War on Weight – Week Four

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.

John Quincy Adams lost seven elections before he became President.

Britney Spears shaved her head and attacked a SUV.

We all have setbacks.

***

That is what I started to write during my Metro ride home Wednesday night. I planned to continue to lament about how I had a setback on my weight loss journey and gained a few pounds last week. I had some good excuses too.

After a fateful bout with a bee last Wednesday, I had to take my bike into the shop.

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It’s been there for seven days now. Thus, I’ve only exercised once during the past week. It’s hard to find free non-commuting time these days to go exercise for an hour. I’ve also had some increased stress at work. With my bike in the shop, I’ve recently turned to food for comfort. That’s not ideal.

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I ate six Rice Krispie Treats in a row one night at 1:00am. I kinda regretted it, but those things are wicked good. I should have stopped at five.

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(That 54-pack box lasted less than a week.)

So I finally had my fateful meeting with the scale last night. I had already written out my “setback” post and was just going to plug in the number of pounds I gained. Although I was frustrated, I was ready to move on to a successful Week 5.

I weighed myself.

210 pounds.

The exact same as the week before.

I reset the scale.

I weighed myself again.

210 pounds.

I weighed myself again.

Still 210 pounds.

I was shocked. I was relieved.

I was also disappointed.

I had been down on myself for falling off the wagon, both with my eating and exercise, and I expected the worst. A button busting off of my pants at work yesterday didn’t help. Despite all the negative thoughts and fears, I gained zero pounds.

That was more exciting than any of my recent weight loss successes. I once had a bad week in 2006 and gained twelve pounds in five days. Last week, the scale didn’t move at all when I put exercise and healthy eating to the side. More importantly, seeing “210” on the scale for the second week in a row was an important reminder that I’m my own harshest critic and that things are rarely as bad as they seem.

220 and 210 (sadly, no pictures with me and a baby from this week):

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War on Weight – Week 3

The last song at a wedding is often a slow jam.

At our wedding, it was Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

If you play that song anywhere, once that chorus hits, “Ohhhhhh, we’re halfway there…,” people will sing.

Just like those American poets from New Jersey famously proclaimed, I too, am halfway there. I’m halfway to my weight loss goal! However, I never worked on the docks. And my name is not Tommy. Or Gina.

I kicked off my War on Weight on April 21, 2014 and set the goal of losing 20 pounds by July 4th. After three weeks, I am now down ten pounds. Holla. I lost six pounds the first week, two pounds during Week 2, and two more last week.

220 on the left. 210 on the right (sorry, fellow Costco customers):

War on Weight - Week Three

Pride can be a dangerous thing, but I’ll admit it, I’m proud of myself. After seeing the numbers on the scale increase for more than three straight years, it’s nice to see things go the other way for a change. I’ve also ridden my bike to work for ten straight days. While I doubt that’s a world record, it is my personal best.  Not only have I burned thousands of calories during the past few weeks on the bike trail, but I’ve saved about $150 on Metro fares and spent hours thinking, exercising, and dreaming instead of mindlessly looking at my phone on the Metro.

I’m really excited to have made it to Week Three because I hear people say that things become a habit after 21 days. Well, it’s been 21 days. Hello, new habit. Please stick around this time.

Things are still a challenge and sometimes there are missteps. Oh well, that’s life. Candidly, as I was writing this post at 1:00am I remembered we have Rice Krispie Treats. I ate one. Then I ate three more by the time it was 1:05am. I was disappointed I didn’t stop at one, two, or three, but one time I ate 11 in a row back in 2005, so I’m calling last night’s misstep an improvement.

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Best of luck to anyone else out there on the weight loss journey! As Bon Jovi said, “we’ll make it, I swear.”

War on Weight – Week 2

Whether it is starting a new job, buying a new car, or picking up some new kicks, everything seems so exciting and so fly at the beginning of an adventure. However, you’ll probably get bored at work someday, your car will pick up a few dents at the Safeway parking lot, and your new shoes will eventually get scuffed (especially if you ride the Metro).

Unsurprisingly, the same applies to an ambitious new desire to lose weight. Things are a piece of (low-fat) cake during Week 1. And then reality sets in. Your willpower wanes, non-fat popcorn starts to taste like styrofoam, and the long hours at work take their toll.

