Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Re-tooling daily diet and exercise plan to fit new teaching schedule

As a teacher, you often don't have tons of time to eat during the day, so keeping on point with a 6-daily-eating-events "diet", like the one I found success with to overcome super obesity and lose some 165 pounds, can be a challenge. It may take some fanagling, but it can be done.

I recently took a job teaching middle school special education. I have five classes a day, one prep period and a 30-minute lunch. But I think I've found a balanced eating and exercise schedule that allows me to get out and get moving doing some heart-healthy cardio even during school hours so I can focus my off-hours exercise on building muscle.


Here's my new schedule:

  • 7 a.m. Eat breakfast of oatmeal with prunes and banana + 1 boiled egg + 1 slice toast

  • 7:30 a.m. Walk to 1/4-mile to bus stop
  • 8:15 a.m. Walk 1/4 mile to school from the bus snack
  • 10:15 a.m. Eat yogurt with berries
  • 12 noon Drink meal-replacement protein shake + 1 large carrot
  • 12:05 to 12:25 Walk briskly for 20 minutes around school track or adjacent neighborhood
  • 12:25 p.m. Eat 1 banana + 2 stalks of celery + a couple of almonds and 1 walnut
  • 3:45 Eat ½ PBJ (natural unsalted peanut butter and no sugar added fruit spread on Ezekial 4:9 bread) 
  • 4 p.m. Resistance training at the gym or home
  • 6 p.m. Eat dinner of curry, quinoa and beans or something similar with protein lots of greens and assorted vegetables (at least two servings of squash for example). Alternate plan is Subway turkey or turkey/ham 6" sub on whole wheat bread.
  • 8 p.m. Evening snack of some Weight Watchers ice cream bar or other 120-150 baked chips or something.
This should give me between 1,800 to 2,000 calories. And more importantly, this plan keeps me eating all day - and at key times - so I can avoid crashes and be strong enough to avoid the temptation to indulge in things I've not planned and chosen in advance as triggered by stress or other shifts in emotion throughout the day.

As always, I'm open to hear your comments on my plan and to read about my journey from the beginning here on MyFitLife2Day. Find my other blogs at about.me/brian.schwarz.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Single again - time to regain focus on my weight loss journey!

From its inception, I have regarded this blog as a place for me to track my personal journey from super obesity to fitness. I often measure my progress in pounds lost, but for the past two years, I have been struggling to continue losing weight and even, at times, to maintain my weight loss. I would love to say that I share my ups and downs equally, but that would be a lie. Still, sometimes I realize I must force myself to come clean about where I am when I'm down so I can continue on with my journey leading with my decisions rather than being led by my conditions.

See, for about 18 months at the beginning of my weight loss journey I was super focused on numbers - I lost 165 pounds, going from 420 to 255, dealing only with a few plateaus but never really seeing the numbers on the scale go up once they had gone down. During most of that time I was single, and so it was easy, because I had only to focus on myself. But once I reached 276 pounds I found myself falling in love, and slowly my focus shifted from my journey to my journey with this other person, and I decided I would rather focus on building my relationship with this person rather than continue to focus on losing weight as my primary objective.

While we were happily together, I somehow gained weight, stabilizing at the 276 mark, or what I weighed when we met. But the relationship was not always certain. We broke up or were separated at two points along the way. And during both of these break-ups I was able to lose weight again, getting back down into the 260s both times. Then, each time we we got back together I found I gained the weight back, even getting into the 280s.

Recently, we broke up for the third and - probably - final time. I'm once again losing weight and have lost 10 pounds in the two weeks since our separation. I'm realizing that until I reach my goal weight  of 225 pounds it would be best if I avoid romantic entanglements that will get me off track. This being said, I now find myself at the point where I need to come up with a new game plan. As such, I'm going back to the beginning and focusing on the three basic points that helped me achieve my intermediate goals in the first place. These are:
  1. Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day (walking, hiking, medicine ball, HIIT, etc.).
  2. Drink at least 8, 8 oz. glasses of water per day - plus two extra glasses of water to properly hydrate for my current weight and environment (I live in the high desert).
  3. Control portion size, eat 6 small meals and consume no more than 2,000 calories per day.
Once these three points are under control I will add more to my regimen, but for now these will suffice in helping me to lose at least 10 pounds per month and maintain my good health. My goal is to reach my goal weight of 225 pounds by June 1, 2013.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

10 Things I Don’t Miss About Being Super Obese

This blog post is not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty blunt. As a disclaimer, you may not want to continue reading if you can’t handle the truth. I’m writing this primarily for me – to remember - because “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But I’m also writing it for anyone out there right now, reading this, who may be struggling with super obesity, so you can know that you CAN do it. You CAN overcome super obesity and live the life you deserve!

So without further ado, here they are: The 10 Things I Don’t Miss About Being Super Obese:
Before "Life Guy Brian", at 420 lbs
  1. Skin tags on my neck and underarms 
  2. Having a successful job interview on the phone turn into a nightmare when interviewed face-to-face 
  3. Not being able to walk more than a quarter mile without having to sit down 
  4. Being afraid to fly because I barely fit, needed a seat belt extension and was concerned I was squishing other passengers
  5. Having to use baby wipes instead of toilet paper 
  6. Having to use special tools and maneuvers in the shower to ensure my cleanliness 
  7. Not being able to pick things up off the floor and feeling compelled to ask people to get things for me because the effort to do even little tasks was taxing 
  8. Spending most of my spending money on cheap, fatty foods and sugary beverages 
  9. Having to shop for clothes in specialty stores; Not being able to shop for bargains or at thrift stores 
  10. Being sought after by “chubby chasers” instead of being pursued by someone who loves me for me
I could go on, but this is all the remembering I can handle right now. It’s tough looking back! But what’s tougher is thinking about all the people out there right now still in it, facing the same struggles I once did. I want to reach out to each and every one of you, give you a big hug and tell you that it can get better. You can lose weight and start living a healthy life.

In the words of the incredible, inspirational Tony Robbins, “It’s your decisions, not the conditions of your life that determine your destiny.” Think of it this way: The list above is nothing but conditions. But it was my decisions – to begin eating clean and getting progressively intensive regular exercise – that ultimately changed my life and led me to lose 165 pounds.

If that sounds simplistic, it’s because it really is that simple.

Contact me in the comment section below if you'd like to talk, or follow me, Life Guy Brian, on Twitter @MyFitLife2Day for daily motivation and inspiration. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Schooled on speed hiking via Millet France's experience

Before tonight, I'd never heard of the French outdoor outfitter Millet. With the tagline, Mountain by Experience, this company is no joke. I wouldn't even have heard of it if I weren't searching for information on "speed hiking" (which I wasn't even sure was a thing before Googling it). I'm glad that I did.

So, in fact speed hiking is a thing, and it's demonstrated beautifully in this video produced as a marketing piece for @Millet_France:



You may have figured from the trail descriptions and pictures I post on HikeyHikey - or through my tweets @MyFitLife2Day - that I'm very into hiking. But only recently did I consider trying to hike to reach the summit with the kind of speed demonstrated in the Millet France video.

So far I've hiked several times to elevations above 10,000 ft (once to above 11,000 ft), with hikes ranging from the Albuquerque's La Luz Trail  - 10 miles and 3,775 ft (1,151 m) elevation gain from the lower to upper tram terminals - to the Sandia's South Summit - 12 miles out-and-back with a near 10,000 ft foot summit and 3,400 ft (1,036 m) of elevation gain. There is only so much time in the day, and if I want to be able to do a 15 mile day hike to an amazing peak, speed hiking just may be the ticket!

