Motivation

Update from the Mile High City!

So I finally have a quick minute to provide an update! I wrote this over a week ago, but all of it remains true.  I'm learning a lot here about myself, my struggles, and my future.  What I have some to realize is that life is not just about being "happy".  In fact, it is this endless striving for happiness that keeps us unhappy.  Living a full and fulfilling life means to feel all emotions--happiness and sadness, fear and anger, hope and joy.  We must experience all of these and not try to blunt them.  I am also learning that the eating disordered thoughts I am having may always be there, but I'm ok with that.  I've just got to learn how to control them, manage them, and tolerate them while acknowledging that, yes, they are there, but I don't have to act upon them.

I wrote this email to all my team, family, and friends to let you know all that has been going on.   I wanted to give you just an update of what's been going on here.
To start, last week, my treatment coordination team (Psychiatrist, therapist, dietitian, family therapist, and nurse) asked how my impulses had been around exercise. I at first wanted to lie, but then realized that that is not the man I want to be anymore and I told them I had been doing push ups in my room. It was not a ton, and probably not burning and calories, but from talking through it what I realized was that the purpose it was serving was not that I woke up every day thinking "yay, I feel like I would really enjoy some push ups!", but really it was just my eating disorder telling me, "we don't really want to feel the awful things we feel when you don't exercise, all the real problems in your life, so lets just do enough to take that edge off ti all to make this day bearable."
So this weekend I swore to myself and God that I would not engage in any of those behaviors. I had to keep in mind that 1) I swore to God, so breaking that trust was unthinkable, 2) if I did the actions I would have to deal with one of two feelings: first, I would either lie to my team and feel awful about that, or alternately, tell them truth and feel awful about letting them all down. So I didn't do any of my behaviors. But it did not help waking up on Saturday morning feeling that overnight my stomach had ballooned into this fat, gross, flabby, unattractive blob. that looked like I had been stung by a bee and was swollen. This had me really upset emotionally and physically, but I still did do any push ups or exercise which only increased the anxiety.... but I got through it! And I sat with those emotions of feeling how much it sucked, how much I hated it, and how much these feelings allowed me to actually feel what the eating disorder was making me hide.
Now, there is so much more under this all that I can get into later, but while talking to my dad on Saturday night, one of the reasons just sort of came out. One of my values is connection--with friends, family, God, and just socially (we've seen how good that ha gone, right? lol). What came out in the conversation I was having with him was that I realized I want to feel included. Let me elaborate. Every time my friends (or family) do anything without me, or if I'm not invited somewhere, my immediate reaction is that "they don't like me" or "I'm not cool enough that they would want to hang out with me." (Yes, I am aware that lately, that has actually been true; that I am not someone who people would probably want to hang out with). But, in order to handle, or to not feel these feelings at all, I engage in my eating disorder behaviors. Therefore, I am back in control. In 2 ways, first being that I blunt the feelings altogether. But second, and more importantly, I realized that I am just using these behaviors to give me control and reasons for not being invited. If I "have to do my workout" or "have to prepare all my food, etc etc", then I am back in control, and the reason I am missing out on whatever my friends or family are doing is back on me. "I couldn't have gone anyway because my workout had to be done." Then my eating disorder lies to me and says "I don't mind being alone, this is the way I like to be."
When clearly this is NOT the case because I so badly want to be included and want to be part of that connection.
The other thing I am petrified is, of course, gaining the weight. To me, if I'm not where I was when I came in, I'm obese. I am trying to work through these emotions and look it as a pendulum-- On one end these is the state I came in at: No health, no friends, screwed up hormones, no testosterone, but feeling like I am healthy, fit, fast, and lean. On the other end is obese, no exercise eating twinkies and drinking Slurpies all day. I figure if I'm not where I was when I got here, that I just automatically swing right to the other side. I am trying to remember that "healthy" is a good word. It's got "heal" in the word, and that, lets be honest, 95% of Americans are NOT healthy, so being healthy needs to be OK with me... it's still in that 5%.
Also, I fear that I won't be a fast, or I won't be as "good"a triathlete, or people won't like me, or I'll be fat if I'm not where I am now, but how do I know that? How can I make those assumptions if I've never actually let myself get there? What if I am faster and fitter and can enjoy exercise again? What if my relationships are 100 times better and I can actually think clearer again? What if I can find a way to balance exercise, health, and friendships at a happy equilibrium and to actually enjoy life once again?? I'll never know unless I give myself that acceptance, which at this point, is the hardest, most difficult, most manly, most courageous, most scary, thing I could do. What if i turn out to be a triathlon beast which I never knew? Or a for damn sure good and reliable friend?
But I need to remember--a pendulum has to hit every single point while it makes its way from one end to another. Therefore, I just need to let this pendulum start swinging and know there is a point I will find, where my body feels healthy and strong and will tell me where it wants to be, and I also can balance good friends and the enjoyment of exercise.

