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!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Weigh-In #7 - 12/26/09

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

Starting Weight: 297 lbs

Last Weigh-in: 287.5 lbs

Current Weight: 288 lbs

Weekly Loss (Gain): (0.5)lbs

Total Weight Loss: 9 lbs

Not my best week but it could've been much worse given all the temptations I faced during the week.  Even though I just started this blog, I've actually been trying to lose weight all year.  I started 2009 at 320, so I am happy that I have lost 32 pounds this year.  On Christmas eve I watched a home video of our Christmas in 2008 and I could not believe how different I look in just 1 year!  To actually see some real results was cool and is giving me more motivation to do even better this year.  Good Luck to us all!

Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weigh-in #6 - 12/19/09

Starting Weight: 297 lbs

Last Weigh-in: 289 lbs

Current Weigh-in: 287.5 lbs

Weekly Loss (Gain): 1.5 lbs

Total Loss: 9.5 lbs

I met my goal for the week!  I worked hard and was rewarded with a decent weight loss.  Now I have to work hard to get through Chirstmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Journal Update 12/18/09

It has been a while since I last made a journal entry. I have decided to start posting my journal entries at the end of the week rather than at the beginning. It was starting to feel like my journal entries were more about explaining why I lost or gained weight instead of actually writing about how I did.

From my last weigh-in you can see that I did not have a stellar week. Because of my previous victory in the week before last, I cut myself some slack over the weekend. Part of that slack included 2 trips out eat and one of those was to a buffet where I definitely ate more than I should have. Mind you, I’ve been much worse, but I definitely lost control on that trip. In my last journal entry I indicated that I wanted to start exercising and I set a goal to exercise at least 3 times during the week. Unfortunately that did not happen. Instead I put it off and put it off until there were only 3 days left. Of course as fate would have it, I ran into issues at work that required me to work 2 extremely long days leaving very little opportunity to get some exercise in. Thankfully, the busy end to my week is probably what saved me from actually gaining weight. I was on my feet most of the time and missed dinner twice settling for a small snack instead. I knew it would be tough during the holiday season and I am grateful to have remained at the same weight through last week.

This week, however, has been a different story. I have managed to get some workouts in this week. Though I have not finished hammering out my workout plan, I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer. I did three 30 minute workouts this week and am happy to have accomplished that goal. On Monday I did strength training and focused on my upper body and on Tuesday I did an elliptical workout. By Wednesday I was a little sore so I took a break but then on Thursday I did another strength training workout and focused on my lower body. I am a little sore, but I did take my own advice on exercising and started out slowly. Today I had planned on another workout, but mother nature had a better exercise plan. At this point we have received 10 inches of snow so I decided I better get shoveling as we are expected to get another 10 inches overnight. My driveway is about 100 feet long so I got a nice workout shoveling snow for about 90 minutes.

I also ate really well this week. We did go out over the weekend, but we ate at Subway and I just got a footlong veggie sub and water. I had my one cheat meal on Wednesday (we took the kids out for ice cream) and the rest of the week I’ve managed to stay on my plan. My wife has been a great help; she’s made some really good meals lately (including a great vegetarian dish this evening) and she only makes just enough for everyone to eat plus 1 meal for my lunch the next day. It’s good because if I want eat too much at dinner I don’t because then I won’t have enough food at lunch the next day. I also got 60-80 ounces of water in each day, which always helps me lose weight. All in all I have to say it’s been a really good week and I am looking forward to getting on the scale tomorrow morning. Of course there’s always that chance that the scale won’t reflect the work I put in so I prepared for that. In the end I know I’m on the right track and right now that’s all that matters. Hopefully this weekend I’ll have time to complete my workout plan so I can get started on a regular routine. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Starting an Exercise Plan

Now that I’ve started exercising, I thought I would do an article on setting up an exercise plan. Exercise is an essential component to getting the weight off. When you exercise you burn more calories and it goes beyond just the time you spend working out. The extra calorie burn goes on for hours after you workout and after it becomes a regular habit, your body will react by anticipating your normal workout and it will begin burning calories before you even begin. In addition to burning more calories and increasing your metabolism, you will also feel better.  Exercising releases endorphins that can help to make you feel happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.  Of course losing weight will also help boost your confidence and self esteem.  Below are some tips to help you get started:

Know your limitations and take it slow – Before you even begin you have to be realistic about your abilities. If you have existing conditions that might affect what you can do, talk to a doctor about your plan. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, don’t expect to be able to lift weights or run for hours like you might have done in high school. If you overdo it in the beginning, at best you will end up really sore and at worst you will injure yourself. If that happens you will lose the momentum while you recover and have to start all over again.

Make a plan – Are you going to workout at home or at a gym? Are you going to workout in the morning, midday, or in the evening? Make a plan that fits you lifestyle. Try to shoot for 3-5 days each week.  Also, don't forget the weekends.  Sometimes we get hung up on working out during the normal work week and we forget that often the weekends have more free time to get a couple workouts in.

Include Strength Training – The best form of exercising for losing weight is strength training. As your body builds muscle it requires more calories each day to maintain that muscle. Every extra pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories each day. Strength training will also give your metabolism a boost as well. Even if you are a woman, don’t fear strength training. You won’t bulk up and 30 minutes of strength training will beat 45 minutes on a treadmill any day of the week when it comes to losing weight.

Be ready to make changes in your workout – One of the biggest problems people have with working out is that they end up getting bored. Plan ahead for this and come up with ways to mix things up. I have about 10 different workout plans so when I get bored I switch from one to the next. The changes don’t have to be huge. For example, in workout “A” I do a bench press. In workout “B” I do pushups instead. In workout “C” I do pushups on a flipped over BOSU ball. Even small changes in your routine can help to break the boredom and it also has the benefit of making your muscles work in different ways.

Adjust your diet – When you do strength training, it’s best to get some protein in within the first hour after working out. If you work out in the morning you might need a small snack before you start too. Be prepared to adjust your diet slightly to accommodate your increase in activity. If you find yourself constantly sore or feeling tired all the time, you might even need to eat more calories.

Challenge yourself – Keep track of your progress and try to do a little more each week. Set short term and long term SMART goals to give you purpose. You can even set benchmarks before you begin; see how many push-ups and sit-ups you can do or time yourself to run or walk a mile. You will be surprised at how much you can improve in just 6 weeks time.

Don’t lose the momentum – Getting started is one of the hardest parts; once you get the ball rolling, don’t let it stop. If you feel like taking a day off, instead consider doing a “light” workout. Even if you only workout for half the time, you at least keep the momentum going. Once you start skipping workouts, it gets easier and easier to skip more often and eventually the momentum is completely lost.

