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!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

30 Day Weight Loss Challenge

(Editor's Note - The original post had the goal set at 20 pounds in 30 days.  Originally the challenge started at 15 pounds in 30 days, but due to male egos, some last minute discussions caused the ante to be upped to 20 pounds.  Since then reality has set in and the original agreement of 15 pounds in 30 days has been re-instated)

Ok, I've talked about this in my last few posts and now it's time to share it.  A good friend and I have entered into a 30-day weight loss challenge.  The challenge is tough and the stakes are high.  What makes this one interesting is that my friend and I have quite a few differences that give us advantages or disadvantages in the challenge.  I'll go through some of them in a minute, but first let me lay out the details of the challenge.

The goal of the challenge is for both of us to lose 15 pounds in 30 days!  To make it more challenging, it's not even 30 days.  We weighed in Thursday evening and our final weigh-in is on the morning of March 26 so it's really 15 pounds in 28 days.  I know it seems like a lot but we will both lose 5 pounds in water weight this first week (I've put on 7 pounds this week but most of that is just water retention).  After that initial big loss, it will still be hard to get to 15, but certainly possible.  Also because of schedule problems we had to weigh in on Thursday evening and our final weigh-in will be in the morning so you can expect another pound or 2 just from weighing in at a different time of day.

The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start: Lose Weight, Get in Shape, and Start Living the Biggest Loser Lifestyle Today!

Now of course we are men and a challenge isn't a challenge if money doesn't change hands.  If we both meet the goal and lose at least 15 pounds, then the only money to exchange hands is $1.  Whoever loses the most gets it.  However, if only 1 person meets the goal, the person who doesn't make it has to pay more.  If someone doesn't make it they have to pay $20 for every pound short of the goal.  This means someone has the potential to lose $300.  I like this style of challenge because you are in control of your own destiny.  Regardless of how well the other person does, as long as you do what you are supposed to do and reach the goal the most you'll be out is $1.  If neither of us makes it, then it's still $20 per pound but it's based on the difference between our losses.  So for instance if I lose 14 pounds and he loses 12, then he owes me $40.

So here's a little breakdown of the challengers:


FogDogBig D.


FogDog Background - Most of you know my story, but I'll offer a brief background anyway.  I'm married with 3 kids and have been overweight most of my life.  At my peak I hit 349 pounds and several years ago I started focusing on improving my health.  I've come a long way and I've learned a lot about losing weight, but have always seemed to struggle with the mental side of the weight loss equation.  Most days I eat a very healthy diet, but I'm definitely not as active as I should be.  My goal is to break the 200 pound barrier before I turn 40.

Big D. Background - Big D.'s story is in complete contrast to mine.  Big D. is single and lives by himself.  His girlfriend is in NY so he travels frequently to visit her.  He's young and very active and has one of those metabolisms that I would kill for.  Unlike me, Big D. has never been overweight, but the years of eating lots of junk food are starting to catch up to him and his metabolism is slowing.  In addition, he had major knee surgery about 2 years ago which has slowed his active lifestyle a little bit and presents some challenges as he starts to workout regularly. 


Metabolism - Advantage goes to Big D.  He's younger and has a more active lifestyle.  Currently he eats a ton of junk and still manages to not gain a lot of weight

Experience - Advantage goes to FogDog.  I've been dieting my whole life and know a lot about what works for me and what doesn't.  Big D. has really no experience with dieting.  I have been coaching him a little to help him out a little, but he will need to find a plan that works for him.

Support - No advantage.  I'm married and have the support of my family.  Big D. is single and lives alone with his dog.  The reason why I give no advantage here is that having my family to support me can be as much a disadvantage as it is an advantage.  My wife can help make nutritious meals, but I also have to watch her when she decides to eat a piece of cake.

Lifestyle - Big advantage to FogDog.  I lead a boring lifestyle; I work Monday-Friday and have a very repetitive daily routine.  Big D. works 12 hour rotations, half on days and half on nights.  From day to day his schedule changes plus he travels regularly to NY.

Determination - I'm going to give a slight advantage to Big D.  I don't want to lose money, but honestly my head isn't into this as I would like at the moment.  I'm hoping that as I get into it more, my determination will also increase but right now I'm struggling in my head.


FogDog's Weight Loss Plan - My plan is fairly simple... Keep doing what I've been doing but make a couple small tweaks.  I currently take in about 2500 calories each day.  I'm going to adjust that down to 2000 calories (this has been harder to do than I originally thought).  I'm also going to increase my exercise levels to 1 hour each day 6 days each week.  It will consist of 30 minutes strength training followed by 30 minutes of cardio.  I will also be targeting 120 oz. of water each day as well.  I will still allow myself 1 cheat meal each week, but I will not be "taking it easy" on the weekends as I have been lately.

