Tuesday, May 10, 2016

That Red Feeling

People think that I never get mad but that's not true. I get mad just like everyone else but I know how destructive anger can be so I try to quash it the moment I notice it flaring up.

Anger is violent and pointless. Actually, pointless isn't really the word. Anger can be good if it's challenged or focused. What I mean is that the typical actions of an angry person don't serve to make them feel any better.

A person makes you mad, you punch them. Suddenly you feel sorry for your snap reaction and on top of still feeling those burning embers you have that cold feeling of sadness to go along with it. An inanimate object makes you mad, you break it. Now you have the additional repair expenses on top of your previous rage making you even angrier than you were before. Someone says something that offends you and you relive every time you looked the other way as you ready your rebuttal. You begin fueling your own rage nurturing it, growing it, so that by the time you've gathered your thoughts you can have a proper explosive argument.

Anger is pointless. I learned that long ago. It's a byproduct of something crappy happening in your life and your reactions to it just serve to hurt you further. I've developed my ability to let go of my anger and channel that excess energy into something productive. When I get mad I once resorted immediately to violence, but now my first reaction has been downgraded to annoyance as I think about how I will have to reorganize my day and work around these feelings. Someone says something insulting, sigh, I guess I'll have to go to the gym. An inanimate object breaks down, sigh, I guess I'd better go for a walk.

This has served me well over the years and has earned me a reputation as quite a happy guy. People see me lifting weights and don't realize that each repetition is another insult I've let slide. I walk past my neighbours and they wave, not realizing it was either this or get into a shouting match with someone. The screen is filled with the bloody explosions of an action movie as no one realizes I'm living vicariously through the main character.

Writing this makes me sound like some horrible person with violence on their mind twenty four seven, but I believe that this is a very mature reaction to have. We've all heard how holding in your emotions will lead to the inevitable explosion, worst than if they had never held them in at all, but these all sound like mindless platitudes, repeated over and over because we know that this is what we should do. Surely finding constructive outlets for that cauldron we all have burning inside of us is a good thing?

But what do you do when that object breaks, that insult is heard, that offense taken, and you can't find the outlet you need? What happens when you're stuck somewhere. Jaw flexing uncontrollably. Cold tingles and goosebumps erupting on your skin. Arms twitching with barely controlled restraint as you mash the keyboard, each keystroke sounding like a blow. What do you do when you can't find a gym? When you can't leave your desk for a walk? When you can't pop in a violent DVD?

First you start to panic. What will happen if someone interrupts me in my time of weakness? Will I snap and attack them? You sit and feel the muscles in your arm and dread the damage you would do. Was your heart always beating that fast? Are you only noticing it now because you've begun thinking about it? You need to relax, you've stopped tapping the keyboard and are instead pounding it into submission. Please, oh please just give me some space so I can calm down.

Sometimes a simple joke can be enough to calm you down and give you an outlet for that pent up energy. Like how despite my temper problems, or maybe even because of them, my favourite superhero is The Incredible Hulk. I have reminders of him everywhere, a superhero calendar, a stuffed bear in his likeness, even a green water bottle. Which reminds me, why is a character who is associated so completely with anger, coloured green? When I think green I think of sickness or nature. When I think of anger I see only red. Even when I try to describe what it feels like to be so angry I can only say that it just FEELS red. I've never seen red like the old saying goes, but I have felt it. It doesn't make any sense to say it but I feel like if I were to close my eyes and just focus hard enough I could almost see it, sort of like a word that's on the tip of your tongue or a muscle you don't know how to flex. It's there, just out of reach.

I write and I write and as the words flow forth I can feel my pulse slow. My cold skin warms and my goosebumps recede. My breathing returns to normal. I can feel the ache begin in my arms as the finally stop flexing. That red feeling is gone and now I can't even remember what it was like. It's like a dream how it was so vivid and there but now that it's over I can't even fully describe it.

I sigh in relief as I hit save after finding a brand new outlet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Competition Finale And Update

My company's weight loss competition has finished and the numbers are in. Everyone was stressing and worrying waiting for the final tally but unfortunately we only came in second place. The team we were neck and neck with the whole competition finished hard and shocked us all with their numbers. A lot of our members were disappointed with the results and grudgingly congratulated the other team for their hard work but I was happy to see that there were a lot of smiles on our members. The end of the competition caused us all to step back and realize all the physical as well as mental changes we were making and we were all happy with the results. Also, after a week of freedom, we decided to continue helping each other, losing weight, and getting healthier all year long!

