Week #72 Weigh-in…and time to get back on the horse!!!

Like the rest of the world, the start of a new year gives me pause to reflect on the past and to set goals for our future. So, what’s happened in the last year?

  • Family trip to for 12 to Walt Disney World
  • Met my 40 by 40 BMI goal
  • Completed two half-marathons
  • Completed a 60-mile walk
  • raised over $3,000 for cancer research and victim support
  • Finished my tenure at Rice Lake High School
  • Started my tenure at Sauk Prairie High School
  • Moved back into our house in Waterloo
  • Lost two more friends to cancer
  • Celebrated my 40th birthday
  • fell even more in love with my wife 🙂

That’s not a bad year. Like all of us, the day-to-day life that falls in between those milestones is where the living really happens. Since I haven’t blogged here since August, I haven’t shared as much of that day-to-day as in the second half of the year as I did in the first. My excuse is that the 47 mile commute I have is taking too much time, almost 2 hours a day. My excuse is that as a new principal 12 hour days are sort of the norm. My excuse is that I already met my 40by40 goals, so what was I going to write about. My excuse is that I’ve been using some of these excuses to avoid exercising and eating right too, so I didn’t have too much positive to write about. In fact, here’s a glimpse of my weight over the last three months:

3 Months Progress

Not so good, huh? 20 pound gain? It’s even worse than that going back another month. I hit a low of 296 early in September. So I’m actually up almost 30 pounds. And my BMI is 42.2, so while I hit my goal of a 40 BMI by my 40th birthday, I wasn’t able to maintain it. (See above for a few of the excuses I’ve been using for why.)

Now, that’s the negative. But if I take a longer view, I did start 40by40 with a BMI of 49.5 and a weight of 385. So I am still down almost 60 pounds. Here is a view of the entire year of weight:

IMG_20140101_162540_684

Still down about 15 pounds over the course of the year, which means that I just had two years, 2012 and 2013, where I weighed less at the end of it than I did at the beginning. And I am pretty sure that hasn’t happened since….ever? Honestly, I think it is possible that this is the first time I’ve ever had two consecutive years of weight-loss in my entire life! That’s a pretty big deal as I think about it, so maybe, instead of focusing on the last 3 months of failure, I need to focus on the last 24 months of success!! And instead of slipping into despair and giving up, as I have so many times before, I’m taking the long view here and making sure I rebound and make this happen.

To do that, I need to have some goals, and as the last year has made clear, I need to have them out in the public eye; because part of what motivates me is knowing that I’ve made a public commitment to making these positive changes. (And getting your encouragement and positive vibes!!) So here goes:

Goals for 2014

  1. Complete the 3-Day event in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, raising at least $3,000 for Susan G. Komen in the process
  2. Complete my first Sprint Triathlon
  3. Complete my first obstacle race, i.e. a Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, or Spartan Race
  4. Finish a half-marathon in under 2:45.00
  5. Cover at least 1300 miles in training
    1. 646 of that are the recommended training miles for a 3 Day.
    2. The rest of it will be in training for the other races.
    3. I will count all miles as walking/running miles, using the following conversion:
      1. 3.5 miles biking = 1 mile walk/running
      2. .25 miles swimming = 1 mile walk/running
  6. “33by41”  Lower my BMI to 33 by my 41st Birthday on August 17, 2014.
    1. To do this, I’d have to weigh just over 250 pounds.
    2. Losing 75-ish pounds in 32 weeks.
    3. That’s a bit aggressive, and since I haven’t consulted my dietician, I’ll give her veto over that. But we’ll start there.
  7. Post at least once a week to this blog, sharing my progress, lack there of, and general observations about the world.

That should about cover it. Hope you’ll enjoy following along. Love you all and have a Happy New Year!!

Weeks 42-52 Weigh ins….And Mea Culpas galore!!

So, this is my first post since June 2nd. My fault. Between finishing up in Rice Lake, starting up in Sauk Prairie, moving my entire life from Rice Lake to Waterloo, commuting 47 miles one way from Waterloo to Sauk Prairie, going to Canada, and training for and completing the 60-mile 3 Days for a Cure, I haven’t made this blog a priority. Mea Culpa. I hope you will accept my apology, and continue to read on.

On my last post, June 2nd, I weighed 303.2. Then Week #42 was 303.6; #43 = 308.6 (Week in Trego at cabin), #44 = 310 (no excuse), #45 = 302.4 (Worked my tail off), #46 = 303.4 (little setback), #47 = 301.6 (getting there!), #48 = 301.6 (static!), #49 = 311.3 (Canada!), #50 = 304.2 (Back to working my tail off), #51 = 300.5 (so damn close!!), #52 = 302.5 (3 Day walk, still a bit swollen and likely water weight, but I’m totally ok with that.)

