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!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My New "Radical" Exercise Plan

Ok, maybe radical is too strong of a word choice.  For me it’s radical because of how I’m wired, but to most, it’s really just a little different.  In my last weigh-in I made some remarks about needing to focus on exercise more.  I left it with a comment that I wasn’t going to worry about it just yet, but that I would need to do something about it soon.  I made that comment because I wanted to take some time to visit some of my perceptions about exercise and see if there were some things I need to re-think. 

Self-reflection is an amazing thing.  I know some of you will read my current perceptions and think that I can’t possibly believe some of these things or that maybe I’m just plain nuts.  I am a highly intelligent engineer that believes in research and data; how could I possibly hold these perceptions as truth?  In reality I know all of these views are flawed, but that’s the problem with perception; quite often it becomes reality without you even knowing it.  You know that you are not supposed to speed on the highway, but you have a perception that it is really OK as long as you are keeping up with traffic.

Like it or not, this is how my brain works and I don’t think I’ll be getting a new one anytime soon.  However you would not believe how beneficial it feels just for me to put these thoughts out there.  Whenever I sit down to create an exercise routin (I have dozens of them), those perceptions are there affecting the way I create my plan.  Now that they are in front of me I can challenge each one and create a new plan that might be more successful for me.  Granted it’s easy to say what you are going to do and difficult to do what you say, I need to try something different as establishing a successful exercise habit has always eluded me.

What follows are some of the questions I pondered since my last weigh-in.  You’ll see what my current perception is along with how I would like to change it.  After I went through this exercise I started to create my new exercise plan.

What is Exercise? 

Current Perception:

In my world, exercise is defined as “Something I do solely for the purpose of improving my health”.  In other words, coaching my daughter’s soccer team and running around on the field with the team is NOT exercise.  Playing basketball with my other daughter is NOT exercise.  Going bowling or doing “Just Dance” on the Wii is NOT exercise.  It’s only exercise if I did it for my health, not some other reason (I told you that you would think I was nuts).

How I would Like to Change my View:
Anything I do that gets me moving around should be considered exercise.  This should include all the activities listed above and anything else that gets me moving around.  Why does exercise have to be something done specifically for the health benefits?  Not only that, but I probably shouldn’t even be focusing on exercise, but rather I should be focusing on being more active all the time.

Why Should I Exercise?

Current Perception:

You cannot lose weight if you don’t exercise regularly.  More accurately if I want to maximize my weight loss, then I need to get on a hardcore program and stick to it all the time.

How I would Like to Change my View:

If it’s really impossible to lose weight without a hardcore exercise program, then how did the early settlers get by without an elliptical and a P90X DVD?  Maybe you don’t need a hardcore program and you should just try to get exercise in when you can.

How Should I Exercise?

Current Perception:

In my book exercise is something that is scheduled and part of a routine.  I am an extremely organized person so workouts should all be scheduled in advance and should all be of the same duration of time.  Further, I should have pre-defined strength training workouts that are the same each week so I can measure my progress.  Also everything has to fit the week correctly; If I’m doing both strength training and cardio, then I need to do alternating Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for Strength and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for cardio.  Sunday doesn’t fit the pattern so it becomes a “rest” day.

How I would Like to Change my View:

I should exercise any way and anywhere I can!  Forget about schedules and charts and progress, If all I can get is 10 minutes, then that’s 10 minutes.  If I feel like playing basketball instead of hitting the elliptical, then do it.  Look for fun ways to keep moving.  Also, why measure progress in each exercise? Why not find a way to measure overall progress.

When Should I Exercise?

Current Perception:

The most efficient time for me to exercise would be in the morning as I have too many other commitments in the evening.  I wouldn’t be able to maintain a regular schedule (see how should I exercise?) in the evenings and I don’t want to have to squeeze it in during lunch.  Even though I am clearly not a morning person I need to get up 30 minutes earlier and get this done.  It’s like a chore, better to just get it over with first thing in the morning.

How I would Like to Change my View:

Again, why do I need a firm schedule?  There are plenty of busier people in the world, how do they do it?  I need to exercise whenever I can.  I also need to forget about trying to workout in the mornings, it’s probably never going to happen (I am truly not a morning person).  Instead of feeling like a failure every morning that I don’t workout, I need to focus on doing what I can when I can.  If I have to work late, then exercise after dinner.  Again forget all about schedules, they don’t have to dictate everything I do.

What Types of Exercise Should I Do?

Current Perception:

Stick to the tried-but-true plan; 3 days of strength training with 3 days of cardio in between to get the weight loss benefits both have to offer.  Strength training should be standard 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise at the highest weight I can do and cardio should be interval training on the elliptical with 60 seconds hard and 60 seconds moderate.  Also, since I am extremely overweight, there are certain exercises that I cannot do such as pushups, squat thrusts (burpees), or any yoga pose whatsoever.

