Sunday, March 25, 2012

One day, three milestones

As the title suggests, I accomplished three things today:
  1. I swam my first mile
  2. I have officially lost more than 20 pounds in two months
  3. I fit into a shirt that I haven't worn in over two years
Let's start at the top. As I have mentioned many times on this blog (almost to the point that one could mistake the focus of my writings on swimming; my focus is on a broader get healthy effort) I have been working on a couch to one mile project over the last six weeks. Today was the capstone, and I crushed it! It took me 65 minutes, and I could barely get out of the pool in the end, but I have two great observations coming out of today's swim. First, I felt completely weightless the first half of the swim; this means that I have become a better swimmer (as one would expect). Second, I have more energy after every time I swim than before; this is the first time in my life I have felt a "runner's high."

Here are the stats on the second bullet:
  • March 25 - 234.8
  • March 18 - 236.8
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
Knowing that weight loss tends to taper off, I am trying to think of what my next goal should be. For now I am going to shoot for 220 by Memorial day. My strategy is to continue a balanced and realistic diet (e.g. I still drink an occasional beer and eat a cookie from time to time, but these are treats and my regular meals are measured and well controlled), and I think I am going to pare the swimming back to once per week and switch to weights the other two days.

Finally, I fit in one of my favorite shirts. It is J. Crew, tapered, and my gut has prevented me from wearing in quite some time. Hooray for looking good!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Swimming, music, and meditation

I am currently employed at a Catholic hospital, and the organization is extremely focused (as it should be) on the mission; we exist to help the sick and in-need. To help foster the broader mission (that is, helping the sick in line with the values of a Christian-based organization) all employees are exposed to regular presentations on how we can best exemplify our mission.

While there are several common themes on achieving mission-based leadership, the element I am focusing on with this blog is meditation. To meditate is to simply focus on a single idea and release all other thoughts. This can be a Bible verse, concentrating on a critical task for the day, or something ultra-simple with the purpose of clearing your thoughts. Meditation is something my brain is not naturally wired to accomplish; if you know me then you fully realize that my mind moves at light speed all the time.

One place I am really focusing on meditation is the pool. As I ramped up the laps in my couch to one mile exercise series, keeping track of what lap I was on became very difficult (I swim in a 20 yard pool, meaning that one mile equals 88 laps). A friend suggested that I repeat the lap number in my head that I am currently swimming. After the first night doing this (I was up to a 30 lap series) my head was completely relaxed. I have since extended this tri-weekly meditation to a morning routine of meditating to various songs for ~15 minutes. Both practices have allowed me to reset my brain on a daily basis, and it feels amazing!

As a quick update on the couch to one mile, tomorrow is the day for the one mile. I feel ready and conditioned, and at this point it is just a matter of doing it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trimming the wardrobe

A cool thing happened this last weekend: I am officially too small to wear two articles of clothing. The first is a 569 cut Levis (they are the loose/baggy ones that haven't been in style for a least four years). I wore them while I worked on my house (that now happens to be on the market; please buy it!), and it was like I had no butt (remember these?). The other was a green polo shirt I wore Saturday night in honor of St. Patrick's Day; the really cool thing is it is a J. Crew shirt, a company that tends to cut things for those of more athletic builds (i.e. skinny guys).

I am not too broken up over not having to wear either article of clothing again (also, the shirt is a pea green that is terrible with my fair skin), and I am even more excited to start wearing the clothes that have been sitting in the back of my closest for so long. In fact, as soon as the house sells I am going clothes shopping with some of the proceeds.

The old, slim fit suits are heading to the front of the closet!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Surprise! Bigger drop than expected

I know that I am blogging a little bit earlier on Sunday than I usually do, but I have a busy day ahead of me and wanted to get my weigh-in over with. Note that I weigh myself throughout the day during the week (yes, this is a bad habit), and the mornings tend to be a "heavier" time of day. Despite that, check this out:
  • March 18 - 236.8
  • March 11 - 238.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
There are two surprises coming out this number: first, I figured the time of day I weighed in (post-breakfast as opposed to pre-dinner) would have worked against me, and second, holy crap I lost 1.4 pounds this week! I was far from perfect, but at the same time on the days I "cheated," the rest of the day I really budgeted my calories. I feel good about this week not only because of the significant weight loss, but I also love the fact that I am managing my diet in a way that allows me to live healthy and enjoy food. This is the sort of progress that is sustainable through life.

Today I begin my search for a local band. It has been almost five years since I last played outside of a garage and/or basement, and this is a key piece of me (and by "me," I mean a critical part of what makes David, David). In fact, every morning for the last week I have made it a point to "meditate" to 10 minutes of music before going to work. Even though I am not playing it, listening to someone else make music and focusing on those sounds have reminded me how happy I am when I am around music. I suppose this, too, is part of my journey of re-centering myself (that is, add music to health and finances).

On that note, I leave you, the reader, with some music (while the video is weird and/or creepy, I am "Feeling Good"):

PS - Only .8 pounds away from my frist 20!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Just breath

A really cool thing happened today: my body reacted negatively and I regained control of it.

