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!!

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Week #54 Weigh in…and who’s not a 300-pounder!?!!??!

In the fall of 1991, I showed up on the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point campus at 242 pounds. Shortly, it became clear that among offensive linemen there, the expectations was that you would need to weigh 300 pounds to have a chance at starting. (To be fair, there were starters who didn’t weigh 300 pounds, but I definitely felt pressure from my teammates and coaches to get bigger, and 300 pounds was sort of alluded to as the bench mark.

So I ate a ton and worked hard and came back to school after X-mas break in January 1992 at 275 pounds. And in August 1992, at 295 pounds. And around January 1993, I crossed the 300 pound mark and never looked back. I weighed 320 pounds on the day of my wedding in 1996. I weighed 330 pounds in 2000, when I hiked the Grand Canyon. I weighed 360 pounds in 2006, when I took a position as an associate principal. And I weighed 375 pounds in 2008, when I became a principal.

In August of 2009, after a year of bachelorhood and the stress of being a first year principal I weighed 404 pounds, my personal high point.

So this morning, when I stepped on the scale, and it said:

299.6!!!!!!!

…I might have been a touch excited. 🙂

So to recap, as of this morning, I have hit a 21 year low for body weight, lost a total of 104.4 pounds from my high point, lost 81.4 pounds since August 17, 2012, and lowered my BMI from 49.4 to 38.8 in the same time frame!!

Yep, it’s been a damn good 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!!

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!!!

Living the (Dietitian’s and Wife’s) Dream

Yesterday was a great day. It was weigh-in day. And while the term “weigh-in day” may strike dread in the hearts of many, yesterday was one of the best days of my life. For those of you following Chad and my “40 by 40” project, you know Chad had given himself a year to decrease his BMI from 49 to 40, which is a loss of just over 74#. He has attacked this project like I cannot believe. He was inspired, determined and focused. And yesterday, something I couldn’t have even imagined happened: Chad met his goal with 126 days (that’s over 4 months) to spare! The path we set out to follow included a loss of 6.2 pounds each month for a year. Chad was able to lose an average of 9.35# for each of the past eight months!

An RD’s Dream: One of the interesting things about 40 by 40 is that, as a dietitian, I am married to my client. Before we decided to do this as more than just the quiet, private, casual attempts at lifestyle changes that we have done in the past, we had to discuss what it would be like when/if we hit trouble spots. What type of dietitian did he want me to be? Tough and drill-sergeant-like? Nurturing and understanding? We ended up settling on what I feel was a personal assistant-type role. He was so focused on doing the work, I often only had to be the scheduler of menus and workout times and be the personal shopper and chef. This was all agreed upon ahead of time; I told him that I would do my part if he did his. Boy, did he ever do his part! [Now just wait until he gets my bill. :-)]

I sometimes get asked, usually by students I speak to about a career as a dietitian, “What are the good and bad parts about the job?” One of the struggles I have is wanting to help people who are not yet ready to change. (This is not exclusive to dietitians; I imagine social workers, therapists, doctors, nurses, teachers, and scores of other professions have this same issue.) We all have had people who need help, and they may even ask for it, but they are just not ready to do what it takes. (The smoker keeps smoking, the drinker keeps drinking, the overweight are not ready to eat less and exercise more.) As someone who wants to support and educate people to improve their lives and health, it is difficult to see many fall short. Often, if we can get someone to adopt one change, such as someone will drink a diet soda for every regular soda they drink, that is a success.

Watching and working with Chad these past 8 months has been the greatest experience I believe a dietitian could hope for.

  • Chad was prepared to change his life, and committed to making the changes that would require.
  • He was a willing student, allowing me to educate him when he had questions and incorporated that knowledge into his daily life.
  • He was open with me about his feelings, including happiness, anger and fear.
  • He was open to discuss his relationship to food, both good and bad; in this way, a dietitian has a lot in common with a therapist.
  • He stayed on task, religiously tracking his food intake, not just the calories but the types of foods he ate, as well as his exercise and weight. This allowed me to help him tweak the plan when needed.

Chad was the model patient, and it was so rewarding for me to help him accomplish all that he has. Having a patient, client or customer succeed is the greatest professional joy and fulfillment I can imagine, and I got to see that on a daily basis. Every professional should be lucky enough to have this experience.

A Wife’s Dream: I also happen to be in love with Chad, which adds a few extra layers of joy to this experience! It is a reality that being obese, especially morbidly obese, increases the risk for many chronic diseases, as well as an early death. Chad has had a glimpse into that world, but we are well on the way to a longer life together, and how can you possibly thank someone who has given that gift to you?

