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).