Monday, September 29, 2014

Ready to Go? Week One:Step One

My (hopefully our) journey is to being healthy which is more than just losing weight. I have decided that instead of throwing everything out there at once I am going to start slow and build a different lifestyle. I don't want to do a traditional "diet" because their progression is so typical. I start strong, fully resolved to eat in this certain way for X number of weeks. The first few days, maybe week, on occasion even couple weeks go well and then I find it simply unsustainable and once there is a crack in the flood gate the whole thing comes crashing down and I am back where I started.

Instead I am going to devote a week or possibly in some instances a couple weeks to adopting a new lifestyle habit. Each week or two I will add a new habit to the mix and within a few months I will have developed a new lifestyle. That is what I need: a different way to live. Some of these goals will be directly related to losing weight while others will be towards a more generally healthy lifestyle. There will be both positives and negatives as in there will be things that I will eliminate from my lifestyle and things that I will add.

Sustainability and accountability are the foundational principles that will enable this lifestyle to be built. Most traditional diets are simply unsustainable and often they are not meant to be sustained but only to "lose weight fast." The opposite ideology of "I'm simply going to eat better" lacks accountability both internally and externally. If "eating better" is not defined then there are no principles by which I can hold myself accountable. And if my vow of healthier eating is done in solitude then I have no community to celebrate my achievements or support me through my shortcomings. There will be shortcomings. I have spent 29 (all to soon to be 30, yikes) years developing my current lifestyle. I cannot expect to change 29 years of habit without making mistakes and falling short of the goal. That is why this will be a process. I have some notion of what the final product looks like but that is of no concern for me today. Today I start with step one.


I cringe even typing the words. There is probably nothing as quintessentially modern America as fast food. We are busy people and are constantly on the go. Fast food companies do everything possible to accommodate our busy lifestyles and make their product the easy choice. But this is why it must go:

Big Mac, Large Fry, Large Soda: 1,440 calories

Whopper w/cheese, Large Fry, Large Soda: 1,550 calories

My BK Favorite meal
Double Whopper w/cheese, Large Onion Ring, Large Soda: 1,760 calories
Even this picture makes me hungry. Satan get behind me!!!!
Beyond the egregious amount of calories that are in each of these meals there is also a pile of sodium, saturated fat and high fructose corn syrup (which btw is really not good for you.) Fast food is delicious but it is killing us...literally. The average sized adult is suppose to consume around 2000 calories a day. One sitting in a fast food joint is almost an entire days worth of calories.

The reason I am starting with this goal is that it is the low hanging fruit. If I can eliminate fast food that will cut at least a few thousand calories a week from my diet which will obviously help me loose weight. I am also choosing this goal because I have gone fast food free before and it felt amazing. When I lived in DC there were not any fast food joints near where I lived so I simply didn't eat it that often. I went probably 3-4 months without eating at any of the major fast food places. I felt great. My stomach felt better and overall I just felt healthier. 

To achieve this goal is going to take planning. The most common times that I eat fast food is when I dont bring a lunch to work and when I am in a hurry with the kids. Packing my lunch has to become part of my daily routine. Im not even going to worry that much about what goes into the lunch box at this point but only that it gets packed. Secondly, I am going to think ahead to identify the times in which the kids and I are going to be in a hurry and out and about during supper. Having simple to make or pre-maid meals on hand will be the key to not being tempted to just grab a quick bite.

Thank you for all your support and I will check in sometime this week to update how things are going. I hope that some of you join me on this goal and let me know if giving up fast food was easy or hard and if you feel any different. Also, if someone you know could use a plan to get on track to a healthy life please let them know about my blog. There is power in numbers and doing this as a group is better than going it alone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lets Narrow This Down

So I have been thinking about who I am really talking to in this blog and I have decided that I should narrow it down to the group that I think I relate to the most: the extremely obese. A lot of my weight loss tactics could be useful for anyone but the difference between being 20lbs overweight and being 100+ pounds is huge and requires a different approach.

