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, October 30, 2014

Spiraling Back Into Control

I've always been like a light switch when it comes to healthy eating.  Either I'm gung ho sticking to my eating plan, or I'm pigging out every meal with no regard for my intake.  This time it feels a little different.  This time I shifted focus away from worrying about my eating and instead put my energy into not letting my weekend fall from grace drag me down into a pit of depression.  So far it's worked.  I had more to do at work this week than I have in the last few weeks.  Those weeks where I felt so stressed out were nothing compared to this week, but yet I feel more calm. 

I'm taking a much needed vacation day tomorrow to do a bunch of yard work.  at 6:30PM I still had hours of work to do in the office, but I told myself I had done enough; the work will be there when I get back on Monday.  I went home feeling like I won.  It might not have been the best I've done with eating this week, but it was as good as I could muster.  With no pressure tomorrow at work I feel like I can take another step and have a good eating day.  I already talked about guy's night on Saturday so I'll probably indulge a little, but then I have Sunday to take another step back toward my healthy lifestyle.

One day at a time, one step at a time.  I don't have to just flick the switch and try to fix everything at once.  It's truly a different way of looking at life in general.  Even my best friend told me this week that he sees a change in me.  I didn't spiral out of control last weekend, I hit the side of the mountain and burst into flames.  The journey back has been up and down with a little more up each time.  My hope is that by Monday I'm right back at it, pushing hard to improve my health.  I've got two more weeks to go before I weigh in again and I want to see some progress though to be honest I haven't even thought about the scale for the last two weeks.  Interesting, I didn't spiral out of control; I feel like I'm spiraling back into control.

-Stay Strong!
[Photo: Flickr / Masakazu Matsumoto]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Exercise in "Good Enough"

Just a quick post tonight; I want to exercise my brain to learn that it is OK to just put something out there without making it perfect.  Ok so I'll probably read this once or twice before I click "submit", but you gotta crawl before you walk right?

I'm surprised how I feel today... I haven't done particularly great so far this week, but at the same time I could be doing worse.  There's no guilt and even though the work is piling up, not really much stress either.  Today I made two big plans that will help me to relax a little and enjoy life.

First, my buddy and I are organizing a poker night this weekend.  Since we moved here I haven't had any "me" time so I'm excited to get with the guys for a little Texas Holdem.  Yes there will be bad food there, but I won't be drinking since I already agreed to be the DD for another guy that lives near me. 

Second, Mrs. FogDog and I agreed to take a trip right after Christmas.  We're going to drop the kids off in NJ with the in-laws and then fly away to New Orleans.  We haven't had a vacation alone for almost 3 years now, so I'm looking forward to it.  The kids are thrilled too; they would rather stay with their grandparents for a week than go with us on a trip!

Anyway, I'm probably not losing weight this week, but my mind "feels" so much better right now.  This is the one difference I'm noticing this time... In the past I would be filled with guilt over screwing up on the weekend, but now it's more about just working my way back up onto the wagon.  I'm out of the ditch and climbing back up!  Thanks to everyone who commented on my last few posts; it's great to have some support.

-Stay Strong!

[Photo: Flickr / Viri G]

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Worst Enemy

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a perfectionist.  I firmly believe in quality over quantity and that if you are going to tackle a task you need to do it right.  My need for perfection has served me quite well as I have excelled in my career tackling complicated projects and completing them in an organized and methodical approach.  I have also been told I have great vision; that I am highly strategic and know how to set the building blocks today for the future tomorrow.

What I have failed to realize until recently, is that my perfectionism and vision come at a terrible price.  I’m talking about stress.  Not normal stress that everyone deals with from day to day mind you, but a different kind of stress.  For lack of a better term I’ll call it “fictitious stress”.  I call it that because it’s not real (except to me).  Those of you who are not perfectionists probably won’t understand.  That’s okay, I’m writing this down for me and I’m writing it down because, after 42 years on this planet, I can’t believe I’m just now putting 2 and 2 together and figuring this out.  I may need to come back to this post and read it from time to time just to remind me that I’m literally causing much of my own suffering.
Let me try to explain to you how I create my own stress… It starts with observation of things that are not perfect.  I notice little things all day long and I put them in the memory banks.  Once they go in, they stay there until resolved.  There they sit; festering and creating stress for me until I address it and get it corrected.  It’s like a splinter… it just keeps bugging me until I take care of it.  The problem I have is that some of this stress is real, but a large majority of it is simply created in my head.

