Saturday, March 3, 2007

Day 28: 4 Weeks Along

Update: 237.2 lbs, 21.0 lbs so far, 17.0 left to reach goal.

Today completes 4 weeks of this weight loss effort, and I'm still pumped about the progress. I know I'm moving at a quicker than normal pace, due to the amount of calories I'm consuming. I've even had someone online recently point out that I'm shooting too low for my age and size, but based on The Hackers Diet chart 1500-1600 per day is 500 less than a sedentary person my size would burn. I won't stay here forever, and I'm drinking water and exercising every day to keep the metabolism going. I'll slowly start increasing calories as I reach goals too.

All that to say, for those who are reading and hopping on board. Please do a little research to make sure your caloric intake is right for your age and size, and it would not even be a bad idea to check with a doctor or health care provider to just make sure you're ok to begin whatever plan you try. And by all means, if something starts hurting, or going wrong with your body, don't push on...see a doctor for sure. I'm no health expert...this is working for me, and I'm feeling very good, but your mileage may vary.

One last note: new amazing dinner last night. Mole chicken with pinto beans and pico de gallo. Cook chicken breasts in crock pot, or big pot on stove in mole sauce. This concentrate is high in calories, 230 per 2 tablespoons, but that mixes with water to make more than enough sauce for 8-10 breasts, so the actual calories per serving is minimal...most of the sauce stays in the pan, unless you heap it on when you serve. Anyway, after the chicken has cooked in the sauce for a long time, sprinkle with low fat mozzarella cheese (60 calories per 1/3 cup) and melt in oven, top with pico de gallo and serve with beans. Chicken breast: 100-150 calories, sauce: 30-50, beans: 60 per quarter cup dry, pico: 25 calories, cheese: 40-60 calories - 250-350 calories total for a very nice meal. Load up on the chicken, great protein and very filling!


Friday, March 2, 2007

Day 27: Dance Dance Revolution as Exercise

Update: 237.8 lbs, 20.4 lbs so far, 17.6 left to reach goal.

The kids got Dance Dance Revolution Universe for the Xbox 360 last night, which was just released for that platform. After playing for a while, one of them said 'Hey Dad, they have a workout mode here, you should use this!" Low and behold, it does have a workout mode, which actually allows you to input your vitals, and then starts tracking your calories burned every time you get on the mat and start dancing your heart out.

Well, with 6 people in the house, there is not a great time for a big ol' brown guy to have some privacy to bust-a-move and burn some calories, so I waited till this morning after weigh in to give it a shot. Normally, I prefer my exercise time after dinner, but for the sake of comparison I spent a short time on the DDR Workout Plan. And I have two things to report back. Those of you who know me personally may want to turn away now before you get an image burned in your head that you don't want there.....

1) I don't know who they think is going to actually be able to do some of these dance moves, because I started worrying that the 'BOO' graphic was going to be permanently burned into my flat panel screen like an old Windows screen saver. Holy moly, I did the basic mode last night and impressed the socks off my kids, but put it on Quest, to 'dance around the world' and jump in at Sacramento Back Up Dancer auditions, and forget it...I looked like Elaine in the classic Seinfeld dance episode. But I was feeling my heart starting to race so that must be a good sign.

2) However, when I checked in after 10 minutes time (granted, only probably about 5 minutes "dancing" total) - my report had logged only 20 calories burned. What?! I thought for sure I'd have burned 200 calories in that 5 minutes the way my heart was racing. For 10 minutes of walking on my manual, slightly inclined old-school wooden Nordic Track treadmill I burn 100 calories, which is about 5 times more efficient than DDR calorie burning. I'd have to play DDR for about an hour for it to log as many calories as 20 minutes of walking on my treadmill...and just like counting calories, I'm not sure that's worth the tradeoff to make it an exercise replacement.

Now, for simple fun with the kids, that gains some extra burnt calories, DDR is a great addition to the game collection. Will it become my go-to workout regime...yeah, probably not so much. But when I need to get jiggy wit it, I'll know I'm at least burnin' a few.

Hasta Luego

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Day 26: Milestone! 20 Pounds in 26 Days

Update: 238.2 lbs, 20.0 lbs so far, 18.0 left to reach goal.