Getting regular exercise is an essential tool in the battle to lose weight. However, don’t just limit yourself to increased activity for just one short duration every day. Look for ways to increase your activity level all the time. Find fun things to do that also provide exercise. Go swimming, ride a bike, play tennis, or just go for a walk. There are all sorts of opportunities for you to increase your activity level each and every day. What are you waiting for? Get started today!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weigh-in #5 - 12/12/09

Starting Weight: 297 lbs

Last Weigh-in: 289 lbs

Current Weigh-in: 289 lbs

Weekly Loss (Gain): 0 lbs

Total Loss: 8 lbs

I didn't meet my goal, but it could have been worse.  More about my week in my next journal entry.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Your Eating Personality

In order to lose weight you have to get a solid understanding of who you are and how you got to be overweight in the first place. Only then can you learn to recognize the “triggers” for your overeating. Below are a few personalities of overeaters and some of the mechanisms that trigger the behavior. The groups are not meant to be exclusive to each other; you may find you fit in several. However, there will probably be one that describes you better than the others:

The Closet Eater
To anyone who knows the closet eater casually, it’s hard to understand why they are overweight in the first place. Usually this person is seen eating relatively healthy, eating small amounts of healthy fare whenever in the public eye. But once at home they binge on anything and everything they have in their cupboards. Typically the closet eater doesn’t care to go out to restaurants; he/she prefers to get take-out and bring it to the confines of their home. Their addiction is well hidden from the rest of the world and they take great strides to hide it from others. If you’ve ever gone to a fast food drive through, ordered a ton of food, and then ordered extra drinks just so the cashier doesn’t know it’s all for you then you might be a closet eater.

Because they don’t overeat in public they can rationalize that their eating is not really a problem. Often closet eaters are single making it easier to hide their overeating, but it’s not a requirement. There are plenty of closet eaters out there who hide it from everyone including their spouse and children.

What triggers the closet eater to eat is the feeling of reaching their safe zone. They’ve fooled the world again and now can reward themselves with a gallon of ice cream.

The Social Eater
Everyone knows the social eater; they are usually the loudest, funniest, and largest person at every get-together. All plans by the social eater require food in some way; Movies require dinner beforehand; Work meetings should include lunch; Getting together with friends needs to be at the local bar and grill. Social eaters don’t hide from being overweight and some actually wear it like a badge of courage.

Social eaters rationalize that they don’t have a problem because they are happy all the time. Most people think the social eater has a very happy and fulfilling life, but that’s not really the case. Often the social eater puts on the happy, “life of the party” face in order to hide the fact that they are really unhappy about their weight.

The trigger for a closet eater is any gathering of people where food is involved

The Emotional Eater
Emotions can trigger overeating in all the personality types, but the emotional overeater’s entire diet is based on how he/she is feeling at the time. If depressed or sad, the emotional eater will eat comfort foods. If stressed or angry they will eat crunchy foods. How they feel directly determines what and how much they eat.

Emotional eaters rationalize their eating by treating it as a form of therapy. If it changes their mood, then it’s worth the few extra pounds. Unfortunately the mood change is usually short-lived and they end up in a cycle of feeling bad and eating to get out of it.

The obvious trigger for the emotional eater is any event that causes unwanted emotions.

The Constant Eater
The constant eater never stops eating. Their days consist of a never-ending routine of trips to the vending machine and stops at the convenience store. Anytime there is an opportunity to get a snack, they are going to get it. If someone brings cookies to work, they’ve got to try them. If they pass the local Starbucks, it’s time for a coffee. If the constant eater goes to a party, they usually just hang at the food table and snack as others pass by.

Constant eaters rationalize their eating because they never eat a lot at any one time. They know their weight is a problem but often they understand why because their regular meals really aren’t that bad. The snacking becomes unconscious and they often don’t realize how much they take in each day.

The trigger for constant eaters is any opportunity that presents itself for a snack whether it’s walking by a vending machine, working at a restaurant, or stopping at a gas station.

The Binge Eater
Opposite the constant eater is the binge eater. The binge eater doesn’t eat vast quantities of food for most of the time, but then has episodes when extremely large quantities of food are consumed all at once. The idea of a proper diet for the binge eater is to deny any of his/her favorites and eat as little as possible. The strategy fails, and ultimately the will power of the binge eater wanes and it’s off to the races eating anything in sight.

Binge eaters rationalize the binge by saying they’ve been good for a while and they deserve a break. Unfortunately once that break begins, it turns into something more than just a little indulgence.

The trigger for binge eating often is stress or depression

The Subconscious Eater
The last personality is the Subconscious Eater. This person eats heavily all the time and doesn’t even realize he/she has eaten too much until it is too late. Often subconscious eaters come from families with a history of unhealthy eating. It’s part of their culture so it isn’t even considered. The subconscious eater eats with his/her eyes, often selecting the largest quantities of food and shoveling it in without even taking the time to taste it.

The subconscious eater doesn’t rationalize the behavior because it is perfectly normal for him/her and there really isn’t any trigger as the subconscious eater generally eats this way most of the time.

So what’s your eating personality? As I said before, you may fit more than one of these categories, but one probably describes you better than the others. For me, I’m a subconscious eater with some tendencies toward binge eating. Knowing and understanding your eating personality is a big step toward correcting the behavior. By understanding the triggers you can learn to recognize them when they show up and that can help you to do better. You won’t get it right every time, but as time goes by and you get better and better at correcting your behavior, your habits will change and you will be the healthier for it. Good Luck.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Journal Update 12/6/09

This was quite a satisfying week! I lost back everything I gained during Thanksgiving plus another pound for good measure. I mentioned before I thought I might have been retaining water last week and it appears I was correct. Normally, I would have looked at my weight last week and decided to give up, but I knew how well I had done on my trip and I decided to push on.

My eating was pretty good all week long and I drank a lot of water (probably about 60-80 ounces each day). I did have a couple cookies early in the week (remnants from the prior week) but for the most part I stuck to my plan. In a typical day I eat 5-6 times throughout the day:
  1. 7:00AM My morning starts with oatmeal and blueberries.
  2. 9:30AM A small protein snack and a piece of fruit.
  3. 12:30AM Lunch (usually the leftovers from my previous night’s dinner) and a piece of fruit
  4. 3:00PM Another small protein snack and a piece of fruit.
  5. 6:00PM Dinner consisting of 4 ounces of protein, 1 cup vegetables, and a ½ cup of some carbohydrate
  6. 8:30PM A Light Snack – Usually a fiber bar and a cup of green tea

A few times this week I missed one of my snacks, but it didn’t seem to bother me. I think my body is getting used to eating less food each day. It used to be that if I went more than 3 hours without eating, I would be starving and end up overeating the next meal. That wasn’t the case this week.

I still didn’t exercise regularly; I came back from my trip with another cold! I’m not sure why, but this winter has been tough on me with regards to being sick. Toward the end of the week my cold was diminished so I worked out on the elliptical trainer on Friday. I got a good 30 minutes in doing an interval workout.

I really want (and need) to get going with the exercise. This week I’m going to try to get at least 3 sessions in and then go from there. I have free weights in my house and of course the elliptical trainer so I really have no excuses not to get started.

