The Ultimate Weight Loss, Loss…

Proceed With Caution…

As a fitness trainer, I’ve been associated with roughly 40 people who have lost 50 lbs. or more, and kept it off. On one level, I feel pride in being part of those experiences. To have aided in such life changes, is near justification for choosing a career path which has been too often maligned.

However, there’s a darker side to the weight loss experience, and one I struggle with, even now. Going back 17 years, and with the exception of just one man I worked with in 2005, each person I have worked with who lost 50 lbs. or more, and kept it off, has ended up out of their relationship.  Marriage, engagement, boyfriend, girlfriend, or domestic partner, all but one I have helped, would go on to become single.

The reasons for this phenomenon are many, and not just limited to the reckless abandon that one assumes might come with a new waistline.

Before I take this any further, I’ll state that this a singular set of experiences, that are exclusive to one fitness trainer, from a sample of roughly 40 people, and within a unique Southern California demographic.  I don’t mean to suggest that losing a lot of weight will doom a relationship.  However, the experiences I’ve seen unfold, might be a cautionary tale for some.

One: I’m Leaving…

“I’m planning to leave my husband/wife, and I want to be in the best possible shape when I start my new life…”

No sentence you ever hear, will sound as unsavory…

I have been approached with those words, or some similar, at least a half-dozen times since 2000.  My place is not to be judgmental, or even inquisitive, for they might be planning an escape from hell.  My place is only to determine whether I can help the individual with their weight loss objectives, or not.  If they are a viable candidate, I will accept them as a client.

Not too much to read between those lines though.  People who have approached me from this angle, are decisive, motivated, and usually successful in weight loss.  I do my job, wish them luck, and try hard not to get involved.
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Two:  Left Behind…

With most people though, the motivation isn’t abandonment.   The common motivations are usually wanting more energy, better health, increased longevity, more confidence, keeping up with the kids, etc.  If I’ve learned one thing about the psychology of approaching weight loss though, it’s that people can be dishonest when stating their motivations, and often aren’t aware of how dishonest they are being – even with themselves.

Give a middle-aged man or woman a new body, some opportunity (very often in the workplace), and it could be goodbye – if only for a while.  But it can be more complicated than that.  A person can lose a great deal of weight, change their life for the better, be the pillar of fidelity, and it can still go horribly wrong.

Often the other partner, if they are also overweight, but not motivated to lose weight, will feel left behind when their partner succeeds.  A division can form, and feelings of jealousy might manifest.  There can then be a withdrawal from, or even aggression toward the successful one.

The newly fit person might have a new life – the gym life, which will include gym behaviors, and may include gym functions and gym friends.  The couple now has less in common, and live more separated lives which, may go on to be separated lives.  I saw one woman eventually leave her husband, and partially blame me for her departure…

“I can’t stand who he has become…”

I don’t blame her.  I can’t stand who he became either, but my job was to help him lose weight, not carve out the new lifestyle he chose.

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Three:  Sabotage…

I have seen the left behind partner sabotage the successful one.  Repeated attempts are made to bate them into gaining the weight back, or derail the from their success – to keep that common ground.  This is also complex.

If going out for Italian, followed by ice cream, a couple nights per week is a standard practice and a time of enjoyment for a couple, then taking it away can be a legitimate loss for both parties.  For one party though, there is a good tradeoff for that loss – a new body is the reward.  For the other, the evening they looked forward to all week is suddenly gone.  That might be one evolutionary step toward separation of values, which might lead to a separation of other things, each other included.

I had one client tell me, as she was in the process of losing 80 lbs., that each time her husband came home from work, he would drop a King Size Snickers in her lap.  Why would a spouse do this…?

One possible reason is that his wife had begun turning heads wherever they went.  She was a grounded and devout wife – the embodiment of fidelity.  However, his insecurity had convinced him that her new abs were going to lead her astray.  This snowballed to the point of serious friction.  Never once did she stray, but he became jealous and even accusatory.  If nothing else, he no longer believed he was good enough to keep her – despite her assurances.  They are no longer married.

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Four: Separate Lives…

A scene I have been guilty of myself:  A dinner table is set.  The family sits down.  Dad is eating broccoli, brown rice, and skinless chicken breast.  Mom and the kids are eating lasagna with breadsticks.  After a while, the smell of the lasagna gets the better of dad.  He breaks down and finishes what his family leaves behind.  A few hours later, he’s mad at himself for cheating on his diet.  Out of frustration he becomes grumpy with his family.  They spend the evening separately.

