January 31 -Setting daily goals

“One must not lose desires. They are mighty stimulants to creativeness, to love and to long life.” – Alexander A. Bogomoletz

Today’s meditation in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey suggests a bit of retail therapy to set up incentives for myself. It advocates buying clothes a little smaller that I might fit into if I lose weight, using that as my incentive to work harder. While I agree with the idea of setting goals, that particular method doesn’t work for me.

It’s my belief that buying clothes which do not fit only sets me up for failure. I will inevitably try them on too soon and suffer disappointment. As I have said before, I dress for the body I have, not the body I desire. I would rather look great in a shirt that is one size larger than I might wish it were, rather than look bulgy in one that is a size too small for my present state.

I am all about goals. Part of my obsession with to-do lists is that they give me small goals every day which I can accomplish and move myself forward. The progress might be on work projects, home projects, or just something fun, but the progress is there. On days when I accomplish most of the things on my list, I go to bed feeling great.

As I have been getting back into the swing of things I have been using weekly goals for myself, but not daily goals. Today’s meditation and quote are reminding me that setting and achieving daily goals will bolster my resolve. One of my goals for this week is 50 laps around the inside of my building. I actually forgot about that goal yesterday, and only did about 3 laps (which I honestly didn’t even track). Today I will set up a list at my desk and get cracking on that goal. Since I missed out yesterday, and telecommute on Friday, it means I will have to do 17 laps a day to hit the mark. That is achievable, with some effort.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Breaking my long term goals down to daily lists of things to do keeps me focused, and sets me up for success.

January 30 – Heading the signs in my life.

“Whatever is reasonable is true, and whatever is true is reasonable.” – Georg Hegel

Georg Hegel lived from 1770 until 1831, and was a renowned philosopher. I mention that because the word “reasonable” had a very different and specific definition to Hegel, than what is used in common parlance today. For Hegel, reasonable means that something can be deduced from the process of reason and logic. One conclusion naturally flows from another. Today, the word reasonable is through around a lot and generally means “it sounds pretty good to me.” That isn’t what a philosopher would call reason.

The meditation for today in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey is about letting go of the myths that surround weight loss. Things like “the less you eat, the more you lose”, “you shouldn’t eat between meals”, “too many sweets make you overweight”, “you should weigh yourself daily”, and, “your diet is more important than exercise”, are all covered. I have thoughts on each of these myths, and at some point I will give them, but not for today.

Today I want to talk about signs. Sometimes we get signs in our life. Today My body gave me a sign. AS you know, I have been struggling with getting up in the morning for my pre-work gym time. Last week I managed to get up 2 days, and slipped a post-work session to round out my goal of 3. In the past, getting up 3X a week before work was part of my weekly ritual, but it has been hard to come by this year.

Last night I checked the time setting on my alarm clock, and set out my gym clothes. Overnight I woke up once, around 2:00am, and noted that I still had nearly 2 hours to sleep. This morning I looked at the clock at 3:55am, and my mind knew it was time to get up. But, I hadn’t heard my alarm. A quick check of the face of the clock told me that while I checked the setting, I didn’t actually turn it on. My alarm never went off. I got up out of bed and headed to the bathroom to dress for my workout and realized…my body was giving me a sign that it is ready.

This morning I ended up doing a 30 minute session (I forgot to tape my foot last night and didn’t want to suffer a blister). I also need to be in to work early for some important meetings. I feel exceptionally good this morning, and I know that good feeling is going to carry me through the day, all because I read the signs my body was giving me!

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Listening to my body means that when it says it is time to get up, I must move, regardless what the clock may say.

January 29 – No short cuts on the road to health

“There is no such thing as a little garlic.” – Anonymous

Today I depart from the book, Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey. The meditation with this quote goes into ideas about health food stores and holistic medicine. Personally, I think all of that is snake-oil, pseudo-science, BS.

One of the things that irritates me about the industry around weight loss is how many hucksters there are out there. There are some very notable ones, including Dr. Oz. In my opinion he uses his show to prey upon desperate people looking for a quick fix. He has been called in front of the US Congress and admonished for his pushing of “green coffee bean extract”, as some kind of miracle weight loss nostrum. Rather than apologize and pledge to do better, he stands behind this shady, non-science, referring to how he give people “hope”. I call BS. The only thing he appears to be interested in is filling his audience and lining his pockets.

I am here to tell you a hard truth. There are no short cuts. There is no miracle pill you can take, or food you can eat, that will make you magically shed pounds. The sooner you let go of that nonsense, the sooner you can face the reality that weight loss comes from hard work. It is not easy to eat right. It takes planning and forethought. Getting extra exercise is not the path of least resistance. I hate getting up at 4:00am to work out, but I LOVE how I feel the rest of the day.

