Saturday, March 31, 2012

ABC News 4 Report at the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run

Once again, Victoria Hansen and Channel 4 did a great job making a video about me at this year's Bridge Run.  Here's the report, followed by their web story.




Here's a link to the web story on ABCNews4.com.

The 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run

Well, I did it!

The numbers are in, and it was another successful finish to the Charleston, SC Cooper River Bridge Run 10K.  Here's how it breaks down:

2011 time: 2:48:12 (yes, that's right. 2 hours, 48 minutes and 12 seconds.)

2012 time: 1:49:27.

Overall, an improvement of 58 minutes and 45 seconds.

I'll take it.

I wanted it to be less, I wanted to be able to run the whole thing. But here's why that didn't happen and won't until next year.

I still weigh 285 pounds. It's an amazing improvement over 577.  But the idea that a 285-pound man who's only 5' 7" tall running an entire 6.2 miles, much of it uphill, is a bit much to expect.  It's like a 200-pound man running while carrying an 85-pound weight.

So I will take my almost hour improvement and run with it!

See you at the race next year!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bryan Ganey on Live 5 News: Check it out!

The local CBS affiliate here in Charleston, South Carolina did a story on me this week and it aired this morning.  My thanks to Alan Campbell for doing the interview.



Live 5 News has added a write-up about my story on their website here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

5 Tips for Long-Term Weight Management

I am closing in on 2 years at this process of changing my lifestyle and recently wrote up the 5 tips for long-term weight management.  Here they are.  Enjoy. Feel free to sound off in the comments.

1.) Accept and understand the truth: there is no quick fix.  Everyone wants it to be easy, we're so desperate to find the secret that we fool ourselves into believing there is one.  There is not.  Sustained weight management is very, very hard and that's why almost everyone fails at it.  However, difficult does not mean impossible, so you can do it. But you need to respect how difficult it is and avoid becoming arrogant when success comes easy, because failure is lurking around every corner.  Avoid the trap of wanting it all right now, because that is temporary and temporary is not what you want.


2.) Buy and eat real food from the grocery store.  You must walk away from the garbage...forever. Face the facts: you've had enough fast food, soda and junk food to last 3 lifetimes.  You don't need any more.  If you're a food addict like me (see my "before picture for evidence of this) it is absolutely crucial that you never touch the trash food ever again.  People tend to eat junk food not because they are undisciplined, but because they are hungry.  You have to do the work and always have healthy food on hand.  Pack your lunch and eat it.  I stick with what I call "The 6 Food Groups:" fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy and water.


3.) You must measure, weigh and write down everything you eat.  Many people lie to themselves and others about how much they're eating, but they really have no idea.  Remember: everything you eat counts.  Being overweight is being on the wrong end of a math problem, so you must add it up at the end of the day. This isn't as difficult as it sounds.  As you eat many of the same things over and over, you will memorize their calorie content. There are websites and smart phone apps you can use to track your calorie consumption, or you can use a notepad and a pen like I do. Either way, you have to write it down.  This will keep you accountable to yourself.


4.) Water must immediately become your beverage of choice. Water has many benefits, including being essential to life but it also will make you feel full and regulate your appetite. Some people don't like the taste of water, but I believe you can't have sustained weight loss without it.  Try low-calorie drink mixes like Crystal Light or their generic equivalents to make it taste better if you have to.  But drink a lot of water. I easily drink a gallon a day. Sodas (diet included) contain caffeine that will make you want to eat.  I also associate soda with junk food and fast food, so I can't have one without wanting the other.  Don't drink your calories.  Water is one of the few things (besides air) that doesn't have any calories, so drink it early and often.


5.) Stay off the scale.  It is tempting to weigh every day, because we all want the fast results.  You must stop obsessing and worshiping the scale.  Instead, weigh once every 2 weeks, maybe even once a month.  Again, think long-term.  You are losing weight for the rest of your life, not next week.  Also, the purpose of the scale is to give you an idea of where you are.  It's not an end-all, be-all guide to your success.  The scale has the power to make your day and it has the ability to ruin your day.  Don't let it.  Weigh once to start, then not for awhile.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Take Me Out To the Buffet

Full disclosure: I love Major League Baseball, I love Nolan Ryan and I love the Texas Rangers.  I also recognize that this is a (mostly) free country and people have the right to make and sell whatever food they want.  But that's about the only nice thing I'm going to say in this blog post. 