Specifically, I was doing my laps, and on lap 8-ish of my first set of 30 I got a terrible side stitch. In my experience, this is typically driven by breathing too quickly (not quite to the point of hyperventilation, but still breathing heavily). Cardio is something I really have to keep on top of, otherwise it really affects my ability to lift weights, do any sort of circuit, and frankly go up more than about three flights of stairs. Breathing too heavily less than 10 minutes into a 60 minute workout is a symptom of this weakness.

I could have panicked. I could have stopped to take a breath. Instead, I centered myself and slowed down my breathing. In two laps, the side stitch was gone.

As someone who clearly has a hard time maintaining control of his body (how else do you get a 30+ BMI?), it is a pretty awesome feeling to be able to control something as simple as the rate of my breathing. I will never forget Labor Day weekend 2007 in Castlewood Canyon, CO, where my friends almost had to carry me out because I could not catch my breath on a medium difficulty hike. Sure, factors such as my general health played into that situation (being 5' 10", weighing 270 pounds, and having a resting blood pressure of 160/120 makes it tough to breath), but the mental toughness and control is something I think I learned tonight. While in the pool.

Today was a great day. Tomorrow will be even better when my first circuit is 50 laps. I am 2/3 of the way to my first mile!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Keepin' on with keepin' on

And the success continues! Here are the stats:
  • March 11 - 238.2
  • March 4 - 239.6
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
It feels really good to be closing in on my first 20 pounds, and it looks like I will do it before April 1 (and I am not fooling you). I am also keeping pace on my goal of weight of 180 by December 31, although there is not a lot of buffer room. Something I will need to remind myself is that it is more important to weigh 180 pounds three years after I achieve this goal weight than the date on which I get to the point of my goal.

It is really cool experiencing my body changing for the positive. Last week I wore a pair of slacks to work that last fit over two years ago, and Friday night I wore a shirt out that hadn't been on my back for at least as long. In fact, I just put on an old slim fit suit jacket (a 46R jacket designed for someone with a 36" waist) and managed to button it (note this does not mean it fit, but rather I just it onto my body, which is a feat in and of itself).

Swimming is definitely helping. I feel energy I have not felt in quite a while, and my joints are not constantly achey. I am also regaining (at least a little) the definition in my arms and shoulders. I still have a long ways to go before I have earned my beach body, but it is also important to notice the subtle changes in my body as they happen.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More from photo week!

Now that I am two months and 16+ pounds into losing weight, I though I would post a couple more topless pictures.

First, here is how I looked on January 2:

Here is how I look tonight, March 7:

While I still have quite a ways to go to be considered svelte, I am really pleased with my progress to date. It's pretty clear as to where I carry my weight (around the abdomen), and I will definitely have to work on my slouch as part of this (I never knew it was that bad!).

Monday, March 5, 2012

I buttoned my jacket in spite of chain restaurants making it difficult

First off, excuse the Fallout Boy- or Panic! at the Disco-esque blog title, but I hit a very important milestone twice in the last week (actually, I hit two milestones, but I will take them one at a time). I buttoned not one, but two of my suit jackets this week. This feat has not been accomplished in well over a year, and here is the photographic proof:

Technically this is a sports coat, and I also realized this outfit makes me look like a college professor. I do not think I will wear this ensemble again; that is, I will not unless I get some leather patches sewn onto my elbows.

The other important milestone is that I dropped a zero. Here are the stats:
  • March 4 - 239.6
  • February 19 - 241.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256.0
I am well on my way to my goal weight of 180, but the challenge of doing so by December 31, 2012, will only increase as time goes on. I am on pace today, but as anyone who has tried to lose weight knows it only gets tougher the more pounds you shed. I am hoping for at least two more months of 8 pounds/month, and then I will be scraping to get a pound a week.

The other day I came across a really interesting article that supports a stat I heard a while back that the average American underestimates their caloric intake by 98% when eating out (I couldn't find a source link, but I heard it while watching the Today Show). To put this in perspective, simply double the amount of calories you are eating in that Ruby Tuesday's cheeseburger and that is roughly how many you are eating. recently published a very interesting article on what food providers (be it processors, grocery stores, or restaurants) do to hide the real caloric intake of their foods. There is a very strong trend (and has been for a very long time, as showcased with the Pop Tarts example) to not clearly reflect how many calories are being consumed in a package by using the deceptive phrase "serving size."

The biggest culprit in the article is Uno Chicago Grill's personal pan pizza. While Uno is no stranger to making lists of bad foods (and here; and here; and here), calling a 2,310 calorie option "personal" is deceitful at best. I can at least understand splitting a P.F. Chang's dish two ways, but who has ever split a personal pizza in half?

Finally, I would like to leave you with a motivational thought on why it is important to go to the gym. During my Sunday afternoon trip, potential Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders were auditioning for the 2012 season. You never know who you will run into while at the gym.