Well that was a novel, but I just wanted to keep you updatde (and to reiterate this all to myself)!  Thank you to everyone who reached out and to everyone who reads. Here are some pictures from the couple times I've been able to get out.

I apologize if I can't respond to any comments as I can't always access the blog from inside the center, but I will try!

Tell the truth, all the time, with compassion

Where to begin- it's been a while since my last post.  During that time, things have been quite a whirlwind.  It seems every time I was ready to post again, some new wrinkle would occur and I didn't know where to begin.  Between a mix of work, training, and trying to be a good friend, each has presented challenges. I don't know if I mentioned this in my last post, but recently I realized a few things.  First, I am letting my eating disorder win.  It has a regained a strong hold in my life, one that I had not realized.  It is forcing me to barely sleep, put exercise before friends, think constantly about food, and not allow me to be happy unless I have worked out.  I, alone, could not see this though.

It was brought to my attention that I was a pretty damn crappy friend.  And I am a liar.  But I didn't see it.  To me, I would just tell little "fibs" and validate them to myself as "oh, it's ok, I have an eating disorder, I have an excuse, it's not my fault" and that "it's the eating disorder telling the lies, not me".  What I didn't realize was that these lies actually hurt the people who cared about me! This brought to my attention what these lies were: telling my friends I don't like certain foods, that I'd already eaten, that I got caught up doing other things when I really working out that made me late for something, or bailing on a team workout so I could do some exercise on my own.  While I thought these wouldn't have an impact, they did.

For the first time in a long, long time, I actually have friends... who really care about me.  I've been a little transient since college, and thus haven't developed a close group of friends like I do now.  Even in college, my best friends, amazing people, but they never really understood my eating disorder, nor did I expect them to.  I could tell them, "sure, I'm doing really well!" and be totally lying.  So to be told now that things I had been doing and the life I had been living for years were hurting others was honestly, a brutal reality.

It wasn't until 3 weeks ago this really hit home.  Friends and  I went out for pizza, and while I did great eating the pizza, I was avoiding the crusts, saying I didn't like them.  The next day, I talked to J about this and she asked me straight up if this was true, and I had to tell her, it wasn't... and in fact I had lied to her face so that my eating disorder could win and I wouldn't have to eat the food.  Then, the next Wednesday, I was late to a 4th of July party that I said I would be on time to, but of course, was late because I "had" to workout.  That night, after the party, J and Felipe called me and said they needed to talk to me, immediately.  They came over, told me straight up the impact I was having on everyone and myself, and that it was going to be hard to continue to be friends with someone like that.  Through some tears and conversations, they wouldn't leave until I promised to get help.

Friday morning, I was in the therapists office and let her know evvverryyyttthhhiinnnggg that had been going on. From food to friends to family to exercise to sleep to body weight and medical issues.  Also all my habits and behaviors.  It was in doing this that I realized the incredible number of things in my life that this eating disorder affects. We met again the following Monday and furthered on the same discussion.  We arranged an appointment for the following Monday, and this time she suggested that Felipe and Jessica come as well. She also reached out my nutritionist/dietician and got a lot of feedback from her as well.

