Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brand New Day

Thanksgiving is now behind us and my son is safely on his way back up to school. Everyone's health is either good or improving. The Christmas season is here and can now be enjoyed without Halloween or Thanksgiving getting in the way. I enjoyed a great experience at my high school reunion and I'm now in the right frame of mind to get back to taking care of myself.

I had to make a few decisions recently when some issues were reaching critical mass in my life. One of the results of those decisions was to temporarily put my weight management efforts on the back burner for a while. It made it easier in the long run to be able to do the things I needed to do without stressing over every meal. My only regret is that I interrupted my writing here without giving some warning in advance.

The key is that I knew it was only temporary and now that things have settled, I'm back to doing what I have to do to take care of me, including keeping up with the blog. I'll be working to lose the weight that I've gained and get back to being more active (I even got in some push ups this morning!). And thanks to my reunion, I now have a buddy to help keep me on track.

There are still a few bumps in the road looming over the horizon, but I'll deal with them as they get here. In the meantime I'll be enjoying this brand new day and getting back into the swing of things.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Out From Under My Rock

I'm finally back from my self-imposed exile and ready to get going again. Thanks for the comments from everyone checking in and wondering where I was. Unfortunately my life took a turn towards the insanely busy and something had to give, and the blog turned out to be that something.

I've learned a lot while dealing with everything that's been going on and I intend to share some of that with you over the next few weeks. I think the most important thing I learned is that even when so many things are out of control, there are some things that are in your control.

Just so you know what to expect, I'll be on the road early this week which means I won't be posting again until after the Thanksgiving holiday. I then hope to get back into my routine of posting and visiting other blogs out there. I know I've missed out on a lot of terrific reading and hope to catch up soon.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

How To Refocus Your Weight Loss Efforts

Even before my last weigh in, it was obvious to me that I needed to get back to all those healthy habits I had recently abandoned. As I'm sure most of you know, regaining that discipline can be a daunting proposition. The steps I list below are the ones that I'm using to get back to where I need to be, and I think they can help you as well.

Stop - The first rule to follow should you find that you're digging yourself into a deep hole is to stop digging! If you don't put it in your mouth, it can't show up on the scale. There's no waiting for tomorrow or next week either; put the fork down and back away from the table!

Let Go - Believe it or not, you're only human. Beating yourself up about those cookies last night or that extra serving at Mom's or even the fast food breakfast you've had every day for the last two weeks is a no-win game. Guilt is a destructive thing; you deserve better, especially from yourself!

Review - Everyone has had some measure of success at some point in their life. Take a look at your successes. It doesn't matter whether they're related to weight loss. Remember how you felt and the attitude you had when you achieved them. You did it before and you can do it again, no matter what the situation is.

Apply - It's not enough to just review those successes. You need to take action. It doesn't matter what you do or even how much you do, as long as you're taking steps in a positive direction. Whether it's one less snack a day, a daily walk after dinner or just keeping a food journal, the key is to start doing something.

Build - Every small success you have when trying to get back into the groove is an important part of reaching your goal. In your efforts to build a new, healthier you, those small successes are like bricks. Use them to build a strong foundation and before you know it you will be back in control and wondering what all the fuss was about!

I hope these steps give you the push that you need to get back on track. I know they've got me off too a good start!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paying The Piper

I went to my Weight Watchers meeting tonight and it was time to pay the piper. More specifically, I had to pay to attend the meeting tonight because my weight was more than two pounds over my established goal weight. It was the first time I've had to pay to go to a meeting since reaching lifetime status in June of 2006.

It wasn't unexpected and it didn't fluster me. I knew what my bathroom scale was telling me every morning and now I know what the "official" number is. Now it's just a matter of doing what I have to do in order to get back to where I was.

I haven't mentioned the numbers yet because I wanted to emphasize that while the numbers on the scale are a major portion of how I measure my progress, it is more about getting back into the healthy habits that I've drifting away from. Once I find my way back to those habits the numbers should take care of themselves.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I will now tell you that I've gained 8.6 pounds since my last weigh in on August 12, a full 5.8 pounds over my goal weight. Taking into account the Weight Watchers allowance of two pounds over goal for lifetime members, that means I will need to lose 3.8 pounds before I can attend meetings for free again.

My own personal goals? I want to get back into those healthy habits, to complete the Hundred Push Up Challenge this time and to get back to blogging on a regular basis.

It looks like I have my work cut out for me!

Facing The Music

It's humbling to realize how out of touch I've been over the last six weeks. Not only have I been out of touch with the blogging world, but I've also been out of touch with myself. I've blogged before about how busy my life is, but that's nothing more than an excuse.

I've used this excuse of "being busy" to let myself stop paying attention to many things. My good eating habits, my exercise and my blogging have taken a back seat to "being busy" and I can't allow it to continue.

So tonight I will be facing the music, returning to my first Weight Watchers meeting since the middle of August. I can tell you with certainty that I'm over my WW goal by a noticeable amount, but I'm taking steps to get myself back in the game.

It looks like I'll be adding "Taking care of myself" back to the top of my "busy" list. I'll also be working on getting my blogging mojo back to where it was as well.

Time to get started!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The New England Shuffle

The school year unofficially starts tomorrow as our family begins the road trip up to Massachusetts to drop Offspring #2 off at college. I'll be happy because he graciously volunteered to drive the first leg of the trip, allowing me to settle in with a nice hot cup of coffee and a brand new book that I picked up yesterday.

We'll have a little bit of time to squeeze in some exploring in between the last minute shopping, making sure all the financial aid is straightened out, and the big move in on Saturday morning. By the time we leave for home on Sunday, Mom will have shed a tear or two as her baby leaves the nest, even if it is only temporary for now.

I think the highlight of the year for me will be the retirement of the Mom & Dad Taxi and Limousine Service. It served its clientèle well over the years, but its customer base either moved out of the service area or found other modes of transportation. Not to worry though. Business at The First National Bank of Mom and Dad is still going strong, especially with the new branch opening up in Massachusetts.

Oh yeah, before I forget - I also did some push ups this week. On Monday I repeated Day One of Week Four with the exact same results as the first time: sets of 27, 20, 20, 17 and 41 reps. Today I knocked out Day Two with sets of 27, 21, 21, 18 and 30 (25 min.). I'm hoping to be able to complete Week Four while I'm on the road. I'll let you know how it went the next time I check in.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Fatal Flaw

I think I've discovered a fatal flaw in the Hundred Push Up challenge that I've been participating in. Once I tell you about this flaw, I believe that you'll agree with me regarding the magnitude of the flaw and how it puts a serious dent in anyone's ability to complete the challenge.

It seems that in order to complete the challenge properly, you have to remember to do the push ups!!!

Sheesh! I was scheduled to do Day Two of Week Four on Friday, but I plain old forgot to do them. While it's true that I've been preoccupied with a few things including my new toy, which I'll get to in a moment, I really should have been able to remember to knock them out.

In order to get back on track, I've decided to just start Week Four over again, beginning tomorrow. I'll have a challenge towards the end of the week since we'll be on the road, but I'm going to do my best to get those push ups done.

Now on to my new toy. I have an old point and shoot digital camera that I received as a gift a while back. It was ok, but lacked a few features for taking the kinds of pictures that I like to take. This camera finally started acting up, and with our road trip coming up this week, I decided to upgrade.

I now have a Fujifilm FinePix S700 digital camera. It's definitely a step up from my last camera and even though I haven't had a chance to play with it too much yet, I'm happy with it so far. I'll be sure to post some samples after we get back from Massachusetts next week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crazy Days And Crazy Nights

I feel as though summer is still ramping up, but all the signs are telling me otherwise. The NFL has started its pre-season, the Back to School sales have begun and most noticeably, the sun has been setting earlier each day. Sadly, this year has been so crazy that I really haven't had a chance to kick back and enjoy as many of the things that I like to do during the summer months.

Right now, Back To School mode is in full swing here in South Jersey. Our nurse-in-training has decided to live at home instead of on campus this year, so we wound up buying another vehicle for her commute. Her brother will be living on campus though, since a round-trip commute of 1000 miles is a little excessive.

