Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lessons Learned From A Painful Break-Up

Lessons Learned From A Painful Break-Up

We were only days away from reaching our three year mark before it all came to an end. Secretly, I hoped that my absence from her life would have been enough to prompt a change, but it never did. As I replay one of our last conversations, I expressed my need to talk to her in person about something seriously important. Repeatedly, I asked her for a day and time that she would be available to talk, but that day would never arrive. It was then that I made up my mind. Until my request to talk was taken seriously, I was not going to reach back out or ask again. If it was important her, she would have called. Unfortunately or fortunately, she didn't.

Did I love her? Absolutely. However, I also love me.
As I write those words, I knew in that moment that I had to be willing to walk away from a relationship that was no longer serving its purpose. Did I love her? Absolutely. However, I also love me.

Without going into the details, I spent a great deal of time pondering over the life of our relationship. Where did it go wrong? At what point did it transition from a passionate and fulfilling match to the painful and hurtful end I know it to be today? What role did I play in all of this?

In hindsight, I am painfully aware of some damaging incidents that contributed to its final demise. While I could easily attempt to point every finger at her, I know that I am not completely blameless in this ordeal. Maybe if I had handled certain situations differently, things would have been different. Unfortunately, going back in time isn't one of the options available to me. Instead, all I can do is learn from my mistakes and avoid repeating them in the future.

Be The Man

In the end, I have to be the man that I was created to be regardless of how other people see me. That's my truth.
One of the lessons that immediately made itself known to me was my failure to "be the man." While it didn't happen overnight, it was during the course of our nearly 3-year relationship that I slowly gave up my masculinity in exchange for something more feminine. In my defense, I thought that I was doing the right thing by trying to be nice, flexible, caring, and accommodating. Unfortunately, the price that I paid led me into a weak and powerless position. Instead of owning the situation, setting boundaries, and ultimately enforcing those limitations and expectations, I gave in and lost my own self-worth. Slowly, I gave up the very things that made me who I was and defined my valuable contributions to the world. I was becoming less of me and more of something else. I didn't like it.

Instead of feeling confident, secure, loving, and free, I ended up feeling every ounce of fear. I was afraid of losing her, losing the relationship, losing the "security blanket" that I had grown accustomed to over the years. I don't want to be alone! I said to myself.

In turn, as I slowly gave up my role and purpose in the relationship, I eventually lost her respect, her trust, her attraction, and ultimately her love. It didn't happen overnight, but eventually, it gave way to the harsh reality that I experienced throughout the latter part of our time together.

Being the man doesn't require one to be mean, disrespectful, calculating, or even ice cold. What it does entail is the proper ownership of and alignment with oneself. What did I believe? What did I want? What was my truth? Being the man means knowing these things for self and standing firm despite the opinions of others. If my truth, belief, or needs do not mesh with someone else, then I have to be willing to walk away in order to protect that alignment with the inner man. Where I messed up most egregiously is in giving up that man to appease her. That's weak, destructive, and it's no wonder that I lost her respect. In the end, I have to be the man that I was created to be regardless of how other people see me. That's my truth.

The Power of Change Rests With Me

"Facing our fears empowers us to change our circumstances."
While it's easy to walk around feeling powerless, I have come to learn that I have control over me, my reactions, my decisions, my thoughts, and my behavior. No, it's never easy doing the very thing that we fear (losing love, losing affection, losing respect, and being alone), but it is in the facing of that fear that actually empowers us to change our circumstances.

Maybe, and this is a big maybe, had I stood firm in my alignment with self and taken the appropriate actions early on, things wouldn't have ended the way they did. It's possible that she would never have seen the weak version of me, which could have resulted in our successful and happy dance down a life-long journey of togetherness. Maybe had I been in my masculine, the relationship would have ended years earlier when we realized that we are too different and nobody was willing to give up themselves or their identity.

Whatever the outcome, I know today that the power to change my circumstances always rested within me. I just had to face the fear that held me back.

