Thursday, January 28, 2016

Anyone for a dead blog?

Well, maybe it is time to get things going.

I haven't completed the 100 pounds yet.  But, I did manage to keep off over 50.  If you were counting, I had only lost 41 when I quit updating the blog.  Since then, well, I have been through three job transitions (although I also quit two before starting because I got even better offers), I lost from a high of 325 down to 262 and gained 13 back, and I got really, really out of shape.

Enter a new job, in the health industry no less.  And my employer participates in a program called Vitality, where if you do healthy things you earn points, earn enough points and you get discounts off of your health insurance premiums and dollar rewards that you can use for things like Amazon gift cards.

My wife and I have started doing a series of DVDs called Cize, which is basically aerobic dancing without much high-impact stuff.  I have started focusing on getting healthier sleep patterns, and I am going to sign up for Weight Watchers in a couple of days here.

Again, the intent on my part is to get healthy.  No exact weight goal, just healthy.  I'm far enough from the goal that I can't set a measurement yet, but I think I might actually train for at least a 3K or maybe even a 5K by the end of the year.  No running...  Walking, but trying to build back up to walking at least 4mph.  I used to do 5mph, I might be able to do that again if I lose some more weight.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring is pretending to arrive, although sporadically.  Today is cold and sunny, but predictions are for 2-3 days of snow starting tomorrow.  On the good side, a week from now we should be into the 40s like we should be at this time of year, and a week from Tuesday sunny and near 50.

Every winter I struggle with depression, lack of motivation to exercise, and a tendency to overeat, typically meaning anywhere from 10-20 pounds of weight gain, which I try to lose some or most of over the summer.  I'm very encouraged this year, though.  For the first time in 10-20 years, I have not only not gained weight, I have actually continued to lose weight.  And I am usually seriously depressed until around May 1st but am already regaining energy in March.  This, combined with the fact that I am now back to only driving 12 minutes to work instead of 45+, should mean that I can do more exercise earlier in the year, and my current goal is to try to reach a total of 50 pounds lost by mid-May (I have 9 pounds to go), and there is a chance that I can reach 75 pounds lost in the first year (September 1st).

As I lose the weight, it should help me with less foot and ankle pain.  And, as I get in better shape, I will probably have to talk with my doctor to reduce my blood pressure medicine.  I am already having some moments where I have to deal with orthostatic hypotension, which is a drop in blood pressure related to moving from laying to sitting, and/or from squatting, sitting, or bending over to standing.  I have to move slowly or hold on to furniture or I could pass out.  Not the best situation, but it is always a balance between that and the danger of blood pressure spikes.  In my case my blood pressure has always been more affected by my work-related stress, but since I love my job and am getting better at it each month, that stress is much reduced.

Overall, this spring is the best I have felt in a very long time.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Over 2 months since I posted last.  

I haven't forgotten about the blog (obviously), but I HAVE been busy.  Really, Really Busy.

The good news is:  I haven't let the holidays or the busy-ness stop me from losing weight.  As of this morning, I have lost over 36 pounds.  I am now under 290 pounds for the first time in years.  That makes about 7 pounds a month average for 5 months.  I like that.  I think it is a healthy rate.  I'd like to be losing 10 a month, but I know that 10 a month is not sustainable for me, and I am losing 7 a month without feeling deprived, which is more awesome than I can explain.

The bad news:  With the holidays, being sick, having family in the hospital, and preparing to teach and teaching, I haven't known which end was up some days.  Add in car problems on both vehicles, and that I was repainting the apartment and assembling furniture, I've been short on time and sleep most all of the time, and when I have time all I want to do is rest.  A couple of times I slept 12 hours and still didn't feel like I got quite enough sleep.  Oh well! 

I started teaching full time in November (PC Repair and Computer Networking), and with the 11 hour days plus 1.5-2 hours commuting each day, I haven't had a lot of free time.  And most of my "free" time  has been used up getting ready for the following weeks of classes.  On March 12 I will finish teaching my 3rd set of classes, and the next Monday (March 18th) I start teaching the same material a second time, to new students plus some repeat students that have not passed their certifications yet.  That should reduce the prep time some, but since I am teaching the same material in about 60% of the time, I do need to go back over the material and be more ready to teach with images to share rather than searching Google Image, etc.

But... The other thing that changes after March 12th is that I won't be driving 40 miles to work any more.  My home office is only about 10-12 miles away, and only takes 10-15 minutes to drive most days, especially when I am not on Day shift.  Oh, and I may be going back to 5 day weeks, but if I do, it won't be 11 hour days.  So my time will free up a bit.

