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My First Month Back

Well… it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, but the upshot is I’m eating a bit better, moving a bit more and I’ve managed to lose 7 pounds this month.

I’d be lying if I told you it was smooth sailing. I have yet to find that laser focus and steely resolve that I seemed to have the last time I got serious about losing weight. Not sure what is different now, but I’m having a rough go of it. I slip up often and I haven’t been able to erect the same kind of firewall between my emotions and my eating as I did the last time. I’m hanging in there though and I’m making progress.

It’s not the individual measures that matter, but the trend line. Have a look. The dots are my daily weigh-ins, the solid blue line is the trend.

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Speaking of trends, yesterday and today we’re a bit of a train wreck on the food front. My goal is to burn 1000 calories more than I eat. It sounds extreme, but when you consider that at my current weight and activity level I burn an average of 3000 calories a day, that means, most days, I can eat 2000 calories worth of food and still be on target.

Let me tell you, 2000 calories is plenty. You can indulge in a little treat every day if you want and still be under. My problem is, once I start moving in the wrong direction, I tend to lose focus for the day. Have a look at what happened yesterday…

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Lunch was obviously a lot heavier than usual, but afterwards, I still had a decent amount of calories left to get me through the day. A chicken salad for supper and some light, vegetable snacks would’ve brought me in for a safe landing. But some kind of switch gets flipped when I look at a 1000 calorie lunch and all of a sudden, it’s like the wheels come off.

Maybe this all seems trivial to you but, for me – like it or not – this is what I’m dealing with.  It’s a very fine line between a good day and a bad one, so I need to focus on not crossing it.

I have dinner plans on Monday that will probably take me over budget for the day, so I need to make sure to show restraint tomorrow and for the rest of next week. Wish me luck!

Onwards and upwards.

airplane

Hyperhidrosis

According to WikiPedia:

Hyperhidrosis is the condition characterized by abnormally increased sweating/perspiration,[1] in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature. It is associated with a significant quality of life burden from a psychological, emotional, and social perspective. As such, it has been referred to as the ‘silent handicap’.

I think that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s certainly not fun. I should know. I’ve suffered from it my whole life. In my case, it affects more or less my whole body but the head and face are the most uncomfortable.

Prior to my wedding, a few years ago, I went to a clinic to see about getting Botox injections to prevent some of the sweating so that I would be more comfortable and look better in pictures on the big day. They did a test on my face and concluded that they would have to inject so much Botox in my head and face that I would essentially be paralyzed. So, instead, the doctor at the clinic prescribed some medication that is relatively benign but has a know side effect that causes dryness. The idea is to take a low dose to control the sweating. In my case, it worked a bit, but it also caused my eyes and mouth to be dry and after a while it upset my stomach, so I stopped taking it.

After my big weight loss, the Hyperhidrosis subsided. I rarely had problems with my head and face and the problem was a lot less severe in other parts of my body. It was a HUGE and immediately quantifiable quality of life improvement.

Unfortunately, when the weight started coming back, my Hyperhidrosis symptoms started coming back too. I’m not as bad today as I was at my heaviest, but I’m not great either.

My weight loss efforts thus far have been a bit of a roller coaster. Overall I’m on the right track; eating fewer calories than I am burning, but the past two weekends have been rough.

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After each binge weekend, I need to work to bring myself back on track. Hopefully, remembering the relief of being mostly Hyperhidrosis free, will serve as a bit of motivation.

Onwards and upwards!

My First Week Back

It’s been seven days since I got back on the horse. I’ve lost 3.2 lbs, but more importantly I’m eating better and feeling better.

When I wrote my first “comeback” post on January 1, I said that I weighed 260 lbs. It turns out my real weight (as of the next morning) was actually 262.7. So here’s the graph of my drop so far:

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Nothing too earth shattering yet, but definitely a good start!

Ignore the “goal of losing” thing on that chart, that’s subject to change based on how I feel when I get there. The important part is making better food choices and trending in the right direction. I haven’t completely cut out junk, but I’m managing it and balancing it out with a good dose of veggies, fibre and protein.

Here’s what today looked like:

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Under budget despite giving in to a few cravings. Too much sugar and starch today for sure, but I’ve been good for most of the week and I’m okay calorically; without feeling hungry (which is key).

I’ve also got the FitBit fired up again and it’s motivating me to be more active. I actually had to order a new FitBit because my previous one was the subject of a recall and I couldn’t find its charger. So, I’ve only been tracking steps for a couple of days. But here’s today for example:

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It was a banner day as far as FitBit goals.

