Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Salad

I got the itch to try something new in the kitchen, but the past week has been a real press for time.  I wanted something I could cook quickly, but had a novelty to it.  My favorite cooking show is Good Eats and the host, Alton Brown, usually focuses each episode on one ingredient or technique.  In his episode on vinegar, called Good Wine Gone Bad, he created an application that allowed the use of raw vinegar in a salad.  Normally raw vinegar is so acrid and evaporates into such a pungent cloud that you can't really breathe around it, let alone eat much.  He froze the vinegar and made a vinegar snow out of it and put it on a grilled salad.  It looked delicious and easy, so I thought I would give it a shot.  Here are some shots from the attempt:

First I took the hearts of romaine and sliced them in half through the root end so they stayed together. 

I then brushed them with a little olive oil and pressed the cut ends into some finely grated Parmesan cheese and lots of cracked black pepper.  You then press the cheesy lettuce into a hot saute pan for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and crisped up.
Before starting (maybe that morning, but at least two hours out) put a 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar per person in a pan and put it in the freezer.  Once it is solid scrape it with a fork until it looks like shaved ice.  Pop it back in the freezer until just before service.
Once my heads of romaine were finished I paired them with a little left over chicken and spooned on the dressing.  The only issue I had was that I dressed too much of the salad.  You should only put the vinegar ice on seconds before eating and only on the portion of the salad you are going to take the first few bites from.  Otherwise it melts before you get to that bite and stings your eyes a bit and pours out into your lap.  It is still delicious though, even if messy.  The cheese and a few drops of oil are really the only fat and major calories in the salad.  The Parmesan is so worth it though because it protects the leaves from scorching, it adds lots of flavor, and it crisps up into a sort of frico right on the salad.  The lettuce itself becomes so much more flavorful because it is partially cooked.  The best part of all is that for a great, filling salad, not including the protein I added, it was maybe 100 calories per serving (1/2 of the head of lettuce).  A salad, even carefully prepared, is rarely that light for that much food.  I was really hungry so I ate both halves, but one half is really about the same as two cups of chopped lettuce, which is a substantial serving.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weigh in #18

This process has been rewarding and exciting, but at times it has been confusing and frustrating.  This is one of those weeks where life was truly a mixed bag.  As I mentioned Thursday I booked a gig, and that is fantastic.  It is a short piece for a theater festival and very stage combat intensive.  I will be portraying a sumo wrestler, or rikishi, and wearing the costume to match. 
That is scary, but in the role I feel okay about it.  The combat is so intensive, and works muscles I can rarely use when I am not dead lifting a grown man, that I have been sore for much of the week.  I am hoping the work in the show and my other exercise this week helped me build muscle, which would be a positive explanation for my less than stellar weight loss.  I have done nothing too much different this week than in other weeks, but I just haven't lost much weight.  This is the downside to setting weight goals like my 100 pound goal, because now I feel like I am behind the eight ball.  I should be concentrating on my health, and I know I have been healthy this week save a few imperfect choices.  I have eaten at home more, I made a great pot of my turkey chili, which is more rich in the good things I need to eat more of, like beans and peppers, than most of what I usually eat.  My hope is that my weight totals will catch up in the coming weeks because of the physical work I am doing now, but who knows.  I certainly would not have been able to do the part 6 months ago.  Here are this week's totals.

Current Weight: 359.4 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 1.4 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 80.8 lbs

Less than two pounds is definitely a disappointment.  I suppose I have to keep my perspective, but I really want to hit my goal.  I did break 80 pounds this week, which is a very positive step.  In essence I have 4 full weeks to lose a little over 19 pounds.  I suppose I might as well include the extra week, but I will keep the goal where it is for now.  For those who didn't see on Thursday I have had to push back my 100 weight feast a week to July 3rd.  I have a performance and work on the 26th of June, so that weekend unfortunately will not work.

Ideas, Anyone?

