbs., but I’ve lost more since then working towards my next goal stage of 275lbs. During these past weeks Sarah, Mike, Billy and I met at the Eating Free Offices to discuss what has worked and what has not worked from each of our perspectives during the past 6 months of the program. I can’t believe it has been six months already. We also looked towards the upcoming six months and to the end of the CTF program in March 2013, laying out an action plan and what it would take it get me there. We changed my workouts to the afternoons to better accommodate my stressful work schedule, reconfirmed my eating plan and agreed that my communication with Sarah and Mike was key. We all vowed the next six months would be even more successful than the previous six months.

Most importantly at the meeting, I re-affirmed my dedication to making the most of the remainder of this awesome opportunity. One way to accomplish that was to set limits for myself, especially at work. I knew this would allow me to better balance my work and personal lives into one complete healthier life. I have not been so successful in that department previously but that was going to improve and changes were already being made. Mike, Sarah and Billy encouraged me to reach out to them if I ever felt I was stumbling physically and/or mentally. I promised I would. Overall the meeting was positive and I felt good afterwards. I kept telling myself I can DO THIS! DO IT! For the most part, I have been able to do it but have had a couple of stumbles. It is a challenge and I decided it called for a daily reminder which I have put into practice religiously. I was never a practitioner of positive affirmations but it works. At the beginning of each work day, the first thing I write down in my day-planner is: “My life is worth it! I am worth it! Remember your limits!”…and I do remember because it is too easy to forget and no one else is going to remind you. Not only do I remember it, I now believe it for the first time in over 35 years.

Two weeks after the meeting I went to Seattle and used the trip as part of this balancing program. The first happy moment of the trip happened on the plane when for the first time in over two years I didn’t have to ask for a seat belt extension and even had extra room in my seat. There was no feelings of embarrassment and no fear of not fitting in the seat or of crowding my seat-mate. I was no longer a special needs flyer. A small but significant detail I fully appreciated and relished. A good beginning to the trip. The trip was a much needed and welcomed break from San Francisco. I was able to re-group mentally and it allowed me to assess life over the past several months. I connected with a good friend, spending an afternoon together. I had the fortunate opportunity to visit the Chihuly Glass and Garden exhibition which showcases Chihuly’s works. As a collector of glass, the exhibit was a visual orgasm of color, technique and creativity.  I felt inspired about my own journey, likening my own transformation to an art project. I thought about how I am re-creating my body through nutrition and fitness. I decided I am a living work of art in progress. I know I’m pushing the analogy here but I appreciate the indulgence. I was so enthralled by the show that I almost purchased a piece of glass at the shop at the end but decided my landlord wouldn’t appreciate that and got a book instead…maybe one day a piece of Chihuly glass will be mine but I was happy I was owning my self-esteem and feeling positive about myself, finding my value as an adult man getting in shape.

I hiked around Seattle about 15 miles total over two-and-a half days. At one point on the Saturday afternoon I was there, I had this adrenaline rush and realized I had  was hiking for almost 3 hours and covered over 8 miles. Was I hydrated? I was reminded of Sarah’s reminder to me about the importance of keeping hydrated in whatever I was doing. I needed some water but I was also in some kind of zone that was unfamiliar to me but euphoric. I wasn’t having difficulty breathing, all those squats incorporated into my work out were paying off, and I thought I could go on the rest of the day. My Saturday hike route ended at  Pike’s Market, the public market on the water. I got water and savored the energy of the market and marveled at the many stalls of fresh produce, seafood and flowers, not to mention of all the different people bustling around. I enjoyed a basket of blackberries and some fresh crab and felt deeply satisfied and content for the first times since I could remember in a long time. I was experiencing the world with a different and improved vision. I returned to San Francisco refreshed in sprit, confident of my journey and remembering I’m worth it and can only take full advantage of life one day at a time in order to achieve sustainable success and happiness. This all seems to be fitting into the action plan…

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Wilderness Reflections

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Wilderness Reflections

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Commit to Fit | Week 23-24

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

It’s official.  I’ve lost 40 lbs. as of August 25, 2012, down from 299.8 lbs. to 287.8 lbs. (originally 327.8 lbs.)since March 2012. I was excited. It was really happening. The numbers were decreasing. I always thought this was the only validation of any weight loss program or diet. The lower the number fell the happier I seemed to become. If the number climbed higher, it felt like I was being stabbed in the gut. Devastating mentally and always leading to a depressing next few days. I would sulk and wondered what had happened, where had it gone wrong. It didn’t matter. I failed. Some of that negativity crept into my mind after my weigh-in. I thought I should be farther along as far as the numbers were concerned and compared to the other contestants of the CTF program. But I wasn’t – and that was OK! It was OK. I am where I am supposed to be after the work I have put in. I have put in hard work on all fronts. Could some things be done differently?

Sure, maybe. Looking back on most things in life, there is always a choice. Choosing differently just once would alter everything about us at this given moment. If I had not had that one extra big mac after the football game that one Friday night maybe I wouldn’t have become addicted. I’m thinking about a fish filet now…wrong perhaps but if I allow myself to think about it just a little, I’m less likely to go out and get one with a large fries. It’s OK that I have lost 40 lbs. and I can be happy without the guilt or negativity I brought into the process for no real reason. Am I happy? I am. 87.8 lbs. to my ultimate goal! I have 6 months left of CFT. I can do it and I will do it.

