Live by the Scale, Suffer by the Scale…Choose Life!

One of the biggest challenges in losing weight can be the act of monitoring that weight loss. It doesn’t matter whether you want to lose 5# or 100#; in order to be sure you are, in fact, losing weight and not staying the same or (gulp) gaining weight, you will have to find a way to measure that weight loss. Objectively, weighing yourself shouldn’t be an issue. This is what should happen: you pick a day, scale and time to weight yourself weekly (or even less often.) You get a number, and you move on to the next week.

I have never heard of anyone who had the experience described above. For what should ideally be an objective measure of a single number, there is an extreme amount of stress, emotion and self-esteem tied to it. For everyone who has ever tried to lose weight, there is a unique combination of any number of influences pulling at your success or failure. And when it comes to the specific act of weighing, there are some real pitfalls.

  • Type of measurement: As a dietitian, I don’t necessarily believe ‘the smaller the number on the scale, the better.’ I would like everyone to be healthy, and that not only includes a healthy weight, but things like blood pressure, BMI (body mass index,) percentage body fat, lipid panel numbers and other data, depending one your personal health history. Of all these things however, “old fashioned” body weight is the easiest, cheapest thing to measure at home, so that’s what we use most often. (And because obesity can be tied to most of the other values, it does make sense to look at body weight, especially for people who have a significant amount of weight to lose.)
  • Quality of the Scale: This one is a mess. Search the internet for information on home scales, and you will find a wide variety of both reliability and cost. You can find scales from less than $10 to over $70. As you can imagine, there are also a huge range of features! However, even high-quality home scales can be misleading for many reasons. First, digital ones are usually thought to be more reliable than the dial versions, but things like the slant of the floor, carpet, not standing in the middle of the scale and how often it gets moved or jostled around can effect its accuracy. Why work hard to lose every pound, only to have a scale that inaccurately reports no loss! (Also keep in mind that depending on the scale you choose, it may only be accurate below a certain weight.) Another trap can be the mechanical, beam scales that you find at gyms and fitness centers. While these scales are usually high quality, they need to be maintained properly and calibrated regularly to be accurate, or they are no better than a home bathroom scale.
  • Frequency of weighing: Even if you had a scale worth thousands of dollars (and they do exist,) weighing yourself often (several times a day, or even daily,) encourages you to cross the line from being the data collector to being vulnerable to the bad data you are collecting. If you weigh yourself every day, you will undoubtedly see fluctuations in weight for any number of reasons (hydration level, water retention, time of day, and yes, even bladder and bowel conditions!) And for many people, the amount of frustration they see at gaining a fraction of a pound or more from one day to the next is enough to discourage them, and torpedo their progress and hopefulness.

So what is the answer? Is there a way to monitor weight loss that helps, rather than hurts, your considerable efforts in eating right and exercising? I think Chad would agree, after experiencing both sides, that there is.