One thing I have to say is that I’m really happy with my progress so far. I know it’s only been 4 weeks and I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I’ve found a nice balance here. I’m not feeling deprived and yet I’m still losing weight regularly. I think If I can just incorporate the exercise, I’ll be good to go. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weigh-in #4 - 12/5/09

Starting Weight: 297 lbs

Last Weigh-in: 293 lbs

Current Weigh-in: 289 lbs

Weekly Loss (Gain): 4 lbs

Total Loss: 8 lbs

Much better result than last week's though I suspect I really never gained all that weight last week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Getting Started Losing Weight

You’ve said it before time and time again… “On Monday I’m going back on my diet and lose all this weight”. But somehow it doesn’t happen. Monday rolls by, and then the next, and the next. Before you realize it, a month has gone by and nothing has changed. One of the hardest things about losing weight is just getting started. One of the reasons behind this is because most people treat the beginning of a healthy lifestyle as an end to enjoying life. Why? What was it that was so good about your life before you decided to be healthy? Was it the tight clothes you’ll miss so much? Was it that feeling of guilt after you ate that 5 gallon bucket of ice cream? The truth is we tend to believe that a change in our eating habits and leading a healthier lifestyle leads to being miserable all the time. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Below are some tips that you can use to help you get started on your own weight loss journey:
  1. Make sure you really want to do it – Are you really sure you want to make this change. Often we say yes, but our minds and our hearts are not really into it. If you don’t have the right mindset you have failed before you’ve even started. Here’s a tip; stare into the mirror every morning for a week and ask yourself if you are ready to do this. If you can’t answer yes every day for a week you are probably not ready. Also make sure you are doing this for yourself. This has to be about you; if you are doing it for someone else, no matter how noble the thought, you will be doomed to fail.
  2. Set a date – Don’t just pick next Monday, you need some time to prepare (maybe 2-4 weeks). It took you a long time to get this way, a few more weeks before getting started isn’t going to kill you. Besides, if you really want it (see item #1) then you should start building some excitement around it. If you get yourself ready and you find you still have some time to go, feel free to start early, but make sure you are all ready to go before you start.
  3. Take some measurementsRecord your weight, measure your body, and take “before” pictures. As you progress over time it will serve as reminder of where you used to be and where you never want to go again.
  4. See a doctor – I know, this is the standard fare for anyone who has ever offered advice about losing weight, but you really should do this. I’m fortunate to have no underlying health issues to deal with, but if you have health problems you may have to adjust your plan to accommodate them.
  5. Make a plan – Figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it. Set some SMART goals and figure out how many calories your body needs daily. Make a plan for exercise and figure out what adjustments you need to make in your life to accommodate the changes. How often will you weigh yourself? I wouldn’t recommend any more than once a week. Don’t pick Mondays. Even though they represent the start of a new week, Mondays are generally bad as they come right after a weekend and weekends are typically the time most people don’t eat as well as they do during the rest of the week. I weigh myself on Saturday morning for a couple reasons. First, I tend to behave really well on Friday nights because I know I have to be accountable on Saturday morning. Second, Saturday tends to be my worst day in terms of eating. By weighing in on Saturday morning, I leave myself with the entire week to work off any indulgences I might incur on Saturday. Pick a day that works best for you.
  6. Don’t forget exercise – Create 2 plans for exercise. The first should be a weekly routine that you plan on doing regularly. It doesn’t have to be a lot to start; you could plan 20 minutes of walking 3 times a week. As you progress you can add to it later or change it up to prevent boredom. The second plan should be activities you can do when you have opportunities. Like bike riding? Plan to take long bike rides once in a while. Play basketball, walk the dog, play some golf. The point is to identify activities you enjoy that can help you on your journey and then try to incorporate them as much as possible. Who knows, maybe you might find some new activities along the way that you never even thought about.
  7. Have a plan for special events – What are you going to do when your friends want to go out Friday night? How will you deal with cookouts and holiday get-togethers? As important as it is to have a plan for your daily routine, you also need to know how you plan to deal with those events that are outside your routine. For me, I try not to have more than 1 event in any given week and I focus on having fun but trying to contain the damage. Being self aware of what you are trying to do before going in makes it more likely that you will be reasonable during the event.
  8. Prepare for failure – You know that you will not lose weight every week; there will be times when you fall off the wagon. Rather than trying to trick yourself into believing this isn’t true, instead focus on how you plan on dealing with it. How many times have you fallen off the wagon mid week and then told yourself “I’ll get started again next Monday”? After that you proceed to pig out for the rest of the week making sure that you not only fell off the wagon, but then you laid there in the dirt while several other wagons drove over your bloated body. Learn to recognize that you are not and will not be perfect. Those people that pick themselves up the fastest will have a better chance of success.
  9. Don’t throw out junk food – and certainly don’t eat it all in one sitting just to get rid of it! If you throw stuff out, your mind will instantly associate those foods with being “forbidden”. Instead just stop buying them, and let them run out naturally over the course of time. This is another reason why you need some time before you get started.
  10. Don’t have “the last supper” – We’ve all done it in the past; you know your going to start losing weight so on the evening before the day you start you go on an eating binge to end all binges, eating every single one of your favorite foods. I’ve actually taken this concept to the extreme before going on binges for the whole weekend before getting started. See my posting on The Final Straw. Though my weeklong binge was not in preparation of a new diet (though it did drive me to change), it still illustrates the potential we have to do bad things in anticipation of change. Having that last binge just reinforces bad behavior. It gives us an “excuse” to behave badly in the name of something better. This is not a good way to start.
  11. Plan to allow yourself to enjoy food – There should be no foods that are “forbidden”. Remember this is a change in lifestyle, you shouldn’t feel like you’ll never be allowed to taste a pork rind ever again. Once a week I allow myself 1 meal where I can have anything I want. I usually have it later in the week and I always try to remain aware of the quantity I consume. By doing this you won’t feel deprived and you will actually enjoy that food more when you eat it. One caution, don’t treat the meal like the “last supper” and pig out just because you only get it the 1 time during the week.
  12. Make changes slowly - Make small changes over the first few weeks or months. People tend to go crazy and make huge changes when they get started. If you restrict your calories dramatically, drink 120 ounces of water each day, and exercise for 2 hours daily after years of doing none of those things, you will become so overwhelmed by the change that it will be hard to maintain. Humans are creatures of habit and breaking habits is a slow process. It takes 3 consecutive weeks (21 days) to create a new habit so don’t feel like you have to start everything at once. In my journey, I haven’t even starting exercising yet and my calorie counting has been sporadic at best. Start slow and add new habits over time for a better chance of success. Remember, this is a lifestyle change, start something slowly and build off it over time.
  13. Look for accountability and find support - Don’t keep this a secret. Most people who decide to change keep it secret because then they don’t have to explain WHEN they fail. This is a self-defeating attitude. Let everyone know what you are doing. Tell your friends and family. Be accountable to yourself but to others as well. Some people will offer their support while others will be relatively indifferent to the whole thing. Identify those people that you can lean on for support, as there will be times when you need a little push.  
  14. Identify the saboteurs - Just as important as finding support, you need to identify those who might sabotage your efforts. It should be mentioned that most of the people in your social circle will not intentionally sabotage you, but they will do it unconsciously nonetheless. Typically these people are usually highly resistant to change themselves and any change you make affects them as well. They also may have the same eating problems and don’t want to lose their “eating buddy”. You don’t have to give these people up in your life, but you need to be aware of those people, as they will make your journey tougher. Be especially on the lookout for those who offer their support but end up really being saboteurs!
  15. JUST DO IT! – Like having kids or getting a dog, it’s never going to be the perfect time. So just begin and see where it goes. Once the momentum starts it will be a lot easier to keep it going. Along the way you’ll find some things don’t work like you planned. Change them! You need to be flexible to change the things that don’t work and enhance the things that do. Learn more as you go along. You might find new activities that you enjoy that fit your new lifestyle. Your social circle may change some; you might inspire others to change their lives or you might find new friends that fit your new lifestyle better. Get started today and see where it takes you. Good luck!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Journal Update 12/1/09

So the Thanksgiving week has passed and I'm left feeling a little disappointed about my weight.  Disappointed and surprised that I somehow manage to gain 4 pounds.  Part of me thinks that the weight gain isn't real and that I might be retaining water so we will see next week when I get on the scale again.  I said in the beginning of my journey that I would remain positive through this in good times and bad so I'm not going to dwell on this week for too long. 

