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SEPTEMBER FITNESS JOURNAL
09.23.03 Eyes On Today

Boy, sometimes, when I'm not careful, I let my thinking slip and I find myself moaning that I still have 78 pounds to go.

78 pounds to go!!!!

Last night, when I was filling in my journal for the Sunday check-in, I was really taken aback when I decided to jot down the dates of all my weigh-ins, and then write in the losses. I've lost 22 pounds since August 4th. I know this won't be typical for much longer. I'll find plateaus. But man. I'm only three pounds away from being 25% complete on my goal.

What am I doing right?

*I'm reading my power poster at least twice a day. Usually once when I get to work, and then some time during the day. I *should* read it just as I wake up, but my 15 month old daughter usually finds a way to change that plan for me.

*I'm working out six days a week, walking seven, and moving briskly whenever I remember to do so. I'm really warming up to a four minute song in the morning, and I'm using two or more songs worth of time to stretch my body out after the 8MM. (This time frame usually ends up being closer to 30, but I'm getting up early enough for this to be okay).

*I'm eating almost completely on plan. (Friday nights are cheat nights. Otherwise, nothing bad, and even then, nothing *too* bad).

*There are no bad foods in the house. The worst we have are 3 Musketeer bars, which aside from some of the contents label (which can be icky), are really low fat and low cal considering.

*I am drinking more water than Aquaman.

*Food is fun. We're trying all kinds of new easy recipes. We're exploring lots of 5-item-or-less vegetarian recipe books for ideas, and then just adding appropriate protein and fat to be Jorge-approved.

*Reaching out. I use this list by checking in with people when I'm feeling bad. I call my buddy when I'm feeling really close to overeating. I'm stopping emotional eating before it happens by understanding why I'm hungry when I shouldn't be, challenging the feeling, and then finding other ways around it.

I am glad that I work hard at reminding myself about the positives. It's amazing how many negatives stick around in my body. One way I visualize this process is like this: For every pound I lose, that's one more piece of real estate where my Inner Critic can't take up space to attack me when I'm feeling weak.

Somehow, this is *very* comforting.  



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09.22.03 Working Out on Vacation

The exercises I do are fairly commutible to other locations. I use resistence instead of weights. I don't have any equipment required, except for maybe a sheet or blanket for lying on the floor for stretching. Nothing really to it. Just the same, I'm worried about the way I'll tackle working out next week.

One thing is, there will be other people there. I don't work out around people. I used to do the gym, but there was a sense that I was invisible. I pretended that nothing mattered, that I was invisible. It's not that easy in a small cabin with a couple I don't really know. I'm thinking I'll just try to get them in kind of quickly.

The plus side is that we'll be hiking in and around a national state park, so that's really cool. I haven't been to this park in a while, and I usually like climbing the various little mountains, but I think the trails that we can take Violette on are just as good, and will have nice things to see.

Woo.



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09.18.03 Sneaking a Peek.

Okay, I am supposed to weigh myself on Sundays, but I was looking in the mirror today and feeling a lot fatter than normal. Given that I'm losing weight, and/or the fact that I'm working out daily, this was a bit of a bummer. I'm not a big fan of stepping on the scale so often. Kat always says that weighing daily is like trying to look determine stock market trends. However, I just had to peek.

I lost 6 pounds from last Sunday. The reasons this is great are: 1.) I'm relieved that I didn't gain like I'd suspected. 2.) I'd gained a pound from the week prior, so losing that one plus five more was some handy housekeeping.

I'm happy, and proud, and all that. My only issue is that I wish I wasn't so weak to have to look at the scale. I think I'll get to that. No big deal, but it's a little eensy bit disheartening that I needed some extra validation.

Oh well. I'm doing well. Hope you are, too.




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09.16.03 Care and Feeding Of Your Muscles

The other  day, I did an exercise that really hurt. I pulled something slightly in the area just above my knees (my quadriceps, perhaps). It took about two days to feel better. The worst part of this experience was that it was my own fault, and I knew it immediately.

I should have stretched out before starting this workout. I almost always stretch, but because I worked out later in the day instead of first thing in the morning, I assumed that I was plenty stretched out for the work I intended to do. This was not the case. Stretching only takes five minutes or so, and it really helps to get your muscles ready for the work you're about to give them.

