Friday, December 13, 2013

Black Women: An Open Love Letter

This post was inspired by a hashtag, but more accurately it was inspired by a community. My community. The community of my skin. The community of my heritage. The community of my experience. The community of my birth, my instruction, my life and my heart. I am here to say one thing to the women of my community. I love you, because you are so beautiful to me.

My morning starts with black women. More specifically, I start my morning with L. Joy, Imani, Dacia and the staff of Black women in this forum entertain me with jokes and wit. They inform me with intellect and insight. The intrigue me with their experiences and interactions. They educate me, and I am grateful. Through this medium I have learned more about my own experience as a sometimes, not so black man. I've learned the difference between the culturally re-enforced images of aggression and savagery, and the reality of the frustration and endless onslaught against our women. I hear your pain and your triumph in your stories. I laugh with you. I cry with you. I feel with you, because I love you, because you are a part of me, and because I am a part of you.

My life starts with black women. I was absent my father as many a black child. I was also absent a role model in the form of a man. Someone to teach me the right ways from the wrong. I had a rich experience at the hands of my mother. A single island woman who made the sacrifices needed to make sure her son had the best education she could afford. I love you Mom. While she toiled in a foreign country to secure our future, I had guidance and protection from my guardian. A strong, firm black woman with the soul of a warrior. I'm not waxing poetic. Mrs Evelyn Murdock would have laid her life down to protect my safety and her honor, in the end she did, and I bear the guilt of never being able to say to her once more that I appreciate her, and I love her. My aunts. My sisters. My friends. You surround me with love and affection as I am your brother and a part of you. I feel the warmth of your love from far away and when we are close so I know I will never fall because too many hands will catch me before I hit the ground. I love you my dears, with all of my heart.

You're in trouble. In crisis. Your rights. Your identity. Your very self image under constant assault. I love the champions of my community. The challengers of power. The ... feminists? ... eh, the fighters for a better future. I follow you. I admire you. I respect you and I love you because your work, your sweat, your struggle is not for the thrill of battle, nor for the glorification of your name, but for the elevation of your sisterhood. Your culture. Your pride and your beloved. That they may not shy away from life, but embrace it. That young girls of ebony and beige may enjoy a better world than the one you entered.

I pledge my heart and my sweat to you my sisters, my teachers, my lovers and my friends. I love you all.

-Phat Guy

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

288 ~ Back to the start.

Stress is a killer. It's a slow killer. You have to nip that shit in the bud quickly, because if you let it just control your life, you end up like me. Off the rails for so long that you gain so much weight, even your fat clothes feel snug. 40lbs gained in the past few months. Feels shitty. Here's what I learned.

Leg night, because why not make my
first night back in the gym the hardest one?
Hard times call for tough choices. My job can be stressful. That's a given. The only way to mitigate said stress is usually to finish whatever project I'm being pressured. Then take some time to relax and breathe. My personal life imploding at the same time as my increased job responsibilities did me in. I was spending so much time working that I had to stop going to the gym. I know, blasphemy. The stress caused physical tension and was making me dizzy during my workouts. I kept feeling ill, and thought I would hurt myself if I continued. My blood pressure was elevated. I started eating conveniently instead of sticking with my dietary routine because with my schedule upset, there was no time to prepare my usual meals. I had to get rid of the burdens. At the cost of personal relationships, I had to change my lifestyle. Some of it was simple. I merely negotiated with the sources of stress and they went away after some attention. Some of it was more hurtful. I had to end or upset relationships there putting too much pressure on me while I was trying to achieve balance. I even changed jobs recently as part of the effort to revamp my routine.

I have to handle things like a grown up. I'm in my 30's. So, I'm pretty much expected to handle my major life decisions on my own. Using video games for cathartic release and stress management seemed like a brilliant idea, but, the game of choice was bad. League of Legends is a load of fun. I learned to play it with some skill (Best Ashe NA!). I met some really cool kids and oddly a few military men who enjoyed the game as well. We played from late at night to early in the morning. Which pretty much meant that I was throwing lack of sleep onto my pile of problems. It came as no surprise that I had to walk away from my game account. Thankfully, an awesome friend of mine is taking that over and my work lives on! Thanks G!

