3-1-07 235lbs 3-29-07 221lbs 3-30-07 221lbs 4-6-07 217lbs Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE! Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE!

South Beach Diet - Week #5

Following the South Beach Diet continues to be a learning experience.  I have to remind myself over and over that the primary goal is not the weight loss, but healthy living.  My desire is to stop my slide towards diabetes, to lower my chance of a heart attack or stroke, to be able to participate in the activities I enjoy well into my old age.  Weight loss is just part of moving towards the healthy lifestyle that I want to enjoy for years to come. 

This last week was full of potential pit falls and my own weak will.  On a few occasions I blew it and ate a few things I had been missing.  But in each of those cases I readjusted my diet the next day and got back on track.  A meeting provided for very few options and I was still able to manage.  I probably had a few more beers this week then I want to have a part of my routine, but I managed through it.  In the end I continued to drop weight and I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited at the progress.  Today I jumped on the scale to find myself at 206lbs.  That is 5 more ponds lost, and in 5 weeks I have lost 24 pounds.  A few people have noticed and I feel good about the way I look and the way I am begriming to feel.

Now I am sure that a lot of the weight loss occurred last night when I had to work night shift at the last minute.  I spent most of the night sweating, and while I drank lots of water I am sure that I weighted in less then I would have normally due to hydration.  We will see if I actually lose this next week.  While I won't hit 200lbs by my birthday on June 4th, I believe I will be below 205.  To me that is huge.  I promised my boys I would start rock climbing with them once I get below 200 lbs.  They are excited.  It is worth the Battle and I am glad I am fighting it.

Relationship Between Stress and Weight

I have been thinking a lot lately about the connection between weight management and stress.  I know that I can be a stress eater, meaning as the stress increases I tend to go for comfort food to help me get through it.  A bowl of ice cream, a snickers bar, a can of Pepsi have all been stand ins for that in the past.  What I am wondering is do those who are weight challenged more likely to experience stress, or when stress comes does it have a great negative impact on those of us who are heavier.

Each one of us handles stress in a different way, and we all  know that the same situation effects two different people in different ways as well.  A study by the Department of Public Health Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago found that in African American women found that stress directly affected their weight control efforts.  But does weight have an affect on stress.

Obviously exercise is used by many as a stress reducer.  Those who are struggling with weight often have a low activity level which in turn means that they are missing out on one key way of managing stress.  It might also be argued that those with weight challenges are at higher risk for high blood pressure, and studies suggest that high blood pressure and stress can go hand in hand.

The most obvious issue however is again what the study above mentioned.  Simply that many of us have developed bad habits when it comes to coping with stress and instead of trying to deal with it in a healthy way we start eating, or neglect exercise, or start drinking (alcohol has high carbs), which all impact weight loss or weight control. 

While we will never be able to remove all stress from our lives, we can learn to manage it, and work through stressful situations in a healthy way.  It is worth the battle

Google Pedometer

Now that I am trying to be more healthy by doing some exercising I find myself jumping into my car to figure out how far I went.  My problem is a lot of my walking or jogging takes place on trails my car can't go.  I also find that driving my car around to log mileage is not as practical with gas up above $3.35 a gallon.  So leave it to Google to use add a feature to their map program and create a Gmaps Pedometer.  You can record your route, have it determine your distance and calories burned.  You can save it, print it, share it, you name it.  It even calculates for an out and back route.  Now I can figure out where to go on a five mile walk or run.  If I am traveling I can figure out a route from my hotel before I even get there.  It is very cool and I am sure has many more uses than I am even thinking of.  Log on and give it a try.  Great job Google, this is a huge help in my Battle to Live Healthy

Diet Success or Failure?