Needless to say, a road trip is in store in my very near future. Aside from the certain confusion of trying to move hundreds of freshmen into the dorms on move-in day, it should be a nice diversion. He'll be rooming with one of his buddies from high school, so both families will be making the trip. We also are leaving a little early to allow for a leisurely ride up as well as a little exploring, which will include a night out for dinner in Boston. As long as everything goes smoothly, it should make up for at least some of hectic pace this summer.

PushUpDate

I (barely) managed to finish Week Three, Day Three of the Hundred Push Up challenge on Monday and Began Week Four today. Day One of Week Four eases up a little from the last day of Week Three. The required sets included reps of 27, 20, 20, 17, and 27+ push ups. I actually fell comfortable during the entire routine and was able to explode with 41 reps during the last set!

You don't have to worry about me getting cocky, though. I took a peek at weeks Five and Six and honestly, they look like killers! I'll be lucky if I only have to repeat half of the days. In the mean time, I feel good about my progress so far, so I'll take it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Getting My Butt Kicked

After failing Week Three, Day One of the Hundred Push Up challenge back on August 4th, I was successful in completing Day One on my next attempt two days later. I even managed to get 27 reps in on the last set, two more that the required 25.

I was scheduled to attempt Day Two yesterday but stuff got in the way, so I got down to business earlier this morning. The required sets of 27, 19, 19, 15 and 25+ reps were the toughest I've faced yet. By the middle of the second set of 19 I was really starting to feel it in my arms and it took all of my concentration to push my way through the last set, but I did it, even taking one more push up to the end of the last set.

It still took a while to recover from the effort, though. I imagine that is why it's called a workout. The upside is that I'm really beginning to feel and see results in my shoulders and upper arms. Who knew I had muscles there?

I've also been doing fairly well on the clean eating front, although last night I succumbed to the siren song of pizza. Unfortunately it wasn't even good pizza from the local shop. Because the local place is closed for vacation this week, the more indiscriminate diners in the house voted for pizza from the Hut. I ate it anyway. Eh.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Missed It By That Much...

I started Week Three of the Hundred Push Up Challenge today and came very close to completing the required sets. Day One asks you to complete sets of 25, 17, 17, 15 and 25+ push ups. Unfortunately I came up just 3 reps short in the last set, managing to complete only 22 push ups before my arms gave out.


My plan is to continue to attempt Day One of Week Three until it's done, then continue from there. It sounds like a reasonable plan of attack for now. In the mean time, I need to cut this post short so that I can attend to some items on my "honey-do" list before I turn in for the night. I've been living the bachelor's life while everyone else in the house has gone to the shore for a few days and need to make sure I don't leave any incriminating evidence in plain view...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

On A Roll (Just Not Eating It)

On Thursday I wrote that I was ready to start making better choices in order to avoid returning to my old eating habits. The plan was to make Thursday a day free of processed foods. How did I do? I wasn't perfect, if that's what you want to know. My only deviation from the plan was when my wife and daughter ordered fried mozzarella sticks at the restaurant we visited for dinner and I gave in.

Friday was a slightly better day in that my only transgressions were bread related: an English muffin at breakfast and croutons in my lunchtime salad. Nothing to really get concerned about.

So far, so good today. Just one slice of bread so far and dinner plans for tonight don't look like they should pose any problems at all.

I think that avoiding processed foods and substituting them with real foods is actually going to be the difference in whether or not I'll actually be able to maintain a healthy weight in the long run. When I'm eating real, whole foods I find that I don't miss the most of the foods I'm trying to avoid unless they're right in front of me.

It's not always a struggle that I win, but as long as I'm trying, I should do just fine.

Push Up Update

I'm sailing right along with the Hundred Push Up Challenge. Yesterday I completed Day Three of Week Two with sets of 15, 15, 12, 12 and 30. Today I did the exhaustion test scheduled for the end of Week Two, completing 36 good form push ups. That will put me in the third column for Week Three, which looks like it will be a killer. I'll be sure to keep you all posted.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

(Another) Wake Up Call

I've lost a considerable amount of weight. I've kept it off for over a year. I'm in the middle of a program that will culminate in me being able to perform one hundred continuous push ups. All good things, things that I never envisioned for myself at the beginning of 2006 before I started down this path.

None of that means a thing when I get cocky and start to get lazy with the good habits that brought me that success in the first place. Unfortunately I've been playing fast and loose with those habits again and I need to tighten things up a bit. I could trot out a whole bunch of excuses, many a few of them valid ones, but the bottom line is that I need to get my rear in gear and do the things that I know I need to do.

I realized this last month when I began the Back To Basics Boot Camp. I realized it again last night when I sat down with a cup of coffee and two different bags of Oreo cookies. I don't even like Oreos.

This isn't even about my weight. I'm still within the weight range I want to be. It's about being mindful, being aware and not falling back into my old destructive eating habits. I want to eat healthy foods and be active. I just need to remember that the things that I want to happen won't happen unless I actually do something about them.

I'm not ready to continue the Boot Camp right now, but I am ready to start making better choices by making today a day free of processed foods. That should get me started in the right direction.

Push Up Update

I've also been forgetting to update my progress on the Hundred Push Up Challenge. I've completed the first two days of Week Two, completing sets of 12, 12, 9, 7 and 22 on Day One and sets of 16, 13, 11, 11 and 30 push ups on Day Two. Day Three is tomorrow, then I do an exhaustion test to determine what level I'll start with in Week Three.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good Vibrations, Vega-Table Style

I've been a casual fan of the Beach Boys for about as long as I've been listening to music. Between the car songs, the surf songs and the girl songs, it pretty much covers all the important topics.

I recently came across Smile, Beach Boy Brian Wilson's legendary project that was shelved in 1966 and finally released in 2004. While listening to Smile, I came across the song Vega-Tables, which cause a great big grin to spread across my face:

I'm gonna be 'round my vegetables.
I'm gonna chow down my vegetables.
I love you most of all, my favorite vegetable

If you brought a big brown bag of them home,
I'd jump up and down and hope you'd toss me a carrot-

With lyrics like that, I'm sure many of you reading this feel the same way. Incidentally, if you'd like to hear the entire song, the Amazon.com MP3 store has it available for download for just 99 cents.

The song ends with an invitation for the listener to share the name of their favorite vegetable:
I know that you'll feel better when you send us in your letter.
And tell us the name of your...Your favorite vegetable.

So I invite you to do the same! Leave a comment with the name of you favorite, and how you like to prepare it.

My favorite is a big, ripe Jersey tomato. I have two favorite ways to enjoy them. I'll either just cut one up into nice thick slices sprinkled with some black pepper, or I'll whip up a tomato, cucumber and onion salad with a little bit of black pepper, oregano and basil drizzled with some olive oil and red wine vinegar.

How about you?

Before I forget, I also completed Week One of the Hundred Pushup Challenge (again). My results for this week are below. For more information about the Challenge, click here.

My Hundred Pushup Challenge:


























































Week 1Set 1Set 2Set 3Set 4Set 5
Day 11010867+
Monday10108626
Day 21212101010+
Wednesday1212101023
Day 31513101015+
Friday1513101021

Monday, July 21, 2008

Remembering How To Breathe

I think the universe is in the process of trying to teach me a few things lately. The biggest lessons that have been making themselves known all seem to share a common theme. As I've been slowly absorbing these lessons, the one theme that has emerged is simply to remember how to breathe. Real breaths, slow and deep. Breaths that take time to complete because you can't fill your lungs when you're in a hurry; the kind that start from your toes and end when your lungs feel like a stretched-out balloon.

When you breathe like that, you can't help but slow down. When you slow down, you can't help but start thinking. That is when the universe does its magic, because when you start thinking, you can't help but realize that everything isn't as bad as it seems. Sure, you still have to deal with the stuff that happens in your life, but when you remember how to breathe, you also remember how much more there is to life than the things that you tend to worry about.

Push Up Challenge, Week One, Day One:
Yesterday I started fresh with an initial test of 28 push ups, clearly showing that I held on to some of the conditioning from my previous attempt at the challenge. That started me at column 3, which required 5 sets of 10,10,8,6 and 7+ push ups each. I handled them without a problem and hit reps in the last set.

My next attempt will be Wednesday, so stay tuned.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well Howdy!

Looks like I'll be able to get back into my blogging habit now that things have lightened up a bit on the home front.

