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!

Friday, March 26, 2010

30 Day Challenge - And the winner is...

First, a review of the rules:  The purpose of the 30 day challenge was to see who could lose more weight in a month; me or my good friend known as Big D.  The idea was to create a challenge that was tough, motivating, and also allowed both players to be in control of their own destiny.  The result was setting a goal of 15 pounds.  If both players lost at least 15 pounds, then whoever lost more received $1 (for bragging rights).  If however the goal was not met, then the loser paid $20 for every pound short of 15!  The stakes were high but as long as you lost 15 pounds, the most money you could lose was a buck.  Both me and Big D. had advantages and disadvantages which made it an interesting bet.  Could my family support and stable schedule beat out Big D's youth and his advantage of not already being on a diet (everyone knows when you start a diet you get great 1st week numbers)?  The answer was discovered at 7:00AM this morning...

My performance over the month was very good.  My wife helped me to remain accountable for ALL my calories and I learned that in the past I have grossly underestimated what I was taking in.  For the duration I held my calories constantly at 2000-2100.  I did go out to eat twice during the challenge but on both occasions I behaved reasonably well.  As far as exercise went, I did start to slack off a little in the end.  In week 3 I missed a few workouts, but only in the name of doing other activities that required exertion.  In the last week I caught a nasty chest cold and didn't workout one bit.  I should probably cut myself some slack because it was a really bad cold, but I do think I should've found a way to get some exercise in.  The lack of exercise in the last week really had me nervous, but there were some signs of doing well such as people noticing I looked thinner and being able to adjust my belt in one notch.

Big D's performance was also very good.  He avoided fast food completely and also only ate out a couple times during the event despite making 2 trips to visit his girlfriend in NY.  He ate several small meals each day, got plenty of protein, drank lots of water, and avoided salt as much as possible (I did actually give him some advice before we started and was happy to see he listened).  For exercise he walked his dog every day and went to the gym as much as possible to workout on a bike (he even went to some spin classes with his girlfriend when he was out of town).  At the start of the challenge he was walking 3 miles each day and by the end he was up to 6!  I was actually amazed at how much Big D. changed his ways during the challenge.

When Big D. arrived at my house this morning we both talked about how we thought we might come out.  I thought maybe I hit about 10 pounds.  I had been sick all week and felt extremely bloated like I might be retaining a bunch of water.  Big D. thought he might hit about 12 pounds but said there was no way in the world that he hit 15.  Then he accused me of trying to mess with his head and he mentioned that several people at work had noticed I lost weight.  I did truly think that I only lost 10 pounds (12 max).  We flipped a coin and I lost so he made me get on the Wii scale first...

Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board

FogDog Starting Weight - 288.1
FogDog Final Weight - 270.9
FogDog Total Loss on the 30 Day Challenge - 17.2 Pounds

You could have knocked me over with a feather!  Of course now Big D. was convinced that I had been messing with him (truly I was not), but he congratulated me on hitting such a high number. 

Next was his turn; after posting such a big number, clearly you could see he was really worried that he was going to lose...

Big D. Starting Weight - 256.4
Big D. Final Weight - 235.0
Big D. Total Loss on the 30 Day Challenge - 21.4 Pounds

The winner by 4.2 Pounds ... BIG D.!

To be honest, I was thrilled to see how well he had done, and was happy to give up the dollar.  I had told him a few days before that he deserved to win.  Don't get me wrong, I worked hard to lose my weight, but I was already on that path; I simply amped up my efforts.  Big D. made a total transformation and to me that was quite impressive!  More importantly, I think Big D. recognizes what he needs to do to keep the weight off and that's a victory in itself.

A Bite at a Time: From the Heart to the Mind, Inspiration and Motivation for Weight Loss

Although I lost the bet, I still have plenty of things to celebrate and I am thrilled with the results.  This weigh-in brought me a bunch of victories all at once:
  1. I met the 30-day challenge goal
  2. I hit my mid term goal of 275 and now get my reward (bring on the mountain bike!)
  3. I helped to inspire a friend to make some healthy changes
  4. I have now reached a weight that I have not seen since before my freshman year in college
  5. Finally (and this is the biggest one for me) I have now crossed over the half way point in my journey to 199!  I started at 349 a couple years ago so 275 was a big number for me.  I cannot, and will not be stopped!
So my hat's off to Big D. for a great race.  By the way, we've already started planning the next challenge and the first rule we decided on was when we weigh in, if our starting weight is higher than our current weight from this morning there will be severe penalties.

