Sunday, April 16, 2017

Survivor, thriver, pie-in-the-skyer; I'm a hiker-through-lifer

by Brian Schwarz

I’m just a poor boy
I’m a middle-aged man
I’m a boy who was pushed out of Boy Scouts or banned...
                For being gay
                For not having a present father
                For being a mamma’s boy
                For not being outdoorsy
                For being obliged by an older straight boy to service him while other boys watched
                For being another boy’s dad’s dream
I’m a 9/11 survivor
I’m in recovery from post trauma
I’m in recovery from borderline personality disorder
I constantly battle mental illness
I’m grieving the loss of my mother to cancer
I’m struggling with obesity
I’m a survivor of childhood obesity
I’m a survivor of bullying
And I’m a suicide survivor
But at the end of the day, I’m not just a survivor
I'm a full-life thriver
I’m a pie-in-the-skyer
And when all's said and done, I'm a hiker-through-lifer

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.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Time to get out of this rut and back into the gym

This blog started out as The Fitness 400 Project. I changed the name after losing a significant amount of weight and entering maintenance mode. Part of me didn't want to be reminded of the fact that I once topped the scales at more than 400 pounds. Part of me was embarassed to be reminded of the fact. But another part of me didn't want to give it a name for fear that I might return to that weight again.

That nightmare scenario is one I'm currently at severe risk of living. I went to the doctor last week after hurting once again my already chronically hurt ankle, and the number on the scale shook me. 392. Damn. How the mighty have fallen.

I felt mighty back when I was losing weight several years ago. I felt mighty not because of the numbers of the scale so much, though. I felt mighty because I was strong and sprite. I was working out, and I was hiking to great heights. I felt almost invincible entering my 40s after having really gone downhill in my late 30s.

Fortunately, I know what I need to do to get back on track. My excuses are nothing more than conditions in which I find myself, conditions that I can decide to get myself out of.

I'm doing that, little by little. And I'm making healthy steps in the foods that I eat, even if I haven't gotten back on track with my exercise.

That's where I find myself now. I have joined a gym nearby, but I haven't gone yet. Excuse. I've been making plenty of them in lieu of actually making a decision to go. But I'm going to stop all that now by setting a goal for myself that is easy enough to comply with.

Tomororrow, I will go to the gym to stretch and do six exercises. That's it. It will take all of 30 minutes, and I may do more if I'm up to it. But I'm giving myself permission to start slowly and get back into the groove at my own pace.

Further, my goal is to do at least 6 exercises for at least 30 minutes four days per week for the next two weeks. That's eight visits to the gym that I'm committing to. After that, we'll see how I feel.

Friday, May 27, 2016

How {NOT} to stay on track with your fit and healthy lifestyle

Most bloggers in the fitlife, fitspiration, and weight loss communities have posts telling you how to stay on track with your fit and healthy lifestyle. I probably do, too. Several in fact. These posts are written in the thick of it, when reading others' advice has turned you into a matra-spewing weight loss and fitspiration guru in your own mind. But how many have a how {NOT} to stay on track with your fit and healthy lifestyle post?

Here's mine.

How {NOT} to stay on track with your fit and healthy lifestyle

1. Do not control your portions sizes. Eyeball that shit and eat whatever the fuck you want.

2. Do not pack a lunch to go to work. Starve yourself all day, while you're at your highest level of activity and stress, and then make up for those calories when you get off work, driving from drive-thru to drive-thru until you've stuffed your bad thoughts deeply enough under the surface to survive walking through your own front door and engaging with friends or family.

3. Do not engage in elevated or intensified movement or activity, a.k.a. "exercise", for 20 minutes per day. This may cause you to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and inadvertently reduce your risk of heart attack, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, thus extending your life*.

4. Do not reduce or stop consumption of heavy, yeasty, and malty craft beers as a pastime, as this will also reduce your intake of added sugars. Also, you may want to start smoking pot, as this will help you increase your desire for highly sweetened, salty and fatty foods, which as a trifecta are your best friends in {NOT} staying on track with your fit and healthy lifestyle.