I'm not going to be able to pick up right where I left off, although I do eventually want to get around to finishing the Back to Basics Boot Camp. Also, the same things that kept me from blogging left me unable to participate in the 5K I had signed up for. I was disappointed to say the least, but there will always be another 5K out there somewhere.

My hiatus also interrupted my participation in the Hundred Push Up Challenge, so now that I'm back, I decided to restart that today with my initial test. Tomorrow I will begin Week One, and this time I intend to finish!

Thanks to everyone who kept an eye on the place while I was gone. I'll be making the rounds and visiting your blogs as the week progresses. There's a lot of catching up to do!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On Hiatus

Sometimes life just throws stuff at you so fast that you feel like you're in a never-ending game of dodge ball. Sometimes it's little stuff, sometimes it's not.

Since this past weekend, I've been playing professional dodge ball, and something had to give. Unfortunately, this blog is one of the things that had to give.

I am not abandoning the blog or my healthy habits. When I feel as though I'm able to come back, I will. I do not know how long it will take, but once the things I need to take care of have been put where they belong, you can bet that I'll be back.

In the mean time, I may pop in for an occasional look-see, just to make sure no one's rearranging the furniture in my absence, so no one better get any ideas!

Until I get back, just remember: No matter how bad things get, the chances are pretty good that there are least a billion people on this planet that are probably having a worse day than you are...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We Have A Winner!

Today's the big day, where I finally get to select the winner in the Gotta Keep It Off! Birthday Contest. Qualifying entrants submitted a comment on the original contest post here, telling me about their favorite post on this blog so far.

I listed the seven qualifying entries in the order they were posted, then surfed over to random.org to select as random a number as possible. The qualifying entrants, in order, were:

  1. AndrewE, from Andrew Is Getting Fit
  2. Kathy, from Kathy Calculates: Weight Loss
  3. PastaQueen (Jennette), from Half Of Me
  4. John, from John Is Fit
  5. TB, from TB's Journey~
  6. IAAdmin (Lisa), from Iowa Avenue
  7. Robin, from CR - Getting and staying skinny the healthy way

And the winner is...
















Number 5! And that is TB, from TB's Journey~. TB selected my first post to the blog, and I've quoted his comment below:
I'll put a vote in for your "First Post"
Without it we wouldn't be having the pleasure of being inspired by you.
Thanks TB! And trust me, I'm inspired by your success as well. Drop me an email (the address is in my profile) with your contact info and I'll start those books on their way!

And thanks to everyone else who entered the contest. I'm happy and fortunate to have such great readers and fellow bloggers visit me here. You're all a great bunch of people!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Contest Reminder!

Don't forget to enter the GKIO! Birthday Contest before June 30th!

See the contest post for details on how to enter.

Friday, June 27, 2008

B2BBC: Day 9 Update

It's a been a few days since my last update, and between some computer issues and lots of busy-ness going on, I think I needed today's motivation topic as much as anyone today. Thank goodness for the Old Philosopher's sage advice!

Since my last update I did register for the 5K race I'll be participating in one week from today on July 4th! My training for the race has been horrible, so it's very likely that I'll be walking more than running, but it's all about finishing the race. As long as I cross the finish line, I'll be content.

I fared a little better continuing the Hundred Push-Up challenge, completing Week 2 Day 1 on Wednesday with sets of 12, 12, 9, 7 and 11 (10 minimum) push-ups. Today I finished Week 2 Day 2 with sets of 16, 13, 11, 11 and 17 (15 minimum). I didn't have quite as much trouble with them today as I did on Wednesday, so I must be getting a little stronger.

That's all for tonight's update. See you next time!

B2BBC: Day 9

Staying The Course

Since we've passed the half-way point of the Boot Camp, I wanted to talk about something that we all have trouble with from time to time: motivation. It's tough doing the day to day when you're trying to create new habits that you want to last a lifetime.

I've written about this before. In my post "The $64,000 Question" I say it's just a matter of asking yourself "How much do you want it?" In another post from last year, I say that a positive attitude will help you get through the rough spots.

But I think I summed it up the best in my post "Ramblings Of A Skinny Guy" when I said:

Some weeks you feel like you're kicking butt and the pounds seem to just melt off said butt even though you had that mini-binge the other night. Then there are the times when you've been following your plan to a T, eating like you're supposed to, working out like a maniac and when you step on the scale, it laughs at you with a measly .2 pound loss, or heaven forbid, a gain!

No matter what you may think at the time, the only solution is a simple one. Just keep plugging away. If you know that the things you are doing will bring you success, more often than not you will achieve that success eventually. Trust that what you're doing is the right thing.

Just remember, never give up, never give up, never give up...that ship!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

B2BBC Day 8

Let's Get Physical

What do we all know that is part of the prescription for good health, yet is something that many of us dread?

Besides brussel sprouts!

That's right, exercise. I know for myself, it's a struggle to start and sustain any amount of exercise on a regular basis. I also know from reading your blogs that there's a good percentage of you out there that have the same issue.

So why bother? Here's a few very good reasons.

For starters, it'll help you lose weight. Burning calories that would otherwise collect around your midsection is a good thing. Just don't kid yourself into thinking that a lap or two of walking around the mall will compensate for that burger and chili-cheese fries from the food court!

You'll also make your doctor and your health insurance company happy, because regular exercise reduces the risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, chronic back pain, certain cancers and a host of other conditions.

It will also make you feel good. Regular exercise has been shown to improve the mood, reduce the effects of depression, anxiety and stress, and some people actually think it's fun!

There's many more reasons to start exercising; these are just the tip of the iceberg. Just remember to get a doctor's clearance before pursuing any exercise program, especially if the only laps you've been doing have been between the recliner and the refrigerator!

(Note: Sorry for yesterday's cryptic message. I was having some computer issues that temporarily caused some downtime. I should have a permanent fix soon.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Boot Camp: Interruptus

I'm experiencing some technical difficulties, so today's edition of the Boot Camp is being postponed. I hope to have it posted some time tomorrow.

Sorry for the interruption.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

B2BBC: Day 7

You Are What You Eat

Yes, I'm finally going to talk about food. After all, it's something we put into our bodies every day. Sometimes for pleasure, sometimes for boredom, sometimes for comfort, sometimes because we think we're hungry and sometimes because we actually are hungry.

There's a multi-billion dollar industry out there that wants to tell you what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, why you eat. We're bombarded with news of the obesity epidemic, the diabetes epidemic, supersize this, fast food that. Eggs are bad for you, eggs are good for you. The same goes for coffee, beef, milk, bread, potatoes, tomatoes, wine, chocolate and every other food out there that's on the right/wrong side of someone's agenda.

Enough!

I'm not going to tell you anything that you haven't already heard. It's not rocket surgery after all. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit in your body through a combination of reducing your caloric intake and burning calories by moving more. To maintain your weight, you must keep a balance between the two.

Here's something to think about, however. There's a lot of truth in that old phrase, "You are what you eat," as well as in the computer programmer's axiom, "Garbage in, garbage out." Just as quality parts make a quality product, the quality of the calories you consume has a great bearing on how the final product turns out.

No matter why you're paying attention to what you eat, I just want you to think about something. Would you rather be made of the stuff that comes from real food like fresh fruits and vegetables, real meats and other whole foods, or would you rather be made from the things you can't pronounce that go into the things inside the box of that processed food-like substance that you picked up at your local supermarket?

Just remember, we all answer that question every time we put something in our mouths.

Monday, June 23, 2008

B2BBC: Day 6

Write It Down

One of the best tools to help keep you on track when attempting to regulate your weight is a food journal. It can be a real eye-opening experience if you don't give much thought to what you really eat over the course of 24 hours.

Keeping a food journal will help you see not only what you eat, but also how much you eat. It is a strategy that will help you become more mindful of your eating habits and become more aware of how what you eat affects your body.

Your journal can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like. I know some folks who carry around a folded piece of paper and a pencil while others use spreadsheets and other high tech solutions, including web sites such as FitDay, which will track your food, exercise, weight, calories, nutrition and when it's time to change the oil in your car. (Sorry, got carried away there for a minute...)

The point is that you need to find a solution that works for you. Use your food journal as a tool to see how you used to eat, decide what changes you want to make to reach your goals, then help you plan your new, healthy eating habits that will help you reach your goals.

