A Fat Man's Journey (Working my way back…)

An Attempt to Journey from Fat to Fit in a Lifetime. Eat right, Eat less, Move more

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A Strange but Good Day

Today was a strange but good day.

I was not in the best of moods but I managed to keep it to myself and get the job done today. Fact is it was a very productive day.

I expected to stay late and work with my second shift supervisor tonight but a minor flare up of the sciatica issues I have had for years scared me off. A couple of aspirin and some muscle relaxants did the trick and it is feeling much better right now.

I have another minor medical thing going on that I won’t discuss here, trust me on this one. It is also improving. So between this and that, it all came out a good day.

I had a sushi tray for lunch and really felt I had over eaten today but when I tallied it all up, I still came in at 1800 calories. Stay away from high calorie foods and it gets hard to rack up the calories… Still I have to be careful. I sometimes feel as if the momentum is waning. I then give myself a kick and it gets flowing again. A dinner of a 6 ounce tilapia fillet, about 4 cups of squash and a nice LARGE salad came in at a whopping 500 calories for dinner.

I use hot sauce instead of salad dressing and that saves me a big chuck of calories. I find that Frank’s Original Red Hot and Cholula both make good salad dressings. Neither is really very hot and a little dash or two livens up the salad very nicely.

Even “light” salad dressing pack a large calorie punch…

I finally did it. I ordered the new wheels and the cassette for my bike. It was hard clicking the place order button but I did. I know I will get good use out of them and it is a needed thing, not a wanted thing… And my pedal extensions came today and I installed them tonight. This will help (I hope) relieve the pressure on the outside edge of my foot so I don’t have my feet going numb during a ride….

So as I said, a good day.

The Weight is Hovering Again

I have sat at between 233 and 235 pounds for most of the week. This used to drive me crazy. When the weight would seem to get stuck.. Now I understand it a bit better and I am able to muddle through until the weight begins to move again, usually in a week or so. I just have to remind myself to stay the course, keep working the plan, get in the miles, get in the exercise, eat right… The weight will move again.

When it does it comes off in a rush. I will hove in a two to three-pound range and then drop 5-10 pounds in a week’s time. Strange how that works… The interesting thing is that even with the weight stuck I am dropping in clothing sizes as everything continues to tighten up. I can fit in to 38 waist pants now. Just two weeks ago a 40 waist was snug. The weight has only moved 3-4 pounds since then…

I am still shooting for the 220’s by mid to late June. I am very confident that I will make it. This weekend and next will be big parts of that: I plan to do 75 miles total this weekend if the weather will cooperate. I want to do 30 on Saturday, 45 on Sunday or something close to that.. I have the 30 mile course plotted. I have to work on the 45… Mapmyride.com is a fantastic website for this by the way. Try it…

Dancing in the Dark

A bare chin for the first time in nearly a decade….

I shaved off my beard.

On the way home from work last night I made the decision that the beard was going. I am not sure why I picked on my poor beard but I did and it had to go.

After clearing it with Missus and the boys, I shaved it off this morning. The dog was confused, my older boy giggled and the younger said “I was right, looking at you does feel awkward”.

I like the change. The big clump of gray hair is gone and I like the look. The ‘Stache stays. I have had it since I was 18 years old except for three times I had to shave it for plays I was in and the time I set fire to it. The ‘Stache stays…

At work it was either completely unnoticed or people thought something about me looked different. Some of my employees in the plant noticed right away but the people in the office were a little slower to notice. My clerk didn’t notice until I mentioned it to her. And you question why people say eye-witness testimony is unreliable?

Shaving the beard made me think of the line in the Springsteen song “Dancing in the Dark”: “Want to change my hair, my clothes, my face…”

A few years back, as I started to lose my hair I was asked if I would get a toupee. I laughed hard. I have never had a problem with going bald and I am just not a wig sort of person. My answer at the time was I will worry first about the things I can control. My weight for instance… So the hair thing… Well that will be what it is…

Shaving the beard was my little toss at looking a little younger. Get rid of the most obvious gray… I changed my face….

I will worry about the clothes next.



Blending In.

At YuYuan Garden, Shanghai China, May/June 2011

Thoughts of a man on the way down

When you lose a great deal of weight many things in your life change or start to change or at least feel different.

The thing I notice now is that I am noticed less. I like that. I had the sense when I was in a store or restaurant that I was being noticed. A quick glance, a look on someone’s face…. Now it isn’t like I blocked out the sun… But at 6′ 2″ and 305+ pounds I was an imposing presence and I got looked at.

When I was in Shanghai I was a tourist attraction. People actually asked to have their picture taken with me! Strangers on city streets would stop and gawk at me. At YuYuan Garden a woman with a baby asked to have their picture taken with me because the baby couldn’t keep his eyes from me. This was all accomplished with hand gestures and smiles.

