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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Um... Two Weeks and No Weight Lost - Time to Revamp

Okay, this is embarrassing, but I realized today is the second week of my weight loss journey, and I am back to 205 pounds.

That's sad.

I know it takes a little time for my body to get used to my exercise and diet plans, but as I look back on the past two weeks, I can see that while I have implemented some great changes, there are a few more I need to make.

Like to stop eating out. And snacking on crap (i.e. potato chips, chocolate, candy, chocolate milk).

So, even though I have ended my second week with no weight lost, I think I am still moving forward because I have found what I have been doing wrong and what I need to do better. Part of progress is finding and correcting our mistakes. So that's what I will do.

Find and correct my mistakes and shortcomings with my fitness.

I appreciate your support and comments. I definitely need them.

So here we go.....


A Snack a Day Keeps the Doctor Away... Maybe

Healthy eating is hard. I know, because I’m trying to do it right now. And for many people, including me, the hardest part about healthy eating is the snacking.

As some of you know, I have started drinking green smoothies. When I set out on the green smoothie journey, I wanted to make those the biggest part of my diet. But I’ve run into two struggles with that: 1) In order to get enough calories in my day, I have to be drinking green smoothies constantly, and I don’t have the money or taste for that. 2) It is hard to pass up snacks throughout the day, especially since my green smoothies are all liquid and I want something solid.

Passing up snacks is especially hard when I am at a desk for eight hours a day. I’m not complaining about my job, in fact I love my job. But I get hungry at my desk. And snacks are so easy.

As I thought about this predicament, I realized I am probably not the only one who feels this way. So I decided to look up some good snack choices for work, which are not only healthy (ish) for us, but are also low in calories, so they don’t destroy our diets (and I’m using the term “diet” here to mean “a particular selection of food, especially as designated or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat disease*” and not just a diet to lose weight).

Here’s my list:

Fruits: Fruits are a wonderful snack idea because they are high in nutrients and usually have low calories. They are also good because they are normally easily carried. Some great, and classic, examples are Apples (95 calories), Bananas (105 calories), Oranges (62 calories), Kiwi (46 calories) and Grapes (62 calories in one cup).

Vegetables: Like fruits, vegetables are a great source of nutrients and low calories. And they can also be easily carried or transported. Examples are Carrot Sticks (4 calories per stick), Celery (1 calorie per strip) and Cucumbers (14 calories for one cup sliced).

Nuts or Seeds: Nuts and seeds are a great snack because they can keep your hands and mouth busy, while providing healthy fats and good proteins. While you may not be able to eat as much if you’re on a weight-loss diet, they are still a great source of good nutrients. Try eating Pistachios (80 calories for around 24 nuts – my personal favorite), Roasted Peanuts (6 calories per nut), Almonds (80 calories for 12 nuts), Cashews (156 calories per oz), Sunflower Seeds (135 calories per half cup with shells), Pumpkin Seeds (57 calories per tablespoon).

100 Calorie Snack Packs: Finally, I know there may be many of you who, like me, just have a hard time giving up your chip and cracker snacks. It is so easy (and relatively cheap) to buy a bag of chips and just work on those as you go. But sadly, you are consuming not only more calories per snack, but also a lot of saturated fats. Not good. But if you still need them, I would recommend the 100 Calorie Snack Packs you can find at the grocery store. These offer fewer calories, and are helpful with portion size. I can’t tell you how many times I have purchased a bag of potato chips with the intention of eating a little at a time, then finding, after an hour, that my hand is hitting the bottom of the bag and all I’m getting is crumbs.

Too many 1,500-calories-from-a-bag-of-chips-in-one-hour experiences to count.

Finally, there is actually great benefit in snacking, as long as it is done in a healthy manner. By making sure you are consuming food every 2-3 hours, which you can do with three square meals and a snack between meals, you are keeping your metabolism working. This means it is constantly burning something, helping your body have energy and (if you’re dieting) lose more weight.

And don’t forget the best snack of all: Water! Whether or not you’re using any of these other snack ideas, be sure to drink plenty of water each day. A good standard for daily water intake is eight or nine glasses of water per day. And you should be drinking more if you have an active day (from work, sports, exercise, etc.).

If you have any other healthy snack ideas, I would love to hear them. I also welcome any recipes you may have for healthy snacking. If you comment or send me a recipe I like, I’ll be sure to blog about it!

