Archive for May, 2009

Progress Report #1

Posted in Weigh-in with tags , , , , , on May 20, 2009 by uziel5000

OK, let’s go back a moment to the pictures I took at my heaviest. Not my favorite thing in the world but then again the whole point of this blog is hold myself accountable so here it is again: Me at 319 pounds.

Before Pictures copy

Alright, now let’s look at the most recent set of pictures. This was taken on 5/15/09. 4 months after starting the eating plan and 30 days after starting the full-on exercise plan.

30 Day Frank copy

Some differences REALLY pop up by just looking at the two sets but first lets look at the numbers. On my last weigh-in, the scale read 275lbs. That is 44lbs. less than my heaviest weight of 319 and 33 less than my starting weight of 308. Also, my measurements went down. My chest is 50″(down 1 from 51″), my arms are 16″(down 1′ from 17″),my legs are 27 1/2″(down 1 1/2 from 29″), my hips are 48″(down 3 from 51″), my waist is 47 1/2″(down 1 1/2″ from 49). So that is 8 total inches less. Not bad…

Looking at the pics, the things that really stand out for me are the bottom part of my face, my belly and my waist on the back view. On the original pics, these areas, more than looking fat, I look bloated. Swollen even. Like I had some disease. Also, the new pics confirm my long-standing suspicion that I, in fact, have a neck somewhere between my head and shoulders.

Not noticeable on the pics, are the effects of the weight loss and exercise. I am sleeping much better now and feel rested when I wake up even though I am waking up much earlier now to exercise. This has meant that I fall asleep much earlier as well, which has affected my TV-watching habits but I don’t mind at all. I have a lot more energy during the day as well. My performance in Tae Kwon Do classes has improved significantly. I don’t get tired as fast or run out of breath. In fact I can pretty much go through the whole class without much problem. My Turbo Jam workouts are also much better. A fact very noticable at the end of the workouts as I’m able to finish much stronger than before. All in all, improvements all around. However…

Things to consider…

Because of the amount of exercise I’m doing, I think I have to revise my daily calorie allowance. Not necessarily an increase or decrease but a revision on how I’m reaching that number(1,800 calories per day). There is no set amount perfect for everybody so I’m looking into calculating calorie allowance based on things like body fat percentage, weight, height and age. This should help me tighten up my diet to suit my needs more.  Also I’m considering spreading the calories a bit more by adding a meal, which helps keep your metabolism running in top form. Long term, I should also revise my workout. As I lose more weight and my body adapts, making changes in diet and exercise programs helps avoid plateaus, which are bound to come up so I need to have options ready.

So far, so good. I learned many things in my previous attempts to lose weight but one never stops learning and this time around I am learning plenty. Hopefuly I can apply those things and improve where it is needed as I go since there is not going to be a next time. Next full report in 30 days. In the meantime, keep a lookout for articles on the importance of peer support, some things I have found out and some cool websites I have discovered along the way.

The Plan continued…

Posted in General Information with tags , , , , on May 12, 2009 by uziel5000

Okay, so last time I went into some detail about the changes I was making to my daily food intake. So far, I have lost 32 pounds(as of 5/10/09) following that nutrition program. However, eating has been only part of the equation. As I mentioned on the post “Things I have Learned”, nutrition is only half the battle. Exercise is a crucial part of an effective weight loss program. Not only does exercising burn calories, which really makes achieving a calorie deficit that much easier, but working out has immense health benefits and in some cases increases your body’s ability to burn calories by helping you build muscle mass(not body builder type muscle mass mind you but some).

Cardio vs. Strength

Cardiovascular training burns fat. All types of cardio are, by definition, aerobic which means they use oxygen. Without oxygen you can’t burn fat. Therefore the exercises you do that are aerobic, will maximize the amount of calories you burn during the workout. Jogging, Cycling, Rowing and the like are examples of cardio training. Strength(or resistance) training on the other hand, is anaerobic. It does not use oxygen.  You increase your muscle strength and mass by breaking down muscle tissue when you lift. After you lift, when the muscle is at rest, it rebuilds bigger and stronger. Obviously you burn calories while doing this, but not as much as when doing cardio. Doing push-ups, pull ups, sit-ups, lifting weights, they are all examples of strength training.