Secondly, I hadn't done well drinking water. I've recently brought my typical daily water consumption up to about 128 ounces, or one gallon. And yes, that means I have to go to the bathroom more often. However, one of the benefits of all that water is that my muscles are more supple, more flexible. My skin is, too. This means that I can stretch and move more fluidly when my muscles are properly hydrated. If this is scientifically inaccurate, you can't prove it by me. The more I stick to drinking all my water, the less pain I feel during and after working out.

Another thing I've learned recently about muscles is that they really like Vitamin C when you work them hard. I take a multi-vitamin that contains 100mg of Vitamin C (among other things). The rest of my C content comes from the fruits and vegetables I eat in my daily diet. I've found that this helps me feel better in the muscle department, too.

And why are muscles so important to me right now? Not for looking good, that's for sure. Muscles are the smooth-running systems that move my body around. They also double as efficient fat burning equipment, helping me perform my fitness and nutrition goals with more success. Muscles give me the extra strength to perform better aerobically, which helps my heart work itself out better, as well. I feel overall better about myself, inside and out, when I am working on my muscles.

Up until a few years ago, I used to follow a cycle. I'd go to a gym, work really hard for a short while, and explode with new muscle. All the while, I'd eat even more than I normally ate, knowing that my body would burn more than it usually did because I was working harder. Then, when I got bored of the gym, I'd quit, get all kinds of flab where that good muscle was before, and be left without the ability to burn all the excess energy my body was collecting to sustain the muscle. Result? I'd be even flabbier than when I started.

Now,  I'm just working on toning my muscles up, getting an overall level of fitness that coincides with my plans, and that is that. No more expensive gym fees and memberships. No more buying of weird products that were supposed to help me do X, Y, or Z. I'm quite happy working on things the way I am now, a little bit at a time, and with a focus on building good, strong, healthy, sustainable muscle.

To review the three tips I mentioned:

1.) Stretch before working out. It's important to give your muscles a chance to warm up before you put them to work. Around five minutes of work in the area you're going to exercise is helpful. Try to do something that also helps get the overall blood flow moving.

2.) Stay hydrated. If you can get yourself up to drinking 128 ounces of water a day, you'll have nothing to worry about. Yes, you might use something that will replace electrolytes, too, but that's for other matters. Give your muscles and skin the water they need to stay supple and flexible.

3.) Take a Vitamin C supplement after working out, preferably with breakfast. The current Recommended Daily Allowance is 100mg. Most pills give you 1000, and the benefits of that are questionable at present. Take at least a hundred.

Wow, I feel so article-writer-like. Hope it's helpful.




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09.15.03 Jogging? What the?

Saturday morning, we woke up at 5:18AM and trucked it down to the ocean. We watched the sun rise on the beach, watching the waves roll gently over each other. There were a few fishermen out, surfcasting or puttering out to deeper waters with their squat wooden boats. We saw a woman in the dunes doing Tai Chi while watching the sun struggle up from all the clouds.

During the walk, something happened and we ended up jogging. When the hell did we get the energy to jog? It was great! I'm not going to enroll in any races any time soon, and I'm not even going to jog very often. But hey, it was neat to be able to do it, and to not feel sore all over.

Later in the day, I did an exercise that hurt a muscle above my knee by a few inches, and that was unfortunate. I did it to myself, though. I didn't drink enough water throughout the day, and the more hydrated you are, the better your muscles react. Second, I didn't do a warm-up.

I've never been a big fan of warming up. I didn't think it mattered much. Turns out I was really wrong. I'm only now starting to feel better with that leg.

Anyhow, I gained a pound from last week to this. It was related to middle-of-the- night eating, something I'm still guilty of doing. I'd been eating these really great oatmeal cookies Kat made. They were really healthy. Only, I was eating four or five of them in the middle of the night, which just wasn't very helpful.

I'm over it. I'm learning more about myself, and I'm determined to quit my battle with the monster. It's his fault, you know. He has these fangs. When I throw the monster cookies to keep him from eating my family, he injects me with fat venom. Yes, that's right. Fat venom.

Anyhow, no more monster battles. He can eat my family. : )




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09.12.03 Mood Versus Hunger

I had a rough morning, written about here, and that's left me feeling really hungry. I want to eat everything. Then again, I also didn't have my 10:30 snack, because I was tied up in meetings and couldn't get to it. It's amazing what my state of mind, my self-esteem has to do with my hunger.

When I check in with my belly, I feel fine. I'm not starving or anything. I'm a little thirsty, but I've got my water right handy. No big deal.

