Saturday, February 27, 2010

No More Enthusiasm

Well, it's been over a week since I last posted. That was for a reason. You see, the initial enthusiasm of this journey has peaked and dwindled. I've gotten past the first few miles of go-go-go and had to get my mind fully wrapped around the fact that it is indeed a very long journey and that I need to pace myself. I knew it was coming so I was prepared for it. Although I tried to protect against it, the initial enthusiasm is a natural part of my DNA.

I just needed some time just to step back for a few days and re-evaluate what has worked, what has not, and where I need to make any adjustments so that I can reach the end of my journey with the minimum of bumps, bruises, and sprained ankles.

Things that I've had to think about before are now becoming second nature. This past week I continued my workouts, and my meals were mostly on the good side. However, I did gain a couple of pounds which I have since worked off again. Since I get on the scale a couple of times a day I was better able to keep the weight in check and get a better read on what might be causing the weight gain. Not all gains are due to the intake of the foods you eat. Some of it is just your body making adjustments. If I had not been on the scale each day, I could have easily gained more weight. The scale holds me accountable.

One thing that I think is working well for me is the 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. The emphasis on the 2 snacks makes it much easier for me to get more fruits and veggies each day. I also seem to do better if I don't eat at least 2 hours before bedtime. So now that it is becoming more of a permament change of behavior I am trying to look at ways to make it easier on those chaotic days where you don't know where you might be at any particular time.

One of the adjustments I need to make is to try to understand and incorporate the balance of proteins, good carbs, and fats. I want to make sure that I'm not only cutting down on the excessive calories and fat grams, but that I am eating foods that will give me the energy I need each day. It seems that I've had some days where I think I have been a little more sluggish than I want to be.

I'm adding a page tentatively titled "Goals". Feel free to take a look at it and make any suggestions. I have already added a page titled "My Backpack" which will contain a list of the tools and items that I have found that I need for my journey.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I receive an email newsletter from WebMD. This article is fantastic about finding and keeping your motivation.

This is a great tool to add to your backpack.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Knocked Off The Routine

This past week I have gone through an extremely important learning process. And I'm extremely thankful for it!

We all have what we consider our normal, routine days. Currently I can generally count that during my routine days I will be able to consume my three meals and two snacks. I can also generally count on when I will be able to go to the gym for my workout.

However, what happens when we will be having a day that is NOT routine? Sometimes you will know in advance, and sometimes you won't. This is where it is extremely important to have your Plan B, Plan C, and so on. If you won't be able to have your regular meals what will you do? Out running from place to place and won't be anywhere near your own kitchen for awhile?

Take the time to make up a contigency plan ahead of time. Having this knowledge will save yourself guilt, calories, and extra pounds when the time comes. Think ahead to what restaurants will be in the area. Most chain restaurants have their nutrition charts online. One option is to take food with you. Stop and have yourself a little picnic somewhere with nutritionally balanced, healthy food. Keep a cooler in your vehicle if you need to.

It is important to know ahead of time what you plan to do when you are out of your routine. We can no longer be in the mindset of picking up high calorie, high fat fast food. And it's not just fast food that is the culprit to why we are heavier than we want to be.

And I'm open for suggestions and ideas. The important thing is to be prepared to make the right decision, and not one that you will regret.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today I Will.....

Today I Will.....

  • Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks - all low calorie and low fat
  • Keep my food journal - this helps to hold me accountable
  • Find opportunities to move more. Even small movements burn calories (ie., fold clothes while watching the Olympics tonight, 30 minutes of cleaning the garage, read while standing up, etc)
  • Find 1 new low calorie, low fat recipe to try, and hopefully be able to add it to my rotation

Our journey is one of small steps and daily reminders. Don't get frustrated. If you do, pause and reflect on how far you have already traveled. Then continue on your journey.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Impatient? Overwhelmed?

It is too easy to get to the point where we are feeling impatient and overwhelmed with the changes we want to make. We want to lose weight and we want to lose it now! That is the thinking of a lot of people who go on this journey, me included. Today I was feeling impatient and overwhelmed thinking about the changes I want to make and implementing them in my lifestyle. So I had to just pause for minute or two and check my map and compass before continuing the journey.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that this journey is often accomplished by inches traveled each day, not miles. It is important that we keep moving forward. In an earlier post I mentioned that it took me many years to put on this weight. I cannot expect to take it off within a few months. Could I? Most likely. But I'm sure I wouldn't develop the lifestyle tools to keep the weight off.

While doing this post and checking my navigation, I can confidently say that I am on the right trail. I just needed to remind myself that the knowledge I am gaining will lead to the lifestyle changes I want to make. Patience is being added to my backpack today!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Reflections (cont'd)

When I was looking for a suitable substitute for my usual breakfast of 2 sausage biscuits I started reading about the health benefits of oatmeal. So - I gave it a try. Now it is my standard breakfast, along with a piece of fruit. I made the changeover about 5 or 6 weeks ago. Once a week I'll still allow myself one sausage biscuit, which has approximately 28 fat grams. This is in addition to the oatmeal and fruit.