It's funny how the universe works. I only researched speed hiking because I was recently called "speedy" by some guys I went hiking with here in Palm Springs. We took the South Lykken Trail from Ramon to the Skyline Trail (a.k.a. Cactus-to- Clouds) junction. I did book it, I suppose, but I took frequent breaks. My plan now is to do some further research on conditioning for speed hiking and begin practicing.

Perhaps Millet France can help outfit me - sponsor my blogs. I'm taking MyFitLife2Day, Man of MeritHikeyHikey, my YouTube channel and my HubPages on the road next year, and one of my spots will be Chamonix and the Mont Blanc trek. Conditioning for the trip would be a perfect tie-in for their brand and my blogs.

In any case, I'm going to begin training soon. There's a great trail near my house where I'm going to time myself and begin setting goals to increase my speed. I will definitely learn to fuel myself differently, but hydration will probably remain about the same. We'll see, and I'll be sure to report back!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Variety and balance are key to sustainable weight loss

Weight loss success is not formulaic. Or is it? I have successfully shed a bunch of weight three times in my life. Each time, it was a bit different, but when I look at the methods they all include a balance of an exercise lifestyle and a nutritious diet free from excess sugar and junk food. Looking back at my successes (and failures) I believe I finally understand that, in the end, variety and balance are key to sustainable weight loss.

This me and that me are one and the
same. Difference is, one undersands
the importance variety and balance.













The first time was during high school. I lost about 35 pounds when I moved to the D.C. suburbs and was living a primarily pedestrian existence. My step-mother cooked extremely healthy food, which I ate at home or packed most days instead of eating out. Plus, I played soccer and was forced to run at practice about 15 miles per week.

The second time was during a drop-out phase from college. The stress of balancing my studies, full-time work, coming out of the closet and dealing with the drama of my first romantic relationship led me to gain more than 100 pounds. I was able to drop 70 pounds in part by becoming vegetarian and using Barley Green as a daily supplement. I also got around on foot, mountain bike or, after moving to South Beach, by Rollerblading.

This most recent time I have also relied on a nutrient-rich balanced diet. And while I haven't been getting around as a lifestyle pedestrian so much these days, have infused hiking into my lifestyle. I have also been swimming, using the medicine ball and going to the gym in order to get the additional exercise I used to get without really trying. Tonight, I even broke out the Rollerblades once again.

In short, I suppose weight loss is a bit formulaic, but the elements that you plug into the formula can have great variety. Personally, I think variety is the spice of losing weight as an adult. And I know being conscious of the need to infuse variety into my routine will be key in helping me keep the weight off this time. Hiking is great, but what happens if life decides to play a cruel joke on me and move me back to flat land? Well, I that's where biking, rollerblading and commuting on foot will come into play. It's all about variety and balance after all! 

Looking for healthy options in the chain restaurant minefield

Being on the road there is just no way to stick to routine. Eating out becomes the norm, and even with all the choices of where to eat, there are surprisingly few healthy options. Sure, you can make do at any old place. But wouldn't it be nice if there were more restaurants that had more healthy options than unhealthy ones for a change?

Why can't fast food look more like this?
I've tried all the chains, and the only one where I can consistently eat what I would like to eat if I were making it myself is Panera Bread Company. The caveat with Panera is that as a side you get a choice of bread, chips or an apple. I would normally choose the apple, but the ones they have are usually gross looking - and besides, when I choose apples I always go organic since it's on that dirty dozen list. So I opt either for whole wheat bread at lunchtime, or nothing. (Choosing nothing is counter-intuitive for me, so it's a tough option, but do-able when I realize I don't need the extra calories from the bread.)

Panera's sister company, Paradise, is another decent option menu-wise. But the default side at Paradise is a cookie - a very delicious cookie I find it hard to say no to. As a result, I avoid Paradise these days.

Here in the Palm Springs area where I live I have found a few local, organic and vegetarian places I like, but I'm looking for chains to step up so eating out isn't like treading through a minefield of unhealthy options every time I'm on the road. If you have had success with chain restaurants serving up healthy options, please let me know! Leave a comment below or contact me through my splash page.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Confessions from my fit life: Ode to my fat skin ring

Ode to my fat skin ring
by Brian Schwarz

Like a constant unwanted companion
Echoing everything I don’t want to be
And am not
And never was
But somehow appeared to be
And acted like
That even after moving on
Stays with me to torture me
(or teach me?)
Reminding me
And making me wonder
Will you ever leave me alone?

***

NOTE: Sometimes I share things in this blog that I really wish I hadn't. As I prepare to hit the "publish" button now I have a feeling that this is one of those times. Still, this is part of my process, and this blog is about transparency, for my edification and (I hope) for the edification of others. I don't want to ever forget what I'm feeling tonight, as I sit here at my desk working on odds and ends and watching some Hulu TV. My entire body feels fit - chest up and waist down - but still I have this stubborn residue of a past life sitting as a ring at my mid-section. I can hide it when I stand, with good posture and clothes properly placed. But seated, it takes a gelatinous form that makes me feel as bad about my body today as I did when I weighed 420 pounds. I'm working hard to shrink it, and as I do I'm working even harder to stay positive and to learn to love my body as it is. It is a body that works. It's a body that works hard. And tomorrow it's a body that will take me on an amazing hike with a nearly 2,000-foot elevation gain, a hike that even folks without this mid-section yoke would be hard-pressed to accomplish. So I'm not ashamed to share this. In fact, I'm proud. And god-willing, this will be but a chapter of struggle in an otherwise whole book of triumph!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fit Magazine features MyFitLife2Day: "Journey to Fitness"

The Albuquerque Journal is featuring my blog, MyFitLife2Day, and telling a bit of my fit-life story in its October issue of its Fit Magazine supplement - on newsstands today!

Many of you may know that besides being a an educator, life coach and motivational speaker, I worked for many years at the start of my career as a journalist. In July, I decided to get back into professional writing (I figured why not make some income on all this research I've been doing as I continue to work on my book about overcoming super obesity). After I contacted the Albuquerque Journal to discuss doing some articles on weight loss, fitness and overcoming obesity (as well as hiking, of course), a Journal reporter apparently checked out my blog and became interested in doing an article with me as the subject. I said, "sure!"

The article is called "Journey to Fitness: Personal Life Coach Blogs About Weight Loss, Better Food Choices". Check it out!

Brian Schwarz is an award-winning journalist whose career was derailed by super obesity. He fought his way back to health - losing 165 pounds in the process of his "fit-life journey". A professional communicator by trade and activator by nature, Brian's personal mission is to inspire others live their fullest lives. Follow Brian on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Overcoming food addiction is my ongoing battle

Last week, I gave a motivation talk at the Desert Sunrise Speakers Toastmasters Club in Palm Desert, CA. In the speech, I come clean about experiencing hopelessness over a terrible addiction to sugary and fatty foods. I have learned to control this addiction through positive psychology, but every now and then, I must admit, the addiction rears its ugly head. I have decided today that I want to share a bit more of my story of addiction and ongoing recovery here on my blog, because I know that if I keep this very intimate struggle a secret and continue to play the role of the infinitely strong, optimistic and powerful one who rides life's ups while being unphased by life's downs, I am doing a disservice not only to myself but ultimately to my readers.

This summer, the addiction hit me full force as I was contemplating my recent career move to Southern California, which I realized then would ultimately have me leaving my partner behind for a time in Albuquerque as he completes his nutrition degree there. I've been doing great since the move, having lost 17 pounds in just one month through mindful eating and engaging in regular aerobic exercise and strength training. But tonight, it happened again, and I just ate more than 700 calories after dinner as my emotions caught up with me.

