Posted 19 October 2007 - 09:38 PM
First, my weight began to push above the 230 mark for the first time ever. By May or June I was around 235-240. This brought me size 38 pants (TIGHT!) and a general sense of lethargy and disastifaction. I looked in the mirror and didnt like the bloated, doughy goon staring back at me.
At the end of June, we had one of those blasted HR-driven Health Fairs at work and I attended--not because I suddenly wanted to become Jack Lalane Jr.-- but because there was a beautiful brunette giving free table massages. The massage was amazing, but some other things were not. My blood pressure was lousy and so were my cholesterol levels. With the history of heart disease in my family, the prognosis was jarring.
The remedy was fairly simple: consistent exercise and moderate eating. I was so pissed off with myself that day, that i committed then and there to a different approach to my daily eating HABITS. The exercise thing would have to wait for another day, though. I mean, why go crazy?
Three days later, our family was at the beach in the blazing South FL sun, having a blast. My wife (who also happens to be a VERY CUT and healthy, size 1, BTW) took some photos of me with the kids in the water. When we got home, I looked over the digital photos and was repulsed by the semi-obese, man-boobed, pot-bellied man in the water. I couldnt believe that sad-looking middle aged man was actually me. I've heard people say this before and it always sounded corny, but it really was something of an ephiphany for me-- I looked at this drooping, unhealthy dude and protested "THAT is NOT the way I feel inside!"
It was then I grudgingly realized that for me to be healthy, moderate and wise dietary choices were not enough. I was going to have to commit to consistent physical activity/exertion. That week, with advice from a doctor, my wife (who trains and works out at a gym 5 days a week) and friends who do more that walk around the block once a week for "exercise", I embarked on a boot camp regimen. No blabbing about it. No crutches. No lame excuses. No fudging. No quitting.
The gist of the regimen involves a strict lowering of the daily calloric intake, laying off saturated fats and the usual baddies. The key is moderation. And knowing, with every meal, what's going into my system. No Atkins-style carb starving.... Actually no starving at all. Two smaller meals a day, high protein, easy on the carbs and then one "typical" meal that is simply reasonably portioned. No snacks after dinner. No formulas or detailed menus, just pretty basic stuff
The hard part was the exercise. I'm an air-conditioned gypsy. 30-40 minutes of elevated cardio, DAILY??? For me, this meant running early in the morning. 4:30am to be precise. Pure suicide.
I started with two miles and slowly built up to five. I'm fortunate to live a couple blocks away from a lake that's exactly a mile in circumference, so I could always know exactly how far I was running every morning. This squashed any temptation to rely on the old "well, it FELT like four miles to me" excuse.
Yes, the weight started dropping off, but more importantly-- I started feeling 100% better. More "engaged" at work. More energy. More confidence. Basically, all the crap they tell you you get from working out hard. It's not BS. There is indeed a runners "high".
Next weekend will be my fourth month of the routine, going seven days a week-- stopping only briefly while we away on our vacation in August and the handful of times when nasty weather has precluded me from outdoor activity. I started at 239lbs. This week I topped the scale at 197 LBS. I'm shooting for 189 to make it a 50lb weight loss. I'm down to size 34 pants and even they are a little too loose on me this week. Also last weekend I wore a Large shirt comfortably, something I havent been able to do since my teens.
Anyone else here "dieting" or just struggling to find a healthy balance?
Posted 19 October 2007 - 09:55 PM
Why does it have to be that you are in Dade County and I'm halfway up the continent? I could use a running/swimming partner right now. I'm having a tough time scheduling meaningful excercize. I've replaced all my belts and am at the last notch in the new ones, but tests show I'm losing muscle with the fat (big surprise. You start losing muscle mass in your early 30's. I'm mid-fifties).
On a positive note, I've been asking so many probitive questions in my consultations and in classes about food, and Dena has been bragging so much about our meals, that "they" are talking about having me develop a class segment on cooking, largely around cooking fish. This program is still in the "beta" stage, which is why we have to go across town to be in the program. What these guys recommend is MANY meals. Small meals every three hours.
Posted 19 October 2007 - 10:49 PM
The committment to exercise was flat-out one of the most difficult things i've ever done. I just started the process with my mind set that this component was NOT negotiable. I ran thru heat, pain, stray dogs, lightning and weariness. Even now, some days are easier than others, but often that first mile can be nightmarish. I have been amazed at how loudly the human mind still protests this initial step--BEGGING you to TURN AROUND. The broken record answer I've given myself for the last four months has been "NO WAY". My dad is 76 and has been running for over 30 years. He tells me he STILL has that "WTF moment" the first few minutes after he starts. It's war, plain and simple.
