Friday, November 25, 2011

The 2011 Turkey Day 5K Run

I spent my Thanksgiving morning running in a 5K race in downtown Charleston, SC. I made a little video to commemorate the experience. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Water. We all know we should drink more of it, but a lot of us don't. I never used to drink water. And yet, the human body requires water and a lot of it. 

Since this blog is about weight loss, I'll tie in my experiences with water.  It is next to impossible to control your appetite, lose weight and keep it off without consuming massive quantities of water.  I find when I start to slack off on my water consumption that I start to mistake thirst for hunger. When my eating feels like it's out of control, I realize I'm really thirsty and start pounding the water. 

The only thing that makes me feel full after eating is if I drink a lot of water with my meal. Otherwise, I am a bottomless pit. So how do you drink more water?

I was able to quit my 12-can-a-day diet soda habit (really) while I was in the hospital and switch to water.  It's hard. The caffeine withdrawal alone makes it very, very difficult.  But it's worth it. 

So go ahead, try some water.  Substitute 1 or 2 of your coffee/sodas, etc. with a bottle of water and gradually work it in.  Once it's all you drink, you'll start to crave it. 

Oh, and one more thing: water is the only thing that has zero calories.  You can have as much as you want. How awesome is that?

Here's a good rule of thumb for water consumption. You really do need a lot of water!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Book You Should Read

Until I write my own, the best book about overeating is "The End of Overeating," written by former FDA Commissioner David Kessler.  It's a book about how and why people overeat.  Reading this book made me realize that people don't overeat because they're weak-willed.  It is because the "food" is scientifically engineered to addict them.  The drugs are salt, sugar, fat and the drug pushers are the restaurant and food industries.

The book has been out a couple years and can be purchased cheap used.  Anyone who doesn't understand why they can't control themselves when it comes to food should read this book.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stop Focusing On The Scale

In almost every diet I have ever heard about, it goes something like this: you do whatever you do to lose weight, then weigh in.

Most programs have you weigh in once a week.  Or some, for maximum idiocy, have you weigh daily. The focus becomes what the scale says.  The goal becomes weight loss and nothing else. And that, my friends, is the road to nowhere.

Thee who worships the scale is destined to drown in disappointment.  If your goal in becoming healthier is just to lose weight, save yourself the pain and aggravation and just give up now. 

I have a better idea.

For the first several months of my weight loss journey when the weight was falling off the fastest, I only weighed once a month. I honestly didn't care what the scale said most of the time. Sometimes I get caught up in it, but I try not to.

Yes, you have to weigh once in awhile to know where you stand. But getting caught up in the thrill of quick weight loss means you will become intoxicated with the euphoria of constant success.  To say you are setting yourself up for failure would be like saying the Titanic had a moisture problem.

So go easy on yourself. It's OK to throw yourself into your lifestyle change and create dramatic results.  But don't be addicted to it. Because one day, that weight loss will stall.

Remember, it's about the rest of your life. Not the next weigh-in on some stupid scale.  This may all sound like sour grapes from someone who isn't doing well, but I'm fine. I lost 4 pounds last time I weighed in.

I just know what it's like to gain weight back you have worked so hard to lose and realize you have to take a long-term view.  It's not about next week, or next month or even next year.  It's about adding 5, 10, 20 or even 30 years onto your life.  Living to see your kids grow up.  Regaining your mobility or not living with the cloud of diabetes and heart disease hanging over you.

Never forget that the lifestyle change you create for yourself is more important than any single weigh-in.  You are becoming someone else, someone healthier and leaving behind the bad habits and disease of the past.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Portion Distortion

"Portion Distortion" is a great term used to describe how we perceive a large amount of food as a single serving.  This will lead some people to say "I don't eat that much," when in fact, they're eating 5 servings.  This could also be called denial, something I was an expert in, but that is another blog posting.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a great website that tracks how serving sizes have exploded in size over the last 20 years.

Portion size is a huge issue for me.  Obviously, having gotten my weight up to 577 pounds, I ate way too much.  But how much is "too much?"  How do you decide?  Through my own experiences, I have come to the following conclusions about portion sizes:

1.) I never trust my own eyes when it comes to portion sizes.  I long ago came to the conclusion that my mind wants to keep me as heavy as possible. Sometimes, I will look at a plateful of food and think "that is a huge amount of food." Other times, I look at the *exact* same portion and think "that isn't very much."