I said I would report back regarding my success or failure related to my meeting and the navigation of the dieting nightmare.  As I anticipated the room was ripe with temptation.  The muffins, the Snickers Bars, Peanut Butter Cups, Pepsi, 7up.  To make it worse the bottled water that was present a month ago was completely missing, luckily I had brought in a big bottle of water with me.  Bringing a few of my own snacks was a great idea, but the meeting was so slow moving that the snacks were gone before I knew it.  I was able to avoid the candy bowls and the Muffins for breakfast.  As lunch approached I didn't know what to expect, and as we were told lunch had arrived we were greeted with boxes of Pizza.  If you know me you know Pizza is my weakness.  I looked to see if a salad was coming and sure enough there was one.  Lettuce, croutons, and cheese.  No chicken or tomatoes are anything that would be filling.  As I ate the salad I realized it would not be enough to fill me.  I decided to scrap the cheese and veggies off of a slice of pizza and leave the crust behind.  Finally the meeting ended and we were off for drinks.  I had planned on drinking a few glasses of wine, but I gave in to a few beers instead.  It was worth it.  As I headed home I thought, I made it, I navigated the maze called a work meeting.  Pulling up to the house I was hungry, and there was no quick fix in sight.  And then I saw it.  Cheese and chips, an old favorite.  And in a moment of weakness I blew it, I made a plate of Nacho's and consumed the calories I was trying to avoid.

Looking back this morning I realized I could look at yesterday a couple of ways.

  • It could have been much worse and wasn't
  • I have successfully avoided Nacho's for over a month
  • In the grand scheme of things this is the first little slip I have had since starting
  • What a loser I am for blowing it
  • How could my family have put those two items where I would see them and be tempted.

Instead I am choosing to look at yesterday as part of life.  In dieting or a healthy lifestyle there will be days when we all eat a little less than what is best for us.  The real measure of a person is what they do the day after they slip.  Do they continue on their slid or do they make the adjustment and get back to making good choices.  I am proud to say that today I was back on track and heading in the right direction.  Sundays weigh in will tell the story of who bad I slipped, but looking at the bigger picture my goal is to become as healthy as possible and this isn't just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  So as part of the battle, I am back on track.

Diet Obstacles

Today I will need to put all of my tricks to overcoming obstacles to work.  Once a month all of the facility managers come together for a regional meeting.  Looking at the tables you find a dieters, or healthy person's nightmare.  Walking in I will find the morning fare of Costco Muffins - High in Carbs, Fat, Calories, etc...  On the tables will be every kind of candy I crave.  The cooler will be packed with soft drinks.  Lunch will be provided and is out of my control to determine what is purchased.  Following work we usually head out to the local bar to unwind, catch up, and debrief over a few stiff drinks.  So how can a person navigate?

Here are a few things I am in the process of doing, and I'll report back tomorrow on how well it worked.

  • I have made myself a large breakfast of things I am able to eat, and made sure I am full.
  • I will be taking a few snacks with me like cheese sticks and peanuts, to help me avoid the candy.
  • I will push the candy bowls out of my reach and try to sit next to someone else who is trying to avoid the pitfalls.
  • I will do whatever it takes to get a salad ordered for lunch instead of pizza, pasta, etc...
  • I will grab a few bottles of water before I get to the meeting
  • I will limit myself to two glasses of red wine tonight and if dinner is involved order something that works off the menu.
  • I will tell myself all day, that the long term goal is more important than the short term gratification.

I was successful at last months meeting.  We will see how it goes this month.  I am a little more tired which sometimes leads to less will power.  It is worth the battle.

Weight Loss and Self Esteem

An interesting thing has been happening as I lose weight on my diet.  Not only is my blood pressure decreasing and my blood chemistry coming back in line, I have found I am feeling better about myself.  I always felt I had a good self esteem, but looking back I realize I was becoming disgusted with how I looked and felt it reflected on who I was.  I was also becoming increasingly frustrated about not being able to participate in activities that I normally found enjoyable, like soccer with my kids, running, and even hiking.

However, with the loss in weight I am finding my attitude about myself is changing.  I feel like I am able to be in control of things that have controlled me in the past.  I like looking in the mirror and seeing progress towards how I want to look.  Again, there are many benefits to losing a few pounds and this is just another on.  I am enjoying the side benefits of starting to live more healthy.

