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!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Week #5 Weigh-In

8/24/14 Starting Weight: 347.8 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 329.4 lbs
Current Weight: 327.6 lbs
Period Weight Loss: 1.8 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 20.2 lbs

OK, so this is one of those weeks where I have to tread carefully.  On the one hand I am happy to have lost some more weight and I know that crossing over 20 pounds in just 5 weeks is a great accomplishment.
On the other hand though, I know that I am fully capable of much more.  During the week I could see some of my "old" habits creeping to the surface.  This early in my transformation I should lose more than 1.8 pounds and I know it.
However, one of my other "old" habits was beating myself up for not being perfect.  I certainly wasn't perfect this week in any stretch of the imagination, but that shouldn't be cause to feel guilty, get depressed, then go on a bender.  I recognize simply this... I wasn't perfect, but at the same time it wasn't good enough either.   I need to pick it up a little.
I did have couple more small victories... My Boss's Boss brought me a bowl full of homemade cookies to give to my team for all the hard work we've been doing.  I left the bowl in my office for 3 days before all those cookies were gone; I never ate a single cookie (Small Victory #18).  I also had a working lunch on Thursday.  Instead of eating a box lunch from Panera, I ate my own lunch (Small Victory #19).
I also reached my first milestone!  Now looking above you might think my first milestone was to lose 20 pounds, but I'm not a very traditional person.  My first milestone wasn't really about pounds (directly anyway).  My first milestone was to be able to get back on my Wii scale!  I like my Wii scale because you can't just step on it; you have to turn it on, push buttons, wait for the darn thing to tall you how fat you are, etc.  This is a good thing because you have to really want to weigh yourself if you are going to go through all those steps, it helps me to reduce casual daily weigh-ins.
Anyway, the Wii scale tops out at 330 and even if you're close to that number then it will give you an error (I tried last week at 329.4 and it didn't work).  Today I was able to get on it and it told me that today was my 1999th day using the scale.  WOW! that's over 5 years.  It also told me that it has been 212 days since I last weighed in.  That's how long it has been since I've been able to get on that scale, sad isn't it?
  1. First milestone reached!
  2. Water goal met every single day
  3. Worked out several nights after work
  4. Recognized the need to be accountable but also recognized I can't beat myself up either

  1. Nightly snacking on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday... out of plan
  2. Still not exercising routinely
  3. Little too much TV (see lowlight #1)
I did have some more victories this week and even when I slipped up a little, I did manage to contain the damage (the nightly snacking consisted of just some pretzels and a couple of granola bars).  What has me feeling good right now is that I'm beginning to recognize the things that typically derail me (like beating myself up or feeling guilty about a slip).  Feeling guilty tends to lead to more failure; instead, accept your actions for what they are, address it, and then move on.  This is why I said I have to be careful; I need to hold myself accountable without beating myself up too much.  It's a tough balancing act!
Stay Strong!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Healthy Living...From Truth to Myth

When I turned 40 I made a commitment to myself that my personal health (both physical & mental) would become a priority in my life.  It took me almost 2 full years of false starts to figure out that I had to start with the mental part first. 
Once I started to focus on my mental state and I began to realize how it was affecting me, it was as if the floodgates had opened up and all these thoughts just started rolling in.  As I read more and more about how the brain works, positive psychology, and even exploring a little into the Buddhist philosophy, I started to realize something.  I realized that not only were a lot of my beliefs and perceptions about myself and the world around me completely wrong, but those actual beliefs and perceptions were what was keeping me from being happy and achieving my goal of becoming healthy. 
Below are just a few of the more important "myths" that I used to hold as truths…

Myth #1 - In order for me to be happy I need to... 

This is one that I’ve thought of before, but never truly believed it until recently.  Maybe you feel this way too; in order to be happy you need to “fix” yourself.  I’ve commented on other blogs about this before and I also wrote a blog post about it some time ago.  You think "Once I lose weight or quit smoking or {fill in the blank}, I will then be happy!"  You don’t need to "fix" yourself in order to be happy, you can choose to be happy right now just as you are (and it will probably help you to fix those things you want to work on).  The problem with needing to fix yourself first is that even if you manage to fix something, there will just be something else that you need to fix before you allow yourself to be happy.  If we all couldn’t be happy until we were perfect then the world would be chock full of unhappy people because I haven’t met anyone yet who was perfect.

Myth #2 - Making health and fitness a priority requires sacrifice in other areas of my life

This belief was something that I needed a little proof before I truly embraced it.  The thought process was this… There is only a finite amount of time in the day, so if I make health and fitness a priority something else will suffer like my career, my home life, my hobbies, etc.  The problem with that belief is that it only looks at time and not quality.  So I guess it is true that I spend a little bit less time at the office or "networking" over beers with the big shots.  However, I’m more productive at work than ever.  I’m generally happy at work, my mood swings are gone, and my stress levels are down.  Is that a sacrifice?  Or how about my home life… I trade 30 minutes of lying on the couch watching TV for 30 minutes of working out.  I help my wife with the food and the cooking now (still a work in progress) instead of sitting around waiting to be served.  We go on hikes with the kids on Sundays instead of binge drinking on Saturday night and then spending Sunday hung over and irritated.  Is that the sacrifice we are talking about?  When you think of sacrifice, don’t make the mistake of just looking at time.  Healthy living can and should mean better quality of life all around.