Garlic is pretty tasty. I have been known to over-indulge in it, and have paid the gastric price the rest of the day. It is a great spice that adds exceptional flavor to foods when done right. But, it isn’t a weight loss miracle, any more than it is a way to ward off vampires.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…There are no miracle cures or quick fixes. Getting healthy takes work. Roll up your sleeves and let’s get to it!

Catching up!

The three entries below are for days this past week when I didn’t write a blog post. My goal for the year was to write my thoughts every day. This is my attempt to do some catching up…

January 22 – “The undertaking of a new action brings new strength.” Evenius

Some years ago I was an instructor for the Dale Carnegie Course. In that class, one of the objectives was to help the class members increase their self-confidence. That was done by aggressively taking them outside their comfort zone so they could try new things, and build new patterns of success. The lessons I learned, and later taught in that class resonate with me today, and are reflected in this quote.

The greatest limit to our strength, and our capability is that we believe our strength and our capability are limited. Over time, we tend to wrap ourselves into a cocoon of comfort. That cocoon feels safe and warm. Safety and warmth are nice, to be sure, but they are also limiting. It is only when we endeavor to do something new that we find new skills and new strength.

A child that is swaddled in a warm blanket has all that it needs. Food, warmth, someone to change the occasional diaper. But, for that child to develop and grow it has to get out and explore. It has to progress to rolling over, crawling, standing, and eventually walking. The child cannot stay swaddled forever.

When it comes to getting control of my health, the same is true. There was a time when I thought I could never be one to track my food, to go through the hassle of weighing. I didn’t think there was much benefit to packing a lunch, when there are so many choices near work.

I thought the gym was a place where lunkheads hung out to preen in front of mirrors. No need for me to darken those doorways.

Not until I decided to muster up my courage and try something new did I realize that there was a strength inside me waiting to emerge.

This quote was in the book for my birthday. I took that day to be with family, and I honestly don’t know what my thought of that day would have been. Today, as I sit playing catch up on posts, with a delightfully slight hunger in my belly, my thought is that being self-aware is a skill and a strength I never knew I could have. And it is one about which I feel quite proud.

January 23 – “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star.” Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I have really mixed feelings about this quote. On the one hand, I understand the dazzling delight of trying something new and discovering that you like it. My worry is that most of the “new” dishes I see (not just new to me), are some kind of abomination of salt, fat, and sugar. I worry that the momentary happiness, or delight, is far outweighed by the long term issues of over indulgence.

Just today I learned that Taco Bell has come out with something called the Naked Chicken Chalupa. It basically is a processed, fried chicken patty, which has been folded (taco shell style), and filled with the toppings of a taco. I am not sure where the “naked” comes in, as the chicken patty is very obviously breaded and fried. I will admit that I have not tried one, and I will boldly tell you that I have no intention of putting this turd in my mouth anytime soon. Here is the nutrition information from Taco Bell’s website:

chalupa

For you fans keeping score at home, that works out to 13 Weight Watchers points. Approximately 1/3 of my total point allocation as a 247 pound man. A nightmare.

I have no doubt that it probably tastes great. And in a former time I might have ordered 1 (or two), of them along with a bean burrito for lunch. But today, it makes me a little ill just thinking of it!

So, I guess what I am saying is that “new” doesn’t mean that it is good for you. In fact, it almost never does.

 

January 26 – “[Clothes are] always the reflection of one’s self-respect.”

“Dress for the body you have, not the body you wish you had” – Unknown, but shamelessly quoted by your’s truly

In November and December, one of the biggest signs that I was gaining significant weight (because I wasn’t going anywhere near the scale), was that my clothes weren’t fitting right. I am not what anyone would call a “clothes horse”, but I do take pride in wearing clothes that appropriately represent a look I want to portray. Although my company has a 5-day casual rule, that allows jeans and more relaxed shirts to be worn, I still opt for dress pants and a button down shirt, even donning the occasional tie. It isn’t to be showy, it is just a professional look that I want to portray.

I don’t have a lot to say on this one today, but I will say this. No matter who you are, what size you are, what gender you are, what profession or job you have…dress in a way that will make you proud of yourself. We all want to be smaller, and skinny jeans might be fun to wear (honestly, I don’t see how, but I will grant that some would think so), but if you don’t have the body for it, don’t do it. There is no shame in wearing clothes that are appropriate to your present size.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day… Catching up on blog posts is not nearly as fun as writing them every day. J

January 28 – Finding the right fit

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” – Carl Jung

I have often been asked “how did you do it?”. Just this week a co-worker was talking to another person near my desk. I was vaguely aware of the conversation, but immersed in my own work. I turned to get something off a shelf, when one of them said “Bob did it…”. I looked up and was drawn into a conversation about weight loss. The person who was visiting has been told by his doctors that he must lose weight for health reasons. I was asked about how much I lost. I told them the story of loss and gain, and re-dedication. Then the inevitable question arose…how?