In Guangzhou a car full of people stopped and they all leaned out to take my picture as I walked on Shamian Island. Ya think that might make a person self-conscious?

Grandma and baby boy in YuYuan Garden. I wish I had asked them to take a picture of the three of us with my camera. the little fellow didn’t take his eyes off me.

When I would walk down the aisle of an airplane I could see the look on the faces of the people all ready seated: “oh please, don’t have that mountain sit next to me”…

Now I notice that I am not noticed. I am not unusual. Still a little on the heavy side, I am no one’s idea of HUGE.

When I go in to a bike shop to look at bikes I no longer get the odd look from the staff. When I go in to a store to shop for clothes I no longer get steered to the Big Mans area.

I like the sense of being normal that is coming with being normal sized.

Along with the thinner everything I feel like I have a normal place in the crowd now, not the space and a half I used to occupy.

Not sure if this makes sense to you but it certain feels good to me.

Big Mistake on Bagel Day.

The three day weekend has me off kilter. I didn’t realize that today was Bagel Wednesday at the office. I will typically forego my normal breakfast of cereal and fruit so that I can have a bagel at work on Wednesday. Not realizing that today was Bagel Wednesday I had my normal breakfast and only realized my mistake when I go to the office….

Sigh… No bagel for me today…

In the old days I would have said the heck with it and had the bagel despite already having eaten breakfast.

This isn’t the old days and I am not the old me.

I can’t have it both ways so I passed on the scrumptious looking everything bagel and the tasty cream cheese with lox spread….

I wanted that bagel so… But this is not how I want to be so…

I have to watch the calendar better in the future…

Buying myself a Present.

Not an easy thing for me to do but Missus is insisting. My bike needs new wheels. 10,000 miles and 19 years is very old for bike wheels and mine have seen better days. They won’t stay true, and that is a problem, but the biggest issue is a bulge that developed in the sidewall of the rear wheel. Not repairable. Barely ride-able. I have to keep the brake pads on the rear wheel opened a little further than normal to keep them from rubbing the rim. This reduces braking performance as you might expect….

So I have done my research and I have found a very good wheel-set, two-year old model, brand new wheels, on sale in my price range but I am having trouble pulling the trigger on the purchase. Not sure why. I know it is a good deal. The current model of that wheel-set differs little from the 2-year-old closeout except for the color of the hubs and the graphics on the rim. So why the hesitation? Not sure.

It may be part of the total aversion I have towards rewarding myself. It may be that I am cheap.

I need them, this much is certain beyond a reasonable doubt.

So why can’t I just click the purchase button? Well, Father’s Day is coming…..



All Sorts of Thoughts

Eating right, even at Work

After a great weekend it was back to work today.

I don’t really mind work. I am glad to have a good job that pays well and where I am treated reasonably well.

Work has actually become a place where I find it easy to stay on the plan. Yes, there are still many opportunities to go overboard, slip off the plan, fall in to a box of doughnuts… But I am able to resist and it is now habit to just ignore the treats that are all over the office.

My habit now is a light breakfast of a Kashi brand cereal, a cup of fruit mixed in, usually blueberries, and 4 ounces of 2% fat, lactose free milk. For lunch I usually have two pouches of tuna in water, 140 calories for the two. That puts me at about 530 calories for the day and I am in good shape for dinner.

After dinner I usually have a light snack. Tonight it was a deli-flat bread from Pepperidge Farms (100 calories), a slice of tomato or two and Sargento Ultra-thin cheese. All told, that comes in at 190 calories and with a 725 calories dinner, I finish up the day at 1445 calories for the day. I make up the remainder with the milk in my coffee 😉

More Thoughts on Yesterday’s Ride

Yesterday I did a 36.4 mile ride with SA and I have to say it was a great time. Felt so strong on the bike. As I said to my friend KG, I feel RIGHT on the bike again for the first time in a very long time. I have always felt at home on a bike, ever since I learned to ride at the age of eight. I was riding “no-hands” very quickly and I could ride through my entire neighborhood without touching the handlebars… I never mastered the gearing on that old Schwinn Suburban but I was able to climb steep hills and fly on the flats. I had only one accident on a bike when I was a kid. I tried to ride to my little league championship game with my trusty Louisville Slugger across the handlebars and found out too late that I couldn’t steer very well that way… I hit the curb, went over the bars and played the game with a huge bruise on the inside of my left leg.

Still it didn’t scare me off the bike and I never stopped riding until I bought a car….

So yesterday I was back on the bike and feeling stronger than I had in years. It felt natural to be in the saddle and cranking away. Up until yesterday I was really still finding my way. I had to really think about the riding, think out the gear shifts, plan the turns… Yesterday it all felt natural again. It felt like everything was working right.