*From Dictionary.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Just Want To Be a Big Loser

I love Fall. The leaves change color, it cools down outside, holidays are fast approaching and the Fall TV shows seasons begin. One of my wife's and my favorite shows is The Biggest Loser.

We like The Biggest Loser not only because it is a good, family-friendly show, but also because of how much it motivates us to exercise and get in shape. There's just something about watching people change their lives, not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally, that drives us to lose weight and get fit.

Last Spring, I would often watch an episode of Biggest Loser with my wife, then head off to the gym. I was motivated. That show helped us have a stronger desire for exercise and healthy eating.

I lost 19 pounds during that season of Biggest Loser.

So this Fall, I am hoping for a similar experience. Knowing myself, I need as much motivation and support as I can get. It helps to have not only my wife, family, friends and social networks to get me motivated, but also my lazy past-times. That's why I love Biggest Loser. My favorite past-time, watching TV, motivates me to get off my butt and work out. But only when my show is over.

Biggest Loser is especially good for us now since we have recently been watching a lot of shows on the Food Network. That channel doesn't often motivate me to stop eating and exercise. So thanks, Biggest Loser!

If you have any other ideas or recommendations for me to stay motivated, I would love to hear them. I love comments on how I can become a big loser! (I'm totally setting myself up for some awesome comments with that last sentence)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This Morning Was INSANITY!

I want to begin by saying thank you again to all those who commented on my previous post and on Facebook, offering suggestions for how to get myself up in the morning to exercise.

Since writing that post, I am 2 for 2 in getting up in the morning!

Let's hope that continues.

In fact, this morning was Day 2 of INSANITY! For those who aren't familiar with INSANITY, it is an at-home, weights-free exercise program by BeachBody. BeachBody is the company that makes P90X, which I started about a year ago, but didn't continue because I didn't have weights or a pull-up bar.

(So you are aware, I am NOT paid by or affiliated with BeachBody, I am just discussing my experience with their products).

I started INSANITY before with my brother, and we made it about 2 or 3 weeks, but then decided to play video games during our time together. Very productive.

Actually, at that time I was also going to the gym 6 days a week, so I was actually keeping quite active and getting in shape. That was about 9 or 10 months ago.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it has been hard to find time to go to the gym (though I really should be going, especially since I am still paying monthly for the membership). So in order to stay active, my wife and I get up early and do INSANITY.

After doing INSANITY before and doing it again now, I would definitely recommend it to almost anyone (I say almost because if I recommended it to my grandparents, they would probably kill over). It is a great program, it works you VERY hard, and it doesn't require a gym membership or any weights. You just need to play the DVD and have a little wiggle room.

For those interested, I have found that during the 35-40 minute videos, I can burn around 400-500 calories, if I push myself hard. I don't yet have a heart monitor to tell me exactly how much I am burning, but I can't imagine it is too far from that. So, hopefully by doing INSANITY and eating better (including continuing my green smoothie diet), I can reach my goal weight by January or February. If anyone has a strong desire to bless my life for no reason, I am more than happy to accept an athletic heart monitor as a gift. Just sayin'.

If you have INSANITY, or are planning to get it, let me know, and we can support and encourage each other. It always helps to have friends who are there for you as you try to reach your goals. It sure has and does help me.

Well, as I progress with INSANITY and my green smoothie diet, I will keep you updated on my efforts and progress. As always, feel free to leave a comment or ask questions. Thanks!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Exercise in the Morning? What, Are You Crazy?

To meet my weight-loss goal, I need to exercise. Plain and simple. But finding the time to exercise is hard.
When I was in college, it was easy to find time to exercise, because all it took was skipping one class. But I can’t (and don’t want to) skip work to exercise. And I especially don’t want to skip spending time with my wife.

What to do?

Well, I decided about three weeks ago that I would start exercising in the mornings. Guess how many times I have actually accomplished that on a weekday? None. Zip. Nada.

But I still need it. And evenings are harder than mornings because after work, my wife and I are both famished and need to eat. And once you’ve had dinner, it is 10 times harder to get to the gym or even go for a run.

And speaking of running, it is really hard for me to do that these days. I was a runner in high school, and could take the pounding, but now at my ripe old age of 25, if I go running on the pavement; my knees take a beating, which usually puts me out of commission to run for the next three days.

