Friday, August 20, 2010

Ice Cream Party at Work Today

We celebrate the August birthdays today at work with an ice cream party. There are already 3 tubs of ice cream in the freezer, cones and topping for the ice cream, and a pack of Oreo cookies. By the time everyone gets to work there will be three times that amount stored away in the kitchen for the 10 o'clock party.

My contribution to these parties is always the same. I bring an ice chest with a 12-pack of Diet Cokes and a 12-pack of regular Sprites. It's easy to "fix" so this is a good niche for me. Of course, with about 10 parties a year (we double up a couple of times on months without many birthdays), bringing drinks to the parties equals about $100 of cost every year. For people who fix dishes, it certainly equals $100 or more in ingredients and time. It wouldn't bother me at all if we did away with these monthly birthday parties, but then we would have even more parties as each department honored their employees individually.

I'll be drinking a Diet Coke today and that's all. In theory, a small bowl of ice cream wouldn't be too bad, but it's easier to stop at none than it is to stop after a small bowl. Here's something that might help me stay away from all of the extra calories:

I have one of those ice chest with two wheels so you can pick up on one end and roll the chest around. The chest, 24 soft drinks, and a 20-pound bag of ice weighs 40 pounds. If my knowledge of physics is correct, that means I was lifting about 20 pounds and the wheels were supporting 20 pounds. Later when I had to pick up the ice chest, I was flat out lifting 40 pounds. It's a lot of weight. I'm close to 225 pounds right now and I'm going to drop down to 175 pounds. That's 50 pounds, the same as my ice chest today plus 10 more pounds for good measure. The relief of not dealing with those 50 pounds 24 hours a day will be incredible.

Getting rid of those 50 pounds isn't an overnight thing, but it also doesn't have to be seen as a difficult and near impossible thing. I won't eat ice cream today at 10, or at noon for dessert, or at 3 for an afternoon break. That will keep me away from at least 1,500 calories. That will keep me away from a major dieting setback. It won't be painful, it won't leave me suffering, and when I get home at 4:30 I'll feel just the same as I'd feel if my day had been spent snacking. When you realize that short term burst of pleasure are being traded in for years and years of added comfort and ease of living, skipping the ice cream and cookies is really a very easy choice to make.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18, 2010--Down to 226 Pounds

I know, I know, I know. The rules of the diet are that you don't weigh except on the first of the month. That might as well be the former rules of the diet since it gets broken so often.

My reason for weighing this morning was to see if my weight truly has broken free from that 228 pound plateau. I think it has as long as I don't go on an eating frenzy. Knowing that progress is being made will made it easier to really stick to less eating this Wednesday. Not that I'm going to skip the gathering with the guys, but I'll eat a little less during the day and probably will eat very little or nothing after get back from the Ole Tavern. Staying under 2,000 calories is easy with a little planning.

With today's weigh-in, I'm down 3 pounds in August. Some people would find that pace of loss too slow, but about a pound a week is really a decent rate. Plus, my progress has been slowed by the big loss at the end of July and lack of exercise. Walking in the afternoon is something that will really jumpstart my weight loss, but it's so dang hot still and we have those big rains in the afternoon. Things will be much better in a month and maybe we'll start seeing weight losses closer to 2 pounds per week.

Progress is being made and the dieting is still easy. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be at or below 175 pounds before this time next year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I've Been Cheating Too Much on My Diet

Haven't written much over here in the last week and during that same period I've been cheating a lot of my diet. I've got to get a grip.

The good news is that I'm not cheating when it comes to cutting down on the food intake. That parts going great. What I'm having trouble with is this thing about not weighing myself every morning. It seems like a harmless little whim, but I know how seeing a diet stall can be depressing, and feeling like good efforts are producing little results is the start of a diet breaking down.

Then again, maybe weighing only once a month is too infrequent. I weighed Monday morning and was down to 226.5 pound. That doesn't sound like much, down 2.5 pounds after 2 really good weeks of dieting, but I hope it's an indication that I've broken free of that 228 pound plateau that has been a problem in the past.