That perception, what I think in my mind as being the appropriate amount of food, is never right.  So I have learned not to trust it.

2.) Measure, measure, measure.  People who want to lose weight need to invest in 3 things: a measuring cup/spoon set, a food scale and a note pad.  Measure and write it down.  If you're trying to lose weight, never, ever, ever, ever trust your eye or mind when it comes to portion size. It cannot be trusted. You cannot guess.  You cannot eat what looks "about right." To do so is to become a victim of Portion Distortion.

3.) Use smaller plates.  This seems simple, but I have found it very effective.  Think about it: if you put your dinner on an 8" plate, it's going to look like a lot more food than if you put that same exact amount of food on a 12" plate.  You will mindlessly fill your plate to capacity.  Why should the size of the plate dictate how much you eat? That, my friends, is insanity.

4.) Stay out of the restaurants.  Portion Distortion is out of control at restaurants.  The plates are huge.  When you add up the chips/salsa, the bread, the appetizer, the soda, the salad, the entree, the meals are multiple thousands of calories. I believe it is next to impossible to lose weight and keep it off if you eat in restaurants. I am sure it could be done, but I couldn't do it.  Think about it: if somebody was going to give you everything you wanted without any limits, how are you going to keep track of it?  That is what a restaurant is.  Consider the endless refills of soda that are several hundred calories per serving.

5.) Read labels. They're there, and people mostly ignore them. But look closely. How many servings are in the package you are eating out of?  How on Earth do you eat an entire bag of chips that totals over 1,000 calories and fit that into a 2,400 calorie a day diet? You can't.  Read the will open your eyes.

If you don't know how much you're eating, put it down and run away!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Why settle?

Losing weight and keeping it off is one of the hardest things there is to do in life. There's a very good reason many fail (like I have in the past) and really struggle with it (like I will for the rest of my life.)

So with the odds stacked so high against you, how do you succeed?

First, you have to find your motivation. Mine was simple: not dying. Staying alive. Yours might be to live a better life, to see your kids grow up, to be in shape, etc.

But I have another angle to consider. Set aside all of the common trains of thought about weight loss.  Forget motivation, forget willpower.  Forget discipline, forget diets.  Forget it all and think about this:

Why should you accept being overweight? Why do you settle for that unhealthy lifestyle and all of the limitations that go with it?  Especially if you're very overweight to the point of it limiting your mobility and inhibiting your social life like I was.

Don't settle.  There is a better life everyone is capable of enjoying.  I'm not sure if anyone is like me, but when I decide something is unacceptable, I draw a line in the sand and do something else.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On the concept of "Dying happy."

I have heard this many times before and I am sure you have too.  In fact, I am sure I have said it:

"I will just eat whatever I want and it makes me happy, so I will die happy."

That, my friends, is a lie.  You won't die happy.  This isn't Hollywood: "the big one" just doesn't painlessly take you out. Here's what really happens: you die a slow, miserable, death. 

You get diabetes.  You lose a limb.  You have a stroke.  You go blind. You're taking pill after pill after pill, constantly treating symptoms, but never the disease. 

Your last years on this Earth are spent in the health care system.  Constant doctor's visits.  Endless trips to the ER.  Non-stop medical attention and churning through the hospital. Mobility is restricted.  Quality of life suffers. 

All of that flashed before me when I was in the hospital last year and it lit a fire that burns inside me to this day.  I only had to lay in that bed for about 2 days before I realized that the food wasn't worth it.  It just isn't.  Every food commercial will try to make you think it is, but it isn't. 

If you have any weight to lose or if you just want to get back into shape and live a healthier life, don't wait.  Don't wait until you're on the table in the ER wondering if you're done for. 

Take action now.  Throw away the soda and start drinking water.  Stay out of the drive-thru.  Go to the grocery store and buy some food instead of going to a restaurant.  Make a healthy pizza with your family instead of ordering the garbage that gets delivered to your door. 

Nobody facing heart bypass surgery ever says "I sure am glad I had the fries."