But when I look at the way I *feel,* I'm really hungry. I want to eat everything. And why? Because I'm feeling bad about myself, and for some reason, food is the way I want to express that. I want to eat because it might be comforting. It's crazy. I'd ruin all that I'd been doing for the last six weeks, just because I feel a bit bad at myself.

I'm not going to do it. I reached out and spoke with my best friend. I also reminded myself of my progress, and I vented on here. That's enough for me to keep moving forward.

I hope you're well.



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09.11.03 Grilled Pizza

We had four friends over for dinner last night. What we served? Grilled pizza. This is one of the coolest things we make, because of all the fun involved. Here's how it goes:

I fire up the grill and throw three oiled balls of pizza dough onto the grate, stretching them out as wide as I can.  I give them a few minutes (five?) on one side, and just a minute on the other. We take them inside and top the more cooked side, so that when we put them back on the grill, the less-cooked side will get a chance to cook while the toppings cook a little and the cheese melts.

While I'm doing this, Kat is prepping all the toppings. Last night's menu was:

*marinara sauce with burgundy wine as a sauce
*fresh oregano from our container garden
*fresh tomatoes from our friends' garden
*black olives
*veggie burger crumbled up
*garlic
*hot banana peppers
*grilled veggies from the night before (peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes)
*grilled baby portabella mushrooms
*broccoli
*hot crushed pepper (the red kind)
*and heaps of cheese, if you were so inclined.

All the couples make up pizzas according to their own tastes. Beth's pizza looked the most attractive. Britt's pizza was the hottest (she accidentally tipped spices onto the pizza), and ours was, uh, weirdly lopsided due to a dough incident.

After about five more minutes on the grill, we served these babies up. Britt and Rob made a great salad to go with the pizza, and Britt whipped up a great dressing on the spot. I can't tell you what goes into it, because she made it faster than a human eye could follow. But it was tasty and healthy.

A meal is a celebration. When you dine with friends, you celebrate the coming together of different people under the same roof. You also celebrate the delicious food and its preparation. You celebrate the way life moves on, the way food is our bodies' fuel, and you can appreciate the way healthy food makes your body feel.

I really enjoyed our grilled pizza night.




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09.09.03 Sticking With a Program

Sometimes, it's daunting to realize that I'm on the sixth week of a 50 week program. I'm just over 10% finished. That's so close to the beginning that it makes me anxious. I don't want to quit a program. I don't want yet another bad experience, another failure. And yet, this is all just anxiety for nothing so far. I am doing this every day. I'm getting up every morning and doing my exercises. I'm drinking my water. I'm eating properly and staying aware of the life around me.

But man, it's scary that there's so much ahead of me. The only thing I'm doing to counter that feeling is to set mini goals, and also to keep looking at that weight number dropping every week. Other than that, I think I'd find this all too daunting.

But if *I* can stick with a program like this, if *I* can embrace this kind of thing, then lots of people can give this a try. I'm definitely at the low end of the scale of people who try out fitness programs and eating plans. I am skeptical of everything. You really have to drag me along. But man, this is working. I'm doing really well. And that just has to mean something to others who might think they're beyond hope.




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09.08.03 Check In at the end of  Week Five

I weighed myself and found myself down another four pounds this week. That means that, after five full weeks of work, I'm down 17 pounds. This is just a little over the typical two pounds a week business of sustainable weight loss. I think this will change as time goes on, slowing down to a more normal pace. For now, I won't complain much.

During this time, I've eaten better than I've ever eaten before. It was all a matter of portion size, what's actually ON my plate, and a few other tricks. Here's what I've been doing.

Every day right after I wake up: exercise. Nothing too rigorous, but the goals are to increase my heart rate, and to build muscle tone. I also take a walk after breakfast with Kat and Violette. If I can, I walk again during the work day.

Eating wise, I do this on the simplest level: I split my plate into quarters. I fill 1/2 of my plate with vegetables. I fill 1/4 with another carb (like a piece of bread or some sweet potatoes, or whatever). I fill the last 1/4 with protein (usually about 3 ounces of a meat, but can be 1 cup of beans, or 3 ounces of tofu, etc). I add 1 TBSP of fat (olive oil or ground flax seeds) to this meal in some way or another, as fat is an important way to tell my body that I'm not hungry.

I snack every three hours in between these meals. The snack should be 100 calories or less, and should have a little fat in it to keep my hunger in check. My most common snack for a long time was a little pudding cup and some walnuts (which are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids). I just got a loaf of bread from When Pigs Fly bakeries, and I'm going to have a slice of that for every snack for the next week.