Now, I can imagine you’re thinking: “Boston, stop being a panzy and just get to the gym.”

Well, you’re right. I need to just go. But, man it’s hard to do that without any motivation. Even my desire to lose weight falters when I think about having to make a trip to the gym, which requires a 30-minute round trip drive, and an hour or more while there. I have realized that if I want to go to the gym after work, then I will only have time in my day for work, dinner and the gym. And that’s it. Naturally, I have been choosing to spend time with my wife and doing hobbies (reading, writing, television shows).

So, mornings are my only real shot at exercise. There’s just one problem: I hate mornings. I am a total night-person. I am awake and alert in the evenings, but groggy and mean in the mornings (just ask my family about waking me up from sleep or a nap when I was in high school).

Therefore, in order to get up, I have enlisted the help of my social network: I asked, through Facebook and Twitter, if anyone had any good ideas I can use to get up and exercise in the mornings. Here are a few of the responses I received:
     “Make a workout date w/ a friend - someone to be accountable to” Kelly (@according2kelly) via Twitter.
     “Just commit to doing it every day. If you say three days a week or something, then every morning you will put it off and plan to do it another day. It won't happen. Just do it every day and it will become an indispensable part of your schedule.” Abram Jones via Facebook.
     “Go to sleep at 10:00.” Matt Hopkins via Facebook.
     “Make your alarm your favorite pump up song! That way you get excited about the exercise right from the start :) just made that up! Let me know if it works!” Trisha DeGroot via Facebook.
     “Remember how Momma used to sing that super annoying song to get us to wake up when we lived in the hotel in Atlanta? Have Jess [my wife] sing that song every morning until you are up out of bed. It will work. It did when Momma did it. It got to the point where she would sing the first note and we'd jump out of bed. lol. That song was so annoying.” Albany Blake (my sister) via Facebook.

Thank you all for your suggestions!

I will definitely try each of these. I will be enlisting the help of my wife (who’s a morning person, by the way) to help get me up. I’ll set my alarm to a great, pump-up song, and if I hit snooze, have my wife sing that wonderful song to me (which I have forgotten, but which I am sure my mom will be happy to teach my wife for me) to get me up. And of course, go against my night-owl ways and be in bed by 10pm (though my wife wants us to be in bed at 9pm!).

I’ll keep you all updated on my progress, and let you know how these ideas work out. Thanks for looking out for me!

For those who would like a little light reading, check out this WebMD article about why it is a good idea to exercise in the morning if you are trying to lose weight. And also check out this essay, about becoming what we make ourselves, which was recommended by Jason Woodward via Facebook.

If you have any other recommendations, I would love to hear them. Please feel free to leave a comment, or find me on Facebook or Twitter (@byuboston).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Green Smoothie Going In... and Out

Caution: If you don’t like reading about poop, don’t read this article!

Ok, with that introduction…

As I mentioned yesterday, I am starting my green smoothie diet this week. I am excited to do it because of the multitude of positive results I know are coming my way, including greater health, less illness, more energy, weight loss and greater happiness.

I guess with all the positives, I should have known there would be negatives.

As my title states: green smoothie going in and green smoothie coming out.

I am sharing this with you mostly so you can know what you to expect if/when you start any kind of diet or change in eating, but also because it is kind of funny, at least to me. And hopefully by sharing this I am not turning you off drinking green smoothies, because the benefits do greatly outweigh any negatives you may experience.

So, what happened?

Well, after my first full day of drinking green smoothies for my meals, I had the wonderful experience the next morning of having green smoothie diarrhea. What’s funny about it is what came out my back end looked a lot like the smoothie I drank 12 hours earlier (ok, I just re-read that and it sounds really nasty… but I’ll leave it in anyway).

However, the smell was definitely a lot different between the two. And, obviously, I didn’t test to see if there was a difference in taste.

Grossed out yet?

Actually, this has been a good thing. Green smoothies can actually help cleanse your insides, since the smoothie is made up of good, healthy foods with plenty of fiber. But because of that increase in fiber, you may experience diarrhea or constipation as the smoothie helps push through all the crud you have gathered in your intestines and colon from the pizzas, burgers, snack foods and greasy nastiness you’ve been eating your whole life. At least that is what has happened to me. Make sure when you increase your fiber intake to drink plenty of water.