Now before we finish talking about the competition there's something I'd like to address. A lot of people were making suggestions to me on ways I could make a few extra pounds for the sake of the competition. Most of these tips were super helpful and I want to thank each one of you but a few people suggested some pretty drastic ideas. Crash diets and no water might seem like a great way to shed a few pounds in a short time but they're very unhealthy. While it's true that some of these practices will work they can damage your body and cause only short term weight loss. Most of the time you will struggle with this new practice and your weight will snap back to what it was originally and then some. Weight loss should be a slow gradual process that you stick to for a long time. There's no cheat code that will fix it all in a week. With that said I wanted to say thanks again to the people who offered suggestions and encouragement to me over the past few months. You guys rock!

Surrounding yourself with positive people with similar goals can only help your weight loss so I'm so proud of my team and their continued resolve to lose weight. We've even started doing our own weigh ins and continued our little weight loss program of our own. Having a weekly check in is such a great help to keep you on track and losing. It's important to keep it in the forefront of your mind with any tricks you can use. I myself have been updating my computer's background with a checklist of items I need to do each week as well as a new funny picture to keep things fresh!

Here's this week's "The Rules" background.

I did learn one new thing recently though. Now that I've been keeping track of my weight loss through use of my awesome excel document, I've learned a bit more about the effects of weight lifting and aerobic exercises on my body.

During the competition I was focused wholely on aerobic exercise since I knew that would have the biggest effect on my weight and it was a competition after all. I promised myself that I could switch back to weight lifting when the competition was done. During the competition I was maintaing my goal of at least 2 lbs each week but once it finished I swapped half of my aerobics for weight lifting. It felt good to lift weights again but when I did my weekly weigh in I found that I had lost only 1.4 lbs falling short of my goal. Thinking I had just had a bad week I switched my routine to entirely weight lifting to cheer myself up. The next weigh in I found out that I only lost .1 lbs.

I've spoken about weight lifting in the past and mentioned how I know it's easy to slack when you have to take breaks between those heavy lifts but I felt that I had been staying pretty honest and doing a similar amount of work. After a bit of research and discussions I came to the consensus that I was indeed losing fat, but replacing it with muscle. I could lift more in every exercise in my routine and felt healthier but body fat is much harder to track than weight. Realizing that I would best accomplish my goals by sticking with aerobic exercises I have all but sworn off weight lifting until I have gotten my weight down to a more manageable level. I know that weight lifting is still good for me if I'm honest and work the whole time I'm there but it's better for me motivation wise to see those numbers every week in an easy to track way. Once I committed to these changes I saw my weight loss go back to it's original numbers and I'm happy with the change.

Not wanting to be too stagnant I also added a few more things to my checklist. Now in addition to counting calories, using the stairs, and going to the gym, I also have to drink one large bottle of water at work, and lift weights when I'm home. This may sound like I'm going back on what I've said but the gym is aerobic only, while my free weights at home are just for fun. That way I can fully commit to my new plan and still get a small bit of weight lifting done!

I am now 302.4 down almost 34 lbs this year and within range of my first goal of breaking that 300lbs mark!

Question of the day: What are your healthy life goals?

#weightlossjourney

Monday, March 14, 2016

Goal Setting

Our contest's second to last weigh in is here and the numbers are a little disappointing. After two weeks of lax dieting and my focus shifting to weight lifting over aerobics, I've only lost .2 lbs. I had known that this week wouldn't be my best one but I must admit that my heart sank a bit at the sight of such a small change. I then had to try and keep my spirits up as I accepted what I felt was undeserved praise from my friends, teammates, and fiancé. At the end of the day I know that any improvement is a good thing, but when you're hoping for big numbers and wind up with much smaller results it can be a hard thing to get past. But just like every other week we're going to use these bad feels to come up with a plan to promote better results in the future!

Something that I've been lacking on is writing out my goals clearly so I can come up with a plan to achieve them! Rule number 1 of trying to achieve any sort of self improvement is to simply write it down. From there you can expand on it and really flesh out your goal.

When I started, my original goal was to lose weight. Now that is a poor goal if I've ever seen one. Where's the numbers? Where's the time limit? If I have such a vague idea I'll never follow through with it. When do you want to attain this goal? How are you going to do it?

In order to make an effective goal I'm quite fond of using the SMART system. SMART is a mnemonic you can use to set effective goals.
Specific: Be specific and explain exactly what you want to achieve.
Measurable: How will you gauge if you are succeeding?
Attainable: Your goal must be possible.
Relevant: The goal should be important to you.
Time-bound: What is your deadline?