  • Use good equipment: Find the most accurate scale you can, and use ONLY that one. If you have access to a beam-style, mechanical scale at a gym or fitness center, don’t be shy–go ahead and ask how often its calibrated, and/or check to see if it has a sticker stating the last time it was serviced. You are paying good money to use the facility, and you should have your equipment in good working order. Another option would be to check with a local clinic to see what their policy is on using their scale. They use good quality scales and usually have them serviced on on a regular schedule. If you must use a home scale, do it “responsibly;” do your research and do all you can to ensure its accuracy by reading the instructions–even though it seems silly to read instructions on a scale!
  • Weigh only when scheduled: Chad was wise enough to choose Wednesday mornings to weigh in. Early week weighing can be impacted by weekend treats, causing an uptick in weight. Weighing in on Fridays can give you a “I lost 1# this week, so I deserve to not work out/have a few more drinks/have dessert/super size it, etc.” This will no doubt result in a net gain, and is not a plan to set yourself up for success. Also, Chad has easy access to his scale at that time, which prevents him from missing a weigh-in and then having to skip it or reschedule, which might also cause him to drift away from this plan. Because we live in an instant gratification-world, it is hard for us to wait a week or more for a number, especially when we are often changing many things about our daily life just to impact that number. But many people, perhaps even you, know that this is true: weighing yourself often, and perhaps seeing no change or even an increase in weight, will A) make you feel bad about yourself and B) entice you to give up your efforts, which will lead you back to A. It is because the bathroom scale is so tempting that I usually discourage people from getting them. Having to travel to your accurate scale may keep you from the curse of “over-scaling!”
  • Be a scientist! This is such a biggie it has two parts!
  1. Your weight really is just a number, and it is not even the only number related to your health. It does not tell you how good of a person you are or even how successful you are at working towards you goal on any given day. Treat the number as just that; one piece of data. Hopefully you have other things you are paying attention to: How do you look in the mirror? Are your clothes fitting any differently? Do you have more energy? Are you making better food choices? Are you exercising regularly, and is it becoming easier to do that exercise?
  2. Interpret your data properly. If you set a goal of weight loss of 1, 1.5 or 2 pounds per week (any more than that over several weeks can be unhealthy, as well as lead to falling back into bad habits,) look for that. Don’t look to lose a pound a day; that’s not the goal you set! Since I am a bit of a data geek, here is my best visualization of what we do to ourselves when we “over-scale.” Which experience would you rather have? How would you feel on each day, given each scenario?

There are some who lose weight and achieve their goals without weighing themselves at all. They use other benchmarks, such as ones I have mentioned previously–fitting into clothes or being able to compete in an activity they are working toward. And while those people have incredible motivation and success, most of us need a few more frequent checks to be sure we are on the right track. But, weighing yourself is as most other things are…”Enough is as good as a feast!”

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Weigh-in Week #6

🙂 🙂 So, after my lunatic  response to the very appropriate 1# weight loss last week, I am proud to report that I was able to weather the storm. I did not cave to the internal sense of loss and failure I irrationally felt. I traveled to Madison and spent the weekend dining, drinking, and entertaining. I worked out everyday but one, and I stepped on the scale this morning at 363.4!! That’s a 3# loss form week 5!!

This continues to maintain my pace of 3# a week, double the 1.5# goal I need to maintain to reach my 40 BMI goal next August. I’m down 17.6 pounds and my new BMI is 46.2, down 2.2 from my starting point of 48.4, 26% of the way towards my goal.

Of course, the challenges start right away. Spent the day in a literacy training, with a plate of donuts for breakfast, sandwiches on croissants and potatoes chips for lunch, and brownies for snack. Then we took the consultant out for dinner with a bread and oil appetizer and puttanesca for the main meal. And of course, two glasses of wine, all with no time to work out. So, I am sure I had some backsliding by the end of the day.

Started the day in the gym this morning, 30 minutes at 15+ MPH on the stationary bike, so the extra 570 calories might make today a bit more of a success; though I’ve already had a piece cinnamon apple Kringle. I’ll do better for lunch.

Lastly, my success brings a double edged sword this week. I’ve lost enough weight that my calorie goals have been adjusted down about 100 calories a piece. So in order to maintain my losses, I’ll need to eat even less to stay at the same level of success.

We’ll see you all next week. Hopefully, a little less of me.

Saying Goodbye to Another Garden

Up here in Northern Wisconsin, we are at the end of our growing season. The late crops are already being harvested, and to make matters worse, we have had a couple nights of frost, which has moved some things along even faster. I am still a novice gardener, with only three years of having a garden and a couple years of trying to container-garden my herbs. (That was always a miserable failure, since I would forget to water them and everything would be fried by July!)
I have tried to stick with basic vegetables and herbs, given I only have a 12X6 foot space, but I have tried to maximize my space by mixing some herbs and rhubarb in with the existing plants in the borders around my lawn. This year I grew:

  • Slicing tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Thai peppers
  • Bell peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Habanero peppers
  • Salad greens
  • Radishes
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Chives

[I didn’t grow Swiss chard this year, but will probably add it back next year. I love it, but Chad only likes it a few ways; I thought I could live without it, but its just so pretty I have to have it!]

