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, August 28, 2014

Why Do We Weigh Ourselves?

Ahhh the beloved bathroom scale; one of the greatest inventions of all time…

Simply step on this device and almost instantaneously you can have a 3 digit number that defines who you are!  The only thing more amazing than being able to get this 3 digit number is our ability to interpret its meaning.  Here are just some of the interpretations we can get from reading this number:

My most recent scale reading means…
My plan is working, My plan is not working, I’m making good progress, My progress is to slow, I must have followed my plan perfectly, I must have strayed from my plan, I will be down X pounds by (insert date here), I will never hit my goal, I’m retaining water, I am a good person, I am a bad person, I am a horrible person, The battery must be low or this scale is broken!

How many of these have you said before?  The list could go on and on, people will always find infinite ways to interpret that 3 digit number.  The truth is, you can’t conclude anything from that 3 digit number other than that is your current weight at that very moment.  That’s it.  In fact 5 minutes later you could weigh something different.  Don’t believe me?  Simply drink a glass of water and weigh yourself again.
Why do we weigh ourselves?  Seriously, stop and think for a moment about “why”.  If you scour 1000 blogs written by people trying to lose weight, you will see an amazing array of different styles people use to lose weight.  However, the one common element you will find is that all of them will be weighing themselves at some regular frequency.  Some people weigh-in monthly or even weekly; some as much as daily.  Is that a mistake?

Investing in Healthy Living  
Investments typically have a longer term time horizon.  If you invest in a 401K I bet you don’t check the balance every day.  Why not?  Because it really doesn’t matter what your balance is today, you don’t need that money until you retire.  You might look at it once a quarter or once a year just to make sure you are still on track but you certainly don’t need to see it every day.

When we decide to lose weight, we should treat it in the same manner; it’s an investment in healthy living.  If your end goal is to be at a healthy weight in 3 years, then why are you looking at your weight every day or even every week? Like your 401K, just a quick check now and then to see you are on track is all you need.
Reasons Why We Say We Need to Weigh-in

“To track my progress” – Ok I get this one, you want to see progress.  However, the big problem here is that we create linear goals.  We’ve all done it; “I want to lose 50 pounds in 1 year”.  Somehow that translates into “I should be losing 2 pounds every week”.  So now you need to measure yourself every week to see if you are “on track”.  Weight loss doesn’t work that way; in fact it’s more like a curved line, taking longer and longer to lose weight as you get closer to your goal.  You don’t really need a scale to measure progress, when you walk down the street and your pants fall down because they are too loose, you will have your progress report.

“It motivates me” – Oh, I see, daily losses and gains of 0.2 pounds sounds really motivating.  How motivated are you when you suddenly gain 2 unexplained pounds over the week.   If anything I think the scale becomes a de-motivator.  The sad part is that all too often our gains and losses on a daily and weekly basis fluctuate due to a variety of factors.  We all have played the game before, have you ever started your diet weighing in in the evening only to have your first weigh-in in the morning?  Or how about starving yourself the day before the weigh-in just so you can be motivated by that number the next day (or just so you can hopefully break even and somehow salvage a bad week).  Wouldn’t it be more motivating to see 25 pounds lost after 2 months?  It’s harder to game the system when you spread those weigh-ins out.  Wouldn’t it be more motivating knowing that you had the confidence in your abilities to stick it out for a month or two without weighing in? 

“I use it to confirm that I’m not doing all this hard work for nothing” – Are you serious?  If you feel like you have to suffer in order to get some reading on a scale, then you probably shouldn’t be trying to lose weight because you are likely doomed to fail.  Unfortunately I think this is something that happens a lot; we need confirmation, we need something to tell us we are good.  Unfortunately if you are seeking confirmation and you don’t get it, it can cause you to abandon you plans.  A number can’t tell you if you are good or bad, it’s just a number.
“It gives me an out” – No, you probably don’t say this (at least not to your face), but subconsciously you might be sabotaging yourself.  Sometimes we look for a reason to fail because failure is the easy path.  As soon as the scale stops telling you what you want to hear you have the permission to quit.  Sounds crazy, but I bet it happens.

