Friday, August 31, 2007

5 Foods That Helped Me Lose 130 Pounds

Earlier today I found myself reviewing some of my food journals from the last 16 months and noticed several foods that kept showing up. Relying on these foods really helped me get to my goal weight and are still an important part of my maintenance plan.

Here are the top 5 foods from my journals that helped me reach my goal weight:

#1. Oatmeal - I've always loved oatmeal, but used to save it for the winter months. Besides, I could get some nice, greasy egg & cheese sandwiches at the cafeteria in work. But now oatmeal is a year round staple for me. A serving of oatmeal with some cinnamon and a splash of skim milk is now my preferred way of starting every morning.

#2. Yogurt - There was a time when I couldn't even think about eating yogurt. Why would I want to eat something with live bacteria in it? But one day I tried some of my wife's Dannon Light & Fit flavored yogurt and was hooked. These days I'm a big fan of fat free plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruit. Good stuff!

#3. Apples and Bananas - Since I started Weight Watchers I began drastically increasing my fruit intake. I eat a lot of different fruits now, especially when they're in season, but apples and bananas are like nature's fast food. They're convenient, not very messy and require no preparation. Perfect to take with you anywhere, and they are easy to find year round.

#4. Frozen Vegetables - I've also become quite the veggie eater, especially in the summer months when the Garden State really lives up to its name. But when I'm packing lunches for work or need to make a quick, easy dinner, frozen vegetables are worth the weight I lost in gold.

#5. Subway Club Sandwich - Living all my life within shouting distance of Philadelphia has helped me develop quite a taste for that Philly tradition, the hoagie. While no one could ever mistake a Subway sub for a genuine Philly hoagie, I have found that it is close enough to at least tame my cravings for the original. And since the nutritional information is available at Subway's website, it is very easy to fit into any weight loss plan.

Honorable Mention - Water. Water. Water. At least 6 eight ounce servings a day, usually a lot more. It's helped me cut down my coffee consumption and all but eliminate my diet soda intake.

So there's my list. While I probably could have lost my weight without relying so heavily on these things, I believe that it would have been much harder to do so.

What foods do you rely on in your weight loss efforts? Please feel free to leave a comment and share your favorites!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Weigh In: Week 70

Last Week: 159.6 lbs.
This Week: 160.2 lbs.
Change: Up 0.6 lbs.

Starting Weight: 292.0 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 131.8 lbs.
Starting BMI: 43.2 (Morbidly Obese)
Current BMI: 23.7 (Normal)

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

After four straight weeks of losses, I'm closing out August with a modest gain. I find it very amusing now how easy it is to get worked up over the numbers on the scale even after doing this for a while. I imagine that it will get better the longer I maintain my weight in the range I want to weigh.

When I was losing weight, I was very fortunate to enjoy a steady stream of losses, week after week. In the 62 weeks it took me to make lifetime, I only had gains five times, and of those, only one gain was unexpected. The other gains were caused by some very intentional overeating on my part. Trust me when I say my loss rate made me very popular with some of the members of my weekly WW meeting.

Expecting maintenance to be just as predictable was an oversight on my part. But this is new territory for me. When I've stopped dieting in the past, I reverted to my old eating habits. We all know what happens then. Now, I'm doing my best to make sure my new eating habits stick around for a long time and I need to realize that my body needs to adjust to that. After all, it's been through a lot in the last 16 months, and it will adjust on its own schedule and not because I or anyone else says it should.

Monday, August 27, 2007

F As In Fat, New Jersey Edition

You may have seen or heard about the latest obesity news item today. The one that announced that obesity rates climbed in 31 states last year and that no state showed a decline.

This was the fourth annual report put out by the Trust For America's Health, a group that, according to its web site, is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.

I looked at New Jersey's rankings and some interesting numbers came to light. While 39 states had a higher percentage of their population that qualified as obese, this was the second year in a row that New Jersey had a statistically significant increase in the obese population, coming in at 22.2%.

In addition to obesity, the report also gave numbers for diabetes and hypertension. New Jersey didn't fare as well in these categories, ranking 27th highest in diabetes population at 7.3% and 22nd in hypertension population at 25.7%.

I used to be a triple threat, as I used to be a member of every category. Now that my BMI is under 24, though, I only contribute to the diabetes and hypertension numbers.

You can check out the full report at How did your state do?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Where Does The Time Go?