I have been feeling emotionally week for the past couple of days, as I am coping with news that my mother has just begun battling lung cancer all while I'm experiencing the ongoing difficulty of maintaining a long-distance relationship and seeking more fulfilling and financially stable employment. So tonight, even after eating a home-cooked dinner of hardy and delicious squash and eggplant stew over quinoa, I felt my emotional hunger kick in. I scavenged the house for sweets and took two heaping scoops of leftover cake frosting my housemate had left in the fridge. Then I set out for some frozen yogurt. And after that I ate two Reese's cups and some Starburst candies.

It is absolutely horrifying for me to be telling you this. But I am coming clean. This is something I do. I do it when I am feeling weak. And I do it out of view of anyone who knows me. In fact, I do it in stages so even strangers only see me enjoying a small sweet treat. No one sees the binge that takes place over the course of an hour or so and at several different stops along the way.

Okay, so there it is. I'm absolutely sweating as I sit here in my room, alone, in front of my computer about to hit the "publish" button on this post. But here goes nothing! And just so you know...I'm okay. This actually feels good to be putting it out there. I will follow up tomorrow with another post on my progress, and I will talk more about dealing with my addiction to sugary and fatty foods over the course of the coming months as I continue to battle obesity.

Well, I'm heading out to swim some laps right now. It's been about an hour since eating and I think my stomach is settled enough for me to get some exercise in the pool. I know it won't take away what I just did, but it will certainly make me sleep better. And it will re-set my mind so I can wake up tomorrow morning refreshed, not feeling guilty about the binge but ready to start anew as I continue on with my fit life journey.

As always, thanks for reading! If you don't already, follow me on Twitter @myfitlife2day. Also, check out my YouTube videos, starting with this one of my recent speech to local Toastmasters called "Hike Your Way to Health!"


Monday, October 1, 2012

Dream big but decide bigger!

Here's the funny thing I've noticed about goals since beginning my fitlife journey nearly four years ago: Only before you decide to pursue goals do they feel insurmountable.

It's like when I decided to start hiking and set a goal to climb Sandia - a mountain rising more than 5,000 feet above the City of Albuquerque, nestled the Rio Grande Valley. It may sound dismissive of the accomplishment, but to be honest, by simply making the decision to climb that mountain, the mountain became smaller in my mind.

It is the same with weight loss. Three years ago before I decided to lose weight, I figured losing even 100 pounds without medical intervention would be out of the question - and at more than twice my normal body weight I needed to lose 200. Absurd! Ridiculous! No Way!

But there I was, in the silence of my heart, filtering out all critics, including my own ever-present internal critic, making a decision to go for it. Almost immediately, once the decision had been made, there was no doubt in my mind. I was going to overcome obesity and more than halve my body weight come hell or high water!

When I met my partner Khizer two years ago, he spoke of running a marathon one day. By keeping his dreams in the "one day" category he was safely on this side of setting a goal. Running a marathon for someone who has only once in his memory run something like ten miles might seem impossible. It is this feeling of being made a fool by countering the impossibility and failing that prevents many from making decisions that could change their lives forever. But earlier this year Khizer made the decision to run in Albuquerque's Duke City Marathon, and suddenly the finish line to him seemed much closer to him than it had before. He's now training and has completed several long runs. He ran 20 miles on Saturday and told me of his training, "This really isn't as hard as I thought it would be." I'll be there as he accomplishes this seemingly insurmountable goal October 20. His dream, because of his decision to run, is about to become reality.

The moral of this story is this: Once you make a decision, your choices will fuel that decision. As inspirational speaker Tony Robbins says, "It is your decisions, and not the conditions of your life, that determine your destiny." It's so true! No matter your conditions or how far off your heart's desire may seem from where you are right now, you must believe that you are as close as your ability to make that decision to go for it allows you to be.

In other words, dream big. But when you're ready to make your move, decide bigger!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Progress pic at 269 pounds - back on track after year off

Every now and then I post progress pics, and the time has come again. On the day this pic was taken (two days ago to be exact) I weighed in at 269 pounds.

This is me at 269 pounds working out at the gym in the complex where I live
One month ago, I weighed 286.  Those who follow my blog may remember that I reached 255 pounds in July of 2011 after having lost 165 pounds in just a year and a half. I took a year off from mindful eating to let my body adjust to the rapid weight loss. I was still exercising and eating healthy, but I often splurged on desserts of frozen yogurt, cake, cookies and the occasional candy bar. As a result, I gained 31 pounds. 

I'm back on track now, and I've lost 17 pounds by focusing once again on mindful eating. I still have 42 pounds to go to beat obesity by being under 30 BMI. Currently, I'm just at about 35 BMI. When I started I was at 56 BMI.

To find out what I'm doing to lose the weight, you can check out previous posts here on my blog. In short, I'm eating healthy and getting lots of exercise - hiking, swimming, medicine ball and resistance training at the gym.

Thanks as always for reading. Please follow me on Twitter @MyFitLife2Day. Also, check out my hiking blog  HikeyHikey and my goals blog Man of Merit.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Cardio à la swimming and hiking power my fit-life routine

First of all, let me just say that swimming is amazing! I know, I've heard that said a million times before. And having been an avid recreational swimmer in my youth is probably what kept me from becoming obese back in the day despite my regular afternoon diet of chocolate donuts, Oreos and pudding.

I just recently started doing a regular swimming workout - I call it my "everyday cardrio" - and I have been working up from one set, to two, and finally today, three. Two weeks ago I could barely do five laps of the crawl stroke. Now, I'm doing 16.5 laps (or 33 lengths of the pool here in my complex) with ease! I mean really, it was nothing. Tomorrow I might do a fourth set or add a lap to each of the five strokes I do within each set.

Plus, I'm still hiking. And today I realized that doing my swim workout followed by an hour or so hike in some hilly terrain - a great local trail that's just two miles from my doorstep - was like adding steroids to my everyday cardio routine.

LOL - It makes me laugh thinking that I'm actually doing cardio on a regular basis and loving it. Hiking was my sneaky way of getting into cardio. I would hike for the views, I would tell myself. I knew it was cardio but I would have NEVER called it that. Now, I'm quite happy to admit. I hike. I swim. I do cardio. And I love it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Swimming - my new "everyday cardio"

Recently I've begun swimming about 10 laps or more in the pool at my complex here in the desert cities area of Southern California. I have been taking breaks at the end of every couple of laps, as needed, but I've been looking to kick it up a notch. Today, I came across an excellent routine I can do in sets. I can complete one full set without taking a break. So I'll plan on doing three sets per day as part of my new "everyday cardio" routine. Here it is:
  1. Front crawl - two lengths
  2. Back crawl - two lengths
  3. Sidestroke - two lengths
  4. Breaststroke - two lengths
  5. Elementary backstroke - three lengths
Two lengths in the pool I'm using is 33 yards; Three lengths is 50 yards. Doing one set of these today I felt like my lungs got an amazing workout. I would have stayed to do the full three sets, but it was the middle of the day and I was worried about overexposure to the sun. Tomorrow I will begin doing the three sets of this great swimming workout in the morning. I may also opt to do the workout in the evening from time to time, perhaps doing as many six sets per day.

PS - My current weight is 276 pounds. Let's check in with my weight a week from now to see what kind of impact this new addition to my daily exercise routine. I'm also walking three miles per day and trying to get into a regular habit again with my medicine ball and plank routine.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Decisions, choices and the lifelong journey of change

People are always impressed when I tell I have lost more than 150 pounds to overcome super obesity. I'm proud of what I have accomplished. The funny thing is, though, I always feel like I'm taking credit for something that's not that big of a deal. My story really boils down to this: a decision, fueled by choices, which are mere elements of my lifelong journey of change.

