Thursday, January 31, 2008

Slobs Gone Wild!

For the last 16 years, the Friday before the Super Bowl has had a unique twist to it in Philadelphia. Starting in the middle of the night, a sellout crowd will descend upon the Wachovia Center, home of the Flyers and the Sixers, waiting for the doors to open at 5:00 AM.

The event they're lining up to see? Wing Bowl, a Philadelphia tradition that combines the country's fascination with eating competitions, the good-natured boisterousness of Philly sports fans, and a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere. This year, 30 competitors have survived qualifying stunts of their own design to see who can eat the most chicken wings in a half hour.

Created in 1993 by the hosts of WIP Sports Radio's Morning Show, it has grown from a two man contest in the lobby of a local hotel to an officially sanctioned competitive eating event that sold out a 20,00 seat sports arena in 45 minutes.

It's a crazy contest with but one rule: "You heave, you leave!" It's fun to listen to on the radio, or over the station's internet feed. You can even check out video of the qualifying stunts at philly.com, although they're not very appetizing. And while I've never been to the Wing Bowl, I know several guys who go every year without fail.

Yes, it's a celebration of all that is unhealthy and politically incorrect. It rewards gluttony and sloppiness. It is all that. But on a weekend when Philadelphians have had no rooting interest in the Big Football Game on Sunday for 15 of the last 16 years, it gives us something to cheer about.

Wing Bowl

Philly.com Wing Bowl coverage

The Count: Snooze = +25, Push-Ups = +31
(Of course, after posting about how well I was doing on Tuesday, I wound up hitting the snooze button yesterday morning after adjusting my alarm incorrectly!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fair Warning

Sometime between now and Easter I'm trying to fit in Nervous Breakdown Number One. After a short break I should be well on my way to Nervous Breakdown Number Two by Memorial Day weekend. I should be able to make it through the summer without a problem, with only a small blip near the end of August.

Seriously, those projects I mentioned a couple weeks ago are beginning to demand my attention. As deadlines loom, it's quite possible I may go into hermit mode and may be out of touch for longer than usual. If it looks like that may happen, I'll do my best to send up an occasional flare, just you let you know all is well.

When going through the calendar to schedule my breakdowns, I happened to notice that the end of this month marks seven months that I've been able to maintain my weight loss! It doesn't seem as though it's been that long, especially since I've only been concentrating on staying on track a day at a time, but the days do add up when you string them all together.

I've also been happy with my progress on The Count. I only missed two days with the snooze alarm, and I'm up to 23 pushups every morning and really starting to notice a physical difference in my upper body.

The Count: Snooze = +25, Push-Ups = +29

Sunday, January 27, 2008

There's Something Fishy Going On Here...

...and it's my dinner!

Fish isn't a common item on the menu here at Skinny Guy Manor, mostly because not everyone here enjoys the catch of the day. Mrs. SG is mostly partial to shellfish and select flatfish, and the resident teenagers are divided on the issue. Me? As evident from my before pictures, I'd eat just about anything given the chance.

So imagine my delight when the Missus came home from the supermarket today with two nice fillets of turbot for tonight's dinner. At first I wasn't sure how I was going to prepare them, but then I decided to go for the simple approach.

I laid the fillets in a baking dish, sprinkled them with black pepper, then squeezed the juice of half a lemon over them and let them sit for about 10 minutes while I mixed up some parsley butter. Actually it was parsley mixed in with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, but you get the idea. Anyway, I just spooned out the parsley butter over the fillets then baked them in a 425 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

We served them up with some boiled potatoes and string beans sauteed in minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil, and let me tell you, my tummy is still doing a happy dance!

I really should make more of an effort to have our swimming friends over for dinner more often. In addition to the health benefits, it just tastes so darn good! So to celebrate tonight's guests of honor, I'm going to leave you with this video:

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The Count: Snooze = +23, Push-Ups = +27

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How To Clobber Cravings When You're Not Hungry

The other day I had a craving for something salty and crunchy. But I also realized that I had eaten a little while before and wasn't really hungry. Knowing that enabled me to sidestep the vending machine at work and settle for a stick of gum to help me get through the craving.

Here are some of the ways that I use to try and ward off those cravings when I know that I'm not hungry.

Think First
When that craving first hits, take a moment to assess whether or not you're really hungry. Cravings can be about more than food. Boredom, stress, emotions, habits, smells and many other stimuli can trigger killer cravings. Thinking about why you crave a certain food may enable you to control that craving.