If you'd have told me 26 days ago that I could be 20 pounds lighter this soon, I wouldn't have believed it, but there's the proof in all it's digital glory. 20.0 pounds even. I can't believe a fairly easy change to my daily food intake would have such an impact, but as I mentioned in a conversation yesterday, awareness may be the biggest gain next to the weight loss.

Tried out a new low-cal option last night, chicken tomato basil sausages, which were really pretty good. 110 calories per sausage, and 110 calories per bun, made for a 220 calorie hot dog substitute. One sausage dog, small ceasar salad, carrot sticks and cottage cheese, and I still had a couple hundred calories left after dinner, before exercising.

The picture above is from my Healthometer digital scale. Thing I love about using this scale is that it shows your starting weight, your change from the day before, your overall loss, weight goal, hydration and body fat. Now, the body fat thing is a little funky -- I think you need to be totally naked for it to try to measure accurately, and even still I'm not convinced you can accurately do that without calipers and such...but again, I'm not a dietician. Since I weigh myself in my kitchen every day, with a big window to the world right there, I'm not going totally comando, so I'm not paying much attention to that number. Suffice to say, I'm exercising to make sure I'm not just losing muscle weight. But I love how I'm reminded of my actual starting weight, and tracks excact progress every day. With my old, old scale, I had to dial in the calibration every day, and I know it was off by a couple pounds almost every time I used it. The scale will also allow for up to 4 users to track their progress. Under $30 at Costco.

Hasta Luego

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Day 25: The Switch To Black Coffee

Update: 239.0 lbs, 19.2 lbs so far, 18.8 left to reach goal.

Couple of encouraging things about todays weigh in -- 1) I'm now over halfway to my goal...just barely, but I have crossed the halfway mark...whoo! and 2) I'm now less than a pound away from losing 20 pounds....very exciting! I'm feeling pretty good that I'll hit 20 within the 1st month.

I type up my morning posts after weigh in, and while sipping my black coffee in my favorite chair, and watching either Good Day Oregon (it's snowing in Portland this morning, everyone's got snow crazy!) or some DVR'd show that my wife and I don't watch together. Anyway, back to the coffee...I've been drinking it black now for 25 days and can actually say I'm really enjoying it this way, for the most part. When I started drinking coffee in my late teens, I had to doctor it up with sugar and cream, and moved to just cream or milk in my mid twenties...always hoping to move to just black. I always envied those who could just order up coffee, and not need to find a bunch of accessories to make it drinkable, just toss it back straight up! I feel like I've finally reached manhood in my coffeedom.

What's the big deal about the black coffee in my weight loss effort? Typically, I'd have to dump a little milk or cream into it, and if you're counting along, a quarter cup of non-fat milk is between 20-25 calories. 3-4 cups of coffee in a day means 80-100 calories of just milk...not bad, but given the choice, with a 1500 calorie limit, I'd rather use that 100 calories somewhere else!

The other side benefit of drinking black coffee is that I feel like I'm getting to really taste the coffee and not milk or creamer, and it makes lattes more of a treat when I allocate some calories for one as a snack.

On another note, props to my mother, brother and sister in-law who've informed me they've started using The Daily Plate for tracking their calories too! And props to team member and buddy John Kelly for my favorite Starbucks mug.

Hasta Luego

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Day 24: What's In A Day?

Update: 239.6 lbs, 18.6 lbs so far, 19.4 left to reach goal.

First time I've been under 240 in quite a while. Someone asked why simply counting and reducing calories is working so well for me. I gave him the simple formula I had read that said 3500 extra calories either way equals a pound of fat. Eat 500 extra each day for a week, and you'll gain a pound, eat 500 less each day and you'll lose a pound. Since I was losing more than a pound each week, I realized that I must be eating quite a bit less than 500 calories off of my normal intake. It made me stop and look at some of my previous day's menus, and I was shocked to see how bad they could be.

I get up at 6 am to get the girls going for school, and would typically have coffee and a decent sized bowl of cereal (any kind we had) with skim or non-fat milk. Turns out, my decent sized portion is at least 2 cups of cereal, and 1 to 1 1/2 cups of milk. With just about any cereal we would have in the house, that's going to be 300 or more for the cereal, and 150 or so for the milk. Plus one or two cups of coffee with more milk...brings my normal bowl of cereal and coffe with milk up to right around 500 calories. (And that's not counting the days I have toast, or we make pancakes or bacon and eggs, etc.)