Breaking Up Is Painful

Once I came to the stark realization that our breakup was real, not just some common occurrence of time apart due to anger or stubbornness, the numbing pain of loneliness and grief set in. In my heart, I knew that I was doing the right thing by standing up for me, holding firm to my demand for respect, and seeing first hand where my attraction level was with her. Learning the truth through her actions allowed me the strength to press on through the pain because I know that I deserve more than what I was getting.

In the days and weeks that followed, I fought my urge to give in. Instead, I found ways to stay busy. I wrote blog articles, hit the gym, talked to friends, and focused intently on my purpose. Getting back to the man I once was required substantial amounts of self-reflection and reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. As a result of it all, I feel awkward, wobbly, numb, and still a bit lonely. Despite the friends I have around me, the emptiness associated with a break-up doesn't go away on demand. When things get quiet, as they often do at night, I feel it most intensively. No, I don't miss the negative parts of our relationship, but I do miss the girl. For nearly 3 years, she was the only one I had been with. It was her lips, her hands, her voice, her smell, her laughter, her hair, her eyes, and her essence that I had grown to love. The mere thought of having to replace all that I've come to know and love is difficult.

It was during a conversation with a co-worker that I was reminded that my feelings are normal and to be expected. I cannot automatically turn off my feelings for her and replace them with someone else. It's going to take time, patience, and a healthy dose of self-love to take appropriate action when all my heart wants is a resolution. Sometimes, what's best for us doesn't always feel good at the moment.

Closing Thoughts

I want to feel and savor every emotion that I can from this experience as it will only aid in my ability to love, trust, and build again.
As I bring this article to a close, it is important to remember why I chose to write it in the first place. The intent, more than anything else, is to capture the intricacies of this moment. What does it feel like to transition through a break-up? What lessons can we learn from this time of our lives? Where do we go from here?

The second purpose of this article is to help facilitate closure. While I've had some conversation with friends about this situation, I tried my best to ignore it and hope that the feelings will subside on their own. I've come to realize that I have to talk it out. In order to get it out of my system, I have to explore how I feel and come to terms with those internal truths.

There may be some who read this and see weakness, but I believe that it is these moments that we grow the most. I am human. I have feelings. Love and break-ups aren't nice and neat ideas that resolve themselves in the span of a thirty-minute sitcom. This is real life. I want to feel and savor every emotion that I can from this experience as it will only aid in my ability to love, trust, and build again.

Thank you for reading. Until next time...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Getting Back Into Shape the Easy Way

Getting Back Into Shape the Easy Way

It has been more than a few years since my last serious weight loss transformation and I’m ready to get back at it. Yes, there have been numerous attempts to reboot the process since that time, but none of those attempts seemed to stick for long.

Regardless of the reason, I chose to stop working out and eating right. As a result, I gained weight. At first, I enjoyed eating whatever kind of foods that I wanted, but eventually, I couldn’t consume terrible food without feeling guilty. First, I don’t want a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, or any other condition that can be prevented with better choices. Second, I knew that as I ate the comfort food, it was adding to my waistline and overall weight.

As I write this article, I currently weight around 245 lbs. At one point in my life, I’ve weighed as much as 280 lbs and as low as 212 lbs. Of course, this was as an adult. Because I’ve done it before, I know that I can lose the weight again. The answer rests with my habits and strict adherence to a meal plan, daily cardio, and weight training.

In the past, while making huge strides, I recall packing 4 to 6 meals each day and eating every few hours. It was a combination of fish, steak, or chicken with rice, sweet potato, and broccoli. For breakfast, it was oatmeal with 6 eggs (2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites). My cardio session was 20 minutes long, twice a day, followed by a rigorous weight training session that focused on a single body part at least 5 to 6 days a week. It didn’t matter if I was on a cruise ship, in a hotel room, at home, or away, I always prepared to follow the aforementioned plan of action. As a result, I lost a lot of weight.

I remember losing so much weight that everything I wore looked way too big for me. It was as if I was wearing my father’s outfit or something. That’s more of a joke since the fact of the matter is that I’m actually taller and bigger than any of my dads. Just putting that out there.

At one point, my success was so evident that I’d get questions often about what I’m doing. I would explain my meal plan, workouts, and offer any advice I could to people. I remember feeling accomplished, confident, and full of energy. It was a good time in my life. There was even one point where I was running my hands up and down my stomach in pure amazement. I couldn’t tell you the last time my abs felt that tight and it actually shocked me.