My pesto-making set-up.

I had already harvested most of my veggies; my basil had gotten tough and bitter, but I was able to make and freeze lots of pesto, basil vinaigrette, some chopped basil and even made basil salt! I was also able to freeze many peppers for the year to come, since we use a lot as we make salsa and chili and other spicy things to keep us warm through the cold Wisconsin winters. (I don’t have the amount of other crops to “put them up” for the winter, so I just have the pleasure of gorging myself on what is ripe during the summer! But back to the fall…)

I was able to nurse the garden through the first frost but was leaving town for the second, so I harvested what was left; the final salad greens, green bell peppers (which I would have LOVED to keep going until they were red) and habanero peppers.

The last garden fresh salad of the year.

As crazy fall weather would have it, we do have an increase in temps coming, but for me, its the end of the line. So, I took advantage of a sunny day to put the pots and tomato cages away, and to cover my garden space, basically batten down the hatches for the impending deep freeze.

This is what the early summer looks like. Now…

All tucked in for the winter…

I’m actually not sure about covering the garden; and I could use help on this one. I believe I had tomato blight this year; it was in both my garden and container plants. Black spots on leaves became yellowed stems and eventually turned dry and fell off. It started low and if I was diligent in removing it, the rest of the plant was OK, but the plants became pretty sparse at the end of the summer, and I’m sure the yield suffered. I had read that I should burn, remove or bury the diseased foliage, so I removed what I could, and replaced the heavy black plastic that was on the garden when we moved in, which I hope will foster some nice mulching-like activity as well as perhaps kill whatever was on my tomatoes. (If anyone has advice or thoughts for next year, or even anything I can do this fall, I’d love to hear it!)

Since I hate winter and am pretty sure I am a functional SAD sufferer, you would think this would be a dreaded time for me. Surprisingly, though, gardening makes things better instead of worse. I know that someday the sun will bring warmth and when the days start getting longer, I can begin the process many gardeners look forward to–planning the next garden!

Final Note: As a dietitian, the lack of gardens and farmers markets in the winter also acts like a challenge during the winter months. Its much easier to get people of all ages to eat fruits and vegetables when they are picked from a local orchard or bought at a farmers market, but since we should be eating produce all year, how will I (and you, I hope) keep those healthy habits through the dark days of February and beyond? I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes with you, and we’ll make it to the next spring together!

I AM A LUNATIC…(and Weigh-in Week #5)

So, in today’s post, all you skinny people get a little glimpse into the brain of an obese person. (Brace yourself, this can be a scary place to be!) And my fellow fat people get to say, “Yep, that’s how we think. Told you it’s a F@#&$*^ disease!!”

I weighed-in this morning at 366.4 #. Down 14.6# in 5 weeks. Normal people would find something to celebrate in that. Of course, we know that anyone weighing 366 or 381 or 404 pounds (more on that later) isn’t exactly normal.

My immediate, visceral reaction to losing ONLY a pound, is why the hell am I doing this and get me two sausage, egg, and cheese McMuffins! STAT!!

Michelle may comment on this later, but she was with me this morning at the weigh-in and I am sure she could see the disappointment on my face. She even commented that 15# in 5 weeks was 3# a week; twice my needed 1.5# to meet my goal. But in my head I was thinking, “Yep, here we go again. The first month is always easy. The pounds always melt off me in the first month. Then it slows down. Then it stops. And then I start packing back on the pounds so fast I go roaring by the place I started at in half the time it took me to lose it in the first place. Why did I ever think I could do this? Just another crushing defeat that in the long run will actually make me less healthy than I was when I started, because I will gain back more than I lost in the first place. I am such a jerk. Since failure is inevitable, time to enjoy a Double Quarter Pound Cheeseburger Value Meal with a Large Fry and Large Non-Diet Coke. Oh and a 20 piece Chicken McNuggets for dessert. Oh and a King-Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from Kwik Trip…for just a little treat.”

