Friday, June 29, 2007

Fat on Parade: The "Before" Pictures

As promised here are some before photos.

These two are a couple casual shots. The first is from March, 2004:


This next one is from September, 2005:


Here are my official before shots, taken a few days after my first WW meeting in April, 2006:


The next pictures I post will be my after pictures. I should have them up by Sunday evening at the latest.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Monday Photo Shoot: Crowds

The setup: Science Fiction author John Scalzi maintains several blogs, including The Whatever and By The Way. Over at By The Way, he gives homework - projects for his readers to complete and then post the result on their own blogs.

The pitch: Get a picture of a crowd or crowded event. Conventions, weddings, parties in cramped spaces -- you know, anywhere there's lots of folks doing something.

Ok, so I'm late to the party this week. This photo is from October 2006 when I was a volunteer for the Diabetes Walk in Ocean City, NJ. It's a shot of the start of the walk when everyone was marching through the balloon arch. The rain had stopped about 5 minutes before the picture was taken and it actually turned into quite a nice day.



Shout Out!

I just want to send a little shout out to David Dane over at Is It Too Late To Lose Those Pounds?, a blog I came across recently.

David's lost about 40 pounds and has been blogging about his efforts since the beginning of April. Like anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows, it's not easy and David's been doing a great job both in the losing and the blogging departments!

And please do yourself a favor, stop by my fellow Weight Watchers' blogs over there on the right while you're clicking links. Chris, Greg, Hutch, and Doc all have had great success with their weight loss efforts. Go ahead and give 'em a click!

My Point of View on Points

For those of you who aren't familiar with Weight Watchers, the Weight Watchers POINTS system assigns an abstract number to different foods, and those numbers are used as a part of their weight loss programs. This POINTS number is derived from a patented formula based on several nutritional elements found on all standard nutritional labels.

In order to help their members, Weight Watchers gives them aids to calculate POINTS values and also publishes lists of different foods and their point values. These lists cover generic food items, brand name items, and even menu items from some restaurants.

Problems arise, however, when these lists become inaccurate. That can happen, especially in the cases of brand name foods and restaurant menus, for any number of reasons. Mostly they happen because these foods change faster than the lists are updated. Menus are updated and ingredients change, sometimes at a dizzying rate.

The thing that constantly amuses me though, is the misinformation that is constantly shared in the many online communities on the internet. It seems as though people would rather trust second hand information instead of using the readily available tools at hand to get accurate information.

Folks are constantly going to web sites that list points for different brand name foods and restaurant menu items instead of using the readily available nutritional information to calculate the points themselves. I've seen online flamewars erupt because people were arguing over the points values of different meals.

Every prepackaged food that you can buy in the supermarket is required to have a nutritional label on it. Almost all fast food chains publish their NI on their website. The same thing goes for a good many restaurant chains. Yet for some reason, many people refuse to use this information and instead rely on the unreliable hearsay they find on the internet or from some other third party.

An important part of my success has been using the very best information I could get my hands on. I can't imagine why anyone else would settle for less.

Picture Updates Coming Soon

I'll be posting some more pictures before the end of this weekend. I'll have a few more "before" pictures and the all important "after" shots, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Weigh In: Week 61 - Lifetime!

Last Week: 162.4 lbs.
This Week: 162.4 lbs.
Change: No Change

Starting Weight: 292.0 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 129.6 lbs.
Starting BMI: 43.2 (Morbidly Obese)
Current BMI: 24.0 (Normal)

Started WW: 25 April 2006
Reached Goal: 15 May 2007
Started Core: 13 June 2007
Reached Lifetime: 26 June 2007

Tonight was the big night. It was my sixth weigh in after hitting my goal weight, and as a result I am now a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers. I got a little charm (not the most manly token, but what the heck), a new membership book, and lots of cheers and clapping from the other meeting members and our leader Glenn.

In addition, as long as I don't exceed my goal weight by more than 2 pounds, I'll never have to pay for another meeting again. The catch is that I still have to weigh in at least once a month, but that's ok. After all, I don't want to gain it all back and the monthly weigh ins will help keep me on track.

The fact that I lost all this weight and made lifetime and don't have to pay for meetings anymore is great, but there are other parts of this achievement that are a lot more meaningful to me.