How I would Like to Change my View:

I need some new routines.  The old ones are OK once in a while, but I get bored after just a couple weeks.  Try some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or do circuit strength training instead of standard strength training.  I can also incorporate cardio in with strength training, why does it have to be separate.  Take it outside, vary intensity, and most importantly, go after those exercises I can’t do real well because those are the areas where I am the weakest.

How does one become addicted to exercise?

Current Perception:

It’s not possible!  Only people that are truly crazy and obsessive compulsive about their weight are addicted to exercise.  Like household chores, there are only a rare few that truly enjoy doing it, everyone else just does what they need to in order to get by.

How I would Like to Change my View:

Stop focusing so much on “exercise” and start focusing on being “more active” and you might just like it.  The purpose of exercise should not just be for the result (weight loss), but rather for the enjoyment of moving around.  The alternative (sitting on the couch and doing nothing) isn’t all that appealing.

As I said earlier, it’s great that I want to change my views; but it’s another thing to actually pull it off.  Hopefully my new exercise plan will help drive the change:

OK so here’s my new “radical” plan:

  • Instead of measuring progress on each individual exercise, I’m going to take a different approach.  I’m going to develop a fitness test that I will perform when I start this program.  Every 30 days I will take the test again to see how my overall fitness is improving.
  • I’m going to put together a list of all the different activities that I could be doing each day.  I already have multiple weight workouts designed plus multiple workout DVDs and my kids love to play outdoors.  Each day I will try to pick something from the list or create something new to add to it.
    • The only rule about activities – No heavy weight lifting on consecutive days (muscles need rest time after a heavy weight workout).  
  • I’m going to bucket all “exercise” into 1 of 3 buckets: Low Intensity, Medium Intensity, and High Intensity
    • Low Intensity – Any exercise that I do that doesn’t significantly elevate my heart rate.  Examples include walking, casual bike riding with kids, push mowing the lawn, etc.
    • Medium Intensity – Any exercise that gets my heart rate up occasionally, but is followed by longer periods of low intensity.  Examples would include playing basketball with the kids, Playing Wii games, Regular Weight Lifting
    • High Intensity – any exercise that keeps my heart rate up regularly.  Examples would include running, Elliptical, and Circuit strength training.
  • Everyday I’m going to record and score my exercise
    • Low Intensity = Number of Minutes
    • Medium Intensity = Number of Minutes x 2
    • High Intensity = Number of Minutes x 3
  • I will establish point goals to ensure I’m getting enough high intensity exercise and that I’m getting enough total exercise.
That’s it!  It doesn’t get much simpler than that.  Here are the goals (at least for now, I will adjust as needed)
  1. At least 120 Points (60 minutes) of high intensity every week
  2. At least 400 Points per weigh-in Period (10 days)
I didn’t mention anything about where I will try to get my exercise.  Fortunately for me I have an elliptical machine and a full set of dumbbells so I’ll be doing most of my exercise at home.  I also have a mountain bike, a dog that loves hiking, three very energetic little girls, and I live right next to a high school that has a running track and football training gear (hmmm, maybe I’ll go flip some big tires or hit those tackling dummies!).

I want to start this when I hit day 30 and that’s not too far off.  Hopefully I’ll be able to post my fitness test before then.  I’m sure this style isn’t for everyone, in fact, I’m not even sure if it will work for me.  What’s the worst that can happen?  It won’t work and I’ll try something else.  In the meantime at least I’ll get a little more exercise than what I’m currently doing (almost nothing).

Let me know what you think!  Leave me a comment and let me know if you think this is crazy or do you think I might be on to something?  Stay Strong!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Losing Weight in February

How many of you out there have done something similar to this…

December rolls around and you begin to see the New Year on the horizon.  You start to reflect… another year gone by and you’re still struggling to lose weight.  You ask yourself “How did this happen?” and “Why can’t I accomplish this one goal?”.  Then, after beating yourself up for a while you say “This year is going to be different!  I’m going to take control of my life and lose this weight once and for all!”

Next you set up your plan.  You dust off all the old spreadsheets and workout videos or you get online and lookup Weight Watchers and you begin to put together a “can’t lose” plan that you will be following all year long.  You start to think about your goal and then you divide that goal by 52 and you say “If I can just lose X pounds every week, then I can reach my goal by the end of the year”.  The excitement builds as you start to envision yourself at your new goal weight. 

At the same time that you are putting together your master plan, you are simultaneously gorging yourself on every treat that you know will be “forbidden” once you get started.  The thought process… once you get started these items won’t be available so you might as well enjoy it before you start.  Quite possibly if you doing this weight loss journey with a friend, the two of you will arrange to have a “last meal” together where you will take a lost opportunity to shovel your favorite unhealthy foods into your system.  Through this process you actually add another 10 pounds to your starting weight.

Then the New Year Hits!