I was up at my best buddy’s house near Angels Camp in the Sierra Foothills a few weeks ago. Acres of mountain wilderness, Manzanita, oak trees, wild blackberry patches, frogs, hummingbirds, finches, clean air and heat. A peaceful and relaxing get-away allowing me to center myself, decompress and think about life without a lot of stress around me. When up there, my friends always are trying to get me to go hiking. I never wanted to do it. I never could and never believed I could. It was too much. I was always out of breath after 10 minutes. I usually turned around and went back to the house. So this trip was different. I joined the guys and went hiking three days in a row. It was awesome. I worked up a small sweat but wasn’t winded and set the pace of the group. I was out enjoying nature like never before, was getting exercise and was able to climb the Foothills. It made me realize that my mental state still has some catching up to do with my physical state. It was such a great experience. I even got some sun! Being out in the middle of nature doing something with my friends was my validation. I realized that while the scale number is a good indication of progress, there are other critical markers as well. Being able to hike or do my favorite activity, being able to sleep better, being able to fit into the clothes at a regular store have been important road markers in my journey. The best validation of my progress so far in the CTF is how much healthier and stronger I feel from the diet and exercise and how those feelings make me feel better about myself than I have in years. CFT has empowered me.

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Finally…Beginning to Give In

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Finally…Beginning to Give In

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Commit to Fit | Week 19-22

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

I have been out of the gym for the past 3.5 weeks and haven’t been able to work out.  Being away from the gym was difficult. Each day that passed, I imagined myself gaining weight and ballooning back to my starting weight. I freaked out a bit mentally and didn’t know how it would be to return to the same level of physical activity when I was able to return. I played out many scenarios with each scarier in my mind than in reality. I am usually one to imagine the worst case scenario anyway so the more I dwelled on it, the more daunting it seemed. At one point I even thought about covering up the mirrors so I wouldn’t have to see myself to think about.

Out of sight, out of mind. Not really.  Some friends accuse me of being an extremist. I’m actually not. Perhaps a tad bit dramatic….but only a tad! I just think it smart to think about a situation from every angle. This past week I started back up working out.

While I am super sore and my muscles/body are screaming out in pain (Please Mike, stop being SOOO happy about this fact…), I have never been so excited to be back in the gym! Hard to believe I know. I never imagined myself feeling something like this!  While out of my normal gym routine, I honestly had some kind of mental switch flipped and I WANTED to exercise, to sweat and get that rush that comes after a solid workout where you leave it all on the gym floor. Not having that feeling for over 3 weeks really made appreciate how much better the gym makes me feel – both mentally and physically. The gym has quickly become the one safe haven I feel I can let all guards down and just do the work I need to but can enjoy the process at the same time. While I have noticed that I have lost some of the momentum just starting back up, I have NOT regressed any – which I take as a good sign. My body is quickly adjusting back and I anticipate to be at full capacity starting next week. Another important realization – I have really made the effort not to beat myself up for not being at 100% after such a long time off.  I’m back and going to be better than ever. It reminded of a conversation I have had with another trainer at DIAKADI. While chatting, he advised that his road to health has been a continuous journey and what helped him was finally giving into it (healthy living, working out, eating correctly) as a lifestyle. The past 3 weeks has been my first true awareness that I am starting to give in to the gym and nutrition more and more each day and making healthy living my lifestyle choice now and beyond.

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Can a black sheep conquer Midoriyama?

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Can a black sheep conquer Midoriyama?

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Commit to Fit | Week 17-18

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

All seems well and put together in the world of Karl at this point. Looks can be deceiving though. I will explain further so there are no misunderstandings. For the most part, some aspects are moving forward at a great pace and seem right on track. Other aspects of my life are suffering from my lack of attention to those areas.  I am still on track with the main goal of losing weight and building muscle. I have lost more weight over the last 2 weeks and down by a total of about 34 lbs (unofficially since I have not been weighed in at Eating Free in several weeks).

My workouts continue to be difficult and mentally challenging, but for the most part I am getting through them. I thought I had fought off the demons in my head which I think may be holding me back some but they keep appearing.  Doubt in myself and my abilities are still creeping up and at times I wonder if I can continue forward. I have freely expressed this to Mike, who continues to encourage and help me move forward on my journey. He won’t take my excuses and still plans to build me some guns from hell with how he keeps increasing my weights weekly. I think I may be training for a future Olympic weight lifting competition. Sometimes I can’t think about it at all as it’s overwhelming.  I feel so exhausted trying to balance all aspects of my life – especially between my work, personal life and the commitments of being chosen the winner for 2012 Commit-To-Fit program. I am definitely committed and know I am just in a growth phase (mentally at least) and would never do anything to jeopardize my commitment to DIAKADI and Eating Free.  After my 4th set of reps with a 20lb barbell in each hand, I am not fully aware of where the strength is coming from to lift those things over my head. I feel like my arms have thousands of tiny knives stabbing them. I am in pain. I am exhausted. I continue on because I know it’s making a difference in my life. My health is worth it.

Another area which I have neglected is my appointments with Sarah at Eating Free. I just haven’t had the time to meet with her.  I work 9-12 hours a day usually, drive home, eat then go to bed. There is not a slot open for additional appointments. Sometimes it feels like I am torn between trying to meet my basic necessities  (like sleep or decompressing for a few moments after a long day) and having to do something other than work.  I have not found balance.  I am the black sheep of the Eating Free patients. I said it.  I am following my nutritional plan but not fully eating the required number of calories daily. I still could eat another 600-800 a day and be within the plan. I don’t though. Lately, all I have wanted to do is go to Sizzler or have a couple of pints of Cherry Garcia. Old habits have begun to die under my new life and I realized it has been harder to give those bad habits up than I expected. These old habits know it is the end of the road for them and they are trying to break me, to make me revert to the old Karl.  I eat strawberries instead and think about the years I am adding on to my life. Go to hell demons!

