fitness

Life Lessons I learned From a Dog Named “Bolt”

Let’s be honest, I don’t usually watch a lot animated Disney movies. Oh wait, I said “let’s be honest”--Ok, so maybe I do (and don’t try to tell me Toy Story isn’t one of the greatest movies of all time.) But a few weeks ago, I was riding my bike on the trainer in my apartment looking for something to watch.  For the most part, I have the TV on, but I don’t really watch it, as I’m rocking out to some Seether or 2000’s rap, like some old school Nelly. Since ESPN was showing women’s basketball, I was looking for something to watch while I rode. Disney channel was showing the movie Bolt, which I’d heard of, so I figured I’d watch. Plus, I had my jams on and was watching with subtitles, so I didn’t have to listen to John Travolta’s voice come out of a dog’s mouth anyway. The plot is about a small white dog named Bolt who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, thinks that he has super powers. Under the false pretense of the TV studio, he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to "rescue" her.

Bolt

Halfway through the movie, this dog had me rapt (no, not rapped). Not only was the movie pretty good, there were some great life lessons that one can pull out of it, no matter who you are:

Believe in yourself, even when others don’t

Sometimes, if you tell people you can shoot lasers from your eyes or have a super-sonic bark, they won’t believe you--blasphemous, I know. But if I told you 6 months ago that I would be stronger now than I ever been in my life, you probably wouldn’t believe me either. Early in his adventure Bolt comes across a cat whom, convinced by a pack of conniving pigeons, he deems to be in plotting with an evildoer who stole his human.

The cat mocks Bolt and tell him that none of his powers are real. But the difference between us and Bolt? Bolt never doubt’s himself for a minute. He knows he has special powers (he doesn’t actually), and if he doesn’t believe in himself, who will? The first guy to break 4 minutes in the mile probably didn’t have anyone who believed he could do it, yet he did. Most people don’t think anyone will ever break 2 hours in a marathon, but there’s some crazy kid running around out there who thinks he can... And I guarantee they will.

Even if you want to do something unfathomable, never begin to doubt yourself--if you do, then you’ll never even try.

Always protect and be there for the ones you love

When Bolt’s person gets taken away from him, he has one mission--save her. He never once thinks about where he will sleep, when he will eat, if it will be dangerous, or if he could get hurt. All Bolt knows is that someone he loves needs his help and he’ll risk life and limb to save her.

As I’m writing, I can’t think of any stipulations for this rule. No “but” or “except when”, nothing. If you love someone, be there.

Turn your enemies into friends

Tricked by a flock of conniving pigeons, Bolt is sure that the cat he encounters knows where Penny has been taken and how is responsible (another lesson--stay away from haters).  His initial response is to hurl the cat headlong into rush hour traffic on the highway from the edge of a bridge. But he doesn’t.  Bolt recognizes that the cat may prove useful in his journey and he takes the cat along with him on his mission.

Bolt and the "evil" Cat

You won’t get along with everyone.  You should try, but it just won’t always be the case (caveat--PLEASE don’t hate on people for trivial things like how they look or how they workout.  We’re not a bunch high school girls here). But I am not talking about the guy who parks across 2 parking spots, I mean your true competition.

Instead of resenting someone who vies for success in the same industry as you, try looking at them with curiosity--what do they do that has helped them be successful? Did someone get a promotion over you? What skills are on his or her resume and what work experience do they have that you don’t? Now, what are you going to do to ensure that the next time someone is being looked at for a promotion that you get it?

Lastly, as Bolt learns, sometimes our enemies are those who are most similar to us, and that’s what breeds the competition and dislike.  Set these aside for a minute and try to get to know. The things you couldn’t stand about a person might be what make for a great relationship.

Create your own luck

There’s a point where Bolt realizes that he doesn’t actually have any powers. On his journey, the cat is captured and Bolt has to make a covert rescue operation to bust her out. In doing so, he takes out an animal-catcher, thwarts a group of hungry canines, then proceeds to blow a gas station to smithereens.