All About the Number

Weighing ourselves has become an obsession.  If people notice you’ve lost weight the first thing they ask is “How much have you lost?”  They don’t ask if you feel healthier or if or if it’s easier to climb the stairs, it’s the number that counts.  I’m not going to try to convince anyone here to completely abandon weighing in, in fact, I still plan on getting on the scale myself.  However, if I can get you to stop and think about what weighing in means and maybe some of the pitfalls associated with it, then this post will have been successful.  We are more than just a number on the scale and if you can see that you might find that the need to see that number just isn’t that important. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 3 Progress... Keeping the daily mindset

So I’ve now completed 2 days of low-carb living. To be honest, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I’ve been targeting each my 5 meals to come in somewhere around 300 calories (except for breakfast where I target 400 and include some carbs). I thought sure I would be starving and craving carbs. Then again, it’s only been two days it’s not like I’ve been marooned without carbs and calories for years!
I’ve also managed to get up and workout at 5AM in the morning. Those that know me would probably relate this to a small miracle. I am not a morning person, never have been, and probably never will be, but If I don’t get up this early and workout before work, I’ll never be consistent because I work late a lot and I have 3 kids that require my attention for their extracurricular activities. The workouts were only for 15 minutes, but I was drenched with sweat by the time I was done. It felt good

I haven’t really thought ahead too much, and I think that’s a positive sign. Usually I’m already thinking about my first weigh-in. I haven’t even decided how often I’ll weigh-in, if at all. Well that’s bull, I’ll have to weigh-in sometime or I’ll probably go mad, but for now I’m not worried about it. I really do just want to try to focus on one day at a time.

Some Positives in my first 3 days of healthy living

  • I didn’t eat like a pig on Sunday just because I could (it was my unrestricted day)
  • I haven’t felt hungry or miserable
  • The workouts felt good
  • My mind isn’t wandering away from the here and now
A couple negatives

  • I am a little sore from working out
  • I can’t believe how many trips you take to the bathroom when you drink a gallon of water each day!

And Lastly, a couple of observations

  • Last night I was actually craving a big juicy apple! 
  • My phone beeps to remind every three hours that it’s time to eat. Although I’m not feeling hungry during the day, I do notice that when it’s time to eat, my mouth is watering (don't tell Pavlov)
  • I was feeling a little more fatigued by the end of today, compared to yesterday. Tomorrow is a high carb day with a meal target of 400 calories; I think that’s a good thing for me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Weight Loss Plan

"A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step" - Laozi

And so it begins…

I woke this morning with a smile on my face.  It’s time!  My transformation begins today; I got up this morning and jumped on the scale…

August 24, 2014 – 347.8 Pounds
Wow!  I knew I was close to 350.  On one hand I recognize that I’m about one pound shy of my heaviest weight ever, but on the other hand I thought “could be worse”.  Time to get busy!

So now that I’ve started I’m going to share my plan.  It’s a work in progress since I just recently decided to accelerate my start date. 

I recently read Chris Powell’s Book – Choose More Lose More.  I’ve read a lot of books about weight loss; but not many have resonated with me as much as this one.  I think what I liked about it was the majority of discussion was devoted toward the mental aspects of transformation.  The rest of his book, including the plan really was a little vague and open to interpretation.  Exactly what I need! 

I’m going to give carb cycling a try.  I’m committing to doing it for 3 months and then I will evaluate.  I’m following Chris Powell’s “Turbo” plan for the first month an I’m also making some tweaks here and there to suit me and my style. 

