Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Grief and coming to terms with the imperfect self

Coming to terms with the imperfect self is an important stage in grieving. One thing I've felt guilt about since mom died is pulling away from her physically as the cancer took hold, as she lost her hair, as she became more frail and sick.

I'll never forget when my mom got her first post-chemo wig. I almost couldn't recognize her. It was like she was wearing some kind of silly hat. But she was so happy to have hair again. She wanted me to love her new look. More importantly, she wanted me to see she was getting stronger, that she was still here, living life on her own terms!

Selfishly though, I struggled with a sort of dysphoria with her new appearance. Before, I had taken pictures of her and with her all the time. From that point on, I rarely took a selfie with her again, and any pictures I did take made me feel sadness rather than pride.

Looking back, I see things differently. Now I can focus not on the wig - not on the cancer - but on my mom's lasting beauty that shone from beneath the wig with brilliance. I can see her eyes sparkling as she touched up the wig with her fingers asking me how she looked. Yes, mom, you looked beautiful..truly beautiful...ratchet wig and all.

Anyway, I'm freeing myself today from this memory, from these feelings of shame I've been carrying for not being a better son. For not taking more pictures. For focusing on her slipping physical beauty instead of focusing on her inner beauty. For not seeing that she was still here, and being proud.

Today, I forgive myself. I'm not perfect. And that's okay. She knew that, and she loved me anyway.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Stalled weight loss progress can be so frustrating

The most frustrating part of trying to lose weight is questioning every little thing you do (and don't do), especially when you hit plateaus that never seem to end. That's where I am right now. Totally frustrated. I have tried every tip in the book, from cutting out all added sugars and the obvious reducing calories to increasing calories, having a cheat day, and exercising regularly. I'm still at 396 pounds, stuck after losing 30 pounds directly following a big lifestyle change - cutting out fast food entirely from my diet.

Today I go to the doctor, and within a week or so I'll have some stats come back from bloodwork. We'll see if there's some hidden info there. My endocrinologist wants to order some tests, too, so I'll give that a go. But I have a feeling I'm missing something. And I think what I'm missing is I'm not getting 10,000 steps a day. I'm stalling out at around 6,500. I have a gut feeling that getting my steps up to the 10,000-step recommended daily allowance will get my weight loss started again.

So that is my goal today. To get stepping. It's hard to do, especially on my day off when I try to Uber as much as I can and just chill out for the rest of the time watching random crap on Amazon Prime or YouTube. But I'm going to do it today, for sure. That's my goal and I'm sticking to it. What will tomorrow bring? I don't know. I'm doing this one step at a time.

Friday, July 13, 2018

5 Star Nutrition Body Composition Analysis - July 13, 2018

On the recommendation of a couple of online fitness vloggers, I checked out my local 5 Star Nutrition here at Stonefield Commons in Charlottesville. Justin was extremely helpful. The first thing he did was check my body composition with complete muscle-fat analysis, obesity analysis, and segmental lean analysis. Then he helped me pick out some supplements and a meal replacement to help me achieve my weight loss and muscle building goals.

Here are my stats as of today, July 13, 2018:

Basic Body Composition with Muscle-Fat and Obesity Analysis
Weight: 396 lbs
Percent Body Fat (PBF)" 48.2%
Total Body Water: 151.2 lbs
Skeletal Muscle Mass (SMM): 117.3 lbs
Dry Lean Mass: 54.2 lbs
Body Fat Mass: 191.2 lbs
Lean Body Mass 205.5
Body Mass Index (BMI) 52.3
Percent Body Fat: 48.2%

As for calorie intake, the analysis recommends that I eat 3100 calories per day in order to lose weight. My Basal Metabolic Rate (the rate at which my body burns calories while at rest) is 2383 calories. My Base calorie intake would then be 3600 calories per day. The recommendation is to have a 500-calorie deficit per day, which is how the recommended calorie intake was figured.

This being said, I'm not comfortable eating so many calories per day, as I worry it will delay weight loss. So I am going to aim for about 2500 calories per day with a 300-calorie increase on days I do a complete workout at the gym.