Eventually, and solely to avoid the temptation of lasagna, dad begins eating at a separate time of the evening than his family, and/or in a separate room.  This probably isn’t going to work out too well for family unity.  Either dad caves and forsakes the diet for the sake of peace in the family, or it becomes a bigger priority to him to avoid his family at dinner time.  That might be one more evolutionary step toward separate lives altogether.

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Those are just some of the scenarios and complications which might result from a successful weight loss.  I have seen all of those, and many more play out before me.  There are many more angles and possibilities when it comes to the effect of weight loss on relationships.  The point of this isn’t to disclose them all, as much as it is to illuminate to any reader that there can be more than weight lost in the course of weight loss.  There is a darker side, and few people care to talk about it.

Back To Honesty…

Ten years ago, I participated in online conversation, hosted by one of the premier weight loss bloggers in the country at that time.  There were roughly 30 participants.  As I described some of the scenarios above to this group, many participants, all of whom were successful at losing weight, were quick to tell me that they did not have those experiences, or any similar.  Rainbows rained.  Unicorns grazed.  And happy hubby loved the new bod!  Amen.  The problem is, it wasn’t true.

After the chat was over, I was met with a half-dozen emails, confessing that their relationships were in jeopardy, coming apart, or already ended – all due to their weight loss, but they didn’t wish to make that public.  That was the first time I had ever considered that my profession, along with my good intentions, had played a role in couples coming apart.  Though I don’t hold myself accountable for the separation or divorce of any client as a result of helping them lose weight, I now approach weight loss candidates with great apprehension.

Yesterday I interviewed a potential weight loss candidate – she wants to lose 75 lbs. When we spoke on the phone three nights ago, I didn’t ask if she was in a relationship.  I was concerned only with her objective, and with whether I might help her fulfill it.  She will begin working out with me next week.  I hope to have the good sense not to warn her if looks like she’s going to succeed.  I’ll just stand by quietly, and watch as she navigates the minefield of that comes with profound change, and I’ll hope she’s the exception to this pattern…  Jhciacb

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Tale Of Two Teams…

In the 1st grade, I played for 2 baseball teams. One team, the Oaks, was structured. We had a coach, uniforms, space at the municipal park, good equipment, officiating, monthly dues, a specific pecking order of players, and parental pressure. Our competition was assigned to us. On my first day with the Oaks, I didn’t know most of the players.

My other team didn’t even have a name. We had no schedule, we had to find, or create our own space to play, had rag-tag equipment, and a loose pecking order of players which rotated – depending on who might be available to play.  Though we occasionally had new players join us, the concept of the team was born because we all knew each other, liked baseball, and wanted to play.  Of competition, we had to seek out our own – similar groups of like-minded, anxious boys, fighting off the ailment of boredom. Leadership manifest Darwinian style.

Though I played hard for both teams, and many of life’s lessons were learned with each one, I more enjoyed, and feel I got more out of playing for my loosely structured friends team. I feel this way, because it wasn’t a construct – we weren’t placed within it.  We owned it.

There was creative fulfillment in assembling equipment, finding a field, seeking out competition, and scheduling our games.  Length of game, flexible rules, tools of the game, game times, and who played which position, solidified organically.

There was though, one conflict inherent with playing for two teams at once – that there were times when I had to choose which team I was going to play for, on those Saturdays when each team was an option. Since mom and dad paid the bill for the Oaks, my requirement to play for them superseded my desire to play with my friends.  Fortunately, no direct competition ever existed between my league team, and my friends team.

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Scanning the headlines today, I see myself once again as a player on two teams. The first team, the Planet Earth. The other team, Team Human Beings.  I have a deep appreciation for, and profound responsibilities on behalf of each team.  As I reflect on the baseball of my youth this morning, I’m conflicted over who I should be playing for.  This time, mom and dad don’t get to make the decision for me.

On this day, my team of Human Beings, with its new coach, has chosen direct competition – to play against my friends team — Team Planet Earth.  Since I have appreciation for, and responsibility toward each team, my temptation is to forfeit – and I think of Shakespeare…

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice…”

Or was it Neil Peart…?  No matter.

I am partial to the human animal, since I happen to be one, I have an inherent tendency toward that allegiance.  Sitting here though, contemplating – recognizing the Earth’s history as being far greater – far more significant than that of man, I choose that team — Team Earth.  I can only hope that 300,000,000 people will stand beside me, and switch teams.  That, or get out and vote in the coming elections to help Team Human Being elect a new coach, and a new managerial staff…  Jhciacb

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The Laundry…

Why do I take so many pictures each week, and post them on social media, you may ask…? The answer should be obvious, or even ingrained with the pictures and accompanying words, but allow me to explain…

It’s a practice I began a couple of years ago to (help) offset the negativity, and the forced agenda that goes with social media. By forced agenda, I mean the relentless cramming of hatred, bad ideas, fear, and ignorance down the throats of others, by way of memes, slanted news stories, gossip, outright lies, and inappropriate jokes and pictures.
If my own feed is any indication, this is a battle I’m losing, though I’m still committed to.

