Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ask Me Anything - Answers

Not too long ago I told you I'd answer all your questions.   You asked some really good ones and I've got some answers for you.  Settle in.  This is a long post, so settle in and enjoy.
Josie (35 and Shrinking) asked me a bunch of questions:
What's the story behind "waterballoonist"?
This one is pretty silly.  My favorite t-shirt has a picture of a hot air balloon that's actually a water balloon.  I decided my handle should be "The Waterballoonist."  I spent the first month writing 100 pounds in a year as a closeted weight loss blogger.  I didn't want anyone I knew to know I had bitten off more than I could chew.  After losing only one pound in a month, I realized that I needed the accountability and support of my friends so I put my name on my blog posted a link to it in my facebook profile.  The support and accountability I have now because of that single move has kept me focused on my goal.

What kind of stuff are you looking forward to doing that you can't do now or couldn't do when you first started this?
I've thought about this one quite a bit.  There wasn't a lot I couldn't do that I wanted to do when I weighed 313.2 pounds.  I just didn't think about it.  I always used to hate when I had to squeeze myself into a booth at a restaurant.  I don't have that problem anymore.  I'm really excited to be able to fit into my old clothes and then shrink out of them.  One big thing I want to do is blend in.  I don't want to be singled out because I'm fat, even if no one is saying it.  I was always self conscious about how I appeared to be eating around others.  I didn't want anyone to think "look what that guy is doing to himself".  Most importantly, I'm looking forward to living a long, active life. 

What is your 'diet' history like?  Were you a yo-yo dieter?  Is this your first attempt to lose weight?
I've been seriously trying to lose weight since my freshman year of college.  I've learned a little bit with each attempt, but my weight ballooned 70+ pounds from my first attempt to my heaviest.  The first time I tried, I went to the gym almost every day, but didn't understand that I shouldn't eat an entire box of Mac'n'Cheese after my work-out.  I had a terrible relationship with food in college.  I would binge and binge.  I tried slimfast a few years later and lost a good chunk of weight but felt lousy and hungry all the time and my jaw hurt when I actually did eat.  Eventually cut that out.  Slimfast tastes terrible anyway.  I joined WeightWatchers during the spring of my last year of college.  I lost about 20 pounds with diet and exercise and managed to gain it all back and then some when I moved to Minneapolis.  Oh man, there were all these restaurants to try.  It took me a long time to get over that.  Then I started running.  I lost the 20 pounds again and managed to keep most of it off.  I didn't do much for a few months, then I started my gym membership.  A couple months later, I started my blog.  So you could call me a yo-yo dieter who's weight never really went down all that much.
What are your fitness goals? 
I'm hoping I'll be able to run around the world in 27 seconds, be able to lift a house from its foundation, and stop bullets with my mind.  
Seriously, I'd like to run a 5k before my year is up.  I think I'll start training first, though I am a little worried about my knees.  Long-term, I'd like to build up more lean muscle so I can eat more and maintain my weight.  I read somewhere (if "somewhere" is your blog, please let me know so I can give you credit) that every pound of lean muscle on your body boosts your BMR by 50 calories a day.

Do you see a marathon in your future?
Probably not.  My knees are aching just thinking about it.  Let's start with a 5k and see where things go though.

Lauralei asked me this:

What is your biggest weight loss tip?
There are a lot of parts to my biggest tip, but the concept is simple.  Be honest and objective with yourself.  This is a lot harder than you might think.  I accomplish it by blogging as close to every day as possible.  Hold yourself accountable for your actions, positive and negative.  Be proud when you go to the gym.  It's okay to get mad at yourself when you slip up, but learn from your mistakes and get back on track.  Early on in my weight-loss journey, I ate a buffalo chicken sandwich I later discovered was nearly 2000 calories.  I nearly had an anxiety attack.  You will make mistakes but don't let them stop you from succeeding.  In short, you are responsible for what you do and do not do.  Make good choices.
I hope that stream of consciousness answered your question.  

Frank Dobner wanted to know the following

What is the one most painful moment or event that occurred to make you finally say, "that's it, I am losing this fat"

The details would be great.
This is a tough question to answer.  Not because of any particularly painful memory I have to drudge up, but because there are many painful memories that really took a toll on my sense of self worth over the years.  As anyone who was fat in middle or high school knows, kids can be ruthless.  College was better in that regard, but much worse in another.  I had terrible luck with women.  I don't know how much of it was because of my weight, but it was something I could blame.  I felt incredibly lonely.  It seemed that every woman I met wanted to be "friends".  It's tough to see yourself as unattractive all the time.  Luckily, I met Claire.  Claire saw through all the extra weight I was carrying.  She saw the real me through the pudge.  She made me feel good about myself.  She gave me the strength I needed.  She validated me.  She completed me.  So I married her.  Without her by my side, I don't think I would have made it as far as I have on my weight-loss journey.
As for specific incidents, I managed to blow out the seat of a ton of pants over the last decade or so.  I used to hate getting in booths at restaurants because I just barely fit.  I've been told by a number of students that I'm fat or going to break a chair.  I have broken chairs.  I've broken beds.  I had to wear a stupid looking bib at my wedding because Men's Wearhouse didn't have vests big enough to fit me.  That one still makes my blood boil (as stupid as it sounds).  
It all built up to a boil last April and I decided to start running.  Since then I've lost almost 50 pounds.
Anonymous asked:
Has your sex life improved?
My mother reads this blog.  As does my father-in-law.  So instead of answering your question, I will answer the following question:
Has your ability to climb stairs improved?
Why yes, yes it has.  Since I started exercising nearly every day I'm in much better shape.  That means climbing stairs is quite a bit easier.  It's still good cardio, but I don't end up huffing and puffing when I reach the top anymore.  I also seem to be climbing stairs for longer durations.  
Andrew is getting fit wanted to know how I set my goal.

