fitness

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 19 – Recharging my batteries

“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.” Pearl Buck

The somewhat clumsy syntax of that sentence aside, this quote from Pearl Buck does resonate with me. To those who know me well, that might be a surprise, so let me delve into it.

If you have ever been exposed to the Myers Briggs test, you know that the first of the 4 letters in your type indicator describes whether you are an Introvert or an Extrovert. I am an Extrovert to the extreme. What that means is that on a day to day basis, I draw energy from outside myself. I am the type of person who is energized by a group activity, like a party or departmental off site. Introverts would find those same activities to be exhausting. At the end of a work week, I am ready to get out and about and enjoy a nice dinner, maybe spiced by a cocktail; whereas an Introvert (like my wife), is ready to curl into the family room with a good book, or maybe a movie.

The little known fact about me is that, from time to time, my Introvert tendencies also come out. This week has been a mix of the two, and so this quote is timely.

My team at work participated in an all-day offsite on Wednesday. It was great. We had a long and illuminating discussion about one another’s strengths. We got to know each other better, had some fun, laughed a bit and found insights to how we can best work together. When that day ended I was on fire. I was full of energy and couldn’t wait to tell others about the experience. That day was the embodiment of my Extroversion.

Fast forward 1 day to Thursday. The 3rd Thursday of the month is a stressful one for me at work. On that day we culminate our Project Governance cycle with the top level meeting in the morning. In the afternoon we start the next month’s cycle of Governance back at the bottom of the pyramid. I am responsible for presenting with Senior Management in the morning, then working with the teams in the afternoon. When the end of the day comes, I am pretty tired.

I left the office with the faint hope of going to the gym, but my tired mind wanted only to come home and be alone. I beat my wife home by several hours, and spent the time alone, much of it napping, the rest of it in mindless rest. I was embracing my Introversion.

I do have a spring within me, and it does refresh my spirit. While I may not always dip down into it, I know it is there. Days like yesterday are essential for my long-term wellbeing. As Extroverted as I am, I recognize that there is a strong need in me to sometimes just be alone with myself. Yesterday it was about doing nothing. Sometimes it is about reading a book, or taking on a solitary project that gives me both peace and joy.

I am a day late with this post, as it should have been out yesterday morning. That happened because I overslept my alarm and was rushing to be on time for work. This morning I made the conscious decision to skip my Friday workout. I also forgot to weigh in before eating for the day, so this will be a no-weigh-in week. I had a discussion about this with my wife, and I asked her if she thought I was being lazy. She assured me that she does not think I am lazy, but rather that my life has been hectic and stressful the last couple of weeks, and my body needed the rest. I trust her opinion, and am not being hard on myself today. As I wrote the other day, the fact that I am struggling means that I have not given up. During the low times from June to the end of the year, I didn’t give my weight, my diet, or my health much thought. Those days I wasn’t struggling, and the scale tells the tale.

For the week ahead, my intent is the same as for the week just concluded. I will work to track my food, hit the gym 3 times, and walk daily. That is a recipe for success for me, I just need to follow it.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…When I am at my peak of Extroversion, I still have those days when I need to just be alone with me. Even my batteries sometimes need a charge.

January 18 – The struggle is real, and that is good news!

Today’s meditation in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey talks about sabotage. It talks about the phenomenon where, as a person loses weight, those closest to them will sabotage their efforts – either consciously or sub-consciously. There are stories of wives baking sweets for their husbands, and husbands buying tours of French restaurants for their wives. I can say, unequivocally, that my wife has NEVER done that to me. She is the most supportive person on this journey with me. The meditation goes on to suggest that a key to success in long-term, weight loss is the buddy system. This is a notion that I wholeheartedly endorse.

As I said, my wife is an amazing and supportive partner in my quest for better health, and I couldn’t do it without her. But the truth is that she is with me every day, and sometimes the bad habits and less-than-healthy decisions have a way of sneaking in. Their insidious nature means that the person closest to me might not see them as they subtly sink my strategies.

When I was losing weight at a rapid pace, I had strong support from outside my house. I was a member of an online support group, I had walking buddies at work who also encouraged me to stick to my packed lunch, and the followers of my blog and Facebook posts gave encouragement and tips along the way as well.