Read more about why green smoothies may cause constipation here. And remember, it is good for your body when you poop at least 1-2 times a day. That means your digestive system is working properly.

Today, I feel great! I really feel like my insides are clean, and it makes me feel lighter and happier. I hope this feeling continues as I continue drinking my green smoothies. And I’ll be sure to let you know about any other experiences I have.

As I look over this blog post, I realize it is a good thing I don’t get easily embarrassed, because I just shared with the world, very graphically, what happens when I’m on the porcelain throne.

Oh well.

For those of you who would like to read more about poop, whether for fun or healthy interest, you should definitely check out SmellyPoop.com

As always, I would love any comments or questions you may have.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Changing My Lifestyle - Starting Today

I have started my weight-loss journey. Again. For the fourth time.
My experience with weight loss has been like a roller-coaster. I get pumped to lose weight, I make the commitment, I start exercising and eating well, and I start to see progress. I keep it up for about a month or two. I feel good about my progress, so I decide to eat a slice of pizza. And a hamburger. And donuts. Every day. And there goes my progress.
That’s a problem.
I have discovered that my problem lies in my attitude towards health and weight loss. I decide I want to lose weight, so I change my habits in order to do so. But when I reach my goal weight, or get close, I go right back to what I was doing before: gaining weight. And I often over-compensate, eating way too much unhealthy crap to make up for the months I missed it.
And after a few months, I weigh more than I did when I wanted to lose weight.
That happened to me this summer. Just like I have done three other times, I spent a couple months eating healthy food and hitting the gym five or six days a week. I lost 19 pounds. Then I went to New York City for an internship, ate like I would never see food again (because it was so good, and often paid for by the kind folks I was living with), avoided any exercise and put on 25 pounds. Ugh.
Right now I am about two or three pounds shy of being the heaviest I have ever been.
(Quick note: people have different ideas of “fat.” I guess according to current health science, I am not “fat,” but I am definitely overweight. But more importantly, at least to me, I am not as healthy as I have been before, and I would really like to see my six pack come back one day – I know it’s hiding in there somewhere, just pleading to make another appearance.)
Over the past couple weeks, I found a solution to my problem. And interestingly, it doesn’t have anything to do with any particular product. Instead, I realized my problem lies in my attitude.
In order to be successful at losing weight, gaining muscle and maintaining both once I’ve reached my goal, I need to make a complete lifestyle change.
What I’ve discovered about lifestyle changes is they aren’t as scary as we sometimes think. We may think a lifestyle change means giving up everything we love for things we hate, or strongly dislike. But that just isn’t the case. It means finding a proper balance.
For me, that means eating healthy food 95% of the time, and enjoying crappy, unhealthy food 5% of the time. It also means giving up soda and drinking lots of water.
Now the good part: I have tried making changes in my eating habits – going from pizza to salad, but let’s be honest, that is hard! Especially if you’re like me and you like pizza way more than salad. But this past week, my wife took me to an event where I discovered another way, a tasty way, to get the raw, healthy foods I need, and actually enjoy taking them in.
Yep, that’s right. My wife asked me to attend a Green Smoothie Girl event, and because I love my wife, I went. But I went with the intention of spending my time there actually doing something productive: getting to and beating the final level of Angry Birds.
But while I was there, I was intrigued by Robyn (the Green Smoothie Girl), and began to listen. I was inspired by her story and research. I decided to try her green smoothies (which are made up of mostly greens like kale and spinach, and a little bit of berries and such), and to my utter amazement, they were good. And each smoothie contains something like 10-15 servings of vegetables! It’s all raw and void of man-made crap.
I was hooked.
So this week I begin my transformation. And this blog is my way of sharing with the world what I discover along this journey of health. At first I thought it would just be a blog about losing weight, but I see now that I am not just losing weight. I am making a lifestyle change. A change to health.
I will share what I learn from my experiences and research (and by research, I mean the things I learn from other blogs and from whatever books or magazines I read on health), so feel free to leave comments, ask questions or pay me money (I don’t really have a good reason for you to pay me money, but I most likely won’t turn it away if you just want to give it to me…).
And hopefully, just maybe, you may be inspired by my experience to make lifestyle changes of your own.