About Fogdog's Weight Loss


Through failure we learn to succeed! This is a blog about fighting back. It's about picking yourself up off the floor, dusting yourself off, and getting right back in there. It's about holding yourself accountable, having the right mindset, and learning to live a healthy lifestyle.

Join me as I take the journey and try to stay on the path. Learn from me through my successes and failures, and help me learn from you. As one blog I am weak, but as a community we are very strong. Let's Succeed Together!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Familiar Road

Taking the Road Less MORE Travelled

Hey wait a minute, I recognize this place; I’ve been down this road before.  This is the path that leads back to my destruction.  I know this road like the back of my hand, so well in fact, that I can go down it twice as fast as recommended.  I know every twist and turn because this is the paths I ALWAYS end up on.

I’ve learned a little about myself, so I now know what starts me down the path… self-doubt.  Usually I’m humming along the road to wellness when my buddy self-doubt comes knocking at my door.  He tells me that I can’t stay “good” forever and that I’m bound to fail.  Then he proceeds to tell me all the great excuses I can use, should I decide that he’s right.  “You deserve a break” and “life’s too short, enjoy yourself” are a couple of the lines I hear.  Before I know it, self-doubt is crashing on my couch because he’s got nowhere else to go.  Eventually I break down and I begin to listen to what self-doubt has to say.

The road might look a little different each time I go back down it, but it always ends up back at the same place.  This time the road started with stress, or more accurately, it started with my inability to deal with my stress.  I used to deal with stress by smoking cigarettes.  Then I quit smoking 5 months ago.  I used to deal with stress by drinking alcohol (heavily) on the weekends, then I quit drinking about 4 months ago.  All I had left in my stress toolbox was eating; I gained almost 50 pounds before deciding that it was not sustainable.  I found the courage to take on my unhealthy eating habits about 2 months ago and my performance up until now has been stellar.  The problem though is that my stress toolbox is empty.  I tried to add exercise, but it wasn’t the same.  I tried meditation, but it wasn’t enough.  The stress has been building and building for 8 weeks now with no outlet.

For me, stress turns into anger.  I begin to lose control over my anger and outbursts ensue; outbursts at work and at home.  One of my good friends told me that he liked me better when I was still smoking.  It was not in a mean way; it was in the context of me talking about how short my fuse has been lately, and it was not meant to suggest that I needed to start smoking again either.  Still it stung a little to hear that.  After outbursts comes the guilt about not being able to stay in control.  I’m a well-respected leader; it’s my job and I’m paid handsomely to stay in control.  My wife and kids deserve a father and husband who doesn’t yell all the time.  THERE IT IS… THE NOBLE EXCUSE.

It actually started 2 weekends ago with a little drinking on Saturday night.  Unfortunately, it worked and I felt better for a few days.  Hey nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam now and then right?  So why not do it again (last weekend)? A little more alcohol, but last weekend wasn’t as effective (or maybe the stress was a little more?).  I guess it doesn’t really matter; the point is that it was the beginning of a pattern that built up to my latest epic performance last night.  Last night I drank way too much alcohol, ate way too much junk food, and smoked a couple cigarettes to boot.  I won't go into all the details, but it's fair to say that the ditch I landed in is fairly unpleasant at the moment.  Yep, I’ve definitely been here before.

So now I find myself back on the road to hell.  It’s a toll road that gets more and more expensive the longer you travel on it.  Much like parts of the NJ Turnpike, there’s not a lot of exits.  Even if I see one I’m not sure if I can get off, because after all, you have to want to.  There’s more to come; I’m not exactly sure where I go from here so I need some time to figure it out.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

-Stay Strong! (not like me)

[Photo: Flickr / János Csongor Kerekes]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weight Loss Data

DATA - Things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation

You may not have thought about it this way before, but you use data to make all your decisions.  When your gas gauge is on “E” in your car, you make the assumption that your car is almost out of gas.  You really don't know that your gar is almost out of gas, but the little needle says it's so and so you assume it's correct.  That assumption, based on available data, allows you to make the decision to stop at the gas station and add fuel. 

However, what happens when that gas gauge fails and the needle gets stuck in one spot?  What happens when our data fails us?  If data drives all our decisions then doesn't it stands to reason that bad data can also drive bad decisions?

Weight Loss Data... The Almighty Scale 
When it comes to losing weight we make a lot of decisions based on what the scale tells us.  When you step on the scale, you are not just reading a number  When you step on the scale you are collecting data.  Whether you record that data somewhere or not it really doesn't matter; your brain records the data for you and it compares the data with all the other data it has on your weight.  Though most of this happens without you realizing it, seeing that number adds to your pile of weight loss data, and that data is the basis for a lot of your future decisions.    

Since data drives decision, it's important to understand the quality of the data.  There's a lot of variability in stepping on the scale...

Scale Limitations 
Did you ever have (or do you still have) one of those old spring scales?  If you ever had one of those scales you probably remember that you could lean forward on those scales and actually see the weight drop by half a pound (to this day I lean forward slightly every time I stand on the Wii scale).  There are physical limitations to scales, and some are better than others.  Even the new electronic scales have variability.  Here’s something for you to try… Pick up your scale and carry it around the house.  Weigh yourself in every room and write it all down.  I’ll bet you didn’t get the same reading every time?  Slight changes in how level the scale is can actually have a pretty big impact on your scale’s accuracy.  What’s worse, the variability is not the same for everyone, it is amplified the heavier you are.  I tried this experiment and got a high/low range of 5 pounds.

Variability in Ourselves
Along with variability in the scales we use, there is also variability in ourselves.  The process of taking in energy, converting it to what our body can use, and getting rid of waste means a constant fluctuation of our actual weight; there's no way around it.  Weigh yourself 5 times in one day.  You can easily see 2-4 pounds of variability.  Weigh yourself every day for a week and if you are like me you could see 5-10 pounds of variability.  One of the biggest culprits is water.  You hear the term “water retention” a lot in weight loss circles.  Water retention can be listed as a legitimate problem and it can also be used as an excuse to justify poor performance; it just depends on how you want to use it.

The Great Scale Debate
There are those in the weight loss community who think you should weigh yourself frequently.  Frequent weigh-ins keeps you accountable and you just have to mentally "adjust" for the variability.  Since you weigh frequently you become an "expert" at identifying when the reading is skewed.

Then there are those who think you should weigh yourself infrequently.  It's impossible to separate true weight loss from normal variability so there's no point.  In fact, the "bad" data could cause you to make bad decisions so best to avoid the scale as much as possible.

Which way is right?  Both theories are credible; it really just depends on the person and their point of view.  If you are someone that needs to get on the scale to keep from drifting and you don’t see a lot of variability then daily or weekly weigh-ins is probably right for you.  However, if you are someone that doesn’t see the “point” to weighing frequently because of all the variability and not weighing in regularly doesn't cause you to drift, then maybe semi-monthly or monthly weigh-ins would be better.

Know Where You Stand
Everyone has to make their own decision about how often to weigh in and I’m not going to try to convince anyone that one way is better than the other.  If you scour the blogosphere you will find plenty of opinions on that subject ranging from multiple weigh-ins each day to never weighing in and everywhere else in between.  It's your journey and you need to decide what it looks like.  

In order to make the best decisions about your weight loss, you need to know how good or bad your data is.  If you don’t know the quality of your data then you are subject to making bad decisions and that's what eventually leads to you walking down the road with a gas can in hand.

-Stay Strong!