fitness

February 10 – Comforting routines and my weigh-in day

 

“Eating habits are like a mother tongue you learn as a child and never forget.” – Sandra Haber Ph.D.

In High School I took 3 years of Spanish, then I took another year in College. I got good grades, and could read, and even speak a bit in the language, but I was never to a point where I would have considered it a second language. Today and skills I had are lost to lack of use. I may catch the occasional word on a TV show now and again, but nothing worth talking about. My mother tongue is, and always will be English.

Today’s meditation in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey discusses how the habits we learned in childhood can have an effect on our eating today. I grew up in the late 60s and 70s, and I was taught to eat everything on my plate. Dinner at my house was a predictable mix of foods. There was a mix of cooking styles that she used, and she had a handful of things she made often. If I were to point to one thing about my food habits growing up it would be that we had a routine.

One could guess the day of the week by what was on my plate at dinner. We had a pattern that repeated. We didn’t eat the same thing every week, but over the course of a month or two the pattern would emerge. My mother was a creature of habit. When she used something from the cupboard, that item went on the shopping list to be replaced for the next use. My breakfasts and lunches were no different. I would eat the same cereal, with a cup of hot chocolate every day. She would buy me something relatively healthy, like Raisin Bran, then allow me to sprinkle a spoonful of table sugar on it. For lunch, I would eat the same, nearly exact thing, for an entire school year. Some years it was PB&J, others it was a salami sandwich. Whatever it was, I had it every day.

I am still the same today. Just yesterday a coworker was telling me she was hungry. I asked if she’d had lunch yet, and she hadn’t and was heading to the cafeteria. I had eaten, and before I could tell her what I had, she said “Ham sandwich?” She was, of course, right. One thing that has helped me stay on track has been routine. There are about 10 different things I eat, in various combination, that account for 2/3 of all my meals.

For me, the fact that I thrive on routine is a leftover from my childhood that serves me well. Along the way I have improved on what I eat, and most importantly how much I eat. But, the routines still drive me.

Weigh-in

Today I weighed in at 245.6 pounds. That is a 3.2 pound increase from last Friday. I honestly don’t get what happened. I had 1 day where I was off track on my eating, but I didn’t consume 10,500 extra calories that day!  For the rest of the week I was on track. I did miss one work out as well. My wife wonders whether my, umm, movements might be in play. And, we did go to our favorite diner last night, so perhaps there was a bit of extra sodium in my system. My guess is it is a combination of all these factors. I am discouraged, but honestly not surprised.

For the week ahead I will continue to work on doing what I know works. Track food, increase exercise. I am in this for the long haul, so a single week isn’t the end of the world.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day..For me, routines are comforting. They allow me to enjoy my life, without having to spend too much time worrying about food decisions. When I follow them well, and watch my portions, I get the results I desire.

February 8 – I will never unconditionally love myself

“I truly believe that there are as many ways of loving as there are people in the world and as there are days in the life of those people.” – Mary S. Calderone

I am not sure which comes first – me starting to lose weight, or me starting to love myself. I do know that the two combined for a virtuous cycle in my life. The more that my health got under control, the more I liked who I was, and that fed my desire to lose more weight.

It’s funny to think about, because it makes me a rather superficial judge of myself. At some level, I do judge myself by my appearance, and I do that in a way that if anyone did it to me, I’d probably be hurt. And in a way that if I did it to someone else, I’d be ashamed of myself. When I look at myself in the mirror, especially when I am sitting on the bed putting on my socks, I don’t like what I see. I can count every bulge and roll of fat, and it upsets me. Not because I desire to have ripped abs, and no body fat, but because what I see today is more than what I saw last summer. As much as anything, that image is driving me right now.

When I was a kid, one of my mother’s quips was “self-praise stinks”. She said that to make sure that I stayed humble, that I didn’t brag on my own accomplishments and set myself up to be cocky or arrogant. The idea she had for me was to just perform and do my best, and let others recognize the accomplishment. That is solid advice, and a good way to keep oneself in proper perspective. The problem for me is that I also interpreted it to mean “self-love stinks”, and that isn’t nearly as healthy of an attitude. There are probably 1,000 ways that my mind has been screwed by how I have let the opinions of others into my garden, but this one was a hard one to shake.