South Beach Diet Success - Week #4

5-20-07 211 lbsAnother week of my life style change and still moving in the right direction. And while the real purpose of my life style change is to avoid becoming diabetic, to reduce blood pressure without medication, and to live past 56 (when my Dad died), I find that the loss of weight is becoming almost an obsession.  Each morning I get up and head right to the scale.  My mood for the day is determined by what the dial reads (I hate the control that scale has on my life).  I spend a lot of time thinking about combinations of foods,their affect on digestion and fat retention.  Gone are the days of sitting down and just simply enjoying the taste of a steak or piece of Salmon. A glass of wine is no longer thought of as a Shiraz or Merlot, or talked about regarding its quality, instead it has become a Carb and calories.  Yet this is exactly what I enjoy.  Eating has become another process to gain control over or system to tweak and master.  So far I am figuring it out.

As of today when I jumped off the scale the dial stopped at 211lbs. That is another 3lbs in a week and 19lbs in four weeks. The only bummer is that my official weigh in day wasn't yesterday when I woke up and saw 210.  While 200 lbs is out of reach for my birthday on June 4th, 205 could be close. 

The cool thing is I am making progress, feel that I am eating very well, seeing visible results, and realizing the benefits of healthy choices in terms of blood pressure and blood sugars.  That is huge and very motivating.  Ok, the comments of people noticing is also motivating. This is so worth the battle.

Simple Ways to Increase Stress

At work we just completed a very stressful stretch of time.  In the Long Term Care industry we are evaluated constantly by a variety of outside agencies regarding our quality of care, documentation, floor practice, etc... Jobs are lost as a result of state surveys, fines are levied, and reputations made or destroyed.  Our annual survey was last week and the stress level went through the ceiling.  This process made me think about all the other thing in life that can cause stress so I thought I would share a few from my life, in hopes that I won't allow them to affect me so greatly the next time I face them.

  • Starting a conversation about home finances with your wife, 10 minutes before leaving for work
  • Being late to a social engagement
  • Paying Bills
  • A/R review meetings
  • Firing employees
  • Presenting to shareholders or owners
  • Trying to make everyone happy
  • Unannounced visits from your boss
  • Announced visits from your boss
  • Performance Evaluations
  • My Diet
  • The growing home repair list
  • Kids needs and wants
  • Buying gifts for my wife - I want to find the perfect one
  • Car repairs
  • Being pulled over by the Police
  • Subpoenas

This is just a small list of things that cause my blood pressure to go up.  However, I have found that with a plan ahead of time I am able to navigate the issue that causes stress, and minimize the impact.  Stress isn't necessarily bad, it usually is the alarm that tells me I need to get focused and get moving.  It actually is responsible for the success I have in life and at work.  But left uncontrolled it can rob you of living healthy over time.  It is just another battle I am facing, and on worth figuring out how to win.

Reducing Blood Pressure Without Medication

Once again I am seeing the results of living Healthy in a reduction in Blood Pressure. I have just finished my third week of a eating live style change (diet) that is focused on weight loss, and changing my blood chemistry.  As mentioned earlier I have high cholesterol, triglycerides, am pre-diabetic and my blood pressure has crept up beyond acceptable limits.  My goal through a change in my eating habits is to change each of these problem areas and bring them back into control.  In addition I have added mild forms of exercise back into my life.  Walking the dog, hikes in the mountains and along the local rivers.  I have cut way back on alcohol use and after three weeks am seeing the results. 

I take my blood pressure first thing in the morning to keep the time consistent, and also before the stress of the day starts to build.  In three weeks I have seen a drop in 15 points systolic and 10 points diastolic.  I am almost back in the acceptable range in both categories.  This is quicker and beyond what I expected.  I am living proof that eating right and staying active can make a difference.