The comeback is as inevitable as it is difficult. I've been easing myself into it in stages.
  • Stage 1, recognize and address my food addictions. I have deliberately started removing sources of temptation from my cupboards and fridge. Also, I have removed rotting vegetables I was totally going to get to right after this next burger. A new payload of fresh sweet fruits help me to drive past those fast food restaurants on my evening commute.
  • Stage 2, I'm now working near some healthier restaurants which offers me the opportunity to eat healthier and still access fresh greens at lunch. Shout out to Salad Spot! I really appreciate the menu. I'm eating oatmeal for the fiber and protein, and I'm forcing myself to use my kitchen more.
  • Stage 3, getting back into the gym.This whole process doesn't work if I'm not burning calories and improving my cardiovascular health. Working out gives me the endorphin boost I need for stress management, appetite control to help me avoid binges, energy to keep my personal life in order and, the confidence to engage in tense social interactions. I need the workouts so I don't get home and collapse at the end of the day in front of Hulu. (Except on leg night!). I need them so I can get out of bed on the weekends and get stuff done. I need to make this clear.

    If you think you don't have the energy to work out, and have no illness or conditions preventing you, then you're wrong. You have no energy because you don't workout.
    Got it? I had to go back to the because I was dragging myself through life propped up on caffeine and sugar. Sometime soon, I hope to make it through my days without caffeine. This will help me with ...
  • Stage 4. Improving evening patterns for better sleep. A healthy night's sleep will improve my energy levels tremendously. It helps my cardiovascular health. It's great for stress relief. I can focus better on work assignments and personal goals. It's the best. For now, I supplement to assist my sleep cycle.
The work isn't done until I reach my goal. Being back in the fitness groove will feel good as these benefits start kicking in over the next couple weeks. I miss being healthier. I actually missed working out. Okay, no. I missed having the lifestyle of someone who works out. Even with the routine muscle soreness, I still feel better overall. Happier. More capable. Better able to handle the issues day to day, and sharper at minding the pot so it doesn't boil over. Wish me luck! Phat Guy out.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

260 - How did I not know about this?

Sometimes I get mad that I didn't know about something earlier.
".. true wealth comes from good health and wise ways"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

254.4 - My Problem with the "8 Healthy Habits of Insanely Fit People"

The purpose of this blog is to act as a filter for the volumes of health fitness advice available to the masses through the perspective of someone who is actively struggling with weight loss. Am I a Monday Morning Quarterback? Hmm, maybe more of a Weekend Warrior. I'm not a fitness professional, but I have educated myself in a variety of techniques and approaches, and I try to take a distinct perspective on the advice I dish out from personal experiences and conversations. This post is a response to the Huffington Post article 8 Habits Of Insanely Fit People. Which lists the following 8 habits as recommendations for living a healthy lifestyle.

Get it together buddy, clearly being fit isn't that hard
if all these paid models can do it.
  • Fit People Don't Diet
  • They Find A Way To Enjoy Exercise
  • They Don't Compare Their Bodies To Other People's Bodies
  • They Get Enough Sleep
  • They Cheat
  • They Make Fitness A Priority
  • They Eat Breakfast
  • They Find And Appreciate Support

It's not all bad advice, but some of the elements of the article rubbed me the wrong way so I was inspired to write a reply in this forum.

From Fit People Don't Diet "The truth is, being a healthy woman isn't about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline -- and we can't afford to think that way, Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters -- on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves." ~Michelle Obama

I think this is an easy stance to take from someone who is already at a healthy weight. Michelle Obama clearly lives and promotes a lifestyle that is conducive to her body. The problem I have here is, if you don't already live that lifestyle, and you have the tendency to overindulge, or are not familiar with the impacts and benefits of the techniques you're using for fitness, then the results of those measurements are important feedback on your journey and should be appreciated. I do agree with the intention of the statement. Your mental well being is more important than your measurements, but measurements are useful.  When you're fit you get to ignore the amounts and types of your caloric intake, because A. it's already in line with healthy standards and B. you can generate significant caloric output to correct any issues.

