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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The one metric I cannot track...

Motivation - where does it come from, how do we renew it, and why is it so hard to quantify?
A friend recently asked me how I stay motivated, and that seemingly simple question churned deep inside my little brain.
For me - it's about the scene in the old John Cusack movie 'Better Off Dead' where the French Chick ignites Lane Meyer's motivation with the line, "I think all you need is a small taste of success, and you will find it suits you."
This certainly was true for me.
I'd worked SO hard for SO long with SO little success, I had quite literally given up. I was beaten, and I'd resigned myself to a fate of not outliving my Father. The problem was that I'd never had one single ounce of real success, I'd never felt in control. Sure, I'd lost some weight on Atkins, but that was like holding water in your bare hands ... and while that taught me a few lessons, it also showed me how little I could do to affect my destiny. It beat me into submission.
I really can't overstate the depth of my frustration.
A year ago, at my Grandfather's memorial service, I hit my low point - after a year of working downtown, walking a ton, eating salads at lunch everyday, and even doing two juice cleanses, I was right back up at my max weight.
Nothing had worked, and fighting it so hard for so long felt like a colossal waste of time & anguish.
I'd learned a ton in that year though, and after reading a couple of books that REALLY opened my eyes (Salt, Sugar, Fat and Fat Chance), and watching videos like Jamie Oliver's TED talk on sugar & "Hungry For Change", I felt like I'd been duped in a scheme, but I was left powerless to fight the processed food addiction I'd been saddled with.

Then I read about an odd type of 'eating cleanse' that could potentially reset the body's nutritional cravings back to what nature had intended. "Just give it 30 days", they said. "You can do anything for just 30 days".
Well, ok - that sure sounded reasonable. How hard could a month be? I'd gutted through TWELVE months of Atkins, and I figured if I could do THAT, I could do a month of this. After all, the siren's song of breaking free from my processed food & sugar addiction was something I'd wanted too long to NOT try for!
So I tried it. ...and just like John Cusack's little French Chick had suggested, a taste of success was all I needed...
I was off like a rocket, and my continued success was the best motivation EVER. Very quickly I found myself in a brave new landscape, and suddenly I had nothing but good possibilities. When everything is going well, motivation is all around you, and the words you've heard for YEARS from all your family & friends suddenly make sense.
It was amazing, and absolutely transformative for me.
...right up to the point where it felt like everything came to a screeching halt. When my A-Fib hit, my weight loss immediately stalled. Flat line. No progress. I was panicked, and fearing heartbreak, as I'd been doing mental math on how quickly the rest would melt, and I was picturing my wonderful new life just in time for it all to evaporate...
"Easy there, Cowboy", I had to think to myself, and once again, I found that the best way to stoke my motivation was to find an easy little bit of success to build on. I changed up my food again, I tweaked my exercise, I looked at new ways of tracking stuff, and I came to a stunningly obvious conclusion:
"You are not a unique snowflake". (Many Fight Club quotes have come to mind during my weight loss fight!) Of course I had to change what I was doing, I was no longer the same metabolically deranged bag of crap I was 100lbs ago! Tweaking my system showed me new successes, and kept the motivation going. I got past the A-Fib five weeks ago, and I've kept things rolling.
However, with all that being said, right now I'm in a place where I'm re-assessing my success. I've been frustrated that post A-Fib I've not been able to get back on-track with my old average of 10lbs lost each month. DAMN, but at that level it was EASY to stay motivated! For the month of June it looks like I'll clock just 6lbs lost, and my motivation was waning, until I really thought about it & decided, DAMN!
6lbs lost in one month ROCKS!
A year ago I would have KILLED for that sort of success!
So, in the end, I suppose sometimes I have to re-assess what success 'means'.
Two years ago success was walking well after knee surgery.
A year ago, success was getting up & trying, just one more time.
Today, success & motivation come from realizing how far I've come, and realizing that as I continue, the successes will be TOUGHER, because I've climbed higher, and I DESERVE things being tougher because I've earned the right to work at that level.
So yes, a small taste of success has shown me, indeed, I have a taste for it...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

'Nice' people, who really frustrate me

Today one team in our cube farm brought in baked goods & sweets.