My goal is to continue with the change in my eating habits indefinitely and to add intensity to my exercise over time.  What I am going for is something that I can sustain the rest of my life and right now working out at the gym 5 days a week is not sustainable, but brisk walks are.  It is worth the changes in diet and lifestyle to know I am becoming healthier day by day.  My 44th birthday is three weeks away.  My plan is that on my 45th birthday I will be 45 pounds lighter, that my blood chemistry will be in line, and that my blood pressure will be controlled naturally.  It is so worth the battle.

South Beach Week 3

Another week down and a few more pounds dropped.  This week allowed for the reintroduction of fruits and carbs back into the diet.  I have to admit, with the first two weeks calling foods high in sugar bad, it was almost scary to add them back in.  I have been very limited in how much fruit and bread I eat as I try to figure this part of the diet out.  I went mostly with a piece of 8 grain toast and red grapes.  The toughest part of the week was a party at our house last weekend. Chips, pasta salads, french fries, cheese cake, brownies, more chips, beer, wine, and hamburger buns, made it hard to find the vegetables and chicken. They were there but you had to look hard. Yes, I had a brownie, and a couple of chips.  The real problem was the beer, after two weeks of no alcohol I went overboard and really indulged in this area.  However, after my slip up I went right back on the diet and continued on.

I find that I love grilling food on the BBQ.  I just like the taste better.  Even veggies taste better that way. I am also getting smarter in how I store food before freezing.  I am anticipating nights that I will need to eat differently from the rest of my family and as a result am putting single steaks in a freezer bag so I don't have to thaw full slabs and then figure out how to deal with it.  My wife is also enjoying the fact that I am cooking and tries to have me cook for the entire clan a few times a week.  I am beginning to find it enjoyable. 

So, week three found me weighing in at 214lbs this morning. for my height of 5'11" that puts me at a Body Mass Index of 28.4. I am now officially overweight and not obese (not sure if that is something to cheer about or not).  That is a three pound drop from last week and 16 pounds overall. My birthday is June 4th, and while I won't be under 200lbs by then it sure would be great if I could get down to 205.  Anyway, I have been lax on any kind of exercise, so adding that back in should make a difference.  Although, adding muscle actually increases weight.  Still, I feel a lot better.  It is definitely worth the battle.

Lower Blood Pressure Through Food

Struggling with lowering High Blood Pressure?  The DASH approach might be for you.  DASH is a simple acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  I came across it recently in a Long Term Care Nursing Facility.  This approach has been shown to help prevent, or help reduce, High Blood Pressure.  It is very similar to what is found in the South Beach Diet I am on.  The DASH approach is big on vegetables and fruits, encourages low fat milk and cheeses, watches or limits foods regarding saturated fat and cholesterol, and stresses a reduction in salt and sodium. 

Dash for Health is a Web Site that will create menus and assist you in getting started on this diet.  The creators of the diet claim you will see reductions in your blood pressure in just 14 days.  It is worth taking a look at, if you are looking for natural ways to reduce your blood pressure.

Blood Pressure - What to Do

For years I watched my dad struggle with High Blood Pressure.  Expensive medications, attempts to be physically active, moodiness, where all apart of his life as a result of his elevated Blood Pressure. I remember as a kid vowing to never get it.

Fast forward 30 years.  I am now 43, and have been told by my doctor I have High Blood Pressure. Research would say that those who are over weight or obese, those who are inactive, those who have poor diets, high in salt and cholesterol, are at increased risk for High Blood Pressure.  Experts differ on what is High Blood Pressure.  Some say anything 0ver 120/88, yet others say 140/90.  All I know is that I have it.  So not wanting to go on medications I have been reading on what can reduce Blood Pressure, and while each of us respond differently to these ideas, they are worth trying"

  1. Lose that weight - I realized through reading that I fall into the obese range.  My first step to lose weight. Because I also was told I am pre-diabetic my diet needed to consider this as well.  I have landed on the South Beach Diet to get me going.
  2. Get Active - Not ready to train for a marathon yet, but I do realize I need to get moving.  I have started to walk and am increasing my pace.  My goal is 30 minutes 5 times a week.  When I get to 200lbs I will go back to running.
  3. Limit Alcohol - Everything I read says this can be an issue. A glass of wine each day is ok, but more than that your risking it.
  4. Watch the salt and other BP problem foods - Diet is taking care of that one.
  5. Monitor your Stress in Life - One reason I take walks is to reduce my stress and get where I can think.  I also have calming music on in my office on most days.
  6. Don't completely avoid medications- I would rather take pills than wind up in the hospital.