I will not ever be perfect, or even perfectly healthy – mentally or physically. I will always be a gloriously imperfect work in progress. Every day that I am diligent and intentional about my health is a day that my health gets better. Every day that I lose that focus is one where my health slips.

Today’s quote made me think about how much I really do love myself. At 55 years old, the words from my mother that I misunderstood still haunt me. I will probably never be one to be completely in love with myself just as I am. That ongoing discomfort will  either drive me to do better, or allow me to spiral downward. The choice is mine.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…I am not, and never will be perfect, nor will I ever be completely satisfied with who I am. Knowing those two things helps me to focus myself in the right direction.

February 7 – [Un]Common Sense

“[Common sense] is the best sense I know of.” Lord Chesterfield

Over the years I have encountered literally dozens of schemes for rapid weight loss. The grapefruit diet, the cabbage diet, and the Stillman diet come to mind. For that matter, so does the Atkins diet, and it’s cousin the South Beach diet. All of them promise rapid weight loss, and many of them deliver…for a very short time. There is a word for most of the people I have encountered who continually search for, and try out the newest fad, “miracle” diet. The word is obese.

Ask anyone who is reasonably bright whether anything in life worth achieving came easy. Ask them about things like College degrees, professional success, excellence at a hobby, musical proficiency, and so on, and just about everyone will tell you that their success was due to hard work. (save your story about some prodigy who picked something up and was instantly great. If that were you with weight loss, you wouldn’t be reading this blog) Many times they will be happy to tell you, with some pride, about their trials and errors along the way. It is widely, and very generally, accepted that success takes work. If you told someone they could be a violin virtuoso by taking a pill every day, or that they could earn their Ph.D. if they simply refrained from reading any books printed in paperback, they would call you a loony.

Success takes work. That is just pure common sense.

So, why do so many people believe that weight loss is easy? Why do they believe that if they just stop eating one kind of food, they will melt away? Why do they believe the snake oil salesmen (like Dr. Oz), who tell them that there are magic beans that will make them thin?

The truth is that losing weight takes work, and plenty of it. And I don’t just mean the work done at the gym. It takes work to plan and execute a balanced diet that has the right nutrition to fuel your body without having a surplus that gets stored as fat.

Lately I have been concerned about the Weight Watchers commercials on TV. Seeing Oprah Winfrey gleefully talking about how she eats “everything”, really makes me worry about whether the method I have dedicated myself to, and have found success with, is being misrepresented by a long-time yo yo dieter who now owns a portion of the company and stands to profit from people signing up, who expect dramatic, immediate, easy results.

Sure, I can eat any kind of food I want on Weight Watchers, and I do believe that is why it works so well for me. But, and this is the part I think is under-represented in the commercials, I have to consciously make trade offs in order for it to work. If I go to a Super Bowl party and enjoy the goodies, I better be prepared to either spend some days being very strict, or seeing the scale tic upwards.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Weight loss is simple, but it is not easy.

Perhaps it is that people don’t want to face the reality in their life that their size and overall health are mostly of their own doing. When I weighed 350, it was easy for me to blame everyone but me. But, and I say this as literally as I possibly can, at no time in my life has anyone held a gun to my head and forced me to eat. Never! Not once! I willingly spent hours alone in my car in the back of fast food restaurant parking lots indulging in several days’ worth of food for lunch. I made excuses about why I drove off to Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, and so on rather than walking to the cafeteria and loading up on the salad bar. I convinced myself that the entire tube of Pringles I ate on the way home from work was cool. Along with the Peanut Buster Parfaits, and yes, the Kit Kats.

The funny thing about common sense is how truly un-common it can be.

I know there are some who find this blog on WordPress as they surf around looking for inspiration on weight loss and fitness. If you are one of those people, and you are looking for a fast fix, and you are still reading this far into this post, I beg you to stop lying to yourself, and to stop believing the lies others are telling you. Here are a few truths to consider (with apologies for repeating myself):

  • Weight loss takes work. Lots of it, and it is hard
  • You will have to deny yourself from indulging in everything, at the same levels that you did to get to your top weight.
  • Sometimes you will be hungry, and that is ok
  • Sometimes you will stumble along the way
  • But, and I say this with every drop of sincerity in my heart… you CAN do it!

Weight loss is hard, but it is worth it.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Everything achievement in life worth attaining takes diligent, intentional, consistent work. And, it is worth it!

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 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!