They Find A Way To Enjoy Exercise

It took me a long time before I was enjoying working out. It's possible to make it a social experience with friends, and find activities you enjoy which will be more repeatable. I think, as you get used to it, you do find ways to enjoy being in the gym, and that comes with growth, results and improvement. I'm not sure I disagree with the advice so much as I disagree with how simplistically it's presented.

They Don't Compare Their Bodies To Other People's Bodies

This is untrue. Fit people will compare themselves to other people to set standards for themselves. Granted, it's not healthy to obsess about looking like someone in particular, but just because Beyonce supposedly has never wished she had J-Lo's booty or Michelle Obama's arms, doesn't mean she isn't drawing those comparisons when evaluating herself.

They Get Enough Sleep

Heck yeah, get sleep, sleep is super important, I can't agree more.

They Cheat

Cheating is fine when you look how you want, but the bump in the road is a lot tougher to deal with when you're in an uphill climb. It can feel a lot like a backslide as opposed to a minor setback.

They Make Fitness A Priority

You have to make the time where you can ... sure ... although, I think some people ignore the reasons why people simply can't but if you just don't then ... well, don't complain, accept the outcome of your decisions.

They Eat Breakfast

I eat breakfast, but there are studies done about the necessity of caloric distribution during the day. There are other theories regarding the need for breakfast, but I can see the benefits.

They Find And Appreciate Support

Indeed. I need support. I need support for when I'm killing it, and support for when I can't bring myself to do anything. I need the right kinds of conversations around health and fitness to motivate me to better results. I need the positive feedback on my improvements. I give support too. It's very important to me to recognize and appreciate the progress others make because I know how it makes me feel. Feedback on this blog is amazingly motivating and supportive, and I appreciate all of you who leave comments for me.

Let me know if my Phatness is blinding my replies and responses here in the comments and replies below.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

254.2 - Finding a new definition for failure.

Mine!! - source
I had a crappy workout last night.  I've had a lot of crappy workouts lately. I haven't been sleeping well. I've been dealing with some particularly troubling personal issues. Been eating stuff I shouldn't at times I definitely shouldn't. I've basically hopped off the wagon during a funk, and have been spending the past few weeks clinging desperately like Mr. Krabs over there to the wagon. Trying to get back on. Trying to get back to "normal".

I am happy for something though. My definition of failure is new. I failed at making it through my cardio post workout. I expect 35 minutes of myself and delivered a paltry 10 ... but ... I made it through my warm up, I made it through my strength training, and I got on the treadmill, all the while knowing that I would hit an early peak from exhaustion. My old terrible workouts used to be the one rep squat to the couch and mattress assisted planking (which looks a lot like sitting on my butt, watching TV, then going to bed), but I have recently chosen to do something which I find very useful in maintaining my habits. I now define failure as occurring after the attempt.

Now, sometimes you need to tap out. The longer you work out, the more you learn the difference between good pain and bad, between tired, and wiped out, and when to listen to that little voice from your body that says "slow the heck down, or I will stop you". So I tapped out last night, to ensure my workout on Wednesday would be better. I failed at my goal, and I'm not too happy about it, but the work I did towards my goal still worked for me in the long term, and that's a definition of failure that I can live with.

Don't do too much people, you're not Superman. Unless you are, then awesome movie dude.

Friday, February 8, 2013

246.6 - I am number 1

Nike running, top ranked mileage in my peer group, you want some? Come get some.

