Sunday, June 21, 2009

Breaking Thru the Blogger's Block - I'm back!

Forgive me, friends. It’s been a long time since my last post. I guess I just experienced my first bout with blogger’s block.

It’s amazing to me how the lapse of a week compounded and turned into a month-long absence. In a weird way it was like cheating on a diet where you mess up one day and then the next and you just give up and give in to the bad behavior til the point of no return.

Several times in the last 4 weeks, I would start writing and find myself riffing on themes I had already tackled, and the last thing I want is for this blog to be repetitive. I started this site as a tool to help me look at and really for the first time try to process some of my past experiences with dieting. In that way, it has become an important tool.

Finding new ground took longer than I would have liked as I unclogged the blog but I’m back and have much to share about our recent progress:

*As of Friday morning, I am down 95 pounds (85 since the official start of the program on 1/31/09).

*Amy is down 63 and she is radiating beauty and the confidence that comes from conquering a foe as fierce as fat.

*The kids continue to be life change superheroes. At this point, they are pretty much on maintenance and their success makes me proud beyond belief.

*The family has now collectively lost 219 lbs and the change in all of us is worthy of a big summer movie: Transformers 3: The Elzers.

If this highly anticipated movie had a trailer, you would see scenes from the last several weeks that include:

*Hannah looking beyond exquisite in her graduation dress and the enormous pride that was hers when she learned she had won the gold for Academic Excellence bestowed by President Obama’s Education Awards Program.

*Lucas continuing to turn heads and hearts everywhere he goes with his outstanding commitment to our life change. He even came home one day from a playdate confessing like a guilty man to the crime of the century: he had stolen a few bites from a graham cracker and he wanted to know if that was “ok.”

*Amy and I surviving the orgy of food and wine that is the Playboy Jazz Festival. We greeted the challenge with enthusiasm without diving in too deep, as we have on each of our previous visits to this annual event that I love so much. We took a real world approach this year and I allowed myself a few indulgences with some great wine. But when it came to the food portion, we stuck to the program like we had sworn a blood oath.

*In addition to the Jazz Fest, I also returned to my monthly wine tasting group, the X-Pensive Winos. These dinners are epic, but I really think I have found a way to participate without compromising my commitment or feeling deprived. I sip, I spit, I may eat half the portion on my plate and I arrange for the chef to just serve me protein and veggies. Actually, I did so well during this tasting and at the Jazz Festival, that I still lost weight during both of these party-filled weeks.

*Very soon I will hit the 100-pound milestone and when I do, I will be just about as svelte as I was when I graduated High School nearly 30 years ago.

Savoring all of these little victories makes me more determined than ever to keep my aim true and on course.

A few weeks ago I went to my tailor to have some suits altered. 10 days later I picked up my clothes and I put on the pants only to find they were loose and the jacket was baggy.

I went back to the tailor two days later and asked if he had done the work as we discussed.

In his thick accent, he said, “It’s no me, it’s you. You lose too much weight.”

So I asked if he could re-do the work and he explained he could not because he had taken in all that was possible. If I wanted, he would have to re-cut the suit and he said it just wouldn’t look right.

Nice problem to have.

As a dieter who is more accustomed to chaos, cravings, cheating and failure than dedication and success, I couldn’t be more stunned by this kind of quandary.

I feel like a new man with a new family.

Now I would be a liar if I said any of this was a cinch.

It’s not.

It is heinously hard work to follow any diet regimen and begin a regular exercise program. It’s especially a shit-kicker if you hate diet and exercise as much as I do.

I am regularly dragging my ass to the gym because, like bad tasting medicine or cod liver oil, it’s supposed to be good for me and who am I to argue with success?

At this point even the blind can see that exercise and diet have had a profound impact on my life.

My old trainer said some people replace their cravings for food with an addiction to exercise. Fair enough, but that will never be me

I have addictions, but sadly exercise ain’t one of them.

Last week, I had a great laugh with my friend and co-worker Teni, who came into my office and was beaming.

Weeks ago, she confided that she had gained a bit of her weight back and was determined to take it off again so she kicked back into high gear with a vengeance. She has done a fantastic turnaround and is now back to prime.

We were talking about the diet and I mentioned I was a few pounds away from my high school weight. Teni said, “nothing feels better than getting lower than the weight you lied about on your drivers license.”

I busted out laughing harder than I had in a while.

I passed that milestone 17 pounds ago and now I honestly want to go to the DMV for a new picture. But what I really want to do is tell the DMV weight police an even bigger lie. I am gonna set the bar lower and I mean much lower!