What I do the most is work on my self-esteem, as this is the key to keeping me on my fitness plan. I'm really happy that I'm able to report nothing but success over the last five weeks. I'm sure that I'll have some down days, and that I'll slip off plan from time to time, but for now, for today, I'm doing just great.





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09.05.03 Nutrition and All That (A HUGE post)

I'm listening to an audio program called Eat Well for Optimum Health, by Dr. Andrew Weil, and I really enjoy the program. It's a little deeper into the medical and biochemical descriptions of nutrition than I'd normally follow, but I'm even doing all right with that, at least in this audio format. (I won't deny that my eyes have glazed over on occasion). It's amazing what I hear and then realize that I've never been taught this before. It makes me wonder just what the average person KNOWS about nutritional health, and what they take for granted based on the general social consensus.

For example, when I asked my doctor about weight loss, he suggested that I read The Zone, by Dr. Barry Sears. I knew a few other people who'd said good things about the program, so I thought, "Why not?" And I picked up the book. I read through the findings there, and it seemed to make sense. He categorized fats into good and bad fats, and he stressed portion sizes for this and that and the other thing. However, it was a very incomplete explanation of the information, and when I look at that program through the new information I've received from Dr. Weil's book, it's very different. I won't go into all the differences, but I'll share a few tidbits of what I've learned from Dr. Weil's book.

I feel like writing down a heap of what I've read, and it'll all be very incomplete, but at least it'll get your head going in the direction of what I've learned, and hopefully you'll pick up some reading of your own to see what you find out.

Carbs: In the world of carbohydrates, I learned about something called the glycemic index. First off, you have to know that your body really wants to burn something called glucose. Second, you should know that most carbs contain glucose in varying forms.  If you had a scale that says glucose is 100 and that's the fastest, cleanest-burning fuel, then the rest of most carbs fall below that number somewhere.

At first, you'd think, "I should eat things that are the fastest and cleanest burning," but that's not correct. You want something that burns slowly, because you want to have a steady supply of energy instead of something that spikes and drops. Make sense? (Please GOD read up about this stuff instead of just listening to me ramble. I'm only doing a fraction of the justice to this).

So, here's how it breaks down:
100 Glucose
77-100 High GI - meaning things that are a little too fast burning.
55-76 Moderate GI - meaning, not great, but fairly okay.
0-54 Low GI- great, because it's the slowest burning, and takes the longest time.

It's astounding what contributes to high GI and low GI, and not all of it makes sense right out of the gate, but I thought I'd give you a sample of where things land.

White bread: 70 - pretty high. Not so good for regulating your blood sugar.
Whole wheat bread: 69 - because it's milled, it's still not very good.
Baguette: 95 - Uh, bad.
Banana bread: 45 - weird, right? I can explain this, but not here.

Anyhow, it goes on like this. I have a link to a sampling of the GI, if you're interested in looking up other stuff.

Fats: I've known for a while that some fats are good and some fats are bad, but I didn't really understand all the whys and why nots. There's plenty to talk about regarding fat. In the audio program, Dr. Weil needed more than 90 minutes just to talk about fats. That's 1/6 of his book, from what I can tell. Because of that, I'm sure to do a piss-poor job of explaining it all here. Instead, I'll just give you the basics, and urge you to pick up his book for the rest.

Your body NEEDS fats. I had originally typed up all kinds of information on that here, but it's just too much to write about here. If I just tell you what I've learned, and you promise to go read other books, would that be okay? Great!

Olive oil should be the primary source of fat in your diet, due to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids. Another really good fat is found in salmon, sardines, and certain nuts like walnuts, and that's the Omega-3 fatty acids you read about all the time lately. Flax oil and flax seeds are also good sources of this. Of the two, I find flax oil too picky to deal with (can't expose it to heat or light, or it goes bad). Flax seeds are easier. You just grind them up and sprinkle them on your foods and in your salads.

Margarine is downright evil. Don't eat it. It's the devil. (I'm paraphrasing, but Dr. Weil was fairly specific about his opinions on margarine in general).

One should limit their consumption of beef fats because they are high in saturated fats and these leave lots of byproducts in the body that require a lot of processing to get rid of. By limit, I'm reading that one 3 ounce piece of beef a week would be plenty, and that you'd get your protein from other sources (but I'm on fats right now).