... but seriously, I'm loving the spirit of competition that my friends are showing, and I really appreciate people stepping up and clocking those miles. I will kick all y'all behinds, but thanks for making it so much more gratifying.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

246.6 - My problem with "The Biggest Loser"

'cause whether it works, or it doesn't
you're still a loser, right!?
In the course of my life, and for the sake of this blog I have experimented with and exposed myself to a variety of exercise and diet programs.Nothing I did was ever easy, no technique was ever immediate, and in some extreme cases I saw remarkable progress, but those were usually gained using the most unsustainable methods. When I watch the Biggest Loser, and I see people being bullied (call it motivation all you want, but being yelled at by some muscle bound 'expert' doesn't inspire me) punished with food penalties and held to unreasonable standards of weight loss, I worry about the message that sends. If the goal of the show is to inspire people to take on their own fitness routines, based on what they see, then shouldn't they see best practices for fitness?

I get it, showing people living their lives, making modest changes to their routines, and seeing small, but incremental changes in their weight, all in a supportive and healthy environment is boring! I wouldn't watch it, and I wouldn't expect anyone else to enjoy it. Still, watching contestants struggle through berating workouts. Watching people cry and be disappointed with what are reasonable changes for average weight loss, because of the specifically high expectations in the challenge. I can't seem to find any model for how these actions could be applied to a normal healthy lifestyle.

I formed this opinion some time ago, and it's been supported by every piece of footage I've ever seen, but I can't say I've really seen it all. So perhaps I'm wrong, and someone gleaned something positive from this show that motivated them to get going. I would appreciate any such rebuttal in the comments.

Friday, February 1, 2013

247.6 - I've thought about it ...

Click here to view larger image
The only juice I take is fruit juice SON!

I've thought about it. A lot a some points. Less recently. Still, the thought has entered my mind. People do it all the time. It's not really cheating, I mean, it's for me. It's up to me if I want a metal rod poked in my belly and my butt to forcibly scrape away the gunk. I'm human. I can only do so much. This whole process takes SO MUCH! I can't hardly be blamed right? If I did ... just this once? Take that step?

Nah, it's not worth it to me. It's not worth it to put all this effort in, and take a shortcut. I need to learn, and really apply what I learn. I need to know what the result of all this effort is. I need ... I need an outcome I earned. That's all. I don't need to be the best. I don't need a golden belt, I just need the satisfaction of accomplishing this, and walking the path with my own two feet.
Alright, I'll head back to the gym tonight, and keep at it. Maybe I will one day find myself in a consultation for lipo, but not now. I have too much to gain by doing it my way now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

247.6 - Woo *cough* hoo

Fuzzy and stinky for those
who don't like metaphors.
I'm feeling like the southbound end of a northbound mule right now. However, I did want to share that my efforts over the past couple weeks have my almost back to pre-holiday weight. I'm back in the hunt for getting under 240.

Friday, January 25, 2013

250.2 - Starting right

It's not much in the overall scheme of the day, but I always try to start with a light breakfast to help with my food decisions later on. Turns out, there's a handy amount of research supporting this benefit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

250.2 - Stigmatization lite, less hate, less filling

This is an article from Science Daily (I don't know how legitimate the site is, I was just presented the article in my feed) discussing the potential of a new advertising campaign strategy to limit obesity through "lite" stigmatization. The strategy is supposed to parallel the technique used to dissuade the expansion of the smoking population by essentially demonizing smoking. I guess the idea is, that people will respond to the stigmatization of overweight people and decide to avoid the lifestyle.

I presume this came from someone educated, but I am surprised by the glaring omissions here even in the metaphorical comparison. James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and just about everything that was "cool" back in the old days had that aura tied to puffs of smoke. A subliminal and sometimes blatant advertising campaign led smoking to be a major component of American society. Once the widespread damage was recognized, campaigns were launched to repeal that image. How does this relate to being overweight? I have no idea. Unless Chris Farley, John Candy and Homer Simpson have somehow been established as monumental icons of coolness. Or perhaps the current stigmatization of normal sized people by the current advertising press and their Photoshop miracle models is somehow insufficient in the association of weight with beauty and attraction. Unless I missed something, has it ever been okay to be fat?

