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Sometimes I wonder if I’m hardcore enough. The other weight loss blogs hosted by men seem very serious.  They’re all “high intensity” and grunty.  It’s got me thinking I guess.  Where do I stand on that whole deal? 

I think that people, like any other animal, are very trainable.  When our actions result in a positive feeling we will repeat those actions.  I say “feeling” instead of “result” on purpose.  Results are often too slow or vague to flood our brain with goodness and thereby hardwire a behavior.  Feelings are immediate.  Unfortunately the feeling associated with “high intensity” training, for me and many others, is pain.  So there seems to me to be a problem with the logic.  Even a rat knows not to push the hurty button after doing so once or twice.  Instead it learns to push the button that rewards it with some sort of delicious rat-treat. 

Now I know we are not rats (apologies to any readers who are), and should be able to look into the future and say, “An even bigger treat is out there somewhere, and I’m going to push this hurty button until I get it.”  But as anyone who has tried to lose weight over and over knows, it’s easier said than done.  Hard enough that many of us have failed for not just years but decades,  even though the topic of weight loss was in the forefront of our minds the whole time. 

So, what do I believe?  I believe we need to learn to eat correctly.  I’m not talking extremes here either.  I’m talking about cutting out some stuff that’s just horrible, and slimming down portions of what’s left.  We need to cut out unnecessary calories like those from beverages.  Your not going anywhere drinking 500 calories a day.  I also believe we need to move more.  Preferably in ways we enjoy.  Play sports or walk or jog.  Whatever you like.  Keep those feelings positive. 

Now I’m not saying the hardcore fitness community is wrong in any way.  Eat five small meals of lean protein and vegetables a day.  Drink tons of water.  Avoid sugar.  Mix cardio with resistance training.  High intensity training will maximize fat loss while preserving muscle.  Yes, yes, yes.  It’s all true.  I know that.  But until you get results?  That lifestyle sucks.  Well, for me.  Always cooking and eating, always sore,  forty-five minutes of torture high intensity excercise a day, no food that I like, choking down water constantly.  Let me just say that if I had this kind of discipline I never would have gotten fat. 

That’s how I feel about hardcore dieting in a nutshell.  It’s great if you can do it.  If you can’t I think that’s fine.  You don’t have to climb straight up and over the mountain to reach your destination,  you can also walk around it.  Here is my idea of a natural and comfortable progression to good health. 

Step 1.  Learn to eat inside of your bodies needs.  Move more.

Step 2.  Cut out unnecessary calories.  Start a moderate fitness routine.

Step 3.  Work on eating consistently over long periods of time.  Elevate your workouts so they’re still challenging.

Step 4.  Cut your diet further, try to cut sugar and eat less salt and fat.  Set fitness goals like lifting a certain amount of weight or running a 5k.

Step 5.  Your diet should be pretty good.  Track it and tweak it.  Keep pushing your fitness.  Challenge yourself. 

Step 6.  Get a job as a greek statue model.

Step 7.  Freelance super hero work.

There are so many potential ways to get tripped up while losing weight.  There are two in particular that will come up again and again on your journey.  When you don’t lose any weight you will want to quit, and when you put in a hard week and lose  a good amount of weight you will want to relax and take a few days off.  Either of those things can throw you off-balance and ruin your diet. 

There was a time when I was really going at this weight loss thing.  I had been eating well and lifting weights for about five weeks.  My results were exciting and every week I was more dedicated and pushing myself harder.  I decided to eat perfectly and work out as hard as I could.  I stayed off the scale so at the end of the week I could bask in my success.  When it came time to weigh myself I was hungry and my body was exhausted from the beating I had put on it.  I felt like crying when I saw that I had gained a pound and a half.  That was it for me.  My heart was out of it.  I tried but could never harness that fire again.  That is the all or nothing style of dieting. 