Here’s an example… Sometimes when I write a post here on this blog, I will spend more time editing and correcting, then I do actually writing it in the first place.  If it’s not quite right, I will stress myself out until I fix it and I’m completely satisfied.  I’ve written posts, couldn’t get them to sound right (in my head), and after hours of trying to edit and correct, simply gave up and deleted it.  Why???  I’m not a professional writer; I’m not getting paid to write this stuff, I simply enjoy getting an idea and then writing about it.  I put undue stress on myself for something that should be a source of relaxation.
OK, so now I’ve figured something out about myself; now what?  Well first, it’s great that I finally recognize it.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve always known I was a perfectionist, I just never really noticed how I create my own stress.  Now that I can see it, I can work on it.  I won’t be able to change overnight, but I can begin to ask myself if my stress is real or not.  I still need to figure out how to deal with stress, but more importantly I need to work harder at eliminating the stress that I create in the first place.

I once got a performance review at work that said I hold myself to a higher standard than anyone else ever would.  The comment was written under “Areas for Development”.  I thought the person who wrote it just put it in the wrong spot; I took it as a compliment.  I now understand that it wasn’t.   I am my own worst enemy.   
[Photo: Flickr / Brian A]

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Familiar Road

Taking the Road Less MORE Travelled

Hey wait a minute, I recognize this place; I’ve been down this road before.  This is the path that leads back to my destruction.  I know this road like the back of my hand, so well in fact, that I can go down it twice as fast as recommended.  I know every twist and turn because this is the paths I ALWAYS end up on.

I’ve learned a little about myself, so I now know what starts me down the path… self-doubt.  Usually I’m humming along the road to wellness when my buddy self-doubt comes knocking at my door.  He tells me that I can’t stay “good” forever and that I’m bound to fail.  Then he proceeds to tell me all the great excuses I can use, should I decide that he’s right.  “You deserve a break” and “life’s too short, enjoy yourself” are a couple of the lines I hear.  Before I know it, self-doubt is crashing on my couch because he’s got nowhere else to go.  Eventually I break down and I begin to listen to what self-doubt has to say.

The road might look a little different each time I go back down it, but it always ends up back at the same place.  This time the road started with stress, or more accurately, it started with my inability to deal with my stress.  I used to deal with stress by smoking cigarettes.  Then I quit smoking 5 months ago.  I used to deal with stress by drinking alcohol (heavily) on the weekends, then I quit drinking about 4 months ago.  All I had left in my stress toolbox was eating; I gained almost 50 pounds before deciding that it was not sustainable.  I found the courage to take on my unhealthy eating habits about 2 months ago and my performance up until now has been stellar.  The problem though is that my stress toolbox is empty.  I tried to add exercise, but it wasn’t the same.  I tried meditation, but it wasn’t enough.  The stress has been building and building for 8 weeks now with no outlet.

For me, stress turns into anger.  I begin to lose control over my anger and outbursts ensue; outbursts at work and at home.  One of my good friends told me that he liked me better when I was still smoking.  It was not in a mean way; it was in the context of me talking about how short my fuse has been lately, and it was not meant to suggest that I needed to start smoking again either.  Still it stung a little to hear that.  After outbursts comes the guilt about not being able to stay in control.  I’m a well-respected leader; it’s my job and I’m paid handsomely to stay in control.  My wife and kids deserve a father and husband who doesn’t yell all the time.  THERE IT IS… THE NOBLE EXCUSE.

It actually started 2 weekends ago with a little drinking on Saturday night.  Unfortunately, it worked and I felt better for a few days.  Hey nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam now and then right?  So why not do it again (last weekend)? A little more alcohol, but last weekend wasn’t as effective (or maybe the stress was a little more?).  I guess it doesn’t really matter; the point is that it was the beginning of a pattern that built up to my latest epic performance last night.  Last night I drank way too much alcohol, ate way too much junk food, and smoked a couple cigarettes to boot.  I won't go into all the details, but it's fair to say that the ditch I landed in is fairly unpleasant at the moment.  Yep, I’ve definitely been here before.

So now I find myself back on the road to hell.  It’s a toll road that gets more and more expensive the longer you travel on it.  Much like parts of the NJ Turnpike, there’s not a lot of exits.  Even if I see one I’m not sure if I can get off, because after all, you have to want to.  There’s more to come; I’m not exactly sure where I go from here so I need some time to figure it out.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

-Stay Strong! (not like me)

[Photo: Flickr / János Csongor Kerekes]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weight Loss Data

DATA - Things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation

You may not have thought about it this way before, but you use data to make all your decisions.  When your gas gauge is on “E” in your car, you make the assumption that your car is almost out of gas.  You really don't know that your gar is almost out of gas, but the little needle says it's so and so you assume it's correct.  That assumption, based on available data, allows you to make the decision to stop at the gas station and add fuel. 

However, what happens when that gas gauge fails and the needle gets stuck in one spot?  What happens when our data fails us?  If data drives all our decisions then doesn't it stands to reason that bad data can also drive bad decisions?

Weight Loss Data... The Almighty Scale 
When it comes to losing weight we make a lot of decisions based on what the scale tells us.  When you step on the scale, you are not just reading a number  When you step on the scale you are collecting data.  Whether you record that data somewhere or not it really doesn't matter; your brain records the data for you and it compares the data with all the other data it has on your weight.  Though most of this happens without you realizing it, seeing that number adds to your pile of weight loss data, and that data is the basis for a lot of your future decisions.    