Some Key Points about My Plan


  1. I will be eating 5 meals each day of roughly equal calorie count spaced out evenly
  2. I am targeting each meal to be about 300 calories on low carb days and 400 calories on high carb days
  3. Low carb days will be on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
  4. High carb days will be on Wednesday, and Saturday
  5. Sunday is a free day to eat any way I choose
  6. Every 3 weeks I will spend the 4th week doing all high carb days
  7. I will try to drink a gallon of water every day


  1. I am committing 15 minutes each day to exercising and I will add 5 minutes each week until I get to 1 hour
  2. Exercise will consist of both cardio and strength training
  3. No matter how much I don't want to exercise, I will always complete at least 10 minutes each day
  1. I will meditate 10 minutes each day in the morning
  2. Each morning I will remind myself that I can do this
  3. At the end of each day I will rate my performance (for the day only) and hold myself accountable
  4. I will continue to blog and seek support from my family and friends
  5. I will continue to make small promises to myself that support my new lifestyle; I will keep those promises
  6. I will limit my goals and limit how much I track progress and instead I will focus on taking it one day at a time
That’s about it, not too impressive huh?  Exactly what I want; I tend to make things incredibly complicated (see my old plans), but if you are truly motivated (there’s that mental part again), why do you need a complex plan?  Commit to something that’s simple and easy to live with and then do it!

Now, I will set some goals and I will talk about tracking results and calorie counting in future blogs, but for now what more do I need?  I’m motivated and I’ve made the commitment; I’ve taken my first step; I'll see you in a 1000 Miles!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Slight Change of Plans... Why Wait?

My last post was actually pretty emotional for me.  It got me really thinking hard about my future and my pending transformation.  To be honest, I woke up this morning wondering just what else I needed to wait for in order to get this process going. What else do I need, a sign from God?  You know how it is, we all need to draw that line in the sand and say (this is where it all starts… right here).  Until you reach that line nothing you do matters.  Whether you gain 5 pounds or lose 5 before that line it really makes no difference.  The line is drama, it’s the line you plan on pointing to 2 years from now when you are surrounded by people who want to know how you did it.

I continued to ponder as I read some other people’s blogs, and then sat down for breakfast.  As I was eating I asked my wife how many calories she thought I was eating.  She had made me two bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches; here’s my calorie total for breakfast:

  • 1 Large cup of coffee with cream and sugar – 150 calories
  • 3 Eggs – 210 calories
  • 4 Pieces of Bacon – 120 calories
  • ¾ Oz. Cheese – 75 calories
  • 4 Pieces of Bread – 480 calories
  • 2 Tbsp Butter – 200 calories
That’s a grand total of 1235 calories just for breakfast!  If I was on my plan right now I’d have about 300 calories left for the day.  This has to stop!  I couldn’t even remember anything about the 5 minutes (yes I said 5) where I sat there and wolfed those sandwiches down.  How’d they taste?  I couldn’t tell you because I ate them mindlessly.  No More!

I told my wife I’m ready to start now.  We’re doing this together so I needed her agreement; we compromised on starting tomorrow (which ironically will be our cheat day).  It doesn’t matter; in my opinion we really started today.  I went into the basement and setup an area for working out.  The new house we bought 2 months ago came with an elliptical machine and a treadmill plus we already had an elliptical and free weights.  I don’t like the elliptical that came with the house plus it only supports 325 lbs, so I’m giving that one to a friend.  I organized the room and now it’s ready to be used.

Later on we went out to the big and tall store.  All of my clothes are extremely tight and so I wanted to get just a couple things to hold me over until the pounds start coming off.  First I had to drive 45 minutes to get there.  When I arrived they didn’t have any jeans that were “regular fit”.  I know we fat guys need some room in the seat, but it’s always too much for me and it always looks like I have a big load in my pants.  Anyway, no jeans, but I found a nice pair of shorts.  I tried and tried to find a collar shirt to match but no luck.  Everytime I found a color I liked I couldn’t find it in my size (3XLT).  Finally, I got pissed, dropped the shorts, and left.  Nothing like a waste of a 45 minute drive!  All the way home I kept thinking about how mice it would be to not have to go to a special store to buy clothes anymore.  The time will come soon!

