Monday, June 18, 2012

Don't worry, I just hit pause

It's been a few weeks since my last update.  I'm still here, I've just had a couple of [legitimate] distractions.  First, the numbers:

  • June 19 - 222.4
  • May 26 - 222.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
I have been weighing myself sporadically over the last three weeks, and I have ranged anywhere from today's weight up to 228.6.  These are normal fluctuations, and I hovered between 224 and 225 for most of the time.  My next goal is under 220 (219.8 or lower) by June 30 (the day I fly back to Ohio for a couple days).  I am starting to get down to my next scary goal: I have to un-beard when I get to 210.

As the title suggests, I simply hit pause for a couple of weeks.  The reasons (not excuses; I accept and planned for each of these) include a trip to Baltimore from my family over Memorial Day, a long weekend in Atlantic City, and eye surgery last Thursday.  The only goal in this journey is to figure out the right balance for me when it comes to my dietary health while still enjoying the things I love (  That is, I want to weight 180 pounds and be able to eat a slice of pizza.

I would be lying if I didn't mention I am a little bit concerned on my ability to lose weight over the next two weeks.  While my surgery was only on my eyes, I still have strict doctors orders to not swim for two weeks (that means the next time I can jump in the pool is June 28), and I have to take it easy on the weights for a week or so (as far as eyes are concerned, it was a fairly invasive surgery).  This only means I have to double down on my diet. (Note that I can still do cardio, yoga, and light weights; I just have to scale back my workouts for a couple weeks.)

Finally, and completely unrelated to the rest of this topic, I wanted to share a thought from a recent episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.  First off, I am a sucker for these types of shows, and in this particular case they take a morbidly obese patients and work with them over 12 months to lose insane amounts of weight.  The only surgery involved is skin removal surgery.

The episode I am referencing took place two weeks ago, and it followed a man who lost 200 pounds in one year (again, this is all from diet and exercise).  He went through some pretty extreme tribulations during his year (including living out of his car and his youngest son passing away), but he did something small that was incredibly courageous: he stood up to his live-in fiance as someone who did not put his health ahead of her needs.

Every day that passes, I am reminded of a very wise thing someone very close to me said: when you have someone else looking out for you, you don't have to spend any time looking out for yourself.  In his case, the opposite was true.  Albeit guilt, not wanting to put forth the effort, or even jealousy, it was really sad to see her not put her partner first when he wanted to be healthy for the both of them.

I am extremely fortunate to have the exact opposite in my life, and without the support of others this journey would be impossible.  Thanks to everyone for the cheers and understanding, and a special thank you to those who anticipate my needs; I can only hope I return the same.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day Dining

If you would have asked me a month ago, I would have laughed at you if you had suggested I would be this low going into Memorial Day:

  • May 26 - 222.2
  • May 20 - 224.8
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
Looking back at these last few weeks, the only thing I can think of that is helping this weight melt away is ensuring that I lift weights at least once/week.  I also had a small win yesterday: I put on a pair of Banana Republic slacks with a size 36" waist and wore them to work.  This is the first time these slacks have been worn in at least three years, and I may have worn them five times in my life.

I am contributing to a fair amount of Monday's BBQ, and I refuse to settle on either health or taste.  To accomplish this I am preparing sweet potato fries (so freakin' good) and sliders, specifically:
  • Ground chicken with Frank's Red Hot Sauce and blue cheese
  • Ground turkey with sauteed apples and onions
  • Ground beef with Worcestershire sauce and pepper
Each slider will be two ounces (and measured); this way everyone can have one of each and only total six ounces of meat (yes, this is technically more than the four ounces one should have, but compare this to the two brats, once steak, and hamburger smothered in ketchup and mayonaise one typically has).  I'm even going to pick up some small rolls on which to eat them.  Yum!

God bless our troops, past and present, and have a safe Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stop! Weight! I can't hire you!

Now onto a subject that I am not sure how I feel: limiting who a company is willing to hire based on health indicators.  In this specific case, a Texas hospital refuses to hire anyone with a body mass index (essentially a height to weight ratio) greater than 35.  To put that in real terms, a 5'5" tall woman cannot weigh more than 210 pounds, where as a 5'10" man cannot weigh more than 245 pounds.

I see this debate in two chunks:
  1. Whether BMI is a valid indicator of health
  2. The ethics of making hiring decisions based on life choices
From a pragmatic standpoint, the first bullet is making a myopic decision on a limited datapoint.  Using BMI as the only health indicator to determine whether someone is "healthy" (or at least healthy enough to hire) is like calling a Yugo a good car buy because it is small and small cars tend to have good gas mileage.  While there is plenty of data that supports BMI as an indicator for downstream health problems, it is very short-sited to exclude indicators such as body fat percentage and blood pressure (note that 6'1" 250 pound linebacker Ray Lewis has a BMI of 33.0; I dare you to tell him he is fat and out of shape).