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday, that means that “40 by 40” has come to an end. Lets review the successes and failures of the year, shall we? I started the year, last August 17th, at 381 pounds. I now weigh 302.5. I’ve lost 78.5 pounds, an average of 1.5 pounds per week!!! I think just about anyone would tell you that is an amazing year and a really healthy rate of loss. Measured in pounds, no doubt, 40 by 40 has been a success!!!

On August 17, 2012, my BMI was 49.38. (Normal is below 25 and obese is over 30.) (Right Michelle?) Today, my BMI is 39.21!! I’m not a mathematician, but that number, 39.2, looks to be below 40 to me. And since the title of this project was “40 by 40,” referencing my goal to have a BMI under 40 by the time I turned 40, and since I turn 40 tomorrow, measured by BMI, again the last year has been a smashing success!!!

My blood pressure, blood sugar, and joint pain were all out of control a year ago. Today, I have a normal blood pressure (though still controlled by medication), my A1C has dropped down to 5.4, well into the normal range, and other than the aches I have from walking 60 miles last weekend…wait a minute, let’s jsut say my joints are in good enough shape that I could walk 60 miles if I wanted to!! Health-wise, this last year has been a smashing success!!!

If there has been a failure, it is this. I hit my 40 BMI goal for the first time in April, after only 8 months! At that time, I reset and established a goal of 35. I did not make it. The last 4 months have been some of the most hectic of my life, and I was not able to focus the way I needed to keep up the pace of loss over the entire year that I had established in the fall and winter. That means I did not hit a goal I had set, and that is failure.

However, through all the stressors of the last 4 months, I never weighed more than 311 pounds, within 3 pounds of the 40 BMI mark, and I continued to trend down in terms of overall weight, even if the pace slowed considerably. The old me was a stress eater. The more I stressed, the more I ate. The new me doesn’t do that. I may occasionally put too much in my mouth, but that happens briefly, for very short periods of time, and then I work out like a madman to try to  counteract the effects. In the last year I’ve learned that exercise is a much more effective stress reliever than eating. Go figure?

I absolutely could not have done as well as I have, without the support of everyone who reads this blog. Making my journey a public things was super scary at first, but the rewards of this public accountability, combined with the unwavering support of so many of you, have made this one of the most rewarding years of my life. Thank so much for that wonderful gift!

My co-travelers on this trip; myfitnesspal.com friends; my mom and sister; (All of them are the same people by the way) have been the heavy lifters. Every week for the whole year, we held each other accountable to completing our food-logs, a critical step in weight-loss by the way, with encouraging words when things were going well, and not so well. I could not have done this with you, Mary Harnisch and Ellen Race. I love you both and am so proud of the changes you have made in your lives in the last year as well!

Lastly, we all know how lucky I am to have a live-in dietitian. We all know how lucky I am to have a life partner whose love for me is so strong I can sometimes feel it’s presence like it is a physical thing. We all know how lucky I am to have found so young, and held for so long, someone who is the perfect match for me and whom I am comfortable loving for all time. Michelle, baby, I love you so much! And your love, support, expertise, patience and partnership have been so inspiring, so transformative, so comfortable! I don’t know what took me so long to figure it out; but I am so grateful that you hung with me. Thank you for everything you have done for me and with me. I look forward to 40 years of trying to pay you back!!

I have more I want to say, a long post about the amazing experience of the 3 Day, and another about my next goal. But I will save it for another day. It’s time to go home, celebrate my successes, and get ready for the next challenge. Talk to you all soon.

Be careful out there!!

Inside-Out Omelets

Breakfast seems to give people trouble; they don’t want to eat it because they don’t want to take the time, and American breakfasts are often full of the most unhealthy parts of a diet (added sugars, salt and saturated fats.) As a dietitian, I often get breakfast-related questions, and know that despite the fact that people who eat breakfast are more likely to be at a healthy weight and more healthy in general, many people, including the children who we are supposed to be educating about the glories of breakfast, skip it!

I have already posted two breakfast-related posts, one a basic recipe for a breakfast sandwich, and the other about how a typical American breakfast differs from a healthier, Japanese breakfast. But aside from breakfast sandwiches and leftovers, I have found another breakfast favorite, an inside out-style omelet. How many people have salads or sides of veggies with their breakfast? Have you ever tried to cram a cup of veggies into a 2-3 egg omelet?  There just isn’t enough egg to bind it all together, leaving you with and unattractive egg-scramble-mash-thingy. But, since I want to have all my veggies without requiring a dozen eggs, I decided to make a few modifications to the omelet concept to give me a healthy dose of vegetables, which are often hard to get with breakfast.

