\""Yes!

"Yes! I am Spartan!"

Fighting the flab - Yes, I am Spartan

\""Yes!

"Yes! I am Spartan!"

I know I’ve written about health and weight loss in this space before. You might be saying “here he goes again” and I can’t say I blame you.

Heck, I didn’t even believe it myself and that is why I decided against mentioning it. When I declared “enough is enough” as the acid reflux kicked in on New Year’s Day after the consumption of my body weight in Costco brownie bites the night before, I thought this clean living would leave my body faster than a stomach bug.

But here we are, 26 weeks later and I am down over 20 pounds. That’s about a pound a week for those of you counting at home.

In another 26 weeks, I intend on being at my goal weight for the first time since my buck teeth presided over my red Confirmation robes back in grade school!

What makes this time any different from the last time? The first shift comes from having a plan.

A pound a week for the next 52 weeks is supported by an app on my phone called MyFitnessPal. I track calories in and out, based on my intake and rocket science. I can even use my iPhone to scan the bar codes of foods to arrive at portion sizes, sodium levels, etc.!

As I type this, there is a Fitbit bracelet on my right arm that links with my computer and the MyFitnessPal app to track my steps for the day.

The electronica buzzing around me can certainly provide great coaching wirelessly as I go about my day, but that’s only part of the story. The more profound shifts are occurring from within that begins with accepting yourself just the way you are.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean I’m happy with the bib o’chub under the chin or the expandable waist pants that hide my true waist size from everyone including myself.

What it does mean is I have given up making myself wrong for no longer having the physique I had when I tended lawns during my college years and burned thousands of calories behind a push mower. “If only I can get back there” is a past-based conversation that has me feeling bad about myself before I even get on the treadmill.

I’ve also stopped betting against myself. The last time I lost this much weight I gathered up my fat clothes, sealed them with a Tupperware stored in the attic, and wrote a note belittling myself in the likely event that I had to break open the container (the letter started with “Dear Fat F***, I knew you’d be back.”)

As the clothes started to fall off me, I brought them to the consignment shop and plowed any of my earnings back into clothes with smaller sizes. It’s been a joy to watch two X’s disappear from the size of my polo shirt!

Producing these results meant that I would have to give up the disempowering contexts I have had about the past (if only I looked liked I did back then) and my future (better pack the fat clothes in the attic in case you need them again). Setting shallow goals based on vanity is no longer a game I am playing.

“So, if you’re not playing those games, what are you playing?” asked my friend Gerry (not his real name).

I shrugged my shoulders, puzzled by the question. He’s a health nut who lost 70 pounds and was clearly baiting me with the question.

I should have seen what was coming next but I looked blankly at him instead and shrugged my shoulders. He shared with me how he put his health into high gear when he committed to something he had no idea how he would accomplish.

I was intrigued. When was the last time I played a game I didn’t know I could win?

He then challenged me to be a Spartan, code name for a high intensity race sponsored by Reebok that involves eight miles of running through obstacles that include rope bridges and barbed wire. The next race in New Jersey in early September and before I could say “barbed what?” he had us both signed up.

I look at the impressive parade of six pack abs of the runners on the website. I then look at the mirror of this bushel of old and stale marshmallows in a leotard that is my body today and all I can see is the gap that exists between the two images.

I have hired a trainer to help me deal with this gap. He asked me if my goal was to win the race during our first meeting and I laughed in his face.

Win? How about survive? Isn’t that a noble goal for a 48 year old fitness neophyte?

I learned after the first training session to go the gym at night and park the car in the dimly lit portion of the lot because the sight of me dry heaving and crying in front of the buff bods as I hobble into my wheels is more painful than the workout itself.

In time, the workouts have become less painful as the Spartan inside me wades through the flab. I’m expanding myself without expanding the waistline. Wish me luck!

(Mike Farragher’s collection of essays on life can be found on www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com)

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