With all of that progress, why did I stop? From what I can remember, I eventually reached a weight where I felt comfortable. In actuality, I should have kept going since I still had some fat around my lower back and abs. However, since I finished a successful 12-week sprint, I wanted to transition to a four-week bulking program. That switch in programs threw me off big time and I ended up enjoying that average weight for a while.

If I gained weight, my clothes were going to be my last line of defense.

Unfortunately, I started allowing those poor habits to return and the weight found its way back up the scale. I told myself that I wouldn’t buy any larger clothes. If I gained weight, my clothes were going to be my last line of defense. Well, people, my clothes are screaming at me. There are some nights that my pants leave itchy impressions in my skin because it’s so tight (mainly around my waistline).

As I look in the mirror today, my abs are gone and it has been replaced by a protruding bulge around my waist. The fat belly hangs over my belt most noticeably in the front and sides. P.S., the love handles are the last thing to go. They are so not attractive!

In my estimation, I look soft and round. My face and stomach are key indicators of weight gain.

My present condition doesn’t reflect who I once was or what I can do.
While I know that I can lose the weight and pack on the muscle again, my present condition doesn’t reflect who I once was or what I can do. The only evidence that I have is some old pictures and the memory I hold in my head. I remember what it felt like to win and I know that I can feel it again.

At this stage of my conditioning, I’m not looking at my body much. Sure, I see what comes out of the shower, but I don’t pay it much attention since I know that I have some serious work to attend to. Instead, my focus is on building the habits that will lead to long-term success.

I know that I have to change my eating. I also know that I have to increase my cardio and weight training activity. Unfortunately, I also know that if I go too fast, I’ll eventually quit because I’m too sore or I’ll start missing meals and workouts.

Knowing this, I went into this season slowly. I want to focus on the habit of daily disciplines. Until I can get this under control, no amount of willpower will keep me in the game for long. Eventually, I’ll make excuses and start missing key activities.

Having written that, let me share with you my strategy. This is something that I’ve done successfully in the past and it has become my goto strategy for any major change I make in my life.

There is something extremely motivating when I get in the gym and can see my muscles flexing, veins popping out under controlled stress, and a massive influx of testosterone through my body which makes me feel unstoppable...animalistic.

In the case of weight loss, I know there is the meal plan and the physical activity. I have to get both sides under control if I’m going to see any real progress. Doing one without the other leaves disappointing results for me. While I can adjust my eating and lose the weight, there is something extremely motivating when I get in the gym and can see my muscles flexing, veins popping out under controlled stress, and a massive influx of testosterone through my body which makes me feel unstoppable...animalistic. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s actually testosterone but you get the picture. It’s the pump, it’s the blood, it’s the body that feels amazing after a good workout. That feeling often influences what I do in the kitchen. If I want to see more gains, I change my habits in the kitchen. They are related.

How Do I Begin?

How do I begin? You ask. I begin slowly. Let me explain. At the beginning of any new sprint, I tend to do the bare minimum. In the case of weight loss, I tend to start by doing one exercise, one session of five-minute cardio, and I eat one controlled meal. That’s it!

Sure, it feels funny to walk in the gym and leave only minutes later, but I have a game plan and I don’t let people’s stares deter me.

For that first week, my goal is to simply make it easy to do the right thing. It’s easy to walk for 5 minutes on the treadmill or stair machine. It’s easy to do one exercise a day. It’s easy to eat one healthy meal a day. That’s the point, you have to make it easy.

With that written, even though it’s easy to do, it doesn’t always mean I’d do it. Sometimes, my mind would say, it’s so easy that you can miss today and double up tomorrow. While true, the point is to establish daily disciplines and habits.

So, while I may get all of my meals, cardio, and weight training done that week, if I didn’t do it according to plan (that means daily effort), then I start the same routine on the following week. I’ll keep doing this same one exercise, one five minute cardio session, and one healthy meal until I’ve successfully done what I planned to do.