Nineteen years ago today I was holding this little bundle in my arms, fascinated and terrified now that, ready or not, I was a new father.

Tomorrow my wife and I, along with her younger brother and her grandmother, will deliver her to her dorm room, ready to tackle her sophomore year of college. She's studying to be a nurse. It's all she's ever talked about wanting to do.

Can you tell I'm a proud dad?

We went out to dinner tonight and had a decent meal at Olive Garden, then had birthday cake at home. Now she's out with her mother picking up some last minute stuff at Wally World before preparing to pack up the car tomorrow morning.

Before I know it, both her and her younger brother will move out and start having lives of the own...

Now where did I put that home theater catalog?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

OMG! I lost 6 Ounces!!

So why was losing less than half a pound this week such a disaster, and why whine about it, especially when so many others would give their left arm to have a loss like that every week?

Let's talk about my weight loss goals. My official Weight Watchers goal weight is 169 pounds, which I reached back in May. When I hit lifetime status in June, I weighed just over 162 pounds. My own personal goal was to be solidly in the 160s, a few pounds below my Weight Watchers goal weight just to have a little leeway.

It sounds like I'm doing pretty darn good, right? Right! But during the last 16 months, the one thing I've learned is that it's all about the trends, not the individual weigh ins. And since I started this blog, the trend is down when it should be leveling off. I've had one week of no change, two weeks of gains for 1.2 pounds, and 7 weeks of losses for 4.8 pounds. That's a net loss of 3.6 pounds over the last 10 weeks when I should be maintaining my weight, or close to it.

I know that taken by itself, this week's loss isn't a disaster, and I have a long, long, way to go before I waste away to nothing. My doctor's been happy with my progress and so have I. I also know that I'll eventually get the hang of this maintenance thing and that the trend will level off.

It doesn't mean I don't get as frustrated as the next guy or gal when things aren't going as expected. And after all the extra-curricular eating in Atlantic City and Hershey Park this past week, I expected to be up a little bit. That's pretty much all there is to that.

So there's no real crisis here, just another blogger venting some frustration when the world doesn't conform to his expectations. Or something like that. Now excuse me while I go find something to eat...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Weigh In: Week 69

Last Week: 160.0 lbs.
This Week: 159.6 lbs.
Change: Down 0.4 lbs.

Starting Weight: 292.0 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 132.4 lbs.
Starting BMI: 43.2 (Morbidly Obese)
Current BMI: 23.6 (Normal)

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

I just don't know what to say this week. I'm down another 0.4 pounds, 9.4 pounds under my goal weight, and officially in the 150s.

Considering I had a mushroom cheesesteak sandwich after weigh in last week, all the food I had at the airshow in Atlantic City, and the goodies in Hershey Park on Sunday, I was definitely expecting to be up this week.

I showed my food journal to my meeting leader and he suggested that I try eating more. I don't know if eating more will work. I think I just need to eat smarter. I had to find a way to eat smarter in order to lose the weight, now I have to find the smart way to maintain the weight. It looks like it just may take a little time to find the right balance.

And I thought maintenance was going to be boring...

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good:
Yesterday we had a family trip to Hershey Park in Hershey, PA. While the cooler temperatures were a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of early August, the gray sky and light rain threatened to ruin the day.

The thrill seekers of the family consist of myself and our two teenagers, one a college sophomore and the other a high school senior, while my wife prefers the calmer amusements and the different shows that the parks offer. So with their mother's blessing, the kids and I took off to get some roller coasters in before the increasing dampness threatened to shorten our day.

Let me note here that she deserves Wife and Mother of the Year Awards, as she is facing rotator cuff surgery at the end of the month and was in pain the entire day. But she did her best to have a good day while letting us enjoy our rides.

We checked out a few of the shows in the theater to get out of the increasingly damp weather, and at the end of the day did the obligatory Chocolate World Tour. Let me explain here that while I enjoy an occasional chocolate treat, I am by no means a chocoholic. My dear wife on the other hand, thinks that chocolate is proof that God loves us! So yes, we did stop in the shops at Chocolate World and pick up some goodies.

The best part of the day was noticing how easily I fit into the coasters, sometimes with at least a full fist fitting in between my gut and the restraint bar. Quite a change from a few years ago when I was asked to move into the "fat" seats of the coasters!

The Bad:
The weather continued to deteriorate as the day went on. We were prepared to get wet in the park's new "Boardwalk" section, but the cool temperatures couple with the rain soured us on that idea.