Told you it wasn’t a pretty place to be. Then I went into my office and got ready for the day. made my oatmeal and fruit and went to work. An hour later, looking at my uneaten oatmeal, that I had started 10 times only to quit and think “hmmm…dounuts,” I went to a meeting. Where one of the examples put up for discussion was about how Wikipedia says 8% of Americans eat at McDonald’s every day. Really? Are you kidding me? Now I am starting to think about how the universe is conspiring against me.

The conversation about that was about the MATH of it, but that didn’t stop us from talking about the specifics of eating at McDonald’s every day. Which led me to this reminiscence: In the spring of 2009, I was living on my own in Rice Lake. Michelle was in New Orleans, finishing up her internship at Tulane Medical School, and for a time, I ate three meals a day, everyday, at fast food restaurants. Breakfast at Burger King, Lunch at Culver’s, McDonald’s, or KFC, followed by Dinner at Culver’s, McDonald’s, Arby’s or Taco John’s. Michelle moved home on August 21st, 2009. That day I weighed 404 pounds; my all-time high.

As I thought about that today, it actually is what started to bring me around. Here’s how it went: In August 2009, I weighed 404. When Michelle came home, I dropped down to 374. I went back up, but never got back above 387. So I have lost weight and then gained some, without going past my all-time fattest. So even if my weight-loss has slowed, I might not be a lost cause.

At that point, I ate my green chicken chili lunch, didn’t go to McDonald’s or Kwik Trip, passed on the afternoon popcorn or pretzels snack, and came home and pounded out a 48-minute, 3.3 mile walk instead. Looks like I am going to hang in there for another week, at least.

Week #5 = Weight 366.4; Total Lost 14.6; starting BMI 48.4; Current BMI 46.5.
Hang in there!

Japanese Breakfast Invades America! (Hopefully!)

I had the incredible opportunity to spend 10 days in Japan this summer, in a town called Miharu. It is our sister city, and I went as part of a group of five adults on a mission to find ways to strengthen our sister city ties. But as a dietitian, I was also there for the food!
We arrived late at night, and the next morning my little research project started out with a bang: the women who were caretakers of the bed and breakfast where we spent that first night prepared a “traditional Japanese breakfast” for us.
I hope you would agree that it is gorgeous, but the greatest part for me was that other than the coffee, there wasn’t too much that was similar to an American breakfast. We did have tea, but it was green tea, and the flavor was not what you get in convenience store bottles of Americanized green tea. We also had eggs, but they were made with some sort of sweetener and/or cream so they tasted like tamago, or for those who have never had tamago at a sushi place, almost like a custard. There was also rice, a sticky, sushi-style rice, which is served (and should be eaten,) plain. Inside the covered black bowl was miso soup, a broth-based soup that had tofu, seaweed and snap peas. The blue dish had a soft block of tofu that has a small amount of a soy sauce, as they use soy sauce very sparingly, and do soak things in it, like most Americans do. The main plate consisted of the eggs, but also mouth-watering, marinated salmon, and a cabbage salad with garden-fresh tomatoes and snap peas. Since we were gearing up for a long day of meetings and sightseeing, we also had a “dessert,” of yogurt and fruit. As it turned out, this was the beginning of a very interesting lesson for me; each breakfast I had was more like this than the typical American breakfast of breads, cereals, greasy meats, and even fruit! I started to wonder if maybe they weren’t on to something…

I started to inspect the anatomy of a Japanese breakfast a little more closely.