You don't have to do it forever, either. The journal should be kept as long as it is useful to you. And should it become necessary, you can always start again. It's just a very useful tool for you to use as part of your weight/health management toolbox.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

B2BBC: Day 5 Update

I've been keeping busy for a few days and while I haven't been perfect with my implementation of the goals I set for myself when I started the Boot Camp, I'm not too far off the mark.

As I mentioned in today's post, we were at a catered dinner last night. I think I did well enough, with the only splurges being a roll, 2 glasses of red wine (it's healthy, dontcha know?) and dessert. I also stayed up way past my bed time, but unlike most days I was able to get a full eight hours of sleep, so I'm not going to worry about that.

Today I completed Week 1 of the Hundred Push Up Challenge, doing sets of 15, 13, 10, 10 and 16 reps. Let me tell you, the last 3 reps of that last set were tough! I'm going to rest two days and start Week 2 on Wednesday.

I didn't get any formal race training in since Friday, but I did get a few hours of yard work in today. I know it's not the same, but it makes me feel better to say it. I also printed out the registration form for the July 4th 5K and will be dropping that off either tomorrow or Tuesday.

I also finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma over the weekend (my own copy, not the one I'm giving away...) and it was quite an eye opener. I'll probably have a few words to say about it after the Boot Camp is over.

That's it for this update, and I hope everyone enjoyed the first full weekend of Summer/Winter (depending on your hemisphere).

B2BBC: Day 5

Indulgences
(This topic was actually going to come a little later in the series, but after my night last night, I felt it was appropriate.)

Indulgences. Splurges. Treats. Whatever you call them, they are generally seen as ways of "cheating" when you are on a diet. As such, they can be very dangerous things for without too much effort a treat can turn into a binge, which can turn turn disappointment, which can then turn into more binging, which can ultimately result in the end of the diet.

To battle that mindset, plan ahead for any treat or indulgence. Find a way to fit it into your healthy lifestyle. For it's a healthy lifestyle and not a diet that will lead to your ultimate success. Diets, by design, focus on deprivation which can lead to the view that any indulgence is "cheating" or "bad" behavior. A healthy lifestyle, on the other hand, incorporates these little splurges into your mostly healthy eating habits.

The catch, of course, is the frequency of these splurges. If you indulge yourself every day without control then your behavior is more habit than indulgence. Moderation is important if you want to be successful.

Last night my wife and I were at a catered function that we had been invited to a while ago. I enjoyed some good wine, good food and some delicious dessert. I kept my portions in check and focused more on the company at our table than I did on the food and had a great time. Was I perfect? Not at all. I probably had a little more dessert than was called for. But that's what an indulgence is. Today I was back to healthier meals and getting some activity doing some yard work.

A healthy lifestyle implies that you are living well. I say that living well with a healthy lifestyle includes indulging yourself every once in a while.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

B2BBC: Day 4

Plan For It

If you haven't been healthy and fit in a long time, you're going to need a plan to be successful. Leaving things to chance just isn't an option. After all, when you didn't have a plan, where did you wind up? Heavier? Lazier? Sick?

Take some time to think out a plan and put it to paper. You'll need to cover a lot of ground, so don't think you need to do it all at once, but just as you wouldn't go on a long trip without directions and possibly a map, you won't get to Healthyville by heading down random paths.

Plan your meals in advance whenever possible. Grocery lists are essential! Develop a list of your favorite healthy recipes that you can go to when you don't know what to eat. Keep the home environment as healthy as possible. Remember, if it's not in the house, you can't binge on it. Keep a food diary so that you can keep track exactly what you've consumed. It's easy to "forget" about those little extras that seem to make their way into our mouths, so if you bite it, write it!

Eating out? If your restaurant has a web site, surf there first to learn the healthier options on the menu. Plan to be assertive when ordering, letting your server know exactly how you would like your food prepared. I've found that restaurants are much friendlier to special orders than they used to be.

You need to schedule time for fitness as well. We're all busy and we all have excuses, but healthy habits aren't going to form themselves. Make an appointment with yourself to get out and get moving. Keep logs of your training progress. If you don't know where you've been, how are you going to know where you're going or when you get there?

Also know that you absolutely must plan for your own well being. This getting healthy thing can be a lot of work, so take steps to make sure it doesn't cause you to stress out. Plan for some quiet time, hobby time, or whatever it takes for you to regenerate yourself. You're in this for you after all!

I know that this seems like a lot, but it will pay off for you down the road. The road isn't a easy one. Take things one at a time and before long it's quite possible that you'll be surprised with what you've accomplished. And that is what makes the journey worth it. You can plan on it!

(Did you hear? I'm running a contest. Be sure to enter before the end of the month.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

B2BBC: Day 3 Update

It's towards the end of Boot Camp Day 3, and I'm doing fairly well with concentrating on the basics. My food choices have been a lot better than they've been for a few months in spite of the slice of pizza I had with dinner tonight. I ran out of oatmeal before we went away last weekend, so I've been trying to switch up my breakfasts a little bit. After 2 years of oatmeal being the center of my morning meal, it's been refreshing to try some new things.

I continued with Week One, Day 2 of the Hundred Push Up Challenge today. My target was to complete sets of 12, 12, 10, 10 and a minimum of 10 to failure. Today was harder than Day 1, but I made it through and maxed out with 11 push-ups in the last set. Not too bad, eh?

I also got a little bit of cardio in yesterday, about 30 minutes worth. Nothing intense, I just wanted to get back in the habit of moving a little more. I will have to ramp it up a bit with the 5K only 2 weeks away. I imagine it might also be a good time to actually sign up for the race while I'm thinking about it...

Now to prepare for the weekend! I'll have a few tough stretches to navigate through, but I'm committed to keeping the spirit of the Boot Camp with me all weekend. Good or bad, I'll make sure to report back here when it's all over. Now it's off to bed for a good night's rest.

B2BBC: Day 3

Lean On Me

Welcome to Day 3 of the Boot Camp! On Day 1 I talked about setting goals. Yesterday was all about finding a mentor. Today I want to bring up another important part of the puzzle, support.

Staying focused on any one thing over a long period of time can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. To keep those three elements charged and ready for the task at hand, there will be times that you need help. It does not mean that you are weak or unworthy. It just means that you are human.

As humans, we are social creatures by nature. We gather together and make communities wherever we go. It only makes sense to take advantage of that part of our nature. To quote from my post No Man (Or Woman) Is An Island:

But the fact that you have to do this for yourself does not mean that you have to do this by yourself. A strong support system is essential for anyone involved in a difficult venture and I am sure everyone reading these pages would agree that losing weight certainly qualifies.
So take advantage of your family, friends and online communities. Let them know what you're doing and ask them for support. More often than not, they will be more than happy to be there for you.

(There's still plenty of time left to enter my contest. But it won't last forever!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

B2BBC: Day 2

Follow The Leader

Now that we have our goals in hand, we need to figure out how we're going to get from where we are to where we want to be. It sounds like it could be a daunting task, but there's an effective shortcut we could take as long as we bring some common sense along.

This shortcut is fairly simple: just follow the example of someone who's done the same thing you're trying to do. Find someone who lives the same healthy lifestyle that you're aspiring to integrate into your own life. Learn their story. How did they become healthier? What obstacles did they face? How did they handle those obstacles? The chances are fairly good that if you emulate the changes they made, you could have similar results.

Of course, I'm not saying that if the latest Hollywood creation lost 5 pounds in 7 minutes on the Eggplant and Cupcake Diet that you should send in your $49.99 plus shipping and handling. What I am saying is to look for reputable people with a proven track record and look at their methods with a large dose of common sense. After that, if you can envision yourself following those same steps, then this person might be the role model you've been looking for.

Give yourself some extra points if you know the person in real life, rather than through the internet or some news report. The important thing to remember is that you shouldn't try anything that sounds too good to be true. Consult your doctor if you're not sure. We're trying to enhance your health after all, not hurt it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

B2BBC: Day 1 Update

With less than hour to go until my scheduled bedtime, I thought I'd drop in and let everyone know how my first day of the Boot Camp went.