Since data drives decision, it's important to understand the quality of the data.  There's a lot of variability in stepping on the scale...

Scale Limitations 
Did you ever have (or do you still have) one of those old spring scales?  If you ever had one of those scales you probably remember that you could lean forward on those scales and actually see the weight drop by half a pound (to this day I lean forward slightly every time I stand on the Wii scale).  There are physical limitations to scales, and some are better than others.  Even the new electronic scales have variability.  Here’s something for you to try… Pick up your scale and carry it around the house.  Weigh yourself in every room and write it all down.  I’ll bet you didn’t get the same reading every time?  Slight changes in how level the scale is can actually have a pretty big impact on your scale’s accuracy.  What’s worse, the variability is not the same for everyone, it is amplified the heavier you are.  I tried this experiment and got a high/low range of 5 pounds.

Variability in Ourselves
Along with variability in the scales we use, there is also variability in ourselves.  The process of taking in energy, converting it to what our body can use, and getting rid of waste means a constant fluctuation of our actual weight; there's no way around it.  Weigh yourself 5 times in one day.  You can easily see 2-4 pounds of variability.  Weigh yourself every day for a week and if you are like me you could see 5-10 pounds of variability.  One of the biggest culprits is water.  You hear the term “water retention” a lot in weight loss circles.  Water retention can be listed as a legitimate problem and it can also be used as an excuse to justify poor performance; it just depends on how you want to use it.

The Great Scale Debate
There are those in the weight loss community who think you should weigh yourself frequently.  Frequent weigh-ins keeps you accountable and you just have to mentally "adjust" for the variability.  Since you weigh frequently you become an "expert" at identifying when the reading is skewed.

Then there are those who think you should weigh yourself infrequently.  It's impossible to separate true weight loss from normal variability so there's no point.  In fact, the "bad" data could cause you to make bad decisions so best to avoid the scale as much as possible.

Which way is right?  Both theories are credible; it really just depends on the person and their point of view.  If you are someone that needs to get on the scale to keep from drifting and you don’t see a lot of variability then daily or weekly weigh-ins is probably right for you.  However, if you are someone that doesn’t see the “point” to weighing frequently because of all the variability and not weighing in regularly doesn't cause you to drift, then maybe semi-monthly or monthly weigh-ins would be better.

Know Where You Stand
Everyone has to make their own decision about how often to weigh in and I’m not going to try to convince anyone that one way is better than the other.  If you scour the blogosphere you will find plenty of opinions on that subject ranging from multiple weigh-ins each day to never weighing in and everywhere else in between.  It's your journey and you need to decide what it looks like.  

In order to make the best decisions about your weight loss, you need to know how good or bad your data is.  If you don’t know the quality of your data then you are subject to making bad decisions and that's what eventually leads to you walking down the road with a gas can in hand.

-Stay Strong!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Week #8 Weigh-in

8/24/14 Starting Weight: 347.8 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 315.9 lbs
Current Weight: 314.6 lbs
Period Weight Loss: 1.3 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 33.2 lbs
In my last post I wrote a little bit about being obsessed with the scale and indicated that I might actually take a break from getting on the scale for a while.  Today's weigh-in gives me my answer but not for the reason that you think.  I've become convinced that there is too much variability in weighing ourselves (my next post).  Just 24 hours ago I got on the scale and weighed +7 pounds.  Yes that is not a typo, +7 pounds.  This morning, just 24 hours later, I have somehow managed to lose 8.3 pounds.  If you can believe that, then let me go write a book on my miracle diet and I can sell it to you.  No, for me, the issue with my scale is around water.  After 8 weeks I've started to see that just the smallest changes in my salt intake can cause major fluctuations in my weight.  I've said it a couple times, I have been drinking a gallon of water every day.  I had to Google it... a gallon of water weighs a little over 8 pounds!  When you are putting almost 60 pounds of fluid through your body each week you are going to see more fluctuations than normal.  Yesterday and today have confirmed it for me, it makes no sense for me to weigh-in every single week.

  1. Stress, Stress, Stress!
  2. Not enough exercise
  3. Feeling a little worn out
  1. I'm learning about my path and making smart changes
  2. Passed on donuts in the office Friday (small victory #23)
  3. Still following my eating plan and doing very well
  4. Water consumption has become automatic
So I've now had 2 consecutive months of weight loss (at least that's what the scale says).  I'm proud of that; it's the longest I've ever gone without having a week of relapse.  Regardless of the weight I haven't had one of those weeks where you do bad all week long and then "hope" the scale helps you out.  I feel good where I'm at right now; I'm making progress every week with still plenty of room to grow.