Using the SMART mnemonic let's redo our goal. My new goal is to lose 2 lbs. a week every week right up until my wedding date of October 8th taking me from 317 lbs to 259 lbs in 29 weeks. Now that is a goal. An honest admission of my starting weight, with a clear start and end date, including how fast I plan to achieve it and what my end result will be.

Now that we've got out goal, we can't let it just be words. Find a place where we can see it everyday and write it nice and big. We're gonna need that reminder so that our goal is constantly at the forefront of our minds. Next up we have to keep track of it! Grab yourself notebook or your favourite software and start keeping track. I'm quite fond of microsoft excel for keeping track of numbers and dates so in goes our starting weight. Once that is done it's brainstorming time. What steps are we going to take in order achieve our goal? I've had success with calorie counting even though I've been forgetting to enter it so how about we aim for entering it 5/7 days a week? Going to the gym has been a big help so why don't we aim for going twice a week for an hour of cardio? Stairs are an easy addition so why not take the stairs once a day at work for a total of five times a week?

Now we've got a clear goal thanks to our use of the SMART mnemonic, a plan and checklist so we can hold ourselves accountable to that goal, reminders to keep us thinking about it, and I don't know about you but I'm feeling super motivated!

Don't let your dreams be dreams!
#weightlossjourney

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Transparency and Distended Bellies

We're coming up on our fourth weigh in (not counting the starting) and I'm excited and nervous about my results.

I've been continuing with the squat challenge and have increased to the point where I can do 100 squats in a sitting. Sure my legs are shaking and I can't walk confidently for a while afterwards but progress is progress. Just yesterday I managed to do 260 in a night which I believe is my current record! Speaking of squats, I've started developing some silly habits when it comes to them. I play a lot of video games and when I get to a particularly long loading screen, or a long que to enter a dungeon I've started grinding out some squats while I wait. I can only imagine how silly I look, holding a controller in my hands and squatting repeatedly while staring at the T.V. But it doesn't stop there. The other day I was showering before bed and realized that I hadn't met my squat challenge quota for the night. Instead of finishing, towelling off, finding a spot and cranking out some squats before bed I just stood there in the shower brushing my teeth and squatted under the spray. Now that's multitasking!

It hasn't been all good this week though. Earlier we had a potluck in my department for someone's birthday and there was so much delicious food that I couldn't help but go over my calorie limit for the day. I know it's fine to have a sort of cheat day every now and again but the following day we had the same thing. Two days in a row of overeating and boy was I feeling it. On the plus stuffing myself those two days in a row made me realize something. I've been steadily decreasing my meal size and I feel that by now I've gotten to the point where my meals are close to what the average person should be eating. On those two days I ate what several months ago would have been perfectly normal meals for me. The sheer contrast in meal size really drove home the point that I was eating way more than I needed to. On both days I not only ate my fill, but stuffed my stomach to bursting. This is what pre-2016 Me thought it meant to be full. Growing up I had just thought that that bursting almost queasy feeling was what people were talking about when they said they were full.

When it comes to this month's challenge in my company's weight loss challenge I think that we had all given up any thoughts of winning once we saw the statistics for week one. The top team for the week had more than doubled our second place position. This was a bit of a disappointment for my whole team and I know a lot of people pulled back or gave up entirely but I was happy to see that most of my team were still soldiering on with a focus on weight loss instead of winning the challenge. People were sending challenges back and forth and even though our numbers did dip, the change was only small and we were still grinding out some pretty big numbers. Another surprise I was happy to see was that I wasn't even the top person on my team numbers wise. I had figured that as soon as those intimidating numbers were shared that my team would lose it's motivation and I would be the only one logging any numbers but no, I wasn't even the top person on my team! Some people did fall off and stopped entering numbers but at least two people in my team are out producing me. Go team green!

I've also come to a decision with regard to my weight. I'm by no means a shy person but I've decided that I'm really going to be open with the numbers on my weight. I've danced around it saying things like I weigh a lot, or I've lost a little but I want to be 100% transparent. I started this competition at 336.2 lbs and as of our last weigh in I am down to 319 even. My goal weight which according to the math of my calorie counting ap I should reach in a little over 500 days of good behaviour is 186 lbs. I found this number by consulting google to find out what my healthy weight would be according to my height and age. There were several different weights according to a few different formulas and I may have picked the largest number but as a longterm goal I thought it was a good place to start. Also it ends in 86 and I just plain like that number.