Big D's Weight Loss Plan - Big D's plan is centered around not eating junk food.  He's going to try to stay away from all the fast food joints and focus on creating healthy meals at home and buying pre-packaged healthy meals such a Lean Cuisine.  For exercise, Big D. will be walking his dog everyday for 45 minutes and he will doing cardio workouts at the local gym whenever his hectic schedule allows it.

Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss

So there it is folks, the 30 day challenge has begun!  I will not be posting weekly numbers for the next month as we both agreed that we would only weigh-in at the beginning and the end, but I will be posting regularly to let everyone know how I'm doing.  Based on what I've written, who do you think will win FogDog or Big D.?  Do you think either of us can reach the very tough goal of 15 pounds?  Got any advice for either of us?  Leave a comment and let me know. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hospitals Are No Fun

It's been almost a week since my last post.  Sorry for the long blackout, but believe me when I say I had more important things on my mind:

This has been one of the most emotionally draining weeks I've had in a very long time.  On Sunday my 3 year old daughter was hospitalized because her knees and hips had become so swollen that she could not walk and even picking her up was enough to cause her to shriek in pain.  For those of you who do not have kids, let me tell you that nothing is more heartbreaking than having to watch one of your children suffer in pain while you know there isn't a thing you can do about it.  To make matters worse, I had to hold my daughter still multiple times for various blood draws and IV insertions.  Every visit from the lab was meant with instant terror and the screams and pleads to let her go home will probably remain with me forever.

Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God, and Diversity on Steroids

Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending.  After several days of testing, the doctors were able to confirm that she had Lyme disease and they got her started on antibiotics.  My wife and I were absolutely thrilled at this diagnosis; the alternatives that were being explored were all much worse!  What had everyone baffled was just how fast the symptoms came on.  On Friday she had 1 slightly swollen knee and by Sunday morning she couldn't move!

Anyway, I got to bring her home on Wednesday and as of today you almost couldn't tell that she had been sick.  The swelling is almost completely gone and this morning she wanted to show me how fast she could run (even if she was still a little wobbly).  The treatment is no picnic; a month of antibiotics, but at least she's home and getting better every day.

So that brings me to the here and now.  As those of you who have been following me for a while know, I have this tendency to look for ways to learn from everything that happens to me whether it's good or bad.  As painful and emotionally draining as this process was, it did help me to see a few things about myself.

This week I essentially lived in a hospital for the better part of 3 days.  I was in 2 different emergency rooms (my daughter had to be transferred to a second hospital in the middle of this process), the OR prep area, and then in a pediatric ward.  During all that time I saw a lot of people and spent a lot of time just sitting and thinking.  There was a TV in my daughter's room, but I could only watch so many episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants before my mind started to wander.

Clearly Charming Green Ribbon Lyme Disease, Organ Donation, Missing Children Awareness Italian Charm

During my time at the hospital I came to realize 2 very important things:

The first thing I noticed was that hospitals are filled with unhealthy people - I know, shocking isn't it?  What I mean by this is that during my time at the hospital, I couldn't help but notice just how many of the people there were either overweight or diehard smokers.  During my stay at the 2 different emergency rooms, I watched as one overweight person after another passed by my daughter's room.  My guess is that of all the sick people I saw in the emergency departments, easily more than half were overweight

By the time we got to the pediatric department, I was ready for a smoke.  I've been on and off again with the smoking for a little while now and stressful situations always cause me to go "on" again.  For those of you who haven't been to a hospital in a while, the rules around smoking at hospitals have changed.  Most hospitals now are completely smoke free.  This means you are not allowed to smoke anywhere on hospital grounds.  This particular hospital we were at had setup a designated smoking area across the street underneath an overpass.  If I wanted a cigarette, that's where I had to go.  While in that area, I was absolutely shocked at the people I saw.  It was bad enough to see doctors and nurses who get to see the result of what smoking can do to you, but what was really shocking was to see actual patients!  Yes, I saw patients in their gowns and slippers... dragging IV machines behind them... in the 35 degree cold... walking across the street to go have a smoke!  In fact one older woman came out of the building with one of those little pull behind oxygen tanks, but they wouldn't let her bring it across the street (gee I wonder why).  She came over without it, had 2 cigarettes, and then went back inside.  To be honest, I am amazed that the hospital even allows it, but I guess patients have rights even if it is the right to make things worse.

My takeaway from these observations was not that hospitals are filled with unhealthy people, but rather hospitals are filled with unhealthy people that don't take care of themselves.  Being an overweight smoker is only going to increase my chances of ending up in a hospital sometime in my future.  I've started to make improvements and I have made progress, but I've got a long way to go.

