Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking forward...

So it has been a little while since I've last written.  Truth be told, I acquired a vicious virus on my laptop which put me out of order for a while.  Thankfully, all, less itunes, has been resolved.

I suppose I should begin with an update as 2011 comes to a close and it has been almost a perfect 8 weeks since I've began my quest for small-dom.  As of my weigh in this morning, I am down 43.4lbs in 8 weeks.  When I think about this too long I have two thoughts that go through my brain. First, I'm bewildered.  I can't believe that so much of me is gone.  It's just vanished, and I'm having such trying issues as finding pants that won't drop to the floor if I exhale too far. I've added holes to belts to counteract the force of gravity on my pants.  My steering wheel and belly have been divorced.  No longer with the car follow a true course with hands off the wheel.  And, driving up to my sister's for the holidays, I realized that there is a much bigger gap between the top of my noggin and the ceiling of the truck which really means that my "Lard Ass, has been reduced to just "Fat Ass".  I'll take it in those terms for now as they make me laugh, mark my progress, but don't get me to fully celebrate yet which, for me, works against my inner motivation to keep going.  Truly, I drank the Kool-Aid at the DFC and it's working. The other thought, and it's the evil, more motivational little voice inside me that says "that's it?".  All this work and effort and that's all you have to show for it?  I find I have to balance this little voice, but in a way, it keeps me going, reminding me that for all the success that I can physically see, feel, and touch, there is still a long, long, long way to go and I am on this path for me and my future. 

So people are noticing my diminishing self.  I lose weight in my face first, my man boobs are going away, and the aforementioned pants tend to gather as I cinch them down in place.  In some ways, I'm trying not to make this the topic of every conversation I have as I need to speak of other things and I find myself deliberately distracting topics in other directions.  But it is very nice and rewarding that folks have taken notice.  To date, probably the largest change besides actual proportion changes is my diet.  I have not had a single french fry, hamburger, pizza, taco, or gyro since I've started this path.  For that matter, I have avoided soups, chili, chips, and for the most part, a lot of red meat too.  I'm eating so much better than I ever have in my life prior, and by my own hand, which is the small miracle in all of this change.  Tonight, I'm having peel and eat shrimp.  One of my top 5 favs, and I'm so thankful that I can let the dogs out with this and hit the shrimp hard.  I will pair it with a cup of green beans, a salad with low fat dressing, and probably some corn or brown rice...TBD.  I don't feel deprived.  With the holidays, I've had a cookie when they arrive, not 20, I've taken part in the Fannie Mae mint melt-aways that come in by the box load from the reps we work with.  I'll limit myself to three for the day and that's it.  My mom's home bakes were hard to hold back on, but that really was limited by exposure.  My guard was loosened considerably for Christmas.  I didn't binge eat or anything, but if I wanted a cookie, it was mine....and I was okay with it.  I lost three pounds over Christmas, and got back on the trail the day after.

So paired with the diet has been the exercise.  I have maintained the 6 days per week plan consistently since I've returned.  My schedule complicates things as there are some days I'm working out at 9pm, and I have to get up the following morning to exercise again because I have the night shift to work.  I've varied what I'm doing, so that it doesn't feel like I got off the same machine 8 hours earlier.  I am continuing with the pool as I still enjoy it.  I have some issues with some instructors who take it too lightly and I have gigantic issues with the 60yr old ladies who like to use these classes as chat time with their buddies and pay little attention to what the rest of us are trying to do.  I just sneer at them in the pool and try to make big waves to irritate them.  Water volleyball is just fun.  I don't care who you are, it's just fun.  It's only offered once a week, but I think I'm staying in form for when I revisit the DFC...they'll have to watch out!

There are two, well three or four, actually, other motivational feeds that I am employing which have a remarkable affect on the psychology for what I am doing and I have been surprised at their impact on how I motivate myself to keep going.

First, I track a lot of information.  I track my weight, BP, exercises  times, calories burned, I have a pedometer and I record that information. If I use a machine that give me calories used and step counts, it is journalized.  I also keep track of four calorie counts: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and other calories.  The "other" category is the discretionary stuff like booze, snacks, ectcals for the day, but I can go to 2500 without issue if I want to....I save those for booze nights.

Second, I signed up for coaching sessions with the DFC that has me speaking by telephone to a behavior/lifestyle coach to help me adjust, address, voice, share and trade information.  This is nice because I worked with this person when I was there and it really binds me to the DFC which is helping to keep the information fresh and top of mind.

Next, I've had a few email exchanges with one of the physiologists that worked with me during my time in the South.  These are really informal and are usually referring to blog stuff, but it is just one more bond to the program that got me going and it is so very much valued to be able to report success back to the folks that helped get me going.

Lastly, I've signed up to be a part of a study by a nurse at Duke U.  Basically, they are trying to dial in on what types of support help people to meet success in meeting their goals.  Essentially, I receive a morning text message every day.  Usually a reminder of something we learned at the DFC, or a motivational thought, or some kind of tip that greets me each day.  There are some valuable tips, but I think what I will do for you is to transcribe them into a separate blog entry so that they are all in one place and I suppose I will update that list sporadically.

