The Journey: Day 5 – My First Week Vegan

Five days ago on October 2nd, 2018 I posted an article about my food addiction. That day was set as my new sobriety date and it has been challenging, difficult and exciting these past few days. I just wanted to take a moment to update you on what I call “The Journey”.

I cannot believe I am about to say this, but I am FIVE DAYS into being VEGAN. This is INSANE. My younger self would not stop laughing if he heard this, and yet here I am. Take a look at the top shelf of my refrigerator! This bad boy was stocked with Pepsi, bacon and Little Debbie Snack cakes this time a week ago.

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I found a new friend while blogging named Ryan Callahan who was featured in Fellowship Friday #16. He wrote me a long heart felt letter after he read about my food addiction and offered great insight and tips… including some food products I might enjoy. I took your advice on the Earth Balance Ryan, good STUFF! Ryan doesn’t know this but God sent him to me that day. The night before I was praying heavily that God would help transform my tastes… to help me enjoy the healthy foods by body needed. That is precisely what Ryan had gone through and the Lord provided. Amen.

Now let’s recap the past 5 days of The Journey

My starting weight was 330 pounds. My destination is 220… which I want to reach within 12 months. As a short term objective, I plan to lose 30 pounds by November 1st, 2018. Every Thursday I meet with an addictions support group at my church when I am not working… and they have all agreed to be accountability partners with me.

My wife is my primary accountability partner and nutritional mentor. She has been guiding me and helping me with meals. As I stated in my article I am going cold turkey on nearly everything I used to consume, and starting from scratch. My diet is currently completely plant based, with little if any processed foods. If a package is required for my food I look for ingredient lists with three or four items max. Some times I cannot avoid items with more stuff, but it has been rare.

Most days I have not had many hunger pains, but I have MAJOR compulsions to pull into drive-thrus which are on every corner in the city I live. There have also been headaches and moments of withdrawal type symptoms.

As far as workouts I am using an elliptical machine, borrowed from a church brother, seven days a week, 20 minutes per session. Next week I plan to meet with my friend Johnny for a boxing workout. As time progresses I will be adding strength and conditioning exercises to my weekly routine. My body is really out of shape and I have led an inactive lifestyle for decades so I am sloooowwwwlly getting my body used to working out.

Next week I plan to get some blood work done to measure my cholesterol and other health indicators to see where I am really at… I will post that information when I have it.

Thank you for following me along The Journey… I am looking forward to tomorrow with excitement. Soon I will create a special section on this site for updates… but for now, it’s time to rest. Good night.

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I’m Coming Clean About My Secret Addiction

People who know me or those who see me regularly would not be surprised or shocked by what I am about to reveal to you… But I have been hiding an addiction for nearly my entire life. Until Now. Sadly it is an addiction that has been normalized in our society which makes it even easier to justify.

My name is Keith, and I am addicted to food.

You might be asking why people close to me wouldn’t be surprised… that’s because I have grown to over 330 lbs in weight with a belly that could hold triplets if I were a pregnant woman. As you know I am no stranger to addiction… as I have battled alcohol in the distant past and pornography in the not-so distant past. For some reason I have allowed my logical mind to stop operating when it comes to my food addiction.

What do I mean? Allow me illustrate…

Imagine I am addicted to crack cocaine. I get through a tough week, but manage not to use crack… then Sunday comes… FREE DAY! So I decide to smoke some crack to celebrate my week of crack-free living… plus it will help me get through the coming week.

Now take that paragraph above and insert ANY addiction. Smoking weed, Drinking, Gambling, Porn, Anger… ANY OTHER ADDICTION. When you do that, in every single case it sounds completely ludicrous. Completely insane. Except when it comes to food.

Moderation is the key they say (those food experts out there), you can eat anything you want as long as it’s in moderation. What a load of crap. Why can’t we smoke crack cocaine in moderation? Why can’t we watch a “little” porn here and there… in moderation? WHY? Because certain things in life are POISONOUS. Toxic. Dangerous. And as a Christian I know I should avoid those things at all costs.

And YES, the wrong foods are in that same category.