I mentioned above that I feel a little worn out, but not from the eating.  I need a vacation day or two from my job; I have to survive for one more week and then I can take a day or two off the following week.  An extra long weekend might be just the thing I need plus I can use the time to get some much needed chores done around the house.

As for the weigh-in, here's what I've decided to do...

When I started this journey I made a promise to commit to 3 months of healthy eating and I now have 4 weeks to go to complete that promise.  I've decided to make another small promise to stay off the scale until those 4 weeks are up.  I will continue to do my Saturday post with my highlights and lowlights, but just without a number.  On week #12 I will weigh again and we'll see just how I fared in my first 3 months of a lifelong transformation.  To the blogging community: Thanks for all the support so far!

Stay Strong!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Little Bit of Randomness

Most of the time I write with a specific purpose in mind, usually about some inspiration I got from someone else’s blog, but tonight I just kind of feel like being a “dear diary” kind of writer and just write a little about my week.  No related picture, no plan, just whatever comes out...

This week has been very much like the last few weeks; not stellar, but not really bad either.  I’m starting to feel like I’ve settled into this rut and I’m trying to decide if it’s a good rut or a bad one.  On the one hand I’m still losing weight every week, but on the other hand I know that I’m capable of doing more.  Do I push myself and risk overdoing it and burning out or do I stay the course and not worry about the minor infractions?

I’m still not exercising regularly.  On a scale of 1-10 for physical activity (10 being hummingbird on crack and 1 being tree sloth), I was probably about a 2 before I started this transformation.  Seven weeks later and I would probably give myself a 3 only because I’m actually spending a little time playing with the kids and doing some yard work on the weekends.  In the first few weeks I put forth some effort to work out when I had time, but as the pounds kept coming off without exercising, it became easier to just let it go.  I know eventually I will not be able to keep on losing weight without adding more physical activity, the time will come soon.  More importantly though, I want to NOT just let it go.  I want to WANT to feel like exercising, or being more active, or anything for that matter.  I’m tired of coming home tired every night; I want to come home and still want to do something.

I can’t complain much about my eating and water consumption.  Occasionally I have a small snack in the evening, but not overdoing it like last week.  The water consumption has become almost automatic; I leave work with an empty (or almost empty) gallon jug every day.  People have stopped asking me to lunch; that’s good, but it can also be bad as I feel a little isolated at lunchtime now.  I was thinking I might choose to go out lunch one of these days; maybe next week.  You know, do it on my own terms and plan it ahead so I’m ready.  My eating has almost become automatic as well.  Week to week there’s not a lot of variety.  Don’t get me wrong it’s all good tasting stuff, but there’s only so much you can do when boneless chicken breast is the cornerstone of your diet.  Mrs. Fogdog does a good job with different spices and vegetables to keep it interesting and we mix in some other meats here and there, but it can be hard to continue to come up with different snacks every single day.

Emotionally, I’m not sure where I’m at right now.  I’m having some happy days and some where I’m in a bad mood.  For the last week I’ve started pulling my CPAP off in the middle of the night unconsciously; though I don’t feel overly tired, this may be the cause of some of my moodiness.  I seem to get mad a whole lot easier than before, but then again, my job is as stressful as it ever has been and I have a very low tolerance for people who aren’t capable of making things better so instead they put up roadblocks so others won’t make them look bad.  You all know what I’m talking about, every place has them, but where I work seems to be especially full of these type of people.  It can be quite a mental drain dealing with the roadblocks.

I just went back and read this post and it does seem to have a bit of dreary or depressed tone.  I didn’t intend it that way it just kind of came out that way.  I really don’t have much to be depressed about; I’ve already lost over 30 pounds and for the first time in a long time I feel like my life is heading in the right direction, I guess I’m just a little tired right now. 

On a final note, I think this week on the scale may be my last of weekly weigh-ins.  Instead, I think I’m going to try to ignore it for a while.  I’ve talked before about my obsession with the scale and how it affects my mood when I get on it.  I’ve posted articles before about how we are not defined by a number, and I truly believe that, but still find myself not following my own advice.  This might be one of my hardest challenges, but truthfully, when I get on the scale I already know how I did during the week.  The number just confirms what I knew most of the time.  The rest of the time it just shows a number that doesn’t make sense and usually puts doubt in me when it’s not deserved.  I’m still mulling it over and I’ll share my decision on Saturday when I post my week #8 weigh-in.

-Stay Strong! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Noble Excuses

If you are overweight, chances are good that you are pretty darn good at making excuses for overeating or eating poorly.  However, some of us have this uncanny skill to take our excuses and put a little extra weight behind them.  These excuses are not just justification for unhealthy behavior, but rather, they become mandates to do so; not following them means going against our societal norms altogether and putting yourself at risk of becoming an outcast.  I call these great rationales “Noble Excuses”.