I hope this finds you all well.  I am really looking forward to a fresh 2012 and I'm looking in a forward direction, thinking of how much farther I will be this time next year.  Truly I will be a different person if I stay on course.  Cheers!  and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Plan in action

My progress has been impressive, at least to me.  There are a lot of small hurdles I've found that exist in life to try and knock you off course.  I am most impressed by my internal compass that has really left me on track, even in situations of adversity that pop up.  More in a bit.  I'm surviving the jungle.  So much more easily than I ever, ever, ever anticipated.

I left off with my first grocery store, post DFC, that got cut off from my last entry, so I will try and fill in the blanks as it still boggles my melon.  A key element to my success, and much of what I was not doing prior to my program, was to get to the grocery store a.s.a.p upon my return to the jungle, so that I could restock, and begin to fend for myself once again.  I really see this as a key to eating a healthier diet.  There are a ton of tricks that float around, some are known, some I learned, and I'm stunted by friends who cough these up to me now, and I'm stunned that they know these things as the concepts are so new and fresh to me~ How do you know this stuff, and how and why did I miss this information in the first 45 years of my life?  Any how, my fridge is now like a foreign planet.  Seriously, a week later, and I still feel like I'm in somebody else's fridge...  I own flaxseed?  Wow.  I own flaxseed meal? Who are you Blair?  I think I have more fresh produce and fruit in my fridge than I have ever had combined for the last 10 years.  Barring, of course, frozen veggies, which I always bought, kept in the freezer for a thousand years to make myself feel good about the potential I had in the freezer, tried to use them, discover that you can't freeze things forever and still use them, and then pitch them.  I've done this for years.  It's a little scary to look back now... The one thing I've noticed, and it is probably some far off marketing trick, is the color of my fridge, once I open the door, is so much more festive.  I just always remember opening the door and seeing a palette of orange, reds, and yellows.  (the colors of Arm & Hammer box, mustard and ketchup, cheese among others)  Now, it resembles a rainbow of blues, greens, whites and reds...just something I've noticed.  

Shopping was funny and fun and took me forever!  I put an ap on my phone called "fooducate" (free, iphone and android).  This is a little tool that you take a picture of the UPC bar code, and it gives the product in question a grade (A-F) based on dietitian analysis, and then suggests 3-4 other options that are better for you.  Fun, but scanning will slow you down.  Pretty much the Kashi cereal line is my new go to brand, just fyi.  Reading the labels and actually understanding them more clearly than ever in my life has been eye opening, shocking in fact, and I'm so happy I took the time to do it.  The other basic trick I utilized was to shop the perimeter of the store and not go down the aisles.  90% of what I need is there.  It's all the junk on the shelves that is the dangerous stuff, and that is the word I use in my mind when I'm in the aisles.  Obviously, I need canned stuff and frozen veggies, cereal, rice ect that are in the aisles, but for the most part, I've changed my angle and I found myself hurrying to get out of the aisles so I don't get 'trapped' by something.  I'm so much more conscious, it is a little frightening to me.

I have to thank you all again.  The email and message volume has really been uplifting and I'm still amazed that some of you still want this rambling crap to continue! 

So, I have been to the gym six days this week. Yes, you read that correctly. As crazy as that my seem, this is my optimal goal.  If I have similar weeks with work and social life, it appears that 5-6 days is actually doable.  It is rough on the weekends.  Thus far my schedule has me working weekends and the facility I've selected at Loyola University's Medical Center is not as convenient time wise....good bye early morning hours of sleep, but I got my workouts in that I needed.  I've basically been working on my Cardio stuff, but I have to restart the strength stuff too.  I've damaged my shoulder slightly, a strain they said, or at least discovered a problematic joint I never knew was an issue, but I've tried to rest it.  Definitely not muscular, but sore none the less.  I have, however, found my pool time too.  They do have the synchronized water ballet classes, and they have volleyball once a week.  Now, I have issues there a bit, and one class I went to was like a coffee clutch for a bunch of ladies and there was little strenuous challenge involved.  I later asked the instructor if I had been in the wrong class and she said "no, nobody felt like pushing it tonight"  Nice lady, appreciate the waste of my time, I did what I could with the class, got my buoys going, and tried to do what I was doing at the DFC, but I knew I wasn't getting the same results, so I stayed after and swam laps as best I could, as I knew this would pick up my heart rate.  There is a deep water class on Monday, so I hope that will be a bit more strenuous.  I've learned that I need to shake it up so that I don't get bored. (There are still bouncy people to watch, so boredom is relative...I'm easily entertained, but to keep my own monotonous motions in check, diversity will help.)