Today most of those vectors of support still exist. I am not an active member of any weight loss groups on line, but my friends at work, and my followers here all still  give the love and support that I need to stay the course.

This week one of my mantras of weight loss keeps ringing in my ears…

“Weight loss is simple, but it is not easy”

I know the simple way to shed the pounds I’ve gained. I need to burn more than I eat. I need to decrease the amount of food I eat, while simultaneously increasing my activity level. I know that. It is simple. But it is not easy.

Every evening this week I have set out my workout gear for a pre-workday session. So far, the only day I’ve gotten up was Monday. This evening will be ridiculously busy, and I won’t get home from work and other things until past 9:00pm. So an evening workout won’t be in the offing. My gear will remain laid out and ready for tomorrow.

I  feel a bit scattered today, but I will end by saying this: the bad news is that I am struggling to stay on track. Getting on the sustained program I desire is not coming easily to me this time around. But, the good news is that I am struggling to stay on track. It is good news, as well as bad, because the fact that I continue to struggle means that I have not thrown in the towel.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Yes, the struggle is real. But, if I am struggling it means I am in the game and haven’t given up. As long as that is the case, I am not failing.

January 17 – Giving a full-ass effort

“Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.” Henry J. Kaiser

I was cruising around on Facebook the other day and I saw an interesting meme. It was a photo of a picturesque cabin in the woods, and the caption was “I want to build a life from which I do not need a vacation.” Most memes I just scroll past without any regard or thought, but this one stuck with me.

We all dream of a carefree life. We dream of having the resources we need to be able to truly do the things we want to do, when we want to do them. The idea of being able to sleep in when it suits us, or to take the whimsical trip to pursue an interest seem romantic on cold, rainy mornings while preparing for work. Perhaps it was just an accident of the wording, but this particular meme suggested not that the person sought a life without work, but rather a life from which they didn’t need a vacation.

Like anyone else, I have my days when I absolutely hate my job. There are days when the stress is high, the problems are piling up, and the people around me seem less than cooperative. When I step back, take a breath, and honestly reflect, those days are few. And, most of the time it is my own head that needs to be checked rather than some outside issue.

When I think of making a life from which I do not need a vacation, my mind doesn’t automatically go to a place where there is no work.. My mind goes to a place where the work I am doing is meaningful, and enjoyable in the moment. I think of a place where I, and the people I work with are growing as individuals. A place where at the end of the day, I am exhausted, but fulfilled. To me, that is a good life.

At the end of last year I was having a hard time accepting myself. I was feeling like a failure for having gained back about 30 of the 130 pounds that I lost. Rather than wallowing in self-pity for my misstep, and accelerating my weight gain, I made a conscious effort to do something different. This 365 project is my attempt to right the ship.

I don’t say this to be boastful. To be clear, I have nothing to boast about. The struggle is real and keeps going. I say this, as much as anything, to remind myself that I cannot accept failure that is born of a dearth of effort. If I give my level best, and fail, then I can sleep well at night. But if I fail because I have given a half-ass effort, then I have no one to blame but myself.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day.. When it comes to losing a substantial portion of my ass, half-ass just won’t cut it. I must go full ass or nothing at all.

January 15- CORRECTION to my graph

This morning my post included a graph correlating my weight loss to the number of blog posts I have written. As I was looking at it this afternoon, I noticed something strange. According to the chart I had lost about 40 pounds in the first month (March 2014). That would have been truly remarkable. In fact, it didn’t happen. I went back to Excel to see what I did wrong and realized I made an error in generating the graph. Instead of picking a line graph, I picked a stacked line graph. Essentially I ensured exact correlation.

Here is how the graph should have looked:

correlation-2

The correlation still exists. There is still a relationship between how often I blog, and my success in weight loss. But it isn’t as exact as my previous graph would indicate.

The bottom line is that there is a relationship between my blog posts and weight loss. Blog posts don’t cause weight loss, that would be a causation relationship. The correlation exists because the number of blog posts and my success in weight loss have a common cause – my commitment and accountability to the process.

The nerd in me couldn’t let the graphical error exist.