There are good weeks and bad weeks in life, and for me, this one was shaping up to be quite a downer. My father, who passed away far too early from cancer, and who I still miss constantly, had a birthday. We had to say goodbye to our last pet, Bailey, leaving Chad and I empty-nesters. We, like many, feel the pressure to get our sorry-looking taxes done, and to top things off, we are experiencing a spring snowstorm. [Although this last is affecting everyone’s mood, its rougher on me than Chad, as I my spring fever starts in February and is now at epic proportions. In addition, it is affecting both of our training schedules for an upcoming half-marathon, which hardly seems fair, since we are trying to do something healthy, right?]

8 month collage

I just can’t stop staring at this!

But then, it was weigh-in day. Seeing him accomplish his goal in such a resounding way,  knowing he is healthier, and seeing the changes in him, both physical and emotional, has made everything else fade into the background.

I’m so proud of you, honey, you did it!

(What’s next?)

Week #34 Weigh-in…and “40by40?”….√

8 month collage

On August 17th, 2012, I weighed 381 pounds. My BMI was 49.5. (I thought it was 48.4, but it turned out I was shorter than I thought, so the calculation went up after I changed the height. Damn, it’s tough to get old.) On that day, Michelle (my lovely, talented wife who quadruples as my dietitian, personal chef and co-author) and I conceived and started the “40by40” project, an effort to lower my BMI to 40 by my 40th birthday; which is August 17th, 2013.

This morning, 239 days after we set the goal, I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 306.2 pounds. My BMI is 39.7….and I have 126 days to spare!!! I have lost 74.8 pounds, reduced my body weight by 19.6%, lowered my BMI by 19.7%. I weigh the least I have weighed since I finished my collegiate football career in 1992.

On August 17th, the first day of my new life, I ate 3,836 calories and I didn’t exercise at all. Yesterday, I ate 3,407 calories, but I had 1231 calories of exercise. And yesterday wasn’t a standard day. (Today I’ve had 1,137 calories with dinner still to go and have banked 938 calories from exercise.)

Every one of the readers of this blog, every family member, every friend, every teacher and community member, ever current and former student…every last person who ever offered me a word of encouragement, I want to offer you my humblest gratitude. It’s not easy to lose 75 pounds. I had lots of moments where I didn’t think I would make it. And always, someone stepped forward, gave me the needed encouraging word, and helped me push through the challenge. I COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOU!!!

Also, I couldn’t have done this without TEAM HARNISCH. I’ve mentioned before that two of my family members have been walking, very closely, this journey with me. Both have had their own challenges and both have had life-long challenges with health in the same way that I have. Both have lifted me up when I have felt at my lowest; neither have the level of support at home that Michelle can provide to me, so I hope I have found a way to inspire them when they were struggling as well. TEAM HARNISCH lost 10.4 pounds this week and has lost 137.4 pounds since “40by40” began. (I know, right? That’s awesome.)

Lastly, I love my wife. Love her like a piece of my own soul. People who have weight problems sometimes struggle to see what it is about themselves that others can find to love. Sometimes that struggle can make it hard to believe that love is there, is equal to the love we feel for others, is something that can endure. These feelings are about our experiences and there isn’t much I could do to control them in myself.

Michelle has worked so hard to help me in this process. She has planned and shopped and cooked and counseled. She has encouraged and championed and comforted and cajoled. She has been the light and she has been the reward. This morning, as I stepped on the scale, she was with me. And her eyes teared up and her face showed such joy, I saw the physical embodiment of the love I feel for her, reflected back at me.

Combined with the herculean effort she has shown just to keep me around for a while longer, I’ll never be able to doubt her love for me again…and that may be the best result yet of this whole damn thing.

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!!

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.

Part 2: How Did We Get Here?

Chad is doing extremely well on his 40 by 40 effort. He is incredibly dedicated and focused, and has changed a lot about how he lives, for example, what he wants to do after a busy, stressful day. Ask anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight, and they will tell you there has to be a lifestyle change…yes, you will have to face change.

But as we look back on how far we’ve come, I can’t help but think of all the people still struggling to find their way to a healthy lifestyle. And then I can’t help but think, “How can we stop this, how did we let our culture and society go down such a dangerous path?”

Obesity is a complex issue. Every person who struggles with it has a lifetime of particular events and circumstances that have helped shape who they are…and for those who are not obese, you most likely have a different set of challenges, so really, are we all that different?