Today is the 17th. There are two more weeks to go in August and maybe there will be at least one stretch of good weight loss during that period. That's how it seems to work--a week or so with a nice loss followed by a week or so of the body refusing to go any lower. If the scale shows 222 pounds on September 1, down from 229 on August 1, then this will have been a very good month. If it shows 224 pounds, then I can live with 5 pounds per month, especially after losing so much at the end of July.

The bottom line is that I'm doing the right things when it comes to dieting. When the cooler weather arrives it will be easier to do the right things in regard to getting out and exercising more. I know it doesn't make sense when I say this, but suddenly dieting went from being very hard to being easy and the only thing I changed was my attitude. I just stopped telling myself that it is almost impossible to resist the free candy at the office, the junk food at the grocery story, the drive-thru at Wendy's, etc, and suddenly I was able to resist all of those things without any great pain or sense of being deprived. The difference your attitude can make is like the difference between night and day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

After 3 Weeks of Dieting--I'm Still Fat

Three weeks ago I was at the Laundromat and it hit me that my attitude needed to change from thinking dieting is hard to thinking dieting is easy. That 180 degree change of attitude has done wonders for my ability to stay on the right path when it comes to dieting, but I'm still fat. That's a bummer.

Isn't that the typical mindset. Year and years of overeating and for some reason we think that being disciplined for three weeks should turn it all around. Our perspectives are really screwed up when it comes to the time needed to solve a problem compared to the time involved in creating the problem.

Maybe in three months I'll notice a real difference. That's not much time compared to the years of overeating that got me in this predicament. Here's the catch though--three months is a very long time if you are telling yourself every day that dieting is hard. I couldn't last three months if every day felt like it was some sort of Herculean task to stay on track. I'm not sure if I could last three months if I was focused on how many calories I consumed each day.

That's been a big change. I could go back to let's say the previous day or maybe two days back and calculate my calories, but then it seems like I might start focusing on how little I'm eating. It's a lot easier going through the day eating small amounts when I'm hungry, knowing that this method is going to always keep me under 2,000 calories per day. It's really fairly simple and my guess is that my calorie count is averaging less than what I was eating during the successful diet of 2006. In three months, there will be a noticeable difference.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Illegal Weigh-in

The rule on this “dieting is easy” plan is to only weigh myself on the 1st of each month. Curiosity got the better of me and I checked my weight this morning. The scale showed 228 pounds. One pound lost after 10 days of really doing great on my diet. Disappointing results and a very good example of why I should only weigh once a month. Disappointing, but not really surprising.

I was at the Strong Family Reunion on July 17th. In the days following that trip I saw my weight hit 240 pounds at least once, and several times I was in the high 230’s. On August 1, about two weeks later, my weight was 229 pounds. That’s a big drop for such a short stretch of time.

After a drop of that magnitude, it’s natural for the body to put a halt to the weight loss. It makes sense that I’m on this plateau in the upper 220’s because the mid-230’s was becoming my natural weight over the course of the summer. The last 10 days might have been more about avoiding a rebound, so actually losing another pound might be a great result. It’s just that the long string of 229 and 228 pound weigh-ins would have been discouraging if I had been weighing every day.

I’ve learned my lesson and will wait until September 1st before checking my weight again. I’ll hopefully be past this current plateau and down to at least the 224-225 range. That would be a good result and with a bit more discipline and a bit more exercise, maybe we can push that result just a little closer to the 220 pound mark. That would be fantastic.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What Will 175 Pounds Feel Like?

Because it is so far in the past, I can’t remember what 175 pounds feels like. I can’t remember what it feels like to go out jogging and run at a nice steady pace for 4-5 miles. I can’t remember what it’s like to feel really healthy. I know it will feel significantly different from weighing about 235 pounds. I know because I can remember what it was like in 2006 when I dropped from 230 pounds down to 200 pounds and then further down to 190.

What I remember from that last successful diet is that my balance improved remarkably as I lost weight. At 230 pounds there would be times when I would move in a slightly awkward manner and I’d have to grab on to something to keep from falling. It wasn’t often, just here and there and I never actually fell, but it was troubling. That all went away after my weight dropped below the 215 pound range.

Then when my weight hit 210, and 200, and finally 190, I noticed a remarkable change in my tennis game. I had to retrain myself to go for balls that in the past had been unreachable. It wasn't just my imagination, the other in the tennis group all notice the amazing difference. There was an incredible increase in my mobility. What would it have been like with another 15 pounds lost? I wish I had worked a little hard to find out back in 2006.

