Weight Loss Support: In the Beginning
There is not a lot that I can tell you with absolutely certainty. The world is a fluid environment and things change all the time. But something I do know a little about is the struggle to lose weight, keep it off, and live a healthy life. And something I can tell you with absolute certainty is that having a good team of supporters is critical to making the weight loss journey a sustainable endeavor.
When I started this journey, I was very quiet about it. I didn’t know what was going to happen and I was really cautious about saying anything or sharing what I was trying. That fear of sharing was rooted in a fear of failure. Obviously, with years of being obese I was not convinced anything would work for me – I wasn’t even fully convinced of my ability to make this change work.
Starting out, the best support I could have was just listening to me vent and endure the daily anger that this diet created. Hunger, cravings and the sensation of denying myself was quite prevalent initially. That created a ton of resentment, frustration and anger. To be clear, I wasn’t angry with anyone, I was just angry to be enduring this – in a way, angry at myself that I had placed myself in a position where I had to undertake this effort and endure this regimen.
And then it changed…
The turning point was about 3 months in when my tastebuds finally adapted to my new diet. Initially I did not really like many of the Isagenix shake or bar flavors. I felt like they all tasted bland or like sawdust. But what I discovered later was that my system and tastebuds were so conditioned to high-fat, high-sugar, high-sodium and greasy foods that it would have been nearly impossible to detect ANY subtle flavors. So it wasn’t really that they were bland, it was that I was overloaded with crappy food.
When my tastebuds changed I suddenly came to the realization that I was enjoying more of the flavors of bars and shakes – and as time went on I began to crave clean food. Getting to that point, and surviving the first three months would not have been possible without the support of a good team. For me, I view the people that have been behind me, supporting me, as critical to my success. Reaching my goals isn’t entirely a personal victory it’s something that celebrates the importance of team.
What a team does:
A good team does many things for you in this kind of journey
- They provide accountability to keep you on track.
- They are supportive when you are down, or doubt yourself.
- They build you up and celebrate the little victories with you
- They remind you that you are not alone
- They provide you a mirror so you can reflect on your progress
- They are people that you can relate to
- They are a resource for ideas to keep your routine fresh
- Workout support – Having people to whom you are accountable and who, in turn, rely on you is a huge motivator to keep you going to the gym or doing your workouts wherever you are. Honestly, it is also more fun to work out with friends – you can turn what is normally a dreary workout experience into a fun time filled with laughter and camaraderie.
It should be said that not all people can be all things to you. Some people are great at providing certain kinds of support. Let them do what they do best. Cast your net wide and build a broad network of supporters. I would also urge you to seek out people that are positive. Folks that are negative by nature, or always looking at the negative side of something can actually work against your purposes. Being realistic is one thing, but it is pretty easy to get caught up in negativity and that may subtly sabotage your goals.
As I was writing this article, I briefly discussed it with my friend, Jen Fabian. She made a comment that really resonated with me. She said “That human connection gives you purpose.” She couldn’t be more right. That’s part of what a team will do for you, on a grand scale. It gives you support, encouragement and can even provide purpose. Ever felt like you didn’t want to go to the gym but you have a buddy waiting there for you, so you do it anyways? Bingo. Your team just saved your butt. “That human connection gives you purpose.” It’s simple, and brilliant. Well said, Jen.
How do I find my team?
It’s important to recognize that a weight loss journey contains an element of faith. You have faith in yourself, that you will reach your goals and that you are dedicated to that end. You have faith in the decision to adopt a healthy lifestyle – that it will make a positive difference in how you feel and in your daily life. You may not know HOW that difference will manifest itself, but knowing you are making the decision for the right reasons and with purpose will give you the strength of will necessary to achieve your goals.
Knowing what you are doing and why, allows you to define a set of beliefs for your journey. This enables you to search out other people that believe what you believe. Talking about what you are undertaking with friends and family will let you know very quickly whether people are skeptical or believe in what you are doing. Quite frankly, I also had some people I had known for many, many years be very skeptical of me. I recognize that I cannot have their cynicism around me, that it may undermine my confidence and determination. So in terms of my weight loss journey, they are not involved. That’s the reality of finding supporters.
What kind of teammates should I look for?
You will need all kinds of support. Here’s a few ideas:
- People that can pick you up when you are down – they will listen to you when cravings are getting the best of you and you are just tired of feeling hungry or just wanting a pizza. Because, let’s face it, pizza is a huge casualty of dieting. Unless you are doing one of those cauliflower crust pizzas …but really, who doesn’t love regular pizza?
