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!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 50 - Weight Loss Results

Starting Weight – 330

Day 40 Weight – 314.8

Current Weight – 316.8
Period Weight Loss – +2 Pounds

Overall Weight Loss – 13.2 Pounds

Clearly not a great week.  Not that I want to make excuses, but I've actually been quite sick for the last 10 days.  That's why I haven't been posting, and I knew that my results would not be good.  The good news is that as of this morning I'm finally starting to feel a little better and I am ready to get right back to it.

What Went Well

Despite being incredibly sick for most of the last 10 days, I did do surprisingly well with maintaining my diet.  On the worst days of my illness, I did succumb to eating some "comfort foods", but for the most part I really ate pretty well.

Areas to Improve

Obviously being sick, I didn't get any exercise in.  I made a conscious choice to try to get as much rest as possible so as to not stay sick for too long.  I also didn't do well with drinking water; though I drank plenty of Ginger Ale. 

Moving Forward

No changes in daily calories or water consumption (both seem to be working fine). No new adjustments to my plan.

Goals for this week (Next 10 Days):

I highly suspect that the 2 pounds I gained are really nothing more than water retention from being sick.  Because of that, I'm going to shoot for 6 pounds in the next 10 days. Wish me luck; Stay Strong!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weight Loss Failure Analysis Using the “5-Why” Process

Things go wrong and failures happen.  This is part of life and will never change.  If you are embarking on a weight loss journey, you can expect to have failures all along the way.  In fact, I’m so sure this will happen that I’ve included “Expect to Fail” into my own weight loss plan.

I coach youth soccer in our community.  When we lose a game, I tell our kids that failure to meet our goals is an opportunity for improvement, but only if we learn from what went wrong.  At that point we have a discussion about what went wrong in the last game and then we focus our practice on improving those things that we identified.

Let me ask you a couple questions…Have you ever applied this philosophy in your weight loss?  How many times have you failed?  How many times have you learned from those failures?  This article is all about offering a simple tool that you can use to help identify the reasons behind a failure including a failure to lose weight.  The process is called the “5-Whys”

The 5 Why process is quite simple; you continue to ask yourself “Why?” over and over again until you get to the root of the problem.  It’s called the “5-Whys” because typically you can get to the root of most problems if you at least go through the process 5 times, but there is nothing magical about that number.  You simply keep asking why until you can’t ask it anymore.   
Now it might sound simple, but it can sometimes to be tough to do.  First of all, you sometime can have multiple answers or "roots" to a question.  When that happens you have to explore each root individually.  Also, it can sometimes be difficult to know when you really have reached the root cause simply because you can alway keep asking why.  Stop asking when the answer doesn't make sense or doesn't pertain to the problem you are trying to solve. 
The best way to illustrate this technique is with an example.  Fortunately for me, I fail quite a bit, so I figured I would use one of my recent failures as an example.  Below you find my 5-Why analysis, for my recent failure to lose any weight between my Day 20 and Day 30 Weigh-ins:

Failure To Be Analyzed - I didn’t lose any weight in the last 10 days

Why didn’t I lose any weight?

(Root 1) I went out to eat several times during the week and as a result went over my calorie limit significantly multiple times

          Why did I go out to eat?
          I went out to eat because I was stressed out from work

                     Why does stress trigger a need to go out to eat?

                     Because I don’t have a good/healthy way to deal with stress

                              Why don’t I have a good/healthy way to deal with stress?

                              Good Question (root cause #1)

(Root 2) I ended up cheating several times on the weekend including nachos and several desserts on Sunday

          Why did I cheat on the weekend?
          Because the SuperBowl was on

                    Why did the SuperBowl cause me to cheat?
                    Because the Superbowl is a special event

                              Why do I cheat on special events

                              It gives me a good excuse to cheat

                                        Why do I need an excuse?
                                        Good Question (root cause #2)                         

(Root 3) I didn’t exercise at all

          Why didn’t I exercise
          Because I had a busy, stressfull week

                    Why does a busy, stressfull week keep me from exercising?
                    Because I can’t fit it into my schedule

                              Why can’t I find time to fit exercise into my schedule?
                              Because it takes me an hour every day (in my mind)

                                       Why does it have to take an hour every day?
                                       It doesn’t (root Cause #3)

 Based on this simple analysis, I was able to come up with 3 main causes for my failure:

  1. I don’t have a good/healthy way to deal with stress, so when I’m stressed out I tend to use food to comfort me
  2. I have a tendency to use special events or changes in my normal routine as a reason to be unhealthy
  3. When it comes to exercise, I have an outdated view of what exercise looks like and that view is not conducive with my busy life
At this point, please note that doing the failure analysis helps you find the root cause(s) of you failure, but it doesn’t find the solutions.  I’m still trying to figure out a good/healthy way to deal with my stress.  However, sometimes just being aware of the causes can help you to be ready for them.  For instance, since I know that special events are a weakness for me, I might try to do something to prepare for the next one (one of my daughters has a birthday coming up).