So, I need to buckle down and get serious about getting in shape and getting healthy.  Being at the closer office again will mean a number of things.  In Troy, the office is on the 2nd floor, which doesn't really give me an easy place to walk.  In Livonia, if the weather cooperates, I can walk outside in less than a minute, and have a large parking lot, a park 2 doors down, etc.  Of course, this being Michigan... weather is capricious.  In January there was a 24 hour period that went from nearly 60 out to wind chill in the single digits, and one morning the temp was below zero still at 9am.  Not the wind chill.

Maybe once I can walk more often I will get up to 10 pounds a month for a few months.

At 7 pounds a month, it will take me most of 2 years to lose the weight (21.5 months).  Towards the end, I'm pretty sure I will not be losing 7 a month every month, so if I can get in a few 10 pound months during the first year, I might still manage it in 2 years.  2 years isn't really a goal.  I don't care if it takes 18 months or 37...  The weight is coming off and I am getting healthy.

Oh, and I discovered another piece of the food allergy puzzle.  Xanthan Gum.  Xanthan Gum is made from a plant disease.  It is generally grown on some type of sugary substance, so it is often grown on Corn Syrup.  Since it can be grown on so many different things, and since it isn't purified in a way that removes all of the growth medium, people with food allergies to corn, soy, wheat, and possibly other foods should not consume it.   Once I discovered how this substance is made I find it difficult to believe it can be called natural, but I guess cyanide and arsenic are natural, too.

Well, hopefully it won't be another 2 months before I post again!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I've noticed a lot lately that when I don't eat enough breakfast, I overeat throughout the day, or if I manage to not overeat I feel hungry all day.

Now, I can't eat just anything... it has to have protein, and it has to have bulk.  And, as I've said before, I have enough food allergies that I can't just nip up to McD's and grab a McMuffin or a Steak Bagel, I'd spend my day in the bathroom.  Plus, have you ever looked at how much fat and sodium one of those has?

I also can't trust donuts, bagels, muffins, or even toast at a restaurant, as most of them would have either corn or dairy, or both.

At home, on days where I have to get moving like mornings I work, I usually make toast from bread that I *know* I can trust and spread it with peanut butter.  The peanut butter I like is Smucker's Natural.  I can't buy the reduced fat, since it has maltodextrin or some corn ingredient in it, so I buy the regular and then pour off a little less than half the separated oil for use in cooking before mixing up the rest.  It isn't a hardship to me to have discovered that the safest bread for me is the stuff baked in a wood fired oven at my local grocery store (Holiday Market in Canton, MI.  If you live around here, check out their sourdough or beer bread).  Since I usually use the bread for a week, I buy the day-old to save money when they have it in the kind of bread I want.  But even when I have to pay full price, the sourdough is cheaper than a loaf of Pepperidge Farm or other "Premium" bread, it tastes better, and it has simple and short ingredient lists.

Speaking of ingredient lists.  I discovered this week that one of the problems I was having was because there was corn sugar (dextrose) in our SALT!  Oops!  And that was a pretty high-end brand - Hain "Pure Foods".  What a joke.  So I had to buy a different brand.  There were two other reasonable cost Sea Salt brands that didn't include sugar.  One had an anti-caking agent that was chemical in nature, and one had my favorite kind of ingredient list:  One Ingredient:  Sea Salt.