Now for the challenge I laid out last week.  I saw a few responses from folks, but I want to hear some of your tactics.  What positive change did you make in the last week for your health?  I know I have seen one that I really liked, and that was Amy Vorpahl's challenge to herself to not eat after 8pm.  That is an issue for me as well.  Because some days I work as late as 11pm, and some days I cannot eat dinner until 8 or 9pm I cannot follow the letter of the challenge, but the spirit of it is something I have taken to heart.  I make sure to put everything away when I am done with dinner, especially if there are leftovers.  I brush my teeth early so I give my body the cue that eating is done for the day.  One other thing I did last night was to go out for a walk after I ate last night, because I did not get home until 8:30 and ate after that.  I didn't want to immediately get into a sedentary mode and have all of those calories stored as fat.  At least I kept my blood pumping long enough to hopefully get the food moving. 

But let's hear it!  I want your ideas so that I can make even more changes for the better.  Thanks in advance, and I will keep everyone updated on which ideas I have implemented in my life.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mixed Bag

This has been a strange week, my friends.  It doesn't look like a great week weight wise, but I have been doing all of the right things, so while I admit I am a bit frustrated I know the results will come if I keep doing what I should.  I ended up getting an acting gig as well, which is great, but it may be the weirdest show I have ever been in.  It should be fun though.  Because of the show I am going to have to push back my 100 pound party.  I should be able to do it the next weekend, but the only thing I am pushing back is the celebration itself.  The goal is still to have lost 100 pounds by June 26th.  I have to say that with my progress lately I am worried about reaching my goal, but I will keep doing the right stuff and let the results come.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I have been told by more than one person (and more than once by my father) that I am uniquely susceptible to personal inertia.  By that I mean that the direction in which I am headed seems to be the one I continue to head in without tremendous effort to counter that.  I don't suppose I am unique in that category, but I do take an above average impetus to change direction.  The other side of that coin is that once I am headed in the right direction there is a good chance I will keep heading that way.  That sort of positive inertia is what I am experiencing now.  I do not know for sure yet, but I may have a theater gig, I just got back from a nice 3 mile or so walk, and I plan to actually do some chores today.  I have two auditions coming up in as many weeks.  Even my weight loss totals are chugging along very consistently, even the amounts lost each week.  I feel like I am rolling down a wonderful hill.  My good habits are becoming just that, habits.  The personal habits and lifestyle things have been more difficult than my dietary changes because I can keep bad food out of the apartment pretty easily.  The other stuff requires doing.  Now that I am consistently doing the right things it is getting easier and easier.  I just need to give myself an extra push every now and then to keep my momentum.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weigh in #17

Howdy friends.  It has been an up and down week in more ways than one.  I lost my college ring on Monday and thought I had a tooth break on Tuesday, though on Wednesday I found out it was either a piece of bone or tartar from my removed wisdom teeth and not any damage to my Chiclets.  My weight followed my personal life this week as I went up and down, but finished up right where I should be.  Here are this week's numbers:

Current Weight: 360.8 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 4.2 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 79.4 lbs

A very positive week.  I had two really good workouts this week, one of which I got up at 6:00 am for, so seeing results is definitely gratifying.  On Tuesday I went out a-walkin' and ended up going all the way down to Montrose Harbor and back, a little over 4 miles total.  It only took about 1:15 and the weather was pretty decent.  These walks have been my preferred form of exercise mainly because of the beauty of the lakefront, but also because I seem to be able to maintain a decent pace for much longer outside than on the treadmill.  I suppose goes back to needing a wider stance.  I weave a little bit as I walk as well, which is hard to do on a treadmill and not suffer serious injury.


I have talked before about how my 100 pound goal may have been a touch ambitious, but it has had a very positive effect on my desire to exercise.  I can't get to my goal with diet alone like I could in February and March, and my competitive nature is winning right now over my sedentary inclinations.  I think the best thing has been that I have taken the opportunity when I have had a few minutes in my apartment to do a few squats or crunches or just to stretch a bit.  Before I started the blog I probably would have thought "what's the point" about somethiong so small as 20 crunches or 10 squats, but that is the kind of self sabotage I have been able to avoid.  So what if it only makes a small difference, I am working for the long term and the little positive choices add up to big results over the long haul.