On the plus side, I managed to get some push-ups done today. As much as I tried, I couldn't resist jumping on the One Hundred Push Ups bandwagon that's been taking the blogging community by storm. Today counted as my first day of the first week, which had me knocking out reps of 10, 10, 8, 6, and 16 push-ups with a minute rest in between.

I also managed to minimize my processed food intake today, at least until dinner time when I had to nuke some frozen salmon squares for dinner. We didn't have a chance to do any food shopping since we got back into town late last night, but that shouldn't be an issue for the rest of the week. On the other hand, I compensated with lots of fruit, salad and vegetables throughout the day, so I still had a positive ratio for the day.

The only thing I didn't work on today was my 5K training, but that's more because I decided to alternate between that and my push-up routine. It makes a lot more sense to do it that way than to try to do everything at once.

So that was Day 1, I hope you enjoyed it! Now I'm off to go finish packing up my meals for tomorrow, then up to bed.

B2BBC: Day 1

Goals

Today is the first day of my Back To Basics Boot Camp and to kick it off I'm going to talk about Goals. Setting goals is a crucial part of any successful venture, and my attempt to recommit to a healthier lifestyle is no exception.

Good goals have several characteristics in common:

  • Good goals must be obtainable. This may sound like common sense, but many folks set goals that are unrealistic. Reachable goals are essential for success!
  • Another trait of a good goal is the ease with which you can measure your progress in accomplishing that goal. To go day after day without being able to tell if you are getting any closer to completing your goal would eventually see you abandoning your attempt out of frustration.
  • Your goals should be stated in the positive, emphasizing what you will do, not what you will not do. Positive reinforcement is a powerful thing and should not be ignored.
  • You need to be accountable to your goals. Write them down, share them with others, repeat them several times a day. Do whatever it talks to keep your goals in your mind on a daily basis, because an ignored goal is an unreached goal.
Now that I've touched on just a few effective tips for setting goals, I'm going to share the goals that I've set for myself for the Boot Camp:

By July 3rd, 2008, I will accomplish the following:

I will publish a daily Boot Camp post to this blog.

I will increase the ratio of whole foods to processed foods in my daily diet.

I will give my body the rest it needs by hitting the sack by 10:30 PM each evening.

I will increase my physical activity by beginning and continuing a weekly push-up routine, as well as by training to participate in a 5K race at the end of the Boot Camp on the Fourth of July.

So there you have it. My goals are set and I'm ready to begin. Interestingly enough, the one goal that I'm most apprehensive about is writing the daily post, as I've never written that much in one stretch before. I know that I can reach these goals as long as I give it my best effort. But the only way to know for sure is by following along over the next 16 days!

(There are still 13 days left to enter my contest. Don't be left out!)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

B2BBC: Day 0, What's The Deal?

I introduced the concept of the Back To Basics Boot Camp, or B2BBC, last week and told you why I felt I needed it. Now it's time to lay out the details. In other words, what exactly the B2BBC is and how I intend to follow it.

Simply stated, the B2BBC will be a daily examination of 16 different healthy habits and my attempt to re-establish them as priorities in my life once again. Each day from June 18th through July 3rd, I intend to post about one of the healthy habits that helped with my weight loss and maintenance success. I will also concentrate on strengthening my commitment to each of those healthy habits.

I'm hoping that by reinforcing these healthy habits it will become more difficult to backslide into those unhealthy ones that have been sneaking back into my life lately.

So that's the Back To Basics Boot Camp in a nutshell. It should make for an interesting two and a half weeks. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Don't forget to enter the GKIO! Birthday Contest!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Keeping It Off: Year One

I've been on an incredible journey for almost 26 months now, and for the last 12, I've invited you all to share that journey with me. Today, Gotta Keep It Off! celebrates its first birthday, and I'd like to thank everyone who's ever visited this blog for taking the time to read my words.

I've never considered myself a writer, although throughout my life I've always found myself involved with one writing project or another. But if I stop to think about it, 190 posts over the last 365 days tells a different story. Whether I believe it or not, I am a writer. Who would have known?

So again, I thank you all for sharing the last year with me and invite you to stick around a little longer, even if it's only to enter the occasional contest.

Speaking of which, in the current contest I'm asking everyone to tell me their favorite post from the last year. I think it's only fair that I should do the same. So here, in chronological order, are some of my favorite posts...


And here is a special bonus post, Flights Of Fancy, because I had such a blast flying around in my buddy's plane!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

I'm on the road for Father's Day, so I'm just going to wish all the dads out there a great day and leave you with this fatherly link:

The All-Time Best (And Worst) TV Dads

And, of course, a reminder to enter the GKIO! Birthday Contest!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Out Of Town

I'll be out of town and away from the computer from now until Wednesday, but thanks to the fact that Blogger finally supports scheduled posts I'll still be able to share my thoughts with you while I'm gone. In fact I already have a few posts queued up for your reading pleasure, so be sure to check in throughout the weekend and beyond.

See you on Wednesday, and don't forget to enter the GKIO Birthday Contest!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No, Really, This Time I Mean It

Since March I've been been living fast and loose with my weight maintenance efforts. I haven't abandoned my quest to keep it off, it's just that I've just noticed that I've been letting a lot of my former habits creep back into my daily grind. As a result my pants have been getting tighter and that more than anything else is my call to action.

"But Skinny Guy," you may say, "Didn't you draw a line in the sand back in April? And what about that iceberg you talked about avoiding?"

Yup, you're absolutely right. I talked a good game in April, and at the time I thought I was on the right track. But I think I was missing one of the three elements I talked about the other day, namely Heart.

Am I ready now? We're all about to find out, because to help me get my Mind, Body and Heart back on track I plan on starting the Back To Basics Boot Camp. During the Boot Camp, I'm going to focus on the things that got me where I am, and I'm inviting you to help me by keeping me accountable and following along yourself if you wish.

I'm going to be out of town this weekend on a "working vacation" and won't be back until Tuesday night, so the Boot Camp will commence first thing Wednesday morning. Between now and then I'll work out the specifics and post them when they're ready.

Until then, don't forget to enter the GKIO! Birthday Contest!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Three Elements

In my experience there are three elements that are key to successfully losing weight and maintaining that loss. You can have some limited success concentrating on one or two of the three, but for lasting success all three must be integrated into your plan. The three elements I'm talking about are Mind, Body and Heart.

The Mind: The logical element.
Your mind is the organizer. With it you map out your plan of attack on the weight loss/maintenance battlefield. By thinking things through and obtaining the best information available, you give yourself the best chance for success.

The Body: The physical element.
Not only is your body the object of your weight loss/maintenance efforts, it's probably the biggest weapon in your arsenal. The more your body gets moving, the bigger its contribution to the battle of the bulge.

The Heart: The emotional element.
Your heart, the sum of all your feelings, emotions and beliefs, can be the hardest element to get under control. While all three are connected, the heart often has more influence on your efforts than the other two combined, as any emotional eater can attest.

Together, these elements are a powerful force that can help you achieve your goals. But let any one of them get out of kilter and it can become a major struggle to get back on track.

I don't think I'm done talking about the three elements, but I wanted to put this out there while I was thinking about them.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Another Half-Assed Contest

It seems that I'm not the only one holding a contest this month. Jennette Fulda, a.k.a The Pasta Queen is celebrating the release of her new book Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir with a contest on her blog Half Of Me.

Since she decided to hold the contest before I got a chance to get to the library to check out a copy of her book, I decided to enter her contest in the hope of scoring a free autographed copy.

Here is a video that Jennette made to promote her book and also doubles as my contest entry:










You can also read about the contest at her blog using this link.

If you've never been to Half Of Me before, it's a great read. I subscribed almost immediately after I found it and haven't missed a post yet. Do yourself a favor and make it one of your regular stops as you surf the web.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Welcome To My Contest

As I already mentioned, Gotta Keep It Off! turns one year old this month. To celebrate, I'm going to be holding a little contest. It begins today and it will run until the end of the month.

All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite post on Gotta Keep It Off! If you need to jog your memory, you can peruse the archives using the sidebar widget to the right. That's all there is to it!

One lucky commenter, chosen at random, will win two very nice prizes. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto are two books written by Michael Pollan that examine the food we eat, the industry that surrounds it and the questions we should be asking. If your comment is selected, you will receive both books!