  • Carbs: yes, they had them, mainly in the form of rice because they rarely have bread. It got me thinking; if we have pancakes, waffles, or french toast, and ALSO have potatoes and maybe even toast, that’s a full plate of carbohydrates with little whole grain or perhaps even fiber. In Japan, the grains seem to be limited to a side dish. And yes, it was always white rice, not brown.
  • Fats:This gets high marks over the American alternative. While there is fat in the salmon and the tofu, they are the “good fats.” From what I have heard, yogurt is popular in Japan, though I don’t know if ours was lowfat. (Full-fat yogurt can have a shocking amount of saturated fat.) The other advantage here is the amount of fat: no butter, no whipped cream (!) and no bacon or sausage dripping with fat.
  • Protein: This seems to be the biggie! With eggs and tofu and salmon and yogurt, this is a power-packed breakfast, which was able to keep us full; I often wasn’t very hungry at lunchtime, even after hours of walking, talking and sightseeing!
  • Fruit: (Note that these are in the carbs category.)This didn’t seem a big part of breakfast, and one of my host “mothers” actually went out to buy fruit after we were talking about how we eat fruit at breakfast! There were cherries in season, so we did have a token serving of those, but fruits were definitely taking a backseat to…
  • Vegetables: This was my biggest surprise! There were fresh vegetables at each breakfast, usually in salad form. Think about when, or if, you have vegetables for breakfast; if you say, “maybe a few mixed in with my meats and cheeses in my omelet,” I think you have pretty much exhausted the American vegetable breakfast options!

This was all very interesting, but when I got back to US soil, what would happen? Would I go back to the low protein, high-sugar and high-fat breakfasts that are just assumed to be the only option? If I did, what was the point of my little research project, really? I wondered if I could adapt some of my breakfasts to mimic the breakfasts I had come to appreciate. I didn’t want to have a sugar rush, then crash with hunger and the jitters at 10:30, and now I knew I didn’t have to! I started looking for more protein and vegetables to have for breakfast. I found that it is actually pretty convenient, and, dare I say, liberating, to be able to have (what we consider to be) non-breakfast foods for breakfast! Using leftovers was the easiest way to go, and of my four examples, all are made from leftovers!

Leftover salmon and rice from the night before, plus a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden. Healthy, and faster than a drive thru!

For the “food snobs,” Green beans from the farmers market, Israeli couscous and slivered almonds! Couscous takes the place of rice here, and almonds add some protein.

Ahhh…Quinoa! Leftover corn and black bean, tex-mex style quinoa, with more cherry tomatoes. (Its the season, after all.) Chock full of protein!

I tried this in honor of the cabbage salads we had in Japan. Shredded Swiss chard salad with vinaigrette and shredded cheese. I ate it as a side dish the night before, but added egg and more vegetables to fill it out so it could be my whole breakfast.

Do I still eat “regular” breakfasts? Yes. But, I have been able to explore other options, which has helped my in many ways: better protein options keep me full while staying low-fat. Vegetables have fiber, and are the pretty much the lowest-calorie foods you can find. Its a quick and easy way to re-purpose your leftovers, and makes for a quick, but hot, healthy and tasty, breakfast. So, go ahead and warm up that leftover thin-crust, veggie pizza for breakfast–what will you eat the next morning?

How do other people do it?

So I spent the weekend hosting my two nephews, ages 7 and 5. Clearly, there is some level of training that parents go through to keep up with kids, no? Because I am a relatively energetic guy who loves playing with my sisters’ kids. I go to their homes and wrestle and walk in the woods and go to the play ground and then I go home and life is good.

When they are staying with you though, apparently all those things take twice or thrice as much energy. Cause that is all I did differently. Had them here. We had a great time, two games of kickball, copious wrestling, a trip to the Pumpkin Patch (if you are not from Rice Lake, this is really something you should check out), a game of catch, a trip to the playground, and lots of Wii.

