Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

The Best Plan is No Plan

A friend of the blog forwarded me this article from CNN.  It’s the weight-loss story of a young man who, after years of alienation as a 300+ pound teen, found his own way to healthy living.

No fake food, no magic-bullet diet, no gastric-bypass surgery … just hard work, good research and honest commitment to getting better.  I wish I had put in that kind of effort at his age.  He worked at it – slowly, steadily.  And he’s kept it off.

I’m writing this brief post to celebrate people doing things the right way.  I can take a lesson from this kid.  Maybe you can as well.

Another friend of the blog offers some advice about multi-tasking exercise.  She says goes for a walk around her neighborhood with each of her kids – individually – as often as possible.  She ends up getting more than an hour of exercise, and each kid gets alone-time with mom … which is invaluable.   The Sprightly Daughters are still a bit young for me to use that one yet, but I’ll sure try to use it in a few years.

Your suggestions are always welcome – thanks for reading!

Never Be Daunted

“Never be daunted.  Secret of my success.  Never been daunted.” – Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

It’s Friday, so it must be weigh-in day.  Which is good news – 264!

If you’re scoring at home, that’s 23 pounds, 18 weeks.

Every now and then the number still out there (57) is, well, daunting.  I agree that much of the secret of success is not being daunted.  But even after powering through 23 pounds, staring at nearly sixty, well, there’s no other word for it.

That said, I feel pretty good about being where I am.  And I know many of the changes I’ve made are permanent, because, for instance, the idea of Publix buttercream icing no longer makes my mouth water.  So I got that goin’ for me.

There’s no question that writing through the process on this blog is one of the things that helps keep the sense of daunting at bay.  I’m pretty sure Hemingway never gave a second thought to losing weight or any other aspect of living healthy.  I’m not as good a writer as Hemingway.  But I’m mighty determined to outlive him.

For Those Just Joining Us …

Readership (or at least clickership) is growing here at Skipping Dessert!  If you’re new to the blog, welcome.  It occurs to me new readers (and some who have been with it for a few weeks) might benefit from a quick refresher on why this blog is.

As chronicled here, on Ash Wednesday (March 9, 2011) I weighed-in at a decidedly unhealthy 287 pounds.  And in my more honest moments, I’d admit there were days when I was probably over 290.  I started making a few healthy changes early in the year, but that day I gave up sweets for Lent.  And then as the results started to pile up – and as reasons to be healthier mounted as well – I decided to be in full-on “weight-loss” mode for as long as it takes.

My goal is to weigh 207 by my 45th birthday (10/14/12), which gave me more than enough time to lose eighty pounds at a rate of a pound a week.

So far so good.  This past weekend an old friend congratulated me on having lost 22 pounds in 17 weeks.  I thanked him, but reminded him I’m not there yet.  Congratulating me now is a little like leaving the stands at the end of the first quarter because your team is winning.  There’s a lot of ball yet to be played.  And my opponents (an innate and strong sense that I’d rather be on the couch with a bag of chips, Big Ag, well-meaning friends and family bearing junk-food, etc.) are tough.

When this game is over, a whole new one begins.  I don’t want to fight for this ground again.  Once I’ve met my goal, the new goal will be maintaining it for another forty or fifty years.  And the penalty for not meeting the initial goal, frankly, is that I won’t get another forty or fifty years.

Along the way toward my goal I document my process, writing about the successes and challenges and sharing  what I learn.

Thank you again for reading.  Please visit again, and if you like it, don’t be shy about telling your friends to stop by!

There’s an App for That

Apologies to the Apple marketing team, but seriously, there’s an app for losing weight.  At least two of ’em.  Probably a lot more than that.  These two came well-recommended by friends of the blog (FOB?  FOSD?  FOH?).

I haven’t had a chance to test-drive either of these, but both seem solid.  They both have web sites with full-featured tools for setting and achieving weight-loss/health-living goals, and they both have (obviously) mobile apps (I’m an iPhone user, as are the friends who recommended these).  The web presences are gateways, but the apps are what make these worthwhile.

Both My Fitness Pal and Lose It! are helpful specifically because they follow you around (OK, you carry them around) and make you think about what you’re doing in reference to your weight loss as your day progresses.  Both expect you to input (simply) the food you eat as you eat it (and both do a great job of indexing your choices against your goal from a nutritional standpoint).  When you eat you tell the app what and how much you ate.