My other two favorite breakfasts are cold cereal and oatmeal.  For cold cereal, I like Barbara's Natural Shredded Oat.  Sometimes for a little variety I use less than a normal amount of that and break up a few Frosted Mini-Wheat biscuits over the top.  I then pour Rice Milk over it.  Rice milk is too sweet to substitute for regular milk in some foods, but for me that makes it better for cereal, where I don't have to add as much (or sometimes any) sugar because the rice milk itself is sweet.  For Oatmeal, a few years back I discovered Silver Palate brand "Rough" oatmeal, and while I liked it, it is really quite expensive for a product that they carefully do LESS to it than the Quaker brand.  Basically, oatmeal is generally made from oats that have either been modified by rolling thinner, or my cutting in pieces.  You can make oatmeal from whole unmodified "groats", but it takes much longer.  Irish oats are steel cut or "porridge" oats, where they cut the groats into smaller pieces.  Porridge oats are classified by size, ranging from fine through medium, coarse, and the largest, "pin-head" oats.  Different companies offer different cuts and of course everyone says theirs is best.  Fans of Irish oats say that the climate in Ireland creates better oats... Who really knows?  In Scotland, they often use steel-cut porridge oats as well, but apparently much of what is sold in America as Scottish oats is more of a stone-ground meal.  Quaker oats are traditional rolled oats, the kind most English speaking and Scandinavian countries usually eat.  The groats are steamed, then rolled flat, then apparently toasted to dry them.  Instant oatmeal is basically very thinly rolled and often cut into smaller pieces, but I don't like the gluey texture that they make.  The Silver Palate oats are just not rolled as thin as Quaker oats so they keep more of the nutty flavors.  However, one of my favorite flour, grain, and cereal companies, Bob's Red Mill, sells 2 pound bags of "thick rolled" oats, which are basically the same thing without tripling the price.  The Bob's Red Mill are what I like best.  I usually drizzle just a little raw unfiltered honey or perhaps sorghum molasses or pure Michigan maple syrup on mine.  I prefer Grade B or Grade A Dark syrup, because it has more flavor.  Grade A fancy syrup is "fancy" because it has a lighter flavor.  If I get more flavor per calorie, it helps.

So, I suppose in summary my three favorite breakfasts are all simple, hearty breakfasts.  Peanut Butter Toast is the quickest to make that I can carry, Cold Cereal is the absolute quickest to make but I need time to sit still and eat it, and Thick-Rolled Oatmeal takes around 20 minutes to cook and I need time to sit still and eat it, but all three give me some fiber, some protein, and enough calories that I'm not looking for a snack before lunch.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wow.  Busy in my professional life.  I'm preparing to teach in front of a classroom from the Monday after Thanksgiving through until Mid-March, three classes, one after another, four days a week on the other side of town.  So this week is about getting the car ready, learning the material, and figuring out how to present the material.  I have more time to present than the book is designed for, but from personal experience as a student the book isn't memorable, so I need to figure out how to present each topic without presenting the book, which they can read themselves.

Busy at home also.  Trying to finish painting the front room(s) (combo Living/Dining/Kitchen) and hallway.  I have the feature wall complete, and the lighter color and satin finish are clearly going to make a HUGE difference mentally trying to make it through winter.  Nearly everyone this far north that isn't a winter outdoor athlete gets some level of Seasonal depression.  The lighter color and added reflectivity will be great.

The only reason all of that makes any difference here is that I'm struggling with time management and how it relates to squeezing in exercise.  I've decided that what it means is that this week I try to exercise once a day for at least 15 minutes, but for example grocery shopping for 2 hours counted for yesterdays exercise.

It should be possible to get into a pattern once I get to teaching.  Four days a week I should get to my work location with 15-45 minutes to spare depending on traffic, then have a couple of short breaks and a lunch break every day.

On the good side, this week I reached a full 20 pounds lost since I started weighing myself.  My next milestone is passing 300 pounds, which is now less than 5 pounds away.  Pretty good for a week I struggled with getting in exercise.  At least I didn't go crazy with food.


Friday, November 9, 2012

FOOD! Don't talk to me about FOOD!

If you think Corn and Dairy are Gods gift to humans, you might want to skip reading this post.

Food is difficult for me.  Not just because I love rich foods (I do), but because I often feel deprived.

I have been reading food labels since before they got very useful, since my mother has been on a very low sodium diet for over 35 years, and my sister and I used to go grocery shopping for us.  The reading of labels got more critical when I discovered that I am allergic to dairy, and things stepped up a notch when my wife figured out that she is allergic to Citric Acid.  We already were avoiding Sunflower for her, and now I have to avoid Corn.  And try to keep my sodium down.

Currently I'm thinking Potatoes may be the other culprit I am looking for that is causing me digestive grief.  But I wanted to say that many people do not understand how much of our food supply contains corn, dairy or citric acid.  Or, in my view, is "contaminated by" corn, dairy, sunflower, and/or citric acid.

Taken one at a time, each of the above actually brings a relatively long list of ingredients we need to avoid.  Some because we know they are what we are allergic to, others because they are too vague to take the risk.  Oh, Diana is also allergic to sunflower.  I'll cover that, too.  Note that these lists are not complete or authoritative, just what I know.

