This week is the 14 month anniversary of the start of my fitness journey. So I thought I would do something a little different with this week’s blog. Apologies in advance for not having my normal array of photos and being a little more cerebral on the content.
Earlier this week I listened to an interview with author Lise Cartwright. She was introducing a concept that she discussed in her book Mind The Chatter: Master Your Inner Voice, Gain a Positive Mindset and Get Your Power Back! that kind of intrigued me.
Like most of us Lise has an inner voice inside her head that is her critic, the voice that convinces her to avoid trying new things, the voice that holds her back… in short, the jerk that encourages her to live a life that isn’t as great as it could be.
Unlike the rest of us Lise took a different approach with this inner voice – she personified it. Lise gave her inner voice a name (Neville) and learned that saying “no” to Neville, or just calling out his behavior, was a way to quiet this inner voice. Giving your inner voice a name is a way to reduce its power over you.
So I thought I would give this a try and share it with you. Given my personal transformation over the past 14 months I thought the timing was perfect.
With that I would like to tell you a story about “Little Tony.”
I am named after my father who passed away in 2014 at age 59. That makes me a “junior”.
Throughout my childhood and early adult years my family gave me a nickname to distinguish me from my father in conversations. I was “Little Tony” and my dad was “Big Tony” and that is what I was called pretty much until I left home for college in 1995.
As I think back and reflect on the “Little Tony” nickname I kind of shudder a little bit. This nickname represents a variety of things that are less than positive to me.
It represents a time when I was living in poverty. I remember times of running extension cords across our yard to my grandmother’s house right nextdoor. This was needed because our power had been shutoff because we couldn’t afford to pay it. I remember the Christmas when we couldn’t afford gifts and wrote each other letters. I remember eating food for Thanksgiving dinner that we got through public assistance.
My parents tried to hide the situation the best they could but kids are smarter than you think. Plus they had a tell… more like a scream. The terrible financial situation led to tons of fighting between them and there we were watching that.
“Little Tony” also reminds me of being bullied in school. Kids like to find things to pick on each other about and that sticks with you. Things like not having the trendy clothes or sometimes even the cleanest clothes are an easy target. The result of bullying meant that “Little Tony” also didn’t have many friends, much self-confidence or a positive self image.
One of the top targets for “Little Tony” bullying is another thing that I am reminded of, being overweight. Really “overweight” is an under-statement… I was obese. I ate poorly and I had minimal physical activity which all led me to being over 200 pounds by the time I was in junior high.
In summary, I was a poor, overweight kid without many friends, I lived in a less-than-positive home environment and I got bullied a lot. I guess it goes without saying that “Little Tony” does not represent the best moments of my life. Unfortunately “Little Tony” has stuck with me for over 40 years.
“Little Tony” Gets a Flesh Wound
My first victory in my battle against “Little Tony” happened 20 years ago in 1998.
That was the year that I graduated college and started a great high-paying job. This was the moment that marked the turning point in “Little Tony’s” power of poverty. From that point until today I have been in a near constant state of forward progression and have broken free from the grip that poverty had.
I was on a path to economic prosperity. This path wasn’t without its ups and downs, but it was something that I could hang my self-confidence on for many years to come.
“Little Tony” Takes Another Critical Blow… But is still kicking.
Starting around the same time, in 1998, I started escaping from another one of the negative grips that “Little Tony” had on my life. I built my friendship with Liz which turned into the love of friends and ultimately the love of partners in life.
Liz was one of the first people in my life to love me for who I was, who I was becoming and who I may ultimately be. She loved me for me and that was new.
In 2001 Liz and I got married and are still deeply in love and partners in life today.
This marked a turning point in my life without many friends. I was worth being loved by others and started building many friendships from that point forward.
Today I am loved by many people and “Little Tony” no longer has a hold on that part of my life.
“Little Tony’s” Last Stand
The final area where “Little Tony” had power over me was in my health & obesity.
I allowed “Little Tony” to convince me that it was ok to eat whatever I wanted. I allowed him to influence me into avoiding exercise and hard work. I chose “Little Tony” over seeing my doctor and caring for myself. I even started taking “Little Tony’s” side and joking about my poor health and decisions.
I wasn’t completely aware but “Little Tony” was working to kill me and was making great progress!