Damn – and above all, I have neglected my blog and owe a hug thank you to Cristian who  continues to  check in on me and also encourage me but I feel I disappointment him (as well as Mike and Sarah) week to week when I don’t turn in my blog like I should (or make appointments or can’t lift a certain amount). My apologies Mike, Sarah and Cristian! …and I haven’t even mentioned my neglected friendships and family or personal interests in any of this…. Where is that lack of balance which I am desperately trying to find? I know I will find it and feel there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of Karl….it’s just making myself believe it. Do I believe it?  275 lbs is on the horizon but feels like it is at the top of Mount Midoriyama. I climb upward, conquering with one step at a time, 20 lb barbells in hand!

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Stepping out Mission Style

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Stepping out Mission Style

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Commit to Fit | Week 16-17

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

I finally did it. I broke down and bought a pair of Levis. You may remember I am saving for a pair of Jordache jeans – A friend said he read that particular blog and needed to respond to me to tell me as soon as possible that I was making a mistake in choosing Jordache as my jean of choice. He emphatically stated that the jean I needed could come only from Sergio Valiente because the “V” embroidered on each back pocket would much better accentuate my newly defined ass. Food for thought my friend! – but I needed an everyday pair as I lose weight. I headed to Big & Tall and hoped it was my last trip there.

The experience was actually fun. In March I was wearing waist 58. I took a few sizes into the dressing room, waist sizes 52, 50 and 48. 52 fit looser than I imagined. No. 50 was great and seemed perfect. Yes.  I tried on the 48 and thought Damn, I need to celebrate and go drinking – 48 fit! I said “Yes!” to myself out loud. The sales person knocked on my dressing room door and asked me if everything was alright since she just heard me make a loud noise.  I laughed and assured her all was ok. I did tell her that I was happy I could button my new jeans and breathe! She walked away. I then thought that after one wash, I would not be able to wear them for another month or 2 maybe and it would be a waste. I decided on 50 but still knew I could fit into 48. 58 to 48. I was tripping in the dressing room. How could I ever stop what I am doing in working out and eating better than I ever have? I wouldn’t. For the first time in many years I felt alive. More importantly, I felt hopeful and looked forward to what will continue in the future on my journey.

Still surfing that wave of happiness, I decided I was going to take advantage of more of the happenings around SF, explore the city and start living! One of my closest friends, B, and I went to First Friday on 24th, Mission District Street Festival  food and art crawl, where the businesses and galleries on 24th between Mission/Potrero stay open later on the first Friday of each Summer month; restaurants offer specials,  a few different groups perform live music on the street, street performers entertain with puppets or hula hoops  and the highlight is a sort of low-rider cruise procession down 24th culminating in everyone parking on the same block to show their rides. The atmosphere was festive. We met some artists and had some great treats. The low-riders rocked and each was distinctive and had its own flare. A few even did that hydraulic lift bounce. People were snapping photos and everyone on the streets smiled. The music floated around us and seemed to really bring everyone together. We were a community in that given moment. I especially appreciated experiencing it with B and wondered why I hadn’t made more of an effort before. I let that thought disappear.  It was a night I was stepping out of the past into the future and continued to enjoy the evening in my new Levis….

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Happy Pride!

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Happy Pride!

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Commit to Fit | Week 13-15

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

The past 3 weeks have been hellish and the most challenging as far as balancing my professional and private life. At times I didn’t know if I would make it through, but I did by taking one day at a time, taking some deep breaths and am stronger for it. One of the causalities of that challenge was my blog entries but they are back! Now that that mess is over and I am starting a new week, I am focusing my attention on the positive things that happened during the past three weeks and looking forward to the weeks ahead.  I have tried hard to put the last weeks behind me as I continue to break through my mental wall and two events stand out most for me as examples that there is light at the end of the tunnel for those of us that believe we can do it and make it happen.

Above all else, last week on 06.19.12, I officially exited the 300s! F*&$% Yeah!! I weighed in at the Eating Free offices with Sarah and my new weight is 299.8. 28 lbs total lost (Beginning weight was 327.8). Body fat went from 44.3% to 41.2%. My confidence soared from a 10 to a 100 that I can continue on this journey and be a success. I am a success and I actually believing it now! I haven’t weighed less than 300 in honestly 15 years at least. Tuesday was the brightest spot in an otherwise string of darkish days of struggle….another few bricks knocked out of the wall I have built around myself. My next target weight is 275, then 250. Even though I will strive to hit those number in the next 3 or so months (hopefully less), I have really come to realize that I cannot get caught up in a number. Mike, the wisest of trainers, keeps reminding me that I need to focus on the positive happenings I am noticing in my day to day life, in addition to my workouts and nutrition.  I am - but I am still learning that I cannot be so dependent on that external validation of all I am doing a decreasing number on the scale feels like it brings with it.

This past Saturday, 06.23.12, was Gay Pride Weekend in SF. After dealing with a small fashion crisis of which I am still not able to fit into my rare/one of kind t-shirts from my 20 year collection – but will be wearing them by next year - and finally deciding on a great outfit, I headed out to the Castro with my closest bros and then down to Civic Center to walk around the Pride Festival. I hoped  to find out if anything healthy came on a stick this year and to check out what Pride was suppose to mean to me. Our group walked around the Civic Center/Soma area for about 3 hours, jamming to the music, learning about new support organizations for the community, having a cocktail or 3 and enjoying some eye candy.  The funniest thing of all – I found Mango-on-a-stick – and the small Vietnamese woman who served me knew the portion size. I was buzzed and that mango stick seemed the best thing on earth at that moment! I was stoked to find that mango because I felt myself being drawn to the pork chop on a stick stand and I didn’t want to go down that grease laden road.

