Food for Thought

I had a thought this morning as I was going back through last night’s blog. I recently had the occasion to attend two meetings at Buffalo Wild Wings and I enjoyed lunch at both. Their lunch menu includes the calorie count for each meal. Eight boneless wings and fries add up to 800 or more calories.

I didn’t think much of it at the time other than “wow, that’s a lot. I’ll work it off.” Think about that for a minute – 800 calories and that doesn’t include a beverage. Now, I was working so I had 140 calorie mango lemonade. Your average 12-ounce American beer contains approximately 150 calories. Do some simple math and next thing you know you’ve consumed over 2,000 calories while sucking down chicken wings, fries and beer. Couple that with the fact that you probably won’t offset it with exercise and that trip to your favorite sports bar becomes very costly. Do it often enough…nice knowing you.

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up in the cradle of chicken wings. Country Sweet, Sal’s Birdland in Rochester, Anchor Bar and Grill in Buffalo…I sought them out when I lived in Ohio…Damon’s, Rooster’s, BW3, Max and Erma’s.

I also am a sucker for a good cheeseburger. There are 590 calories in my beloved In and Out Burger Double-Doubles.

Approximately 3,500 calories equals a pound of body weight. Consider that.

I love eating out. It’s become one of my pleasures as an adult. I travel for work 10-12 times per year and eat several meals in unhealthy restaurants. I love a neighborhood bar and grill, an Irish pub, corner pizza joint, greasy spoon diner. I won’t be taking them as lightly from now on.

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Tales of Diet and Exercise

What’s up Party People?!? What’s it been, two weeks? No Game of Thrones tonight so I shall endeavor to entertain you with tales of diet and exercise.

When I started this mess (I use that phrase a lot), I knew dinner was a problem. I don’t get out of work until 6 p.m. and my commute takes at least an hour. As much as I have cut down my caloric intake (food) dramatically I was still eating between 500 and 1,000 calories for dinner depending on the scope of the meal.

I have pretty much replaced dinner with protein shakes and the results have been remarkable. May 12 I weighed 215. I ticked back up a pound and a half by the 15th or so and that’s when I started the protein shake deal. I lost six pounds in a week. No more big meals at all. Breakfast and lunch are my biggest meals and I snack in-between to keep my metabolism moving and to prevent overeating. I lift weights from 9-9:45 p.m. or so and have a light snack after working out.

Shin splints or whatever you want to call it have kept me from walking/running during the day so I have been walking/running on the weekends. I recorded my best 5K time yet yesterday.

I am down to 209.8. I haven’t been under 210 in three years.

So, that’s in the range of 27 pounds lost.

It’s simple math loyal readers. So many people have been trying to tell me that. You must burn more than you consume in order to lose weight. You also have to consume the right things. Protein is a great help for fat burning.

My hair stylist (or whatever someone who works at Super Cuts is called) asked if it’s been easy for me to lose weight.

No.

This is hard work and it takes sacrifice, dedication and commitment. I wonder how active we must have been as children to not pack on the pounds. Even during the winters in New York we were outside playing in the snow. Granted, metabolism slows down as we age. How much of a lump had I become? How much of a glutton had I become?

Anyone who knows me knows I can be judgmental. I shouldn’t be, I am no better than anyone else. And I am still 19 pounds away from goal #1. However, yesterday I saw two very large women at the mall sidled up to the counter at Sbarro. Now, I have been known to get a slice from Sbarro from time to time, but I just kept thinking “your ass wouldn’t have its own gravitational pull if you didn’t eat that stuff.”

I miss certain things greatly. I am a chocolate fiend. I have been known to eat chocolate double-stuff Oreo cookies by the sleeve. I love Pringles and potato chips in general. I can kill a can of Pringles in one sitting. I guess I miss the idea of them greatly. The scale and my waistline don’t miss them at all. To be quite honest, I have gotten used to going without massive quantities of treats and I don’t miss it at all. I miss double-doubles at In and Out Burger. That’s what I miss.

