The post where I need your help…

I have always been a fan of 90s Christian music. Steven Curtis Chapman’s Heaven in the Real World album to Jars of Clay’s self-titled album have formed not just my faith but my childhood. There’s something pure about that genre that reminds of a simpler time in my life. Now, I’m not going to get into escapism or its musicological ramifications (I’ll leave that to my wife…the one with the Ph.D. in the topic) but I’m sure a lot of us could dig up defining memories and tie it to a specific theme or medium, be it Darkwing Duck, Punky Brewster, sparkly parachute pants…you get the idea.

When I think about the FFK brand per se, I can pinpoint a portion of those defining moments, some of which are refreshed by reading my older posts. But unlike a has-been actor in my own digital life, I tend to forget just how amazing that part of my life was.

That said, I do remember this: This blog shaped me. It made me a better person. It literally transformed my life. And I’m ready to move on from this boring part of the Lifetime movie that is my life (starring James Van Der Beek in a fat suit as me) and move into the third act where I’m not [as] worried about my health and the size of my waist.

So at this point, I’m sure you are wondering “what does this have to do with anything? Why am I reading this? Isn’t the Wheel on?” Hang tight. I’m getting there.

(Fair warning, I kind of buried the lede in this post)

This March, I’m returning to Abilene Christian University to give a TED Talk at TEDxACU. While this is an absolute bucket item that I am incredibly stoked to cross off my list, I still am working what idea I have that is worth spreading. The title “Repetitive Forward Motion Keeps You Moving” harkens back to a defining moment when I was on a rough run while I was training for my first half marathon. While I think back to times like that and wonder what would have happened if I took my own advice and kept moving forward, I think even more about the context of those times and how I felt about myself.

So…here’s where the title of this particular posts enters in.

I wanted to avoid qualifying/apologizing for this request since it might sound self-serving. If you feel that it is, then just don’t respond ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I want to hear why you read this blog. Why did/do you follow it? What was it about me or my weight loss journey that kept you reading? Not only do I want to know so I can keep creating content that you’ll enjoy, I want to remember why that was such a defining time. You can text, call, FB message, email or even comment in the box below. Let me know. And in the meantime, I’ll keep crafting my idea worth spreading.

 

Figuring it all out

Looking Forward

“Why, hello. Haven’t seen you here in a while…”

I don’t know why I haven’t posted in so long. I’ve opened this blog page, tried to type, came up with some solid draft ideas, and then lost steam. I kept trying to come up with some epic post with Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mac” blasting from the heavens as I return to my blogtastic glory.

But life doesn’t work that way.

The blog has been such an important part of the past almost decade of my life. Not only did it serve as the trailhead of my weight loss journey, it shaped my skills as a writer. I also hoped that it would help encourage others to become healthier. Not out of any selfish hope, but because I knew how much better my life was inside and out once I made that change in my own life.

“So…why did you stop blogging, Nathan?” 

I think I stopped writing because I was ashamed of gaining some weight back. When I weighed 225, I dealt with some dark stuff. I hated how I looked. With a capital “h” hated. I felt like I was this rubber band that was stretching myself out to new links, but deep down I knew that I would snap back one day. And it did, but it could have been way worse.

Somehow, I think that stunted my weight-loss growth. I think instead of confronting some of those issues (you know…when you realize that you feel feelings that aren’t always happy) so I resorted back to food instead of confronting them.

What I’ve realized this week is that you really don’t truly grasp the concept of self-preservation until you’re 29 and a half. Whether you like it or not, you figure out that you have to watch out for yourself. Whether that’s your job, your friendships, or your health. I’ve pushed myself really hard in my late 20s and it took its toll on my health. I was really hard on myself. In fact, that has been on every job evaluation I’ve ever had. I wasn’t trying to be perfect, I was trying to do it all. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I did because I got to work on some amazing projects with some amazing people, but I’ve finally realized that it’s OK to take a step back.
Not every fight is my own.

“So…what now?”
Well, I am going to start writing again. I still wear the FFK moniker as a badge of honor. I love inspiring others. I feel that it’s what I am called even at a spiritual level. If every day of my life isn’t spent helping others, then what’s the point?