But you got to fight back. Yo.

Or else you might wake up three years and 6,000 billable hours later and find yourself 40+ pounds heavier.

Although Week 2 of my War on Weight was definitely harder than the first, I’m still calling it a success. I weighed in today two pounds lighter than last week.

Holla.

As I’ve noted before, my weight struggles over the decades have usually been the result of insane bingeing. I’ve limited that a lot over the past two weeks. On Friday night, I ate four pieces of cheesecake in ten minutes. Thankfully, they were relatively small slices. On Sunday night, I woke up from a bizarre 10pm nap desperately craving peanut butter. As my wife and two babies slept peacefully (thanks, baby swings), me and Peter Pan had a party. However, I’m proud to say those were my worst “binges” of the week. Historically, four pieces of cheesecake or two PB&Js is what I would call a typical snack.

So Week Two was a success. I didn’t lose as much weight as I did in Week 1, but the scale moved down a little, I rode my bike 70+ miles, saved $30 on Metro fares, my clothes fit better, and I feel much healthier. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.

220 and 212:
War on Weight - Week 2

Week Three, let’s dance.

Carlton Dance

War on Weight – Week 1

Week One of my renewed emphasis on living a healthier life was a success:

I rode my bike 80 miles (and saved $40 on Metro fares).

I lost six pounds.

It no longer takes an act of God for me to put on my dress pants each morning.

Most importantly, I feel better. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I didn’t do any fad diets, supplements, or crazy workout routines. I just exercised more and ate a little less. Although I slacked off on the exercise over the weekend, and discovered that animal crackers and a tub of cake icing is a great combination, I avoided the binging disasters that have often haunted me. I also drank so much water that rising sea levels are no longer a global concern.

Most important, the My Fitness Pal app has been a Godsend for me. I’m addicted to food and often eat out of habit or when I’m bored. My Fitness Pal is the Jiminy Cricket I desperately need on my shoulder reminding me to ease up on the peanut butter.

Finally, thanks to everyone for your encouragement and recommendations! Suggestions are always welcome!

One week down, thousands more to go.

220 and 214:
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War on Weight

I need some help.

I need some accountability.

I need to lose some weight.

I’ve previously written about my 20ish-year struggle with my weight. There have been many ups and downs over the years. The victories are some of my proudest moments. The setbacks are some of my lowest lows.

Much like Justin Bieber’s career, I’ve been in a steep decline over the past year.

Man in the Mirror

260 to 180.  Now hanging out at 220 (not pictured due to tired/crazy dad eyes).

I’ve always struggled with eating healthy. I have some sort of food obsession, or just really weak willpower, and always find myself munching on something, eating out of boredom, or going back for a third serving of fajitas. I hate it, but it keeps on happening.

I’ve often been able to balance out the caloric gorging by exercising a ridiculous amount. In law school, I worked out twice a day and lost 70 pounds. However, after spending most of the past three years hanging out with my work computer, that isn’t feasible anymore. It’s hard for me to accept this fact, but I’ve gained 40 pounds since I started my job in September 2010. That’s dangerous and depressing.

Biking to and from work has often been a huge help in the past, but this past winter was brutal in DC and I have been too lazy over the past six months to get out there and pop some wheelies. That downturn in exercise coincided with an unfortunate uptick in snacking. This was probably due to increased stress and the fact that there was so much more junk food in our house with two little kids on the way.

Unfortunately, the food availability and snacking hit all-time highs (technically, lows) over the past few weeks of paternity leave. Sitting around all day in a house full of food and sweet treats is a bad combination for me. In short, I ate four packs of Oreos last week. Due to the constant cycle of feeding, burping, and diapers, I haven’t exercised in two weeks (except for the bouncing I do to help the kids fall asleep).

And now none of my pants fit.

Yes, some people may say they didn’t fit before, but now my skinny jeans are no-fit jeans. I finally swallowed my pride and ordered two pairs of bigger dress pants last week. I tried them on over the weekend and they didn’t fit either. I screamed.

It’s finally time to do something about it. Again.

I’ve been polluting my body with all this junk food. I feel gross and lethargic. My love for fashion is quickly waning when nothing fits right. I recently saw some amazing floral pants that were so beautifully tacky, but I didn’t even want to buy them because of my weight gain.