Please understand something… I am not trying to change your life, change your mind or change the world. I am simply sharing a personal struggle I have had my entire life. Not a week goes by that I don’t consume an entire large pizza myself… in most weeks, it’s multiple pizzas. I don’t drink alcohol any more but I do put down about six 2 liters of soda per week. Ice cream, junk cereal, burgers, tacos, fries… you name it. If it is bad for you and comes out of a drive-thru then it’s part of my regular diet.

Every day I wake up feeling like an 80 year old man in a 47 year old body… I cannot sleep on my stomach, it’s too big, I have to sleep on my side like a pregnant woman. I cannot tie my shoes without losing my breath. I cannot stand for long periods of time without aches and pains. I cannot buy clothes in normal  stores I need to shop at specialty big and tall man stores. I cannot sit comfortably in most places… like churches, airplanes, restaurant booths or movie theaters. God forbid If I ever have to defend my family, I would be all but useless.

Today is the day. October 2nd, 2018. My new sobriety date. The day I stop eating the wrong foods and start exercising. The day I reclaim my health. The day I start treating my food addiction… as a REAL ADDICTION.  With accountability partners, meetings, the whole thing. I will no longer allow myself to have a FREE DAY or to put poisons in my body. Today is a new day and I will be dedicating a serious amount of time on this blog in support of my journey.

Here is a photo that was just taken this past Sunday September 30, 2018
(that’s me in the white shirt)… the other folks are none other than Adam’s Road…

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You can see how far I have to go, but in the next week I will take some actual before photos and post some stats that are measurable once I visit my doctor and get some blood work results.

My brother in Christ Rudy is lending me his elliptical machine for as long as I need it! Praise God for good friends. Tomorrow I will be picking it up, I also have a next door neighbor who is going to let me use their Bowflex… you see how God removes every excuse I can come up with?

But let’s not kid ourselves, the only way to truly succeed is to change my eating habits once and for all. For that God has given me my beautiful wife who is pure Vegan. She has been gently nudging me towards that for years, but I have resisted every time. Today I stop resisting. Tomorrow I am off to the store to buy some vegetables, fruits and other items to get me started. She has been reading and studying this stuff for years, so I will just follow her expertise.

The next few weeks, probably months, will be very difficult and challenging for me… so I am outright asking for your prayers and encouragement. This will be the single biggest obstacle I have ever had to overcome… even compared to pornography. I will have to rely heavily on Jesus Christ to carry me through and I will have to be on my knees in prayer constantly.

The road will be the most difficult but the rewards will be INCREDIBLE. As with every other time I have faced an addiction in my life, I always try to pump myself up… I’ll probably be playing some Rocky music soon (that works every time). In all seriousness I want to thank you in advance for any prayers…. 225 lbs is the objective. That is over 100 lbs.

Let’s do this.

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Talking In Circles – Why Celebrate Recovery Works

The first time I went to a Celebrate Recovery night, I didn’t know what to expect. The only thing I knew, was I needed help… DESPERATELY. My life was out of control and I was on the verge of losing EVERYTHING. I was stressed out at my job, nearly had a stroke in the ER, my marriage was on the verge of collapse and my position as a leader in the church was gone. All because of my secret sin of pornography.

I found this church online that was hosting CR, so I went. When I walked into the room, there was a huge circle of chairs, and before the night started we had a total of 43 men (3 of them leaders) in that circle. I know because I counted. Not sure why, just curious I guess.

As they went around the room they would introduce themselves….Hi my name is Bob and I struggle with Drugs and Alcohol… HI BOB, Hi my name is Steve and I suffer with Lust and Pride…. HI STEVE Around the circle it went and got to me… Hi my name is Keith and I struggle with Lust, Pornography, Anger and Pride… HI KEITH.

What struck me most that first night, besides the sheer size of the circle, was how many other men struggle with Pornography and Lust… nearly 3/4 of the room! What strikes me most today as I reflect on those days… is that by the end of our 12 Step Study, only 11 of us remained. Many times I have wondered what happened to those other 29 men, and where they are today. My prayer is that they found the help they were looking for.