Inside-Out Omelet

1. Choose your toppings. This is what you would normally put INSIDE the omelet–the “guts”. I generally stay with veggies and a strong cheese. I recently had a lot of leftover crudite (while that’s a “sushi” term, the “fish sticks” translation is relish tray!) so I used a mix of those. [See the notes at the end of the post for other flavor combinations.]

2013-06-13 08.19.18

A beautiful morning rainbow!

2. Heat 1/2 T of canola oil on a small/medium skillet to medium-high, chopping vegetables as you heat the pan. I chopped the asparagus smaller, since its a bit tougher, and separated the chives to add as a garnish.
2013-06-13 08.23.203. Saute the vegetables to your preferred doneness. I dislike mushy veggies, so I usually cook them for about 3-5 minutes. I also place them in the pan at the same time, which is less of a hassle. (This is where the size of your cuts can help you make sure everything is the way you want it.)
2013-06-13 08.27.314. Transfer the toppings to a bowl. There is probably enough oil in the pan to cook the eggs as well, so turn the heat to medium low and set the pan aside until you are ready to add the eggs.

2013-06-13 08.29.37

I don’t bother with a whisk or egg-beater; this is a quick weekday breakfast, so a fork is sufficient.

5. To keep things simple, I don’t add any milk to my omelet, though you can if you prefer. I use 2 whole eggs and one egg white, place in a bowl and mixed with a fork.

6. Place the pan back on the heat and pour the egg into the skillet. Depending on how soft you like your eggs and how hot your oven is, somewhere around 2-3 minutes should give you a cooked base. While its cooking, I season it by sprinkling the top with salt and pepper.

7. When the edges are set, roll the omelet. This takes a bit of practice, so don’t get discouraged if its not pretty the first time (it will taste fine and the toppings will cover the omelet, anyway!) You can roll it several times, fold it over once, or fold it into a square package…no rules here!Egg collage8. Because eggs have quite a large ability for carry-over cooking, the inside of the omelet will cook as long as the omelet is not too thick or you pan is too hot. (That would brown the bottom before the heat can reach up through the eggs, and I don’t happen to like browned eggs.) You can always keep the omelet in the pan a bit longer, cover it, and/or leave it in the warm pan while the heat is off to ensure its cooked to your liking on the inside.

9. Now comes the pretty part! Transfer your omelet to a plate, and top with your choice of “guts.” This omelet has the fresh chives added, as well as some reduced fat shredded cheese.

omelet

Healthy and hearty…more veggies than your average omelet could handle!

Nutritional Information (Rainbow Version):

Calories

Protein (g)

Fat (g)

Carbs (g)

Fiber (g)

2 whole large eggs

144

13

10

1

0

1 large egg white

17

4

0

0

0

½ T canola oil

60

0

7

0

0

¼ cup Asparagus

7

1

0

1

1

½ cup Bell pepper

15

1

0

3

2

¼ cup tomatoes

7

0

0

2

1

¼ C Reduced fat cheese

80

8

5

0

0

TOTAL

330

27

22

7

4

NOTES:

  • This omelet is a great source of healthy fats and lean protein, but a complete meal should include carbs as well. Add a piece of 100% whole wheat toast or some fruit to complete this healthy breakfast!
  • The amounts of veggies were an estimation, and the nutritional information was rounded to the nearest whole gram using the USDA National Nutrient Database.
  • Looking for more variety? Use can use almost anything you have on hand, but here are some ideas:
    • Tex Mex: Use chili pepper, cilantro, bell peppers and salsa with chili powder and cheese.
    • Puttanesca: Black olives, tomatoes, basil and capers with Parmesan cheese.
    • Greek: Tomatoes, olives, oregano with lime or lemon juice and feta cheese.
    • Use ANY fresh herbs from your garden or farmers market!

Try this simple, inside-out omelet method to keep your veggie intake high while getting a great source of protein (no expensive protein powders or unhealthy meats needed!) Have a healthy day!

Dietitian Check-in: Living La Vida Loca

We all have times in our lives when things are just CRAZY busy. Think of the couple weeks before the holidays, the start of a new school year, final exam weeks, the start of a new job or a big move. At those times, we just keep our heads down and take things day by day. We limit distractions and put all non-essential projects on hold. But when you are working on a lifestyle change, that option is no longer there, since putting things like exercising and eating right on hold would conflict with the whole concept of a lifestyle change. [Click on any chart to enlarge it.]

