Sunday, April 29, 2012

Habits are a guy's best friend

When I started this quest, I was given really great advice by my buddy, Ed Huff. Ed had already worked the magic and transformed his body. Today, he has completed several triathlons, including a half Ironman. And, he is still working hard to get better at training his mind and body.

The advice Ed gave me was to read labels on packages and to work at a caloric deficit. In other words, know what each food was made of, consume less calories, and watch the fat melt away. Truth be told, that was difficult for me at first. I enjoyed reading the labels to determine which fats and sugars were in foods, but the calorie counting seemed a momentous task. I did my best to track what I could and, though, I was losing some weight, the process seemed to be taking a LONG while.

Then it happened, one of my mentors, a former prosecutor turned defense attorney, turned me on to a program called "Lose It." It's a website and, if you have an iPhone, an app that let's you build a profile of where you are; your ultimate goal; how you'd like to reach that goal; and, most importantly, a handy-dandy way of tracking the foods you consume. The app pulls in dietary information for many store and restaurant brand foods and let's you "create" foods that are not already in the database.

So, why should you care? Great question. Here's the answer. Both the website and app assist you in creating the habit that will eventually turn into your lifestyle. Before I got an iPhone, I would religiously enter my daily weight, food choices, and exercises onto the website. Doing so let me see firsthand what I was consuming, as I consumed it, daily. I had no choice but to stay within my daily calorie budget. And, before I chomped down on a meal, I knew precisely where it would leave me at the end of the day. More so, I could see how many calories I burned with each workout and how many calories I had remaining for the day. Now, although I still log each meal, I have a general idea of how much each meal will affect me (calories ingested versus calories remaining), even before I enter it into the program (partly because I eat the same meals on a regular basis)....Because I've developed the habit of focusing on just how many calories each meal consist of, I am intentionally focusing on what I put into my temple. For example, I'm a big fan of Subway's tuna sandwiches, but Loseit highlighted for me that each 6-inch tuna sandwich is approximately 525 calories, versus approximately 329 calories for a 6-inch coldcut combo. At current, my daily caloric intake is just over 1500. Result, before adding any sort of chips or drink or exercise, that one 6-inch sandwich was burning 1/3 of my daily calories. Eye-opening, isn't it?

I know, i know...sounds like a lot of work, huh? Well, it is? Likewise, isn't it a lot of work to balance your checkbook and monitor your bank account to ensure that you're spending within your budget? Well, I look at it this way. If I don't balance my checkbook, I could go into the red and end up owing the bank a lot of money in fees. That would be both painful and inconvenient. But life would move on. Whereas, if I don't actively monitor what I'm ingesting, I could land in the neighborhoods of high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, etc. Unlike paying overdraft fees, life, in this example, might not go on.

If you're serious about making a total body transformation, take a look at . It could change your life like it changed making it a bit more convenient to develop the habit that must become your best friend, if you're to see the results you desire.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm still at it.

So, you can probably tell by now that I'm not the type to blog every single day. In fact, I had to read my last post myself to see where we left off. Quite a bit has changed since my last post, including my goals and methodology on this Total Body Makeover.

Today is the 25th of October 2011 and I at holding firm at 250lbs. Though my initial goal was to be down to well under 230lbs by December, a funny thing happened...I started turning quite a bit of fat into muscle. This guessed it; the numbers on the scale aren't getting smaller, but my body is. I took measurements today (about two months since my initial ones) and have realized a 2 inch loss in the hips and waist. Yep, down one full pants size...perhaps more, as some of the smaller one in my closet don't seem to stay up very well :-) My neck is also an inch and a half smaller. It's nice to be able to breathe while wearing my dress shirts. The only problem I have at this point is being in the in-between stage where new clothes are needed but I don't want to invest in too many as I've not yet hit the physique for which I desire.