For years, I have pushed other people to embrace and promote the personal brand they want others to see. I haven’t been doing that. For the past three years, I’ve been this weight loss has-been. Now, it’s time to practice what I preach. It’s time to keep moving forward.

Extracurricular Living

Throughout my academic career, I was a pretty average student. Sure, I won the Taylor Elementary Geography Bee in 1998 because I knew that soda was made with corn syrup and is one of the top commodities produced by the US, but I wasn’t always the top of my class…or…ever the top of any class. In fact, Mrs. Lewis, my AP US History teacher in high school, told me one time that I was a B student and I always would be. (The wonderful faculty of Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, Texas, ladies and gentlemen.) Now granted, I had some pretty awesome teachers as well like Mrs. Walters, who thought I was a pretty strong writer, and Mr. Davis, who helped me build a deer blind (which was big enough to be considered a tiny house by today’s standards) but overall, I was still just a funny fat kid who was always ready with a ridiculous joke or a comedic fall-out-of-the-chair routine in Ms. Tirey’s class that would have made Chris Farley proud.
Then…I got to college. A fat kid’s time to shine.
Artist rendering of Nathan MacDonald as an adult

Artist rendering of Nathan MacDonald as an adult. Not to scale.

Growing up, everyone told me that college is where you become the person that you’re going to be for the rest of your life. I was ready to finally flutter out of my cocoon and become the awkward butterfly I was born to be. Before I knew it, I was a part of the Freshman Action Council, I was singing in the college choir and eventually, I was pledging a social club (basically a fraternity at a Christian university. Same amount of weird pledging activities but with Bible verses) oh yeah, along with a social life, a part time job and a full load of classes. (Sing Song was thrown in there somewhere too. But that’s for another blog post. Here’s what I’m talking about. Yes…this is a thing. And yes, that is Megan directing. And yes, that is me as an obese Mickey Mouse.)

 But, to paraphrase Uncle Ben, with great time-sucking activities, comes great drop in GPA. I wasn’t a stellar student in college either; it was almost as if that Mrs. Lewis had accurately predicted my future. I left college with a lot of practical experience, but with a transcript that resembled a terrible pick of letters in a game of Scrabble. No vowels (or A’s) to speak of. I wanted graduate school to work, but I knew it was a long shot.
When I finally got in to grad school at Florida State, I flourished. I was on top of my assignments, I worked on group projects with brilliant colleagues, and for once, I was successful at this whole school thing. Consequently, I began my weight lost journey and lost 50 pounds in about a semester.
Why the sudden change, you ask? I didn’t let my extracurricular activities get in my way. I had spend my entire academic life focused on the wrong things. If I had put half as much effort into studying as I did at buying weird CD’s at Hastings, I would have been a pretty great student. Instead, I let the inane obligations of my college life take charge because they weren’t studying, which was hard for me. Up until grad school, that was my life in a nutshell: I didn’t want to work hard towards something because if I failed, it would have been a waste and I would be embarrassed like the time I broke a chair in the fifth grade in front of Brianna Allen, my elementary crush and my friend, Isaac Bray. Trying hard had gotten me nowhere. Why start now?
For the past year, I have let extracurriculars get in the way of my life. I worry about work instead of working out, I eat out to suppress my stress about finances and I watch TV instead of blogging. I do everything I can to avoid eating right and working out consistently and I have paid for it by gaining 30 pounds over the past year. Since October, Megan had I have been eating a heavily plant-based Nutritarian diet (I’ll talk more about that in another post soon) and at one point I had lost close to 15 pounds in about a month! Instead of continuing that momentum, I let my extracurriculars get in my way like not making a healthy choice while eating out or skipping a work out to go to a happy hour. Before I knew it, I was back to where I started and then some.
When I let my extracurriculars build up, I become lethargic and I just become numb and aimless. Losing weight and getting fit is a lot like a race with a finish line, you have a goal in mind so you train for it with purpose. Recently, I’ve been like a boxer beating the air.
So this week, I have re-framed my way of thinking and have created more of a structure for my life. Next week, I’m going to start for the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Half in June and for another awesome half in October (more on that soon!) Last night, I did interval training with a group of awesome friends for the first time and I’m going to use that as the anchor of my training this time around. I’m also going to start riding my spin bike when I’m watching TV, something that I used to do when I was at my lowest weight (not a coincidence). Finally, I have retooled my view on food. While I am going to Austin, the food mecca of the world, next week for SXSWedu, I’m not going to go all YOLO every meal. I am going to indulge, but I’m going to balance it with healthy meals too, along with a few runs thrown in.
I know I have been quiet on here for what feels like the last year, and I’m sorry. I haven’t made time for the FFK because frankly I have been embarrassed about how things have been going. Now, I know I’m not going to be perfect, but I am going to strive to write something ridiculous like this post once a week from now on. I’m still going to post my weigh in’s on the FFK Facebook page and I’ll throw in a Wordless Wednesday here and there. Thank you all for being amazing readers, supporters and friends over the years. You are all amazing.