Weight Over the Past YearAs Chad’s wife, RD and cook, I pay a lot of attention to what he does and what he eats, even when we are not together. For the past school year, I have packed lunches and snacks for him, and he has eaten (mostly) only food that I have cooked and/or packed for him. When he does prepare his own breakfasts and eats “on his own,” he records those things on myfitnesspal.com, which he shares with me. This isn’t to say he doesn’t have a lot of work to do on his end. He spends hours and hours working out, and has had to change his eating habits regarding portion sizes, drive-thrus and countless treats brought to the office. Chad met his weight loss goal early, but has reset his goal BMI for his birthday and has a 60 mile walk (over three days) coming up at the end of the summer.

But right now we are in one of those crazy times. As Chad has mentioned, he is always busy at the end of the school year, with a different party or banquet or cookout almost every night, which can make it difficult to not overeat on a daily basis. Even for lunches, he has eaten maybe 2 out of five days from our kitchen, having more lunch meetings, banquets or other unusual things on his schedule. To make matters more interesting, we are also getting ready to move across the state, prepare to put a house on the market and start new jobs.

Each one of these may have been enough for him to go running to a drive-thru for a “jumbo everything plus dessert,” but his weight had been consistent over the last month, telling me that he is working his plan pretty well! However, as I was writing this, we did have a setback; Chad’s weekly weigh-in showed a gain of 5#.

Last 30 days with TODAY’S Weigh-In

Looking at this graph of just the last 30 days makes this gain seem quite dramatic, but be sure to compare it to the first graph, which shows the past year.

It seems that the parties, busy schedule and reduction in exercise minutes finally did take its toll.

But here comes the “glass half-full.” It may be hard for him to see, but I have just enough perspective to remember his 5000+ calorie days, where his goal is now about 2000 calories per day.
cal burned and consumedAs you can see by the above graph, while there are days he is over his calorie limit, he NEVER has 3500+ calorie days anymore, and in addition to that he continues to burn thousands of calories through exercise. But the graph also shows that his daily workouts have suffered due to his busy weekday schedule.

As in any plan or project, its important that you take a realistic look at the project and assess and reassess as things change. We have done that a few times already this year, and this seems to be another good time for that. Chad has already adapted a bit to the new situation; even though his workout frequency has changed, he has been able to add variety by adding swimming, outdoor basketball, canoeing and biking to his repertoire. Also, because his weekends are busy, we try to fit in some brick workouts when the weather permits, such as biking and canoeing in the same afternoon. And when it comes to food, he will have a brat at the cookout instead of two, or even munch on veggies and go home to eat a healthy dinner if the potluck food doesn’t fit in his daily plan (i.e. no workout that day.)

So even though life is a bit wild right now, the lifestyle change has to continue to be part of that wild life. Chad is going a great job of keeping his lifestyle changes while adding lots of others to the mix!

“Its the hard that makes it great.”–Jimmy Dugan

As always, the wonderful graphs are courtesy of myfitnesspal.com.

Week #39, #40, & #41 Weigh-ins…and did I mention I’m a half-marathoner?!?!

Folks, I’m sorry about the gap between posts. I often get asked by well-meaning members of the public, almost every day in May and June in fact, “So, school year winding down?” I try to swallow my annoyance at the comment, and say something like, “Not too far now.” I realize that if you don’t work in schools, maybe even high schools specifically (having never worked in a different kind of school, I have no frame of reference) you have no idea that a school year is like the first rise on an roller-coaster. Things just keep going up, and then suddenly, the day after school lets out, you look up from a pile of rubble and ask, “Hey, where did everyone go?” In my job, then, I typically take the rest of June and the first two weeks of July to put a bow on the year just completed, take the last two weeks of July to recover, and starting August 1st, I get back on the roller-coaster for the next ride to graduation.

Not complaining. I like my job enough that I went out and found another one. Its just tough to get some people to understand what I do, when I do it, and that the end of a school year is definitely not a “winding down” kind of a thing. All of that was a long way to say I’m busy and blogging has taken a back seat.

Additionally, I’ve had a hard time being as motivated as I was in Aug.-April. Now that I’ve met that big 40×40 goal, it seems as if some of the weight-loss urgency has gone out of my sails, and it’s not nearly as much fun to write, “No significant loss this week,” as it was to write about losing 5-8# at a time.

I did weigh in at 304 in Week 39, at 304.6 in week 40, and at 303.2 on Thursday for Week 41. This means that I am, for the most part, maintaining my weight at that level and not gaining. However, that is disappointing because other goals are right there for the taking – dropping below 300#, hitting a 35 BMI, weighing 250#, being skinnier than Marcus 🙂 – these are all good goals and ones I haven’t made much progress on lately.