Greek yogurt is enough to satisfy my sweet tooth most of the time. I now have one small piece of candy instead of half the bag. I have a short stack of multi-grain Pringles instead of the whole can of Lays BBQ Staxx. Just because it says “multi-grain” doesn’t mean they’re that much healthier, but they’re better than their cousins. I am also not going to deny myself some simple tasty pleasures every now and again.

I guess my point to this entry is there is no magic pill. There is no magic diet – South Beach, Atkins, pineapple, breakfast cereal. Bah. Humbug. Eat right and bust your ass. Find something that works for you. Walk, run, lift weights…get a gym membership, buy a weight set, get some resistance bands…something…anything.

I converted my office into a weight room with an inexpensive weight set and bench because I don’t have time to go to the gym. I gave up video game playing and TV time to lift weights at night.

Diet and exercise. No excuses. Period. There is nothing else.

Those words are going to guide me to my goal and guide me after I reach it. I don’t know if 236 was my actual heaviest ever. I think it was. As I started to creep toward 240, I thought that I was doomed to morbid obesity if I didn’t do something about it. I caved when I got to 200 pounds in 2010. I succumbed to laziness and largess when it came to food. I didn’t think about hidden calories in salad dressing, butter/margarine, alcoholic beverages or snacking. I used to talk myself out of exercising.

I don’t like counting calories. I have mentioned that before. It may work for you. If I was still sedentary, 2,500 calories is what I need as a 5’10”, 43-year-old man to maintain my current weight. That is not a lot. You get to 2,000 calories in a day quickly. For me to lose weight I need no more than 2,400 calories in a day if I am exercising every day (which I am). I try to stay under 2,000. I get to 600 calories or so with just breakfast and lunch, 300 more with my two snacks during the day. That’s 900 and I haven’t had dinner yet. Now you know why I switched to protein shakes for dinner. I really want to be under 200 pounds by my birthday June 29.

You may think, “that’s not a lot of food.” Too bad. Your body does not need as much as you think it does. I feel better than I have in a long time. I have more energy, I’m stronger, my mental acuity is sharper and I am not in as much discomfort.

You are not going to lose any weight parking your ass on the couch and wolfing down potato chips by the family-size bag. Trust me. I am living proof.

Now that my cholesterol and triglycerides are under control I am allowing myself a little culinary treat now and again. I indulged in a guilty pleasure today with Zweigle’s white hots on the grill. But you know what? I’ll be hitting the bricks on the shoe leather express in a bit to work them off.

Moving the Needle

A week ago I wrote that I was stuck on a plateau. I hadn’t lost any weight to speak of for a month. I wish my blog-based bitching worked for everything that annoyed me in life. The Weather Channel is still naming blizzards and the squirrels are still out to get me. However, I’ve dropped two pounds since complaining about my plateau predicament.

Last weekend I was in the neighborhood of 217 pounds and I weighed in at 215 even this morning. I went for a walk/run and topped my fastest times for one mile and 5K. I think the interval training, with or without the C25K app, jumpstarted my weight loss. Also, the diet has been adjusted again. Smaller dinners, protein shakes and adding some weight to the barbell for my weight lifting sessions this past week I am sure have helped as well. I am back to eating non-fat Greek yogurt more often after getting a little bored with it. Protein, protein and more protein.

I didn’t use the C25K app today but did run some during my three-mile jaunt. I felt better running today than I have since I started this mess. Last Sunday and Monday the shin splints started to come back so I took it easy this week. I hadn’t logged any miles since Tuesday and my legs felt better today thanks to the much needed rest.

It’s been two weeks since the NFL Draft and I haven’t missed a lift since. Ten weekdays – 10 weightlifting sessions. I have missed all of two since I started my nightly weightlifting. I have really noticed a difference in shape, muscle tone and strength.

I have written it here, I have said it aloud and I continue to dread it for more than one reason but I need to attack my core strength issue. My stomach is the biggest of all my issues. It has shrunk considerably but I can tell that it is going to be the last thing to go. You see the commercials on TV – belly fat is the cause of more things than I care to count including climate change apparently. One of the reasons I have dived into weight-loss headfirst is because of lower back pain. My chiropractor says that losing weight will help but my lack of core strength is a major cause of my back spasms. I was reminded of this Friday and Saturday when I had to stand for long periods of time at work. This needs to be addressed before late July because I’ll be standing for long periods of time for work for about a month.