I’m feeling good. Onwards and upwards. See you next time!

evolution sucks

An Interesting Thought From an Old Friend

I recently got the following message from an old friend:

Hi Bill happy new year heard about your weight. I personally believe once we’ve been programmed before a certain age, our bodies are always like that. This is why winners on the biggest loser with abs and muscles go back to getting fat again because like we have muscle memory I believe we have fat memory. That’s just my opinion. but you did it once and you will be able to do it again.

It turns out there’s some science that backs that opinion. A study published in 2012 by Dr. Daniel Lee and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, showed that rats fed a high fat diet not only gained weight but also grew more neurons—four times as many, in fact—in a region of the hypothalamus area in the brain called the median eminence, than rats fed a regular diet. To see what these new neurons were doing, Dr Lee shut down neuron production in some mice by delivering a precisely targeted beam of radiation, like that used in cancer therapy, to the hypothalamus. This does not damage existing cells, but stops them from dividing further. Meanwhile, the mice carried on gorging on fat.

Three weeks later the results were striking. Those prevented from growing new neurons weighed 10% less and had just two-thirds the body fat of those not subjected to radiotherapy. They were more active and showed higher metabolic rates. The differences in weight persisted even 12 weeks after radiation treatment, indicating that if neurons in the median eminence are allowed to proliferate, this has lasting effects on murine metabolism.

A different study earlier the same year by Dr. David McNay at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, in Boston, investigated another bit of the hypothalamus, called the arcuate nucleus. Dr McNay compared neuron growth in mice fed either normal food (containing 20% fat) or a high-fat diet (60% fat). Unsurprisingly, after ten weeks, mice on the fatty diet were significantly heavier than those given normal grub. They had, however, also grown far fewer neurons in their arcuate nuclei. But when Dr McNay put the chubby mice on calorie restriction, the neuron production in their hypothalamus perked right back up.

The hypothalamus, then, seems to fine-tune the brain’s circuitry to use all available calories, turning up neuron growth in one region while dampening it elsewhere.

So, if we assume that the results seen in these studies also apply to humans, it means the fatter you are and the poorer your diet, the more your brain is “programmed” to stay that way.

We also know, as I eluded to in a previous post, that some people have brain chemistries that reward them more than others for eating unhealthy foods. This is an evolutionary leftover from the days when people had to literally risk their lives in order to eat. Obviously, if you got a big “high” from eating, you were more likely to risk death for something tasty.

On top of that, some people’s bodies are excellent at storing fat.

All of the above is a powerful combination. So, knowing that these circumstances likely describe my situation, I suppose I have two choices: accept that, by nature, I am likely to remain overweight, eat poorly, be unhealthy, and die young, or fight my nature and make better choices despite my instincts to the contrary.

Some days, acceptance seems like the less foolish route. Why go to war with myself every day? What kind of life is that? Maybe I die a little earlier. Maybe I can’t wear skinny jeans but so what?

These days, I hope the last part of my friend’s message is also true; I did it once, I’ll do it again. Being healthy feels way better than eating poorly and being fat. I like being able to get down on the floor and play with my kids without pain. I like the thought of being around and in good shape to play with my grand children one day. So, the battle continues…

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The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for entertainment purposes only.You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.Nothing contained on this website is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
wine and cheese

Aged Cheddar and a Little Pinot Noir

One thing I’ve learned is that losing weight doesn’t have to suck. I had a bit of wine and cheese today, in honour of my mother who’s in France at the moment. I also know from my last kick at this can that trying to write a full blog every day is not sustainable. So, here’s the plan; I’m going to use this space as a helping hand. When I start to slip, I’ll come back here and make a confession. When I need to vent, I’ll come here and wail a bit. Fair warning though, I’m not a gossip columnist so don’t expect anything too salatious.

Today, we ordered Chinese food for dinner. We had planned to do that on New Year’s day, but that fell through so today was the make-up. I knew it was coming, so I planned for it and ended the day under the wire.

Here’s the log for today. I drank more water than I logged, I’ve always been bad at logging water. Sodium was high, but that doesn’t bother me too much at this point. It’s early days. The focus is on staying under. Low sugar, low starch, high fibre, high protein.

What I ate January 2nd, 2015.
What I ate January 2nd, 2015.

See you next time the mood strikes.

wafer thin

I’m Fat.