Wait It Out
Sometimes, just waiting ten to fifteen minutes after experiencing the first signs of a craving may be enough time for it to pass on its own. This strategy may help when the craving is triggered by an old habit such as having a snack while watching TV.

Keep Busy
Cravings are notorious for showing up when you're bored. Doing something that requires your full attention is a good tact for distracting that craving right out of your system!

Drink Water
Drinking water can also help combat your cravings. It can help you achieve a certain level of fullness, in effect telling your body that it doesn't want anything else. And it does this without adding a single calorie to your daily allotment.

Chew gum
The act of chewing gum, preferably sugar free, can also trigger physical reactions that can help you soothe your craving. The release of extra saliva coupled with the chewing action may be enough to head that craving off.

One Bite
If nothing seems to be helping and if you feel you have the internal fortitude to submit to one small taste of the food you're craving without losing control, you may want to go ahead and indulge for one bite. That is often enough to satisfy a craving without taking too big of a calorie hit. And better a small taste now than an all out binge if you try to deprive yourself of all your cravings.

That wraps it up. I hope I've given you some good ideas on how to deal with whatever craving you're hit with next. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Green Acres: The Place For Me?

It may be the dead of winter, but vegetables are the talk of the town in the blogosphere lately...

Jonathan and Kathy are two bloggers that I read who have fresh vegetables delivered to their doorsteps on a weekly basis. I enjoy reading about their adventures with new veggies and deciding how in the world to prepare them.

PastaQueen goes spelunking into the produce section of the market every month with the mission to find and taste some fruit or vegetable that she's never had before.

Over at Approvechar, Sally has turned to Community-Supported Agriculture, basically a venture where members of a community agree to purchase a share of a farm's harvest every week for an entire growing season. It's a win for the farm because the farmer is guaranteed an income on his crops. It's also a win for the shareholders, because they'll be on the receiving end of a weekly selection of fresh, locally grown produce all season. Finally, the community as a whole wins, because money is going into the local economy and not to some megachain.

Being that I live in the Garden State, this last option intrigued me to the point that I started poking around the Local Harvest web site. To my surprise, I found a CSA farm listed less than 10 miles away from my front door. I need to poke around a little more, but so far I like what I've found, and may find myself signing up if I'm not careful.

[Insert clever Arnold Ziffel/bacon joke here]

The Count: Snooze = +18, Push-Ups = +22

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ramblings Of A Skinny Guy

I think my writing muse may have taken the weekend off to visit warmer climates because I've been a loss trying to come up with a halfway decent post for today. Sometimes the ideas and the words just seem to flow, other times I wind up agonizing over every word before I can write something that might seem to make sense after you read it upside down while holding it to a mirror.

In fact, it's probably no different than the weight loss game. 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.

I don't know if I've made sense here, but the football game is on in the other room and besides, you look awfully silly hanging upside down trying to read this in the mirror! Enjoy the rest of your weekend no matter how you decide to spend it.

The Count: Snooze = +16, Push-Ups = +20

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Weight Management Toolbox

I've used many tools in my quest to lose 130 pounds and then maintain that loss. Some of them were provided by Weight Watchers, some were found online, and others were of my own design. I thought it might be helpful to mention a few of them here in case they might help someone else.

Spreadsheets

I've used several different spreadsheets since I started losing weight. Two of the most helpful have been from On My Weigh. The Weight Loss Progress Chart and now the Maintenance Progress Chart have both helped me track my progress during both phases of my weight loss.

Another was a spreadsheet of my own design which calculates the Weight Watchers POINTS value for a food when you supply the calories, fat and fiber of that food. The POINTS formula is patented by WW, which means that the patent can be found and read online by anyone who searches for it. And before you ask, because the formula belongs to WW I will not be sharing the formula or my spreadsheet, so please don't make me turn you down.

Web Sites

Besides all the great blogs in the weight loss community I've found on the Internet, there have been several web sites that have been gold mines of information and support for me.

The official Weight Watchers site has all kinds of great information, and the support on their Guys On A Diet message board has a great (mostly) no nonsense approach to weight loss.

Living The Core Life is a site I found when checking out the Core plan and helped my make the decision to switch.

Nutrition Data is another site that provides complete nutritional information for just about any food or recipe.

In The Kitchen

The following items have made it much easier to prepare good, healthy meals:

  • Good knives (and a good sharpener)
  • Digital food scale
  • Multiple sets of measuring cups/spoons
  • Hot Air popcorn popper
  • Good blender
  • Extra Large lunch box, to accommodate nice, healthy lunches (Skinny Guy Seal of Approval©)
  • Plenty of food storage containers
  • Crock pot
What kinds of stuff are you packing in your Weight Management Tool Box?