Myth #3 - I can only learn from those who know more than me about a particular topic

Here’s the problem with this belief… If you think you can only learn from people that know more about something than you do, then as you learn more and more, the field of people you are willing to learn from and listen to shrinks until there is no one left!  Eventually you just stop learning and once that happens life just passes you by.  Coaching youth sports over the last few years has taught me that you can learn from anyone at any time, regardless of their knowledge about a subject.  You just have to be willing to hear them.

Myth #4 - I don’t “deserve” to be healthy because I haven’t earned it yet

I think there’s a lot of people that carry this belief… “You gotta pay your dues!”  While this is true of a lot of things, it simply isn’t true when it comes to living a happy, healthy,  or fulfilling life.  What's worse is that often we view "earning it" in terms of suffering.  When you tell yourself you haven’t earned it yet or you aren’t deserving, you are really just putting up your own roadblocks toward achieving it.

What's ironic about this myth is that we don't ever seem to have a hard time telling ourselves we "deserve" to be unhealthy.  Ever tell yourself you deserved the whole chocolate cake because you were so healthy all week long?

Myth #5 - My Life Has No Purpose

I saved the hardest one (for me) for last.  For the longest time I’ve wandered aimlessly feeling like my life has no purpose.  I’ve read books and blog articles and any literature I can find about finding my life’s purpose; my mission in life.  All this searching has left me with the belief that my life simply has no purpose.  The true reality is this…My life has purpose, I just don’t know what it is.  Maybe even more important, I don’t really need to know what my purpose is in order to lead a happy, fulfilling life.

You ever lose something and become obsessed with finding it even though you don’t really need it right away?  You search high and low in the same places over and over again.  You know you should just stop, but the act of finding it actually becomes more important than the item.  After a while you get so frustrated and eventually you give up.  A week later you find it while doing something totally unrelated.  At that point finding it was easy.  A week before finding it was a miserable experience.  This is my new view on having a purpose; I don’t really need to know what it is right away, so I’m going to stop making myself miserable trying to find it.  It will likely reveal itself when I least expect it.

Change Comes From Within

If you really want to change and become a healthy individual, it has to start from within.  Once you figure out how to question your own beliefs and perceptions, you start to become aware of how much of what you think you knew was actually wrong.  It’s when you hit this sweet spot, true change can begin to take shape. 
[Photo: Flickr / BK]

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weight Loss and Fortune Cookies

If you are trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve opened up a fortune cookie or two in your day (I know I have).  I love fortune cookies!  What better way to end a dinner than by receiving a semi-sweet cookie that contains a secret message and some lucky numbers that could change your life forever?

I take fortune cookies very seriously; just ask my family and friends.  You cannot be given your fortune cookie, you have to choose it (unless of course you are last in which then everyone chose yours for you).  When you get your fortune you must choose to eat the cookie (to make the fortune come true), or discard it (thus negating whatever news you learned).  Of course then there’s special circumstances like double fortunes in one cookie, accidentally eating your fortune, and (gasp!) the rare occasion you get a fortuneless cookie.  I could go into all the rules around special circumstances, but better to probably just get back to the point.

Cookie fortunes come in all different styles.  They can be light-hearted, clever, funny, and sometimes even downright puzzling.  I received a fortune once that read “Because of your melodic nature, the moonlight never misses an appointment!” HUH?

So why am I writing about fortune cookies?  Glad you asked but first a little background…  Last week I was invited out for lunch at the local Chinese place.  As I promised myself that I would remain committed to a strict diet for the first month, I politely declined (Small Victory #17).  A friend who knows me well commented “Cmon, you don’t want to miss your opportunity to get a fortune do you?”. 

As hard as it was to turn down a fortune from a fortune cookie (I should claim a bonus victory), I still declined, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about fortune cookies.  Anyway, I decided that instead of going to a Chinese restaurant I would simply write my own fortune cookie fortune.  So I did just that; I sat down and wrote out my own fortune cookie fortune.  Then I took it a step further and made a page on my blog called “fortune cookie” and I posted it there for all the other folks who are currently being deprived of fortune cookie fortunes. 

However, a fortune cookie page on a blog isn’t very worthwhile if there’s only one fortune.  That’s where you come in.  I’m thinking everyone should have an opportunity to write a fortune cookie fortune.  After all, we are all re-writing our fortunes every day when we try to improve our health.

So if you are interested, write a fortune cookie fortune about weight loss or healthy living (or really anything as long as it is tasteful).  Send it to me; either put it in the comments below or email it to me at fogdog77@gmail.com.  I’ll post it on my fortune cookie page along with a link back to your blog.  Who says you have to get Chinese food in order to get a fortune cookie?

Stay Strong!

[Photo: Flickr / Maza]

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Week #4 Weigh-In September 20, 2014

8/24/14 Starting Weight: 347.8 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 333.6 lbs
Current Weight: 329.4 lbs
Period Weight Loss: 4.2 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 18.4 lbs
I woke up this morning feeling like a kid on Christmas morning!  Last week I made a promise to myself to stay off the scale all week long.  I kept that promise (Small Victory #16) and this morning I was excited to see how my efforts paid off.  Another 4.2 pounds lost.  That number works for me.  It's a fair number and I feel liked I've earned every bit of it.