To my other friend DJ (whom I have a longer term bet with) I'll say this:

I might be way ahead of you now, but don't give up! All it takes is a spark to get it going again and I know you can do it.  If you need a little incentive, just start thinking about how much money you are going to owe me if you stay where you are at.  I'm going on vacation in Maine in July and if I can keep it going, I might just be stopping by your house to collect!

To all the rest of you out there, I hope this story inspires you to keep on going.  It may be hard and it may be slow, but the small victories are what keep us going.  Just keep chipping away at it and don't let the setbacks rule your journey.  If you don't give up, you too will get to feel what it's like to hit your halfway point.  Trust me on this, after hitting that mark, my resolve to see it through to the end has never been stronger!

Now I'm off for a vacation so I probably won't be back in the blog world until next weekend.  My goal is to not gain any weight while I'm gone and I will be resuming my normal weekly weigh-ins (and catching up with everyone else's blogs) starting next week.  Good luck and stay Strong!

Friday, March 19, 2010

30 Day Challenge Week 3 : Fringe Blogger

In case you haven't noticed, I've started to become what I call a fringe blogger.  There just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things I want and need to do, so something has to scale back.  I do truly enjoy blogging and I hope my articles inspire others, but for now I've decided to scale back a little.  Where I used to write 3-4 articles each week, for now I'll be trying to get out 1 or 2.  This would bother me if not for the fact that I'm backing off on the blogging mostly because my physical activity has really taken off!  This 30 day challenge was a great tool for me, I really feel great these days.  That has translated into a lot more activity around the house and that is just helping me all the more! 

However, even though I'm scaling back on the writing, you can be assured that I'm still reading the blogs I'm following.  I haven't been commenting lately because I'm having issues with my work PC, but I try to keep up with everyone's blogs during my lunch hour. 

On the weight loss front, I would like to mention that yesterday I had to adjust my belt up a notch!  My wife says that my weight loss is noticeable and I'm dying to find out how much I've lost.  One more week to go on the 30 day challenge; we weigh in on Friday morning.

I mentioned before I started the challenge that I was dropping from 2500 calories per day to 2000.  Since then I've discovered that I am quite satisfied at that level (assuming I post a big loss next week).  I really haven't felt like I was starving and I really haven't noticed a big difference in how much less I'm eating.  In the second week I tried dropping down to 1800 calories for a couple days.  I ended up feeling run down and generally miserable by the 3rd day, so I quickly went back to 2000.  Figuring out how much you should eat is a process and is as unique for each person as a fingerprint.  To all of you out there who are still struggling to find your "zone" I would stress "just be patient and listen to your body".

As far as my exercise routine goes, week 3 has been a little slack.  I've missed a couple workouts, but I don't feel all too bad because the misses were in favor of doing other active things.  Granted 30 minutes on the elliptical is probably more rigorous than a round of golf but I need to enjoy the exercise I'm getting too.

The Biggest Loser Calorie Counter: The Quick and Easy Guide to Thousands of Foods from Grocery Stores and Popular Restaurants--As Seen on NBC's Hit Show!

Eating in week 3 has been exceptional!  I've stayed in between 2000 and 2100 calories all week long.  I also had a couple small victories that made me proud and had my wife believing that I truly have changed my ways.  First, she bought a dozen cookies for the kids early in the week.  I considered having one a couple times in the evenings, but at 190 calories each I just couldn't do it.  I'm happy to say that the kids ate the last of them last night and I never did have one.  The second victory came on Wednesday; we got a free lunch at work for hitting our monthly targets last month.  We each got a sub, chips, and a big cookie and there was soda to drink.  I'm happy to report that I ate my 6" sub and chips, had water instead of soda, and brought my cookie home for the kids.  The total for lunch was only 585 calories (the cookie itself would have been another 480).  All afternoon that cookie was begging me to eat it, but I refused and it felt great to be able to bring it home instead.