I've also noticed a few things in the past few weeks both good and bad. First off, I've begun to fall off with my calorie counting. The counting feels less necessary to me now that I'm sort of on track with meal size as well as cutting back snacks but I know I have to tighten that back up in order to keep from straying. As a reminder I've started setting the connected website as my homepage so every time I use the internet I still get a reminder to enter my food. I've also been ignoring the gym recently. After a painful introduction to lunges which it took me a few days to recover from I took some time off from the gym and have been putting it off far too often. I've caught myself justifying my actions by saying "oh I'm still doing my squats every night, I don't need the gym too," or something along those lines but I need to nip this in the bud before I drop the activity entirely. Speaking of nipping things in the bud, I've also noticed that I was beginning to develop a habit of grabbing a large breakfast from the cafeteria at work. Just like with the gym I always had a justification of "my lunch is small today so I'll have a big breakfast." The moment I realized I was doing this I stopped it entirely. That was just too tempting and I knew it would become a permanent thing if I didn't stop it immediately. On to more positive things, I've noticed that some of my clothing has been feeling loser. At the time of writing this I'm currently wearing a shirt that was almost embarrassing since the pulling of the buttons would create lines on my stomach as the shirt pulled tight. It now fits me almost as good as any other shirt in my wardrobe. This brought me to another goal I will be adding to my list. I have one specific shirt which used to be my favourite unfortunately I haven't been able to wear it in several years. This red silk dragon covered piece of clothing is straight out of the 90s but god did I ever love it. My newest goal is to be able to one day wear it like I used to in college.

What I've learned:
Stop bad habits the moment you notice them. That egg sandwich might be nice to tide you over this morning but before long a big fast food breakfast could become part of your daily routine. Learn to notice these signs and put a stop to them!
My meals have gotten much smaller in the past few months. Those two days of putting up with a grossly distended belly have just reaffirmed that I'm making positive changes in my life and need to keep it up!

#WeightLossJourney

Monday, February 15, 2016

Disappointment Management

Second weigh in is in the books and I'm a little disappointed in my results. My previous weigh in showed that I lost 9.3 lbs in 2 weeks and I know that was probably a bit too high so I was aiming a bit lower and hoping for 7 lbs. Unfortunately when I stepped on the scales I saw I had only lost 2.8 lbs though. I know, I know, I should be happy with any progress no matter how small but it was a bit of a disappointment to go from 9 to 3 so quickly.

I allowed myself to sit and wallow in disappointment for a while just to get it out of my system. I feel it's important to let those feelings out rather than bottle them up and try to put on a happy face. After feeling as though I had spent enough time on it I then started making plans for the next weigh in. First, I decided that I was eating too many cookies and my morning snack had to go, Bam. Next up was my coffee. I had been planning to try to drink it black, and since I didn't particularly like the taste to begin with no milk and sugar didn't seem like a huge stretch, Bam. Third I decided to tackle the stairs. I wanted to start taking the stairs but the people I usually go on break with don't have the same goals so we always took the elevator. I made a new friend who I could take the stairs with every day and now the stairs are part of my morning routine, Bam. Goals in hand I started feeling motivated instead of disappointed.

With the weigh in came news of this month's challenge which would net the winning team a few lbs off of their totals giving them a better chance at the competition. The announcement wasn't exactly… well received… by most of the competitors though. At first it was telling us that we had to complete a minimum amount of 5 different exercises and the first team to complete them all would be the winners. The amounts were about what someone in training for an upcoming event would maintain so they were all pretty lofty goals. That combined with the fact that some of the people in the competition were overweight and had joint issues led to some unhappy campers. Burpees are torture and should not imposed on people you like. After receiving some emails they changed the competition to whatever team had the highest total number of exercises at the end of the month would be the winners.

Once the announcement was accepted and circulated my team went into full on motivation mode sharing tips and issuing friendly challenges. One woman shared a squat challenge as something to aim for since squats were one of the counted exercises. I in turn challenged her to double up on so we could both really flex out some high numbers. The team aspect of this competition has been a huge help for me. Having a group with similar goals where you can offer help or a friendly push is so helpful when you're feeling under motivated. I have them to thank for a lot of my progress both personally and in the competition.

What I've learned.
Be careful when you set your goals. Goals are necessary and are a big help when you're trying to achieve something but beware of setting too high of a goal. The backlash of not achieving a goal can sometimes set you back further.
When you do feel disappointed make sure to embrace that feeling. Don't push it off because it won't go away. Let yourself feel it then think about improvements you can make. Use it to fuel a positive change and that disappointment might wind up helping!
Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork! Find a group that has the same goals in mind. You can play off of each other and the energy from a good team can be super helpful in your #weightlossjourney!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Snacks and first weighin

Late update incoming!