So, what am I doing differently? Well, here's the scoop. My Sophomore year in college was the smallest I'd been since age 15. I'd lost about 35lbs the summer before by running 1 mile six days a week. Recently, I'd decided that I needed to lower my running time if I was to continue competing in triathlons. I've become a decent swimmer and do pretty well on the bike. However, I'd give up my gains in each race on the run. That being said, I started running 2-3 times weekly at an increased pace, i.e., 11-12 min/miles as opposed to 15 min/miles. I've run a few 10Ks (the last of which was 5 min 46 secs faster than the one prior) and have added some basic calisthenics to the mix. (that's right, boys can jump rope as well :-)

I'm sticking to a running plan designed to get me in shape for a 1/2 marathon in December and full marathon in March 2012. Learning my body profile and habits has been essential to the success I've realized thus far. Most importantly, I know that running is the form of exercise that gives me the most gains (or, in this case, losses). So, I run.

What about dietary changes? Funny you should ask. My stomach has evidently gotten a bit smaller and I just don't want to eat the same volume of food as I had say 4 months ago. I find that my appetite is less ferocious and, subconsciously, I'm always thinking about (1) whether I'm making the healthy choice and (2) how many more miles I'll need to run to work it off. Sure, I still have the occasional donut (nearly impossible to forgo it in our office) or friend foods but, (i) always in small portions and (ii) always in consideration of my daily caloric intake. Additionally, being on a schedule (eating at the same time each day) has helped tremendously. I'm not shocking my body by starving during the day and gorging in the evenings.

The journey has treated me well so far. Here's looking to the finish line. I'm one day closer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Logic Defied

It's been a minute since my last post. Life has a way of pulling me in several directions at once and this, sometimes, results in me only being able to focus on so many things at once. I know, surprising, right?

Well, I could tell you that in this first month of my Total Body Makeover I've dropped 16 lbs., which would make mathematical sense, as my goal is to lose 2lbs. per month. However, I'm not able to report such to you. Upon checking my weight yesterday, I am holding steady at 253lbs., two mere lbs. from my starting weight. However, there is a silver lining clothes are still falling off of me and I'm growing smaller by the day.

I completed the Clear Lake International Triathlon (Sprint) last Saturday, 27 August 2011, and had increased my training time on the bike, in the Houston heat. This equated to a lot of sweating and donating quite a bit of my body's water to the atmosphere. Being so, I've managed to get rid of a lot of excess water weight and turn more fat to muscle. Hence, the changes in my physique. With that, I am happy. Not to mention, there were 14 competitors in the 200lb + group. I was 10th out of the water; 11th of the bike; and last in the run. (the heat was insane and I walked the 1st mile). That being said, I finished 13th in my grouping. I wasn't first, but I sure as hell wasn't last either. Accomplishment!

However, I'm still battling the pear shape and know that changes in this area cannot come from exercise alone. Diet, diet, and diet are the three most important areas for change here. (no, I don't mean Atkins or South Beach; rather, lifestyle change). I'm continuing to log my daily meals and have been satisfied with my paradigm shift toward healthier eating. Yet, I realize that I must put forth more effort into monitoring my daily calories while swimming, biking, running, and cross-training. 90% diet + 10% exercise = the physique I long for.

More importantly, I've managed to stop watching the scale on a daily basis. That's a recipe guaranteed to lead to insanity. Instead, I'm watching me (in the mirror as I dress) and attentively listening as I receive compliments from others about the slimness of my face and overall reduction of my frame. That's motivation. Additionally, I've been able to notice the increased muscle tone in my legs and arms.

Where does this leave me now? Well, last Thursday, I went to the track with a few co-workers and ran ten 100yard strides. I hit the weights over the Labor Day weekend and incorporated quite a few P90X exercises to increase my core strength and flexibility. And, this AM, I was up at 4 to get a good stretch out and will run on the beach or track this PM. Eat healthier; work out daily; and watch the results! I also have a 10K race over the Kemah bridge on the 17th of this month and have already registered to run another 10K over the Galveston Causeway on 22 October 2011. I plan to complete the 2nd Annual LaPorte by the Bay 1/2 marathon in December (last year was a blast).