Today's weigh-in puts me at 18.4 pounds in the first month.  Any month that you lose more than 18 pounds is a good one in my book!  This has been a great start.  What has me even more excited is that I am doing so well (on the scale) and I still have room for improvement. 
More important, though, is just how I feel.  After a month of transformation effort I can say I feel great.  It doesn't feel like I'm wading through quicksand like past efforts have felt.  It also doesn't feel like I'm burning out; another problem I've run into on some past efforts.
An Important Part About Blogging - Helping to Gain Perspective:
Normally I post some highlights and lowlights with my weigh-in, but this week I gained a little perspective that I would like to share...
On both my restarts I was tempted to wipe everything out and start all over.  On both occasions I chose not to and I'm glad I didn't.  It's part of my entire journey and although my path has gone astray many times, it still offers me perspective and learning. 
Today is a great example of gaining some more perspective.  If you go back into my archives you would see that one day my best friend and I started a 30 day weight loss challenge.  I put everything into that challenge and ultimately I lost 17.2 pounds.  The posting of the results to that challenge also coincided with my last blog entry in 2010.  By the end I had become so burned out that I just simply collapsed beck into bad eating habits.  With that came some weight gain followed by hiding from the blogging world because I was so ashamed.
Compare those 30 days to my last, where I have felt inspired to be healthy.  I haven't forced myself to suffer all to see a number on a scale.  Instead of counting down the days "till this challenge is over" I'm looking forward to finding ways to enjoy my life as my health begins to improve. Instead of feeling deprived of something I'm questioning why I felt I needed it in the first place.  The focus is clearly much more mental than it is about the physical.  Most people think that if they lose weight it will make them happy.  I wrote an article about this some time ago (original post here), and now I'm beginning to believe it... you don't need to lose weight to be happy, you need to be happy in order to lose weight.
In my 30 Day Weight Loss Challenge I suffered through the whole experience.  I was miserable and couldn't wait for it to end.  Ultimately it contributed to me stopping my transformation because I was so burned out.  My reward for those 30 days was the number 17.2.
In my last 30 days I have enjoyed my life.  I've discovered some things about me and I haven't felt deprived in anyway.  I have more room to grow and I'm excited to see what the next 30 days brings me.  My reward for the last 30 days was the number 18.4. 

How's that for a little perspective?
Stay Strong!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weight Loss "Tale of Two Cities"

It’s been a very interesting week to say the least.  On the one hand my eating has been rock-solid, almost automatic.  I don’t know if it’s all the water I’m drinking, but I just don’t feel hungry despite a daily intake of 1500 calories (4 low carb days) or 2000 calories (2 high carb days).  I really expected the hunger to be gnawing at me, you know, whispering in my ear about how great it would be to go get a pizza. 

My best friend is back at work after a business trip and even he hasn’t had any impact on my resolve.  My best friend is the epitome of what I need to NOT do.  He smokes, drinks everyday, skips breakfast, and eats fast food the rest of the day.  Someday I’ll have to figure out how he isn’t twice my size.  Anyway, all week we’ve been going out for lunch… well sort of. 

Since he’s been out of town and since we’ve both been incredibly busy, we haven’t had much time to talk so we’ve been going out at lunchtime just to hang out.  I heat up and eat my lunch at 11:45 and then at noon we go out and he stops at some fast food joint to get something to eat in the car.  All week I’ve been going with him and not once have I even been tempted to get something (small victories 11,12,13,14, and 15).  I’m hoping when he sees my resolve he’ll start bringing his lunch; we’ll see.

On the flip side of the coin, I’ve done a horrible job at exercising.  My fear has come true, now that I’ve abandoned getting up at 5AM, it seems I have very little motivation to workout in the evening.  All week I’ve been finding excuses (such as right now when I could be working out instead of blogging.  Ohh that gives me a great idea for a blog post… the irony of sitting on your ass blogging about losing weight.  Look for it next week!  OK where was I?  Oh yeah no exercising.

I still expect to see a loss tomorrow when I get on the scale, it’s just that I don’t feel like the week was complete for me.  How can someone do so well in one area of healthy living and so poorly in another?  I noticed that I have a harder time falling asleep when I don’t exercise; I know it’s good for my body and my mind.  Oh well, one day at a time; you can’t fix everything at once.  I’ll report on my weigh-in tomorrow.

Stay Strong!
[Photo: Flickr / Pascal]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Do We Blog About Weight Loss?

I recently read another blog where the blogger was reflecting about his 6 year anniversary as a blogger.  He wrote about writing from the heart, and being authentic and genuine.  He wrote about making sure you always write for yourself and no one else and how therapeutic it can be.

I agree with all those statements, most people can spot someone who’s not being authentic a mile away.  Usually their blogs are overfilled with drama and excuses.  Quite often they cater to the masses offering no real value.  I also agree you should write for yourself and no one else.  However, I believe that the only way to do these things, the only way to be genuine and to write for yourself, is to understand why you blog in the first place.  What is your primary motivation?  Is it to hold yourself accountable? To reflect?  To keep a record of your progress?  Or is it something different like being part of a support group or to seek fame and fortune (better go get some lottery tickets)?

