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.