So, that basically means that if you are looking to lose weight you should stick with cardio training and you’ll be set right? Well, not exactly. The process of burning fat(or any other fuel like sugar for example) is complex. The body needs the energy for breathing, circulation, digestion, tissue regeneration and brain function just to name a few. Some of these processes are more metabolically active than others. Meaning, they require more energy than others therefore they burn more fuel and hopefully fat. Building and retaining muscle mass is one of those things the body does that require lots of fuel. The more muscle you have, the more fuel it requires to remain there. Bodybuilders are an extreme example. When they train to build muscle, their diets can be as high as 4,000 and 5,000 calories a day yet their body fat stays below 8%. Believe me, at 5,000 calories, no matter how little fat you are consuming, if you are not exercising (and I mean REALLY exercising) your body will turn all that to fat. The reason why bodybuilders get away with it is because those huge muscles require so much energy to maintain that they burn fat just by standing there. They NEED the calories, otherwise they start to lose muscle tissue.

Although an extreme example, (however if you want to achieve that physique as a goal, by all means go for it) there is a lot we can learn from bodybuilders. They have taken fat burning to the most efficient form possible. Going back to the world of us mere overweight mortals, we can take some of that knowledge and apply it to our weight loss goals. The facts are right there: If you want your cardio workouts to give you the most efficient calorie burning possible, spend some time developing muscle. In other words, a combination of cardio and strength training is the most efficient exercise program to lose weight. Following this blueprint is a win-win situation. Not only will you burn more calories, but as you lose weight, you will begin to see a nice physique emerging from the fat.

What I’m doing

When I began losing weight, I started to take Tae Kwon Do lessons as my form of exercise. For those not familiar with this martial art, Tae Kwon Do means “The way of the hand and foot”. It has two very distinct parts: The self-defense aspect and the sport aspect. After being introduced as an exhibition sport in the Seoul Olympics in 1988, it has become extremely popular. It is full contact, meaning participants pull no punches and it can be pretty brutal. Think of a boxing match where instead of using the hands, you primarily use your feet. 3 rounds of TKD can be as grueling on the body as 12 rounds of boxing. The reason I take the time to explain this is to show that if the matches are that brutal, you can imagine what the workouts must be like. They are a combination of cardio, strength, and explosiveness training. It is an awsome workout that burns monster calories. Every time I finish a class, I end up drenched in sweat. It really gives your legs a great workout which is a plus since the biggest muscle group in your body is the thighs so, they are the muscles that burn the most fat.

The problem is that while TKD has been really effective, classes are only twice a week. This left me with 5 other days of doing nothing.  For a time, I would go with my wife and daughter to a track near our home and walk for 30-45 minutes but we weren’t that motivated and soon we were skipping days and not going more times than we were going. We needed something we could stick with. Low and behold, out of all things, an infomercial gave us the answer. We were watching TV one morning and saw this infomercial about this workout DVD called Turbo Jam. Now, I’m the last guy to buy something off an infomercial but sometimes, you have to make a compromise. Turbo Jam is a set of videos that offer to give you a full body workout. It’s a combination of Kickboxing and dancing and other things. I wasn’t really thinking of “jazzercising” my way into fitness but the minute my wife saw it she was hooked. I was looking for a more straightforward(manly?) workout but in the end I caved because well, it was my wife after all and it was something we could do together. Watching the infomercial and looking up the information on the Internet, several things convinced me to buy it: First, it’s affordable. Compared to buying equipment or buying a gym membership for two, the videos were a steal. Second, convenience. You workout at home. You don’t have to go anywhere or worse, going to a gym full of people that look a thousand times better than you. Third, unlike other infomercials, this one made no promises of miracle cures or the like. You have to put in the work and do the workouts, which looked challenging, so I bought them.

Let me tell you, these videos are no walk in the park! The cardio routines are gonna make you sweat big time and the strength training video can be quite rigorous. Of course, no video, workout or exercise program is not gonna work unless you actually do it. We really took a close look at our schedule to see where we could fit the time to work out. We considered the evenings after I returned from work but thought that if the time caught us tired or unmotivated, we would look for excuses not to do it. Finally we struck a compromise: we would MAKE the time. We decided to wake up at 5:50am on weekdays to do the program. This was especially hard for me because of my sleep apnea so every second of rest counts. But in the end, we are doing this for better health so less sleep will result in better rest down the stretch. With these videos, I now work out every week day in the morning and do Tae Kwon Do every evening on Mondays and Wednesdays. Pretty grueling schedule but I like both workouts so I have been able to do both and stay very motivated. The secret of sticking to an exercise program is to like what you are doing and so far I certainly do.