But wasn’t he useless without his powers? The saying goes, “the harder you practice, the luckier you get.” Luck is relative. Sometimes the cards just fall right for you, but you have to be willing to play those cards in the right order.  Now this is just my opinion, but I believe our lives are filled with luck and opportunity. For me, I believe that comes from God, but wherever it comes from, the key is acting in that moment.  If a beautiful girl (or guy) walks into a coffee shop and you don’t introduce yourself, are you unlucky that you’re not dating anyone? If you don’t lift weights heavy and push yourself to get better, are you unlucky that you can’t build muscle?

Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle hard (closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard)

Bolt didn’t sit around and wait for someone else to bring him to Penny. As soon as he saw the problem, it was game on, do work, solve the problem. What we can learn is that  you can’t wait on anyone else to make things happen for you and, like I said above, you’ve got to put in the work to expect good things to happen.

Additionally, find ways to be awesome and to not be like everyone else.

Hustle

Learn new skills

So learning how to eat and drink out of a bowl on the floor is not the most glamorous of skills to learn, but Bolt allowed the cat to teach him how to do so. The point? Another tool in his toolbox.  Right now, I am trying to learn to code websites.  Does my job require this? No, but someday it might, or someday I may want to build a site and I’ll have the skill to do so.  Not only that, but there are all the skills that come along with learning something new--like how to study and how to partition your time in order to have the hours you need to learn.

Learn everything you can.  C.S Lewis said “Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” (Mere Christianity, 88). If you don’t know about the other side, how can you actively choose to behave in a certain way?

Never stop learning, asking questions, and challenging what is already given. If you don’t ask questions, then you can’t grow.  I’ve always found this in my Faith. By asking questions, I am able to arrive at the deeper understandings behind the “whys” of what I believe.

Face your weaknesses

Be brave.  Bolt never backed down. As a superhero, the evildoers didn’t scare him, but even as he realized his mortality, he stayed true to his mission... and he succeeded.

Why don’t we like to confront our weaknesses? I can think of 2 reasons--the first is that we don’t like to revel in what we’re not good at. A good friend spent some time trying to teach me to juggle... And I’m awful at it.  Throw a football, drain 3-pointers, do fancy footwork on agility ladders, I’m golden... But juggle 3 little batons and I’m useless.  My sticking point is I don’t like failing. And I don’t like failing over and over. But if I really want to learn to juggle, and I’m going to have to fail, fail, and fail again... And maybe one day I will nail it!

The second reason, which stems from the first, is that it makes us uncomfortable. Everybody else in the gym squats more than you and runs faster? Its more comfortable to not go.  But if you ever want to run fast... You’ve got to run fast. If you ever want to squat 300 pounds, you’ve got to start moving some pretty uncomfortable weights in order to get there. The joy comes from being successful and eventually learning how to turn these weaknesses into strengths.

I hope you can relate to some of these lessons.  Tell me, what lessons have you found from surprising places?

Let me break it down fo' ya

Here comes a completely unpremeditated post. But I needed a preface for posts to come. I'm thinking about making some big changes in my life... I just haven't figured out what they are yet... But I'm working on it. What I have realized is this: I want to have a bigger impact on the world and be heard more in order so that I can help others.  And I don't know what that looks like yet either, but I've got some ideas. Those updates will be for another time when I've got more direction.

One thing I want to do is to begin to write more.  This will stay as my personal blog (although it needs some serious cosmetic edits), but I want to start more fitness writing. Ideally, I'd like to find a way to write for magazines and online articles. With my personal trainer certification, I have the credentials to do this, but I'm also thinking about expanding my knowledge base in this area with physiological knowledge.

So sometime this week I want to start trying out some of my articles here on my blog.  Soon, I will be creating a new website dedicated to training, healthy living, and fun, where I will focus my fitness and life related articles so that I can keep the more personal stuff here. I know I run into the consideration that I'm recently in recovery for my eating disorder, so is getting into this a good idea? For me, absolutely yes. It helps me walk the walk as well as try out new things on myself. Plus, I really want to get rid of the eating disorder label that I've placed on myself for so many years.

I've still been training for triathlons, just more intelligently, and spending a lot more time lifting weight, which I love! I actually feel like I'm getting stronger and moving toward my goals for the first time in a while. Building some muscle is definitely helping my body image as well, although I've still got a ways to go.

