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!!

 

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 #38 Weigh-in…and I’m a triple digit loser!!!

On August 21st, 2009, I was finishing my first year as a principal and my only year as a bachelor. I’d never lived alone before and I had never faced the kind of stress being responsible for 100 employees and 800 students can deliver. Without the support network my wife anchors to me, I didn’t make very healthy choices about almost any aspect of my life. As a result, on August 21st, 2009 I weighed in at my heaviest all-time weight: 404 pounds!!

After Michelle came home, I made some better choices and dropped down to about 375 before the end of 2009. For all of 2010 and 2011, I bounced around between 375 and 390. On August 17th, 2012, I started “40×40” at a robust 381. And as you all know, last month, I met my “40×40” goal with a weigh-in of 308 pounds.

I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t another goal, bouncing around in my head for most of the last 8 months: the idea of losing 100 pounds. I can measure that 100# from lots of starting places. I could start it at the start of “40×40,” which means I’d have to weight 281 pounds to accomplish it. I could also start it from August 21st, 2009, which means I’d have to weigh under 304#.

Since I weighed in this morning at 302.6 pounds…I’m comfortable saying that, since I weigh 101.4 pounds less than my all-time high…I’M A TRIPLE DIGIT LOSER BABY!!! I don’t know if I can express how great that feels to type. 101.4 pounds lost!!

Anyone wanna know what that feels like, go to the local hardware store and by a bag of cement mix. Typically, those weigh 96 pounds, if my childhood memories can be believed. Strap that around your midsection and then walk around all day. Keep it strapped to yourself for at least 4 hours and don’t do anything where you aren’t having to muscle that poundage around. Then, take it off, and go do all the things you were just trying to do when you weighed 100 pounds more.

Or try this. Don’t do anything. Just strap the 100 pounds to your chest. Then sit on the coach all day. At 9:00 pm, get up and go to bed with that 100 pounds sitting directly on your chest. When your alarm goes off in the morning, take the weight off and then spend the day exactly the same way. Sitting on the couch all day and then go to bed at 9:00 pm, this time without the weight. Can you imagine what the difference in those two days might be like? NO, YOU CAN’T! Not unless you’ve ever tried it! (It’s like the old joke about Vietnam and light bulbs.)

But I know all of you can empathize. That’s what you’ve been doing this whole time. Sharing in my journey because you care about me and my story and my health and you want me to live longer and healthier. Your support has made this possible!! I love you all!!

Some of us will be spending time together this weekend for Mother’s Day. I can’t wait. Good Times, Good Times!!

Week 38 = 302.6#, 39.2 BMI, 21% reduction since 8/17/12, 78.4# lost in 40×40, 101.4# total.

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.

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!!

“O Captain, My Captain!”–An Altered Perspective

I apologize to all of poetry for using this line of Walt Whitman’s in its pop-culture role:

We are VERY close to declaring victory for what has become phase 1 of 40 by 40. Close, because Chad is less than two pounds away from dropping his BMI from his max of 49 to 40, which will be a loss of over 65 pounds! I also say “phase 1” because Chad has already been considering what his next goal should be. He has already done this to a certain degree, by committing to the Koman 3-day walk in August of 2013 and making a long-term commitment to participating in a health-related fundraiser each year, to keep himself healthy, to raise awareness and money, and show people how you can change your lifestyle. I know he has been thinking of a new weight or BMI number to serve as a benchmark, so we’ll keep you posted.

Living with Chad these last 8 months, (and over 16 years before that) I think his last post really hit on a key issue. He discussed how, even though he had an atypical week, which resulted in travel, fewer workouts and more eating on the road, he was still able to achieve a weight loss. To show why this is so telling, and interesting to me as a dietitian, its important to look at how far he has come:

BEFORE:

  • He would often eat 4-5000 calories per day.
  • He skipped meals or would go over 6 hours between meals.
  • He would often resort to fast food, and have a 2000+ calorie meal.
  • He was getting little to no exercise, and so was burning no calories.
  • This resulted in extra calories, which were thousands above the very approximate 2500-ish calories which might be what would maintain him at a healthy weight.

TODAY:

  • He rarely misses a meal (I can count how many on one hand since 40 by 40 began.)
  • He also has snacks, and they are full of fiber, protein and/or healthy fats.
  • He works out like a madman; I would sometimes have to talk him into taking a rest day! Plus, with his large body, his workouts burn anywhere from 500-2000 calories. (For a bit of perspective, my 135# self needs to push hard just to get 500 calories burned during a workout.)
  • Because he’s counting his calories, his portion sizes have had to come down to pre-obesity-epidemic-era amounts.

These two Chads couldn’t be further apart! I believe that is why Chad could have what he considered an awful week and dread his weigh-in, even though in the end, it resulted in a net loss! What he saw as a failure to workout was actually a week where approximately 4650 calories were burned through exercise. He also felt he had eaten “poorly,” when he had only one day where his calories were significantly above his goal range. So, comparing the week he had to both “Before Chad” and “Today Chad,” he is still closer to his current self, even though he may have come short of reaching all his goals for the week. Plus, he did end up with that net loss!

Chad’s experience shows what most of us in the nutrition industry suspect; we have gotten so far removed from a lifestyle of regular physical activity and healthy diets (read: proper portion sizes, regular meals and healthy foods,) that our perspectives are skewed. Have you ever gone to a restaurant that serves proper portion sizes and heard people complain the portions are “skimpy?” Do you see fewer kids and adults out playing, riding bicycles or even walking around outside than years ago? His concern for his not-so-great weeks is admirable, because he doesn’t want to go back to 6 months ago, but Chad is looking at our food and exercise cultures with a new perspective and a new normal, and it will take some time for him to adjust. For me, its a pleasure to watch all of these changes, some obvious and some more subtle.

Please stay tuned…its getting exciting!

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.