I want to finish this post with just a few tips should you decide to try to do this type of analysis:

  1. Don’t get hung up on coming up with exactly 5 whys.  The purpose of the 5 is to try to get you to dig deeper into the “surface” reasons.  Dig as far as you can go, but don’t overdo it
  2. Don’t get stuck on the word “Why”.  Feel free to substitute “Who”, “What”, “Where”, and “When” into the questioning sentence
  3. If you have multiple answers to a question, pick one and take it all the way through to the root cause before going back to a different answer.  Also be ready, sometimes multiple roots will take you to the same root cause
  4. Focus on the process more than the final results.  The whole point of this process is to get you to really think through to possible causes of the failure.  I spent over an hour on the very simple analysis above and I had all sorts of other thoughts before I got to the roots above.
Have you ever performed an analysis like this before?  How about with weight loss?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  Oh and by the way, if you have a solution for how I can deal with stress in a healthy way, I’d love to hear about it! Stay Strong!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 40 - Weight Loss Results

Starting Weight – 330
Day 30 Weight – 319.2

Current Weight – 314.8
Period Weight Loss – 4.4 Pounds

Overall Weight Loss – 15.2 Pounds

4.4 pounds... A great recovery from the previous 10 days!  Though 0.6 pounds short of my goal, I'm absolutely thrilled that I was able to turn it around from the last weigh-in.  I have always been haunted by letting one bad week turn into several so I was determined to not let that happen this week.

What Went Well
  1. Great Job sticking to my plan (calories, water, and exercise)
  2. Did well finding opportunities to get some exercise in.  While I was reloading my PC (see my last post), I would jump on the elliptical trainer while software was loading.  I ended up with 53 minutes of exercise instead of just sitting in front of a PC while software was installing.
  3. I DID NOT SMOKE! Last weekend was my first big test in terms of smoking cigarettes.  My best friend came to visit for the first time since I quit and we went out to a friend's house for a poker game.  He's a smoker and the two of us tend to be enablers for each other's bad habits.  Not only did I refrain from smoking, but I was also reasonable with the amount of food and beer I had at the poker game.  Definitely a good sign that my habits are changing!
Areas to Improve
  1. I still need to be more active.  I reached my exercise goal, but I'm still doing the bare minimum.  I want to get more exercise, but more importantly, I want to be more active every day.  I still feel like I'm not moving around as much as I should be; I'm hoping the weather will improve soon so I can get outside more.
Moving Forward

No changes in daily calories or water consumption (both seem to be working fine).  No new adjustments to my plan.  Goals for this week (Next 10 Days):
  1. I'm going to shoot for another 5 pounds.  I'm beginning to discover that I do better when I challenge myself to goals that are very hard to hit.
  2. I want to make a conscious effort to be considerably more active over the next 10 days.  This is going to be tough for me as I have a lot going on at work right now and I am expecting to put in some long hours at the office next week.
I hope you all are enjoying a good weigh-in as well.  Thanks for all the support.  Stay Strong!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm Down... But Not Out!

I just wanted to drop this post in to let everyone know that I'm still around.  Shortly after I posted my Day 30 Results, I discovered that my PC had contracted the dreaded "Google Redirect Virus".  If you have ever had this problem on your PC (which is not actually a virus), you know that it can be very difficult to remove and also has the potential to open your PC up to other more nasty exploits.

After multiple days of trying to fix this problem, I finally decided the best course of action was to wipe my hard drive completely and reload my PC.  Currently I have completed my backups and have formatted the hard drive; tonight I will begin the reload process.

So my PC is down, but I'm here to say I'm not out!  In fact I am excited to see the results of these last 10 days.  Even though I haven't posted it yet, I have completed my failure analysis that led up to my poor weigh-in last period.  I could probably be exercising a little more as this computer problem is eating up my time, but I have done extremely well with my diet, water, and my mental state as well.  The entire time I've been fighting my PC, I've been telling myself that it's not a reason to give in to temptation and so far I've managed to stay strong.  Even though I could probably be exercising more, I have managed to squeeze it in as much as possible.  This is something I've struggled with in the past; I'm used to abandoning exercise altogether when I get too busy.  I'm considering it a small victory that I managed to get something in. 