Below you’ll find a few different types of weight loss blogs.  Now to be up front, all blogs are different and will display characteristics from any and all of these categories.  This is not meant to be a “pick from the list and blog this way”, but rather, something for you to think about.  We are all unique and there is no right or wrong way.

Dear Diary…

The primary motivation for a lot of bloggers is to have a journal to capture their thoughts.  These blogs are usually filled with daily activities, choices made, and a general expression of how the blogger is feeling.  Blogging is sort of like a therapy, a place where they can go to escape with their own thoughts for a while.

The dear diary bloggers don’t need a large audience; the act of blogging is their support structure.  They do visit other blogs and they do make comments but not as much as some other types do.  These bloggers also tend to blog quite regularly; usually every day, again, because it’s a form of therapy.

In my opinion a lot of blogs start out this way and then fail because it’s not the really what they needed to get from their blog.  If you find yourself constantly craving for more followers, pageviews, or comments, then you need to ask yourself why (see other possibilities below).  If you find yourself making exaggerations to add drama or writing things simply to get a reaction from others, then you are probably doomed to fail.  Journals are meant to be full of truth and personal emotion.

It is also quite ironic that these types of blogs can actually end up with quite a following if the blogger actually succeeds at losing a lot of weight.  Why?  That’s simple, because everyone loves a happy ending and we all want to believe we can do the same.  Because these blogs are so full of truth and emotion they are also quite inspiring!

Ultimate Accountability

Another primary motivation for weight loss bloggers is the need to be held accountable.  If you tell the world your story and you continue to provide updates on your progress, it can be a strong motivation to not want to fail.  These blogs usually contain a lot of numbers and facts, before and after pictures, and progress reports.

These bloggers need followers and pageviews.  They will comment and follow other blogs but largely to the extent that the want those blogger to follow them.  These bloggers are also very quick to point out when they fall.  They want you to see how they are doing and they need people to tell them they are doing well.

The one big problem with blogging for accountability is that you can always choose to stop blogging.  If you are blogging for accountability, then you need to maintain that commitment to post in both good times and bad.

Community Chest

These bloggers want to be part of a community.  Quite often they don’t have a strong support structure in the real world and they want to be part of something that will help them get better.  They are willing to share some personal stuff, but mostly they just want to interact with others.

These bloggers spend as much time at other blogs as they do on their own.  They don’t care so much about quantity of followers or pageviews; it ‘s the comments they want the most.  Community bloggers also post a lot of comments on other people’s websites and get email follow-ups in case someone responds and they can get a thread going.

Community bloggers have a tendency to post more about topics than their own personal journey.  Their goal is to get others thinking and engaged in the conversation.  The community is their support system.  They tend to post less often than the other types because they spend a lot of their time on other blogs instead of writing content for their own.

The big watch-out for community bloggers is that often they get caught up so much in being part of the community that they forget to focus on actually losing weight.

Don’t take my Fruitloops!

There's one more group that I call Wildcards.  Wildcards are unique, they don’t really conform to any style.  They tend to be very polarizing, some you might enjoy, others you can’t stand.  There’s not really any point to discussing a wildcard’s motivation because, after all, they are wildcards!  Seriously though, these folks entertain and quite often exposing the lighter side of things in a topic that's often depressing.  It doesn't have to be serious all the time!

Why I Blog… Confessions of a FogDog

When I started this blog I was searching for accountability.  I didn’t need support because I was very arrogant and already knew everything!  I followed other blogs and commented but only to the extent of trying to get followers and pageviews, I didn’t value what others wrote.  I did incredibly well losing weight for about 3 months and then I started to falter.  I had already built a reasonable following and I was ashamed to admit I was failing.  Since I am a truthful person, the simplest solution was to just stop.  See ya all later!

I came back almost 2 years later.  This time I was going to be a bit of a wildcard.  I was going to focus on writing about stuff you don’t see anywhere else.  I was still doing it for accountability but just with a little twist.  That lasted for about a month and I didn’t even have any good results.

Before I started again I decided that I needed to truly understand why I wanted to blog.  I already said that I love to write and I now also know that I blog to be part of a community.  I learned through coaching youth sports that I find it very rewarding to share my knowledge with others, but more importantly, I also found out that there's a lot to be learned from those you share with.  With this epiphany I learned that my true path to being healthy was never about using the limited knowledge I had, but rather about finding new knowledge and sharing it all with anyone who wants it.

So I don’t blog for self-reflection (I do that enough already).  I don’t blog for the shock value and I don’t really blog for the accountability anymore because I’ve learned that doesn’t work for me.  I blog to share and to learn!

Followers, Page Views, & Comments… oh MY!

Unless you’re running it as a business, you almost certainly started a weight loss blog for one ultimate reason… to help you lose weight.  Now we all want to be liked and we all want to have friends,   but I truly believe that in order for your blog to help you, you have to understand your motivations behind it.  In order to write it for yourself, you need to know what it is you need to get from it.

