Let me confess something to you, my readers. As much as I believe with my whole heart in the vision of this blog – a vision of holistic wellness that spans every aspect of this beautiful human life we’ve been given (spiritual, mental, emotional, relational and physical) – I am not a perfect human being. I know, in the past, I have filled the Health section of this blog with inspiration in relation to my healthy diet and exercise programs. In fact, I even shared a post talking about how I lost several pounds and 18 inches overall after finishing a 21-day fitness and nutrition program. This post was factual and true.
At the same time, I have also shared my struggles with the mental side of weight loss, especially as someone who has more than 100 lbs to lose to get to a healthy goal weight. All of the words I’ve shared on this site have been 100% authentic and true. I stand by every tip and trick and recommendation I’ve provided. But it’s helpful to know that I’m not a doctor, a health and fitness expert, or a personal trainer. I’m just a typical American 40-year old mother of three trying to figure out how to handle this body I’ve let go and attempting to lose the baby weight from kids I started having 16 years ago. In short, I’m every woman.
I am fierce and proud and determined and I care deeply about my health because I want to be around for my family as long as possible. I want to experience everything life has to offer and I want to experience it fully. I want to see the world…and I don’t want it to be from a motorized scooter or a wheelchair. Some might look at me and say, “You’re fine! You don’t have to worry about that. You are being over dramatic. You aren’t that heavy.” To that I say, “In some ways I agree with you, but I also see how things could get out of hand very quickly with my health if I’m not vigilant.”
I also slack off as much as every woman. And that is exactly what I’ve been doing since early December. Even with a plan in place for workouts. Even with all the knowledge in the world about healthy foods and portion sizes. Even with all the luxuries and privileges that come with being an educated woman in American in 2019, I still sometimes make a conscious choice to not take care of myself. And, to be honest, this has been nagging at me for the past couple weeks. How can I have a blog about holistic wellness and ignore such a fundamental piece of the puzzle – diet and exercise? To be fair, I haven’t gone completely off the rails, but I am smart enough to see the little things that are sabotaging my progress in terms of health…the occasional soda (not diet), slightly too large portions at dinner (ok, a little more than slightly), and a blatant disregard for exercise. That small voice inside was insisting that I look outward for some inspiration to get back on track. So that is what I did.
As is always the case, the Universe delivered. First, it brought me to Angie’s Thoughts, which I shared last week. And, this week, I received a random e-mail asking me to promote a new book release. The book is called I’m In Here Somewhere: Memoir of a Food Addict as told to and written by Celeste Prater. You can buy the Kindle version on Amazon and the paperback edition on BookBaby.
Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase the Kindle version of the book through Amazon, I will receive a small referral fee.
Yesterday, I devoured this book in one sitting. Yep, that’s a food pun. Take a look at this press release and then try to tell me this wasn’t a sign from the heavens.
Weighing in at 701 pounds, Chad Dean was dying. Or, rather, killing himself. This big man was gleefully traipsing down the road paved with chocolate and lined with donuts, while steadily committing food suicide. It’s an ugly word, chock full of sadness and heartache, yet the scrumptiously delicious things he continuously shoved into his mouth on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis might as well have been a loaded gun.
Then, something clicked. He saw the light—and woke up. Dean got his act together, lost 400 pounds, and is now a proud member of the five percent club. Only five out of 100 people succeeds in keeping the weight off after gastric bypass surgery.
Through Prater, Dean relays his own personal journey with obesity, beginning in childhood up through two years after his gastric bypass. I’m In Here Somewhere spills intimate details of Dean’s life. Readers will witness as Dean fights hard, stumbles, gets back to his feet, and battles like a warrior to right the wrong he’s done to his body. Dean also comes to terms with personal demons that led him to this predicament in the first place. Audiences will see the one thing that Dean never lost in this epic battle was his irreverent humor, positivity, and strong confidence.