With that changeover, and with reading in Bob Greene's book that we need to watch our fat gram intake, plus needing to have a minimum number of servings of fruit and veggies each day, I decided to start trying to find out more about the vegetarian lifestyle. I don't plan on becoming a total vegetarian, but I thought this would be a good avenue to research for recipes and health information.

We already had a book in the house titled "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Vegetarian". I've been reading through the different health benefits and haven't reached the chapters on how to implement yet. What I've read so far though is that most all of our nutrition needs can be gotten from plant-based foods. Another benefit in just keeping a food journal and checking the labels for nutrition values is that calories and fat grams are minimal. Which means that if you get hungry you don't have to feel guilty about eating a piece of fruit.

For the past couple of weeks I have already been trying to prepare meals that are more plant-based. In the long run this will make it much easier to live in the lifestyle of a thinner, healthier me.


Today seems like a good day to start reflecting some on where my journey has brought me so far and what I have learned along the way.

When I started this journey about 2 1/2 months ago, my first goal was to just start exercising and worry about the food changes later. I joined the local gym and vowed to go at least three times per week. Since then I have, for the most part, gone every other day. My work is mostly on the treadmill for 40-45 minutes in zones 7-8.

Once I got in the habit of working out I knew that I would also want to start a change in my eating habits. This is going along very well, with the food journal being a key component. I am now regularly eating about 3 meals and 2 snacks each day with no foods 2-3 hours before I go to bed.

Shortly after I started this journey I reread a book that I've had on my bookshelf for a long time. It is the book by Bob Greene titled "Make the Connection". Yes, this is the one that was co-authored by Oprah. Frankly, I just skipped over what she had to say and mainly concentrated on what Bob Greene wrote. Here are the key points that I have incorporated:

1. Exercise for 20-60 minutes each session. He recommends working out every day. I have worked out every other day (minimum)since the end of November '09. I have worked up to 40-45 minutes.
2. Exercise in the zone at a level 7 or 8. When I work out I do try to keep on eye on my heart rate, but you do get used to what your body is telling you even if the treadmill you are on doesn't seem to have an accurate monitor.
3. Eat a low-fat, balanced diet each day. I have been a fast food and snacks person pretty much all of my life. Hard to change and keep things in moderation, but can be done if you have a true interest in changing. There are a lot of wonderful foods out there that are much better for you!
4. Eat three meals and two snacks a day. Keeps the hunger at bay. Some type of fruit or vegatable for the snacks helps to fulfill your daily serving requirements.
5. Stop eating two to three hours before bedtime. What a help this has been! I was so used to snacking on bad foods while chilling in front of the television in the evenings. And it was just mindless eating - I usually wasn't even hungry.
6. Have at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day. Much easier to do especially if your incorporating them into your snacks.

These tools got me started on my journey and are a vital part of my backpack. I'll have other reflections during this week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


NEAT - NonExercise Activity Thermogenesis (or the calories you burn really living). Funny sounding name, but the details are crucial to that life we dream of when we lose those pounds.

I just recently purchased a book by James A. Levine, M.D., PhD., and coauthered by Selene Yeager titled "Move a Little, Lose a Lot".

The very bare bones of it is about finding ways to incorporate more movement in our daily routine. We spend so much time on our rear ends that we have forgotten how just normal daily activities with movement can help us keep the weight off.

I'll go more into this in the days and weeks ahead as we add this to our backpack on this journey.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My First Real Test

These past couple of days have been my first real test. On the first day I had to attend a funeral. This was out of town and because of several circumstances it ended up being an all day affair that took me out of my regular routine. I didn't mind or fret because this is the way life works.

I knew that I would have to be making choices regarding my meals for the day. We ended up eating out twice during the day. Once was at a restaurant and the other was at a home after the funeral. Overall I did not do too bad on my choices, but it wasn't easy. At the gathering in the home the church members provided an over-abundance of dishes and desserts. My two big indulgences were a large piece of fried chicken (by habit) and two pieces of pie(by choice). First, let me say that the people who provided the food know how to cook! It was extremely tempting to eat more. Secondly, regarding me eating two pieces of pie - well, since I started making pies a few months ago, I do like to taste other homemade pies and there were plenty to choose from.

On the next day I found it extremely hard to think and act better on my nutritional choices. I was extremely worn out and decided to pop a frozen pizza in the oven for convenience.

We will all have days where it is difficult, if not impossible, to stick to a plan. Especially as we are first starting out and haven't really become familiar yet with the different options available to us. That's ok. We can take each opportunity to learn something new and reflect on what we could have done better. The point is not to beat yourself up over a bad day. Just get back on the trail and continue the journey.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Scale

The scale is a necessary tool in the backpack of this journey. Most fitness and nutrition (diet) experts that I've read or heard mention that you should only weigh yourself once a week or so. However, for me I found that I need to weigh myself every day - twice. Once in the morning, and once in the evening before bed.

Here's why: If I weigh myself only once a week then it becomes easy to accidently skip first one week, then more and more until it's been two or three months before I get on the scale again. Then I'll realize that I actually gained.

