I’ve been flooding Facebook with this for a while now.

I must have driven a few people crazy, but I have been posting comments on my workout, details of my runs and such for quite some time now. This story starts off with me moving to Miami in 1997 in good shape. Yes, I understand that was a long time ago and I was a kid, but the origin isn’t the problem. The problem was how far I allowed myself to slide.

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The reality is that a long while ago I went through a rough period of depression and, well, I did nothing. I worked, I drank and I ate. It was also very easy to get fast food rather than invest the time in cooking healthy meals. I’m only 5’6″ and I once got as high in weight as 225 lbs. At that point I was not working and was going to get insurance out of pocket – they denied me due to a height vs. weight discrepancy.

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This is NOT the fattest I’ve been!

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It didn’t end there, I would get a physical with my doctor and, as expected, I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency and on and on. Add to that the fact that I was also taking medication for anxiety and depression, and well, I’ve been a mess. This prompted me to start eating healthy (though not work out just yet). I found an app for my smart phone where you could input the information on your meals and it would calculate the calories you consume (it also did the same for the ones burned, but I wasn’t there yet). This app could be tailored to give you the calories you should have in order to meet your weight loss goals. I gave it a shot and it started working.
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The funny thing is that if you want to lose weight, all you have to do is eat healthy. I started losing weight, but eventually realized that you plateau. I now knew that I had to start doing some sort of physical activity if I wanted to lose more weight. I would try to work out, but I was still run by depression and I never established a pattern. I have this particularly hot friend who is a Zumba instructor. During a conversation she told me that it takes X amount of time for the workout to become a habit (I can’t recall the X amount). I never forgot that she said that, but I didn’t have it in me. (This friend clearly knows what she’s talking about as she has one of the most impressive, physically fit and attractive bodies I’ve ever seen)

By chance I saw a photo of myself at the same time that I began having an interest in some girl. The picture mortified me because although I had tried to ignore it, it hit me right in the face. I saw what everyone saw and I didn’t like it. I realized not only did it not look good, it was unhealthy as all hell. I suddenly couldn’t quite understand why I had let myself reach such a bad state (for the life of me I couldn’t understand why the girl was displaying interest in me despite my physical condition – it sure isn’t my charming personality). Health concerns and impressing a girl in mind, I started working out with a bit more frequency. I was able to drop my weight to 183 despite the fact that I was running short distances such as .5 miles to 1 mile. I didn’t see it yet, but it was an unhealthy 183, however.

Well, as it were I got the girl (albeit briefly).

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Sadly a breakup followed. Unfortunately my workout fell to the wayside as did my health concerns. Subsequent to the breakup, I again became depressed. I felt devastated, actually. One minute I thought I had my future with someone planned out and the next minute I was lost all over again. All too familiar, but never pleasant. In fact, at this point in time work became intolerable due some a new regional director (Hi, Milena!) and her politics and horrible personality (this eventually caused me to resign), which in turn meant I had no insurance for anxiety / depression medication. So here I was, right out of a relationship I thought would be my last, unemployed after 5 years in one job, no medication for anxiety, no medication for depression, no clear idea of what I needed to do.

This was a rough period. Xanax is great for offsetting anxiety attacks, but it’s a terrible drug to take as it is very addictive and withdrawal symptoms can include seizures. I wanted to avoid it with a passion, but I was struggling badly. I applied for jobs several times a week and rarely received a call. Money became scarce. The worst time was at night. My mind can be my enemy in the dark. As I always mention, I have a hard time with my thoughts, but night time is when it goes into overdrive. I have always had trouble staying asleep, but now I was having trouble getting to sleep as anxiety symptoms made it nearly impossible for me to do so.

Now, a lot of people hear “anxiety” and think it’s something you can just up and control. It’s just stress right? No. It isn’t. This isn’t the anxiety you have before a big presentation or important event. It’s paralyzing and sudden.

Now, a lot of people hear “depression” and think it’s something you can just up and control. It’s just sadness right? No. It isn’t. This isn’t the sadness you have because of a breakup or having your pet die (He did. My buddy, Stitch died). It’s consuming and overwhelming.