Losing the weight wasn't actually as hard as you may think. It's certainly not as hard as I thought it would be before I finally made the decision to get my weight in check. Overcoming super obesity, for me, was just a series of good choices. The hard part actually was deciding to start making them in the first place.

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with (the decision to take) a single step!
I think the mistake a lot of folks make when then try to lose weight is they focus only on those choices - the day to day of what to eat and what not to eat, which activity burns more calories, who to share my successes with because they will support me and who to refrain from talking to about my weight loss because it might breed envy and jealousy, or simply make them feel bad. But what about the decision?

The decision to lose weight is the absolute most important factor in permanent weight loss. It is not a matter of what choices you make along the way, because none of us is perfect, and we will each make a series of good choices and bad ones every day of our lives. If we focus on the choices we will celebrate good ones and beat ourselves up for bad ones. When we focus on the decision, however, we are able to see our choices as a complex tapestry and we can focus on the bigger picture - why we are choosing to lose weight in the first place.

This question of "why" is at the root of the decision. The choices I make along the way - the question of "how" - will work themselves out as I remain focused on my lifelong journey of change and as I move forward, resolving those "why" questions that made my decision finally click in the first place.

What was behind my decision to lose weight? Part of the answer can be found here, on a post called My Weight Loss Motivation from January 2010. In that post I talk about the things I want to do and be and a bit of my purpose. But the real "why" is that I wanted to begin treating myself - my body and my mind - with the respect I deserve. Before I made the decision I had tried unsuccessfully to lose weight and keep it off many times before. I finally realized that these failed attempts at weight loss were the result of me focusing on my choices and not on my decision.

When I wake up every morning, the first thing I do is remind myself of why I'm on this fit life journey. In other words, I am mindful of my journey. I give it the respect it deserves so I am sure to give myself the respect I deserve. This mindfulness ensures I will make choices that fuel my decision.

It's really that simple. Even so, I do want to thank you so much for your encouragement, and please continue to be thoroughly impressed by the fact that I have lost more than 150 pounds. But please, also, save some of that enthusiasm for later, when I have reached my weight loss goal of overcoming obesity once and for all.

PS - As of today, I have lost 10 pounds in the past two weeks. Current weight - 276. I have 21 pounds to lose to reach my low weight mark from June of last year (2011) and a total of 49 pounds to go until I am no longer considered obese. Thanks so much for reading and sharing my story with others on your social networks, Your participation inspires me! MyFitLife2Day is on Facebook. And please, follow me on Twitter @MyFitLife2Day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kefir Fruit Freezy - healthy snack that satisfies ice cream craving

Are you looking for a healthy snack that satisfies your craving for ice cream and is tastier than any frozen yogurt? Well look no further. Here is a healthy snack recipe that you will crave from now on!

This easy-to-make snack is healthy and satisfies your ice cream craving!
Ingredients

1/4 cup lowfat kefir
1/4 cup lowfat milk
1 raw walnut (crushed, unsalted)
2 raw almonds (whole, unsalted)
1 tsp. pumpkin seeds (shelled, unsalted)
1 tsp. sunflower seeds (shelled, unsalted)
1/2 cup frozen cherries and/or blueberries (or peaches, or strawberries, or whatever fruit you love!)

How to make

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Stir until the milk/kefir mix freezes onto the frozen fruit. Eat and enjoy!

By the way, I know you might be thinking - oh, that sounds good, but maybe I'll use fresh fruit instead. That's fine, but for the ice cream effect the freeze your fresh fruit first. You'll be glad you did!



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hike to overcome obesity - getting started is half the battle

Followers of this blog know that just three years ago I weighed 420 pounds. I hated the idea of doing cardio, especially on a treadmill at the gym, so I adopted two dogs to motivate me to get out of the house and walk. At first, it was a challenge to make even a tenth-of-a-mile loop in the dog park without losing steam. In time, I worked up to a dog-park mile. But short loop walks in the park soon became as tedious as the dreaded treadmill. So a little more than a year ago, I decided I would venture beyond the dog park to trails unknown.

The rescue dogs that rescued me; Remington and Diego in Cat Rock Park
Once I finally decided I wanted to try hiking, fear and anxiety set in. As much as I knew I wanted to hike, simply considering the actual hike got me nervous. My mind raced with doubt. Was I in good enough shape to handle a hike in the woods? What if I fell or simply was unable to handle the trail? How much water would I need? Would I need food? And if so, would eating extra food on the trail put the breaks on my weight loss? There were so many things to consider that apprehension almost stopped me in my tracks before I had even made any!

You won't know if you don't try

I had to weigh the pros and cons. What would I be missing out on if I didn't give it a go? What was I losing all this weight for if I wasn't going to get out and live life the way I'd always dreamed? This worry is ridiculous, I remember thinking. I had to stop being crippled by the fear that still surrounded me as a blanket even as I was shedding all those pounds!

I'd hiked when I was in high school and college, but 15 years and a 200 pound weight gain did a lot to change me. Part of the reason I moved to suburban Massachusetts was to get back into hiking. The week I arrived in the town of Weston, I learned there was a conservation area nearby called Cat Rock Park. The park had several trails and featured a beautiful pond as well as an abandoned ski slope with a meadow that ran the length of its 300-foot elevation gain. As if it couldn't get any better, the payoff of the hike would be the bald granite cap, the so-called Cat Rock, where one could see out over the park all the way to Cambridge Reservoir.

Miss out on this? No way! (Hobbs Pond, Cat Rock Park, Weston, MA)
It sounded like a dream - exactly what I was looking for. Still, without doing some due diligence it also sounded to me as if it were beyond my current capabilities. I decided to start by calling the local parks and recreation department to find out more. When I called, I learned that a local writer had painstakingly described each of the trails within the town's conservation lands. The hike I was considering was included in his book, Walks on Weston Conservation Land, published by the Weston Forest & Trail Association, and there was a map available, too.

I read the description of the trail and pored over the map to find out exactly how long the trail was and the exact elevation of Cat Rock. Once I knew what to expect I felt much more confident. I found that there were several loop trails, varying in length from less than a mile to up to five miles, so I planned my route accordingly. I also learned that the elevation gain was much gentler coming up the back side of Cat Rock hill, so I planned to take that route my first time round.

The hike I chose to start out on was perfect for me - it was what guide books call "easy". And while I didn't see it that way at the time, I soon found it to be true. I made that first hike. Then I did it again. Soon, after just a week walking Cat Rock Park I was seeking out more difficult routes in the nearby Middlesex Fells and Blue Hills. Two months later I was climbing Mount Monadnock, a mountain in southern New Hampshire featuring a 4-mile out-and-back hike with a 1,300 foot elevation gain. Knowledge melted my fears and, before I knew it, I was a hiker!

Thinking "I can do this, I can do this!" as I hike Mount Monadnock
If you're reading this thinking, "Wow, I wish I could overcome my fears and get out there and hike, too". Then follow these tips to get you started:

1. Know where you're getting into

The lesson here is, do your research. There are lots of free resources online, but the best information on your local trails can be found locally. Go online and find a detailed guide book for trails in your area. Or better yet, go to a local small bookstore to look for a guide book that might not be available online. Check with the local business, like outdoor outfitters, or the chamber of commerce. Call local government offices, like the parks and recreation or conservation management office, to see if they can provide you with detailed trail maps. If you are lucky enough to live near wilderness areas, check with your local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or U.S Forest Service office. Look for resources that include mileage as well as elevation gain. And seek out trail descriptions, too. Once you know the name of the trail just Google it. You'll find many resources, like my blog HikeyHikey!, that include stories and helpful hints from hikers who have already trod the same trail you're planning to take.