After all of our partying, it was time to head back to the car which was parked back in the Castro on a steep hill that you needed to walk up 2 other steep hills to get too. I wasn’t dreading the hills but…ok, I was dreading them. I admit it. Surprisingly, I hiked it up each hill without stopping and without being out of breath! Mike was right – hundreds of squats do allow you to do new things!  At the very top of the hill, next to parked car waiting for my friends to make it up, I had Pride, felt it deep within my heart. The Pride I felt at that moment had nothing to do with me being gay and celebrating that, but everything to do with me being HEALTHIER – and happier for it! The twinkle in my eye had never been brighter.

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Dreaming of Jordache Jeans

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Dreaming of Jordache Jeans

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Commit to Fit | Week 12

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

After using the week before to really examine what I needed to do to get to the next level in my regiment of working out and eating healthy, my focus is clear. My mini-goals are set for the next three months or so. They include mastering my new more challenging workout routine Mike developed two weeks ago, continue to meet my nutritional percentages while reducing fat in my diet, keep cultivating my  positive attitude and achieve my next two weight loss targets at my next two weigh-ins with Sarah, the first being on June 19 –  goal is to weigh 299 lbs. Goal 2 is to weigh 275 lbs – hopefully by September at the very latest (my own timeline, no one else’s). I haven’t weighed those weights since high school honestly. Above all else, my mental strength continues to grow.

On Tuesday, I weighed in. I lost more weight and “officially” weigh 305.6 lbs – 22.2 lbs down total. YEAH! This was a huge boost to my attitude and psychological state of mind for the week – for the month. Losing weight is a difficult process for the mind and spirit. Learning to relish the small victories becomes key. Not having allowed myself to appreciate any accomplishments in the past, I am definitely allowing myself to now – and it feels great! I should have done it sooner. I am proud of myself for losing this amount of weight so far. It has reassured me I am capable of succeeding at this challenge and in changing my behavior forever into real and healthy living.  I have 105.6 lbs to lose to meet the final 200 lbs goal by March 2013 but with each pound that I have lost or will lose, the task seems less daunting and the updated picture of myself in my mind becomes more defined – and that imagine is very enticing!  One change I have consciously made is I have stopped telling myself I should have done more to lose even more or should have done this or done that or comparing myself to others  at the gym. I know that I am absolutely putting in 110% effort and thought each day to make this happen for myself. I remain motivated and others continue to provide motivation, strengthening my mental resolve further.

One thing that is motivating me is the thought of buying new jeans.  I know, pretty simple, right? As I lose weight, the shape of my body is continuously changing, muscles growing, my waistline and gut shrinking…but not gone – yet! This puts me in a weird predicament as far as clothes. I tried on a new pair last weekend but realized clothes still don’t fit well and I have not wanted to get a lot of new clothes only to lose weight at a constant pace and not be able to wear them. I would just think of it as wasting money.  I have a wide range of fat clothes to choose form currently.  I am still wearing some clothes from when I was 388 lbs….58” waist pants that hang on me, 5x shirts that now billow in the breeze….I have also been able to fit back into my “smaller fat clothes” that have been tucked in the back of the closet from when I was on the yo-yo diets over the last few years…so I now can fit into a 3x shirt and a 50” waist pants. It feels incredible. But it’s a little frustrating when your ass feels snug and tight and looks good in those new jeans you are trying on but your gut is still outlined in the front of the jeans. It’s comical that in order to hide that gut roll now, I would have to go up another waist size or two – just to be totally comfortable and I’m refusing to buy bigger sizes in anything at this point. I would rather wait until the jeans fit me properly, which I have chalked up to a more mature approach and attitude towards the situation rather than being bummed about it.  I keep reminding myself I have lost 2 shirt sizes and down 8” in the waist.  My well-being is encouraged and the end goals are within reach! I will continue to dream of myself in Jordache…

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Mental Strength

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Mental Strength

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Commit to Fit | Week 11

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

There comes a time in one’s life where you are involved in something that challenges your very core, pushes you past the limit you hope you would never reach, demands you dig deeper into your soul to find the strength to overcome it and ultimately transfers you.  I have arrived at that point. The pressures and responsibilities of life seemed to converge last week and overwhelmed me.  I felt weighed down mentally.

I didn’t know how I was going to balance recent changes at work, continue working out, deal with various responsibilities, sleep and most importantly, maintain my mental sanity and focus. Could I meet everyone’s expectations? Could I meet my own? I honestly did not know if I had the strength to move forward or to run from it all; basically quit the program, throw myself into work and worry about myself and health sometime later in the future. Put myself on the back burner, as I have always done.

It has taken years for me to understand that I needed to take care of myself in order to take care of others. I challenged that thought more than I probably should have, but knew it was true. I discovered that most of my life the way I dealt with difficult situations was to push it away as deep as possible in my mind and heart that I could. Bury it. Deep. Deep as I could.  I suppressed issues in the super-vault encased in concrete and steel in the deepest region of my being. There was no time to deal with issues as I was too involved in surviving life. Growing up, I was held responsible for taking care of my brother and sister since my single mom worked long hard hours. I was responsible for cleaning, cooking, finding food for the pets, ensure my fast food work uniform was washed and devote less than 30 minutes a night to homework. I was parent, brother, son, employee, student and I was so stressed I isolated myself more and more as I grew up. I fell deeper into a depression as the pressure rose. It wasn’t fair for a teenager but I had to deal with it. I had to fill all roles and I had no choice. I found strength but sacrificed myself.  I was avoiding myself. I really didn’t know any other way of being at that point in life.  I felt my mental breakdown last week was a moment that how I choose to deal with this would define me from this point on. It was too much to think about.

