Saturday, December 15, 2012

Last weigh-in of 2012

Last weigh-in of 2012: 229.5 pounds. I've managed to lose 347.5 pounds in 2 1/2 years. Believe in the power of common sense, my friends. Eat right and move your body. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why not just stop?

I used to get the question all the time when I weighed over 500 pounds.

"Why not just stop eating so much?"

The answer to that ridiculous question is not easy.  But the simple answer is this: because you can't. It's like any other addiction.  Why doesn't the drug addict stop doing cocaine?  Why don't you stop smoking?  Why don't you stop drinking coffee?  Why don't you stop drinking alcohol?  Why don't you stop eating fast food? And on and on.

The more I think about it and the longer my lifestyle change goes on ( 2 1/2 years and counting,) the more I realize there is no sure-fire, guaranteed way for anyone to change their life permanently before they're ready.

You can give someone the information.

You can be supportive.

You can show them the way.

But there is no way you can do it for them.

Which is what I have learned with my clients in my weight loss consulting business. There is no one, perfect way to lose weight and keep it off.  My way worked for me, but it might not work for you.

But I know what doesn't work.  Diets.  Gimmicks. Fads. Living off frozen dinners.  Starvation.  None of it works.  Sure, you'll lose weight. But what do those plans offer you 5 years out?  Right. Nothing.

So how does someone change?

They change because they (not you, not me, not anything or anyone else) reach a point where they can't take it anymore. But they have to arrive at this point. There is nothing you can say to them to get them to change.

Nothing, nothing, nothing.

No one could tell me anything to make me change my lifestyle before I hit rock bottom and almost died. There was not a thing in the world anyone could do or say.  It was only when I decided to make it all happen that it was going to happen.  The same goes for you.

And one final thing:  if somebody has lost a bunch of weight in the past and then gained it all back, please do not say "You did it before, you can do it again.  You know what works!" to them.  If they gained all the weight back, their plan failed.  It didn't work. Repeating it over again is only going to achieve the same results.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Comments Disabled

Friends and faithful readers of this blog..

I have disabled comments on the blog. Why? Because 90% of the comments were spam, despite the fact that it required a Google account to post.

So if you read something and would like to provide feedback, you can send me an e-mail. I'll post the good ones.

Thanks!

Bryan

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Results Are In

The results are in from this past Saturday's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K race.

I ran it, start to finish, in 40 minutes and 20 seconds.  I've done several 5K and 10K races, but this the first time I have run one all the way through.

Am I happy with the time? Yes and no.  Yes, because it is a huge improvement over the last 5K race I was in that I partially ran, which was the Turkey Day Run last year. I completed that in 54 minutes and 7 seconds.

So, in 11 months, I shaved 13 minutes and 47 seconds off my time. Not bad.

But I want it to be faster.  Now I will train for the next one!  I would like to thank my friend and personal trainer, Anthony Smith.  Thanks Tony!



Monday, September 24, 2012

The Long March To Under 200

When I was a child growing up in Dayton, Ohio, we used to go on family vacations and road trips across the country.

As we were driving home, it always seemed to take forever.  That's the way it is, isn't it?  Always fast on the way there, slow on the way home. 

But then we would reach Richmond, Indiana.  A fairly small Midwestern town along I-70 near the Ohio/Indiana border;  it is 41.5 miles from the middle of Richmond to Downtown Dayton. 

And yet, for whatever reason, it always felt like it took hours and hours to drive that last distance home.  Why?  Because it was at the end. 

The same can be said of this lifestyle change.  I have been grinding away at my weight for 2 years, 3 months and 4 days.  

I am down to the last 50 pounds or so.  When I reach 198 pounds, I will be at a weight I haven't weighed since the 4th grade.  That's exactly 30 years ago. 

Because I am near the end, it will take what feels like forever to lose this last 50 pounds.  But I really don't care how long it takes.  I've never cared that. I know it has to be forever. The hard work won't even begin until all the weight is off.  Keeping weight that you have lost off is 10 times harder than losing it is. 

It never ends. In fact, it's just beginning.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."
-Benjamin Franklin

I've heard this said all my life, but in the last 2 years and 3 months, I have realized that it is 100% true.  I simply could not have lost 328 pounds on my own without converting to a daytime schedule. And I will never work any other schedule, ever again.

There is something about going to bed early that instills discipline. Getting up early is refreshing, energizing and puts me in a completely different frame of mind than sleeping until noon does.

In addition, night time promotes all of the demons.  Darkness.  Being alone.  Brightly lit fast food restaurant signs.  Late night pizza delivery.  Endless TV watching.

To anyone considering a lifestyle change, I would absolutely say switching to a day shift as soon as humanly possible is a total must.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It Wasn't Time

Day 2 back on the Diovan and I already feel so much better. My blood pressure has returned to normal, about 115 over 70.

At first I was disappointed to be taking it again, but 2 things have given me a better outlook about it.

1.) I need it. It wasn't time to stop taking it.

2.) Diovan is expensive, but it goes generic next month, before I run out. I smartly save all of my prescription drugs, even the ones I hate and hope to never take again.  You never know.

So for now, back on this drug. Hopefully not forever, but if it has to be that way, so be it.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Minor Setback - Back on the Diovan Train

Last couple of weeks, my blood pressure has been all over the place, getting higher than it has in a long time.

I have done nothing differently. Same exercise, same food. Continuing to lose weight.

This morning, I had some blurred vision. Not good. Went to the doctor.  Here is what has happened:

-BP is borderline high. Back on the 80mg Diovan daily for now and we'll see what happens.

-EKG was slightly abnormal, consistent with somebody who had heart trouble in the past.  The doctor said there was nothing acute, however.

-I am being scheduled for a stress test and an echocardiogram to check for any problems.

It is disappointing to be back on a prescription drug after being so happy and excited to get off it.  But the bottom line is this: if I need it, I need it. I would rather take the pill and be healthy than not. If it's not time for me to stop taking it, it's not time.

As for my heart, the truth will be what it will be. I abused my body for many years by being very overweight. I won't be surprised if those actions have consequences, no matter how hard I try to reverse them.

For now, onward and upward!  The doctor told me I could continue to work out, so the gym awaits tomorrow....




Sunday, August 26, 2012

When Reality Hits Home

Last week on Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, I really identified with something Jarvez,  the guy who lost the weight on there said. He talked about how he ripped his pants and had to take off work so he could wait for the replacement pants he bought online to be delivered to his house. I've been there. For many, many years, I had to have the clothes I wore specially made because I was too big for the clothes in the "Big and Tall" store. Stuff like that really hits home.  This may seem like TMI, but I used to have to special order my briefs because I was too big for the ones they had in any store. I used to order the biggest ones I could find, 7X, from Frank's Big and Tall in New Jersey.

Today, at a regular department store, I purchased a 7-pack of Large sized briefs. If somebody had told me 3 years ago that would have happened, I would have laughed and said they were crazy.

It's the little things, folks. And thanks to Frank's for hooking me up all those years.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Questions from Amber

I get some great questions in the comments sometimes and people don't always leave a way to get back to them, so I thought I would answer these questions in a blog posting.

Hello Bryan,

I love your honest and candid advice. I have a couple questions and would greatly appreciate any response you would be willing to give. First, you mention in some of your earlier posts that you started by eating around 2400 calories a day. Do you still eat that many calories? If not, when did you start tapering them? and what has been your strategy up until this point regarding that?

The amount of food I have eaten has fluctuated throughout the 2 years, 2 months and 3 days I have been doing this.  In general, the calories I have consumed has been steady at about 2,500.  For a time, it was closer to 3,000 a day. On days I have struggled, it's gone up to 3,200. But as a general rule, I try and stick with about 2,400-2,500, give or take. 

