Friday, March 28, 2008

Loosing Weight vs. Getting In Shape

I've found over the last few days as I've been talking with some people at work about my new fitness goals that there is a large misunderstanding in the world about how to loose weight. Every time the conversation would come up with someone new, one of the first things they would ask would be something related to exercise - what gym did I join? was I running? did I buy a workout video? When I tell them I'm not doing any of that, they just look as me like I'm some sort of weirdo. I can almost here their thoughts: What is he doing? Doesn't he know you can't loose weight unless you exercise?

Well folks, it's time to confess - I'm not exercising. At least not planned exercise - I'll go walk at work from one shop to another and I'll play with Sammie, but not a scheduled exercise plan. So, how have I lost weight? Go down to my first posts - it's all about balancing the amount of energy that comes in with the energy that comes out and the energy that is stored. That's it.

So, what are the benefits to loosing weight this way?
  • No exercise which means I don't have to fail at one more thing and beat myself up about it.
  • I don't have to add one more thing to my schedule.
  • I'm not sore.
  • Weight seems to magically disappear - every day I'm lighter.
  • No need to spend money on equipment
  • I learn better control over how to eat and deal with cravings.
  • It works every time.
What's the disadvantage?
  • One simple statement - I'm NOT in shape!
So, I'm still just as likely to have heart difficulties cause I'm not doing anything to strengthen my heart. If I'm not careful, the body will try to burn muscle instead of fat because it's easier to process and I'll become even less fit. If I stop eating right, the weight will start reappearing just as magically. I'm not fit, I'm just getting lighter in weight.

These two ideas are completely separate. If weight was a sign of fitness, then NFL linebackers wouldn't be able to play the game for more than a few minutes and people like super skinny models would run marathons. Get a clue - neither of those occur because weight is not an indication of fitness. It may indicate other things, but does not tell you anything about a person's fitness least not directly.

Being in shape is about being able to perform certain physical tasks - running a mile in under 12 minutes, doing a certain number of push-ups/pull-ups, being able to lift objects of a certain weight, etc. These are the marks of fitness. These are things that NFL players can do, even thought they weight 280 lbs or more.

Right now, my goals are strictly about loosing weight. Why? Because when I start to exercise again, I don't want to tear my joints apart. I want to get fit by running and lifting weights - high impact kinds of things that really can hurt your body if you're not careful. If I only weight 190 lbs when I start to run again, it will be much less stressful on my heart and my knees. That's the only reason why I'm doing things this way.

If you do the research, you'll find that weight loss goals are more easily met and kept when you have a fitness routine as well, but IT IS NOT REQUIRED to loose weight. The extra muscle you get from working out makes you less susceptible to sudden weight gains because it needs more energy to work, so it gobbles up extra calories much more easily.

Learning how to loose weight by counting calories is essential in my opinion because it's the only way you can be guaranteed to loose weight. To loose weight you have to learn that balance - if you never learn how to do that, you'll never loose weight. You might be able to do a lot of fit things, but you'll weight a lot more than you should. Just because NFL players can run a lot when they weigh so much doesn't mean they should. That's why almost all profession sports players are retiring in their early to mid 30s - they've worn their bodies out by moving a large body at high speed and impact, whereas career marathon runners can run into their mid 60s or better.

So, hopefully that helps clear up a little misunderstanding. My fitness goals are for the next six months - right now, during these first six months, all I want to do is loose weight.

Happy Friday and Happy Healthy!

EDIT: Ha! See, I'm not the only one who says it. Check out this article on Yahoo! from Debbie Rocker, Keep it Simple.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

After One Month

Well, it's official - we've been living this new lifestyle for exactly one month! We started officially weighing in on February 27th, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to update you all on the milestones we've achieved already.

Milestone 1 - Ways to Weigh
The first milestone was more a financial decision than a weight loss one, but it gave us the tools we needed to start living right. We bought two scales - one for the kitchen and one for the bathroom. The kitchen scale is a digital food scale used to measure out how much food we're eating. Using these weights, you can go online to a Calorie Counter to find out how many calories were in what you ate. The bathroom scale was necessary as that's how we track how well we're doing from day to day. Once we had those in place it became much easier to find out how big a serving size of whatever really is and to understand how a splurge of chocolate at the end of the day can really kill your weight loss goals.