My workouts the last 2 weeks seemed to get harder and harder. Mike promised it would. I guess I really didn’t know what that meant. I couldn’t totally complete my workouts. My body just wouldn’t perform, fighting every lift, every pull, movement and weight increase that was asked of me. I thought about canceling sessions and blame work meetings but I showed up. I wasn’t all there mentally and I continued to fall deeper into frustration.  Mike knew something was up. He encouraged me. I blocked it out. All of this emotional turmoil poured out in Sarah’s office while at my check-in meeting at Eating Free last Tuesday. After what seemed like an hour of vomiting out every single thought and emotion I was experiencing but didn’t know where they were coming form and getting very upset in the privacy of Sarah’s office, I realized that this is the single biggest mental and most difficult challenge I have ever faced.  It was too much taking care of myself. I attempted to make sense of it all. I told Sarah that if a friend was in my position , I would encourage that friend, give advice, make sure I did everything I could to help my friend finish his goal. I couldn’t do the same for me. I felt I was self-sabotaging as I had done so many times before.

Unlike before, I was realizing it and concluded it’s not about the physical; it’s about the mental now. The time has arrived to deal with life from a mental perspective like I was not able to do all those years earlier. I had been trying to overcome the physical obstacles and situations of a f@#%d up childhood and it’s only been through getting healthy, hitting the gym and eating the healthiest I ever have that I determined the real strength to finishing the best opportunity that has been given to me is simple – it’s my attitude. Attitude is key and ultimately controls all other aspects of life. I am acknowledging the walls I built around myself and beginning to break through them. It’s a process. It takes time. It’s only the beginning. I have my foot through the wall and I am figuring out what I need to do to bring the rest of myself through and break the wall down forever, assuring I possess the mental strength so there will never be another wall.

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Is my Healthiness Making you Uncomfortable?

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Is my Healthiness Making you Uncomfortable?

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Commit to Fit | Week 10

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

I am surrounded by people who offer support and encouragement to me on a regular basis regarding my workout program and nutrition. I value and appreciate it all but I have begun to notice a couple of behavioral changes emerging from those around me. First of all, whenever food is involved in any activity I am involved in, the situation turns slightly tense (for lack of better word) or a bit contemplative for a few minutes. It usually involves a few darting eyes or glances being exchanged as the others in my immediate circle look for confirmation that it was ok to ask if that food is ok to eat or if it would be appropriate for us to eat at a certain restaurant or eatery; and nine times out of ten involves me having to make a final decision on what and where to eat vs the group making the decision as a whole.

There have been instances where a suggestion was not made at all because someone, out of respect for my new found healthiness, will not suggest something or may forego what he/she wants or craves in order not to make me feel uncomfortable about eating. Instantly, I become and feel uncomfortable. I do not want to hold anyone back from what they want. If you want it, suggest it.

For example, while making dinner plans the other day with some super close friends, we had a 25 min discussion/debate on what to have for dinner. After much back and forth and not arriving at any decision, I said that while I appreciated my friends’ efforts and concern for me and for the process of making healthier decisions, I needed each of them to really KNOW – and understand – that no matter the restaurant, destination or cuisine chosen, I was absolutely capable of navigating and handling the situation and making the best decision for ME from any given menu when the time came. No suggestion and/or decision would render me helpless or reduce me to panic or tears. I save my tears for Mike’s workouts! I am sure each and every place that serves food can accommodate the request for a healthy meal…even McDonalds has salad! My favorite Chinese take-out restaurant even recently added a “Health Food Entrees” section which consists of white or brown rice, a protein, steamed vegetables and a sauce on the side. To say the least, I love take-out and am very thankful for these options. It may not be Sesame Chicken in all of its fried-gooiness-glory but it is quick and most importantly, tasty!  Options do exist! Knowing what the options are and the questions to ask and how to communicate with the staff at any restaurant are keys, lessons I learned growing up and working in the food industry. In most instances when going out, I now explain that I may be looking for a healthier option to something on the menu and want to see what the chef/place can accommodate. I choose a grilled protein and steamed veggies or side salad with dressing on the side, if nothing is available.

When stripped down to the bare bones, the nugget of truth I hoped my friends realized about food and eating out is that it is NOT really about the food or the restaurant experience ultimately. It is about sharing time and energy with people you care about and love. It is about being together. Being together is the most valuable experience. Food and the establishment are only vehicles to make that happen. I don’t expect people to change their habits or adopt my new found routine. I do, however, expect them to respect my choices as my own and to be able to make decisions and stand by their own personal choices.

The second behavior I am noticing is that if someone around me is eating something that may not be the wisest choice in the grand scheme of health, the person immediately offers some excuse to me about why he/she is eating it, basically apologizing because they are about to eat it. Why are people doing this? I wish they would stop. I do not need and am definitely not looking for an apology for anything. In the past, that person would have offered me some of whatever he/she was having or may have gone on about how much he/she loved what he/she was about to eat. If someone is feeling guilty about eating something because I am around or I see something in a lunch or fast food bag or on his/her plate, maybe that person has a real reason to feel guilty! LOL I am chalking it up to maybe that person realizes what choices he/she is making may be questionable from a nutritional perspective but are unable at that specific time and place to make a different decision. Secretly I am thinking...Shame is an ugly beast – and so is that plate full of fresh out of the fryer onion rings with a side of ranch for dippin’! But who I am to judge?  When the above happens, I sometimes am made to feel I am the food police or a nutrition judge. Getting healthy does not afford me judgments about other’s choices. I have enough issues policing my own choices and daily calories that I don’t have the time or energy to police someone else’s. I have learned I needed to look realistically how I was eating in order to change it. I am my own judge, jury and often times prosecutor – more so than ever now. Old themes recycled and updated. I wish everyone else had the capability to be or would be his/her own judge too! The next time this happens, I have decided I am going to ask: Is my healthiness making you uncomfortable? Yes the person answers. Excellent I think and will say really think about why and draw your own conclusions…