I'll start with Dairy.  Specifically, I am allergic to more than one protein in dairy.  For sure I am allergic to casein, and there is also something in whey protein that I am allergic to.  This means I have to avoid:


Cheese (all varieties, including vegetable cheeses that add casein)
Cottage Cheese/Farmers Cheese
Milk Solids
Butter Solids
Buttermilk Solids
Nonfat Dry Milk
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Evaporated Milk
Casein (the protein that makes cheese melt, I am told)
Sodium Caseinate
Whey Protein
Whey Protein Isolate
Milk Protein

I seem to be fine with Milkfat, Butterfat, and Ghee/Clarified Butter, but I usually avoid them in case they aren't pure enough.


Corn (including Popcorn)
Corn Meal (and Polenta)
Grits (Hominy and otherwise)
Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Corn Oil
Vegetable Oil
Vegetable Shortening (unless it specifies a different source)
Corn Starch
Food Starch
Modified Food Starch
Dextrose (Corn Sugar)
Fructose (may be from corn unless another source is stated)
Caramel Coloring (usually made from Corn Syrup)
Brown Sugar (because some brands add Caramel Coloring made from Corn Syrup)

If you didn't know, that eliminates 98% of the candy made in America.  My local store even sells "honey" straws that are corn syrup flavored with a little honey.  I buy a different brand elsewhere that is 100% honey.  It also eliminates almost all breakfast cereals, cookies, muffins, donuts, many breads, and other snacks.  I can have unsalted nuts and expensive chocolate and a couple brands of cookies.


Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower Oil
Jerusalem Artichoke (sunflower roots)
7-grain, 9-grain, and 12-grain breads (even if they don't claim sunflower)

That seems pretty tame, until you realize that most products that use vegetable oil have this "and/or" issue, like "canola, sunflower, and/or safflower oil".  Also, the healthier a product is trying to seem, the more likely they will have substituted sunflower oil for whatever they used to use.  The comment about the high grain breads is from experience.  Once a bakery starts adding large amounts of grains and seeds into the bread, it seems that intentional or not, enough sunflower seeds get into the dough that Diana reacts to it.


Sometimes I feel like I am researching a doctoral thesis for this one:

Lemon Juice
Lemon Peel
Lemon Zest
Lime (including Juice, Peel, and Zest)
Orange (including Juice, Peel, and Zest)
Berries (except Blueberries)
Most other fruits (except Apples, Pears, and Bananas)
Citric Acid
Sourdough Bread
Sourdough "Culture" or "Mother"
Canned and Dry Beans (Navy, Pinto, Kidney, Black-Eyed Peas, etc.) (Green Beans are OK)

And a Surprising item:

Triple-Washed ANYTHING (Spinach, Lettuce, Mesclin, etc.) - One of the three washes is Citric Acid, and since they are living plants, they will pull the citric acid in from the root end and possibly absorb it in through the leaves.


I haven't researched Potatoes yet, but Potato Starch, Food Starch, and Modified Food Starch would be issues as well as potatoes themselves.

So, what can we eat together?  Meat, Rice, Pasta, most green veggies.  Apples, pears, and bananas.  Carrots, cauliflower, some breads.  In the supermarket, we look for ingredient lists that are 5 or fewer items when we can, as simpler foods are probably healthier and a heck of a lot easier to read the list.  When I see one of those ingredient lists that is 2 inches long or more, I assume that it probably has something in it that we can't have.  If I am bored enough or motivated enough to read it, I usually find out that I am right.  About the only exception to that rule is Clif Bars, which I can have.  Which is good, as I obviously don't do well at potlucks or pizza lunches!

Diana can have dairy, I can have tomato sauces and citrus fruits, but we can't share.  Heck, if I drink Orange Juice I have to drink some water or rinse my lips off before I can kiss her!

Of course, there are worse things in life than having to eat right. 

I'm really feeling for the folks in the Northeast who are still dealing with Sandy, the NorEaster, and related damage, outages, shortages, and displacement.  I haven't donated much , but we have given what we can afford at this time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tracking my Weight - Or Not (Percent Body Fat - PBF)

In order to stay on track, I need to track my "weight". 

In order to stay sane, I need rules about this.

Let me explain that: 

- First of all, I mentioned before that I'm not really trying to lose weight, I am trying to get healthy and fit.  My measurements for that will primarily be a combination of Percent Body Fat (PBF) and Blood Pressure, along with Cardio stamina/health, if that can really be measured.

- Second, I can get obsessive.  At one point in my life, I belonged to Weight Watcher's.  Great organization in some ways, but the live weigh-ins were horrible for me.  They want you to weigh in every week.  They congratulate you if you lose even a quarter of a pound, but on the other hand, I had at least two different "official" people comment on weekly weight gains loud enough for the whole room to hear.  I used to stop drinking water on the days I had to weigh in, and eat almost nothing.  That isn't healthy.  And can't be maintained as a healthy lifestyle.  Remember, this is about health, not weight.