2. Assess your physical condition

Another thing to do before setting out on the trail is to consider your physical condition. Obese people can - and do - hike. So you don't have to reach a certain weight before you head out on the trail. More than anything, a strong core will help you no matter what your current weight. Strong legs are important, but the core helps you maintain balance and footing over rocky paths. Personally, I had been working out with a medicine ball for more than a year before I started hiking, so I was confident that I had the physical wherewithal to handle a two-mile hike with only moderate elevation gain. The key is to work your way up to the hike by walking progressively distant routes - and doing some strength training wouldn't hurt. For tips on getting started using the medicine ball, check out this MyFitLife2Day post on my basic medicine ball workout.

Before that first hike, I was also concerned I might not have the respiratory endurance to handle the hike I was planning. If you are worried that you haven't been doing lots of cardio, remember you can take frequent breaks when you're on the trail, and don't be afraid to do so. If the guide book tells you it's a one-hour hike, you might want to tag on an extra hour if you plan on taking your time. That's what I did - and I still do. Just plan accordingly and don't get caught out on the trail after dark. It's best to go early in the day when you're just getting started.

3. Get the gear you need

Knowing you have the right gear is just as important as knowledge of what you're getting into and what you're capable of. For most hikes of less than five miles, low-top trail shoes are sufficient. You don't want to use your regular running shoes or cross trainers - you need something with grip, especially if you live in an area where trails are rock-strewn, which most of the good trails are. And if you're more 75 pounds overweight, I would recommend a hiking boot with more ankle support and stiff soles. You'll also want a backpack that distributes the weight of what you're carrying well. It should ride with most of the weight on your hips and fit snugly to your back. This will help you maintain balance and reduce the risk of back injury.

4. Hydrate!

Before you hike you should chug some water even if you're not thirsty. And no matter how far you're planning to hike, you definitely need to carry water with you. For a two-mile hike one liter of water should be enough, unless you live in a desert region, in which case you should carry two. For longer hikes you might want to invest in a backpack that holds a water bladder with a sipping tube. This way you don't have to stop every time you need a drink - which is often on the trail. Dehydration can lead to dizziness and exhaustion, and it can diminish your capacity to think clearly and make good decisions. I typically carry three liters of water for any hike of five miles. I will carry a fourth liter if I do a ten mile hike. Water is heavy to carry, but in my opinion it's better to be safe than sorry. Plus, I figure the more weight I carry the more calories I burn!

5. Fuel your body

Speaking of burning calories - you would be surprised by how many calories you burn while hiking. For more information on that, click here. This being the case, it is important to up your caloric intake before, during and after the hike to ensure your body remains fueled. I usually take along a banana and an apple, two carrots and a stalk of celery as well as a granola bar.

I don't always eat all of the food on the trail, but I know it's important to have it in case I need it. I usually have my next meal pre-cooked and waiting for me in the fridge at home, too, so I don't go into binge mode when I get back to the house. This happens especially if I'm being frugal with my food intake before and after a hike. Remember, food is fuel, so eat before you need it, not once your body is starved for nutrition.

6. Believe in yourself, but be cautious

The hardest part about hiking is believing that you have the ability to climb mountains, to reach the summit. Believe it or not, anyone in moderate physical condition can handle hikes classified as "easy" to "moderate" in most guide books. Start slowly to test out your abilities and to help you build confidence. Then, as your confidence increases, it will become easier to believe in yourself, and that will in turn take you farther on the trail than you thought or could have imagined. But unless you get out there and do it, how will you ever know what you're capable of?

Be optimistic, and also be prepared for contingencies. Don't hike alone. Make sure you leave your trip plan with someone - tell them where you're going and how long you plan to be. This way, if you don't come back in the time expected they can contact someone who can help find you in case of an emergency.

I don't say this to scare you. In fact, my goal in writing up this post is to convince you that you can do it. But it is important to understand that even the fittest hiker can encounter the unexpected while out on the trail. As such, you should know the weather conditions in the area where you will be hiking. Oh, and prepare for any sudden changes changes in weather, like rain or thunderstorms, drops in temperature and the like. Also, pack a change of socks if you think your shoes may get wet and a long-sleeve shirt if you're hiking on a crisp, cool autumn day, for example.

Now, get out there and do it!

By the way, I'm not the only person on a journey to overcoming obesity who is hiking to overcome obesity. Check out the amazing In It To Win It blog by my fit-life friend, Laina Harris. And for more information on setting goals to increase your level of conditioning for longer and more intense hikes, check out my blog Man of Merit.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Poor man's fancy bean dish - curried black beans over arugula

Poor man's fancy black bean dish - curried black beans over arugula

Short on money and/or time? Try this poor man's fancy black bean dish. It's my go-to meal these days: Curried black beans over arugula. It's as easy as one, two three! And it's healthy as all get out!

1. Prime pan with a little oil or cooking spray, throw in 1/2 large yellow onion chopped to sizzle, add 2 tbsp curry powder, 2 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder of your choice (I like sweet paprika), then swoosh that around for a few minutes until the spices are a bit toasted.

2. Add 1 can no-salt-added chopped tomatoes (or two chopped fresh roma tomatoes, juice, seeds and all), and let bubble for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, throw in the black beans and a smidge of honey to cut the acidity and cook on low heat for another five minutes or so.

3. Finally, serve over a bed of arugula, spinach or spring mix for a yummy, cheap and quick taste adventure!

BONUS: Sprinkle on a couple of tablespoons of cooked quinoa for an added protein boost.

Try it and let me know how it works out for you. I love this dish and it really does fuel my fit life journey! And thanks to the Ashraf family for introducing me to this easy cooking style!

Oh, and I should mention that the leftovers are great cold the next day. Pack them up just like the picture in a 4 cup to-go container and throw it in your backpack for a weekend hike...and check out my blog HikeyHikey! for great places to go (now serving New England, New Mexico and Southern California).

"Walking School Bus" concept to combat childhood obesity

In recognition of September being Childhood Obesity Awareness Month I have decided to dedicate a little time each morning searching the web for current childhood obesity research and news. This morning, I stumbled upon the best site I've found so far addressing the childhood obesity epidemic: Child Obesity News.

I came across this site when I saw on Facebook that a friend of mine, Christie Forbes Rutledge, was commenting about the fact that the town where she's raising her kids - which happens to be the town where we went to high school together - still does not offer busing for kids to and from school. I recall moving to Hanover in the late 1980s from another school district that did have busing and thinking, "Wow, this place is behind the times!"

In fact, more than one person commented on this friend's post with similar astonishment. "I can't believe that they still don't have a bus system. That's crazy," one person said. "That's just nuts," said another. Another still recalled her experience growing up in that school district, "I hated that walk".

It's the law in Pennsylvania, and as Christie pointed out, "you have to live more than three miles from the school for [the district] to have busing." It may sound crazy, and it is certainly more of a law to protect small school districts from financial hardship than anything else, but encouraging active transport to school is probably a good idea when considering the current state of obesity among America's school-children.

Walking three miles, though, shouldn't sound unreasonable, but to most people it does. Three miles? Think about it: When was the last time you walked three miles? I would hasten to bet that the extent of most Americans' daily walk is however far it is from the closest parking space they can find to the front door of the supermarket. I don't say this as insult but from experience. I certainly fit into that category a few years ago, but then I had a BMI of 56 at the time.