So now I'm into the last week of the 30 day challenge.  During this last week I plan on exercising as much as possible.  I'm playing golf on Saturday and the weather is supposed to be nice all weekend so I'm planning on making the most of it and getting a lot of outdoor activities in.  I might not hit the 15 pound goal, but I'm sure going to give it the college try.  Stay Strong!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Week 2

I can't believe it's been almost a week since I posted on my blog!  Sorry folks, I've just been real busy these days.  The good news is that I've been real busy staying active which should pay some real dividends at the end of the 30 day challenge.

Week 2 was a great week for me.  I can almost feel the weight falling off as I have stuck to my diet and have increased my exercise considerably.  My wife has been making some great meals and we have avoided dining out altogether.  That is until this last Saturday when we decided to go out for Chinese buffet.  I am happy to report that my trip to the Chinese restaurant was mostly successful.  I did eat 2 full plates of food, but 1 of them was nothing but sushi and peel-n-eat shrimp.  The second plate had a lot of my favorites, but absolutely no fried foods like chicken fingers or egg rolls.  Desert was a bowl of assorted fruit.  I might have eaten more than I should but it wasn't bad for a cheat meal and I could've done a lot worse.

As far as exercise goes, I've really made an effort to increase my activity level.  I completed all of my 1 hour workouts during the week, and in addition I walked 3 miles on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  On Friday I painted my living room ceiling, on Saturday I walked another 6 miles, and then on Sunday I helped Big D. run electrical in his basement.  By far this is the most activity I've had in a while!

The Complete Guide to Walking, New and Revised: For Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness (Walking Magazine)

Big D. is also doing pretty good.  All of those extra walks I did were with him and it's a challenge just to keep up with him.  He's now up to walking almost 4 miles a day with his dog, and he's still eating healthy.  Hid big test will come this Friday when he travels up to New York for the weekend.  If he can eat healthy on the road, then he's got a legitimate shot at hitting the 15 pound mark.  Time will tell!

So now we are into week 3.  Unfortunately I've missed my last 2 workouts; I missed Sunday because I was helping Big D. and then I missed yesterday's because I had to go to a soccer meeting (I'm coaching soccer this season).  Although I've missed a couple workouts, I'm still eating really well.  Tonight I get back on the wagon and I'll get a good workout in.

I also have to say that I'm dying to get on the scale and see where I'm at.  My guess is that I've probably lost around 7-9 pounds so far, but that's really just a guess.  You never know how the scale will treat you until you actually get on.  Only 10 days to go before the big weigh-in, so I guess I can hold out until then.  Stay Strong!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Healthy Simple Snacks

If you want to keep your metabolism stoked, you really need to eat often throughout the day.  Having snacks doesn't have to be limited to granola bars and 100 calorie snack packs that are low calorie and leave you starving in an hour.  Snacks can be very satisfying and nutritious; you just need to be a little creative.

My typical day includes 3 small meals and 3 snacks in between.  All of my snacks have some protein and either a vegetable or piece of fruit.  The protein helps to sustain you longer and the fruits and vegetables give your body the nutrients it needs.  You may also notice that almost every one of my snacks come from whole foods.  Processed foods come with a lot of things you don't want or need so I avoid them as much as possible.  For fruits, I enjoy Apples, Oranges, Bananas (only occasionally), Cantaloupe, Pineapple (fresh), Watermelon, Grapes, and Kiwi.  Note - These snacks are targeted for my calorie intake, you may need to adjust the amount to suit your own needs.  Here are some of my favorite snacks:

2 Oz Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup of Grapes
286 Calories

I really like the combination of cheese and grapes.  You get that sharp cheddar flavor followed by the sweet grapes. 

1 Apple
2 Tablespoons Natural Peanut Butter
280 Calories

Slice the apple up and spread the peanut butter on the slices as you eat them.  This is a delicious snack; just be sure to use natural PB to avoid extra salt and sugar.

2 celery stalks
2 ounces of Cream Cheese or 2 Tablespoons of Natural Peanut Butter
1 cup of Cantaloupe
254 Calories (Cream Cheese) 264 Calories (PB)

Spread the cream cheese or PB on the celery and eat.  This is great if you are looking for something crunchy. 