January comes and week #1 is underway.  The excitement is still there and you follow every element of your plan perfectly.  You step on the scale and are rewarded with a very large number.  You begin to think “I can do this, look at how well I did in just the first week!”  At this point you might even start thinking that you’ll hit your goal sooner.  After all, if you can just lose X (your first week’s loss) every week, then you’ll reach your goal in half the time! Of course the thought that you gained 10 pounds before you even started never enters your mind.

Week #2 comes and you are ready.  You do nearly as well as you did in the first week, but occasionally you have a few small slips.  You hit the scales and are shocked to see a number much smaller than the first week. What happened?  Your brush it off and remind yourself that a loss is a loss no matter how small, but deep down you are disappointed.  You begin to question in your mind whether or not all the hard work you are doing is worth such a small result.

The remaining 2 weeks of the month are spent struggling.  You might still be posting small losses, but during this time you probably took a “day off”.  What once seemed like an easy time now feels like an impossible journey.  By the time February rolls around your plan is on life support and you can’t image how you will make it through the month, never mind the next year.

Now the details might be slightly different and maybe it wasn’t the new year, but I’ll bet you a large majority of people who struggle with weight have a story to tell that is eerily similar to what I just wrote.  I call it the weight loss trap; you assume that a new mindset will be enough to get you results, but as the mindset begins to fade, the results fade until you feel like giving up.

Whether you are currently going through something similar to what I just described or you are holding steady,  here are few things you can do to help stay on track in February:

Ask What’s Different?
Ask yourself “What’s different this time from my previous failed attempts”.  If the only answer you can give is “I have more willpower” or “I am more committed than ever”, then you are most likely full of it!  You psyched yourself up, told yourself what you needed to hear to get started, and then you will leave yourself lying in a ditch once it starts to get really hard. 

My point here is that you can’t expect a different result if you are doing the same old thing. If you are struggling, think about how you might do things differently.  Maybe instead of weighing yourself every week, you could try every 2 weeks.  Or how about changing the time of day you plan on working out or maybe even change your workout.  Maybe you could search the blogosphere for something that you don’t believe works… and then try it for a week.  Even a few small changes can end up completely changing your path.

Re-assess Last Month but don’t obsess
When you re-assess, you can sometimes pick up on patterns that emerge that you might be able to address.  For example, maybe you notice that for whatever reason, your worst day is always on Monday.  Why not shift your weigh-in to Tuesday (I know I always do well on the day before I weigh-in).  Sometimes just being aware of the patterns or trends can help you to overcome them.  For instance, I know that weekends are the toughest on me and because I am now aware of it, I believe I have actually done better because I can quickly recognize when the “excuses” start to show up. 

Take a long look at January and don’t be afraid to change it up to breathe new life into your effort.  On the flip side, don’t obsess over last month’s performance whether it’s good or bad.  Don’t get caught up with all the things you should have done, instead focus on what you can do better next month.  The past is the past and nothing more.  Learn from it what you can and then move on

Seek the “Right” Support
What do I mean about the “right” support?  What I mean is you need the support of people who are not afraid to tell you like it is.  You want people that are willing to give you honest feedback, not just tell you what you want to hear.  You want people that will challenge your assumptions and offer suggestions for improvements.  You also want people who will call you out (politely) when you are making excuses.  The blogosphere is full of people that will encourage you to get back up when you fall, but very few will actually offer their opinion as to why you fell and what they think you should do in order to be able to get back up.  You might not like to hear it a times, but consider yourself lucky if you have supporters that don’t sugar-coat the truth.

Have a Long Term Focus
Sometimes we focus so much on our recent results that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  If you lost 8, 2, +1, 1 pounds in your first 4 weeks, it’s easier to remember that you haven’t lost any weight in the last 2 weeks than it is to notice you lost 10 pounds in the month!  There’s actually a term for this; it’s called recency bias; Make sure you look at the whole picture and don’t just include weight.  Did you feel better?  Get out more?

We are a society that constantly seeks instant gratification.  It’s what got you into this mess in the first place and it’s making your path towards healthy living that much more difficult.  We don’t want to see 100 pounds lost in 2 years, we want to see 5 pounds lost this week!  There are people out there that weigh themselves every single day.  Some (not all) of these people do it because they need that instant gratification from the work they did the day before.  Too many days with no results and they begin to feel that it’s not worth the effort. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to establish you progress periodically, but if you have a long term focus, the only reason for getting on the scale is to verify your plan is working and make adjustments if necessary.  If you are weighing yourself because you feel it will make you feel better and help with your resolve, then you are seeking instant gratification.  Remember why you are doing what you are doing,  remember how long it took to get here, and most importantly, remember that it will not change overnight.

Whether you are struggling or sailing along just fine, February can be a tough month for losing weight.  There’s data that shows that most resolutions never even make it to February so if you’ve made it this far congratulations.  The road is long and changes will be required.  Be prepared to adapt and overcome and hopefully next January you won’t be starting up your next weight loss trap.

