Weekly Digest 50 and 51

Wow….time flies! Here we are, putting week 50 and 51 in the books.  I find it difficult to grasp that I have been documenting my weeks, here with you, for almost a year now.  But I will tell you what, I am still thrilled to do it.  Every time I pick up the pen to scribble down ideas and thoughts I want to share with you, it makes me smile.  As one writes, no author is ever sure that what they have to say will make an impact. Sure, you hope for that, but you often end up wondering if anyone will actually read it, and if it will mean anything at all to them?  I have old friends – people I have known for many, many years, that really have no interest in what I have to say.  They don’t read this.  And I am ok with that.  I think, that’s the secret.  You have to write for yourself and for those that it might mean something to. (forgive the dangling participle)  Everyone else doesn’t matter in the least. 

However, for those of you reading this now, I humbly thank you for your time and valuable attention. It has been my privilege to have you read this. If even one of you has taken these words and used them to improve your life in the smallest way, then I am gratified and fulfilled. Thank you for a great year, and I look forward to bringing you more years of updates, recipes, insights, thoughts, musings, and bad jokes. Let’s get on with the weekly update…

Two Weeks Again.

As some of you may have noted I have taken a week off of posting and will combine two weeks into one.  Even I need a brief respite from the keyboard. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and I have a lot to talk about.  So without further ado – let’s get to the summary. 

The Summary:

To remind everyone, I have been dealing with one of the more stubborn plateaus I have encountered.  I believe I have sat at the exact same weight for a month.  I have tried a number of things to help break the plateau with no success. I keep struggling to eat cleaner and cleaner, but it many instances it feels like I am hitting my head against a wall. You exercise more, you burn more calories, you become more active, your body demands more fuel -and it craves carbs, you have to feed it and struggle to make the right choices ALL the time.  It’s not easy.  There is also the realistic balance you seek to achieve so you don’t drive yourself crazy.  It’s a vicious circle.  And THAT is the place where I have resided for months.  (The “vicious circle” part …not the “crazy” part.  Well ok, maybe a little of the “crazy” part too).    

So in week 50 my body finally gave in and it let me achieve a little bit of success.  I worked very hard and I ate very well.  I was pleased with nearly everything, and in the end I was rewarded with a 4 pound weight loss!  That brought me to 210 pounds lost total.  I was thrilled.  I mean …seriously THRILLED!  Breaking that plateau was brutally hard.  So the next week I ended up mysteriously hungry all week and consumed a few more calories …although not too bad.  I had a couple days at the 1700 mark. But in typical rebound fashion,  I regained 1 pound.  I guess that isn’t too bad – so it results in me trying, once-again, to rededicate myself to sticking to the plan and eating well. 

Eat or Exercise? 

I believe that my exercise levels have been great. I am not worried about that, nor am I inclined to look at that as a possible improvement place for attacking a plateau.  I go back to a phrase I heard from one of my friends.  I don’t recall if it was Linnea, Lani, Robin Belfry, or whomever – but it goes like this: “Your body is reshaped in the gym, but weight is lost in the kitchen.” I believe that is true.  I have noticed positive differences as a result of all the exercise – but I think when I am sticking to my dietary plan then I see the best results.  It’s not easy – everyone wants to reward themselves or enjoy the occasional treat.  And really, that’s both logical and mentally rewarding.  But if you have a body as unforgiving as mine, that treat comes with a cost. 

The Diet Hurdle:

food
Chicken on a bed of sauteed veggies with smoked southern quinoa and fresh cherry tomatoes.

To be perfectly honest, I have met varying levels of success with my diet over the last few weeks.  While I have had the best of intentions to continue eating super-clean and lean, I find it really difficult to do so with my activity levels being up.  I stay hungry much more often and it is far too easy to feed that with a spoonful of peanut butter or a few crackers or a hunk of cheese.  These things remain my downfall. While, calorically, I am staying in the window of acceptability, I feel like the content of peanut butter, crackers and cheese contain too much sugars, fats and wheat.  Things like that get burned off first instead of the fat I carry around. 

Alcohol fits in this category too.  While I don’t drink often, I find that when I do have a beer or a mixed drink, it likely puts a dent in my weekly progress to a disproportionate degree.  I don’t know that as a fact …it’s just a hunch.  So, this why I keep rededicating myself to trying to eat cleaner each week.  Even if it’s only a few of those bad things, sometime my body doesn’t seem so forgiving.  So it’s truly an internal struggle to make the best choices every time I am confronted by them.  I try to stay busy, and need to do a better job of having good snack alternatives available.  Planning is the major part of making that successful.         