They do this sometimes for a birthday, a promotion, or perhaps a project's completion - the individual 'victory' is inconsequential, it's the 'celebration' that follows a standard path: Fresh donuts, homemade cookies, and a sprinkling of store bought sweets are the usual players, with a token fruit platter (covered in chocolate and/or powdered sugar) that inevitably gets tossed. An email will get sent out early in the morning, but around 9 or 10am a do-gooder on the team will wander the floor, encouraging everyone to eat processed flour & sugar. Have you ever noticed how the people pushing the baked treats are never the thin & fit people in the office? Not exactly the crowd from whom I buy the whole "just one won't hurt" justification. I think somehow they feel better about their own life choices when they get other people to cave in - it validates their own choices, and while they have nothing but good intentions, I find it maddening.

Where I'm disappointed in myself is that I caved. I usually avoid these treat-pushing people & their crack like the plague, and I (almost) always try to pro-actively eat my healthy choices well beforehand - not being hungry makes it easier to stay on-plan. However, today I'd not had breakfast, I was hungry, and I caved.


The chocolate chip cookies with M&M's caught my eye - the bright rainbow of colors didn't indicate any true sort of healthy triggers, as nature intended for Blueberries, Bananas, or Tomatoes ... no ... it was a trigger for refined white sugar & refined white flour.

I felt guilty, even as my mouth rejoiced & my brain lit up with happiness. I instantly had a nearly overwhelming desire for M O R E !

I was pissed at myself for caving, so I offset that anger onto the people who kindly bake & stop for donuts. That's not fair - it was my own choice to put two cookies in my own pie-hole.

Since I was now craving 'mass quantities', I went for a walk around the building, and I stopped in at the office cafeteria. I had one plain hamburger patty, just to give my body a protein hit, and to get my tummy feeling satiated & chewing on something 'real'. 90 minutes later I had a late lunch - a nice salad, with half my usual serving of grilled chicken. I then did a second & third lap of the building, and I blocked time on my calendar to ensure I can hit Aqua Fit tonight.

I'm mad at myself for caving, but I'm also somewhat pleased to see that my usual plans work well for very valid reasons. It's also very powerful for me to be able to walk away & redirect my off-plan adventure back into known territory.

I guess not all losses are negative...???

R. Lee Putman, Jr.


Phone / Text: 847.687.7291

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's all about the numbers...

It's interesting to plug in your daily diet to FitDay & see the nutritional breakdown. It's interesting to track weight numbers & body measurements over time, and periodically, it can give validation at the annual physical exam.

Blood pressure of 125 / 80 ain't too bad for someone still 150lbs overweight. Fasting Glucose of 92 feels "ok", though with my Low Carb version of Paleo, I'm surprised it's that high. Total Cholesterol is 177, Triglycerides are 86, and HDL is 49.

Not too shabby, but not earth shaking, either. I figure that my HDL will come up as I continue lifting heavy things - but I have no idea how quickly that will bounce.

Looking at the breakdowns on my nutritional intake - I'm meeting 100% of everything, except Vitamin D (which I supplement), Calcium, Fiber, and Carbs.

Carbs being low is totally fine with me, but that helps explain the low fiber. Fine - I'll pump up the leafy green stuff, and just stay on the low glycemic end of the veggie scale. Done!

Calcium is a tough one - but a lot of my reading & research has told me that the real issue is Magnesium - tougher to get through the modern diet, and our bodies substitute Calcium. So, I supplement w/ Magnesium, and according to recent blood work, my Calcium number is fine.

So - the issue?

I'm suddenly not losing 10+ pounds per month like I was, and looking at my (relatively) high fasting glucose number, I think the root cause is in the pictured pie chart.