- Third, it is a fact that within a day, your body gains and loses weight.  Every time you eat or drink something, you gain weight.  Every time you use the facilities, you lose weight.  If you sprain an ankle, the fluid retention of the swelling means you gain weight.  Every time you breath out, you lose a tiny amount of water weight from the water vapor released.  Are we getting ridiculous here?  Yes, to make a point.  A relatively typical person will gain or lose 2-5 pounds cyclically every day.

- Fourth, weight fluctuates from day to day.  Based on anything from the amount of sodium consumed to the effects of the moon phase and sunspot activity, weight is not stable, even if consumption and exertion levels are.

So... I need to be relaxed and sane about this - but how?

Well, I try to track my weight based on two rules:
- First, weigh-in every week but only weigh once a week.
- Second, don't worry about a weekly weight gain - look at this week compared to two weeks ago.

And, I use another App on my Android phone for this.  A simple app called Weight Tracker++.  It allows me to see a graph of my weight loss on my phone or tablet, and if I really want I can export the data to a .csv file that I can import to Excel or Open Office to make a chart on my computer.  It also has a "statistics" page where it tells me how many entries I have, elapsed time since my first entry, Latest, Highest, Lowest, and Change in weight (for example right now it reports that I was 323.8 on 9/13/2012 and 310.0 on 10/31, for a loss of 13.8 pounds over 1 month and 18 days (a total of 8 entries).

And this may be repeating myself, but...  I'm not concerned about my actual goal "weight".  And BMI?  Don't get me started on BMI!  BMI was never intended to be applied on an individual basis.  As a measure of a person, it relates height and weight to each other in a way that allows researchers to generalize about large populations of people.  But it counts the same whether the weight entered into the formula is muscle, fat, or because you haven't gone to the bathroom in a really, really long time.  It doesn't take into account bone density, muscles, or for that matter it doesn't take into account if you just drank a half gallon of water.  Even as a research generalization, it is mediocre, but often the best available since most studies didn't take the time and cost to analyze the percent body fat of the people in the studies.

I've chosen to set my goal on Percent Body Fat (PBF).  PBF is a really good measure for health.  It is probably the best "weight" tracking measurement we have available.  It doesn't matter how tall you are, it isn't concerned with how much of your weight is bone.  A male non-athlete PBF of 14-17% is considered "fit", although adjustments for age and gender apply, and some scales show a "healthy" range which seems to merge the "athlete", "fit", and "average" ranges.  If you want more information, check out

There areinexpensive calipers and bathroom scales that will measure PBF, at least one of which is Wi-Fi enabled and willing to talk to a number of phone Apps.  Unfortunately, I bought a scale that had a different feature I liked (wider platform for better balance), and my scale will only display PBF as part of a combination of Percent Bone, Percent Muscle, Percent Water, and PBF.  Unfortunately for me, if any of the 4 is out of range, my scale won't display any of them.  And since fat doesn't contain water, and the scale won't report if Percent Water is below 45%, and I have a LOT of fat on my body...  The scale will only display my weight until I get down to some magical point where there is enough water in my body to make my scale happy.  SHEESH!!!!!  Oh, and calipers are not recommended for obese people.

So, I don't know what my PBF is at this time, but once I get to a reasonable weight range, I will be looking to get my PBF down to about 16%.

Oh, and it may not seem obvious, but the method that bathroom scales use to calculate PBF is "mostly" accurate, and uses low-level electricity to sense body content.  Hydration levels and dampness of your feet will affect the measurement.  Some of these scales say that people with pacemakers should NOT use them.  Some Gyms and Fitness Centers will do a caliper measurement calculation for you to estimate PBF.  Either of these methods has a +/- accuracy of something like +/- 10%, although some people claim the calipers have a much lower error percentage in trained hands.

Doctors have other methods that are more accurate, everything from tanks where they measure how much water you displace when you get in, to a machine that scans you with two different frequencies of X-Rays, one of which is absorbed more by fat, then compares the two images to estimate the PBF.  I'll skip the X-rays, thanks!  There is also a machine now that uses air displacement to calculate PBF, which claims to be as accurate as the dunking method.  It is certainly faster and more convenient, although I have no idea how much it costs.

