Monday, June 16, 2008


Alright folks, it's time for me to plateau. I know that I haven't been writing on here as regularly, and, unfortunately, that has also been the case in my workouts. Over the last two weeks, I have worked out four times (compared to five times per week before), and I also ate a steak the size of my head. Here are the numbers:

June 16June 9Nov 2007
Blood Pressure127/80Sunburn160/115
Heart Rate77Hurts103*
*Taken from March 10 reading

As a side note, Nicole and I went camping the weekend of June 6-8, and I walked around with a muscle shirt on all day on Saturday. I was quite sunburnt; very lobster-like.

Now back to the plateau thing. Over the past five weeks I have netted only one pound of weight loss. I blame no one but myself for it. I just need to make sure that I am getting in my time exercising while staying away from the cookie tray at work. It was certainly a lot easier to do this when I wasn't working.

I also went to the doctor on Saturday, and my blood pressure cuff might not be so accurate. Although a marked improvement from my November numbers, he measured me three times right around 148/90. I have an appointment in four weeks, and I am to bring my cuff so that he can double check it. I so don't want to be on blood pressure medication; this is yet another motivator to keep active and eat right.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Busy Times

Continued Progress

I have not gone anywhere, and I am just as focused as ever to continue down the healthy path. Here are this week's, last week's, and Novembers numbers:

June 2May 26Nov 2007
Blood Pressure126/82133/83160/115
Heart Rate7364103*
*Taken from March 10 reading

I had a few Memorial Day bratwursts and burgers, and, combined with an inconsistent workout schedule, I did put on a pound from May 19 to May 26. This does not bother me at all, because the trend is still downwards.

The heart numbers are also holding strong. I still can not get over how much the blood pressure has dropped. I am almost at a healthy level!

Addition to the Equation

So now that my six month layoff is officially over, I have to manage my time so that I still can fit in workouts. This is going to be difficult because the gym does not open early enough for me to workout in the mornings, and I am going to be getting home around 6:30 every night. It is significantly easier to work out when you don't have anything to do during the day outside of watching King of the Hill on FX.

Now that I am talking through it, perhaps the challenge isn't time management so much as motivation and drive.

My motivations:
  • An October 4 wedding
  • Not having a heart attack way too young
  • Actually, not having a heart attack at all
  • Being able to buy more smaller clothes

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rewarding Day

New Clothes!

After six long months, I have finally found employment. You might be asking, "What does that have to do with this weight loss blog?" The answer is simple: I have to buy new clothes to fit my now 47 pounds lighter body. This is a pretty cool reward for having dropped all of that weight.

The goal today is to pick up 5-10 dress shirts, 2-5 pairs of dress slacks, 1-2 pairs of twill pants, two belts (one brown, one black), a couple of polo shirts, and one pair of jeans. That may seem like a lot of clothes (possibly the most I have ever bought in one trip), but I literally have zero properly fitting outfits that are not part of a suit. I am also probably going to start taking my shirts to the dry cleaner so they last longer, and my slacks will certainly be dry clean only. This means that I will need some articles of clothing in reserve while stuff is at the dry cleaners. I might also have to pick up another suit; I will be at hospitals 20-40% of the time, and it is totally reasonable to expect to have to wear a suit. Thus, I should probably own two suits.

Leesburg Corners Outlet Mall, here I come!

Logistically Speaking

I have never been a big fan of flying. I am not afraid of it, but rather it is just an uncomfortable experience for someone who is 240+ pounds. Riding on the Metro is quite similar. The seats are not designed for someone much bigger than 170 pounds. I fully accept the fact my broad shoulders will always exist, but I am actually looking forward to riding on an airplane again. It will be nice to have my girth be small enough that I can actually get out a laptop. I might even be able to type on it!

Speaking to the Metro, I am also looking forward to being able to walk the 6 blocks from the Metro to the office without getting winded or sweating buckets. Being [almost] in shape is pretty cool, but do not confuse that with enjoying working out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

In Need of New Pants

Even Smaller

Like last week, I am going to put my knowledge of HTML to use and display the new numbers in a table:

May 19May 12Nov 2007
Blood Pressure129/90131/75160/115
Heart Rate7278103*
*Taken from March 10 reading

To date I have lost 47 pounds! For those into relative amounts, I have lost 17.6% of my starting body weight. Admittedly, I still have a ways to go. According to the formula that the Navy uses in calculating body fat I am at 30.63%. This means that I have about 33 more pounds to go before being in the healthy range of less than 15% body fat. I like seeing this figure because weighing in at 187 pounds is completely attainable based on what I weighed at the age of 24 (between 180 and 190 pounds). There will be a major difference, however, because this time I will be healthy instead of just at the appropriate weight.

I Need New Clothes

During my days at Shaw's Clothing the owner and I would joke with customers about how clothing tends to shrink in the closet. This is especially noticeable with unforgiving-ly tailored suits and slacks. Pockets pucker; legs shorten; rises lengthen; shoulders tighten; buttons hold on for dear life.

My clothes are getting noticeably bigger while hanging in the closet. As much as I appreciate how the closet resizing gnomes (distant cousin of the underwear gnome) are working in my favor, I can not wait until I have the opportunity to raid the Leesburg Corners outlet mall. I have to replace almost every dress shirt and slack; the only spared articles of professional attire are two shirts and my new suit pants (although these are in need of alteration). Even my new suit jacket needs to be taken in around the stomach.

