Thursday, January 24, 2008

First week of my diet

First things first. My scale is very inaccurate (it's digital, wonder if that matters) but I'm definitely under 320. Last Thursday when I started this, I said I weighed 330 pounds, but I had also just consumed an entire stuffed crust supreme DiGiorno. Still kicking myself for that. On Tuesday I met with the "Healthy Weigh" group at my gym and was weighed and recorded at 327. I don't think I lost 7 pounds in 2 days, but I was also fully dressed at that point. Today I weighed in in my underwear. But I've still lost weight.

I have actually cheated on my diet twice, both at Jen's encouraging, although I did order my own food and could have, both times, made better choices. Sunday we ate at Chico's, our favorite Mexican restaurant, and I got my nachos. To be fair, I didn't get the sour cream, but they did have a lot of Cheddar cheese and they had ground beef. And I ate the whole plate. Tuesday we went to Chinese, and I got General Tso's Chicken, which was mostly chicken - and fried rice. Ate most of that. However on both days, that was most of what I ate all day, so it kind of balances out.

In better news, Monday night I made some awesome "spaghetti". Last year Jen discovered spaghetti squash, which when cooked, you scoop out strands like spaghetti noodles. Fat free. Over that we poured Prego spaghetti sauce with zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and mushrooms chopped up, and garlic. It was certainly vegetarian, and would have been vegan (no animal by-products, e.g. eggs) if not for the cheese in the Prego. And it was at least as good as my non-vegetarian dishes I've prepared. I was very pleased with myself and this meal.

Other winners for me include the following:
  • Bagels. I have mini bagels which are only 1gram/fat apiece and they're a good snack.
  • Fruit. I prefer the oranges but I'll eat the apples, too.
  • Applesauce. Loved it since day one and it's fat free.
  • Del Monte Chunky Mixed Fruit in 100% Juice. Easy winner.
  • Michelina's Lean Gourmet meals - every one I've tried (which is like 3 so far) are delicious.
However there is one honorable mention I would like to point out that pretty much wins over all, at least for meals. Tai Pei Chinese dinners, they're delicious, low in fat, and filling! Look at the picture below; click it to see it bigger. That's a standard cereal bowl, and it's holding 14oz. of chinese food. About 500 calories and under 10g/f (I think that one was 7.5g/f) and it was pretty good. Not perfect - too much sauce and not quite enough meat - but tasty and healthy.

So far I've had two of those: Bourbon Street Chicken (above) and Broccoli, Chicken, and Rice, I think it was called. The latter got its broccoli a little too soft, and that's coming from a guy who needs broccoli steamed soft so his teeth can handle it. But, you know, overall these are pretty good. I can't have them every night, but they're helping me a lot. $2 at Walmart; Harris-Teeter has them for $3, so they're probably in between everywhere else.

As far as exercise, I've been going to the gym every day save for yesterday. I didn't feel like it, but I went this morning. I learned in my weight loss class that the most fat/calories burned will be doing aerobic type stuff. The treadmill, the stairmaster, the bike, etc. So I am now focusing 95% of my workout there. I start on the treadmill and try to put in at least 15 minutes, and then about 5 on the bike. My workout goal now is to get up to 30 minutes of such exercise, say 20 on the treadmill and 10 on the bike. And I'm trying to stand/walk more at work, but my mobility is limited as I have to stay in a small area, but I'm working with what I got. And I'm going again tomorrow morning, when I get off work.

So even though I didn't really lose 10 pounds, the fact that it appears that I did is great incentive to continue. I have a long way to go - my healthy weight for my height is about 180, so I'm about 140 pounds over that. 250 is my first "major" goal (with smaller increments as stepping stones) because I weighed about that when I first started talking to Jen. But I don't feel as though I'm much bigger than I was back in '03, though I guess the numbers say otherwise. But once I hit 250, you can be sure I won't be taking it easy - from there the goal is 175, another loss of 75 pounds. I know I can do it, it'll just take time. I just hope I can do it by Sept. 2009, when I next visit California, to shock the hell out of everyone.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Weight Loss Day 3

Today we went to the gym. The plan was, I was going to sleep 2 hours after I got off work, take Jen to work, and stop at the gym on the way back from picking her up. That didn't work very well and she drove herself; she swung back and picked me up; we still got to go.

