weight loss for men

Restaurant disasters

No, the title of this post isn’t a reference to a new reality show where a chef with an accent yells at people and tells them their restaurant is for crap. It is a reference to the disasters that await people within the friendly doors of restaurants, disasters that are bad for everyone, but especially for those of us trying to drop a few pounds.

This morning I read an article from Health.com called 9 Worst Calorie Bombs at Chain Restaurants. The article lists the worst of the worst from a survey done by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on the nutrition information for dishes on over 200 chain restaurants. Using the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), guideline that an average adult should eat about 2,000 calories per day, with not more than 35% of those coming from fat, and no more than 7% from saturated fat, CSPI listed those that were the worst disasters on a plate.

The Cheesecake Factory placed 3 items in the top 10 (go figure, a restaurant that is named after cheesecake isn’t a healthy place to eat? Who could have seen that coming?). One of their breakfasts, the Bruleed French Toast, came in at w whopping 2,780 total calories. As an added bonus it also packed in 2,230 milligrams of sodium. Eek. This particular dish isn’t listed on the Cheesecake Factory’s website for nutrition, so I can’t calculate the Weight Watchers Plus points, but suffice to say, it’s a frigging big number.

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The Cheesecake Factory’s Bruleed French Toast – 2,780 calories!

I was slightly shocked to see an old favorite of mine on the list. The A1 Peppercorn Burger at Red Robin. The particular one that they cited was the Monster version, with the second 6 oz patty of beef, and the bottomless fries. I thankfully never ordered that artery clogger, but I did enjoy the base model from time to time.

If you are a restaurant goer who ever sets foot in the Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, Famous Dave’s, Chevy’s, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Joe’s Crab Shack, or Maggiano’s Little Italy, you will want to have a look at the entire article.

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Red Robin A1 Peppercorn Monster Burger Meal – 3,540 calories

For me there were a couple of takeaways from the article.

1. If you are weight conscious or health conscious at all, it pays to look up the meals at a restaurant before ordering. In the past I would go online before leaving, and I still do that from time to time. But with the advent of smart phones, you can search right from your table. In my book, if the restaurant won’t tell me what is in a meal, and won’t divulge the nutrition information, it’s a sign to think twice about eating there.

2. Restaurants are not in business to make their customers healthy, they are in business to make money (just like any other business). They know that the best tasting foods that keep the uneducated masses coming back are the ones that are high in calories, loaded with salt, and teeming with saturated fat. If I want to enjoy a trip to a restaurant with family and friends, it is on ME to manage my intake.

3. Any restaurant named after one of the least healthy desserts I can think of might not be a good place to find Weight Watchers Friendly food.

The bottom line is this. I do enjoy going out to eat with family and friends from time to time. Just because I am leading a more healthy lifestyle, and working to lose weight, should not mean that I have to sacrifice that social time. But, to do so, and to do so in a healthy way, I need to have my eyes wide open and plan ahead.

What are your favorite strategies for managing your way through a restaurant on your road to healthy living?

 

Hopes and fears on my weight loss journey…

Recently I saw a blog post where a person talked about some of their hopes and fears about being on the weight loss journey. It made me think about my hopes and fears now that I am 20 weeks and 63 pounds into this journey.

 

Hopes

  • Increasing my life expectancy.
  • Increasing my confidence and not thinking of myself as a “fat guy”
  • Truly LIVING my life as an active 50+, rather than just existing and struggling through the day
  • Changing who I am from the lovable fat guy, to the even more lovable thin guy
  • Not breaking so much furniture
  • Not having to shop at specialty stores for just about everything, including camp chairs
  • Being able to go to Cedar Point (an amusement park), and actually fitting in the damn roller coasters. Not like the last time I went and I couldn’t pull down the safety bar and had to suffer the embarrassment of climbing out and leaving.
  • Riding on an airplane without having to ask the Flight Attendant for a seat belt extender. And also being able to fly without the person next to me dreading my inevitable incursion into their space.