Losing a lot of weight can give you the same result.  A woman from Weight Watchers challenged me to lose more weight than her over the week.  Being a competitive guy I went at it full steam.  It had nothing to do with the idea of losing to a girl.  It didn’t.  Shut up.  So I pushed hard and ate very little.  My weight loss was eight pounds.  She lost sixteen.  I don’t know how.  She wasn’t looking so good at the meeting.  But I was still happy.  Eight pounds is pretty extreme.  I’d done good.  So when I grabbed McDonald’s on the way home I didn’t feel so bad.  I deserved a yummy pat on my chubby back. The next day I ate fast food again, telling myself that this was the last time.  I ate well the next day but followed that up with a pizza.  I’d lost it.  Again.  I patted myself on the back all week long with fast food, pizza, and desserts.  I couldn’t stand eating healthy when there were so many delicious alternatives.  When I weighed-in that week I had gained nine pounds.  All my work erased, plus a pound.  I didn’t go back for over a month. 

Don’t throw everything you have into one week.  One week is basically meaningless.  This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Nobody cares if you burst off the line and blow past the pack only to pass out in the gutter a mile down the road.  Find that happy medium and try to live in that space.  When you can do that you can just let time pass and the results will take care of themselves.  I’ve lost over five pounds in a week at Weight Watchers many times.  But the older ladies who lose a pound a week are killing me in total weight loss.  They are the tortoise to my hare.  So that’s what I’m trying to do.  Just making small changes, staying comfortable, and finding my stride.

I know.  Weight Watchers is for girls.  But could it be they’re on to something over there?  It all comes back to that lifestyle thing again.  Diets don’t work.  Not in the long run.  Sure you can lose weight.  A heavy dose of will power will get it done.  But when the diet is over?  Here comes the old habits and with them all those pounds you just worked so hard to destroy.  Weight Watchers isn’t a diet.  It’s a way to track what your eating.  Through tracking you can make sure your eating properly. 

I know that when someone shows me a properly balanced and portioned meal I think, “Is that it?”  It’s just not enough food.  Because I’ve forgotten how to eat.  If your significantly over-weight you have too.  We just don’t need that much food to run our bodies.  Weight Watchers teaches you how to eat all over again.  Or should I say, it allows you to teach yourself. 

One of the great things about Weight Watchers is you can pretty much eat anything you want.  You just have to stay with-in your point range.  When I first started I went straight to Wendy’s and ate a burger and fries.  It was fine because I was still under my point total.  Now that’s dieting!  But then a few hours later I was hungry.  I only had a handful of points left which made for a pretty meager dinner.  Over the next few days I realized that if I ate healthier I could eat more.  It was a natural progression.  The healthier you eat, the more you can eat.  If you want unhealthy food, go for it, count the points, and be ready to go hungry.  This method teaches you how to eat, it doesn’t do it for you.  These lessons can be used for the rest of your life to keep you healthy and at a good weight. 

The thing I like about Weight Watchers the most is the results I’ve seen.  When I was at my biggest I looked online for people who had lost weight successfully and found a guy my age who had lost 130lbs his first year of Weight Watchers.  Pretty inspiring.  When I started going to classes I met more inspiring people.  There is a woman in her seventies you has lost seventy pounds.  Can you imagine being heavy for forty years and then starting to lose it in your seventies?  That can’t be easy.  But she excels.  We have posters on the wall there.  They have weight loss achievements printed on them.  There is one that says, “100lbs lost.”  There are six names on it right now.  I desperately want mine up there. 

So I’m not saying Weight Watchers is for everyone.  But if you have forgotten how to eat properly.  Or you want something that has decades of testing and results.  Or a support system full of people who understand what you’re going through.  If any of those are you maybe you should try it out.  It works if you follow it.  It’s not fast but it’s healthy.  And as I tell myself every week, two pounds a week for a year is one-hundred and four pounds lost.

Hello! So the weight loss journey continues.  One step at a time.  I’m well into week 1 and here is my current issue.  I don’t eat.  It’s kind of like I’m throwing a little fit only quieter.  I want to eat, just not what I’m allowed to eat.  So I eat nothing.  It’s horrible.  Not what your supposed to do at all. 