I worked out for about an hour, with and without Jen. I got a recovery shake with "fat burner" powder added, then started on the treadmill and it said I burned 98 calories (10 minutes at around 3mph). I rode a bike machine for about 9 minutes. I benched 65lbs, 2 sets of 10 reps. Used some misc. machines including my "arch-nemesis" the military press and my favorite, the butterfly press.

After we were done, I decided we needed a reward, so we stopped at Walmart, which has a Subway inside. I got a foot-long Chicken Teriyaki sub (10g fat) on wheat bread, no cheese. The sauce is supposed to be fat free, so the fat must be between the chicken and the bread (?).

We shopped in Walmart, then in Food Lion, with grams of fat in mind. We picked up a spaghetti squash - a squash which produces strands like noodles that can be eaten with marinara sauce like spaghetti. We got some Prego sauce, 1g fat per 1/2 cup (and it's got cheese in it!). I plan to cook this meal Monday, when I start taking the alli pills. Oh, and I'm gonna make a salad to go with it, maybe garlic bread if I can find some low-fat stuff, but we don't have to have it.

For snacks, I picked out some fat-free rice cakes, caramel corn flavored, and Jen picked out some generic Oreos that are 5g of fat per package, and that's 4 cookies just a little smaller than the real thing. I've had them before, they're good, but for the size it's more fat than I'm comfortable taking in in just a snack.

I used to eat some real high-fat food. I could put back a DiGiorno stuffed crust pizza in one sitting. I could eat a 1lb. burger and fries and a shake. I could eat 2 boxes of macaroni & cheese. I know none of these are accomplishments to be proud of, but the point is I've gone from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet, and I err on the side of caution with the fat content. If I had to guess, I'd say I've taken in 35-50g of fat each of the last couple days.

It'll be hard, because I work overnight in a grocery store, but I take a few lowfat or nonfat snacks and a box of Lean Pockets or Michelina's Lean Gourmet, and I'm good for the night.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Weight Loss Day 1

My 2008 New Year's resolution was, and still is, to not drink alcohol in the calendar year of 2008, excepting only medicine (which, I don't drink NyQuil, et al to start with, I'm just sayin it's fair game). However around mid-to-late 2007, I talked (mostly privately) about losing weight.

Last night was kind of a shocker, more of an eye opener. I started feeling big. The scale told me something I did not want to see. As of last night, I weigh about 330 pounds. I'm 6'0" with a medium frame. Most of my weight is an oversized pot belly, but I've started to notice enlargement in my arms and legs.

Food is a big problem for me. I love to eat, and I love to cook. I love to outdo myself either on the Foreman grill, or with a skillet (frying). While I'm not out making obscenely unhealthy stuff, it's not exactly healthy - more middle of the road. One reader of this blog informed my mother (a technophobe who has probably never seen it), that all I write about is food. Hey, RL. ;-) Obviously the blog speaks for itself; while there is a lot of other topics covered, I have covered some food I've made and eaten. But I know now I need to cut back.

Some might say the backlash is going to prove to be too much, but I think I can stick with it. I'm attacking my weight on three related fronts. First, I'm going to adopt a low-fat diet with a target of 45 grams of fat a day, or 15g per meal on average. I love me some generic Nutrigrain bars which are 3g/f each, two of these make a good snack. I'm going to start eating the Healthy Choice, Michelina's Lean Gourmet, etc. frozen meals at work - or bring in sandwiches. I'm talking, bread, turkey breast, lettuce and tomato - no cheese, no mayo. Believe it or not, I like that stuff. Maybe not as much as a 2/3lb. Fuddruckers Bacon Cheeseburger, but I will adapt to lowfat foods, because I want to be healthy more than I want good taste.