I've never experienced a time when my weight wasn't a concern. I have experienced times when I ignored it, much like one ignores pain that can't be medicated, or disfigurement that can't be resolved, I have put it out of my mind, but I was never comfortable being heavy, and never lead to believe it was a valid, accepted lifestyle. I am not heavy because being heavy has an appeal, I am heavy because food has an appeal. Unhealthy foods that run our economy. Innovative delivery of butter, sugar and salt from confections to fast food are the issue, and stigmatizing the people who consume them is already quite common in our society. Maybe someone has another view of the potential outcome of this, but I'm really tired of hearing advice from people who fundamentally ignore the problems.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

249.8 - So, that happened.

No advice here, just a straight update. This holiday I tried to avoid indulging, and I slipped up, 9.6lbs in two weeks slipped up, and I was pissed at myself. I can trace the whole thing back to one decision on an evening in December to have a glass of Scapegoat. I'm sure the wine had a more elegant name, but it had a specific purpose for me, I needed it to be the reasoning behind making bad decisions that I REALLY wanted to make. I was at a sponsored social event of some import to my career and the menu was set ahead of time. My options were the delicious pasta, the delicious pasta, the delicious pasta or the delicious pasta, and that was the option I had for one of the 5 courses served. I knew going in that I didn't have to eat any of it, but the problem is I wanted ALL of it. I made it 10 minutes in without even touching a slice of bread and then I answered a simple question wrong "would you like a glass of wine". The answer I was looking for was "No" but what everyone else heard was "Uh ... sure, yeah" because I suddenly imbued myself with the ability to make rational choices regarding my dietary intake and health with an attentively replenished glass of red wine in my grasp. So I tried everything, and demolished everything else. Then I decided to finish the meal on my own terms by getting egg nog at a nearby 7-11.

After that night, it was pretty much my usual holiday pattern of indulgence. At some point I just consciously decided to roll with the binge and hit every temptation I had pondered for the previous weeks. Burgers, Fries, Fried nonsense, Taco bell (non-Fresco menu), shakes upon shakes upon shakes, cookies, pizza and fried sushi rolls. I even took time off from my gym routine, which was intended to help combat some fatigue symptoms, but went far longer than it should and resulted in considerable set backs in my capability. I'm not proud of that, but I am happy that my story doesn't end there. It doesn't end now either. I have successfully managed to offload half of the newly gained weight and although I'm far from back to previous capability in the gym, I am back to my regularity with renewed commitment. It important to me that when Fatman Begins, Phatman Rises to the occasion.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

249.8 - On happiness

I am not happy with my weight. It is a constant impediment to my health, to my movement, and to my lifestyle. I don't like buying clothes at the fat store. I don't like the reflection of jiggling when I run on the treadmill. I don't like aspects of my weight, but I can't allow that to be the definition of my self image.

How do you feel about yourself? Are you perfectly satisfied? I doubt it, or you probably wouldn't be reading some guy's diet and fitness blog. However, are you happy with yourself? Can you be happy with yourself? Are you so used to self scrutiny, that the next imperfection that you obsess over is just a mirror away?

I meet people all the time that look the way I would imagine I would like to look some day, and my biggest problem with talking to them is the level of dissatisfaction with themselves. It honestly trumps mine many times over. Astonishingly, the motivation of many who seek to "perfect" themselves comes from an insatiable need for physical idealism motivated by a concept of fitness.

I can't tell you to be happy, or to love what you see in the mirror, but what I will say is this. Happiness is not in looking in the mirror and appreciating it. It's in looking in the mirror and accepting it. Accepting yourself. It doesn't mean you have to give up the motivation to change. It just means you can't withhold you satisfaction with your effort until your body matches whatever image you've constructed in your mind. Work on your happiness during your effort, and reap all the benefits at your destination.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

255.2 - The balancing act.

Her only true balancing skill, she eats salad
with fatty dressing and has lite desserts
Being heavy sucks, sometimes it sucks so much that the effort to commit to losing weight sucks less. It's one of the precarious balancing acts that are part of the fitness journey. You constantly fight small battles between who you are and who you want to be. Sometimes the two sides can come to a tenuous peace agreement, but, like some regions, peace agreements seemingly arrive with expiration dates. Battle commences in the fighting season, and the balance is thrown into whack. I've been negotiating for some time, and I've gotten better at it, but there is more to be done.

