Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weigh in #5

Hello again to one and all. It is time again to track the results of my weight loss. This week has been great. I spent a couple of days taking measures to kick the plateau I had been on for more than a week. I hadn't really been paying as much attention as I should to the sodium I had been taking in and that really had a negative effect on my weight loss last week. This week more than made up for that, however. And now the numbers:

Current Weight: 413.8 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 8.4 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 26.4 lbs

Other than yesterday, when I got caught away from home and no options for fish but Long John Silver's low cal menu (still really salty), my overall diet was excellent. I made it to the gym a couple of times, but I have had a cold since Wednesday, so I couldn't do too much in terms of exercise as I couldn't breathe that well, so there is still room for improvement. Overall I am really happy with this week.

Evolved Sensibilities

I have been seeing, and reading when I can, a lot of articles lately about the evolutionary aspect of the human metabolism. A great article I read recently discussed how the human body is still stuck in the hunter gatherer lifestyle our minds outgrew thousands of years ago. This giant brain we evolved as our main genetic advantage has made humans so successful as a species that our bodies cannot keep up. We get joint pain because we are still not fully adapted to walking upright. We get fat because our bodies are built to survive a long time on little food and to store it up when we get more than we need. That is why it is so important for those of us who need to lose weight to eat smaller meals more frequently. The body thinks it is likely to starve whenever you don't eat frequently and "grazing" so to speak lets the metabolism know the body isn't in danger of going without food, so it doesn't work as hard to store fat. As long as I continue to eat less calories than I burn I will burn body fat.

That is not to say I am taking up the paleolithic diet. We live a whole lot longer than cavemen for a reason. Our bodies also have caught up to modern food in terms of digestion. There is a reason the appendix is vestigial. It is just that people who weren't fabulously rich didn't get fat in large numbers until fairly recently. I want to utilize every tool I can to keep my body burning fat as efficiently as possible. If it is better to eat 1600 calories over five sittings than at once, of course that is how I will do it. I just find it interesting to have a scientific explanation for why it works better.

Thanks once again to everyone who reads the blog. If you leave comments and you are not signed in to a service Blogger accepts please sign your posts unless you want to be anonymous. Thanks again and keep reading.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

That's More Like It

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. My work schedule shifted again (I am not working till 11 at all this week!) so I was unable to post this morning, but I am back on my way. I hadn't weighed myself since Sunday and I decided to give it a day and take some measures to kick my weight loss back into high gear. I focused on more salad and lean protein and very few carbs to fill me up with very little calorie cost. The problem with carbs, particularly bready ones, is that for the calories consumed I do not stay full that long and it takes more calories worth of food to feel satisfied. Carbs have great, long lasting energy, but I'm not running marathons here. Don't get me wrong, I am still having two pieces of fruit a day, four veggies, and a little Melba toast every morning, but the bread at subway or tortillas for the chicken and veggies were out for a few days. So the past two days have basically been salads with chicken, with a couple of the great lower cal dressings I have found. Pretty tasty, although I will probably switch it up tomorrow, but the plateau was broken and that was the goal. I will give you a preview and tell you that when I weighed myself this morning I was down over 20 pounds from the beginning of the blog and that is fantastic.

I don't really have any other major revelations to report other than the fact that I have really stopped craving sodas and sweets to a large extent. I admit that being exposed to deserts is rough, but wanting to go get them is really not an issue anymore. That is a great feeling as well. Have a good one guys.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weigh in #4

Another week down and hopefully one week closer to my goals. If you have been following the posts this week yo will know that the great success I have been having previously slowed down a bit this week. Between a couple of parties and a drastically different work schedule my eating habits were less than ideal this week, but not what I would call "bad" by any stretch of the imagination. I am learning that those little things that taste really good but don't fit in to the diet plan are really hard to avoid, but if I allow myself a taste I satisfy the hedonistic side of my palate while not totally wrecking my nutrition. The trick is stopping after a taste. This week I may have had two or three tastes, but I am definitely getting better and I never even approached my calorie limits.

This week I was also a bit heavy on the carbohydrates. I don't have a problem with carbs per se, and I am not doing Atkins or another ultra low carb diet, but as far as I can tell carbs hinder weight loss for me because they are so efficient at releasing energy over a long time. The same thing that helps marathoners and athletes keeps me from breaking into my body's stores of fat. that is not to say that I have been eating rolls and candy and other carb heavy things, but I have been going to Subway in a pinch or a decent meal, and I have been using low cal tortillas or other things where I could really just be eating the veggies and meat. I am still working to find the balance between keeping my meals interesting and fitting them into the program.