5. Most importantly, commit yourself to eating the cheapest food possible, so you can eat a lot more of it. Eat alone at a buffet restaurant at least a few times a week**. In most moderate-sized towns, you can find a steakhouse buffet, a Chinese buffet and at least one other ethnic buffet (ie. Indian, Italian, etc.). Make use of these resources to ensure your fit lifestyle will cease.


Thanks for reading this bullshit. Now go do some squats, get to bed early and wake up in time to get some physical activity in before work! (Don't forget to hydrate...and food is fuel, not your friend!)

*Be advised that extending one's lifespan is often a direct result of staying on track with a fit and healthy lifestyle.

**Eating alone all but ensures you will be able to eat much more than you would with others watching and judging you.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Grief may not be a choice, but bouncing back from it is!

Last year, I posted something about wanting to lose weight so I could "be healthy and capable for my parents as they grow older". The week after I wrote those words, my mother's four-year-long battle with cancer would take its terminal turn; She was diagnosed with a brain lesion, and a single radiation treatment would speed up her demise to take her from us much too suddenly; in less than two months she was gone.

Rock-hopping Strickler Knob (Even at 350 pounds, I'm still hiking!)
Her sickness led to a deep sadness I was unable to shake. In my grief, I stopped doing anything that gave me pleasure. I stopped hiking altogether, and hiking at that point was the only remaining vestige of my fitlife days, the days of clean eating, medball workouts and 6-day-a-week gym visits that led to my 165-pound weight loss only a few years prior.

My mother's death did threw me for a loop. My mantra of decisions controlling my destiny, not my conditions, went out the window. My choices were once again not only influenced but dictated by my emotions. I had completely reverted to the hopelessness I'd lived in for nearly a decade in the wake of my experience during 9/11.

I'm back to hiking - having gone on my first hike a few days after my mother passed away. It's been seven months and I've done more than 30 hikes, averaging around three per month. This summer I plan to up the days hiking, and I also plan on bringing back my medball and planking routine. The gym is not a priority now, although it's only because I haven't found a gym that suits me in the small town to which I've recently relocated.

For those of you who still subscribe to my blog even though I'm not the living inspiration I may have been to you when you first found me, during my "amazing transformation", I thank you. This is, after all, a journey. I've said that from the beginning, and so I'll say it again. Every day I wake up the decisions I make point me toward my future. And I continue to hold myself accountable.

My weight gain, which had been out of control throughout this winter, has been stabilized. Now is the time to begin to move in more intentional ways that will once again excite my metabolism and fuel my body in ways that promote that movement. I know muscle memory will kick in once I get started, but that's where I am now - setting a goal, making a decision, and acting on it.

I'll keep you posted...more to come.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Unlike trails I hike, my fit life journey's map is but outlined in my dreams

Yesterday, as I was transferring files from one computer to another, I spent about seven hours going through old photos and videos recounting my fit life journey. I hadn't looked at many of these in a few years, and I was a bit shocked at what I looked like when I was at my low weight of 255 pounds.

Before my fit life journey began at 420+ pounds, August 2009
After 18 months and 165-pound weight loss, at 255 pounds
I looked like a different person! The round face and body curves were all but gone. And even more, when I watched myself talk in vlogs (that were never posted) I remembered instantly what I was thinking and feeling (and not saying) in them. I was saying these happy things with my mouth, but as I would catch a glimpse of myself on the screen while recording a sort of sad wash would come over my demeanor, if only for a moment, as I realized I really wasn't connecting with the image my thinner self was projecting.

After nearly 165 pounds of weight loss, with mom and dad, August 2011
Healthy. Hopeful. But lost.

When I gained back 65 of the 165 pounds I'd fought so hard to lose, I once again recognized myself. And while I found comfort in this familiarity, the joy I'd felt when I was becoming that healthy and hopeful self faded as my round face and curvy body returned.