So what do you think?  Are you struggling as February approaches or are you more prepared than ever to take it head on?  Are you making some adjustments or are you happy with your plan as it is?  Tell me what you think and don’t be afraid to be honest (I’m a big boy).  Stay Strong!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 20 - Weight Loss Results

Starting Weight – 330

Day 10 Weight – 322

Current Weight – 319

Period Weight Loss – 3 Pounds

Overall Weight Loss – 11 Pounds

3 More pounds!  I'm happy, though I had set the period goal at 4 pounds and didn't quite get there.  One thing I forgot about, since I'm weighing in every 10 days instead of every week there will be some periods where I will go through 2 weekends between weigh-ins.  I've said before that weekends are my toughest time, and I probably should have taken that into account this time.  Regardless, I have lots of good things going on right now and there's still lots of opportunity as well.

What went well

My first highlight of the period has to be my performance on the Friday (1/18) right after my last weigh-in.  On the day before (The day I posted my last results), Virginia had a pretty severe snowstorm.  Well, not actually severe in my book (I lived in Maine for a while), but definitely enough to wreak havoc in the area.  No kidding, I had literally just posted my 10 day results and was getting ready to go read some of the blogs I'm following when the power went out at my house.  I live in a rural area and given the magnitude of the wet, heavy snow, I figured we might be getting ready to see an extended power outage.

By morning, my concerns appeared to be coming to reality as we still didn't have power and it was pretty cold in the house.  I had to go to work so I took a shower in the dark with what was going to be the last of the hot water.  It's funny, I didn't even think about healthy eating until after my shower when I suddenly realized that I couldn't cook my oatmeal and didn't dare open the refrigerator to get out some hard boiled eggs.  Not only that, but I didn't have any snacks or a lunch to bring either.

Now folks, let me tell you that these types of events in my life are exactly what I use as an excuse to stop eating healthy.  When I look back at my past failures, you can definitely see a pattern of me utilizing changes in my routine (vacation, special events, new job, etc) as a great excuse to stop living a healthy lifestyle.  What has me so proud is that this time I recognized it and told myself that I was going to have to find a way to deal with it.

I stopped at the local Sheetz for breakfast.  I was thrilled to discover they sold oatmeal at their deli; I got 1/2 cup of oatmeal with dried fruit, a small veggie breakfast wrap, and a cup of coffee.  For lunch it was back to Sheetz for a roast beef wrap, an apple, and a banana (I never even realized they sold fresh fruit!).  At dinner time I took the family to Red Robin and I had a plain burger with lettuce and tomato and a side salad instead of fries.

Fortunately, by the time we got home that evening the power had been restored!  I didn't even try to estimate the calories, but I suspect that If I did go over my 2500 calorie limit, it wasn't by much.  I might not have hit my calorie target and I certainly didn't get to spread my calories out over 4-6 meals, but this was a small battle that I won that could have had huge consequences if I had made different (poor) choices.

Although overshadowed by the power event, another aspect that went well for me was the beginning of establishing my morning routine.  I know I said I was going to write it out and put it on my bathroom mirror, but I didn't.  However I did see progress and I believe that by the end of the first 30 days I will be well on my way to following my morning routine every single day.  In fact, I actually got up this morning (on a Sunday) at my normal work week time and followed my morning routine.

Areas to Improve

As I said above, there is still plenty of room for improvement.  For starters, my water intake slipped a little.  I missed my water target 5 of the last 10 days, but what was more troubling to me was that I missed it for 3 consecutive days during the week.  I know my body and I know that the weight does not come off that well if I don't get my water in each day.  I actually believe I would've lost another pound and hit my target for the period if I had done better with my water consumption.

The other area that needs improvement is exercise.  Daily exercise is not a full blown habit for me just yet.  To be honest, I believe I only exercised on 4 of the 10 days this period.  As I lose more and more weight, it will get much harder to keep moving forward if  don't establish daily exercise as a habit.  However, I am far from beating myself up over this.  50 days ago I quit smoking!  20 days ago I started eating healthy!  I know I can't be perfect and change everything at once and I already have a lot of change going on right now.  At the moment my philosophy is this: Any exercise I do each day is better than what I used to do.  Some day soon I will need to work on this, but that day is not today.

Moving Forward

Like last time, I don't see the need to make any changes to my plan just yet, but their may be some small tweaks on the horizon (after my first 30 days).  I did hit my target for sticking to plan; I stuck to all the individual elements of my plan 76% of the time.  This was a little less than last period, and was mainly due to exercise (40%) and water (50%).