The Numbers

This weeks weight loss was a bit strange. I only lost weight on two days this week and the scale stayed exactly the same as the day before on the five other days. I don't think the results, for a plateau week, were that bad, but I must admit that I would have loved to see a higher number. Here are the numbers:

Current Weight: 422.2 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 3.0 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 18 lbs

My goal this week was to be down 6 pounds, so I was no where near that, but I like to shoot high. I am still averaging 6 pounds a week and that is nothing to sneeze at. This week should allow me a lot more consistency in meal times and less parties to present temptation. I have purged the bad stuff from my home so my workplace and out with my friends are where the pitfalls are coming. I have committed to making the best of all given choices and I will continue to do that. It might not be an ideal meal I end up eating, but as the good choices add up I will be successful.

I have the day off today so I think I am going to get out of my apartment. There is nothing like a steel gray sky for a walk.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The View from The Plateau

Well friends, I could not post yesterday because I was closing my show, and I must admit that the post show closing party was a bit trying. I ended up compromising a bit and eating some less than healthy foods, but I only had a taste. I only had two chicken wings instead of the dozen I would have in the past. I had a sandwich to fill up a bit on something not to bad and I had a good handful of grapes and I wasn't hungry enough to gorge on the delicious calorifics surrounding me. It is a good strategy and I will try to never go to a party hungry again.

I will post my totals tomorrow, but I can tell that numbers wise this week is going to be a bit disappointing. Plateaus happen and some of you had some very kind words on Tuesday about them. I am trying to not necessarily equate pounds down to health gained, but with such a long road ahead of me it is hard not to be disappointed when the mile markers don't fly by as fast as I would like. I have noticed a few things this week that were very encouraging, however. I had a headache at work midweek, not an uncommon occurrence for me, so I took an Aleve. Normally a headache pill takes about an hour and fifteen minutes or so to kick in, but now it takes about twenty minutes. I had had no way to tell for sure until then, but my metabolism has really sped up and that helped the medicine get into my system much faster. I am also starting to feel the difference between hungry and full. I am not yet able to differentiate them totally, but I have been trying to eat each meal until I am satisfied, not full, so I am less likely to confuse the two. My skin and hair have also improved drastically since I stopped drinking soda and started drinking 3/4 to 1 gallon of water a day. These are the little results and changes that make not losing as many pounds as I want a bit easier to handle. I am looking not only to get down to a healthier weight, but to live a healthier life overall. I think I am on my way to success at all of these goals.

I took some time today to thank some of you personally, but for those of you I cannot or have not written or spoken to, thank you so much for the support. I am not sure how well this exercise would work if I felt like I was telling all of this to a brick wall and your support is vital to keeping me going. Please keep it up and thanks again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not Quite As Fat Tuesday

Happy Mardi Gras friends. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day of ordinary time before the Lenten season. It is also the last day of carnival, or literally "farewell to meat". I feel as if I have started my lent a bit early, but in honor of the day I did have a piece of chicken andouille sausage with my breakfast. It was quite delicious and at 100 calories a pretty sensible indulgence.

Peaks, Valleys, And The Stops Between.

As I have mentioned before I am weighing myself pretty much every day to give myself accurate calorie goals and the past couple of days have been a bit frustrating. I haven't lost anything since Saturday, but I haven't gained anything either. According to my scale my body fat percentage has gone down a bit, so I might be gaining muscle mass, but I can't be sure of that. What I do know is that I have been eating at most 2500 calories a day, and most days less than 2000. I don't think at my size it is possible to gain weight eating that much. Part of the issue I think is that the nature of my day job requires shifts in my schedule and after starting early in the morning last week, I have very late shifts this week. Eating all of my meals at different times has to have an effect on my metabolism. Also I was probably due for a plateau. It is hard not to be disappointed, but I know I am going about this the right way and I just need to let things happen as they will. I'm still gonna hit the gym before work today though.

Have a very happy Mardi Gras everybody. Don't roll the good times too hard.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weigh in #3

It's gonna be a short one today since I have to sweep off my car to go to my show but I think it was another positive week. I had a cold most of the week so I only got one really good day of exercise in, but I think that day was a model for what I should do three times a week for now. I did about 20 minutes on the treadmill and 15 minutes with the weight machines on my upper body. I think this combo will keep my heart rate up and burn calories while building muscle mass that burns calories constantly. I have been weighing myself nearly every day to give myself as accurate a calorie goal as possible and I noticed that after I had exercised the benefits on my weight loss extended several days out. That turned what looked at first like a disappointing week into a pretty good one. So, here are the numbers

Current Weight: 425.2 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 6.4 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 15 lbs

Though I wanted to lose more than 7 pounds this week I think considering I was sick I had a good try at it. Fifteen pounds in two weeks is something I am proud of. This week I am going to focus on meeting my exercise goals and further reducing my sodium intake, which is still higher than I would like. I'm off to the show. I love it when a plan comes together.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Up Where the Air Is Clear

Today marks a major landmark in my metaphorical journey to health. Today marks six months since my last cigarette and two weeks since I had a soda. Thinking about the money I have saved in addition to the health benefits I have gained is really nice. One more week with the sodas and I will have made it into a habit and every day making the right choices will get a little easier. Quitting cigarettes was big for me in several ways. Beyond the obvious benefits of not sucking on cancer sticks, that process laid the ground work for what I am doing now. I learned that when making such a huge change in one's life that it is more important to be ready to do it and to really want the change than the particular methodology one uses. I also told people what I was doing so that if I stopped or slipped up I was accountable to more than just myself. I have had success thus far in my weight loss following the same rules and I think I can stick to it the same way too.