The second realization that I came across while hanging out at the hospital was that my unhealthy behaviors could cause others to suffer.  I guess I've always had the belief that my bad habits would only hurt me in the long run, but now I've realized that isn't true.  Watching my daughter in pain was one of the hardest things I've had to endure.  Obviously it wasn't her fault that she was there, but it suddenly hit me that someday I could be laying there suffering from something that I could have prevented by living a healthier lifestyle.  All I could think of was my loved ones being in pain as they sat around me and watched me suffer.  It's one thing to be in the hospital for something out of your control, but it's another thing to be there for something that you could have prevented.  I do not want to have to put my family through that so I need to do whatever I can to reduce my chances of needing a hospital.

If You Love Someone Who Smokes,Get Them To Watch This Video

Without a doubt it's been a rough week.  During all this I did not exercise and my diet has been less than stellar.  No doubt I probably added a couple of pounds, but my desire to be healthy has also been renewed.  I threw my cigarettes out and haven't smoked all day.  It will be tough but I am committed to seeing it through.  I also started a 30 day weight challenge with my friend, but that's a whole other story.  I'll tell you all about it in my next post this weekend.  Stay strong people!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weigh-in #15 - 2/20/10

I realized that when I nominated people for the creative writing award, I linked them to my main page instead of the award page.  If you are here to collect your award, please go here for the instructions.

Starting Weight: 297 lbs
Previous Weigh-in: 283.8 lbs
Current Weight: 280.9 lbs
Weekly Loss (Gain): 2.9 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 16.1 lbs

A Solid loss this week!  I was a little nervous... I ate well all week and I got my exercise and water intake right, but my youngest daughter is having problems with one of her knees and she had to get blood work yesterday.  She couldn't go to gymnastics so to make her feel better I took her to McDonalds for a Happy Meal and a sundae.  I only ate 1 sandwich and fries (and the rest of my daughters sundae that she couldn't finish), but I was worried all the salt would cause me to retain water.  I guess not.

My friend is back in town today, so I'm going to see if he's still up for the 30 day challenge.  If so I'll put it out here early in the week.  I'm pretty excited; it's going to be a tough challenge!

Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creative Writer Award

Thank you to Weezel at "What Scares You" for presenting me with this prestigious blog award. In a few moments, I will be bestowing the honor on a few of you per the rules below.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth.
5. Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

The Soul of Creative Writing 

Here are my outrageous lies (and 1 truth):

  1. I've discovered a hidden code in the South Beach Diet book.  When deciphered it gives you a kickin' recipe for a lentil soup
  2. I once tried out to play for the Boston Bruins.  They wanted me to play but I refused because #77 was already taken
  3. I also sent in an audition for "The Biggest Loser" They rejected me because they said I was too fat
  4. My mom is head chef at a famous 5-star restaurant
  5. I once ate an entire Thanksgiving turkey all by myself (and then had dessert)
  6. I am in the movie "Graveyard Shift".  The film was made at the factory I worked at and the camera caught me while I was stuffing my face and watching the action
  7. I've used a Thighmaster, Buns of Steel Videos, and I've "Sweated to the Oldies"
Feel free to guess which one is true.

I nominate the following blogs for this award.
  1. The Daily Diary of a Winning Loser
  2. My 365-Day Weight Loss Journey
  3. Fat Daddy Rants
  4. Eat To Live in 2010
  5. The Fat Chick's Dating Manifesto (I'm not female or single, but I like the style)
  6. Journeying to Lose 200 Pounds... The Triumph of Perseverance
  7. 100 Pounds Less
I love the style of each one of these blogs and they are filled with inspiration as well as sound diet tips.  Thanks for sharing!

The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How I Lost 175 Pounds

No, there's no typo in the title, I've lost 175 pounds!  Here's how I did it:

20 pounds in middle school
25 pounds in high school
30 pounds in college
35 pounds in North Carolina
65 pounds on my latest journey

Now I apologize for the teaser title, I never did say I lost it and kept it all off.  There is a point to this article, however,  that I think is very important to anyone trying to lose weight.  I learned a lot from all these losses and I'll share these learnings shortly.  But first I need to re-live these events to put things in perspective...