Riding the coasters was fine earlier in the day, but the rain felt like darts hitting your skin as the day went on. We really weren't dressed for the weather either, so we wound up having to hit the shops for some cheaply made, overpriced Hershey Park hoodies for relief.

As I noted earlier, my wife was a real trooper dealing with her pain, but the day would have been so much better for her if she hadn't had to deal with it.

The Ugly:
Whenever you go to a theme park, you expect that the amount money that you spend there is going to be obscene, so I really won't whine about it here other than what I already mentioned about the unexpected outlay of a hundred bucks for the three hoodies we had to purchase.

As far as food goes, I found out that popcorn is still one of my trigger foods. During one of the shows I bought a very large bag of regular popcorn (the only size they were selling) for my son and I. I probably ate four handfuls of that salty goodness for every one handful that my son did. And I didn't realize it until almost the whole bag was gone. The funny thing is that when I have the 94% fat free mini-bags of popcorn at home, they're usually enough for me. I guess it's something I still need to be vigilant about.

I also had two chicken tacos at lunch and a Subway sandwich with a side of baked potato chips for dinner. The killer was dessert, when I splurged on a Hershey's Special Dark king size chocolate bar. It weighed in at 390 calories and 22 grams of fat for a 2.6 ounce bar. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a chocoholic, but last night I decided to indulge myself. The good thing is that I took my time and enjoyed it. It actually took me over an hour to eat it.

So that's the wrap-up of our trip to Hershey Park. We're looking forward to going again next year, hopefully with nicer weather. We may even go up again around Christmastime when they decorate the park for the season.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Applebee's and Weight Watchers Core Plan

Weight Watchers members have known for a while that the chain restaurant Applebee's has a special Weight Watchers section of their menu, with POINTS values listed for each item. It's a nice marketing move and very helpful for those on the Weight Watchers Flex plan.

However, for Core plan followers, it's just another restaurant menu. After a recent visit, I decided to email Weight Watchers and ask them if any of the menu items at Applebee's are included on the Core Plan. I received the following response:

Dear [Skinny Guy],

Thank you for contacting us with your inquiry. Along with the delicious selections that Applebee's has created for Weight Watchers® members on the Flex Plan, tasty options are also available for members following the Core Plan. These dishes are very similar to the Weight Watchers menu items that are offered on the Applebee's menu, but have been adapted to fit into the Core Plan. The best news of all is that these items all have the same great flavor that you have experienced with any of the great meals at Applebee's. Please note, however, that these items are not listed on the menu, so you will need to ask your server specifically about 'Weight Watchers Core Food Plan options' to order these dishes. Available Weight Watchers menu item adaptations for the Core Plan are:

Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa: This seasoned grilled fish is topped with mango salsa and served with a double portion of seasonal vegetables.

Grilled Shrimp Skewer Salad: Tender marinated shrimp skewers are served on a bed of fresh mixed greens with a tasteful assortment of sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and red onions. Served with a side of fat-free Italian dressing.

Mesquite Chicken Salad: A grilled mesquite-seasoned chicken breast is tossed with mixed greens, tomatoes, corn, black beans, jalapeno peppers, and red onions. Served with a side of fat-free ranch dressing.

Teriyaki Shrimp Skewers: Tasty teriyaki-seasoned shrimp skewers are grilled and served with a double portion of seasonal vegetables.

These items provide even more alternatives for Weight Watchers members and certainly reinforce Applebee's support of a healthy lifestyle and the Weight Watchers community. Enjoy!

Customer Service Associate
Weight Watchers International, Inc.
I suppose I should be glad that they're making an effort, but it just seems like another hoop to jump through. Now, instead of just being able to order from a small special section of the menu, I have to ask to order off the menu from an even smaller subset of meals.

I don't know why this rubs me the wrong way. After all, it's just another cookie cutter national restaurant chain. I don't really expect a fine dining experience when I go there, especially since my last visit there was less than optimal.

Perhaps I'm just looking for something that doesn't exist - a local restaurant with plenty of healthy food choices prepared without extra fat- and calorie-laden sauces and side dishes. Is it asking too much to sit down and order a meal without sounding like Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally?

Until I find this mythical place, the next time I find myself at Applebee's I will attempt to order from this hidden Core menu and see what happens. I promise to share the results here. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Thunder Over The Boardwalk

Here's a few more pictures from the air show today in Atlantic City. Enjoy!