If a person has a lot of weight to lose, I actually think they should not focus on calories as the main thing in the beginning. Focus on re-training your taste buds to accept healthy food and make you feel full.  I had to "detox" from the high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar, processed food diet I was eating. For example, if you weigh 577 pounds like I did, you could start with 5,000 calories and slowly ramp it down over time. 

The second question is, are there certain foods or snacks that you may have eaten at the start of your journey, but have cut out along the way? 

Yes.  As a food addict, there are certain things I cannot eat because they taste "too good."  For instance, I don't eat cold breakfast cereal.  Not because it's bad, but because I cannot stop. The food that I eat requires a careful balance of being nutritious and filling, but not "too good."  I don't eat peanut butter for that same reason. 

You mentioned that you were not as concerned about what you ate, then you were about keeping your calories around 2400. I feel this idea, offers great hope to the severely addicted. That you have to start somewhere, so even if you can't eat like a seasoned nutritionist yet, at least get started with what you can do.

There is some confusion here. I am very concerned with what I eat, but I agree with what you're saying overall.  Everything is a work in progress and you have to start somewhere.  I have to do what I have to do to get through the day and everyone else does too. 

That being said, at what point do you feel stricter control should become part of the plan? 

Everyone is different, but what worked for me is focusing more on eating filling quantities of healthy food at first.  Then after a few weeks, start measuring it and writing it down.  You have to develop a routine. 

But food addiction is real and it is a lot of work to manage.  It can be done.  I hope that helps.  Any questions? E-mail me bganey@gmail.com

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Click Here For Absolute Nonsense

In the world of online media, the number of page views rules the day. Online advertisers pay for the number of people that click on an ad or visit a page.

And one sure-fire way to get people to click on something is to have a headline that spouts some idiotic, outrageous health advice.

Here are a few from this week:

Actually, Yo-Yo Diets Don't Screw Up Your Metabolism

Egg Yolks As Bad For Your Heart As Smoking


See the pattern?  It's simple: let's write a story about how something that is good for you is really bad! Or, vice-versa, now what used to be bad is good!

What's next?  Smoking is good for you?  A story about the health benefits of fast food?

Use common sense. It will never steer you wrong.  Ever.

Take the first one.  Who cares if Yo-Yo diets screw up your metabolism?  They screw up your life! It is bad for your physical health and bad for your mental health to gain and lose the same weight over and over again.  Who cares about your metabolism?

And the egg one.

Come on.  Eggs as bad for you as smoking?  Really.  So let's just accept the premise for just a second that eggs are really that unhealthy.  How are the eggs being prepared?  What was the rest of the person's diet like that was eating the eggs?

Again, once you employ simple common sense, these idiotic stories do not pass the test of reasonableness.  But because we all want to believe, because a lot of us are desperate to lose weight, we will click on the story and read it and believe it.

Ridiculous.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Let Common Sense Be Your Guide

Recently, a friend told me he was sent to a nutritionist by his doctor to try and get a handle on his weight problem.

Fantastic, I thought.  A professional recommending a professional. This is what I did and what I tell people to do all the time.

Only there was a problem.

My friend told me he didn't feel comfortable with the advice he was being given.  This particular "nutritionist" was telling him to eat a high-fat, low-carb diet.  He was being told to avoid fruits and vegetables.

My friends, when it comes to health and wellness, you have got to trust common sense.  We all know fruits and vegetables and whole grains are healthy.  If someone is telling us they are unhealthy, then we need to utilize common sense and run in the other direction.

Putting your hand on the stove burner while it's on is a bad idea.  No matter how many people told you it was OK to do it, you wouldn't put your hand on the hot burner because you know better.

And yet, when it comes to our health, lies, misinformation and stupidity often rule the day.

So with that, here is what you should do if you want to learn how to eat properly:

1.) Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) website and click on "Find a Registered Dietitian."  Also check with your health insurance company to see if they have someone they would recommend and cover under your health plan.

2.) Make an appointment and go to the appointment.  Ask questions.  Learn about portion control and grocery shopping. Learn how to eat properly. Take notes.

3.) Keep a food journal and measure your portions and count the calories.

4.) Drink a lot of water.

And above all, USE COMMON SENSE!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Post-Olympics Weigh In

I posted the other day that I was concerned I was eating too much while I was watching the Olympics on TV.

Well, the results are in. I weighed this morning and lost:

Nothing.

Still holding at the same 255 1/2 pounds you see at the top of this page.

While somewhat disappointing, I'll take it.  Now back to my regularly scheduled workout...


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Television Fuels An Olympic Appetite

I've always known that watching TV makes me want to eat because of the food commercials.  As a result, I don't watch TV much anymore.

But, like millions of Americans this past week, I have been watching the 2012 Olympic Games in London. And guess what?  True to form, I have been eating more.

About 500 extra calories per day than I normally do, to be exact.  When I weigh in on Tuesday, I don't anticipate losing any weight.  I'm not going to be surprised.

It really is amazing, the connection between watching television and overeating.  There is nothing healthy advertised on TV to eat.  The commercials wind their way through our subconscious telling us to eat, eat and eat some more.

Then like a smoker with a cup of coffee, there becomes this strange dual dependency between eating and watching TV.  I can't have one without the other.

So what do I do?

1.) Recognize what is happening.

2.) Stop doing it.

3.) Turn off the TV.

The good news is the Olympics are over this week, so I can move on!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

For Those of You In The Charleston, SC Area

The Lowcountry Heart Walk, brought to you by the American Heart Association, is Saturday, September 29. More information is available here.

This is a fantastic event for a great cause.  From the very beginning of my journey, walking has been my bread and butter exercise.  Walking is so important. The best part?  Anyone can do it!

So sign up for the Heart Walk!  Join a team, start a team...get involved.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mercola.com: How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Awhile ago, the my friends at Mercola.com did a write up about my story and posted it on their site for all to see. They asked if I would publish one of their articles about lowering your cholesterol naturally and I am happy to oblige.

How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

In the last two decades, cholesterol has been labeled as a cause of worry. Along with saturated fats, it gained its reputation as the leading cause of heart disease. Having high cholesterol levels, often around 220, was an indicator of poor health among both children and adults. Soon, pharmaceutical companies intervened and introduced statins. These cholesterol drugs were then hailed as a hero for their success in lowering cholesterol.

However, nothing could be farther from the truth. This level is not an indicator of heart disease, let alone, high cholesterol levels. At the same time, using statins to lower cholesterol can bring more harm than benefits. If faced with abnormal levels of cholesterol, there are many ways in order to lower it naturally.

But first, here are some information on cholesterol and statins.

Cholesterol: How Does It Benefit Your Health?

Your body needs cholesterol. Seventy-five percent of cholesterol is produced in your liver, and is utilized by your body for the production of cell membranes, hormones, and bile acids that aid in metabolizing fat.

Also, cholesterol is needed for the synthesis of vitamin D. Once your skin absorbs ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from the sun, it interacts with the cholesterol underneath your skin and produces vitamin D3. Cholesterol also contributes to your memory formation and neurological function.

Having high cholesterol is not an indicator that you have poor heart health. In fact, there are people with levels over 250 but have a very low risk of heart problems, while there are those who have below 200 but possess a great risk.

Ironically, research reveals that there are several side effects associated with low cholesterol levels, such as:

    •    Memory loss
    •    Higher risk of depression, violent behavior, and suicide
    •    Higher chance of contracting cancer or Parkinson’s disease

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Statins to Lower Cholesterol

Statins are a HMG-CoA reductase (cholesterol) inhibitor. They work by blocking the enzyme in your liver that produces cholesterol. Despite their success in lowering cholesterol, they also bring about several side effects.

The most reported side effect of statin drugs is muscle problems, such as muscle pain and weakness. Statins trigger the atrogin-1 gene, which is a factor for muscle atrophy. In advanced cases, a serious condition referred to as rhabdomyolysis can occur. This is when your muscle cells break down.  Often times, the muscle problems disappear once the drugs are halted.