What makes an excuse noble is the selflessness that comes along with it.  When you choose a noble excuse, you choose to put your own personal needs aside while you attend to the needs of others even if that excuse means a little weight gain.  Below are just a few examples of excuses that go that extra mile and therefore become NOBLE...

A Friend In Need

Everyone has friends (well, most everyone); and those friends have needs, both physical and emotional.  When you are trying to eat healthy, a friend in need is the perfect opportunity to create a Noble Excuse…

What’s that, your best friend just broke up with her boyfriend?  You need to do the right thing and march right over to her house and help her fight through the tears with a couple gallons of ice cream!  To do anything else would be unworthy of BFF status.

Your buddy’s brother just lost his job? Time to man up, put on your big boy pants, and get ready for a night of heavy duty drinking.  Afterall, it’s your buddy’s brother, it’s your duty!

Will Someone Please Think of the Children!

Ah yes, the wee Children.  Parents’ perfect generator for noble excuses.  There are so many different ways we parents can use our kids for rationalization…

Little Suzie has to go to karate class and Johnny has gymnastics 3 times a week.  There’s no time to cook a healthy meal, but my kids need these activities.  We’ll just have to suffer through some pizza for the good of the kids!

My kids won’t eat healthy food.  I can’t let them starve so we’ll be eating hot dogs tonight in order to make sure they don’t go hungry!

If I eat this candy bar, maybe I’ll stop being so cranky.  I need to do it or I might say something that scars my kids for life!

For the Greater Good

No discussion about nobility comes without talking about the greater good.  History is filled with heinous acts that were done with “the greater good” in mind, why would unhealthy eating be any different…

I’ve eaten so well for the last week, but if I don’t go out for Chinese buffet now, I’ll surely lose control next week and end up eating out multiple times.  I better go out now in order to help stay in control later.

Should I eat Aunt May’s cherry cobbler or Uncle Ralph’s pumpkin pie?  Making a choice will certainly create a rift that will rival the Hatfields and the McCoys.  I better do the right thing and have both, you know, to keep the peace.

What's Your Excuse?

Life happens and we can’t just hide out in a low calorie bubble.  Friends will have problems, kids will be kids, and it’s impossible to keep family peace for more than about 5 seconds at any family event.  At the end of the day noble excuses are nothing more than excuses with a lot of thought behind them.  Instead of putting your energy into making your excuses noble, why not instead try to put that energy into not needing excuses in the first place.  Life is all about making a lot of small choices; you need excuses for the bad ones, but you gain true satisfaction from the good ones.

What about you, what’s your most Noble Excuse?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Helping Mrs. FogDog

Today I’m turning my attention away from me (just a little) and towards the wonderful Mrs. FogDog.  I don’t talk much about Mrs. FD, but everyone should know that I owe much of my current success to her.  For all intents and purposes, Mrs. FD takes care of all the food related activities in our house.  Shopping, prep, cooking, menu, it all comes from her.  I wouldn’t survive this eating plan without her which is why I want to help her…
Mrs. FD is also focused on improving her health and is doing the same plan as I am.  However, where my situation is pretty dire (I need to lose about 150 pounds), Mrs. FD started at 165 and only really needs to lose about 50 pounds.  Still lot's of room for improvement, but certainly not morbidly obese like I am.  In the first 6 weeks, Mrs. FD has managed to lose 15 pounds; an impressive amount for a woman of her size (actually higher percentage of weight lost than me).

However, week #7 wasn’t as kind to Mrs. FD as it was to me (she gained 2 pounds).  She confessed to me that this week she ate 3 king-sized candy bars; one for every time she went into a store during the week.  Additionally, she also admitted that she’s not keeping up with her water consumption (64 oz.).  Her biggest concern… that she’s going to drag me down with her... sends me a message that she thinks this is the beginning of the end of her weight loss ways.

We had a good discussion the morning after our weekly weigh-in.  Focusing on the candy bars, we quickly ruled out hunger as she had her snacks at the right times.  She’s not a stress eater like me, but what we did notice is that Mrs. FD looks for enablers to use as an excuse.  Last week was a great example; since I was “cheating” a little each night, it became a reason for Mrs. FD to cheat as well.  You can see the same thing with exercise.  Mrs. FD has a full schedule, but her schedule affords her some free time during the day.  She could easily make a commitment to exercise each day, but because I don’t exercise, it gives Mrs. FD an excuse not to as well.  Looking back through our history and you can see this pattern regularly show up… We do well for a while, I falter, then Mrs. FD falters more, then I fall apart and we end up back into our old routines.

We also talked about Mrs. FD’s future.  Unlike me who eats as a relief from stress, Mrs. FD eats out of boredom.  After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years, there are definite signs that Mrs. FD needs a new challenge.  To me, this is the stuff that she needs to put some thought into.  I think if she can find that path and establish a direction, the mental focus to be healthy will get easier.

