About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A New Beginning, A New Way of Thinking – Building Healthy Habits

Greetings fellow bloggers! I can’t believe my last post was 18 months ago. A lot has happened in my life since I did the 180 in 360challenge.  I can honestly say that when I look back at 2015 it will likely be one of the most pivotal points in my life.

So where have I been for the last 18 months?  Glad you asked.  For starters I can say my health has still been a primary focus in my life.  I am happy to say that I have completely kicked the alcohol dependency!  In fact in the last year I can count how many times I’ve had a drink on one hand.
I have also managed to stay away from tobacco.  I still use an e-cig, but the nicotine level is so low now that I’m starting to question why I even use it; I think it’s just out of habit now.

And what about the weight?  Well I’m happy to say that I have NOT put the weight back on that I lost in 2015.  At the end of 2015 I was at 300 pounds.  I don’t weigh myself very often these days, but at last check I was somewhere around 305.

Now you might be wondering why I’m back and I’m calling this a new beginning.  Well, for starters I just finished moving my family to NC and have taken on an exciting new challenge in my career.  I’m excited; My wife and I lived in NC about 12 years ago and now we finally made it back here.  We have moved around quite a bit in my career, but now that the kids are older the plan is to make this area permanent for the foreseeable future.  The last 6 months have probably been the most stressful that I can remember, yet I have not succumbed to the usual bad unhealthy habits that usually overtake me and force me off the wagon.

We’ve been here now for about 3 months.  Now that the dust has settled I’m ready to take my healthy living to the next level and maybe drop some more weight while I’m at it.  However, I know what happens when I go on a diet; I’ve yo-yoed myself too many times to think that anything would be any different this time.  It’s time to change my way of thinking…

I’ve decided that instead of focusing on losing weight or focusing on exercising more, I’m going to turn my focus towards building habits.  The way I see it, if I can teach myself how to create habits then I can choose to develop habits that will help me to be healthier.  I’m also hoping that as I learn to create habits, I might stumble across certain Keystone habits that will even accelerate my healthy living.

The Plan

I’ve already read quite a lot about creating habits; Most people agree that you need to start small and that it takes at least 21 days to make a habit.  Ok, so I’m going to pick 1 habit and I’m going to start small.  Since this is all about my health the first habit I want to establish is an exercise habit.

Now remember, I’m focused on building a habit, I’m not focused on exercising or losing weight.  The first thing I want to do is establish a routine.  I know from experience that I am not a morning workout person.  In fact I want to save my mornings for focusing on my mental health (after I establish this first habit).  I’m going to start with building an exercise habit after work.  My objective is real simple:

For the next 21 days I will change into workout clothes after work 

That’s it!  No more requirements other than to change into workout clothes.  If I choose to exercise that’s fine, but it’s not required.  By changing into those clothes I’m going to begin programming my mind to prepare myself for exercise.  I’m going to begin building the exercise habit.
Notice I’m not talking about how much weight I’m going to lose or how much exercise I’m going to get.  I want to exercise and I want lose weight and be healthy, but to get there I need to teach myself to create habits that give me those results.

I welcome you to follow me as I see how this experiment plays out.  After 21 days I will add another habit and/or increase the requirements on one of my existing habit declarations.  Over time I am hoping these habits will stick and become a normal part of my life.  Wish me luck!

[Photo: Flickr / dierk schaefer]

Friday, January 1, 2016

Day #360 - Was It Another Wasted Year?

At the end of 2014 I was miserable.  For the third year in a row I felt like I was worse off than the previous year.  I was depressed and only a couple pounds away from my highest weight ever.  I was also smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and binge drinking every weekend just to escape reality.  For me it truly felt like I had hit an all-time low.

My wife and I decided to take a trip to New Orleans at the end of the year.  During that trip I made the decision that if I didn't change my ways, I wouldn't have too many years left.  At 43 years old I had to make a change and I had to stop filling my years with failure.

On January 5th, 2015 I started a new 360 day journey.  The goal was simple... Make my health a priority in 2015 and turn my life around.  So how did I do?  Did I change my ways or was it another wasted year full of empty promises?

In order to turn things around I set 3 very aggressive goals:

  1. Quit Smoking
  2. Quit Drinking Alcohol
  3. Lose 100 Pounds
I knew this was a tough order... completing even just one of these goals would be incredibly tough, but I also knew that I have a tendency to aim low and under-achieve.  I wanted 2015 to be different and I needed some drastic change.

January - March 

My very first focus was to quit smoking.  For the first 3 months of the year almost all my energy went into quitting smoking.  It was tough but I quit cold turkey.  During those first three months I also managed to not gain any weight.  However, to compensate I started drinking more.

During the first 3 months I put a lot of focus on being mindful about my health.  I found myself thinking about it everyday.  It was this mindfulness that really helped me stay focused on the long road I had ahead.  I also started to accept that I couldn't be perfect and that I had to look at the small victories instead of focusing all the time on the failures.

April - June

After my first 90 days I was feeling pretty good.  I was still smoke free and now putting focus on drinking less.  As I cut back on my drinking I realized that it also became easier to stick to a diet plan and lose some weight.  By the end of April I had managed to drop almost 20 pounds.  However, the road was still long and hard and it only got worse when I started having knee problems.  May was a depressing month with lots of knee pain.  I gave back some of my weight loss and by the end of June, after 6 months of being smoke free, I fell off the smoking wagon.  I started to get depressed thinking I was heading right back to where I started and thinking it would be another wasted year, but I refused to give up.

July - September

July brought a change in plans.  Specifically my new doctor recommend I try a no sugar, low carb diet.  It worked better than even I expected and I lost almost 25 pounds in July alone!  I was still off the wagon with the smoking but my drinking was much more under control.  Instead of drinking all weekend every weekend it became more of a once or twice a month thing.  More importantly, my drinking became less about escaping reality and more about just relaxing and having a good time.  After a few months of smoking I also decided I needed to act or risk finishing the year as a smoker again.  I did some research and ended up buying an e-cig.

By the end of September I was down about 27 pounds, had much better control of my drinking, and had again stopped using tobacco.

October - December

With 90 Days left in the year I made the last big push.  At one point early in December I pushed past the 50 pound mark and got below 300 before giving a little of it back during the holidays.  I'm still using the e-cig, with the occasional slip up here and there.  My drinking is well under control, in fact I only drank once in December (New Year's Eve)

The Final Results

Quitting Smoking - Good
  • Completely tobacco and nicotine free for 6 months 
  • Mostly tobacco free for 4 months
  • 2 month slip-up
Quitting Drinking - Fair
  • Still drinking, but under much better control and not being used as an escape from reality
Losing Weight - Very Good

Day 1 Starting Weight - 347
Current Weight - 300
Weight Lost in 2015 - 47

Any year that you lose 47 pounds is a good year!

So as the clock ticked over to 2016 I felt a deep sense of satisfaction.  Was my 2015 perfect?  Not even close!  However, I did make my health a priority and I have turned things around.  I made significant progress in all three of my areas of focus and I'm stronger mentally.  For the first time in a long time I feel like I'm back on the right track.  

The journey is not over, I still have a long way to go, but I know I can do it.  Best of luck to all you out there trying to make a change.  Day 360 is in the books, on to Day 361 and a new year with new goals.

Stay Strong!