Do you “deserve” a treat?

I want to pause a moment and discuss something else I have heard recently.  I have heard people using the phrase “I deserve…” for a justification for some action. It can be nearly anything to which they are referring, but that phrase always sounds like a cross between an excuse and a way in which they fool themselves. “I deserve this piece of cherry pie!”   Really?  Why?  Because you said no to cherry pie yesterday, and the day before?  That cherry pie will be there tomorrow and the next day and it never changes how much it impacts your diet. 

It’s not about “deserving” anything.  It’s just a way of fooling yourself into doing something otherwise on the fringes of what you know is the right course of action.  Simply put “I deserve” is weak sauce.  If you want a slice of pie because it tastes good, then have one …pay the price in your diet but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are owed that piece of cherry pie. It doesn’t work like that and you are just lying to yourself if you think it does.

Injury Update:

The injury situation is pretty good. The knee and leg are slowly healing. There is still some discoloration – although it is mild- and the knee retains a good sized bump below it.  It might takes some time for those to fully heal but they don’t seem to inhibit movement in any way.  So far, so good.

Events Over these two weeks:

The last two weeks have seen a series of some pretty fun events for me. Here’s some of the highlights: 

band
The band playing jazz in the chapel

Band Practice with Mom: 

Mom informed me that on every Monday morning there is a group of retired musicians that get together and play in the chapel of The Glenn. They play a mix of early jazz and big band numbers. The apartment has a very nice chapel and the facility coordinator is kind enough to allow these musicians to play there! 

This last Monday, when I usually visit mom, we went down to listen.  It was delightful to see so many residents there enjoying themselves!  The band itself is a loose-knit affair of folks that just like to play these old standards – and they clearly had a good time in the process!  It’s just another feature of the Glenn (assisted living community) that mom has embraced.  She has truly become a fixture there, and I love seeing her venture out and partake of all these opportunities.  Go mom go!  Carpe diem, friends. 

A Clean Car!

Car Wash:

A big moment for me this week was washing the Mini Cooper. I posted about this on social media, but it warrants mention here too.  I washed the car at home.  Doing all the washing and drying myself.  It’s probably the first time I have hand-washed a car since the late 1990’s.  Most often, I wouldn’t do it because it means a lot of work.  While I could tell you that “Oh I don’t have the time for that…” that would just be an excuse for “it’s too much work and I am too soft to do it.” So doing something as simple as washing my own car is great example of a non-scale victory.  It makes me feel great and it makes my car look great.  I, on the other hand, looked like a drenched water buffalo after it was over, but the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled. These are the things that mark progress. Each of us has our own examples. Take the time to congratulate yourself when you achieve them. 

Farmer’s Market:

I am having a wonderful time with the local small farmer’s market this year!  So many fresh veggies – and great opportunities to expand my cooking skills.  One more example of pushing my boundaries is undertaking a quest to learn how to cook unfamiliar vegetables. Growing up in the Midwest, we are often limited by the growing season and climate. So as a result my familiarity with vegetables was less broad than I would like.  Over the years I have expanded that to many vegetables available down south through my years in Kentucky and with the help of Lani. Now I have the opportunity to learn how to cook with other veggies brought to the farmer’s market by some of the Hmong growers!  I can’t wait to share what I learn! 

farmers market 1
Weekly farmers market bounty!
bike
Loaded down for the trip home from the market

Church:

Generally, I am a secular person by nature and organized religion doesn’t have much use to me.  However, my friend Stephanie invited me to attend a service at her community church.  At first, I was apprehensive because I haven’t really attended church since grade school.  I had no clue what to expect. But I know that faith plays a very significant role in Stephanie’s life and it is clearly a source of strength for her.  I was touched that she thought to share that portion of her life with me.  It was not lost on me that to invite and accept is an exercise in trust on both sides.  I respect that and am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about something that is so pivotal to my friend.  As it turns out, it was a very interesting and fun experience. 

Of particular interest to me were the pastor and his sermon – how he approached it, and the community philanthropy efforts of the church.  The sermon was a continuation of a series of sermons in which he was discussing the prophets and what the core message is from each of their books of the Bible.  In this particular sermon he as focusing on Ezekiel and his messages of embracing and acceptance of immigrants. I found this particular relevant given the current political climate.