I'm setting this period goal at 4 pounds again.  I'm actually excited to get through these next 10 days; if I can lose the 4 pounds I will have lost 15 pound in my first 30 days. Not too shabby, in fact I only managed to lose 17 pounds during a 30 day weight loss challenge and I was starving myself and miserable the whole time. This time I'm much happier and so far (knock on wood) the change hasn't been too difficult.  Good luck to everyone out there!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lose Weight, Be Happy... or is it Be Happy, Lose Weight?

When you picture yourself as a thin person, what do you see?  If you’re like me you are probably doing something cool like kayaking down a river or barreling down a mountain on a bike.  Regardless of what you see yourself doing, I’ll bet you anything that vision of the new, thin you includes being happier than you are now.  I often wonder if that’s true; will becoming thin actually make you happier?  To be honest I wonder if we have it backwards.  Maybe becoming happier will actually make you thin!

Think about it for a moment; how many times have you told yourself you would be so much happier if you could just lose the weight.  If that’s true, if you truly believe that in your heart, then why don’t you just do it?  We all want to be as happy as can be so why wouldn’t we just eat right and exercise and watch the weight fall off?  There are only 2 possible reasons: We either don’t know how to or we don’t really want to!  I’ll leave it up to each person to decide which answer fits them, but I’m pretty sure I know how to lose weight and my guess is that you do too.

By this point you may have already dismissed this article as craziness, but if not, let’s keep going.  Let’s assume for a second that I’m right and you don’t lose weight because you really don’t want to.  My next questions would be… “Why don’t you want to lose the weight”?  Maybe, just maybe the real reason is because deep down inside you know that the original source of your unhappiness still exists and if you lose the weight you will be left to deal with it?  In other words, you think you want to lose weight, but your subconscious doesn’t want to deal with the real problem so you actually sabotage yourself.  Crazy, isn’t it?

Think about it, the formula for losing weight isn’t really that hard… but life is.  Like alcohol and tobacco, maybe eating has become a coping mechanism for other issues in your life.  It becomes a comfortable and convenient excuse; you’re not happy because you’re overweight, but you will never lose the weight because you’re so unhappy.  It becomes a vicious circle from which you can’t escape.    

Now I’m not suggesting that if you somehow found a way to be happier now, that the weight would just magically fall from your body.  It’s still going to take hard work and determination, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to be happier while you do it.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I get more accomplished when I’m in a good mood.  What if that good mood stuck around longer?  Wouldn’t it be easier to lose weight?

I’m sure not everyone follows this pattern, but I bet you that there are quite a few people out there that do.  Spend a little time thinking about it; is there something in your life that’s making you unhappy?  Maybe you could work on that while you try to lose weight.  What do you have to lose; if I’m wrong but you try anyway, the worst that happens is that you are a little happier while still struggling to lose weight.  However, if you don’t try and I’m right you could very well end up right where you started, still unhappy and overweight!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Solving the Weight Loss Problem

I sat down this morning with the intent of writing a post about my new weight loss goals.  As I began to write (see my first sentence below) I was suddenly inspired to go in a different direction and what you see below is the result.  I hope you enjoy:

It’s funny, when most people start a blog about diet and exercise they put their goals in the very first posting.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that I prefer to not be like most people.  I told myself when I first started this blog that I wasn’t going to just parrot what everyone else posts on a weight loss blog.  Sure there are some commonalities that we all want to discuss, but what I hope you get from me is a different perspective from everything else you’ve read out there. 

There are so many of us that are struggling with our weight; it’s clear that this is not a problem that’s easy to solve even though it seems like it should be.  I’m an engineer, and one thing I’ve learned in my career is that when I can’t solve a problem, quite often it’s because I made an assumption early on that led me down a wrong path.  We make those assumptions when we fail to look at different perspectives.  If you look at the blogs I follow, you notice that a lot of them have totally different views on how to lose weight.  I choose to follow them BECAUSE they are different from me.  I want to see different points of views because every once in a while you pick up one little nugget of information that moves you forward on your weight loss journey.  If there is one thing I’ve learned through my struggles, it’s that this problem with weight loss is so difficult because we are all unique and different things work for different people.  Dare to think differently as you create your own path and you might find a few of those little nuggets that help to craft your success.

So how do you solve the weight loss problem? 
  1. Arm yourself with knowledge
  2. Don’t be afraid of different points of view
  3. Carve out your own path
  4. Don’t Give Up!

In 2010 I started this blog with the intent on increasing my accountability.  After all my failed attempts at losing weight, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try something different.  While I was writing I was truly enjoying myself and I was punching out some articles that you don’t see everywhere (check out “Will you be happy after you lose weight”, “What’s your eating personality”, and “You don't have to starve to lose weight”).  I have a lot more to offer and look forward to continuing this journey with all of you.  I hope you all learn as much from me as I do from you, and please feel free to leave me a comment if you do pick up one of those little nuggets from my blog.  Stay Strong!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 10 - Weight Loss Results

Starting Weight – 330
Current Weight – 322
Period Weight Loss – 8 Pounds
Overall Weight Loss – 8 Pounds

It’s hard for me to be critical about anything when I lose 8 pounds in 10 days, but as promised, I will look at both the positive and negative aspects of this last period:

What went well

Obviously I was doing something right to lose that much weight in just 10 days.  Without a doubt, my biggest success came from what I ate.  I stuck to my plan of 5-6 meals each day and kept my calorie total below 2500 calories on all but about 2 days (and I was only over by about 100 calories on those days).  I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, and had a nice big breakfast to start my day off right.