Second, diet pills. The new Alli diet has proven effective for Jen, my wife. She's lost about 37 pounds on it since September. She's already adapted to the 45g lowfat diet I'm talking about, so rather than us eating different stuff and different quantities, we'll be on the same page. I've already bought my Alli starter kit, I'll start taking the pills this weekend or perhaps Monday. Alli requires you to consume 45g of fat or less, or you find yourself unable to control your bowel movements, as it were - it's a nasty ordeal I can't say for the sake of my marriage's good health whether I've witnessed this or not, but on heresay alone it's a significant warning. And I need to be on the lowfat diet before I start taking the pills, naturally. And I just ate a DiGiorno pizza yesterday (yes, by myself; yes I know that's very bad) so I have a lot of fat currently in my system. But after a couple days, it'll all have cycled out so I'll be good to go.

Third, exercise. Jen and I just today signed up for a year's membership at a local gym over in Washington, NC, just 8 miles away. Actually, it's a little closer to work than home as the crow flies, and I can just take Hwy. 264 outta Greenville, where I work third shift, head straight to the gym (it opens at 5:30am, I'm off at 6am, and I can be in Washington at 6:30am), work out for an hour (it'll be more but I have to build up to that) and then I'll head home, hopefully be in bed by 8-8:30am. I intend to warm up on the treadmill for 10 minutes, move to the stairs thingy for 10 minutes, and spend 10 minutes on the bicylcle. Then I'll make my way around the weights. I'll check out the ab stuff, since it's my belly I need to target, but I intend to show a lot of love to the free weights. I know I'm good with bench and leg presses - in weight training in high school, the only thing that gave me trouble was the military press. But I'm not looking so much to build muscle and strength. I want to build a little strength, but my goal at the gym will first and foremost be weight loss and fat burning.

Like I said above, I currently weigh 330 pounds. I turn 29 in September, so I'll be 30 in September 2009. My long-term goal is to be under 250 by the time I'm 30. I don't know how quickly I'll lose the weight, but it seems like a long time. Hell, we're planning our second California trip around that time. It's a long ways off. But I'm not just shooting for a long-time goal. I have three stages I intend to do this in. I'm currently in Stage 1, which will take me down to 300 pounds. Stage 2 will bring me to 275, and finally Stage 3 will take me down to 250. I have no idea how long each stage will take. I intend to reward myself - though not with food - for every stage, possibly for getting halfway through a stage.

And, of course, I can track my progress with the blog, but also with pictures. I intend to report in about once a week, with pictures once a month. I know the casual reader of this blog doesn't want to see my enormous gut - I'm wearing a shirt, but it still ain't pretty - so what I'll do is post links. Click the links under the weigh-in information to see them, if you like. They won't mean much now, but next month I'll link back to these as well.

So it sounds like I have this all planned out, right? Well, I'm sure there will be a lot of bumps in the road. I'm sure this will be a challenge. I have no illusions that it's easy, but I'm also ready to put my full weight (pun intended) behind this, so I'm sure I can do it.

Stage 1
Starting Weight: 330
Current Weight: 330
Target Weight: 300
Pictures: Front Side

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More neighborly weirdness

Late last year I wrote about how our neighbor called animal control on our dog as we were trying to find a better home for her, saying that our dog bit her dog in front of her place while her dog was on a leash, where the exact opposite was true - our dog had never left her chain (or had slipped back into the chokechain) and was probably defending her puppies, and the neighbor's dog had probably gotten away from her and got between our dog and the puppies. We can only speculate as we weren't there.

The weirdness continues.

Oh, there have been little incidents. Once my wife was riding down the driveway (we share a driveway, she's in front, we're in the back) and this lady had her dog out... she quickly picked up the dog as if my wife would swerve to hit it. Or, shortly after calling AC on us, we'd ride by and she'd avoid looking at us. Yawn.