 

Fears

  • Gaining it back. I have lost 63 pounds so far. But I have lost more in the past. My fear is that 5 or 10 years from now I will be writing about how I lost, then gained weight.. AGAIN.
  • Losing my mojo. I am on an incredible run right now. I have lost weight nearly every one of the 20 weeks to date (95% of them to be exact). I worry that I will lose the edge at some point, and that I won’t know how to get it back. I am not talking about a 1 week blip, those happen. I am talking about a plateau, or worse, an upward trend.
  • Dealing with a setback in my life. My life has been going very well lately. I know that, inevitably, something will come along to disrupt things. When it does, how will I handle it and still stay the course on my journey to better health?
  • Changing who I am. I have met people who have increased their fitness and have seen them change. They seem to become less tolerant of people who aren’t on their particular kick, or whose body type doesn’t match theirs. I don’t want to be that guy. I have someone in my life who I have asked to kick my ass if she sees me becoming that. I think I will add a few more to make sure it doesn’t get missed.
  • Learning how to live thin. I know how to live as a fat person. And I am quickly learning how to live as a person who is losing weight. But, will I be able to learn how to maintain and live as a thin person. What will happen to me when the accolades about weight loss go away because I am at my goal?
  • Skin. Lots and lots of excess skin.

 

I am sure I will think of more of both my hopes and fears, but these are the ones on my mind now.

Yep! It was still there.

When I did my weigh-in post last week I said that this week I would get back to the gym. I committed to getting there on Monday, and joked that I might need to use my car’s GPS to find it.

Well, I am here to report that, in fact, my gym is still open for business. In the month since I last walked through the door they somehow managed to keep the enterprise afloat. And the good news is I only got lost 3 times between my house and the gym. Ironically, one business that didn’t make it in that neighborhood is the ice cream store that’s about 200 feet up the road. It’s unclear whether my absence from there this summer contributed to its demise.

I did miss my commitment by one day, but with what I consider to be a solid reason. This past weekend I was the photographer for a local art fair – Plymouth Art in the Park. I was on site all 3 days walking the show and taking over 1,200 pictures. According to the fitness app on my phone, I walked a total of 27 miles in 3 days. When I left work on Monday, I was quite sore and tired. I gave myself permission to take a night off, and get some much-needed sleep.

So, on Tuesday I went to the gym. Since I was last there they re-carpeted the floor where the machines are. My wife asked if it looked different, and I told her it looked exactly like it did before but with newer carpeting. Nothing else had changed.

For this workout I did 30 minutes on the stationary bike, and 30 minutes walking on the treadmill. I kept the same resistance level, speed and incline as I was using when last I was there. After the hour I felt great!

Tonight I had meetings at work that went late, so I will next go to the gym tomorrow. I tried to make up for it today by taking an extra lap around my building.

One thing I noticed in my return to the gym was that I really did miss it.not just because of the exercise, but because I missed taking that time out of my day to be surrounded by other fitness-minded people.

When I first started this journey I was fearful of my trips to the gym. I was worried that people would look at me and judge me. These days my confidence level is up. Whether people are looking and judging I can’t really say, but I can say that I don’t care. I am there for me, just like everyone else is there for themselves.

That’s it, just a mid-week report on my commitment to get to the gym!

Funny find on Reddit that speaks to us all

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The other day I was bored and was looking around on Reddit in the humor section. This picture caught my eye. I apologize that I can’t find it now to credit the original poster. The caption that went with it was that a friend’s daughter was using this book as her food journal. The saying on the front is what sold it to me.

How often do I find myself snacking because I am hungry? The answer is that it is pretty rare. Usually when I am snacking it is because I am, or as this picture suggests, my stomach is bored. In my experience, snacks are a main cause of overeating. Even when I was at my largest, it wasn’t usually the meals that did me in, it was the stuff in between.  It was the Kit Kat bars, the quick trips for $.99 menu at McDonalds, the bucket of nuts, and so on. True, I did still consume a lot of points at meals as well, and that is under control now, but what was really sealing the deal was the snacking.

