Saturday, July 11, 2015

Long Overdue Update

This update is overdue... I can't believe I've gone so long without it! I'm happy to report that I've been working hard and pushing myself on a daily basis with very little setback. I'm incredibly proud of my progress so far. I visited my doctor yesterday for a weight loss checkup and to talk to her about an issue I'm having with my knee, and she was shocked at the amount of weight I've lost so far. As of this morning, however, I'm happy to say I've lost a grand total of 37 pounds since April. I've been eating a balanced diet, I've been pushing myself hard in terms of cardio, and over the past three weeks I've learned the value of working out with friends that certainly know what they're doing in terms of using weights and lifting. 

There hasn't really been a time in my life where I've taken weight loss seriously enough to maintain and even increase the momentum. I think back now at my regular meal from Taco Bell (1800 calories) and it actually disgusts me quite a bit. I think of all the grease, fat, sodium, and carbs consumed in one meal, it's quite overwhelming. The caloric makeup of that one meal is actually more than I even try to take in during a day. I certainly don't judge those who eat meals like that, as I was once there myself. I don't, however, want to go back to that. 

I remember driving home from school one night and thinking of how hungry I was. This was probably the second week after I began to change my eating habits, which in the past was generally as long as I could last before I would revert back to my old way of eating. Something inside me said, "You have groceries at home and there's no reason to stop." If I hadn't had that single moment, I probably would have reverted back and I wouldn't have been able to reap the benefit of my personal goal achievements for the past few months. 

Although I am proud of my accomplishments, I believe it is time for me to dedicate this blog more for helping others going forward instead of focusing on my own successes. With that being said, a friend shared a Pinterest recipe with me earlier for Blueberry Greek Yogurt Pops. This is an amazing and extremely flexible recipe that is both simple and fairly inexpensive. The only thing you may need to buy are Popsicle moulds and of course the ingredients you don't have on hand. I love simple and quick recipes like this, so I hope you do too. 

After plugging the recipe into MyFitnessPal and matching the ingredients properly, each pop is 127 calories. Personally, I have small moulds and I have to half the recipe, so make sure you use a tool such as MyFitnessPal to record the ingredients, log the recipe, and customize it to the Popsicle mould(s) you have.

Alright, that's enough for now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lakeshore Park Milestone

Yesterday I had just arrived home and put my work bag down when my phone rang. My friend Anthony, of whom I've known for many years, called to ask me to go to the park with him and walk. Anthony recently lost weight and looks like a completely different person, so when he tells me to work out with him, even if it's just walking, I can't say no. 

Lakeshore Park- Knoxville, Tennessee
Lakeshore park used to surround a mental institution not too many years ago, and when that institution was in place we used to go all the time. One lap around the park is 2.25 miles, and depending on which end you start on you have a huge hill to conquer. We decided years ago we would have a routine where we would walk down the hill as it's much easier to end the walk with than trying to climb up the hill. This time, however, he insisted on going the opposite direction. We began walking and within 10 minutes my ankles were stiff and tight, regardless of stretching. This is something I've dealt with for years that I could not figure out.  I've contacted two trainers and told two doctors without any real understanding or potential resolution. The pain typically begins to ache after a while and slow me down, and yesterday evening was no exception. It took us about 45 minutes, but we were able to completely walk around the entire 2.25 mile loop. I was exhausted and sweaty, but when we walked toward my car I asked him if he wanted to go around again.  Last time I was able to go around this park more than one time was back in 2009. We went around a second time, and even though it took us an hour and a half I still did it! 

That's 4.5 miles in a hilly park with uneven paths that I couldn't have done just a few weeks earlier and haven't been able to do since 2009.  In fact, I couldn't make it completely around once because I gave up and took a shortcut back to my car on at least two different occasions since. Let's hope I can keep up the momentum!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cruise Countdown

Something hit me today after my impromptu weigh-in that I hadn't realized. I have exactly 90 days from today until my cruise sets sail! That had me thinking about my three weeks and only 10 pound weight loss, and I kept wondering what I would weigh when I'm actually on the ship setting sail. I was on the elliptical when I had this epiphany that I could actually estimate how much I will weigh using simple math.  Duh! Here's what I figured:

Weight loss: 11 pounds
Days since journey began: 21
Days until cruise: 29
Current weight: 249

(weight loss / days since journey began) days until the cruise = estimated weight loss
=Current weight - estimated weight loss = estimated weight at the time of the cruise

Alright, so lets plug in some numbers (I hated math FYI):

11 pounds / 21 days = .52 pounds per day lost
(.52 pounds per day lost)90 days until the cruise = 46.8 estimated lost pounds
249 current weight - 46.8 pounds = 202.2 pounds when I set sail!