(Also, OCD behavior causes you to focus excessively – see ‘obsessively’ – on things, which kept me in a cycle of being sad that even to this day, I struggle with. These aren’t passerby thoughts, these are intrusive and frequent. Interestingly enough, it appears nicotine helps with this though I’m now a nonsmoker)

At this point I began focusing all my energy into a few things. I began studying to pass a property management test, passing some math courses I need (it’s the only thing preventing me from finally having a degree), applying for as many jobs as possible and I started eating healthy and working out religiously. It wasn’t easy at first. (Hell, it’s not EASY now, it just becomes…less difficult) I struggled with the focus and I often found myself frustrated and lying to people about how I was feeling just so I would be left alone. See, when you feel that low you don’t want to have someone tell you that you should “get over it” or “you’ll be OK”. It doesn’t feel that way and it’s hard to explain to them. In those moments people with depression tend to become detached and suffer alone, in silence. It doesn’t help, but it’s not a logical process. I hated having to explain what I was feeling to someone whom I was certain didn’t understand and didn’t really care. And those that maybe did care? Well, I didn’t want to give them more to worry about. I would have my good and bad days from anxiety, depression and insomnia. Not fun. Some days were more productive than others due to this as I had an inability to focus when I had a bad day. (These days it’s still difficult to confess when I’m not quite feeling like myself. It’s easier to lie. I went out of my way to tell The Oracle that I’ve been lying about it and proceeded to tell the whole truth. It’s not easy, but I know nobody worries about me like she does so I try to keep it as honest as possible..even as I lie to other people)

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By chance I was speaking with a friend via Facebook and as it turns out, she used to take medication for the same things I used to. She suggested Holy Basil as a natural and healthy alternative that supposedly helped her. By this point I was willing to try anything as I thought “what’s the worst that can happen” even though I hate doing that. I knew this wouldn’t work and it was likely some hipster crap you needed to take while tapping away at an iPad in a Starbucks drinking Chai Tea. I turned out to be wrong.

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The capsules for this thing seemed to work fairly quickly. I wound up having the usual anxiety symptoms at night, though. My friend suggested the capsules in the morning and the tea version at night. It worked. Nowadays I take two capsules in the morning and at night I drink the tea with melatonin. Although I never sleep very long, I actually sleep so that works for me.

During this time I had been increasing my runs to 3 miles. I’ve been doing no less than 490 crunches every other day as well as high reps on light weights. It was progressive, but I started seeing the changes in my body and energy. These days my bad days are better than they’ve been in years and I don’t have to take harsh medication for it. Most of the time the days feel good and I’m energized.

As it were, I received a job offer. It was part time and lower pay than I had previously, but I accepted. The Thursday prior to me starting I received a second job offer. This paid more and was full time and much closer to my house. I decided to take that one and prepared myself to call and politely reject the original offer. I received a call from the original company telling me that the social media aspect of the position was being outsourced so they had to withdraw their offer. I immediately called the second offer, committed to starting the very next day and accepted.

I’m still studying for my licensing and I’ll do anything to pass the test. I’m still taking the math course and will do anything to pass it. I’m single, but better to be single than with crappy company, but I’m now in a place where emotionally I can start looking. Hesitantly. I’m employed and I’m getting healthier by the day without the use of the usual medication. I’m still not sure what direction things are going in, but I can tell you that it is in the opposite direction of where things were headed in the beginning. That’s good enough for me.

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shapes

183

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November 2, 2013:
Today I went to the beach. I hadn’t been to the beach in a very long time. I had forgotten how fun and relaxing it could be. My friend picked out a spot perfectly around a bunch of topless, hot women. I felt a little uncomfortable with people walking around with 8-packs, but I felt better than I had in ages since it’s undeniable, even to me, that I’ve lost plenty of weight. My friend took a few pictures and I was worried about getting them, but I wasn’t completely grossed out. I mean, the pictures were after a few beers and all, and the main thing that stood out was that I had lost that giant gut I had been lugging.

At this stage, when it’s an “ab” day, I have been doing 7 different crunch exercises at 35 reps twice (or three times on a rare occasion) every other day. Looking back I guess it’s not a coincidence, but today I started doing 40 reps. That puts me at a minimum of 490 crunches every other day. I also do light weights at reps of 30 the same day. I’m glad about the results, but I’m eager to lose more. In fact, it seems that I keep the fact that I said I may be ready by year’s end well in mind. I’m now wondering if I overshot by saying so, but we shall see.