When that meeting came, Jess and Felipe expressed their concerns about what had been going and validated everything.  It was at this point that my therapist really got serious.  She said based on what she has heard from my friends and what my dietician had told her, as well as my weight, my behaviors, my emotions, my look, and everything I had told her, that she wanted me to go back to an inpatient facility.

I at first laughed, like, yeah right, like that's possible at all.  Then I saw that she wasn't really suggesting it, that she was serious about it and already had information on where she wanted me to go. I looked at my friends expecting them to be surprised to, but instead they just quietly nodded in agreement.  I couldn't believe they all thought this.  I don't look that bad!  I don't feel like I'm sick enough or thin enough to be there.

I went out to my car and through a couple tears and deep thoughts, began to realize the possibility.  I called both my parents and their responses were, "please please go."  Apparently they had been saying this and advocating it for a while now, I just didn't want to hear it I guess.

So I accepted it.  After a process of getting admitted, I fly out to Denver, Colorado, on Monday, where I will be entering the Eating Recovery Center for the next... however long it takes.  I'm going to have to take time off work which is really hard, but I have a fantastic boss who listened when I sprung this on him at 4:30 on Friday afternoon and supported me 100%.  I had to get in on Monday, and not later in the week.  If I didn't, I would have lost all my momentum to get better and probably gotten worse.  Already, I've noticed myself doing behaviors that I had been trying to eliminate--I guess to let myself be a sick as possible so it actually looks like I should be there.  Sick right?

I know this is long, boring, and most people probably stopped reading a long time ago and I don't blame you.  But here are the benefits I am going to get out of going back to treatment, fully committed this time to conquering this F-ing eating disorder for good:

  • I'll get my relationships back--with family, friends, and with exercise and foodMy heart will get stronger (literally) and I'll no longer be at a risk for failure.  As I've mentioned before, I currently can't get it really elevated

    My testosterone will increase and I'll be able to build muscle, etc. etc.

    I'll actually have time in my life to do other things besides, work, exercise, and cook

    I'll be a better employee

    I'll be able to think more clearly, learn better, and absorb more information, which will improve both my social and professional lives

    I will be a better friend.  I will be honest, caring, and someone to be counted on.  This will take time to prove to my friends again, but I have no doubt that someday I will be able to do this.  To those friends reading this whom I have lied to or hurt, I am sorry.  I am really sorry. From here on out, I am going to be the friend I've always wanted to be.

    And there are so many more.

I will also have a support team to come back to, something that was missed last time I was in treatment.  Not only do I have a fantastic support group of friends, I have a therapist, and nutritionist waiting who have gone through this entire thing with me.  I also have my friend and triathlon coach who can help me reintroduce exercise in a healthy, non-compulsive or obligatory fashion, and monitor me.  And help me learn to enjoy exercise, not make it something that I'm a failure if I don't do.

When I do come back, I will look different.  All I ask is that you please don't judge me, but help support me in my fight to be the real, honest, sociable, caring, fun Chuck, that I want to be.  Not "eating disorder Chuck"

Thank you all for reading.  I don't know much about inside the clinic, so this may be my last post for a while. I almost hope that I don't have internet access, as that's another thing prevents me from the sleep I need and more.

Be good to yourselves and hug the ones you love.  I ask for your support, whether you read or not, and hope you don't judge me any differently.

Thanks y'all! I'll be back soon.  And if you're in Denver, pay me a visit!

Chuck

Do you know how to hurt?

