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.