I've found music helps tremdously. Because the second obstacle to exercise for me was boredom. Running for 45-50 mins straight can get mighty tedious. Again, some days it's not an issue-- it just depends on your mood and how your body feels. Being engaged by nature around you also seems to break up the monotony.
Posted 20 October 2007 - 05:02 AM
Posted 20 October 2007 - 09:35 AM
Nevertheless, results matter, and if you're getting results, more power to you. Exercise is important but overrated IMHO. Yes, it makes you feel good, but it does it actually help you lose weight? Maybe, but not nearly as much as people say it does. Portion control and appetite control are the keys. Whatever helps you achieve those things -- whether it's eating saturated fat (oh no!) or exercising or just learning to say "no" -- is beneficial.
Posted 20 October 2007 - 10:39 AM
For the record, I have been mindful of carbs, but still have one meal per day where I pretty much can eat what I want... till I'm full. This has included pasta, wheat breads, rice and other Atkins no-no's. They key has been portion control and limiting my intake of things that push my binge buttons. Also, i now reserve chocolate, burgers and even fries to a once-a-week treat (or sometimes just a couple times a month) I'm sticking with the moderation motto-- nothing fanatical. I feel like I can maintain this easily until Jesus comes... and my BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are all in excellent shape now. And yeah, I look and feel different.
My dad began having heart problems in his late 30's. He was not overweight, but just sedintary. He began a moderate diet combined with cardio, which he has maintained since the mid 1970's. At 76, he still runs three days a week (4 mile runs) and goes to the gym twice a week. He takes no heart medication or any other meds and remains in excellent health. The doctors say he has the heart of a very young man. This was not always the case.
For me, the cardio has been key. Like brushing ones teeth or taking out the trash, i have adopted it as a necessary daily routine. I have four kids, so initially it was exeedingly difficult. But I figure if i can spend an hour per day on the internet and an hour or so watching the tube, then I can exercise. My intake is between 1500-1800 calories a day. Often more on weekends. My runs can burn something in the neighborhood of 400-500 calories, depending on distance and speed. At one point about two months ago, I kinda plateaued and became a little frustrated. As it turns out, i was not consuming enough calories. I bumped up my intake, kept the same cardio routine and the weight resumed it's drop immediately.
Once I reach my goal weight, which will probably be in another 3-4 weeks, I will cut back the cardio to just three or four times a week and do weight training on alternate days.
Posted 20 October 2007 - 02:52 PM
I admit that I haven't stuck to the long-term eating plan of ANA (the Atkins Nutrional Approach) because I choose to eat junk food, but that's a huge pitfall for any approach to healthy eating.
As far as your statement above, though, it's just incorrect, unless by "practical" you mean "always convenient."
A few things about your post stood out. You mention you will "will cut back the cardio to just three or four times a week (ed. -- gosh, is that all?) and do weight training on alternate days."
So cardio is key for now -- at more than four times a week! -- with time for weight training on every other day? You better be feeling and looking better, Coltrane.
This is mind-boggling, but so common that it's become conventional wisdom. More power to ya if you have the money (gym fees?) and time -- and desire -- to do this with four kids, but I have no doubt that this type of over-the-top gym regimen (sorry, but that's how it strikes me) is a huge detriment to others who could lose plenty of weight just by making some dietary adjustments. Exercise has become an albatross for many, and your comments show why. Although you're happy and eager to share your experience, it's a giant hurdle for most folks to not only rethink everything about their approach to food, but then be made to feel guilty for not "working out" several times a week. And that "several times a week" is key. You make a change from "sedentary" (your words) to a couple of 20-minute walks. You feel good, but friends then tell you that you need to walk longer -- that your "maximum heart rate" isn't even achieved UNTIL 20 minutes into a workout, and that's when the serious impact begins.
So you lengthen the walk. Others recommend jogging. Others tell you to get a home gym. Some encourage gym membership. Oh, and change it up day to day. Walking isn't enough. Do more vigorous cardio. Push-ups and weights. Sit-ups. Swim, if you have access to a pool.
What's that? You go to the gym but spend ONLY a half hour working out?? Ramp it up to an hour. What? Only three times a week? No, you need to go at least four days a week. Do cardio every other day, and weights on the alternate days. Yeah, now you're at the gym at least an hour (add in commute time) five times a week, away from your family, but aren't you feeling better? No? You must not be working out hard enough. If you were, the endorphins would tell you otherwise.
