Hope everyone is enjoying and getting ready for the big holiday season coming up! It's that time of the year for putting up the tree, hanging the lights, throwing on the layers and hours and hours of Hallmark Channel/ABC Family Christmas specials. Feels like Christmas Vacation and Elf have been on a constant loop on our TV 🎅🏻
It's also that time when the year comes to a close and if you are like me, you tend to look back on the last 12 months, reflect on how it went and set plans on what you want to do in the new year to make things better. Even though they are only 4 months between them for me, birthdays and New Years are always big reflection times for me.
Ive been spending the past few weekends since I know this will probably be one of my last entries in the HEAL blog looking through some of my favorite past posts and thinking about where I was at during those times. If you are kind of new to this blog, ones like "the jacket", "wrist balance", "alone" and even comical ones like "salad bar" stick out for me. If you haven't been a constant reader, I recommend those if you want to catch up.
Reading those posts and looking back at myself today, this year has been one hell of a ride and for me and it's really only just beginning (you just hummed that song "we've only just begun" when you read that didn't you? 😜)
Since my last entry, I've been checking out my Timehop app, which is cool it shows what you've posted on your social media sites on that day the past few years and that was another thing that was giving me reminders of how far I have come. I've been seeing pics of myself from last year and the moments when I finally decided I needed to make a change.
The first week of December a year ago I got to attend my cousin's beautiful wedding. It was an awesome time I got to see the youngest of my group of close cousins finally have her wedding day. I got to hang and bond with so many family members I haven't seen in forever and it was a whole weekend at a lovely resort with lots of love.
But for me it was also a very dark time in my life.
The moment I got there for the rehearsal dinner it was game on. I went straight to the bar and proceeded to drink and drink and drink for the rest of the night. I don't think I even had a bite of dinner when I got there I decided beer would be my food for the night and I was on a mission. Needless to say since It was just me (meaning no wife and kids with me) and since everything was at the resort (meaning no driving) I got hammmmmmered.
In the past (even at my own wedding) i would always go with the game plan of drink hard at the rehearsal dinner night. You might wake up feeling like garbage for the wedding day, but at least that way at the reception you will probably just nurse booze instead of pound just to feel better and you won't end up making a complete ass of yourself on the actual wedding day.
So the next day since the wedding was not till the afternoon after a cocktail of Motrin and Zantac and even a soak in the spa/steam room to try to get rid of the poison in my body I started to get myself dressed for the wedding.
Now since my weight has sesawed over many years of my professional career I have a few different suits in my closet. I have some "skinny suits" and unfortunately some "fat suits" . Of course I decided to grab one of my nicer "fat suits" for the wedding and when I put it on....even the fat suit didn't fit me anymore. The button on the waist was under the gut, barely handing on ready to break, I couldn't even snap the shirt collar and the shirt itself was skin tight
Through it all, it still was an incredible weekend being with my family celebrating a wonderful occasion. I was even asked to read something at the ceremony (which I chose one of my favorite Dr Seuss passages) I was so honored to do but I remember being nervous, sweaty and thinking to myself "oh god, people are going to be looking at me and how bad I look". It went well though and was flattered how many compliments I got on my selection. After the ceremony of course we all went to the bar again but at least since it was in the resort I was able to go up to the room and change back into my XXXL shirt and tight size 40 jeans so at least I was "comfortable" again.
On the way home, even though it was so cold and rainy the last two days, by Sunday the sky opened up and the ride home was warmer, sunny and one of the most beautiful days we had in awhile. I drove home on a back road of beautiful jersey countryside but I felt like garbage. I was hungover (again), my clothes and jacket were tight, I grabbed some fast food to soak up the acid in my stomach, I was smoking like a chimney, breathing heavy and all I wanted to do was get home and sleep this bad feeling off.
I'm a big fan of podcasts and one of my dear friends Barry has one, so I decided to put it on during the drive.
Back then it was called "The No Easy Answers podcast" and it's a great self help show. The episode was an interview with a life coach and it was sooo positive I could tell both sounded so healthy and happy taking about clean living and making life changes. I kept thinking "man this is completely the opposite of how I feel right now"
I knew right then and there when I got home and slept off the weekend I had to make a change.