Statin drugs can also be linked to the following adverse consequences:
    •    Cognitive loss
    •    Polyneuropathy or nerve damage in the hands and feet
    •    Hepatic and pancreatic dysfunction
    •    Immune system impairment

Statins also inhibit the production of coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10, which is formed within the same pathway as cholesterol. CoQ10 plays a role in cellular energy production and supports your organ functions.

There is also evidence that statins contribute to the increased risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes, as it prevents your liver from converting sugar and grains into cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time, it can increase your insulin levels, leading to serious problems like chronic inflammation. This condition is linked to numerous disorders, including heart disease, the very disorder that statins are thought to prevent.


The Lifestyle Approach: Modifying Your Lifestyle to Lower Cholesterol

If you keep your cholesterol levels too high or too low, there are implications of health problems. It is key to keep these levels at normal range, so you won’t need to take any cholesterol drug. Instead, you can safely lower cholesterol and keep your levels at a normal range by:

1. Normalizing your insulin levels – You can do this by lessening or eliminating foods rich in sugars and grains from your diet.

2. Consuming more healthy dietary fats – One example of a healthy fat is omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Eating more raw foods.

4. Adding more heart-healthy foods to your diet – Some recommended choices are coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and grass-fed meats.

5. Checking your iron levels – Men and menopausal women have a higher chance of having elevated iron levels. This can inflict oxidative damage on your blood vessels and other important organs.

6. Avoiding smoking and alcohol drinking.

7. Exercising regularly – Exercise is important as it improves your circulation and blood flow.  This enables your immune system to fight off illnesses and infections before they can spread. Your exercise program should not only include aerobics, but also several types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training, strength/resistance training, core exercises, and stretching.

8. Getting enough rest and sleep – This enables your body to recharge.

9. Addressing your emotional baggage – Emotional stress often affects your physical health. Use stress management techniques, such as meridian tapping, meditation, and journaling.


About the Author

Adrienne Nicole works as a web copywriter for Mercola.com, the world’s most visited natural heath site. She is cautious of her health, as high cholesterol runs in her family. With Dr. Mercola’s steps to optimal health, she has discovered how to lower cholesterol naturally. At the same time, she applies Dr. Mercola’s tips in order to raise her resistance against other health threats.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Controversy Over Chick-fil-A

If you have a Facebook account, you know all about the firestorm over fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A.   For those that don't, here's a brief rundown. The president of the company made statements against same-sex marriage.  I'm not going to get into that on a weight loss blog, but it should come as no surprise. The family that owns that restaurant are very religious people.  For instance, their restaurants are famously closed on Sundays.

I have a completely different take and it shows what's wrong with our thinking in this country.

We have become so wrapped up in symbolism over substance, that we've missed the point.  Who cares what the president of Chick-fil-A thinks?  Why not take a look at the nutritional quality of the products they serve in their restaurant?

Their food sucks.  It's loaded with fat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, too many calories and more garbage than anyone needs.  How about boycotting their restaurant for that reason?

Forget about the politics and think about your life.  The eating of the food from that restaurant is going to affect you a whole lot more than what the president of the company thinks about gay marriage.




Sunday, July 15, 2012

Give Them All The Finger

It's the million dollar question: how do you get motivated to lose weight?  I get asked it all the time.

I've talked about this before, but for the benefit of those who are just discovering my blog, I will tell you where mine comes from:

Anger.

That's right. Anger.  Rage.  But at who?  At what?  For what reason?

You can be mad at yourself for allowing yourself to get to your current state (whatever that is.)

Or, you can do what I do, which is to get mad at the entire food and weight-loss industry.  All of it.

First on my list: restaurants, specifically fast-food chains.  I hate them all.  You run food commercials on TV, making it unwatchable for food addicts like me.  You put photographs of your garbage food on billboards and litter the landscape pushing your drug.  Actually, we all know nothing you sell looks like the food in the billboards or the commercials, that's just part of the deception.  There is nothing of any positive nutritional value in a fast-food restaurant and if there is, it is only there to lure people in and make them feel alright about eating there.

Not fired up enough yet?  Let's move on to the food companies.

The US government requires that pet food be solely nutritious enough to sustain the animal it is being fed to.  In other words, the government has higher standards for dog food than it does for the garbage being pumped out by the food companies.

You load your "food" up with so much fat, sugar and salt and put it in a box with a pretty picture on the front.  You peddle your garbage to kids.  The processed food industry poisons the population with its trash with reckless abandon.  The final insult?  We pay for it all.  The US government subsidizes crops like corn, which is used to make trash like high fructose corn syrup so cheaply that the food companies use it over more healthy ingredients.

And last, but certainly not least, my favorite target:  the weight-loss industry.

Let me be clear: the weight-loss industry is a criminal cartel of companies whose executives should be arrested, companies shut down and the money stolen from its victims given back.

I'm talking about them all.  The pills.  The surgeries.  The frozen dinners.  The diet books.  The broken promises. The lies.  The scams.  The phony claims about results almost no one gets.

These thieves should be locked up.  But for some reason, they are allowed to continue to rip people off.  It is a 100% truth that the weight-loss industry is the only industry that sells a product that when it doesn't work, the consumer blames themselves.  No responsibility is ever shared by the company that created the rip-off product that doesn't work.

That should give you an idea of where I am coming from.

One final note: being angry at somebody or something and using it for motivation is not the same as blaming them.  I and I alone am responsible for my weight problem.  I put the food in my mouth and eat it, no one else.

Past that, they can all go to hell.  Now, it's time to go running!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prescription Drug Withdrawal

It has been a rough week.

I got the call from my doctor Tuesday afternoon that I didn't have to take anymore high blood pressure medication (and with that, no more prescription drugs at all.)  What a joyous occasion!

But since then, it has been a real adjustment.  Just like when I came off the Coumadin, my body is taking a lot of energy to adjust to no more meds.  I've taken high blood pressure pills in one for or another for 10 years. Now, there is none.

I ran a mile outside yesterday morning and it felt like I ran 20 miles. Everything is more difficult. I feel tired all of the time.

This too, shall pass.  On the plus side, my blood pressure has not shot up dramatically or anything and my resting heart rate remains 40 beats a minute.
Onward and upward!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, 2012: I Am Now Prescription Drug-Free

At long last, after years of waiting, I got the call from my doctor's office that I had been waiting for.

"The doctor says to stop the Diovan."

And with that statement, I am now officially prescription drug free.  No refills to worry about, nothing to have filled.  No followup appointments. It's over.

A month ago, I was going to the doctor every month, having blood drawn all the time, etc.  No more. So why am I celebrating? Why am I so excited?

Because this is all I have.  I have been working on my weight for over 2 years.  It is so hard, takes so much work, takes so long to see the results sometimes...accomplishments like this are what get me through the tough times.

I am glad the doctors, the hospitals and the pharmacists are there.  I am glad they were there for me.  I am glad they will be there if I ever need them again.

But for now, it is not nice to need them.  It's a beautiful day!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Weight Loss Bucket List Video

I had a lot of fun making a new video today to celebrate crossing one of the things off my "Weight Loss Bucket List."

These are the kind of things that keep me motivated, keep me having fun. Enjoy!


Why I Do Not Compromise

Of all the things I have changed in my life in the last 2+ years, nothing causes more controversy than my "no restaurants" pledge.

It really bothers people.  I don't know why.  Perhaps because I am so inflexible.  Perhaps because eating out in restaurants is such a fabric of our lives, such a part of the American way of life in the 21st century.  Eating in restaurants is a way to socialize, a way to celebrate.  We do it all the time without thinking and can't imagine not doing it.

But I'm not going to do it and here's why.