I hadn't been seeing the results I wanted so I decided to start my blog.  That way I'd be able to hold myself accountable.  I knew I wanted to lose a lot of weight.  I got to thinking how nice it would be to lose 100 pounds.  I thought about it and realized if I lost less than 2 pounds each week, I could meet that incredibly ambitious goal.

Anonymous asked a couple questions:
How has the weight loss affected your self image?
I feel great.  I've started getting comments from people who aren't obligated to tell me I look good.  The best is when I hear something from someone who doesn't read my blog.  That way I know I look different.  I bought new jeans last weekend.  I shrunk 6 inches in my waist.  That made me feel like a million bucks.  Mostly, I'm excited for what I'll look like when I reach my goal.

What will you do if you fall short of your goal?
I don't know what will happen.  I've got a fairly vocal inner critic.  If I miss my goal, I'm sure my self esteem will take a bit of a hit.  I guess it all depends on how much I miss by.  If I'm five pounds short, I'll take it in stride.  If I miss by 70 pounds, I'll probably be pretty upset.  Either way, I'm on this journey until I reach my goals.  1 year AND 100 pounds.  I won't give up before both conditions are met.

Mr. Scott asked me this:
Ask you anything? Wanna hang out?
Absolutely.  How does next Tuesday work?  You're on Spring Break next week too, right?  We should make a movie or something.
JackieDee wanted to know:
What are your other goals in life (besides the weight loss)?
These are the things that immediately come to mind.  I want to write and record an album.  I want to go to grad school.  I want to play in a band that gigs a lot.  I want to have a home recording studio.  I want to travel.  I want to inspire people to love music the way I do.  I want to have kids.  I want to come to terms with my mortality.  I want to figure out exactly what is going on with Lost (okay, I've pretty much given up on that one).  I want to make some really outstanding photographs and maybe make some money in the process.
There's a lot I want to do with my life and I don't want it cut short by obesity related disease.
Lastly, Beej was wondering:
How do you know you won't fail?

Short answer: I don't.

Before I started this blog, I faced a seemingly impassible obstacle.  A 100 pound wall stood directly between me and my health.  Time and time again, I tried and failed to lose weight.  So I did the only thing I could to motivate myself.  I threw my cap over the wall.  There was no choice now but to scale it.  I started blogging and made my goal known to everyone I knew.  It worked, I've lost over 30 pounds.  I don't know if I'll lose 100 pounds by November 28th, but even if I don't lose another pound, I've already changed my life for the better.  Not only have I lost a lot of weight, but I know I'm capable of losing weight.  Something I didn't know I was capable of before.


  1. Loved getting to know you better in this way. Thanks so much for sharing. :-)

  2. Reading that was definitely... inspiring. (I feel like I keep saying that) I really admire your honesty with yourself and on your blog. It's definitely hard when you mess up, especially when you're so public with your successes. It's definitely helped me be more honest to my workout club too.

    I too want to know what the heck is going on in Lost. I too have also sort of given up hope. 8 episodes left... how can they possibly answer all zillion questions they've posed?

  3. I am glad to hear your ability to climb stairs has improved!

    Great post! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Good answers love! I especially like the one about...me. ;)

  5. Oooh...I love your blog. :) If you didn't have an awesome wife I'd be your biggest fan! But I think I can deal with 2nd biggest fan.

    My favorite was the answer about Claire. Well, loneliness and then about Claire-I remember us talking about that a few times at the house on 4th street, and while I felt at times I could understand where you were coming from, I really couldn't. I hope that one day (maybe even now) you can look back on that time and see how you grew as your own person. And then how you talked about Claire validating you just made me want to cry-in a sappy, romantic kind of way. :)

    Even if you don't reach your goal within the time frame, you can still continue to reach your weight goal. Inevitably everyone struggles with weight, and some do so for their entire life. After a while it won't feel so much like a struggle as it is trying to do the best you can for yourself-like anything else in life. :) :D But I have faith that you'll make it! and I'll still be here leaving comments!

  6. Hahaha...I'm so glad you are climbing stairs for longer. ;)

  7. I'm glad you don't huff and puff at the top... of the stairs... anymore...

    Please don't try to stop a bullet with your mind: it might get stuck in there.

    Having known you for over six years I never thought to imagine how life would be different if I were you. Thank you for perspective.

    Way to share your life. I think you have more positive energy than before and that can help propel you. Keep up the good work!

  8. Andrew,

    You may not know it, but upon writing a blog like this one, you are in star status with many people. You appear above human in some respects.

    In doing this unveiling of yourself in the above piece, you have just gained personal access to a lot of people, myself included.

    Nicely done.

  9. "1 year AND 100 pounds. I won't give up before both conditions are met."

    I love the strength and committment in that statement! I really enjoyed learning more about you from this post. :)

    Thanks for sharing with us.