Over the past two years since the re-gain, I've struggled to get started with a new round of weight loss. I want to get down to 255 pounds again - and in fact I want to achieve my original goal of getting down to 225 pounds to completely overcome obesity once and for all - and I know how to do it. Getting started I can do. But sticking to a new regime for more than a month is proving incredibly difficult.

Tomorrow is my 44th birthday, and birthdays for me are always a good time to become motivated to make change. So here it is again. I'm setting a goal for myself to lose 65 pounds over the course of the next year. When I turn 45 I will celebrate my accomplishment. And when I am 50 I will celebrate five years of having kept the weight off.

To get started, I need to put a framework to my goals, reasons why accomplishing this weight loss is important to me. So here goes, these are the 10 things I want to result from losing weight and regaining the fitness I'd fought so hard to achieve a few years ago:
  1. I want to extend my probable years of mobility and stave off preventable disease by being kinder to my body.
  2. I want to wear clothes again - regular sized clothes, like XL, not 2XL or 3XL - without feeling like I'm pushing their limits.
  3. I want to go to the waterpark and not be turned away from the best waterslides because of my weight.
  4. I want to feel light on my feet and reduce the strain on my ankles, knees and hips.
  5. I want to be able to hike the highest mountains without having to slow down just to catch my breath.
  6. I want to ride my bike for miles and miles.
  7. I want to kayak without fear.
  8. I want to speed through the forest canopy on zip-lines with my friends.
  9. I want to be healthy and capable for my parents as they grow older
  10. I want to live a life that is not obsessed with filling my body but instead one that is happy because I'm fueling it.
Unlike the trails I hike, my fit life journey's map is but outlined in my dreams
Self image is a powerful contributor to motivation for anyone, and for me especially I think. Honestly, I don't like the way I look when I get under about 280 pounds. But I need to do it for reasons that transcend self image. Just as before, I will be blogging about my journey. I do this not only as a journal to myself so that I can keep track of my progress but also because I find I am energized spurred on toward my goals by the collective support weight loss and fit life community. This is crucial. As such, I want to thank any of you in advance for reading and encouraging me along the way. THANK YOU!!! 

NOTE: Hey #fitfam! Please follow me on Instagram @fitlifechronicles and Twitter @myfitlife2day. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tracking my way to success: This is why I use MyFitnessPal

Weight loss and healthy weight management can feel like such a chore if you're one of those, like me, who seeks out food whenever the going gets tough. My mantra throughout my 165-pound weight loss a few years ago was simple: Food is food, not your friend! So that's why I'm glad there's a tool like MyFitnessPal - it is THE quintessential food-is-fuel tool!

For me, MyFitnessPal is perfect, because I have four things I like to track as I'm working toward achieving weight loss success, and MyFitnessPal helps me track them all - for free!

First and foremost, I track my water intake. Hydration is the keystone to staying on track. I drink the typical eight glasses of water a day, but I drink five extra - one glass for every twenty pounds I need to lose. My goal is to lose 100 pounds in 2014, so I log 13 glasses of water every day.

Tracking portion size and calories can be a chore - not with MyFitnessPal!
Second, I track my portion size and calories. Portion size is tricky, but tracking healthy portions on MyFitnessPal is a snap. All the foods I eat are easily searchable, so I can log my food intake immediately and not have to worry about forgetting to do it later. I use the website as well as the app on my smartphone, and they sync my info so I don't have to!

Third, I track my exercise. My goal is 60 minutes of cardio per day and four days of strength training. Sometimes I conveniently forget whether yesterday was a workout day or not, but with MyFitnessPal I have a constant reminder and proof of what I did.

Tracking my exercise helps me make sure I give myself credit for hard work!
Finally, I track my measurements. Sure, I weigh myself and log that. But sometimes pounds don't come off as quickly as I'd like, but maybe I have a success in waist size. That's a win, too, and I want to be aware of how far I've come as I make my way toward my fitness goals.

If you're on a weight loss and fitness journey as I am, please feel free to friend me on MyFitnessPal so we co-motivate each other. I'm Fitness400. On Instagram I'm fitlifechronicles. And on Twitter I'm myfitlife2day.