When asked that question I have a somewhat pat answer. “I follow Weight Watchers, and I walk a lot.” That is short, and succinct. And,  the vagueness is intentional. I have learned that what Carl Jung says above about life in general is particularly true when it comes to weight loss and becoming more healthy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one will not work for another. As I have said many times before…

Weight loss is simple, but it is not easy.

The formula for losing weight is deceptively simple. To lose, you burn more calories than you consume. There are two parts to the equation. Work them both, and have success. Simple, right? But the truth is that both parts are difficult to execute.

It is hard to be in constant control of calorie intake. If you have even a minimal social life,  eating out makes it hard. If you have a demanding job, spending the time on home cooked, healthy, sensible meals is a challenge. And, battling hunger is a problem all its own.

Increasing the burn rate is also harder than it sounds. Committing time to walk more, go to the gym, and so on are difficult to balance with having a career, being a parent, and so on. There are no easy answers there either.

Yesterday I talked about the commitment, and keeping weight loss on center stage.

The key to success is to find something that you are willing to do, every day, for the rest of your life. Anything short of that kind of lifestyle change is just a fad diet, and will universally fail. And, what works for me, what I am willing to make a lifelong commitment to, is not necessarily what will work for you.

If you are reading this blog for inspiration, let me say this to you… Don’t give up! If what you are trying to do isn’t working, and doesn’t feel like something you can commit to for the rest of your life, then try something new. Let me tell you an analogy from my life that might illustrate the point.

I go to meetings just about every work day. Some are short, some are long. Some are working sessions where actual decisions are made, others are informational. They share one thing in common, there is information in the meeting which I need to retain, which means, I need to take notes in some form or fashion.

Over the years I have used many ways to take and retain notes. I have tried all-encompassing notebooks that serve as a diary of my days. I have tried using a pad of paper, and tearing off the notes from each meeting to be stored in a folder related to that specific project or subject. I have tried taking notes in OneNote, and on and on. I have not yet found my ideal note taking strategy, but I have learned one thing about myself. I like trying out new ways from time to time. For me, changing up how I gather and sort my notes keeps my mind fresh. Just this past week I bought a new notebook.

I may never find the best way to take notes for me. But, by varying the approach, while keeping a few key points in mind, I can be effective. I think it is the same with weight loss. There are certain principles to keep in mind, like portion control, balance, and thinking about the calorie density of foods. How I arrange the food in my actual daily intake can change over time, and still be effective. The same is true for exercise. Right now I am all about interval training on the treadmill. In a few months I might be about neighborhood walks, or riding a stationary bike, or lifting weights. The important thing is to keep the principle of increasing my calorie burn in mind, and keeping it fresh.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Being successful at weight loss is about finding what works, sustainably, for you! Keep trying until you find that fit, then stick to it as though your life depended on it.

January 27 – Making health my primary focus

“We don’t get offered crises, the arrive.” – Elizabeth Janeway

Today is weigh-in day. I stepped on the scale and it registered 247.4 pounds. I didn’t weigh in last week, so over the last two weeks I have gained 1.0 pounds. For 2017 I am down 2.6 pounds, or about 1% for the year. I didn’t weigh in last week because I was fairly sure I had gained. This week I feel pretty good that I lost weight, although not all that I gained.

For the week I did well on workouts. I did a total of 3 sets of interval training on the treadmill of 58, 42 and 58 minutes. I ate sensibly, but didn’t track. That remains an issue. And, I didn’t do extra walking at work. On the whole, it was a good week, but not a great one. I can and will do better.

Handling crises is a big part of my job. I often am handed projects that are complex and filled with issues. It is my job to assemble the right teams to address the issues and get the project back on track. This year, as I have written in past posts, the crises have been of a budgetary nature. These have been the bane of my existence since the Holiday break. I am happy to say that there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday we had a breakthrough meeting and hopefully have addressed the problems with a set of plans that will be acceptable. There is still much work to be done, but now we have a plan, which is a quantum better than before.

Because I have a tendency to be an emotional, or stress eater, when there are crises it is particularly difficult for me to stay on plan. Not saying it is an excuse, but it is a contributory factor.