Tomorrow morning I will get on the scale.  Then My wife and I will go shopping to get the food we need for the rest of the week.  I am starting to get excited.  Even though tomorrow is a cheat day for us (In order to keep our schedule right), I still plan on eating reasonable.  Tomorrow I’ll post my plan… and my starting weight.  Wish me luck!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weight Loss, Go-Karts, and One Big Promise

When I was a kid, my family’s go-to vacation was to Hampton Beach in NH. Some years we would go for a week, other years just for a weekend or two, but you could always count on at least one trip there during the summer. Not far from the beach was the coolest go-Kart park ever (probably not nearly as cool now that I’m an adult, but it was pretty freakin’ awesome as a kid). All I ever wanted to do was ride those go-Karts and I begged and pleaded with my parents every single time we went. However, my parents thought they were way too expensive and so I never did get to ride them. By the time I was a teenager, my parents divorced and so we stopped going to Hampton Beach, but I still always wanted to ride those go-Karts.

Flash forward to 2014, and to this day I have still never driven a go-Kart! To be honest, it’s not like I’ve been aching for years and years about this. It’s not some lifelong dream or bucket list item, it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to but never had the opportunity because of my size.

I’m sharing this with you because of something that happened to me recently. Earlier this month we went on a family vacation. The resort we stayed at had a go-Kart track and the moment I saw it my heart sank. My oldest (11 years old) of three daughters asked “Can we do that Daddy”? Without hesitation I said “Sorry sweetie, but I’m too big to fit. You don’t want to ride these anyway, the track is small and they don’t go very fast. It’s not nearly as fun as it looks.”

NOT AS FUN AS IT LOOKS??? People were going around grinning ear-to-ear. I’m surprised my daughter didn’t call bullshit on me right then and there, but she just nodded her head and we moved on. I was instantly depressed! Not only could I not fulfill a childhood dream, but I also did my best to convince my daughter not to do it as well. My other two kids weren’t quite tall enough yet, and I’m convinced this is the only reason why my oldest gave up so easily.

Oh did I mention they also had zip lines? Now, my daughter is smart enough to realize I’m too big to ride a zip line so she didn’t ask me, but she still wanted to do it. Again, I did my best to convince her that these were somehow “inferior” zip lines that wouldn’t be fun at all while deep down wishing I could ride those lines (hanging upside down and splashing into a pool if they would let me). Again, she gave me that fake smile that kids give you when they are trying to hide their disappointment and we moved on.

Now at this point you might be wondering why I wouldn’t want my daughter to do those fun things and why I would do my best to convince her that they weren’t any fun. That’s simple… because it would have been too painful for me to watch her do it without me. I’m the dad! I’m the one that lives for this stuff! Not only should I be riding go-Karts and hanging from zip lines with my kids, but I should be the one convincing my wife we need to go “one more time”! When we go mountain biking (when I was thinner), my kids know that I will be disappointed if they miss a single mud puddle!

Some of you will relate and some will just not get it. I know just how selfish it sounds, and that just makes me feel worse. Heading into 2010 my kids were 4,5 and 7 years old. I started my blog and my transformation back then knowing that in just a few short years they would be big enough for Water Parks, go-Karts, Zip Lines, Rollercoasters, Mountain Biking, Kayaking and all the other cool and awesome things that dads are supposed to do. My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up so I didn’t get to do a lot of things I would have liked. As an adult I’ve done well for myself and all I’ve ever wanted to do was give my kids some of those experiences, but together, as a family.

I wanted to be ready for them… and I failed… and I had to face up to that fact not more than a month ago. To date it has been my most painful realization about my health.

Since we’ve gotten back from vacation I’ve started making some small promises. My first was to stop eating off my kid’s plates. My second promise was to avoid alcohol for the next month.

I’m going to end this post with my third promise… to my kids… by the time you are all tall enough, I’m going to find the coolest, most pimped out go-Kart facilities I can and when we get there, WE WILL RIDE!

Thanks for reading.

