Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 408 Good Health, Finally A Great Workout, and A Glowing Review

Day 408

Good Health, Finally A Great Workout, and A Glowing Review

Last night’s blog sparked several comments, e-mails, and even a phone call from a regular reader. All were positive, and I sincerely appreciate your support. Many friends expressed concern over my “eat whatever you want” approach, worried that it wasn’t the healthiest way to go. I understand these concerns, but let me explain this a little more in depth.

The health benefits of losing the weight far outnumber any concerns I have over my food selection. I’ve never felt better in my life. I no longer have high blood pressure, my cholesterol is fantastic, my blood sugar is exactly where it should be, my triglycerides, and all of those other numbers they checked my blood for are perfect, well…except I need to bring up my level of good cholesterol, you might remember. So wonderfully perfect, that the doctor himself called me personally to congratulate and to tell me that he was just amazed at how good the numbers were. Lucky perhaps? Absolutely. Except for the raging high blood pressure, I usually had great numbers even at 505. How in the world was that possible? I use to eat three to five thousand calories a day of grease, fat, sugar, whatever! (I’m guessing here---who counts when you’re seriously out of control?) Yes, I’ve been very blessed, and I give thanks for that everyday.

Remember when I tracked my food for 30 days? I kept a written record of every bite during that 30 days for one reason, so I could have a registered dietician evaluate my intake and offer suggestions for improvement. Her advice: I needed more fiber. That’s it? Fiber, really? Now remember, I always keep a running total of calories in my head, but writing it down isn’t necessary, except for the dietician. You know me...Simple! I was surprised that she didn’t hit me hard on several days, but she didn’t. I had a decent balance of fats, proteins, and carbs. I mention this because I think we have a tendency to be too hard on ourselves. What’s healthy and what isn’t has been drilled into our brains for so long, it’s hard to imagine eating completely “clean.” I would be miserable. Had I tried to eat completely healthy from day 1, I would have failed miserably and quickly. And that brings me back to this: Morbid obesity has more dangerous consequences than eating what you like ever thought about having. Again, the benefits of losing the weight far outnumber the concerns over diet.

I hate salads. I’ll never eat a salad, can’t stand them. But I’m a strange one. I’ll eat veggies individually or cooked into something, but put a bowl of freshly crisp veggies in front of me and I will not touch it. Ask Irene, she’ll tell ya, I’m weird when it comes to food. My choices have evolved naturally. I no longer eat whole eggs. I occasionally enjoy steel cut oats of a morning. I hardly ever have cheese unless it’s low-fat part-skim mozzarella. I love cheese, seriously, I’ve written entire blog pages about my love of cheese. But I love it too much, and I can’t spend the kind of calories I would like to spend on a block of extra sharp cheddar, so I don’t keep it around. I’ve had some in social settings, but it’s limited. Ice cream is like this for me too. I haven’t bought a half-gallon of ice cream in 408 days. If I want ice cream, I grab a low-fat vanilla soft serve from McDonald’s for 150 calories, or a similar treat of frozen yogurt from another place and I occasionally keep low calorie frozen novelties ready to go.

I don’t recommend eating 1500 calories worth of chocolate or lasagna, but nothing should ever be considered completely off limits, ever. It’s a mix, a balance that we shoot for, because shooting for perfection isn’t something that’s healthy for our brains.

It’s a very individual thing, ya know? We’re all different when it comes to what our body needs to be healthy. My opinion is very simple: Eating what you like in limited portions and allowing your eating habits to naturally evolve along your weight loss journey is the easiest way to ensure success. Nothing is bad unless you make it bad by eating an excessive amount. And the weight loss will so dramatically improve your health, you won’t have time to be concerned about the fine details of your consumption. Don’t get me wrong though…there are horrible ways people lose weight, and those methods are not healthy or good no matter how effective they might be in dropping the pounds. Some people starve themselves, not good at all. My philosophy is grounded in eating enough and exercising.

Speaking of exercise, Courtney and I hit the YMCA tonight for a nice workout. It was good to get back in there. She hit the elliptical, while I lifted weights and finished with cardio on the treadmill. I felt so good in there. And I love what I see in the mirrored walls. Oh how I hated the mirrored walls in the beginning. Are they really necessary? I mean seriously, mirrors? Everywhere? Why? But now I’m comfortable with my reflection. Too comfortable really---that’s why it’s been so hard to get back into a consistent workout schedule. It’s easy to settle because where I am now is so drastically different from where I started. You understand right? Compared to where I was, I’ve arrived---but I must remind myself everyday---we have work to do, this isn’t the time to be lax in our efforts. Let’s go for what we really want, we’ve come this far, why not go all the way? I’m going all the way.