 

January 15 – This blog is my accountability place

“We cannot swing up a rope that is attached only to our own belt.” – William Ernest Hocking

When I lost over 120 pounds in less than 2 years, people noticed. Nearly every day someone would stop and ask me about it. The most frequent question was “How are you doing it?” My answer was to tell them “Weight Watchers, and walking”. Those two things, aside from their alliterative appeal, also described what constituted most of the work associated with the weight loss. I measured, tracked and limited my food, and I increased my exercise.

Accurate as those two aspects of the weight loss are, they miss out on one of the other keys to my success. I built up a strong network of support. It started with, and was always centered around my wife. Without her I couldn’t have sustained success. She helped me make good food choices while out, and helped craft a healthy food plan in the house. Amazing as she was and is, she wasn’t the only place I found support.

I started this blog, I published my progress on Facebook and other social media, I joined online weight loss groups, and I gathered people in my life who were into my healthy habits. That network of support was essential to my success. When I lost weight, and hit my goals, they were there to celebrate with me. When I gained weight, or missed out on workouts, they were there to encourage me.

Honestly, though, all that cheerleading isn’t the full story, nor even the most important aspect. The most important aspect in all of it was accountability.

The other day I wrote about a work team I was on in the early 2000s. I wrote then about how, when I was feeling angry at work, we all went out to lunch. While on that same team, several of us decided we wanted to lose some weight. About 3 of us became diet buddies for a time. For a variety of reasons, it never really got anywhere, but one story sticks in my mind as, likely, the prime reason it failed for me.

We all sat near one another at work. One day I dutifully packed my lunch, and ate it at my desk in full view of the team. Not to be showy, it was just how it worked out that day. Later, in the early afternoon, I was hungry and probably emotional. The others were in meetings, so I went to my car and drove about a mile to Wendy’s. There I had quite a feast of a second lunch. Much later in the day I told one of my diet buddies about it and we had a laugh. Had that been the only time that happened, perhaps the attempt to lose weight would have been more successful. Truth is, it happened all the time, and only rarely did I tell anyone about it. The reason? While it was nice to have them along for the ride, I felt no accountability to them.

When I started this blog and joined online support groups, I did so because I knew that if I didn’t talk publicly about my progress, it would be easy to slip. When I am more accountable to a group of people I am more likely to stay on track. This morning, while writing the following graph

weight-post-correlation

What this graph shows is that there is a direct correlation between how often I write on this blog, and how many pounds I lose in a month. The more active I am at blogging, the more successful I am at staying on plan. The peaks and valleys line up perfectly. Now, blogging isn’t the cause of my success. Were it that easy, I’d just write for a few hours every day and watch the pounds melt away. Rather, the number of blog posts also correlates to my level of commitment. When I am more committed, I write more. When I am complacent, I write less. And the trend of my weight tells that story.

The correlation curve will probably not go on forever. At some point, hopefully, I will reach my goal weight and will be looking to maintain. I will likely still write, so the correlation of posts to weight loss will vanish. But for now, this graph tells me a story.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…The more accountable I hold myself to a public group, the more likely I am to stay on track. This blog is the best measure of that accountability.

January 14 – Remembering the importance of hunger

“Man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed, the only animal that is never satisfied.” – Henry George

One of the hardest things for me to do when I stated Weight Watchers was to understand what it meant to be hungry, and how much to eat to satisfy the hunger, not just fill the void. Today’s entry in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey talks about that concept.

I was walking and talking to a new hire at work the other day. The subject of “lunch time” came up. My company has something of an embedded culture of having 11:00am as lunch time. For me it started in my early days on the job when I had a 7:00am to 3:30pm daily scheduled. By 11:00am I was pretty darn hungry, so eating lunch then made sense. We have flex time now as the norm. As a result, some people start at 7:00am (or earlier), while others start their day at 9:00am. But still, the break area fills up at 11:00am, as do the restaurants in the area.

At home on the weekend I tend to follow a similar schedule. Although I might sleep in until 7:00 or 8:00am, and eat breakfast when I get up, come 11:00am I still have the urge to eat.