Now, here are the contest details:

  • The contest begins on June 8, 2008 and closes at 11:59 Eastern Daylight Time on June 30, 2008.
  • If you can read this post, you are eligible to enter.
  • To qualify, your comment must specify your favorite post published on Gotta Keep It Off! One comment per person, please.
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all the qualifying comments and will be announced as soon as possible after they are selected.
  • The prizes are the two books by Michael Pollan mentioned above and will be won by the selected commenter.
All decisions by me, Skinny Guy, in regards to this contest are final. Really, it's one of the few times I get to have the last word, so I'm taking advantage of it.

So start combing through the archives and tell me about your favorite posts!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Housekeeping

Before Sunday's big announcement I decided to work on the site a little bit, modifying the theme a touch, rearranging some of the widgets in the sidebar here and there and updating the list of blogs I link to. And if you subscribe in a reader, you should be able to see links to my email address as well as to StumbleUpon and del.icio.us unless I screwed things up.

When updating the blog list, I decided to highlight some other blogs that I read regularly, including some that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. With over one hundred blogs in my reader, I wanted to share more of my favorite reads with you.

So far, all the changes I've made are working, so I'd better quit while I'm ahead. I also have to get up early to head into work for a little overtime, so it's time to get a little shut-eye.

Until tomorrow, then!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Month-Long Party!

June is a special month at Gotta Keep It Off Headquarters. Not only does this blog turn a year old in June, but I'll also be celebrating my first anniversary of becoming a "Lifetime" member of WeightWatchers towards the end of the month.

I'm hoping to use these anniversaries as opportunities to re-energize my goals and, in the process, build a better blog for me and for you. The first announcement will come sometime this weekend, probably on Sunday.

Until then, take a minute to check out this post over at Mark's Daily Apple. It deals with what Mark calls The Primal Blueprint, which is his interpretation of how the lifestyle of Grog the caveman can be a guide to living a fit, healthy lifestyle in this age of fast food and sedentary living. It's an article well worth your time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Remembering

[In 2004, I was editor of my local union's newsletter. In the May issue that year I wrote the following editorial, and wanted to share it with all of you on this Memorial Day holiday.]

I love war movies. Most guys do. I mean, how can you resist? There are the Good Guys, led by Our Hero. Then there are the Bad Guys, who are working for the Forces of Evil and who always give Our Hero a reason to be, well, Heroic. Mix in a wide selection of guns, armored vehicles and all the different ways of blowing things up nice and loud, and it’s the next best thing to a Sunday afternoon in the fall watching the Eagles beat up on the Cowboys.

How can anyone with a decent amount of testosterone flowing through their body not get goosebumps when George C. Scott talks about winning a war by “making the other poor son of a bitch die for his country” in Patton? Or pump their fists trying to help Jim Brown drop the grenades down the air shafts and run back to the waiting halftrack in The Dirty Dozen, even though we know he will always wind up dead on the ground? Remember Bill Holden slapping the snot out of Nazi plant Peter Graves in Stalag 17? How about R. Lee Ermey’s unforgettable performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket?

War in the movies is like that. Good vs. Evil. Heroes vs. Villains. Allies vs. Axis. In real life, however, it’s not quite that clear-cut. Sure, there will always be the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, but talk to any person from any country in the world that has been involved in any kind of armed conflict and I’ll bet you your paycheck that you won’t find a single person that says that they were one of the Bad Guys.

But this editorial isn’t about the politics of war. It’s not about war movies, either. It’s about the real life people who have to deal with the real life consequences of war. The soldiers. The families. The innocent victims. As you look around the factory today, chances are that your eyes will pass over someone who has been personally touched by the effects of war, whether it be the current conflict in Iraq, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, or even World War II.

How many of you reading this have been under fire from enemy guns? Not many, I’d imagine. Have you ever seen a friend die from a land mine explosion? Me either. But how many of you know a family who has had one of their own die or been wounded in combat? How many of you can go to the Wall in Washington, D.C. and recognize a name? How many of you at this very second know someone or know of someone in Iraq? I see a lot more hands going up.

My point is that there are many people, people in our communities, sons and daughters of people that you know, who are willing to put their lives on the line to help ensure the safety of America and Americans. And unfortunately, many of them have made that ultimate sacrifice. And that is what Memorial Day is all about. Remembering that some families have empty places at the dinner table. Remembering that some children will only know their father as a picture on the mantle.

I know that this edition of the Chopper will have gone to press after Memorial Day 2004 has ended. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop remembering the fallen. The Heroes. And thanking them and the families they left behind. And remembering that the work we do here helps to protect our sons and daughters every time they get onto one of our helicopters.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Maintenance, Blogging & Me

As anyone who follows this blog knows, my posting frequency has ground almost to a halt these last few months. Between work and home, I seem to be a lot busier than I've been in a while, leaving me less time for blogging and other forms of geekery that I tend to enjoy.

The good news is that I haven't abandoned my pursuit of maintaining my weight loss. It's taken a small hit lately, but I can still say that I am below my goal weight. To me, that's a major milestone because it's been a just over a year since I first reached that goal.

I'm still struggling with some of my other goals, especially my fitness goals. But as it was with the weight loss, I will need to get my head in the right place before I will see any significant progress.

Right now I'm in the beginning stages of a walking challenge at work. They gave us pedometers and a six week time frame to log as many steps as we could. Unfortunately the challenge was not organized very well, so I'm using it as more of a personal motivator to get moving rather than as the competition against my coworkers that it was supposed to be.

Another reason I haven't been around as much is that I've been spending time catching up with a lot of my old high school buddies. 2008 marks 30 years since our graduation, and I've been helping plan the upcoming reunion. It should be a blast when we all finally get together later this year and I'm really looking forward to it.

The last thing I intend to do is abandon this blog, so I really do appreciate everyone who still checks in. I've been doing my best to keep up with your own blogs, although I've been commenting with about as much frequency as I've been posting here. No promises, but I do hope to get back to writing more soon.

Finally, I hope that everyone celebrating the long Memorial Day weekend has a safe and happy holiday!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who is or has a mother. This video is for you.


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(Special Mother's Day thanks to Kathy for sharing this video with me!)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Out Of The Corner

When last we heard from our intrepid reporter, he let it be known that he needed to get off his posterior and get back on track. His devilishly clever plan was to force his own hand by using this blog to publicly commit to perform physical exertion in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses. In his own words, he painted himself into a corner.

Let us now join our reporter as he regales us with the tale of his attempt to leave the aforementioned corner without getting himself covered with paint...

Hello! Well, as our narrator was quick to remind us, my last post detailed my plan to get back on track by deciding to participate in a 5K race. I'd like to be able to say that I've spent the two weeks since that post hard at work training for the race, slowly building up endurance by training a bit more each day until by race time I was in peak condition and ready to impress everyone on the Atlantic City boardwalk with my performance.

Yeah, right.

In actuality, the last two weeks have been very similar to the last two months in respect to the demands on my time. I only managed to get out and walk once, for about 30 minutes total. Not very inspiring, and not at all the best way to train for a 5K, even if I planned on walking the whole way.

By the time woke up this morning, I decided that my game plan would be to put on a show and run at the start and finish lines, and walk the rest of the way. It seemed like a fairly reasonable plan to me, especially since I've never claimed to be a "runner."

After a 25 minute delay caused by two false starts, the race finally began. I started running, which in my case could more accurately be called shuffling, down the course. The pack surged ahead and started leaving the slower participants behind. I kept at my shuffling, and before I realized it, almost ten minutes had passed! By this time, I did have to take a breather, so I slowed myself down to a walk.

Before I knew it, however, I found myself running again. I hit the one mile mark at 12:40, about three or four minutes better than my walking pace. I kept going back and forth, walking and running, for the rest of the race and ran, not shuffled, across the finish line about 40 minutes after I started.

Once I caught my breath and grabbed some water and a banana, I wandered over to the leader board where I discovered that I finished in 404th place. I'm not sure how many participants finished the race, but I heard it was close to 450. In any event, I'm quite happy with my finish. I did more than I set out to do and didn't kill myself in the process. What more could an out of shape 48 year old guy ask for? Besides oxygen, I mean.