A bit on tracking I guess.  I built myself a spread sheet that I can keep on my phone and lap top,  I update it all throughout the day.  So far, these are the things I'm tracking: Daily weight, BP, exercise activity, duration of said activity, if available, calories used for the exercise, Pedometer steps, and calories spent for that, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, and other calories consumed.  I'm sure this will bore most of you.  But, I learned that weight loss is just about the math.  This made it easy for me.  My RMR (resting metabolic rate), the number of calories my big ass self needs to live, to breath, pump blood, think ect is some astronomical 3800 calorie number.  Much of this is due to my large size and this will go down as I reduce the Blair that we all know.  But in the meantime, the dietitian has offered up a calorie goal of 2500 cals per day, which I still find generous, but it makes sense.  Again, eventually, this will drop too.  To the best of my ability, I'm ranging from 1580-2050 per day.  Okay, this is 10 days of data, but I love 'buying' myself those unused calories.  There was one day, I maxed it out to the full 2500 with a little night life in the big city, but those were vodka calories and not french fry calories! 

There's more to talk about, but this is getting really long, so, next time I guess.  Be well.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Setting it up

I have been back a couple of days now, still work free, which is a little boring, but I'm off through Tuesday and I'm really glad I took the time.  It has allowed me to get things going at home without the complications of life to get in the way.  Unpacking after a month away, well, that alone is a chore, no less try and implement what is now in my head into my reality.

The momentum is still well in hand and active.  I have really surprised myself at how "front of mind" I have been with all that I have learned. It's probably just fear motivating me, but I'll take it, knowledge is powerful stuff.  My drive home was a good example, I got my exercise in each day, ate really well in non-fast food joints (I swear GPS is the only way....the blue highway signs before each exit just don't cut it). And my progress in setting up my world has gone really well.

So on Wednesday, my first day back, I got up and put a list together of all the gyms and fitness resources I have around me.  Brian did this for me preliminarily during my fitness exit at the DFC, but there was a lot we didn't cover.  I am so happy to have done this as it really became clear what I was looking for versus what is available.  My confidence is really high, but I won't say that walking into a prospective gym as a big man doesn't still draw those 'looks' from behind the counter, or from those in the midst of workouts.  The big difference now is that I don't give a crap about that, and I actually find entertainment in it.  In the past,however, this would have been enough fodder to alter my course and avoid the situation entirely.  I never could have even approached the thresholds of these places without having my confidence, from a fitness standpoint, elevated while at Duke.  That relatively small amount of time facing the fitness demons at the DFC, (my own inward demons, not the evilly creative Fitness Guru's at Duke that bring pain) really allowed me to conduct the search in a knowledgeable way, that in itself, raised my confidence.  It's really funny how this all works sometimes.  Psycho at one level, but pretty real stuff that has been a hindrance in the past.  The upshot is that I found an absolutely parallel facility in terms of offerings....and so much more.

I joined the Loyola University's Health and Fitness Center.  Tons of classes with a staff that is similar to the high standards I became accustomed to at Duke.  I really like the tie to the medical school and medical center here. They have the same machines I was used to using already, plus so many of them!  This place is huge, there is an indoor 1/8 mile walking and jogging track, that I have already used on the slow speed, and there is so much strength training equipment, weights, basket ball & racket ball courts, a couple of classrooms, two pools, and yes, they have water volleyball.  In a much more organized way too, which I'm leery of, but we'll see. There are seemingly endless treadmills, 14 different stair machines, ellipticals out the ying yang (which are still awkward for me to use...I'll save those for thinner days. I'll let the bouncy ones use there. There is a healthy snack shop, dietitians on staff, massage..everything truly.  It just goes on and on.  If anyone wants to go, I have guest passes if you want to come play.  The clientele is a ton different...(I didn't me 'ton' on purpose...but it applies.)  There are bouncy people here.  Think Tigger. Men and women, both bouncy, I prefer the latter.  These are the folks that are my polar opposite.  There is usually Spandex involved...and they know how to use it.  I find I am distracted by a bobbing pony tail.  I can't explain it, nor do I probably have to....I admit to being a dirty old man freely.  The medical school and hospital staff definitely skew the population here.  And yet, I find inspiration in all of this, go figure!  Of the 1258 (estimated and exaggerated) machines they have here....they have exactly two of the machines that I have established myself with at Duke.  On the tour, I asked if they had them, and Nicole (bouncy, who works here) explained that I would be fighting all the seniors for them, so I either feel a bit remedial, or they are not enlightened by the power of the spleen removing workout that I am used to and the power of this machinery.  In reality, the bouncy ones probably don't require them.  I'm off.  I really like the place, and on day one, I literally didn't want to leave, but my body told me to...

Next item to address was grub.  I did an excellent job of eating myself out of the house before Duke, so I was pretty much starting with a clean slate on my return.  My first trip to the grocery store was like a repeat of some of the nutrition classes I had.  I used some new tools.  One of the cool ones is an ap called 'Fooducate'.  This little gem allows you to scan an item's UPC barcode....

Edit note****sorry didn't proof it.  something happened to cut off the bottom section....I'll have to rewrite it later, I'm late for an appointment....crap, it was good too.  oh well. I guess that's all you get for now!