Another reason for this slow introduction is that I also give my muscles time to adjust. Yes, there will be sore muscles, but it won’t be debilitating. I also use this time to figure out my schedule. Do I workout in the morning, in the evening, or right after work? When do I cook my meals? With the slow introduction, I get to play around with moving parts until I find a time or routine that fits into my life.

The goal isn’t to get it done the fastest, but rather to re-establish the daily habits that helped me find success.
Once I have been able to successfully follow the plan, and this may take weeks to achieve, I then increase the intensity. Now, I add one additional exercise, which gives me a total of two. I increase my cardio by 5 minutes, which gives me 10 minutes in total. I now eat two healthy meals a day.

Like before, I continue to focus on daily disciplines. While it seems easy to do, going from 15-minute workouts to 30-minute workouts is a jump. I also find that I start warming up after five minutes of cardio.

As I improve my conditioning, strength, and follow through on my plans, I will continue to increase the number of exercises, minutes of cardio, and a number of healthy meals until I’m running at full speed. This process could take weeks or it could even take months. The goal isn’t to get it done the fastest, but rather to re-establish the daily habits that helped me find success years before.

Where Am I At Today?

To give you an update on where I am today, I have consistently been in the gym, eating right, and doing cardio for about 8 or 9 weeks. During that time, I went from the bare minimum effort to 3 exercises per body part per day, 15 minutes of cardio, and 3 healthy meals. The results I’m seeing are fat loss, more strength, and better conditioning.

Eventually, I’d like to rest somewhere between 4 and 6 exercises per body part, 20 minutes of cardio (twice a day), and 4 to 6 healthy meals. Once I’m running at full speed, I am planning to be at my goal in about 6 or 7 months. That should be around September or October of this year, which, once I’m finished with this 12-week sprint, will be another two 12 week cycles. I can live with that.

As I bring this article to a close, you are more than welcome to join me on this year's adventure. It won’t always be exciting, but it will be worth it.

Thank you for reading!

Until next time...

Getting in Shape the Easy Way (Facebook Live)

In this live video, Damond goes into depth about his current weight loss journey. He will share strategies for getting started, staying motivated, and reaching your goals.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

No More Mr. Nice Guy

I am a nice guy. For as long as I can remember, I have always been a nice, sensitive, and caring person. Wait, there is one exception that immediately comes to mind. If you ask my younger sister, she may tell you a slightly different story. As a child, I have been known to gently terrorize her, her friends, and her pets (laughing).

With that written, let me get back to the story at hand. As far back as fourth grade, I recall buying gifts (i.e., flowers, jewelry, etc.) for the girl of my affection. Based on popular culture, and the advice from my mother, I always thought that being nice and charming was enough to win a woman’s heart. Unfortunately, as I have learned many times since elementary school, being nice doesn’t always lead to getting the girl. No, often times it led to being locked into the dreaded “Friend Zone.” [Add dramatic music here]

Don’t get me wrong, being liked and getting along with people has its advantages, but when you lose the girl that you’ve been pining after for years, being nice just isn’t enough. How many guys (and gals) can feel me on that?

As I grew older, let’s say high school, I was tired of being the “good guy.” No, I wanted to finally get the girl of my dreams, but it required a slightly different game plan than what I had originally subscribed. Instead of chasing after one girl, I had to simply open myself up to meeting a lot of people. The more I dated, the less I focused on just one person. If you take that experience, along with a huge boost in confidence (and probably plenty of teenage hormones to boot), I was finally realizing how it felt to be wanted by the female persuasion. Can I just say that it felt GREAT!

Somewhere after high school, probably during my transition into college, I was tired of the loneliness that was associated with the excessive masculine bravado. I wanted to genuinely connect with someone, but emotions often led to weakness, codependency, and a loss of attraction. It’s only when I became indifferent to the situation that I was able to maintain control, dominance, focus, and, of course, the lady’s attention.

As I grew up through my 20’s, 30’s, and even now into my 40’s, I found similar instances of niceness and eagerness to please that I displayed as a child. However, instead of just being locked into the “friend zone,” I realized that other issues were surfacing. Being accommodating, for example, opened the door for being taken advantage of, walked on, disrespected, and mistreated. No, I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t do anything to stop it. Hence, it continued.