One thing I really liked was that he prefaced his sermon by providing a timeline of when the various prophets were active and acknowledging that archaeological evidence contradicts the general understanding taken from biblical sources – and he acknowledged that the prophets, as authors, may have taken some literary license to make their point.  I found this a very enlightened way to look at the subject of the Bible.  As an art historian with a strong background in architecture and archaeology, I sincerely appreciated his position on the matter. 

The day at church, with a baptism at Lake Phalen afterwards.

Cool Community Philanthropy:

Another thing I appreciated was their community philanthropy focus.  The church has recently constructed a tiny home prototype for the purpose of creating a tiny home village for the homeless.  This will be located on land that the church already owns.  I am a huge fan of tiny homes and I think it is a great idea.  There has been some similar work out in the Pacific Northwest that has seen some success. The idea is not a new one, certainly. 

While it may not be a tiny home, I look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s American System Built Home project as a precedent.  These were homes that were built of uniform parts to make manufacture easy and mass production possible. What I really loved about it was that it was FLW’s mission to try to bring beautiful architecture to the average American.  In the same way as FLW acknowledged the hurdles of cost, so does the tiny home project. 

Further, the tiny home project seeks to employ those homeless person’s who live in the village in the further construction of tiny homes. It’s a great plan and I hope it sees significant success.

me with protein bar
Enjoying a protein bar

Amped Protein Bar Success:

The same company that makes my shakes and meal replacement bars also makes a protein bar.  In dealing with these prolonged plateaus, I have been trying to tweak my diet by adding some additional protein.  The easiest way to do this – and incidentally it is also the cleanest way, is to have one of these protein bars per day.  So I bought a box of 10 and started having one per day.  That adds about 28 grams of protein for the 230 calorie bar. That’s a pretty good source of clean protein. 

Since I managed to break the plateau, I think a combination of good eating habits, hard work, and a little boost from these bars made the difference.  I’m really bad about changing just one thing at a time in my process.  I have a tendency to tinker in an active and dynamic way.  It’s all a moving target and I make changes on the fly to try to hit my goals.

Exhausted Ride

me on bike ride
Completely spent after a tough ride

One of my rides this week was an 18 miler that was brutally difficult.  The heat index was through the roof. Temps and humidity levels well into the “tropical” category.  My legs lasted about 8 miles and then they were just dead.  I had to grind out the remaining miles with nothing in the tank.  I think I went through 5 liters of water that day just trying to rehydrate myself.  It was one of the more draining experiences I have had recently.

Intake:

Intake over the last two weeks has varied. In week 1 I was really good, focusing on eating well trying to limit my typical snacking downfalls.  You know what they are by this point: crackers, cheese, and peanut butter.  I think I only resorted to those on a couple days and kept my calories in check on all but one which got up to 1700.  Alcohol was minimal at 2 beers, 1 glass of wine and a couple gin and diet tonics.  This was the week that the plateau broke and I lost 4 lbs.  In week 2 the calories crept a little higher with more instances of dietary infractions.  If this were hockey I would have accumulated several 2 minute minor penalties for “inappropriate snacking”.

Chicken over light pasta and a side of roasted vegetables!

The usual suspects were present.  Peanut butter, the occasional cracker and cheese, a few beers and gin & diet tonics.  It’s not too bad -but I was also generally quite hungry tis week.  So calories were higher on average.  The spike point was 1700 again, but I also had two days at 1600.  Not coincidentally, I also rebounded by a pound this week.  Again, it’s that old saying “Weight is lost in the kitchen.”  I need to exercise more control and get back to actively substituting vegetables for the bad snacks.  With the farmer’s markets in operation now, there is no reason I can’t do that.  So yes …penalties were deserved this week.  Next week will feature my dad’s bday, so I already know I will have a day where I will get a 5 minute major penalty by comparison.  Keep your fingers crossed that aside from that I exercise the self-control to make healthy choices.

Exercise:

Well the past two weeks have been good.  A long time ago my doctor told me that 30 mins of cardio 3 times per week should be enough exercise to help me balance a normal diet.  So my normal goal every week is to exercise 5 times per week.  If that’s 30 mins on the elliptical, then fine. Or a bike ride, or lifting weights …etc.  It’s all good. Some weeks I exceed that.  Very rarely do I not hit 5 times per week as a minimum. 