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Beach

Now, half of my workout is complete for the day (I like to do the ab work in the morning and then in the evening). The thought that keeps running through my head is DREADING waking up tomorrow before my new meh job to go for my run. Just like today, I will force myself to do the workout anyway. It’s easy to just let thing slide; it’s far more difficult to convince yourself to do it. The thing is that I want the results. Gotta pay to play I guess. And I haven’t slacked a minute in my runs. Also, I guess I don’t want to finish this post by year end and conclude that laziness won and I didn’t get the results I could have by hard work and discipline.

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Run

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November 12, 2013:
I feel a bit of pressure. The end of the year seems fast approaching. I’m down to 184 now. I know that I mentioned the lowest I had been in years was 183. I am in better shape at 184 today than I was at 183 a couple of years ago. By quite a bit. I’m just not where I want to be yet. I’m still thinking that 175 will be my target weight, though now I’m starting to hesitate. It may have to be lower.

I’m in a little bit of pain from my run yesterday. My right thigh has a slight ache and my left ankle has a sharp one. Not sure what I’ll do with that tomorrow.

This morning was weird. I walked into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. It’s still an odd sight to not see al 200+lbs of me. I don’t know how to explain it other than it looks like a version of myself. I like this version better.

I’m not surprised at the slight pain of yesterday’s run. I pushed it a tiny bit further than I usually do, despite feeling a little bit off. Today I upped my crunches to 315 twice a day, which puts me to 630 crunches every other day. Not too bad. So far I have been able to maintain the discipline to do my running in the morning before work and part of my weight/abs day the same way.

November 13, 2013:
I have myself so trained that I feel awful about not going for a run before work. Last night I felt some pain in both ankles. I hoped it would pass by this morning, but just getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen was a bit painful. Since I have a limited amount of time in the AM, I decided to skip it. Well, postpone it. I’m always prepared to play through the pain, but it’s preferable in the afternoon. That way if my run takes longer or if I need to ice it down after, it’s not an issue. I haven’t skipped a workout day in a while and it won’t be today. Anyway, I’m going to get ready for work.

I ran after work and did my longest run yet, go figure. The only thing I misunderstand more than my body’s signals are women’s signals. Anyway, I took another photo of my stomach for the blog and I was pleased when I compared it again. This isn’t easy, but it’s working. Too bad I run tomorrow….

November 18, 2013:
This weekend I was feeling a bit off. I hadn’t felt.. distress in quite some time. I had trouble eating and sleeping. I wound up ordering pizza one day. I realized I couldn’t eat as much as before and I didn’t really want to. I confess the rest of the food wound up in the trash. It tasted good and all, but I had enough. Besides, I was eating that crap out of feeling bad, not because I wanted to.

I skipped a run day, but restarted today. I ran a little over 3 miles, but I felt accomplished because I managed to run for a sustained longer distance. I’m modifying my goal due to that. I had a rough day today. I had a mini meltdown due to personal stuff and took a half day from work. The run made me feel a little better. I know the issues remain but it felt good to exhaust my body. I haven’t weighed myself recently and I’m drinking tons of water so I will have to monitor that another day. I’m still hoping I can look good by the year end. If not, I’ll still post this as promised.

I’m feeling a little frustrated. I see the improvements in myself, but I feel dissatisfied. It doesn’t seem to be happening as quickly as I want and I’m not where I want to be at this point. I have a hard time taking that in because I can see the marked improvement in my running as well as physically. Maybe it just has to do with how I’ve been feeling these last few days. I upped my crunches now to 350 at a time, which means 700 on ab day.

November 25, 2013:
Funny. It has become easy to push myself, but it has a lot to do with anger. Unfortunately a conversation with a friend left me kind of, well, without the anger. The following 4 days I slacked on my workout. I can’t allow myself to do that, so I have tried to force the discipline without the anger. It’s hard. I did complete my workout last night and I am going to try for a longer run than usual this evening. I haven’t weighed myself for a few days. I guess I’ve been trying to pretend I didn’t slack.