Admittedly, increased quickness isn’t going to help me that much in my office job or my photography, and improved balance doesn’t mean that I should be applying for a job with Cirque du Soleil. However, we all go through the day moving and twisting and reaching and being active in some manner, and shedding 60 pounds has to make all of that movement easier. Shedding this weight is going to make me feel like I felt 10-15 years ago. It’s going to really improve the quality of my life.

I’m ready for that to happen and it will be well worth skipping an extra sandwich at lunch and my habitual candy during the day to make that happen. I’ll feel like a totally different person by the end of this year.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How Often Should a Person Weigh?

Most dieting experts say a person should not weigh every day. I’ve ignored that advice for the last four years of supposedly dieting. Weighing myself every day is a habit I got into back in the athletic days when dieting was the last thing on my mind. I became very accustomed to seeing my weight go up or down by one, two or three pounds from day-to-day depending on my sporting activities. Therefore, I knew to take with a grain of salt the daily fluctuations that occur during a diet.

In hindsight, I think the daily weigh-ins while dieting might have been a poor idea. Back when I was thinking that dieting is hard, finding myself stuck on a particular weight for several days would get me thinking that no matter how hard I try, my body just wasn’t going to lose the weight. With that mindset of doubt, it was easy to go ahead and cheat a little—or cheat a lot.

Now I’m only weighing on the first of each month. I’ll undoubtedly encounter those plateaus where the body just doesn’t want to drop lower, but now I won’t have the daily negative feedback tempting me to give up on any serious dieting efforts. I’ll stick with my plan and that will push me through even the most stubborn plateaus. I have confidence that every weigh-in will show that progress is being made, and that progress will reinforce my new belief that dieting is far easier than we have all been led to think.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dealing With a Wednesday

Wednesday night is set aside for going out and have a few drinks with friends. It has always been a night where I'd be happy if the daily calorie total fell in the mid-2,000's. That's a level that hardly constitutes dieting, but one that isn't too far off from what a man should have in a typical day.

Back in the days when I kept pounding my brain with the mantra that "dieting is hard", I thought that a somewhat diet neutral Wednesday was a good effort. Now that I've changed my mindset to one of "dieting is easy", I'm not conceding defeat on my Wednesdays. Instead, I'm finding that it's not very hard at all to make Wednesday a good dieting day.

Today started off with a ham-and-cheese breakfast sub and there was a yogurt during a mid-morning break. That's about 400 calories. Lunch was a ham and cheese sandwich with pickles on the side--a maximum of 350 calories. Add in 160 calories for the afternoon break and 250 calories as a snack before going to the bar. That puts me up to 1,160 calories and I added 300 more with 3 light beers. Maybe I'll add another 250 calorie snack before bedtime, bringing my daily total to about 1,700 calories at the most for this Wednesday.

That's not bad. In the past I would have doubled the calories at lunch, had some free candy during the day, and probably stopped at Wendy's on the way home. A day that most likely would have topped the 3,000 calorie level. That's what I would have done back when I was thinking dieting is hard, back when I was conceding that Wednesdays are lost days. Now I believe that successfully dieting is easy and that makes it easy to keep my Wednesdays on track.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Top 10 Reasons for Failing to Lose Weight

Everyone who struggles in their attempts to lose weight has reasons for their lack of success. In no particular order, here are my top-10 reasons for why I've been failing in recent years with my weight losing efforts:

1) Being in my mid-50’s, my metabolism has gotten slower.

2) I was obese as a child which has a statistical connection with being obese as an adult.

3) Inherited my father’s body type and he was always overweight in his later stages of life.

4) The hectic nature of my life in recent years has made it impossible to establish a consistent routine for good health.

5) There’s been no time lately for exercise and even if there was time, my hip and various joint ailments often make exercise difficult.

6) My sleeping difficulties lead to fatigue during the day, and eating snacks for quick energy is sometimes the only way I can stay awake.

7) Between my job, writing, and working on photos, I’m sitting at a computer much of the day. That makes losing weight hard and gaining weight easy.