Any of the methods of measuring percent body fat should at least show if you are making progress.  My plan is to get down near where I think I should be, measuring weight at least until my scale will measure PBF, then tracking both but concentrating on the PBF.  Once I get where I think I should be, I'll arrange to visit a "Bod-Pod" air displacement or dunk tank water displacement center where I can get a real measurement.  The cost of that is high enough that I don't care to pay it until I think I am where I should be.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Exercise - Who Needs it? Me!

Exercise.  I need it, I don't enjoy it.

Okay, the reality is, I don't like to exercise.  I like what it does for me short term (improved mood and energy especially if I can get outside when it is sunny), and I like what it does for me long term (improved mood, improved health, improved stamina, improved energy, reduced blood pressure), but I don't like exercise in and of itself.  Exercise to get out into Nature is different.  Whether it is hiking or even driving to a place where I can commune with nature, that exhilarates me.  Walking or biking on roads, sidewalks, or parking lots... Not so much.

I don't run.  I actually believe that in most cases running is anti-healthy.  Jogging/Running has a great deal more ankle and knee injuries than walking or biking, and with me being over double my ideal weight, and with arthritis symptoms since high school, I don't need to push the envelope.  If you are a runner I won't try to convert you, but I do have a couple of things to say to people who think running is harder exercise and want to convert me:
- Walking for 1 mile burns more calories than jogging for 1 mile.
- Walking is not necessarily the same as strolling.  While strolling is also exercise, I walk fast.  Usually around 3mph.  I used to walk 5mph, but that was 75 pounds and 15 years ago.  Maybe I will build up to that speed again after I lose some weight and get in better shape.
- Walking at 5mph is harder exercise than jogging at 5mph.  More steps per mile, same miles.
- Walking at 3mph or less at temps below 70 degrees or less for 15 minutes or less probably doesn't require showering afterwards.  Maybe a couple of quick baby wipes on the face and neck.  In warmer weather, changing into a T-Shirt for the walk and back to the business casual shirt after (with a few baby wipes) may be all that is needed.
- If you jog at 4.5 mph and someone walks by you at 5mph, run your own race/exercise.  I can run 6mph just like you can for a short distance, but if my 10K pace is 5mph from start to finish and your 10K pace starts at 5.2mph and drops to 4.5mph for the middle 5K, running at 6-7mph to pass me is going to burn more of your reserves than needed, and it will just amuse me more when I walk past you the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time.  Every single time I entered a 5K or longer event, and many times while walking on a track, I have had someone or a bunch of someones modify their pace to re-pass me, often multiple times.  No need.  I didn't pass you for my vanity.  I walk my own walk.
Exercise as a social activity used to happen for me, two companies ago, but I found that when I used other people as part of my motivation, I didn't exercise if they didn't come along.  Now I have to motivate in other ways.  Not that I would turn down a walking partner for a specific walk, just that I won't predicate whether I exercise on whether someone else comes along.  Schedule a walk or bike with me and don't show up?  I'll go without you.  Because I have to.  Nothing Personal.

For me, exercise is about goals and motivation.  Progress Not Perfection.  Just Do It.  Get 'Er Done.  Don't Should On Yourself.  Walk Your Own Walk.  All cliches, but they all mean something to me.  

Progress Not Perfection:
- Do more exercise than I did last year, both total per month and days per month.  Not Hard!
- If I choose to consider Grocery Shopping with a push-cart instead of a handicap scooter as exercise, then it is exercise.  After all, walking is exercise so pushing 30 pounds of groceries around while walking must be exercise too!  So is carrying boxes for moving.

Just Do It:
- Don't worry about what anyone else thinks.  Exercise. 
- Don't worry if I didn't exercise yesterday.  Today is what counts.
- Don't worry about my current week totals.  Or current Month.
- Celebrate what I accomplish, even if it isn't what I hoped to accomplish.

Get 'er Done:
- My current lifestyle doesn't usually give me huge chunks of time to exercise.  Some days I can't carve out any time before or after work at all.  So, my "minimum I feel comfortable with" goals are pretty minimal.
- I had to find a way to insert exercise into my life.  The bulk of my exercise is near or during work time.  Get to work early and walk until I need to get to my desk, maybe as much as a mile or so.  Take a quick half mile walk on my 15 minute break.  Take a 1.5 mile walk at lunch.  Another half mile walk on my 2nd break.  Some days, squeeze in 1-2 miles after work before driving home, or maybe drive home, eat dinner, then do a little exercise.

Don't Should On Yourself:
- This one might not be as hackneyed as the first three, and you may not have heard it before.  The basis for this is "Guilt is counterproductive".
- No "I should have walked at break".  No "I should eat less".  Take the energy I would spend on guilt and turn it into motivation to try to do better.