The Texas Rangers have decided to introduce a 2-foot-long hot dog at their stadium this year.  More info here.  Here's a picture:


























I have 2 problems with this.  One, nobody needs this.  Where does it end?  How big will portions get before somebody says "stop?"  The news story linked above says this is meant to feed 3 or 4 people.  Right.  That isn't what is going to happen.  It only takes one person to buy it and one person to eat it.

Second, why is going to a baseball game suddenly turning into an eating contest?  Does everything we do as a society have to be about food?  You see this at the movies now, and that's why I can't go anymore.  I find myself surrounded by people shoveling in as much food as they possibly can.  It's not a movie anymore at that point, it's a buffet.

No wonder society is eating itself to death.  It's because of garbage like this.

My Story Featured on Mercola.com

Welcome to the people that found my blog by way of Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola's alternative medicine website.

In case you haven't seen it, here's my story, rewritten for Mercola.com.

Dr. Mercola argues passionately against weight loss surgery, a view I share.  We do differ on carbohydrate and fat consumption, as I eat a mainly starch-based, low-fat diet.  But no one way is the perfect way and everybody is different.

Check it out!




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bridge Run Countdown: Article In The Charleston Post And Courier

Today's Charleston Post and Courier featured an article about me.  My thanks to David Quick for doing a fantastic job  I appreciate the response.

The reason I do things like this and put myself out there is that I want to prove the lie.  I want to prove that people are being lied to:  you do not need life-threatening surgery, pills, patches, shots, potions or any of that other nonsense to lose weight.  I didn't and you don't either.

You might choose to go that route, but you don't need it.  The weight loss industry has brainwashed people into believing they need to exist, but they do not.

All you need is a belief in yourself, persistence, a sidewalk and a grocery store.  Nothing more.  You have to do the work and you have to do it forever.

The Bridge Run is in 11 days...will you be there?








Sunday, March 18, 2012

Telling It Like It Is: Lock Them Up and Throw Away The Key

It is not often that I see a product for sale and genuinely get upset.  Well here we go.

This is apparently the very latest in rip-off garbage from the scam artists in the weight loss industry.















No, your eyes do not deceive you.  This is a real product that promises the following:

"Just drink one Pounds Lost™ Weight Loss Shot each day and the natural key ingredient begins to fire up your body’s weight loss mechanism resulting in up to 19 pounds of weight loss and up to 3 ½ inches off your waist."

The nonsense continues:

"In a peer reviewed double blind clinical study, the people who took the key ingredient in the Pounds Lost™ Weight Loss Shot, lost an average of 19 pounds in 10 weeks. While participants waist sizes were reduced by an average of 3.5 inches."

Well, I have done my own study and here are my conclusions:

1.) This product is a total scam that will do nothing except rip you off.
2.) The people who create, market and sell this product are thieves that should be arrested. 
3.) There is a sucker born every day.
4.) Walmart, Kmart, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. should be ashamed of themselves for marketing this trash.
5.)  This product is guaranteed to not work 100% of the time.  

The weight loss industry is a criminal cartel.  These companies should be raided, shut down, their assets frozen and their executives handcuffed and marched off to prison.  If *any* other product were sold that didn't work almost 100% of the time, the public would not tolerate it.

Imagine if General Motors sold a car with a 95% failure rate.  The public would be outraged.  Yet, for some reason, it is accepted to rip off people desperate to lose weight .

DON'T fall for this nonsense.  None of it works.  And it's dangerous. Like most energy shots, it has caffeine in it.  People need more caffeine like they need a hole in their head.

Put these people out of business. They're liars, thieves and the scum of the Earth.  Don't be a moron and buy this garbage. 


Saturday, March 17, 2012

We Are All Day-To-Day

Yesterday was a struggle for me.  All I wanted to do was eat all day.  I have days like this from time to time and my strategy for coping with it is the same: keep doing the exact same thing I have been doing all along.  If I have to eat more, I will.  But it will be the good stuff and I will weigh and measure it all and document it in my food journal. 

On a normal day, I average 2,500-2,700 calories. 

On a day like yesterday, I will go to 3,000...but then that is it. No more food. I sometimes will even pace myself, eating 300 calories, then waiting an hour.  The key is trying to engage my mind in some other activity so that food is not longer the focus. 

Welcome to life as a food addict.  That's the downside.  But here's the good news:  today was a new day.

As if all of the frustration of yesterday as magically washed away, a good night's sleep erased it all.  I'm right back on track today. 

Days like today make me realize that we are all day-to-day.  Things change from one day to the next.  Today is a good day.  Tomorrow could be another good day, or it could be bad.  Who knows. 