Those of you who are facebook friends may have noticed my reference to a new participation event this week.  I had a great idea last night that will help me get some new ideas for diet or exercise.  The challenge is this: I want everyone who reads this blog to make one positive choice or change this week that they would not have done previously, and then comment about it.  If you are feeling bold make more than one change.  I don't care where you comment, be it on this entry, one of the others I make this week, or at the end of the challenge next week, but I would love to hear about them because I would love to try any new ideas for myself.  No change is too big or too small.  Don't be like I was for years and think that the changes you can make are too small to make a difference.  You'll never start anything that way, and the little changes have a way of leading to bigger ones.  I look forward to your ideas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mailbag Day...5?...6? Does It Matter?

Sorry about flaking yesterday, but I was out from 8:30am to 11:00pm, so I was not able to get a post done.  Double strength blog today.  Today is the last day of the mailbag, so I'll wrap it up with a couple of great ones.

From Amy Vorpahl once more:

What about dating/social events? How does that affect what/how you eat? That's the MOST difficult time for me because I throw out all sense of nutrition knowledge on dates for some reason (or in any social situation)--sometimes I get so nervous about it, I'll decline for that reason only!

Social events are hard.  I have been lucky in a way that most of the events I have been to since starting the diet have been of the pot luck variety.  Because of that I have been able to bring something that works for my diet, which at least gives me an option.  The biggest thing has been to make the best of all available choices.  It comes back to building good habits.  It is unrealistic to think I will always have an ideal dieter's option to eat, but thinking over the long term making the "better" choice when possible adds up to better health over time.  The other tactic has been moderation, which I find really hard.  So far though I have been able to indulge reasonably in adult beverages or the occasional treat without going crazy (like I want to sometimes).  As long as it is one or two beers or cocktails, or a taste and no more of things that are less than ideal then I feel okay about it in a party situation.  As for dating, well, when I get one I will probably eat whatever I want to celebrate.  I am completely fine with a cheat meal (not day) every once in a blue moon, but honestly I would rather have the consistency unless I have something to celebrate.

And this one is another Maureen Allen question:

How has your new diet affected your budget? Has it been more expensive to shop for healthier foods? Where do you do most of your healthy shopping?

It has been more expensive, but not by much.  I order out far less than I did before, so that is a big savings.  Surprisingly I am probably eating more food now than I did before, it is just much better for me, so that has added to the grocery bill.  I shop at the usual grocery store when in a crunch, but will try to get to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods when I can afford them.  I like going to the latter places not for organics or things like that, which are nice, but not something I buy into much, but rather for variety.  I eat cheese with my breakfast everyday, and at Whole Foods I can get aged Gouda from overseas, or a new aged Swiss I have never tried.  I have eaten the same breakfast almost 90% of the time and I have yet to get tired of it because of the variety I have been able to achieve at the store.  I can also get healthy frozen meals, ethnic ingredients, and some produce that your usual Jewel or Dominick's doesn't carry.  All of that adds up to more cost, but when you add in the fact that I haven't bought a soda in 4 months (on which I was spending probably $20 a week), that I only eat order take out maybe twice a month now, and that I quit smoking last year (God knows how much wasted money went there) I have been able to cover the costs.  I have even had some disposable income to buy new things for the kitchen or new and exotic ingredients that may cost a bit more.  It has been a large factor in my success and money well spent.

That's it!  The mailbag is closed.  That doesn't mean I don't welcome questions or comments in the future, though.  It has been great to examine my progress through your questions, many of which I hadn't thought of until you asked.  As the Joes would say, "knowing is half the battle", and through this examination I have come to know more of the elements to my success. Tomorrow is accountability day.  See you then.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mailbag Day 4

Thanks to Amy Vorpahl, who posted this today:

What's the goal? Will this end at some point or are you just going to keep up with the healthy diet/exercise? I know it's super far in the future, but will the next step be to 'bulk up' with muscle and definition? 