The main difference that I see is that people who struggle with their weight have to wear what can be the most difficult part of themselves on the outside for all to see; we can usually hide our other insecurities and struggles, but people are able to notice if you are overweight before they hear you speak a word. And like I hope I made known in my last post, I think its inappropriate to blame a country-wide epidemic on the individuals. If you haven’t seen the development of this crisis, or for some reason still choose not to believe there is one, here are the changes in obesity rates from 1995 to 2010:

Map showing Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults in 1995 by state

Map showing Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults in 2010 by state

http://directorsblog.nih.gov/a-view-of-the-u-s-obesity-epidemic/.

You don’t have to be a scientist to conclude that blue is better, reds are bad! And this change occurred in just 15 years! (In reality, it is believed the obesity crisis has been going longer than that, and is suspected to have begun around the 1980’s, but data is limited, so we don’t have the whole picture.)

WHY did this happen? No, there has been no spike in endocrine disease or the destruction of all fruits and vegetable crops in America, but something must have happened to cause this drastic turn, which has caused our health care costs to soar and is causing earlier chronic (as in long-lasting, worsening and often incurable) disease onset in adults…and now in children!

As with any complex issue, there are many players involved. Here are some of the influences that may have had some degree of impact on our current state of obesity:

  • Interstate + Car Culture=Drive-Through Culture. The books “Fast Food Nation” and “Omnivores Dilemma,” which I believe should both be required high school reading, each give histories of the evolution of our fast food culture, and tie it to the car craze, which does seem logical in a “We are busy, fast-driving American’s with the whole world to see. Why pack coolers and picnic baskets, or even stop at a mom and pop restaurant or diner when we can just go through the drive-thru” kind of way?
  • Working Families. Don’t attack me on this one, I’m NOT saying women should stay home so they can cook 3 large meals from scratch everyday. But, I do feel like our home-cooking culture never reconciled with this new arrangement that has every adult in the household working.
    • Have we worked out new systems for who cooks dinner when?
    • Are we planning our menu ahead of time to be sure we aren’t stuck calling the delivery person at 7 PM each night?
    • Do we have restaurants or even delis or groceries that have picked up on this opportunity to provide healthy meals instead of quick-service being the only option?
    • Do we even know how to cook for ourselves anymore?

    Though a few families might have some of these issues worked out, the general answer is no.

    These are the ones I ate off of at my Grandmas and Grandpas...he was a Ford dealer!

    These are the ones I ate off of at my Grandmas and Grandpas…he was a Ford dealer!

  • Screen time vs Family time. This is an offshoot of the above item. Because we are busy, (and if we aren’t we are catching up on Facebook or our DVR,) we no longer have the traditional family meals. This has us gobbling down our suppers, perhaps after skipping lunch. As the “Mindless Eating” (also a great book by Brian Wansink) movement has shown us, if we are not focused on our food, we eat more of it without noticing how much we’ve eaten, but at the same time, enjoy it less. The old-fashioned TV trays, have spawned a generation of actual coach potatoes!
  • Emotional Eating. I doubt that anyone has never experienced this at one time or another, but many of us have emotional connections to food that are VERY strong, and with everything our modern-day food culture provides, such as quick access to cheap, salty, fatty and sweet foods, it is easier than ever to go on a “binge” whenever we have the urge.

While these changes were perhaps organic, personal choice changes, there are also some changes to how and what we eat that were not completely our own choice:

  • Portion sizes and buffets. I remember Western Sizzlin, a restaurant in town that had an all you can eat buffet, and in the 1970’s it was the only place I was aware of that had this fabulous style of dining…all the pudding, garlic bread and bananas in
    National Cancer Institute

    National Cancer Institute

    strawberry sauce you could possibly eat! But it didn’t stop there. Americans, living in the land of prosperity that we dreamed of, were comforted/rewarded with large portions and the dawn of another luxury, free refills on soda! Over the last 20+ years, almost every portion has gotten larger, which has added hundreds of calories to our diet each day; and since we only drive these days we are burning even fewer calories than generations ago!  Just do a search for “portion distortion” and you will see many more examples like the graphic shown here. (Although, have you ever noticed that if you get a side of vegetables, THAT portion is always small!?)