When I get on the scale each morning it is a reminder to me that I need to eat better nutritionally. If I don't get on the scale for awhile my taste buds and cravings might tell me that "you've been good, go ahead and have those sausage biscuits for breakfast and while you're at it, stop by the fast food place while you're out running around today and pick up that fried chicken sandwich and fries". Once I do give in to those cravings, then it becomes MUCH easier to start falling back into my old ways. And then I'm back to where I started - and then some.

When I get on the scale in the evening it is a very quick, cursory check to see how my body reacted to the foods and activity of the day. That way I am already thinking about if I need to try and add some additional movement or activity the next day. For me, it just really helps me to try and understand my body better.

It is important that you don't obsess on the scale and the numbers each day. However, if used properly as a tool then you can get a much better read on how your body reacts to your food and activity. There will be times where your body may be storing up reserves and therefore you might see a gain. Having been on the scale often then you have a better understanding of this for yourself and your own situation.

The scale is a wonderful, essential tool on your journey. Use it as little or as much as is fitting for you, but use it. And understand it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Slow & Steady

Slow and steady. That's my mantra for this journey. It took me a long time to put on the weight, so I don't need to take it all off in 6-8 months. My goal is to average at least 1 lb per week of loss. If it's more, then all the better - but the key word in the previous sentence is "average". If I am able to accomplish that then I will have lost at least 50 lbs by the end of this year. That should leave me with another 20-40lbs to go. Not bad at all considering it took me 25+ years to get to the weight I was at when I started this journey.

Keeping the long term outlook also allows me time to make the lifestyle changes I need to make. The biggest change will be my meals. I am so used to high fat, high calorie meals that I am really having to pay attention to what I choose to eat each day. Thus, the food journal. It is already starting to become second nature to mostly eat low fat meals each day. That's not to say I am going to totally cut out those foods that I have eaten pretty much all of my adult life. Now I will just do it in moderation.

Making those small changes now and incorporating them into my daily life takes work. But it is a long, slow, steady process that will get my brain rewired to automatically think of fruit for a snack instead of potato chips. And that will make this journey successful!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Up Til Now

My weight loss has already been about 10 pounds. I started at the end of November by joining a local gym. My commitment to myself at that time was to go a minimum of three times a week just to start getting in the habit of MOVING. Since I enjoy hiking I wanted to have a workout that would be a good preparation for that. So I mainly do work on the treadmill. Starting out I did a brisk walk with the incline was 0 for a minimum of 20 minutes. Now I'll vary the incline with a very brisk walk for 40-45 minutes. Since most of the treadmills have those heart rate monitors that work, I'll use that as a guide to try and make sure my HR is up in the range where my workout is effective. I have been going to the gym since I joined in November a minimum of 3-4 times a week, even during the holiday season.

The second component that I have started concentrating on is what I eat. At first, when I joined the gym, I did not want to worry about changing the foods I love. I knew that as I started getting into a routine at the gym that I would naturally start looking for ways to limit or change some of those foods that I was eating too much of each week. Although I have already been slowing changing over to meals lower in fat, I have actually begun a food journal this last week. The form I use was printed off of the WebMD website. It allows you to list your servings and the calories. I added another column though for Fat Grams. What I found is I really hate writing down the number 28 for the fat grams in my sausage and biscuit! And that is for one. Last year I would regularly have two on most mornings. For the past 6 or 8 weeks that was the first thing I changed out regarding my breakfast. Now, it's a bowl of oatmeal with a banana. Total fat grams? About 3. I am allowing myself 1 sausage biscuit along with my oatmeal each week. What I have found just using the food journal is that if I am aware of what I am eating then I have no problem with a reasonable amount of calories each day and the fat gram count is in the lower range. What can sabotage it real easy though is TOO MUCH of the foods that we think we love and can't do without.

Now - time for me to print some more forms.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Journey Has Begun

I have decided to start a blog while I'm on this journey of weight loss. Normally, I like to keep my life fairly private, but I also realize that at least some of what I go through will be able to help others who are already, or contemplating, the same journey. We all have our different reasons for why we want, or need, to lose weight. I might be willing to post some of those reasons later.

Who am I? Well, I am a southern guy, in my late 40's who enjoys his typically southern foods. Sausage & biscuits, fried foods, meats, and sweet ice tea. I have also found in the past year that I enjoy making a pie from time to time. However, I don't enjoy cooking. I have been overweight more often than not since my mid 20's.

What caused me to start this journey this time (instead of just thinking about it)? Two things: 1) I was helping a friend with a project during a hot summer day and I got winded alot easier than I thought I should have and 2) while on a day hike I came across an elevation climb that just beat the crap out of me. Now my goal is to see an improvement this coming year.

The number on the scale has never bothered me. I always figured we are going to die someday anyway so why not eat the things I enjoy eating. However, there comes a point where you see that the excess weight and lower fitness level does affect some of your everyday activities, or prohibits or limits things that you WANT to do.

So - what does all of this mean? Change. It can be very hard to do, but if you want to reach your goals bad enough then you must be willing to make the sacrifices.

I welcome you to join me on the journey to a better life.