I have been keeping up the physical activity though, and I am confident that when things slow down a bit after graduation, I’ll be back on it.

Speaking of the exercise, if you read Michelle’s post earlier this week, you saw that I successfully completed my first half-marathon. This is not something that was on any goal list of mine; as you can imagine, offensive tackles don’t typically associate fun time activities with long-distance endurance events. However, Michelle wanted to run it, and it coincided with a long-walk training day in my 3-Day walk training plan…so I figured what the hell.

I set a goal of 3:30:00. That was based on the fact that I’d spent lots of time walking long distances, 7 miles or more, in the 16-17 min/mile range. I calculated that to walk 13.1 miles in 3:30, I’d need to average exactly 16:00 min/mile…and I thought this was doable. (Though I was secretly worried that I would not even finish before they closed the course at 4 hours and 15 minutes.)

The kink in my plan happened while in the starting que. I overheard a woman about my age talking with some of the other competitors that she was shooting for a sub-3 hour race. She said that she had done two other half-marathons and that her best time was 3:03. My strategy changed to “Stay within sight of that lady” immediately. Right or wrong, since I was already worried about finishing, I thought if I could stay with her as long as possible, I had a good chance of finishing sub-3:30.

I stayed right next to her, or a dozen steps behind, until we hit the bottom of Observatory Hill. We even struck up a conversation on the climb, one where I shared with her that she was my unknowing pacer. I learned that she was a dietitian; I shared my story with her, in between gasps of air. And she left me in her dust just after mile 2. I was a bit despondent, but I continued to try to struggle to keep her in sight. Even doing some light jogging when the gap started to get too much for me.

However, it seemed that, other than some real pain in my feet, I got stronger as the race went on. I think all of the strength work I did in the winter on the stationary bike, really seemed to help. As we got to mile 7, or 8, I passed her by, and for the only time in the race, I got a bit competitive. I had been running on the downhills as it seemed to save on my joints, if not in pounding, then in time it took to cover it. And as I passed her, we entered a long, sloping downhill. I ran it through, and ended up covering almost all of the next mile in a light jog; my most extended run of the day.

After we left the Arboretum, and then Vilas Park, I too struggled up the steep hill Michelle mentioned. I was alone at that point in the race though and didn’t have anyone to pass or to get passed by. It was a pretty solitary struggle, with a lone spectator at the top of the hill adding his shouted praise. It might actually have been my favorite part of the race.

At mile 11, I had 28 minutes to cover the remaining 2.1 miles to make it in under 3 hours. It was here that I both started to think it was possible, and began to worry that I was going to be just short. I alternated speed walking and really ugly shuffle jogging for most of that two miles. I did however, out of pride, refuse to run the last 1/2 mile, at all. Michelle had sort of intimated that she didn’t think I’d have the mental toughness not to run. I felt that anyone finishing in 3 hours, to run across the finish, who are they kidding, really?

So I walked across the mat in 2:58.xx. Pretty thrilling, really. I was exhausted, but also happy to have completed my first half-marathon. I was a little emotional, worried even that I might start to cry, but I kept it together. My emotions at a time like this are a little conflicted. One, I am amazed that I have come so far in such a short time. Two, I am proud of the effort I have put forward in the last 9 months. Three, I am ashamed that I let myself get so far out of shape. Four, I am embarrassed to celebrate completing something that, the only reason it’s an accomplishment, is because of the decades of no activity. Five,…well, you get the point. It’s not so clear cut for me. Maybe when I get to the point where I accomplish something I know I couldn’t have done at 20, then I’ll feel a more purely happy response.

As always, thanks for reading and…be careful out there!!!

Weeks #35, #36, & #37 Weigh-in…and the post goal accomplished let down!!!

On 4/11/13, I accomplished my goal to have a BMI under 40 by my 40th birthday with 4 months to spare. Not bad that; accomplishing a 12 month goal in 8 months. The downside is that it has been difficult to refocus. As Michelle announced in her last blog, I set a new goal, still tied to my 40th, to get down to a BMI of 35. However, the rush of hitting 40 made it difficult to focus on that new goal.

Also, as you may have heard, I did pursue a new position, High School Principal in Sauk Prairie, WI. And am to some extent now splitting my, if not my time, definitely my thoughts and emotional energy between to competing tasks: getting RLHS ready for my departure and eventual replacement and getting myself ready to begin the leadership journey again in a new school and district while also trying to get us moved. None of those jobs are very easy, and that hasn’t left a ton of time for me to focus on my health. (I know, WHaaaaaa!! Right?)

