Week 119 – Off week, positive result

It has been 2 weeks since last I posted here. (why does that sentence take me back to my Catholic Grade School days? lol). In that time I had a great week, with a minimal result, and an off week with a more impressive result. Here is where I stand:

Week 119
Weight – 216.4
Change this week: -2.6 pounds (-3.0 pounds in 2 weeks)
Total Loss: 128.6 pounds
Total % lost:  37.3%

 Since my last weigh-in post, I had the weekend of hiking. That week I ended up losing 0.4 pounds. I was a bit disappointed. But, we had eaten out that week (sodium), my intestinal schedule was off, and I had missed a work out. So, I was actually ok with the total result.

This week I fell off the wagon on food tracking, and only got to the gym twice, and I missed my step goals on 3 straight days, but my weight loss for the week was 2.6 pounds. I am basically saying that over the 2 weeks, including Hocking Hills, I am down 3.0 pounds, which is right on target.

I say that I fell off the wagon on tracking and that is just what I mean, I didn’t track. I also didn’t binge, or really eat anything that was off-plan. I just didn’t track. I know that in the long run that is bad news for me, but at the same time, I also know that for a short time I can sustain good, healthy choices.

For the week ahead I plan to get back to tracking my food, and to hit my schedule of steps and workouts.

This morning I have a bi-annual doctor visit, which will mean new A1C reading. I’ll talk about those results in a future post.

Wherever you are on your journey, keep plugging away. Sometimes it happens that you rock your tracking and exercise for a week, and see minimal results, then you will have a week where you feel like you were a little off, and you get a big result. The body is not always predictable. Have a plan, stick to your plan, and ride out the waves!

You cannot outrun your fork

We’ve all heard it. Maybe even we have all said it at some point. You know someone who is not int he shape they want to be. They have a few (or more) pounds to lose. They have extra inches on the waistline, and so on. Very often they will say something like this:

Wow, I am out of shape. I need to lose some weight. I better start hitting the gym!

And off they go. They workout for a few days, maybe a week. Then they step on the scale, expecting to see results, and are shocked when they have remained the same, or even gained weight. Their best intentions to “get back in shape” in the gym have been foiled by a sad, but true statement:

you cannot outrun your fork

The first summer that I was working my way toward better health, I was sitting at a picnic table talking to a friend. She is a Chiropractor who also helps some of her patients with weight loss. I told her how I was approaching my situation, getting good control of my food, and adding in more exercise. I was seeing great results at the time. She smiled and said “you’re doing it the right way. Too many people fail to understand that you cannot outrun your fork”. Those words have stuck with me, and I have passed them on to others along the way. It really comes down to a matter of diet math, and it will always work against you. Here is an example…

A friend of mine was at his vacation home in Florida, tending to some home improvement projects. One sunny morning he decided to go for a walk.After about an hour he had walked approximately 3 miles and was feeling good about himself. He stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for some coffee and jokingly posted on his Facebook that he was going to reward himself with a donut as well. I happened to be online at the time and cautioned him against it, while other friends of his were telling him to go for it. The reason is simple. The average adult male burns about 100 calories per mile, depending on how fast they walk, and how much they weigh (it could be more, but we will use 100 as a nice round number). The average donut at Dunkin Donuts is about 400 calories. It took him an hour to get to that point, and would have taken about a minute or two to eat the donut. In other words, he would have given back all of his hour of work, plus an additional 100 calories, in about 2 minutes. As I said above, he was joking when he made the comment, and didn’t eat the donut.

The sad fact is that it takes far less time to blow up your routine by eating, than it does to burn it off with hard work.

This past weekend my wife and went to Ohio for some high adventure hiking. On Saturday and Sunday we took very strenuous hikes of 6 miles or more. It was warm and humid, and the sweat was pouring off both of us at times. More than once my wife remarked that when the hike was done I could have whatever dinner I wanted, because I had earned it on the trail. On Sunday we were joined by her brother and his friend, and they remarked similarly. When the hike was done, we did go to dinner at a restaurant, where I ordered a salad with grilled chicken. I did indulge in one 12 ounce beer.

In past years I might have celebrated that hike with a burger and fries, and maybe a couple of beers. And, in the process, I’d have given back the 4.5 hours of hard work I’d put in climbing over rocks on a difficult trail. (To be fair, my wife, her brother, and his friend all knew the same truth as I, and were joking when they said I could eat anything. All of us know this important fact).