To my way of thinking, and I’ll admit I might be wrong, there can only be a few reasons to propagate such negativity on social media:

– To Promote one’s self as intellectually superior to others
– To hurt or shame others
– To change the minds of others
– To win favor with others of similar ilk
– To release the buildup of fears and frustrations growing within

Beyond these, I don’t see any reasons to share negativity on social media. Still, it dominates my feed. I will gladly entertain other reasons if you wish to present them to me, but come prepared…

A friend once said to me…

“What’s the point of having a strong opinion if you can’t cram it down someone’s throat…?”

Sadly, he wasn’t joking.

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Sharing a strong opinion without invitation, is like wiping a dirty diaper across the faces of many others, and all at once. If one’s hope is to clean the smears of crap left by that dirty diaper by wiping another dirty diaper against it, well, that might be a fool’s task.

I’m not suggesting there isn’t any meaning or fulfillment for the people who share and propagate social media negativity. I am suggesting though, that there is little social value in it.

So, I walk daily. I think. I take pictures, and share – all in hopes that helps offset the negativity of social media. Maybe a good thought and good photograph, is just a kind of daily laundry, to help clean up after bad ideas… Jhciacb

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The Rain Delay…

Even casual sports fans have seen the effects of a rain delay.  An outdoor sport is called to a halt by the officials, only to continue later, and reach the inevitable win/lose conclusion.  Fans wait anxiously.  Players wait anxiously.  And all involved, it seems, can’t help but feel the outcome will be tainted.

Without exception, 50% of the fans will be certain that the game resulted with the wrong conclusion, influenced by the stoppage, even if their team was well behind at the onset of the delay.  The other 50%, however, will be equally certain that their team would have still won, with or without the influence of the rain delay, but the asterisk will haunt them.  Of course, there’s no way the alternative result can ever be known beyond the great, WHAT IF…

What takes place after a rain delay, is what takes place, and until humans are better able to control the flow of rain during sportsball events, we should accept the results – just like we accept the results of political elections.  Wink…

I had my own rain delay of sorts yesterday, though it wasn’t as critical as game 7 of this World series, past.  My early morning walk yesterday, was put off for a few hours by a late-season storm.  I was anxious.  My dog was anxious.  We were certain the outcome would be tainted.  However, thanks to a mid-morning cancelation in my schedule, which came after the rain subsided, we were provided the opportunity to walk – after the rain delay.

Unlike in sport, the result of our rain delay offered two winners, me and my dog, with no losers and no thinking about the great, WHAT IF…

As he and I are both fans of, and participants in our morning walks, 100% of us agreed with the result, and there was no grumbling from Stroodle or myself about the effect the rain had on the outcome of our walk – the conclusion was stunning.  Here’s some proof of yesterday’s outdoor game. May you all engage in such sport, daily… Jhciacb

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Sikh And Ye Shall Find…

The idea of navigating the southbound 405 freeway, from LA to San Diego, at the start of rush hour is daunting.  However, that was the price I was willing to pay, to show my nephew the peak of the day at the Santa Monica Pier.

I have a genuine phobia when it comes to LA traffic.  Eight years ago, I witnessed an accident so horrific, it would reframe my perspective on the experience of being a driver southern California.  Since that time, I have had 2 legitimate panic attacks while driving in LA traffic, both times I had to call a friend to help me through them.  Yesterday, I did not want to have a 3rd, in the presence of my nephew.

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We had a great time at the pier.  We sunned.  We dined.  We talked, laughed, and philosophized.  We did pier stuff, and uncle stuff.  The time came though, for us head home with our memories tucked safely in our hearts and in our iPhones – it was 3:30pm.

The freeway entrance is less than a mile from the pier, so I had little time for the crippling anticipation of the traffic to come.  I don’t think I let on to my nephew just how worried I was that another panic attack might be forthcoming, but my hands were already a bit shaky as we merged into traffic, and my heart-rate was increasing.  I was more calm than I expected to be, but I could feel it coming on.

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Looking at the rows of cars barely moving before me, I couldn’t help but feel that I was born into the worst time in human history, and by choice, I was in the worst place – LA at rush hour.  Traffic, I thought, is like a pistol whipping – a dull pain that still has the ability to kill.  The good news was, that it was less of a merge, and more of crawl – it took nearly 5 minutes just to get on the freeway.

