Downhill Climb Day 85: The Power of Community

In his newest book (called “Fully Charged“) juicing guru Joe Cross (Fat Sick and Nearly Dead) talks about embracing community and getting a little help from your friends as one of his keys to health and happiness. I could not agree more.

I have been on my current “Downhill Climb” journey to better health and weight loss for 85 days.  During this time I have gained endurance and strength while losing 44 pounds (so far).  Guts and gumption and change of eating have all been a part of this, but I personally don’t believe I would have ever gotten this far without the support and encouragement of amazing friend and family, my community which I refer to as Team Sumoflam.

In my times of discouragement, I can hear my Team Sumoflam voices saying “Way to Go,” “Keep It Up,” “You’re Doing Great,” etc.  I get this from friends all over the country. Whether they be musician friends like Antsy McClain and Pete Huttlinger or former Navy SEAL, motivational/leadership author Rob Roy (who is also a mentor to me) or dozens of others like former work associate Brandon in Colorado, friend Pam in California, Portland friend Kari, work associate Stacey, or LDS whole-foods author Jane Birch, all encourage and uplift.

Then there are those who have inspired (and continue to inspire) me, such as Bountiful Baskets friends Trish who lost 100 pounds last year and Missi, who has also lost a lot and is now running marathons.  And work associate Patrick, who looks strong and healthy, lost 100 pounds about a year ago, both inspires and encourages.  Their stories let me know that it can be done and that I too can hit that 100 pound mark eventually…and hopefully even further.  There is no finish line for me.

I also get support from many others, like one of my sons’ football friend Kevin who joined me in the 5K a couple of weeks ago…and then he hit his own goal in lifting a couple of days ago while wearing his Team Sumoflam shirt. And my daughters who support me.  And not to forget friends from church.  And, finally, I cannot forget my dear sweet wife Julianne, who supports me in so many ways, including the many wonderfully healthful meals that she prepares.

All of this support, inspiration and encouragement continues to drive me and helps me to find success, even one step at a time (and, as I’ll show below, yesterday was over 11,000 steps!).

I write this blog as a self help tool and also as a record of my progress.  I also write it as a way to both show gratitude to Team Sumoflam and as a method of accountability to them.  I can recall one day a few months back when my friend Stacey chided me for not keeping the blog up…she said that “many of us are cheering you on.”  She was right and I have not forgotten her wise advice.

I need this blog to stay accountable to my friends and, more importantly, to myself.  Blogs are the new journals…open for all to see.

But, as a professional in the blogging and social media world, I am also keenly aware that there are many that may see the content of my blogs.  I currently write three blogs: Less Beaten Paths (a back roads travel blog), Sumoflam’s Singlewide (a general blog with book reviews, concert reviews, stories and general thoughts about the world and things) and then this blog, Sorry About Your Weight (dialoguing my weight loss and fitness journey).  Between these three blogs, I get nearly 8000 views a month.  They are shared on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media sites.  Many people see them and in most cases I have no idea who.  And that is OK with me.

As a result of the social media blitzing I do, every so often I will get comments from total strangers…some noting appreciation for a travel tip, others to use a photo I have taken and others to correct a mistake I may have made.  I appreciate this input and look at it as an extension of my “community” or “tribe” (as social media guru Seth Godin calls it).

When I write any of my blogs I am always trying to think about the potential readers and the impact I may have on them.  I am like any writer, I want to be seen and I want my written words and ideas to be recognized and appreciated.  I have actually made some good friends as a result of my blogging and writing.  I communicate with a few bloggers now, many of whom I have not met personally, but whom I feel I know better because of our exchanges.

As for THIS blog, in many respects it is a selfish thing.  It is helping me to accomplish my goal of better health.  I did not have the intent to inspire others, though many of my readers (both friends and unknown readers) have noted that I was also inspiring them.  Having once served as a Mormon missionary (in 1976), I am always willing to plant seeds that may help someone else down the road, even if I never hear about it.  Little did I know that I would inspire others through this blog, especially when there are so many others out there that seem to have gone so much further and made more progress than I have.  But, apparently, there are those who have been inspired by my journey and I am grateful and honored by this.  And, honestly, it actually gives me more incentive to work harder!