This week, I went to see my local crack dealer – um, excuse me – wine dealer. I have not seen this guy in months, partly because of the diet. He was stunned to see the change, which is now approaching 12 inches off my waist,  and he gave me some great advice as a guy who has also battled the bulge himself.

He basically said, “when people tell you that you are looking great, tune it out. Don’t let it go to your head. The last thing in the world you want to do is believe you are done because you never are. Don’t get relaxed or complacent.”

Coming clean on this blog was obviously designed to encourage a chorus of support. But on some level, my wine guy is right, of course.

I, myself, have counseled executives over the years to not get cocky by believing their own good press.

I would be foolish to ignore that wisdom because whether it’s dieting or a high profile with the media, the moment you are built up, you are on a pedestal and it’s way too easy to stumble and fall.

That is not to say I am going to now stop listening to the support of my friends, colleagues and family.

Are you kidding? I think it is a critical component to my success.

Cuz while I think the struggle so far has been difficult, I honestly recognize that my family and I have not yet encountered the "hard" part.

As we step out into the real-world more and more, whether it’s a night out once a month with my wine group, or attending events like the jazz fest or our upcoming 4th of July party, I know the other shoe has got to drop at some point.

We simply cannot sustain this charmed kind of success forever. Can we?

For every week I have been on this incredible path, there has not yet been a single weigh-in where I didn’t lose at least a pound.

During my four-week absence from blogging, I actually enjoyed what is close to my best month ever in terms of pounds shed.

While I am extraordinarily happy with and proud of the progress, this is ultimately a long marathon to recapture my life, my health and my family’s future.

The last five months has been the easy part, relatively speaking.

As I continue this race I feel like I have just passed the 14-mile marker. I have blisters on my feet, my knees hurt, my ankles are swollen and the hardest part of this journey mentally, emotionally, and physically lies in the months ahead.

Every time I pass my favorite pizzeria, or I see others eating tempting food I desperately want to devour, I focus on what we have all achieved since January.

I am loving all of the benefits of weight loss: the new energy I have, the way walking up a flight of stairs doesn’t wind me, or just the simple act of being able to sit in a seat without fear that I may not fit.

There is no question, the best and the worst is still to come.

But right now, I can't help but feel a bit like a caterpillar in metamorphosis. I have one wing formed and I can feel the other one coming, and all I really want to do is bust out of this cocoon and fly.

© Copyright, Steve Elzer, 2009
All Rights Reserved


  1. Awesome, amazing, inspiring. Just think of the Father's Day (and Mother's Day, and birthdays, and graduation) present that you have all given to each other. Not only to live without those concerns you mention ("will I fit in the seat?"), but to simply LIVE - without the specter of health issues that come with the extra weight. I think I have to go out for a run now... Well done, Steve and family!

  2. Aw, that's great, Steve. I can only imagine how hard you have all worked to achieve this stage of your metamophosis. Once my broken ankle heals some more, I also have some work to do. Lying in casts for 6 to 8 weeks, and eating what my husband cooked, was not good for my health, but tasted good. (He's not a salad/veggie kind of guy)
    My first problem became apparent, when I quit smoking and had gall-badder surgery at the same time. When I emerged from that experience I found I had gained 30 pounds! - which quickly became 40 lbs, and I have found that my metabolism fell off a cliff quite a while ago. Not sure how to get it back, but in a month or so when my doctor says I can run, I have your example to look to, to get on the program and start losing weight - just 20 pouns would be good; and compared to what you have achieved, that ought to be a snap - but I know better! Elspeth

  3. Thanks very much, Bryan! Hope you and all of the Rutbergs are well. Please send my best to everyone!

  4. Worth the wait Steve--great post. And I would like to add, as a friend who has told you "you look great," it's NOT just because of the dramatic change to your body--your smile has more joy in it.

  5. It was worth the wait. Just as you are learning to navigate wine tastings and jazz fests, you will also be able to do the same with every day events, one day at a time. No need to worry.
    It is so exciting to see and hear about the metamorphosis of the Elzer family. I am sure it brings strength and hope to whomever reads it, and is still struggling.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you Doris, Syd and Elspeth. It is wonderful to have friends and family who care as much as you do!

  7. yo, yo, yo, keep takin' it low.

  8. GREAT work to all the Elzer's .....So happy and excited for all of you.

    Lorie Taylor

  9. I'm so impressed having just met you! You inspire me to work harder to loose my muffin top and...I'm headed to Italy! Maybe you could do a blog post on your tips?