I secretly believe they hooked up some kind of sci-fi umbilical cord that drained energy from me all day long, and allowed them to wake up full of energy at 6:30 am!!

Furthermore, it really was a struggle to maintain the routine of diet and exercise I’ve established in the last month. Yesterday, I ate over 4000 calories, without really trying. I blame the Fiesta Chicken Salad I had at Applebee’s which was over 800 calories all by itself. Though I suppose the French Toast, the real maple syrup, the delivered pizza, the pumpkin cake with butter-cream frosting, the pancakes, and the real maple syrup (again) might have had a hand in the problem. All this left me with new found respect for managing a weight problem, while also raising children.

We tried to counter-act all those calories yesterday with a massive duathlon, a 4.8 mile walk followed by a 7.3 mile bike ride, with a total time in transit of 1:56 and total 1410 total calories burned! Yikes!! (See, another example of why it’s easy to lose weight when you weigh almost 400 pounds.) We’ll see what happens on Wednesday.

Next big challenge? Next weekend a trip to Madison to watch my old team, Fort Atkinson take on Oregon High School and then a great night at American Players Theater with treasured friends. If the food doesn’t get me, the wine will!!

Stay strong!

Weigh in, Week #4

Two posts only a few days apart? I must have a lot to say. 🙂

First, when I started to tell this story, it was the day before my 39th birthday, August 16th, 2012. A month later, I can’t begin to explain how relatively easy the last 4 weeks have been. First, Michelle is amazingly supportive, both as a wife and as my dietitian. It seems that whichever role I need her to fill in the moment, that is the role she occupies. (I’m a little weirded out by it, frankly.)

Second, with every blog post, I am receiving a ton of positive feedback and encouragement; from cousins I rarely get to see in person to former students I haven’t seen in ten years to my aunts, who themselves have walked this journey before. Every single positive piece of feedback lifts me up. I am grateful beyond belief for your support and I hope you stay with me…because I know there will be days ahead when I’ll really need it.

Lastly, two other people have joined me on myfitnesspal.com as friends. This means that we see each others’ daily progress in our exercise and eating plans. I won’t out who they are, because I haven’t asked them if I can, and they may not be as willing as I am to share all this publicly. But I will tell you that the mutual support I get from seeing their log-ins every day, from seeing their exercise entries, from seeing that they have finished their day under their calorie goal, fills me with a sense that I am not alone in this endeavor. I can only imagine it is something like what Weight Watchers (having never gone to a meeting) tries to do with their weekly weigh-ins; it is just more immediate. We are together on the journey every day, multiple times a day, if we want to be.

So today, when I woke up and logged on, I saw that “Friend #1” had lost 1.9# since their last weigh-in and “Friend #2” had logged in for 10 straight days, I thought, “Wow. Today is weigh-in day. I hope I don’t let them down.” And, I didn’t!!

Today’s Weigh-In = 367.4# You’ll recall that I started 4 weeks ago at 381, and so have lost 13.6# in 4 weeks. That is still a bit ahead of the 1-2# a week Michelle and I are planning on, but we are also still sort of talking about deck chairs on the Titanic. (Meaning it’s a small percentage of my total body weight.)

Also, on 8/16, my BMI was 48.4. Today it is 46.7. So in 4 weeks, we’ve moved 20% of the way to my goal of a BMI of 40. If we keep up the current pace, we’ll have to revise our goals. 🙂 I guess that isn’t the worst outcome of the project.

Be careful out there.

But What About PIZZA?

Pizza has become an American food…we’ve taken it over as our go-to delivery item, we have made multiple versions depending on region, (are you a New York-style or Chicago-style person?) and we have limitless frozen pizza options. (Have you noticed that the frozen pizza section in the grocery store is as big, or bigger, than the frozen vegetable section!?) This means that its practically impossible to go without pizza in our current food culture, and unfortunately, its often chock-full of calories! So what do Chad and I do about this when we are trying to eat within an appropriate calorie range?