I have come to understand about myself that it is all about capacity. My mind, and my will has a certain capacity to handle things. When there is a crisis, much of that capacity is expended on solving the crisis. That is true whether it is a personal or professional situation. Whichever is the biggest crisis, or worry bead, in my life, gets the most attention. When I analyze why I was successful in 2014 and 2015, I believe it is because my health, and losing weight, was the biggest crisis I was trying to solve. In 2016, once I had my health under control, my projects at work took center stage, and diligence to my weight program was pushed back.

My guess is that it is similar for others. Something happens with our health to make it take the spotlight. It could be bad news at the doctor’s office, or something as simple as the turn of the calendar to a new age, or a new year. For a while, our health becomes the most important thing in our lives. And while our health is the focus, we eat well, lose weight, increase exercise, and so on. But, we humans are notorious for having a short attention span, so inevitably something else comes up, we are dazzled by the shiny bauble, and are off to something else. Soon, the progress we made in our health has ebbed, and we are right back where we started.

Part of my intent with writing this blog, and specifically for my 365 project this year, is to keep my health in my crosshairs. If you are a regular reader, you will note that I missed 3 posts in the last week or so. This week I plan to catch up on those missed posts, and stay on track for the new days.

So, here are my objectives for the week ahead:

  • Track my food every day, no excuses
  • Minimum 3 workouts, none less than 42 minutes, at least one of 58 minutes
  • 50 laps around the internal walking path at work (12/day X 4 days, plus a couple). That is about 8.6 miles

I would like very much to be at, or below 245 when I weigh in next Friday. That would restore me to 100 pounds lost in total.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Only when my health is at, or near the center of my focus can I have sustained success. Remembering what is important in my life is paramount.

January 25 – Facing my current reality

“We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.” – Martha Grimes

This morning I had my gym clothes set out and ready for an early workout. But, I elected to take the hour of sleep instead. The clothes will go into my gym bag, and with me to work today. My intent is to do a 30 minute workout tonight, then get up for a morning workout tomorrow.

After reading the quote, I was all set to tell a story about “back when I lost all that weight…”. As I sit here and think, I am realizing that constantly focusing on those 2 years of my life are not really helping me today. I started this year about 40 pounds over my goal for the year (and 55 over what had been my goal during that weight loss). I can’t keep talking about that time. This is now. Right now I am 40 to 50 pounds over weight, and that is my reality. The sooner that I reset my thinking to that reality, the sooner this ball will start rolling down hill.

Yesterday was a good day, but not a great one. I worked out and ate sensibly, but I didn’t actually track my eating. I know that when I don’t track, I have a tendency to over eat. Tracking my food has to become part of my daily ritual. Until it does, I fear my wheels will continue to spin.

I know what I can do, and I know what I must do. There will be a time, later this year, for me to talk about all the amazing things available to me in life because I am not obese. Many of those things are there today. But, until I get back to my fighting weight, talking about them is just nostalgia.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…I must accept my present reality if I am to ever have a hope of reaching my newly-set goals.

January 24 -Conquering issues

“Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them.” – Anne-Sophie Swetchine

First let me just acknowledge that I missed a couple of days. We had a family gatherings on Sunday, and yesterday I had a particularly long day at work. I will eventually write for those two days, perhaps starting tonight, just so I can complete the idea of 365 posts in the year.

Sometimes when I am writing on a project like this, the exact right quote comes at the exact time I need it. I feel like today is one of those days. As I mentioned above, yesterday was a particularly long day at work. I came home tired and frustrated.

There is no secret that financial management of projects is something I loathe doing. I know it is necessary, and I actually have skill for it, but it frustrates me to no end. A few years back I asked for a reassignment largely because I was completely at my wits end after dealing with constant financial issues over a period of years. I could go into more depth, but that would only raise my blood pressure, and as you’ll read shortly, my day is off to a good start and I don’t want to ruin it.

Last night I sat with my wife in the living room and vented my spleen about my frustrations. I even hinted that perhaps it is time for me to move on from my current assignment. I told her that doing so would allow me to sleep better, eat better, be less stressed and angry, and actually like my job again. She listened, offered her thoughts, and then I settled in for some light reading.

This morning when the alarm went off at 3:50am, I was eager to get out of bed and get to the gym. At the time I thought it odd because I have struggles to mightily in recent weeks, but it was not a time to question success, so off I went. When I got to the gym I opted for the 58 minute workout rather than the 42 minute work out. At no time during the workout did I even consider stopping, I was eager to be successful.

After my shower this morning I read this quote and it hit me. I have this challenge in front of me, and I need to rise up to it. In fact, I have two challenges:

  1. To get my weight back where I want it to be.
  2. To wrestle long-term control of the finances of my programs from those who are unable to handle them, and make them right.