In order to achieve this goal, I'm also going to increase the amount of green vegetables, eat a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, especially prior to a workout, and focus on eating more lean proteins while limiting my intake of high fat proteins.

Overall, I had a great first visit at 5 Star Nutrition at Stonefield Commons in Charlottesville. I'll post more about my progress as I get into my new routines. I will be doing a follow up analysis at 5 Star Nutrition in two weeks. Check back in with me then! 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Not letting negative "scripts" undermine success

By Brian Schwarz

We all have them - random thoughts that come to mind in our worst moments. We wake up in the morning feeling like we should have worked out a bit harder or eaten better the day before. Our mind starts to generate scripts (usually from our past) to tell us how worthless we are, how we'll never amount to anything, and that we should just give up.

Tell me this doesn't ever happen to you and I'll call you a liar! The scripts may be different for you, but surely negativity comes to mind in even the most optimistic person. The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is the ability to turn those negative scripts around. The answer is to not ignore the script, which may be the first instinct. Rather, I find it's best to recognize the negative script for what it is, consider its source, and turn it into something useful.

Ever since I was a teenager, I have worked hard to get rid of the negative scripts that were part of my subconscious. I won't even waste space on them here on my blog because they're gone and I have no use for them anymore. Still, new negative scripts arise from time to time in the most unexpected places. Ironically, they pop up in my mind not when things are going bad, but when things are going well.

Even in success, beware of negative scripts!
In 2010, I was in the midst of major success, having lost more than 150 pounds on my way to overcoming obesity once and for all. When I was just 20 pounds to my goal, I would look at my pictures and say to myself, "you look too thin...your head is too big for your body", or "no matter how much weight you lose you will never look as good as someone who hadn't gained weight in the first place".

Because of these new negative scripts, which came when I was at the height of my success, I remember deciding to stop losing weight when I was just 20 pounds from my goal. I went into maintenance mode, and gained about 20 more pounds so I would feel "more like myself", and I kept the rest of the weight off for five years.

After my mom died, the negative scripts turned darker. While I never thought about taking my own life, I was constantly thinking that life wasn't worth living without my mother being in it. As a result, I ate my way into oblivion. Sure, I didn't take a gun to my temple or leap from a bridge, but in my own way I was killing myself, slowly, but surely.

Now that I'm back at my conscious efforts to eat healthy and get my weight in check, I still have to deflect negative thoughts every step of the way. I get angry at myself for having done this to myself - again! I recognize that even if I do everything perfectly, I'm looking at a good 18 months to two years before I'm back down to a weight that's anywhere near my goal. It feels overwhelming. My mind tells me "You can do it!" and "Just give up!" almost in the same instant.

Loving yourself unconditionally at any size is key to keeping a positive mindset
Well, I'm not going to give in to the negative scripts. Every time I look in the mirror I tell myself that I'm worth it. That I deserve to be comfortable in my own skin. That I deserve to be healthy. That I deserve to be loved. Even if it seems silly at times, it helps me stay strong by leaving little room for the negative scripts to work their way in. And even though I know I will still be challenged from time to time with thoughts that undermine my success, I'm aware of my own strength to achieve my goals if I only take one step at a time and continue to be kind to myself in both my actions AND my thoughts.

Seeking help to slam the breaks on bad behaviors

Previous attempts to get medical help with curbing my weight gain and lose the more than 150 pounds I'd gained since my mother's passing had led me only to the discovery of an even graver issue: I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. And that complicated things. Fortunately, my vitals were not so bad that I was at a heightened risk of stroke, so I was put on simple aspirin therapy and scheduled for an ablation. The problem was, my return to morbid obesity meant the ablation was less likely to be successful. So a medical solution to my weight gain became a priority.

On May 5, 2018, I finally met with a group of doctors at University of Virginia's Heart and Vascular Center, including not just a cardiologist but also an endocrinologist and a nutritionist. My weight at that appointment? 426. Shocking, I know. The doctors were on the verge of recommending gastric bypass or some surgical solution, but I told them I was confident I could lose the weight through diet and exercise - I just needed some sort of boost to get me started. The depression was still very real, and that had to be addressed first.