1 Can Albacore Tuna
1 Banana
210 Calories

Yes, many people have told me this sounds disgusting, but this one of my favorite snacks!  You just can't beat the low calorie, high protein can of tuna.  I used to have a few crackers with it, but crackers are high in calories so now I just eat the tuna plain. 

4oz Boneless Chicken,
1 Cup Pineapple
216 Calories

You can prepare several of these whenever you have chicken for dinner (see below). 

4oz of your favorite lunch meat
1 Orange
196 Calories (Oscar Mayer Shaved Turkey)

If you don't have time to cook, just pack up some lunch meat.  I just squirt some mustard on it and eat it plain slice by slice.  One warning, lunch meat is high in salt so do this snack sparingly.  

1/2 Cup Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt
1 Cup frozen blueberries
220 Calories

Throw the frozen blueberries in the yogurt and by the time you are ready for the snack it's melted enough to give you a nice cold treat. 

4oz. Steak
2 Small Kiwi
320 Calories

Got a little extra steak from dinner?  Heat it up at break time and enjoy it as a snack.

1 oz. Almonds (about 30)
1 Cup of Watermelon
206 Calories

This is good snack when you just need a little something to hold you over.  There's not a lot of nuts so you definitely don't feel full when you are done. 

1 Cup of Green Tea with Honey
1 FiberOne bar
210 Calories

I have this almost every night for my evening snack.  It's a nice little treat to end the day.

Blue Diamond Almonds Natural Oven Roasted No Salt, 8-Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)

Preparing your snacks

When you have to eat 3 snacks each day, you could easily spend a bunch of time just preparing them.  Here are a couple suggestions to save some time:
  1. Invest in a bunch of small plastic containers to keep your snacks in.  I've got some that perfectly hold 4 oz. of meat or 1 cup of fruit.
  2. When you cook dinner, just throw in an extra 4 or 8 oz. of whatever meat it is you are cooking (be sure not to eat it at dinner!).  When you are done you can just cut up the remaining amount and throw it into containers.
  3. On the weekend I (my wife) cuts up a whole pineapple or melon or watermelon.  Then we (my wife) put it into a bunch of small containers so it's ready to go.
  4. Keep a box of FiberOne bars and a can of almonds in your desk drawer at work.  That way if you forget to bring snacks you'll have something to hold you over.
Fiber One Bars Oats & Chocolate, 2-Count Bars (Pack of 16)

These are some of my favorite snacks and they are all healthy and satisfying.  I've found that if I eat every 3-4 hours, I'm never starving at meal time and it makes it easier eat a healthy size meal.  As I said above, snacks don't have to be weak and boring; with a little creativity you can find lots of healthy ideas that don't have a lot of calories.  Got any healthy snack ideas that you like?  Leave a comment; I'm always looking to try new things.  Stay Strong!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Week 1

It felt strange not to weigh in on Saturday, but part of our rules on the 30 day challenge include only weighing in at the beginning and the end.  All in all I have to say it was a pretty decent week.  For those of you who follow regularly, you know the start of my week was pretty tough.  I did manage to fight through the issues and I can say that although I felt terrible, I didn't waver on my diet and exercise.

The Food-Mood Solution: All-Natural Ways to Banish Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Stress, Overeating, and Alcohol and Drug Problems--and Feel Good Again

Last Saturday I started a new workout program just for this challenge.  The timing was perfect as I had just finished 6 weeks of my last workout program and was looking to change things up a bit.  I'm now doing 1 hour of exercise each day for 6 days followed by a 1 day break.  I started on Saturday so my day off is on Fridays.  I've always been a fan of having my day off on the weekend, but I have to admit it's easier to get those weekend workouts in.

My workout now consists of both strength training and cardio work every day.  I start with 30 minutes of strength training and then I do 2.5 miles on the elliptical.  For the strength training I have 3 different workouts; one for upper body, mid body, and lower body.  I rotate through these workouts so as to give my muscles 2 days of rest before working them again.  So far the workout has been going well.

As far as eating goes, I've been tracking my calorie intake and trying to hold at 2000 calories.  My wife has been helping out and has been keeping me accountable for what I really eat.  I'm amazed at how I underestimate everything, but she's been making me measure it.  I bet when I'm estimating I probably eat 200-300 more calories than I realize.