Walk Your Own Walk:
- Own your exercise.
- Do the exercise that is right for YOU.
- Don't change pace because of other people unless walking in a group.  If group walking, try to pick a group whose pace is at least reasonably close to yours.
- Pick a time and place that works for you.

Since I don't enjoy it on its own, exercise doesn't motivate me without some kind of immediate goal.

Goals for exercise can be measured in a lot of different ways.  The ultimate measurement might be being at the right weight, able to sprint for 2 minutes, being able to hike for 5 hours, or some other such lofty goal, but my reality is that I can't hold out for nebulous goals or goals that may take 2-5 years to reach, I need something that I can touch and feel today.  Goals like "how many days in a row can I get in at least a half mile walk" and "how many walks can I fit in during a month" are more my current style.

But in addition, I have found a couple of programs for my Android phone that provide some goals.  The first one is RunKeeper.  It allows me to track run/walk/bike/wheelchair/whatever activity, uses GPS to track location and altitude, and reports via email to me when I set a new personal record speed, distance, time, calories burned, total cumulative altitude change during a walk etc.:

This is a RunKeeper FitnessAlert to let you know that you achieved the following milestones with your most recent walking activity:
  • Farthest distance
  • Longest duration
  • Most calories burned
  • Fastest average speed
  • Fastest average pace
  • Biggest elevation climb
Because of this, I could decide that on a day I can't walk as far, I want to try to top 3mph walking instead of my usual 2.7-2.9mph.  Heck, I used to walk 5mph.  I know that because 15 years ago I finished a 5 mile competitive walk in less than an hour.  Or maybe this afternoon I could take 20 loops around the little section with a hill instead of walking the whole perimeter of the parking lot, to score my "biggest elevation climb"... it doesn't measure highest and lowest, it measures the total rise.  If I was tracking while hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and I went over 4 peaks in one hike, the elevation climb might say I went more than the height of Mt. Everest.

The second app isn't actually on my phone, but the web site  It is linked to my RunKeeper data, and creates amusing "InfoGraphics" (somewhat twisted humor).  But it is a way to look at my data in a different way.  The graphics can be posted to Facebook, direct links created, etc.  Below are links to my 1st one, my current one, and my October Monthly Summary one: - Outwalked a Venus Fly Trap, eaten by a Python - Outwalked a Python, eaten by an Ocelot - Monthly summary for October

Cold won't stop me, Grey skies don't stop me, and walking by parking lot lights doesn't stop me.  Hopefully snow itself won't stop me.  Rain, Hail, or Sleet take me indoors where I can't receive the GPS signal for the RunKeeper app and can't walk as fast.  So, with all of this, I am trying to walk at least once for at least a half mile 6 days a week, and I am trying to walk as many of my 5 "near work" time slots a day as I can, aiming to do at least 2 miles a day.  My best day I did 5 walks, totalling nearly 4 miles.  My worst day I managed one walk for half a mile.  Actually, I took two days off one weekend when I was sick.  At some point I may dig out my pedometer so I can track how far I walk if it is inside.

And the encouragement I get from RunKeeper,, My friends, and the Bathroom Scale keep me moving.  Even when I have to wear ankle braces and take Ibuprofen.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Well... 4.5 years later!!!

I finally figured out where my old blog was.  Only one entry.  Oh well.

Earlier this fall, I weighed in at 323.8 pounds, and that was after a bout with digestive issues, so I probably actually weighed over 325 at some point.  My doctor thinks I should weigh around 150, my personal belief is closer to 175, but that makes my theoretical goal close to 150 pounds.

I also discovered that I am allergic to Corn as well as the Dairy I already knew about.

And a friend of mine who used to weigh 696 pounds went and lost 425 of them and went from unable to walk 100 feet without resting to walking a nearly 14 mile military-style obstacle race (in 13.5 hours):

So, Chris inspired me, my even higher weight "milestone" inspired me, and my new allergy inspired me to change my eating habits.  I seem to be reacting poorly to some other food, possibly potato, so that will be interesting to me as well.

Chris started his exercise program with with "progress, not perfection", "just do it", and perhaps "get 'er done" as core concepts.

I was one of the people my friend Chris talked to before he lost his first pound or started his exercise regimen.  If he can lose over 60% of his weight, then I should be able to motivate myself to lose 40% of mine (and his doctor says that the skin flap left over from the weight loss probably weighs 40-50 pounds).