If I shy away from the challenges above, my thirst for peace may be slaked for a short time. But I know that if I persevere through, and get to success, the sweetness will be far greater, and the peace more lasting.

This morning I feel energized. Having a 4:00am workout is good medicine indeed. I am off to go tackle the problems at work, and my healthy lunch is packed to fuel my day.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…My destiny lies not in the avoidance of problems, but in the diligent conquest of them.

January 21 – A Lifelong Pursuit of Happiness

“Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook and a good digestion.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an 18th century philosopher, who was born in Switzerland and died in France. (Yes, I Googled him this morning). I had to find out a bit about him to know the context of this quote. I have long said that money and its pursuit are not a major focus in my life. I want to earn enough at work to be comfortable at home, but I don’t need a tremendous amount of excess. I guess that is the part of the quote that gave me pause.

Breaking it down in my own terms what it says to me is that to be happy, I would need to have money enough to get buy, a good and healthy diet coming from an amazing cook, and to be blessed with great digestive capabilities.

Rich is not a word I would use to describe my circumstances. I would say that I have the financial resources to do the things I want to do, while still having meaningful work to do. So, for me…check.

I have said here many times that my wife is an amazing cook. It is actually hard to keep her out of the kitchen. Because she is also a chemist, she gives a lot of thought and effort to the science behind her food. The result is that she is able to masterfully copy what she sees in restaurants and cooking shows, and to synthesize many magazine and cookbook ideas into really great, original food. So, for that one…check!

As to digestion, I have an iron constitution. I rarely have any issues with that department. Digestion…check.

So, I should be happy, right? According to Rousseau I have the key elements. Truthfully I find myself to be content with my lot in life most of the time. I don’t think it is solely because of these 3 elements, although they do contribute. Having a great family is important. I have 5 amazing adults who call me dad (including my daughter-in-law), and 2 beautiful grand children. I have a fairly long list of close friends whom I love very much, and with whom I can have equal measures of fun, support, and thought provoking conversations.

Then, why do I struggle with happiness from time to time? I mean, the objective evidence is right there. I have enough money, good food, a bowel system that works, a beautiful & supportive wife, great children and grandchildren, and friends. I even have hobbies that give me both challenge and satisfaction.

Perhaps the answer is that one cannot objectively measure happiness. One cannot sit and write out a checklist such that when all of the items have been scratched off, happiness occurs. It just doesn’t work that way. I am not saying that I am unhappy. As I said, most of the time I find myself to be quite content. There are days when I am less content, when unhappiness creeps into my life.

The reflections in the Weight Watchers book today are centered around those who might be stalled in their progress, like me. It talks about envisioning yourself being able to do things that your present weight might be keeping you from. In my case, one thing that resonated was around clothes. As last year wore on to the end I found my clothes fitting poorly. Earlier in the year I was proud of the smaller sized clothes I was comfortably wearing, but in December (and January), those same clothes have been tight. As much as the number on the scale, I don’t like that trend. And it is a driver for me to want to get back to where I was in the summer.

Today’s quote is about happiness. On balance I think I am in a very good place. One thing I know about myself, though, is that I don’t rest on any laurels that may come my way. I may be happy and content, but that doesn’t mean I won’t still try to make myself just a little better.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Pursuit of happiness is a lifelong endeavor for me. While I may be happy in the moment, it doesn’t mean that I am not still trying to make myself just a little better.

January 20 – Navigating the office eating minefield

“For better or worse, the workplace has become the eatplace.” – Gabriella Stern

I am a big fan of Seinfeld. I still watch the reruns, and it still makes me laugh. In one episode, Elaine laments how often there is cake at her office, and the effect it is having on her waistline. This quote relates to that phenomenon.

As it turns out, my office isn’t too bad for this, at least not any more. There was a time when Friday donuts, regular birthday cakes, work anniversary cakes, and so on were contributors to the difficulty in maintaining a sound, healthy diet. There are still a few candy bowls around the building, and the occasional cake or donuts make their way in, but it is largely under control. I will say that since I work from home on Friday, I am likely missing some of the sweets that work their way in.

But, the fact that there is food at work means only that temptation exists. What I do about that temptation is up to me. I cannot use temptation as an excuse. I need to be honest, track my food, and stay true to myself. That isn’t to say that I don’t have occasional treats. It means that when I do, I need to account for them.

The good news is that over the past 3 years I have become largely immune to the temptations. The only time I will indulge is when we have a special event, or a member of my team has an anniversary or birthday, and then I keep it small. Office eating is not my problem these days.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…There are many minefields to success when it comes to eating sensibly. Taking accountability for my own choices keeps my head in the game.