It's exhausting just writing that out. Change the way you eat, and you'll see a dramatic impact on weight and bloodwork. Add in exercise, but be reasonable about it -- know when you need to stop (just as you need to learn when to put the fork down and stop eating). That's my philosophy. I have my ups and downs, but I try not to despair. If I look back on the changes that have occurred in the last five years in terms of my eating and exercise, it's been all for the good. Is it good enough? No, I wouldn't say that. But I don't go around kicking myself.
Edited by Christian, 20 October 2007 - 02:56 PM.
Posted 20 October 2007 - 08:48 PM
Yes. Seven days a week. It began with two-mile runs and went as high as five. I've since brought it back down to four, which my knees seem to agree with. I have not tried to sell my "regimen" to anyone and I realize that most people who dont exercise will find the actions extreme. Whatever the case, it's what I needed to shake me up. Also for the first time in my life, I have pushed myself physically to the limits of my endurance and that has been a truly exciting journey.
It sounds radical. But it's forty minutes out of my day. Forty minutes. Forty minutes a day for three months and I'm lanky again. Not a bad trade off in my book. AND, I am disciplined with my eating, but I do not starve myself. And I eat plenty of carbs. Usually one meal a week I eat whatever the heck i want, just as a reward. This has included McDonalds and other junk food of little redeeming value. The only thing I'm trying to say is that if I can squeeze in forty minutes, with a wife and four kids and working what amounts to a 12 hour day, then anyone can. It was meant to be an encouragement, not some outrageous un do-able marathon.
Almost any doctor will recommend DAILY cardio. As you hinted, walking and other more leisurely forms are beneficial too, but for someone to reap the desired results WALKING would require a fairly long regimen. Running clearly reaps the maximum cardio benefits in the shortest amount of time. And if fat-burning is what you're interested in, people should know, sporadic strength training at a gym or yoga exercises on DVD will have very limted results. I have a coworker who goes to a gym three or four times a week. She works out for 20-30 mins, mostly light weights, sometimes aerobic stuff, ocassional cardio. She's about 60-70lbs overweight and feels extremely frustrated that her hard "work" has not yielded a better body. She's looks as heavy now-- a year or so into her routine-- as she was at the start. If she were to look at some charts and see what she's actually burning during her casual workouts, it would become crystal clear. Most studies say you dont start tearing into that fat until you're at least 30 mins into rigorous cardio. Your maximum benefit is going to be between the 30-60 min mark. Walking wont take you to that place if you need to lose 75 lbs and you're strolling for only 25 mins. Very few exercises will.
For the record: when i began this regimen I was also doing strength training at night for 30 mins on my back porch with a Bo-Flex system. This included 100 crunches. My abs looked amazing. I think. I mean, I still had a massive layer of fat laying across my gut, so you couldnt really see. The point is, weight training when you're tubby (and I was) can be pretty frustrating. It simply doesnt burn that much fat and you FEEL like you're working your ass off. Many trainers suggest getting lean via cardio and then work on sculpting (if you're into that thing). I have found this to be sturdy advice.
Edited by coltrane, 20 October 2007 - 08:48 PM.
Posted 21 October 2007 - 04:49 AM
Heh, my pastor is nothing if not dogged in his carb refusal the entire time I've known him. Little evidence of success though.
It has been common knowledge for some time now that one consistently loses muscle mass from some point in the early mid-thirties on. Consistently. Yearly. Excercize with diet programs are universally recommended for this reason because the body will want to absorb whatever it can to make up the difference during dieting. It is thought that one loses fat at a better rate while building and sustaining muscle mass. Besides, the only feelgood I ever got was in winning a race, or playing good cover defense, or more sacks/forcing out of bounds behind scrimmage. Either that, or I just wasn't/am not attuned to the endorphines. For me, excercize is all pain whether there is gain or not.
Posted 22 October 2007 - 08:53 AM
That may be true, but I've seen my water intake slide back down in the past few years, to a few mugs a day, if that. I've also put on a few pounds, and have been feeling hungrier. And we all know correlation equals causation, right? ;-)
So, on Saturday, I purchased a 32 oz. water bottle at Bed Bath & Beyond, hoping to fill it just once each day and consume the recommended 64 oz. a day. (That figure is a rough estimate; body weight supposedly determines the "proper" amount, but I, uh, don't have the energy to figure out the proper amount for me.)
Edited by Christian, 22 October 2007 - 08:53 AM.