I don’t know if I will gain, lose, or remain the same this week. Part of me is hopeful of a loss based on the hiking and hard work I’ve done. Another part of me knows that when traveling I am not always as diligent about my tracking and recording of food. So, while I made good choices, I might still be off. Time will tell. What I do know is that, if I didn’t lose weight, it won’t be because I blew myself up with bad choices.

If you are among the many who struggle to lose weight, despite how hard you work in the gym, I strongly suggest that you start working on the other side of the equation. Take stock of what you are eating – the quality of the food, and the quantity. I strongly suggest that people who are trying to lose weight use measuring cups and a digital scale to help accurately measure their food. Another sad truth is that most people tend to over estimate how much they burn in a work out, and under estimate the size of their food portions.

Wherever you are in the journey, keep your chin up and stay focused on your goals!

Week 117 Weign-in and a mini-get away

This morning (May 27, 2016) mark 117 weeks since I started this journey. Today I week I weighed in at 219.4 pounds. That is a 3.4 pound loss since my last weigh in. I am now down 125.6 pounds or 36.4% of my original body weight.

Here is a quick summary of my days since last week:

  • Last Friday – Didn’t go to the gym, but did 13,882 steps. Stayed within my WW points. Green for the day
  • Saturday – 8,951 steps. Didn’t over eat, but also didn’t track accurately. I scored it a yellow
  • Sunday 12,463 steps, but again didn’t track points accurately. Scored a yellow
  • Monday – 16,293 steps. Also did an interval workout in the afternoon. Hit my points. Wrote a blog post. Green day
  • Tuesday – 14,693 steps. Stayed within my points. Green Day
  • Wednesday – 11,813 Steps. Did a 58 minute interval training. Stayed within my points. Green Day
  • Thursday – 8,612 steps. Stayed within points. Green day

So 5 green days out of 7, with two yellows. Not bad at all, and the results showed it.

This weekend my wife and I are taking a mini-getaway. We are going to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio for some site seeing and hiking. It should be a great weekend. There are chances of thunderstorms on the days we will be there, so we are packing our Scrabble board in case we get rained out. But we are both looking forward to just being away for a couple of days.

I will be back writing on Monday. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

This one might ruffle some feathers

In the summer of 2014 I became aware of the story of a man in my area who lost nearly 400 pounds. His story was remarkable for many reasons. Foremost was the amount of weight he lost, but there were other elements as well. Prime among them was that he had found someone to hold him accountable for his life, and his health. I won’t go into a lot more detail about his story today, but suffice to say it was quite inspirational. One thing I also learned was that he had created a support group on Facebook where people could come to discuss weight loss, their struggles, their triumphs and so on.

I joined that group, and instantly found a community of people who were fighting for a common goal. I found support and answers to questions. I shared my progress pictures and so on. In the 20 months that I was a member of the group I honed my own skills around managing my food intake, my exercise routines, and so on. There are many groups on Facebook, and elsewhere, that offer similar kinds of peer support for people losing, or attempting to lose weight.

Recently I left that group. Over time the group had shifted. The group had ceased (at least for me) to be a place to gain accountability and support for a weight loss and health journey. Instead, it had become a place of enablement for the attitudes and behaviors that lead to so many of us finding ourselves morbidly obese.

Not everyone will like what I have to say next

In the time I was in that (and others) weight loss group, I met hundreds of people. Some were successful in their weight loss, others struggled, a few gave up (sadly). One thing I learned is that we who have become morbidly obese are really good at lying to ourselves, and believing things that just aren’t true.

Before I go on, let me be clear. There are people with glandular issues, or other medical conditions, that make it extremely difficult to lose weight. Those people should be under the care of a physician, and should follow the advice of the medical and dietary professionals to the letter to ensure their long term health.

The truth is that among those of us who have gained and carry significant weight, those with medical conditions causing the weight gain are relatively few.  The vast majority of us get to that point not because of some medical condition, or some external force that makes us fat. Rather, we get there because of OUR OWN decisions, and our unwillingness to be honest with ourselves and others.

At its core, weight loss is simple …  but it is not easy.

The simple fact of the matter is that to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. When there is a net deficit of calories in your diet, you lose weight. When there is a net surplus, your body stores it and you gain weight. It really is that simple. Even for those with glandular or other medical issues, the formula it still the same. They have to burn more than they take in. For a small number of them it is harder because their metabolism (burn rate), is lower, but the formula remains the same.

It is simple, but not easy. Losing weight takes diligence, hard work and patience. But most importantly, it takes HONESTY.