I thought I might have to walk up the long hill. I didn’t. I went slowly. As low as five miles per hour on one section but I didn’t have to dismount and walk. I was tired when I got to the top and SA picked then to snap a picture of me with his phone!

At the top of the long hill during yesterdays ride.
A really good and fit rider would barely notice it by the way, but to me it was a long hard hill….

I loved the ride. It was a great time and it has a significance for me beyond the act of riding. It is the progress that the ride represents. From fat to fit. I am not all the way there yet that is for sure. I am getting there and the efforts are paying off. I felt so right on the bike.

The right calf barked a bit. It was hurting a touch as I cranked up the long hill. It didn’t give out and shortly after the ride was done it was back to normal and I didn’t feel anything at all. I baby it, I let up when it starts to let me know it is unhappy. I just do not want to end my cycling season prematurely.

I am ordering a new set of wheels for my bike as soon as I can decide between the Mavic Ksyrium Equipe and the Easton EA50 wheelsets… Decisions….

I am ready to get out and ride again. I will do the same course on Saturday this coming weekend and maybe again on Sunday. It will be a real test to see if I can do it two days in a row. I hope I can get someone to ride with…

This is Really Working for Me.

I plan to be in the 220’s before the end of June and in the 210’s by the end of July.

As I am now in the lower half of the 230’s, I have confidence that I can do this.

I want to hit my goal weight by September 1. I am very confident that I can do that.

Between the walking, hiking, biking and such, the change in eating habits, the change in food, I am really feeling better and better each day/week/month..

This is really working for me. Like riding the bike, it is feeling natural now. I don’t have to think hard about it. I have to think… I just don’t have to keep the brow furrowed… We find it easier to shop now as we have learned what foods fit in the plan, what cereals work best for us, what brand of frozen fruit are sugar-free, which fish we enjoy the most and how to prepare it..

On the left, me, June 2010, I had lost a bunch of weight but never got close to my goal.
On the right, me, end of May 2012
Same cycling shirt.
It is a little looser….

A friend sent me a cookbook for grilling fish and we are drawing inspiration from it. Same friend also sent me a vegetarian cookbook. Every recipe has the calories per serving! FANTASTIC!

Seeking my Advice

One side effect of the weight loss and the fitness is that people are asking my advice. I am uncomfortable with this because I have ZERO training on diet and exercise. I can only say here is what I am doing and here is what I have learned and it works for me but I don’t make any recommendations…..

  1. I am committed 100%

    No half measures’, no sometimes, no someday…

  2. I count calories

    I do it religiously. I count everything I eat and cheat HIGH. If I THINK I had one cup, I record it as having eaten two.

    I even record that little piece of hard candy, the three jelly beans, the half an orange. I RECORD everything.

  3. I eat plenty of green veggies. And squash, and sweet potato. Tons of veggies.
  4. I Weigh myself EVERYDAY. I know “They” say not to but I do and it keeps me motivated and focused. Not weighing myself daily will allow it to be out of sight out of mind. I want it in sight and on my mind.
  5. I stay away from the foods I lose control around.

    For me it is foods like pizza and doughnuts. I don’t have even one because that will become two…..

  6. I EXERCISE. It fires up the metabolism, it burns additional calories and it gives me a rush every time I set a new personal best.
  7. I talk about it. I talk about it to everyone that will listen. It helps keep me motivated. Also when I talk about it people compliment me and that always feels wonderful.
  8. As I have shrunk out of size after size I get rid of the clothes. Donate them, burn them, set them out to sea on a raft but I get them out of my life permanently.

    Saving them is preparing to fail. Why would I want to prepare for failure? I prepare for success.

So that is how it works for me.

Riding the High

It is so easy to get UP about all this. Nearly every day I get some sort of friendly comment about the weight loss. Nearly every day I see an old picture of me and see the me that I am becoming reflected in the mirror and I get a sense of accomplishment that really fires me up.

That I am finally doing this for ME and for my health and not because a Doctor told me to, not because a wife pushed me to, not because the kids asked me to. I am doing this because I recognize that I have to do it . And the High I get from the realization that I am doing it because I want to and I need to is fantastic.

When asked by someone if I have lost a little weight I can’t contain the smile as I say Yeah, a little, 70 pounds…

What a great HIGH that is!


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Getting it Right and Pursuing the Goal

It is Never too Late to get it Right

Years ago a 35 mile ride was fairly typical for me. My friend KR and I would head out on a Saturday morning and just ride until we felt it was time to go back. We took what I like to call easy rides. A few stops, a blueberry muffin and a cup-a at the local bakery … Sometimes breakfast in the middle of the ride at the Boonton Diner…. We were fit, we were active, we were out there doing it. Cold, hot, clear, cloudy.. We rode.

