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!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Epic Fail

I was 2 weeks into establishing my first habit.  All was going well; my goal was to simply change into exercise clothes after work every day.  Not only had I managed to change into workout clothes every day, I also managed to get quite a bit of exercise as well.  Then it all came crashing down and turned into one epic failure…

After completing two weeks I found myself heading to Pittsburg for a bachelor party.  I had a great time, but I definitely came home on Sunday quite tired.  Monday morning was rough as I was still recovering from a weekend full of late nights and unhealthy eating.  When I got home, I realized that I had forgotten that one of my daughter’s was at soccer camp; I needed to go get her at 7PM.  I grabbed a quick bite for dinner, took a quick shower and then headed out the door.  About halfway there I realized that I had forgotten to change into my workout clothes.

From there things only got worse; over the course of the next couple days I got severely depressed.  I kept thinking that if I couldn’t succeed at this very simple goal, how could I possibly do anything that would be difficult?  My depression turned into poor eating, lousy performance at work, and basically turning myself into a vegetable on the couch in the evening.

The week has passed now and I’m feeling better, but I need to start over.  I’ve decided that if I want to build healthy habits, I’m going to need to start at the beginning.  I need to start each day right, I need to start each day with a win.  One of my struggles as of late has been just getting myself out of bed.  The alarm goes off at 5:45AM and I usually get up, turn it off, and lay back down for at least a half hour and sometimes more.  I don’t have to be at work until 8AM, but I like going in at 7AM so I don’t have to stay late in the evening.  Lately It’s been all I can do to get to work by 8AM. 

As I look back at this horrible week I had, it dawned on me that every morning started off terrible.  When I get up on time then there’s time to think about what I’m grateful for.  When I get up on time I get to work early and have a stress free hour to get ready for my day.  When I get up on time I give myself a chance to have a good day.

So my new habit to focus on for the next 21 days is to get up when my alarm goes off.  I will do it every work day; on weekends I do not set my alarm (that will be my reward for completing each week). 

So that’s my new hait to focus on, but at the same time I also need to get myself back on the healthy bandwagon.  I’ve been eating terrible since the bachelor party and I have gotten no exercise at all.  What’s truly sad is that there’s a walking trail where my daughter has soccer practice.  She had practice every day last week and I was there for at least 2 hours each night.  One would have thought I could use the opportunity to walk, but all I did was sit there and play on my phone.

That same daughter today told me she’s worried that I won’t live to see her 18th birthday.  While I won’t pretend that it didn’t hurt to hear that, I will admit it has brought me a new level of motivation to accelerate my focus on becoming healthy.  Now mind you, I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go as well.  It’s time to get back to business.  She practices twice week now for the foreseeable future and I plan to walk at least 30 minutes on those nights.  I also need to find other ways to stay active the rest of the week. 

I’m also going back to my healthy eating lifestyle; No processed sugar or carbs, lots of veggies, and plenty of water.  The first few days are always the hardest, but then I start to feel really good.  Once I get to that point I need to constantly remind myself just how bad I start feel when I stray in my eating.

Wish me luck as I reset.  Stay Strong!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Does Sugar Make Me Depressed?

I’m 45 years old and I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before…

I’m starting to wonder if sugar (or carbohydrates in general) actually contributes to my depression.  Though I’ve never been diagnosed, I’m fairly confident that I have some level of depression.  When I was younger it never even dawned on me, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve been much more cognizant about how I feel.  Since the move to NC I’ve struggled a bit more and have actually considered talking to a doctor.  But then it goes away and all seems fine.
One other note; for quite some time I’ve been eating a fairly low carb diet.  I try to avoid sugar and all processed carbs like bread, rice, and pasta.  I’ve come to like this style of eating; I don’t go hard core low carb but at the same time I don’t waste time eating unnecessary carbs.
Anyway, this last weekend I was celebrating another great week and meeting my habit goal for the second straight week.  On Sunday we went on a 4.5 mile hike and afterward we stopped and I got a big orange slushy.  Later that night I also had a nice big bowl of ice cream.  Those two items were the only processed sugar I had over the last 2 weeks.

Monday came and I woke up miserable!  I was totally unproductive all day at work and my brain just felt really foggy.  I told my wife that I was severely depressed.  I got through the day and then on Tuesday morning I woke up still feeling depressed, but a little better.  By the end of the day I was back to my old self.

As I reflected on how I felt and how quickly I went from very bad to feeling much better It dawned on me that maybe my large quantity of sugar was what put me into a depressed state.  I started researching sugar and depression and found a surprising amount of articles linking the two.  Could sugar be making me depressed?  Is that why I go from high to low and back to high again so quickly? 

Of course there could be other factors, only time will tell, but it gives me a great idea for my next habit goal.  One more week to go on my current goal (changing into exercise clothes every day after work) and then we’ll see what I add next.