A few of the affects that “Little Tony’s” continued success was having on me include:
- I couldn’t walk up stairs without getting winded.
- I had dangerously high blood pressure and didn’t know it.
- I had to worry about every chair I sat in – would it hold me?
- I had to choose from a very small assortment of very expensive clothing options.
- I had to say “I can’t” to many physical activities that I wasn’t capable of engaging in at my size.
- I was always worried when standing in front of a group of people and presenting – are they listening or judging me?
- I was always concerned that those strangers on the street were actually laughing at me.
- Hating looking at myself in mirrors and in pictures.
- Feeling like I will never NOT be the fat guy in the room.
The list of “Little Tony’s” affects goes on and on! But the worst one was that, independent of all of the progress and successes I had in my life, I still struggled with my self-confidence. I wouldn’t stand up and say “this is what I want” and I wouldn’t let myself set big goals because there was no way I thought I’d achieve them.
“Little Tony” Succumbs to his Wounds
Over the past couple of years I had started becoming aware of “Little Tony’s” influence.
I think watching “Big Tony” die was part of that awareness.
I was on the path to the same terrible end as “Big Tony” faced. Wasting away, mostly alone, in the ICU and losing my life before age 60 at the hands of “Little Tony.” I think watching “Big Tony” fade away from this life without any control of his own demise was a big part of me opening my eyes… particularly when I turned 40!
That all changed over this past year. After many years of striking “Little Tony” with attacks, he finally lost his battle with me. As a result “Little Tony” is no longer with us in this world.
I am finally free from the hold that “Little Tony” had on me and now I am unstoppable!
Dancing on “Little Tony’s” Grave
Because I am finally free from “Little Tony” I no longer hold myself back from trying new things.
I started and stuck to my Operation Melt project with amazing results. I have lost nearly 130 pounds in 14 months, that is 40% of my initial bodyweight. I have decreased my waist size by 14 inches. I have decreased my high blood pressure back into the normal range. I have decreased my average resting heart rate from the mid-80s to the mid-50s and improved my overall cardio health score. Plus I have dropped to just 17% body fat!
I also engage in athletic pursuits for the first time in my life and challenge myself to achieve new performance goals each time. I have now run 3 5k races improving my time with each run. I am working on being able to do unassisted pull-ups. I can now do push-ups. Most recently, this weekend I challenged myself to run over 10 miles to prove to myself that I was ready to sign-up for the Columbus Half Marathon… which I now have done!
Most importantly I have done some things that “Little Tony” would have stopped me from before. Those things where “Little Tony” would have said “who the hell do you think you are, you can’t do that!” For example I wrote a book that I am planning to launch later this year and am working on a second eBook that I plan to launch even sooner. Plus I have started sharing inspirational, motivational and personal development content with the world on a regular basis and have readers.
I even built a vision statement for my Operation Melt company to-be: creating a world where goals never die of loneliness.
I hav broken free from “Little Tony” and I am showing the world that I have a voice, I have a contribution and I can do great things!
I Believe in Ghosts
While “Little Tony” may be dead the is definitely reasons to fear his ghost. Old habits die hard and we each carry baggage with us through life. We just have to be aware we are doing it.
For example I will sometimes make financial decisions that are not the most lucrative because I want to maintain cash savings. This comes from seeing and living the impacts of not having savings when problems occur. I know in the reasonable side of my brain that money in investments is just as available as money in savings but the ghost of “Little Tony” sometimes speaks to me from beyond-the-grave and tries to convince me otherwise.
This exactly same risk exists with my new fit and healthy life. If I let me guard down “Zombie Little Tony” could come after me. That is why I cannot treat this journey like something with a finite end and that is where the project analogy ceases. This is an ongoing, forever focus for me and I need to continue to find ways to recommit to it each day.
I will not allow “Little Tony” to come back from the grave and try to eat my powerful (and probably juicy & delicious) brain!
Check back next week for more!
Last week’s stats (8/6-8/12):
Distance walked/run: 35.94 miles (+8.5 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 22,998 (-4,461 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 15,545 (+3,185 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -7,453 (+7,646 vs. LY)
Weight change: 1.3 pounds GAINED (+4.4 vs LY)
Best Weight Day: Saturday, -127.6 total pounds down