  • Super-size on the cheap. Many have become dependent on “Dollar Menus” and cheap food. It seems that we feel it is throwing money away, or a waste of money, to spend any more of our income on food than absolutely necessary. However, I believe we have things backward, and in more ways than one. First, we spend less of each dollar earned on food than ANY other country, as shown by a UC Berkley research group, who has a fabulous map and a very interesting website. (I do acknowledge there are several factors that go into these figures, but its still quite telling.) Imagine living in a country where 15 to 40 cents of every dollar, instead of 7 cents, goes to your food bill! Second, people often cite that eating fast food is cheaper. This is debatable, as you can buy many things in the grocery store that can be cooked to serve the same number of people for less. At the same time, certain produce and meats can be more expensive, but smart shopping and planning can defer those extra costs…if we have any shopping or cooking skills to call on. Third, the foods that are super sized are beverages, burgers and fries…have you ever seen an entree salad for a price of a side salad? While this satisfies our short-term goal of cheap food, if it compromises our health we pay the price later–but more on that to come.
  • Addicted to food? More and more research is being done on the addictive properties of foods; mainly sugar, fat, caffeine and salt. This could be double trouble; not only have we spent the last couple generations treating ourselves to these items, but now, if they cause us to crave more of the same, it will be that much harder to change our ways! To make matters a bit worse, the new book, “Sugar, Salt, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” by Michael Moss, is indicating that the food companies knew of some of these properties and fostered that dependence in their “heavy users.” It seems to come down to some common investigative questions, “What did the food industry know, and when did they know it?”

Its hard to know how much influence each of these have had on any one person, but I can see that many of these have impacted my own life in some way, as my younger years were when many of these changes were actually happening. Would I be a different person health-wise if I had been born in 1953 instead of 1973? (Obviously a LOT of things would be different, but it is an interesting little mind game.)

For those who are solidly in the personal responsibility camp, and continue to look at obesity as the fault of the obese and therefore think we DON’T need to change our culture and make sweeping changes, I would propose that you are NOT unaffected. You may be fit and trim and, but for the grace of God, without disease, but this is a healthcare, Medicaid and Medicare issue as well, and these issues DO affect you, no matter who you are. I was glad to see some coverage of this complex topic on Morning Joe (watch it!), because of the Partnership for a Healthier America’s annual summit. While Joe likes to joke about eating junk, he always makes the point that this is an American issue of consequence.

So I give Chad all the credit in the world for changing his life, especially in the face of all of the above points (and this is NOT even an exhaustive list!) But what about the other millions who still need help, education and support as they try to live a healthy and long lives? There are many issues that are “sexy” in the food and nutrition world today; “fat taxes,” limits on soda sizes, nutrition information in restaurants and even changing labels in the grocery store, food marketing and marketing to children, the high-fructose corn syrup debate and the issues of additive and preservatives. I hope that some of these issues create some positive change, and help give some a small bit of the help they need.

Week 28 Weigh-in…and Chad gets SERIOUS!!!

I’m really starting to love the new me. 🙂 I had a tough week last week. All who read about it know how I responded to a little weight gain. But you also know that my slip lasted about 4 hours. Since then, I spent 556 minutes working out and burned an additional 9,004 calories as a result. I also, without consulting my dietitian (bad), lowered my rate of weekly weight-loss from the 1.5#/week I had been on to a 2#/week pace. That dropped my calorie intake from almost 2400 a day to 2070 a day.

What was the result? …Doesn’t matter. The point is that when faced with a challenging day, week or month, the new me doesn’t quit. The new me sees the challenge, formulates a plan to address the challenge, and then works the damn plan. In some ways, the new me is a lot like the me that was able to play college football. Hard work wasn’t something I was afraid of then. I’m starting to wonder if I going to have to break down my life into a series of scores. (You know, as in “four score and seven years ago…)

My first score was dominated by the last 5 years of it, and my drive to be a great football player. I fell a little short, but for most of the time was relatively healthy and active. The next score, by slothfulness and over-indulgence. And now, the third score of my life, by a drive to add a fifth score. 🙂 We’ll see how I do.

Ok…enough screwing around. I weighed in yesterday at 318.6!!! First time in the teens since my wedding in 1996, for sure. Also, I am now exactly 10 pounds from the 40 by 40 goal of 308.6. (It’s not a weight-based goal, but I can do the math and know that if I weighed 308.6, I’d have a 40 BMI.) Boo-yah!!!

So from last week, I lost 5.2 pounds and a total loss from August of 62.4.  Not a bad week and definitely makes up for the weight I put on the week before. It looks like maybe I should just have a two-week weigh in cycle. Since for almost two months, I’ve gone up 2 steps and then down 5 on an almost perfect 14 day cycle.

My BMI is now 41.3. (Interestingly, if I hadn’t been measured in October and found out that I was 3/4” shorter than I thought, my BMI would be 40.5) Pretty darn close to that goal, either way.

I got a call from a parent today who saw me at the Basketball game last night, who just wanted to let me know that he was amazed at how good I looked and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him what I tell everyone…I’m listening to my wife. 🙂

Oh, and Team Harnisch has cracked the 120 pound barrier with a combined total loss between the three at 122.2 pounds. That is even more amazing. I couldn’t do it without you!!

Be careful out there!!