I waited until today to post my journal update because I wanted to have a day to reflect on my experience this week.  I've said before weight loss is as much mental as it is physical and having setbacks is one of those hurdles I need to overcome.  As I thought more about my week I came to the realization that I really did a good job controlling my eating.  Here are some of the positives that I had during my week of 2 Thanksgiving dinners and 35 hours worth of driving time:
  1. In all my travels through the holiday week, I did not stop at a single fast food place.  I also did not buy any junk food at gas stations or rest stops.  For me this is huge; when you are on the road it's too easy to eat junk whenever you make a stop.  We packed a bunch of healthy snacks in a cooler so when I got hungry I didn't need to stop and get something unhealthy.  The closest I came to eating fast food was a 6" veggie sub from Subway in the last leg of my trip.
  2. I drank a lot of water - I drank at least 80 ounces of water every day while I was away.  It meant a few extra stops along the way, but that was ok since we had our dog with us and she enjoyed the stops as well.  I did drink a couple Starbucks coffees and I had a few glasses of wine at dinner time, but for the most part I was drinking water.
  3. I did not over-eat at any of the meals I had - I mentioned in a previous post that my family and I were going to Chinese Buffet on Wednesday.  Well at that dinner I had 1 plate with some sushi and 1 more regular size plate.  For dessert I had fruit and a little pudding.  On Thanksgiving I had 1 plate of food and on Thanksgiving #2 I did the same again.  For desserts, I went with moderation.  Instead of having 2 or 3 pieces of pie, I cut small slivers from each kind to sample.  Instead of cookies I ate fruit.  I'm not going to pretend that I ate only healthy foods, but the point is when I was done with each meal I didn't feel like a blimp.
  4. I actually exercised...one day - On Thursday morning I took advantage of the hotel gym and worked out for over an hour.  I spent 15 minutes on a stationary bike, 30 minutes lifting weights, and another 20 minutes walking/running on a treadmill.
So you can see why I'm a little puzzled as to how I could have gained so much weight in just a week.  I would have understood if I had stayed at my current weight, but I did not eat enough to gain that many pounds.  Did my metabolism slow down from all the driving?  I suppose that's possible.  Or maybe I'm retaining a lot of water.  If so I should see the weight come right back off this week, so time will tell on that one.  It doesn't really matter because I know that if I had eaten on this trip like I have on trips past, things could've been a lot worse. 

Part of this journey is recognizing that events are going to happen that will make it hard to lose weight.  If I can do really well during the normal weeks and contain the damage during the non-routine times, I think I'll be in pretty good shape.  People tend to think of weight loss as a linear thing (I'll lose a pound a week for the year and then be 52 pounds lighter).  That just isn't the case.  There's going to be times when the weight comes off easily and there will be times when it won't come off at all.  The idea is to keep going and not give up when it gets hard because that's what I've always done in the past.  I can't tell you how many times I've been on a diet for 4-6 weeks only to stop once the weight loss slows down.  This time I want to get over that hump and keep going so I can hopefully reach my goal. 

So sow I've had my first bump in the road and it hasn't shaken me.  I'm back at home and back into my normal routine.  Hopefully it will be a really good week.  Wish me luck.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Weigh-in #3 - 11/30/09

A surprising week:

Starting Weight: 297 lbs
Previous Weight: 289.5 lbs
New Weight: 293 lbs
Weekly Loss (Gain): (+3) lbs
Total Loss: 4.0 lbs

I'll go more into the details in my next journal entry, but for now I'll say that I'm pretty disappointed at the results based on how well I did during the holiday.  More to come in my next post.

Monday, November 23, 2009

10 Simple Changes to Help You Lose Weight

Here are some simple changes anyone can make to their daily routine to help shed some pounds.  Sometimes it's the little things that can really add up to make a difference:

  1. Park far away - Where do you park when you go to the store?  to work?  Why not park in the back lot and walk a little farther.  You will hardly notice the difference and as a bonus you won't have to circle the lot 5 times trying to find that perfect spot.  The extra steps you take each day can really add up over a year's time
  2. Take the stairs - Instead of taking the elevator, why not take the stairs.  Do it every day for a little more calorie burn and it will probably take you just as long as the elevator
  3. Take the dog for a walk - Do you just walk the dog to the nearest tree?  Why not take your dog for a 15 minute walk every day.  It'll help you burn calories and your dog might shed a few pounds too.
  4. Play with your kids - When's the last time you chased your kids around the house?  Instead of plopping in front of the TV when you get home, why not get physical and have some fun with the little runts.  Wrestle with them, run with them, or play soccer.  It doesn't matter as long as you get that heart pumping.
  5. Exercise during commercials - If you are watching TV, why not do a few exercises during the commercials.  Try to do pushups or sit-ups at each break.  By the end of the show I bet you will feel it.
  6. Skip the soda - Instead of ordering soda every time you go out, why not get water.  It's cheaper (most of the time) and better for you.  Can't stand plain water?  Add a lemon to it for a little zest or order unsweetened ice tea.
  7. Grab a granola bar - or a banana on your way out the door in the morning.  Often with our busy lives we end up skipping meals, breakfast especially.  Make sure you get at least something in your system when you get up.  Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  If you skip meals you just end up eating more at the next one.
  8. Leave some food on your plate - If you are from my generation, it was drilled into you to "always clean your plate" (not that I ever really needed the encouragement mind you).  The next time you go out to eat, leave a little something behind.  Restaurant meals are always too big anyway.  Better yet, split the meal in half and take half home with you.
  9. Try using chopsticks - You'll end up eating less because it will take you longer to get the food in your mouth.
  10. Use smaller plates - Studies have shown that people tend to eat less when they use smaller plates.  A larger plate makes the meal look small so people pile it on in an attempt to fill it.
Got a simple change that works for you?  Send it to me at fogdog77@gmail.com .

[Photo: Flickr / Yoppy]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Journal Update 11/22/09

As you can see from my last post I managed to have another good week.  In fact, I feel like it has been a great week because it was a very hard week for me and I still managed to take some weight off.  I worked a lot this week and had a really important but stressful project due on Friday.  Usually when my routine changes it gives me an excuse to stop eating right.  I managed to pull it off and I feel really good about it.  I was still shaking off a cold for most of the week so still no exercise yet.  I didn't track my calories either, but I did eat right all week long.  Last Sunday my wife made a small pan of brownies, I ate 1 small piece on Sunday and then another small piece Monday night.  For me this was another small victory (small victory #3) because usually when my wife makes brownies, they are usually gone the day they are made.

The middle of the week brought the usual challenges.  In preparing for finishing my big project (Thursday and Friday) I was very busy.  I struggled a little getting my water in but always got at least 60 ounces each day.  I ate balanced meals and I've also discovered a great oatmeal breakfast:

1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1 Cup 1% Milk
3/4 Cup Frozen Blueberries

Mix the 3 items in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute 3 times stirring in between each time (3 minutes total).  Let sit for about 5 minutes to thicken up and then drizzle a little honey on it.  It tastes great and is just under 400 calories!  I had it every work day this week for breakfast.