I mentioned previously that one way I planned to enjoy food without overeating or eating the wrong things is to cook more. The past couple of weeks have presented me with the challenge of keeping things interesting with my food. This has really given me a chance to stretch my culinary muscles a bit. Last nights dinner was particularly successful so I thought I might share it with you. last week I had cooked an oven-full of boneless skinless chicken breast and had portioned it out, but just throwing it on some greens was getting a bit boring. I had purchased some more veggies Monday night, including a whole head of lettuce, so I thought I might do some lettuce wraps. I stir fried a chopped whole green pepper and I used a vegetable peeler on some zucchini to get a nice change in textures. Once they were soft enough to eat I threw in the precooked chicken and heated that up. The big challenge was figuring out how to dress the filling. I didn't have any hoisin sauce, but I had found a BBQ sauce (sweet baby ray's) that is 70 calories for 2 tablespoons and I had some light soy. I put a tablespoon of each together with a splash of a prepared gyoza sauce I had in the fridge and I had a surprisingly delicious glaze for less than 70 calories. Spooned into a few large lettuce leaves, I had a feast on my hands. The best part of the whole meal was that for less than 600 calories I had as much food as I could eat, it was quite tasty, and I had a really good time making it. The recipe is definitely a keeper and losing weight is gonna be downright easy if I can only come up with a few more like it.

I have work late today, so I am gonna hit the treadmill for a while. Weigh in #3 is Saturday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good.

One of the nice things about having so much weight to lose (and there are few) is that I have a bit of leeway to experiment and try different meal combinations and substitutions to see what I like and I can still lose weight. Since I haven't been drinking soda I have found it really hard to eat more than 2000 to 2500 calories a day, which is about 2000 calories fewer than my body is using to live at the moment. I mentioned in a previous post that I refuse to stop enjoying food. My goal is to establish a better relationship with food and finding healthful meals that I like will make eating healthy second nature.

Earlier last week I was really looking for something hearty that could stick to my ribs. I decided since I had bought 3 pounds of ground turkey to use for turkey burgers I would make some chili. Normally I make a pretty standard Texas Chili. No beans, no corn, just beef, some lamb, and sauce. The sauce did have veggies in it, but by the time the chili was finished I think it only qualified as a vegetable in the same way potatoes do. By substituting ground turkey for beef stew meat, adding some light red kidney beans to fill me up a bit quicker, and sauteing some green peppers before browning the turkey I got exactly what I was looking for. Better yet, even taking into account the bottle of beer I used to deglaze the pan, a nice bowl of chili lands at about 450 calories, and I have 6 servings to stretch into meals for a week.

I was able to determine the caloric bang for the buck on my chili with that same calorie counter app for my iPhone I mentioned last week. I can create a recipe by adding all of the ingredients, set the serving size, and I can then select my "30 minute Turkey Chili" anytime I eat it. It is great to not only be able to see the impact of each ingredient on the overall health of a dish, but to then not have to fuss over logging my meals in the future. It makes staying on track that much easier.

We Can Still Be Friends

A lot of people with weight issues talk about their relationship with food, as if food was a person. I don't quite know what to think about that mindset, but I know my relationship with food is a poor one. People have told me in the past that I shouldn't use food as a mood elevator, or in response to my emotions, but they say it without really knowing what it is like to have a compulsion to eat. When I get sad or depressed I don't think, "Hey, I should eat some candy. That will make me feel better!" It is not a conscious thing. Just like I confuse feeling full or thirsty with hunger, these feelings actually feel like hunger too. It can be a bit of a vicious cycle as well, because of course the food doesn't make me feel any better, often it does the opposite and I start over again.

This journey has helped this compulsive side of my diet in two ways. I was talking with my father about how I can appreciate positive emotions or experiences more now and negative emotions seem a bit easier to shake off. Before it would be a flash of positivity and then I would quickly subside to a median level while negative emotions seemed to stick with me. He offered that it was much better it was that I came to this decision organically and that I really want it now as opposed to previous diets I have been on. Making this decision and taking the steps I have has put me in control of a very large part of my life for the first time, and that is way better than feeling out of control.