This post was originally published on Medium.com

In May of 2012 I weighed 313 pounds. A year later I had lost almost 120 pounds and weighed a svelte 195. Today, January 1st 2015, I’m at 260 pounds. Happy New Year!

It’s the ultimate clihé, so I’m not even going to call it a New Year’s resolution but, obviously, I need to get back on track.

After being overweight my whole life and then, through a lot of hard work, managing to lose over a hundred pounds, I felt like a hero. Everyone who knew me showered me with praise. My confidence went through the roof. I had a ton of energy and I vowed never to go back. I was very committed to keeping the weight off and yet here I am.

Failing Feels Like Shit.

I failed to keep the weight off and now I have to start over. Failing feels like shit. I know all about the inspirational wisdom that says failure is important and should be embraced and seen as an opportunity for learning and improvement. Maybe all of that is true but first, failing feels like shit.

When I first started gaining the weight back, it felt like a temporary setback. I certainly know how to lose weight and I knew what I was doing wrong, so it was just a matter of re-focusing. That’s what I told myself as I kept packing on the pounds. I would try to get back on track and things would go well for a few days, but then I would slip again. The yo-yo went on for about 6 months until I finally just gave up.

Losing weight is hard. Keeping weight off is the devil. On the other hand, gaining weight is a cinch for me. I can gain 10 pounds in the blink of an eye. My body is very good at storing any excess calories as fat. My brain is also very easily triggered by food. The smell or even the thought of food sends an avalanche of dopamine right through me.

There was an article in Scientific American back in 1982 that claimed cocaine was no more addictive than potato chips. It turns out, the authors were right except they misunderstood their own conclusion. It’s not that cocaine isn’t that addictive, it’s that potato chips can be a drug.

We know now that sugar, in all its forms causes similar reactions in the brain as many highly addictive drugs. The difference is, humans also need sugar (glucose) to stay alive.

If you’re like me and your body stores fat easily and your brain is highly tuned to food, chances are you’re either overweight right now or you’re engaged in a daily battle with yourself. I fought the good fight for quite some time and it is exhausting.

I weighed myself every day. I logged every piece of food that went into my mouth and I said “no” a million times; not only to my own desires but to the endless offers of tempting treats from friends, family and strangers. Food offers are very common, whether it’s a good host offering you something delicious, a loving parent making sure you’re fed, or the cashier prompting you to upsize for pennies more.

When I was on the right track —  maintaining a healthy weight —  I never felt normal. I looked around at others who seemed to be perfectly capable of indulging and somehow not gaining weight and I felt like I was crazy. Paranoid. Ridiculous. But it was working.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

There’s a technique called the 5 whys that’s designed to help you get at the root cause of any problem. The idea is pretty simple; just keep asking why until you get to the heart of the matter. So, here goes:

I’m fat.

  • Why? Because I eat more calories than I burn.
  • Why? Because I stopped keeping track. I stopped weighing myself. I started eating the wrong foods again. Foods that make me hungry instead of making me full; high calorie, low nutrition, sugary, delicious, and dangeours as hell.
  • Why? Because it’s easier to make myself happy now than to work hard on my long term health and wellness. Also, I’m terrible at saying “no” to myself.
  • Why? Because, in a very bizarre contradiction, I am used to always getting whatever I want and yet I am very often unhappy.
  • Why? …here’s where I get stuck. I’m tempted to blame brain chemistry or my parents, but that feels like a cop out. I’ve had some psycho-analysis and the conclusion there was that I hate myself. I suffer from a form of negative narcissism. I suspect it would take more than 5 whys to get to the root cause of that one.

So, there you have it. The real root cause eludes me. Or perhaps it’s a lot more complicated than five whys can answer. So, am I doomed to just stay fat? Or worse yet, am I doomed to live out the proverbial “yo-yo” cliché? Lose it. Gain it back. Lose it again. Gain it back again. Shoot me in the fuckin’ head!

I don’t know. 

But here’s what I do know. I need to try again. My original motivation for losing weight was the birth of my daughter. I wanted to set a good example for her. I also wanted to give myself the best chance possible of being around and healthy to watch her grow up. My daughter turns four in March and I have a two-year-old son now too. If they can’t motivate me to get over whatever issues I have and fix this. I don’t know what can.

My kids earing chocolate. I see myself in them and it scares the shit out of me.

Day Zero

Back in 2012, when I started the weight loss, I also started a blog called “I Am Losing It”. The first entry was titled, “Day Zero”. Well, here I am back at Day Zero.