I've said over and over that I am a food addict.  It's my problem.  For the first 37 years of my life, I abused food.  I still do sometimes and have to be careful.

If food was my drug then the restaurant was my crack house.

What is the purpose of a restaurant?  Why is it there? Like any other business, its sole purpose is to make money.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  We live in a capitalistic society and the restaurant owner has every right to operate their business as they see fit.

But the restaurant owner does not care about:

-Serving you anything remotely healthy
-The quality of the food (only the taste)
-Limiting your intake.  On the contrary, they want you to eat as much as possible

The restaurant owner also has to keep an eye on food costs.  Since the goal is to get you to spend as much as possible, that means serving you as much food, as cheaply as possible that tastes as good as possible.  And for most people, tasting good means as much sugar, salt and fat as possible.

None of those are good for me.  It's a bad environment for a food addict.  Something happens to me when the consumption of food is turned into an entertainment occasion.  When everyone is laughing and having a good time and the server is bringing me anything I want, as much as I want...self-control melts away.  Who keeps track in a restaurant?  Hardly anyone.

So like an alcoholic does not belong in a bar, I do not belong in a restaurant.  I do not begrudge anyone their restaurant experience.  I'm the one with the problem. 

They're just not for me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weighing In

After having been on a plateau for so long it was nice to weigh in this morning at 258.  That's an 8-pound loss in 3 weeks and brings my total weight lost to 319 pounds.

I knew I had lost some more because with every pound I am losing, I can feel the pressure coming off my knees when I run.

I know that I won't always have such a big drop in such a relatively short period of time, but I will celebrate it for now.

So what's my goal?  I've had people ask me how thin I want to get, how much weight I want to lose.  Really, I would love to get to 177.  To be able to say I have lost 400 pounds on my own would be incredible.  I probably haven't weighed that since grade school.  I am not sure that will ever happen, because I will start to look really thin once I get closer to 200.

But imagine what it will be like to run with 60 fewer pounds than I am carrying now! Heaven.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The FDA Summons Captain Obvious

The Food and Drug Administration has approved its first weight loss drug in 13 years.  The pill is lorcaserin, which will be sold under the name "Belviq."

I think diet pills are a total disaster because they have a terrible track record.  They don't work and if they do, they have horrible side effects and get pulled off the market.

But what caught my eye was this quote from an FDA official:

"Obesity threatens the overall well being of patients and is a major public health concern," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a written statement. "The approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition."

Really?  So let me get this straight.  If I take this drug, eat right and exercise, I'll lose weight?  WOW! That's freakin' awesome!  Where do I sign up?  Calling Captain Obvious.....


So what's really going on here?  It's this simple: drug companies are for-profit businesses designed to generate value for their shareholders.  A diet pill is huge business.  People are so desperate to lose weight, they will fall for just about anything.  This is just the pharmaceutical wing of the weight loss industry, but the following rules still apply:

1.) You won't lose weight and if you do, you will gain it all back
2.) Your money and your hope will be stolen
3.) The only way to lose weight and keep it off forever is to do the (very) hard work of diet and exercise
4.) The people selling this drug are selling nonsense.  But people will buy it because there is a sucker born every day.

Don't be a sucker.  Have a bowl of oatmeal and take a walk.  There's your weight loss pill.

Unbelievable. 


Friday, June 29, 2012

Choices

Today I was having lunch in a mall food court.  Not my normal eating place, but I needed somewhere I could go with my grocery store food to sit down and eat and that fit the bill.

While I was eating my grilled chicken, hard-boiled egg and honeydew melon, I looked over and there it was:



The Dairy Queen ice cream cone. 

Right across from where I was sitting was a Dairy Queen.  And let me tell you: I wanted that ice cream cone. 

For just a second. 

Then I remembered: I have been fortunate enough to lose 311 pounds in the last 2 years not eating ice cream cones.  And I thought about that line of thinking. 

It all comes down to choices. 

Either I want the ice cream cone (or, in my case, 10 ice cream cones at once,) or I want my mobility, my health, the ability to run, to not drop dead from a blood clot and to not have diabetes. 

All day, every day, we all make choices.  Day in and day out, we decide to do things.  All these little choices add up to big ones and so we wind up where we are because of what we decided to do. 

It all comes down to that: the choice.  Make the choice.  I reached for a sugar-free Jello pudding instead.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guest Post by John Mulry: How To Find Your Motivation

I've recently made a new friend thanks to the Internet:  John Mulry, a very interesting guy who owns a personal training business in Galway, Ireland. He has written the following piece and I think he has a lot of practical advice.  How do we find the motivation to lose weight and get healthier?  Read on. 























Why?

First off I’d like to thank Bryan for inviting me to write this post for you today.  For anyone that has met him or seen his story you know how remarkable he is.  I came across his story on YouTube and was literally blown away.  His passion, commitment and desire to change is inspiring to say the least and we can all learn a thing or two from him.  Thanks again Bryan for sharing your journey with all of us.

Bryan asked me to outline what someone can do when starting out on their journey to fitness success.  Let’s face it:  it’s quite a daunting task no matter how we look at it, isn’t it?  There’s so much noise, deception and flat out nonsense out there that hinders rather than helps us in our pursuit for success.  Today I’m going to focus on what I always recommend as the starting point for my clients and consultations.

Truth is, it doesn’t begin in the gym with exercise or even in the kitchen.  Obviously these components are vital and you’ll need these along the way, but before you tackle all that you have to know why.

You have to uncover that deep internal reason why you’re doing something.  This is much more than saying "I want to lose weight or I want to build muscle."  Regardless of your goal, you need to uncover your true reason why.

Bryan’s own transformation (and I hope he can verify this) came about right when he was at his lowest point in his life.  He found his why: he wanted to live.  He realised (correct me if I’m wrong here Bryan) that he had so much more to give in life than be controlled by food and be controlled by his weight – he found his why. (He's right. -Bryan)

Now your reason why doesn’t have to come when you're at your lowest – that’s the beauty of it – it can come at anytime and only you can determine when it comes.  Sure I can help you determine what it is, but it must come from you.

Your reason why is going to be way more than just wanting to get in shape.  Your reason why might be:
  • You want to be healthy enough to walk your daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
  • You want to be fit and healthy enough to play sports with your kids and enjoy life.
  • Your why could be that you want to feel a new vigour and lease of life to build self-confidence to do the things you’ve never done.
  • It could be that your why is you want to look amazing on your graduation day.

Whatever your why is – once you know what it is – that’s when you can start working towards it. And most importantly at a pace that suits you and you alone.  Sure, you might need a push every now and again.  But don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s but your own.  You only ever have to compete with yourself from yesterday.  Self-improvement is the name of the game.

So how do you determine your reason why? With my clients I like to use some reflection questioning techniques. Questions you might ask are:

What are you looking to achieve?
Why do you want to achieve ___________?
What is it about _________ that is important to you?
If you __________how will your life change? What will be different? How will it impact you?
What is it about not ______________ that frightens you?
Who can you enlist to support you in achieving ___________?

For example: I’ll start off with a generic example stating “I want to lose weight”

Q. What are you looking to achieve?

A. I want to lose weight

Q. Why do you want to lose weight?

A. Well I know that I’m heavier than I should be and like to change

Q. What is it about changing that is important to you?

A. Well I’m getting to the age my father was when he died and I’d like to live a lot longer.

Q. If you lose the weight how will your life change – what will be different? How will it impact you?

A. It’ll mean that I’ll get healthier but also mean I’ll be able to watch my kids grow up and not worry if I’ll be around to see them flourish.

