Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Celebrations, Setbacks, and Moving Forward

Well, I guess it is time that I bring you up to date on my journey.  I officially began my journey on May 7, 2010. When I started, I weighed in at 200 pounds even.  Until recently, I have not been weighing in every week, just whenever I could.  I did not own a scale, so I would weigh in at work before I ran home, or weigh in at the Army recruiters office (I am trying to get back into the Army).

My first week was kind of disheartening.  I gained  1/2 pound.  Uggh! But then things started to go better. I watched what I ate, measured how many calories I was taking in and burning, and the weight started to creep off.  195, then 190.  I kept losing until I hit 184.  I stayed there for a couple of weeks.  I was not working out like I should have, or tracking like I needed.  Still, I maintained, and did not gain, so THAT was good.

It started going down again.  Finally, a month ago, I got into the 170's.  WOW.  Still can't believe it.  I have not been in the 170s for about 15 years. 

Last week was my high week, well, high emotionally, not weight wise.  I weighed in at 174.6.  Over 25 pounds lost in 10 weeks.  That is the celebration part.

I have been weighing in this week, but don't think I have done as well.  I will weigh in tomorrow morning, but actually expect weight to go up slightly for a couple of reasons. That is the setback.

First, I think the low weight was a dip down.  Our body weight fluctuates up and down slightly from day to day.  I think I weighed on a down day.  I have stepped on the scale since and have been up a couple pounds or so.

Secondly, I have not been tracking my food.  While this is not TERRIBLE, it is not good.  Now that I have a better handle on portion control, I am sure I am still eating less than I am burning, but the gap between calories in and calories out is much more narrow than I would like.  A narrow gap means slower loss.

Now I must move forward.  I could gripe and complain about the weight, but it won't do any good.  I could beat myself up for not tracking like I should, but it wouldn't change anything.  What I must do is pick up and soldier on.  Get back on the horse, keep plugging away. put one foot in front of the other, insert your own cliche here.

I go back to the basics and start tracking my calories. Start watching what I eat....again, and make sure I am hitting that 1,000 calorie deficit that I aim for. 

I am almost scared to weigh in tomorrow, but you know, it is what it is.  nothing I can do about it now, but simply move forward. 

Towards a Healthy Life,
St3ven

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If yo u build it, they will come.

My wife has a problem. She is not alone, mind you.  It is a very serious problem that comes every time she walks into a shoe store.  She wants, no, NEEDS a new pair of shoes.  I COULD ask her what type, but therein lies the problem.  She really has NO IDEA!!!!  I don't understand this.  When I go shopping, I know exactly what I want, I am just looking for the best price.  But really, she has NO idea what type of shoes she wants.  She will look for a while, and we will exit the store, shoes in one hand, help wanted ads in the other since I NEED another job to afford her shoe habit. 

The line is always the same.  "I will know them when I see them."

Have you ever been there?  Knowing you want or need something, but don't quite know what it is you want? 

When it comes to weight loss, I think many people are this way.  They know they want weight loss, they just don't know which tool will get them there.  South Beach, Blood Type, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig,  and then there is always the infomercial guy talking about cortisol.  So many choices, which one is right???

When my wife expressed to me her desire to join with me in this journey, she was very much this way.  She knew she wanted what I had, but didn't know how to get there.  My answer when people ask me is simple.  You simply eat less than you burn.  The kicker is that most people have NO idea how much they eat.  There is only ONE way. Count the calories. 

I told my wife that my weight loss started when I put the calorie tracker on my phone.  "You want it on yours?"  I asked. "No, That's ok"  Took her about a week, then I got a call at work.  "Honey, can I get that app on my phone?" 

People don't like to be forced.  Major changes are hard.  I know that my wife wanted me to eat this way for a long time, but I wasn't ready for the change.  I knew I had to give her time. When the time was right, she came around.

Since then, I am happy to report that she has tracked her eating, started exercising, and has dropped 8 dress sizes since January.

The journey is SO much more fun when taking it with your spouse.  She is now asking the right questions.  Going to the grocery store is almost like a date, and I am loving the changes that we are seeing in each others lives, and slowly, the lives of our kids. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Communication

A few weeks ago, my wife and I had a discussion.  She didn't like that I was running all of the time, and she didn't like that I had been so picky lately about what I was eating.  Now, to be fair, she was partly right.  In my effort to eat more nutritiously, I had asked her to modify her cooking, which was wrong and selfish of me.  My nutritional life, while important, is for me, not her and the rest of my family. I am making the change, not her.  If anyone should be inconvenienced, it should be me and not her, but that is a topic for another day.

In our discussion, I was able to peel back the layers of words and get to the TRUE issue.  I knew she really did not resent my running.  She has been nothing but supportive.  The nutrition thing threw me though.  She said she was upset because she had tried to improve my nutrition several times in our married life, but I was resistant (to say the least).  I wanted nothing to do with it.  Now, I had changed my eating habits and started weight loss because if my "hobby"(running).  I could see her point, but even THIS was not the true issue.