Here’s what I know works:

  1. Keep a journal (in my case a blog).
  2. Track calories in vs. calories out. Time to dust off the fitbit and sign back in to my LoseIt app.
  3. Weigh yourself daily. This is controvertial, but I believe you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Weighing myself helps keep the calorie counts accurate.
  4. More fibre and protein, less starch and sugar. I actually like salads and broccoli.
  5. Apples. Apples are sweet, tasty, crunchy and work for me as a substitute for junk.
  6. Water. Drink enough to pee clear. No diet pop, or juice or anything else. Just water, black coffee and Perrier.
  7. Never say never. There’s no such thing as a food I’ll never eat again. Just foods I’ll eat less frequently and in smaller portions.
  8. Every meal is an opportunity to make a good decision.
  9. The past is irrelevant. What matters is what I chose to do from now on.
  10. Remember that true happiness should last longer than a sugar high. Talk to someone who loves you instead of silently killing yourself with a candy bar.

I started writing this in the morning. It’s now the end of the day. I kept track of everything I ate today, so let’s take a look.

What I ate on January 1, 2015.

 

It’s far from perfect, but at least I stayed within the calorie budget. Tomorrow will be better.

Wish me luck!

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The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for entertainment purposes only.You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.Nothing contained on this website is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

One Year Later | 195.9 Lbs

Three years ago today, I got married. Ten months later, my daughter was born and exactly one year ago today I attended the kick-off meeting for a weight loss program at the Civic Hospital here in Ottawa.

Over the past year, I endured three months of disgusting, chalky “shakes” and heavy calorie restrictions. I battled hunger, temptation, cravings, fatigue, stress and temptation. I witnessed the birth of my second child; a beautiful baby boy. I moved into a bigger house. I learned about nutrition and health. I met some great people and I learned a lot about myself.

LoseIt - Badge - On CourseI’ve lost over 113 lbs and I’ve been maintaining my current weight for over 16 weeks. I still log everything I eat. I still weigh myself everyday and I still fight old habits and poor food choices. Sometimes, I lose.

This year has not been without failures. I intended to blog daily for the entire year, but faltered after 279 days and finally quit after about 296 days. My last blog entry ended with the phrase “Time to get back to work…” and that is what I have been doing ever since. Working not only on my career but on my life. Trying to be a healthier, happier husband and father. It’s not easy.

In the past month or so, sugar and salt have found their way back into my diet; more so than I would like. This has made sticking to even a very generous calorie budget, a challenge. Making the right food choices is a perpetual goal and I am still determined not to lose sight of it. I understand how people, who have lost a lost of weight, gain it back after a few years. This battle is exhausting and many days, it feels like giving up would just make my life so much easier. I won’t give up. I’ve come too far to turn back.

yorkville-1

I don’t exercise. I am more active, but I still have not found a way to bring regular, formal exercise into my life but, I did buy a bicycle. It’s a silver Norco Yorkville hybrid and I love it. I go for short rides when the weather co-operates. It’s been over a decade since I last rode a bike. It’s true what they say, you never forget.

I have found the courage to engage in more personal projects and attempt to push the boundaries of my abilities by working on building new businesses and carving out new business opportunities. I am busier and more tired than ever, but I am happier than ever too. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful family and to have taken control over my eating habits.

For those that enjoy graphs and data, here is a glimpse into what I have achieved and where I am at. I lost the first half of my 113 lbs in the first three months by drinking “shakes”. The second half came off over a five and a half month period by controlling calories and nutrients.

Lose It - Weight 1 year later

Other than 3 months of “shakes”, I’ve kept my nutrient balance exactly within the most widely recommended norms.

Lose It    Nutrients 1 year later

The fat content has been creeping up of late. I need to watch that.

My caloric intake has climbed steadily over the past year, but it seems that as long as I stay under 2500 calories on average, my weight stay pretty stable. When I eat enough fiber and protein and keep sugar and starch down, 2500 calories seems like a nearly infinite amount of food. When I give in to sugar and starch cravings (muffins, donuts, cakes) I feel like 2500 calories is not nearly enough.

Lose It    Food Calories 1 year later

 

Despite feeling wonderful and losing over 100 lbs, my BMI still says I’m overweight. Luckily, BMI is known to be a poor predictor of individual health.

Lose It    Body Mass Index year 1

 

Here’s what a typical day might look like:

Lose It    Typical log

 

That’s it for now. I’m not sure if or when I’ll post again. Thanks for following along. It’s been an amazing year!