Milestone 2 - Control

During this first month, we've learned how to control our cravings. Sure, we still falter now and again, but overall, we succumb to the cravings in a much more manageable way - we plan our cravings. Like yesterday at work - I walked right past a birthday cake someone had brought and was only slightly tempted. I knew that I wanted to have a big dinner that night and wasn't about to spoil it with cake during the day. We have our menu, and we've started to plan what nights we want dessert. Then it's easier to snack less during the day because you know that your getting ice cream that night. (This will probably be a whole article on its own - finding a way to plan "unhealthy" behavior allows you to have it without it throwing you off course.) By way of another example, if you plan to eat out on Friday night for a date, you spend all day Thursday eating really healthy so that the good and bad cancel each other out. That leads me to our next milestone.

Milestone 3 - Balance

"Everything in moderation." It's a phrase we all know and in general, it provides a pretty good guideline to eating better for weight loss. One of the things I love most about counting calories is that I'm allowed to eat anything I want (with moderation) so long as my total calories at the end of the day are in the right range. So, if I want Hershey's Kisses as a snack, I have to balance that by only eating one portion of spaghetti at dinner. The two must balance. And we've really been getting good at it so that we can have pudding and popcorn and hot chocolate and candy at least a couple of times during the week. You don't feel like you're giving up anything when you can balance things this way.

Milestone 4 - Veggie Delight

As we've learned better how to eat, one of the easiest changes was adding vegetables to every lunch and dinner - it's a great way to not feel like you're starving and to add better quality food to your diet. Since we started this, I have eaten a great amount and greater diversity of vegetables than during any other month-long period in my life. Stacie's still a lot better at eating veggies than I, but things that I could barely stomach before have turned into side dishes that I actually like. The old adage, "You eat what you like and you like what you eat" is proving more and more true for us every day. Salads-as-a-meal are a weekly occurrence and salads-as-a-side-dish are even more common. Celery, broccoli, tomatoes (technically a fruit, but who's counting?), peas, corn, carrots, mushrooms (fungus, I know - just work with me here), bell peppers, green leaf lettuce, and asparagus all are regulars on my list. And with summer coming up, I'll be expanding my diet even more with various types of summer squashes.

Milestone 5 - Weight Loss

The real measuring stick for all of this was whether or not we were loosing weight and trimming down. We're both active enough and eating enough protein that the weight we'd be loosing would be fat. So how are we doing? Both down in weight at the this point. As of today I am down a total of exactly 13 lbs. Now if that seems amazing, it is, but please don't credit me with all of it. During my week with the flu I lost 6 lbs! Not a healthy way to loose weight and my starvation reflex definitely kicked in after that, but I've gotten my metabolism started back up and am once again loosing it in a much more controlled fashion. So, I'm only going to claim 7 lbs. right now and if at the end of the next month, I'm still on a good pace, then I'll be happy. Stacie's also done well loosing a total of 4.4 lbs at this date. It's much easier for her to snack at home so she's been working a lot more on getting good control, but I say 4 lbs is still 4 lbs! Congrats to her cause she's definitely got a little more stress working during her day (named Sammie) than I.

How have you all done during the last month? Check out the new poll and add your answer!

Also let us know in your comments how your new lifestyle changes are holding. And if they're not as good as you'd like, what you can change to help them do better - others will appreciate your suggestions.

Happy Thursday and Happy Healthy to You!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Guiltless Goodies

Well, after the flu, getting yourself back into the swing of eating can be a little hard to do, especially when you've spent the entire week eating less than 500 calories each day! ;)

This is a topic I've wanted to add for a while, but didn't really feel that I had enough good suggestions to make it worth the time - how to snack without paying for it. Amazingly, there are lots of really tasty, easy, and calorically cheap ways to snack. Some of them have more of a "health" feel, like celery and carrots, while others almost scream junk food. So, here's our little list of snacks that you don't have to feel bad about eating.