Today my snacking is done with zero, or very low point foods. Here are some examples:

  • 1 oz of nuts – works out to about 1/4 cup. It doesn’t look like a lot when I pour and measure them, but they pack 5 points. Usually enough to get me from lunch to dinner when dinner might be late
  • Fresh fruit – depending on what is in season, a peach, orange, apple, banana, clump of grapes and so on fit the bill. I will sometimes have these instead of the nuts after work, or later in the evening to replace dessert
  • Fresh cut vegetables – we try to keep a plastic tub of cut carrots and celery in the fridge at all times. A quick handful has no points, and satisfies the need to chew as well
  • Skinny Pop popcorn – you can buy the full size bag and measure a bowl, or buy the 100 calorie bags. For either one, try adding some Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. If you like hot sauce, you will thank me later for this idea that I got from my son.

There are other things that I snack on from time to time, and I will continue to post lists in the future.

Bottom line for me is knowing the difference between hunger and boredom, and knowing that 5 points is enough for one snack.

Week 15 weigh in

Success!

This morning I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 296.4 pounds. That is a 3.6 pound loss for the week. My total for the 15 weeks is 48.6 pounds lost, or 14.1% of my original weight.

I feel great today to say the least. One week from today is my next doctor visit. It was after the last visit that I decided I needed to do something about my weight and my overall health. It was the next morning that I started this blog, and this journey toward better health. I am looking forward very much to seeing her, and reporting in on my progress.

This weekend my entire family will be attending a family wedding for my nephew. In past weeks when there was an event like this on the calendar, I would worry about what effect it might have on my journey. In those early days of changing my mindset about food, I worried that I would stray from the course too easily. While it is still possible, and even likely, that I will exceed my Weight Watchers Points Plus allocation for the day tomorrow, I am not worried. I know that I have built some good habits, and I know that I will find ways to compensate in the coming days.

This past week I only got to the gym twice, and one of those was just before my weigh-in this morning. That is an area where I need to improve. In the past few weeks I have been going to the gym fewer times. Although I continue to lose weight, I am not making the progress I want in my overall fitness. There have been too many reasons (excuses) that have come up to miss. I worked late one night, was too tired another, and was worried about a blister on a 3rd. Those are the kinds of reasons that helped get me where I was back on February 28th. Time to kick myself back in the pants (which would be amusing for anyone else to watch), and get back to working out at least 3 times a week.

I also have not been as diligent about using the stairs at work. I haven’t worked in those extra flights like I was in the winter time. In part this is because I have been taking my walks outside (which is a longer lap than inside), and so the stairs don’t come in to play. But, I can still work in some stair climbing more than I have in recent weeks.

All in all I am happy with my progress to date, but I know I still have a long way to go.

Week 12 weigh-in

This morning I stepped on the scale and weighed-in at 305.4 which represents a 3.8 pounds loss for the week!! I am very happy with this week indeed. Last week I had blipped up by .6 pounds, but this week things are back on track. Since starting this journey, I am now down 39.6 pounds or 11.5% from my starting weight.

After last week’s hiccup, I refocused myself on journaling and staying within my Weight Watchers Points+, and I made it to the gym 4 times. I also was more diligent about my water intake which definitely helped. The weather has been beautiful, so I have been taking more laps outside my building at work when time permits. The perimeter around the building is .7 miles.

At the gym I increased my intensity. I am still mostly using the treadmill and stationary bike. On the treadmill I have stepped up my speed to 2.9 MPH, and I increased the incline to 2.5%. Last night I really noticed this change as I was sweating far more on the treadmill than I was last week. On the bike I have increased the resistance to 10, up from 9 previously. I spend 30 minutes on each, so every visit to the gym is 1 hour.

All-in-all, this was a very good week!

For the coming week I will be just doing more of the same. I plan to get to the gym a minimum of 3 times, but with the holiday weekend it might be difficult to get in 4 visits. While at the gym I will sustain my current levels. There will be a minor challenge this weekend with it being Memorial Day, but I think I will be fine in terms of points. It just takes a little planning and self-discipline.