As we claimed our parking spot on the 405, I looked to my left and immediately saw an older Lexus, in weathered condition.  Inside was a man with a long gray beard – maybe 60 or so.  He was wearing a turban, nibbling on a piece of fruit, and bobbing his head up and down.  His passenger window was open, and we were moving slowly enough beside him that I could clearly hear The Patti Smith Group resonating from his stereo.

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I can’t explain why, and really, I don’t want to know, but I felt an overwhelming sense of peace with this scene.  My shaky hands calmed a bit, and my heart and senses eased up.  There I was, with my nephew at my side, driving alongside a Sikh in a tattered Lexus, eating an apple to the core, as the song, People Have The Power, gave rise to my spirit.

In that moment, I could not help but feeling that I was living at the finest time in human history, and in the best possible place to be – stuck in LA traffic.

For the next 3 ½ hours, we barely moved – to go 90 miles.  There was no panic though, no fear, and no frustration from the traffic.  Just peace in the idea the life can be still good, even  when anticipating the not-so-good, and that the people have the power… Jhciacb

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What The Hell Is That…

I have a friend who is an administrator at a major university. She manages a department of a dozen or so people, most of them under the age of 25.

Several months ago, some light construction took place in her office. This made it necessary for her employees to shuffle a half-dozen or so cubicles, and temporarily relocate their workspaces. Also involved in this, was the relocation of a storage cubicle – you know, the one nobody works in, but gets used for the storage of things deemed too good for the trash.

Fast forward…

The construction was completed, and the day arrived for everyone to un-shuffle, and return to their cubicles of origin. Toward the end of the process, a young employee, under 25, requested that my friend (her boss) meet her at one of the storage cubicles – she had seen an item that she didn’t know what to do with it, because she didn’t know what it was.

The two met at the cubicle, and the young woman pointed to the item, looked perplexed, and exclaimed to her boss, “I don’t know what this is, do you…?”

Her boss smiled a secret smile, kept her chuckle inaudible, and replied…

“It’s a typewriter. They were used before computers and word processors.”

Apparently the young woman had never seen a typewriter before. Even after the explanation, she looked perplexed, and failed to understand the straight forward concept of a typewriter. Her boss explained to her that she would take care of it, and directed her employee to return to work.

On one hand, it’s easy to think of the young woman as dim, or perhaps even clueless. Nope. Just young, and born into an age of profound technical innovation.

 

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As technical innovation approaches the rate of exponential, so too does the rate of obsolete. Don’t blame a young person for failing to understand the past. Just hope that they are competent enough to handle the present, and are prepared for a rapidly changing future… Jhciacb

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It’s He-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-re…

This weekend, I will need to water my trees, flowers, and succulents – for the first time since Thanksgiving. Summer arrived yesterday. Well, one of our summers. We get a few of them here.

Yesterday it was 82 degrees on my front porch by 2:00pm. I wasn’t prepared for summer.  It just showed up. I’m already sick of summer, and it’s less than a day old. I know, only a fool complains about good weather…

It rained a great deal this winter. The overnight lows have wavered between crisp and, holy living f#ck, is this Colorado…?. The drought conditions which have threatened this region for a decade are receding. In 18 years here, I’ve not seen this region so grown out, so lush, and so enchanting, despite the cold temperatures.

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The dried ponds, and sand bottom creeks where I walk each day have filled, and now flow. Some now overflow. Just the sight of water, in nature, recreates us. Water can cleanse us, even from a distance. I cherish more, the water that cleanses my soul, than that which cleanses my skin.

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I’ve made it a point to spend more time than usual in these places this year – walking in the growth and near the waters. It’s become my obsession. I’ll still walk every day, as summer begins to dry my surroundings, but my walks might be less inspired.

With summer upon us, all the greens will slowly fail, and become tans, and then browns. The blooms will shout for attention for a few weeks more, then fade to crisp. It may cool again for a time, then summer will show up again in late June. The peak of life though, and the height of the waters for this year, is right now.

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I’ll long remember this winter – this El Nino which nobody predicted. I know that rain like we have had may not return for a while – or maybe never again, not like this.

At some point, probably later today, I’ll start anticipating winter once again, in hopes it doesn’t disappoint. All things must pass. In an eternal universe though, they will rise again, it’s just a question of when… Jhciacb

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From In The Garage…

I just finished a book on fringe physicists, Jim Carter. As a physicist, Carter is more a garage theorist/hobbyist, in the same way Laird Hamilton is a garage explorer with surfboards, or Seasick Steve is a garage engineer with guitars and amplification.