An optimal diet would have me eating small amounts throughout the day.  This way your metabolism is always cranking and you have good energy and a steady calorie burn.  Eating this way is good for health, digestion, and weight loss.  But as with everything in this world it’s easier said than done. 

Eating many small meals requires a lot of time and money.  You have to cook and shop.  Two things I don’t always love to do.  Unless your going to eat the same things all the time you need an assortment of healthy (expensive) foods.  These foods don’t often have the greatest shelf-life so be prepared to shop every four days or so.  Cooking and clean-up can consume hours of your day.  It’s no good.  Not when I’d rather spend six bucks on McDonald’s and lose maybe 15 minutes of my day, drive included.  But in the name of progress and productivity I will discuss solutions. 

Cook for the future.  On one day of the week cook a mess of food.  Enough for a few days.  This way you can microwave up some food and maybe just have to steam some vegetables.  A good healthy turkey chili is good for this if you can stand eating it three days in a row.  Brown rice is also good to have ready to heat up. 

Find cheap meals that work for you.  I like quick, cheap, meals.  Easy when eating bad, hard to find a healthy alternative.  For a healthy breakfast I like Malt-O Meal.  It’s cheap and easy, add some egg whites, or even some protein powder.  Finish it off with a piece of fruit.  For lunches I like sandwiches or salads.  I prefer salads but I have trouble keeping the ingredients around and fresh.  Sandwich’s can be good if you do them right.  Lay off the mayo and cheese.  I like oven roasted turkey on whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, and mustard.  Quick and cheap.  For dinners I like skillet meals.  By that I mean anything I can cook in one skillet.  It’s pretty fast, one pan, and there’s more recipes than you would think.  Fajita’s is the most obvious one.  There are tasty low-fat tortillas available.  These are some of my ideas but find your own.  It’s all about finding how YOU can be healthy. 

So I’m going to work on eating like I should.  Not eating at all is bad news.  It’s unhealthy and sets up binges.  Also there’s no reason to make weight loss so horrible.  Sometimes I think I like to suffer a bit so I can really feel that I’m doing something.  But I could be getting better results and be more comfortable if I just put a little effort in.  Doesn’t make sense not to.  Good luck to me and everyone who reads this.  Let’s eat right.

Easter weekend has come and gone.  I didn’t do so hot, but I’m not letting it get to me.  The diet continues.  Over all I’m giving myself a failing grade for week one.  But it was a short week and rather than making it official I’m extending week one to include this week as well.  In summation week one will be ten days long.  That’s right, I bend the rules of time and space whenever it pleases me.  My weeks will be Monday to Sunday starting….now. 

So here are the positives.  I went to Weight Watchers tonight for the first time in a long time.  I had them start my program over again so everything will be fresh and new.  Also I’m feeling motivated.  I’m good at losing weight when I want to be and this week I want to be.  Let us get serious.  You’ll notice that sometimes I refer to myself as more than one individual.  Don’t let that disturb you.  Sometimes I’m including you the reader and sometimes it’s because I’m nuts. 

A note on my two weights:  I have two weights.  It’s necessary that you understand this to avoid any confusion.  There is my Weight Watchers weight, which is my walking around, dressed, food in my stomach, weight.  And my second weight I call my fighting weight.  This weight is first thing in the morning, with an empty stomach… nuuuude.  Calm yourselves.  It’s necessary to get the very lowest weight possible.  I will be giving both weights in my weekly stats.  I tried to get my fighting weight and my WW weight to be the same but those prudes called the cops.  That never happened.

Soooo, in the meeting we talked about eating a variety of foods.  Good advice really.  If you’ve been dieting for a while and eating the same things every day it sometimes trips you up.  If you can’t stand the thought of eating what you’re supposed to eat you’re more likely to cheat.  So there’s that. 

One more thing.  I took the traveling tracker (a food tracking book we trade every week so we can see what other people eat) to give myself some more accountability and to force myself to track because I fricking hate doing it.  It should help.  Let the week officially begin!