Sunday, February 19, 2012

Controlling More Than My Diet

I am back on track, and in fact I had a great week. I swam three times for 30 minutes at a time, and I even spent 3 hours climbing up and down a ladder this afternoon. For all this effort (and keeping my diet straight) I dropped 3.4 pounds. Here are the stats:
  • Starting weight (January 3): 256
  • Last week (February 12): 244.6
  • This week (February 19): 241.2
An additional good sign in this is I am actually having a hard time eating all of my calories (if you start shorting your calories by too much your body slows its metabolism, thus defeating the purpose of weight loss). A cool thing related to swimming is (aside from some muscle tiredness) my body isn't achey; for those up to speed with the various orthopedic injuries I've suffered over last few years, not being joint-sore is a big deal.

A long time ago I was forced to cut back my spending due to a job lay-off, and this acted as a catalyst for initial (and significant) weight loss. I have since been very blessed by gaining great experience working for one of the top U.S. health care consulting firms, and then I was equally as blessed by being offered a leadership position within a hospital's supply chain. Over the last four years I have been repeatedly in the right place at the right time, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to me.

Despite these advantages I have let my money go out of control, and righting it will require a commitment as large (if not larger) than getting healthy.

To put the extend of my financial situation into perspective, I have no problems paying my bills every month (however, if someone doesn't rent my house within the next 6-9 months things might get tight). My problem is I should be focused on building wealth, but instead I have chosen to spend to the point of my credit card balance being equal to nearly 16% of my annual income.

The inspiration behind entering a financial conversation into this blog comes from Larry Winget's Your Broke Because You Want to Be. Winget is a hard nosed financial guru and TV personality, and one of his (non-scientific) observations is the tendency for people who allow their finances get out of control are generally also overweight (if you want more scientific evidence, look no further). Okay, so my obesity is not related to poverty, but it is closely tied to losing control: I have a difficult time controlling my food, and it is obvious I also have a hard time controlling my finances.

Based on a recommendation from a friend I am going to use a framework similar to that of Dave Ramsey's seven baby steps. I did add one element to his approach: I put myself on a spending diet. I have built a spending budget (much like my calorie budget) and I am sticking to it. I have distinct goals for next 6, 12, 18, and 36 months. I have to reel in my spending if I ever want to do more than just be comfortable.

Finally, and to lighten up the message a little, isn't it ironic that I am responsible for savings seven-figure amounts from a hospital's supply budget but yet I personally pay hundreds of dollars every month on credit card interest?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Big Fish

As I alluded to in my last post, I decided to embark in the swimmer's version of a couch to 5K (instead of a 5K, it is a swimmer's mile, or 1,650 yards). While I resemble more of a whale than a fish (I have to backstroke the whole thing because I am not flexible to freestyle; it's not pretty), the workouts have been amazing!

Note that I am only two workouts into a six week program, but it feels good to work out and not have every joint in my lower body hurt. I also get the "I feel good and will sleep well" feeling before going to bed, and my mood is improved dramatically over the last couple of days. Tomorrow is a true test, as I will do it two days in a row.

The short of the program is that it slowly ramps you up to a mile (88 laps in a standard pool). Right now my program is 28 laps at various intervals, and it takes me about a half hour. This half hour workout equates to approximately 400 burnt calories (yes, 400 calories is a huge number for a workout, but after testing the numbers across a few different sources the number passes the sniff test because of my 240+ pound frame).

Finally, the best part of this workout is I found out that a gym I subscribe to has a location two blocks from my work. Convenient and it's good for you!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Getting Back on Track

I did not fare well over the last two weeks, and I now feel like I am an alcoholic or drug addict who fell off the wagon (yes, this is a dramatic comparison, but there are more obesity-related deaths/year than alcohol- or drug-related). It all started last Saturday (as in eight days ago) when I partook in a poker game. I got one too many helpings of the delicious pasta made by the host, drank two too many Guinness-es, and then let it continue into Super Bowl Sunday (there were wings and wonderful cheese/sausage/greasy dip). While the choice of diet since then has been suitable, I fell into the old bad habits of terrible portion control.

Here's the damage: my current weight is now 244.6; this is up one pound from two weeks ago. I will keep things in perspective and acknowledge that I am still down 11+ pounds since January 3, but I am also going the wrong direction.

The old adage of calories in, calories out holds completely true. The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume, and 3,000 calories of net burn is about a pound. Portion control is my struggle with calories going in (I don't necessarily crave bad-for-you-food, but I am capable of eating way more of the healthy stuff than what is considered...well...healthy), and my broken body (injuries include multiple bouts with tendonitis, only have ~1/4 of the cartilage remaining in my left knee, and stress fractures in my foot and back) is a huge limitar in how I can work out (no running, I have to watch the weights, and even the elliptical is hard on my back).

To address portion control, I have to measure and document everything (something I haven't done in a week-plus). I can't trust my body to make the right decision on how much food I can eat, and instead I have to log everything. As for exercise, I'm moving to the pool. This will be a first for me, and I am going to try this workout. It's like a couch to 5K, but instead it is a couch to one mile. Wish me luck!