I won't even get into how my jeans look like my diaper needs changed...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Can Do More

I have said it several times thus far: working out and eating right is more about being able to do more than losing weight. Of course I am proud of being 45 pounds lighter today than I was just six months ago, but I am more proud of the fact that I ran 4 miles on the elliptical in 29 minutes 30 seconds yesterday, eclipsing the 1 mile in 20 minutes I accomplished my first day at the gym.

In the spirit of "what I can do," here is a table of my strength training progress over the last two months.
March 12May 15Net Change% Change
Ab Crunch80 lbs.105 lbs.25 lbs.31.25%
Back Extension110 lbs.230 lbs.120 lbs.109.09%
Arm Curl50 lbs.50 lbs.0 lbs.0.00%
Arm Extension45 lbs.80 lbs.35 lbs.77.78%
Chest Press50 lbs.70 lbs.20 lbs.40.00%
Chest Fly50 lbs.60 lbs.10 lbs.20.00%
Pulldown90 lbs.140 lbs.50 lbs.55.56%
Overhead Press50 lbs.55 lbs.5 lbs.10.00%
Seated Row70 lbs.105 lbs.35 lbs.50.00%
Hip Adduction70 lbs.135 lbs.65 lbs.92.86%
Hip Abduction90 lbs.140 lbs.50 lbs.55.56%
Leg Extension50 lbs.80 lbs.30 lbs.60.00%
Seated Leg Curl70 lbs.100 lbs.30 lbs.42.86%
Leg Press110 lbs.210 lbs.100 lbs.90.91%

The first major improvement is that I have moved from 2 sets of 15 reps in early March to 3 sets of 15 reps today. There is a very significant difference between doing 30 reps and 45 reps. Also note that these numbers are what I have done during actual workouts; I have no idea what my max weights are on any of these machines. I suppose one day I will play around at the gym and figure out my max squat and bench press, but I do not see doing that for at least a couple more months. Endurance and lean muscle is much more important to me for the time being.

I do admit that I have been fairly frustrated at my arm progress. I suspect that I might have started too heavy on some of the machines. The bicep curl is the prime suspect; at one point I actually dropped down to 30 pounds and worked my way back up. On a positive note, I have noticed a significant difference in how the sets feel. I can see the arm numbers moving up at a steady pace from here on out.

I have been extremely pleased with how the leg and core numbers have turned out. I have doubled (or nearly doubled) my capacity in doing the back extension, leg press, and hip adduction. With my strengthened core I have felt almost no back pain during my day to day activities, and I am hoping that the trend will be the same with my knees as my legs get stronger.

The next step: correcting my softball swing so that I can use my legs and core instead of relying solely on my arms.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Welcome to Goodburger, home of the Goodburger, may I take your order?

By the Numbers

Not a whole lot went on number-wise. Here are this week's numbers in the This Week (Last Week, November) format.

Weight - 222 (223, 267)
Blood Pressure - 131/75 (128/80, 160/115)
Heart Rate - 78 (77, 103 on March 10)

Like I said, this is nothing to write home about, but the numbers are definitely in the right direction. I also did measurements this week, and the results are similar; the format is This Week (April 21 Measurement, March 10 Measurement).

- 43 (43, 43 3/4)
Waist - 44 1/2 (44 1/2, 46 7/8)
Chest - 46 1/4 (45 1/2, 46 3/4)
Neck - 17 1/2 (17 3/4, 18 1/4)
Biceps - 15 1/2 (14 3/4, 14 7/8)
Thighs - 25 3/4 (23 1/2, 28 3/4)
Calves - 17 (16 1/2, 16 5/8)

Once again, this is nothing to write home about. I do see these numbers going in the right direction. I like seeing the biceps, calves, and thighs getting bigger (they are all pretty lean at this point). I am somewhat surprised by the chest measurement, but I think the increase in size has been caused by back as opposed to the pectorals. I am pleased to see the neck go down in size, and I should see it drop another 1/4" before it is all said and done. Finally, the hips and waist staying the same are expected; my butt is small enough already, and most of my stomach weight is carried above the belly button (that is, my stomach is smaller at the girth-iest point, but the waist measurement is actually at the belly button).

Healthy Burger and Fries

A couple of posts ago I laid out how I manage my diet, and now I have a really good example of a healthy version of one of America's favorite meals: the hamburger and fries. Take a look at this masterpiece, an actual picture of Saturday night's meal:

Before your eyes is 1/2 pound of fries, a 1/3 pound burger on a kaiser bun, and buttery corn on the cob. Click on the picture to make it bigger; take a deep look at the textures; inhale the sweet scent of grilled meat.

Are you hungry, yet? Well do not run out to Wendy's and order a Value Meal until you read this following chart. The Wendy's column assumes a 1/4 pound burger, large order of fries, and corn on the cob slathered in butter.

Homemade MealWendy's Meal
Calories846 1/21135
Total Fat30 3/8 Grams49 Grams
Saturated Fat6 1/8 Grams13 Grams
Fiber13 3/4 Grams9 Grams
Protein58 Grams36 Grams

Admittedly, this is a fairly high calorie meal, but I did plan ahead and watched what I ate the rest of the day. Also, my target caloric intake per day is still around 2000 calories, so I can still get away with this many calories. I also tend to eat most of my fat during dinner, and you do get 70-75 grams per day.

The key piece to take away from this chart is the difference in home preparation versus eating out. I ingested 288 fewer calories, 18 fewer grams of fat, almost 7 grams less of saturated fat, and added nearly 5 grams of fiber and 22 grams of protein. To accomplish this meal, this is what I did.