Even though salmon is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, you have to be sure you're getting wild Alaskan salmon and not farm raised, because most farm raised salmon doesn't get Omega-3 in its diet through algae sources. Instead, they are given feed without such specific nutrients. Thus, if you eat farm-raised salmon for their good Omega-3 fatty acids, you won't get them.

One more thing: people are always saying cholesterol is bad, but what they're saying is that things that raise your body's cholesterol is bad. Eggs, often thought of as the devil, are actually pretty darned good for you, and the yolks are where all the good micronutrients like vitamins are kept. The fats in free-range chicken eggs (as opposed to coop eggs) are another great source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein: Okay, I didn't learn a ton about protein that I didn't know. Red meats aren't great for you, bacon and hot dogs are evil, too. Chicken isn't the best, but it's okay. Fish is great. Eggs are okay. Soy is a god. Mmm, tofu. That's what I learned.

I'm sure there's tons more to learn, but I'm just going to leave it at that. I'm tired, even.




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09.04.03 Stress-related Eating

I eat when I'm stressed. There are a few reasons I do this. One is for comfort. I eat things because I feel like the contents of these foods will make me feel better when I get them in my body, or because they have some kind of emotional tie to my past that makes me feel better when I eat it. In the past, before I started watching what I was eating, my favorite comfort foods were: either boneless chicken tenders from the grocery store (*not* KFC), or a greek salad and fries. Now, I don't eat comfort foods. I try to find other means to express these needs.

Another reason I eat when I'm stressed is because if I eat something that I'm ashamed that I've eaten, I can then focus my bad feelings against that instead of against whatever's really making me feel bad. Because I can control my own personal shame and guilt, I can then "fix" this thing that I've created, and feel a false sense of satisfaction. And even if I can't fix it, I can overlay the stress I'm feeling with my own sense of guilt, which is "easier" to process. Neat, eh?

Finally, I eat when I'm stressed because I like to create false senses of power, and if I do this, I can say, "Hah! I did this because I wanted to." I think that's the one I use when I feel powerless over some other part of my life where I don't really have control. This is the one that needs my attention the most. I seem to like doing this one. I've been pretty good at it for the last forty days. That's something to praise.

I would've forgotten this, but someone just came over, and I was distracted. I like to eat when I feel deprived. When I feel like, "All THESE people are eating x ; Why can't *I* eat x?", that's another bad idea waiting to happen. I'll be doing that tonight. I'll be reminding myself all over the place why I'm doing what I'm doing.

So, if you see me tonight at the company party, you'll know what I'm thinking about while I'm not gorging on the treats.




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09.02.03

Man, is it kind of nerve-wracking to put my fitness journal up on line in a public place. I feel like I'm putting some of my deepest secrets up in an area where they can be used to make fun of me. But in other ways, this is a way of confronting the "bully." It's like saying, "This is what's going on, and I don't care if you know about it." Or something like that. My belly tingles a bit just thinking about putting this section up for people to read.

So why am I doing it? I've been doing a personal fitness program for the last month, and when I started, I just figured it'd be about losing some weight. As things move along, I find that it's about many things.  It's about self-esteem. It's about gaining energy that I can use to do other things I want to accomplish. This plan helps me to correct areas of my life that have been an issue for me. It also helps me reach out to others and try to share what I've learned. This last part is always tough, because people don't like preachers, and I don't really want to preach any more.

The reason I've put this journal and reference material up on my website is so it can be available to anyone who's interested in overall fitness, and/or weight loss programs, and so that I can keep people who are interested in this (and in my personal progress) current in a simple fashion. I'm not trying to boast that I have some great method for losing weight or eating, and that my way is better than your way. I'm not debating the science contained within the books I'm reading. I am just interested in this topic right now, and want to share what I'm doing and discovering on this page.

As of this writing, I have been doing this program for over 28 days. I've lost 13 pounds so far at an average rate of 2 pounds a week, which is (according to most texts I've read) a sustainable average that suggests long-term success with keeping the weight off. I have 87 more pounds to lose by August 04. I'm not very daunted by that number, because I've got mini goals of about 25 pounds per every x number of days. Those are much easier numbers to look at. I've got 12 lbs to lose by October 17th. That's easily achieved, if I stick to the plan.

In coming journal entries, I'll discuss the plan I'm following, and/or any other pertinent information that I'm reading about. For instance, I'm currently cuckoo over the Glycemic Index information I'm reading about in Dr. Andrew Weil's book, Eating Well for Optimum Health. I've been driving certain loved ones crazy talking about it of late. I'll get some of that need out here in this journal.

Until then, I wish you the very best.




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