Those things said, my philosophy is simple: I didn't put it on over night so I'll have to be patient and persistent as I take it off and shape my mind and body.

I'm one day closer!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Science of it All...

Week #2 has arrived and I'm up to 255lbs. Not quite the number I was looking for on the scale but, as it turns out, my clothes are still getting bigger on me. Now, the quandary; I want the scale to drop as well because my goal is to be 215lbs. However, the other half of the equation is that I aspire to have a certain look as well (physique). My clothes getting bigger as I get smaller is definitely heading in the right direction as far as the physique goes. And, I realize that we can't rely solely on the scale because, as fat turns to muscle, the number will get larger since muscle weighs more than fat. The issue is that, in order to reach my target weight, or at least the neighborhood in which I wish to be, the numbers on the scale have to get smaller. Hmmm.

There's a lot more work to be done here as I fiddle with the balance of caloric intake, exercise, and diet. Anomaly...I weighed in on Tuesday and was at 251lbs. (wonder if I should invest in a new scale :-)

The silver lining....(1) I can see the growing difference (bad pun) in how much larger my clothes are getting and (2) I've actively and consciously aware of what I'm putting into my body and the affects of it. Let's see where we go from here.

I'm one day closer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Week #1 Check-In

The Good -- I'm down one pound to 253lbs.

The Not-so-Good-- My goal was to be down two pounds to 252lbs.

The Revelation-- I could have worse problems. At this rate I wouldn't meet my long-term goal but I'd still be 20lbs lighter than when I started.That's motivation. However, I'm now more dedicated to tweaking my diet and ensuring I stick to my training plans for both the Clear Lake Triathlon in two weeks and the Toughest 10K Galveston on 22 October 2011. Adhering to those regimens will keep me accountable to the exercise potion of my Total Body Makeover. I also plan to continue to add in P90X workouts as well to build muscular and core body strength.

Overall, I'm satisfied with my journey so far. I'm one week in and do not feel like I'm on a diet. I've not had any crazy cravings for bad foods nor do I feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. This, in and of itself, satiates me because if affirms that I'm taking the right steps to change my attitude about food as well as dietary habits. In the words of Charlie Sheen, "WINNING!"

I'm one day closer!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm only moderately deprived

The "cafetorium" is what we call the kitchen area in which we have lunch most days. The name's befitting because our lunches are more often a source of entertainment for others than anything else. No subject is too far out of bounds nor protected from our banter. Today, however, was a bit quieter than usual, with only a handful of us eating together. Before long, the subject of the hour turned to my Total Body Makeover.

A good friend of mine informed me that he had read my blog. Great! Well, hold up. He actually followed that announcement with the news that he disagreed with it. Not so much my writing style, rather, my approach to leading a healthier life. His position...don't deprive myself of the things [foods] I love because it may lead to unhappiness and worse, when I re-incorporate those foods back into my diet, I'll run the chance of over-indulging. In short, he explained, "everything in moderation."

Don't be concerned about the condition of our friendship. He and I are really close friends and often agree to disagree on things. And, truth be told, until recently, I agreed wholeheartedly with him about simply moderating the foods I ingest in order to get a handle on my weight. But here's where I've grown and I'm confident I'll see the difference in my habits and physique as I move closer to my goal. I've moderated all my life and moderation has simply helped me to maintain an unhealthy state.

I've moderated the past five years after growing to 267lbs. Moderation allowed me to keep from getting bigger but did absolutely nothing to help me shed the pounds, move past plateaus, or understand the relationship between food and my body. Moderation will be an effective tool in maintaining the physique I desire, once I've reached it. But, without educating myself about the composition of what I'm putting into my body; knowing how many calories my body will burn on its own; how many more it will burn on workout days; which fats are good fats; which fats raise/lower your HDL/LDL (cholesterols) etc., I'd simply set myself up to remain in the same position in which I currently am.