Late last year, between Christmas and New Years I think, Jen was out shopping with her sister or something. It was early afternoon and I was just getting up. I looked out front, and halfway between our kooky neighbor's place and ours, on the driveway, was this black pickup truck. The passenger was sitting in the passenger seat, and the driver was leaning up against the passenger door, talking to our neighbor, who kept pointing back here. Playing devil's advocate, she might have been indicating a vacant place next to ours, or she might have been indicating the fields behind us, where people hunt - maybe they were hunters. They were just awfully close to our place. Here's the kicker though. I got on the phone with Jen about it, and finally decided to go out and see what was the matter. I cut lights on, I'm getting dressed... as soon as the door opens, they all take off like scolded dogs. The car backs out and heads on down the road - fast - and the lady makes no hesitation getting back to her place. I just made like I was checking out the skies, admiring the day, I didn't do anything hasty or aggressive or anything. Odd, that...

Then a week or so ago, my wife's heading down the driveway. When she rounds our neighbor's place, she sees our neighbor (no, we don't even know her name) pinning her dog as if they'd just had a wrestling match and she's got him (or her) down for the three-count. Jen checks the mail, collects the mail, reverses back into the driveway, and heads out the other way to leave for work, the whole time the lady has this dog pinned. Not doing anything with it. Not giving it a shot, not putting a leash on it. I didn't see, so naturally I can't speculate further, but I know how my wife checks the mail. She takes her time, it's a daily ritual for her. It adds at least a minute, 90 seconds to her departure. Taking her time, she might have watched the lady pin her dog for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. We've been advised we should have called animal control for that (plus turnabout is fair play) but we didn't. We're the quiet type, I guess.

I was also not here for the latest incident, which took place last night. Jen called to inform me of strange activities outside. Strange activities, I ask? Sure, she says. Two or three cars out there, and she's sure one is the law. None are really coming back here though, she says - but their lights are pointed back here. (Sure, they would be, if they pulled up to her place and didn't turn around or cut their lights.) Jen also noted a car at the place next to our neighbor's, which is also vacant, and has been broken into on one recent occasion. I play devil's advocate again and speculate the weird lady might have called the law on suspicious activity in the vacant residence, thus the cop. Jen watched from a window, everyone was there maybe 15-20 minutes, I gather, and nobody came back this way.

Would y'all call that weird? OK, for most of them there are probably reasonable explanations. But ever since this lady tried to scam us (for the vet bill her dog supposedly got) we've been keeping an eye out front. Nothing aggressive, we've just been vigilant. (Oh, she has too - she posted a "No Trespassing" sign in her window - not facing the road, but facing us.) I don't know if this lady thinks we have a rivalry or whatever, but for our part we're just looking out for our own interests. I mean, we worry that she might take and kill our kittens; we have no idea what she's capable of. Maybe we should move - we have a few good reasons to - but we also have a few reasons to stay put. Not indefinitely, to be sure, but for the present we like where we're at, but that's a topic for another day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Music Review 1-8-08

I can't promise how long I'll keep this running, but I'll lightly review new songs as they come out, usually in groups of 3 or more. I'll cover pop, country, rock, and metal for the most part, as these days my music prejudices have been greatly minimized. I'm listening to a little bit of everything, have been for a few years. So take a trip with me, and I'll let you in on what I'm listening. And of course, comments are allowed, however they must be "approved" before being accepted, so keep it clean; spam and flame posts will not get posted. That being said feel free to disagree, just keep it civil.

1. "Hot" by Avril Lavigne (Pop)
This song starts out OK, with promise of a similarity to both "Girlfriend" and "Sk8er Boi" but the promise isn't kept. It's not necessarily bad, but it doesn't feel quite like single material. I will admit that I said the same thing - worse - about "Girlfriend" but love it now. Now I think this might be the weakest of her singles. I will post in a future "New Music Review" if that changes.

2. "Tattoo" by Jordin Sparks (Pop - R&B)
I knew the hook before we got this song, but I hadn't heard the rest of it. I was expecting a good gimmick-song, but I found a decent casual-serious love song, which lyrically is aimed to speak to young and older lovers equally. I also thought it was more pop, but it has more aspects of R&B to it. Overall I'd have to say this is a well-done and solid song; for that it isn't great, but it is good.