First Thursday Weigh In

Hello kids!

So The Biggest Loser started tonight and it’s…wait for it…

ALL FORMER JOCKS!

That’s right, after a season that ended with a crazy, and incredibly controversial, twist, this season is deviating from the average joe troupe to former athletes. This is going to be interesting for a lot of reasons. I guarantee there will be a lot of bruised egos, some annoying contestants, and some AWESOME transformations. I’m curious to see how this season goes and how it’s received by an audience who, from anecdotal and personal experience, were possibly bullied by people like them. (Again, I realize that comment might be a little general, but as a kid who was bullied by jocks, I don’t think I’m completely off base.)

Alright…Shifting gears.

On Sunday, I decided to change up my weigh-in date for a few different reasons. Namely, I didn’t think the number on the scale was telling the whole story (not that it ever really does. At the end of the day, it is just a number.) So on Sunday, I weighed in at 262 pounds (tailgating took its toll, y’all) and I knew that it was a little inflated. When I got on the scale this morning, I didn’t think I was going to lose even though I had worked out almost every day and had incorporated a lot of fruits, veggies, nuts and beans, into my diet. This morning, I weighed in at 255.6 so I lost 6.4 pounds! HUZZAH!!!!!!

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After that loss, I’m really ready to hit the ground running. I wasn’t perfect today, but I still ate an amazing salad for lunch and I walked a ton around campus for work! I’m definitely making some headway. I know this might sound crazy, but I feel like if I can string together two weeks with losses that I will mentally get through this funk I’ve been in. Henrietta and I have been had some killer wins thanks to Daily Burn, but now I just need a few wins on the scale to tie it all together.

Here’s to another awesome week!

Day 50: French Cooking and Other Awesomeness

The Amy’s Baking Company episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Wow.
I know that I’m a year late, but still…it’s awkwardly magical.

Anyway, let’s talk about food and stuff!

So this weekend was our sixth anniversary. Not only have I been incredibly blessed to be married to my best friend, I have had the best supporter and encourager in the entire world. Megan MacDonald, you are the cat’s pajamas. I love you.

After six years of wedded bliss, we have taken up cooking as couple. It has been quite the delicious pastime. So when we were trying to decide on how to celebrate, went decided to try to tackle the holy grail of cooking: Boeuf Bourguignon from Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking with a dessert of crème brûlée. Now, we knew this wasn’t going to be an easy feat. In fact, it was going to be a six-hour ordeal. But we knew that it was going to be totally worth it. And holy Moses, it was. Think about the most tender roast beef, add a richly delicious wine sauce along with carrots and pearl onions and you’ll have a a pretty good idea of it. Oh yeah, and the crème brûlée tasted like angel’s wings.

Here are just a few photos of the awesomeness!
image_3 image_1 So tomorrow, I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled blogging! That is, UNTIL FITBLOGGIN’ THIS WEEKEND!!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHHH I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!

See ya tomorrow.

Day 22: Weigh In Day!