It’s nice to be able to keep track, but both friends told me the real value is that it makes it a pain in the rear to have a snack.  “When I make my lunch for the next day I’ve always had a bite here and there while I prepare it.  Now that I have to enter every little bite into the app, it’s easier to leave it alone than it is to have a mindless snack,” one friend told me.

“There’s no more ‘Dr. Pepper and a candy bar’ stops at the convenience store when I stop for gas.  If I did I’d have to enter it into the app,” said the friend who uses Lose It!

I’m looking forward to trying these (my two and a half year old 3G iPhone is too full to add any apps right now), as they look solid and my friends swear by them.  But more interesting (to me) is that two friends (who don’t know each other) who are readers of this blog came to me within two days of each other, unsolicited, to recommend tools that have been helpful to them.

What I choose to take from this is that a.) this blog has value to people other than me and b.) people don’t just make random hits to this blog, they actually read it.  Both of which are mighty gratifying to me.  Thank you.

I should also thank the several of you who went out of your way yesterday to mention that you appreciated yesterday’s post about how difficult it is to guide children into a life of healthy eating.  Again, I’m glad what I’m doing here has some resonance with you, and I appreciate you reading.  All of you.

Maybe It’s the Sleep Deprivation …

I’m almost as happy about having been correct yesterday as I am about being down three pounds in a week.  This morning I weighed-in at 265, which is 22 pounds in 17 weeks.  Being firmly back on the plan and emotionally in-control of what I eat makes all the difference.

But I don’t discount the extra coffee I’m drinking either.  Fighting sleep-deprivation with a three-week -old in the house is a real concern.  Maybe I’ll start a new fad diet:  “Shed pounds NOW with the NEW No-Sleep Plan!

(I’m kidding.  Unless somebody wants to pay me to write a No-Sleep Diet book, in which case, I’m open to the discussion.)

I would have been happy to get back to 267 this week, but I’m thrilled the correction in my thinking (leading to the correction on my plate) worked as well as it did.  The plateau is in my rear-view, and … for now … I’m rollin’ downhill.

Related to my own struggle with weight, and worth sharing with you, are the ongoing discussions my lovely wife and I have about our sprightly daughters and their current and future relationship to food.  Raising daughters to be happy and healthy in their own skins is tough business.  I don’t want to get too far off on this tangent, because it is it’s own topic, but it’s daunting to think about the horrible, unhealthy messages they’re going to face about food, weight and body-image in general.

Part of the problem is that, as a society, we no longer share a definition of what it means to eat healthy.  My lovely wife and our daughters’ pediatrician agree on a definition, and it’s essentially what I espouse here on this blog – the Michael Pollan “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” ideal – but away from home?  It seems like everybody ha a different idea of what the phrase “healthy eating” is supposed to mean.

For some people, it means “eat whatever you want, but be very concerned about how much of it you eat.”  For others it conveys the dreaded, “fat free” concept.  For most school lunch planners it apparently means “PIZZA!”

Candy is a reward nearly everywhere for kids.  Everywhere but our house, that is.  Which is going to confuse the hell out of my daughters as they spend more time away from home.  If the reward for achievement at school (or pre-school) is sweets, and we don’t do that at home, do they perceive (subtly) that they’re not being rewarded at home?

Some of you will shake your head and think, “he worries too much.”  Some of you will think, “well, he just needs to be clear with the people his kids are around about what he means.”  Would that either of those things were that easy.  I do worry about it a lot.  Because, if you haven’t noticed, we’re in kind of an obesity epidemic.  Somebody’s got to worry about it, and it ain’t gonna be the schools.

I’m not looking for answers on this topic.  But I know many of you share the concern.  And if you don’t share it, and you have kids (or grandkids), I want to shake you up.

 

Five Things I Thought I’d Miss But Don’t

It’s Five Things Wednesday, so let’s get started with this list of five things I thought I’d miss when I gave them up, but don’t miss at all:

1.)  Diet Coke.  I’ve been drinking Diet Coke (just for the taste of it) since the early 90’s.  I’ve put away enough Diet Coke to, in the immortal words of Lynyrd Skynyrd, turn a battleship around.  As regular readers know, I gave it up before I committed to my current weight-loss/healthy living goals, and haven’t had a DC since Christmas Eve (2010).  For months I couldn’t pass a cooler in a convenience store without desperately wanting to reach out and grab a cool, refreshing, contour-bottled Diet Coke.  And then one day I looked at a cooler and realized I had no interest in drinking a Diet Coke.   For those of you contemplating walking away from aspartame-sweetened sodas, it may be helpful to know it took me about four months for the craving to go away.  Your mileage may vary.  I’m happy to have it behind me – there’s way too much stuff on that ingredient list that I can’t pronounce, and that can’t be good.  Side benefit:  I save an average of about a buck-and-a-half a day by leaving that stuff alone.