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What If

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What If

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Commit to Fit | Week 9

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

This week finds me back into the full swing of working out again with Mike at DIAKADI. Last week I worked out and completed my cardio at the small gym space in the office complex where I work. It’s free and provides a viable alternative if ever needed. Thinking back on it and excluding last week, I have not utilized the work gym except one other time in almost 5 years.

I just either forgot about it (probably on purpose) or just felt too tired or stressed to deal with it and work out during or after work. Even if I had walked on the treadmill 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week, my body would have been healthier. It’s hard to motivate alone and playing the “what if…?” game does nothing for me except makes me feel bad and/or guilty that I didn’t do it and I am trying to figure it out…and I hate those types of viscous circles.

Another thing I am trying to figure out is what to write about in these blogs….Most of my days are pretty much the same - I work, exercise, eat, shower, try to watch some tween show like Vampire Diaries or America’s Next Top Model (UFC or Sons of Anarchy if I am feeling more butch that day) and go to bed. Repeat. Boring. Another viscous cycle. Sometimes, as witnessed in past blogs, I have some mental revelation which makes me feel great and which I immediately apply to my life or it becomes one of those “A-Ha” moments. Over the next few weeks, I am going to make some serious attempts to break out of my own personal viscous cycle of boredom and sameness of routine – maybe a hike outside of SF, try a new farmer’s market, create a new healthy dish, buy some new jeans, make a new friend….I will let everyone know what happens….until then, I wonder “What if I….” but from a more positive and creative place in my being.

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Making it Happen

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Making it Happen

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Commit to Fit | Week 7

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

Last Saturday, I had my second weigh-in at the Eating Free office with Sarah. I lost another 4.8 lbs for a grand total of -10 lbs in about 6 weeks. I was happy but knew I could push myself even more. I knew that there may be some obstacles in the upcoming week and I had to figure out how to deal with them though since I was going out of town. I kept wondering, “would this upcoming week derail my efforts so far?” Sarah provided some great advice and reminded me to make smart choices.

Mike encouraged me to exercise when possible. I immediately felt outside of my comfort – safe – zone once out of San Francisco and quickly began to dwell in and get lost in my thoughts... Did I pack my bars for quick snacks? Would I be able to make healthy choices while dining out for most of my meals? Would I drink alcohol? Would I exercise or find an excuse not to get to the hotel gym?

I was appreciating that I actually was able to work out at DIAKADI earlier with Mike. I was energized about the week and I thought working out in the morning would set the tone for a better week. It did. I arrived at the hotel late Monday afternoon. I had not made time for a proper breakfast and basically only had a protein bar before arriving at the hotel. I headed to the grill and had a turkey burger and salad. Smart choice, great start. After some down time and a few meetings, it was dinnertime. I was going to one of my favorite steakhouses and was a bit anxious. After being seated, the party ordered appetizers. I had a small piece of seared foie gras over arugula. Delicious. I ordered a cocktail. I did eat a roasted jalapeno corn muffin. I didn’t know if I was a freight train heading off track fast. I wasn’t.  I decided not to feel guilty or let my choices get in my head too much. My entrée arrived – a Kansas City Ribeye cooked medium rare and steamed asparagus. At least I didn’t order the porterhouse like I first debated about….I nibbled the almost-better-than-sex (but not quite) mac and cheese from the side plate nudged up next to my plate of asparagus. 3 bites later I had to force myself to stop nibbling. It wasn’t even my side! I enjoyed a glass of cabernet with my steak. I kept thinking Big Sister is watching remember! After I finished my meal, I was actually happy. I could have made worse choices but didn’t stray completely off the path and was able to have quality food and enjoy myself…wasn’t that something to be happy with? I wondered if I should lie in my food journal…

At the end of the day, I was honest in my food journal – alcohol, mac and cheese, steak and all. Lying would not serve any purpose and I have been lying to myself so many years before that rationalizing my eating behavior and poor food choices. I came clean and was honest – I OWNED my behavior.  Good man!  I did indulge in a few more cocktails Monday night into Tuesday, didn’t get to bed until late and woke up late on Tuesday. Even with the drinking and little sleep, I got up and took myself immediately to the hotel gym after having a fruit and yogurt breakfast. This was a new behavior for me – the hotel gym. I completed working out and felt great and inspired for the rest of the day. Working out for the week was making a different and better choice. The remainder of my week was amazing on a personal level for various reasons but it was time to return home.

Headed back to San Francisco, I reflected on the week. There were temptations and obstacles but those exist in every situation everywhere. No one can live in a worry free environment. Yes, I gave in a little but didn’t lose my health compass completely. I realized that it is in the “how” I approach, deal and overcome those obstacles that really matters now that I have been educated in the Commit to Fit Program for 6 weeks. I was prepared for the challenges and didn’t shy away from them. I made it happen.

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Cultivating Inspiration

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Cultivating Inspiration

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Commit to Fit | Week 6

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

Last week I was making the time to stop to smell the tiny roses I found beginning to blossom in my life garden, to appreciate and be thankful for the changes happening. This week, I found out that I have actually been unknowingly planting seeds of inspiration in other people’s gardens…and it has made me reflect on how I have cultivated my own life garden over the years.