Hello kids!
photo 2I’m still reeling from a long day at the beach and an epic season finale (except back in my day, 7 episodes did not a season make…) so I’ll keep this brief!
This week, I started swimming and was overall pretty active. However, my eating wasn’t always the best. I started strong, but I let life get in the way and used it as an excuse to eat bad food. What I’m slowly learning is that you really can’t out-exercise bad eating. I’ve heard that for a long time, but I never really took it to heart. Now, I’m a firm believer and I’ve learned my lesson. With that being said, I lost 1.6 pounds this week! I’m still in the 250’s, which I am not thrilled about at all, but I’m slooooowly getting there! That’s the only way I can look at it to keep it going. Slow and steady right?

So, elephant in the room blog, I haven’t been posting my food like I said I would for a while. Well, that’s about to change…starting tomorrow! I am sick of being at this weight and I’M READY TO HIT MY FREAKIN’ GOAL!!!! Like I’ve said recently, I am the most active I’ve ever been and my eating is close to being on track. It’s time to get it all going and to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated. Get stoked for awesomeness. See ya tomorrow.

P.S. This is a cute kitten.
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May the Fourth Be With You…And My Weigh In

StarWarsA long time ago in an FFK blog far, far away…

I used to write Sunday weigh-in posts.

They were a place for me to report my successes some weeks and to discuss my shortcomings other weeks. It is something that I have really missed. Even if I didn’t post at all that week, I still made the effort to touch base with my awesome readers (yes, you are said awesome readers).

I haven’t posted in a while for a couple of personal reasons, but the biggest reason is from just being stressed and exhausted. I’ve been coping with that stress by eating all the things. I felt like I was losing control of my life, the way I used to feel back when I was 357 pounds.

(I was in a bad way, folks.)

So today, Megan and I got our lives back on track. We mapped out a few guidelines in our lives to create better and healthier habits! When we both get stressed, we lose that much-needed structure that you need to be healthy. We finally have that back in place and we are ready to ROCK!

So here’s the weigh in for this week!
This week, I actually lost .8 pounds which is good, but it does offset my 7 pound gain from last week’s weigh in.
So right now, I weigh 253.8 pounds.
Yes, that is a high number. I’ll make no bones about that. But I can’t keep sulking about where I am. I’ve been doing that for the past month and it’s gotten me nowhere.
So this week, my goal is to count every day and to make small changes that will eventually add up to a great success! My large-scale goal is to string together a few weeks of counting and (hopefully) loses. Prior to this journey, I had never gotten through six weeks of a diet. I would always crash and burn before then. So I knew that if I could get passed that point, it was going to stick. Now, I’m putting myself back at Day 1. I’m finally ready to do the work to get to my goal weight.

So here was Day 1…
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Breakfast: This morning, I made a breakfast burrito with chicken chorizo sausage from Earth Fare, two eggs and a little cheese wrapped in a  high-fiber tortilla. It was fantastic and definitely worth the 11 points! It was an awesome alternative to your standard restaurant-style breakfast burrito.
photo 2Lunch: Megan made this delicious curried chicken salad made with canned chicken, greek yogurt, curry powder and golden raisins inside half of an avocado. We had it with a side salad with balsamic vinegar. 11 points.

For dessert, I had a few marshmallows and then later I had a piece of sourdough toast with this yummy maple butter we got a while back. 5 points of snacking!

photo 3#StarbucksSelfie
Afternoon Noms: Since frappucinos were BOGO this afternoon, we went over to Starbucks for a little coffee date. I had a java chip frap with no whip. It was 7 points but next time, I make sure it’s nonfat to shave off even more points. Also, it was beautiful outside today. If it’s still snowing in your neck of the woods, I’m sorry.
photo 4Dinner: I made some spaghetti with meat sauce and green beans. A simple 22 point meal that was super filling.

So it came out to a 56 point day out of a 48 point allowance which isn’t bad because I actually tracked on a Sunday! That’s a really big deal for me!
Small steps. That’s what’s going to make this Fat Kid a Fit Kid! See ya tomorrow.