We were not trying to break speed records, we were just enjoying the ride. We were always amazed when some hill that had been a beast at the beginning of the season, was barely a speed bump by then end…

Then came the years of neglect and 35-miles became the stuff of memories… “Remember when we….”.

In May of 2010 I did a 42 mile ride in New York City and I thought I had gotten myself together again..

Then injuries, neglect, excuses, weight gain, fitness loss….

Today, with the help of a new cycling partner, SA, I did a 36.4 mile ride.

Last week with the help of KG I did a 30 mile ride.

Next week, if I have to do it myself, I will do at least 30, I may go for 40… And the week after that I go for 50…

I am 233 pounds now.

I can ride 36 miles…

Hills still kill me but I don’t have to get off and walk. I will continue to work on the hills. I will continue to ride. I will continue to lose weight… I will get more and more fit.

This is not up for debate or discussion. There is no other way to go about it. It IS happening. It WILL continue to happen.

36 miles today. No fancy rest stops. No place to refill the bottles.. No free bananas. Just two guys on their old-fashioned steel bikes… Enjoying a good ride and great company.

I am 51 years old. It is never too late to get it right….

Never Let up

It was a hot day to ride.. Started out fine but by the 20 mile mark it had gotten hot, low 80’s not a cloud in the sky, humid as all get-out… I would have died doing this as I was 5 months ago…

See this is the thing: I keep looking back 5 months and I see a completely different person. I am fully aware it was me. I cannot ever forget that. If I do I run the risk of becoming that again. I understand that my way is not everyone’s way and I certainly would not encourage people to go at it as aggressively as I have. I Will not go back and I will not slow down. I do not accept as inevitable either a regain of the weight or a slowdown in the rate of loss or build in fitness until I reach my goal weight. And then it will only be the weight that I maintain. The fitness must continue to improve….

I must sound obsessed. Of course that would be because I am obsessed. I spent too many years ignoring my health, allowing myself to get fat… I talked about weight loss, I even lost the weight once or twice before. I Never pursued it with this much passion. I am working hard at this because I have the real sense that I am saving my slfe by doing so.

I can only go at this with a true-believers zeal…

Thoughts about 5 month in

I am now fully five months in to this Journey.

Five full months.

I awoke on December 27, 2011 and decided that this was the day.. I was going to start eating right and walking and doing the things I needed to do to get fit and lose weight.

I had no idea how far I would go in just 5 months.

I knew I could lose the weight. I knew it because I had done it before. I wanted the weight GONE. This time I wanted it gone for good. I had to learn how to do that. I had to learn to not just reduce the amount of food I was eating but I had to learn to eat right and find a way to do it for life.

I knew that the fad diets and programs were out. I didn’t believe then, and I still do not believe, that these diets and programs were something I could live on for the rest of my life.

On December 27 I weighed 305.6 pounds according to our digital scale.

First I had to determine a goal. At first I said 70 pounds. Not sure why. And then I said no, I want to get to the weight I was when I left for college. 210 pounds. 95 pounds to lose. I also understood that I had to get fit at the same time, walking, hiking cycling, whatever it took, I had to get fit.

I sat down and created a spreadsheet o track my weight and calories burned and project my BMI and calculate my rate and predict my date for achieving my goal weight of 210 pounds.

I have put in the weight every day. I have logged my food consumed every day.

I have made a habit out of eating light and eating right.

But so much more has happened in the last 5 months. Much more than just the weight loss and the forming of new habits.

I have learned a great deal about myself. What has made me overeat. What has caused prior efforts to fail. Why I found it so hard to become active again, get on the bike, take the walks…

I have learned about my stress eating. I have learned about hiding behind the food. I have learned that being heavy had become part of my self-identity. It was how I saw myself. I was comfortable being fat because to me, being fat was who I was.

I have learned in the last five months that I had to battle those demons, fight that war, and I had to win if myself as a fit and trim person.

I am still learning, still battling. I am still tempted at times to just veg on the couch. I am still pushing myself hard because I am still surprised when I look in the mirror and see the me I am now staring back, not the fat man of 5 months ago.

At 5 months I have learned I can go to a cookout and not spend the day grazing and when eating I can trust myself to make smart choices.

At 5 months I have learned that I actually prefer a red-meatless food plan. I am loving fish and poultry and vegetables.

I have learned that I can get fit, can push past the lethargy and can motivate myself…

At 5 months I have also learned that I was right, this will be a life-long effort.

At 5 months my pursuit of the goal continues unabated.

And at 5 months I can tell you that I am good with that.