Me and the family in Texas
So there is my beautiful family and I while we were on vacation. As you can see I need to loose a little more than 20 pounds. When that photo was taken I was around 400lbs! Here is another picture from college.
In this picture I was about 450lbs. I have yo-yo'ed in weight for many years. The next picture is from the end of graduate school and is probably the best I have ever looked.

I was down to about 350 pounds when that photo was taken and I felt great. But 5 years and 4 children later I was back up to 422 pounds.
Things have been getting better though. Currently I am 365 pounds. About 4 months ago I got back into the garbage business as a residential trash driver. In that job I walked about 3-6 miles a day and the weight fell off for the first few months. However, it is time for the bigger project and to start my journey to the ultimate goal: healthy. I will never be 150 pounds, its simply not a realistic option for me and honestly I dont want to be that small. I love lifting weights and being muscular. So I am laying out what I think is a realistic goal: 250 pounds. That means that I need to loose another 115 pounds, aka a small person. The next post is going to contain the basic parameters for how I am going to loose the next 40 pounds. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


When I was in my mid 20s I experienced a realization that is common to that age yet was nonetheless transformative: I am going to die.  Of course I've always known that life would end but there is an unexplainable difference between knowing that life will end and realizing that MY life will end. The mundane day to day activities will continue on for another 50, 60 or maybe even 70 years but eventually they will stop. At this point in my life I had already experienced many deaths, both expected and tragic, but over the course of the last 5 years I have come to understand the significance of my own mortality and more importantly my influence on how and when this life might come to an end.
I have been overweight pretty much my entire life. When I was born there was a set of twins born down the hall. I outweighed their combined weight by almost an entire pound. My weight has controlled my life ever since I can remember. I, like many people who have struggled with extreme obesity, went through childhood and adolescence feeling terribly ashamed about what I looked at. Clothing never fit right, desks were to small, too heavy for the diving board, and of course the infamous "I think of you more as a friend" line. The emotional toll of being extremely obese has been the lens through which I came to know the world. It becomes a viscous cycle. I would be depressed because of my weight and then eat because of the depression and then more depressed and ashamed from eating so much. I have been through the gambit of diets but if I am honest with myself, and now with you, I must admit that I never truly committed myself to these efforts. I wanted to lose weight and would start a new diet with the best of intentions but once things got hard I would justify a little slip here and then another there and next thing I knew I was back to my old eating habits. I have had some success in the past but I have never been a healthy weight. Four months ago I was 422 pounds. I felt terrible. My body is finally starting to show the extra wear and tear that being morbidly obese causes. If I am on my feet for to long my ankles hurt for days. Getting out of bed is a chore. I am only 29 but my body feels like it is in its late 60's. My blood pressure was starting to get a little to high and the last time I had my cholesterol checked it was borderline high. If something doesn't dramatically change I will face my mortality much sooner than I had ever thought.
I don't want to die early but more importantly I have a wife and children who deserve better from me. I don't want my children to lose their father when they are teenagers or worse I don't want them to end up obese because they learned to eat just like me. Something must change and thankfully things have begun to change.
Four months ago I went back to work after having been a stay at home dad for awhile. My job is extremely physically demanding. I walk about 3-5 miles a day and of course this has helped me begin to lose weight. I am now down to 365lbs but I have plateaued. I will most likely not lose anymore weight because my diet has not changed dramatically. But things are going to change. I am working on some simple principles that I am going to live by when it comes to eating. I will lay out those principles in coming posts. I am starting this blog for 2 reasons. First, accountability. I do not have much of a social network where I live and I need someone or something to hold me to my standards. In lieu of this I am promising to you complete honesty. There are days that I will have nothing but good things to share about how great things are going but when I slip and fall short of my goals I will also report that information. You are my accountability.
My second reason is that I am hoping to inspire other people to join me on this journey. I am not sure exactly how I am going to incorporate a community atmosphere but that is what I want to do. I want to hear about your success and your failure. I want us to walk this path together.
Follow my weight loss journeyIn the next few days and weeks I will be putting together the details of how I want to walk this journey so keep checking in and I will talk to you all soon!!!