Since I eat breakfast around 6:30, on many days I'd be jones-ing for a mid morning something...and would cruise through Starbucks for a tall non-fat latte at 120 calories (pretty much the milk) and often times wash it down with an Orange Cranberry scone. I looked it up the other day, and was surprised that it was a whopping 470 calories! Good gosh...that "snack" was 590 calories alone!

Lunch can be just about anything. On the days we have 'work lunches,' we frequent places like Quiznos for sandwhiches, Love Love for teriyaki chicken, John's for chinese food, Paddingtons for pizza, Baja Fresh for mexican, Lefty's for pizza, Applebees (once in a while, because it's across the street) or sometimes La Hacienda for mexican. Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that there are not a ton of low-cal options at most of these places, and actually, even if there are...they've not been what I've been ordering. Let me give you a couple of ideas:

Baja Fresh Fajitas: 1300-1500 calories depending on meat and tortilla options
Teriyaki plate, with Gyozas and sauce: about 1000 calories, as best as I can figure
Paddintons humdinger: gosh, total guess 1200-1500 calories
John's sesame chicken and fried rice: 1300-1500 calories...huge portions here
Quiznos Honey Mustard sub: 900-1100 calories
La Hacienda Cheese enchiladas, rice, beans: 1200-1400 calories

...and you get the point. Some of these are general guesses, but basically lunch has pretty much been a 1000 calorie (or more) affair. So lets just say 1100 calories for lunch.

By now, I've had plenty to eat, and can probably skip a snack for the afternoon, but might have another latte, or at least some coffee and cream...but not every day, so lets leave the afternoon with a zero count for now.

My wife makes pretty sensible dinners, and I usually eat pretty good sized portions. I don't double or triple the normal portions, but have my fair share, and we do eat out on occasion. But portion control is probably an issue for more people than would think. What I've considered normal portions are actually probably large according to health experts. All that to say, even a fairly healthy dinner of chicken, vegetables, rice/pasta and maybe some rolls can add up fast when I have a big mound of rice, or butter up a couple rolls to go with it. I won't list out a bunch of dinner menus, but I'd bet on the average I put down 800-1000 calories at dinner, when we eat at home. That number goes up if we eat out, I'm pretty much sure.

So lets add up what we have so far:
500 - Breakfast
590 - Mid morning 'snack'
1100 - Typical lunch
800-1000 - Typical dinner

2990 - 3190 calories - total count for the day

Here's where it gets ugly...those that are faint of heart may want to turn away. We usually have dinner by 6 pm on most nights, and sometimes as early as 5:30. By the time our kids are in bed and we have time to watch a show together or work on projects, or the computer,'s past 10 pm. I'm not usually in bed before midnight on just about any night, and we've easily pushed past 1 am to watch a show and just spend time together. When we've been especially crazy on a work project, I've also been up late working before.

The problem with staying up late is that a good chunk of time passes between dinner and bed time, and hunger starts rearing it's ugly head. Now if I'd grab a carrot or apple, there's no real issue. However, I don't have that kind of will power (or haven't harnessed it until now) and usually opt for cookies and milk, ice cream, second helping of dinner, or Paul's Famous Nachos....all of which can equat to as many calories as my dinner ration. Who knew cookies were like 250 calorie bombs each?! So, not every night was a big snack night, but probably every other night, so lets just say I added 700 calories to the tally for the day.

Bringing our grand total to 3690 - 3890 calories for a single day! Shocking. Crazy thing is, I know I'm not in that boat I've told people this story, some nod along in an understanding kind of way because they've been there too. Now the weight loss I've been experiencing makes more sense. If a big guy like me takes in almost 4000 stinking calories and reduces that diet to no more than 1500 calories, and drinks the recommended daily amount of water, and tries to get on the treadmill for 20 minutes....the weight, at least initially, is going to come off quicker, and I can attest that it is so.

So what's in a day? A lot, if you don't pay attention, or don't care...and I've been living both of those out. If nothing else, aside from the weight loss, I'll have a better understanding of what I'm consuming every day.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Day 23: Daily Plan of Attack

Update: 241.0 lbs, 17.2 lbs so far, 20.8 left to reach goal.