Q. What is it about not losing weight that frightens you?

A. The thought of not seeing my kids grow up is frightening and I don’t want to end up the way my Dad did.

Q. Who can you enlist to support you in your pursuit?

A. If I share my goals with my friends and family I believe they will support me 100%.

You see now it’s much more than just wanting to lose weight.  There’s an internal reason why.  The fire is lit and with the right guidance that person becomes unstoppable in their quest.  There will be ups and downs along the way; success is by no means linear.  But when you determine your “why”- your true reason why - you’re ensuring you're taking the path with least resistance and the path paved to success.

Bio:

John Mulry is a Life Transformation Specialist, Writer, Speaker and the owner of Expect Success Fitness Galway Personal Training. Originally from Galway, John has combined his two passions in life – helping others and fitness to start Expect Success Fitness.

John has it made it his mission to ensure that the people of Galway, who are suffering needlessly with their weight loss goals, fears and frustrations, are provided with a platform where they can transform their own lives for the better while also inspiring others in the process.

With a core philosophy built around “Success Oriented Training” & his three pillars of success - training, nutrition and mindset – you won’t just dream about success – you’ll expect it. 
“In Life – you don’t always get what you want, but – you ALWAYS get what you EXPECT” - John Mulry

http://www.expectsuccessfitness.com

mulryjohn@expectsuccessfitness.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Lifestyle Change!



I can't believe it.  It's been 2 years since I began this long and winding journey back to health.  I've written several new blog posts looking back to that fateful day 2 years ago, June 20, 2010, when I collapsed behind an office building and almost lost my life.

Read on, my friends.  And as always, feel free to e-mail me with your thoughts.

Celebrating The Two Year Mark



It was June 20, 2010 that I went to the emergency room, my lungs filled with blood clots and with not much time left.  Fortunately, I survived.

Click to enlarge


















I can't believe it's been 2 years.   I still remember it all like it was yesterday.

I remember that exact hospital bed in that exact room. Room 738.  I was lucky enough to have a private room.  A solid week of doctors and nurses streaming in and out of my room at all hours of the day and night.  Blood being drawn constantly around the clock.  The IV machine pumping bag after bag of the blood thinning drug Heparin into my body.  Huge bruises all over my body.  Out my window was the helicopter landing pad.  I remember wishing I could take off in the helicopter and leave the hospital.

It was 6 straight days of pure misery.  Because of the tubes and wires and the 24/7 oxygen, they wouldn't let me take a shower.  That was miserable.  The doctors and the nurses mostly did their jobs, but I hated the underlying theme of all my interactions with most of the medical staff.  It was that I weighed 577 pounds, that gastric bypass surgery was the only way out and that I would be on blood thinners the rest of my life.  I accepted none of that.

Well, here we are 2 years later and things are thankfully a little better!  No more blood thinners, I'm down 311 pounds and am almost off all prescription medication.

But I will never, ever, ever forget that miserable week in the hospital.  It motivates me and is a driving force to this day.

2 years ago: The Bucket List

When I was in the hospital 2 years ago with a lot of time to kill on my hands, I made a "Bucket List" of sorts.

I wrote down on a legal pad all of the things my extra weight was preventing me from doing.  As you can imagine, at 577 pounds my mobility was really suffering.  So here are some of the things I wanted to be able to do, that I couldn't at that time:

-Sit in any chair.  That's right, I would go to the doctor's office and I couldn't sit down.  Why?  All of the chairs had arms and they were too close together for me to sit in them.  I can now sit in any chair I want at any time.

-Fly in an airplane.  I got to do this 9 months ago when my company flew me to New Jersey on business.  First time I had been in an airplane in 12 years and it was a fantastic feeling. 

-Buy clothes at the regular store.  When I was in the hospital, I was too big to buy clothes even at the big and tall store.  I dreamed of buying clothes at the regular store.  Regular sizes for regular prices, just like a regular person.  I now buy my clothes at any store I want and haven't been to the big and tall store in months.

-Find the smallest rental car I can and drive it.  This item was on the list because in recent years, I had wanted to take a trip, but couldn't because I wouldn't fit in any of the cars for rent.  I still need to check this item off my list.

-Buy a bicycle and ride it. I had always dreamed of riding a bicycle again.  I had gotten too big to ride my bicycle years ago and always wanted to do it again.  I bought a bicycle about a year ago and have been riding it ever since.

-Enter the local "Cooper River Bridge Run" 10K race.  Ever since I moved to Charleston, SC in 2005, I had always seen this event going on and dreamed that one day I would be able to participate.  I am proud to report that in the last 2 years, I have participated in the race.  Even as I am typing these words, I can't believe them.  This is like a fantasy come true.

-To be able to fit in all of the test equipment and machines at the hospital.  This one was on the list because while I was in the hospital, they couldn't do a CT scan on me.  The weight limit for that machine is something like 350 pounds and at 577 pounds, it was no go.  At this point, if I ever need a CT scan, I will fit right in.

-To be able to have blood drawn easily.  I put this on the list because I got tired of being a human pin cushion.  Because of my weight, nurses could never get a vein to draw blood.  They would get it out of my fingers, my hands, my wrist, my arm...and always after sticking me multiple tries.  These days, when I go to have blood drawn, it is a single stick in my arm.  Just like everybody else.


So there you have it.  A sample from my Bucket List, 2 years ago today.

2 Years Of Motivation

The one question I have consistently been asked again and again over the last 2 years is this:

"Where does the motivation come from and how do I get it?"

I'll tell you where it comes from.  It comes from being absolutely, 100%, without question, fed up with my situation.  It comes from being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It comes from shaking your fist at the sky and screaming...."I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY MORE!!!"

I have a fire....a RAGE that burns inside me on a daily basis.  It is an anger that drives me. If you have a big lifestyle change you want to undergo, I recommend getting ANGRY and FIRED UP.  You're going to need it.

When I was in the hospital 2 years ago, laying there in my own filth because I wasn't permitted to shower for almost a week, I just remember saying over and over again. NO MORE.  There will be NO MORE of this.  I remember making a list of all the things there would be NO MORE of:

-There would be no more of me relying on other people to help me get out of bed, to help me get around.
-There will be no more of me being so heavy and immobile that another person has to help me go to the bathroom.
-There will be no more of me needing life-saving tests done at the hospital and being told I am "too big for the machine."
-There will be no more being so heavy, the biggest clothes in the Big and Tall store are too small.
-There will be no more being too big to drive a car.
-There will be no more riding in the elevator and being unable to take the stairs.
-There will be no more making my family and friends worry about me dropping dead at any time.
-There will be no more prescriptions.
-There will be no more sympathy from people you don't want it from.
-There will be no more pity.
-There will be no more people telling me that I can't do it myself.
-There will be no more people recommending weight loss surgery to me. 
-There will be no more hospitals. 
-There will be no more blood clots. 

-There will be no more of me eating myself to death. 


No more. And here we are 2 years later.  That's where my motivation comes from.

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Anonymous E-mail I Received from "Me"

I get a lot of e-mail (and I answer it all,) but this was one of the really good ones.