My intake percentages are all off. Like the title of the book says - "It Starts With Food".

My protein intake is good, but I've been focused on trying to get 'enough' good fats. That can certainly stop - I'm taking in plenty of protein to 'carry along' more than enough Fat! If I focus on high quality food sources (grass fed, pastured, wild caught), then the carried along Fat will be high quality, and I can relax about eating a spoonful of Coconut oil each morning, and finding an avocado to eat everyday.

Relax on the fat....

...focus on bumping up the veggies!

Could it possibly be that simple???

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

First week of June

For June, I'm "drilling down". I'm back to basics on the diet, and 'pumping up' the exercise, quite literally!

On the intake side of the equation, I'm trying to keep it simple. I'm still going 'clean Paleo', by continuing to eliminate all grains, dairy, legumes, processed food, and added sugar. This part has become almost 'habit', so I've been pushing it towards low carb - more broccoli, less sweet potato. I'm not being super anal about the squeaky cleanliness of all my meat products - sure, I'd love all my beef to be organic, grass-fed; and my chicken & pork to be organic and pastured - but I'm making the best choices available without going to extreme measures. I'm also trying to eliminate the mid-afternoon snack, or '4th Meal', so that I can get good & hungry between meals, which will improve my insulin sensitivity & leptin signaling, not to mention my own comfort level, as I'm still programmed by years of blood sugar crashing leading to my becoming 'hangry'.

It's a brave new world!

On the output side of the equation, I'm absolutely continuing with Aqua Fit! Sure, it's a bunch of old ladies, and I'd like to graduate to something 'more', but not until I lose a good bit more weight. I enjoy being in the water, and this works well enough to not need 'fixing'. I love the Monday night class, it's much more intense than Wednesday & Saturday. I'm committed to Mondays, although I have to leave work early. I'm also committed to hitting it twice a week, so if I make it Mon & Wed, I can reward myself with sleeping in on Saturday. Motivation!!! Nice to have Saturday's in reserve, though.

Additionally, I'm now lifting weights twice a week, during lunch. This keeps my schedule open, but will hopefully not only improve my core strength, but also 'pump up' my good cholesterol.

...and that's not all! Of course I'm continuing with my 10,000 steps per day, pushing it up to 12-ish, so that I average 10k, even with a recovery day. Also continuing with 'Bodypump' exercise - I have a half dozen old school moves I do each school night.

...and the hits don't stop there! I am now also doing one bike ride, and one long 'hike' each week! I rode my bike 5 miles yesterday, and discovered muscles that clearly aren't getting used elsewhere! I have a 3 mile 'quick-walk' that I'm currently hitting a 17 minute pace - looking to trim that down as the summer progresses!

...and how does all of this add up? I'm nicely sore this week, but certainly not 'wrecked',

Friday, May 29, 2015

Goals for June

Looking at the picture, the top portion in orange clearly shows my inconsistency with walking my 10,000 steps per day. The lower portion in black is harder to decipher, but each color represents a different sort of activity, and larger dots indicate a larger amount of activity. This section is broken down by week, and also indicates spotty activity.

Not shown - weight loss, or consistency with dietary intake. I've been pretty damn consistent here, but not losing much.

Sooooo ... I'm setting ten simple goals for June!

1. 10,000 steps each weekday.
2. Two Aqua Fit visits per week.
3. Two weight lifting sessions per week.
4. Bodyweight exercises each weekday.
5. One 'extra' physical activity each weekend - bikeride, long hike, or some other long steady output.
6. Stay The Course on the usual food, but NO starchy veggies. No white or sweet potatoes, no bananas, no nuts.
7. No high fructose fruit. No apples, oranges, or pears. (Berries & melons are ok.)
8. No chili - no damn beans!!!
9. Sleep in pitch black, for 9 hours per night.
10. One day each week with no serious physical exertion.