Bummer. Tiny upward fluctuation today, which is of course the downside of weighing every day, especially after an on-target caloric weekend, with one good day of exercise and plenty of water each day. The good news is, that usually is only a day, and I'm back down the next day...this has happened 3 times during the 3 weeks I've been going, so I can see the trend a little bit now. No worries.

I was chatting with my wife (who has joined me in an effort to lose a few...and believe me, she's tiny and doesn't need to lose anything...I think it's mostly for moral support) who pointed out how many calories she tried to save for dinner every day, and it was almost the same way I have been thinking. Here's how I map out my day in my head to use my calories each day.

Since my Hackers Diet chart pointed out that a man my age, my height with a lower daily activity level should burn about 2000 calories a day, I have set a 1500 calorie limit for each day, which I have kept every day since starting. Lately, I've been trying to keep 700 calories available for dinner or dinner and some sort of snack later on, which means I have to be thrifty earlier in the day. Roughly, I map it out like this:

Breakfast - 250 calories
Mid morning snack - 100 calories
Lunch - 350 calories
Mid afternoon snack - 100 calories
Dinner or dinner and snack - 700 calories

What kinds of things can you fit into these caloric's a recent menu

Breakfast - 1 1/2 cup Corn Flakes and 1 cup of skim milk - 240 calories
Mid Morning snack - Yoplait non fat yogurt single serving - 100 calories
Lunch - Subway 6" Turkey breast - 280 calories
Mid afternoon snack - Small chewy granola bar - 100 calories
Dinner - tons of options at 700 calories

Yesterday we had mexican food from Muchas Gracias for lunch, so we had the Flying Saucer, which is a monster tostada with a meat, lettuce, beans, cheese, guacamole and sour cream. We ordered them without the sour cream and without the fried shell, and essentially had a chicken taco salad, and figured it between 400-500 calories. Since we had a heavier lunch, we swapped the calories for lunch and dinner and had a light dinner, to fit within our goals.

I'm going to mix up the lunch and dinner calories more often, as I obviously will burn more calories during the day compared to night, but since we're such night owls, it's nice to not be hungry from a small dinner as we're watching our shows once the kids are in bed.

There you go...simple plan of attack.

Hasta Luego.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Day 22: Counting on The Weekends

Update: 240.8 lbs, 17.4 lbs so far, 20.6 left to reach goal.

In the article I refer to in my first post, Kyle didn't diet on the weekends, which actually seems like a pretty good idea at first. If you only work on losing weight during the week, the weekend would be something to look forward to, and it would give you freedom during those times when you may have special or fun plans, and dieting, or counting calories may be harder to do. However, I know me..and here's why I haven't done it that way.

When I tried just 'eating better' before to lose weight, I did pretty good for a while...even dropping as much as 25 lbs, but with no real plan other than to watch what I eat, exercise and drink water...generally good things. But over time it's easy to let things slide, when there's no real measurable daily goal. To easy to say "Yeah, I ate pretty good today." Next thing you know, the weekend started with dinner on Friday, and continued into Sunday night...late Sunday night, with a snack because I'd be dieting the next day. Then a late start on Monday...maybe I'll start at lunch or dinner, and before too long, I was just back to pretty lazy eating again.

For me, at least in these early stages, I think I have to be committed 100% to the goal, or I'll start letting things slide again. And honestly, as I've said before, there are still tons of great things to eat that don't feel like I'm working too hard at the goal. Last night we made some teriyaki scallops and chicken, over egg noodles, with brocolli and cauliflower, which was really great. Since the day had been good, I still had plenty of room for a couple Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and even a little popcorn during the family night movie. All that, without having to snag a couple extra hundred walking calories.

Sundays are interesting because the typical favorite is John's Chinese (those from Keizer know it well) and I'm scared to know what a full serving of Sesame or Mandarin Chicken comes to in the caloric department. I'm guessing somewhere between 1200-1500 by itself. I read a great idea the other day which said when you order your food to ask for a box right away, put half of the meal into the box and save it for another meal, then you cut the calories in half right away. So, if we end up being pulled into the after-church meal, I'm planning my attack right now!