Posted 22 October 2007 - 09:13 AM
Posted 22 October 2007 - 03:20 PM
UPDATE: Whaddya know? More evidence that body weight may not be related to exercise:
It’s drilled into us that we need to be more active to lose weight. So it spins the mind to hear that a key to staying thin is to spend more time doing the most sedentary inactivity humanly possible. Yet this is exactly what some scientists seem to be finding. In light of Van Cauter’s discoveries, sleep scientists have performed a flurry of analyses on children. All the studies point in the same direction: On average, children who sleep less are fatter than children who sleep more. This isn’t just in the U.S.; scholars around the world are considering it, as they watch sleep data fall and obesity rates rise in their own countries.
Three foreign studies showed strikingly similar results. One analyzed Japanese elementary students, one Canadian kindergarten boys, and one young boys in Australia. They all showed that kids who get less than eight hours of sleep have about a 300 percent higher rate of obesity than those who get a full ten hours of sleep. Within that two-hour window, it was a “dose-response” relationship, according to the Japanese scholars.
In Houston public schools, according to a University of Texas at Houston study, adolescents’ odds of obesity went up 80 percent for each hour of lost sleep.
Sleep’s role in obesity is a comparatively new theory, and one difficult to prove in a controlled experiment. But the traditional approach to solving childhood obesity is an abject failure. The federal government spends over a billion dollars a year on nutrition-education programs in our schools. A recent analysis by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that of 57 such programs, 53 had no effect whatsoever, and the four remaining programs’ results were meager at best.
Edited by Christian, 22 October 2007 - 03:32 PM.
Posted 22 October 2007 - 08:11 PM
If I had to chose the three major problems, re: the obesity issue i would say they are gross overeating, lack of exercise and the proponderance of junk food. People become fat from HABITUAL BAD CHOICES in a number of areas. The correction to this is not more sleep, exercise alone, or eliminating carbs but a combination of all and then some.
To say that exericse however, is not a primary issue, is sort of laughable to me at this juncture. As i outlined initially, my body mass index has been out of whack for over 15 years. I've been overweight nearly half my life. In the last five years I have tried a number of diets for several months at a time. In every case, the results were marginal (maybe 10 lbs) and predictable. I bloated back up very quickly. The fault was not with the diet per se but with the notion that abstaining from some single "thing' was going to make me fit.
The regimen that I've been on has stressed moderation, reasonable eating, self-control and rigorous exercise... and I might add, going to bed before 10:00pm on weeknights. (I used to turn in around 12:30am) Yes it sounds cliche, but it's been a holistic approach with an emphasis on cardio exercise. I eat carbs-- whole grain bread, sandwiches, whole grain pasta, rice. etc... All portion-controlled. There is no doubt that, for me, exercise has been the one-two punch in the battle against Blob. I'm rolling into a 43 pound weight loss, in three and a half months. Flat stomach, size 38 pants down to a size 32.
Oh yeah, but there's no real evidence that exercise can help you lose weight.
Posted 15 November 2008 - 08:42 PM
June 2007 Levels (the LDL level had shot up five points with this test.)
NEW November 2008 results
So my "good cholesterol" is up 1 point, and my "bad" cholesterol is DOWN 12! I'm thrilled! Gotta keep this going.
I received my results over the phone and forgot to ask about my triglyercide levels. That level went WAY down between my two previous tests. Based on the information above, someone in another forum plugged the numbers into an equation and speculated that my triglyceride number had shot back up somewhat, although it's still in the acceptable level. That tempers my enthusiasm somewhat over these otherwise good results.
Maybe I should start eating four eggs a day instead of three.
Edited by Christian, 15 November 2008 - 08:44 PM.
Posted 16 November 2008 - 05:30 PM
I haven't posted anything here since last year... In November of 2007 I got the weight down to 188lbs. I took some time off in November and then on the advice of a marathon runner friend started training hard in December for the Miami Half Marathon. In January of this year I ran the half in 2 hours and 7 mins, a time I was really proud of for my first distance race. I continued a fairly light running regimen (3 days a week) for Feb and March and then in April-May started meeting with a distance running group every Saturday morning. This included weekly runs alternating 11, 12 and 13-mile runs. I started really getting into a groove. My weight was hovering between a comfortable 192-195 lbs. At the beginning of May, in preparation for our trip to Kauai, I had Malia train me after my evening runs, cranking out about 20-30 mins of crunches and other core-strengthening exercises. When we left on May 18, I was in the best shape of my life and felt great. It's a good thing too, because the centerpiece of our trip was a three-day hike and camping expedition to Kalalau Beach, which ended up being a 12-hour, 15-mile jaunt with a 50lb pack on my back. By far, the hardest physical challenge I've ever experienced. (anyone interested in the whole story can search kalalau on youtube for the complete tragi-comedy that unfolded on our journey) The half marathon was a cakewalk in comparison. Returning home, i found my weight the lowest its been in 20 years-- 187lbs. After years of only being able to wear the most tent-like XXL shirts, it was great to buy my first "medium" shirt and have it fit comfortably.