The other factor in reigning in compulsive eating has been keeping track of what I eat. When I log each thing I eat as I eat it it forces me to think about it and make it a conscious decision to eat it. I can't just grab some chips or candy or soda and eat and drink until I look up and I've eaten a whole bag or a drunk a liter without even noticing. It is another factor in control. When I first thought about getting a calorie counter or doing a food diary I thought it would be constant judgment, but it is instant accountability, a backstop, and that is a big difference.

If you are still reading, thanks. I promised my friend Gwen a nice long entry to give her something to do at work. I'm off to reheat some chili.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weigh in #2

The first week is up! Thanks to all of you who are still with me on the road. Having driven from Houston to Chicago and back a couple of times I know how minuscule on mile marker can seem in the grand scheme of things, but they add up quickly and that is the attitude I am trying to take into this figurative journey.

I feel like the week has been a success. I have made much better choices with my meals and I am controlling portions pretty well. I have been hungry from time to time, but I think that is okay because I am paying attention to my body now and learning to differentiate hunger from feeling full or thirsty, things I have never been able to tell apart in the past.

I have also been making better choices in terms of eating habits. I have been consistently eating 3 moderate meals with two small snacks a day. I have also been drinking at least 12 cups of water a day. The frequency of my meals helps me eat less at any one and overall, and eating breakfast consistently has left me less hungry and more energized throughout the day.

My weight has reflected this success. When I started a weight loss program in the past I lost quite a bit the first couple of weeks, so I have been expecting the same. I have been keeping track of my weight through the week to give myself accurate calorie goals, but I will continue to post once a week in the future. Here are this weeks numbers:

Current Weight: 431.6 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 8.6 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 8.6 lbs

I am really pleased with those numbers. Judging by the number of calories I have been eating this is mostly body fat, but my thinking on that is that if I do my best to have good habits my body composition will come along on its own.

I did not exercise as much as I wanted to this week. This will probably be my biggest challenge. It's not terrible at the moment because my body uses so many calories just to function each day that I can easily stay under that number. As I get closer to my goal, however, eating less alone wont be enough, and I would like to build good habits now and be hitting my stride with exercise before I really need it for my weight loss. I'll do better this week.

So, goals for the coming week: Exercise more. Continue to follow the good habits with food that I have started. Don't let the Superbowl mess me up too bad.

On the road again.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hitting My Stride

Well folks, I am 5 days off sodas, 4 days into my diet/lifestyle change, and 3 days since weigh in #1. It is going pretty well. I have seriously cut my carbs, and am instead filling up on lean protein and veggies, a few of which I kind of like. Today was a bit rough because my planning still needs work and I didn't have a good between meal option to keep my metabolism going and my stomach from grumbling, but I haven't really been hungry otherwise. Don't get me wrong; I am not on Atkins and I refuse to avoid carbs like the plague, but so many of them are sugars and I have been focusing mainly on excising those from my diet while retaining high fiber and whole grains. I still miss the sodas, but the headaches are pretty much gone, and with a little math I realized that I was drinking on average 1000 or so calories a day. If 3500 calories is a pound of body fat that is two pounds a week. It is also about $20 or so dollars a week saved, so all around I feel great about my decision.

Tools, Redux

I talked last time about some of the things I had purchased to aid me on my journey, but I left out some important stuff. The biggest tool I forgot, and one that is rapidly becoming my best tool, is my iphone.

Specifically I have found two great apps that help me stay on target and keep track of what I am putting in my body. The first app is "Lose It". The app does many things that help keep me accountable. It counts calories, but it does it in a way that keeps it from being incredibly difficult, thereby making sure I actually do it. It has a large database of supermarket foods and ingredients and restaurant dishes from many of the most popular fast food or casual dining chains. If anything is not in the database and you have the nutritional facts you can add it to the app permanently. Once something is in you can pull up the item in the future. The app also calculates a rough approximation of your BMR, the basal metabolic rate or how many calories your body burns just by living, and adjusts it to reflect the average (i.e. sedentary) American lifestyle. With a simple selection of a weekly weight loss goal the app sets a daily calorie target. The app also has a database of exercises which can reduce your caloric impact for the day. Eat less than that and you lose weight. That's science. The best part of the app though is the price. It is the most popular health and fitness app on itunes and it is absolutely free.

The other app is also free and is as simple as it gets. It is called "8" and it is a countdown clock for how many glasses of water you have a day. Previously it only had eight little animated water glasses for you to count down, hence the name, but now you can have as many as twelve and that is where I set it. It is simple, and like so many works of simple genius it works like a charm.

I don't have anything pithy to end it with so I will ask you to keep up the comments and support. It may be the narcissistic actor in me, but the support (or attention) really helps. Thanks.