The goal is to be healthy, and secondarily to be a more marketable actor.  I don't really have a weight goal per se.  I would like to be somewhere in the 210-225 range because I think that will be a manageable weight for me and a healthy one to live with.  If I feel and look great at 250, then that is right for me.  I would also like to think it is not too too far in the future.  I would love to be at my goal weight by my one year anniversary, but looking at the math and the pace I have been on it a more realistic goal is this time next year.  As I mentioned Tuesday all of this is is about health, so most of the things I am doing now I would like to do for the rest of my life.  As I continue to do them, I think my weight will find itself.  Size and weight have been the easiest way to track my results, though, so I post them.

As for muscle or definition I don't think I will ever be what one might call wiry.  As I lose weight I think I will probably continue to be broad and thick bodied.  Right now I am doing some weight work and anaerobic exercise to build muscle mass to help with my weight loss.  The more muscle one has the more calories it takes to keep the body going, or so I have read, and so the more calories I burn just living life.  It gives me some extra cushion in my diet.  I hope this will have a beneficial effect on my appearance, but that is secondary.  I personally think I would look weird all musclebound, but I'll take it.  That is definitely a ways off.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mailbag Day 3

This will be a short one, but once again Maureen Allen is the winner with a great question:

Were you a picky eater before your diet? Have you had to start eating foods that you didn't like before?

I was definitely a picky eater.  There were so few fruits and vegetables that I was willing to eat on a daily basis that I have definitely had to expand my horizons just to avoid ingredient burnout.  Part of the reason this blog has turned into as much of a cooking blog as a personal journal is because as I discover new preparations and techniques I discover that, prepared the correct way, I like many more fruits and veggies than I thought, and that I can tolerate most of the rest.  It sounds counter-intuitive because I would have been eating less calories, but if I had been a bit more militant about oils and dressings and those types of extra calories I probably would have been much less successful to this point.  They have been the spoonful of sugar that helps my veggies go down.  Over time I have been able to strip away the extra flavorings because I have grown accustomed to the flavor of the veggies.  It boils down to what my friend Michael told me about developing habits with food.  It takes a few weeks for your taste buds to accommodate a change in diet.  Once I cut out all of the extra sugar I was eating I was much better able to appreciate the natural sweetness of things like peppers, carrots, parsnips, and even broccoli.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mailbag Day 2

Today's question comes once again from Maureen Allen (Thanks so much Mo for all the questions!).  She asks:

What have you done this time around that is different from diets in the past that has motivated you to keep going? I have a friend who desperately wants to lose weight, but gets frustrated by the slow pace and gives up. It seems that she feels defeated by her weight. Do you have any advice for people going through the same thing?

This is the question that made me decide to split things up into multiple days   It is not an easy one to answer briefly.  I know exactly how Mo's friend feels.  I have never been thin.  I was a chunky kid and by the time I was in middle school I was fat and I have been fat ever since.  I played sports as a kid, I ate some junk, but I also ate what was on my plate.  I do not want to sound like I am blaming my family.  I always ate too much of the wrong things and my parents did the best they could to make me at least try the right ones.  My mom at times was working 4 jobs and still made time to cook when possible.  My dad was a bachelor for most of my childhood, so cooking at his place was something that had to be kind of easy.  I was a very picky eater and I was always willing to take an extra helping of the stuff I should have been moderate with.  I am predisposed to weight gain and obesity, so I needed to exercise restraint and self control, things I haven't had the maturity or willpower to do until now.

I hadn't really tried too many diets before.  The one real go at it I had in the past went well until I gave up because of the time and expense required to cook frequently and make sure I was eating the right things.  Add to that the fact that for some reason I really did not want to lose the weight yet.  I wanted to be thinner, but I was afraid of the process and of the change.  Having never been thin I felt that, in a way, my size was my identity.  I was the funny fat guy.  I was Chase, the big teddy bear.  I was also terrified of failing.  I hate failure, but rarely am I willing to put in the effort to guarantee success, so I never start.  It wasn't until I was able to successfully quit smoking that I could see past all of that and feel that I had the tools I needed to get the job done.