I still run 4-5 days a week. I try and do 4-mile runs Mon-Thursday and then a distance run on Friday or Saturday. The last few weeks have been really hot here and Ive skipped the distance run. My weight is right at 195lbs at the moment, which is a size my body seems comfortable with. I'm aiming for the Full Miami Marathon in January.
Yeah, I proud that I havent bloated back up and that ive been able to find a comfortable habit of moderate eating and exercise that agrees with me. I think the key has been finding a form of exercise that suits my personality. For me, it's running. No driving necessary. Minimal clothing. No boundaries. And plenty of solitary headspace for my three other favorite pasttimes--meditation, daydreaming and arguing with myself. If I had to go to a gym I'd probably never exercise.
Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:47 PM
The first half of the year was a challenge. Working a lot, relocating my grandmother and managing her affairs, trying not to freak out over my wifes work.( She was called back along with 35 others a week later, the company was bought and she was offered a full time permanent slot only this past week) Stressful! I was able to avoid old habits and keep surprisingly even keeleed however, my weight blossomed and I felt worse and less energetic than I ever have.
I wasn't cleared for physical activity until June, the length of recovery was depressing. Though cleared to lift (not more than 10 pounds or whatever was pain free) I couldn't ride without pain. I started running, slogging really. Using my heart rate monitor to pace my self, I started the embarrasing and painful process of trying to get 1. limber. 2. active 3. in enough shape to climb Mount Whitney.
Through the Summer I decided that the discipline to excersice daily was the important goal. I ran first 1 then slowly 2 then 3 miles a day. I started mixing it up with intervals and hills. I spent a week above 10,000ft in August day hiking, with about a 20lb load and doing my best to set a pace above leisurely. I hated running. First it hurt, second it was embarrising to be the red faced sweaty guy getting passed in the park by everybody. I kept going.
My Whitney trip was scheduled for the last week of September, I had lost 15 pound by the time I strapped on my pack. I summitted. It felt great.
I tend to do most of the cooking at our house, lots of vegetables, an emphasis on Asian/Japanese cooking. We eat far more fish than poulty and more poultry than either pork or beef. Over the Summer I was a little bit more careful, watching snacks, choosing fruit more often. I trimmed portions a little. I all but quit drinking soda and increased my water intake significantly.
After Whitney, I kept running. Riding has finally become less painful and I have started mixing up 10 mile rides with 3 or 4 mile runs alternate days. Weekends I am stretching it out longer. I am looking for a 10k for January.
I am down between 20 and 25 lbs. I actually feel good. Running has become dare I say, fun. Ok, fun might be an exaggeration, but it has become as posted above useful time for daydreaming and meditation.
Posted 26 November 2008 - 08:25 AM
Fun? Yeah, i'm with you... it's probably somewhere in between pure joy and torture. After almost a year and a half of running, I still find that first half mile to be tormenting. It always seems like exorcism to me. I get in a really foul mood, ask myself what the @#! i'm doing and debate about turning around. Of course as I ignore all this and press on, the surly spirit departs and within a few minutes God's drugs start shooting thru my system and I feel euphoric.
My dad's been running for close to 35 years. He's 77 and still runs three times a week around the community college (4 miles). I asked him recently about the "first half mile struggle". To my surprise he told me "After all these years I still argue with myself vehemently in the first half-mile, debating about whether to go home or continue the run" This was a huge relief to me. With the exception of running in really hot weather (90+ degrees) I find the physical component to be the easier challenge. By far, the most daunting obstacle for me is the mental one.
I read Haruki Murakami's book, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" this summer. It's a great little book packed with nuggets about discipline, life and what goes on in his head while he's running.
Edited by coltrane, 26 November 2008 - 08:36 AM.
Posted 26 November 2008 - 09:48 AM
Posted 26 November 2008 - 10:25 AM
Edited by coltrane, 26 November 2008 - 10:26 AM.
Posted 26 November 2008 - 11:46 PM