What I want to really talk about in this article however, is the CIRCLE of Celebrate Recovery and why/how it works. To be honest I thought it was a bunch of nonsense at first… I mean here I am spilling my guts to a bunch of strangers about all my problems and no one EVER chimes in to give me advice or help me out! They keep saying “we are not here to fix you, we are only here to support you” BLAH BLAH BLAH! What I need is some friggin advice people! How do I fix my life???? HELLO?

But guess what? Sitting here right now, looking back on the last two years… those circles of trust are THE most important part of Celebrate Recovery… at least they were for MY recovery. To this day I can’t really explain HOW, but something about telling a bunch of men your deepest darkest secrets and NOT Being judged is incredibly therapeutic. In fact, not only are you NOT judged, but whenever I would share… I would glance around the circle as I shared the worst parts of me, and see nothing but nodding heads! These people understood me, because in many ways they WERE me.

Not to put down professional counseling, but recently I visited a “Professional” to get help with myself and marriage… and this guy was 32 years old… many years my junior. He wasn’t married and didn’t have a girlfriend!!! Yet HE was supposed to understand my issues? Needless to say I got very little from my time there.

If you have been around me much or even read some of my writings you might think I am a paid endorser of Celebrate Recovery. I am not. But I am someone who’s life was saved by Jesus Christ THROUGH Celebrate Recovery and for THAT REASON I will stand on every hillside and shout about how great this program really is.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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The Secret to True Healing…

You may be wondering why there is so much deep rooted pain in your life, this pain can take many different forms from Alcoholism or drug addiction to sexual immorality, gambling, violent outbursts or even physical sickness. There are countless ways in which the pain from our past can intrude upon our present… and never in a positive way.

UNLESS we heal those past wounds.

It doesn’t matter if you were abused physically, sexually or emotionally, it doesn’t matter how badly you were abused or for how long. It doesn’t matter if YOU were the one abusing someone else or doing bad things in your past (who among us is innocent?) none of these things matter.

The only one thing that matters, is how do we recover from our past? How do we heal the wounds given to us by other people, or given by us? How do we move forward and not be hindered by the past? How do we break free of the spiritual, physical or emotional bondage our past has us trapped in?

There is only one way, and here it is. FORGIVENESS.

You see until we truly forgive those who have hurt us, or forgive ourselves for our actions we will NEVER heal from those wounds. We might be able to suppress them, push down those feelings by sheer will power or through chemical dependency of one sort or another… but mark my words. The hurts and pains will resurface in your life. There is nothing short of total FORGIVENESS that will prevent this from happening.

So what does it mean to truly forgive? When God forgives us of our sin, he doesn’t even remember our transgressions (Hebrews 8:12)… not because God is forgetful, but because he chooses to forget. This is the example God has given us on how to forgive. For humans, it’s much more of a struggle to forget the wrongs that have been done to us… especially when it comes to abuse from our childhood. Sometimes those memories are the most vivid of all.

So how do we forgive?

There is one way that has worked for me, and I am no expert, I am just offering you my life as an example. What I found when I went through Celebrate Recover (a Christ-centered 12 step recovery program) was that the person I had to forgive the most, was myself. For years I hated the man I had become and the things I had done to hurt others. It wasn’t until I was able to fully forgive myself and learn to love myself as God loves me that I could truly heal the wounds of my past.

So how did I forgive myself? By realizing that Jesus forgave me over 2,000 years ago when he laid himself down on that cross. You see Jesus DIED to forgive my sins… not just mine but yours too, and not just yours but all those people that hurt you in the past. He DIED for us all… and if we were worth DYING for, then who are we to hold hatred in our hearts towards those that God loves the most?

You are worthy of forgiveness, I am worthy, our perpetrators are worthy… and not only are we all worthy, but Jesus paid the greatest price of all for us. That’s how important it is to forgive others and ourselves.

Whatever troubles you are facing and no matter how deeply hurt you are, when it comes to your past it is time to leave it behind. You have probably heard the phrase “You cannot move forward by looking in the rear view mirror”. Once you discover true forgiveness in your life, the prison door will open and Jesus will shatter the chains of bondage in your life, setting you free to live a life of peace. But as in all things, you have a choice to make.

Continue to harbor the anger, hurt and pain or truly forgive and experience peace and joy. I will be praying that you make the right choice.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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