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Tuesday, August 25, 2015


It's amazing how successful the basics are. Granted, some dinners may feel like Broccoli with a side of Salmon, but three weeks ago I was 5lbs heavier. Four months ago, I was 20lbs heavier. I'd love to be losing more, but I'm thrilled with continued progress!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Progress on The Bicycle Issue

I have been wanting to go bike riding for several years. Last fall when I started losing weight, I got motivated, and I bought a bike on-line through a KickStarter campaign. It was delivered around Christmas, and in late March the weather finally cleared up enough for me to get out & ride.

…but of course the story doesn't end there…

It's a lot more complicated than one would think. Assembly was just the first step. Figuring out tire pressures, seat height, and seat angle were all time consuming. Learning the gear shifts, the brake temperament, and pro/cons of water bottle placement all took more time. Then I noticed frame flex & creaking. Then I had two pinch-flats. After realizing I needed a different front handlebar configuration, I realized this awesome bike was rated for a max weight 75lbs less than what I currently weight. I realized I was going to tear this bike apart if I kept riding it.

So, then came Bike #2.

HEAVY DUTY! And by "heavy", I assure you, not only can this bike handle my weight, it actually weighs a ton itself! This bike has special Kevlar tires, special heavy duty wheel rims, special heavy duty spokes, and a reinforced frame. However, this bike also took some getting used to. The original saddle was freaking enormous, and I managed to bend the aluminum seatpost, which couldn't even go high enough. Special ordered a Chromalloy post, which came in a week later, and which bent within 3 miles.

I always knew I was fat, but DAMN, I was too fat for a bike designed for FAT people!

A good friend offered to help fix the seatpost (we were going to straighten it & put a piece of rebar inside it), when he discovered a steel pipe with a super thick sidewall in his scrap pile that fit perfectly! The pipe was quite heavy, but this bike already weighs a ton, so no biggie, right? My new, smaller, comfy seat fits on it, and I was able to adjust the height for the proper 'straight leg' geometry at the bottom of the pedal cycle. I also added better handle grips, and a water bottle holder, and a selection of lights. Wanting to hit some trails in other areas, I got a bike rack for the car. After crossing a few busy intersections, I also got my first ever bike helmet.

The bike, as-is, now has a pretty solid set up. I need to have an easy way of topping up the tires, and I need to raise the handlebars, but these are fine-tuning issues. I've figured out which shorts are best for my bike rides, and I found a bright "safety" orange shirt to help keep me from getting run over. I've tried several pairs of sneakers, and I figured out my fancy new heart rate monitor.

All this shit actually works!

Now I'm looking to ride 200 miles in the next five weeks, and I'm already 20% of the way to my goal! I have three routes I've mapped out, two of which I can access from my neighborhood. Once we hit the beginning of October, I figure the snow will hit, and then I'm hold until next March…but in the meantime, I'm riding my damn bike!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Non-scale victory

I've not been able to wear either of these rings in at LEAST 20 years!

The one with the blue stone is from Annandale High School (June 6, 1985), and the one with the red stone I earned graduating USMC boot camp at Parris Island (Dec 10, 1985).

Neither ever got much wear, as I usually defaulted to the gold signet ring my parents gave me. That ring has been re-sized up & down a few times, and is VERY worn. These rings have hardly a scratch - the edges are even still sharp!

...but what a neat way to see the difference in how my body has adapted to this new lifestyle!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Commit to Celebrate

I was recently quite pleased to complete this 13.2 mile loop on my new bike.  Having lived in this area for nearly 12 years, I'm ashamed to admit I never realized that all these paths in all these parks are interconnected!  I'm now looking forward to riding this loop on a regular basis!

It was no small feat to get here, never mind the year of weight loss & Aqua Fit that made it even a *remote* possibility!  It's taken 5 bike rides of exploration over 50 miles, two flat tires, two different bikes, one swapped saddle, one bent seat-post, and the belated admission that I do (in fact) need a helmet.

This whole line of thinking made me realize I am just two weeks away from my One Year of amazing Health & Fitness transformation!  

What a great time to make a commitment to celebrate my anniversary!  But wait!  Upon further reflection, I'd like to up the ante...

A year ago, the month of September was my first Whole 30. I'd like to honor that with another 'September of Success' - and I'll bump the commitment up a notch by starting NOW - and let's make it seven weeks! 

For the next seven weeks, I commit to the following: 
1. 10,000 steps each weekday
2. Ride my bike 15 miles twice per week
3. I will lift weights twice each week
4. I will hit my Aqua Fit class twice each week
5. I commit to my 'squeaky clean' version of Paleo for the same 7 weeks!  

This kicks off my One Year anniversary celebration of success - and keeping that fight going STRONG through the end of this year! 

(I'd commit to these goals for the rest of the year, except that would virtually guarantee serious snowfall & cold temps!)

Who else has a crazy commitment of success they'd like to kick off in September?  It's the perfect time of year, Back To School, summer is ending, Autumn is right around the corner - the perfect season to embrace changing one's life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Change one thing at a time

Changing our habits is the hardest thing to do. We are all creatures of habit, and rather than over-thinking every little thing, we prefer our lives to run on the cruise-control of routine. Changing that routine takes willpower, and that is a resource in very limited supply.

Over the last two years, I've done a ton of reading on health & nutrition, but in order for me to make some of my bigger life-changes, I had to learn about habits, happiness, and willpower.

Funny how these things are all interrelated!

So as it turns out, modifying a new behavior into a habit takes at LEAST 21 days, and sometimes up to three months! During that time, we have to burn willpower to keep us on track, and that effort lowers happiness. That makes staying on track harder, and without measurable success, makes it more likely we'll return to our old comfort zone & happiness set-point.