The comedian Jim Gaffigan has a routine about over eating. In it he says that he hasn’t felt actual hunger in 7 years. Only after I got serious about my weight loss did I come to understand how true that exaggerated, comedic statement is.

When I was deeply serious about my weight loss, and was clicking pounds off the scale on a regular basis, one thing I became proud of was being hungry shortly after eating, and going to bed a little hungry. I am not talking about the ravenous state of hunger that brings “Angry, Hungry Bob” out to play, but that slight twinge that tells me I didn’t over stuff myself, and I appropriately resisted late evening snacks.

When I see advertisements for WW, or read testimonials about how good the program is, I often hear people referring to “never being hungry” as a selling point to the program. Because we eat low-calorie-density foods (like fresh vegetables and fruits), and because we eat lean proteins, we tend to not always feel the hunger craving. I get that concept, and I know it works for many people. For me, when I am on my game, I feel slightly hungry much of the day.

Take right now for instance. My wife and I just came back from brunch at our favorite diner. I had an egg whites, gyro meat only omelet (9 points), two slices of rye toast (5 points), black coffee and ice water (I also had one slice of my wife’s bacon – 2 points). As I sit here and write, I feel satisfied, but also just slightly hungry. To me, that is success. For me to understand that the slight hunger doesn’t need to be filled is the key.

I didn’t start out with this knowledge. When I was new to this, I thought that this slight hunger was a problem. Along the way I adjusted my eating to minimize the feeling. But, more importantly, I learned what was an appropriate amount to eat, and how to live within that constraint.

Today I feel good! I think the positive results from yesterday’s weigh in are fueling my enthusiasm for the process. I have 25 points left today, and plan to spend them wisely.

I have updated my progress charts, you can see them here.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Learning what is an appropriate amount of hunger has been a key to my success in the past. Re-acquainting myself with that feeling will keep me successful in the future.

January 13 – Weigh in day, and poetic blindness

“Anger as soon as fed is dead –
‘Tis starved makes it fat.” – Emily Dickinson

I really have no earthly idea how this quote relates to a weight loss program. I read the daily meditation in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey. It talks about avoidance of emotional eating, which I know to be important, but this quote seems to argue in the opposite direction. Then again, I am fully able to admit that at 6:00am, fresh off a workout, hungry, and a little tired, I might be missing Mrs. Dickinson’s subtlety. Rather than focus on my poetic blindness, I will talk about the more obvious need to avoid emotional eating, and tell you how I did since my last weigh in.

Back in the mid 2000s, I was working on a team of people that was really great. My co-workers and I were all trying to promote better standards of Project Management at our company. Often we were met with skepticism from groups that didn’t want to change their practices. At times it was contentious dealing with project teams that would have preferred we just leave them alone.

At that time I had a manager (two up from me), who had decided to leave our company. This was right at the precipice of the Great Recession. I scheduled a one-on-one meeting to pick his brain about how he came to the decision to leave the company. What professional factors did he weight, etc.. For reasons known only to him, rather than taking a few minutes to mentor someone seeking his guidance, he decided to use the half hour to lob insults at me. He openly (and baselessly), questioned my integrity on several fronts. He essentially called me a fraud and a hypocrite with how I dealt with people. As a man in my 40s at the time, I will tell you I left his office in near tears. The meeting ended just a lunch time.

I walked back to my desk and started talking to my best work friend at the time. I told her what he’d said. She assured me that he was full of it. And, she suggested a trip to Benihana. She and I and another work mate loaded into our cars and feasted for lunch. I am sure I consumed about a day and a half’s worth of food in that single sitting. Clearly I was eating my emotions.

After lunch, and in the coming days I talked to a lot of people whose opinions I trust and asked them to be brutally honest with me about what this manager had said, and whether there was merit. While each said that there were aspects of my life where I could improve (who among us can’t say that?), it was also true that he had grossly over stated the case, and was completely full of it.

I mention this story to illuminate how I used to think. Going out for a calorie-packed lunch after a stressful morning wasn’t an exception, it was the rule. And working in an exceptionally stressful job meant that the lunch rule helped me pack on the pounds. This was in a time of my life when I was steadily climbing in weight.