Frequently, when somebody begins their weight-loss journey, they have several months in a row of good days.  But that is short-lived and then the work gets hard. 

So it's getting hard for me.  I knew it would, so I'm ready for it. But I am day-to-day. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yes, There is Such a Thing As "Bad Foods"

You've heard it before:

"There are no bad foods."

"You can eat anything in moderation."

Now, these two statements might be true for you.  Everyone is different.  If you only have 10 or 20 pounds to lose or are just a little out of shape, maybe you really can eat anything in moderation.

But for those of us who are 100 or more pounds overweight, "anything" is not moderation.  And yes, there are bad foods.  Very, very, very bad foods.

As a food addict (an actual real addiction with life-threatening consequences, not a jokey, made-up condition,) I absolutely cannot eat certain things.  If I were to buy a bag of Doritos and eat them, putting that garbage in my mouth would cause 2 disasters.

One, it would undo in one fell swoop almost 2 years of work in modifying my taste buds.  Over a long period of time, I have been able to rework my palate into not needing highly stimulating levels of fat, sugar and salt to feel satisfied.

Second, it would trigger a completely out of control binge.  I wouldn't be able to stop.  All of the bad habits, destructive behaviors and dangerous lifestyle would come flooding back.  It would be the start of a slow suicide and a descent back into the hell of morbid obesity.  Yes, that's right, all of that would happen eating a single bag of Doritos.  Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's true.

Some people can eat the garbage food like a squirrel.  A little bit here and there, most of it tucked away to eat later.  I am not some people. I cannot touch the stuff.

But increasingly, more and more people, myself included, need to realize they must stay away from it forever.  It's not food.  It's garbage.  And it's going to kill you.

So yes, there are bad foods.  What do you do?  Walk away.  This is the hardest thing to do and one of the biggest reasons sustained weight maintenance is so hard.  We temporarily change our behaviors to experience short-term weight loss, only to return to them later.  This is when the weight comes back.

I don't have a good answer for how to prevent that.  But I do know this:  what has worked for me has been simply abstaining from eating the trash that comes to us from fast-food restaurants, vending machines and pizza delivery drivers (sorry guys.)

Candy?  Garbage.  Fast food?  It's trash.  It's not "food" anyway, it's a science experiment.  Cookies?  More garbage.  Girl Scout Cookies?  Especially worthless garbage.  Junk food is slow-acting poison that is going to kill you.

I believe that if you switch to eating healthy food and continue to shop at the grocery store, your palate will adjust and you won't want the trash anymore.

And lastly, know this: food is absolutely used as a drug.  The food companies and restaurant chains use fat, sugar and salt to hook you on the garbage.  There is a reason you can't eat just one.  It's because the substance has been manufactured to make it impossible to eat just one.

So don't do it. Walk away.  Your life will be longer because you did.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Success Story: Daphne

This blog has been going strong and is well into its second year.  While I would never claim to take credit for someone else's success, I will share their stories.  These are people that are basically utilizing the same approach I am: sustained weight loss through common sense.  They are doing it their own way, customizing their approach and getting it done. 

I've been struggling with my weight since my early twenties.  For years, I have tried every diet out there.  Last year I weighed 327 pounds and was in the process of scheduling weight loss surgery when I met Bryan Ganey.  Bryan convinced me that it wasn't necessary to have weight loss surgery and that I could do it on my own.

With Bryan's help and encouragement, I have successfully lost 80 pounds in the last 10 months. Bryan has taught me that you have to take it one day at a time. Diets are not the answer. It's important that you find what works for you and the lifestyle change has to be something you can do for the rest of your life. Some days are harder than others. I've learned that I'm the only one that can control my eating. I've designed a plan that works for me by using Bryan's common sense method.  I measure everything I eat. I write down everything that I put in my mouth in a daily journal. It's just like balancing a checkbook. Once I have reached my calories for the day, I stop eating.
 
Exercise has always been a challenge for me. I had to start out slow.  I started out walking around my apartment complex and now walk on the treadmill and ride an exercise bike.  I do this 3 times a week and have slowly increased the intensity of my workouts.
 
Losing weight is never easy.  Bryan has taught me that it can be done.  I think his story is one that should be shared with everyone.  He is dedicating his life to helping others through writing about his experiences and speaking out.  He has taught me that it really is possible for a regular person to take their life back on their own.

Success Story: Erik

This blog has been going strong and is well into its second year.  While I would never claim to take credit for someone else's success, I will share their stories.  These are people that are basically utilizing the same approach I am: sustained weight loss through common sense.  They are doing it their own way, customizing their approach and getting it done.