3. "Don't Stop the Music" by Rihanna (Pop - Hip-Hop)
I enjoyed Rihanna's first album for a week or two, but got a little tired of it after a while. Her new album has a kind of energy she hasn't had before, almost a slight rock influence. It's still hip-hop, but it's paced like an 80s rock song, so it has a rather distinct sound. I like this, but will I still like it in 2 weeks? I still like "Umbrella", so we'll see.

4. "Misery Business" by Paramore (Rock - Punk)
I have the good luck of having seen the music video as well as hearing this song over the weekend. The vocalist has range, and the punk elements don't grate on my nerves (as most of the genre does). I'm not sure how to take the lyrics as they are kind of feminist, but they're well delivered, and you can't say the song doesn't rock. It doesn't do anything special, but it is fun to listen to, and isn't very long, so definitely not a channel changer.

And four is all I have at the moment. Do not expect regular updates for this, I'll just post them every 3-5 songs we get or hear on the radio or whatever. And my blogging history has not inspired sufficient trust to ask you to depend on me to post anything, which I'd like to say I'll change in 2008, but the truth is with all the stuff going on, it isn't the priority I thought it'd be. I will try, however, to post more - for what it's worth.

You may also notice that I did not rate the songs with numbers. I have two reasons for this. First, someone can ask me "Why is Song A a 6 and Song B is an 8?" when I actually prefer Song A to Song B, I just pulled the numbers out of my back end because it's what I felt at the time, no science behind it. So the number means little. Second because things change every day or every time you hear the song. So now the rating has almost no real meaning. So I just review it - you can decipher the rating for yourself, if you require one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Years Resolution: No Alcohol All Year

I made the radical decision a few days ago to not drink a single drop of alcohol in 2008, first as a joke ("wonder if I can do it") and evolved into something I really want to try. I am not a heavy drinker, by no means an alcoholic, but I do enjoy drinking Captain Morgan's spiced rum on occasion. When I was in California I enjoyed sampling various microbrews, and though the selection in North Carolina is much more limited, I'd drink Newcastle, Killian's Irish Red, or even Bud Ice. I'd only drink socially, and I wouldn't drink very much. So it isn't a big sacrifice, by any means, but I am going to stick to it.

A few people have told me I can't, and they're not entirely wrong. This will mean not drinking on Jen's birthday, or my own, or our anniversary, or the birth of our first child if we are so blessed, or the loss of a loved one if our luck should (god forbid) go the other way. But I think, like any challenge in life, the rewards associated with it are beneficial as well. My mother says it'll help me lose weight (I'm close to 300lbs) but I see it as a way to take more responsibility for health (same idea, different perspective) and of course save money.

The plan was to get sloppy drunk tonight and stop at midnight, but truthfully I only had about four shots of the rum all day. Jen drank the rest. I was going to drink during wrestling, but we had a coin toss to see who'd drink and who'd be the designated driver. She won, so she chose to drink. And that was fine, I didn't want to get *that* drunk anyway, when it came down to it.

2008 is a leap year, if you didn't know. 29 days in February. (My redneck brother-in-law and his redneck best buddy say leap years are a Yankee lie and that no year ever has more days than 365, but he also claims Metallica started out as a country band in Greenville, NC and their biggest album was their album entitled "Enter Sandman", and that the Internet is full of lies, so we tend to take everything he says with a grain of salt.) So 366 days of no alcohol. Think I can do it?

PS: I know this sorta breaks my "Vacation" blog, but the intention was to post that, like, the week after I got back. I know I been slackin. I'll get to it, but I need to no longer limit my blogging to just that, so I can come up here and post other stuff, too. If you'd like to see all the Vacation stuff in one place, click on the Vacation label below a Vacation post (not sure how that all works specifically, should be easy) and you should be able to pull them all up. No real timetable on when that'll get done, sorry.