The Count: Snooze = +13, Push-Ups = +17

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Life Does Get In The Way Sometimes

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, things have been getting a little busy for me lately. There are lots of projects in the works, some of them with deadlines that are already too close for comfort.

In order to give myself plenty of time to work on these projects while at the same time making sure this blog is well fed and cared for, I've decide to structure my blogging time a little more formally.

In other words, for at least the next few months I'll only be posting on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. That should give me the time I need to take care of the Real Life™ stuff without denying the rest of you the wit and wisdom you've come to expect from yours truly.

There isn't going to be a weigh in post tonight because one of the looming deadlines I had to take care of was moving my daughter back to her campus dorm room tonight. And I've been toying with the idea of not weighing in again until next month, as per WW requirements for lifetime members.

Now that it's officially past my bedtime, I'll just wrap things up with the latest edition of The Count. As of today it stands at +11 for No Snooze Alarm and +15 for Pushups. I've actually gone without missing my morning pushups since I started doing them on December 26th. And getting up on the first alarm has given me enough time to get to work and have a nice leisurely breakfast every day.

The Count: Snooze = +11, Push-Ups = +15

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ping!

Just a quick blurb to let everyone know that I'm here, just incredibly swamped at the moment. Nothing to worry about, but posting and commenting may be sporadic through the rest of the week.

Play nice until I get back!

The Count: Snooze = +10, Push-Ups = +14

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Long Winter

Where I work, we get the week between Christmas and New Years off every year. Including weekends, it's about an 11 day vacation. The price we pay for having a long holiday break is that we don't get another sanctioned holiday until Memorial Day, 5 long months down the road.

That's not to say we don't have days off during that time, we just have to use vacation time or sick time. In any event, it tends to make for a long winter. The perfect time to settle in with any one of many comfort foods to keep you company in front of the fireplace.

For me, January began my DVD marathon time. I would take out all of my favorite movies and television series DVDs and over the course of the winter would watch just about every one of them.

Fortunately I have a few projects looming that will keep me from becoming a total sloth this winter, although I will make time for some DVD viewing. Another interesting development includes one of the benefits at my wife's new job. Apparently she gets a discounted family membership to a local gym! This was only mentioned to me in passing last night, but I must say that I am definitely interested. We'll need to find out all the details and check out the facilities, but I am cautiously optimistic.

Maybe this winter won't be so bad after all...

The Count: Snooze = +6, Push-Ups = +10

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Weigh In: Week 89

Three Weeks Ago: 159.6 lbs.
This Week: 160.4 lbs.
Change: Up 0.8 lbs.

Starting Weight: 292.0 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 131.6 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

I missed my last two meetings since they fell right on the holidays, so tonight was my first weigh in since December 18th. I didn't worry about going to another meeting or even jumping on the scale at home for an "unofficial" weigh in as I've done in the past. Much to my delight, I had a gain of "only" 0.8 pounds, which falls right in my normal maintenance range.

I have to be honest, I feel strange being happy with a gain, especially after losing about 11 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years last year. But as it turns out, maintaining your weight after over a year of losing is such a different mindset that it takes a while to get used to. I've found that it's natural for my weight to fluctuate from week to week, and as long as each loss or gain is within an acceptable range, I'm quite happy.

The Count: Snooze = +6, Push-Ups = +8

Monday, January 7, 2008

Recipes Or Improvisation?

Today I was asked for advice for a good cookbook for a recently diagnosed diabetic when I realized something about my own cooking habits. Even though my wife and I own enough cookbooks to fill one and a half shelves on our bookcase, I hardly use any of them!

Sure, I have a few pages with dog-eared corners turned down to mark some favorites of mine, but I'd rather just go into the kitchen and start throwing things together like an amateur Iron Chef. I like to play Russian Roulette with the spice rack, just to see what kinds of interesting combinations I can come up with and how my taste buds will react.

For me, recipes are most useful when I come across a winning combination that I want to be able to reproduce. They are also valuable when learning how to cook with a new food. Even then, I tend to comb through dozens of recipes, taking a bit here, a bit there, adding a flourish or two of my own, and usually wind up with a winner.

I believe that the ability to improvise while in the kitchen, coupled with many of the staples that I rely on, helped me to stay on track while losing my ex-weight, and helps me maintain it today.

How about you? When you're in the kitchen, do you like to make it up as you go along, or do you need to follow a recipe to the letter?