Chad and I often had a pizza night, where we would order take out. (It was usually a football night or weekend night where neither one wants to cook–or clean up!) We have other nights where we make our own pizza. We often use a pre-made crust, but rarely will try a home made crust, or a Trader Joe’s ball of pizza dough. One challenge that we have been working on for several months is getting the crust just right. We are always after a thin crispy crust, but that has proven difficult. After many pizzas, we have made some discoveries:

  • Oven temp: Directions often call for 400-425 degrees, but that just doesn’t work for us. We usually cook ours at 450 degrees.
  • Pre-cook the crust: We have found that 5 minutes in a pre-heated oven will start forming the crispy surface, which keeps the sauce and other topping liquids from making the crust soggy.

    This is what cooked dough looks like without sauce and toppings! But we just deflate, top, and finish cooking!

  • Toppings: for the crispiest crust, things like tomatoes, green peppers and mushrooms should be precooked to get some of the moisture out. Also, putting the toppings on top of the cheese can help cook off a BIT of the moisture.
  • Cheese: Although we LOVE buffalo mozzarella, even pressing the moisture out doesn’t stop the cheese from making the crust moist. We use regular shredded cheeses, and try to get some golden, toasted cheese color on the top. (Some ovens can get this by turning on the broiler for just 3 minutes.)

But does that sound like too much work? Just take a look at some store bought and delivery options:

  • Pizza Hut Meat Lovers, Pan style, is 330 calories for 1/8 of a 12″ pizza (1 slice.) But since NO ONE eats just one slice, look at it this way: If you eat half the pizza, which is surprisingly easy to do, its 1320 calories!
  • If you are eating from a 14″ Pizza Hut pizza, its 480 per piece=1920 calories for half a pizza!
  • Even Pizza Hut Veggie Lovers, Thin and Crispy crust, 12″ pizza, is 180 per piece, still 720 for half a pizza! (Want to check your favorites? http://www.pizzahut.com/nutritionpizza.html)
  • For frozen pizza options, a classic example is Jack’s 12,” thin crust Supreme. Half of this pizza will give you fewer calories (580 cal) but will also give you saturated fats (the bad fats) and1040 mg of sodium! (The recommendation is less than 2,300 mg for the whole day.)
  • For a Jack’s Naturally Rising Crust, The Works pizza, You only get 1/6 for a serving! Despite the inconsistent-looking portion sizes, the same half-pizza will contain 990 calories, plus 1770 mg sodium!

    Jack’s original crust. Notice serving size, the % of your daily saturated fat and sodium content!

    Jack’s Naturally Rising Crust. The thick crust accounts for an extra 410 calories for half of a pizza versus a thin crust.

So after all this, what’s a healthy, pizza-loving American to do?! We have decided to take the tips we’ve discovered and MAKE OUR OWN and keep it healthier, too! We can make ours before the pizza delivery person arrives, we can put EXACTLY what and how much of the toppings we choose, we have a cheaper and healthier pizza, and believe me, they can be even tastier than the alternatives!

We have found our favorite toppings, which give the pizza a lot of flavor without adding lots of calories or saturated fat!

  • Garlic
  • Red onions
  • Pizza seasoning
  • Black olives (or capers…yum!)
  • Anchovies (1/2 tin)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

    All the toppings are added; just waiting for the cheese! This is about 1/3 of a can of sauce. I would prefer more, but it then softens the crust, which I don’t like.

This is 1 cup of cheese, and its a perfect amount! If you don’t believe me, take a look at the next picture…

Done! For this pizza, we put the anchovies on top. Adding some fresh basil after cooking is a great finale!

Half of THIS pizza is 650 calories! Because we choose salty items like anchovies and olives and capers, the sodium will still be pretty high, but the fats in those items will be healthy, unsaturated fat, as opposed to the saturated fats from beef or pork.
I picked up this novelty cookbook (yes, it really IS round!) and it has all sorts of fun ideas. Some are less healthy than others, but I’m sure I’ll be trying many of them. Zucchini with Egg? Onion, Cheese and Walnuts? Tuna with Peas? Bring ’em on!