My health is so much better now. My diabetes is under control with absolutely no medication. My blood pressure medication has been cut in half. I fit into every seat I try to sit in, without breaking them. I can walk longer and further than ever. I'm wearing the smallest clothes that I've ever worn in my entire adult life.

I no longer have the feeling that I'd be damned lucky to live into my 60s. instead of wondering if I was going to live longer than my father, who died at the age of 58, I'm setting my sights on living as long as my grandfather, who made it to 94.

The easy part is over. Now I just need to keep this weight off for the next 47 years...

Sweet Tooth Update

After posting about my sweet tooth last night I gave it about 15 minutes and decided to just go to bed. I guess I really didn't want the peanut butter after all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Distracting a Sweet Tooth

I have a sweet tooth tonight. I am normally not affected by one. In fact, this is the first one in a long time.

I had some strawberries after dinner. That helped a little. Then a little while ago I had a cup of Edy's No Sugar Added Fat Free Vanilla Flavored Chocolate Swirl served over a banana. Not quite a banana split, but it was in the same neighborhood. Now I'm craving some peanut butter.

So far I'm doing ok. I'm going to give it another half hour or so. If I'm still feeling like I want some peanut butter after that, then I just might have some. I'm well within my limits with my maintenance points and there's nothing to worry about as far as tomorrow night's weigh in.

Anyway, I thought maybe writing this out would distract me. I'll know if it worked a half hour from now...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fat Guy Nation: A Trip to the Food Court

Just wanted to share this video from National Lampoon:

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Muscle vs. Fat

I read a post over at Starling Fitness today that touched on one of my pet peeves, the old debate "Which weighs more, muscle or fat?"

We all know that one pound of anything is exactly the same, whether it's muscle and fat, or feathers and rocks. The point of the comparison, though is the volume of the items in question. If you look at a pound of muscle and a pound of fat side by side, the fat is going to take up more room, because the muscle is more dense. Which Laura at Starling Fitness does point out.

In my opinion, though, when people say that muscle weighs more than fat, they're talking about the weight of a given volume of muscle and fat. Take 2 containers, each measuring one foot high by one foot wide by one foot deep. Fill the first with muscle and fill the second with fat. Put them both on separate scales. Guess what? the box with muscle will weigh more that the box with fat!

I know that every time I've seen this subject come up online and someone's tried to explain this point of view before, invariably they've been told, "Yes, of course, but a pound is still a pound."

By the way, I'm not picking on Laura. She just raised the question, and she does mention the difference in volume. And she's also right that losing a pound is a great accomplishment, even though all of us are guilty at times of talking about losing "just a pound."

I think I just wanted to post this online so I could link to it in the future when the subject comes up again. Because we all know it will.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bronze!

Today I managed to get out for a bit and walk. I haven't been getting as much exercise as I should, lately, but I'm trying to at least get back to walking regularly.

Anyway, I logged into The Presidential Challenge website to log my walk, and low and behold, I broke the 20,000 point threshold for the Bronze Award!

For those not familiar with the Presidential Challenge, you create a free account on the site and start logging all your different activity, whether it's walking, running, weight lifting, cardio machines, whatever. You also note the duration and activity level, and the calculator generates a point value for that activity session.

For example, my walk today lasted for 1 hour at a moderate pace, which gave me 220 points. There are three levels, Bronze for 20,000 points, Silver for 45,00 points and Gold for 80,000 points.

Of course, if you actually want a physical memento of you acheivement, you can purchase various tokens from t-shirts to certificates to medallions at the site. But even without purchasing anything, the Presidential Challenge is a great way to keep you motivated to continue whatever physical activity works for you.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The $64,000 Question

How exactly did I manage to lose almost 130 pounds?

The answer is simple. I ate less and exercised more. We all know that answer. We've been told that for as long as we've been asking how to lose weight. But maybe that's not the real question you were trying to ask.

Maybe the question you really want to know the answer to is "How did you manage to lose so much weight and stick with it long enough to reach your goal without quitting or giving up?" Of course, there is always the unasked companion question, "And how can I do it, too?"

A more complex question usually requires a more complex answer. Unfortunately, I don't have one. All I have to offer is another question.