[Update: The official results have been posted and I finished 404th out of 422 runners (33rd of 34 in my division), with an official time of 40:42. ]

Will it be what I needed to get back on track? I honestly don't know, but it certainly didn't hurt. Well, except for those muscles that have been out of practice. And I'm not ruling out trying another 5K sometime. Maybe even sometime soon. We'll see.

For now, there are some other habits I want to jump start, including more frequent writing right here. Stick around, it should be fun!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Corner I've Painted Myself Into


In an earlier post this week I mentioned that I had painted myself into a corner in regards to exercise. Well, it's time to share.

Anyone who was here at the beginning of the year knows that I made a big deal about starting The Count, an attempt to get in some regular exercise and hold myself accountable. Then I had a trip to the emergency room, which put the Count on hold for a while. But that turned into a long while as I began my flirtation with the slippery slope. So here I am, two months later and needing to get back on track.

What would you do in that situation? Me? I signed up for a 5K. Not a bad way to jump start the old exercise routine, for sure. For those of you who don't know, I am not a runner although I did have an alien encounter once before. But I've walked that distance on many occasions and the 5K I signed up for is for a good cause.

Oh, one more thing - the race is 2 weeks from today. That pretty much assures that I'll be walking most of the way. I may put on a good show and trot across the finish line, but I don't want to do anything to hurt myself.

As far as training over the next two weeks, I plan on following the S25K (Sloth to 5K) program. The S25K routine just involves a lot of walking. If I survive, I may eventually graduate to the C25K, but I will probably need some major alien intervention to help with that...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Avoiding The Iceberg

Last week marked the anniversary of the ocean liner Titanic hitting an iceberg and sinking in the North Atlantic back in 1912. I stared down my own iceberg this weekend, and I'm happy to say I survived.

In my case, the iceberg snuck up on me over the last two months, in the form of deadlines, family commitments, health issues and a general relaxing of my healthy habits.

This past Sunday I finally saw the iceberg for what it was, and took drastic action to avoid slamming into it. I did have to take a little damage, though. How did I do it? I ate. Way. Too. Much. On purpose. Until I was sick of even looking at food.

Believe it or not, it worked. By Sunday night I ready to get back on track, and first thing Monday morning it was business as usual. And thanks to Kathy's One Perfect Day, I had even more incentive to do the right thing. (Thanks, Kathy!)

Yesterday, though, I had to pay the piper. I needed to go to my Weight Watchers meeting last night, not only for the accountability, but because it marked my two year anniversary of joining Weight Watchers.

I knew before I went to the meeting that the scale was not going to be friendly to me. I never abandoned going to the meetings during my slump, although being a lifetime member I don't go every week. I also never stopped my morning visits to the bathroom scale. Still, the number I got at the meeting confirmed that indeed, it was time to get back on track.

For purposes of full disclosure, I weighed in at 168.6 pounds. While that number by itself isn't a problem at all, it does represent an 8.8 pound weight gain in only 6 weeks. That is totally unacceptable to me, and I'm using it as another source of motivation to stay back on track.

So I avoided the iceberg and got the ship turned around. There was a little damage, but nothing that wasn't repairable. Life is good!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Girth Day

Today marks the 39th observance of Earth Day, an annual event in which we examine the effects of our impact on the planet and our efforts to minimize the environmental damage we cause.

I believe that in some ways my efforts to lose weight may have helped reduce my environmental footprint as well as my waist size. For that reason (and because it rhymes with Earth Day), I'm also designating today as Girth Day.

"But Skinny Guy," I can hear you asking, "How can not eating like a pig anymore possibly have a positive effect on the environment??"

Boy, am I glad you asked! Keep in mind that the following statements are only my opinions and not necessarily approved by Al Gore...

  • Eating more whole foods and less pre-packaged food lessens the amount of trash I contribute to landfills.
  • Smaller clothes uses less energy and less fabric/synthetics/leather to manufacture.
  • Personal greenhouse emissions are way, way down with healthier eating habits.
  • More exercise (Don't you roll your eyes at me!) equals more exhaled CO2 to feed plant life.

Do you have any ideas to add to the list? Share them in the comments!

Reduce Your Girth and Save the Earth!

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Line In The Sand

In my last post 29 days ago I said that I didn't know when I would get back to my healthy eating, my exercise or my blogging. Now I know. That day is today, and I've drawn a figurative line in the sand, one that I will not cross.

There have been some casualties during my absence, The Count being among them. But I haven't been totally out of control. I'm still under my goal weight, if only by a thread. I'll know for sure when I weigh in tomorrow night.

In the mean time, I'm done with the decidedly unhealthy eating that I've been allowing myself to indulge in and I'm dusting off the blogging cobwebs beginning with this post. As always, the most difficult aspect will be getting back into the exercise habit, but I've painted myself into a corner in that regard. More on that later in the week.

For now, I'm happy to be back to my healthier habits which include blogging, the New York Times notwithstanding.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter, 2008 Edition

I hope all of my readers that celebrate Easter enjoy a happy and healthy one today.

The craziness that was the first half of March for me has decided to continue into the rest of the month, but at a slightly lower intensity level. The upside is that my sanity is still intact. The downside is that the post-deadline let-down has continued, affecting my healthy eating, my exercise and my blogging.

I know it will stop. Right now, though, I can't say when. It's just a matter of getting my head back in the right place.

In the mean time, my family and I are off to my mother-in-law's for a nice Easter dinner. So again, Happy Easter, everyone!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Knowing And Doing Aren't The Same Thing

After losing 130 pounds and keeping it off for eight months, you might think that I know what I'm doing when it comes to my weight. And most days, you'd be right. But knowing and doing, as the title to this post reminds us, don't always walk the same path.

I had the "perfect storm" of a post-stress let-down, extremely good news and ample opportunity that led me down a calorie-filled detour, and I made sure I hit every pothole along the way!

As I mentioned in yesterday's return from exile post, I finally turned over the project I was working on to the printer after a very stressful lead up to the final deadline. And even though I felt great relief afterwards, there is also that shell-shocked feeling that takes a few days to recover from.

Strike one.

Several days later my son the high school senior received a piece of mail that we were waiting for from the financial aid office of his college of choice. We had to bring it with us to the school function we were attending that evening since he stayed late for practice and we were going to meet him there.

The letter? Confirmation of a full academic scholarship! To say we were ready to celebrate would be an extreme understatement...

Strike two.

Back to the function we were attending. I've mentioned before that my son rows for his school's Crew team. This function was the "Kickoff" dinner for this year's crew season. And a dinner at a Catholic high school on a Friday evening during Lent can only mean one thing. Pasta, and lots of it. With Alfredo sauce. And marinara sauce. And clam sauce. And almost every family there brought enough desserts to feed 3 families.

Strike three.

Strikes four, five and six involve having to bring most of the leftover desserts home and store them until today, when we brought them down to the river for our first race of the season.

For the uninitiated, a day on the river for a crew family involves a long day punctuated by brief segments of cheering for your school's boats as they fly by towards the finish line. You pass the rest of the time by talking with your fellow crew parents. And eating. Breakfast. Lunch. Desserts. All day long.

It's too late in this long story to make a long story short, but it is safe to say that I know what I should have been doing food-wise this weekend, I just chose to take the easy path and give in to my feelings the entire time. Now it's time to move on and get back on track the first thing in the morning. That's what Mondays are for, right?

The Count: Snooze = +50, Exercise = +66

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

I've been talking about this "Big Deadline" that's been hanging over my head for a while now. Basically, it was a desktop publishing project for one of my son's high school sports teams that had an ultra-short deadline this year because the big race is always held the day before Easter, which comes a lot earlier than usual this year. It was finally sent to the printers earlier this week, and it's as though a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders!

Throw in a middle-of the-night trip to the ER about a week and a half ago, and you can imagine the fun I've been having. First, though, I'm happy to say that I'm fine. The root cause of the trip to the ER is still under investigation, but the docs tell me it's nothing that I or anyone else needs to be concerned about.

The other thing I'm happy about is that I was able to maintain the spirit of my weight management efforts, even if I wasn't on plan 100% of the time. I wisely, IMHO, gave myself permission to suspend my exercise after the trip to the hospital, through the publishing deadline and some meetings that have keep me busy through to the end of this week. So today, it was back to exercising.