While the question of whether making kids walk to and from school is an undue hardship remains up for debate, many people come down on the side of safety. Sure, some say, walking is a good idea. But in the current age we live in is walking to and from school really a good idea?

Taking safety concerns into consideration, the website Child Obesity News published an article on its blog in August talking about a concept called the "walking school bus". Endorsed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the walking school bus concept is describes like this:
A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. If that sounds simple, it is, and that’s part of the beauty of the walking school bus. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school to as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers.
After directing my friend to the website, she pointed out that Hanover indeed does have something in place that is like the walking school bus concept, which is good to hear. But this whole discussion makes me wonder, what kind of impact does walking to and from school actually have on childhood obesity? 

Not a matter of mere walking to school, my friend points out, "Kids are obese because they eat fast food, watching TV and playing video games.  Plus they don't let the kids on the playground in the morning before school starts and they don't get to go outside until right after lunch time for 10-15 minutes. They get one more recess in the afternoon for 10-15 minutes."

Furthermore, my friend reports that her daughter "says she is bored and hates sitting at her desk all day. I think if they let them outside for a little in the morning like they used to she and the other children would benefit."

I wholeheartedly agree! For more information on Childhood Obesity and ideas on what you can do to help combat the epidemic, check out Child Obesity News. There is a brief, informative and research-driven presentation on the site that addresses factors that lead to childhood obesity: Addiction to Highly Pleasurable Food and Childhood Obesity. Also, you can follow them on Twitter @obesityblog. And of course you can follow me on Twitter @myfitlife2day.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Will Biggest Loser Season 14 "confront" or "exploit" childhood obesity?

Biggest Loser gym on set at the Gillette Ranch, Santa Monica Mountains
My friend Angela Ashley just told me that Season 14 of The Biggest Loser will premiere in January with Jillian, Dolvett, and Bob as trainers. She said:
The series will have some surprises along with the introduction of childhood obesity into the show. 
Each of the three trainers will have one teen (13-17 years old) on their group who will train and be followed by a special medical team with expertise in childhood/adolescent nutrition. These teens will not be eliminated as the other contestants. They will be followed throughout the show by the medical team and also after they return home for long term weight/healthy lifestyle management. I read that they would not be weighing on camera as the other contestants. 
Personally, I think that this is an excellent idea. In light of the fact that September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, this is one example of how more must be done to help children and teens become healthier and live happier and more productive lives.

I couldn't agree more, Angela! By the way, I was at the Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains just outside of Malibu recently and I stumbled upon the Biggest Loser set. They prop people were busy getting the gym ready, and I chatted with someone from production who said filming was going to start sometime next week! Casting is still being finalized.

There's a spot called Inspiration Point that I plan to hike to during the filming to see if I can glimpse a bit of what's going on. I'll post pics if I get some, for sure.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Mindful eating, swimming and hiking in Palm Springs

I recently re-located to Palm Springs, CA, from Albuquerque, NM, in large part to jump-start my fit-life journey, which had become a bit stalled. I mean, I've been getting lots of exercise, so that's good. But I've been lax in my food mindfulness and my weight has gone up a bit since my low of 255 pounds last year. In fact, recently I weighed in at nearly 285. I quickly pulled in the reigns on my eating habits and am once again below 280. But I need to be more pro-active, and that's what I'm doing here in the low desert at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Sitting on top of the world - San Jacinto Peak at 10,388 ft.
Obviously I love hiking. Yesterday I went on an 11-mile out-and-back hike from the upper tram terminal here in Palm Springs to the peak of San Jacinto. It was a wonderful excursion, and my body is thanking me for such a strenuous workout. But I need to do more than just hiking if I want to reach my goal of losing more than 60 pounds over the next 6 months. Once I hit that goal, I will have lost the 200 pounds I set out to lose when I first began this blog under the name The Fitness 400 Project in 2008.

So this means big changes to my routine. I'm back on a restricted calorie diet of no more than 2,000 calories (except on big hiking days when my body needs the calories for mere survival). And I'm also back to doing my medicine ball workouts and plank exercises daily. On top of this, just today I have added freestyle swimming to the mix. I did five laps (125 meters) in the pool in the community where I live. I will do another five laps tonight. For this week, I will continue to do 125 meters both in the morning and evening until I'm ready to increase the amount to seven or eight next week and then 10 within two week's time.

How can I NOT take up swimming with this practically in my back yard?

The hard part of swimming for me is that my lungs are not used to the staggered breathing required when freestyle swimming. This morning I had to rest and catch my breath after each lap. I wasn't bothered by this, but my goal is to improve so I can do all of my laps without resting between them.

Well, that's about it for now. I will post my new diet soon, so stay tuned for that. And don't forget to check out my other blogs - Man of Merit and HikeyHikey! - for more on hiking and other outdoors fitness activities. Fifteen pictures from the San Jacinto Peak hike can be found here.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My fit life journey takes me to Tsoodził's summit

I've been thinking a lot about where I am, right now, in the midst of my fit life journey. I'm saying things to people like, I'm ready to take it to the next level (fitness-wise), and I'm not sure they know what I mean by that. Lots of people see the progress I've made losing a bunch of weight and trading in my old lethargic lifestyle for an active one, hiking mountains and what not. But still, I'm not where I want to be, where I need to be, in order to do the things I'm doing now - sustainably - for the next few decades of life.
Among the aspens along CDT near Gooseberry Spring, Mt. Taylor
With few exceptions, when I hike, I still get winded more often than the folks I'm hiking with. This probably has to do with my weight - I'm usually carrying 100 pounds or more than my compañeros del sendero. Surely, too, it owes to my overall level of conditioning, the fact that I spent ten years in lethargy prior to deciding to live fit a few years ago, and the fact that I loathe doing cardio for cardio's sake. It's getting clear to me now, though, that I need to infuse more cardio into my weekly workout routine if I want to continue challenging myself with hikes of greater intensity and elevation gain.

View from Gooseberry Spring Trail, part of the CDT, Mt. Taylor, NM
This weekend I hiked to over 11,301 feet along a portions of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) to summit Mt. Taylor, near Grants, NM. This is Navajo's sacred south mountain, Tsoodził, or Turquoise Mountain, a lush, grassy, Alpine cone towering above the desert below. I did the 3.5-mile hike to the top in about 3.5 hours, which wasn't too bad - I wasn't out to break speed records. And fortunately my trail bud Leanne was kind enough to stick with me on my frequent breath-breaks.

My trail bud, Leanne - a great hiking companion!
Besides, taking breaks for breathing from time to time allowed me to somehow become more mindful of the the strikingly diverse beauty of the landscape, from the my immediate environs and stretching out, away from the mountain to the diffuse horizon. I'd pause and sit, or just bend over and look at various angles, stretching and noticing the many unexpected things all around me, close to me. The critters on and off the trail (like horny toads and technicolor insects) and the delicate intra-workings of the multi-use forest ecology - I took it all in, deeply, with each breath, even the cow patties, which by the way Leanne said are good for making adobe bricks.

At Mt. Taylor summit (Tsoodził, Navajo's sacred south mountain)
So I guess that's where I am on my fit life journey. I'm at a very mindful place right now, and there is a great calm in that. But there is also a call to action. I'm taking my fit life journey on the road in a little over a week. I'm heading to Southern California to begin working on a couple of projects related to motivating others to live the fit life more fully. I've got a huge goal ahead of me (which you can read about on my blog Man of Merit). And I'm connecting more with the person I was meant to be, have always been and forever will be - me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

(My) 5 motivations to lose weight now

Dear Reader,

As of today, I weigh 280 lbs. I want to lose weight - 60 pounds to be exact.