A friend of mine told me today that they found a blogger that had some very kind words to say about my blog and journey. I’m always flattered and overjoyed when I read something like this. I never imagined what an impact sharing this journey could have on others. It makes me so proud when someone gives me this level of kindness. But I’ve always said, and I’ll say it again: Your success is all you! I can’t take any credit at all. But I still get a thrill out of reading about how someone has experienced the epiphany of simplicity. Hilary at www.tinyglow.com made my day with what she’s written:

September, especially early September, tends to be a hard month for me because I have many painful memories of living and working in New York when the terrorists attacked in 2001. Many years, I stay home from work sobbing into a pillow on September 11. But this year, reading a weight-loss blog I had never stumbled across before gave me quiet strength.

It is strange how something so entirely unrelated to possible trauma and the events of eight years ago was just the thing to re-center me and get me through most of a difficult day. In the process, it reignited a small hope that maybe, just maybe, I can lose these 80 lbs.

This blog that got me moving was Sean Anderson’s Daily Diary of a Winning Loser. It’s a humble blog by a humble guy—one who has lost over 200 lbs to date—with an unassuming yet obviously successful strategy: he eats no more than 1500 calories per day, he blogs daily, and he exercises (either on the walking track or at the gym) regularly. I read every single daily entry, and I thought: What he’s doing, it sounds like something I maybe could do.

And here I am, with a few modifications, the main change being that my daily calorie limit is 1700 calories. One of my biggest (admittedly irrational) fears is hunger, so I upped the limit in part to help take the anxious edge off of the enterprise for me.

I even started blogging daily about the experience of being back on a wagon of some sort, but I didn’t do it on this site because I didn’t want you to have to read about something if I didn’t at least stick it out a week. But miracle of miracles, I did stick with it, so I am posting the first week’s worth of blogs below if you’re interested:

Day 1: A Simple Plan and My Starting Weight

Today was Day 1 of the journey I am taking to lose and keep off 80 lbs. All the forces aligned to make this Tuesday in September the first day of the rest of my life. Honestly, I had given up on losing the weight until something started to shift in my mind about a week and a half ago. I think that reading the blog of Sean Anderson was the tipping point; his daily diary of an amazing, life-saving weight-loss journey (now in its 365th day!) completely opened my eyes.

It was the simplicity and consistency of his “plan” that got to me: eat 1500 calories per day, and exercise. And that was it. It didn’t matter how he used the calories; just that he stayed within bounds. As I read his entries from Day 1, I wasn’t hearing any fussing about organic vs non-organic, or about eating only certain foods or avoiding any foods. I was reading about a guy trying to eat his favorite foods, but in moderation. It sounded challenging and yet refreshingly simple

It was the simplicity and consistency of his “plan” that got to me: eat 1500 calories per day, and exercise. And that was it. It didn’t matter how he used the calories; just that he stayed within bounds. As I read his entries from Day 1, I wasn’t hearing any fussing about organic vs non-organic, or about eating only certain foods or avoiding any foods. I was reading about a guy trying to eat his favorite foods, but in moderation. It sounded challenging and yet refreshingly simple.

As I kept reading, I saw how he slowly ramped up his exercise routine and strove for consistency in his habits above almost everything else. And how successful he was—and this is someone real and relatable, whose daily entries have that unmistakable heart of authenticity.

Hilary, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m so happy about your success. Isn’t it incredible when you realize that this is really the time you actually do it? This is it…this is what it’s like to be successful at losing weight. This is living. You will lose this 80 pounds and you will feel absolutely amazing as a result! You’re awesome my friend, I’m so happy I found your blog! (Thanks Cruz for telling me!) Again, you can find Hilary at www.tinyglow.com

It’s bedtime around here. What a wonderful day. We enjoyed a wonderful meal with Irene before she left for work this evening. I prepared spaghetti with meat sauce, salad (for them), and garlic toast. It’s a much lower calorie version than we use to fix all the time. We use super lean beef (93/7), and only a half a pound and we cut way down on the sauce. Instead of eating a thousand calories worth, each plate comes in at around 450---and that includes the bread! And what’s so wonderful about this is, we’re all still very satisfied with the meal. Little changes, naturally evolving, tweaking our habits to get the best calorie values, it all adds up to big time weight loss. Goodnight and…

Good Choices,


  1. yup, that is pretty much my plan (except 1600) I try as hard as I can to get in my fruits and veggies, but if it just aint happenin or I want two slices of my boboli low fat part skim thin whole grain crust with turkey pepperoni, then by gosh I go for it (as long as it's in under my calories lol) I have a splurge day once a month and I lay off myself a bit. what your doing obviously works. It must be really good to hear that you are inspiring others and giving others hope.
    That's a great thing.