But I won't lose the weight or get in shape if I don't change my life.

On the good side, since 2008 I lost my job, retrained myself, and landed a job I love.  I am a Mentor and Technical Instructor at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers in Livonia, Michigan.

Also, we managed to get out of the house we were in that trapped my lovely wife Diana in an existance where daily living impacted her health negatively and into an ADA compliant apartment.

Because of those things, my blood pressure (BP) is down, below textbook "normal".  Not dangerously low, but because the meds have side effects I would like to reduce them.  I haven't been taking BP readings as often as I need to to talk to the doctor about changing my meds, but I see that conversation happening in the next few months as my life continues to change.

Stay Tuned for new entries at least weekly.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Beginning...

My first few posts will be about what got me where I am. After that I will likely kvetch about where I am, how hard it is to get to the next step, and all the other crap you hate to read ;)

So, what do I mean about the beginning? Well, trying to detail everything that made me overweight would be boring, and most likely I would miss important factors. Let's just say that I work a desk job in the telecommunications industry, I have arthritis, and I don't love exercise in its own right.

What I DO want to talk about is why I started this mission to lose weight.
And why 100 pounds.

In October of 2007 I hit 300 pounds for the first time in my life. Later that month, I had an "annual" physical, and my doctor threatened to put me in the hospital to stabilize my blood pressure - I was only at something like 165/129. Heck, the low number was higher than the high number should be at. Luckily the doctor said that my EKG had not changed, so no heart damage yet. Yet!!! Scary.

So I started trying to improve my health. First off, low sodium diet. Doctor wants me on no more than 3,000 mg of sodium a day. Which is what someone WITHOUT hypertension should limit themselves to. On the internet I found that various organizations recommend at least 1,500 or 1,600 mg, and that most low-sodum diets are reduced to somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 mg. So my sodium goal is 1,600-2,000 mg/day, with maybe one day a week where I let myself get close to 3,000.

But let me tell you this: Restaurants are not generally set up to help the low-sodium diet. For example, Bob Evans, one of the few restaurants that even provide sodium levels, has some items on the menu that would put me over 3,000 mg in one meal. On the other hand, their Salmon with either herb butter or barbecue sauce, a baked potato with olive oil, and applesauce gets you out the door for less than 800. I am sensitive to dairy, so I avoid it. Tip: the staff don't always know that they have olive oil, but you can ask them to bring the oil and vinegar salad dressing cruets - it is olive oil! But back to restaurants in general... most of them don't have the information on sodium, and some restauratns are even snotty about it. I suppose they think they are too good for me or something. The best fast food choice I found is Wendy's Single. No fries, but if you are hungry, a potato with chives is a pretty decent side. I can't eat dairy without consequences, so I use olive oil (yes, I keep some at work as well as home).

Part of how I got to 300 pounds was sweet and salty snacks. Chocolate covered cranberries, and all sorts of cookies, crackers, Rice Krispie treats, etc. but all of a sudden I couldn't afford the sodium without skipping meals. My salvation? Fruit! Whole, raw, fruit, or canned fruit in some cases when I run low on fresh. For example, I found that for 10 mg of sodium or less I can eat a whole banana, orange, apple, pear, plum, nectarine, two clementines, or a single serving cup of applesauce or pineapple. So I made a commitment to eat at least 5 fruits for snacking per day to substitute for the sweet snacks. I won't let myself eat other snacks like salt-free nuts, low sodium cookies, or crackers until I have eaten the five fruits.

And my other main change is that I have gone back to eating 3 meals a day instead of 2. The meals are a little smaller, but I now make sure I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with lunch usually being the largest meal of the day. I do still eat crackers or cookies later in the day when I get hungry, but rather than taking as many as I want, I eat one portion

If you believe the last doctor I bothered talking to about goal weight 15 years ago), I should weigh 145. Personally, I want to know what drugs that doctor is on... The only time I weighed 145 after 8th grade was when I was bicycling 40 miles a day back before I got a car. The weight I felt good at for years was around 170. But weight is not really the point. just like it is not healthy to be too fat, it is not healthy to be too lean. I don't have a final goal weight, because I think the only realistic measure of fat/lean is percentage body fat. Weight, BMI, and all of the other ways of describing height to weight ratios are just shortcuts, because they do not take bone density, frame size, and other factors into consideration. So my goal is to make it down to the "optimum percent body fat" or "optimum lean to fat ratio". For simplicity, since nearly everything I read says I have over 100 pounds to lose, I decided that my first long range goal will be 100 pounds.