As I mentioned above, I have said it time and time again. Monday and Friday night’s workouts involve some core but nowhere near enough. If I can get over whatever fear of developing back spasms I have and deal with the fact that core strengthening exercises are hard, I’ll add to my workouts this week.

So, I am losing weight again. I am not in free fall and I am not going to base jump to my goal but I am encouraged by this past week’s progress. I see the doctor about my cholesterol tomorrow morning so hopefully I’ll get some good news on that front.

A high school friend took time out this week to tell me how much she enjoys the blog and that I have inspired her to exercise and lose weight. I am flattered. She too is using the C25K app and I offered some dietary suggestions. I never thought my exercise regimen would be an example for anyone to follow but I have lost 21.6 pounds since January. I must be doing something right.

I will continue to strive for my goal. I am convinced I can do this. The next 25 pounds are not going to lose themselves.

Stuck on a Stupid Plateau

I have been doing a lot of research this week. I have also been seeking the advice of people who know and understand. I am stuck on a plateau. I haven’t lost any weight in more than a month. That’s also when I started lifting weights five nights week.

This past week I ratcheted up the distance on my walks a bit after not walking Monday. I had this grand idea that I would cut out cardio and just strength train to lose weight. After one day I craved walking. So, I walked four days, (Tuesday-Friday, 15 miles total). I got back on the stick with the weight lifting after missing two nights the week before and didn’t miss a night this past week. Then I walked three miles yesterday. I did something a bit different today.

A friend recommended a run training app called Couch to 5K (C25K) to help me get up to speed with running. I gave it a shot today and broke my 5K personal best. I got out to 2 ¼ miles really fast during the 30-minute workout the app dictates. Two other friends recently recommended interval training, which is exactly what the C25K app does. The shin splints are back but I did get a good workout in. I walked the rest of the way and that last ¾ mile seemed to take forever.

One of my friends who recently recommended interval training also sent me something from one of his favorite blogs that suggested I may be doing to much cardio and that’s what has caused this latest plateau. Considering my cholesterol is out of whack and I’m out of shape, I’m pretty sure I need cardio in my life. Much of that blog post excerpt didn’t make any sense to me.

So, the other friend who suggested interval training has become a bit of a bodybuilder and he said he would tweak my diet. We both believe I need more protein and less carbs in my diet. He knows a little bit about lean muscle.

I have no inkling to quit – the exercise and change in diet are obviously good for me. I do have more energy, I feel better now that I am carrying 19.6 less pounds than I was in January.  It is amazing the difference darn near 20 pounds off makes.

My knees still hurt when I run and the return of the shin splints doesn’t make me very happy. The pain wasn’t debilitating this morning but my shins had my attention.

The nightly weight-lifting sessions are great. I really feel like I have been getting stronger and more flexible. I can touch my toes standing or sitting for the first time in a few years. Muscles that were buried under fat are starting to become visible again.

I know a lot of what I have been writing about my progress would seem like no big deal or old hat. I have written previously that I long for the days of being able to just run off at top speed at the drop of a hat or jump into a pick-up game of any variety without worrying about pulling a hamstring. Showering and getting dressed are getting easier. Go ahead, take these little things for granted. Let yourself go and see how easy it is for you to do these things. Any overweight person reading this blog knows exactly what my words mean. Tying your shoes, pulling on your socks, bending over to pick something up…these things are chores when you are overweight and out of shape. I have broken a sweat getting dressed.

Living comfortably and performing mundane and routine tasks easily are reasons enough to lose weight and continue to exercise. I could live with 217 pounds if my body fat was under 10 percent. However, my frame was never meant to carry this much weight and I don’t have the genetics to chisel what I am carrying.

I do so wish to announce to you that I have lost 20 pounds total. I have been as light as 216.8 a few weeks ago. 216.6 will mark 20 pounds even. Keep your fingers crossed I get off this plateau. That is either the horizon I see or the cliff. I pray it is the cliff and the weight plummets from there.