February 6 -The Power of Sleep

“[Sleep is] the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” – Thomas Decker

This past week I read about a study done on High School students. The conclusion of the study was that when Districts start the day later for students in grades 9-12, their performance increases dramatically. By starting the day later, teens were more likely to get the amount of sleep they needed to maintain growth, and school performance. I had read about a similar study done about 20 years ago. Around that time I was teaching a class on Time Management for Busy Teens, and one of my themes was that they needed to sleep more to improve their performance, and be better able to manage the demands on their time. It was counter-intuitive to them because they thought that they needed to get by on less sleep in order to complete all that was on their plate.

In the early 2000s I worked for a director who took over a failing IT program. The program had a consistent record of missed deadlines, budget overruns, and unusually high error rates. Among the many changes he implemented was to cut back overtime. Not because he wanted people to work for free, but because he wanted them to work a reasonable day, then go home. He actually wanted them to work less hours. His theory was that the longer they worked, the less effective they became. He wasn’t dreaming this up on his own, there is actually a body of research to support that notion. Within months, thanks to all the measures he put in place, the program began performing well and meeting its objectives.

I have become good at listening to my body. When my body truly needs sleep, I get my sleep. It might mean that I miss a morning workout in favor of extra sleep, but I know in the long run it is worth it. What gets me frustrated is when I know that I have has sufficient sleep, but I still resist the workout. Those mornings I feel unaccomplished.

What I do know is that my body needs 6.5 to 7.5 hours of high-quality sleep on a consistent basis in order to maintain a high level of function. When I short-change that, I see the difference in all aspects of my life.

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday. I also attended a birthday party. I elected not to obsess about my food, or worry about counting food. I made smart choices along the way, but basically I relaxed and enjoyed the day. For the rest of this week I plan to stay within my daily points, and make sure I don’t dip into any of my weekly allotment. This morning (listening to my body), I slept in. My gym bag will be packed and in my car for a post-work workout.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…When I sleep well, I perform well. Last night I enjoyed restorative sleep that will fuel my day.

February 3 – Re-joining the Century Club!

Today I am departing from the two (yes I missed my post yesterday), quotes in the book. They are copied below in case you want to see what the Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey book has in mind for February 2 and 3.

Today is weigh-in day, and I am stoked! (Is “stoked” still a thing, or am I out of date?) This morning the scale registered 242.4 pounds. That is a 5.0 pound loss since last week. For the year I am down 7.6 pounds or 3.04% of my weight on January 1.

But the big news is…I am back in the century club! My total weight loss since March 1, 2014 is at 102.6 pounds, or 29.7% of my weight on that date. This is a big psychological boost to me. I was really lamenting the fact that not only had I gained weight, but it meant I was no longer down over 100 pounds.

In the past week I hit 1 of my 3 goals completely, and had partial success on another:

  • I accurately and honestly tracked my food every day.
  • I did 3 workouts, but one of them ended up being 30 minutes because I was worried about a blister. Today’s was 58 minutes.
  • I only ended up with about 12 laps at work, rather than 50. I simply didn’t have time. From the time I arrived on Tuesday, until I left on Wednesday, I attended 24 meetings. Thursday was a light day, there were only 9 meetings, and a training class that I had to complete. Over those 3 days I had to schedule my bathroom breaks. So, laps took a back seat

The week ahead will have some challenges. Sunday is the Super Bowl, which always is problematic for eating. On top of that, I have a birthday party to attend on the same day. The key to success this week will be to honestly track, try to get in an extra work out, and see if I can get closer to my 50 lap goal.

Here are the quotes from the last two days, with brief thoughts:

Feb 2 – “I simply cannot understand the passion that some people have for making themselves thoroughly uncomfortable and then boasting about it afterwards.” – Patricia Moyes

In the book, the meditation talks about bad workplace ergonomics and ill-fitting clothes. I talked about clothes the other day. One thing about my present office space that is nice is that we have new chairs, and we have desks that can be raised and lowered to allow for standing. I honestly have some of the best ergonomics I have ever had in the work place.

As far as the rest of the quote goes, I can see Patricia’s point when it comes to eating or drinking to excess, and things like that. But, then again, working out isn’t always comfortable. And while I might not “brag” about it, I am proud of the fact that I create that discomfort in order to attain a higher goal.

Feb 3 – “We know that every woman wants to be thin. Our images of womanhood are almost synonymous with thinness.” – Susie Orbach

This book was published in 1996, and was very clearly aimed at women on Weight Watchers. I have no idea what the general self-image is that women have. I can only speak for myself (not even men in general)

The generalized image of manliness, going all the way back to Leonardo da Vinci, is a perfectly proportioned, muscular body. When he drew the sketch of the Vitruvian Man, there wasn’t a spare tire or love handles, and he only looks to have a single chin, and no turkey neck. That image of the ideal man translates to today.

For me personally, it isn’t that I want to be thin, per se, it is that I want to be as healthy and fit as I can reasonably be, and that can’t happen if I am morbidly obese.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Today is a good day. I am back to an all-time loss of over 100 pounds. This isn’t a time to rest on laurels, but rather to use this accomplishment as a springboard to greater success.

February 1 – Exercising my mind and body.

“Exercise alone provides psychological and physical benefits. However, if you also adopt a strategy that engages your mind while you exercise, you can get a whole host of psychological benefits fairly quickly.” – James Rippe M.D.

I always have something playing in my ear when I am at the gym. When my workouts were less intense than they are now, I would watch TV on my phone. I watched entire series of shows over the course of time including Dexter and 24. I found that the shows helped keep my mind occupied and kept me from focusing on the clock.

When I stepped up to more intense workouts, I substituted music for TV. Same effect, but I don’t have to concentrate quite so much.

I used to see people bring books or magazines to the gym while they were on the elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike. I was never one for reading because the constant bouncing made it hard for me to focus on the page.

My point in all this is that I have always been one to include other, mental activities when I work out. I am not here to say that watching TV, or listening to music has any inate specific psychological benefit, but maybe when it is done while exercising the combination helps relax the mind.

This morning I did 42 minutes of interval training. When I got home I did another 20 minutes of snow shoveling in my driveway. While I was at the gym I listened to music. It didn’t occur to me to do that while I was clearing and salting…maybe next time.

Now that the Holidays are over, and we are in the doldrums of winter, I have been getting back to daily reading. At any given time I am reading 2 or 3 books. I find that the 30 minutes I spend in my chair after work, and before dinner, unwinds my mind and allows me to reset.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Keeping my mind and body occupied at the same time helps me have more effective workouts, and makes the time go by a little more enjoyably.

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