First off, I substituted lean ground turkey instead of ground beef; in my opinion, it tastes better. I also added some minced onion, garlic cloves, and a slice of wheat bread to the patty. By doing this I made a great tasting patty that does not require flavor adding (and bad for you) condiments like ranch or mayonnaise. I also used a whole wheat kaiser bun instead of a white bread bun; once again, this bun tastes way better than white bread.


The obvious piece is to bake the fries instead of fry them. The not so obvious piece is that I used sweet potatoes. I also used olive oil instead of vegetable oil to make the seasonings (reduce fat grated Parmesan cheese, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion salt) stick to the fries. I love these fries, and from a strictly flavor standpoint I would take them any day over Wendy's French fries.

Corn on the Cob

This one is really simple: use spray butter instead of real butter. It tastes the same, and it is the nutritional equivalent of salt.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Back to the Elliptical

After two weeks worth of rain outs, we finally played softball again on Tuesday. The team got mercy ruled during both games (the second of which we were down 13-12 only to have 9 runs put up on us in the bottom of an inning), and I went 1/5 with an RBI. I also got two "good hustles." Nicole and I spent time at the batting cage this weekend, and it certainly paid off, for I did not look like a total fool at the plate. Mercifully, I only played the first game at catcher.

Tuesday night's festivities did require me to adjust my workout the next day. I only did five minutes on the treadmill to warm up before stretching, and I think I am starting to develop shin splints on top of increasing knee pains. So that I do not totally knock myself out of commission, I am going to stick with the elliptical for the next week.

Finally, my belly button is starting to point forward instead of down. I do not think that my girth has gotten any smaller around that area, for I carry more of my gut above my belly button instead of at it. It is a significant body shape victory, however.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Melting Away

I am somewhat surprised by this week's numbers because I didn't work out as much last week as I had been. Apparently my body needed a rest, or it could have been the move to the treadmill. Here are this week's numbers (and, as always, last week's in parenthesis):

Weight - 223 (226)
Blood Pressure - 128/80 (133/84)
Heart Rate - 77 (74)

I am now down 44 pounds from my heaviest weight, which is awesome. My blood pressure is also the lowest that it has been measured in years, which is even more awesome. In fact, healthy blood pressure is 120/80 or below, and I am almost there!

Next week is also the next round of measurements. I do not expect to see anything significant, but hopefully I will see the legs and arms get bigger with the gut getting smaller. I think after this week I will start measuring every four weeks instead of three.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

On the treadmill

This past week I decided to move on from the elliptical to the treadmill. This is a much, much bigger jump than I had previously thought. So far, here are my times/distances:

April 28 - 1 mile in 15 minutes
April 30 - 1.2 miles in 20 minutes
May 1 - 1.6 miles in 24 minutes

Compare these distances/times to the 3.5 miles in 28 minutes accomplished on the elliptical and it tells you that I have a ways to go regarding cardio. I have two hurdles to get through right now:
  1. Maintaining 6 miles per hour without pushing my heart rate over 170 bpm
  2. Pushing through the pain in my left knee without injuring myself (at least not until I get health insurance)
The first one will just take time. I need to build up my cardio conditioning and just plain lose weight (try running at 226 pounds; it's freakin' hard!). The knee, on the other hand, I can only stop when something doesn't feel right. By not feel right I mean that it either is difficult to bend or a stabbing pain takes place. When this happens, all I can do is step down from the machine.

I did some research last night, and it appears as though I have runners knee. This is not an expert opinion, but rather a comparison of my symptoms to some web pages I came across. Runners knee is when the knee cap doesn't properly move in it's intended track. There are several causes, but the most likely for me is due to how my feet pronate (opposite of pigeon toed) when I walk. From what I read, I need to make sure that I am stretching and see a doctor as soon as I can. Until that doctor's visit, I am going to be taking ibuprofen (anti-inflammatories is also a recommended treatment).

Monday, April 28, 2008

One of Those "Zero" Milestones


I am now officially down 41 pounds! Here are this week's numbers (with last week's in parenthesis):

Weight - 226 (228)
Blood Pressure - 133/84 (137/85)
Resting Heart Rate - 74 (72)

This also marks the approximate halfway point for my weight loss goal, although I do have to admit that I have no idea where I am going to end up if I keep lifting weights with the same intensity that I have been. My guess (and this is pure speculation) is that if I keep this up I will lose weight into the mid-180's and then start putting on muscle to between 190 and 200 pounds. I will be sure to reevaluate this guess in 12-18 months.

At 226 pounds, I weigh about the same that I did when I started my last semester of college in January 2005. I [healthily] altered my diet during that semester, bringing my weight down to around 205 only to put it all back on by the end of Summer 2005. The major difference between now and then is that I am putting a focus on what I can accomplish (i.e. distance I can run, weights I can lift) as opposed to only tracking what I weigh. This will most certainly keep me on track to a healthy life instead of a superficial image.


I am possibly the least picky eater you will ever meet. The only foods that I can not stand are ketchup, pickles, and sea urchin sushi; if you put anything else in front of me I will gladly eat it. This is most certainly a huge advantage in that I never have trouble finding a good restaurant, and I am completely open to new foods. The downside is that it makes it that much more difficult to eat with discretion.

This next part is nothing more than some healthier substitutes that I have found to aid in curbing my cravings for my favorite foods. The key is to focus on what you can eat, not what you can not.


I have a huge sweet tooth (especially for chocolate), so I knew that this one would be a struggle. I knew coming out of the chute that I had to find something to curb my cravings, or else I would fall flat on my face. The easy solution was to find those 100 calorie pudding packs; by limiting myself to one serving per day this helped keep the portions in control. I have also incorporated various granola bars into my diet. They do tend to be slightly higher in calories, but I only buy ones that are less than 200 calories, high in protein, and high in fiber. This is to ensure that I am not eating empty calories.