Many people that give up blogging about weight loss probably would say they didn’t get out of it what they thought they would.  To those I would ask this question “Is that true, or was it simply that what you wanted out of it and what you needed from it were two entirely different things?” 

Blogging can be a great tool to help you lose weight, but only if you are doing it for the right reasons. 

So… why do you blog about weight loss??

Acknowledgements - Congrats to Sean Anderson on his 6 year anniversary, his post today started my inspiration on this article.  I also wanted to call out Jack Sh*t; my favorite fruit loop.  Glad you're back as you keep us all sane!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Know Thyself

I believe that many people that are trying to lose weight fail for this very reason; they don’t adapt to who they are.  They buy a book or they join a group or they buy some “program” hoping to get an instruction manual on how to lose weight.  The concept is sound, but flawed to the extent that likely that manual you just bought wasn’t built exactly for you.  Knowing yourself means learning new things, but then adapting those learnings to meet your objectives in the most optimal way for you.
It’s been 3 weeks since I started my transformation to a healthier lifestyle.  These first three weeks have been great; I feel like I have truly started down the road to being healthy.  However, I’ve already started to notice things that just simply aren’t going to work for me.  It’s time to make some changes.  When it comes time to make adjustments you have to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.  There’s a fine line between knowing yourself and having an excuse to go back to some of your old unhealthy ways.
Over the last week I’ve taken some time to really think about what works for me and what doesn’t.  I think it’s important to analyze the situation before you actually make the change.  My first change is really a no-brainer; I mentioned it in my last post, I’m abandoning my morning meditation.
The Search for Perfection
I am my own worst enemy!  When I commit to something I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and any deviation from perfection is seen as failure (no matter how small the imperfection is).  On the one hand it has helped me to be very successful in my career, but on the other hand I think it has been a source of a lot of my personal misery.  It is because of this I am abandoning my morning meditation.  There’s a ton of literature out there that touts the benefit of meditating for as little as 10 minutes each day.  I’ve been doing it on and off for the last 6 months.  There are times when I think it helps and other times when it seems pointless.  I’m abandoning it for now because when I don’t do it, it makes me feel like a failure on an otherwise successful day.  My goal right now is to lose weight, meditation can wait.
Did Someone Say “Good Morning”?
I am not a morning person.  Let me repeat, I am not a morning person in any stretch of the imagination.  Under my current plan, I’ve been getting up at 5AM and exercising.  I started with 15 minutes in the first week and I’ve managed to add 5 minutes each week after with the plan to get to a full 60 minutes.  The problem… did I mention I’m not a morning person?  I have to go to bed at 9PM in order to get 8 hours of sleep but unfortunately I just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.  When the alarm goes off I just want to curl up and die.
Regular Routine and Fitting it all in
I chose the morning to exercise because it’s the only time in the day when I’m guaranteed to have time.  My job is not conducive to exercising at lunchtime regularly, and anyone with kids will tell you that days after work are filled with soccer, gymnastics, and music programs.  Because I’m a very structured person, I strive for a very structured workout regimen.  Doing it in the evening just didn’t make any sense.
Remembering the Past and Making the Change
When I restarted my blog the first time, I wrote a post called “My New “Radical” Exercise Plan”.  In it I wrote about changing my mindset and learning to fit in exercise whenever and wherever I could.  I went back and read that post and realized that I need to go back to something like it again.  I was also inspired by another blogger.  If you regularly follow weight loss blogs you know who he is [Check out his blog] .  I was inspired because this guy has a crazier schedule than I do, but he almost always finds time to do something in the name of exercise.  It’s not the same time every day and sometimes it’s just a walk, but he finds a way and he doesn’t get worked up when things change.  If he can do it, so can I.
Moving forward I’m abandoning my plan to get up at 5AM and workout to a structured plan.  Instead I’m just going to make a commitment to make an honest effort to do something in the name of exercise for at least 20 minutes every day.
Are These Changes Right?
As I said, I had thought about these changes for about a week before I made them.  I pulled the trigger after I missed a workout in the middle of last week.  I couldn’t make it up in the evening because I didn’t get home until 8PM and then needed to go to bed in an hour.  Since then I’ve been true to my word opting to do elliptical training after dinner during the remaining workdays.  I also played basketball with my daughter on Saturday for 30 minutes, and as of this writing (Sunday morning) we are getting ready to go on a 5 mile hike at a local state park.
Are these changes right for me?  No doubt, dropping the meditation is the right choice for me right now.  I hope to re-visit that someday, but I can’t fix everything all at once.  As for exercise, time will tell; it depends on how honest I am with myself.  I have no doubt that I made the decision for the right reasons, if I am truly serious about changing my ways, the exercise will happen.
-Stay Strong!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Week #3 Weigh-In September 13, 2014

8/24/14 Starting Weight: 347.8 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 336 lbs
Current Weight: 333.6 lbs
Period Weight Loss: 2.4 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 14.2 lbs

After losing almost 12 pounds in the first 2 weeks, I was a little worried about what I would see this week (yes I write about the evils of the scale but I'm not immune to its charm either).  I was very happy to see that I lost 2.4 pounds.  I know that I gave it my best this week and I feel great!