I posted my plan this week, but I haven’t posted my goals yet (but I will soon).  One goal that I haven’t mentioned in any of my posts yet is that I am trying to stick to all the components of my plan 75% of the time.  What does that mean?  I have a list of items from my plan on a piece of paper in my bedroom.  Every night I put a check next to all the items that I met the target and at the end of the week I can add it up to see my % to plan.  I like this because it’s hard to be 100% perfect all the time.  In the last 10 days I was able to stay on plan 79% of the time.

I also did extremely well with my water consumption.  My goal on water is 100 ounces each day.  I did not have a day less than 80 ounces and that only happened twice.  The rest of the time I hit my target.

Lastly, I did a rigorous workout last Saturday.  Weekends are my Achilles’ heel; I have a tendency to become a lazy slob on the weekends.  Not only did I eat well all weekend, but on Saturday I completed 60 minutes of strength training first thing in the morning.

Areas to Improve

Although I had a great 10 days, there is still plenty of room for improvement.  For starters, I still haven’t been able to establish a morning routine.  As I’ve said before, this is very important for me to do.  I did well for about the first 2 or 3 days and then I started “ignoring” the alarm clock.  I think I need to write out my morning routine and post it on my bathroom mirror.  It might sound silly, but maybe that will help motivate me by seeing it every day.

Because my morning routine didn’t go so well, my exercise plan also died out as the days went by.  At first when I missed my morning workout I made it up in the evening, but eventually I started missing days altogether.  Sunday was an exercise disappointment after such a great workout on Saturday.

Finally, I also realized (too late) that I might have pushed myself a little too hard with the strength training.  Although the workout on Saturday was satisfying, by Sunday I was too sore to do anything and I basically felt that way up until Tuesday this week.  I’m not saying that’s the only reason why I didn't excercise, but it didn't help.

Moving Forward

I’m not going to change much for the second 10 days; I’ll be keeping my calorie and water targets the same.  I am going to set a goal to write out a morning routine and post it in my bathroom and I want to put some effort into doing it every day.  As for a new weight target, I’m going to go with 4 pounds in the next 10 days.  It was great to hit 8 pounds this period, but I know some of that was just water weight and it will be a little harder to shed the pounds in the next 10 days.  Best of luck to everyone else out there!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

First Weigh-In Tomorrow

As I said in my plan, I'll be weighing in every 10 days.  Tomorrow marks the end of my first 10; my goal was to lose 5 pounds in this first period.  I feel confident that I'll hit my mark as it's been a pretty good start.  Note, I don't expect to lose that much every time, but typically you lose a little more when you first get started.  Wish me luck, I'll post my results tomorrow along with a brief summary of how the first 10 days went. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My New Weight Loss Plan