Wow... I haven't weighed under 240 pounds in two years.  I haven't weighed under 217 pounds since 2005!!! This is what will sustain my motivation to work harder and make more progress. If I could somehow weigh under 200 pounds for my cruise I can't even express how happy I would be. Under regular doctor supervision and guidance I will continue the journey with added fuel to the fire. 

I went on a cruise last September and I weighed at least 250 pounds when I went. I had fun, but I was incredibly self-conscious the entire time. I brushed it off, but the sinking feeling that I couldn't enjoy the activities everyone else did would lay heavy on me periodically. This particular vacation will be a seven-day cruise full of walking and adventure with friends, so I'm confident I will be able to keep up. 

Weigh-In Reflection and Smoothies

I decided to do an impromptu weigh-in this morning and discovered I've finally lost 11 pounds in 22 days. It would seem I'm on the right path, but I can't help but to flash back to my early 20's when I was able to simply cut down to diet sodas and just cut down on my horrible eating habits in order to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. It's a little discouraging for me personally and if you've ever been in a similar position you know what I'm talking about. I know it seems I should be grateful for the amount of weight loss I've accomplished so far, and you're right, but there's still that memory I'm trying to shake out of my head.

On the bright side, it has been three weeks and I'm going in the right direction. This week I'm going to try something new that I'm not used to- I'm going to wake up early and hit the gym instead of waiting until the evening and finding excuses not to go.  Let's just hope I don't begin finding reasons to not wake up early! Wednesday evenings I go to school after I work, so since that will be a13-hour day I've decided in advance that I'll be taking that day off, but in its place I'm going to work out one or more weekend days. 

I discovered an amazing app for my iPhone a couple of years ago that you may want to look into if you love smoothies. The app is called "Smoothies for Whole Living" and is produced by Martha Stewart Living.  When I downloaded it a couple years ago it was right after Christmas and just before New Year's resolutions were to kick in, so it was free. Word on the street is that it actually comes at a cost, but you won't be disappointed. They have a lot of great smoothie recipes that are extremely easy.  The only issue is that the smoothies all serve 2, so you'll have to half the recipes if you're a single person like me.

One thing I really love is the classification of the smoothies based on what you're looking to do.  Here are the classifications:

  • Essential
  • Meal in a Glass
  • Allergen-Free
  • Detox
  • Immunity Boosting
  • Weight Loss
If you have a gluten allergy, each smoothie lists a symbol to signify if it is gluten-free. It includes everything from how to make it, nutrition facts, tips on how to properly make a smoothie, tips on how to clean your blender, food glossary, basic search, and the ability to save your favorite smoothies for easier viewing later.  I highly suggest it, and if it's less than $5 you'll find it a worth-while investment. I urge you as well to branch out when it comes to smoothies.  You can seriously fit in some vegetables into your daily diet and in many cases you don't even realize there are vegetables inside. Be adventurous!! (Okay, they're just smoothies so I'll stop getting crazy...) Plus you'll find with the simple ingredients they're even simpler to make. Your only headache will be cleaning the blender. And if you're into the whole "protein powder" ordeal you can just add it to the smoothie and never even know it's in there.

Alright, I'm off to the gym for lower-body day. Wish me luck as it's my least favorite day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Grocery Shopping for One

One of my biggest struggles is trying to grocery shop while being single. It inevitably ends up being a trip of getting many perishable items, and although I do partake in some of the items through the week they inevitably go bad before I go through everything.  My next trip I ended up purchasing less and ended up running out of the perishable items that I need. it's almost an endless cycle of either too much or too little in regards to perishable items. 

Yesterday I purchased four grapefruit, two peaches, blueberries, asparagus, lettuce, tomato, bread, milk, and some bananas.  I purchased a ton of other things as well, but as far as fresh produce and perishable items go, that was it. I'm making a bet with myself that I will end up throwing out I have only gone through 1/4 loaf of bread from a previous trip that I'll need to throw out very soon and I'm getting frustrated!  I've frozen bread in the past, but when I finally need it and let it thaw I already have that mental preparation that the bread is going to be gross even though it's not.  This is all a true struggle for a single male!  Luckily I can still call my mother and she can give me some pointers, but when it comes to purchasing all I need for 1-2 weeks, I'm lacking in trying to figure it out for myself.

One thing I did in my previous attempt at weight loss was purchase ground turkey and make turkey patties to freeze for turkey burgers.  I've always loved turkey burgers, and although these are a bit different than what you'd get in a restaurant, they're still pretty good. I also bought to chicken breasts which I have no idea how to properly cook, but I'll wing it as I've done in the past and concoct something edible, I'm pretty sure. I also decided to splurge a little and get the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, which are worth 140 calories each (at right). I've had the snickerdoodle flavor before and they are absolutely amazing.  They're worth a try if you've never had them before.