My two urges fall into the realms of indulgence and vanity. I want to enjoy a variety of sugars. I could say confections or pastries, but I'm always honest with you so why pretend. I love sugar. I love it in crepes, in chocolate, in ice-cream, cookies, cakes. I love it cold, I love it warm. I love sugar. Left to my indulgent desires, I would eat sugar in all it's incarnations with every meal. Sure, I'd get some grease and salt in there, for balance, but my heart will always desire sugar. To it's detriment because I don't want to be diabetic. Understand, I don't mean "I have health concerns with contracting diabetes". No, I don't want to be a diabetic. I don't want to join that club. I don't want that as part of my self definition. Runner? Sure. Blogger? I'd like to think so. Dancer? Certainly. Diabetic? No,  I don't like that one. I don't want it. So I'll work to avoid it.

I don't want to be the "chubby" guy either. I don't want to be the joke and the punchline by appearance. I don't want to have "sympathy dates" or "casual connections" or other people who don't take me seriously because of my appearance. I want attention. Positive attention and re-enforcement. I guess what I'm saying is, sometimes you balance good and bad, but sometimes you can indulge your human weaknesses for the motivation for positive changes. You are a composite of all your parts and the ones you starve are the ones that cry loudest to be fed. So feed your inspiration for improvement, and feed vanity for attention, and tame your greed by supplying it with a new diet of healthy alternatives. Take your rage to the gym. Work out your envy on the stairs. Balance yourself, and take off in your chosen direction.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

255.2 - Make mine Amy's

Mmmh grass.
When I first started eating healthy, I treated it like a prison sentence. I ate an assigned set of foods for a defined period of time after which I was allowed to take "breaks". Nowadays, I still do like to revisit my old favorites, but I break the chains of "bondage" with the Hurricane method of simply choosing to be where I was, instead of subjecting myself to it.

That leads to experimentation and finding solutions for adding variety within your new space, and the leading source of variety for me these days has been thanks to the Amy's line of prepackaged meals.

I appreciate these meals for having a great variety, using healthy and tasty ingredients and still providing the benefits of prepackaging. My skills as a cook are limited and there are only so many meals of my own design I can subject myself to in a week, when I want something different for lunch, I usually grab a couple Amy's meals. They range about 6-11 WeightWatcher's points apiece, and having more than one meets my lunch target very comfortably.

Feel free to leave comments regarding  your favorite meal time solutions staying healthy on the go in the comments.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

255.2 - What to learn from gaining.

Usually, if the green line is weight,
the red line is self esteem.
That's the trend that changes first.
When I step on the scale I am looking for feedback, and when that feedback shows I moved in the wrong direction, I enter a mini-panic. It's an overreaction to a single reading, sure, but I can't help the immediate feeling. The loss of effort, futility and hopelessness of the entire struggle when I see the numbers heading the wrong way. It's not good news, but it is news and how I handle the feedback is important in how I approach my program overall.

Weight loss is sometimes called a marathon, but at times it's a lot more like trying to mount a pile of sand. Do nothing, exert no effort and you slowly slide away from your goal. You can put a lot of effort in and exhaust yourself causing a backslide, and while you scratch away at the pile, it's important to check to make sure that the effort you're putting in is getting you closer to the top. Sometimes, that answer is no. All that ever means is, you need to adjust your strategy for the better.

I gained 9.6lbs in the last 2 weeks. I was making a mad scramble for the top of my pile and I wore myself out, face planted in the sand and slid. As I slid, I ignored the peak and went two weeks without considering my end goal. I took some calculated steps back to position myself for a new scramble, but all considered, I avoided looking forward for too long and now I find myself well behind where I was, but now I've had my break, I can re-affirm my grip on myself and my progress and I can direct myself towards my goal again. I can do so with the comfort of having indulged in temptations I've avoided and ignored for some time to stop blowing the experience out of proportion. Like those fond memories of an ex who can become so idolized over time once you forget those real life faults.