However, the good news is that the 3 Days for a Cure walk in August is weighing heavily on my mind. I know that if I fail to properly prepare for it, those 3 days could be hell…and i don’t want that. So I’ve gotten most of my walks in. Especially the big walks. 11 miles yesterday has me nearly convinced that everyone who has ever claimed to do a marathon might be lying. (They likely got picked up by a bus at mile 11 as that seems to me to be the physical limit of human endurance.)

Lastly, I’m feeling some guilt about leaving Rice Lake High School. I feel our staff and students have done some really great work here in the last 5 years, and for selfish reasons, I’d really like to be here to see them through. I guess I’ll have to figure out ways to do some great work in Sauk Prairie too. (I better or it might be a shorter stay there than Michelle and I are hoping for. 🙂 )

So all that being said, I’ve still done a really good job with my weight. Some fluctuation, but considering everything I listed above, it is really quite impressive the way the new me thinks about struggle, and stress, and stress management. The old Chad would easily have gained 10-15 pounds in the last 3 weeks.

The new Chad, who weighed 306.2 in Week #34, stepped on the scale in Week #35 at 304.4 (down 1.8 pounds), in Week #36 at 307.4 (up 3 pounds), and in Week #37 at 304.6 (down 2.8 pounds). Respectively my BMI went from 39.7 to 39.5 to 39.8 to 39.5. Both of those results are satisfying, since that basically means that without much effort and not enough attention paid to my diet or exercise, I maintained my weight over a three week stretch. That bodes well for when this project is over and I am on to living my life.

Hopefully this blog is the restart of my project. Shooting for a 35 BMI by the 17th of August. Shouldn’t be all that hard. What do you think?

Be careful out there.

Week #32 & #33 Weigh-in…and I think this is starting to take :)!!

Sorry I missed writing last week folks. I took a day off from work last Friday and headed up to the cabin to help my dad and his maple syrup operation. No WiFi up ‘der, so no updates. By the time I got back to the world on Sunday night, the week already seemed to be spinning off of the rails and I ran from one thing to another…so no time to blog. I’m trying folks. So, here is the deal…

In week #32, predicted to be the second week in my two week up/down cycle, I lost. Stepped on the scale at 314.4, losing exactly 1 pound and dropping my BMI to 40.88. Not bad, but certainly not the kind of 4-5# drop I had been experiencing in my down weeks lately.

So I was a little worried heading into the week this week. I didn’t drop like I usually do. I then went to the cabin for two days, and while hauling sap is brutal work, I also spent some time in the cabin talking stupid. Then I went to Easter dinner, were I felt I ate pretty well, but I am never as good on the road as I would like to be. Then I had an unexpected trip to Madison. Went by myself, without Michelle and ate on the road for 4 meals, and missed two work outs.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, I was saying…actually saying out loud, by the way…please be under 320, please be under 320. I was positive that with the week I had after only losing the 1 pound the week before I was in for a disappointing performance.

Well…I was wrong. I weighed in at 310.2 this morning. That puts my BMI at 40.2!! My theory is that a couple of things happened. First, I weighed in on Friday because I was on the road Thursday. This is one more low calorie day, one more day to lose, one more day to slough off pounds. I think that is part of it. Second, I think I have adapted to my new lifestyle so well at this point; that it has become so much a part of who I am, that when I “feel” like I had a bad week, I am still infinitesimally better, more healthy and aware of what I am eating  and how I am moving, that everything is still relatively good. Certainly that is true when compared to my past self. Last, I do believe I’ve had a change in my metabolism…(if that is possible, and I think Michelle has written about this in the past and said no…but I am the patient and like all patients, I hear what I want to hear.)

So am 1.6 pounds away from my “40by40” goal and I have 19 weeks to lose it. Feels like I might make it. I have lost 70.8 pounds since August 17th and am down 93.8# from my high of 404. I played full court basketball this morning, 2-on-2, and ran for almost every trip down the floor. I am headed back to the cabin tonight for another weekend of hauling sap and making syrup. I am loving my life. Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement, I couldn’t have done this without you. I am hoping that sometime soon, I’ll be writing the “40by40” goal accomplished blog, either next week or the week after. Each one of you will have to own a little piece of that accomplishment.

Be careful out there!!