The biggest single difference from anything I have ever tried before is that I am not trying to lose weight.  I am tracking my weight loss in this blog, and I get a bit obsessed at times with my goals, but ultimately what I am doing is not "trying to lose weight".  I am trying to be healthy.  I am trying to learn to make the best of all available choices.  I am trying to build good habits, and when I have good habits, to use Polonius' phrase "and it must follow, as the night the day", will lose weight.  I am also trying to have fun with it.  It is not about dieting.  I have given some things up forever.  I have decided that some things I will only have every once in a while. But I am cooking and learning about new foods and flavors.  I am relishing the challenge of finding something I can be happy with at every restaurant I go to, and I usually do.  I am finding the right balance of structure and spontaneity to give me the best shot at succeeding.

My best advice is manifold.  Do not think about it as a diet, as a sacrifice, as punishment for bad choices.  Think about it as a lifestyle change, as an opportunity, a chance to explore new things.  Make sure you are ready and really want to be healthy.  I know everybody wants health, but you have to be ready to do the things to get it, and want that change.  The hardest advice I can give is to love yourself as you are.  You cannot start if you are not willing to fail, and the fear of failure will cripple you completely if you don't accept and love who you are at that moment.  I don't mean to be satisfied with yourself.  I want so many things for myself.  I don't want to ever be satisfied with myself, because then I stop trying to be better, be it as a person, an actor, or as a friend.  It sounds cheesy, but know that the outside does not reflect the inside and that being overweight is no reflection of the kind of person you are.  I wish that last part didn't need saying, but it seems that many folks think that being fat means you are weak or stupid or greedy.  Many overweight people privately feel that way about themselves.  You cannot do something this hard feeling that way.

It is going to be slow and difficult.  There is not much you can do about that.  At least once a week I want to punch a hole in a wall because it feels like I will never get to where I want to be.  I try to think about the real goals I have, to be healthy and happy, and it really helps.

I hope that answers the question and helps anybody who wants to start along a similar path.  I can only say what has worked for me, so take it all with a grain of salt.  See you again tomorrow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mailbag Day 1

Day one of my week-long effort to answer the burning questions my readers have, and to keep things entertaining.  As of right now a couple folks have sent me questions, so I have enough for a couple of days, but I would love to do this all week, so I encourage you to send in any questions, or even advice that you have thought of in the months I have been blogging.

Today I will kill two questions with one answer and they revolve around snacks.

Maureen Allen asks:
"On days that you are not very busy, how do you keep yourself from snacking? How hard has it been to learn how to discipline yourself, and did you use any specific methods to learn discipline?"

The short answer to the first part of the question is that I don't, I just try to snack on the right things.  Snacking smart has been a huge part of my weight loss because it helps me eat less at any one time, which really limits the amount of calories I end up having that day, as long as I am snacking on the right things.  To wit, here is today's other query:

Amy Vorpahl asks:
"What are your snacks?"

There are quite a few things I use for snacks, but two or three that I eat pretty regularly.  My most frequent snack is fruit.  A mid-morning banana or apple really curbs my appetite at lunch and helps me fight the mid-day blues.  I rarely crash at 3pm when I have eaten a piece of fruit that morning.  A couple other snacks I eat frequently are hummus and salsa, both of which I have started making at home now.  With the salsa it really helps keep sodium reasonable and with the hummus it is just dirt cheap to do at home.  I only started making these recently, but here are my most recent attempts (this was my first jar of salsa):

Both turned out well, but I ran out of chilis when I was making the salsa, so it is not as hot as I like it, but it was still very tasty.

To answer the second part of Maureen's question I do try to keep my snacking under control, which can be an issue for me.  A trick I heard, and one I use, is to drink a whole glass of water when I feel like snacking.  If it is not thirst masquerading as hunger then it sticks around and I know I am really hungry, but that is usually enough to forestall any cravings until it is actually time to eat.  I also try to think of snacks as a chance to eat the things I should eat every day but do not always fit into my meals.  That is why I eat fruit so often as a snack.  I am not perfect about it, and sometimes I may have a few to many tortilla chips with my salsa, or a bit too much pita, but overall I feel good about the habits I have built, especially considering what snacking was like before.  Candy, chips, and soda.  Lost of them. 