The reality is the list above is a part of Healthy Living.  I am finding that my Blood Pressure, Weight, Pre-diabetes, and other issues are really the by product of unhealthy choices I have made over the last few years.  Healthy Living is a battle worth fighting.

Dealing with Diet Setbacks

It was a gorgeous day Sunday.  Friends were coming over for a barbeque, the grill was ready to go, and the first guest to arrive comes in with a wonderful cheese cake for desert. Each guest to follow brought something equally off my diet like chips, rolls, you name it all the foods showed up calling my name.  Earlier in the day I had developed a plan on how to have just one beer, stay away from using a bun, stay with the veggies and not the chips. It was all going well until I noticed I was drinking beer number three and the party was still young.

As you can guess, with the resolve broken soon the chips and fries were on my plate, a brownie and who could pass on the cheese cake.  That night I felt like a loser, taken out of my game, I had blown it.  So now what?  My definition of a setback is something that impedes progress for a short time. I have determined the time for the setback is over and it its time to resume with the original plan of living healthy, so, back on the diet.

With South Beach you can move back and forth between phases.  I am going to jump back on the strict phase for a three to four days and keep moving ahead.  I am anticipating set backs along the way, however, I resolve to have a game plan to deal with them before they occur. And, if I should fail to stay with the plan, I commit to getting back on track the next day.  Again, I am talking about a change in lifestyle, one that corrects my blood chemistry (to the extent it can), that gets me off the obesity chart and even the overweight chart, that helps me lower my blood pressure, and results in a healthy life style.  It is worth the battle over set backs.

Weight Loss in Pictures

3-1-07 235lbs 3-29-07 221lbs 3-30-07 221lbs 4-6-07 217lbs

A week at a time

South Beach Diet - Week 2

I have just stepped off the scale at the end of week #2 on the South Beach Diet.  The first two weeks are the strict phase where you cut out the high carb, high sugar items. Translated that means no bread, cereal, fruit, candy, pop, alcohol, chips, tortillas, etc..... (you know, all the things that used to make up my diet). The purpose of this strict phase is to change you blood chemistry, change your metabolism, and to reduce cravings for the wrong types of food.  Obviously, the byproduct of those three things happening should show up in weight loss result and the claimed reduced inches around the middle. Those who know I am on the diet have asked a number of questions, so let me list a few answers here before giving the results from the week.

  • I am on the diet because my Doctor said I am pre-diabetic and need to make a change in my diet and lifestyle.  Also, my weight has crept up and in reading I find I am no longer overweight, but am considered obese at 230 pounds.
  • There have been two really tough days on the diet so far.  The first was during a day of work meetings in which the tables are full of candy bowls, there are soft drinks galore, lunch is provided, and we all go out for drinks afterwards.  The second tough day was yesterday following my son's soccer teams state cup victory.  While we celebrated with pizza and wine as a family, I ate a salad and drank water (those who know me, understand that I could live on pizza)
  • I am typically a stress eater - however, I have found that eating small snacks throughout the day has helped me control this some what.  I think I am grabbing a cheese stick, or a handful of peanuts instead of making a plate of nacho chips.
  • I am having to change a number of bad habits like..... not eating breakfast or lunch, and coming home and attacking the fridge for the next two hours at the end of the day, eating lots of bread to try and stop the hunger, eating as fast as possible, large portions, and going back for seconds.
  • I am no longer eating without thinking.  I find as we have been out to eat a few times I am really looking at the menu to see what is a healthy choice, and not just what sounds good. I am making my lunch before I go to work rather than being forced to run across the street at lunch to the McD's
  • You may laugh but No, it is not a diet, it is a life style I am trying to develop.