With that said, I still have major cravings for ice cream. I am not talking about a scoop of rocky road, but instead I am referring to the 1200 calorie Cold Stone-type monstrosities. I have been successful in avoiding this awful place of wonderful goodness since early January, but it has been extremely difficult. Thank the Lord for No Pudge Fudge! This is the most idiot proof box of brownies in the world (not that box brownies are exactly difficult to make). All you do is add 2/3 cup of low fat vanilla yogurt, mix, and bake. An entire 8" x 8" pan is 1440 calories and contains only 2 grams of fat. Break that up into 9 brownies, add 1/2 cup of fat free vanilla ice cream and a table spoon or so of lite Hershey's chocolate syrup, and you have a more than satisfying chocolate brownie a la mode at around 300 calories. Let me be clear, the brownie is one of the best I have ever tasted (it's very gooey and super fudgey), and the mass of what is actually being eaten is as big as what you would get at a restaurant. The nutritional value is nil, but this is how I manage the mental piece of eating sensibly.


I know that the fellow Midwesterners out there that will let out a collective, "Ugh!" but this one is extremely important: You do not need red meat. If you do eat red meat: You do not need to eat the 16 ounce porterhouse or fatty rib eye. If you want a hamburger: Use a red meat substitute. If you look at expert dietitian recommendations one should only eat red meat 1 to 2 times per week maximum. If you do eat it, eat lean cuts of the appropriate portion; that is, eat a 4 ounce fillet (the recommended serving size). Finally, use ground turkey instead of ground chuck. It tastes better, anyways.

I personally eat chicken, tilapia, or salmon at almost every dinner. Because of my weight and how often I lift weights (minimum 4 times per week) I eat 8-10 ounces every night, but this is something that will certainly have to go down if I wish to continue losing fat. Fact of the matter is that if you eat more protein than you burn, this protein turns into fat. To determine how much protein you require, use this formula.

Make It Taste Good

This part can be difficult, especially if you crave the tasty goodness of fried foods that I do. There are three key elements to making the food taste good while keeping the taste while cooking in a skillet. First, the hotter the skillet the less oil is required. Second, use healthy oils (olive oil, avocado oil, grape oil) instead of unhealthy vegetable oil. Finally, season, season, season (still limit the salt).


Drinks lots of water. A cup or two of coffee (no sugar, no cream) in the morning will not kill you. Do not have so many beers (I still have 1 or 2 each week). Stop drinking pop! This one is more about common sense and moderation. And for a second time, stop drinking pop!


If it is white, it is bad. Red or white potatoes should be substituted with sweet potatoes. White rice should be substituted with brown rice. Eat whole wheat bread instead of white or potato bread. This is just a little change that will make you stay full for longer periods of time. It is an excellent way to curb appetites without consuming tons of calories.

Just Pay Attention

I do not use a food journal. I do not meticulously measure my consumption. I do, however, use common sense. Only a very small amount of nutritional education is required to be balance and healthy. First, only eat 1500-2500 calories per day; this number depends on your activity and weight. Next, you get 65-70 grams of fat each day, just be sure to keep saturated fat under 20 grams and avoid the trans fats completely. Finally, eat starches that are chocked full of fiber and not sugar; you do get 250-270 carbohydrates each day, just get the most out of them. Simply put, I only read these lines on the nutrition labels.

To help keep this straight, figure out how many times you eat each day. I eat 3 meals and 2 snacks. I know that each time I sit down to eat I can consume about 15 grams of fat and 50 carbs. To control calories, I eat about 350 calories for breakfast, 500 for lunch, 600-800 for dinner, and around 500 total for my snacks (by snacks I mean granola bars and fruit with the occasional brownie a la mode from above). I also take a men's multi-vitamin to make sure that I am getting all of the nutrients I need to be fully fueled.

I am not a dietitian and am horrible at science, so by simplifying and focusing on the big picture (rather than weighing my portions) I will still on track instead of being bogged down by the details.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Big Numbers Update


I am starting with this first because I think this blog is going to be fairly long, whereas this thought is going to be pretty short and sweet.

I finally hit my goal of 3.5 miles in 28 minutes. Actually, I accomplished the feat in 27 minutes 30 seconds. To put this into perspective, check out a couple of key dates, times, and a distances that I have hit thus far:

March 12 - 1.3 miles in 20 minutes
March 25 - 1.9 miles in 21 minutes
April 2 - 3.1 miles in 30 minutes
April 21 - 3.9 miles in 32 minutes 30 seconds (the last .4 miles and 5 minutes were cool down)

As I previously mentioned, this is on the elliptical with 25% resistance. I am now debating whether I want to push for 4 miles in 28 minutes or start adding resistance. Any feedback is appreciated.


I just missed officially hitting the 40 pound milestone on the Monday morning weigh in by 1 pound (although my Sunday morning weigh in put me at a 41 pound loss), and I experienced additional circumference losses. Continuing with the theme from above, I am going to put down multiple dates on each measurement to show some trends.


November 2007 - 267
March 10 - 233
March 31
- 234
April 21 - 228

I am down 39 pounds since my last doctor chew-out session.

Blood Pressure

November 2007 - 160/115
March 10 - 153/95
March 31 - 140/78
April 21 - 137/85

I am still pre-hypertensive, but at least I am not in immediate threat of a heart attack.