  • In middle school I weighed 180 and the weight limit to play football was 160.  I lost 20 pounds in 3 weeks when my parents put me on a grapefruit and egg diet.  Essentially I ate nothing but hard-boiled eggs and drank nothing but grapefruit juice for the entire diet.  On the last day I threw up and 25 years later I can still remember how sick I was from that diet.  I didn't eat hard-boiled eggs for years and I've never had another sip of grapefruit juice.
  • As a freshman in high school I weighed 220.  On valentine's day the school had one of those charity events where you could buy a carnation for someone special.  You could get a red one for love, pink for a secret admirer, or white for a friend.  As a football jock I had a lot of good looking friends and I watched them all get tons of carnations.  Me?  I got 1 white one that I later learned came from one of my relatives.  I decided I would go on a diet.  The flavor of the month back then was low fat, so I basically shunned anything that had any fat in it and consequently that meant shunning anything that had any flavor.  I ate a lot of rice cakes during that time.  I lost 25 pounds in my freshman year.
  • After my first year in college I weighed 310.  I got a job cleaning the dorm rooms during the summer.  The job came with a free room in one of the dorms but it was essentially empty so my evenings were quite lonely.  I took it as an opportunity to try again to lose some weight.  By then it wasn't just low fat, but high carbs that was supposed to make you lose weight because they digest so quickly.  I had a microwave, so my dinners were ramon noodles or pasta.  I also incorporated some exercise; I started jogging each night and I had a book on getting a flat belly by doing a whole list of ab exercises.  I did lose about 30 pounds that summer but I didn't get the six-pack abs.
  • When I got out of college and then moved down to NC, my wife and I started a routine of eating out almost every night.  We never lived in a big city and to have so many restaurants nearby was just too much temptation.  Within 2 years I had ballooned up to 349!  My mom told me about a new diet called The Six Week Body Makeover.  Unlike past diets, this one required me to eat 4oz of protein 6 times a day and carbs were rare.  I also couldn't have any salt, sugar, or dairy at all and I had to drink 100+ oz. of water.  This was my most successful diet; I lost 45 pounds in six weeks.  After the first six weeks I tried to do the diet again, but it was just so hard because it was so restrictive.  Once off the diet, most of the weight came right back.
  • A year later my first daughter was born.  By the time she was 2 my focus had shifted from my weight which was about 315, to my smoking.  When I quit, it stuck, but the price I paid was in my weight.  A year later I was back at 349.  It should be noted that I've always listed my max weight at 349.  Twice in my life I've seen that number on a scale, but the reality is that I was probably even heavier.  The scale I had only went to 330, but it would roll over so you could add more if you weighed more.  I suspect that I probably went beyond the physical boundaries of the scale but since it never read more than 349, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
  • That brings me to the journey I'm on now.  I started it about 2 years ago at 349 (still sticking to my story).  My first phase was using The Abs Diet that I read about in Men's health.  I like the Abs Diet because it's not really a diet; it is more like a guide toward what you should eat and there are no restrictions.  I was pretty successful with this diet and lost my first 35 pounds on it after 6 months.  The next six months brought a time of no gain or loss.  I was very busy remodeling my house so I didn't focus on my diet but I was more active and I think that made up for it.  The important thing was that for the first time the weight didn't come back.  Looking back it was because I stayed active, and I had begun to learn how to eat right instead of restricting myself all the time.
  • At the start of last year I was at 315 when I started the bet with my friend.  This brought me a lot of motivation.  In 6 months I lost another 25 pounds.  This time I decided the way to go was to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.  I kept the parts of my other diets that made sense and threw out all restrictions.  The weight didn't come off really fast, but it did come off regularly.  After 6 months my family and I moved to Virginia.  It sounds like an excuse, but the move was tough on everyone and when I got here the recession was just beginning.  Through this time I bounced between 299 and 290 regularly.  Again though, I didn't gain all the weight back...I think I'm on to something here.
So here I am now back at it.  I'm losing weight slowly and as of this writing I'm in the 280's placing me at 65 pounds so far.  I still have a long way to go but I've learned a lot from my success and from my past failures:

  1. Be wary of fad diets - Back in the 80's the grapefruit diet was one of the big fad diets.  The diet I did was a variation of it and looking back I realize just how unhealthy it was.  Now before you go blaming my parents, remember there wasn't as much information about healthy diets back then as there is now.  Also, the diet was successful and they spared me the humiliation of not being able to play football because of my weight.  Some fad diets or reasonable, but some are downright dangerous!
  2. Exercise and physical activity is required - Did you notice that I gained 90 pounds between high school and college?  In high school I gained roughly 10 pounds each year.  When I got to college I turned the freshman 15 into the freshman 50.  The reason for that was the abrupt change in my physical activity.  I played all sorts of sports up through high school but it stopped when I went to college.
  3. Any eating style that cannot be maintained indefinitely is likely to fail - The Six Week Body Makeover worked great but was so restrictive it was impossible to maintain.  Most diet books have the same format;  They devote half the book to the science of why their diet works followed by the other half telling you how to do the diet.  Then at the end there's a cursury 10 pages or so that tell you what you should do after you've lost the weight.  Usually it involves "loosening" the restrictions set forth on the original diet.  They tell you to "eat normal" weekends, or go off the diet until you see some weight creeping back in and then go back on.  If this paragraph describes the book you are currently reading, learn what you can then throw the book in the trash.  (Note - authors and publishers are not stupid.  Current trends have shown a migration towards creating a long term sustainable diet.  Just because the book calls it's plan a "lifetime change in eating style" doesn't make it so.  Read between the lines and decide for yourself if you could live the plan forever).
  4. Trends change over time - First fat was bad, then it was OK if it was the right kind.  Cholestoral nearly killed the egg council...until they discovered there was good and bad types of cholestoral.  Next came carbs...Glycemic index anyone? Now the enemy is HFCS and artificial ingredients.  There will always be a new diet discovery of the month and many times they contradict each other.  Science discovers new things all the time.  Try what's reasonable and throw out anything that sounds too good to be true.
  5. Don't be afraid to try new things...then learn what works for you and what doesn't.  The best diet you can go on is YOUR OWN DIET.  When you try to follow someone else's diet, it's easy to pass the buck.  If it doesn't work you can easily blame the diet.  Even if it does work, it wasn't yours so as soon as you stop you go back living your bad diet.  By all means try different things and learn what works for you... then make your diet your own.

No matter what changes come about, the one diet style that can't be beat is a balanced diet and plenty of exercise.  It may not be fancy and it definitely isn't fast, but it does work.  I've learned this through many years as a dieter and so far it is still proving to be true.  Maybe you should give it some thought.  How much weight have you lost in your lifetime?  What can you learn from it?

[Photo: Flickr / Graham Richardson]

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Bitter Pill To Swallow

I meant to write this post yesterday but I got called in to work and ended up spending my whole day (and most of the night) there. Although I don’t particularly enjoy working on my day off, it does provide me with some weight loss benefits. When I have to go in to work, it’s because a piece of equipment is broken and needs to be fixed immediately. The work is usually intense with lots of moving around and little time to stop and eat. From noon yesterday until 3AM, my diet consisted of 1 Whopper with small fries (my only option at 10PM) and a Fiber Bar. I also drank about 80oz of water, so I did pretty well yesterday. What I liked the most about it is that I was so busy I didn't even think about eating.

Fiber One Bars Oats & Chocolate, 5-Count Boxes (Pack of 12)

Anyway, I wanted to spend a little time writing about what happened to me last week. As I said in my weigh-in post, I felt liked I got kicked in the teeth. Earlier in the week I had written a post about making sure you win those little battles. I was feeling pretty good because I had quite of few of those little wins and I was feeling like things were all starting to come together. But with those feelings came another foe that sometimes strikes without warning… complacency. When things are going bad, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to make things better, but when you are doing well, there’s this tendency to stop pushing yourself because you are already doing well… more on this in a moment.

When I hit the scale I was extremely disappointed. I felt like I squandered what was a good thing and it made me sick just thinking about it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a loss over a gain anytime; usually when I comment on other people’s blogs, I encourage people to see any loss as a good thing. For me though, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t lose a lot of weight, it was more about missing the opportunity that was right in front of me.

After starting the week off well, I started to get that feeling of being on the right track. With that, my focus waned and complacency rolled in. Being an engineer, I’ve since spent a good deal of time analyzing what went well and what went wrong for me last week:

What went well
  • Early in the week I had a lot of small victories. I managed to go all week long with chocolate cake in my house and had the will power to refrain from eating it.
  • I also got all my exercise in and I actually increased my elliptical workouts from about 1.6 miles to 3. 
  • Finally, I kept to my goal to stay off the TV and PC until 8PM each night. Unfortunately my overall activity level didn’t really go up much because I didn’t work out in the morning so I filled that empty evening time with making up missed morning workouts.
"Get Off the Couch, Potato!" How to lose inches while watching Oprah... (The Couch Potato Series, Volume 1) 

What went wrong
  • By late in the week my portion control was off. Instead of 4oz of protein, I was eating 6oz. Every meal had just a little more than normal and over the week it definitely added up.
  • I didn’t drink water like I usually do. TLEstrogen Has been posting some good stuff about the importance of water and she's absolutely right. I didn’t drink bad stuff, I just didn’t drink anything.
  • Lastly, my weight workouts weren’t as intense as they should’ve been. I’ve been having problems sleeping lately and as a result, I haven’t been getting up to work out. All week long I had to do my workouts in the evening and I know that I never work out as hard when it’s in the evening.
The results on the scale showed why I can't get complacent.  I accept responsibility for my actions, and in hindsight, the results were not surprising; they were just difficult to see.  It was indeed a bitter pill to swallow.