Mr. Ganey,
This is a rather long, over-dramatic note of thanks. I'm not quite sure why I wanted to tell you all this, but perhaps it's because I've never told anyone else. My story is not particularly original, or very tragic, but you have made it better. Thank you.
    To say I’ve struggled with my weight all my life would be a downright lie. Oh, I’ve cried over my weight. I’ve complained about it. I’ve thrown hissy fits in fitting rooms and rationalized everything and convinced myself that one more dress size isn’t so bad. I’ve done the fad diets and the dietary pills and the starve-to-binge. For the past eight years, I’ve worn an oversized sweatshirt over nearly everything I’ve ever worn, even in the summer, because I believed that it would hide the excess fat.
    Note to self: I can’t hide all that fat. No matter how big your hoodie is.
    I don’t eat healthy, that’s a fact. I’ve been eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and my mom’s gourmet phone call for Chinese take-out is my favorite family dinner. The neighborhood pizza man knows us by name. I cringe at the thought of whole wheat and I have been known to say, "Damn it, I’m American. Make it super sized."
    So when I say it’s my own damn fault that I’m overweight, well, it’s the God’s honest truth. I’ve ignored too many doctors’ warnings and reached around too many water bottles for Pepsi cans to pass the blame off on somebody else. And the old mantra that "admitting it is the first step" is, in my case, very false. I admitted it a long time ago. And I’ve done nothing about it.
    And to be honest, I’m lazy. I was a hell of a slugger in softball but I never ran laps. I was a damn fine tap dancer, too, but I never worked out. I am a voracious reader, so I’d pass the day on the couch and get up only for trips to the refrigerator. I’d even read weight loss books—countless books about changing my lifestyle and improving my diet and getting mobile—but I’d finish a chapter and celebrate with a candy bar. It really is amazing that I haven’t hit the 300lb mark yet. I guess all those times I cursed my out-of-shape body, I never realized how hard it fought for me to stay healthy, even when I’d stacked the odds against it.
    But then my first real sense of weight loss came my senior year in college. I was living on my own and having the time of my life, and the icing on the proverbial cake (and the literal cake, actually) was watching the pounds melt away. It was so fast. I went from wearing size twenty-two jeans and my signature oversized sweatshirt out to the clubs, to hardly recognizing myself. It was an amazing feeling.
    The problem, of course, was that I did not do it right. Actually, I don’t think anybody could have done it less right. College was a time of personal growth for me, a time to learn about the world and about myself, but it was also when I fell into a cycle of binge drinking, hard partying, and experimenting with drugs. If I had five dollars in my pocket, I bought a pack of cigarettes and had no money left for dinner. If I had twenty dollars, I’d buy a bump, a six pack, and a large pizza. I didn’t say no to any substance or any party. I stayed up all night and threw up often, and I thought it was all okay because I was having fun and losing so much of that damn weight.
    It was also during that time that I found my "Easy Button"—the prescription A.D.D medicine Adderall. We started calling it the Wonder Drug. It was just a tiny little pill that we could get for five bucks from the stoner up the street, who’d conned a prescription out of his doctor. None of us actually had A.D.D. And this Wonder Drug, it could keep you up all night to finish a term paper, it could get you through Finals Week feeling like you were on top of the world. It could keep us drinking until dawn, and we loved it. Adderall is, essentially, an amphetamine. Speed. When abused, it can be quite dangerous and very addicting. But it kicked up my heart rate and it made me lose weight faster than anything in the world. I dropped six pants sizes and I passed all my exams and I never missed a party.
    A real Wonder Drug.
    I am ashamed to admit it, but if I hadn’t graduated college at the end of that year, May of 2011, I’d either be dead right now, or still living that way, abusing drugs and losing weight. A part of me wishes I’d never given it up, because popping pills and snorting powders is a lot easier than exercising and eating right. But, eventually, I did go through the stages of breaking the drug addiction. Or, maybe, it was a lifestyle addiction. In the absense of drugs and drinking and college life, I filled the void with food. Lots of it.
    So then, after all the bad decisions I’d made, after all the horrible things I’d put my body through, it was the diet pills that put me in the hospital.
    Okay, I can’t prove it was the dietary pills that did it, but sometimes you just know what’s wrong with you. Sometimes, you can just feel your body saying, "This is the last straw!" before your mother has to drive you to the emergency room at three am because you think it might be really serious this time. All those flashy packages at the drugstore advertise quick weight loss, guaranteed results, et cetera, et cetera. None of them tell you the truth:
    It’s all a load of crap. And it’s trying to kill you.
    After college, I suffered alone because I wouldn’t tell my family what I’d done, because my college friends were gone and I had a real life to begin. And with that came depression. I realized that I may have overcome some of my addictions, but there was one that I clung to: food. And because I was sad, I stayed inside and didn't move around or get active. It has been only a year, but I’ve gained back all of the weight my Wonder Drug took off, and added a lot more. I’m heavier than I ever was. And now, I’m jaded, too, because all I can think about is how quickly I’d lost weight when I did it the unhealthy way, how good I looked then. I started thinking that maybe this is a losing battle, maybe there is no way for me to lose weight and live to tell about it.
    That’s where you come in. I found your blog one day when I was sitting on the couch, eating a bag of potato chips and looking for anybody on the internet to vindicate my new outlook on weight loss. Clearly, your blog did not stand up and tell me that it was okay to be unhealthy, to lose pounds but gain other problems. In fact, it was your blog above all others that told me most plainly that I was, to be blunt, an idiot.
    Or maybe it was just the pants-flag thing. That one really got me.
    Now, remember, I’m still lazy. I started reading your blog on-and-off a few months ago, and I’ve still had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast since then. You inspired me, truly, like nothing else ever had, but it was motivation I needed, and that could only come from myself. Today, I’m not writing to you to say I’ve lost so much weight because of your blog, but I am writing to say thank you for something much more important: changing my attitude.
    I know it’s very cliché. Attitude is everything, yada yada yada, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I think you gave me a turning point when I read some of your blog posts and realized that losing weight is a lifestyle change. And I’ve done lifestyle change before. Successfully. Healthily. Your blog showed me that that’s the same kind of energy and focus and dedication I need to direct toward my weight loss, too.
    In one of your recent posts, you compared the first steps of detoxing/lifestyle change to a kind of methadone. Rehabilitation from the way I’ve been eating and loafing around my whole life. That, I think, is exactly how I need to look at it. Sometimes I want a Big Mac more than I’ve ever craved a drug, but I feel better without it, just like I feel better without the side effects from the narcotics. I took my life back from the hard-partying lifestyle, and I can take my life back from obesity. And it was your words that put that together in my head for me.
    It's so much nicer to be looking forward to a beginning than it is to be dreading an end. So here I am, getting started. I’ve started a million times, but this time, I understand myself better, I get it. Thanks for the kick in the ass. Thanks for the honesty. I’m twenty-three years old and I’m starting a real life, but I’m also going to start a healthy one, thanks to you. I know it’s going to be difficult—and I appreciate you for not beating around that fact—but I want a pants-flag of my own, one I’ve earned with hard work and discipline. Thanks for showing me that I can do it.
Best wishes in all your endeavors,
Me

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why Should You Lose Weight?

Many people come up to me or e-mail and tell me the reasons they want/need to lose weight.  Typical justifications provided:

I look fat
I want to wear smaller clothes
I have a wedding/family reunion to go to
I look terrible in a bathing suit
I want to be more attractive to get better dates

I believe those are all very superficial reasons to lose weight.  The battle is too hard, takes too long and is too important to waste the effort on what other people think about how you look.

Because let's be honest: not caring about your weight and not doing anything about it is a real option.  For the first 37 years of my life, for the most part, I didn't care.  I ate whatever I wanted, ate as much as I wanted and didn't care about the consequences.  I never exercised.  I really prefer it when people are just honest and say they really aren't interested in improving their health and aren't going to change what they eat. Again, at least that's honest.

But back to the real reasons for losing weight.  Here's a better list to help change your thinking, if you're considering a lifestyle change:

I want to live longer and have a better life
I want to increase my mobility
I want to be able to ride roller coasters
I want to be able to sit on a chair without fear of it collapsing
I want to be able to take the stairs without having to call 911 before I get to the top step

And on and on. Which leads me to one of my big reasons for wanting to lose weight:

To get off all of the freaking medication I have had to take over the last 2 years.  If you've been reading this blog recently, you know I recently dropped one big prescription medication.  Check out the following before and after pictures.


My medications, June 2010



















My medications today, June 2012




















Now THAT is why you lose weight.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bryan Ganey Around The World

I have made a new friend in Galway, Ireland.  He is a personal trainer named John Mulry, who runs his own website and his own business.  I did an interview with him recently about my story and he has posted it on his site.  Check it out here. Thanks John!