Resting Heart Rate

March 10 - 103
March 31 - 75
April 21 - 72

There is also a major difference on the elliptical; it took nearly 25 minutes at 7.5+ mph to push my heart rate above 162 yesterday.


March 10 - 43 3/4"
March 31 - 43 1/2"
April 21 - 43"

I need butt implants...


March 10 - 46 7/8"
March 31 - 44 7/8"
April 21 - 44 1/2"

This is why I needed a new suit jacket; I can only imagine the difference from last November.


March 10 - 46 3/4"
March 31 - 45 7/8"
April 21 - 45 1/2"

Part of me hopes that this number starts getting bigger, but I can tell that it will first get smaller.


March 10 - 18 1/4"
March 31 - 18"
April 21 - 17 3/4"

I am almost back down to a 17 1/2" 34/35 dress shirt!


March 10 - 14 7/8"
March 31 - 15 1/2"
April 21 - 14 3/4"

Uh oh, these guns are starting to fizzle.


March 10 - 28 3/4"
March 31 - 24 1/2"
April 21 - 23 1/2"

They may be getting smaller, but my leg press has gone from 2 15 rep sets of 130 pounds to 3 15 rep sets of 185 pounds in just over a month.


March 10 - 16 5/8"
March 31 - 16 3/4"
April 21 - 16 1/2"

I suppose I can look at it as my shrinking calves making my tiny ankles look normal.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Strength - Check; Cardio - Check; Athleticism - Still Working on It


Last night was my first game playing organized slow pitch softball, and it was a reminder that getting fit does not equate into athleticism. Let me put it this way: I struck out looking during my first at bat. This led to an 0-8 night during the two games. I did, however, knock a run in, but unfortunately it scored on a fielders choice and will not count as an RBI. Also, squatting for two hours as catcher plays hell on your knees and hamstrings.

To remedy my problematic uppercut swing Nicole and I are going to the batting cages this weekend. Even though I am obviously also going to work on my fielding abilities, I will conceded that I am going to remain catcher throughout the season; legitimately good fielders and seniority are hurdles beyond my control.

So why am I playing softball? First off, I need to make some friends out here; due to the nature of my last job in the Mid-Atlantic I managed to tick off more people than befriend. Second, it gets me out and moving without sitting in a boring gym. Even though my legs hate me for squatting for two hours last night my heart is going to get stronger from sprinting base to base (I ended up scoring a run after the fielders choice). Finally, it is only going to be a matter of time before I flatten out my swing. This is another all-important goal that continues to motivate me.

Cardio at the Gym

Alright, so maybe 3.5 miles in 28 minutes was a bit of a bold goal, especially considering that the next best distance/time accomplishment was 3 miles in 25 minutes 50 seconds. I attempted this feat for the first time on Monday and ended up logging 3 miles in 23 minutes. I still do view this as an accomplishment (I would have had a hard time doing this even when I competed in wrestling and track in high school). It will act as a motivator tomorrow when I attempt the 3.5 miles again; I just have to remember that baby steps are sometimes the most appropriate size.

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Progress

By the Numbers

Here are this week's numbers (with last week's in parenthesis):

Weight - 229 (230)
Blood Pressure - 130/85 (134/86)
Resting Heart Rate - 72 (77)

Hooray for all of the numbers going down! Next Sunday night is also the date of the next round of measurements. I am really looking forward to these because I can start seeing some tone in my arms and legs, and my gut is definitely getting smaller.

Today is also when I am shooting for 3.5 miles at 7.5 miles per hour (that will be a total of 28 minutes). To put this into perspective, my first time on the elliptical was for 20 minutes, and I barely completed a mile. There is also one more factor on this machine that I have yet mentioned; the resistance is set at 25% (5 out of 25). It feels like I am running up a not-so-steep hill.

I also have another picture, this time from the Cubs game in Philadelphia. It is so nice to have my shirts fit right again:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gas too expensive? Ride a bike!

Bike Ride on the National Mall

Yesterday's weather in DC was perfect (75 and sunny), so I decided to take full advantage of it by going on a bike ride at the National Mall. Even though parking is at a premium, it was well worth it to see the sites (note that the following pictures were taken on previous dates, for I did not have my camera on me; I did, however, see these sites yesterday).

First, it's cherry blossom season. This is what I saw on the Tidal Basin:

I then continued my trek onto the National Mall, seeing my favorite view in all of DC:

I also made it down to the Lincoln Memorial, giving me this almost as splendid view:

I also made it to the home of America's least qualified government employee (I can safely say this now that Rumsfeld is no longer Secretary of Defense):

Unfortunately, I do not have pictures regarding the next part. Alluding to this post's title, during my bike ride I ran into a trucker protest. There were easily 100+ dump trucks (the type that haul stone) blaring their air horns around the National Mall. Every 10 or so trucks would have a sign hanging off of the bed with one of three messages: lower fuel prices, lower insurance rates, and lower operational safety costs. I think we can all relate to the first one (and, in fact, diesel prices have gone up by about 35% in the last 12 months), but the last two I had no idea. Anyways, that was the first official protest that I witnessed on the National Mall. I do not know if it altered my opinion on anything, but it is certainly something that I will remember.


There was a very inspirational segment on Dateline Wednesday night. Randy Pausch is a former Carnegie Mellon professor who, at the age of 46, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This form of cancer has the lowest survival rate of any (according to, the 5 year survival rate is 15%, even if caught in the early stages). After aggressive treatment, Randy was told that tumors had spread to his liver, giving him 3-6 months of remaining healthy life. Rather than rolling over and waiting to die, he and his wife decided it would be best for the two of them and three children (all 5 years or younger) for him to live every day.