First, the healthy type ones. These are the ones that have something more than just a way to fill your tummy.
  • Celery and peanut butter - so long as you keep the PB limited to the serving size, this can be an very filling snack. The celery gives a great amount of fiber and a portion of protein from the peanut butter. This was one of the favorites of my youth.
  • Carrots - Take a small bag of baby carrots and chomp away. Carrots have a great crunch and are basically free when it comes to the calories. The only bad thing is getting a carrot that's bitter - not much worse to eat in my opinion. But usually, you only get two or three bad carrots in the whole bag.
  • Deli-sliced chicken and turkey - these were the most surprising snacks we've come across. Oscar Meyer Fresh Select Shaved Turkey and Chicken Breast are AWESOME! Only 45-50 cal per serving and one serving is enough to make a sandwich! We were so shocked the first time we actually weighed the serving size and realized just how much meat it was.
    • Related is making a deli meat and cheese sandwich - take a serving size of shaved deli meat and wrap it around a single slice of swiss or cheddar cheese. The meat is only 50 cal and the cheese is 90 cal - that's the same total amount as a small granola bar and way more filling.
  • Fresh fruit - this can be almost anything: apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, grapes, etc. Anything you can get fresh from the produce section of your local grocery store. And when you find good fruit, you can't help eating it. The only problem is that some of it is really pretty sweet and as such lots of fruit sugar calories. But it's better than eating a Snickers.
Now most of those healthy ones are things you probably already know you should snack on. But what about the less obvious calorie cheap snacks? If you need to feed a sweet craving or just don't have time to grab a healthier snack, these can really help you make it through the day so you don't feel like you're missing out on the good things in life.
  • Popcorn - Air popped, with a tablespoon or less of butter and a dash of salt. Five cups of air popped popcorn are only 200 calories! Do you realize how much 5 cups is? I didn't but it's a ton - more than you would normally eat (unless you happen to be Stacie or I - we LOVE popcorn!)
  • Gum - as I've mentioned previously, this is a great way to beat the sweet bug with 5-10 calories. Pop a slice of gum, drink a decent amount of water and voila!
  • Pudding - made with 1% or 2% milk and kept to a serving size, vanilla pudding was a nice sweet treat last night. It was also a good way for us to use up our nearly expired milk.
  • 100 Calories Snack Packs - I was really skeptical of these snack packs you can buy in the store. Chex Mix, Oreo Crisps, Gold Fish, crackers, and even FritoLay brand chips come pre-packaged in snack packs of only 100 calories. But I thought they would just keep feeding the sugar addiction but they really haven't been bad at all.
Well, if you've got some snack suggestion, please leave them in the comments section!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Emotional Eating

Well you heard about our crazy week. Thank heavens for Chocolate or I may have killed someone. ha ha......but it also made me realize how much of an emotional shopper and eater I am. So now I am recommitting and getting back on track. I have realized that this has to be a life change and that I can't just splurge when life gets rough or there is a holiday, etc. I need to gain this power to be able to say yes I can have a girl scout cookie, but I don't need the whole freakin box.

However, we are back on the path to loosing and we want to hear from you if you have decided to join us on this journey.

I heard on the news today a tip that made my mind go well duh. The lady said you can eat 2 cups of grapes for 1/3 a cup of Raisins, which are you going to pick. Well duh the grapes cause your mind sees that as eating more. They will also fill you up more because of the liquid and the fiber they have. Not that raisins don't have fiber, but they don't contain all the water the grapes do and will feel less full. So remember you can eat what you want, just count your calories and fill up on those that are less caloric before you eat what you want. So for example you may want Spaghetti, but the noodles are very caloric so you will have a salad, some broccoli, and maybe some veggie soup and then eat the spaghetti.

Watch those calories and you will watch those pounds shed away! Doesn't that sound like an infomercial?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Making a Case for Weighing Everyday

A lot of times during my life, I have been told not to weigh myself everyday. Arguments for this are things like:
  • Water can change your body weight by up to 5 lbs.
  • Muscle weighs more than fat, so when you're working out, you can't tell the difference.
  • It makes you obsessive.
  • It's discouraging.
Well, I must say all of those can be true. Water does weigh quite a bit and can throw off your weight. Muscle does indeed weigh much more than fat. It does get just a bit obsessive. But over the last few days, it's not be discouraging in least - and I say that with having actually gained 2 lbs. over those last few days.

You do have to do something to eliminate the variability that these things can cause. To deal with variation due to water, make sure you're always hydrated and weigh yourself at the same time every day. (I do it first thing in the morning after a trip to the bathroom. I've sweated/breathed/eliminated all the water I can at that point.) To deal with muscle, you can have a second alternative measurement, like measuring waist girth.