"How much do you want it?"

When I asked myself that question several seconds after making the decision to lose weight, my answer was, "Bad enough to do whatever it takes."

In my case it took joining Weight Watchers, following the program they provided, being very strict and honest with myself, owning up to my shortcomings, and deciding that giving up was not an option. I also allowed for some occasional indulgences, but under no circumstance did I allow them to get out of control.

To this day, 14 months later, I am still doing whatever it takes. The only thing that has changed is my goal. Instead of losing weight, my goal is to now keep it off. For as long as I possibly can.

Do you want to lose weight?
How much do you want it?
Will you do whatever it takes?

Of course, the most difficult part is figuring out what will work for you. For me, it was a combination of Weight Watchers, a deep desire to get rid of the excess baggage, and a lot of hard work.

I wholeheartedly recommend that you give Weight Watchers a try. It worked for me, it might work for you. Then again, it might not. It may take you some time to find what works. Hell, it took me over 20 years!

But please realize that no program will work for you if you don't have the desire and are afraid of working hard for what you want.

Do you want to lose weight?
How much do you want it?
Will you do whatever it takes?

Get to work!

Dinner, 6/20

The pantry at home was a little bare last night around dinner time. We hadn't been out food shopping in a few days and I didn't want chicken for dinner, so I went rummaging through the freezer to see what I could come up with.

I found a bag of cooked and cleaned shrimp and the remains of several bags of frozen vegetables. That was basically all I needed to get started. While I can follow a recipe as well as the next guy, I usually am at my best in the kitchen when I just start throwing ingredients together.

I started off by defrosting the shrimp under cold water then pinching the tails off and cutting the shrimp in half. Then I preheated the skillet on a high heat and added 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Once the oil was hot I dumped in some minced garlic (I used a lot - I like garlic!) then added the frozen vegetables. I used an oriental mix, diced green peppers, diced onions, and broccoli pieces. Then I started tossing in the seasonings - fresh cracked black pepper, ground ginger, and red pepper flakes. I didn't have any bay seasoning on hand, but I think that would have been good for this dish as well.

Once the veggies were nice and hot, I added the shrimp and let them heat through. On the side I cooked a red potato in the microwave, sliced it up and covered it in salsa.

All told, I went from not knowing what I was going to eat for dinner to serving a very satisfying Core dinner in about 20-25 minutes. Not too shabby, wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Weigh In: Week 60

Last Week: 163.2 lbs.
This Week: 162.4 lbs.
Change: Down 0.8 lbs.

Starting Weight: 292.0 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 129.6 lbs.
Starting BMI: 43.2 (Morbidly Obese)
Current BMI: 24.0 (Normal)

Started WW: 25 April 2006
Reached Goal: 15 May 2007
Started Core: 13 June 2007

Apparently I'm still trying to figure out maintenance since I had another loss this week. It's nothing to get alarmed about yet, but I don't really want to lose any more weight.

Changing from losing mode to maintenance mode is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Sure, adding more points sounds easy. But when you've totally wrapped your psyche around losing weight, giving yourself permission to eat more than you're used too can be a formidable challenge.

In addition, after over a year of eating smaller portions and reduced calorie foods, your body complains about the sudden increase in food. And you still have that mental block about gaining weight even though it's perfectly normally for your weight to fluctuate up and down when you are in maintenance mode.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Like any new change, it will take some time. It's just another new skill to learn, after all. And I'd much rather be here than where I was before I started.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday's weigh in, because that's when I'll be reaching Lifetime!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Photo Shoot: You Look Terrible!

The setup: Science Fiction author John Scalzi maintains several blogs, including The Whatever and By The Way. Over at By The Way, he gives homework - projects for his readers to complete and then post the result on their own blogs.

The pitch: Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off a truly bad picture of yourself. One that's so bad it's not actually embarrassing, just, you know, inexplicably unrepresentative. If you would like, post a contrasting good picture, so people know what you really look like.

I decided to participate for several reasons. First, I finally have a blog. Second, this picture can also serve as one of my before photos. Third, it was conveniently handy as my darling wife happened to pull it out of our black hole of photos a few weeks back.