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The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for entertainment purposes only.You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.Nothing contained on this website is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Day Two Hundred Ninety-Six | 196.4 Lbs

I weigh 1.2 lbs less than my last blog entry over a week ago. I’m about 1.4 lbs away from switching into maintenance mode.

I’ve managed to find myself with three jobs again. But only until the end of the month. So blogs will be few and far between. Last week started okay but culminated in the unmitigated disaster that was my daughter’s second birthday party. I went to town on pizza and cupcakes and annihilated my calorie budget. I planned it as a day of excess but I went further than I expected.

On balance though, I built enough of a solid framework and foundation for myself through disciplined eating and logging the rest of the time that these odd days of excess seem to have a very minimal effect on my progress. I kept my ratios of fat, protein and carbs all in the right balance. I did pretty well on fiber intake and I managed to lose weight over the course of the week. Sodium, hydration and sugar were not so great, but this week is looking much better on that front.

Here’s the summary from last week.

Lose It    Weekly Summary March 4

Time to get back to work…

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The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for entertainment purposes only.You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.Nothing contained on this website is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Day Two Hundred Eighty-Nine | 197.6 Lbs

I’m up half a pound since the last time I blogged. February and, so far March have not been good for blogging or healthy eating. But, I am maintaining and I am below 200 lbs. So, things could be far worse.

I will try to at least blog once a week and provide the weekly report for review. April will (hopefully) see a renaissance of the daily blog. For now, there is waaaaaaayy too much going on.

Okay, here’s what last week looked like:

Lose It    Weekly Summary Feb 25

The good news is my weight stayed under control, my carbs, fat and protein were all perfect, I had lots of fiber and my body fat % even dipped below 24%. That’s all fantastic and I give myself credit for achieving all of it. On the less than positive side, my sodium, sugar and water consumption were not where they should be. I have to rein in my sweets and my occasional fast food/pizza/burger indulgences. It’s a slippery slope.

More soon…

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The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for entertainment purposes only.You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.Nothing contained on this website is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Day Two Hundred Eighty-Five | 197.1 Lbs.

I’m down 5 lbs since my last blog entry; which was 6 days ago. It sounds impressive but the truth is that that weight was inflated because it was taken at night the day after a wedding. The real story is that on February 2nd I weighed 199.5 Lbs and exactly one month later, I’m down only 1.4 lbs. It’s a far cry from my 1 lb a week plan but it’s still progress. Slow. Steady. Progress.

I can’t say I’ve been a model citizen lately when it comes to food. In fact, I’ve been off the rails quite a bit. My blog frequency has dipped and my food choices are far from ideal. I am eating a lot of junk. The good news is, because I still watch my calories and I still eat a metric ton of fruits and my major meals are usually relatively healthy, I’ve managed to keep fats, proteins and carbs all in the right place, week over week. Where I have been faltering is on sugar, sodium and water consumption. My sugar intake keeps growing along with my salt intake and my hydration is just dismal.

I’m not getting much sleep either…. and then there’s stress. I have 2 jobs right now but no contract as of April 1; less than a month away. I hate the uncertainty of not knowing where/when my next paycheque will come from. If past performance is any indication, I’ll be fine and probably find myself with more work than I can handle. Still, this period is always the most stressful.

I’ve found myself at a McDonald’s drive through more than once in the last two weeks. Dinner tonight was pizza. Last night saw me eating an apple fritter and there are these damned Turtles chocolates in my pantry that call my name every minute. I’m over my calorie budget today and I was over yesterday too. Not good.

Still, I’m losing weight and keeping most of the numbers in check. I need to reclaim my motivation and power through uncertain times with a steady resolve. I don’t want to sacrifice my long-term health for short-term satisfaction and I’ve worked too hard and come too far to quit or fail.

A good friend helped me carry a new playhouse for my kids from Costco today. The thing is made of cedar and weighs a ton. Even my wife and sister-in-law had to pitch in so we could carry the thing from the car to the house. Crazy heavy. Thanks to all who helped and a special thanks to my friend for letting us use his SUV and roof rack (you know who you are).

Here’s what being 144 calories over budget looks like:

Lose It    Daily Summary - Mar 2

Highlights include, not one but, two Turtles (listed as “Candy, Original”) and a banana muffin. Tomorrow will be better.

More blog soon…

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The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for entertainment purposes only.You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.Nothing contained on this website is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.