It’s cheat day.
I’m sitting here in my recliner, listening to the children fight about watercolor paints in the kitchen, and I just had to physically move a bag of Sour Patch Kids out of my reach so I would stop eating them long enough to type this thing out.
Here’s the funny thing: I never liked Sour Patch Kids until this recent weight loss kick/lifestyle change/diet/personal hell I’ve put myself through. Now though, now I eat Sour Patch Kids on Sundays like John the Baptist probably ate those locusts — in great amounts and wondering why they taste so good.
My close friend and personal trainer, Chris Pearson, texted me the other day and asked me for a topic for his weekly fitness blog. I gave him three or four terrible ideas to give myself time to think of a good one, and then suggested he write about “little wins,” which you can read just by clicking through that link. In fact, go do it now. I’ll wait.
I wanted to elaborate on his writing by giving you a laid-bare look at who I am.
I am someone who is currently celebrating a ton of little wins.
|My driver license photographs from 2009 (bottom right), January 2016 (top right), and September (left). A total weight difference of approximately 130 pounds.
|Me at the beach in 2012 (350 pounds) and me in the gym two weeks ago (260 pounds). The bruise you see on my stomach is from an insulin shot to control my type-2 diabetes. Something I don’t need anymore.
Since June of this year, I’ve been on a tear. I’ve dropped 67 pounds, and I now weigh as much as I did when I graduated high school. I’ve accomplished this through a lot of little wins.
Essentially, my week is a gigantic scoreboard. My day is a slightly smaller scoreboard. And sometimes, depending on the level of temptation, each hour is a scoreboard. Each win and loss is meticulously counted, and some losses wind up being wins without realizing it at the time. A perfect example of that would be my last meal at Taco Bueno versus my “Fat Travis” meal at Bueno.
Remember Chris from the blog I had you read a minute ago? Well, he wrote another one that got this whole thing started. You can find that here. Go read it. I’ll wait. Do you have a why?
When I read what he wrote, I realized that I wanted to be able to get up and play with my kids as well. I wanted to chase them, to throw things at them, to be able to run and laugh and not fall down winded or with a sprained ankle because I was too fat to move. And so I started keeping score. I won a few. I won a few more. And now here I am, and I plan to keep more wins than losses on that scoreboard until I’m skinny.
But I am also someone who is dealing with more than enough little losses.
Slowly, I’ve tried to carry each aspect of my daily life over and throw it onto its own scoreboard. Food battles. Marital battles. Student battles. Idiot driver battles. And finally, father battles.
Two weeks ago I tweeted something.
My biggest goals for this week are to not yell at my kids and to try and eat a little healthier for dinner. Both are challenges.— Travis Sloat (@tstyles77) September 26, 2016
I lost the food battle that week. But I didn’t lose the father battle. And I didn’t lose it last week either. I made it two full weeks without yelling at my kids. And then this morning…
“She gave me that hairbrush and now she took it back.”
“I told him he could use it, I didn’t give it to him.”
“You can ask mom, she gave it to me!”
So I threw away a perfectly good hairbrush this morning. Then, as we were getting dressed for church, auditory evidence of an iPad kerfuffle drifted into our bedroom, and I marched into the living room in my underwear and blew my two week streak.
I promised myself two weeks ago that I wasn’t going to yell at you kids, and here I am, two weeks later, yelling, because you all can’t figure out how to act like civilized children while we get ready for church!”
And then the words came out of my mouth before I could reign them in.
“You are horrible children! Think about that at church today!”
I walked back into the bedroom, furious at myself and them, and uttered an oath entirely inappropriate for any day of the week, and doubly so on Sunday.
“GD kids,” I said.
I am a terrible father.
I don’t need your placating words, and I don’t need your, “Oh it’s okay, everyone gets mad and loses it sometimes.” I really don’t. I need to be coached.
This is not okay.
This is not acceptable.
This is not trying your hardest.
This is not how we get little wins, this is how we ultimately wind up with huge losses.
I know people who are amazing dads with little to no effort at all. I can think of at least three right now, one has one kid, the other two have two each, and both have a third on the way. They don’t have to try. Being a dad comes as naturally to them as breathing, their love for their children exists in the minuscule space between oxygen molecules that utter the supporting words children need, that grant mercy, that give comfort.
For whatever reason, I’m missing that. For me, being a good dad requires an intentional scoreboard. A scoreboard that gets reset frequently. Sometimes it’s a week, sometimes it’s a day, sometimes it’s an hour. And I lose a lot.
We sat in church this morning, and Randy led us in “Good, Good Father.” I stood, trying to sing, trying to keep tears from spilling over my eyelids, making the lyrics both a prayer and a plea, “You’re a good, good Father. It’s who You are, it’s who You are.” God I am so not a good father. I suck so much at it. I want to be good, help me be good. “And I am loved by you, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.” God please help me show my kids they are loved by me. They need to know that, but I’m just so freaking bad at it.”
Then, Johnny got up to preach and the sermon was about God the Father, and qualities of God that are reflected in fatherhood. Fathers are protectors, they are proud of their kids, they want to give gifts to their kids. He used an illustration about a father and his adopted daughter attending an event, and the father sharing that the best memory he had was when they were standing in front of the judge at the finalization. Again, fighting back tears, I remembered both times I’d done that.
Surely, in that moment, my kids knew that I loved them. But I’ve learned the hard way that every day with children isn’t Finalization Day. So how are they seeing that I love them on days when it’s exceptionally hard to show them that? Yeah I feed them, yeah they have a bed, and clothes. But we all know that’s not what counts…not in the long run.
I took an L this morning. It’s there, and it’s glaring at me. I need a win to cancel it out, and a win to get better than .500, and if I can do that, then the day is salvageable. Because the great thing about having a little win system is having the ability to set the clock however you need to. My new father battle clock started at 9 a.m. Tomorrow’s food battle clock starts at midnight (somehow I finished that entire freaking bag of SPKs while writing this). Idiot drivers? Well, that one resets every single time I drive through Muskogee.
In sports, they call that “cheating.” But I happen to be best friends with the Timekeeper, so I’m just going to call it home field advantage. I’m going to call it being a good father. I’m going to call it being loved by You.
It’s who I am.
If you are interested in having Chris help you, I’ve included links to his website, his Twitter, and his Facebook. He is currently taking clients, and having worked with him for a while now, I can say that his system works. The pictures above prove that. Not only that, but his motivation factor is a 10/10. Give my boy a call, he’ll help you get a whole bunch of little wins.