Sounds easy, no? ;-)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Eight months

Eight months ago, on September 2nd, I changed my life. I'd been frustrated at my lack of progress with losing weight, after more than a year of making some HUGE changes. I'd quit diet soda, and later, all artificial sweeteners. Every workday I had a salad for lunch. I began eating sensible breakfasts, which helped me stay ahead of getting 'hunger-crazy'. I was juicing, eating some organic veggies, and I was reading & learning a ton of great stuff. But after hitting my high weight in April of 2013, it was a struggle to lose & maintain just about a 20lbs loss.

I was desperate.

I knew I was on the right track, and I felt like sooner or later I'd make one more small tweak, and BOOM, it'd just click! After all, the media is full of stories where someone just changes one little thing and six months later they've dropped 200lbs, and they run marathons.

Why was this so hard for ME???

Everyone just said I should eat a bit less & move a bit more - no biggie, that's how THEY did it! But when I'd try to cut back, the hunger and the cravings would haunt me all hours of the day & night. Similar to living with chronic pain, the cravings were ALWAYS there, and I just was not strong enough. I could stand up to the cravings for a time - days, weeks, even months - but eventually they'd win.

I had to find a way out...

I'd tried two different juice fasts, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Atkins, South Beach, and Seattle Sutton. I'd read all the great books - Eat Right For Your Type, Body For Life, Sugarbusters, The Zone, and not ONE of them got the 'cravings monkey' off my back.

Until I tried The Whole 30.

My Sister had done it in January of 2014, and I was curious enough to check it out. They sounded legit, but they ALL do, when you're reading the book flap! However, the Whole 30 said to "just do it for 30 days, after all, you can do anything for just a month, right"???

Holy Crap

It worked!

It was tough!

...and within a few weeks, my cravings were totally under control

...and for the first time in more than two decades, I began to feel like I was in control of my own destiny.

Eight months later, I'm down 80lbs, and I hit my two year anniversary of my high point - 100lbs ago!

My new way of eating is now 'habit', and while I may crave the bad stuff, I'm now the one in control.

In the picture, you'll see me wearing a white dress shirt my Dad bought me in '98 (long story). It's falling to pieces, but it's now a touch lose in the neck, and I seriously LOVE the connection!

The yellow rain slicker is a 2XL from The Gap (not known for their Big & Tall selection), which I bought when I moved to San Francisco in '96. Back then it was snug, but now it's also a touch lose!

Have I dialed the clock back to the mid 90's? I don't know about that...back in '08 / '09 I had some success with Atkins. I lost about 80lbs in one year, and at my anniversary date I decided to take a month off - and I lost my shit, and went totally off the rails...

However, I still have the old leather belt I wore back then. As I list weight I kept punching new holes (as I've done this time, with newer belts). My current weight loss is still about 4 inches shy of last time's waist measurement, even though I now weigh less.

What does that mean? I'm not sure, but it feels like THIS time it's 'real', this time it's healthy & sustainable, And dang if it all doesn't add up to feel like a helluva victory!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Century Mark

Sunday, 4/25/2015, I hit my 100lbs lost. To the day, it was almost exactly two years since my high point of 440lbs, when I went in for knee surgery.

When I started my Whole 30 on September 2nd, I don't know what I weighed. A month later I'd lost enough that my home scale could begin reading me. Based on my rate of weight loss, I estimate I was 420lbs on Sept 2nd. That's 80lbs lost, in not quite 8 months!

That ain't too shabby...

In the beginning I was losing more each month, and it's gradually winding down. I figure that's ok, very likely my body naturally resetting it's self. It'll be interesting to watch how this progresses as Spring turns into Summer & I can be a bit more active.

I also did another large batch of clothes donation! My closets & chest of drawers feel empty, which makes me nervous & excited.

My security blanket of 'just in case' larger sized clothes is totally gone, but that's ok. I'm moving forward, and not looking back!