When this weekend hit, I was over my depression and it was perfect timing as the weather has been great.  I can actually see grass now and I took full advantage of it taking the kids to the park to let them ride bikes.  I probably walked an additional 2 miles on top of my normal workout.

It Must Be My Metabolism

As far as Big D. goes, he also did very well this week and he says that he's feeling great.  He was off work in the beginning of the week and decided to go the NY, but his girlfriend was very supportive and helped him to eat healthy, fresh foods.  Now he's back to work but on day shift so it's not too stressful on his system.  We are actually going to walk our dogs on a 3 mile loop later tonight.

I do have one sad (well not really) piece of news to report.  Over the weekend I had to retire my last 3XLT business shirt.  I've actually been in 2XL shirts for a little while now, but this was my favorite shirt and I've been hanging onto it for way too long.  You may have noticed that I said I went to 2XL from 3XLT.  I used to buy shirts for tall people so the extra length could make up for the circumference of my belly.  When I hit 2X, I didn't need that extra length (go figure).  Anyway, when I came home from work my wife commented that my favorite was starting to look like I was hiding under a tent.  I've always wore loose fitting clothing, but this was beyond the normal fat person trick.  I think when you can stuff a basketball under your shirt and it's still loose, you probably need to retire it.  So goodbye favorite shirt... Here's to finding another one in the 1X size (I don't plan on being in 2X long enough to find a favorite).

Anyway I'm feeling better, doing the right things, and looking forward to winning this challenge.  This week I'm going to try to get a post out with some suggestions for easy and healthy snacks and I am hoping to continue discussing ways to lose weight without starving yourself.  The next discussion will probably be about ways to help boost your metabolism.  Good luck to everyone out there.  Stay Strong!

Friday, March 5, 2010

You Don't Have to Starve to Lose Weight

Over the past few weeks I've been seeing a recurring trend in the weight loss blog world. It seems like a lot of people are literally starving themselves in an attempt to lose weight. I understand the logic; if you want to lose weight, you have to eat less. The problem with that logic is that the formula is only valid to a certain point. Once you reach the point that you are no longer supplying your body with enough fuel, the body reacts by going into starvation mode. At that point, your metabolism slows down to a crawl and it becomes nearly impossible to lose weight.

The cycle usually starts slowly. You start off eating with too much of a deficit from what your body needs and what you take in. Your hungry, and the process isn't fun but the weight is coming off. Your metabolism isn't firing at its best, but since you have a calorie deficit, the weight slowly comes off. Then after a little while losing weight you hit a plateau. The first instinct (and probably the worst advice that gets offered by so many people) is to eat a little less. At this point you're now getting ready to make things worse. Less fuel means less of what your body needs to function properly so it slows your metabolism even further to put you into "preservation mode". Your body also starts burning more muscle to get the fuel it needs. This in turn makes things even worse as your muscle mass is the source of a lot of expended calories. The result... You are hungry, miserable, and the weight isn't coming off anymore.

Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!

Ultimately this kind of behavior leads to binges as both your mind and body are functioning poorly. In this state it becomes easy to give up because your hungry all the time, you’re not thinking as clearly as you could be, and you're not seeing results!

I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way. It is possible for you to lose weight without starving yourself all the time. The method isn’t sexy and it requires some patience, but once you start on the path you may be amazed at how many calories you can consume and still lose weight. I myself can consume 2500 calories each day and still lose 1-2 pounds a week!

Know the Equation

The first thing you need to understand is how the weight loss equation works. The equation is really very simple:

Calories Lost = Calories Expended – Calories Consumed

3500 calories lost is about equal to 1 pound. So if you consumed 14000 calories and you expended 21000 calories, you would lose about 2 pounds.

The Easy Part

Most people ignore the calories expended part and start out with calories consumed because that’s the easy one. They set a target value based on a book or whatever conventional wisdom comes their way. Each day they add the calories up from what they ate, and as long as they don’t exceed their quota, they feel they will keep losing weight. While knowing how many calories were consumed is important, it is only half the equation.