The end of the week brought my biggest challenge yet.  On Friday we had completed our final presentation for closing the project.  All went extremely well so as a reward my friend and I bought our team lunch as a "thank you" for working so hard (they did a really great job).  By the time we got the pizza I was starving.  At first I told myself that I would just go to my office and eat the lunch I brought, but as the leader of the project, that really didn't feel right not to participate with the rest of the team.  Instead I decided that I would only eat 2 pieces of pizza.  I ate my 2 pieces and drank water instead of soda (small victory #4).  I wanted to eat a whole pizza myself, but I knew I had to weigh in the next morning and I think that helped me stay on course.  Afterward I felt great!  It was nice to have a celebration with my team and not eat like a pig.

Since I met my goal for the week, I cut myself some slack this weekend.  However, unlike last weekend, this time I managed to control myself a little better.  On Saturday we took the kids out for lunch.  Being kids, their idea of a good meal is the local pizza buffet.  I have to say, buffets are my arch nemesis.  I have probably gained more weight from buffets than any other restaurant type including fast food joints.  I mentioned it before in a previous post that I have a hard time separating value and cost.  At buffets I feel like I have to get the most for my money so I eat and eat and eat whether I'm hungry or not.  This time was going to be different.  All week long I've been realizing how much my weight problem is in my head.  I went into that restaurant convinced that I was going to enjoy myself, but under no circumstances was I going to come back out feeling like a big fat pig.

I started off with a salad and even though my wife paid for me to have a soda, I got water instead.  Usually when I go to a pizza buffet, I usually get 2 slices of everything I like and 3 slices of anything I really like.  Then for dessert I get at least 2 of everything.  This time I decided to only get 1 slice of the kinds I like and then I didn't eat the crusts.  Why fill up with all that crust on the end of each pizza, all it does is sit like a rock in your stomach.  I also made an effort to actually taste the pizza instead of just wolfing it down.  It was nice, I actually enjoyed all the flavors from the different pizzas I like.  After that I had 1 small piece of each of the desserts and that was it!  Now I know this isn't exactly a knockout as far as calories go, but for me this is huge.  I have NEVER walked out of a buffet without feeling absolutely stuffed.  On Saturday I did just that and it felt great! (small victory #5)

Now it's time for my first really big challenge.  Thanksgiving week is finally here.  On Tuesday night I'm driving all the way up to Maine to visit with my family.  I'm really excited to go, but I know it will be difficult to eat right.  First I have to drive 14 hours through the middle of the night.  It's hard to eat healthy on the road, but we are packing a lot of healthy snacks so I don't have to stop a lot along the way.  When we get there we are going out with my family for dinner on Wednesday.  The place has already been decided; Chinese Buffet!  Everyone in my family is overweight and usually when we get together it usually turns into a pig-fest.  I love Chinese, so my big challenge here will be to do as well as I did when I went to pizza buffet.  Of course the next day is Thanksgiving so I'll have to watch myself there.  After that, we drive back to NJ to visit with my in-laws before going home on Sunday.

In order to survive this trip I'm going to need a plan:
  1. I already mentioned, we are going to pack a lot of healthy snacks for the drive up.  By packing healthy snacks it should help me to resist the temptations to eat junk from convenience stores or fast food restaurants.
  2. I'm going to have to find ways to get some exercising during the trip.  I already know my calorie intake is going to be higher than usual so I need to burn a little more.  The hotel we are staying at has a gym so I plan on hitting it for at least 30 minutes each day we are there.  I'm also going to try to get some exercise in on the days before we leave.
  3. During all the family get togethers, I am going to try to focus on eating really slow.  I haven't seen my family for quite some time, so if I spend more time talking than eating, I should be able to keep my calories down some.
  4. I'm going to have fun!  If I feel like I'm suffering on this trip it's only going to push me toward a binge at some point.  I'm not going to worry about every little bite and I definitely want a piece of my mom's pecan pie.  Remember this is a lifestyle change so I have to be able to deal with family events.
Wish me luck, I'm probably going to need it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weigh-in #2 - 11/21/09

Another great week:

Starting Weight: 297 lbs
Previous Weight: 292 lbs
New Weight: 289.5 lbs
Weekly Loss (Gain): 2.5 lbs
Total Loss: 7.5 lbs

7.5 pounds in 2 weeks.  I'll take it, especially since I haven't even started exercising yet!  This was a pivotal week for me and you can read all about it in my next journal entry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Determine Your Calorie Needs

In my last post I said that how many calories you burn each day is a tough thing to figure out. There are so many factors that go into the equation that is impossible to predict day to day how much energy your body will use. However, there have been many studies done to try to figure our how much your body needs on a daily basis. There are several different formulas out there that you can use to approximate your daily caloric needs. These are not meant to be an exact value, but rather an approximation. Every person is different so everyone’s calorie needs are different as well, but this will at least give you a starting point to work from.

There are 2 components in determining your daily caloric. The first is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Your RMR is the amount of calories your body needs each day if you had no activity. 3 Common equations for finding your RMR are the Owen equation, the Mufflin Equation, and the Harris-Benedict Principal.

The second component is your activity level. Typically you choose the activity level for the type of life you lead and the formula tells you how many more calories to add to your RMR to determine your daily calorie needs.

The Harris-Benedict Equation:

For men: (6.24 x W) + (12.7 x H) - (6.76 x A) + 66

For women: (4.34 x W) + (4.7 x H) - (4.68 x A) + 655

The Mufflin Equation:

For men: (4.54 x W) + (15.9 x H) - (5 x A) + 5

For women: (4.54 x W) + (15.9 x H) - (5 x A) - 161

The Owen Equation:

For men: 879 + (4.64 x W)

For women: 795 + (3.27 x W)
W = Weight in pounds
H = Height in inches
A = age in years

If you plug your information into the equations you will see that all the equations give you different results. Again, this is just an approximation to get you started. I recommend getting the average value for all 3.

Now that you have your RMR you need to add in calories for activity. Simply choose your activity level and multiply your RMR by the multiplier for that level

Very light activity - You spend most of the day sitting and rarely exercise.

Daily Calories Needed = RMR x 1.2

Light activity - You work in an office. Most days include some walking, bicycling, or stair-climbing, or you exercise at least 20 to 45 minutes once a week.

Daily Calories Needed = RMR x 1.375

Moderate activity - Your daily routine involves walking most of the day or includes lifting or you exercise at least 20 to 45 minutes about three times a week.

Daily Calories Needed = RMR x 1.55

Heavy activity - Your daily routine keeps you moving most of the time or includes some running, heavy lifting, or swimming; or you exercise at least 20 to 45 minutes every day.

Daily Calories Needed = RMR x 1.725

Exceptional activity - You're unstoppable. You're training daily for an athletic event, or you're a professional athlete with a strenuous schedule.

Daily Calories Needed = RMR x 1.9

A majority of people fall into one of the first 2 categories. When you pick your category, be honest with yourself. Don’t pick the category you plan on being at, pick the one you are at right now.

Once you know how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight, you can now determine how many calories to eat in order to lose weight. Each pound is worth 3500 calories. If you eat 500 calories less than you need each day, you should lose 1 pound each week. Eat 1000 less each day and you can lose 2 pounds each week. Eat 2000 less each day and watch out; if you restrict yourself too much, your body will react and slow your metabolism down. If that happens, your RMR will go down and you might not lose the weight you wanted.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weight Loss 101

Losing weight is such a hard thing to do, but the formula behind it is not very complicated. The formula to losing weight is quite simple... take in less calories than your body burns and you will lose weight.