  1. I did a great job with my eating plan
  2. I hit my target every day drinking at least a gallon of water
  3. I had an incredibly bad day and did not let that deter my plans.  I even got an extra exercise session in to help deal with the stress
  4. After 3 weeks of healthy living I'm feeling great; my mood is very much improved!

  1. I became obsessed with the scale.  We left it out from the previous week and I stood on it at least a half dozen times during the week.  I promptly put the scale away this morning after weighing in and made a small promise to stay off it for at least 1 week.
  2. I missed one day of exercise mid week and I'm re-evaluating my current (rigid) exercise plan
  3. I've abandoned morning meditation

Three weeks in the books and now I'm starting to see some areas where I need to adjust.  You can expect to see some posts in the coming week about these adjustments.

It's also worth noting that if you go to my weight loss tracking page, you can see that when I restarted my blog in 2012 I lost 11 pounds in 3 months.  I've actually lost more weight this time in just 3 weeks!

Stay Strong!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Different Way to Deal With Stress

Yesterday was one of those days!  You know those days, right?  Those days when you are given every opportunity to make excuses.  Those days when the world is against your good intentions (or it least it feels that way).  Well for me, yesterday was one of those days. 

It started with the alarm at 5AM.  I woke up groggy and just physically rundown.  I don’t know if I didn’t sleep well or my body getting used to the lower calories but this was the most tired I’ve felt in a while.  I could have skipped my morning workout, I could have slept another hour, I could have went to Starbucks and got a big coffee.  I could have found an excuse… but I didn’t. 

Work was a nightmare.  My boss is out of town so I’m holding down the fort the best I can.  Everything is falling apart.  My Boss’s boss invites me to lunch.  I’ve committed to staying strictly to my plan for the first month.  “But this is a networking opportunity”, “It’s a free meal”, “You could just go with him to test your willpower by ordering only healthy items”.  I could have found an excuse to go… but I didn’t. 

More chaos in the afternoon. Everyone’s got a problem and when you are a Maintenance Manager everyone thinks their problem is the most important.  For some reason I’m starving.  On the ride home I start to think about going out for dinner.  I need to convince my wife, but how?  Prey on her weak points.  Suggest Chinese food, or tell her she looks like she needs a break tonight.  I could have found an excuse to go out… but I didn’t. 

Finally home at 6PM!  What the??  Two kids yelling at each other, and the third one’s crying.  Now my headache is getting worse.  Dinner is served; I’m done in 15 minutes.  Great healthy meal but for some reason I still feel like I’m starving.  The kids are still disputing (calmly now) but I’m getting pissed off at them and need to let it out.  I can’t take it anymore!  There’s a convenience store 5 minutes away.  I can get my old standby dessert; a cherry filled pie, a Hershey chocolate bar, and a cream soda to wash it all down.  Hey I deserve it right?  Look at the day I’ve had.  It’s only one night and I can start fresh tomorrow.  I went through all the excuses; I had all the reasons to do it… but I didn’t! 

Instead I tried something different.  I apologized to the kids for yelling at them and explained I’m just having a bad day.  I put on some workout clothes and I went downstairs.  I cranked up some hellacious tunes and I move my elliptical trainer as fast as I could for as long as I could.  30 minutes and 2.5 miles later I could barely catch my breath.  I was dripping in sweat, my headache was gone, and I was overcome by a huge sense of accomplishment. 

I’m not na├»ve to think that I’ve instantly changed into a new person, and I certainly know that not all days will end this way, but yesterday, for one day I didn’t let the excuses win! (Small victories #7, 8, 9, and 10). 

Stay Strong


Monday, September 8, 2014

Eat Like a Kid Again

Kids are amazing little creatures… until we screw them up with all of our “adult” ways.  There’s a lot we can learn from them about eating if only we weren’t already trained to screw them up.  Take a look below at some of the ways kids eat differently than adults.  Who knows, maybe we should all go back to eating like a kid...

Kids Eat When They are Hungry

Kids don’t stick to some predefined pattern when it comes to eating.  If they are hungry, they tell you.

How we screw them up:  Ever tell your kid they can’t have a snack because dinner is in an hour?  We force them to eat in a pattern and we teach them to ignore their hunger in favor of eating based on what the clock says.

“I know you want a snack, but we are going to have lunch in an hour and if I give you a snack now you won’t be hungry at lunchtime.” Translation – “Ignore your hunger and keep an eye on the clock.”

Kids DON'T Eat When They are Full

When kids are full, they stop eating.  It doesn’t matter what they are having, it can be their favorite food and they will still push the plate away when they are full

How we screw them up:  Leaving food on your plate? That’s blasphemy!!! We were taught to clean our plates; some little kid in Ethiopia is starving.  Ever tell you kid to eat those last few bites?  Why?

“How can you be full, you only ate half your meal?  Please finish your plate; I spent good money on that food” Translation – “Ignore what your body tells you and do what I say”

Kids Eat What They Like and Don’t Eat What They Don’t Like

Give a kid something they like and they will eat it.  Give them something they don’t like and get ready for WWIII!  Kids refuse to suffer through foods they don’t like healthy or not.  Don’t get me wrong, Kids need to be exposed to new healthy foods to try, but to continue to force them to eat foods they don’t like really doesn’t make much sense.