I want to stop here for a moment and just make a comment that there are many people out there who have done exactly what I just wrote and were perfectly successful at losing weight. Those people are few and far between though and many of them may have just been lucky that the calorie target they selected was actually right on for their situation.  My goal here is not to debunk some myth that highly restricted calorie diets are bad. My goal is to show why the intake part of the process is only half of the equation.

The Missing Piece to the Puzzle (RMR)

The second and equally important piece to the equation is the calories expended. This piece is often ignored because it is not easy to figure out. One of the most common misconceptions out there is that exercise makes up the biggest portion of your calories expended. The truth is your body expends a whole lot more energy maintaining itself than it does during a measly 30 minute workout. Everyone has what is called a resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is basically the amount of calories your body needs each day just to maintain itself. That’s a good start to figuring out how many calories you expend each day. How do you figure out your RMR? You could go to a doctor and they could measure it for you (the most accurate method) or you can estimate it based on one of several formulas that have been derived over the years (see my post on How to Determine Your Calorie Needs for several of the most commonly accepted formulas).

Now here’s the catch… your diet and lifestyle both have an effect on your RMR. Your RMR is not some fixed number that never changes; how you live determines how your RMR changes.  If you starve yourself, your RMR will drop. If you don’t get enough sleep your body doesn’t perform to its fullest and your RMR drops. If you are dehydrated your body can’t function properly and your RMR can drop. Genetics also plays a role, but we can’t really control that (not yet anyway).

Increasing your activity level

Once you know what your RMR is, you can then add additional calories for your activity level. Note this isn’t just your exercise time, it includes ALL of your activity from the marathon you just ran all the way down to the energy you expended to pick up the remote and change the channel. Unfortunately there is no real precise way to determine this value but there are calculations that can give you a pretty good approximation (again see my post on How to Determine your calorie needs)

In the beginning of this post I mentioned some of the worst advice offered for people that have hit a plateau is to eat a little less. More bad advice I’ve read about breaking through a plateau is to try to add a little more time to your exercise routine. I’ve already noted above, your activity level is not just the amount of time you exercise. Your activity level is based on everything you do all day long. Now think about this for a moment. If you exercise 30 minutes a day and then you spend the rest of the day sitting on the couch, how much will your activity level change if you increase your workout time by 15 minutes? Not very much! Your activity level is based on your whole day, not just a few minutes each day when you choose to exercise. On the flip side, how much would your activity level change if you switched jobs from one behind a desk to one where you are on your feet all day long? In this case, your activity level would probably change considerably.

It is actually pretty hard to make a significant change to your activity level (hard but not impossible). If you really want to increase your activity level, you need to look at your overall day and see where you can get more activity throughout. Can you walk or bike to work? Do you use an elevator a lot and if so could you take the stairs? When you get home do you sit at your computer for 4 hours before going to bed? If so can you cut that in half and do something else that requires exertion? You are not going to be able to make 1 change and get a big boost to your activity level. Instead you are going to make a lot of small changes that result in a big increase in your overall daily activity.

Anatomy of Exercise: A Trainer's Inside Guide to Your Workout

Putting it all together

With your RMR and the calories expended based on activity level, you now have a good estimate on how many calories you expend each day. Most people are surprised at the value they see. Depending on the calculation used I expend approximately 3500 calories each day!

With your calories expended you can now determine how many calories you need to consume in order to lose the weight you want to lose. If you are like me and burn 3500 calories each day you can eat 2500 and still lose 2 pounds in a week.

The Problem

After reading this post you are either thinking I’ve lost my mind or that it’s just impossible to eat more and lose weight (or maybe a little of both). The biggest drawback to this type of eating plan is that it takes a little patience to see the results. Your body is smart and it reacts to how you treat it, but not immediately. If you’ve been highly restricting your calories and you switch to eating more, you will gain weight. Your RMR will not react instantly and start burning more. It may take a few weeks or even a month for your body to realize that you aren’t going to go back to starving yourself before it starts revving your metabolism. This is why most people who try this give up quickly. As a society we have become accustomed to instant gratification. If it doesn’t work right away, the instinct is to start eating less which in turn puts you right back where you started.

The second problem is that typically the numbers you start with are not the ideal numbers for you. This isn’t an exact science; everyone is different. The formulas are just starting points. Some people inherently burn more and some burn less and so how much you can eat and still lose weight is largely dependent on you. Over time it becomes necessary to tweak the numbers as you learn more about yourself. This is not a process that can be done in a week.