The problem with the formula has to do with how many calories you expend each day. You can track fairly accurately how many calories you consume and you can control it pretty well, but how many did you burn each day? That is where it gets really tricky. There are so many things that affect how many calories you burn each day. The body is a very sophisticated system and it knows how to react. That's why starving yourself doesn't work. The body isn't getting enough fuel so it reacts by slowing down your metabolism so you burn less. The same works with exercise. Exercise once and your body burns a small amount of calories. Exercise regularly and the body reacts by burning more calories in anticipation of the coming workload. It's really quite cool.

So the big trick is to try to keep your metabolism revved up while eating slightly less than your body requires each day (also known as creating a calorie deficit). No simple task indeed, but it can be done. In order to do this you will need to focus on 3 things; healthy diet, adequate exercise, and proper mindset.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet revolves around balance. You should be trying to eat a wide variety of fresh foods from all the food groups. Any diet that prevents you from eating from a particular group is doomed to fail because the body will react to the restriction. How much food and in what combinations are a subject for another post, but the takeaway here is that you shouldn't be denying yourself of anything.

Adequate Exercise

When people think of exercise, they think of treadmills and stair steppers, but exercise is a whole lot more. Any activity that increases your body's need for energy can be considered exercise whether it's playing golf, walking up a flight of stairs, or having sex with your partner (the next time your wife's not in the mood tell her you need to get your exercise in). The point is your body burns calories based on the amount of activity you do each day. The only way to increase that burn is by increasing your activity level regularly.

Proper Mindset

You could maintain a healthy diet and get adequate exercise and still not lose weight without the proper mindset. Stress and other mind forces will kill your weight loss goals as easy as anything else. What makes matters worse is that an improper mindset not only affects your body, but it also affects your ability to maintain your diet and exercise routine. One bad day in your mind can hurt your weight loss plans 3 times! No one can maintain the proper mindset all the time but you have to remain conscious of your thoughts if you want to lose weight. Did you ever start a weight loss journey and then skip a day of exercise? Did you feel guilty later in the day because you skipped your workout so you bought some ice cream to feel better? Did you wake up the next morning and decide to give up because you felt so worthless from the previous day? Mindset is the most powerful factor in determining your success and I would argue it's the only one that's an absolute requirement for getting control of your weight. There are people out there who have lost weight by just eating better and there are those who have lost weight by just increasing their activity levels, but I doubt there's anyone out there who lost a lot of weight (and kept it off) without the proper mindset.

One last consideration for any weight loss journey should be time. It took a long time to get heavy, and so it stands to reason that the journey to take the weight off will most likely take a long time as well. As a society we do not handle time well. We want everything to happen now. Books on losing weight fast and TV Shows like "The Biggest Loser" only add to our desire to change instantly. You will find that most people that are truly successful at taking weight off (and keeping it off) did it over a long period of time. Keep this nugget about time in your mindset toolbox and you will be better off. Give yourself time to do it right.

Also remember this, even though it will take a long time...

"The journey of a thousand mile starts with the first step" - Confucius

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Weight Loss Goals

Ok, Time to lay out my goals and rewards:


  1. My weekly goal is 1.5 pounds
  2. My second goal is to get below 275 by the end of the year
  3. My third goal is to lose 40 pounds between Jan1, 2010 and July1 2010
  4. My last goal is to get to 199 before I turn 40 (July 2012)
The first goal is just a standard goal that I always shoot for. On most weeks if I eat to plan and exercise I usually lose 1-2 pounds.
The second goal is a challenge toward dealing with changes in my normal routine. I am traveling north for Thanksgiving, and then I am going on a family vacation the last week of the year. In order to lose 18 pounds in the last 7 weeks this year, I'm going to have to deal with being away from home and outside my routine.
The 3rd goal has some big significance to me. Next summer I am going to Maine to visit with my family and a lot of old friends. Because I live in Virginia, I haven't seen a lot these people in several years. I really would like to surprise everyone by showing up a slimmer, healthier person.
Now I know what you are thinking about my last goal: "it seems a little weak". To be honest, I'm hoping to get to 199 long before I hit 40, but at the same time I'm trying to be realistic. Even at my current weight I go through periods where I don't lose anything. This year is a perfect example. In the first quarter of this year I went from 314 to 289 (25 pounds in 3 months). Since then I have managed to keep most of it off, but the days of losing 2 pounds each week have come to a halt. Now I'm back at it trying hard again, but I am certain I will run into those periods of no losses now and then. I am also thinking that as I get closer and closer to my goal, it's going to get harder and harder to lose weight.


Now for some rewards. I decided not to tie my rewards directly to my goals (except for the first one) and instead focusing on reaching certain milestones:
  1. If I reach my weekly goal, I will allow myself to eat a little more on the weekend. (my calories should not increase by more than 20%)
  2. When I reach 270 I'm going to buy a mountain bike. I love biking but at my weight it can be hard on the bike (and my ass). When I get to 270 (hopefully by March) I'm going to buy a bike and start riding regularly with my oldest daughter.
  3. When I reach 230 I'm going to start playing hockey again. I love hockey! I played organized hockey all through my childhood. By the time I hit college I was too big to play anymore but a lot of my friends played in a pickup league. It was hard to not be able to participate. When I hit 230 I'm going to look into joining a men's recreational league in Roanoke.
  4. When I hit my final goal of 199 I'm going to take a big vacation. It might be a cruise or a trip to some far off beach or maybe even just a family trip to Disney (by then I'll be able to fit on the rides). I'll decide as I get closer to reaching it.
So these are my goals and rewards. I think the goals are SMART and the rewards fit the milestones and will help support me to the end.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Journal Update 11/14/09

It was a decent week for me. As I reported in my last post I managed to drop 5 pounds. Though it's certainly positive, there are still some oppotunities for improvement. At the same time I also managed to fight off some temptations.

Monday was probably my best day of the week. I ate all my meals and snacks as planned and got 100 ounces of water in. Tuesday was a little tougher. On Tuesday I could feel the start of a cold coming on so I felt lousy most of the day. To make matters worse I was hit with a big temptation. The factory I work at today was having a pizza party for great performance last month. This is where I struggle the most. For some reason I have a hard time separating value and cost. The pizza, soda, and cookies are all free but they have very little value. With the exception to providing me with a short term euphoria from scarfing down large quantities of free food, there’s really nothing else it can offer me. My choice… I ate the lunch I packed and then went out to my vehicle to work on my blog (small victory #2).**

Of course the food remained in the cafeteria all day and I couldn’t help but notice every time I went to refill my water. I stayed the course though, but it was tough. Hard to believe such a simple thing is so hard to control.

By Wednesday and Thursday I was pretty sick. I would've taken a day off if not for the tremendous amount of work I have going on right now. In the manufacturing world, the end of the year can be quite busy for engineers. Usually there's a big push to get everything done and paid for before the next yearly budget. Anyway, I still ate my meals and snacks, but I didn't drink much water. I might have gotten 20 ounzes in each day.

Friday brought the end of the week and I could feel the desire to go out dinner creeping in. Fortunately I got home late and my wife had already started dinner (a delicious salmon dish) so I didn't have the opportunity to ask her about going out.