8) Because I’ve dieted so much in the past, it seems like my body is more resistant to dieting efforts in the present.

9) I’m not much of a cook and fixing for one is difficult, so I end up eating a lot of processed food and fast food meals.

10) I’ve always had a sweet tooth and junk food is my downfall, especially when there are always free treats to eat at the office.

Some of you can relate to my reasons for failing to lose weight, others of you have totally different reasons that probably put mine to shame. We all have challenges to overcome with dieting and everything else in life. The big question is will we overcome our challenges or will our challenges overcome us? That's what it comes down to when trying to maintain a healthy business, a healthy family life, a healthy weight, or a host of other things.

There's some legitimacy in my top-10 reasons and also some weak excuse making. Losing weight would be easier if I were 28 instead of 58, but I'm not. If my childhood obesity makes losing weight more difficult now, then that's just the way it is. If lack of available time is a problem, then I have to look at ways to manage my time better. On the other hand, it wouldn't take much extra time to fix better meals so that's a weak excuse. Also, sitting at a computer for much of the day doesn't mean I can't get up and walk several times for 10-15 minutes.

There's no individual item on my list that is particularly difficult to overcome and even when the list is taken as a whole, it isn't anywhere close to being an insurmountable obstacle. In my mind I've seen my reasons for failure as major roadblocks that would be difficult to overcome. Now that I look rationally at the things that have supposedly been holding me back, the difficulty starts to fade away. Considering the benefits that I'll have to gain by losing weight, working my way through these challenges is something that isn't going to be difficult at all.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Waiting for Hunger to Come

My number 1 rule when it comes to dieting: Always eat when you are hungry.

My number 1 suggestion to a person trying to lose weight: Always wait until you are hungry before you eat.

The healthy human body is very good at letting us know what it needs and when it is needed. Have you ever tried holding off on food until the body tells you it is time to eat? That's something I've been trying lately and it sure takes a long time before true feelings of hunger kick in. By true feelings of hunger, I'm talking about the stomach telling me that it is time for food. I'm not talking about wanting chips or candy or ice cream or a Frosty just because I'd like to have a few minutes of taste sensation.

Someone once described this difference in desires for food as stomach hunger and head hunger. You could also describe it as eating for need and eating for pleasure. I would eat for pleasure all day long if there were no consequences. Load up the desk drawers with Sugar Babies and chocolate, fill the cabinets with cookies and chips, stock the refrigerator with real soft drinks, and pack the freezer with ice cream. I would mindlessly eat all day and enjoy every minute of it.

However, there are consequences for this type of pleasure eating and one of the consequences is the excess weight stored throughout the body. If you really want to lose weight, then start eating when your stomach tells you that food is needed. Once you reach your goal then there will be times when a little bit of eating for pleasure will do no harm.

Since a blog is a one-sided conversation, let me address one thing that readers might be thinking if this blog had any readers. You're thinking that when a person waits until they are hungry to eat, they then tend to eat too much. Good point, but have you notice that people with a weight problem tend to eat too much even when they eat prior to being hungry?

Hunger (as most of us know it) is easily satisfied. The amount we eat during a meal isn't the volume that it takes to satisfy hunger, it is the volume that we have been conditioned to think of as a typical meal. For example, if I'm eating sandwiches for lunch, I'm conditioned to think that two sandwiches is the right amount. I've discovered in recent days that one sandwich is all that it takes to satisfy my stomach hunger, my need for food. The second sandwich is almost exclusively about pleasure and habit.

Start eating for need by waiting on stomach hunger and then try eating only half of what looks like the right amount. It is almost a certainty that you'll lose that weight that has been difficult to lose in the past. It will involve some mental reconditioning, but it won't involve pain or hunger. If you believe you can do it, then you'll be able to do it without much difficulty.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Take Your Vitamins, Especially When Dieting

Since my blood type is the kind everyone can accept, something especially needed in emergency rooms, I consider it my civic duty to donate blood. It's something I've done for decades, often giving the maximum allowed of 6 donations per year (once every 8 weeks). In those 100+ visits to the blood center, only once have they turned me away from giving blood and that story is why I believe so much in taking vitamins. That one-time denial happened around the end of 2001 or the beginning of 2002. You'll see in a moment why I can remember the date.