Why didn’t you stop it? You ask. Honestly, I believe it had everything to with the fear of loss. When I feared losing something important to me, I ended up embracing a weak position, adopting timidity, and accepting whatever hot mess was given to me.

As I seriously reflect on this long-time lesson, I recognized that being “nice” wasn’t always the right answer. While I’m not suggesting that anyone become offensive, disrespectful, manipulative, mean, or rude, what I am saying is that one should know their value and never accept anything less.

If you find that you are being walked on, mistreated, disrespected, looked over, taken advantage of, cheated on, lied to, devalued, abused, put down, or made to feel less than, then it’s time to put your foot down and say, “Hey, I’ve had enough! No mas, no more!”

Beyond the verbal declaration, which is a good start, you also have to put action behind it. This means that you have to be willing to walk away and never look back if things don't change. If that 4th grade crush could not see my value, my worth, and my contribution, then it was her loss, not mine. There were plenty of other girls on the playground to choose from.

While today's message used the interpersonal relationships of my youth, we can take the same lesson and apply it to many of our grown-up situations. From dealing with our boss, employees, children, spouse, landlord, neighbor, friends, family, business partners, and co-workers, we all have the same power to stand up for what we want, what we need, and what we deserve without settling for crumbs. It is when we decide, take action, and remain steadfast in our convictions by being willing to walk away from situations that no longer serve us, that we see the desired change in our lives. Even if that change is only within ourselves.

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” ~ Tony Gaskins

Ok, Champions, let’s make today a really great day!

How To Avoid Being A Pushover

Here is a Facebook Live that I did in relation to this article.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Who Am I?

Earlier this evening, while on the way home from work, I received a negative message from an online user. As soon as I saw the opening line of text, I immediately knew that it wasn’t going to be uplifting or supportive. Instead, its sender apparently wanted me to “know about myself,” as seen through their lenses.

While everyone may have an opinion, I definitely don’t have to agree or even subscribe to what someone else is selling. Instead, assuming I was going to be swayed, I’d much rather be influenced by people who choose to see the best in me, who want me to succeed, and who love me unconditionally. Please understand, that even before I embrace the caring support offered by my circle of friends and family, I want to take the lead in filling the mind, body, and soul with my own positive thoughts and inspiring opinions. More powerful still, is listening to the Word of God and aligning with who He says I am. Here are a few of my favorites:

No, we may not be where we want to be, look how we want to look, or live like we want to live, but we can surely celebrate and enjoy the honest truth from a God that loves us just as we are.

Remember this, YOU are a champion! YOU are a winner! Never let someone else’s opinion define who you are or what you believe. Get away from that stinkin’ thinkin’ and allow yourself to be who you were always meant to be. Embrace your greatness and let any negative words, actions, or thoughts roll off your shoulders like water rolls off a duck’s back. Be impervious to the disapproval of others and hold tight to the encouraging words of the Lord. Amen!

Make today a really great day!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Single White Envelope

The Single White Envelope

A single white envelope lay dormant in the mailbox. From the outside, I don’t recall there being any indication of what I might find within its sealed shell. Like the many days before it, I put my hand inside the aging green container, collected the gift left behind by the dutiful mail carrier, and forcibly closed the rusty-hinged door with the sound of scraping metal that was followed by a loud snap.

Having arrived home only moments earlier, my mind was racing through a checklist of tasks that I had to perform that evening. As I walk up the driveway toward the house, I stop at the car to pick up the laptop, lunch bag, and any other remnants that I may have accumulated that day.

Once inside the house, I dropped everything down on the kitchen table and proceeded to remove my shoes. Currently, I have a no shoes on the carpet policy, which was implemented to save the last few clean fibers from being trampled upon by the outside world. Yes, there are dark trails and heavy stains all over the floor, but it’s never too late to maintain what you have.

After putting my shoes away, I came back to the table and proceeded to open the letter. I started by tearing away at the corner and forcing my index finger into the newly made hole. Aggressively, I ran my finger down the envelope, which created a long tear in the sealed flap. If I was more refined, maybe I would have used a fancy letter opener, but this correspondence looked more like junk mail than anything of importance.