Thank You For All Of Your E-mails

I've recently worked through my e-mail backlog and have responded to everybody.  Keep those e-mails coming.  I love hearing about your success stories, challenges you've overcome and your struggles.  We've all been there.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to remind anyone writing in that I am not a health professional.  I am not a doctor, I am not a personal trainer, I am not a nutritionist.  I'm just a guy that has lost a bunch of weight.

All I have to offer is common sense.  No magic.  It isn't easy. In fact, it is very hard.  But you have to keep trying and the rewards shall be yours!

Friday, June 15, 2012

And Then There Was One.....

Today is the greatest day of the last 2 years.

When I was hospitalized 2 years ago for a pulmonary embolism that nearly took my life, the doctors told me I would be on Coumadin for the rest of my life.

I remember asking the doctor what I would need to do to get off of it. His response, I will never forget it, was:  "Forever.  Unless you lose the weight."

Coumadin is both the greatest drug ever and the worst drug ever.  It has kept me alive and it saved my life, but at the same time, it has a list of side effects a mile long.  I have to eat the same thing over and over again so as to not alter the level of Vitamin K in my body and cause my blood to clot.

If my blood runs too thin, I start to bleed (use your imagination.)  If I cut myself, blood gets everywhere.

But my friends, those days are over.  Because....(drum roll please)....today my doctor took me off of it.

No more Coumadin.  But, he told me: "if you get another blood clot, you will go back on it for life."

This means I am down to one prescription.  Prior to today, that was Diovan 160mg once a day.

Thanks to my lower blood pressure readings, he cut it in half.

So now, my sole prescription drug that I take is just the 80mg of Diovan. That's all.  And I look forward to the day when I take no prescriptions.

It's not often that I ever have any pride about what I've done or celebrate my accomplishments, but today is that day.

All I have ever cared about when it comes to losing weight is getting healthier.  Living longer.  Today is a huge step toward that.  My goal is to get off all medication.

All of it.


Plateau Busted

I weighed at the doctor's office today. 266 pounds.  Finally.  After 5 weeks, I have lost weight. So what have I done differently?

-More long-distance walking
-Biking once a week
-I am eating less.  Instead of 2,600-2,800 calories, I am experimenting with 2,000 calories a day.  I may not be able to keep that up, but I am learning to make do with less.

As always, things are always day-to-day.  But today has been a good day.

And I am still only working out in the gym 3 times a week.  That will never change.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Back and I Will Not Be Denied

It's been 2 weeks since I've written a blog post and some of you have sent me e-mails asking me if I am OK.  I appreciate that, thank you.

I am fine.

So what have I been up to?  Well, I have been very, very busy.

As readers of my Facebook page know, my weight loss has plateaued for 5 weeks.  I am working on busting through that plateau, including:

-Tightening up my portions and reducing my caloric intake slightly (still around 2,000 calories)
-I have re-started my bread and butter: long-distance walking.  This is what powers the Bryan Ganey weight loss furnace.  I walked 9 miles last Sunday and am going for more this week.
-Bike riding.  I rode 7 miles last Saturday and am going for more this weekend.

I had a pity party for about 2 minutes when I got off the scale and weighed in at 268 1/2 for the second time in 2 weeks.  It was 269 five weeks ago.  Essentially the same.

I always knew that day would come where I would stop losing weight.  That day is here and it will not last!


Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Story Profiled

My friends over at the Re-Body Total Transformation System did a profile on me recently in their "Health Heroes" section.  They did a great job and it's a good read with some great questions and answers.  Check it out!



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Healthy Is Not Expensive: Canned Beans - Updated 5/28/2012

I've been at this weight loss thing for 2 years and I have recently decided it's time to change the menu.  I'm really just tired of eating the same thing over and over, so I've decided to branch out.

Since I used to live on processed food, fast food and food high in sugar, salt and fat, I never ate many fruits, vegetables or beans growing up.  I am working on changing that.

Which brings us to beans.

I have always known that beans are low in fat, high in fiber, high in protein and contain many important nutrients.  It's the perfect food. But trying to find a way to eat them is the real challenge.

Our society is used to loading up beans with cheese, fat, sour cream, ham, etc.  So how can I eat beans and have it be a healthy food item?

First, let's look at how to acquire the beans.  You can buy them one of two ways: canned or dried in a bag.  Canned is the most convenient, because they are ready to go.  The beans are perfectly cooked at the factory and ready to go.  Warm them up and you're all set.

The problem with canned beans is they are LOADED with sodium.  And by loaded, I mean there is so much salt in a can of beans, your blood pressure doubles as soon as you finish eating them.  Or triples.  (Not really, but you get the point.)

Which brings us to dried beans.  They are cheap, sodium-free and the way to go.  But there is one big problem:  time.

It takes forever.  You must inspect the beans.  Rinse the beans.  Soak the beans overnight.  Cook the beans.  And on and on.

Honestly, that is more work than I am willing to put out for cooking beans.

So about a month ago, I began a search for canned, pre-prepared beans that were not loaded with sodium.  It was an interesting analysis.

First up: a standard can of regular black beans.  The sodium is 480mg, with 3 servings per can. That is 1,440mg of sodium in that one can.  Since I have high blood pressure, I am supposed to consume less than 1,500mg of sodium per day.  I will have used up my entire allotment on that one can of beans.  No can do.


Next, we have "reduced sodium" black beans.  The sodium in those is half of the regular, 240mg with 3 servings in the can. That is moving in the right direction, but what's with all the salt?  That's still 720mg of sodium per can.  Unacceptable.

So I started looking for the beans with no salt added. I searched high, I searched low.

The only one I could find was "Eden Organic No Salt Added" beans. Only 15mg of sodium per serving, 3.5 servings in the can.  52.5mg of sodium total. Nice!

Except....they were $2.39 a can.  A bit much.  Also, for some reason, they contained "Kombu Seaweed" as the third ingredient.  I could never get over this when I was eating them.  Why was there seaweed in my beans?  And why did it cost so much.

I kept looking.

And then, one day, while shopping at Whole Foods, of all places, there it was on the shelf.

Black Beans. No salt added.  Ready to serve.  99 cents a can.  Not only were there black beans, but they had kidney beans, pinto beans and garbanzo beans too.

But would there be seaweed in them?

Nope.  Ingredients: Prepared black beans and water.  Nothing more. 10mg of sodium per serving, 30mg total.

The best part?  They taste great! Here is what they look like. Remember: eating healthy does NOT have to be expensive, but you have to do some work.


Update 5/28/2012 11:07am:  It has been pointed out to me that Eden Organic uses "BPA-Free" cans, whereas Whole Foods does not for their store brand.  BPA is a chemical used in the lining of cans to preserve food and keep it stable, but many think it is harmful to your health.  More info about BPA here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Half a Pound

The old saying is true: the scale giveth and the scale taketh away.

I've said many times on this blog that the scale is a monster with tremendous power.  I was reminded of that this morning.

I weighed in and lost....a half a pound.  This was my first weigh-in in 3 weeks.  Some background:

The last 2 times I weighed in, I lost 9 pounds and 7 pounds, respectively.  There is simply no possible way to stay on that kind of roll. I never get 2 big drops in a row and absolutely never 3.  My body doesn't give up the weight that easily.

Also, I had a clue that some of that 16 pounds I lost was water weight.  I weighed at the doctor 2 weeks ago and had "bounced back" 8 pounds. Now, some of that was my clothes and shoes, but that sort of gave me an idea that the 7 pounds I had just "lost" wasn't really there.

So, I'll take it. Disappointed?  Maybe a little, but I have had this happen before.  Plateaus happen. I am going to just keep doing what I am doing and I know I will keep getting what I have been getting for the last 2 years.