- People that will be workout buddies. Having the buddy system in place for holding you accountable to workout is a significant help, I found. I am lucky and I do a pretty good job of motivating myself to work out, but having someone else depend on you, that you will be there, is a significant boost to your willpower.
- People that can provide you with cooking help. One thing about diets is that you often end up eating the same thing. It can get old …really old, really quickly. So having people around you who like to cook healthy meals, or are a great resource for healthy recipes is a huge benefit. They can teach you how to make great tasting healthy food, and it can take the sting out of eating chicken several nights a week.
- People that have been through it before with demonstrated success and are familiar with the pitfalls. Having a veteran like that as a resource can help you with coping skills. They have seen a lot of what you are going through and can often help you keep your sanity.
- People that understand love you. This is an important one. If you have people around you that simply love you, they can be a great resource to talk to, to help keep you grounded and moving in the right direction.
- People that model a healthy lifestyle. Just being around folks who also are working to live a healthy life is hugely important. This, fundamentally, is a person that believes what you believe.
Now that I am two years into this, I have been lucky enough to build a really wonderful group of supporters. They come from family, friends and my Isagenix team. And even though there are “miles to go before I sleep”, these people are due some sincere recognition. Let’s meet some of them:
Anyone who has read this blog or knows me knows who Lani is. For the rest of world, this is Lani, my best friend. She is a cornerstone part of my life. I don’t know what I would do without her. She has been so supportive in encouraging me to make healthy choices for years. Long before I ever considered starting this, she was there encouraging me. She picks me up when I am down, and keeps me accountable. She saw the critical need to make changes long before I did. She helped me develop a healthy diet, and essentially taught me how to put together heathy meals.
Lani is also an amazing cook. How her husband, Steve, is not as big as me, I will never know. Her creativity in the kitchen has even rubbed off on her children, Jim and Laura, who are amazing cooks themselves. Right along with Lani, I must include her sister, Ann. Ann is also a great cook, and brilliant on top of it. The inspiration and ideas from the kitchen of the Weaver Clan are never-ending! In fact, it was Ann who used a British Service No.1 Kukri for kitchen duties when no other sharp kitchen knives could be found at Lani’s house! That inspired the title of the recipe section of this blog titled “Cooking With A Kukri”. Moreover, the Weaver’s support and encouragement means the world to me. It’s said you can choose your friends but not your family. Well they are my family by choice and I love them all. Clan Weaver is very dear to my heart.
Linnea Forsberg Harju:
Growing up together, since childhood, Linnea and I know each other pretty well. Our parents and families are friends, so having that relationship blessed me with a sister-by-choice. Linnea has an amazing capacity to listen, and understand. She knows exactly when to push me to make changes and when she needs to just encourage me to hold the line. Linnea and her family (Brian and Sierra, Britt and Parker) are all amazing and have all been so supportive.
Linnea is that person that put up with my crabbiness over the first three months and I am incredibly grateful that she did. She continues to be a very positive influence, and is that rare individual whom I can lean on under any circumstance or with any problem. She always provides a wealth of encouragement, and solutions. And she ends up being right an astonishingly large amount of the time. However I wont tell her that because I don’t want her to get a big head. Also …her dad, Bob, taught us to make the best sandwich ever. We just call it “The Bob”…perhaps someday we will share it with you. Lastly, Linnea is not someone I could call to bail me out of jail …she will almost assuredly be in the cell next to mine. That’s my sis! I love her tons.
Fred and I have been friends since grade school. He’s an amazing person of great patience, wisdom and insight. I always enjoy talking with Fred on any topic. Fred also has been through the same journey I am now undertaking. While our processes are different, it’s amazing to note the similar hurdles we each have had to overcome. Reflecting on my journey through the lens of Fred’s journey has yielded some remarkable insights. Through my conversations with Fred, I learn about what to expect, what is around that next corner, and sometimes even how I can minimize the struggle.
Of particular help is our discussions around “my fat brain”. Fred has encountered many of the same things I have encountered, or will have yet to encounter. So through our discussions we are able to identify some of these elements and discuss our various coping mechanisms. It’s not the usual kind of casual conversation between friends, but then – there’s nothing “usual” about either one of us!