Establishing a Calorie Plan and Pattern

Despite the stupid and unhealthy fad diets out there, there is only one plan that will result in healthy weight loss: “Eat less and exercise more.” (I know some of you are rationalizing fad diets by thinking, “Me/so-and-so lost X number of pounds on Y diet.” But I propose that 1. You did eat less on that crazy diet, and 2. it is not a healthy plan and 3. will not work long term.) So when Chad started the 40 X 40 project, we focused on, you guessed it, eating less and exercising more. We set primary and secondary calorie goals (for weekdays and weekend days) that would cut his calories, but not have him lose too dramatically. While 1-2# of loss per week is recommended, Chad started at such a high weight that he was able to lose more than that while still eating a healthy diet of meals and snacks. This was also due to his starting to exercise like a fiend, which gave him extra calories.

So now he’s down to 2010 calories per day, plus the calories he earns by exercising. Due to the 600+ calories he earns by exercise and the fact he is still working with a calorie deficit to continue to lose weight, he comes pretty close to the range for an active male of his age group recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.Slide1

But that isn’t the whole story. When you are trying to lose weight, or even maintain your weight, it is important to use your calories wisely. There are two things to consider here: the nutrition density of those calories, which I will address at a later time, and how your calories are spread throughout the day, which is today’s topic.

  1. Logically, let’s start with breakfast. It’s not just a meal; more and more studies are showing that it really IS the most important meal of the the day. Having a breakfast with whole grains, protein and healthy fats provides fuel and nutrition to keep you both energized and full until lunch. (There are even a few small studies showing if you have a small amount of something sweet, it may help you keep your junk food cravings in check. NOTE: These are new studies, and have small sample sizes. It is still not wise to have a doughnut and a caramel latte with whip for breakfast!) Chad’s breakfasts are a good start to his healthy day, and he tries to stay around 400 calories. A couple examples:

    Banana+Trail mix+Granola bar+Coffee=~400 calories
    Toasted peanut butter sandwich=~440 calories

  2. Chad’s lunches probably vary more than any of his other meals. He will often have meetings over lunch where a meal is provided, and it is often unhealthy. He will either bring a lunch (made and packed by his personal chef) or try and eat responsibly. He tries to keep this meal around 500 calories. The time of his lunch also varies, which can impact the rest of his meal pattern.
  3. Because he usually works into the evening or doesn’t start working out until most people are finishing dinner, he has a snack in the afternoon. Note that this is not a “treat” like a candy bar, but a “snack,” a healthy, mini-meal. (I feel the blending of these two terms is one of the many things that has gotten us into the food culture problems we are in today.) His snack might be some beef jerky, or some low-fat cheese with crackers or pretzels and is between 100-200 calories. (This is a pretty good snack calorie range for almost anyone.)
  4. If you have done the math, he has eaten about 1100 calories up to this point. He still has at least 800-900 calories left in his day, almost half of his total. While this division of calories may not be ideal, it works well for us for a few reasons.
    • First, our main meal continues to be supper, though some think that isn’t the wisest way to set up a meal pattern. Because we are food geeks, we like to have different ethnic dishes and new foods often, and we tend to do that cooking in the evening, giving us more food than someone who perhaps made a TV dinner. (Though I often use leftovers for the next day’s lunch, so we do not eat 6 servings between the two of us.)
    • Second, we may sometimes eat late, but we also stay up late. There are sometimes we don’t eat dinner until 8 PM, so on the days we eat at 6 PM, we may still have a light snack.
    • Third, as we are of legal drinking age and live in the alcohol-rich culture that is Wisconsin, we often have a cocktail or wine with dinner.
    • Fourth, there are days when Chad still ends the day with calories to spare, meaning not all of the 2010 are eaten; this is also more likely if he had a large workout that day.)

This plan has worked well for Chad, who has reported to me often that he is not starving, and can easily handle the plan as it stands. Chad is obviously not like anyone else, as no two people are the same. This is why I encourage people to look at their own daily schedule and activity patterns to determine what their meal pattern should be… and then stick to it!

Quick story: My meals are generally the same time every day, but there is an occasional weekday where I get to sleep in. I workout, and end up having an early lunch as my first meal of the day. Despite how big or small or healthy that meal is, I’m “off” all day! I seem to be hungry all the time, and never feel quite satisfied, even right after a meal! I have learned this about myself, and therefore try to avoid that, or be sure I eat a snack before I workout; that extra snack can make all the difference in how I feel for the rest of the day.

When people “on the street” ask how many calories they should eat, or how often, or when, I don’t mean to blow them off when I don’t give them a straight, complete answer. There is a lot involved. Let’s say you want to eat 2000 calories per day; a 600 calorie breakfast, lunch and dinner will still give you 200 calories to eat as a snack. But what is your daily schedule? What if you workout hard that day? What if you want two snacks? Or no snacks? How many waking hours do you have to account for? How long after you wake up do you usually eat? When do you go to bed, and how long before that is your last meal? Knowing your desired calorie intake is a great first step (especially with more caloric information posted at restaurants,) but pay attention to your body as you choose your next steps, and develop a meal pattern that works for YOU.

