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