I have received emails and texts from people that have been following the blog posts who are offering me details of their own struggles and battle with weight and healthy living. One gentleman wrote: “…I read your blogs and cried. I have been carrying so much pain and suffering in my heart from being overweight and have basically refused to face the real me…I realized it starts with a single step and I have made that step today. I went for a walk and it didn’t kill me. I thought if you [Karl] can do it, I can do it too! Karl, I did it on my own but you have absolutely motivated me! Thank you sincerely….”  WOW! Imagine my surprise – and joy – at reading this! I felt overwhelmed. Was I really able to offer inspiration to someone else? Yes, I am…and I am proud of that. Like the gentleman who wrote me, I am taking one step at a time and moving in the right direction. One step eventually becomes 10,000 then more and more. The journey never stops. In addition to the strong emotions I felt from that email, I feel a certain sense of responsibility too. Responsibility to not only myself but also to all those that have struggled, been uncertain and felt abandoned or overwhelmed at the process and of possibilities a healthy life. I want to be an example to them that healthy living and a healthy mental state can be achieved – as long as one commits to not abandoning one’s self along the way.

Not abandoning yourself is the real challenge. This has been my struggle. I was in therapy for a while with a great therapist, let’s call her S, but I didn’t’ really allow her “in.” I was guarded and reserved and thought I cannot open up to another person only be abandoned at some point in the future. My diagnosis: Abandonment Issues stemming from childhood trauma. Really? I didn’t want to be hurt again in my life. With S, I was projecting ahead to something that probably would have never happened…that never did happen. My attitude was a disservice to myself and to the work S was offering me to participate in. I eventually stopped seeing S – abandoned her – and chalked it up to a bunch of bogus excuses. It was only after a year of thinking on it did I have any real perspective on it. I never got up the courage to tell S the truth but one day I hope to. Regardless, I do want to apologize to S. Little did S ever know she taught me so much more to think about and resolve than I let on. I was a weed in my own personal garden I couldn’t get rid of- and I almost chocked myself out of happiness!

In the end, I am only responsible for the cultivation of myself – as each of us is. While we may or may not have a support system in place, I have realized I have to be my own best support system to the best of my abilities given the tools I have. If I am not, how can I ever support or offer inspiration to anyone else? It’s not possible. I am blessed to have in place an active, loving and reliable support system of family and close friends – and now new friends! I am not afraid to use the resources life places in front of me to achieve my goals - be it a Susan, a Trainer, a Nutritionist, a new friend, a close friend that I have fallen out of contact with but in process of reconnecting with…and most importantly, myself. I hope to continue to inspire others as I continue through this Commit to Fit journey. Even if no one else is inspired, I have the joy of knowing I made a difference to one man. How much better the world would be if we all could be that inspiration to just one person – even if it’s only yourself.

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What Do You Smell?

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What Do You Smell?

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Commit to Fit | Week 5

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

As I finish up week 5 of the Commit to Fit program, I think since I was expecting a more drastic change, I have missed more subtle changes happening. I know that changes are happening. I can feel them. I had to make a new hole in my belt to tighten it. Some of the flab under my arms has begun to tighten up as I develop muscle and I think I have found my biceps or tricep? – finally!

I can cruise the Castro without tiring and now the heavy breathing is not due to walking! I have more energy. My mid–section spare tire has not deflated like I hoped it would have by this point and I am still pear shaped. That’s ok though.  It’s as though my mind’s eye and my true vision are not one in the same sometimes. It’s interesting how you can picture yourself or what is happening in your life much differently than other people do – and sometimes the small details are missed when the picture gets too complicated.

I made a vow to myself on Monday to conquer certain things at the gym by the end of April. I want to be able to complete 4 sets of 10 reps on the EFI Total gym machine, which causes me the most struggle. I told Mike about it and he seemed happy at my resolve. On Thursday, I was able to complete 2 sets of 10 reps, a set of 7 and then a set a 4. I started to really get wrapped up in my own mind about this but then I stopped, took a deep belly breath and for the first time, I wasn’t as frustrated as usual not being able to complete the 40 reps. It was the first time I completed 2 full sets – a small success but a success none the less. A small rose. Push-ups and pull ups are another area I am working hard on but they are only a small thorn I need to get through but look past.

As I work out, I am continually impressed at the level of fitness so many of DIAKADI clients have – and of the caliber of character of the folks I have met. I envy them and think I’m going to be able to do what they are doing someday. Our common thread? We all are pushing ourselves – from me as newbie to the most seasoned of gym goers. It’s awesome to feel that type of energy. It’s an unseen rose to us all.  It’s motivating to me. I am even more amazed by the trainers! Trainers I have never even met before have been approaching me and encouraging me. They are positive and make me feel good to be there. I never thought I would have such a positive experience at a gym. I have not encountered this type of atmosphere of support and nurturing that DIAKADI offers at any other gym I have been too – and believe me I have tried several that just made me feel uncomfortable and bad about myself. The DIAKADI vibe I am talking about is so in my face it was subtle, something small I hadn’t noticed before but will definitely from now on. Roses and small surprises are all around me – all around us. This week I learned to appreciate the small things and stopped to smell whatever tiny roses I could and can find. Take a whiff! I am.

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WTF?

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WTF?