Truth is that I have a lot on my mind. There are some major changes coming up along with all the holiday crap and, well, my mind isn’t working properly. I won’t allow myself to slack more, though. I just wish I could clear my brain.

November 27, 2013:
Well, I have now been looking into doing more social things and I found that there was a 5K run in Ft. Lauderdale. I didn’t find it in time, but I wanted to see if I could run that distance nonstop. I don’t even remember if I did or not, but the weather was great and I did a personal best run of 4.29 miles with a 9.35 min/mi pace. That’s the best pace I’ve had since October 21, where I had a pace of 7.53 BUT I only ran for 2.5 miles. I’m glad I pushed myself. I’m going out of town for the weekend so I will be skipping my workout, but I’ll make sure to get right back on it. I still feel far from where I want to be and I’m a little frustrated.

December 3:
Well, I came back from my trip to Jacksonville. I did not work out or eat healthy and I feel behind schedule. To top it off, I came back with a nasty cold. I haven’t been able to do anything! I’m eager to start running and I’m hopeful I can do so tomorrow, but I think I may be too optimistic. We shall see. I will post my progress by year end regardless.

December 4:
Boy, I’m sick as hell though I feel better than I have since Saturday. A friend convinced me to go for a light run so I managed to do two miles. I feel great because although I weighed myself after dinner, I’m at 182 which means I’m lighter. I swear I may throw a party once I hit the 170’s range. Not much longer to go. I think that I was wrong with the 175 goal after all. At the very least I think 170 and I may even have to lower that. I’m just not satisfied with the weight loss.

December 6, 2013:
In optimal conditions it appears I’m weighing in at 180. Not too shabby. I was taking photos via my lap top with the intention of sharing my progress. I usually take quite a few and try to select the ones that I look less ridiculous in. This time I’m fully clothed because I’m wearing size medium (I was either large or extra large depending on how long ago). As I went through the photos, I felt great and it wasn’t all about weight. I couldn’t help but notice that I looked, well, pretty good. I also liked that I had a genuine laugh/smile in some photos. I’ve come a long way. The weight loss is simply a part of the process, but these photos seemed like symbols of the process or at the very least, proof of it. I look better and feel better. Granted, there’s tons of room to improve but I’m not even the same person and I’m very happy for it.

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I have looked over those photos a few times. It’s hard to understand, but I feel very happy about my physical, emotional and psychological progress. I can confidently say that I’m in the best place I may have ever been in. The best part is that I’m also convinced I can improve on it all (and I have been working hard on some things that should facilitate it). I guess I’m a slow learner, but as long as I learned ,I guess. It’s also very weird that although I’m still sick, I’m looking forward for it to be later in the afternoon so that I can go on my run. Sure, today I intend to do only 2 miles again, but it allows me to raise my pace just to push myself.

December 9, 2013:
I finally did a full ab / weight workout. About freaking time. I’m still not eating well, but it seems I will be fine in a day or two. I certainly hope so as I want to start pushing myself hard on my runs. I’m also feeling a bit stressed out so I’m really looking forward to my run so I can burn off some of it. We’ll see. I just have so much in my head right now.

December 10, 2013:
Well, I didn’t quite reach the 175 lbs goal. I’m at I think 179. I’m pleased with the results so far, though. I now know I have to be lower than 175. I intend to continue my workouts and may even update this down the road. I’m thinking I need to be at 170 or so. I’m now wearing Medium shirts, opening up extra holes in my belt and having to try on different size pants. This sounds simple but this was quite an undertaking for me. I look forward to more.

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* * don’t forget to leave me some feedback, guys. I confess this was hard to post. it feels like the most personal thing I’ve written and frankly, for some reason I’m embarrassed, but it doesn’t stop me from sharing it! * *

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2013 – I found the boxers

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Comments
  1. […] people who want to share with me that they felt inspired to start/continue/increase their workout due to my story. I was so concerned and focused on the idea that I had originally allowed myself to gain so much […]

  2. […] The Honest Process […]

  3. Giovana says:

    Lee this was incredibly inspiring! Thank you for sharing with us. I am so happy to hear you are in a more positive state of mind and you look so handsome. Keep it up, we are all rooting for you!

  4. Orlando M says:

    Way to get your life right! Proud of you, homie.

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