During this whole process I've been trying to stick to 1500-1800 calories (according to my doctor guys need more calories). I've also gone back to the gym as well. Funny story about that... I actually go to one of the Planet Fitness locations. The first day I started going back to the gym I was actually a little nervous. All the stereotypes of going to a gym always made me feel a little self-conscious, even though Planet Fitness promotes inclusion and acceptance. When I first joined they gave us the typical key tag for your keyring. On the back there were large numbers that signified which home gym you belonged to as well as your member number. I remember last time I went I only had to let them know my member number when I walked in and they would send me on my way. On the first night I went back (in almost a year, mind you) I tried to act cool going through the front entrance and tell the guy my member number.  He looked thoroughly confused as a whipped out my key tag and showed him the back. He looked at me and said, "Oh... I think you need a new tag.  We have a bar code system now." He searched through a couple of drawers and seemed to be slightly in a panic as now a line was forming behind me.  He finally found a new tag, scanned it, pressed some buttons and handed it to me.  "How long ago did you all go to this system?" I asked. "Oh, about 6 months ago I think. It was before I started." He said, particularly quietly. I hung my head in shame and walked toward the gym as I could feel the heat from my embarrassment emanating from my forehead.

Oh well!  At least I'm starting to go back.  I've been going for a couple of weeks now but it appears life is getting in my way.  I think I'm going to start waking up early, which will abolish any reason I really have for not going. I'll let you know how that works out...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

First Steps: An Introduction

Hi!  I'm Justin.  I'm 29 years old, single, I own my own home and I have a dog.  I have a full-time job, I'm about to graduate from college with a BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. I love dogs, I do tons of volunteer work on a regular basis and I'm in charge of the corporate giving and volunteerism program at work. I have a lot of friends of whom all are responsible and self-sustaining. I thoroughly enjoy music, wine, nights at home with a book, and being on the go. I have amazing parents, I'm a proud uncle, and I'm the youngest of three siblings. I'm a huge car enthusiast (modern, not older cars) and I've owned four cars in the past eight years (individually, not together). I live in Knoxville, Tennessee and I love it- I couldn't see myself anywhere else at this point in my life. I've never even tried drugs in the past, so I have no desire to do that to myself.  I've also never smoked a day in my life, and I have no desire to ever start.

There are many factors about me that are positive, but I've been dealing with a not-so-secret lifelong struggle with my weight.  I was always a chubby kid growing up and it never seemed to bother me.  My diet has always consisted of whatever I could sneak from the refrigerator and back to my bedroom without being caught. I was a ninja at times with my sneak eating as a kid.  I knew my mom would be the first to get on to me if she saw me eating between meals, but if I didn't get caught it was almost a euphoric experience for me.  I remember feeling accomplished when I wouldn't get caught, and like most kids if you do something once and have a good experience then you'll repeat until the experience isn't as rewarding. I remember my parents had just gone to a Sam's Club and picked up a few grocery items for the house, including string cheese which was my favorite. I remember eating so much of it on one of my trips to sneak food that it made me ill.

I was never really made fun of when growing up in school. I was always under the radar with the same group of friends. I remained a bigger guy through high school until I graduated.  I did get a job at Target the last year I was in high school and began losing a little bit of weight.  That summer, however, as I was working more and incorporating diet sodas into my diet while eating (very) slightly better, the weight fell off at a nearly alarming rate. I remember going from 220 pounds down to 180 in what seemed like no time. I went into college feeling a little better about myself, but in my mind when I walked into the cafeteria everyone was looking at the 220 pound kid that didn't exist anymore. I began to intermittently work out with various friends and my roommate at the time. 

Along with other personal struggles at the time, I decided that I really need to just transfer colleges where I would not know anyone and have a fresh start with myself. This ended up being a mistake for me overall, as only having a few friends coupled with losing my grandmother caused me to balloon up to nearly 240 pounds. To this day I couldn't confidently tell you where the college gym was located or even if there was one. I was depressed and finally decided to move back home to Knoxville. Over the years since, I've lost and gained, but I've never been under 212 pounds. At my largest I was actually 260 pounds, and that was just two weeks ago.  

This blog will serve as my weight loss journal in hopes that it will help someone in a similar situation know that weight loss and maintenance will be possible. I have to preemptively say this as it hasn't happened yet, but I'm beginning to get a drive for it.  I'm currently sitting at 256.3 pounds as of yesterday morning, and I will be setting a goal of 170 for myself.

I will say this: I did go to my doctor to make sure I'm healthy enough for exercise and she did sign off on it. I encourage you to follow a doctor's guidance before beginning any weight loss or exercise journey. I will be making this journey by regularly exercising and a healthy diet because it's the right way to lose weight!