I was mentally reviewing past seasons of triathlons and racing, and while I’ve gotten much better, I noticed that many of my times have been consistently good, but that’s it.  Just good.  I’m not happy with good.  Not only do I want to be great, I want to see improvement from “good”.  Good is fine if it’s continually improving.  For example, if your run a 1:30 half marathon and year over year decrease that to 1:29, 1:28, 1:27, etc, that’s awesome because you are getting faster!  But if you stay 1:30, 1:30, 1:30, year after year, you’re not making any progress in your training. That’s when it hit me—I workout hard and I know what it’s like to hurt… but I know how to hurt jusssst enough. I’ve said it before—you’ve got be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  If I want to get better, I’ve got to realize that there are going to be some workouts where I collapse at the end of my run or hang onto the side of pool gasping and panting thinking it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever breathed in Oxygen.

And the same goes for racing—at the end of that half Ironman, I need to be able to kick into black-out mode for that last 5k of the run—and not have been holding back for that leading up to it.  I always try to currently, but when I try to go fast, it’s maybe 1 or 2 seconds faster per mile.  Insignificant.

So what’s the point here?  If you want to get faster, you’ve got to embrace the hurt (and also the recovery!)  I’ve been adhering to my coaches plan and we have been swimming as a group a couple times a week

It’s amazing what having your coach watching you and having competition will do to your effort levels.  I’ve set PRs each practice… and also almost drown.  Using paddles while having my ankles bound together with an old bike tube?  Not fun.  I enjoy breathing, actually.  Or 50m kickboard races against someone who is faster than you and seeing black as you try to catch them.

I love it.

Rest and repeat.  If you want to get better, hurt a lot, occasionally, go easy a bit, recover correctly, and know exactly what you are looking to achieve!

I've got a race next weekend so I'm stoked to see how it's going to go!

  1. Do you agree with me?
  2. What do you want to get better in?

Headwinds

This Monday is the Boston Marathon, for which I qualified, registered, and had planned to race. Until last Monday. I’ve done something to my knee and running on it doesn’t feel good at all. Admittedly, it’s getting better and feels ok today, but do I risk a month (or years or lifetime?) of recovering if I decide to do the race and create some irreparable damage? Two weeks ago I had my half Ironman. Felt good after the race, recovered well, and didn’t do any running until Friday, focusing fully on biking and swimming. Oddly, though, I woke up Friday with some weird pain in my knee. Strange I thought, but after a good trainer ride that evening, I had a great run off the bike. The next day, I had a long ride scheduled, so a friend and I headed out on the Suncoast Trail for 51 miles. The course was straight out and straight back basically. We had a moderate tailwind on the way out, but as we turned around, we could see a storm rolling in. The winds picked up and it was a hard ride into a headwind the whole way back! We got 50 miles rain free… and 1 were we got drenched. So much for my brick run outside. I got home and did the run on the treadmill instead and everything was good. Although, I could still notice my knee.

Sunday came, I got up to do my long run, and realized it was already 10AM, so being that it’s pretty hot in Tampa, I put it off till the afternoon and set out that afternoon for the run instead. Guess what—it’s even freaking hotter at 4:00 than at 10:00. The heat didn’t bug me too much, but I knew the run would be hard from the get go. I was physically tired from the previous 2 days and felt that as I headed out. As I got onto Bayshore, a straight road than runs along the water, I found myself plowing into a headwind in the blazing sun. Every bit of me was just like, “dude, turn around and head back now”, but I was getting my 18 miles damnit. I finally hit the turnaround, but my pace was all over the place for the run. Haha, when my coach saw the pace chart he was just like wtf did you do??

I made it back though and felt great about myself—longest run I’ve done since November. But back to my knee—when I woke up on Monday, it wasn’t feeling too hot and pretty swollen. 2 weeks before the Boston Marathon. Wonderful. 30+ miles in 3 days didn’t help probably.