Stay Strong!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

First 7 Days - Habit #1

I am happy to report that my first 7 days have been successful.  Every day after work I changed into workout clothes.  I know this might seem silly to you that my goal is to just simply change into my workout clothes, but the idea is that I'm focused on building a habit, not on actually working out.  I'm teaching my brain to think about exercise automatically everyday after work.  Even though I didn't have to I also decided to extend my routine into the weekend and on both days I was successful.

Of course just because my daily goal doesn't include exercise, that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to get some.  In fact this week was probably the most active week I've had since we moved here:

On the first day I was already in my workout clothes, so I decided to get on the elliptical and run out a mile.  Then on Tuesday and Wednesday the family decided to go play tennis after dinner.  1 hour each day running around in the sweltering heat (we've been in the high 90's all week).  Thursday my daughter had soccer practice so no time to work out, but as soon as I got home I changed into workout clothes, then I proceeded to change right out of them and get ready for bed.  Friday brought more tennis as well as a bonus round on Saturday.  Today was 3 hours of yard work during the day.  No tennis tonight, but as I'm writing I'm in my workout clothes :)

It's important to note that not only do I make sure to change into my workout clothes each day, but I've also stopped to think about how I feel meeting that goal each day.  It might be a simple goal to meet, but the reward is that I completed it every day.  That feels great.  Not only that but on the days that I got out and exercised I also made note of how satisfied I felt afterward.  Again I'm teaching myself that my habit brings positive feelings.

My goal is to put on my exercise clothes every day after work.  In the first week I met my target, did it for an additional 2 days on the weekend, and also got close to 6 hours of activity in that I normally would not do.  Not too shabby!

I'm sure some who read this just won't get what I'm doing, but it makes sense to me.  14 days to go!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A New Beginning, A New Way of Thinking – Building Healthy Habits

Greetings fellow bloggers! I can’t believe my last post was 18 months ago. A lot has happened in my life since I did the 180 in 360challenge.  I can honestly say that when I look back at 2015 it will likely be one of the most pivotal points in my life.

So where have I been for the last 18 months?  Glad you asked.  For starters I can say my health has still been a primary focus in my life.  I am happy to say that I have completely kicked the alcohol dependency!  In fact in the last year I can count how many times I’ve had a drink on one hand.
I have also managed to stay away from tobacco.  I still use an e-cig, but the nicotine level is so low now that I’m starting to question why I even use it; I think it’s just out of habit now.

And what about the weight?  Well I’m happy to say that I have NOT put the weight back on that I lost in 2015.  At the end of 2015 I was at 300 pounds.  I don’t weigh myself very often these days, but at last check I was somewhere around 305.

Now you might be wondering why I’m back and I’m calling this a new beginning.  Well, for starters I just finished moving my family to NC and have taken on an exciting new challenge in my career.  I’m excited; My wife and I lived in NC about 12 years ago and now we finally made it back here.  We have moved around quite a bit in my career, but now that the kids are older the plan is to make this area permanent for the foreseeable future.  The last 6 months have probably been the most stressful that I can remember, yet I have not succumbed to the usual bad unhealthy habits that usually overtake me and force me off the wagon.

We’ve been here now for about 3 months.  Now that the dust has settled I’m ready to take my healthy living to the next level and maybe drop some more weight while I’m at it.  However, I know what happens when I go on a diet; I’ve yo-yoed myself too many times to think that anything would be any different this time.  It’s time to change my way of thinking…

I’ve decided that instead of focusing on losing weight or focusing on exercising more, I’m going to turn my focus towards building habits.  The way I see it, if I can teach myself how to create habits then I can choose to develop habits that will help me to be healthier.  I’m also hoping that as I learn to create habits, I might stumble across certain Keystone habits that will even accelerate my healthy living.

The Plan

I’ve already read quite a lot about creating habits; Most people agree that you need to start small and that it takes at least 21 days to make a habit.  Ok, so I’m going to pick 1 habit and I’m going to start small.  Since this is all about my health the first habit I want to establish is an exercise habit.

Now remember, I’m focused on building a habit, I’m not focused on exercising or losing weight.  The first thing I want to do is establish a routine.  I know from experience that I am not a morning workout person.  In fact I want to save my mornings for focusing on my mental health (after I establish this first habit).  I’m going to start with building an exercise habit after work.  My objective is real simple:

For the next 21 days I will change into workout clothes after work 

That’s it!  No more requirements other than to change into workout clothes.  If I choose to exercise that’s fine, but it’s not required.  By changing into those clothes I’m going to begin programming my mind to prepare myself for exercise.  I’m going to begin building the exercise habit.
Notice I’m not talking about how much weight I’m going to lose or how much exercise I’m going to get.  I want to exercise and I want lose weight and be healthy, but to get there I need to teach myself to create habits that give me those results.

I welcome you to follow me as I see how this experiment plays out.  After 21 days I will add another habit and/or increase the requirements on one of my existing habit declarations.  Over time I am hoping these habits will stick and become a normal part of my life.  Wish me luck!

[Photo: Flickr / dierk schaefer]