Dietitian Check-in on Week #31

Chad has been doing so well on his 40 X 40 effort that I rarely have had to write about his difficulties. When they do happen, Chad sees his tough times right away, and often before I can offer any support or advice, he has dissected his feelings and his data and has come to a rational, optimistic conclusion. This has happened when the holidays and deer season rolled around, and also during vacations and in times of stress at work.

We are pretty confident that he will meet his goal–He has lost almost 70# in seven months and has less than 10# to lose in 5 months! (We are both eagerly awaiting warmer, snow- and ice-free weather, when more of our workouts can take place outside and have a greater variety.)

total weight loss to March

Courtesy of myfitnesspal.com

But after 31 weeks of collecting data: calories burned, calories eaten and weight, we are starting to see some changing trends. Looking at Chad’s total weight loss, its obviously impressive. But if you look closer, you can see that the slope of the line changes around Thanksgiving. His weight loss continues, but its not as steep of a loss as before.

As the rule of calories goes, now that Chad weighs less, he needs fewer calories to sustain his weight, along with the fact he still wants to lose more weight. Chad started with 2400 calories as his “primary goal,” and is down to 2010 calories per day as a goal (plus more calories which he earns from exercise, which is usually well over 600, and sometimes over 1000, depending on the workout.) As anyone who has tried to lose weight over time knows, you can workout and eat the same, and eventually your weight loss will slow. It seems unfair that this gets harder over time, but we knew this going in, so expected it. I also think both Chad and I were glad of the constant success early in the project, because we knew the weight would come off slower later in the year.

Weight over past month

Courtesy of myfitnesspal.com

And as Chad wrote about in his last entry, we have a pattern developing. He seems to have a slow week of almost no loss, but then has a week where he makes up for that with a 3-5# loss, which you can see in this “close-up” of his most recent weeks:
As he also mentioned, we have had an atypical week, which always causes a bit of weight gain or less of a loss. And coming up this weigh-in, we had another curling banquet and tournament this past weekend, which involves some extra curling (which does burn quite a few calories,) but also eating and drinking.

So the “Plateau Effect” that people talk about is shown in Chad’s experience, and perhaps even clearer than for others, who don’t keep track of their numbers as vigilantly or as long as Chad has. Also, because his numbers are not fluctuating too much, such as a loss of 5# followed by a gain of 5#, I am happy with this pattern, especially because Chad has accepted that this pattern may continue.

With where we stand; the impending (hopefully!) spring, Chad’s satisfaction with his allotted calories, his current weight loss trends, his constantly high level of motivation and focus, and the time and pounds left in 40 X 40, I feel confident that Chad will keep succeeding.

What is not able to be graphed, however, is Chad’s better moods, increased energy, the constant need to buy new clothes, and the wonderful comments he has gotten from friends, family and students. I continue to be impressed with Chad, as well as hopeful that others can and will do this with the right focus and commitment to making their health a priority.

Week #31 Weigh-in…and accepting the 2-week cycle!

Yep. I gained weight this week. Why?

Well, since I’ve gained, or at least failed to lose, every other week for the last two months, it seems like we’ve established a pattern. So, why the pattern? I am hoping that Michelle will share her professional opinion in a post this weekend; but I am going to try my hand at amateur psychology here.

So, first, I think that when I lose 5 pounds at my weigh-in on Thursday, I am totally excited. Thus my Friday, Saturday and Sunday tend to be a little bit celebratory and I eat and drink too much.

Second, I have had to really blast my exercise routine to have those big drops and I’m having a hard time sustaining that level of activity two weeks in a row.

Third, it seems like I’ve had sort of a bi-weekly schedule that has required a little more consumption and a little less laser-focus on the plan. Last weekend it was the Men’s Playdowns at the Curling Club. Means that I am eating food that I don’t prepare myself or that Michelle prepares for me and I am drinking more low-nutrient, high calorie beverages.

The upshot of it is, though, that I totally expected to either gain or stay the same this week. So when I weighed-in at 315.4#, which was a gain of 1.6#. Since I lost 5# the week before, that means that my two-week trend has me down 3.4#. And since I’ll be down 3-5# next week, that puts my three-week trend down 8-10#. I’ll take that and I be glad.

BMI this week is 40.9. 21 weeks to go and 7 pounds or so to hi a 40 BMI. Again, thanks for the support. Have a great weekend.

And be careful out there.