Bullet two is more of an ethics question (similar to the smoking ban to which I referred in a past posting): should employers be allowed discriminate (regardless of the side on which you sit, let's call a spade a spade) based on individual choices?  On one side, overweight employees increase an employer's insurance risk pool and increase costs, and in this particular case one could make the argument that the employer is a hospital and has a responsibility to the community to set a healthy example.  This one hits home for me; when I hired into my current employer (a hospital) my BMI was 36.7 and is currently 32.3.

The purpose of this post is not start a political debate but instead to provoke thought.  With that said, we do live in a society that discriminates (again, let's call a spade a spade) for health care based on access to health insurance (often by proxy of income or employment status) and not on behavioral choices (that is, someone who eats food high in cholesterol and sodium still qualifies for employee-provided health plans despite their self-imposed hardening arteries).  Perhaps this is an example of our society becoming more consistent in standards.

At the end of the day, I am not supportive of this policy strictly on the fact the hospital is using only one indicator that happens to be easy to calculate rather than taking the time to see the big picture.  The gray area exists on whether an employer has the right to discriminate based on individual choice, especially one that will directly impact such a large percentage of the American population.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Five and zero: two milestones

Here are the numbers:

  • May 20 - 224.8
  • May 13 - 228.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
That's right; not only have I lost 30 pounds to date, but I lost a five (that is, I am now under 225 pounds).  The last time I was at this weight was in October 2009 (this date sticks out because a back injury that took place during that month that really made me lose focus), and does it ever feel good.  As an added bonus, my arms have never looked this good (thank you, swimming and yoga).

I have been randomly snapping pictures of my progress, and it is getting completely obvious now.  Check these out (the before was taken January 2; the after was taken May 11):

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, fitness style

First, here is the weekly update:
  • May 13 - 228.2
  • May 5 - 228.6
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
Slow and steady wins the race (although I did shave 2 minutes and 10 seconds off my mile this week), and I am still going in the right direction.  I also had a really cool thing happen on Friday.  I have been receiving treatment for plantar fasciitis, and on Friday I got a cortisone shot in my heel.  Knowing the intense pain that was going to kick in within a couple hours of the shot, I went straight to the pool.  I swam until I could not stand it anymore (which was about 40% of a mile), and when climbing out of the pool I was not the slightest bit tired.  Does that mean I am in shape?

This week's blog is dedicated to moms, and more specifically my mom.  Other than just being generally awesome, just three years ago she decided to change her life from sedentary to active.  So active, in fact, that at the age of 51 she decided to start training to run a 5K.  Since that day, she has a half dozen 5Ks under her belt, and she finished the Toledo Zoo 5K yesterday in just 35 minutes 57 seconds.  Not bad for someone who just started running three short years ago!

Keep up the good work, mom, and your son is proud of you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Look what I can do!

First, and update:

  • May 5 - 228.6
  • April 28 - 229.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
Progress is progress, and I think I have officially hit the point of hard work.  I am not worried, though, because the number one thing that impacts my weight is my diet, and mine is completely straightened out.  Besides, I do not know if my body could physically handle me going back to a junkie diet again.

When driving home from an activity this weekend, I came to a realization as to how far I have come since the beginning of the year (do not get me started on when I weighed nearly 270 pounds).  Since 10AM Saturday morning I have:
  • Swam a mile (in 55 min 40 sec, mind you)
  • Performed some minor yard work
  • Washed two cars
  • Bleached a deck
  • Cooked/grilled out for company
  • Chores around the apartment
  • Set up a scanner
  • Cooked lunch for company
  • Helped someone list an apartment on Craigslist
  • Walked around Fells Point, Baltimore for two hours
  • Played drums for an hour and a half
  • Laundry (in progress)
Yes, this was an exceptionally busy weekend, but that is not my point.  My point is I would not have had the energy to do all of this in 36 hours just a couple months ago.  I also know that I am going to get an incredible night's sleep tonight (also a rarity when you are morbidly obese), and I will be ready to take on the week.

It feels amazing to have all this energy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The little decisions

I really feel like I'm in a grove on this whole get-healthy thing.  I now have a weekly routine where I (for an hour each):

  • Swim
  • Yoga
  • Lift weights
  • Play drums (this is actually closer to two hours)
One thing I have learned to do is to listen to my body, specifically when I lift weights.  Historically I have ratcheted the weights up quickly (the one positive physical attribute of mine is that I get strong very quickly), but this has also been the mode of my injuries.  I am limiting myself to only two sets of 15 reasonable reps on the upper body and one set of 15 on the lower body (the latter being where most of injuries have occurred).  This is about getting healthy, not getting bulky.

While none of these have an immediate visual impact, my energy is increasing just a little bit more each day.  My clothes are also fitting a little better (and too loose in some instances; I will most likely only dry clean one particular suit one more time until I have the wait taken in on the pants).

Another thing I tried this week was going to bed by 10:00PM (instead of 11:00PM) and going into work by 7:00AM (instead of 8:00AM).  I then force myself to leave the office between 4:30PM and 5:00PM.  My original intent was to have more time to be social in the evenings, but I have noticed that I am more relaxed when I go to bed.  We shall see how long this lasts (and most likely I will not go in until 8:00AM on Friday, because, well, it is Friday).

On that note, happy Thriday!