Further, the idea behind my journey is to make a lifestyle change. To see food in a different light. To use it for the fuel that it is and not for the comfort it can provide. With that change in mind, I anticipate seeing an equal change in my body. And, with the two working together, I don't expect to face the challenges of over-indulging when other foods are "reintroduced" to my body. My view...if it's bad enough for me to stop ingesting now, why would I want to start ingesting it later?

Now, this isn't to say that I'll never have ice cream or Shiner Bock again. It's just to say that, I am willing to go without them in order to reach my goal. And, I'm confident that I won't feel deprived once I see the me I'm working so hard to become.

They'll be many challenges as I move throughout this quest. I anticipate many days that I'll want to throw in the towel because of obstacles that arise. But, with confidence and dedication, I'm sure that I'll meet with success. Today's challenge came from a friend. Not in a malicious way, but in a caring way. He explained that he wants me to be happy. Though our paths to happiness differ, what was most important about our dialogue today was that he subsequently said, "I support you." That means the world to me because no matter how determined I am, my road will be much easier with the support of friends and family members.

I'm one day closer!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It could all be so simple...

I awoke this morning to my adorable 3 year old daughter running into the bedroom asking, "Daddy, you want breakfast with us?" "Sure, Mayah," was my reply. I thought my wife was in the kitchen about to make breakfast. She wasn't. She had actually sent in the scout team to see if I wanted to join them for a family breakfast outing. Sunday morning family time? Of course I'm there.

Then came the problem. My wife walked into the bedroom and asks,"Are you coming to breakfast with us? I'm going to take Mayah to Waffle House." Still battling the fog of sleep, I reluctantly acknowledge that I'm facing the first "Crap, what do I do?" moment of my lifestyle change...Before this morning, Waffle House had been one of my favorite breakfast dives. And breakfast always consisted of one thing and one thing only...Pork chops with cheese-eggs, grits, and raisin toast. The kind of greasy goodness that warms the cockles of your heart while simultaneously clogging your arteries.

My dilemma:
(1) I can't allow my lifestyle change to force the rest of my family to make changes they aren't willing to make yet ;-)
(2) I can't allow my lifestyle change to wrestle me away from my family because my diet is so strict that I alienate them.
(3) Even if I go, (i) can I find something healthy in Waffle House of all places? and (ii) can I resist the temptation of--... it's probably better not to say it again. lol

My solution:
(1) I decided that I'd stick to my guns and, hopefully, my steadfastness, dedication, and most of all, results, will encourage my family to make healthy lifestyle changes of their own. In other words, I must be strong. For me. And for them.

(2) I'll use my lifestyle change to teach Mayah healthy eating habits at age 3 that will carry her throughout her life. I'll turn alienation into incorporation. By doing so, Mayah will never have to make a lifestyle change (a difficult one like mine) because she'll only know how to it healthy.

(3) I convince myself, if they have food, I can find a way to have them make it healthy. And so it was. There was chicken and eggs on the menu. A full size with 3 chicken breasts and a regular size with 2 chicken breasts. It came with toast or biscuits, grits, hash browns, or tomatoes. My order...regular size with wheat toast (i only ate 2 of the 4 halves) and tomatoes. As for the coffee, well, there are no pink or yellow packets there. My solution, have the coffee, use the half/half instead of the heavier cream and allow myself one flattened teaspoon of sugar per cup. Here, I figured I wouldn't hurt myself too much because I never cook with or eat sugar in the foods I make at home. I always use Splenda or Equal.

But, here's where my buddy Ed Huff's website became of immediate importance...I learned from it that one of the disadvantages of only using artificial sweeteners is that your body can forget how to process sugars; you body can get tricked into thinking its getting higher calorie meals than it is and later begin to crave calories, like carbs, and cause overeating; and, too much of the artificial sweeteners in your system can cause your liver to spend more time clearing these toxins out and not enough time transporting the healthy fats throughout your body.

The Bottom Line:
This morning went from "Crap, what do I do?" to "Sweet, I totally did that!" If I can find a healthy menu solution at Waffle House, I know I can find one anywhere. Dilemma #1 abated and I have the rest of my life to relish the victory.

I'm one day closer, Friends.