  2. I can relate to how inspired Hilary was from reading your blog. You were the first "weight loss" blog I discovered that I caused me to sit up and take notice. I saw you doing it, and it fired me up and helped ME believe I could do it, too. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. I try to eat between 1200 and 1500 calories a day, although I do prefer (now!) how my body feels when I've made healthier choices. If I eat rubbish, I feel like rubbish! Like you, I LOVE cheese and could think nothing on downing a pound of it (pretty much any variety!) in one sitting. Luckily, I love cottage cheese, so that's been my substitute for the 'real' stuff, albeit a fairly poor one!

    I have the propensity for mega-bingeing so I try to avoid foods that would normally be a trigger like potato chips, although they make me feel really sluggish, so it's not difficult to cut them out completely.

    I'm working out like a woman possessed and yesterday killed my butt by doing nearly 250 lunges... But it's paying off and no one can believe I'm the weight I am. The funny thing is, I can now easily get into clothes I shouldn't have been able to fit into until I was a good 30lbs lighter...

    Thank you for your blog!

  4. Oh my goodness, I'm so thrilled and touched to be included in your blog today, Sean! Thank you so much! I know I'm just one of many, many people your words and story have made a positive difference to.

    It's funny: although my admiration for the eat-clean approach remains, I never could attain it . . . it was too big a leap from where I was before. Maybe that's not the case for everyone, because weight loss truly is so individual. But I was eating tons of candy, way too many calories before. Now that I have cut back my consumption and have gotten used to eating less, ironically eating "cleaner" may be possible for me someday. Because it will be less extreme of a change from where I'm at now. It is very very hard to cut calories at first for many people (like me) . . . to do that and say "you can't have any of your familiar, not-so-clean foods now either" would have made me give up after maybe two days. I think your approach is so helpful for people who are starting from a place of eating chaos, too much of everything. It's just less terrifying, you know? Thanks again, Sean!

  5. It's great to recieve support and for people to show their love through concern, but honestly, you seem to have one of the best points of view about weight-loss. I love that you're doing what works for you. I love that nothing is totally off limits. You said it all with, 'Nothing is bad unless you make it bad by eating an excessive amount'. Even fiber can be bad! Good example? The time I ate a few too many flaxseed tortilla chips. Yeah, not doing that again!

    it is no surprise that those who are lucky enough to have you in their lives want to keep you there, but where were their phone calls and emails when you were tipping the scales at 505 lbs? Not that it would matter (we all know it's a personal journey that is very seldom catalyzed by the words and actions of others), but I couldn't help but ask that question.

    Keep up the awesome work. And most importantly, keep on doing what works for you!

  6. Good morning Cousin...I am so proud of you and all you have accomplished. And it makes my heart warm with even more pride when I read others comments and how your blog has helped them. That must be an incredible feeling for you not to mention an even bigger boost of confidence. You are totally awesome! Good luck to Hilary and all your readers. And in reply to Body By Pizza... those of us who are lucky enough to have Sean in our lives WAS on the phone and sending emails when he was too large to even register on the scales...but ultimately, only Sean could make the decision to change and start this journey so we could have him here with us longer and share him with you and other readers. We are not only his family and closest personal friends, but we are and have always been his biggest fans and supporters. Have a great day! Sean, I can't wait for weigh-in results.

  7. I love reading your blog. Whether someone is trying to lose 10 lbs, 100 lbs or 300 lbs your blog and YOU are an inspiration to everyone. Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing your journey.

  8. Never say never! When I married, my mantra was "I don't eat 'rabbit food'!" I have now discovered Paul Newman's Lowfat Sesame Ginger Dressing, and bring a dish of baby spinach, grape tomatoes, sunflower seeds or pecans, and sometimes blueberries or grapes in a little containter to work. Pour a little of the dressing on, and I can't believe how much I enjoy it! I think it was the "sour" dressings that maybe I really didn't like all those years!

  9. Another superhero has joined the ranks. Welcome Hilary! I am at the 'wow' stage of my journey: everytime people see me who haven't seen me for a while say WOW! And they always ask how and I always tell them 1500 calories a day of whatever I want and daily walking. They never rejoice. They just tell me how they could never do that they love food too much. Like I don't? You don't get to 356 pounds by HATING food do you?! People. They're the worst.
    Love you Sean (Irene: I love you too!)


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