More exactly, I want to weigh 90 pounds less than I do right now. Since I'm putting on more muscle even as I shed the fat, I'm thinking that my final goal weight might change, so it'll all depend on that really. Regardless, here are the five principle motivations for me to lose weight now:

1) I long to tear up the trail at a weight that won't tear up my back and knees.
2) I want to fit comfortably in size 36 jeans.
3) One day I'll be out thrifting, and I'll come across some vintage Levi's jeans jacket - don't laugh - and I won't want to miss the opportunity to snatch it. They run small, so...
4) I might end up making some insane goal in the near future, like hiking the Inca Trail in Peru or spending a month trekking south to north on the Virginia portion of the AT.
5) For once in my life, it'd be nice to be too sexy for my shirt.

These are my motivations, and they're solid. So what am I going to do to lose this weight? I'm just going to go ahead and do it is all. And I'm going to write about it. I'm going to draw encouragement from my readers, and I'm going to celebrate with you ALL when I achieve this goal. Sound like a plan?

Alright. Thanks.
Brian

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What a difference three years makes!

This picture of me (above) was taken around my birthday in 2009 - I was 38 years old. Today, I turn 41. The picture (below) shows me on top of Sandia Mountain during a strenuous 10-mile hike. I'm so thankful that I was able to recognize the deadly path I was on due to my unhealthy habits. But now, I'm eating clean, exercising strong and ready to take on my 40s with the same youthful optimism with which I attacked my 20s! What a difference three years makes!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Optimism, faith and mindfulness - my journey to the La Luz Trail

I began my fit life journey with the launch of this blog back in December 2008 (follow this link to read my first post). It's been trip full of ups and downs, highs and lows. But it's always been a journey moving forward. Even when I'm knocked down, I get back up and learn from the experience. I rely on optimism, faith and mindfulness of purpose to keep on going, even when I stumble hard.

The first year of my journey was a kind of half-ass attempt; I lacked a specific, measurable goal. But in January of 2010 I set a very specific goal - to lose 200 pounds, to nearly halve my body weight, from 420 to 220, and overcome obesity by my 40th birthday. The plan was to celebrate my success by coming out to Albuquerque on my birthday last year and hike the famous La Luz Trail - nearly 10 miles with an elevation gain of 3,775 ft (1,151 m) and a grade of 12%. It would have been an amazing a capstone to my blog, I thought.

The La Luz Trail from the upper tram terminal. From the lower terminal, it's
about 10 miles to this point. This pic was taken on a recent 10-mile hike
of the 10K and Crest Trails - read about it on my Man of Merit blog.
Well, life has a funny way of altering plans. Once I reached 255 pounds, with just 35 pounds to go, I decided I needed to take a break from the strict diet of 1,800 calories a day I had been on for nearly a year and a half. I would continue to exercise, but I wanted to give myself a break, eat like a "normal" person and let my body adjust. It was a great idea, one that I don't regret in the slightest.

But over the course of the past year since I transitioned from "weight loss" to "weight maintenance", my body has adjusted to a comfortable weight 25 pounds heavier than my low weight. I'm now close to 280 again, and as I've blogged recently, I'm trying to re-gain focus and begin losing weight again in pursuit of my ultimate goal. 

Now I am at a point where big changes must be made again. As a result, I've decided that I'm going to take a big leap and attempt hiking the La Luz Trail now, in celebration of my 41st birthday. I know I'm fit enough to take on the challenge, even though I'm nearly 60 pounds heavier than I wanted to be when hiking it. So I figure, why wait until reaching my goal? Why not use it as inspiration to push forward again in pursuit of it?

I'll be taking the hike on Saturday, August 11, two days after I turn 41. This hike will not only mark the beginning of the next phase of my journey, it is also to be a conditioning hike for the epic 20-mile Cactus-to-Clouds hike I'll be taking sometime during the next year.

I want to thank my friend and fellow Toastmaster Leanne Yanabu for organizing this hike. This will be the toughest hike in terms of elevation gain I've done, so it's nice to know that she's done it before - makes me feel more confident about tackling such a strenuous hike.

I also want to thank all of you who read my blogs and encourage me along my path. I get lots of feedback from folks who say I inspire them - but really, you all inspire me!!! So please, keep reading, keep commenting and I WILL reach my goal. Then we can all celebrate together!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Korean fitness product beats Shake Weight (for a good laugh!)

Apparently horseback riding is an incredible workout. But horses are expensive! Well, the Koreans have solved this problem, bringing an incredible ab-enhancing (and albeit sexually suggestive workout) right into your home (where you can do it in front of family and friends)!

Shake Weight - you have met your match! Ace Power is really something you have to see it to believe. So saddle up and watch the vid below for a good laugh (and maybe a bit of cringing)!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Globesity: global health epidemic or cash cow?

Those of us with a soul look at worldwide obesity trends with sadness; something is severely wrong and must be fixed. To some, though, the obesity epidemic is a chance to cash in. In case you're wondering where the money to be made is, check out this article on Foreign Policy's blog, Passport. According to the experts, there are a number of ways that investors can take advantage of the "globesity" trend. 

Obesity in Mexico is out of control - Is it genetics?

In case you haven't heard, Mexico recently beat out the U.S. as the top ranked country for obesity worldwide. Well, researchers are pointing to a unique genetic predisposition among indigenous and mestizo populations in Mexico. It's sure to be controversial. Read about it on the blog LatAm News Translations.

I'll be posting soon on a trend in Mexico to publicly fund bariatric surgery clinics in Mexico to combat the obesity epidemic. It seems to me that there are better ways to treat obesity with public funding, but I'm not Mexican so it's not my place to judge. But I will be translating an article on the subject very soon, so check it out here, or "like" LatAm News Translations on Facebook to get it when it's hot off the presses!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Plank at the office? Take five on the floor!

For me, the plank is one of my favorite exercises because of how it makes me feel. I swear it changes the chemistry of my brain! Whenever I'm having one of those days at the office, I take a quick break and do plank, just five minutes on the floor, and I'm refreshed, re-energized and pumped to take on the next project.

The plank can be done in different ways to target a variety of core muscles. Search the ACE Fitness GetFit online exercise library for the best technique for your mid-day mini workout. Or if you're ready to start with the basic front plank, go here!

And don't forget to "like" MyFitLife2Day on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fitness fashion: "Strong is the new skinny!"

I had to share this website with you all, since, like me, I know you're always on the look out for things that inspire your fit life today. This online shop, called Gym Motivation Shirts, caught my attention via Twitter today, and I just had to share it with you.

The shirt slogan that caught my eye was "STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY". I absolutely love this, because all along my fit life journey I have focused on strength - losing weight and working out is a way of making me stronger. Weight loss, in my opinion, is just a desirable side effect of the pursuit of overall fitness.

In any case, whether you buy a shirt from them is none of my concern - I neither promote or am paid by them, so what do I care! But definitely check it out for some inspiration next time you're feeling like skipping the gym.

Stuck in a rut? This online exercise library helped me!

I love the gym, but sometimes I get bored with the same old routine. And so does my body! But even though I'm well aware of the importance of switching things up every couple of weeks to keep shedding fat and growing my muscles, I sometimes get stuck in a rut. I'm not an expert (yet), so I'm thankful for the experts at ACE Fitness for ACE GetFit - a FREE online library of exercises!

One area I'm focusing on now is abs, and the online library of ab exercises is simply amazing - I can even access it on my smart phone while I'm at the gym. It's like having your own personal trainer.

Now, if you can afford a personal trainer, by all means hire one - they not only motivate but teach, and that's invaluable. But if you can't afford a trainer but are looking to change it up at the gym, look no further than the ACE GetFit exercise library. And thank me when you do!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One goal's knocked down, while another's set up!