Part of my own journey includes sharing what I know. One thing I’ve learned over my years is that you do not have to starve yourself in order to lose weight. Now you might have noticed, I did not offer any suggestions for how much is too much or how much is too litle in terms of calories.  I did this purposely because the answer is different for every single person out there.  I've always said that I believe the best diet you can be on is the diet you create for yourself.  Don't just listen to some book on how many calories you can eat.  Take a little time to figure out out how many calories you should have for your own circumstances. Good luck to everyone out there. Stay Strong!

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Boosting Your Metabolism

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't Give Up!

I've been struggling... I've been struggling a lot lately!  The last few weeks have been really rough for me.  Not just the diet and exercise, but really my whole life in general.  I just can't seem to get into the right mindset and because of that I've been really depressed.  I'm not surprised, this is the toughest time of the year for me.  The end of winter always seems to bring out the worst in me.  I actually moved from upstate New York to Virginia to escape the late winter, but this year mother nature is not cooperating.  By now I'm usually dusting off the golf clubs and planning my next yard project, but with a barren wasteland of snow still sitting in my backyard, I've got to wait a little longer this year.

Right now I'm just trying to hang on for a little longer, but this week has been especially rough.  My wife is in the same boat.  Our house is a mess and every single one of our kids has an illness.  My oldest has Strep Throat, my middle one has a bad cold, and my youngest is still recovering from being in the hospital for Lyme disease.  The parade of doctor visits, the lousy weather, and the fact that I'm in a funk has caused her to feel just about as good as I do.

To make matters worse, I'm in this 30 day challenge which is just adding more stress to my already busy life.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm still doing what I need to to lose the weight, I just don't feel good about it.  I thought this challenge would help me out of my funk, but it's only made it worse.

Yesterday morning I woke up and thought "why even bother to get out of bed".  I seriously considered calling in sick and spending the day laying in bed except to occasionally get up and smoke and feed my face.  Had I not had an important meeting, I probably would have done it, but instead I rolled out of bed and tried to get my day started.

Every one of by backslides has started in this same fashion.  The only difference is that this time I feel worse.  As I stood there staring into the bathroom mirror, I couldn't help but think this was the beginning of a major backslide for me.  I had it all played out in my head:

First I would lose the 30 day challenge handily causing me to fork over some serious cash.  That setback would cause me to give up on my diet and go on a weeklong eating binge (I'm going on vacation the week after the challenge is over).  After coming back and discovering a major weight gain, I would climb into a hole and stop doing all the things I like to do.  This would probably include giving up blogging because who wants to read a blog about weight loss when the author is gaining weight.  By summertime I would be back up to 300 pounds and wondering "How the hell did I end up back here?"

I must have stared into that mirror for about 5 minutes, when I finally said out loud "NO!".  No I will not backslide!  No I will not accept this as my destiny!  No I will not lose the 30 day challenge!  No I will not let this weather beat me down! NO I WILL NOT GIVE UP!

I went into the living room and got a piece of tape.  I grabbed a scrap of paper and a black felt tip pen and I scribed 3 words on it.  I took the paper and the tape and I attached the paper in the upper right corner of my mirror.  The 3 words were:

Don't Give Up!

Now I'm not going to fill you with a happy ending about how it sparked some great feeling inside me that instantly made me feel better and caused all my problems to go away while simultaneously melting 10 pounds of fat from my body.  But that little piece of paper did help me a little bit. 

I wish I could tell you that everything is fine now, but the truth is I'm still hanging on.  Since the paper, my mood has been slightly elevated.  I've stuck to my diet and exercise and I've accomplished more at work in the last 2 days than I probably have in the last 2 weeks.  My hope is that yesterday was my low point and that I've got better days ahead of me now.  Even mother nature is helping out, I saw a chance of 60 degree weather this weekend.

I'm leaving the paper there for now until I can get out of this funk.  It serves as a reminder of how on one day I stared at the option of just giving up and instead I chose to fight!

No matter how bad it is and no matter how badly you want to stop, the only advice I can offer at this time is DON'T GIVE UP!

Here's to better days ahead.  Good luck and stay strong.

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