I find myself in this quandary of trying to find a balance between helping Mrs. FD and focusing on my own well-being.  As I said Mrs. FD is a critical part of my plan so by helping her I help myself as well, but I can’t sacrifice my own progress in the name of helping her (A.K.A. the noble excuse).  We all have only so much mental fortitude, and this isn’t one of those “women and children first” moments.  Mrs. FD has to find her own way as we all do.  We can be part of each other’s support structure, but we also have to watch out that we don’t become enablers of bad habits (as we have in the past). 

What about you?  Do you have similar issues with your spouse or other member of your support structure?  How do you deal with it? This is new territory for us so I’d love to hear other perspectives.

-Stay Strong!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Week #7 Weigh-In

8/24/14 Starting Weight: 347.8 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 319.2 lbs
Current Weight: 315.9 lbs
Period Weight Loss: 3.3 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 31.9 lbs
I have a confession to make... If you read my last post you know that I struggled early in the week leading up to a small binge on Wednesday evening.  On Thursday morning I couldn't contain myself; I needed to know how much damage I caused.  I got on the scale and it said I had gained 3 pounds!  Now I knew that a lot of that was just water retention; when you drink 8 pounds of water each day and then eat some salty snacks in the evening, you are bound to hold some extra water.  

My last post was all about me mentally preparing myself for my first gain since I started.  I've said it before, weight loss is not linear and I know that I've personally derailed myself many times from that first week that the scale doesn't agree with you.  Much to my surprise, I did not need the preparation (well, just yet anyway).  I had no idea that two days later I would be 6 pounds lighter!  Clearly I was retaining some water from earlier in the week.  This is a great example of how the scale can fluctuate wildly just over the course of a couple days. 

  1. Stress is triggering some bad eating habits
  2. Not enough exercise
  3. Lost control a little on Sunday (unrestricted day)
  4. Got on the scale on Thursday because I was struggling
  1. I made a great recovery after struggling early in the week
  2. Played basketball with the kids 3 times for some fun exercise
  3. Still drinking plenty of water
  4. Learning from my mistakes instead of letting them beat me down
Week #7 was a week of learning more about me.  I learned a little about my willpower limits as well as how stress is affecting me.  I also learned about my own weight fluctuations.  Imagine if I had let the scale reading on Thursday get to me.  Clearly I was retaining water a little.  Come to think of it, imagine if I was retaining water on one of my Saturday weigh-ins.  Imagine how it could derail my entire week.  I'm proud of the fact that I didn't fold when the scale didn't read what I liked; when it happened I made a choice to fight instead of running for the hills (small victory #22).  Now if I can just figure out how to stay off the scale...
 Stay Strong!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

C'mon Lucky 7 and the Company Picnic

Stress is winning this week.  I finished week #6 with a very strong 8 pound loss, but I’ll need some serious luck to get out of week #7 without gaining weight.  My eating hasn’t been terrible, but I can actually feel the lack of progress...

Sunday was my unrestricted day and for the first time since I restarted, I felt a little out of control.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go on a total binge and consume 4000+ calories, but I did overdo it at breakfast and Ice cream in the evening probably could have been avoided.  On the positive side, I recognize that I went a little overboard and I didn’t put myself on a guilt trip.  Sometimes we think that we are just going to change instantly, like flipping a light switch.  The reality is that doesn’t happen, and Sunday just reminded me that I still have a long way to go.

My job sucks right now; there’s no polite way to put it.  I took a position in a manufacturing facility that was recently acquired by my company.  There are only 3 of us from the corporation amongst a facility of people who are used to doing things a different way.  I took the job for the challenge, for the chance to build something from the ground up.  Someday I will be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment, but not this week.  This week I’m in the trenches fighting the good fight.

When I’m stressed I binge.  Early in the week I contained my bingeing to just a handful of pretzels in the evening with my green tea, or just a fiber bar.  Last night (Wednesday) I lost control; I ate a handful of pretzels and that didn’t cut it.  A fiber bar disappeared next along with a fruit filled Nutri-grain bar (might as well grab 2 while you’re in the pantry right!).  I finished all that off with a chocolate covered granola bar, all this food in the manner of 30 minutes.

So why did I fall apart yesterday?  Funny, but as I thought about it this morning I think it stemmed from my latest small victory… 

Yesterday was our company picnic.  From 12-4 in the afternoon we shut the facility down and went to a local park for food, music, and fun.  I have a lot of work to do right now as I’m in the process of rolling out some major changes in the facility, so I was not planning on attending.  I was told I had no choice (I could feel the stress building as I started to think about “forced fun”).  Since I’m trying to be mindful of what I’m eating I decided to just show up late.  I packed my normal lunch and ate before I went to the picnic. Further, I excused myself from the festivities at my normal snack time and went to my car to enjoy something healthy.  In fact, with the exception of a small celebratory piece of cake, I stuck to my eating plan and drank plenty of water throughout the entire picnic (small victory #21).   