When I was at my heaviest, I had many little lies I told myself and others. I told myself that I couldn’t work out because my knees hurt. I told myself that it is too hard to track my food. I told myself that the food and restaurant industries were all conspiring against me. I told those lies to absolve myself from accountability. I also told other lies. I hid the fact that I was consuming enormous amounts of food. I would stop on the way home from work (where dinner would soon be waiting), and consume all manner of junk along the way. My children would sometimes take great delight in rummaging the pockets on the backs of the seats in my car to see what kinds of food wrappers they would find. I would hide them there, intending to discard them out of sight, only to have them discovered later. (Honestly, they only found a small percentage of the wrappers. The truth is, I was good at hiding what I ate)

When people ask me what was the key to my weight loss, I will name many things. But the prime among them is that I became 100% honest with myself and others about what I was eating. I set myself up to be accountable for what I was consuming. I did that on this blog, with my public comments on Facebook, and with family and friends. My wife has been an amazing supporter of my journey, as have many other family members and close friends. I appreciate EVERY one of them more than they will know. But…I was successful because I made the conscious, daily decision to be completely honest about my health, and the actions I was taking to either improve or damage it. I am not just talking about being honest with others, I had to be honest with MYSELF!

I left the group because it had become a place of enablement. It had become a place where anyone could say “I am special”, and they would be coddled into believing their excuses. When I, or a few others, would call them out and ask them to be more accountable, we were shouted down as insensitive or uncaring. There would be choruses of people whose “special” circumstances made it impossible for them to lose weight. Pseudo science had taken over for reason in far too many cases.

If you are reading this, and you have a medically diagnosed condition that makes weight loss very difficult for you, my heart goes out to you. I hope that with the help of your doctors, you can find your way to better health.

If you are reading this, and you are among the (far too) many who have talked yourself into believing excuses for not losing weight and becoming more healthy, then I say two things.

  1. Stop believing your own lies!
  2. Find someone who will fearlessly, honestly, even HASRHLY, hold you accountable, and who will not take your lies as truth.

There is no one, and I mean NO ONE, who is more to blame for your circumstances than the person looking back in the mirror. And there is ABSOLUTELY no one who can have a bigger impact on your future successes or failures than YOU!

If I had continued to believe the lies I told myself then I would be:

  • AT LEAST 350 pounds
  • Diabetic
  • Scheduling knee replacement surgery
  • Miserable
  • Headed for an early grave

This post is not in keeping with my normally upbeat, supportive, encouraging tone. Today I am all about pushing myself, and those around me, to be courageously accountable!


If you halve it, you can have it

When I first made my decision to lose weight in March of 2014, one of the first things I had to learn was the sizes of appropriate portions. In one of my first posts I took a humorous look at what I previously considered to be an appropriate snack, verses what was ACTUALLY an appropriate snack.

I have come a long way since then, and my brain is partially re-trained to recognize what constitutes a healthy portion. I don’t declare victory on this front because I know that if I don’t remain diligent, I will slip to old ways.

Recently an acquaintance on Facebook posted pictures of her husband. With diet and exercise he has lost over 80 pounds. He looks great, and he also reports that he feels great! When I saw the comparison pictures I offered a few words of congratulations and encouragement. He saw my comment, and mentioned that he has, over the time he’s been losing weight, used a principle that he heard from me. Namely…

halve it

Part of how he has learned to control his food urges, and re-train his brain, has been to systematically cut in half the portions he would normally have eaten.And he says it has worked for him

Just today I was talking to someone who asked how people who have sustained weight loss manage to cut out all those calories so quickly, without driving themselves mad. Speaking only for myself, I said that it was a matter of cutting back slowly on the portions at meals, and radically on snacks.

To this day, as I continue on my path, I use this principle to good effect. As you are working through your brain training on portions, and dealing with those inevitable snack urges, give this idea a try. All other things being equal, you’ll find yourself eating less.

Quick update on my week so far

Since my Friday weigh-in I have been very active. We had a weekend of absolutely gorgeous weather, and I did my best to take full advantage. I had yard work and garage work to do, so I turned on some music and got to work. As a result, my steps were well above my target on all 3 days (Friday through Sunday), and my yard and garage are in good shape too!

On the food front, the news isn’t quite so good. While I don’t think I particularly OVER ate on Saturday or Sunday, I wasn’t really diligent in my tracking. As a result, I colored those two days yellow on my chart.

Today I went to the gym after work and did a 42 minute interval training on the treadmill. I workout at Lifetime Fitness and their app connects to my heart rate monitor and gives me prompts to increase or decrease my intensity to match the target zones. At the end of the workout it shows me a graphical representation of the work I have done. In a future post I will pull the graphic in and show you what I mean.