Bryan,

I had to send you an email. I spent the last few days reading every one of your posts. You are, truly, an inspiration and a hero to myself. I stepped on the scale a month and a half ago and found out I broke 400 lbs. 417 to be exact. It scared me so much, I was an overeater, a smoker, and I ate no fruits or veggies.

I quit smoking first of all. After about 2 weeks of not smoking I decided it was time to turn my terrible eating habits into a healthy lifestyle. I looked online for blogs and sites that offered food logging and support. I've tried the diets (Nutrisystem, Alli, Atkins) so I knew those weren't for me. This is when I found your site and your story. It touched me. I realized that I didn't want to have to work at hard as you did. I didn't want to have to experience the hospital scare like you did. So I cleaned out my kitchen, went shopping, and started a new lifestyle.

I won't go into a long, drawn out email, but let me just say, I have lost nearly 20 lbs in my first 5 weeks. I am exercising more, though only a day or two a week to start out. And, as someone who is 25 and hasn't eaten a vegetable or fruit regularly since I lived at home, I now have a fruit smoothie for breakfast (no added sugar, of course! 100% fruit, protein, and seeds) and eat more vegetables than I ever have.

I'm not yet to the point of you, as I still eat restaurants, just in much smaller portions. And I still have to cut out a lot of sodium as I still eat more processed foods than I should, But I am getting there. I do owe a lot of it to you. Your story is so powerful. I share it when I can and refer people to your site.

Please, keep posting about your journey.

Hopefully someday I can reach your level of commitment and cut out processed foods and restaurants, but until then, I will keep logging, keep portions under control, and follow your blog every single day.

Thanks for all you do,

Erik

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Restaurant Addiction

Over the course of my (almost) 2-year weight loss journey, I have heard from a lot of people.

People who saw my story on CNN or watched my video on YouTube will e-mail me asking for advice.  They want to know how to get my results.  A lot of people are really struggling with weight issues.

But when I drill down into their lifestyle and eating habits, I find a very familiar common thread:

People cannot stay out of the restaurants.

Whether it's the instant gratification, the ability to have anything you want at anytime or just the convenience, people love the drive-thrus and the delivery drivers.  They love restaurants.  There is only one problem.

You are killing yourself at the restaurants.  Sure, the restaurant loads the gun, but we pull the trigger. 

For someone who has a weight problem, everything about a restaurant feeds into an out-of-control lifestyle.  The gigantic portions, the free refills.....the buffets.  It is all a recipe for disaster.  People will sit and consume 1,000 calories of breadsticks before the entree even arrives.

And the worst part about restaurants?  It makes us lazy.  Somebody else is deciding everything for us.  We have zero input into what we're eating and how much we're eating.  The restaurant decides the portion.

According to Forbes Magazine, in 1901, 3% of the American food budget was spent eating out.  As of 2006, it was 47%.  According to another article I read, it is 57% in the city of Atlanta.

This is out of control.  We are surrendering our health to the restaurant, whose entire reason for being is to sell us as much food as possible.  The restaurant wants us to eat as much as possible and does not have our best interests at heart.  Not even a little bit.

A restaurant is a legitimate business and can do whatever it wants, but I am convinced that unless and until people get out of the restaurants, there is no healthy weight management in their future.

If you make it yourself, you know what's in it.  You know how much you're eating.  You're cooking a meal as your own chef, not as a salesman trying to boost your final bill as much as possible.


Friday, March 9, 2012

My Video Response to Robert

On March 1, Robert Gibbs posted a video on YouTube asking for help with his weight problem. Robert weighs between 600 and 700 pounds.  In case you haven't seen it, here is Robert's YouTube video:



Robert's video went viral and now has over one million views.  Robert has gotten calls from all over the place, including Dr. Phil, personal trainers, etc.

But I have a different take.

Once all the media hype is over and the cameras are gone, Robert is going to be left with just Robert.  So I decided to record a video response to Robert's video.  It's about 2 minutes long and here it is:



I feel the need to "tell it like it is" because the media is making Robert out to be some sort of victim, which he is not.  While the help Robert is getting might save his life in the short-term, no one can do the work for him.  The road is long, the work is hard and there is no quick fix.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Little Things

I have said over and over again on this blog as well as in person that when it comes to the benefits of my weight loss, it is the little things that matter most.

Today I am celebrating one little thing in particular.