Trying to Get it All Aligned

“When the mooooooooooooon is in the seventh house
and Jupiterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr lines with Mars…

Wait…that’s not what I mean…

You hear it all the time “get fit in the gym, lose weight in the kitchen.” While I have fought with this notion for a long time, I’ve seen how true it really is through out my weight loss journey. With that, it’s been easy to have one component of that statement down and have the other one completely lopsided.When I lost my first 100 pounds, my eating was at the forefront of this journey. Sure I worked out, but making smart decisions helped peel off the weight. Some time after that, I lost sight of that. I got caught up in the fitness side a little too much and it seemed to throw me off because I didn’t know how to refuel properly with my eating. Then, I started training for my first half marathon which kind of put my weight loss dead in the water because, contrary to popular belief, you don’t always lose weight when you train for long distance races like half marathons. So right now, I’m not training for a specific race. I’ve put on about 15 pounds since December so I want to get that off ASAP to get my weight loss momentum going.

Since I’ve been working out regularly, usually a combination of running and circuit training classes 3-5 times a week, I feel awesome and actually strong for the first time in close to forever. In the past, I’ve been quick to beat myself up when I want to go work out in the “bro den” (the part of the gym that has free weights, benches, awkward grunting) because I don’t feel like I belong. But how can I make progress if I don’t work out in there? (I’m going to talk about more on that in a post I’m working on. Stay tuned.) Anyway, the point is that good things are happening. After working out regularly like this for the past ten weeks, it would be really hard to stop. I just love it too much!

So now that I’m in such an awesome place with my fitness, I’m really working to change my eating. I’m eating fruits and veggies like they’re going out of style and I’m incredibly intentional about drinking water (#alltheclearpee).

But I’m not perfect…
Can I still pound down a bag of potato chips? Yessir.
Do I hoard candy sometimes like those spoiled brats in Willie Wonka? Sure do.
But…Do I immediately regret it? Now more than ever.

I really hate that feeling of regret after a mini-binge, so I’ve been trying to combat that with just abstaining as much as I can. I tell myself that I won’t miss it in 5 minutes because all they are are just impulses. For example, we walked by a cupcake store in Tallahassee and I thought I really wanted one.

I knew I had two options:
1) Keep walking and go on with my day
or
2) Go in, spend money on a dessert that I’m generally kind of ambivalent towards, and then sulk because I could have spent those Weight Watchers points on bacon.

So, I’m making progress with my eating! I really feel like I’m on the verge of everything lining up for some serious weight loss awesomeness.

Speaking of weight loss…

I lost 2.8 pounds this week! After losing 3 pounds or so two weeks ago, I gained it back last week. (Between kidney stones and traveling, the MacDonalds have been a little cray…) This week, I wasn’t perfect at all. In fact (and if you try to troll me on this, so help me…) I had McDonald’s for the first time since we’ve lived in Tallahassee. I drove to Jacksonville twice this week and I really needed some coffee and breakfast. So, I had an Egg McMuffin and a hash brown. It was 12 points. I counted it and I moved on. I also ate at Hardee’s for breakfast one day and I counted it too. So I wasn’t perfect, but I counted my points and I exercised to bring balance to the Weight Watchers force. This past week was once again proof that when you count regardless and exercise, everything will fall into place.

Count all the points

 

Grief And Eating

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.10.29 PMDuring the month of March, I have been doing this awesome photo a day that is put on by blogger Fat Mum Slim. While the posts are generally lighthearted in nature, Day 18 caused me to look back on a very challenging time in my life that exposed a lot of my personal demons with eating and the importance put on it.