You know the routine if you've ever given blood: they ask you some questions, get a few drops of blood to check your iron level, draw the blood, then give you cookies. The cookies are definitely the best part. My iron level was never a problem and on most occasions the nurse would comment about how my iron level was very good. Then on one trip to the blood center they took my iron measurement twice before determining that it was just high enough for me to give blood. A fluke I thought at the time, but eight weeks later the level was even less and they wouldn't take my blood.

I felt fine, nothing had changed in my diet or lifestyle in the months prior to this problem. I was getting a little older, having just turned 50 at the end of 2001, but that's not really old. My first thought was of something being seriously wrong. You start thinking cancer when your iron level goes from fine to anemic in a few months. Fortunately, I had a second thought that provided the answer to this mystery.

My supply of multi-vitamins had run out shortly before my 50th birthday. Rather than being in denial about my advancing age, I decided to buy the Silver version of my multi-vitamin, the one for people over 50. Maybe it's different now, but the Silver version back then didn't have iron. With the iron portion of the multi-vitamin gone, I went from healthy iron levels to anemic in less than half a year.

Periodically I'll see a story in the news about how vitamins don't really help the typical person and it's just money being pissed down the drain. What an erroneous viewpoint and a disservice to the general public. With multi-vitamins available at less than a dime a day, they should be part of everyone's daily routine. That's a cheap price to pay for health insurance and definitely an ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure.

August 1, 2010--229 Pounds

Now we have an official weight and starting date for the diet. It's really just a formality to pick today as an "official" start since the last week or so has been spent cutting back on food and increasing my walking. Plus, considering my 240 pound day in mid-July surrounded by several other days in the high 230's, the weight loss has already been significant.

The only reason to go with this date and this weight as the official start is so I can tell people, "Well, since the first of August I've lost ___ pounds." People like a nice clean beginning date instead of something vague like mid-July. Also, while it would sound impressive to tell people that I've lost 11 pounds in two weeks, that weight loss is just the easy pickings that comes before the serious work begins. I've lost those pounds in the 230's numerous times, now I need to tackle these serious pounds in the 220's that have been with me for most of 2010.

I'm expecting to tell a lot of people about my weight loss in the future. Not in August and maybe not in September, but by October the change in my weight should be dramatic enough to prompt some comments and hopefully questions. Maybe by then I'll be able to better articulate how this change from assuming "dieting is hard" to believing "dieting is easy" has made such a big difference. Or, to put it another way, I've stopped assuming failure as the almost certain outcome of a diet and have started believing in the success that will come from my efforts.

Do you remember when bicycles only had one, two or three gears? The bikes didn't have those easier gears for climbing steep hills. When approaching a big hill, the trick was to really build up your momentum and hopefully that momentum plus a strenuous effort during the climb would get you to the top of the hill. That's a good image of how most people see dieting.

They see dieting as this big steep hill that is very difficult to climb. Almost impossible to climb unless they are able to combine strong motivation with a strenuous effort. Without that high level of motivation, dieting success is almost impossible--just as those big hills were impossible to climb unless you had really strong momentum when you started at the bottom. Since that high level of motivation is difficult to find, most people think deep down that their diet is unlikely to succeed and they never really put forth their best effort.

I was one of those people who saw dieting as a giant hill to climb. Logically, dieting has always seemed easy in concept, but then we have so many people telling us that it is very hard to lose weight. We've been brainwashed into believing that losing weight is nearly impossible. Break free of the brainwashing and suddenly there's a flood of reality that success is very achievable. I've broken free of the brainwashing and am finding that losing weight isn't really such an impossible hill to climb. A steady effort is all that's needed to get to the peak and it isn't something that's gut wrenching or painful. It's just passing up a few minutes of pleasure each day for months and years of better health and life. It really is an easy choice to make.

Unlike past diets, I won't be checking my weight every day. The scale is going to be stored on a high shelf in a closet and it won't come down until the first of September. In the meantime, I'll stay active with posts to this blog. Brainwashing isn't reverse in a day and I need to keep reminding myself that my day to day efforts aren't difficult or painful and the success of my actions is guaranteed. We'll have a little more proof of that in a month.