Today I had to go into work, but not before getting on the scale and learning how well I did. As I mentioned before, by meeting my weekly goal I am allowing myself a few indulgences, but unfortunately I went a little too far today. When I got to work someone had bought sausage biscuits from the local fast food place. I had 2; not too bad for breakfast, but it didn't end there. At 9:00AM we had our morning meeting and again someone else brought breakfast sandwiches and doughnuts. I had one more sandwich (bacon, egg, and cheese) and a doughnut. So much for moderation!

All in all it was still a good week. It's funny, usually when I go on a diet, I hit it really hard the first week and then taper off each successive week. This time I'm taking my time and rolling things out slowly. I'm not in a hurry because this isn't a diet; it's a new way of living. I wrote down everything I ate in my food journal but I haven't checked the calories yet, and I haven't even started exercising. Maybe by taking my time, I won't get so ovewhelmed by change and fall off the wagon. Until next time...

** - Note small victory #1 was actually getting this blog started!

Weigh-in #1 - 11/14/09

I had my first weigh-in this morning and the results were positive:

Previous Weight: 297 lbs
New Weight: 292 lbs
Weekly Loss (Gain): 5 lbs
Total Loss: 5 lbs

A good start given that I didn't exercise (I'm fighting a bad cold) and I didn't drink as much water as I should have. I did eat right all week so that was a plus. Keep in mind the first week always has a water loss with it. I'm not expecting these results all the time but a loss is a loss and I'll take this one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to Set SMART Weight Loss Goals

I’ve already shared my main goal to get to 199 pounds, but is that it? What about timing? Is this a good goal? Fortunately for me my profession has given me lots of experience setting goals. As an engineer I manage a lot of projects. Projects always have objectives and goals that must be achieved. Good objectives should be SMART. SMART is actually an acronym for the 5 main components of a good objective. It stands for:

Specific – Objectives should specify exactly what they want to achieve.

Measurable – You should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives or not.

Achievable - Are the objectives you set, achievable and attainable (is it possible)?

Realistic – Can you realistically achieve the objectives?

Time – How long will it take to achieve the set objectives?

So for example, if I said my objective was to lose a lot of weight, that would not be a good goal. It’s not specific and it has no time component. It’s measurable, but I have no idea if it is achievable or realistic. What if my goal was to get to 199 pounds? Saying that my goal is to get to 199 pounds is better because it is specific, but it is still missing the time component.

What if I said I wanted to reach and maintain a weight of 199 or less before I turn 40? Its very specific, and obviously you can measure it. Is it achievable? Well I’m 6’ tall with a medium build (I’ve always told myself that I have a large frame but It’s always been one of those myths that help me to justify my weight). 199 might be tough, but my body should be able to physically reach that number so it is achievable. Is it realistic? Well I’m 37 right now so it will be 32 months before I hit 40. 98 pounds in 32 months? I think most experts would agree that this goal is achievable. And finally it has a time component so it is a good goal

Short term vs Long term goals

My goal to get to (and maintain) 199 by the time I’m 40 is a good goal, but it will take me 3 years to get there! That’s a long time to wait to see if I met my goal. In order to track my progress I need to set some short terms goals.

How much time you should have between short term goals is really up to the person setting them. There should be enough short term goals to help keep you motivated, but not so many as to take away from the final result. There’s a few things to keep in mind when setting short term goals:

1. They still need to use the SMART format

2. They should not conflict with the long term goal. For instance, if I set a short term goal to lose 2 pounds each month, it would be in conflict with my long term goal to lose 98 pounds in 32 months (2 pounds/month x 32 months = only 64 pounds).

3. Whenever possible try to avoid setting short term goals that build off each other. For example, what if I said I wanted to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year (short term goal #1) and then 60 pounds by the end of march (short term goal #2)? if I miss my first goal it gets that much harder to meet my second goal because the second goal assumes that I met the first. A better choice would be to set a goal to lose 30 pounds every 3 months.

4. Short term goals should be harder than the long term goal. The idea is to push yourself in these short bursts in order to set you up to reach your final goal. A goal of losing 6 pounds each month is tough and much more than needed to reach my ultimate goal. But by doing that I know that if I don’t meet my goal every month, I still have a chance to come out on top in the end.

5. Short term goals can be dynamic. You don’t have to set all of your short term goals at once. Instead you can wait to see how well you perform on one short term goal and then use that knowledge to adjust and set a new short term goal. Maybe after trying to lose 6 pounds each month for 3 months, you see that you missed you goal every month. You could then adjust for the next 3 month to a new level. It’s possible that the goal you set was not Realistic.


So what should you do when you meet your goals? For some people just the recognition that they achieved something they set out to do is reward enough. For the rest of us something more tangible is needed. Maybe a reward for losing weight could be to take trip you always wanted, or maybe you could buy new clothes. There’s a few things to keep in mind when deciding rewards:

First, rewards should be on the same scale as the goal. Taking a trip to Jamaica because you lost 5 pounds doesn’t seem to fit nor does buying a new ball cap after you lose 100. Maybe you can take that trip when you reach your final goal. Make sure your rewards fit your goals.

Also, rewards shouldn’t conflict with your ultimate goal. Eating a 5 gallon bucket of ice cream every time you lose 5 pounds is a sure fire way to keep you from losing 100. Now before I get a bunch of comments calling me a hypocrite because I said I would cut myself some slack on the weekends if I meet my weekly goal, let me clarify a little. You need to give yourself a break once in a while. If you take things too seriously, eventually you will crack and then things get a lot worse. I’ve learned this painfully through experience. A little treat now and then is OK, but it shouldn’t be your driver for success. If you allow yourself to live a little now and then that’s OK. When I post my goals you will see that this minor indulgence is not the driver for my overall journey.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Weight Loss Plan

Now it’s time to share my plan. So far this week I’ve been eating healthy, but eating healthy is just a start. In order to be successful I need a good plan that includes how much I’m going to eat, exercise, and how I’m going to track my goals. It also needs to include how I plan to reward myself as I progress through my plan. So without further ado here’s the plan I’m going to start with:

1. Keeping track of what I eat - I’m going to track my calorie intake each day. Now I know what you are thinking “keeping track of calories is a lot of work”. I used to think that as well, but I’ve found a method that seems to be pretty easy. I bought a little notebook a while back and I carry it with me everywhere I go. Every time I eat or drink something, I write it in my little book. Then when I have time I enter it into a spreadsheet I made on my PC. Putting it in the notebook takes no time and entering it into my PC takes less than an hour. I’m going to do a post on tracking calories within the next few weeks, so for now we’ll leave it at that. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t get hung up on every single calorie I consume. Having the optimum calorie intake for weight loss is not an exact science and I know that most people under-count how many calories they get. For me it’s more about getting into a range and taking into account the fact that I might have missed some calories here and there.

2. Setting calorie limits - I’m going to target my calories to a specific daily level. Again, I will be doing a post soon on determining ideal calorie levels so for now I’m not going to say what that level is just yet. It will probably be somewhere between 2000 and 2500 calories

3. Spreading out the calories - In addition to having a target for daily calories, I’m also going to spread the calories over the entire day with the majority coming before dinner. It does no good to starve all day long in order to have a 2500 calorie dinner at 7:00PM. If anything, I would rather eat more in the morning and have a chance to burn it off during the day.

4. Balance the meals - My eating will consist of 5-6 meals each day. The meals will be spread out 2-4 hours apart. Each meal will contain a balance of protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables.
Drinking Water - I will also be targeting my water intake to 80-100oz each day. That might sound like a lot, but that’s really only 1 20oz glass of water between each meal. I’ve done this before in the past and have found drinking a lot of water has been one of the most important parts in determining my level of success.