So this last Saturday was a bad day for me, but I decided to try something new to deal with it and I found it seems to have worked really well. After the morning weigh-in I was feeling pretty bad. I knew it would be hard to gain any motivation and I also knew that further negative behavior would just make me feel even worse. Instead of trying to fight it, I decided to give myself a day off. For all of Saturday, I didn’t worry about diet and exercise. Instead I spent the day playing with the kids and just hanging out at the house. It might sound funny, but by allowing myself a down day, it lifted my spirits and by Sunday I was back at it. I didn’t eat badly on Saturday, but I also didn’t worry about what I did eat. Those people that actually know me would say I’m a bit of a perfectionist; I think I put too much pressure on myself to do the right things all the time. To be honest it really felt good to just forget about it for a day.

Now I feel refreshed and ready to get back at it and the timing is perfect because I have some things to look forward to on the horizon. First, this is week 6 of my current workout. After 6 weeks I said I would take a week off from lifting (it’s good to let your muscles have an extended recovery periodically). After my week off I will start a new workout plan so I’m excited to do something a little different.

The second event I have coming up is a 30 day challenge with a good friend of mine. I’m going to do a separate post on the specifics, but for now I’ll say it’s going to be extremely tough to do and there’s potential for a decent amount of money to end up changing hands. This kind of challenge is right up my motivational alley! I’ll have more about it in the days to come including the rules and a side by side comparison of the challengers so you can see how we match up.

Lastly, I wanted to give a little recognition to someone who’s been fighting the weight loss battle for years and lately has been doing really well. Weezel lost another 3.5 pounds this last week bringing her total since January to 13.5! This is a great accomplishment especially when her profession has her working around food all day long. Although she doesn’t have a blog about weight loss, she does have a real interesting fiction blog called What Scares You?, and a recipe blog called What’s Cooking?. Weezel, I’m proud of the fact that my blog has inspired you, but you deserve all the credit for all the hard work you are doing. Keep it up, I have no doubt you’ll get there!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weigh-in #14 - 2/13/10

Starting Weight: 297 lbs

Last Weigh-in: 284 lbs

Current Weight: 283.8 lbs

Weekly Loss (Gain): 0.2 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 13.2 lbs

At this point I feel like I've been kicked in the teeth.  This one stings really bad.  I'll blog more about it tomorrow when I'm in a better mindset.  Good luck to all of you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Want to Lose Weight? It's The Small Battles That Count!

Even if you don't follow football you've probably heard that the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl and are this year's NFL champions.  My hat's off to the Saints on a great season and an inspirational championship for a city that could use something positive.  But this is a blog about weight loss and I find myself thinking about the parallels between sports and the goal to lose weight.  There's something to be learned from the Saints, or any champion from any sport for that matter.

When people look at a team that has just won the championship, the focus tends to be on that last championship game and the great battle that was won.  But take a step back for a moment and really think about how that team got that big win in the first place.  In order to be able play in that game the Saints had to win the NFC Championship.  In order to win the NFC Championship game, they had to first win a Divisional Playoff Game and in order to even get to that game they had to win enough games in the regular season to make the playoffs.  Now let's dig a little deeper...In order to win every one of the 16 games they won, they had to win a lot of little battles.  Every game is made up of well over one hundred plays.  In every play there are 11 individuals that all have their own personal battle to play out.  Do some simple math and you can quickly see that their road to the championship involved hundreds of thousands of little battles over the course of many months that needed to be won.  Did they win every one?  Not even close, but it's a fair assumption that they won more of those battles than they lost.

It is the same thing when you are trying to lose weight.  All too often we focus on the end result.  The Super Bowl victory of weight loss means hitting that magic number you decided on in the beginning of your journey.  We tend to put a lot of focus on that big (small) number even though it is so far away.  We also put a lot of focus on meeting our weekly goals, but rarely do we look at all those little battles that must be won day in and day out.  It's OK to have those lofty goals and to think of them once in a while but you have to think small every day.  Do you think that football player lines up for a play thinking about how he's going to win the Super Bowl?  He's thinking about one thing and one thing only...How to win the little battle that's right in front of him.

So what should you do?