For all these men, at least a portion of their income is now gathered from the tinkering they have done in pursuit of their ideas, though if they made no money, they would still tinker. In fact, at some point in their lives, each of these men had to earn money elsewhere to support their garage pursuits.

Whether they profit from it or not, garage theorist/hobbyists find profound satisfaction in their explorations. That, and useful things often arise from their curiosity and their pursuit of small ideas – which don’t seem so small to them.

This got me reflecting on my own tinkering, with exercises and with exercise apparatus. I realized, perhaps for the first time, that I have done my fair share theorist tinkering over the years, in pursuit of unresolved issues I have had with traditional strength training and how it’s usually taught and practiced.

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Many times, each day, I ask a client to engage in a variation of an exercise which I developed, independent of any instruction or institution. Or, I ask them to do one that I created from scratch, in those wee hours when I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to overcome an obstacle, or find a more efficient path to an outcome.

From filthy guitar pickups, to airfoil surfboards, to circlon physics, to the single-arm deltoid raise apparatus which I hope to have patented someday, I appreciate the garage and all that comes out of it.

Here’s to the curiosity, the tinkering, and all which results from it, in the macro, but especially in the micro… Jhciacb

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Memory Storm…

When I lay my head down at night, and as I attempt to fall asleep, my mind swirls with a storm of memories. If the term storm denotes a harshness, it’s simply from the sheer volume and speed at which those memories fall and collide. Thoughts pour down.

On a given night, I might reflect on moments from all times throughout my life. Playground memories from a school age boy, thoughts of military service, parenthood, business, hobbies and interests, but mostly I think about people – the fingerprints that everyone I have ever met have left upon me to shape my soul.

After I have fallen asleep the storm continues to rage. My dreams too, are often comprised from every all stages of my life, and might include anyone who I have ever met or been near.

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Sweetness in repose.  Dreaming only of the hunt….

In my dreams I find myself in situations which might have been real, and from my past. I might also land in places contrived, and assembled by my subconscious. Jhciacb in Wonderland kinda stuff.

Daily, I’ll wake to shake off my dreams like large drops of rain from a heavy coat  Reflecting on my dreams, it often seems like every thought I’ve ever had, merged with every experience I have ever had, colliding and working themselves into new thoughts and new experiences, and I am beyond exhausted – and it’s only 4:00am.

I sometimes think the only difference between a memory and a dream are the words, memory and dream, and the only distinction between them is the blurry line that haunts me all day long – from the vantage point of the now.

Tonight’s forecast: It’s going to be raining thoughts once again, all night long. Better get my coat… Jhciacb

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Don’t Come ’round Here No More…

I should have kicked him out of my studio as soon as he said it, but I didn’t. Maybe I was afraid.

In my mind, I excused his ignorance before the completed thought ever left his mouth. We had been there before; he uttering racists nonsense, and me in the capacity of a fitness trainer, not a priest nor a moral philosopher.

“No invention” he said, “no technology, no great contribution to mankind, ever came from sub-Saharan Africa, and that’s a fact!”

The young man, 26, spoke these words as his father looked on, in presumable agreement, from the treadmill across my studio. That was in 2005, and I have never forgotten it.

The young man’s innuendo was obvious; that people with darker skin – Africans and those people who have descended from sub-Saharan Africans, are of a lesser intelligence, and have contributed little to society through the millennia.

I was gulpsmacked as he spoke, but I kept focused on the task. My job was to guide his exercise form, not his morals. I shrugged it off.

This was not an isolated incident. I live in a community with a deep history of racism. Fallbrook was the home of white supremacist, Tom Metzger, for many years. Metzger’s influence still manifests within this community.

During the Obama administration, I heard the term, nigger in the White House, far too often, yet I never spoke up, always recognizing that my livelihood was at stake.

I have no memory of ever influencing human behavior, asinine or otherwise, through the art of argument. When faced with ignorance, or hatred born of fear, I usually just ignore it, grateful that I am not that which makes me cringe.

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If he were in my presence today, the man who uttered those racist remarks 12 years ago, I still would not have argued with him. I would, though, have asked him to leave my studio – immediately, and I will do so to anyone feeling comfortable enough to test that.

When I reflect on the person I am today, versus the man I was 12 or 20 years ago, if there is a difference between the me of then and the me of now, it is that through each little adversity in my life, the me within has grown slightly more bold – more willing to stand on behalf of his beliefs.

I will never attempt to change the mind of a racist. I am though, much less willing to tolerate one… Jhciacb

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