Johnny Hoy & Olga Dovgopola:
Johnny and Olga have been huge supporters since I started this journey. Both of them are artistic people, and it’s in both of their natures to nurture and support. Johnny is a great musician. He plays guitar, blows harp, and sings. More often than not, he and I can be found having cigars and coffee while discussing the merits of various guitars and music. Olga is an amazing artist across a plethora of mediums. I have seen some of her paintings that are just stunning, and as you have seen in the pages of this blog, her pysanky skills are beyond reproach. Also, it should be said that Olga is a tireless gardener. By mid-summer her yard is an amazing rainbow of color and fragrance.
Johnny and Olga are also a keystone piece of my support network. They both are part of my Weigh-Day accountability text message group …or as Linnea is apt to say “#TeamEthan”. I have talked endlessly with both of them about this journey, what I am going through, and how to make it to the next level. Johnny and Olga are also both interested in making healthy choices. Like all of us, they face hurdles and stumbling blocks when making those choices. Collaborating on those hurdles and helping brainstorm solutions is one of the many ways that support manifests itself. Surrounding yourself with good people that believe what you believe is key, and Johnny & Olga are great examples of that.
This guy deserves a huge acknowledgment as an amazing support and friend. Jarrett lives in Montreal and is someone I hang out with online as we play games like Civilzation VI etc. Essentially, we will while away the hours conquering the world while we discuss current events, our lives, and all other manner of things that drive us bat-shit crazy.
Jarrett and I are born on the same day of the same month and year. Except I am about 2 hours younger. Have I mentioned that? I’m younger. <insert mischievous smirk here> Aside from having the benefit of much greater youth *cough*, I benefit from his experience and counsel. Jarrett is one of those people with whom I am able to discuss my weight loss progress, hurdles, and brainstorm solutions to any number of issues. He is a great resource for healthy nutrition, exercise and cooking ideas. His marketing insight is fantastic and we have spent many hours discussing this very blog, topics, presentation, and all manner of activities surrounding it.
Jarrett is a big part of this team, and I always look forward to being able to share my progress – good or bad – with him. His feedback is always helpful and he gives me many rich ideas to think about. Toujours Frais, baby!
Ingrid is pretty much a mirror of me in many ways. We share a similar sense of humor, and a similar outlook on life. Some would say we are naturally skeptical, but I prefer think of it as being realistic. We share the idea of hope as a motivator and the idea of a better tomorrow for ourselves as a quasi-raison d’etre. It’s a subtle form of positivism, really. You like that Ingrid? …I just painted us as positivists! Not bad, eh?
Ingrid comes from good German stock, and embodies many of those fine qualities exemplified by her brilliant and hilarious mother. I had the privilege of having tea once with Ingrid and her mom. She can tell a story like no other, and have you laughing at even the darkest of moments. That’s something I like a lot about Ingrid, she also finds the humor in even some of the most difficult moments. I never have to explain much with Ingrid, she just innately understands. I’m lucky to have her in my corner. If you ever get to meet her, feel free to call her “Gretchen” when you can’t remember her name. She won’t mind.
As part owner of McCormick’s Irish Pub and Restaurant with her partner, Tim McCormick. (and Michael too – not forgetting him!), Patty has a busy life, but always takes time to support me! Patty is from Brazil, and some of the most fun we have is watching the Brazil team play in the World Cup. McCormick’s always does a big event for the World Cup, and obviously, Brazil is the center piece. Why wouldn’t they be? I too am a fan of Brazil and love rooting them on, right along with my friend! While I haven’t been able to frequent McCormick’s as much as I like due to working on my weight loss, they are still one of my favorite hangouts and a place I think of as “home”.
Patty is part of my weekly accountability text message group. Every Friday I weigh in and text a group of people what my results are. Having that system in place provides a good deal of inspiration and motivation to do my best every week. Patty also is working on living a healthy lifestyle, and it presents such a huge challenge when working in the restaurant industry. Her bravery to embrace healthy goals while in that environment is nothing short of monumental, and I am so proud of her! Her support of my goals, and being a cheerleader and friendly face every time I see her is absolutely priceless! I couldn’t ask for better.
Francis & Barbara Flatten:
Where do I start? Remember when I said to surround yourself with people that love you? Well these two are a prime example of that. Neither of them possess any special knowledge of dieting or healthy cooking or exercise etc. They were raised on traditional meat & potatoes diets. But what makes them amazing is that despite not having any specialized knowledge they love me and want me to succeed in my journey. To that end they are both huge supporters of what I am doing here. I couldn’t be happier about that. Here is a bit more about mom and dad:
Dad has a strong background stippled with stories and experience from South Dakota farm country, and he is where I get my Norwegian and Scot ancestry. He has an endless capacity to listen and understand me. He may not always have the solution, but he pretty much always makes me feel better. Part of that is that he understands me well enough to know that I don’t always need him to suggest a solution. He knows that I already know the solution…it’s just that it sucks and I want to whine about it!