From a crag on Sandia, just off the North Crest Trail
Today I accomplished a huge goal for me - completed the fifth of my five planned 10-mile hikes. These were not mere walks in the woods. With the exception of one, which was a a town to town trek through the historic towns of Lincoln and Concord, Massachusetts, these were strenuous hikes with between 1,300 and 3,000 feet of elevation gain along rugged terrain.

Those of you who know me or who have been following my blog (which started as The Fitness 400 Project a few years ago), know that I stopped trying to lose weight about a year ago to focus on physical activity. I had lost more than 165 pounds by then, eating right and doing resistance training at the gym and using a medicine ball. I dropped from about 420 to 255 pounds. And though I was at that point still obese, I decided I wanted to prove what I was capable of. I wanted to demonstrate through hard work and dedication what any moderately in-shape obese person can do if he or she challenges him or herself to get out into the world and live life to the fullest!

My body aches after these hikes. It's like carrying an 80 pound pack. And now that I've accomplished these hikes I am ready to starting focusing on weight loss again. The reason is simple. Part of my original goal with hiking, which you can read about on my blog Man of Merit, was to plan and carry out these five 10-mile hikes followed by a long-distance 20-mile hike, to be carried out in a single day (no camping between two 10-milers).

After today's hike, I've determined that my body is just not ready for a 20-mile hike, unless I were to cheat a bit and do a walk on a totally flat surface perhaps. But instead I'm choosing to challenge myself once more to a 20-mile mountain hike. And this means I need to lose a considerable amount of weight first to ensure I don't injure myself in the process.

This is not going to be an easy task. I've become quite content at my current weight. I look good, and I feel good - especially when compared to how I felt living in a super obese body, not even being able to bend down to pick up something off the floor or walk without waddling. But I know that I'm capable of much more. And I'm going to prove that to myself, starting right now.

This means cutting out the splurges I've become accustomed to over the past year. I still eat very well, but I have to admit I've been enjoying ice cream from time to time, and this has definitely got to stop if I'm going to make strides with weight loss again. So that's my new commitment. No more late night snacks. I will also ramp up my exercise routine.

Since moving to Albuquerque in January I've been going to the gym and hiking, obviously, but I've not been using medicine ball and doing plank on a regular basis like I did in the past. Starting back at these core exercises three days a week I know will make a positive impact on my weight loss in no time.

So there you have it. I'm back at it, and I'm putting it in writing here so I know I will have accountability for this commitment. My goal is to lose 40 pounds by the end of December. And a short term goal is to lose 20 pounds by October 1.

I really appreciate those of you who read me and keep me on track with my goals. And as always, I'm open to your comments and suggestions along the way! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Five tips to focus on in your fit life journey

Hydrate!
"My fit life journey" can mean different things to different people. But weather you're trying to lose a few pounds, overcome obesity or maintain a healthy weight, the basics of living a fit life are basically the same.

When I started my fit life journey a few years ago, the tips I'm providing here were considered non-negotiable for me. And even today, as I'm closer to my healthy weight goal than I've been in two decades, I try to remind myself to stick within these guidelines in order to stay on track.

So check out this list, then comment. What do you do to ensure your journey a fit life journey?
  1. Hydration - Drink water all day long. How much? Google that question and add your specific weight and geographic area, because body mass and climate both have an impact. In general, drink eight 8-ounce cups of water per day, plus more if you're overweight and/or living in a dry climate or at high altitude.
  2. Portion size - The most common mistake any of us make with regard to our diet is eating more than our body needs. This takes focus, because the system these days appears to be stacked against us. For example, typical meat portions at restaurants are rarely less than eight ounces, but an appropriate serving of any meat is about four ounces. See a doctor or nutritionist (or Google) to find out how many calories your body needs. 
  3. Food is fuel, not your friend - Plan to have smaller portions spread out over the course of the day to ensure your body has nutrients accessible at times it needs them most. Then you won't be as tempted to have something to eat the next time anxiety, stress or emotional drain sets in.
  4. Plan ahead - By cooking and pre-packaging healthy meals in advance, say on Sunday night before a busy work week, you can avoid the pitfalls of eating out. This could save you considerable amounts of calories over the course of your week because even the "healthy" meals at restaurants often come served in portion sizes larger than your dietary needs.
  5. Exercise every day - They say you should always have rest days built in to your schedule, and that's true. You shouldn't hit the gym or go hiking or running every day of the week. But you should infuse an attitude of exercise into every single day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Park at the parking spot farthest from the door at work or at the grocery store. Take the dogs for a walk twice a day around the block instead of just having them do their business just beyond the front stoop or in the back yard. You will be surprised how this speeds you toward your goals.
These are not just a few tips to be implemented from time to time but rather they are key ingredients to living a fit life. Don't just pick up one or two of these tips and try them out; Commit to implementing them this week and focus on adhearing to a plan for at least four weeks in order to see results. Once you have made these five tips a habit, check back here for more tips for making the most of your fit life journey.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Check this out - IN IT TO WIN IT: The End in the beginning

I'd like to recommend that you all check out this brave new blogger - Laina. I met her on Twitter, and she's at the start of her own journey to overcome super obesity. I know what it's like to be where she is right now. And this blog is a beautiful step in the process of taking control over her situation and seeking accountability. By reading along we all take part in helping someone attack obesity and finally gain the kind of freedom all humans crave!

IN IT TO WIN IT: The End in the beginning: Hello! I want this blog to be about a journey back to health. I have like so many tried and failed every attempt to lose weight. If we a...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Twitter second to none for networking with a specialized audience

I've been tweeting regularly for the past couple of weeks @MyFitLife2Day. My goals for doing so weren't so clear when I started. I really didn't "get" Twitter. I thought it was just for celebrities and people who wanted to keep track of them. But what I have found is that Twitter is an amazing way to gain access to and network with professionals, peers (and even potential clients) within my realm of specialization - and it's cheaper, easier and more effective than any professional conference I could attend!

Just one week into my time on Twitter, I was thrilled to be re-tweeted by the man I would most like to model as I mold my career as a life coach, educator, author and motivational speaker - Anthony Robbins (@tonyrobbins). When that re-tweet went out to his two million followers, I gained more than 100 new followers myself within the next 24 hours. I'm probably still getting followers from that re-tweet, and from it, I have gained two new clients for my life coaching practice.

Glad for Gunnar's retweet and mention!
Celebrity blogger and fit-life promoter Perez Hilton replied to one of my tweets about a week later. While his tweets go out to around 5 million folks, I didn't get as much play from it for two reasons - 1) It wasn't a re-tweet but a reply, or a mention, and 2) Only a small portion in comparison to the whole of Hilton's followers are interested in his FitPerez brand (the folks most likely to follow me in response). As a result, I gained a few new followers from that mention, but not nearly as many as I did from Robbins'.

This brings me to my latest - a re-tweet and a mention by Gunnar Peterson, a famous personal trainer to the stars who has trained many A-list celebrities and been on countless morning talk shows and such. It's only been a few minutes since I got the mentioned by Gunnar Peterson, but already I'm getting new followers as a result. The thing I love about Peterson is that he isn't just focused on the A-listers - his mission seems to be getting people started and continuing with an exercise lifestyle. I like this a lot, as it's similar to my own mission of getting people to treat food as fuel, not as a friend.

The point to this soliloquy? I'm damn glad I signed up for Twitter, and am glad I have at least some amount of social media savvy to be able to make the most of it. There's still a lot to learn, but I think I'm on the right track!