However, I believe people only have a limited amount of willpower.  As I thought about my mini-binge (compared to my past), I came to the realization that yesterday my willpower simply ran out.  Walking past all that picnic food for several hours without indulging combined with the stress of my work simply pushed me over the edge.

I got up this morning and to my surprise I wasn’t depressed.  I didn’t feel guilty and I’m not ready to throw in the towel.  It was this realization that I did the best I could do under the circumstances that helped me to push forward.  There was nothing to modify, nothing to “fix”, I’m still learning and evolving and I will have failures.  I told my wife that I have 2 choices; call it quits for the rest of the week and let it all go to hell, or make my best effort to stick to my plan today and then again tomorrow before getting on the scale on Saturday morning.  I’ve tried the “Fall-off-the-wagon-so-might-as-well-roll-in-the-dirt-for-a-while” approach before, this time let’s try the “Stand-up-dust-yourself-off-and-get-back-on” approach.  Who cares what the scale will read on Saturday; just take it one day at a time.

Stay Strong!

.[Photo: Flickr / Jim]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Accountability in Weight Loss

I was so excited about how much weight I lost last week that I didn’t even notice that my last post was my 100th! I thought maybe it would be cool to do one of those recaps to highlight my journey so far

No, I don't thinks so!  Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not much into walking down memory lane.  While it's ok to reflect on what has happened to us in the past, we really shouldn't spend too much time dwelling on it.  Reaching 100 posts is cool, but it is just a drop in the bucket compared to what I want to put out there.  Besides, if people really want to know what I’ve done so far, it's all here on this blog; just go back into the archives and help yourself.

So instead of writing about my past, I want to focus on my future.  My future seems so much brighter than ever because I have finally learned what it means to hold myself accountable.  Accountable... you see that word a lot here in the blogosphere.  People start weight loss blogs and they say they do it to help stay accountable.  So what is accountability and more importantly why do we need it?  Before I write about what accountability is to me, let me first write about what accountability isn’t:

Accountability is NOT…

Punishing Yourself – If you think accountability is all about punishment, you are wrong.  I truly believe a lot of people confuse accountability with punishment all the time.  They think “I failed so now I need to be punished in order to stay accountable”.  While it is true that punishment can be a result of accountability, it is not a defining attribute.  You can be accountable for your actions without ever punishing yourself. 

Perfection – Accountability doesn’t mean doing everything with perfection all the time.  Nobody is perfect and no matter what you set out to do, you will NEVER do it perfectly. Everything you do should be done with the utmost integrity, but that’s not accountability, that’s character.

Going Public – If you think that by posting your weight here on the internet is accountability, you’d be wrong again.  Though making your journey public can assist you with being accountable, it’s not a guarantee.  I made this mistake early in my journey; I thought that by broadcasting my weight on the internet, it would somehow “force” me to stay on my plan.  The problem was. It was too easy to just turn off the computer.

Confession/Admittance – Admitting things (to yourself) is part of the process of holding yourself accountable, but it’s not accountability.  You can admit your failures ‘til the cows come home and it doesn’t mean you are holding yourself accountable.  You see a lot of this in blogs; people are willing to confess all their failures.  While this isn’t a bad thing, it’s not accountability when you continue to make the same confessions week after week.

So What is Accountability? 

Holding yourself accountable means acceptance; acceptance of the fact that you and you alone are 100% responsible for what happens to you; both good and bad.  It means saying what you are going to do, and then doing what you say.  It means keeping all those agreements you make to yourself.

When you don’t do what you say or you don’t keep those agreements to yourself, then accountability means being responsible for understanding why and making the changes necessary to prevent the same failure from happening again.  Keep in mind that the search for understanding should be focused on you and not on external sources of failure.  Making changes from those discoveries, doesn’t necessarily mean punishment either.  You may instead choose preventative measures for the next time.

Conversely, when you do what you say and you keep those agreements, then accountability means recognizing your success and taking credit for it.  Remember you are 100% responsible.  So often we are quick to dismiss our success as luck or even give the credit away to others.  Why?? There may have been people who may have helped you along the way, but YOU chose to accept that help.  People may have told you things, but YOU chose to listen.  Enjoy your success! Celebrate! Maybe you can even see if how you succeeded will work with some other problem.  If you only think of accountability when you fail, then you are only doing half the job. 