Photo taken early May, just before seeking help
The medical team prescribed Wellbutrin to curb my anxious eating, and I consulted with the nutritionist on how to deal with the fact that my job requires me to dine with resort guests at a buffet breakfast and lunch five days a week at work. I won't go into the lifestyle changes that resulted just yet, but I wanted to post something quick to let my readers know the good news that I have slammed the breaks on my escalating bad behavior. As a result, since that appointment in early may I have lost about 35 pounds.

I'll be posting more here on the MyFitLife2Day blog, and I'm Tweeting again @myfitlife2day, so if you're interested follow me there. It's debilitating when you have enormous weight loss success and then gain the weight - and then some - after years of maintenance. But I'm hoping my journey will prove that you can get knocked down and get back up again...not just once or twice but every single time it happens. (Check out this blog from the beginning to learn some of the back story of my "diet", and past successes, if you're interested.)

Photo taken early June, after losing first 25 lbs.
For some folks, failure is not an option. For others, it is a devastating end of the road. But for me, it is an opportunity to learn. I've learned a lot throughout my fitlife journey, and I have a feeling the lessons are far from over!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Shifting behavior after long period of stagnancy and atrophy

Paralyzed by anxiety of walking is how I’ve spent much of the past several months, if not year. That being said, the 1,365-step walk I just took with the dogs is a demonstration of progress. Any walking that gets me out the door for its own ends – and not to run errands or go to work or whatever – is a feat for me these days. So kudos me.

I swear I meant to train Smidge on outdoor peeing and pooping, but she’d spent so long with the piddle pad at her first home that I got lazy after the first few times of taking her on long walks with her only to pee and poop on the piddle pad the moment we got home. I have found that speed helps get her bowels working, thought. The faster I go and the more takeaways I do – meaning, not letting her sniff endlessly at every bush and sidewalk crag – the more likely she is to excavate and urinate. 

Good fun.

Last week, I got a free trial of HBO, and of course now, a week later, I’m balls deep in at least three of their series’. Maybe I’ll just get caught up this month and then cancel on the 11th of June. That sounds good. That’s when the busy season at work kicks off and we go back to a Sunday to Thursday schedule.

ACTION: Tomorrow morning I am aiming to walk the dogs in the loop around the building before leaving for work. This means I’ll have to begin our walk no later than 6 a.m. The only way to make this happen is to complete all laundry, food prep, and washing up before going to bed this evening.

NOTE: It's been a while since I blogged here. It's sad to report I've had some big setbacks and my way of thinking got stuck in a rut that led me to major backtracking with my healthy lifestyle. The struggle at this point is very real. If you choose to follow this blog, you may notice go back to the original title at some point - The Fitness 400 Project - because had I remembered the core trajectory of the project when started nearly a decade ago, was to overcome obesity and never again return to a 400-pound body. While I have gained significant weight, the aim of the project remains. I'm in charge of this body and its journey as long as I may live.

Friday, February 10, 2017

On-the-go gear is essential when prioritizing eating healthy

Fueling my body, not just feeding it, was key to my previous 165-pound weight loss. Half the battle to fueling rather than feeding is in the food prep, making sure my calories are good calories that keep me fueled throughout the day, even when I'm on the go.

This breakfast station facilitates morning fuel time
Last time, I learned portion control through strict adherance to Nutrisystem for a couple of months, until I had figured out the routine and researched plenty of homemade meal options to keep going on an 1,800-calorie diet for am extended period of time. Skipping Nutrisystem, this time I am heading into a healthy, portion-controled, calorie-restricted diet straight away.

To help me get back on track this time around, I have purchased some to-go salad and bento meal containers for packing lunch and snacks, to keep me fueled at work, at the gym or on the trail. I've also organized my cabinets into ready prep stations.

Tupperware is my go-to brand for this, for reasons I'll explain in a future post. But suffice to say the product mix suits the goals of my fit life today.