Since being told that he has no more than 6 months of living, he has made the absolute most of every single day. He makes it a point to play with his kids for as long as they can keep up with him. He makes his wife feel special by doing the little things that we should all do for our partners. Most impressively, he even managed to write a book.

The Last Lecture was written by Randy with the help of Jeffrey Zaslow. While taking his morning bike ride, Randy would actually dictate his thoughts to Jeffrey via cell phone. I am only 30 pages into this very powerful text, and it is quite apparent this book is his legacy left to his children. Despite the intended focus on his children, the inspiration will spread to many others.

After only a half hour of reading and 1 hour of interview, there is no way that I will allow myself continue to be out of shape. I can not help but think of the things that it has caused me to miss out on. I have lived in Denver for a total of 6 months but yet I have never skied or climbed a 14er. Up until a week ago, I have not been a part of a recreational sports league. Most scarily, I barely made it through my last gig as drummer. All of these were due to the fact that I was fat and out of shape.

We all have limited time in this life, and whether we have 60 years or 6 months remaining, it is way too wasteful to to let ones actions (or inaction) dictate what you can or can not do. Life is nothing more than a series of moments and decisions. I have decided to be this guy (Buddy Rich playing hard into his 60's):

Success at the Gym

A couple of days ago I said that I wanted to complete 3 miles on the elliptical in 27 minutes 40 seconds. That very day I blew that target out of the water by completing the feat in 25 minutes 50 seconds. Hitting these milestones make it a lot easier to go to the gym, even when your legs are so sore you can barely get out of bed in the morning. My next goal is 3.5 miles in 28 minutes (that's 7.5 miles per hour). I will shoot for this on Monday and focus on interval training today and tomorrow (Sunday will be an off day).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Did you know that Fort Wayne, IN, was the original home of the Detroit Pistons?

Lower Weight; Plateaued Heart Stuff

Here are this week's results by the numbers (with last week's numbers in parenthesis):

Weight - 230 (234)
Blood Pressure - 134/86 (140/78)
Heart Rate - 77 (75)

Hooray for weight loss! I think that the 234 from last week was a fluctuation. I also think that this week's number could have been lower except that my fiance and I did some traveling to Fort Wayne to take care of some wedding stuff. It is always much harder to keep you food intake in check when visiting family. Also, the extent of workouts this weekend was an approximate 2 mile hike on Sunday at Pokagon State Park. As disappointed as I am that this is all that I did this weekend, I am very happy about the fact that I could hike and enjoy it (rather than hike and keep up with the group).

The heart numbers have been pretty flat over the last four weeks. I am beginning to wonder if my genetics are limiting me from going into the "healthy" blood pressure range. I suppose this could also be from a list of other things (the fact that I still do weigh 230 pounds and I am stressed about the job hunt). I am thinking that if I get under 200 pounds and the blood pressure does not show much more improvement then I will talk to a doctor about it. For now I shall dwell on being able to complete 3 miles on the elliptical in 28 minutes 30 seconds. Today my goal is 3 miles at 6.5 miles per hour (that's 3 miles in about 27 minutes 40 seconds).

Stiff Knees

Some men can brag about that old high school football injury. They feel it when they wake up every morning or even when the weather changes. I, on the other hand, have the privilege of bragging on an old marching band injury. I suppose the 7 full seasons (4 high school, 3 college) of drum line will do that to you, especially when the last 3 were on Astroturf.

I am only bringing this up to vent. I already know what I am going to do (keep working out on low impact equipment and see a doctor as soon as I get health insurance). It just really sucks for the time being. All of a sudden on Saturday I could barely walk because my right knee was so stiff that I could not extend it out all of the way. This carried all the way through last night.

As anyone with stiff legs know, when one leg hurts you adjust how you walk to favor the tenderness. This means that by the time I got home Monday night, my right ankle was hurting and my left knee felt like someone was stabbing me directly in the joint. In the end, this will be nothing more than a hurdle that I must go over. Time to pull up the boot straps and heed the advice of the frog below:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Photographical Proof

It is time to let go of the anecdotal evidence of the suit jacket (I am likely to buy a new one tonight or tomorrow) and instead post a couple of pictures of the progress. Watch the time line.

May 27, 2007

Taken in beautiful Beavercreek, CO, at the top of the mountain. I remember huffing and puffing at the festival at the mountain base.

September 2, 2007

This is Nicole and I at Castlewood Canyon in Parker, CO. Despite the trail being only being about 1.5 miles, they almost had to carry me out.

March 8, 2008

This was taken during my mom's birthday celebration in Cumberland, MD. The spare tire is still there, but it is certainly smaller than the two previous pictures.

March 30, 2008

Taken at the WWII Memorial in DC. This is the first picture that shows significant weight loss; just compare it to the Beavercreek picture.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Dropping inches and gaining pounds?

The Numbers

Here are this week's results by the numbers:

Weight - 234 (229 last week)
Blood Pressure - 140/78 (131/81 last week)
Heart Rate - 75 (75 last week)

Nicole and I also took measurements last night:

Hips - 43 1/2" (43 3/4" on March 10)
Waist - 44 7/8" (46 7/8" on March 10)
Chest - 45 7/8" (46 3/4" on March 10)
Neck - 18" (18 1/4" on March 10)
Biceps - 15 1/2" (14 7/8" on March 10)
Thighs - 24 1/2" (28 3/4" on March 10)
Calves - 16 3/4" (16 5/8" on March 10)

Now is it just me, or do these numbers make absolutely no sense? I am now 1 pound heavier than I was when I started tracking this stuff but yet, with the exception of biceps and calves, am significantly smaller. I fully understand that people tend to plateau 4-6 weeks into weight loss treks (I am now at 4 weeks), but I am just really surprised as to what happened. Maybe I should have taken that really big dump before I weighed myself and not an hour afterwards.