Acknowledgement - I’ve been following Sean Anderson’s Blog since I started blogging in 2010. The other day I made a comment on his blog and he encouraged me to go back to the beginning of postings because he felt there was a lot there that I would be able to relate to as I restart my transformation. I went through a lot of his old posts, but one in particular struck a chord with me because of a recent experience, and it inspired me to share this story with you. You can read the post that inspired me here HERE. Thanks Sean for the post. It might have been painful to write this, but now that it’s done, it’s clear to me why I need to get this stuff out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Weight Loss Fear - Success??

I’m preparing myself for a huge transformation that will begin when I return from vacation on September 1. Unlike past experiences, I’m not just starting right out with the goal to lose as much weight as fast as possible. This time it’s different. This time I want to prepare myself. When you move to a new city, you don’t just show up one day, you prepare. You get your things in order, you make lists of things you need to do, you tell your friends, you get yourself mentally ready. That’s why I wrote myself a letter when I restarted my blog, I needed to acknowledge to myself that although I have failed, I have, indeed changed, and I needed to give myself permission to try again. It was my first signal to begin getting myself mentally ready for what will be an incredibly tough challenge.

Today is another step in my preparation; admitting to one of my biggest (and probably seen as craziest) fears.

Another well-known blogger asked me recently if I was excited to get started. I told him that it wasn’t excitement, but rather fear I’m feeling right now. To be honest I’m scared as hell about this. I stared into a mirror the other morning, and I couldn’t recognize the person I was seeing. I’ve been going through the motions for so long now that I don’t really feel anything anymore. I just get up, do the same thing everyday, and then go to bed. No excitement, no enthusiasm, nothing. While this might seems sad, keep in mind that it can also be quite comfortable; nothing really changes.

My fear isn’t about failing… that just means more of the same, familiar life. Besides, I’ve failed millions of times; it’s not like I don’t know how to handle it. No, my fear is around succeeding. It’s amazing when you spend a little time just thinking about “stuff”. Since high school I’ve been overweight. Throughout my entire life my “vision” of myself as a thin person was simply… me, but thinner. At the age of 42 I find myself astounded that I’ve never seriously considered that fact that I would also change as a person! Seriously, I’ve never even had a mental picture myself as happier person, or a more confident person, it was always just a one dimensional image, same person, just with less body. Laugh if you want, but it just never really dawned on me. Now don’t get me wrong I pictured myself mountain biking and going kayaking with friends. I had all those visions of doing things that fat people can’t really do, but I never really thought about who I would be as a person.

It’s this realization that really has hit me hard. Most people assume that losing weight will only change them in positive way. While it is true there are positive aspects of losing weight. What’s not a given is how you will change as a person. How will my relationships with my family change? My friends? What personality traits will disappear? What new personality traits will show up? What new habits will I pick up? What will I think about my career? There’s a lot that can change when you go through these transformations, and there’s no guarantee that they will all be positive.

Don’t get me wrong, when I say I’m scared it’s not a “run for the hills – I can’t do this” type of scared, it’s that fear of the unknown. It’s like walking into a pitch dark cave with your hands out in front of you. You don’t necessarily stop, but you are scared as hell about what your about to run into!

This is just something that I’ve never really thought about before; it’s not just your appearance that will change, it’s everything about you! I don’t know how I will change, I don’t know the answers to all those questions I listed above, I don’t even know if I will like the new me or not. However, I do know this: The one thing that would be worse would be to never find out! Wish me luck, I’m going into the cave.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Letter To Myself - It's Time!

Dear FogDog-

Wow! Has it really been almost a year and a half since your last failed attempt at weight loss? So much has happened since then that I’m surprised you want to try again. Do you realize that the last time you posted on this blog…
  • You lived in a different city
  • You had a different job
  • You drove a different car
  • You still smoked
  • You didn’t know you had severe sleep apnea
  • You had just turned 40
  • You were committed to starting another (failed) journey to lose 100 pounds
I went back and read your post called “starting over” that you made after your first failed attempt at weight loss. You talked about those couple of years as “dark times”. Things haven’t really gotten much better have they? In fact I think it’s safe to say things are worse now than they’ve been in quite a while. Sure, you managed to quit smoking 3 months ago, but at what cost? At the moment you are pretty darn close to 350lbs, you are miserable, and completely exhausted with life. Your job is stressful and not particularly fulfilling so your weekends are spent “unwinding” with a bottle of rum. Your kids don’t understand why you never play with them, and you seem depressed almost all the time. Can things get much worse? I’m amazed that you would even want to try again; you know that you are bound to fail!