For almost my entire lifetime, because of my weight, whenever I would go have blood drawn, it would be an absolute never-ending disaster.  Lab tech after lab tech, nurse after nurse and sometimes doctors would try to find a vein from which to draw blood.  It was a huge production and they would almost always all fail.

I have been stuck up to 10 times just to get one vial of blood.  I have had it taken out of my fingers, my hands, my arms, my wrists and just about everywhere else except for my eyeball.  I have had multiple tourniquets on my arm wrapped so tightly I thought my arm was going to pinch off and fall to the floor.

What's worse, because I am still on blood thinners due to my pulmonary embolism 2 years ago, I have to have blood drawn once a month to be sure it is not clotting and that I am on the right amount of Coumadin.

But my friends, no more.

Today, for the third time in a row, all 3 tubes of blood were drawn with a single stick, right in my arm, just like everybody else. 

There were no multiple sticks.  There were no multiple tries.  There were no nurses "going to get the doctor."  I was in and out in under 3 minutes.

You want motivation to lose weight?  There you have it.  It's the little things.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Robert Needs Help

Right now, shooting around the Internet like a rocket is a video of Robert, a 23-year-old man who is over 600 pounds and asking for help.




Robert is desperate and his video made me choke up.  I remember feeling the exact same way Robert does.  I see the desperation in his eyes, how hopeless he feels.  He feels like he is out of options.

But he isn't.

The answer to Robert's situation is Robert.  All of the gimmicks, diets, scams and pills...none of them are going to help Robert.

And as bad as things are for Robert, it CAN get worse.  Just like our Anonymous friend who wrote in this week to talk about his experiences.  It can always get worse.

The only way Robert is going to lose weight and keep it off is to eat healthier, consume less calories and move his body.

It's going to take a long time.  It's taken me almost 2 years to lose almost 300 pounds.  It will likely take another year to lose the last 100. But that is the answer to Robert's problems.

I have reached out to Robert to see if I can help.


A Milestone

I've never been too big on celebrating my weight loss.  My reason is that I know it could all go away tomorrow if I don't keep on doing what I'm doing.  I also know that my addiction to food will never go away, so I tend not to celebrate for fear of jinxing myself.

However, today is a good day.

As the banner at the top of the page shows, I have officially lost more than I weigh.  In less than 2 months, I will cross the 300 pounds lost mark.

2 years ago, this would have never seemed possible to me.  As I type this, I am wearing a size XL shirt and shorts that I bought at a regular store, where everybody else shops. I cannot even process how far I've come.

There is more work to do.  The work will never truly be done.  And the work will get harder.  And it will never end.  I will constantly have to change and adapt what I am doing.  There are situations I have to avoid for the rest of my life.  The war will never be won, the fight will continue from one battle to the next.  That's not to say the situation is hopeless, but weight management is very much a "what have you done for me lately" business.

But, know this.

You do not need anything more than common sense, a sidewalk and a grocery store to lose weight.  Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.  Do not waste your money on stupid diets and dumb gimmicks that you see on TV.

You don't need any of it.  I didn't.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The "Blame Sugar" Craze

Recently, I saw actor Alec Baldwin being interviewed by David Letterman.  He was trim, fit...looking better than he had in years.

Letterman asked him what he had been doing and his response was that he quit eating sugar and that caused him to lose weight.

And that, my friends, is complete nonsense.

What causes someone to lose weight is they use more energy than they take in.  Simply put, Alec Baldwin lost weight because he consumed less calories.  If that came about because of the no sugar restriction he placed on himself, then fine.

But there is nothing wrong with sugar.

It's very popular to blame a single ingredient for our obesity, but that's classic misdirection.  For instance, we convince ourselves that "carbs are the problem" as a form of denial.  If we believe all we have to do is stop eating one certain ingredient, then that makes us feel better about overeating other foods.

I know, I've been there, I've done it.  I'm no better than anyone else.  I'm just pointing it out.

Like anything, sugar is bad in excess.  Just pouring sugar onto something is empty calories, calories better spent elsewhere.  Refined white sugar really has no nutritional value, so there are better choices.  Natural sugar contained in fruit is very healthy.  Not to mention all of the vitamins and minerals, plus the fiber.

But people take this to extremes.  I've had people tell me to avoid fruit.  Carbs of any kind.  Starches are bad!

This is Grade-A nonsense.  Sure, if you're diabetic, it is crucial that you count your carbs and regulate your sugar consumption.

I have lost almost 300 pounds in 2 years eating a steady diet of fruit, starches and carbs.

It's the calories, it's not the carbs and it's not the sugar.