Come back next time, when I give you a 30 day report and post new pictures to see if there is a difference so far.

The Plan

Posted in General Information with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2009 by uziel5000

This is me at my heaviest. 319 pounds.

I HATE these pics

I HATE these pics

Needless to say, there is a lot of work to do. Funny thing though: You are never really aware of just how much you have let yourself go until you see yourself in pictures like these. I certainly didn’t see that when I looked in the mirror. Then you have your picture taken and suddenly you go: “Man! Am I THAT fat? The answer is yes. For me, there were two pictures, taken on New Year’s Eve and new Year’s Day respectively, that really brought things home for me. Those are posted below.
New Year's Eve 2008/2009

New Year's Eve 2008/2009

New Year's day 2009

New Year's day 2009

 That’s my wife and child in that picture above by the way. These pictures were the last straw. Seeing what little neck I had left, it was only a matter of time before my sleep apnea would go from a partial to a total block of the respiratory canal. My wife was going to wake up one day and find me dead. If this sounds melodramatic believe me, it’s not. People who suffer from sleep apnea die in that very same way all the time. The question then, was: What am I going to do about it? This just couldn’t another “attempt”. It had to be a solution and it had to be a permanent one. Earlier in my life I could afford to fail but now I have run out of time and my wife and child are on the line. Here is what I’m currently doing. If you have read my previous posts, you’ll be surprised to see some of the things I’m doing but really, there is a reason behind the madness.

The eating part

People hate counting calories. It’s a hassle, it requires some math, which I hate, and sometimes it lets you know just how much less you are eating which can make you feel hungry. However, I have to say that there is no better or effective way to watch what you eat. The good news is that all the hassle is temporary. After three months of keeping to a 1,800 calorie diet, I have to say that I do very little counting anymore. It just becomes second nature. I mean, you can only look up the calorie content of a grilled chicken breast so many time before it sticks. You simply learn the right portions and combinations that make out your meals. So really, calorie counting is just a hurdle you need to jump. It will become a part of you and it wont annoy you. I promise.

Like I said my diet consists of 1,800 calories. It is also a low-fat diet (I’ll explain why in a minute). I have to stick to about 21 grams of fat a day. This meant I had to work out some stuff. Had to be careful about butter, oils, mayo and high fat proteins like some cuts of beef. I also had to think of some substitutions. I’m a coffee drinker and the latte is my drink of choice. With whole milk that can mean up to 250 calories for a tall serving. Problem: I hate skim milk. And don’t get me started on non-fat milk. They simply weren’t options and 250 calories was half of my breakfast so just when I was starting to think I was gonna have to give it up, somebody gave a sample of vanilla-flavored soy milk while at Costco. I have to say I was really surprised. I used to avoid soy milk like the plague but it really tasted good. Plus, the vanilla flavor really brought out the flavor of my coffee and breakfast cereal. I also switched to low-fat mayo,(which i don’t use much but it tastes just the same) non-fat salad dressing and for butter I use a spread that rhymes with Country Rock. Now, all the low-fat stuff still has fat so you can’t go bananas pouring it over everything. The secret is in the serving size. Stay at or below the serving size and count the calories. For example I can make myself a Turkey Burger with wheat bread, lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup and stay well below 500 calories. The condiments help with the flavor and I don’t have to starve.

How many times you eat during the day is up to you. Studies have shown that spreading out your meals from three a day to five or six smaller ones can really boost your metabolism in addition to help you not go hungry. This is not an option for everyone however. Time and work might not allow you to follow such a plan so work with your schedule. I do three meals a day and a snack. Whatever you decide make sure you don’t go past your calorie limit for the day(which can vary per person). The purpose of my snack is to deal with one of my main problem areas: At night, I go crazy. I hate going to bed hungry and I would always cheat at night after a whole day of following a diet. Now, I make sure I have enough calories left at the end of the day to have an early evening snack. A snack that I use to take a multi-vitamin at the end of the day.

In my next post, I will continue to explain THE PLAN.