2.)  Elevators.  Since I started taking the stairs I’m amazed (and saddened) at how much time I used to waste in those tiny mechanical boxes, waiting for something to happen after I pushed the button.  I still use them sometimes (for instance, if the sprightly daughters are with me, stairs take a really loooong time, and I don’t take the stairs more than about three stories), and when I do I can’t believe how frustrating they are.  Most of ’em are kinda nasty as well.

3.)  “Good” Parking Spots.  The parking spots right next to the door (whatever door that is) are crowded, difficult to turn into and often without shade.  And I don’t waste time waiting for somebody to vacate a spot.  Viva shady parking spots!

4.)  Double Quarter-Pounders with Cheese.  I’m a little surprised McDonald’s stock price hasn’t tanked since I gave up fast food back in December.  I used to eat A LOT of these burgers.  Sometimes with fries (I still maintain that McD’s fries, direct from the fryer, with the proper amount of salt added at the proper time, are the very best fries anywhere), sometimes with a Filet-O-Fish on the side, usually with a tub of the aforementioned Diet Coke.   Not only were they quick and portable, they were tasty.  But it only took me a couple of weeks to forget about ’em.  At this point I can’t even remember what they tasted like.  The fries, they’re a different story.

5.)  Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate-Chip Cookie-Dough Ice Cream.  Sorry Ben and Jerry.  I want to save the world, just like you do (although when you sold-out to Unilever I suspect your interest in saving the world waned a bit), and I will attest that you make the very best mass-produced ice cream there is, bar none.  But eating your fine product a full pint at a time (’cause I never left any in the container) was making me think I should reserve a room at the local cardiac ICU facility.  This was one of the easier foods to give up, actually.  No cravings at all.  Which tells me it probably had fewer strangely-addictive chemicals than most of the stuff I was consuming, but it still had to go.

I noticed yesterday that the fine folks at WordPress.com have added a “share” bar at the bottom of my posts on this blog for those of you who use The Twitter and/or The Facebook.  While I primarily write this blog to keep myself on the straight-and-narrow, food-wise (and eventually exercise-wise), I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t really dig it when people actually read what I’ve written.  So don’t be shy about using those little buttons.  Thanks!

— (part II)

I’ve been advised that at least one of you is perturbed that I sometimes promise to write about a particular topic but never seem to get around to it. I do feel guilty about that, but let’s face it, I have a fairly short attention span.  That said, I’ll be making a concerted effort to address the issue and clean out the promised-posts backlog within the week.

And again, thank you for reading!

I Have a Good Excuse.

So, yeah, I disappeared for a few days there.  I know, y’all were just getting used to me posting on a daily basis.  But really, I had a good excuse.  You see, my lovely wife, who was due to give birth to our third daughter on June 22, became impatient and gave birth on June 16 instead (OK, fine, it had nothing to do with impatience).

The good news for you is that we’re all back home and the blog is back in action.  And (bonus!) before we knew Thursday was THE day, I did a quick early weigh-in (I suppose I knew on some level what was about to happen) and found myself down another pound!  So, officially, that’s 267, or a full twenty pounds in 14 weeks.

Oh, yeah, my lovely wife and sprightly daughters?  They’re all happy and healthy and happy to be home.  Thanks for asking!

Regular posting schedule resumes … now.

Frozen Blueberries

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Because I am naturally contrarian, I refused to believe them for much of my life.  And we all know where that got me.

I used to think, “Hey, I’m not hungry, I can save ten minutes and a bunch of calories.”  I was stupid.  From the above-linked WebMD article:  “Some people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity. Studies show that overweight and obese children, adolescents, and adults are less likely to break the fast each morning than their thinner counterparts.”

I am now a committed, confirmed eater of breakfast.

So.   Now I not only eat breakfast, I’ve been doing it long enough that I actually look forward to it.  On weekdays (I’ll get to weekends in another post) I drink coffee with half and half and eat some (yeah, some – I don’t measure) whole-grain Cheerios (not the multi-grain kind – regular Cheerios suit my palate and my nutritional interests better) with 2% (skim is just white-ish water) milk and some frozen blueberries.