Finding the new set-point has been a challenge, but I am here to attest that it CAN be done!

I have a whole slew of new habits. Some are new items I do, some are old actions I let go.

For instance, I no longer drink soda, I no longer drink coffee, I no longer have Cable TV (no more sitting & watching 4 hours of TV a day!), I no longer eat Fast Food or heavily Processed Food.

I also have things I've added to my routine, like always eating breakfast. I walk 10,000 steps a day, I hit Aqua Fit twice a week, I ride my bike each week, I eat at least 6 salads a week, and I do not allow anything in my house that is not a food that's 'on plan' for me. (Even some on-plan foods are kept out, as I don't trust myself with a week's supply of certain super tasty items. Like grass-fed beef jerky strips, or 85% Dark Chocolate)

Each & every one of these habit-changes has been a struggle, and I've learned to not try to change too much all at once.

It's gone well, but after 18 months of constant change, I can feel a bit cranky. My bandwidth for change tolerance has gotten a bit thin, especially as I've seen my success (weight loss) plateau a bit.

A friend recently asked me if I was going to change things up "now that Paleo isn't working anymore". Well, that question really knocked me back a bit...

My Paleo plan is absolutely still working just fine, thank you! What ISN'T working anymore is me doing the exact same thing as I was doing 6 months & fifty pounds ago.

Success isn't always just measured in weight loss, either. I'm still wonderfully healthy, sleeping well, with GREAT energy throughout my day! Paleo is working, I just need to adjust for a bit more calorie restriction.

So, (sigh), I've been changing things up a bit, *again*!

A week at the beach and some other vacations have thrown more than a few monkey wrenches at me - but my eating stayed solid, and while some Bourbon got past the 'network censors', I also managed to keep up a fair amount of activity.

Now that I'm back in The Land Of The Cubicle Dwellers, I'm instituting a basic change to my scheduled eating.

Putting it plainly, I eat 4 times a day. My 'three squares' of breakfast, lunch, and dinner are damn solid, on-plan, strict Paleo low-carb. However, my "4th Meal" was adding 300 to 600 calories each day, filling a hole each afternoon around 4:30. Since I have lunch at 11:30, and no dinner until 7:30 or 8pm, that was a LONG stretch for this foodaholic to not nibble! I was finding packs of Almonds (500 cal!!!), and I figured out THIS was the reason I don't have a daily 500 calorie deficit.

My plan?

I now get my daily lunch salad an hour later, and I get it with two to-go boxes. I save half for 4pm, and essentially split my lunch in two, completely eliminating 4th meal.

It's tasty, and it's working, but I miss my crunchy Almonds, and that has made me a tad grumpy post-vacation.

I'm sure it's not the lack of Bourbon...

Once this new habit has soaked in a bit, I'll add in lifting weights twice a week, and bump my bike ride to twice a week.

Eventually, I want to eliminate my 4th Meal altogether, but this interim step feels reasonable, and more likely to lead to success than trying to jump the chasm 100% all at once.

Baby steps, one foot in front of the other...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Everything's working, except the bottom line...

I'm eating well, and appropriately. My ratios are "pretty damn good" at 40/40/20 (Protein, Fat, Carb), although I should aim more for 60/20/20. My nutrient levels are good, and I'm taking appropriate supplements & probiotics. (I am my own Play-Doh fun factory!) I'm also hitting my weekly average for daily steps at the 10k mark, I'm hitting Aqua Fit twice a week, and once a week I do a longer "speed walk" & a bike ride. I'm getting good sleep, and keeping my stress down. I'm continuing to learn more & more about all of this health & nutrition, and I continue to try new foods, and new recipes.

...and in the last six weeks I've not lost any damn weight!

Not a single damn pound!

I'm not sure what's going on - but it's seriously tough to maintain motivation while working hard for zero forward movement!

Summer was supposed to be my 'easy season' when it was going to be all but too easy to be outside, active, and healthy. Getting good levels of Vitamin D from seeing the sun, and being able to break a sweat should tell the 'ole body to let go of all that Winter blubber!

So, what gives? I should still be melting away every month, but I've somehow shifted into 'Maintenance Mode'.

So...I want to try a few things:

1. Eliminate the "4th Meal." I'm shifting my lunch an hour later, and trying to make it until dinner @ 7:30 with no snack or nibble-stuff that ends up being essentially another meal.

2. Part & parcel with #1, I need to keep the daily intake below 2500 calories. I'm currently between 2500 & 3500 per day, and if I can just tweak that down a bit, that'll be great.

3. Lift heavy things. Weights are my friends, I want to keep the muscle I built carrying my fat ass around, AND we all know muscles burn calories 24 x 7!!! I need a new habit on this one...I've had limited success lifting at the office gym during lunch, and I'm considering a Trainer, but that's damn expensive. I also need to focus on daily body weight exercises, which was becoming a habit until I got sidetracked in March.

4. Incremental improvements in my sleep. I sleep SO much better than I used to, but I could still improve significantly if I could learn to utilize the C-Pap machine & get blackout curtains. Sleep is "recovery", and the more I learn, the more I realize this is perhaps more important than anything short of nutrition!

5. The periodic enjoyment of 'Special Occasion' treats needs to become much more rare. Bourbon, Chocolate, and white potato products (hash browns, french fries, & tater tots) are creeping back into rotation much more regularly than 'special treat' would imply. I'm better than this, and I'm disappointed in myself.

6. My walking & bike riding needs to bump up. I can do more than ever, so I need to actually DO MORE now that I can.

These six things are each 'no biggie', but they each have huge impact. Maybe six is too much to tackle at once, but the first three are critical.

I hereby resolve to hit those three HARD in August!

What are YOUR goals for August???

Monday, July 06, 2015