Two questions down.  I am really enjoying this, so I hope even once this week is over you send me anything that pops into your head as you read.  I want to make my weight loss as interactive as possible.  Feeling like I was on my own in the past lead to failures, and the blog has been a huge part of keeping me on track.  Thanks, and I look forward to answering another question tomorrow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weigh in #16

Back, Jack, do it again.  An up and down week, but Saturday appears to have fallen on a down day, so the numbers are pretty decent.  I went from up almost a pound and a half early in the week to a positive end result, but the total is not as much as I'd like and not on the pace I need to hit 100 by my deadline.  Perhaps setting deadlines like this is not the best thing for me.  They get my competitive spirit going, but they also take my focus off of the real goal of my journey, and that is health.  Weight loss is a part of that, but if I am doing the right things and get behind on my weight loss that should be okay, and my deadline makes it a bit stressful.  One positive is that the deadline does push me to do more of the things I have been remiss in, like exercising.  I got in one really good workout and two decent walks this week, and I also took the chance when available to make the more physically strenuous choice, like taking the stairs when the elevators in my building were running slowly (I live on the 8th, so it is a chore, especially after an 8-10 hour shift at work).  Here are today's totals:

Current Weight: 365 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 3.6 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 75.2 lbs

A bit behind the pace I need, but I am over 75 pounds down and that is nothing to sneeze at.  I continue to notice improvements in my strength and stamina in my everyday life.  I sleep better than I ever have, I walk faster and more efficiently, I even want to get up and move around sometimes.  My job requires a lot of sitting and that is something that is more and more onerous to me, and sitting down has never been something I was against in the past.  My diet has slipped back a little bit and I should work on that this week.  It is not that I am eating things that are poor choices, but my timing and habits have fallen back and I am getting hungry a bit more than I used to.  I think this is due to the fact that I have for a while been doing 3 moderate meals instead of the 3 moderate and 2 small snacks.  I still do snacks every once in a while, but not in the consistent way that yielded success in the first couple of months of my weight loss.  I think I will try to get back in to that habit this week and see what kind of results I get.

Starting tomorrow I will be answering mailbag questions I have already received.  Thanks so much to those of you who have submitted, and to those putting it off it is not too late.  Leave a comment or email throughout the week.  I plan to do a post every day this week and answer a couple questions.  Until next time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In My Estimation

I was doing a little math this week to see what I would have to lose each week to reach my 100 pound goal by my deadline.  It turns out it is just over 4 pounds a week.  Pair that with the fact that I gained a little weight for no apparent reason in the first half of the week, suddenly I was feeling a lot less confident.  I can do it, I know I can, I just know it is going to take discipline.

Speaking of discipline I wanted to comment on how the measures I have taken for my health are affecting my enjoyment of life.  I am asked at work or by my friends some times how I go without a certain item or other.  There are certainly things that I really miss, but I was thinking about this today and it struck me that this process is a lot like rehearsal for a play.  The goal is to rehearse like you are going to perform, but there are certain things you do in rehearsal, like exercises or repeating sections of a scene, that have no place in performance.  The goal of rehearsal is preparation and that is exactly what I am doing now.  Of course I will, and do rarely, enjoy the occasional treat, maybe even more often when I reach my goal weight and health, but I forgo those things now because it is so much harder to lose weight than maintain it.  I want to teach myself the good habits that will be the grounding for my continuing health.  After working so diligently at the bad habits for 25 years, I need to spend some time doing the right things as much as possible.  The goal is that once I reach a weight with which I am satisfied I will have built the kind of habits that will keep me there.  It is not always fun, but most of what I am doing is pleasant, if new, and many of the things I miss I know that I can enjoy in moderation once I reach my goal.  The few things I have decided to remove entirely from my diet I either don't miss or enjoy the benefits of having forgone the item more than the item itself.

I Want You!