Ok so now it’s time to post my new weight loss plan.  I didn’t post it when I first started over because I was still working on it.  I wanted to have the first week to try it out and see if it needed any tweaks.  This plan is a little bit different than my last one, and some of you may be surprised at some of the items on my list.
The Usual Stuff – If you ran a search on Google for “Weight Loss Plans” most of the sites you would end up at would have some variant of these first 8 items on my list:
  1. Exercise every day – No big shock on this one, you need to exercise to lose weight.  My plan is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every single day.  It can be any type of exercise (cardio, strength, walking) as long as I am doing it specifically to get my daily exercise
  2. Track calories and stay below my target – I debated this one quite a bit.  I hate keeping track of my calories, but the truth is I do much better when I’m recording what I eat.  My starting target is less than 2500 calories each day.  That might seem high to some people, but over the years I’ve learned that I don’t have to starve myself to lose weight.  I also have learned that if you try to restrict your calories AND increase your activity all at once, you can very quickly get overwhelmed.
  3. Eat 5-6 Meals each day – It has become conventional wisdom that you are better off eating lots of smaller meals rather than just a few large meals.  It helps to keep your metabolism going and you are less likely to binge if you are getting something to eat every 3-4 hours.
  4. Have some protein at every meal – Protein stays with you a lot longer than carbs and fat, plus it helps to rebuild muscle when you are strength training.
  5. Limit processed and pre-packaged foods to once per day – Pre-packaged foods are full of stuff you really don’t need.  Though I’m not swearing off pre-packaged foods entirely, I am going to limit them.
  6. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day – Besides being great for you, you can also eat a lot of fruits and vegetables for very little calories.
  7. Set both Long and Short Term Goals – I’ll be posting my goals here in the days to come, but rest assured there will be long term and short term goals.  The short term goals will support the long term plan and all the goals will be SMART goals.
  8. Regular Weigh-ins but not too often – I’ll be weighing myself every 10 days.  It’s plenty of time to at least see some sort of progress and not so long that I become obsessed and start sneaking peaks in between dates.
The Not-So-Usual Stuff – These next 10 items are more tailored to me and my personal style:
  1. Establish a clear morning routine – This one might seem a little weird for a weight loss plan, but there is a method to my madness.  I will be writing a post in the near future about Keystone Habits, but for now you’ll have to trust me when I say this is probably one of the most important aspects of my plan.
  2. Drink 100 ounces of water every day – You always hear how you should get 64 ounces of water every day.  I truly believe you need much more when you are trying to lose weight.  I know that 100 ounces sounds like a lot, but my most successful weight loss endeavors have come when I’m drinking lots of water.  It keeps me feeling full and helps flush out all the bad stuff from your system.
  3. Eat a big breakfast  – This one might seem counterintuitive, but in order to get started on the right foot, you need fuel first thing in the morning.  Plus, if you skimp on breakfast you spend the rest of the day hungrier (my opinion anyway) than if you have a full meal.  My typical breakfast will be between 500-600 calories and will include protein, fruit, and complex carbs (such as oatmeal).
  4. Post on my Blog Regularly – Submit posts on my blog at least weekly.  This helps me to stay accountable and connected to others that are fighting the fight.  It also keeps me thinking about being healthy.
  5. Reduce Digital Entertainment – This one is designed to get at my evenings.  My typical evening involves me coming home, eating dinner, and then plopping my ass on the couch until bedtime.  My goal is to have no more than 2 hours of digital entertainment (TV, Wasting time on the computer, non-active Wii games, cell phone, etc.) each day.
  6. Set Monthly Progress Reviews – I’m taking this page from work.  Every month I meet with my employees and we discuss their progress.  With these monthly reviews I can identify areas of concern and if I need to adjust my plan I can do that as well. 
  7. Get Plenty of Sleep – You can find research just about everywhere that shows people who get enough sleep do better at losing weight, yet no one ever makes it part of their plan.  I’m going for at least 7 hours each night.
  8. Prepare for failure – There will be times when I just completely fall off the wagon.  In order to be prepared for it, I have created a failure analysis form to fill out (taking another page from my work).  The idea is that if I sit myself down and go through the form right after a major failure, it will help me to prevent the same failure from happening again.  It’s also a way of holding myself accountable and getting myself right back on the wagon.
  9. Allow Cheating – 1 to 2 meals each week can be anything I want.  This helps me to not feel like I’m being deprived of anything.  Note this is not considered a reward for healthy eating.  One of the biggest pitfalls in healthy eating is that sometimes people want to reward good behavior with bad behavior.  If you want to reward yourself, do it with something that isn’t bad for you.
  10. Pay myself for success - One of my rewards will be cold, hard cash.  $10 will be going into an account for every pound I lose.  At certain milestones I will allow myself to use some of that money (no unhealthy purchases) to buy something and when I hit my ultimate goal, there will be enough in there for a pretty decent island vacation.
  11. The last part of my plan isn't really about my weight loss, but rather about my life in general:
    Enjoy Life and be Happy!  Afterall, what’s the point of being healthy if you are miserable?
    Got an "interesting" item in your weight loss plan?  Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Went Wrong?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana

OK, so I have no intention of dwelling on the past, what’s done is done and I can’t go back. However, there is something to be said about understanding what went wrong and then learning from it. That is the point of this post; to evaluate my most recent failure and determine what adjustments I can make to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Failure #1 – Un-sustainable Path

Have you ever been in a triathlon? If you are reading my blog regularly, then probably not :) but I’m sure you’ll still follow the analogy. Triathlons are one of the most grueling endurance races out there. Many entrants never even finish; occasionally you will see highlights of people who literally just collapse… their bodies are done and they can’t move one more step forward. These people failed because they were on an unsustainable path, the pace they set for themselves was too much for their body to handle.

When I look back at my past posts, I see that I started at 297 in November 2009 and ended up at 270 by the end of March 2010. 27 Pounds in in 5 months doesn’t seem unsustainable, but if you look closer, I was at 288 at the start of March 2010. I lost 9 pounds in the first 4 months and then 18 in the last month.

When I did the 30 day challenge, my diet and exercise regimen became unsustainable. It became more important for me to win than it did to be healthy. By the time I was done with that challenge I was completely burned out emotionally. What you don’t see in the blog is that Big D. and I started a second challenge in April. We didn’t even finish because we were so burned out; we just both agreed to stop about 2 weeks in.