“You’re not leaving the table until you eat those brussell sprouts!” Translation – “We all have to suffer through foods we don’t like in the name of being healthy so get used to it!”

Kids Take Their Time When They Eat

Kids enjoy their food; they take their time and savor it.  They talk, they laugh, they pick around their plate, finally taking a small bite of food.  Adults are in a hurry; they need to get on to the next thing.  They shovel it in quickly and then move on.  They forgot what it means to experience food.

“Hurry up and finish your plate, we have soccer in an hour.” Translation – “Better get used to eating on the run kid, life is too busy to take your time!”

Kids Don’t Associate Food with Reward…Initially

Kids learn the concept of punishments/rewards pretty quickly.  Do something good, get rewarded; Do something bad and get punished.  Unfortunately adults like to use food (of the unhealthy kind) as a reward and they also like to withhold said food as punishment.

“You can’t have one of those cupcakes for dessert if you don’t finish you’re plate.” Translation – “It doesn’t matter if you are hungry or not or if you like the food or not, the only way to get to the food you like (your reward) you have to eat the food in front of you!”

Who’s Teaching Who?

I’m sure some of you parents have actually said some of the things I’ve written above (I know I have).  Why?  Because it was what we were taught by our parents.  Habits are hard to break especially when it’s a habit that’s deeply rooted from our childhood.  Maybe there’s a better way.  Maybe instead of teaching our children how to eat we should let them teach us.  Their formula seems to be pretty simple; Eat food you like, only when you are hungry, take your time, and stop when you are full.  Who knows, maybe you might enjoy eating like a kid again, that is, before your parents taught you better.

[Photo: Flickr / Tea]

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weigh-in #1 - September 6, 2014

8/24/14 Starting Weight: 347.8 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 347.8 lbs
Current Weight: 336 lbs
Period Weight Loss: 11.8 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 11.8 lbs
I have to admit I'm quite impressed with this result.  Remember I went on vacation for 4 days during this period and I still managed to lose a great deal of weight.  Of course, this isn't my first weight loss rodeo; I know that some of this is water weight, but I'll take it.  It's definitely a great start!
Some highlights from the last two weeks:
  1. I decided to start my transformation a week early despite knowing I was going on vacation
  2. I tried to take it one day at a time and focused on the mental part of losing weight more than the physical
  3. I turned down a huge homemade chocolate muffin at work (small victory #4)
  4. I started getting up at 5AM to exercise
  5. I exercised on the NJ Turnpike
  6. I turned down going out to lunch twice in favor of sticking to my plan (small victories #5, and #6)
  7. After my vacation I caught a stomach virus and missed a day of work.  The perfect excuse to go off plan (but I didn't)
  8. After declaring on this blog that I need to get moving more, I spent the next day doing more work than I had in a long time

Of course, it's not all sunshine and lollipops, some lowlights:
  1. I used being sick as an excuse not to get up at 5AM for 2 days
  2. I made a few questionable choices during vacation
  3. Mentally, I'm still don't completely believe in myself yet (though this result helps)

This has been a great start to my transformation.  The road ahead of me is going to be long and tough and I know it. For me the hardest part will be maintaining the mental fortitude.  Though I'm not a big fan of scales and numbers, today's weigh-in is a nice little boost to my confidence. 

Stay Strong!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

No More Wasted Days

It ends today!  No more wasted days for me.  As I work to improve my health, first focusing on my mental state, then quitting smoking, and now starting to eat healthy and lose weight, I am starting to realize just how lazy I have become.

We moved to a new location in Virginia 2 months ago.  Since we've been here, I've managed to do nothing.  No pictures on the walls, no painting, no landscaping, nothing.  The problem is that for quite some time now I haven't felt like doing anything.  This isn't just at home either; I find myself doing the bare minimum at work (maybe even less) as well.

I know that I suffer from depression, and I know that I choose not to take any medication for it as I think our society has become too dependent on better living through chemistry.  I deal with it because it's part of who I am.  Besides, there's plenty of literature out there that suggests non-prescription means of dealing with depression can be just as effective.

I mentioned that we moved 2 months ago, but in reality I moved first in January.  I took a job that was 3.5 hours away from my old home.  During the week I stayed at a friend's house, then I would drive home to see the family on weekends.  On the positive side, it gave me a lot of time to listen to a lot of audio books, some of which helped me to start my transformation, but I did it for six months so it took quite a bit out of me.

I'm not sure what happened to me in those six months, but ultimately I just stopped doing anything.  During the week I would drink wine and watch TV every night; when I got home on the weekends I would just lounge around and hang out with the family while my depression grew. 

If you've ever been depressed, you know that it's hard to break the momentum of doing nothing.  Just like eating healthy or quitting smoking, you continue to say "tomorrow". 
Well for me, tomorrow is here.

Starting tomorrow I'm going to give the day everything I have.  No more laying around, no more half-assing it at work, no more wasting every day.  I'm done, I can't lay around anymore!

Maybe it's the changes I've gone through over the last year, maybe it's all those audio books about positive psychology and being present in the moment.  Maybe it's just because I've been eating really healthy for 2 weeks now.  Whatever the reason, I feel compelled to pick myself up and get moving.