Accountability in Weight Loss

So if you are trying to lose weight and you want to hold yourself accountable, here are a couple of tips:
  1. Don’t tie accountability to the number on the scale – If you’ve done any reading amongst weight loss blogs, you see a lot of people discussing just how poor the scale is for measuring progress in a weight loss journey.  Holding yourself accountable by measuring on a scale is a recipe for disaster.
  2. Make the agreements small – It’s fine to have a grand goal to achieve, but when it comes to accountability stick with small agreements, at least, at first.  Like anything else in life, accountability is something learned.
  3. Prepare for failure – Failure is a part of life, accountability is how you deal with it.  If you know it’s coming, you won’t be caught off guard.
  4. Seek Balance – Accountability is not just about failure.  Seek to find a balance between recognizing your success and you failures.  If you focus too much on failures you will become discouraged.  If you focus too much on successes, then you miss opportunities for improvement.
Accountability See-Saw

Most of us don’t do a good job with accountability; we either hold ourselves to too high of standards or we go too light and let ourselves get away with things.  To be honest if you're skewed a little one way or another it's not too bad.  What's really bad is when your level of accountability is inconsistent from day to day.  It's ironic, but in my experience, when you are inconsistent with accountability you will tend toward the opposite of what you should do; you’ll be tough when you should give yourself a break and you’ll give yourself a break when you should be tough.  That lack of consistency really just becomes lack of accountability. 

Nowhere to Hide

When we hold ourselves accountable we take away all the excuses.  When we take away all the excuses we don’t waste time and energy coming up with those excuses.  When we save time not coming up with excuses, we have time to actually figure out how to solve our problems.  What do you think, do you hold yourself accountable?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Week #6 Weigh-In

8/24/14 Starting Weight: 347.8 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 327.6 lbs
Current Weight: 319.2 lbs
Period Weight Loss: 8.4 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 28.6 lbs
I have to admit I'm a bit shocked with this one!  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled with the result, just trying to figure out where it came from.  I suppose I might have been retaining a little water last week when I only lost 2 pounds, but this is still a little out there.

It was another good week, I did an outstanding job with my eating plan again.  I'm amazed at how much easier it is to stay strong when your mind is focused.  Even with such a lousy work week, I was able to resist the temptations.

This also takes me to the halfway point of my first 12 week stint.  When I first started I told myself that I wasn't going to set crazy or unrealistic goals like I usually do.  I told my wife that my "not-really-a-goal-but-sure-would-be-cool" target would be to get under 300 by the end of 3 months.  Halfway there, and I'm amazed that I might actually have a shot.  This is going to be the best non-goal I ever had the privilege of not shooting for!  
  1. Sticking to eating plan - Rock solid
  2. Drinking a gallon of water every day
  3. Feeling great; Resisting Temptations

  1. Only exercised once during the work week
  2. Didn't keep up with blogging this week
  3. STRESS at work!
On Friday Ice Cream was being sold as part of a United Way campaign.  My boss agreed to buy ice cream for anyone in my group, as much as we wanted, on his dime.  I love ice cream but I want to lose this weight more than I ever have before, so I passed (Small Victory #20).

I am truly enjoying how my life is going right now! One of my daughters just told me that she's so glad we moved.  Clearly my whole family is settling in and I feel like I'm just starting to hit my stride.  I'm excited to be finally taking control of my life.  The journey is long, and the road is tough, but I know I'm ready for it.  6 weeks in the books, time to focus on week #7.  If I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 weeks and get under 300 I'm going to have to step up that exercise!
Stay Strong!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Weekend Workout

It's been a pretty crazy week so far; I can't believe it's already Wednesday.  I normally try to get 3 posts done each week (not counting my weigh-in), but I don't think it's going to happen this week.  However, my lack of writing is really for all the right reasons...

Normally I spend some time writing on Sunday, but after feeling like I left some pounds on the table last week, I decided to try a new tact.  Instead of beating myself up, I decided to work off the extra snacking with a little yardwork over the weekend.

After my Daughter's soccer game on Saturday I decided to go to the hardware store.  I bought a pick, a shovel, a bunch of yard stones, and... a chainsaw!  I went home and proceeded to build a 4 foot fire pit with the stones.  Once I complete the pit I started to burn all the yard waste we have collected since we moved in mid July.  It took me all day, but I felt like I really accomplished something.

Sunday came and I decided to put my new tools to good use.  First, I dug up about a dozen old overgrown bushes.  I picked and I pulled and I pushed until I got all those roots out of the ground.  That took me up to lunchtime and I was already good and tired at that point, but I wasn't done yet.  After lunch I used my new chainsaw to cut down 3 good sized trees.  I limbed them, Stacked and cut all the trunks, and burned all the waste.  Now if you want to talk about a workout, you should consider taking down trees.  All the pushing and pulling and dragging and carrying put all my muscles to work.  It took me until dusk and by the time I was done I was completely whipped.

It was exactly the type of weekend that I needed!  My job has been really stressful for the last couple weeks.  In fact, that's the other reason why I haven't blogged this week.  Normally I try to write a little during my lunch hour but I've been too busy to take more than just a few minutes to eat my meal and then go back to work.  Anyway, I'm dealing with it much better thanks to having such a stress-relieving weekend.

The best part... There's still plenty to do.  I still need to cut the logs down to firewood length and then I need to split it.  Once I do all that there's still plenty more trees and bushes that need to come down as well.