Mindlessly, I ripped out the paper from its securely sealed cocoon and unfolded it one layer at a time. It took me a few moments before the contents fully registered. “Wait, I think this letter is serious.” I thought.

Instead of simply skimming the words for context, I went back to the top and read every word. At first, it didn’t make sense. What was the author trying to say? Was this thing really intended for me? Again, I read the letter in its entirety only to come to the same conclusion. This thing has to be wrong. Is this a joke? I asked myself.

Unable to take further action that night, I put the communication back in its envelope and made a mental note to call the telephone number located near the top of the page when I get in the office the following day.

Fast forward through the details of the call, I found out the next afternoon that I was the intended recipient of the letter and the contents did, in fact, affect me directly. In that moment, I could feel my heart racing. My skin warmed intensively and I could feel my pores open with perspiration. What now? I thought in a panic.

I looked around the empty office space in search of an answer. My eyes shifted left to right as the ideas traveled from one part of my brain to the other. “Think, think, think...” Taken from the pages of Jimmy Neutron, I pleaded in silence.

Then it hit me, “...Brain Blast!”

Over the next hour, I reached out passionately to my network of key supporters and friends. I shared the situation with them in honest detail hoping to get some movement in resolving the issue. While the answer to this riddle would require more time and energy than could be mustered in this single day, I found comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone. To hear that there are those who were willing and able to help make all the difference in the world.

In the following weeks since I first received the letter, I have been blessed to find that I am in good hands. The individuals who are now involved have taken a stand to aid me during an experience that could have easily make anyone extremely uncomfortable. There have been no talks of compensation or a transaction of any kind. All I have received from them is full support, in earnest.

It is in this very moment, as I write these words, that I feel so overwhelmingly blessed to have a circle of friends, business partners, co-workers, frat brothers, family members, and even associates that have my best interest at heart. Be it through prayer, financial, physical, and even moral support, I know that I am surrounded by some really amazing people who care about me and my well being. Honestly, I don’t know if I could ever begin to repay them for what they’ve done and continue to do for me. Please know that I am indebted to them and will do whatever I can to pour the same “goodness” I feel back into their lives. While words will never fully express my genuine and heartfelt gratitude, let me at least begin by writing a huge “THANK YOU!”

As I take a moment to reflect on this experience, let me share with you some thoughts.

Get Some Good People In Your Life

I cannot stress how important this truth has been for me. It is in moments like this where I am at the end of my own ability and resources, that God sends a blessing through someone else. Knowing this, take this opportunity to surround yourself with generous, loving, supportive, and positive people who consistently pours life into you through their words and actions.

Trust In The Lord For Everything

The year 2017 is only one example of how amazing God is and how mysteriously he works. While filled with challenges and opportunities for growth, there is no way that I could ever have conducted the intricately intertwining characters, events, and an overarching storyline that God is writing as we speak. I don’t know how the story ends, but I do know that He has it all under control. When in doubt, trust and believe that the Lord is working it out for our good.

Be Patient

The situation that I’m generically describing is but one piece of a larger story. Unlike a television sitcom, life doesn’t always wrap up so neatly within a 30-minute timeslot. No, sometimes the resolution takes much longer than anyone could anticipate or even fathom. Whatever life looks like for you now, learn to be patient with certain things. Remember what do they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Be Thankful For Whatever The Outcome

This idea for consideration may not be an easy one to swallow. Trust me when I tell you that this past year delivered some crushing blows to the midsection. There were times that I cried out in pain, confusion, and angst against the numerous fiery arrows being shot in my direction. “Why?” was a common question that I asked both silently and aloud. Regardless of the outcome, I have learned to thank God for it all. Be it “good” or “bad,” the events serve a much larger purpose and I’m thankful that I could live through and learn from those experiences. 

As I bring today’s article to a close, I hope that you got something of value from it. Please feel free to share this lesson with someone who you think could benefit from it and drop me a line in the comment section below.

Remember, today is a new day with an opportunity to turn it all around. Keep your head up because you were destined for greatness.

Until next time...

Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

Toll-free: (919) 912-9121
E-mail: Contact Me


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