The bottom line is that it has drastically changed how I approach the treadmill. No longer am I content to walk for an hour at 3.8 miles per hour, with an incline of 0%. Now I get up as high at 4.3 MPH, with an 8% to 9% incline. I have stepped up my game dramatically.

Today was as beautiful as the weekend, so I spent my lunch time walking at work. As a result, with still a few hours in the day, my step count is up to nearly 16,000.

Hope you all are having a great week!

Week 116 – 7 days in to my reset

Happy Friday to you all. I have now completed 7 of my 50 days toward the July 4 weekend. And, I am happy to say I am on track and starting to see some results.

This morning I tipped the scale at 222.8 pounds. That is a 2.0 pound loss from last week. I am very pleased! For the week I met or exceeded all of my fitness and tracking goals, more on that in a minute. Right now I want to show you my current chart for 2016:

2016 - may 20

As you can see, I am not setting the world on fire, but this week the arrow is pointing in the down direction, and that is where I want to be.

Here is a quick summary of my week in terms of food tracking and activity:

Friday – 8,156 steps out of 8,000. To get there my wife and I had to walk our campsite in the rain. Totally worth it. I also stayed within my points for the day. I colored my chart green!

Saturday- Right on the edge on points, may have gone over. It is sometimes hard to track while camping. My step goal was 8,000 for the day. Thanks to a nice hike in Holland State Park, I ended up at 14,509 steps. I colored my chart green

Sunday – Did ok on steps – 8,360. Food I am sure I went over a bit. I colored the box yellow.

Monday. Did a 58 minute interval training on the treadmill after work, and it kicked my butt. I wanted to give up several times, but I stuck to it and finished. Stayed well within my points, and thanks to the treadmill time, I exceeded 10,000 steps for the day. I colored tbe box green!

Tuesday – 16,683 steps, thanks to walking with my wife, daughter and daughter’s friend. I also met a friend at lunch for a 45 minute walk. I stayed within my points. Colored the box green!

Wednesday – Went to work with my trainer. She worked me hard on upper body. To warm up I did 42 minutes of treadmill interval training. Ended up with 8,517 steps, and a 50 minute work out. Well within my points. Another green day

Thursday – 19,217 steps. Did landscaping work where I moved 8 24″ concrete pavers. I wad exhasuted when I finally went to bed. Stayed within my points. Green day for sure.

So that makes 6 of 7 days green, with one minor yellow. Not a bad week at all.

For the week ahead, the plan is the same: 3 dedicated work outs, 8,000 minimal steps per day, track all eating and drinking.

I feel like I am starting to get my groove back on this.

really hungry meme 2

Mindless Snacking

Over these past few weeks, as I have been back sliding, one of the vices that found its way back into my routine is mindless snacking. Whether it be while watching TV, working from home in my office, visiting with friends, or playing a game with my wife, I have found myself increasingly turning to snacking.

When I am not being mindful in my life, I tend to be an emotional eater. I used to laugh it away with a quip like this…

Am I an emotional eater? Sure! I will eat because I am happy, sad, frustrated, angry, celebrating or grieving . Pretty much, if I am having an emotion, I want to eat!

Since starting down my journey toward better health in March of 2014, I have worked hard to control my eating urges. I have avoided using food and drink to sooth my nerves or calm my emotions. But since the first of the year, that effort has ebbed.

The good news is that in the last two and a half years my snacks of choice have changed. These days I am much more likely to reach for an apple, orange, or some other handy fruit. When I want something salty, I might grab 15 or 20 pistachios. And  I LOVE air-popped popcorn. The problem isn’t with WHAT I am choosing to eat, it is that I am allowing myself to go over on my goals for the day (especially when pistachios or popcorn are in the mix).

This week, as I am plowing through my 50 days, I created this sign which now hangs on my refrigerator:


really hungry meme 2

With this reminder plastered in front of me, I will once again become more mindful in my eating.

So far this week  I am well on track. I have made a hand-written chart for myself where each night I record how I did against my goals for the day. When I am done, I highlight the individual lines, then color in the box with red, yellow or green highlighter to indicate my success level for the day. Thus far, with 5 days in the books, I am happy to say that 4 of the days are colored in green, and one is yellow. The yellow came on Sunday because while I tracked my food, I am not sure I was completely accurate and may have gone over. All of the other days I have kept to my points, and have exceeded my activity and exercise goals.

I am starting to feel like I have a small bit of my momentum back. Time will tell, but right now this feels like more than just a short burst.