5. Exercise Regularly - In addition to eating right, I also need exercise. I am currently developing a workout plan for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. I’ve started getting up at 5:30AM each morning so that when I’m ready, I will do my workouts first thing in the morning. My workouts will be a combination of strength training and cardiovascular work. I’m fortunate enough to have an elliptical trainer and a weight bench so the majority of my exercise will take place in my home. The plan is going to be dynamic (I’ll share in a later post) so that I can change it up every few weeks to reduce boredom.

6. Slow Down - I’ve learned through experience that one of my biggest problems is eating too quickly. To address this, I’m trying to focus on eating more slowly during my meals. This is hard; when I eat I have to consciously focus on how fast I’m eating. I’m trying to note the time I start eating and then the time that I finish so I can make sure I’m not going too fast. This will take a little getting used to.

7. Eat Fresh Foods - My diet will consist mostly of fresh foods. I’m not a big fan of pre-packaged foods because they are always loaded with salt, fillers, preservatives, HFCS and generally other bad things that don’t help your body. Going totally 100% fresh is impractical but I will be eating fresh food as much as possible.

8. Finding Balance - I feel like part of a healthy lifestyle is about having balance. If you eat too much all the time, you gain weight. On the other hand, if you deprive yourself of too much, you end up resenting the lifestyle and go on huge “binges” (and still gain weight). This is something I have learned through many failures. I’ve discovered that weekends are the toughest for me so I plan to cut myself some slack on the weekends. However, this comes with a few strings attached; As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to weigh myself every Saturday morning. If I’ve met my goal for the previous week, then I will allow myself to indulge a little over the weekend (keeping in mind that these indulgences will have an impact on my next weigh-in). These indulgences can include going out to eat, but not more than once over the weekend. They can also include some of my favorite foods, but they need to be in moderation. Finally, no matter if I met my weekly goal or not, I am going to allow myself 1 meal where I can have anything I want (again, it must be in moderation).

9. Dealing with Changes in the Routine - When I go on vacation or out with friends, I will not force myself to suffer. Instead of depriving myself I will feel free to eat whatever I like but will try to keep everything in moderation (probably going to be one of my toughest challenges). I will also continue to exercise either directly (hotel gyms) or indirectly (long walks or fun activities that involve moving around).

10. Monitor my state of mind - People think that dieting is all about physical actions (eating less, exercising, etc) but they don't realize that's only half the problem. The other half has to do with your emotional state. How many times have you eatned because you were depressed? mad? stressed? Recognizing these times and being aware of how they affect your healthy lifestyle is a very important thing. This is something that I have given little attention in the past so I need to be cognizant of my state of mind. This blog is a great way to capture those things as I will be doing regular journal updates.

So that's it; piece of cake right? It’s important to notice that this plan is not so much a rigorous diet as it is a lifestyle plan. There’s nothing in here that couldn’t be done for the rest of my life. Now maybe when I hit my goal I might stop counting calories, but the idea here is to create a healthy lifestyle plan, not just something I’m going to do short term to lose weight. That’s why most diets fail, they are designed to provide short term results; not geared toward long term living. As I progress through my journey I might find that I need to tweak this plan a little but for now I think this a good start.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Ground Rules for my Weight Loss Journey

The first thing I probably need to do is lay down the ground rules for this journey:

1. I am going to lose this weight through good old determination. Eating right, exercising, common sense, and support from family and friends are the only tools I will be using. No pills, surgeries, or other weight loss “tricks” will be employed.

2. I will NOT be using any specific diet plan such as Atkins, South Beach, Etc. I do not believe in “diet plans” (though I’ve been on dozens of them in the past). There will probably be several posts that talk about why I believe diets and diet plans don’t work.

3. My starting weight is 297 as measured on a Wii Fit Scale. I’m going to weigh myself typically on Saturday morning and report my results each week.

4. Should one of my appendages be severed, it will be weighed and deducted from the starting weight (hey you never know).

5. It is my intention to continue reporting on this until I reach my goal. As I have success, I will share it and when I fail I will also share that as well. I am not so naive as to believe there will never be bad times through this process. When I have setbacks, I am going to put a lot of focus on analyzing the failure so that I can learn from it and prevent it from happening again (it’s the engineer in me). I welcome others to participate in this process as well!

6. I’m going to try to write at least 3-4 times each week, but don’t hold me to it. I’ll probably write a lot more here in the beginning as I share some of my past as well.

7. I welcome and will try to respond to all constructive feedback. I know a lot about weight loss, but even with my knowledge, I still struggle with the mental focus needed. If you have a comment, please post or email me directly at FogDog77@gmail.com.

8. I will absolutely NOT make any excuses. I will have good times and bad times on this journey. I do not believe in excuses, I am 100% responsible for all that happens to me good or bad.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Final Straw

As I was staring down at a disgusting toilet in the local Walmart heaving the last remnants of my dinner, I came to the realization that I had finally hit bottom with my eating. Just 1 hour earlier my family and I were enjoying a fine meal at Olive Garden. “Appetizer?” Of course, let’s get the spinach and artichoke dip. “Salad and breadsticks?” You bet, I think I had 4 breadsticks and 2 bowls of salad before my entrée came out. Of course my entrée was one of the biggest items on the menu but that didn't matter. By the time I was done I was starting to get that sick feeling I get when I have eaten too much. By then it was too late. 10 minutes down the road and my stomach was rolling, I’m actually amazed I made it all the way into Walmart before I got sick.

“Why did I eat so much?” “How come I can’t stop?” “What’s wrong with me?” These questions were going through my mind as we rode home. I wish I could say that this hasn’t happened to me before, but it has. In fact, over the last few years this has happened to me several times. So what was different this time that made me feel like I hit a new low? Well for starters I sort of feel like anytime an addiction is causing you to pray to the porcelain gods you’re probably at a low point. But that’s not all. What made me really feel like I hit a new low was what had happened to me in the 7 days that led me to the Walmart moment.

On the previous weekend I had decided to get back to eating healthy. Before I could do that I felt like I needed one last big meal to kick it off (how many times have you had "the last supper?"). So I took the family out eat ... and then again ... and then again ... and then for lunch ... and then dinner again. Before I knew it, I had managed to go out to eat 10 times over the course of 7 days! In a week's time I had managed to add 5 pounds to my weight without much effort at all. What makes it even worse is that I didn’t really enjoy a single one of those meals, it was all about "getting ready". By mid week my brain was telling me to "enjoy it now" since the week was already shot.

So what’s this blog all about? Well, I’ve decided that I've had enough! I'm going to fight my demons and change my ways and I’m going to share my story through the entire process. Currently I weigh 297 pounds and I’m going to start the journey to 199. Through the process I’m going to share my successes and failures with all who want to see. Also I’m going to share my vast knowledge about being healthy. Over my lifetime I’ve spent countless hours researching this topic so I’ve got a lot to offer on different types of diets and exercise. Who better to give advice on weight loss than someone actually living it. I’ve always had the tools to lose the weight, but what I’ve always been missing was the understanding of mental side of the addiction. That’s what I’m going to have to learn if I want to be successful. So sit back and enjoy the ride. Ultimately I hope my story will inspire others to get control of their weight, but before that I need to inspire myself. Wish me luck.