Failure #2 – Loss of Accountability

Why did I start blogging in the first place? I started blogging for several reasons, but one of them was to add some more accountability. I truly know quite a bit about losing weight (just not keeping it off), but you can’t write about weight loss if you’re not losing weight. Somewhere along the line I convinced myself (in the midst of being burned out from the 30 Day Challenge) that I was spending too much time blogging and not enough time focusing on losing weight. What a crock! Once I stopped writing it became easier and easier to cheat. In fact, after about a month, I stopped weighing in altogether. Not only did I lose the accountability from the blog, but then I started losing accountability to my family and friends, and eventually to myself.

Failure #3 – Failure to Stop the Backslide

If the unsustainable path was the first domino in my failure, then failing to stop the backslide was the last. The road to weight loss is never a straight line. Think about how many times you’ve said to yourself “If I can lose 2 pounds every week for a year I will have lost over 100 pounds!” Ever know anyone to do it that way? Plenty of people have lost 100 pounds in a year, but I can guarantee you no one did it by losing exactly 2 pounds per week. Weight loss has its ups and downs.

After I was burned out and after I stopped blogging, there was a time when I could see myself backsliding into the bad habits. Instead of choosing to get back on the wagon, I used my small failure as an excuse to keep on failing. Have you ever said to yourself “well I already cheated today and blew the entire week (on Tuesday), I might as well enjoy it and start fresh next week.”? That’s what I did, but weeks actually turned into months and eventually 2 years had passed.

Failure #4 – Forgetting Your Priorities

I ‘ve mentioned it a few times before, but my heaviest weight ever was 349. When I hit 349 it was still just me and Mrs. FogDog; the little tikes hadn’t shown up yet. At that time I vowed that I would make my health a high priority in my life. Then all this other stuff starts to happen to you; kids, career changes, moving, etc. Just a few months after I stopped blogging, I actually received a big promotion. It was a completely different kind of job than I had in the past and it involved managing others. I’ve been successful my entire career because when I get into something, I tend to bulldog it until I do it near perfectly. This job was no exception and the next thing you know I was working 60+ hour weeks and pretty much ignoring everything else around me except for my new job. That lasted for just about a year. With all this going on, I still had other commitments as well, so my health became the casualty. The results show, not only did my weight take off, but now I’m on blood pressure medication from all the stress at work.

Learning From Your Mistakes

As I said, I’m not going to dwell on the past, but I do intend to learn from it:

1. No more challenges, contests, or visions or “Biggest Loser” type weight loss numbers. Just stick to a sustainable plan that I can live with

2. Keep Blogging (Even if no one is reading) and keep holding myself accountable

3. Prepare for failure! Eventually I will have a backslide so I need to be prepared now. Once it happens, accept it, get back on track, and move on.

4. Don’t forget your priorities. Every morning when I take that BP pill I remind myself why my heath needs stay near the top of my priorities.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 1 – And my starting weight is… Unknown???

Ok so the new year has come and gone, time to get this weight loss started. I just got back from vacation on Monday and decided I would start on Tuesday (yesterday). There were really 3 big reasons why I chose January 8th:
  1. I wasn't ready with my plan and goals at the start of the year
  2. I was planning a vacation on January 5-7
  3. January 8th marks 30 days since I've quit smoking
Part of my new plan is to have a morning routine that includes some exercise so I got up yesterday at 5:30AM. Obviously since it’s the start of my new weight loss journey, I wanted to get on the scale and see my starting point. I got on my Wii Scale and prepared myself for my starting weight. The result… “oops you’ve exceeded my maximum weight limit”. I stepped off and then back on again (you know, because somehow if I stand a little different, maybe lean forward a little, the result might change). No good, I’ve exceeded the weight limit of my Wii scale. I had just weighed in at 327 before Christmas, so my guess is the scale tops out at 330 so that will be my starting point.

I’ve had this Wii scale for 4 years and this is the first time I’ve managed to exceed the weight limit on it. Oh just how far I have fallen! My wife seemed to be bothered by it; I think because she thought it was going to be a de-motivator for me. The truth is, I said to myself “Perfect, you’ve just hit rock bottom! Nowhere to go but up.” And that’s how I started my day.

I made it through the day quite easily; I wish all the coming days would go so well (not likely). I met my calorie intake goal, got almost 60 minutes of exercise in, and met my water goal. By the end of the day I was pretty tired so it was off to bed at 9:30PM.

That brings us to today. I managed to get up on time so I could get a workout in before work. Of course as still curious about my actual weight so I got on the scale again this morning. SUCCESS! It worked; I weigh 329.7. I typically don’t weigh myself more than once per week but I really wanted to see just how close I was to 330. Now I know.

So now it’s on, let the weight loss begin. In the coming days I’ll be posting my goals and my plan, both of which are quite a bit different from the last time. Best of luck to all of us!