I really think I have a good chance of hitting my short term goal of 5 pounds.  I will be weighing in on Friday morning, which is actually 1 day early.  My daughter's birthday is this weekend and we have a lot going on so I thought it best to just weigh-in on Friday instead of Saturday.   

Once I get my PC back up and running (hopefully this weekend) I'll be back to blogging.  For now, I hope everyone enjoys their Valentine's Day.  Stay Strong!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 30 - Weight Loss Results

Starting Weight – 330
Day 20 Weight – 319

Current Weight – 319
Period Weight Loss – 0 Pounds

Overall Weight Loss – 11 Pounds

Clearly 0 pounds was not what I was hoping for to end my first 30 days. Obviously I didn’t meet the 4 pound short term goal I mentioned in my Day-20 Weigh-in Post, but I did meet my monthly goal of 10 pounds in the first thirty days. I’m posting my results and I’ll discuss what went well and what didn’t go so well, but you can expect to see more details in my next post when I perform a failure analysis on this last week.

What Went Well
  1. I stuck to the morning routine (for the most part)
  2. Almost everyday I hit my water target
  3. I maintained a positive attitude (even with a tough week)
Areas to Improve
  1. I didn't get any exercise at all
  2. I Stopped tracking my daily progress about 5 days in
  3. I had several high calorie meals and snacks starting on Thursday last week and moving right through the weekend
Moving Forward

Part of my original plan included “being prepared for failure”. As this week unfolded, I knew that it wasn’t going to end well. I started to put together an analysis of where I went wrong along with some changes that I can try to make. I’ll post that analysis in the days to come but for now, here’s my path forward:
  • Short Term Goal – 5 pounds in the next 10 days (this is a big stretch, but I feel like I need a strong follow-up to a poor performance)
  • Mid Term Goal – 10 pounds in the next 30 days
  • Calorie and Water Targets to stay the same (2500 calories, and 100 oz water)
  • Begin new exercise plan and evaluate after 30 days
  • Update tracking information and develop plan for reviewing results (more on this when I post my failure analysis)
You might expect me to be bummed out right now, but actually it’s quite the opposite. 60 Days ago I decided I was going to change my life. The first thing I did was quit smoking and drinking alcohol in excess. As of today, I have managed to keep to those changes for 60 days. 30 Days ago I decided to change my eating habits and lose weight. In 30 days I’ve lost 11 pounds by eating right and I haven’t even incorporated exercise into my life yet (the next 30 days). What in the world should I have to be unhappy about?

Don't get me wrong, I know I stumbled a little, but the important thing was that I was ready for it. Yes the weekend was not good for me, but I could have just as easily decided to continue my slide and stay unhealthy right up until the Wednesday morning weigh-in. Instead I did what I said I would do, I analyzed the failure and most importantly, got right back on track as quickly as possible. If you can’t pick yourself up when you stumble, then you will never be able to lose weight over the long term because it is almost a certainty that you will stumble from time to time.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Hate 'The Biggest Loser'

I have a confession to make.  I am one of those few overweight people who absolutely hates 'The Biggest Loser'!  I hate it, but I still watch it... sort of.  With the wonders of DVR I never watch on the night it airs, but rather I record it and watch the full 2 hours in about 30 minutes skipping through a lot of it to get to the things I actually care about (I like to watch the challenges, the results, and the 'where are they now?' at the very end.  Now I know a lot of people would disagree with me on this topic and they see the show as a source of inspiration, but if you indulge me for a moment let me share with you the top 5 reasons why I hate 'The Biggest Loser':

Reason #5 - The Shameless Plugs

It's hard to watch the show and not know who their biggest sponsors are by the shameless plugs the contestants are forced to do.  Whether it's deli meat, gum, or even sandwich baggies, these folks aren't afraid to ask those contestants to participate in their little "live commercials".  It's like that website you go to that's just plastered with ads all over it, too much turns people off.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not against advertising completely, you will find some right here on my blog, but it's the amount of advertising that I struggle with.  That's what commercials are for on TV; I don't expect to get a second dose during the show I'm watching.  Besides, when they use the contestants and the trainers (who are not professional actors), the whole thing comes off as so cheesy.

Reason #4 - In one word... Jillian!