Frozen blueberries?  For goodness sake, you say, why FROZEN blueberries when fresh ones are just steps away in the supermarket?  Because fresh blueberries are mushy.  Yes, all of them.  I’ve tried blueberries from all over the country (and the world), including fresh ones right off the bush (we grow A LOT of blueberries in north Florida), and they all feel mushy to me.  I don’t particularly like them, and I probably wouldn’t bother to choke ’em down just for the health benefits if I had to eat fresh regularly.

I like other berries fresh:  black, straw, occasionally rasp, but not particularly blue.

Alton Brown got me interested in the frozen kind, which, because they’re fresh-frozen, have the same nutritional value as the ones in the little plastic pint containers.  Plus, they create little Cheerio-cicles when I pour the milk over ’em.  Which makes breakfast fun.  Your mileage may vary, as they say.  By the way, I’ve tried two or three brands, but the Publix store-brand works best for me.  The berries tend to be plumper and not mashed and mutilated during the freezing and bagging process.

You may have noticed above that I use half and half in my coffee.  In copious amounts.  Because that’s how I like my coffee.  It’s also an ace-up-my-sleeve when I get down to the “short rows” of weight loss next year and am looking for things to eliminate to reach my goal.  But I’m putting that one off as long as I can.

The Difference Between This and Dieting

I’ve mentioned this before, but I realize not everyone has read every post on this blog, nor do those of you who have necessarily remember every pearl of wisdom and turn of phrase I write here.  I understand that to readers who aren’t working through a similar process (or haven’t in the past, or aren’t close to someone who has or is), it’s hard to distinguish between being “on a diet” and making permanent changes to the way one (me) approaches food and drink.

In an effort to be both clear about what I’m working on and to keep this blog relevant to readers who aren’t working on similar changes of their own, I’ve come up with a couple of examples that might be helpful:

The difference between what I’m doing and going on a diet is the difference between giving up smoking and just quitting until the cough clears up.

The difference between what I’m doing and going on a diet is the difference between giving up drinking and sobering up for a big meeting.

Going on a diet is fine if you’re trying to lose a few pounds for the reunion.  I’m not.  I’m changing my relationship to food and drink.  If I were on a diet … and I’ve been on plenty … I’d have a goal – like I do now – but I’d know that as soon as I reached that goal I could back off and relax.  Go get a cake from Publix and celebrate.  Open up a bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles and wash it down with a convenience store drum of Coca-Cola.  Sure, that wouldn’t be ideal, but that’s what going on a diet is.  It’s a climb up the mountain knowing the downhill trip is, well, downhill.

That’s why I’m not on a diet.  There’s no “yippee, I made it!” party at the end.  Yes, I’ll be mighty happy when I get to 207 next year, but that’s not the end.  I’m not going back to soda, to white bread, to sweet tea, to any of that stuff.  I won’t tell you I’ll never have a slice of birthday cake again – that would be ridiculous.  I want to get to a point where I can do that occasionally.  I want to be able to eat “just one” without it driving me crazy.  And if I can’t get to that point, then yes, I’ll stay away from that stuff entirely.

This is a lifetime lifestyle change.  The part where I lose the weight, that’s just the short-term, getting-started phase.  That’s why it’s not a diet.  I hope this helps me explain it a bit better.  I’m not going to harp on this anymore but I felt it needed to be written.

In other news, I’ve learned that at least one person I work with reads this blog.  Which turns up the accountability heat.  There’s nowhere to hide.  Which was kinda the point in starting this blog.  Thank you, readers!

Train Kept a Rollin’

Today’s Friday, and Friday’s weigh-in day:  268.  That’s 19 pounds in 13 weeks, or almost seven percent of my starting weight.

This morning I’m thinking about that lost weight as debris being thrown from a runaway train, littering the tracks behind me.  Don’t worry, it’s biodegradable.

And yes, I know the song referenced in the title above has nothing to do with losing weight or anything that could be construed as a healthy lifestyle.  I like train songs, and it’s a good analogy.  Give me some room to work, here.

Some post topics to which you can look forward in the coming days:  Easing into an exercise program, How fake/overprocessed food might be affecting us all and Why avoiding a stroke has become a Big Deal for me.

Thanks for reading!

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