  1. Try to put those end results away and focus on the job at hand.  If you don't win the daily battles you never will get to the playoffs, not to mention the championship.
  2. Use your little victories to inspire you to more little victories in the hopes that stringing them together will help you win the game.  Most goals scored come from stringing together lots of little victories, not one giant leap.
  3. Recognize you cannot win every single battle.  It's impossible, so don't even try.  Instead, when you get beat, pick yourself up off the ground, pull the grass from your helmet, and win that next little battle.  Just like a string of wins is uplifting, a string of losses is equally demoralizing.
There's one more thing to consider as well (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT).  Be aware that once in a while, one small victory can become the catalyst that ultimately hurls you toward your goal and gives you the boost you need to see it all the way to the end.  These are rare instances and there is no way to predict beforehand which one will cause it to happen.  History is full of stories of how one seemingly insignificant win changed things forever.  As I said, you have no way of knowing when this could happen, so the only way to improve your chances is to increase the number of victories you have.  Once you have it, it will instantly catapult you forward and the small battles you face will suddenly become so much easier to win. 

I'll end on a personal note that illustrates this concept.  Last night my family and I went out to dinner.  I ate reasonably well and actually saved half my meal for the next day (small victory #1).  On the way home my wife wanted to stop and get some chocolate cake for dessert and I was all for it.  When we got home I was excited about the chocolate cake but wanted to wait until after 8:00 so I could eat it while watching TV.  With an hour to kill (I promised I would avoid the TV and PC until after 8:00PM) I suddenly had this urge to do something useful.  I went into my basement and got on the elliptical trainer and knocked out 3 miles!  That's more than I ever have done at one time (small victory #2). 

After that, the chocolate cake didn't seem as appetizing.  I didn't want to undo the 3 miles that I had just worked my butt off for.  In the end I passed on the chocolate cake (small victory #3) and went to bed satisfied with the decisions I made.  Those 3 small victories are actually what inspired me to write this article.  Today I'm still feeling happy about those decisions; success can be infectious.  Who knows if somewhere down the road I might hit the scale at 199 and look back at my journey and think "I'm so glad I didn't eat that chocolate cake!"

I hope this article helps you to remember today so you can have a better tomorrow.  Win those little battles; you never know which one you may remember forever.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weigh-in #13 - 2/6/10

A good week; back on track!

Starting Weight: 297 lbs

Last Weigh-in: 285.9 lbs

Current Weight: 284 lbs

Weekly Loss (Gain): 1.9 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 13 lbs

This week I'm shooting for 2 more pounds.  I'm also going to boost my activity level in the evenings; my goal is to stay away from the TV and computer until 8:00PM.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Journal Update - 2/5/10

All in all it's been an ok week.  I was certainly better than last week, but I probably should have done better.  I ate well all week long and got at least 64oz. of water in every day.  I exercised every day except for today because I had to go shovel snow in the morning so I could get to work.  Today was a strength training day so I need to make it up tomorrow morning. 

On Wednesday I went out for lunch, and was pleasantly surprised with my performance.  I did get a soda, but then I just got the salad bar and stayed away from the burgers (even though I really wanted one so bad!).  I'm expecting that tomorrow I'll post a loss.

This week has been a lot about reflections for me.  After last week, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about my life.  During the week I wrote an article about making sure your happy because losing weight will not do it alone.  I wrote it because I've started to realize that this is one of my problems.

I think I've always used my weight as an excuse for not dealing with the things that make me unhappy.  For years I've spent my time convinced that my weight was the only reason why I wasn't happy but the reality is I can lose all the weight I want and I'll still have the issues I have now.  The last thing I want to do is go through all this trouble losing the weight only to gain it back because I'm still not happy.  I use food to make me feel better so I have 2 choices; I can stop using food to make me feel better or I can start feeling better!

So now I have 2 journeys; I'm going to lose this weight and I'm going to start focusing on what exactly makes me unhappy.  My first focus is going to be on my activity level.  I've started to realize that since we moved I have become very inactive.  Here's a sample of my typical work day:

I get up at 6:00 and (most days) I work out for 20-45 minutes.  I go to work and about 80% of my day is spent sitting at a desk.  At lunch time I eat a quick lunch and then spend the rest of it on the internet reading blogs I follow,  researching stocks, and writing drafts for my blog posts.  I get home usually around 5:30 and then spend the next hour decompressing.  Decompressing is really just a fancy word for being lazy.  I bum around on the computer, sometimes playing Miniclip games or polishing up my blog articles.  Sometimes I read a book instead and sometimes I do nothing but hang out on the couch and watch Pink Panther cartoons with my kids.  Sometime around 6:30 we eat dinner .  After that I watch the news.  Then it's back to the computer or sometimes I just sit and watch whatever happens to be on at the time.  The kids get put to bed and then me and the wife usually watch TV until 10:00.  Then it's off to bed.

How's that for being inactive?  What's interesting is that I never used to be like this before we moved.  Before we moved, I was busy renovating our old house, or doing yard work, or sometimes I would just play with the kids.  Now I do nothing.  I have plenty that I could be doing, I have a huge list of projects that need to be done.  For some reason I keep telling myself I'll do them on the weekend but then the weekend comes and nothing gets accomplished.  I won't bore you with my typical weekend, but let's just say it's not much better than my workdays.