Have you ever noticed that, for the most part, married couples tend to look the same?? Not in a twins sort of way, but they have the same general make up.  Many times, if the wife is thin, so is the husband.  If the husband if overweight, so is the wife.  The children follow as well (hmm, maybe its NOT genetic.  Maybe it is the way we teach them to eat...nahhhh). I had been overweight for years, and I had borne no children.  My wife had 3.  Each one adding a little more.

The TRUE message that my wife was trying to convey was "help me".  She didn't know how to say it, I'm not even sure that she knew she wanted to.  But in her own way, she was letting me know that she wanted to change too, but didn't know how.  This was GROUND BREAKING!!! Not for her, not for me, but for us and our family.

We each had tried to improve our nutrition over the years, but never at the same time.  We were stuck in this nutritional tug of war, pulling against each other.  Now, we were getting on the same page.  It was then that I began to see what I had been doing as my "journey" and I invited her to come on this journey with me.  That we do it together. 

Since then, amazing things have happened which I will tell you about in coming posts, but the bottom line is this.  If you are married, engaged, or have a significant other, make sure he/she knows about your journey and make sure they are on board and either (preferably) is wiling to come with you, or, at the least, understands and agrees not to hinder your progress.  It is SO much easier when someone comes with you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Beyond E>I

E>I.  That is the easy part (see previous post).  The hard part comes after.  Isn't that the way it always is?? Knowing is the easy part.

I knew I was expending energy.  I was a runner.  I also knew that, like I said in a previous post, running only burns so many calories.  Weight loss is far more effective, exercise must be combined with reduced calories.  

I needed to reduce calories.  One big problem.  In order to reduce, you have to know where you start. I started by downloading an app for my Blackberry phone.  I was able to log everything that I ate.  SURPRISE!!  One of the first days that I tracked, I ate pizza.  Now, on my former diet, I didn't eat just one or two pieces.  I ate 5....thick crust..... 4 meat.  Don't remember, but I think the one meal was 1200 or 1300 calories.  That shocked me into reality.  I HAD to get my calories under control  

When I started tracking my calories, it wasn't really that hard.  Counting calories  is like a budget.  If you know that you have 2000 calories to spend for the day, you budget accordingly. If you know you're going out for dinner, have a light breakfast and light lunch.  Log everything you eat. When you reach 2000 calories, you're done.  

The hard part is still eating 3-4 meals a day.  Don't load up on 2 meals and think that because you are below your budget, you are ok.  You have to eat 3-4 meals a day.  When you don't eat continuously through the day your body gets confused.  Its primal instincts kick in.  It remembers when our ancestors lacked things to eat.  It tries to hold on to what it gets and slows down the metabolism.

So, eating is essential.  It seems counter intuitive that eating less calories could cause weight gain, but it does happen.

Starting in the next post, I'll begin with MY journey and how it has affected my life, and my family.

Eat Smart,
St3ven

Sunday, June 27, 2010

E>I

Education is a wonderful thing.  Funny how you don't think so at the time. 

I remember when I was younger and in school.  Homework, homework, homework.  UGGGH. I HATED homework.  Long division (do they even do that anymore), symbiotic relationships, dangling participles, World Wars.  UGGGH. 

Now, I don't keep up in science, math or grammar, but I DO find myself periodically engrossed by a PBS special on WWI or the Civil War, or the Civil Rights Movement.  Suspiciously, PBS has no documentaries on long division.  Ever wonder why that is??

I interviewed a high level executive at PBS (ok, not really, but it makes it sound official doesn't it???) and he said that people are interested in history because history repeats itself.  The struggles that America faces right now, have been faced in other countries in other decades.

So, when I turn to my nutritional education, it is comforting to know that nutrition "repeats itself".  The struggles that I have now, have been had by other people at other times. But where to start.  Just like a football team practicing "the basics", the best place to start for me, was at the beginning... the basics. 

The basic premise of nutrition and weight loss is easy. E>I.   Expenditure>intake.  It is that simple.  If we expend more energy than we take in, the weight will come off. This is GREAT news for a nutritionally uneducated guy from Missouri.  You see, weight loss does not rely on nutrition, it only relies on this caloric formula "E>I". It doesn't matter WHICH foods you eat, as long as "E>I". This basic formula is something that even the nutritionally uneducated can understand.  In fact, it may be the ONLY part of nutrition that we DO have knowledge of. 

I have known this formula for a long time, but the light finally came on when I was watching an episode of The Biggest Loser. In Season 8, Suzy Orman, well known financial consultant, attempted to pick the winner from the last 8 or so contestants based on their credit score.  She did something interesting.  She had picked her winner, but she changed her answer based on one NON-financial related piece of information. The person that she had picked had not been tracking their calories.  Now, these contestant was working out so much he couldn't POSSIBLY eat enough to gain weight, but still...how much MORE could he have lost had he been tracking his intake??? 

