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!

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.