Two weeks down and my first weigh in has come and gone. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had lost 9.3 lbs!

It's hard to pick out any one thing to attribute my success so far to but if I had to pick my top reason I would say it would be my calorie counting. Counting calories has really made me evaluate what I eat and has made me realize that so many of my meals were far bigger than they needed to be. It also helped with snacking because I would look at my calories and think hmm, if I only need these many calories and I'm already at my limit, am I actually hungry? Most often the answer is no but for the few times that it isn't I have some small snacks to satisfy those little cravings.

I've also changed the way I buy food as well. Instead of buying one large item and getting a good deal I've instead been buying a greater number of smaller items. I know that I wind up spending more this way but I also know myself and that my own lack of self control would cause me to eat the entire stash. But, if I buy smaller portions I can eat a single grab a single portion, walk away, and then the cravings are easier to control.

Some people reading this have pointed out that counting calories doesn't mean you're eating better. You could eat nothing but pizza in small amounts and theoretically stay under your calorie limit but a diet of pizza alone would be extremely unhealthy. These people are 100% right and this is by no means a diet guide. This is my own personal experience and I visited a doctor to learn if there was anything I should be watching out for. In my case it was the sheer number of calories that was the greatest danger so that is my starting focus. Once that is under control I can work on other parts of my diet like lowering my salt intake for example.

I suppose the number one take way from this should be that before starting any changes in your diet you should visit a doctor to see if there's anything you need to keep an eye out for. Assuming that you're in the same situation as me and weight alone is your biggest hurdle then counting calories is the way to go!

What I've learned:
-Buy a greater number of smaller items to help fight snacking.
-My body sometimes snacks out of habit, keep an eye on those calories to know if your body needs the food or not.

#weightlossjourney

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Weight Loss Week One


Week one is down and I'm feeling super motivated!

Calorie counting has been a great help. I can't count the number of times where the simple activity of finding out how much that extra food would cost me then entering it into the ap on my phone has made me turn down seconds, or skip a section of the meal I know is particularly calorie laden. Just yesterday I was eating a chicken cesar salad and was surprised at how many calories are in one. The meal was also served with garlic bread which I love but as I sat and stared at it (guessing at how many calories it might contain) I realized I wasn't hungry to the point that I needed it. In fact, I saved some of the salad and the garlic bread for my girlfriend to have for lunch the next day!

Counting calories hasn't been my only hobby though, I've also started adding some cardio to my weekly routine. Cardio has been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember. It was something everyone had to do and since I was overweight, I had to do even more. For a while I managed to assuage my guilt over skipping cardio by doing weight lifting instead. Where cardio was boring, weight lifting was fun. Where cardio was long, weight lifting was quick. Where cardio seemed to do nothing short term, weight lifting gave noticeable results almost weekly. Now as I look back at my previous experience with cardio I realize that most of my issues stemmed from a lack of motivation and giving up too early.

I want to be healthy and make a change. I'm surrounding myself with positive people and activities while also putting an end to all the half truths or trades I've been doing with myself.

Speaking of activities, the company I work at is having a biggest loser competition! While I don't know much about the t.v. show this friendly competition is different. Anyone who was interested reported for weigh ins where their weight was kept 100% private. Then the keeper of the weights divided all the participants up into six teams. Each team has three months to lose weight and at the end one team will be picked as the victors! Being placed in a team is surprisingly motivational. I hadn't realized how much it would help to have people to talk to about the same issues I'm having. We've been swapping tips, issuing challenges, joking around, but most of all, motivating each other! You're not just exercising for you, you're working for the whole team. You won't just hurt yourself by eating that chocolate bar, you're affect the team. While that second one may seem a bit negative, sometimes that little extra thought has been enough to stop me from doing something I really shouldn't have.

All in all, this week has been an amazing one and I look forward to my team's first official weigh in next week!

What I've learned
Overestimate your food's calories and underestimate the ones you've burned. Nobody's perfect so we will all forget to enter food sometimes. It could be as small as big as an entire meal, or as small as the dipping sauce. Overestimating your calories can counteract those mistakes and even if you don't miss anything you'll be pleasantly surprised in the end.

Being part of a team rocks! From motivation to tips an advice, having a group of supportive people is enormously helpful. I know I've gushed about it already but I can't recommend it enough for anyone out there trying to lose weight

#weightlossjourney