I want my writing to be fun and motivating and helpful to others. I'm planning to start taking personal training clients again as well, as its something I've always loved. So I hope you read my first fun article later this week. My writing will focus not just on fitness and health, but simply personal betterment. Hence why my first article was inspired from an animated Disney movie I recently watched...

In other news, the past few weeks have been busy but a lot of fun! Here's a quick run down, a la photo journal style:

A couple of weeks ago, 9 friends and I went up to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia for the weekend:

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We did some hiking

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Played some video games:

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And learned to catch water bottles on our heads. Check me out in the background as I totally nailed it... (Bill is an incredible performer!)

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The next weekend my parents and sister came to visit so we went to an Astros game:

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Then to Disney World!

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And my dad and I became official Cosmic Commandos on the Buzz Lightyear ride.  No shame at all.  We may or may not have ridden it 6 times and found all the secret target...

Buzz Lightyear

 

That's it! More stuff coming soon!

On a real note--I am looking to build a new, really good looking website, but have no idea how to do this. If anyone is looking for some freelance work and knows about building and hosting websites, send me an email at chuckfeerick@gmail.com.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Back to Life

Four months between posts is far too long, but I didn't know where to start and when the right time to post again would be.  I'm back in Tampa and have been since November and I'm loving it and the beautiful weather!  I completed treatment in late October and flew back to DC for a couple of days to spend time with my family and then they flew back to Tampa with me to help me get resettled.  Thanks to the storm, we got stuck in DC for 1 few extra days, but it was not big deal. Moving back into my apartment was rough and scary--mostly because I was afraid my refrigerator would have shut off and melted all over my apartment or something--but honestly it wasn't too bad! Since then I've been working a lot trying to catch up on everything and move ahead.  That's gone fairly well, especially with some unexpected turnover that left me reporting to a number of different people.

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But whats new right? How am I doing?  At this point, pretty well!  I get to see my friends a lot more than I was before.  I haven't been able to workout with them or go to swim practice as much as I'd like because of work getting in the way a lot or traveling for work or the holidays.  Eating is going well, it is definitely hard on some days though when I look in the mirror. Sometimes, I'm actually pretty happy with how I look but other times it's very hard.  The mirror is ok, but pictures are very difficult, to be honest. I know it probably may seem to others like I'm still struggling, and at times I really am, but I'm pushing myself every day at new struggles.  I'm still really trying to figure out what's right for me in terms of eating and exercise.  I want to build muscle and get stronger but I also want to get back into competitive triathlon shape BUT NOT in a disordered way.  Those 2 goals are just difficult to balance in terms of energy balance and how much and what one needs to eat to build muscle while getting faster.  I just really don't want to look like I did before though, that's for sure! But most importantly, I don't want that to be what my life is about.  I've been able to go out with friends and not talk about triathlon at all and holy crap its amazing! Like going to watch 2 amazing friends  get married. Oh, and the week before that, on New Years eve, 2 other amazing friends got married, but I couldn't make it as I was still up in DC!

Meghann and Derek's wedding

But in triathlon news, once I again I have been selected to race for the 2013 Wattie Ink Elite triathlon team!  Wattie Ink are amazing though and selected me while allowing me to explain my situation and said that for to me to race longer than an Olympic distance triathlon would be dangerous to my recovery. I'm looking forward to traveling to the races I can and meet and support teammates even if I'm not racing.

Christmas was great and I got to spend a lot of time home with family--including my brother and sister who I hadn't seen in a year! We went to Rochester, NY, immediately after Christmas and got 18-inches of snow on our first night there... damn I love Florida!  That whole snow thing without having anything more than 1 big coat isn't fun.  I need some boots I guess?  Maybe I should just keep a pair in Rochester.

Christmas eve style

And in more immediate news, HOCKEY IS BACK! I went to the Lightning's opening game against the Capitals on Saturday--a friend from work had VIP box seats, so that was pretty awesome! The Caps are my favorite team, but it was good to see the Lightning win!

Lightning game

 

 

Well I know this was all over the place as I tried to fit 4 months into a few paragraphs.  But I want to start writing more often as I've got some fun things in the work.  I miss all my friends at the ERC like crazy but know I'll see them again in a healthy way soon.

Thanks for reading y'all and thank you for everyone who has embraced me in my return and been so helpful.

 

 

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