Dad did one of the greatest things to support me – he eats my cooking. We share a house, and in order to live a healthier lifestyle I had to change what I ate. I told him that I would be happy to cook for him too, but he had to eat what I was eating. I wasn’t sure he would be willing to do that with his meat and potatoes upbringing. It would mean a LOT more vegetables than what he was used to. But he did, and he hasn’t complained once! On top of that, because he too is eating healthy meals for dinner, he has lost around 50 pounds! That’s an amazing thing, and I am so proud to be sharing this journey with him!
Mom is of Austrian descent and has had a life full of interesting stories and experiences. I value our time talking and listening. Her skills in the kitchen are fantastic. My grandmother taught her well, and I was always amazed at how systematized mom’s kitchen was. I remember her doing canning, making jam, making bread – and everything was done with great organization. For the life of me, I still don’t understand how one person can be so innately organized. It’s an amazing skill. But even though I am not as organized, I was drawn to her systemization in the kitchen and that’s probably where I first became intrigued with cooking. Add to that all the yummy stuff that came out of that kitchen and I was hooked!
Along this journey, mom has been solidly supportive and a stalwart fan of my progress. She listens, and she understands. Some of the most fun I have with her is simply sitting and chatting. Sharing all the latest news from our worlds and hearing the latest stories makes for a wonderful afternoon. She recently moved into a wonderful assisted living facility and she is taking the place by storm! There was an existing, informal, card playing group there among the residents. But mom, unsurprisingly, managed to systematize and organize it into multiple groups. You’ll all be pleased to know the card-playing groups at The Glenn are now a well-oiled machine operating with typical Austrian efficiency! Good work, mom!
My cycling and walking buddy! Lisa has been a great supporter of my efforts. She’s been a cheerleader and provided encouragement. She and I, through most of the summer, would walk or bike together almost daily. On those days when I just wasn’t feeling it, I knew Lisa would be showing up and I would have to get my game face on and get out there. That is invaluable. Another thing is that Lisa is faster than me, both afoot and on the bike. So that pushes me to increase my pace and not lag behind – and that is great for pushing the envelope on my capabilities. My journey is made that much easier by the good people I am lucky enough to have surrounding me.
My Isagenix Team:
Deciding to use Isagenix products as part of my regimen has had the side benefit of putting me in touch with a great community of people that are dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle and helping others achieve the same goal.
My particular team of people, I have found, to be positive, inquisitive, eager, supportive and willing to champion whatever your goals are. Beyond just being linked by our joint usage of these nutritional supplements, many of these folks are fast becoming sincere friends. I am genuinely happy to see them at every get-together and their positivity warms my heart. Every single time. I could go on and on about each and every one of them, but we have seen just how many column-inches I can chew up when talking about my people. They are special and all mean a ton to me.
Here’s who they are:
Robin Belfry, Jolene Hanley, Sarah Stevens, Londo Masterman, Lisa Rasmussen, Tavia Nyx Turner, Natalie Shafer, Andrea Bennett, Austin Renee, Chrissy Sager, Carey Thul, Brian Lindstrom, Heidi Dammann, Stephanie Houwman, Scott Robinson, Hayden and Emily Vavra, Angela Thiemann, Olivia Baker, Ruby Day and Lisa Sense.
One last note on all these special people:
If I have forgotten anyone, I humbly apologize and simply lay the blame on a failing memory and the daunting task of recognizing everyone who has played a part in this journey. There are so many, many people that have contributed well wishes and support. I would undoubtedly have not been able to do this without all of them. I am humbled and incredibly grateful for their support, caring and love.
This is where the journey starts to get tougher. From here on out, the battle gets a little more difficult and the weight loss will likely be more incremental. That said, I’ve still got a good amount to lose. So I expect that going forward I will need as much support as I have had in getting this far.
The generosity and caring of my team inspires me to try to give back by helping others that are going through similar struggles. That’s why I am writing the very blog you are reading. It’s not always about what I am doing to move forward – it’s also about compiling resources and addressing topics that are germane to general weight loss. This blog has several articles on systems and thought processes, and in the coming weeks I will be drilling deeper into the struggles presented by “My Fat Brain”. I look forward to sharing this with you!