Please note: Not only is this a bad picture of me, it's a picture of me at a time when I really looked bad. You may need to avert your eyes:



Gruesome, isn't it? ::shudder::

I will post more recent pictures of me next week for comparison purposes.

Father's Day Update

Father's Day dinner was great yesterday! I ordered the surf and turf like I had planned and it was well worth it. But instead of bringing half of it home as I had planned, I managed to clean my plate. My wife even commented that she hadn't seen me do that in a while.

The good thing is that it wasn't a problem. I recognized that I was approaching the point where if I ate much more I would have been more than full. Even so, I decided to finish the meal. While it may not have been the "on plan" thing to do, several things factored into my decision.

First, I hadn't had lunch because we were having dinner early in the afternoon. I also knew that I wouldn't be eating another meal before I went to bed. Coupled with the fact that I knew that this wasn't a binge situation and that I would be eating right beginning with my very next meal, I felt that I wouldn't be doing any permanent damage to my progress if I left the table feeling full. And even at that, it wasn't as though I was "Thanksgiving" full. Not even "I need a Mylanta" full. Just comfortably full.

And that was fine with me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there!

This morning my son and I participated in the Run 4 Your Life 5K Run and Walk in Philadelphia, benefiting prostate cancer research and awareness. I don't enjoy running, so we both did the walk. The course started near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and wandered onto the West River Drive. Actually it's Martin Luther King Drive now, but it was the West River Drive when I lived in Philly, so that's how I refer to it.

Before the walk we stopped at a diner while still in Jersey and grabbed some breakfast. I had a nice Eggbeater omelet loaded with veggies, a fresh fruit cup instead of the home fried potatoes, and some wheat toast, all washed down with some hot black coffee. It doesn't get better than a good meal with good service! And I didn't even miss the potatoes.

So we walked along the Schuylkill River and had a blast catching up on some quality time. We don't get to do much together like that these days, as most 17 year olds seem to have their own lives going on. It was definitely a great Father's Day outing for me, even factoring in the parking ticket I got for being stupid enough to listen to a local's parking advice.

Later this afternoon, dinner will be at a local restaurant that we haven't been to since the kids were toddlers. I'm really looking forward to it, and I think I feel a nice surf and turf dinner looming in my future. The best part is that I'll probably be able to turn that into two meals now!

All in all it's turning into a great Father's Day. I hope yours is just as good!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Introduction

Now that you've made it past the welcome message, I suppose a paragraph or two about me might be in order.

I'm a 47 year old guy who lives in South Jersey with my wonderful wife and two great teenagers. I work in the aviation industry just outside of Philadelphia, and hope to retire before my wife and kids manage to bankrupt me.

I've been fat my entire adult life, culminating in my all-time high weight of 325 pounds in May of 1999. That's more than a little overweight for a 5'9" tall guy! As a result I developed high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. It shouldn't have come as a surprise after all the years of eating like I did, combined with a very sedentary lifestyle.

When I finally started Weight Watchers in April of 2006, I was tipping the scales at 292 pounds. Thanks to lots of encouragement from my fantastic meeting leaders Pam and Glenn and lots of hard work by yours truly, I now weigh in at under 165 pounds!

Things are a lot better now, and I intend to keep it that way. My diabetes and high blood pressure are much better, I feel great, and look forward to so many more things. Over time I'll share more of my story with you and keep you up to date on how well I'm doing at maintaining my loss, so I hope you stop back every now and then to see how I'm doing. And don't forget to drop me a note in the comment section - I'd love to hear from you.

First Post!

Hello and welcome to Gotta Keep It Off!

I'm using this blog as a tool to help keep me motivated and accountable after losing almost 130 pounds.

I've been following the Weight Watchers weight loss program for almost 14 months now, and I reached my goal weight four and a half weeks ago. Shortly I'll achieve "lifetime" status and that's when the real fun begins - trying to maintain my new weight for the rest of my life.

Over time I hope to update this blog with tales of my maintenance journey, tips, tricks and stories from my weight loss saga, recipes and other food related ramblings, and unsolicited opinions and musings on completely unrelated topics that interest me and, quite possibly, you.

With any luck, anyone who stumbles across this site will find it semi-entertaining, somewhat informational, and possibly inspirational. Please take the time to leave a comment and let me know what you think. I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for stopping by!