This week has been stressful at work, as was last week. The first few weeks of the year tend to be this way until the normal processes of the year are established. Yesterday there was a crescendo of stress in a financial review which ended at 11:00am. After that meeting I had my staff meeting, then went to lunch. In years past that would have been a perfect “excuse” to consume mass quantities. Instead, I “treated” myself to eating the lunch I had packed in the break area rather than at my desk.

I will say more as the year goes on about how I fight emotional eating. Yesterday was a victory

Weigh-in

This morning, after a 42 minute work out, I stepped on the scale and it read 246.4. For the year (and since the time since my last weigh-in 2 weeks ago), that is a 3.6 pound loss. I was pleasantly surprised, but certainly not satisfied with the result.

These past 2 weeks have been a struggle. I have had a hard time getting, and staying on track. Today I rose at 4:00am, and completed a 42 minute workout. THAT makes me feel good today.

For the week ahead, my intent is to get in a minimum of 3 workouts, with at least one of them being a 58 minute session, rather than the 42. I also intend to track, and stay within my points.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Staying away from emotional eating is a habit that I must continue to feed.

January 11- EXCUSES!

“Perhaps I am a bear, or some hibernating animal underneath, for the instinct to be half asleep all winter is strong in me.” – Annie Morrow Lindbergh

Yesterday I wrote about being in a funk. Today’s quote is from a woman exploring her ursine tendencies. Maybe I am not the only one who struggles at this time of year.

In my job, the first month of the year is quite hectic and stressful. It is during January, and the early part of February, that project budgets for the New Year, which were set in the previous Fall, crystallize into monthly forecasts. These forecasts become a key measure for the health of projects.

Over the years I have developed some proficiency when it comes to financial management of projects. This is necessary to be successful as a program manager. But, I hate it. I truly do not like doing financial management, and I like even less dealing with people in the Finance department. It quite literally keeps me awake at night, and turns my stomach in knots. This year I have 3 major projects that each have their own complexities when it comes to finances. This week there is a review of those projects’ finances with senior management. The run up to that review, for me, is exhausting.

So far, on Monday and Tuesday, I have come home and crashed hard. My job isn’t physically demanding, but it is mentally grueling at times, and leaves me like a limp rag. It has been all I can do to get the basics done at home before vegging out in front of the TV for the evening. Today will be the worst so far, as I have meetings from 7:00am until 4:00pm. One of the meetings is a lunch meeting, so making a healthy choice there will be a key to whatever health success I have today.

As I write all this, you know what it sounds like to me? EXCUSES! I have come to learn in life that there are reasons things happen, and there are excuses for not getting things done.

Reasons are objective. One can look at the events and circumstances and see the sequence that leads to the present situation.

Excuses happen when we apply those objective events in our lives, and use them to explain why we don’t perform. “Being in meetings all day mentally exhausts me”, is an objective reason for being tired at the end of the day. “I didn’t work out because I am too tired from meetings”, is making an excuse for not getting to the gym. Saying that the stress kept me awake at night is the reason I didn’t get up in the morning for the gym is just as much an excuse.

Right now I am making excuses in my life.

  • It is cold outside so I can’t walk at lunch
  • I couldn’t sleep last night, so I am resetting my alarm for an hour later
  • There are still a few goodies from Christmas around the house, so I guess I have to snack
  • My wife isn’t home, so rather than the healthy alternative she left me for dinner, I will take the fast way out and ear a peanut butter sandwich (not that peanut butter isn’t healthy, but I could have chosen better)
  • And on and on.

This has to stop for me to reach the goals I have for myself. I have to get my mind out of the excuse game. Today is the 11th of January. So far I have exactly ZERO days where I have done everything I said I need to do to move myself toward success. I want to sit here and say “today is the day!” But, I am afraid. I am afraid that today will devolve right back into the same patterns as yesterday.

I have to stop writing and get to work, all those meetings and all that stress is looming in front of me. From where I sit I can see the gym bag I packed, but didn’t use yesterday. I will put it back in my car today, with the intent of using it when the work day is done. Tomorrow you will find out whether I succeeded, or made excuses.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Only when I stop making excuses will I be able to build momentum toward my goals