Now let us focus on the measurements. The thigh measurement is not a typo; I really have lost 4 1/4". This is certainly due to the fact that every workout (5-6 workouts per week) I am on the elliptical. Just by looking in the mirror, they will probably get bigger from this point on. My legs are really lean muscle, and with the weight training will certainly [hopefully] get str0nger. Also notice that my gut went down exactly 2"; this proves the need for the suit jacket adjustment noted in the previous blog.

Here are some quick notes on the other measurements:

Neck - This will only get 1/2" smaller at most
Calves - Dear God I hope they continue to get bigger; I first gained the nickname "Chicken Legs" in sixth grade
Biceps - Hells yeah! These guns are dangerous!
Hips - One day I might consider the Hank Hill butt implants, especially if they continue to get smaller
Chest - This will most likely stay right around where they are for a long time

At the Gym: Adding a Third Set & Better at the Cardio

The Fairfax County Rec Centers have a computer system called Fitlinxx. It is really cool in that there is a touch screen at each weight station that keeps track of your last workout's results, where your seat settings should be at, and whether or not you are lifting at the appropriate speed. The rec center also assigns a trainer to everyone who has an account set up. At the main computer station, I had a message waiting for me by my trainer saying to see her about reaching all of my weight lifting goals for the month. Being the non-expert on these matters, I went and saw her.

Fortunately she was in the rec center, so I met up with her that day. We had a short conversation about making sure that I have been going up in my weights (which I had been), and the result was to move to 3 sets of 15 instead of 2 sets. Holy crap that one set made a world of difference! On machines that I could do the 2 sets of 15 with effort, that third set was nearly impossible. Fifteen sounds like a small number, but add 50 pounds to each count.

I hit a cardio milestone over the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday I completed 2 miles on the elliptical in under 19 minutes each day. My goal for this week is to add a third mile and complete it in under 27 minutes. I will definitely have to have a separate 5 minute warm-up on the treadmill (the 19 minutes included the warm-up) to get my legs moving, but I know that I will be able to do it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Interval Training and Bike Riding

In the Weight Room

Interval training is a lot harder in practice than what it appears on paper!

Until I get back health insurance (despite my knees feeling better, it still feels like there is stuff floating around in my left knee), I will not run on a tread mill. Instead I use either an elliptical or the stair stepper elliptical thing for my cardio. Low impact does not mean easier.

Last night I did my first interval session (on the elliptical). It consisted of a four minute warm up (4 mph), four minutes of hard (7 mph), two minutes easy (4 mph), two minutes of even harder (7.5 mph), two minutes easy (4 mph), two minutes balls to the wall (8 mph), and cooling down for five minutes (3.5 mph). I almost puked. What made matters worse was the fact that my iPod was dead, meaning that not only I felt like crap, but I was bored.

Nevertheless, this was still a really good workout. I walked around for about five minutes to get my heart rate back under 140 bpm and hit the weights. Speaking of weights, I am beginning to see a possible benefit of being way overweight. Certain parts of my body are disproportionately strong. Take my back, for example. On the back extension machine I am up to two 15 rep sets of 180 pounds with 99% form accuracy (form accuracy is the grade assigned to full reps, not letting the weights touch, and a full second up and down on each rep). Any exercise involving my chest, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Maybe I should have walked around on my hands more often.

On the Bicycle

Today I am going to take a trip on my bike around the National Mall. It is part boredom, part getting me out of the apartment, and part fitness. Of all the dumb excuses not to do this sooner, it is the fact that my drums have been sitting my Xterra for the past week and a half. I suppose it is time to work on my upper body and haul those drums inside.

Anyways, this should be cool seeing the cherry blossoms for the first time in my third season that I have been out here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Little Bit More

Quantified Progress

Now it is time to just lay it all out there and state my first publicly tracked week of physical fitness progress. These are all week-to-week numbers:

Weight - 229 (from 230)
Blood Pressure - 131/81 (from 134/86)
Resting Heart Rate - 75 (from 88)

As you can see, I only lost one pound. This does not concern me for two reasons:
  1. I am heading the right direction.
  2. I am down four pounds during a two week period, meaning that on average I am down an amount that will translate into keeping it off (you are supposed to lose 2-3 pounds per week).
Although the one pound is a success, it's certainly not one that I am going to get overly excited about. By no means am I discounting the downward trend, but I am just not exactly doing back flips over it.

It may require a spotter (or two), but I will do back flips over the blood pressure and heart rate. First, the blood pressure is just barely over healthy (the systolic, or top number, is to be 120 or less; the diastolic, or bottom number, is to be under 80). I am still pre-hypertensive, but I am hoping to be out of this range in the next 30-60 days. For the first time in a very long time, the resting heart rate is in the healthy range (under 80 bpm). In fact, my first reading of 103 bpm on March 10 was so high that I should have had a discussion with my doctor about it.

Anecdotal Progress

As I said in my last posting, I have been looking for a job since just before Thanksgiving of last year. During the last week of November, I bought an interview suit. This was because my other suit was starting to get a little worn, and, more importantly, it did not fit. As much as I would love to rely on the former excuse, the latter was the more accurate reason. I had outgrown my size 46R jacket, and my 38" waist 30" inseam pants were more like 38" waist 26" inseam slacks. This was not good.