So since Sunday, I haven’t run at all. Just bike, swimming, and water running. I got a new bike trainer which is awesome so it’s making riding a lot more bearable, but this knee needs to heal… and quick! I don’t want to go run Boston and F myself up for the rest of the year… or more. It’s Monday… ask me again on Friday! I’ve been trying to get my rest, icing, nutrition, and supplementation spot on and I’m sure it’s helping. But it’s one of those, “Really? Now?” kind of moments. I just damn sure want to run this!

But the more I’ve talked about with a lot of people—coach, family, friends, I don’t think it’s the best option for me right now. I’d rather be a damn good (and healthy) triathlete than a decent (and possible injured) marathoner. Plus, I can be a good marathoner by being a great triathlete. So who wants to run a marathon with me after triathlon season? I’m thinking about the Richmond marathon in November (where I BQ’d in 2010) and planning to smash my time there!

I hope everyone had a good Easter—mine was spent on my trainer lol, but I did go see the Hunger Games, made some BBQ Turkey in my slow cooker, and had a Cadbury Crème Egg!

Solid enough right? Plus, the day before was the Final game of the NCAA Frozen Four here in Tampa—the championship for men’s college hockey. I was able to snag a lower level ticket which was awesome, for a great deal! The key is just to show up a little after the game starts when the scalpers won’t be able to sell the tickets anyway! So please, say a prayer for me and hope that these winds change and blow in my direction for being able to run healthy for a long long time.

  1. What would you do? Would you run the race? Or are you already?
  2. Favorite Easter Candy or tradition?
  3. Chocolate bunnies: ears first or no?

N = 1

An experiment of one.  What works for one person may not work for another.  People are different and thus respond differently to different stimuli.  Some may be incredibly healthy on a vegan diet and some may thrive on a paleo style diet.  It’s all about what makes you look, feel, and perform better. So beginning last week, I have been seriously trying to be better about my eating plan the my nutritionist has helped me design.  Yes, Chuck, embracing eating a little more and seeing what my performance does.  Now, granted, I’ve only been doing this for about a week, and my sleep hasn’t been on point, but I have felt good, especially amid a big training week.  I have been focusing on workout recovery, even when it comes to the times when I know dinner will be coming soon after the workout, I am still eating.  And it’s good, because it always turns out the dinner never actually occurs soon after the workout, ha!  Why does it take me so long to prepare it every night?  Damn squash fries…

The  biggest changes are just working on being more consistent, even on lower volume days, knowing that I’ve created a deficit during the big days.  I’ve been reading a lot from some of the top pro athletes who have experimented with optimizing recovery and eating more, better, quality foods.  We’re not talking Snickers bars that I’m shoving down, but sweet potatoes, coconut milk and oil, grass-fed meat, chicken, etc…. even all natural, organic bacon! (Yes, me!)

As Robb Wolf says, “try it for 30 days” and if I don’t like it better, I can go back to the way I was before… but we all know that wasn’t getting me anywhere.  I’m RACING this weekend!!

And I’m determined to focus on eating appropriate calories during this race so that I perform optimally.  I usually just try and eat “just enough to get me through” so that I can “save up” calories for my post-race dinner.  This is moronic.  If I want to be great, I need to fuel that, plus that deficit is going to be so big all of it will be used (including that dinner) to fuel me and help me recover.

Speaking of previous race, I’m realizing that I’m good, but I’m not great.  I’m stuck maintain habits that have kept me “good” as well.  I have a world champion coach with 16 years of experience who is asking me to change a few things.  If I want to be great, wouldn’t listening make sense? Clearly, my way is adequate, but not ideal.  So embracing this, I am ready to move forward.

We had a great training day at Fort DeSoto this weekend and it was a lot of fun to just hang out and enjoy the beach afterward.  Can’t complain about having this in my backyard:

And speaking of good food—here were some delicious, however, not very appetizing (and I’ll admit to that) meals from the past weeks!

So I can’t wait for the half ironman Sunday!  Wish me luck!

  1. Have you made any big changes in your life lately?
  2. What’s your n=1 for 30 days?
  3. Anyone racing this week??