But wait a minute; I also see that you are not the same person as before. Something about you is different but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s all those books you started reading about positive psychology. Maybe now you are starting to see that you need to focus within yourself instead of always looking for external fixes. I think those books have helped but I don’t think that’s it.

Maybe it’s all the reading you’ve been doing about being healthy. I know the book you read by Chris Powell seemed to really get you motivated. I’m sure it had something to do with his mental approach to losing weight. No, I think that book was helpful, but I’m not sure that has made you a different person either.

I guess it could be all the health problems you have now. I bet you hate wearing a CPAP at night. My guess is that taking medication for high blood pressure isn’t much fun nor is the constant aching in your knees and feet. I’m sure those things would be enough to motivate you to get healthy.

Or maybe it’s just all of the above; I don’t know for sure, but whatever it is that has changed in you, I can see it very clearly. I saw it 3 months ago when you simply “decided” to quit smoking. You just stopped and even when your best friend gave up and started smoking again, you kept going. No tricks, no gimmicks, you simply decided it was time to quit. You didn’t let anyone influence you and your determination was unwavering. I can see you are now ready to do that again, only this time with losing weight. I think after almost 16 months, you are finally ready to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and start again. Actually, I don’t think it, I know it!

Since I can clearly see you are sincerely ready to give it another shot, I wanted to take some time to give you some advice:

  • Face your fears! I know you very well; I know that one thing you are afraid of is that if you succeed at losing the weight your excuse for being unhappy will be gone, and then you will have to deal with whatever else might be out there. That might happen; losing weight is no guarantee to make you happy. You are going to have to face this fear and all those other ones that you aren’t quite ready to share yet.

  • You need support! From a very early age you taught yourself that you shouldn’t need to rely on anyone to get by. I think you did that so that you wouldn’t have to deal with the feeling of being rejected when you need help. While it might have helped you to become highly independent, it has also made you closed off and incapable of asking for help from anyone. That needs to change. Reach out to your family and friends. Reach out to the blogosphere and find new friends that share your goals. You won’t succeed if you think you can do this one on your own.

  • Help Others! You’re a smart guy, you’ve read a lot about being healthy and you’ve fought obesity your whole life. Something happened when you started volunteering in youth sports; you discovered that you actually like to help others! Share your story (good and bad) with anyone who will listen. Keep blogging and stay engaged with the community; it will keep you engaged with your battle.

  • You need to keep your word! You’ve promised this before; you’ve said you would change your ways. Every time you promise and then fail to live up to it, it eats away at your soul. No crazy commitments this time, only promise to yourself the things you can realistically achieve.

  • Get ready to fail! It’s going to happen and you know it. This journey will not be in a straight line so you need to be able to forgive yourself when you fail. This isn’t a “free pass” to be used when things get tough. You need to hold yourself accountable, but when you fail, you need to figure out what happened, forgive yourself, and then pick yourself back up as quickly as possible.

  • Give yourself permission to succeed! Yes, you will fail from time to time, but you also need to allow yourself to succeed. I still don’t know why you don’t feel like you deserve complete success in life, but you do. You deserve happiness and success as much as anyone else.

  • Lastly, and most importantly, you need to BELIEVE! Even with all the change I see in you, I’m still not convinced that you truly believe in yourself. I think there have been so many failures, that it’s almost impossible for you to see yourself at a healthy weight. This won’t work if you don’t believe in yourself. YOU CAN DO IT!

That’s all I’ve got for you. I know you are planning on starting your journey on September 1, so you have 2 weeks to get ready. I wish you the best of luck and I’ll do my best to help you stay on the path.

Mark (A.K.A Fogdog)