Exercise more….eat more!,

The last few times I tried to “diet” I focused almost solely on calorie restriction. I rationalized this strategy by saying that I was just too darn big to exercise; my knees and back and other joints just wouldn’t take the pounding. Also, isn’t that what a diet is? Focusing on what you eat or don’t eat? Low Carb diet, grapefruit diet, beer diet? (I made that last one up, I think.)

Michelle kept saying there were two ways to lose weight. If you’ve ever met with a dietitian you know what the two ways are: eat less or exercise more. As I think about it, Michelle never said “or;” she always said “and.” But always heard “or” and that is what I based my plan on.

Michelle has done yeoman’s work to get me to understand that both interventions work in tandem. I finally get the “and!” Using myfitnesspal.com, an app for my smart phone that Michelle talked about in a recent post, I track my calories, but not just my calorie consumption. I also track calories burned through my exercise. I am not sure why, but this time, for what seems like the first time, I am finally able to see the positive effect on my lifestyle frequent exercise affords me.

Just this morning, I spent 30 minutes in the gym and burnt up 453 calories doing a combination of treadmill walking and stationary biking. (One of the few ways its awesome to weigh 370; I burn a lot of calories relatively easily!) The beauty of that is, if you remember my primary and ultimate calorie goal scheme, I have added an extra 453 calories to my wiggle room.

Like this: my primary goal is to stay under 2350 calories a day to lose 2 pounds a week. I also have the ultimate goal of 1 pound per week at 3300 calories a day. Today’s exercise effectively changed those numbers to 2800 and 3750 respectively. So I can eat a bit more and still not exceed my goals. Or I can back those savings for a day later in the week when things don’t go so well; say Friday night when I cave at the football game and have a bratwurst and chips. That might have me exceed my daily goals, but I can feel less like a failure with the knowledge that during the week, I was able to stay far under my goals by adding some exercise.

The exercise has the added benefit of making me feel better. After 3 weeks, there is a noticeable improvement in my wind and stamina. My back hurts…differently. (that’s not something that ever seems to go away, at least not at my current size, but it is a different kind of pain…a chronic ache more than something I am constantly worried is going to go out.) My legs feel stronger and I feel like I have more energy, needing less sleep and getting more things done during the day.

So far so good…now we’ll see what the scale says tomorrow. Hang in there!!

Weigh-in Week #3

Stepped on the scale this morning for the first time since last Wednesday. For those of you who read last week’s post, you’ll know that this alone is a major accomplishment for me; going 7 whole days without weighing myself. (Yeah!)

Also, I had a terrible weekend!! (Meaning I had a great weekend, so by extension I ate too much and drank too much.) However, over the weekend I was very “mindful” about what I ate and drink. I made a conscious choice about each new thing I consumed and I did eliminate a number of items that I previously would have consumed without a second thought. No desert or second piece of charcoal chicken on Saturday, Rum and Diet Coke instead of Southern Comfort Old Fashions on Sunday.)

There is a concept from Buddhism getting some play recently as applied to food consumption. It’s called “mindful eating.” Here is a link to a NY Times article on the topic. It is a little more extreme than what I am talking about, but my experiences of the last few weeks would certainly suggest that if I spend a little more time being conscious about everything I put in my mouth, I am going to be more successful.

So now that I’ve kept you waiting, even with that major obstacle of the weekend, I weighed 370.6 # this morning. That is a drop of 11 pounds since I started and my BMI is now 47.07, so pretty much 47. Feeling much better about where I am at, and two of our 12th grade students, who haven’t seen me since June, asked, “Have you lost weight Mr. Harnisch?”

Pretty good day all around. Keep after it everyone…and be careful out there.