So what has happened this last week?  I started the week at 221 pounds, and this morning as I stepped of the scale I was at 217 pounds.  I weighed without any clothes, without eating anything yet this morning, and having just gone to the bathroom.  That is a 4 pound loss. Total weight lost to date is 13 pounds.  The loss should start slowing down as I introduce some carbs and fruits back into my diet.  My goal is to lose a total of 55 pounds over the year.  That is a simple one pound a week loss.  if it is faster than that you won't hear me complain.  It is worth the battle.

Winning at Weight Loss

I found myself getting a little discourage with my attempt to lose 45 pounds this last week.  Obviously I would like to see it melt off instantly, but as I have mentioned in earlier posts sustained weight loss usually occurs in those who have changed their lifestyle and reached their goal slowly over time.  So to get myself out of the funk I was in I started to ask myself the same questions I ask when I run into similar feelings with my plans/strategies at work.

  1. Is the goal specific - Have I really defined what I am shooting for?  In my case the goal is bigger then weight loss, it is about brining my metabolism back on line, changing my blood chemistry, and living healthy.
  2. Is the goal attainable - Can I really make it happen?  If the goal is to drop 20 pounds by tomorrow, you probably won't be successful.  If the goal is to reduce your calorie intake by 500 cal per day, now you might make it.  If it is to lose 1 pounds per week over over 45 weeks, you have a fighting chance.
  3. Does the goal allow for setbacks - In other words, what happens if you fall short? Do you give up and quit or does your goal allow for the ups and downs of life?  For me and weight loss there will be weeks of 1 pound loss followed by weeks of one pound gains.  Sometimes I might have a three pound loss and be back on track.  Perfection is not my goal.

If you are like me you can be easily discouraged and want to give up.  The trick is to see the long term goal and the outcome it will produce, recognizing that it is worth pursuing.  Short term focus, while necessary, has a tenancy to trip us up.  It is worth the battle.

Stress Reduction Tips

Everyone experiences stress at some level in their lives.  In many ways, stress is a red flag to tell us that something is effecting us.  These things are not always bad.  That butterfly feeling you have before you run in a track meet, or speak in front of a crowd, is alerting every part of your body that something big is going to happen, and to be ready.  The stress/anxiety you feel before meeting with your boss, tells your body it needs to be ready to think fast, impress, or maybe protect itself emotionally. For me lately, the stress has been related to my children, and it simply reminds me I need to keep my defenses up, and be ready to respond quickly to the issues they are bringing up. While stress isn't necessarily bad by itself, it can have a negative affect on us and those around us.  Let me list a few:

  • Headaches.
  • Muscle tension and pain.
  • Sleep Problems.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Chest pain.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Weight problems, up or down.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Eating more or less.
  • Withdrawing from others.
  • Neglecting your responsibilities.
  • Increasing alcohol and drug use.
  • Nervous habits (nail biting, pacing).
  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching.
  • Overdoing activities such as exercising or shopping.
  • Losing your temper.
  • Overreacting.
  • Moody and hypersensitive.
  • Restlessness and anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Anger and resentment.
  • Easily irritated .
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Lack of confidence.
  • Apathy.

    So what can you do when you start to see some of these things surface in your life?  Here is what I did this last week (I experienced almost every one of the above symptoms):

    • Took a long walk with my dog.
    • Listened to some great music - the actually make some cd's just to help reduce stress.
    • Did yard work.
    • Went to an Art Show.
    • Listened to the Wind in the Trees.
    • Went to the movies
    • Spent time talking with friends
    • Started a book
    • Exercised

    If a few of these sound like I was running away from the issues I was facing, you are right. But a short time focused on something else can free your mind up long enough to come back and deal with it from a fresh perspective.  The goal is not to run away or avoid, but to give your self a short break before coming back and dealing with it.  As you come up with your own list of stress relievers leave a comment of things you do.  It could help me and others.