I feel like the blog has gotten a bit stale in the last couple of weeks, so next Wednesday I would love to answer questions or respond to advice.  So for this mailbag edition of The Amazing Shrinking Actor please submit whatever you like to the comments of this post or my email,  I will pick a few and respond next week.  Until then please keep checking back and I will see you Saturday for the weigh in.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Weigh in #15

Another week bites the dust.  This week has been busy and I think I exposed further weaknesses in my healthy habits which I need to focus on fixing.  I was called in to my day job early a couple of times this week and I got caught without home cooked food most of the week.  I do not mean to intimate that I eat food I cooked myself for every meal, on the contrary.  On workdays I usually have my during work meal at one of the spots around my office building, but when I work late the options narrow.  I can almost always find a low calorie option, but the sodium is a huge issue.  Even at Subway, my go to evening spot downtown, it is pretty rough.  This week I am going to think about ways I can prep items that I can throw together easily in multiple combinations.  It is great to have tasty leftovers, but having the same meal 4 out of 6 dinners is a bit wearing on the palate.  I am not yet sure how to accomplish this, so I will be giving it some thought this week, but those of you who cook, especially any moms, whose lives are ten times busier than mine, your ideas are welcome.  With all of that being said I was very good with my calorie intake this week and the results show it:

Current Weight: 368.6 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 4.6 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 71.6 lbs

Over seventy pounds lost and now below 370.  The steady progress is, of course, very gratifying, and confirms that I can get to my 100 pound goal  by my deadline.  My dance call and this week, and some of my recent exercise sessions have been enlightening as well, because I am starting to really notice some big changes in the physical function and abilities of my body.  My musculature is built for a 440+ pound person, but I am a full 15% below that now, and because of that I feel strong.  I am able to jog for a more extended spurt now.  I am jumping a bit higher.  My stamina has certainly increased.  Some of the adjustments I have had to make are a bit strange as well.  My joints feel like they belong to someone else when I am out walking or working out.  I think this is partly because after years carrying as much as they have they are not in the best shape.  As my muscles adjust and take pressure off of the actual structure of the joints (particularly my knees and hips) it should get better, but I think some damage is done and I will have to live with that.  Part of the reason my joints feel weird is because as I have lost weight and body fat my joint alignment has been shifting.  My feet can face a bit more forward.  My knees are more under my shoulders because I have less thigh to force them apart.  My butt is smaller so I am able to straighten my back more naturally.  I would say that a good bit more of the weight I have lost is from my front, so my entire center of gravity is further back.  It is a strange adjustment, but beyond the joint discomfort I am really able to use my body more efficiently.

One week closer.  I seem to find something new to work on or fix almost every week, and that is good because it keeps me active, moving in the right direction, and prevents complacency.  Setting these smaller goals has really been helpful as well.  It gets my competitive nature going, and once that is going my family can tell you that I am more than a bit focused.  This whole process has been an incredible learning experience as well.  I have learned what motivates me, how to get myself to work when my natural inclination is to let things happen to me, and how to enjoy what I thought would be an austere and painful process.  All of this almost seems normal now, and I guess that is the ultimate goal.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Livin' The Dream

I figured it was time to talk a but about the other aspect of my blog title.  I have covered shrinking, but the "actor" part is also being effected.  I have debated with myself a thousand times whether to take time off from acting while I made these changes.  The idea behind taking a break would have been to spend my energy on my health.  Knowing that my audition clothes wouldn't fit, that my headshot would look less and less like the actor it was supposed to represent, and that my type would be changing, possibly more than once, were daunting to say the least.  The arguments for staying on the audition trail are pretty obvious.  The whole reason I moved to Chicago was to pursue a professional acting career.  Staying out there I figured would also give me opportunities to find out my type and how I am being perceived as I change in to the person I will be.  I ultimately decided to stay out there, although auditions have still been few and far between and at times it has felt like I was on a break.  