Heritage flight of 2 P-51 Mustangs, an F-15 and an F-16

A Marines CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter flyby.
I work at the plant where they were built and where its
successor, the V-22 Osprey, is being built.

For the life of me I can't remember what these planes are.

Another shot of the same planes, with the sun blazing in the sky

There was also a B-2 Stealth Bomber flyby!

There were many more flybys and demonstrations, these were just a few I was able to capture with my low-end digital camera. I think it may be time for an upgrade. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Thunder Over The Boardwalk

I took today off so that I could head down to Atlantic City for the Thunder Over The Boardwalk Air Show. I'm a big fan of air shows and had gotten away from seeing them for a few years, but today's show was my second this year.

Over Memorial Day weekend I got to see the Navy's Blue Angels in Millville, New Jersey, and today I was lucky enough to see the Air Force Thunderbirds perform over the beach in Atlantic City.

Of course, there was a full program of military and civilian aircraft demonstrations over the course of the 5+ hour show, but the Thunderbirds were the main attraction.

Not only did I take the day off from work, I also took the day off from watching what I ate. I sat in a reserved seating area for the show which included unlimited food and drink. Let's just say I indulged myself and leave it at that.

With all that I've learned while losing 130 pounds, I know that an occasional day off won't undo all the hard work it took to get me here. I know that when I wake up in the morning I'll be back in the saddle, enjoying my oatmeal and cinnamon with skim milk and a piece of fruit. I know that I have the tools and the support in place so that I won't spiral out of control.

I also know that I had a hell of a lot of fun today! Thanks to everyone who busted their tails today so that I could have a great time at the air show, especially all the members of the military who put it on the line every day so that we have the freedom to enjoy these shows.

And a special Happy 60th Anniversary to the United States Air Force!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Weigh In: Week 68

Last Week: 160.6 lbs.
This Week: 160.0 lbs.
Change: Down 0.6 lbs.

Starting Weight: 292.0 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 132.0 lbs.
Starting BMI: 43.2 (Morbidly Obese)
Current BMI: 23.7 (Normal)

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

This week flew by, and I hadn't even realized that I hadn't posted all week until now. Aside from the hectic pace, there wasn't too much going on out of the norm. That will be this week, since I'll be hitting an air show in Atlantic City on Wednesday and Hershey Park on Sunday, in addition to fitting in some overtime for work when I can.

On the weight front, I had another loss this week, which means I need to focus on adding some more "full fat" options back into my meals and maybe some occasional treats that I've been avoiding since I began Weight Watchers last year. It shouldn't be too difficult considering where I'll be this week.

I'm also going to have to try to update this blog a little more often. I enjoy it, I just need to remember to carve out some time to do it. Until next time...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Weigh In: Week 67

Last Week: 161.0 lbs.
This Week: 160.6 lbs.
Change: Down 0.4 lbs.

Starting Weight: 292.0 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 131.4 lbs.
Starting BMI: 43.2 (Morbidly Obese)
Current BMI: 23.8 (Normal)

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

This week was a very busy one. Lots of overtime at work and other offline commitments have kept me on the run all week. Fortunately I was able to stay on track with my eating choices, despite having dinner out three times this week.

The next few weeks look to be just as busy as my daughter prepares to go back to college, my son gets ready to begin his senior year of high school, and my wife is facing the prospect of rotator cuff surgery before the end of the month.

With any luck I'll be able to catch my breath after my son graduates from college in 2012...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Does Food Matter To You?

I came across a question online today that got me thinking.

The question was, "Have you given up any foods that actually matter to you?"

I had a hard time coming up with an answer to that question. There are many different foods that I don't eat any more. There are some foods that I will occasionally taste. Sometimes I'll even have cravings for some of the old foods.

But have I given up any foods that actually matter to me?

I don't think that I have. Because if I gave up something that mattered to me, it seems to me that I would miss it, probably a lot. But I don't feel that way about food, even some of my old favorites.

I know food used to matter to me a great deal. I'm the guy that would have fought you over the last donut in the box. There wasn't a week that went by where I didn't have an entire parade of greasy, fatty meals with plenty of room for seconds.

When I committed myself to losing weight, all that changed. Not right away, of course. But over time I realized that being healthy mattered more to me than being obese. That I would rather buy smaller clothes, take less medicine, or do a lot of things that I was unable to do because of my weight, than have that last donut, or even the first donut.

Now, just like before, I eat whatever I want. What matters now is that what I want is a little different than it was before.