A case in point happened yesterday…and THIS is the meat of today’s post.  I received a friend request on Facebook by a person in Louisville named Tim.  I didn’t know him and we only had one friend in common.  I looked at his profile and could see some vegan content and saw a video about a guy that lost a lot of weight juicing.  I accepted the friend request based on that scant information.  Shortly after accepting the friend request, Tim wrote on my Facebook wall and, with his permission, I am copying it verbatim below.  I was humbled and gratified by this post.

I love your blog. I’m not sure how I found it, but I’m glad I did! I’ve been really inspired by your journey. In a lot of ways, it has been close to my own journey. I have been struggling to lose weight for most of my life. I went vegan about 5 years ago for ethical reasons, but after watching Forks Over Knives I knew a healthy whole foods plant-based diet was the key to me getting healthy. I’ve lost about 80 lbs, but seemed to have gotten side tracked too many times to count. I have now been inspired once again to get back on track and not lose my way again. I will continue to read and be inspired by your journey. Keep it up. You are doing amazingly at it!

What was most interesting is that this was from someone that was much further on his journey than I currently am.  He had already lost about 80 pounds.  He should be inspiring me, but, in this unique twist, he said I was inspiring him. I humbly replied:

Thanks. Always a blessing to have others join me on this Downhill Climb journey….

We are not always aware of how we may inspire others or how our actions, writings or other things may impact others.  The above example shows that.

I am encouraged by Tim (and others) to keep going and doing things like I did yesterday morning.

Embracing the Suck at mile one with a Smile at a Mile

Tuesday night we got to bed late due to some work projects of mine and my wife having some homework.  I didn’t get a walk in on Monday or Tuesday, mainly due to the high heat index, so I was determined to get up at 5 AM on Wednesday and walk. It was supposed to be around 65 degrees so I thought it would be a good time to walk.  I woke up at 4:30 AM and was dead tired.  I decided to sleep a bit longer and would get up at 5:30 to walk.  As I lay in bed, all I could think about was Rob Roy chanting “Embrace the Suck.” As Rob says in his book, The Navy SEAL Art of War, “..if the going gets bad, you suck it up. you may not like it, whatever it is, but it’s essential that you lead your way through it. If you can embrace the suck, you can overcome almost any obstacle or difficulty.

So, with Rob Roy 100s of miles away and probably sleeping soundly, my kind mentor was pushing me on.  I got up at 5:30 and headed out on a walk.  It was a nice morning, thank goodness.  There was a wonderful sunrise with a pink and orange sky and there was an hour and half of walking time. I was determined to get in a 3 mile walk.

I made the 3 mile mark and could do a Three Mile Smile! But this was a pained smile

By the time I passed the second mile my knees were in pain and by the 2.5 mile mark, my sciatica kicked in and my left thigh was burning.  But, I was close to a mile away from the house and I knew that Julianne was probably in the shower.  I had to press on and literally had to “embrace the suck” for the last mile.

Now, for me to embrace the suck, I really have to dig deep and use my Team Sumoflam Community encouragement to press onward. I am not kidding when I note that I can practically hear the words of encouragement from family, friends and other Team Sumoflam supporters.  I can almost feel them behind me pushing me forward through the pain of knee aching and sciatica burning.

Ultimately, I made it home and had a 3.29 mile walk in.  I got my Three Mile Smile photo…pained as it was.  I had turned into #SweatOFlam, but I did it.

THAT, my friends, is the power of community.   It will get me to my #400Independence (Independence from 400 pounds by July 4)


KAri - June 25, 2015 - 12:25

Hey Dave, thanks for the shout, and I am happy to support you, for you are inspiring! So is Julianne, truly. I’m happy to not only see that beautiful 3 mile smile, but also to see that fist up, ready for the four mile smile. 🙂

sumoflam - June 25, 2015 - 12:29

Thanks Kari!!! Always appreciate your kind input and support. Means so much.

Billy - June 25, 2015 - 15:00

and some of us are impressed yet rarely say so.

I’ve read every one and silently cheer from afar.

Keep it up DK.

sumoflam - June 25, 2015 - 15:03

Billy: Thanks for piping in. I sure appreciate your “silent cheering” from afar. It most certainly keeps me going. I know there are a few out there that are watching and keeping tabs. Take care and keep those little ones smiling! Cheers DK

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