After about two months of nothing the time had come, as some of my OU theater friends would say, to put my Fame School Degree to good use, and I have had three auditions in the last couple of weeks.  The first two were on back to back days and I felt like the rust showed, but it was nice to get out there and act.  I had an audition today that I had misgivings about, but that I feel went reasonably well.  It was for a newer musical theater company in one of the Chicago suburbs that produces original musicals.  I really enjoy doing musicals, but I have struggled with doubts about whether I "should" be pursuing it.  It is not that I do not think I am capable, but that I feel a little weird at the auditions.  I am not your run of the mill musical theater actor.  In a way that is a plus, because few though the roles may be that I can play in a professional setting, fewer still are the folks that really fit those roles.  I am a good singer and I move well enough, but the look of mild shock and surprise when I walk into a holding room always stings a bit.  

The main reason I was so anxious about the audition today was that it was initially structured as a dance call with certain folks asked to sing afterward.  I went in worried that I wouldn't even be allowed to sing, but as for the dance, well,  I think in situations like that I am much more free to just relax and have fun because pressure is low, expectations being what they are.  I felt I handled myself well, in fact I was pleased that I was much less tired after the dance number than I would have been in a dance call last year.  They had a more intense routine for a few of the guys, but decided that everyone would get to sing.  The relief from that alone made my audition song one of the best I have done in a while.  I don't know if they were just seeing everyone to be polite, as the theater was way out of the way and they hinted at that, but even if they thought they had made up their minds about me after the dance I relished the chance to change them.  Today's experience was one that reminded me that free and easy is the best way to get just about anything done, let alone an audition.  As I struggle to take control of the things in my life that need change, I am learning more and more that I also need to let go of the things over which I have no control.  There is a great prayer that says something very much along those lines, and even for the non-religious it can provide wonderful advice.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 

--Reinhold Niebuhr

My new mantra.  I hope it is a philosophy that will make me a better, thinner actor. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weigh in #14

Two posts in two days?  I feel like I am cultivating expectations I will be unable to meet, but it is a risk I am okay with.  Saturday once again.  Today is day 1 of month 4.  I had another jolt down in weight today.  I worked out yesterday morning and I was especially conscious of sodium, but I actually had more calories than I have been having, almost a full 2000, so maybe I should be eating a bit more.  I think I was also holding back a  bunch of water which explains the big drop from yesterday to today.  As you know from yesterday I was at 375 exactly, which was .2 pounds oer my goal for the three months.  Here are today's numbers:

Current Weight: 373.2 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 5.8 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 67 lbs

Almost two pounds in a day.  It goes to show I think that though yesterday was probably a good day, with especially healthy food choices and some exercise, my body experiences fluctuations and being a large body the fluctuations are correspondingly large.

Moving Back The Goalpost

Now that my three month goal has come and gone successfully my next big goal is 100 pounds.  This is the one I have been looking forward to most.   I am going to have a party when I hit 100 pounds down and I would love to have a healthy foods picnic in the lakefront park where I have done so much of my work for this process.  To that end I think somewhere in the last two weeks of June is the perfect time, so, here is the goal.  In two months at the most I will lose the remaining 33 pounds.  I am two thirds there, so I expect I should get this one done early, but I want to give myself a little leeway to account for the fact that I am bound to slow down the closer I get to my goal weight.  I have to reach 100 pounds by the morning of June 26th.  That day, Saturday afternoon,  is when I want to have the party.  We can eat and hangout in the park and maybe head down to the beach and then anyone who wants to can come back to my apartment and hang out throughout the night.  Hope to see you there.

You Are Invited!

100 Weight Feast

Date:    Saturday, June 26th
Time:    Afternoon, TBD
Location:  Park south of Hollywood Beach
(Enter on Bryn Mawr under Lakeshore Dr.  Street parking in neighborhoods or Bryn Mawr Red Line)

Bring yourself
and if so desired a beverage and a healthy dish to share.

Drinks and conversation in my apartment to follow.
5550 N. Kenmore Ave #806
Chicago, IL 60640

I will figure out the time and probably send an evite as we get closer to the date.  If you are someone with whom I do not regularly correspond, please leave your email as a comment or send it to me at  I will be sure you get an invitation. 

No backing out now.