So the first order of business on being happy again is to start being more active.  I have my list of activites and it's time to just get started.  I'm going to try to stay off the computer and TV until 8:00PM during the week.  That gives me a lot of time to get things done around the house.  We've been in our new house for almost a year and a half and I haven't done hardly anything to it to make it feel like our home (probably another source of unhappiness).

What's cool is that if I start being more active again, not only should I feel better, but it should also help me with losing weight.  Based on my diet I should be losing about 2 pounds a week, but lately it's been more like 1.  That other pound isn't coming off because I'm not moving around enough.

So wish me luck as I try to get moving a little more and mope around a little less.  Good luck to everyone out there, I hope everyone has good numbers this weekend.    

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Will You be Happy After Losing Weight?

“I will truly be happy once I lose all this weight!” Have you ever said that to yourself? I have, and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who have as well. The question is, is it really true? If you are unhappy right now what makes you think that will change just because your weight is different? The answer has to do with how our minds visualize our new, thinner selves.

When you think of being thin, what do you see? Do you see the same you now only in smaller clothes? Hell no! I bet there isn’t a soul on this planet that thinks that way when they visualize themselves being thin. What you see is a better you. You see yourself being successful at work, at love, and at life. You see a confident person taking charge of their life. You see an adventurer scaling mountains and kayaking through rapids. You see the perfect you.

The problem is this; losing weight does not turn you into the perfect person. Now granted it does improve your self esteem and your confidence, but if you are not happy right now, you may not be any happier when you are thin. In fact, I believe this is one big reason why some people lose a LOT of weight only to gain it back shortly after. Have you ever met someone who lost more than 50 pounds and then gained it all back? Have you ever wondered how in the hell they could do that? Did you think they must be nuts for allowing it to happen? Have you ever vowed that if you ever lose the weight, you will NEVER let it come back? Do you think they ever really intended for that to happen?  My guess is no, they did not intend to gain all the weight back.  Something else must have contributed to it, and that something else must have had a really strong influence in that person's life.

Well maybe the underlying issue wasn’t the weight; maybe they were just unhappy to begin with. I believe many of these people were overweight because they were unhappy, not unhappy because they were overweight. When the weight came off the unhappiness remained. That perfect self they envisioned didn’t appear, and as a result, they ended up gaining it right back because they didn't get to the root of the problem.

In fact, losing the weight could even be the source of additional unhappiness in your life:
  • Do you have friends or relatives that share the same habits as you? What if they don’t lose weight too? Will they harbor resentment toward you? Will you harbor resentment toward them? What if it’s your spouse? Will you still feel the same way about them if you change and they don’t?
  • How about your job? It’s cool to get all those compliments, but what else comes with it? Will other co-workers start to see you as a threat? Will the relationships at work change just because you weigh less? Will your boss expect more of you now that you’ve accomplished something tough?
  • How about maintaining your weight; do you think that might stress you out? Chances are if you were once severely overweight, you will most likely never be able to eat like someone that was born with a higher metabolism. Is it fair that some of your healthy friends can eat like pigs once in a while and not gain anything, but you can’t because it would instantly add 5 pounds to your weight? What will happen if you do gain 5 pounds; how will that make you feel?

Now let me say, I am not trying to argue that you shouldn’t lose weight because it might make you unhappy.  The point I'm trying to make is that the same issues you had before may still be there and new issues may also arise (it's called LIFE!)

You need to take a look at yourself and determine if  you are unhappy right now because you are overweight, or is being overweight one of the results of you being unhappy. Take some time to really think about it, the answer might not be as obvious as you think.

If you discover that you are unhappy, then take steps to fix the unhappiness while you lose the weight. Don’t put off one in favor of the other, you can work on improving your happiness and work on losing weight at the same time. Use you success in one to build confidence in the other.

Think about what your new life really will be like when you lose the weight. Think about you current relationships; how will they change? Think about what you really will look like; will your style change or just your shirt size? What new activities do you think you might try? What old habits will remain no matter what you do? Try to get a true picture of what you will be like instead of a mythical vision of the perfect you.

Losing a lot of weight is a big change and can have a huge impact on your quality of life. With that in mind, however, don’t just assume that a positive change in one part of your life will automatically bleed into other parts of your life and make you perfect. Accomplishing your goal of losing weight is great way to start becoming a better you, but it is only one part of the equation. Think about those other parts and deal with the problems now. If you don’t, you might not like the new, thinner you.

Will you be happy after you lose the weight?