As much as I did not want to drop money on expensive articles of clothing, I broke down and bought a new suit. The good news was that Macy's was running a sale, and I picked up a beautiful pin striped Calvin Klein suit for under $350. The bad news was that my slacks went up to a 40" waist and the jacket was a 48R in which each seam had to be let out. Figure in a dress shirt, matching tie, alterations, and tax and I ended up having to drop $470. This was because I let myself get unhealthy. Note the financial impact of not taking care of yourself.

Time elapse: four months

This past Saturday I went back to Macy's to have my jacket refitted. I put it on the other day and it looked as though I was a little boy wearing daddy's suit. At least 2" will need to be taken out of each side seam, and the buttons will probably have to be moved in. As much as I hate having a jacket that I have only worn three times rebuilt, it sure feels good knowing that my clothes do not fit. For once, it is not because the clothes are too small, but instead it is because I am too small.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Introduction

I am fat and unhealthy.

This is a completely true statement. Just as recently as last November I was so heavy that I struggled to roll myself over in bed at night; I could not be on my feet for more than an hour without requiring a day for my knees to recover; and, most scarily, I would get winded going up the 10 or so steps into my condo. I weighed in at a whopping 267 pounds (for reference, I am 5'10" tall) and my blood pressure was 160/115. Needless to say, something needed to be done immediately, before my 29 year old body shut down.

Roots of motivation are curious things. On November 16, 2007, I was laid off from my job as IT Project Manager. I had worked my way up the ranks from a nobody in a Purchasing Training Program into my second promotion onto the National stage. This is exactly where I wanted to be. My fiance and I were due to close on a beautiful house in Denver. I was influential at an enterprise level. My career was set. And then my company let go of 1/3 of the IT department. Just two days after this mass layoff, my position was eliminated because the resources didn't exist to complete projects.

As much of a shot to the gut this was (and continues to be as I search for employment four months later), it forced me to take a look at the parts of my life outside of work. For obvious reasons, I took a very granular look at my expenditures. To my horror, I was spending $800-1000 per month on food, and from July through November 2007, 89.96% of my food expenses were on meals not cooked in my own kitchen! This trend certainly existed before last July, but this is as far back as the data existed.

Although the motive behind grossly limiting my carry out food intake was originally financial, only eating out once per week (and making healthier choices when eating out) paid nearly instant weight loss dividends. By the middle of January 2008, I was around 240 pounds. This was still clearly unhealthy, and it was obvious that I needed to do more than cook 20 of my 21 meals per week. My fiance and I joined the Fairfax County Rec Center.

It did take nearly a month to use the membership (we signed up on February 12 and worked out for the first time on March 4), but results are already being realized. I am quantify kind of guy, so here are the numbers:

November 2007
Weight - 267 pounds
Blood Pressure - 160/115
Resting Heart Rate - Unknown, but probably way too high
Mile Time - Ridiculously long with a one day recovery

March 10, 2008
Weight - 233 pounds
Blood Pressure - 153/95
Resting Heart Rate - 103 bpm
Mile Time - 20 minutes on an elliptical

March 17, 2008
Weight - 230 pounds
Blood Pressure - 134/86
Resting Heart Rate - 88 bpm
Mile Time - 2 consecutive 11 minute miles on an elliptical

As much as I agree with Lester Burnham in American Beauty ("I just want to look good naked."), the numbers that I am most interested in involve my heart. Heart disease runs in my family (I could write an entire Blog entry regarding the number of family members who have suffered heart attacks), and seeing a week-to-week drop from 153/95 to 134/86 in blood pressure is extremely motivating. In just one week, I have moved from Stage 1 High Blood Pressure to Pre-hypertensive.

Working backwards to the original purpose of my weight loss, I want to be healthy. This means that I will do whatever it takes to lower my blood pressure, increase my stamina, lose weight, and drop inches. To ensure that the big picture is not forgotten, I am also taking monthly size measurements. Here are my March 10 numbers:

Waist - 46 7/8"
Hips - 43 3/4"
Chest - 46 3/4"
Neck - 18 1/4"
Biceps - 14 7/8"
Thighs - 28 3/4"
Calves - 16 5/8"

To wrap things up, I will answer this simple question: Why am I writing this Blog? The answer is twofold. First, it is therapeutic to document my difficulties and accomplishments regarding something I have struggled with for most of my adult life. I managed to quit smoking and put myself through college, but I have not been able to get healthy. By writing down the choices I have been (and will be) making, I will not only have a place to vent but also concretely view the positive impact of my choices.

The second motivator is to help inspire those who share my struggles. I fully understand how frustrating it is to step into the gym that first time. When I graduated high school, I weighed 170 pounds, would start my bench press regiment at 150 pounds (and end at 225), curl three 15 rep sets of 95 pounds, and leg press 250 pounds as part of my strength conditioning. During my first workout, I could barely complete two 12 rep sets of 40 pounds curls, lift 120 pounds in the leg press, and I am afraid to see what I can bench press.

I have already experienced significant improvements on these numbers, and I will share my progress in future posts. For now, understand that I am struggling with you. Even though lifting the weights and running on the elliptical are extremely difficult, understanding that there are other people out there with the exact same struggles makes it easier to pull up the boot straps and make something happen.

For those who are in the same health condition that I am, I wish you the best of luck. This is likely going to be the most difficult thing I have ever done, but I look forward to the challenge.

Let's do this together!