But it hasn't been discouraging, because as I saw myself starting to gain back weight that I had lost, it helped to clue me in to some changes that I needed to make in the way I was accounting for my calories. By having something that I check everyday, I was able to stop a trend back upwards because I caught it early.

And the results? I'm back down to where I was and continuing downward.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Back on Track

Well after a not so good weekend, not bad just not good, we are recommitted to getting back on track. We started measuring everything, when you don't it is too easy to estimate your amount of calories which only gets you in trouble until you are disciplined enough to control the portion sizes.

It was beautiful out here in OK, 65+, so we were able to fit a walk in between feeding, pumping, and naps. It was so fun to be outside and Sam loved that the wind blew through her feet. That made it easy for me to continue to want to be outside. Tomorrow is supposed to be even better weather, so break out the sunblock we are heading outdoors for our exercise these few days before it gets to hot and humid that we don't want to be out there.

It has been way before getting pregnant that I really worked out hard and so I started walking and after 9 minutes I was ready to be done, but kept pushing through (I have found that if I get past 15 minutes I usually can go a good 40+) past my first 15 minutes and ended up getting about a 30 minute work out. Which for me was good, going from unloading boxes to straight workout for 30 minutes was a big change and I will probably feel it tomorrow, but even more reason for me to get my butt back outside.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

When the "Busies" Strike

Life has gotten rather hectic for me the last few days and I must say, it is impacting my ability to diet and exercise, though it's a bad way you might not immediately see. During the last two days I have been eating anything I can get my hands on in order to not eat too little! I've been so busy that I don't have the time to get a proper snack down and I'm literally running at times across base, getting a much higher amount of exercise than I usually do.

The result: I'm loosing weight a little too quickly. Yes, that's right TOO QUICKLY. It's really only healthy to loose at about 1-2 pounds per week, but the last two days has me on a pace to loose 5-6 pounds. And that's not good for two reasons.
  1. I may under-eat to such a point that the body's starvation reflex will kick in and slow my metabolism down, which would not be a good thing.
  2. I may become habituated to eating everything within my grasp, even after my life slows back down, which would mean I would start to shoot up in weight again.
The biggest thing I've found to be helpful is to try and get a good portion of my calories taken care of in the morning - eating breakfast before I even get into the shower. That helps to jump-start my metabolism first thing and I don't have to worry that I'll be starving by lunch time because I was too busy at work to actually eat my breakfast.

So, if you don't see too many updates in the next few days, don't worry. It's just the "busies" and I'm probably off eating. ;)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

One Week Mark

Can't believe we hit the one week mark today. I jumped on the scale and was so happy to see that in one week I was down 4.4 lbs. I already feel that it is becoming a routine to check calories and that this is definitely a lifestyle I can live forever. Last night we had one of our favorite meals, fish sticks and fries with a mix of sweet white corn and petite peas. It was great to remind myself that I can still eat what I like just smaller amounts which gives me enough to curb the craving.

It is fun to put on the pre-pregnancy pants and they fit better than before I was pregnant. The next step is to implement exercise. I am still unpacking and playing with Sam so that counts, but it is time to knock up the level a little. With it getting warmer outside we are going to start walking. Sam loves being outside, we learned that this weekend at the zoo.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Goals Update

Well, Stacie already told you where her goals were for getting in shape, and what she gets if she does it. I guess today's a good day to do mine so that I can also mention what this week's goals are.

My goal is to loose 6-8 inches off my waist and be running 5k's again within 6 months. I haven't set how many I want to run, and think I need to, but a decent number at least. My reward will be the Canon Digital Rebel XTi DSLR camera and one lens.

For this week, since I'm already seeing what the problems are, my goals are to have some kind of exercise during the day (walking the shop floor, desk push-ups, whatever), getting plenty of water (at least 2 of my Styrofoam cups worth for every snack and meal), and avoid the midnight munchies.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Stumbling Blocks - How to Trip without Falling

I have found that when I walk, I don't fall a lot. I might catch my toe going up a set a stairs or on an uneven piece of concrete on the side way, but 99 times out of 100, I only stumble - I don't fall. It's sort of become a game for me to see how long I can go without actually sprawling on the ground. Rolling an ankle doesn't matter either. It seems that I have enough agility to stumble without actually falling down.

Metaphorically speaking, how do I take that same agility and apply it to loosing weight as well?