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Commit to Fit | Week 4

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

Traffic is bumper to bumper and rain is beating down on San Francisco as I attempt to speed to make my appointment with Sarah at MV Nutrition. Grandma in the blue Toyota in front of me is being extra cautious, proceeding at the slowest speed possible. Every time I try to pass grandma, she speeds up. I’m going to be late for my weigh in! I am finally able to pass her. As I pass her, she honks then flips me the bird! WTF? I think I have to laugh it off as other thoughts and emotions swirl in my head. I keep trying to guess how much weight I may have lost over the past 3 weeks.  Did I do everything possible to get the best result? Would I be disappointed? More importantly, would Sarah and Mike be disappointed?

I made it to my appointment, parked and walked the 11 flights of stairs to the appointment, a first instead of taking the elevator. I was on time, a few minutes early even. Sarah and I reviewed my food journal and talked about how to tweak my food plan. Eating 2400 calories of healthy foods a day has proven difficult for me. I have averaged about 1900/day. We talked about adding more whole grains and veggies to my lunches and discussed how I am successfully re-programming my mind and body. I have begun teaching my body that it will be getting food every 2-3 hours and it’s happy about that. Mind and body working together – seems that is what is all about, right? Mental + Physical, not Mental vs. Physical. As I step onto the scale, I think about my workouts…

Mike pushed me this week farther than I ever imagined. It was damn hard. Mike again increased the weight on all of my exercises, which has happened a few times more than expected over the last 3 weeks. For 3 weeks, I had been doing dead lifts with a practice bar. This week, Mike moved to me to the “big boy bar” for my squats and dead lifts. The bar alone seemed heavier than anything else I had lifted, but I managed when he put the weights on. Pull-ups still are a struggle as are some of the other pieces of equipment at DIAKADI. Who knew the EFI Total Gym equipment was such a torture device! I almost wanted to cry twice last week and this week at the gym when on that contraption but didn’t. I’ve heard many trainers love that and take joy in a newbie’s suffering on the road to health. I would not give my Trainer God the satisfaction of seeing me mentally break down. I’ve been told - Emotions are restricted at the gym! I didn’t cry at home either…but almost. Mike’s Mantra of “Balls up. Abs tight. Pull! Pull!” rings in my mind each second I am doing the routine. Could I survive another 11 months of this? Mike had faith in me and I learned this week I have to continue to have faith in myself. I had to dig deep to find the strength to get through this week and the workouts. But did I dig deep enough….?

322. The number popped up on the screen. The last time I weighed 322 was probably when I was 25. I said…WTF?...umm, ok. I wasn’t jumping for joy to be honest with you. Sarah seemed happy but I guess I was expecting more…I mean 3 weeks of eating healthy eating combined with all of the exercise, the sweat, the almost tears and I only lost 5.8lbs – not even 6? I had to remember this is reality and not The Biggest Loser. I was hoping for a double digit loss – maybe 10 or 15 lbs. It just wasn’t going to happen. Both Sarah and Mike reminded me that this is change for life, not just for a few months or weeks. I was told I was right on target with my weight loss. I do believe both of them but feel I can always work a bit harder to achieve a better number next weigh in.

Aside from being exhausted constantly, I do feel much better overall. I have even had to create additional notches in my belt to tighten it. All great signs! While looking in the mirror, I thought I saw my reflection flip me the bird and say “WTF? You ARE doing it! “Balls up. Abs tight. Do it and Shut Up!” My biggest lesson this week was learning that 90% of the process is mental preparation and stamina, at least for me. I can do this because I AM doing it.

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Gurus of Fitness

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Gurus of Fitness

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Commit to Fit | Week 3

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

Last week I met with Sarah, my MV Nutritionist Guru, to further plan my new food program and discuss calories. During that meeting she taught me how to use the food tracking tool on the MV Nutrition Eating Free website. We practiced entering information so I could utilize the tool fully.  It was awesome – please check it out – and a simple way to begin to track calories, and to make sure I was meeting my prescribed targeted proper percentages of proteins, carbs and fats per day and week to lose weight. It was something I thought I could handle easily.

As time and this journey progresses Sarah will check my entered info which will allow her to better make recommendations about and tweak my food program caloric intake and discover any patterns which are influencing my eating based on the foods entered. Sarah is now “Big Brother…well Big Sister” in my life. Conspiracy theories running rampant in my mind!  I anticipate Big Sister will keep my on track, remind me when my info is MIA …I know she will always encourage me. Guru Sarah gave me food for thought during our last meeting.

While we reviewed my past menus and eating habits, I realized that I was basically starving myself on a daily basis. I always thought if skipped breakfast, ate a small lunch and ate a smaller dinner, I was doing well and working towards losing weight. WRONG! I was eating less than 1000 calories a day and was fat. OK, Ok, I had some trips to McDonald’s mixed in with that and maybe some sour patch kids during the weekends and at least 5 diet sodas a day, but basically it all worked out to less than a 1000 calories per day when all added up. Hard to believe I know, but true.

My body was holding weight because it was not getting the proper nutrition it needed, even if part of my menu was fast food or junk. Sarah told me I would actually need to eat on the Commit to Fit program…and boy have I….cherry tomatoes, carrots, yogurt,  salad, pears, bananas, lots of lean meat, whole grains, some fats mixed in to name a few. Do I really need to throw the word ‘healthy’ in here? My body is in food shock. It doesn’t understand what’s happening yet. I feel like I am eating all of the time, that I have to eat all of the time to get my calories for that day. Sometimes I don’t think I will be able to eat everything I need to for the day, but I do – and follow the program. No more McDonald’s. Goodbye Big Mac. Down to 1-2 diet soda a day and savoring every last drop as I know it will be 0 at some point soon. I am no longer starving since my Guru has shown me the path to eat healthy. Combined with the ass-kicking by Trainer God, Mike, at DIAKADI, there are no detours from the path to fitness anywhere on my horizon.

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