2014 and even 2013 although ironically I seemed to be excelling in my career, personally and creatively I was a mess. In two years time I gained over 80lbs, the last band I was in The Dalliance wasn't really playing gigs anymore and after spending two years squeaking out an EP and working on a few new songs for another one (one of them actually being the song "Clear" I used for my album) by the Summer of 2014 we disbanded after Darrell found his true happiness and moved away.
I had a few songs I recorded as demos on my iPad for The Dalliance that I thought had potential, but after the band was done I decided to just throw them out online just to see the reaction as a solo artist. I had no band it was just me playing and singing everything (even the drums on the recordings were crude drum loops). But even though the response as positive, I still felt lost. I wanted to be creative and start playing gigs again so bad but I knew I couldn't perform in the shape I was in. I'm almost happy I didn't perform back then because looking at old videos I could barely stand up, let alone play a gig.
After the wedding weekend though I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided that 2015 was going to be the year for me to HEAL. I built this website, found that clay heart that Zoey made for me, took a picture of it on my phone, put it up as the front page of the site and all I put on it was the words "HEAL coming 2015". I didn't have an idea of what songs were gonna be on it or how I was gonna even do it but I figured that If I put it out there and if I committed to a goal publicly I would stick to it better. I also decided that since I'm a big fan of whole albums with themes I could document my commitment to HEAL at the same time in this blog and the album would reflect that journey.
I wasn't gonna start before Christmas, but I started to plan about how I was gonna approach this new lifestyle in 2015. I decided I would dust off the old scale to see where I was starting. When you are heavy, you tend to hide that scale and not face the harsh reality but I wanted to know where I was at.
When I stepped on it, it went past the 300 mark and went back to zero. A thing I've never seen happen ever in my life and it scared the shit out of me.
Once I started in January as the months went by I couldn't believe the progress. There were no shakes, no powdered soups, no prepackaged meals, no surgery and no pills. I took it slow introducing vitamins, fruits and vegitable drinks, cutting out all carbs and processed sugars first which made me drop 10+ pounds right away. Then I introduced DDP yoga, which was a life changer! Then I moved to counting calories on an app, then I got a Fitbit in April and although I wasn't dropping weight dramatically like the "quickie diets" did, it got easier and easier. There were a few missteps along the way and plateaus for a few months that were frustrating but I didn't stop. I couldn't stop I was feeling so much better.
Cut to a week before Christmas and since that time I've not only released my first ever album as a solo artist I've gone from over 300 pounds to around 235 pounds
I could say I did this all on my own but that would be a total lie. Without all of the people I mentioned above like Darrell who did an amazing job playing drums, mixing/mastering and helping me put this out, to Barry who recorded tracks on this album and inspired me with his podcast, to my band mates Pete, Vic, Helene and Mike, to Dave who lets us rehearse in his studio and recorded the remaining vocal tracks I needed and of course ALL OF YOU who messaged me, commented on my posts. who bought and supported this album I couldn't have done it without you.
Although the HEAL blog will be technically done for now, it's not over. I'll probably still keep blogging since I've really enjoyed writing this year but the topics will probably be more towards whatever I'm feeling and what I want to express in long form writing at the time. Of course I will mention any new hurdles crossed, but it won't be a diary of my progress like it was this year.
I promise that I will continue to keep going, keep losing, keep this healthier lifestyle and keep making music. This year I'm shooting for different things like real yoga classes (not just the same DVD over and over), more cardio, picking up something like a form of martial arts and maybe finally quiting smoking. This year was about getting back on my feet. Next year is about getting on those feet and running.
And like I've said this whole year, if I can do it so can you! Start a website or blog, make an Instagram or Facebook page and don't be afraid to say it out loud. Start small, make yourself accountable to the world and believe it or not things will happen.
They always say in recovery programs the first step is admitting you have a problem, you need help and you want to get better and that's exactly what this year was all about. Nobody is perfect every single one of us has something we don't like about ourselves and sometimes if you admit it and put it out there, you'll be surprised many will come out to support you and admit those same problems effect them too.
Onward and upward....