You see, the last two nights, I have had the munchies like crazy. I want to eat something so badly, and I'm groggy enough that I don't think to use my sure-fire method (see post below). It's an old habit that comes up every now and again and it has sure hit hard recently. And I have been stumbling. Not falling - I haven't gained any weight back, but I haven't lost any either. I am maintaining weight, which is not my goal right now.

So, after some thinking, I believe I've found some things that I can do to catch myself when I start to fall and it's by using the same approaches as I do when I walk.
  • Head-up / Eyes-front: This was a trick I learned from my Dad while driving. Look down the road and watch for upcoming problems well before you have to deal with them. And do it continuously, not just now and again. You see the road better, you can drive a straight line easier, and you can avoid a problem before you get to it. While walking, I do the same thing - you'd be surprised how many people trip over the same piece of sidewalk one right after another because they're not watching the person in front of them.
    • Applied to eating, I know when I'm going to be munchy at night because I've been munchy during the day. If I use a head-up/eyes-front kind of thinking, that should clue me in that there may be problems later on in the evening. Rather than having to react last minute while I'm groggy, I can have a plan already in place.
  • Use a support: When I catch my toe walking up or down stairs, I usually don't fall because I have a habit of holding on to the hand rail while I do so. Again something simple but it prevents me from busting up my body falling down a flight of stairs.
    • What is your support when you're getting in shape? Those around you - in my case, Stacie. I've already asked her to remind me to drink plenty of water before bed to get that full stomach feeling. Yes, that might mean I'm up at 2:00am in the bathroom, but that's better than gaining a few tenths of a pound during the night.
  • Make Agility a Habit: As I said earlier, I've made it a game to try and never actually fall when I walk. It's become so habitual that I don't think about it when I roll off the edge of the side walk or when my foot lands in a hole. Part of the habit was gained going out and running around on uneven ground in the back yard. Part of it comes from knowing that I have the agility to catch myself.
    • This comes down to just doing it. Realizing that if you stumble or even outright fall down, you can get up and go on. Finding exercises to get stronger. Just posting a blog about how to overcome stumbling is helping to give me resolve to not let it happen again, to build up a better habit.
Those are my ways, but I'm sure there are hundreds of other things that can be done. What means have you all come up with for overcoming the stumbling blocks? Let us know how you do it - post a comment with your stumbling block beaters.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, March 3, 2008

New Life

I was surprised how early I felt the effects of eating right. My energy level has jumped. What I like best is it doesn't feel like a diet because it isn't. This is the rest of my life. I don't have to worry about eating only veggies or no fat or no carbs or no sweets, I can eat anything it is just the portions that change. And it may be a little bit of a pain to count calories but in reality over time it will become first nature and I can keep track in my mind as I continue to learn amount sizes and servings vs. calorie intake and will know what better decisions to make in the future.

For example on Friday, Grant and I had decided we were still going out for our date night so I had Instant Oatmeal packets which was 260 calories, then I had an Orange around 60 c., banana 75 c., sandwich meat (oscar meyer 6 slices for 45 c.) and cheese so 105 c., 2 pieces of gum 10 c., celery sticks and a table spoon of peanut butter 127 c., this allowed me to have a petite burger and fries. My favorite meal from Red Robin. ***I always estimate calories high so at least I am covering it for sure.

I have learned what you can't do is let your water slack. Drink, Drink, Drink. Now we can say Eat, Drink, and be happy (not merry)!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beat the Craving - Tips and Tricks

Find yourself staving during those first few days of eating smaller portions? Got a sugar craving and are dying to eat some? Munchies hit hard and now you've got a craving of major proportions?

Don't worry, I've been there too these last few days and I've found a sure-fire method (at least for me) to beat those cravings with only 5-10 calories. The solution? Gum and water.

I pop a slice of gum in my mouth, usually Orbit's Sweet Mint (<5 calories a slice), and down at least 8 oz. of water after. I drink as much as I can before I start to get that "sloshy" feeling, usually over about 10 minutes.

The gum satisfies my sweet or munchie craving and the water in my stomach takes care of the starving, empty feeling.

NOTE: Do NOT ever use this method to replace a meal - this is an in-between meal/snack trick to get you over the hump. And after a few days, those starving feelings should subside. If not, you may not be eating enough and sending your body into the starvation reflex which is the opposite of what we're wanting to do, causing your metabolism to slow down and store everything.