I know that somewhere along the way I lost my purpose, both in my career and my personal life.  I know in my heart that the path to finding myself again starts with this focus on my health.  Wish me luck, I take another step tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Working Out on the NJ Turnpike

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend.  Mine was filled with signs that I am indeed changing the way I approach things.  If you remember, when I restarted this blog I said that I would be starting my new transformation on September 1st, but then very quickly changed my mind and decided to start right away.
The reason why I originally wanted to start after Labor Day was because I knew I was going on a long trip to Maine to visit with family.  With 2 travel days (12 hours each day), a birthday party, and seeing relatives who also love to eat, I knew that the odds of doing well were not in my favor.
However, that was the old me.  The new me asked a very simple question… “Is your new way of approaching food going to prevent you from ever travelling again?”.  Seems like a silly question, obviously the answer is no, but the reality is I have to figure out how to deal with those times when we leave the comfort of the normal daily routine.
So I started my transformation early knowing that I would have to go on this trip.  I also knew that traveling and eating poorly go hand-in-hand with me; It gives me an excuse to eat junk food all day long as rest stops and gas stations don’t typically offer healthy fare.  On our last excursion that involved a lot of driving I actually ate so poorly that I actually threw up on the ride home!  However, with a new mindset I was confident that I could battle this particular demon of mine and come out on top.  It turned out to be a great choice because that’s exactly what I did… 
Small Victory #1
The 12 hour drive up was filled with happy kids, good conversation with my wife, and also lots of healthy eating.  In fact, we made the whole trip up to Maine without stopping and buying any food or drinks (excluding 2 coffees at the start of the trip).  My wife packed an entire cooler full of healthy snacks and we had a gallon jug of water.  My kids loved lunch;  grilled chicken salad in a bag.  They get a kick out of anything that’s just a little different so eating salad out of plastic baggies went over well. They also jumped at the chance to support their dad.  After a quick bathroom break at a rest stop on the NJ Turnpike, I asked "Who wants to do a quick workout?".  Of course the kids were up for it, so we all stood in a circle and each kid got to pick an exercise that we would do.  We did jumping jacks, squats, and pushups off the picnic table.  People that passed by looked at us a little funny, but my kids were having fun supporting their dad and so it didn't bother me at all!
Small Victory #2
I won’t go into too much detail about my time in Maine, but I will say that I did a decent job of not overeating.  I did have some birthday cake as we celebrated my daughter’s birthday, but I was generally happy with my choices throughout the trip.  However, the small victory came on the last day when we went out to dinner… 
My family lives in a very rural part of Maine so they don’t get out much.  The one thing my niece said she wanted to do was go to “5 Guys” for dinner and then “Sweet Frog” afterward.  For those that don’t know, “5 Guys” is a popular burger joint and “Sweet Frog” is a frozen yogurt shop.  It was an hour away (I said it was rural), but I agreed that we could go there.  My typical meal at 5 Guys is a bacon cheeseburger, bacon cheesedog, and a large fry.  Instead I ordered a plain hamburger and then the entire family shared a large fry. I probably got ¼ of the calories I normally eat there. 
When we got to Sweet Frog I was feeling pretty good about myself and decided to keep it going.  Instead of loading up a dish with every topping known to man, I instead chose to put a small amount of frozen yogurt in my cup and then proceeded to load it up with fresh fruit and then a few almonds and walnuts for some crunch.  My guess is that I ate dinner and dessert all for about 800 calories.  The old me would have eaten 800 calories just in fries.
Small Victory #3
My last small victory came after the long ride home.  To make it easier on everyone (except me) I decided that we would leave Sunday night and I would drive through the night.  I’ve done it before and I’ll tell you if you have kids it works out really well as they sleep the whole time.  Anyway, I made the drive home through the night only snacking on fruit and drinking a lot of coffee.  By 7AM the family was waking up and we were just an hour from home.  We decided to stop at “Bob Evans” for some breakfast.  At this point I was exhausted and really hungry.  As soon as we pulled in I could hear myself justifying a huge breakfast all in the name of the “sacrifice” I chose to make by driving through the night.  I “deserved” to eat a huge meal because of the selflessness I showed in the evening (yes my brain does think this way sometimes).  In the end I showed restraint and ordered a veggie omelet.  When the waiter asked if I wanted hash browns or home fries I astounded myself further when I said “neither”.  He actually offered a fruit cup instead and I took it.  I still can’t believe that I pulled that one off.
Of course there were a couple areas where I could’ve done better.  For starters I didn’t drink as much water as I should have.  I did drink some but it can be difficult when you are traveling as you don’t want to have to stop every 30 minutes to use the bathroom.  I also could have exercised a little more.  Basically I didn’t get any real exercise on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.
Monday I just laid around watching TV because I was so tired, but I also went right back to my “normal” diet.  In all this was the healthiest traveling that I’ve done in my entire life!  It’s given me some more confidence that this time I have truly changed my mindset; these deviations from the routine are not an excuse to go wild, but rather, something that needs to be managed.  I was able to manage this trip and came back knowing that I didn’t “undo” the hard work from earlier in the week.  That was the best feeling of all!