Not for the reasons you think though.  I like Jillian's in-your-face style and she was impressive early on with the results of her teams.  What I don't like is the way she started slapping her name on anything and everything that had to do with weight loss once the show started to get popular.  From Wii games to books to exercise gadgets, it seemed like everywhere you looked she was endorsing something new.  Can anyone name a product that has her name on that you actually liked?  I can't.

Now just to be fair, I will say that I own Bob Harper's 'Inside Out Method' workout DVDs.  I own 5 different DVDs and think they are absolutely outstanding!  I bought them several years ago and still use them as part of my workout rotations.  They are tough if you are extremely overweight, but not impossible and no matter what your fitness level, you will sweat!  I never realized just how hard Yoga could be!  You can get the DVDs below (my own shameless plug)


Reason #3 - Exploitation of Overweight People

Actually my reason #3 is more about why I hate almost every reality show out there; the industry is exploiting people for personal gain. Think about this for a moment... Imagine that you are selected to be a contestant. What do you think? Do you imagine yourself getting the help you need to change your life? Do you think about at least getting to the makeover? My guess is that you don't think about how the producers might make you out as the drama queen or the quitter. Remember, only a small handful of contestants make it through to the end. Don't forget about all those folks that only made it a couple of weeks and have to go home and tell everyone they didn't make it. Also, how many villains can you remember from the show? How many crazies? How many game players? The show doesn't succeed if there isn't a little controversy going on and you are crazy if you think that the controversy being generated is "all natural".

What really has me nervous is how the show has to keep ramping things up in order to keep getting ratings. Remember when they kept getting larger and larger contestants every season?  Thankfully they reigned that in a little.  Now it seems like they are pushing the contestants harder and harder. Have you noticed the number of contestants sitting out of challenges has risen due to injuries?

Reason #2 - Oh the Drama!

Really... 2 hours per episode?  What do you need all that time for?  In a nutshell: you need room for the shameless plugs (see reason #5) and for all the drama!  The next time you watch the show, take out a pencil and paper and count how many times you see contestants cry.  Count all the magical "breakthrough" moments that are followed by inspirational music and an inevitable huge loss at the weigh-in (the only thing that would make it cheesier is if the inspirational music was the theme from Rocky).  You can almost predict the results based on what you see early on in the show.  Is someone having a tough week?  You can bet they will be a highlight at the weigh-in either positive or negative depending on how they were portrayed through the rest of the episode.

This season it would appear that they've got Jillian in their sights as well, portraying her as being "too tough" and subsequently knocking all of her team out of the show.  It has been fun for me to watch (see reason #4), but I have no doubt the producers have something up their sleeve that will make Jillian look like a hero again (don't be surprised if her one remaining contestant makes it all the way to the end).  By the way, do you think it was a coincidence that Jillian ended up with a bunch of contestants that really didn't respond well to her type of training?  Don't think for a second that it was a coincidence, those producers know exactly how to maximize the drama and as a result some players that might have fared better under someone else ended up going home in the interest of getting more drama (see reason #3).

Reason #1 - Setting False Expectations

The most unfortunate part about this show is that it changes people's expectations when it comes to losing weight on their own.  These contestants post huge numbers week after week and even the at-home players end up posting big losses at the finale.  Because of all these big numbers and incredible transformations, viewers begin to see small losses as "unacceptable" for weight loss and in our 'instant gratification' society it only amplifies the problems around making this a journey instead of a sprint. 

Your average person starts to think there is something wrong with them because they haven't had their "Breakthrough Moment" yet.  Breakthroughs are not usually monumental and aren't followed with everything automatically working out in the end.  Weight loss is tough no matter how you want to look at it!

So there it is; my top 5 reasons for hating 'The Biggest Loser'.  I'll leave you with one more thing to consider when you think about the show.  As an engineer I'm always looking for patterns or lack thereof.  If you go back and look at all the seasons past and the finales, you might be surprised at a pattern that you don't see.  When you look at all the contestants that didn't make it all the way to the end, you would expect that those that made it the farthest on the show would have performed the best at the final weigh-in (the at-home challenge).  Surprisingly many of the people that got knocked out the earliest have put up some of the most impressive numbers.  In fact, there have been several seasons where the person with the highest percent weight loss overall wasn't even in the finals, but rather someone that finished their journey at home! When you think about this last paragraph, it makes you question what's so magical about "The Weight Loss Ranch"?  In my opinion, the answer is "nothing". 

Let me know what you think; feel free to leave me a comment.  Stay Strong!

[Photo: Flickr / Sarah-Rose]