The Count: Snooze = +5, Push-Ups = +7

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Taking Back Control

Some 20 months ago, I started the fight to take back control of my weight. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I've been fairly successful with that project so far.

With the new year, I set some small goals to help me get started taking control of a few other areas of my life. In fact, I'm keeping track of two of them at the bottom of my posts for the rest of the year.

Over the years I've let lots of things get out of control in my life. Some small, some large. Some trivial, some with consequences. Some I talk about here, some will always be private. It isn't even that I lost control of those things. I gave away that control.

If there's one thing that I've learned over the last 20 months, it's that it's not impossible to regain control. It takes hard work and perseverance, but it can be done. And once you regain control of one thing, you can use everything that you've learned in that battle and apply it to the next thing, and the next, until you slowly but surely have a whole string of successes behind you.

It may never be easy, but it does get a little easier with each success. And with each success, the reward becomes even greater.

The Count: Snooze = +3, Push-Ups = +5

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Introducing The Count

I mentioned here that one of my goals for the new year was to stop using that evil invention known as the snooze alarm. In order to keep track of my progress towards this goal, I'm instituting The Count, which will work as follows:

* The count officially began on January 1st and will end on December 31st.

* I will set an alarm to get up every day of the year.

* For every day I get up without hitting the snooze alarm, the count will increase by one.

* For every day I hit the snooze alarm or fail to set an alarm, the count will decrease by one.

* To start, I'll aim for a 90% success rate, which means The Count needs to reach or exceed +330 by December 31st.

Another goal that I started working towards was physical in nature. At the same time I began the anti-snooze crusade, I began doing push-ups every morning, as soon as I got up. I'm starting with 10 push-ups each morning, but the number doesn't matter. I'm trying to establish the habit before I worry about how many I do. So I will include my push-up routine in the count as well, using the same general guidelines that I outlined above.

How am I doing so far? Glad you asked! We're three days into 2008, and I've resisted the snooze alarm two days out of the three, making the snooze count +1 (1+1-1=1). I'm doing a little better with the push-ups, where the count is a perfect +3.

I'll try to remember to update The Count on a regular basis at the bottom of my posts, like so:

The Count: Snooze = +1, Push-Ups = +3

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Man Makes The Clothes

I'm sure everyone has heard of the old adage, "The clothes make the man." I'm not so sure I believe that one anymore.

In my fat life, I only had a few different outfits: jeans and t-shirts, sweats, maybe a pair or two of slacks and a few knit shirts. All very functional, nothing very stylish. As I think back on it now, I knew how bad I looked, and I dressed the part.

As I lost weight, I started feeling good about the progress I was making, and started feeling better about myself. The only drawback at this point was that my body was in a constant state of change, therefore it would have been quite an expensive proposition to buy a new wardrobe in ever-shrinking sizes. More jeans and sweats, if you please!

Finally I reached the point where I am today and where I hope to be for a long time. While I still wear jeans and t-shirts, I also have a nice selection of casual and dress clothes to wear that are actually stylish! I actually take pride in my appearance and will even consent to going clothes shopping now that I don't have to frequent the dreaded Big & Tall store.

What it boils down to is that I had to feel like I was "the man" before I could dress like "the man." And in this case, it was the man that made the clothes. It makes me wonder what other cliches would fall apart under closer scrutiny.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Clean Slate In 2008

Last year was a big year for me. Not only did I reach my goal weight, I started this blog to help me in my efforts to keep it off. Now that my discipline and self-control have done their job for me with that project, they're pestering me for something else to do. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much choice but to let them loose on the rest of me.

Now I'm sure those of you that have stopped in here once or twice before may think that I have my act together after losing all this weight and keeping it off for over 6 months. Au contraire, mon ami!

I seem to have acquired many bad habits over the last 48 years, most of them attributable to my two closest friends, laziness and procrastination. They've caused me many problems over the course of my life, and it's about time I did something about it.

In fact, I've already started, beating the new year by a week! Another of my good friends over the years has been my snooze alarm. I'd visit him two, three or four times every morning, even going so far as to set my alarm earlier so that I could sleep later. In my defense I can only say that logic isn't my strong suit that early in the morning.

No more! Every day since the 26th I've set my alarm even though I've been off from work, and most days have been out of bed at the first alarm and never later than the second. Once I'm back to work I intend to kick it into high gear and get up every day on the first alarm, even on the weekends.

I have lots of other goals and habits I want to work on this year, and I'll still be looking to maintain my weight, so it looks to be a busy year for yours truly. And as always, you are all invited along for the ride.

Happy New Year!