Though most of the book is told from Dean’s point of view, his wife and “better half,” Ayesha, is also given a voice. The banter between the couple gives an intimate look into the depths of their love as the pair recount meeting at a truck stop, where Ayesha worked and Dean frequented on his drives as a trucker, what it was like for Ayesha as an African-American to date a white man for the first time, and the moment they both realized Ayesha’s daughter and autistic son were truly Dean’s children, too.
As one of the few weight-loss journeys documented from a male perspective, I’m In Here Somewhere is a refreshing look on a demographic that doesn’t often show weakness and failure. Dean’s blatant admittance of his failures remains positive and uses humor to keep the light on something normally left in the shadows. This book focuses on the continuous denying, lying, and excuses of the obese. Dean also notes the hard and intangible cost of his indifference.
“I got to look at my life as if a movie was playing out on the screen,” says Dean. “It’s so easy to watch the deadly patterns building all the way from childhood through the moment I began screaming for help. The future is the opposite of my beginning. In the beginning, I was killing myself. So as for the future…I’m just going to live.”
It’s easy to see a story like Chad’s and shrug it off and say, “I’m nowhere close to that. This doesn’t really apply to me.” In fact, Chad describes in the book how he said exactly this when he would watch the show My 600-Lb Life with his wife before his amazing transformation. In reality, he was struggling with some heavy denial and subconscious beliefs that would not allow him to see himself for who he really was at the time. The show turned out to be the vehicle that saved his life.
The reason this book resonated so much with me, a middle-aged woman with nowhere near 400 lbs to lose, is because Chad described so well his slippery slope into morbid obesity. He didn’t start out at 700 lbs. He started out like everyone else and it was the small choices he made each day of his life, the lies he told himself and allowed himself to believe, and the mental trickery that comes with food addiction that eventually got to a point where he suddenly saw himself for the first time and realized what he had done. These attitudes and lies and rationalizations are the very same that latch onto every one of us who struggles with a food addiction. Our histories might be different. Our lives might be different. But our thoughts and attitudes are shockingly similar. This is a wake up call for all of us and Chad has lovingly gifted us with his entire story, so things won’t get as bad for us as they did for him.
As depressing as all of this sounds, the true power of this book lies in Chad’s transformation. In short, it’s like we always say here at The Empathic Explorer: everything in your life can change with one choice. This is where the magic lies and this is where the inspiration comes from when you hear a story like Chad’s!
In the book, Chad shares about the beginning of his journey after surgery. He wasn’t paid a ton of money by the show to get better and lose his remaining weight. He lived on a meager disability payment at the time. In short, he conquered every excuse and made a choice to do the work, regardless of his outside circumstances.
“It doesn’t matter where you start on the road to food addiction recovery. The only place that matters is inside your head. I didn’t check myself into a fancy spa and have chefs preparing costly meals that met a strict diet, nor did I have access to a hardcore gym with all the latest in equipment and knowledgeable staff. I lived simply, therefore my actions had to be simple. No more delusions. My brain was starting to engage with reality.
That’s right. I’m like 80% of all of you out there—a human living paycheck to paycheck, or disability check to disability check as in my case, and just trying to support a family.
Where I decided to stand out from the masses was to finally ignore the things that weren’t important—my environment and the crazy things life likes to hand out just to get a laugh. I’m in control of my destiny.The mind is the greatest weapon. Use it wisely. It can either prop you up and lead you in the right direction or slap you down and watch you fail. Your choice. Set a course and ride it out.“
As for me, this book was a wake-up call. A reminder that every choice I make each day, no matter how small, is something that will contribute to my health in a good way or a bad way. And, while I won’t always be perfect and I won’t always make the greatest choices, there is something freeing about knowing that I control the outcome of my own story. I am thankful for Chad, who reminded me of this reality and truth.
If you love Chad’s story, check out this video piece, recorded for The New York Post! You can also follow him on Facebook.