Thankfully, I have never been large enough to need to be on the biggest loser, but the same premise holds for me, doesn't it??  In fact, it is even MORE important for me.  I do not workout at the same duration or intensity that those contestants do, so I am not expending NEARLY as much as those contestants do, so the margin between intake and expenditure is much smaller.  This makes it even MORE vital that I track these numbers. 

I mentioned last post that exercising alone won't do it. For most of us, this is true. Take running for example. You burn, on average, 600-700 calories per hour. If you run 25 miles/week, that is 4-5 hours. This means you are expending 24-3500 calories/week. This is good enough to burn almost a pound a week, but imagine if you added that to a 3500/week calorie deficit. That translates to eating just 500 fewer calories per day than your body requires. That's not much.

While exercise is good, exercise combined with controlled intake is a winning ticket.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Journeys

I remember it well. Yes, I do.  I was about 16 years old.

I don't really recall, now, HOW we got on the subject, but somehow we did. 165 pounds.  That's what I told them I weighed.  Now, to be honest with you, I KNEW deep down that it was more than that.  Oh, I don't know... 175, 180... not sure, but I KNOW it was more than 165.

That was the first time that I knew I had a problem.  I was overweight.

In some families, overweight children are the product of overweight parents.  The sins of the parents visit the children to the 3rd and 4th generations.  My family was mixed.  While my mother and paternal Grandmother (Dad's mom) were both overweight, the rest of the family seemed to have active metabolism.  They could pretty much eat what they wanted and never gain a pound.  Apparently, I was not so fortunate.

After high school came college, and the freshman 10 quickly became the freshman 20.  I did do one smart thing.  I made the decision to drink diet soda.  We had soda in the cafeteria, and soda machines at the dorms.  I decided that if I was going to drink that much soda, it needed to be diet.  I cannot even begin to imagine the pounds that I saved myself with that one decision.

Marriage and family led to a career change.  In 1993, I joined the United Stated Army.  I was in the best physical shape of my life.  I dropped weight and lost inches.  I was looking good. 300 push ups a day and 15 mile road marches will do that to you.    But, alas, as soon as I arrived at my first duty station and the constant physical activity stopped, weight started creeping back on.

Fast forward to 2002.  Out of the military (could no longer meet the weight standards), and in a high stress job.  I took up running (which I promised I would NEVER do after exiting the military) to relieve stress, but also for another reason.

I knew that I didn't eat right.  A life time of poor food choices had corrupted my palate.  Instead of craving broccoli and carrots, I craved moon pies and oatmeal rounds.  Hamburgers, bologna sandwiches, and frozen pizza were my favorite meals.  My running gave me an out.  I knew I needed to change my eating habits, but now that I was running, I wouldn't have to.  I ran, I told people, so I could eat what I wanted.  I NOW know that the 1000 calories I was burning each week, COULDN'T make up for the extra 2500 (or more) I was eating each week. 

Continue to fast forward to 2009.  My wife and I decided that I needed to try and re-enter the military.  I needed to drop a few pounds, so I did what I knew to do.  Started running, but this time, with a twist.  With the invention of MP3 players, came podcasts.  Without even knowing it, THIS was what I had been waiting for.

You see, I have another challenge.  I HATE to read.  I love watching documentaries, listening to audio books, whatever but PLEEEEASE don't make me read.  Nice thing about podcasts is that if you select the right ones, they can be a wealth of information.

Information. THAT had been my problem all along. It wasn't that I didn't know I had a problem....I did. But I didn't know how to solve that problem. As Johnny 5 says in the movie Short Circuit "Need input".    That is why I had failed before.  When I was in the military, they taught us to exercise, but that can only do so much. If you do not have the nutrition to back it up, you can't exercise enough to make up for it.

Podcasts were my answer. The more I listened, the more I learned.  Not all at once, but little by little.

That is the story of this blog.  I am on a Journey.  A journey to lose weight, yes, but even more importantly, a journey to become more informed about nutrition, what I eat, the things I SHOULD be eating, and how my choices are affecting me and those around me.  No longer will I live on this earth with my head in the sand.  I choose to give myself the gift of knowledge and as I learn, I choose to write about it here so that YOU may come on this journey as well.

At the outset, I would like to thank three people who have been so supportive as I start, and continue this Journey.  I am forever in your debt for your support, encouragement, and life examples.  Those three people are Megan (Twitter, Website), Gordon (Twitter, Website) and Diane (twitter, website).  You have my thanks and deepest gratitude, as well as the gratitude of my great grandchildren, whom I will now be around long enough to enjoy.

Loving Life,
St3ven