Anyway, now it's back to business as usual, dealing with the day to day challenges of weight maintenance and staying on top of the blog.

The Count: Snooze = +51, Exercise = +65

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Coming Up For Air

Things seem to be returning to the normal level of crazy now that my major deadline has passed. While that gives me a chance to come up for air, the next few days are still going to be busy, just not insanely so.

Still, it will be good to get back into the regular swing of things, it may just take a few more days for me to get there. I'm itching to get back to blogging on a regular basis, that's for sure!

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Count: February 2008 Update

Happy Leap Day!

February is over which means it's time for another update on The Count, in which I pledged to begin some new habits in the new year. On to the update!

The Snooze: I'm still struggling with setting a regular time to turn in every evening, which does affect the Snooze count a little bit. I managed to only hit the snooze button twice this month though, which improves my year to date success rate to almost 92%. In March I'm going to try and work on my bed time so I'm not as tempted to hit that snooze in the morning.

Pushups: I've done incredibly well with my pushup regimen this month, increasing my daily count from from one set of 25 to two sets totaling 40 pushups (25/15), for over a thousand pushups this month and a year to date total of 1525. I've also continued with the squats and now it's time to shake things up a little more.

I'm starting to feel a little burned out with the pushups and it's been suggested by people I trust that I may need to give my shoulders a little "resting" time, especially after 60 straight days of pushups. So here's what I'm going to try. I'm going to throw crunches into the mix now, and I'm going to rotate between pushups, squats and crunches, doing two out of the three exercises every morning. That should give the muscles involved in each exercise a little break. I'll also rename the Pushups count to AM Exercise to reflect that. If it works, I'll continue with it, otherwise I'll try something else.

Original Count Post
January Update

I'm still in "Major Deadline Mode" for at least the next 10 days or so; after that I should be back to posting and commenting on a more regular basis. Play nice until I get back!

The Count: Snooze = +50, Push-Ups = +60

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Life, The Universe And Almost Everything

These are the things that have been keeping me from posting lately. All is well, just incredibly jam-packed with lots of the things I talked about before, as well as another log or two to throw on the fire. Note to self: There is a wonderful word in the dictionary that comes in handy every now and then: NO!

Fortunately, my healthy eating habits and daily exercise, such that it is, are probably the only things that are keeping me sane right now. I make allowances when I need to, but for the most part I've been able to stay on the straight and narrow.

I can't make any promises about my posting/commenting schedule since the next 14 days are filled with deadlines, but I'll try to sneak in when I can. In the mean time, please take care of yourselves!

The Count: Snooze = +47, Push-Ups = +55

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Food, Glorious Food!

Valentine's day is all about your relationship with the one you love. What if the one you love is a cheesesteak smothered in mushrooms and fried onions? Or a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese with a large fry chaser? Or a large pizza piled high with pepperoni, the grease dripping down your arm as you bite into it?

We all have a relationship with food. Mine has changed drastically in the last two years, and that's an undeniable truth. I would always think about the next thing I was going to eat. There was nothing I wouldn't consume, no calorie that was left behind. Trans fats were my friend. I ate as though I was afraid someone were going to come by and take my food away from me, or that I wouldn't see another meal for days.

As with any relationship, my relationship with food had an emotional side to it. I ate when stressed, when bored, when sad, when happy, when frustrated, when celebrating, when mourning. There wasn't an occasion or emotion that wasn't made better with food.

When the time came to change my ways, I learned that food wasn't the lover, the comforter, the soul mate that I thought it was. I came to realize that the way I was abusing food was enabling me to ignore myself and ultimately shorten my life, thanks to multiple health problems with the potential of life-devastating complications.

As I established healthy eating habits I was amazed at the way my body responded. It was as though it craved these new things I was doing to it, wanting the fruits and vegetables and lean meats and whole foods I was now feeding it. I came not only to appreciate food, but to respect it.

Our relationship is much more mature now. I no longer lust after food. I appreciate it, respect it, savor it and enjoy it. In return, it is helping me reverse the damage I've done to my body over the years and helping me preserve it for the future. As with any relationship, it's not perfect. I still have the momentary lapse here and there, but I never stray too far or for too long. I'm in this relationship for the long haul.

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Count: Snooze = +39, Push-Ups = +45

I just entered this post in a giveaway drawing that's running through February 21st over at Lifehack.org. It's a great blog, drop by to check it out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Results Are In!

The polls are closed on the first ever poll at Gotta Keep It Off! and the results have been tabulated. It what should be no surprise to some of you, Eating Out tallied the most votes with four people having difficulty staying on their plan when they're not eating at home.

Snacking came in second, followed by Portion Control and Other tied for third. Bringing up the rear were Exercise, Motivation and Sweet Tooth.

I was surprised that Exercise didn't get more votes, as that's one of the things I hear a lot of people not being able to fit in to their lives at any particular time. I know it's been one of my constant sticking points.

We talked about eating out the other day, and about snacking when you're not really hungry before that, so next we'll talk about how to handle snacking when you are hungry. What to eat, what to avoid, what to never bring in the house and all that good stuff.

Thanks again to everyone who voted!

The Count: Snooze = +38, Push-Ups = +44

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Suicide Food

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the weight game that we start taking things much too seriously. Thankfully, there are plenty of people out there who are determined to keep us laughing.

Blogger Ben from Seattle is one of those who knows right where your funny bone is. His blog, Suicide Food, is a hilarious look at all those denizens of the animal kingdom who can't wait to become our next meal.

From the chicken eager to sacrifice his own wings to the smiling pig who can't wait to jump into the BBQ pit with the "Apple of Death" already in its mouth, Ben takes us on a tour of restaurant signs and advertisements that showcase these poor animals who not only want us to eat them, but are willing to help us do them in!

Make sure you head on over to check it out soon before you wind up eating the next victim!

The Count: Snooze = +35, Push-Ups = +41

Thursday, February 7, 2008

How To Lose Weight While Eating Out

In the comments on Tuesday's post (There's still time to vote in the poll!), AndrewE and Dona agreed that eating out has been their toughest challenge in the weight loss game so far. I've found that eating away from home doesn't have to mean a weight gain. Let me share some of my strategies so that you don't have reservations the next time someone suggests making reservations.

The first thing I do when I know we're going out to eat is hit the web. I look up the restaurant to see if they have a web site. If they do, I look for two things - their menu and nutritional information. Between those two things I can usually build my meal before we go, confident that I've already made good choices before I've even walked through the door.

If there's no web site, or more commonly, if it doesn't have the information you're looking for, try to keep to some safe choices. Grilled chicken, broiled fish and lean cuts of meat are all decent selections. Watch out for creamy sauces and dressings as well.

Try to time your visit to the restaurant so that you aren't ravenously hungry. If you have to, have a little snack before you leave to take the edge off. You don't want to go to the restaurant hungry for the same reason you don't want to go to the supermarket hungry - you'll overdo it and wind up with too much! This tip has helped me out more than once, especially if we ran into a long wait before we got seated.

Now that you're seated at the table, when your server asks what you'd like to drink, there's always at least one good answer - water. Preferably a tall glass of water. With plenty of refills. Just make sure you know where the rest rooms are!

And don't be shy, either. Be assertive when ordering. Order what you want, how you want it, even if it isn't necessarily on the menu. Warn the server ahead of time that you're going to be high maintenance and that it will be reflected in the tip.

One of my favorite tips is to remember to feed the doggie first. As soon as your food comes to the table, ask for a doggie bag and pack up half you meal before you take your first bite. Most restaurant portions these days are actually two, three, or more normal servings of food, so there's no reason not to make two or three meals out of your order.

Build a list of restaurants that you know you can handle. After a few trips you'll know what to order and what to avoid.

Take a more active role in deciding where to go out to eat. You may not always be able to sway your companions to go where you'd like, but as our parents always liked to remind us, "Life isn't fair!"

Remember that the more you eat out, the less your chances of posting a weight loss for the week. Giving up occasional control of your meals to someone else may be a treat, but who has your best, healthy interests in mind, you or Chef Pierre?

I really hope these tips are helpful to anyone who has experienced the same trepidation towards eating out that Andrewe and Dona have. Make sure to leave any of you own eating out tips in the comments!

The Count: Snooze = +32, Push-Ups = +38