That can’t happen.

Okay, rant over.

Here’s the goal:

Lose 20 pounds by July 4th, 2014.

Here’s how I’m going to get there:

(1)  Bike to work each day that the weather permits.

(2)  Lift weights before leaving from work each day.

(3)  Write down all the food and drinks I consume. This one is already paying dividends as I’ve resisted some tempting cookies and candy bars all day.

(4) You. I need accountability. Badly.

Game on.

Man in the Mirror

I turn 31 next week. (Please don’t feel obligated to buy me a present that costs more than $100. I understand that times are tough.) I’ve spent most of those 31 years hating the way I looked. Shopping in the husky section as a kid sucked. Pool parties and beach days were worse. I wasn’t trying to start a new fashion trend by swimming in the pool while wearing a t-shirt.

Six years ago, I finally got tired of that mess. In early February 2008, I went to the gym and did the stair climber. After twenty sweat-drenched minutes, I died, went to heaven, and swapped stories with Abe Lincoln (FYI – he is Team Edward). Thankfully, God sent me back because someone had to take care of my dog. I went to the gym the next day.

And then the next 50 days too. I lost seventy pounds.

Man in the Mirror

For once in my life, I finally felt good about myself. It’s ridiculous that it took 26 years. It’s tragic that we live in a society that puts so much emphasis on obtaining an unattainable standard of beauty that so many of us walk around feeling like Jabba the Hutt. Social media doesn’t help. You see everyone else at their best, but you don’t see the 12 awkward versions of the photo that weren’t posted or run through an Instagram filter. The constant bombardment of images of perfectly fit and digitally-enhanced celebrities doesn’t help either. Put your shirt back on, Zac Efron!

Losing 70 pounds is one of my proudest accomplishments. However, I still struggle with my weight. Every. Single. Day. It is an albatross around my neck. I’ve gained 20 pounds over the past year. I feel guilty, I feel ashamed, I feel uncomfortable when none of my clothes fit anymore. All my pants have gone from slim fit to barely fit. I refer to myself as “fat” at least once a day. I think it a lot more times than that. I feel weak and worthless after eating that 19th Oreo or 7th slice of pizza. I feel miserable when I repeatedly fail at fitting exercise into a schedule that is packed full of so many other activities. I’m terrified that things will only get worse when the twins are born.

That’s not how we’re meant to live.  I don’t think you can have a healthy relationship with your friends, family, or even God if you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself. That is still a struggle for me. I don’t know how to overcome it, but I think trying your best, understanding that the standards of beauty set by the media are stupid, and being content with yourself are prerequisites to living a joyful life. I also think it’s important to know that you’re not alone when you struggle with your insecurities.

I’m right there with you.

Think Fast

There are few things in this world that I love more than gummy bears, Oreos, and Sour Patch Kids. To be honest, I’m not sure if I love anything more than those delectable sweets.  Other than burritos.

However, I’m giving up all that sugary goodness.  Not for a lifetime, but for three weeks (which feels like a lifetime).  I’m giving up all sweets, sodas, and alcohol during those 21 days.  Not because I think those things are bad, but because I need to refocus.

There is a lot of noise in my life.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad, most of it is distracting.  Life is too busy and there are too many things competing for my attention. Despite my good intentions, a lot of my days are wasted.  Those days quickly turn into weeks, months, and years.

I need to prioritize.  I need to refocus.

I need to fast.

I’m not sure of all the theological underpinnings behind a fast, but it’s a pretty simple idea. I think about gummy bears, Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, Coke Zero, and Coronas approximately 217 times a week.  Instead of hitting up the vending machine or searching for Amanda’s secret stash of junk food when I get a craving for high fructose corn syrup, I’ll say a prayer.  It won’t be anything fancy or impressive, but just a quick prayer of thanksgiving. A quick prayer asking God to help me love people more. A quick prayer that the Metro won’t be single-tracking during my commute home.

Those brief moments of prayer and reflection throughout the day will hopefully lead to a substantial attitude shift.  Instead of merely trying to squeeze God into a tiny compartment, my hope is that I emerge from these three weeks of sweet sacrifice with a faith that permeates every aspect of my life.

But, on the day, the hour, the minute the fast ends, I will be yelling, “SHOW ME THE GUMMY!”

Think Fast