If you had told me 2 years ago as I lay in the hospital..."two years from now, you will weigh 268 1/2 pounds."  I would have busted out laughing and questioned your sanity.

So all is well.  Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sodium Smackdown: Sliced Deli Turkey

The amount of sodium in food (particularly processed food) is staggering.  The government recommends no more than 2,400mg daily.  For someone with high blood pressure, it's 1,500mg per day.

That is a number that is very, very hard to stay under. And it has *nothing* to do with the salt shaker. Far and away, most of the sodium people consume is already in the food they buy.

So with that in mind, today we look at the category of sliced deli turkey.  I love turkey sandwiches.  I eat them all the time.  I always have one for lunch.

So here's a popular brand.  Boar's Head 47% Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast.



























The numbers:

Per 2 ounce serving: 60 calories, .5g fat, 340mg of sodium.  (source: Boar's Head website)


Versus:

Columbus Reduced Sodium Turkey Breast.  This is sold at Trader Joe's and comes pre-sliced in an 8 ounce package.































Per 2 ounce serving: 60 calories, less than 1g of fat, 220mg of sodium. (source: Columbus website.)

Cost:

The Boar's Head (as you can see in the picture) is $9.49 a pound.

The Columbus is sold in 8-ounce packages for $4.79 each, so that makes it $9.58 a pound.

Edge: Boar's Head, by 9 cents a pound.


Sodium:

The Boar's Head has 340mg per serving, the Columbus 220mg per serving.  340mg vs. 220mg of sodium might not seem like much of a difference, but here's the problem.  Who eats one 2 ounce serving of sliced turkey?  Not me.  I usually have 2 or 3 or 4 servings at one sitting.  4 servings of the Boar's Head is 1,360mg of sodium.  4 servings of the Columbus: only 880mg of sodium.  The salt really adds up.


Edge: Columbus, by a mile.


Taste:

The Columbus tastes much better than the Boar's Head. It's almost as if the sodium were reversed, except it's not.  The Boar's Head, while still tasting quite good, has more of a bland flavor.  The Columbus is just that much better.


Edge: Columbus, by a large margin.


Winner:

The Columbus brand proves that it is possible to remove the sodium from a product without sacrificing the taste.  It CAN be done.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are you better than the other 95%?

I've heard this statistic for years:  95% of the people who lose weight fail and gain it back.

Just hearing that...it makes weight loss seem so impossible. Like you might as well not even try.  It's a very defeating thing to hear.

The medieval butchers (I mean weight loss surgeons) use this statistic to sell their procedure.  After all, you are doomed to 95% failure if you try it on your own.

Hang on just a minute, though.  Think about that 95% for a minute.

How does a 5% success rate actually look?

If you put 100 people in a room that have lost weight and there was a 95% failure, that means 5 people did it.

Taken one step further, that means that out of 1,000 people in a room...50 people did it.

Can you be one of the 5 or one of the 50?  Absolutely.  When you consider that most people will try a fad diet or a pill or some other gimmick...a 5% success rate is actually pretty good.

Don't be scared off by high rates of failure. Out of 100 people trying to lose weight, you can be one of the ones that actually does it. Especially if you do it right.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wrong Idea

I was thinking about this today.

A lot of people have the wrong idea (and so did I) that they are overweight solely because they eat too much.

This brings along with it the following baggage:

1.) Emotions of guilt and shame over eating

2.) Becoming overly conscious of what people think about your eating habits

3.) Feeling like you're being judged all the time


The truth is, you have to eat. Every last person on this Earth must eat food daily or you will eventually die.  I would argue the overweight person (myself included, 2 years ago) is overweight because they aren't eating enough food, aren't eating it at the right time and are eating the wrong things.

In other words, there's no plan.

And another thing.  Society is so cruel to overweight people.  We are not victims by any stretch, we do eat the food that makes us overweight.  But we are also vastly growing in numbers as a side effect of the American way of life.


So back to the title of this post: "the wrong idea."

I eat more now in volume than I did when I weighed 577 pounds.  But it is WHAT I am eating that makes my body weight so much different.  I am not "eating too much," I am eating the right amount.

One last point:  no one, no matter how successful they have or have not been at weight loss should stand in judgment of anyone else.  People ask me to do this all the time.  "Look at that person. They should do what you did."

We are all day to day. I am no better than anyone else.  I have lost large amounts of weight before (although not this much) and gained it all back.  Had I not almost died from multiple blood clots in my lungs 2 years ago, I would probably weigh 650 pounds by now.


You have to eat.  You should be eating quite a lot to nourish your body.  There is nothing wrong or bad about eating.  Food is life!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Your Lifestyle Is Your Life

You hear it over and over again: "Diets don't work.  You have to change your lifestyle."

It's certainly very true, but what exactly does that mean?

Your lifestyle is your life.  If you want to change your lifestyle, you're going to have to change your life.  After 2 years of doing this, I can tell you this: it is very hard.  But as the saying goes, it is difficult, but not impossible.

Think of it this way: if you want to lose weight, all of your habits, behaviors, food that you eat, body movements, all of it contribute to your current state of health.

To make that change, to improve your health, requires the modification of habits, behaviors, food that you eat and body movements.

What makes this a very tall order is none of it will last unless you do it forever. The problem with all of that is that for many of us (myself included, before June 20, 2010) food has become a reward.  Food has become entertainment.  Food has become happiness.

That all has to go out the window.  Food is fuel.  Nothing more.  The thin person does not have a problem with this.  They are perfectly capable of (for now) celebrating with food, eating foods high in sugar, fat, salt and calories in small portions and getting by.

But not us.  Not me. Not other heavy people.  We've gone too far.  We can't do it.  We can't stop.

Which is why we can never start.

Back to changing the lifestyle.  There are so many traditions and things that we do where unhealthy food is ingrained into our routines.  To be successful, long-term, I believe it all has to go.

Used to eating concession food at the movies?  Bring your own healthy alternatives.

Used to eating hotdogs and nachos at the baseball game?  Bring your own better food.

Eat out of the vending machines at work?  Don't.  Pack your own lunch and snacks.

That's what has to happen.  Those key behaviors have to be changed. And that's why it's hard.

But you can do it!  If I can, anyone can.  And that's the truth.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Weighing in: 269

Something has happened today that hasn't happened in a long time.  For the first time in forever, I have experienced big drops in weight for 2 consecutive weigh-ins. 

3 weeks ago, I weighed and had lost 9 pounds.  Today, I weighed and have lost 7 more. This is very unusual and is not likely to be repeated. 

So what am I doing differently?  I am not sure. I am trying to intensify my workouts, although that just started.  I have been trying to walk more. I have actually been eating *more*, not less.  On some days, I have eaten 3,000 calories. Most days, it's between 2,500 and 2,800. 

But I know this: I'm not changing a thing.  I know that there will be those times I weigh in and won't have lost anything.  It's coming, this can't go on forever. But I will enjoy it while it lasts!

Onward and upward! 


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reinventing The Menu

For almost the past 2 years, I have eaten the same thing every night for dinner.  It's been a 3-meal rotation:

Spaghetti, Chicken or Fish.  That's it.  Over and over again. 

But, of late, I have found myself getting tired of it.  Not the taste, I don't really care much about that.  Food is fuel.  I don't eat for pleasure.  That went out of the window a long time ago.

Rather, I'm just not finding the meals as filling anymore.  So it's time to reinvent the menu.  What are the new additions?

I am always looking for something nutritious to prepare, that I know is going to be very filling. Which has led me to look at beans and also brown rice. The past few weeks I have tried pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans and great northern beans.  

The results have been good.  Beans are extremely filling.  A couple of servings of them and I feel like I've swallowed a huge rock. So I added kidney beans to my spaghetti.  Had black beans and rice for dinner one night. 

It is amazing how that works.  What once used to fill me up and really do it for me...no longer does.  Time to mix things up!