The first week was a heavy biking week.  I logged an astonishing 88 miles.  For some serious bikers, that’s not too impressive, I am sure. But for me, that’s what I refer to as “a metric ass-load” of miles! I did no other exercise that week – I was just taking advantage of the good biking weather. That 88 miles was spread over 6 days.  So it was very productive and consistent. Week 2 was a little more varied. I biked 55 miles over 4 days.  I walked 3.3 miles on 1day and lastly did an elliptical session.  So that’s 6 out of 7 days for both weeks.  I am really pleased with that and I am not sure it could be much better.  So again, the exercise focus is good and it’s working well.  No complaints and the only adjustment I can see making is just adding some more variety.

Surprising Exercising:    

This area is one where I am having no problems sticking to my plan.  I am quite surprised by this actually. Exercise for exercises’ sake was never something I liked doing.  But now that I have lost some weight I am finding that exercise is easier and is even enjoyable.  “Easier” is also difficult to define.  I don’t mean that the exercise is physically easy – some of these 20 mile bike rides are, indeed, grueling.  Perhaps the best way to describe it is to say that “a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” Essentially, it is inertia.  The heavier I was, the more inertia I had to overcome in order to get myself moving. 

That inertia is less physical and more mental. It’s my fat brain being conscious of how ridiculous and even repulsive I may have looked trying to move my body around and exercise.  Believe it or not, you can see the judgement in people’s eyes.  To be fair, in some cases that can be in your head – but often there is a grain of truth behind it. And ultimately it serves as a serious deterrent to exercising.  That is what I call “My Fat Brain” at work.  At times, your fat brain can be your worst enemy. It thinks it is protecting you from embarrassment and humiliation.  But the truth is, by listening to that kind of internal logic you are only hurting yourself. 

Getting Over Hurdles:

bike path
The bike path on a good day for a ride!

The self-doubt and embarrassment mentioned above is something I needed to conquer.  If we are honest with ourselves, I think it is something that almost all obese people have to deal with. Finding the strength and internal fortitude to overcome that hurdle is where I had to start.  Eventually I came to terms with the fact I was doing this for me, and it doesn’t matter a Tinker’s Damn what anyone else thinks. I started by simply walking.  Eventually I moved to an elliptical and recumbent bike exerciser -and finally I progressed to a bike itself. It’s not easy to put yourself out there like that, open to ridicule and derision, but it doesn’t matter what they think. If they can’t see that you are putting in the hard work necessary to be the healthiest version of you possible, then perhaps they aren’t worth knowing? 

me and bike
Finishing a 15 miler!

Today, I love my bike and I love being outside and being active.  I crave the summer and the warm temps.  That is a drastic change for me.  And it’s all because I decided other people’s opinions don’t matter. This is for me.  When you make that decision then it’s about you.  Make the decision for you, and let them stare. Let them laugh and judge.  You’re stronger than that.  You have to be.  There is no other option that doesn’t result in you giving up and sitting on your couch.  So…knuckle up, buttercup.

My Take Away:

Well these two weeks have featured some hard work, some struggles, and some victories.  It’s an ongoing battle and I continue to do my best to win the day.  The biggest tweak I can do to help myself, at this point, is continuing to make efforts to clean up my diet and focus on making healthy snack choices.  Less peanut butter, crackers and cheese – more vegetables.  If I can do that – especially during the summer,I should see some great progress. Onward!

2 Responses

  • Robert magnuson

    Fascinating update.
    Perhaps projects such as this feed off themselves
    Have you given your bicycle a name yet?
    Have you given your project a name?
    Names lead to uniforms, you realize

    Good on you

    By the way what is your goal in all of this

    We all realize that 50 pounds would be as dangerous as it is unrealistic

    I am using your experience as testament in my own similar but far more modest project

    Right on!! Or should I say Right OFF

    Reply
    • Hey Bob!

      Thanks for your comments! I have taken to calling my bicycle the “Iron Horse”. It’s hardly a fleet speedy road bike, and more akin to a puffing steam locomotive …and it’s about as heavy as one!

      My weight loss project only has a name insofar as you see it on my website. This blog is the physical manifestation of my learnings through experience and it represents my effort to share that wisdom with anyone who cares to read my scribbling.

      My overall goal is simply becoming the healthiest version of myself that I can. While I realize that this is rather unspecified, I also don’t believe I CAN establish a hard long term goal in this kind of endeavor. There are simply too many unknowns, and establishing a given weight or an amount to lose is similarly unrealistic. Instead I tend to focus on small, short term goals. In financial parlance “if you look after the nickels and dimes, the dollars will look after themselves.” So as I progress through this weight loss journey, it’s one small step at a time. When I get to where I need to be, it should become self-evident.

      Success is relative, but I hope you find as much success and fulfillment from your project as I have from mine.

      Reply

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