In the week of March 18, 2009, Megan and I were the leaders for a spring break mission trip to Boulder, Colorado to help serve the vast homeless population in that area. Our group left Abilene incredibly excited with a fire for service that was stronger than any other trip I had been on. We stopped in Amarillo for the night and when we all got situated in our hotel, I got a call from my Dad. I just figured he had called to talk about the trip. Nothing major. I walked out in to the hallway and answered. He had gotten a call from a family friend regarding two of my closest friends, Travis and Rachel Joiner. My Dad said something had happened to Rachel, but I didn’t quite understand what he was saying. At first, I thought they had just been in a car accident, but nothing serious. Then, what he actually said came through clearly: they had both been murdered by Rachel’s deranged ex-boyfriend. I immediately dropped to the floor and sobbed. I sat in the hallway of that hotel for what felt like hours. Eventually, Megan came out to see what was the matter and we just sat and cried.

“Where do I go from here?” I thought. “How am I going to lead this group after this?”

After a night of anger and mourning, I woke up and we kept driving. The rest of the group knew about what had happened, but we didn’t talk about it. Instead, I tried to keep up the goofy and funny Nathan persona, but inside I was empty.

The first few days of the trip were fine, but then I got a call from my Dad. Travis’ family wanted me to be a pallbearer. I remember my Dad calling me while I was driving and I told him that I couldn’t talk. That was the end of that conversation. I knew that it wasn’t feasible to fly to a town of 1,900 people in the middle of west Texas. I knew that I was a leader of this trip and I needed to guide our group. I knew that if I stayed in Colorado, I wouldn’t have to deal with the grief I was burying inside.

I didn’t really know how to handle my grief at that time in my life. What I quickly realized was that I handled it like I did with everything else in my life: with eating. I tried to eat as much as possible to fill that void in my heart. I did everything I could to just not be sad. For me, that was eating out with the group. When we finally got back from Colorado, the eating didn’t stop. I kept eating to make the hurt just go away. But the more I ate, the worse I felt. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t control. I was on the border of completely losing control of my life.

I eventually went down to see Travis and Rachel’s family a little more than a year later. About six weeks before we moved to Tallahassee. It gave me the amount of closure, but I still carry a certain amount of hurt and I really don’t know if it will ever go away.

I can’t really sugarcoat this post or try to tie it up with some inspirational message. Frankly, that’s not the point of this post. I would like to think that through the challenges I endured that year have made me a stronger person. That they somehow have gotten me through, or will get me through, some other dark times in my life. What I do know is that this is something I don’t usually talk about. I obviously don’t go in to detail about this all the time. Really, this was the first time I’ve written out my thoughts about what had happened. Five years later, I really needed that. Thank you for listening and for being such a special community that I can share this with. I love you all.

Day 1202: The Awesome Things That Happened On My Trip

I’m back and I’m ready to lose.
This is the year I hit my goal weight. It’s going to happen.
Now that that’s out of the way…

I’m going to do this post in a Buzzfeedesque style to describe this trip. Enjoy!

And now…

THE 18 AWESOME THINGS THAT HAPPENED ON MY TRIP!

1) Got a new iPhone 5s! (Prototype. Real phone was yet to be purchased. Thanks again Mom and Dad!)
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2) Wore a Boy Scouts shirt from when I was in middle school.
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3) This is the same shirt. (Circa 1998)
Awkward Nathan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Ate (multiple) breakfast burritos at this awesome place.
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5) Watched my brother-in-law graduate at my alma mater.
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6) Sang “What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes with my buds Josh and Jeremy
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7) Met Daniel the Baby!
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8) Played with Shadow the Cat and Molly the Dog.
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9) Played with Serena the Dog, and then got food poisoning (unrelated…I think).
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10) Found out I raised $307 for Movember this year! (THANK YOU ALL FOR DONATING!!!)
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11) Flew to Seattle and went to the top of the Space Needle
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12) Went to Pike Place Market and did the touristy things like drink coffee at the original Starbucks and watch people throw fish; all while loving every minute of it.
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13) Ate this delicious plate of sausage from Uli’s Sausage. (One of them was bacon sausage…#heartattack)
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14) Helped cook this delicious ribeye roast.
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15) Made Christmas cookies.
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16) Grilled even more delicious meats.
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17) Had a pack of wolves stare me down at the Woodland Park Zoo.
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18) And flew back over Dallas on the way back to Tallahassee.
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For more photos of my adventures, check out my Instagram account! See ya tomorrow.