I learned my lesson, and now, I'm ready to start a new plan. Kicking off with the old healthy pattern, and moving further towards my goal with more discovering and experimentation in my new lifestyle. Stay tuned, it's going to be a Phat year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Day Resolutions

Happy New Year! Apocalypse ... IN YOUR FACE!!!
Happy New Year to you my treasured reader. I personally wish for you a happy and prosperous 2013.

Seems like every December, as the regrets and disappointments from the last year replace the fun and enjoyment of Christmas and we prepare to face the new year with a night of revelry, abandon, or a bottle of champagne in the living room, we also queue up our list of changes to our lifestyles and long term goals. January 1st is the beginning of many failed weight loss plans, that 6 week period when it's hard to find parking and available equipment at your local gym. It's the birth of New Year's Resolutions, those short lived, well-intentioned goals that we saddle ourselves with in hopes of being new people.

I don't mind the New Year's Resolution, I think it is important to assess you life and decide on changes you want to make, and commit to, but I propose a new approach, instead of just waiting till the end of the year, how about waiting till the end of the week, or maybe the end of the day? Keep the changes fresh and flowing, and keep it simple! If you have an overall goal for the year, your daily goals should get you closer, but setting reasonable, achievable, goals each day will help by providing an ongoing feeling of achievement, and progress.

It also helps to stop delaying needed changes. Too many times we do ourselves harm by waiting for a specific date in the future to be different. How many weekends have we accepted set backs, because "on Monday, I'll be right on it"? Keep the resolutions coming, write them on the fridge in dry erase marker so you can update them and cross them out. Don't lose sight of what you want to achieve, and you'll have more practice being that version of yourself you're trying to find. The Phat version!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

245.6 - Where does your money go?

This info graphic from the Washington Post compares the requirements of healthy living with the  actual spending. Which ... may not be a fair comparison. Let's face it, it's cheaper to buy a bike and keep riding it, than to ride the couch and keep buying insulin and other medications over time.
How invested are you in prevention?
... and why is that 'healthy' guy taking a nap in bacon?

Monday, December 17, 2012

245.6 - Given a chance, what can you do?

Life is short. Nations will rise and fall over generations and centuries, but individuals will spark, flicker and burn out like fireworks on the 4th of July. So burn bright while you can. Leave a lasting image on those who see you, and try to inspire them to burn as brightly as possible as well.

We have a few cycles on this big wet rock, and at moments of tremendous solemn reflection, it's important to consider how our lives and goals are influencing those around us. I hope I am making some headway with my efforts to better myself and help others in my real life and online. I hope you are as well.

Hurricane Sandy


International Aide

Regularly Scheduled Programming.

- Phat Guy

Friday, December 14, 2012

245.6 - Running and the slowest kid in school

Right, like fat kids would run while holding ice-cream.
I think the right starting point for this post is to explain the charity race to those who didn't have the pleasure of participating in one. Schools in Jamaica, and many influenced by the European tradition typically have an athletic grouping for their students. At my schools, the clubs were color associated, but I digress. The clubs all competed on one week each year in a series of events using the most athletic of their members to participate in various activities to earn points for the club. A healthy competition to say the least, and for many it was a fun event.

Then there were the slow kids. The ones who didn't make it into the qualifying races because ... well, look at them? Why waste time? Yeah, I was one of those kids. I had one event. The Charity race, open to any student who didn't qualify to be in other races. Every year, I entered, from prep school to high school I always entered to try for those points. I'd close my eyes and focus all my efforts on moving my legs as fast as possible and every year I was the last kid across the finish line. Every. Single. Year. Now, I want to go on record as being against the feel good 10th place trophy. I don't want a trophy for losing, but dammit, losing all those races did nothing for my self esteem or my ego.

Today I can run a 5K in just over 30 minutes. When I started running, I could run for about under a minute before crashing. This is how I made the transition.

First off, I needed the right tools, here's a few things I recommend:
  • A heart rate monitor.
  • A GPS tracking tool for running.
  • Comfortable breathable clothing.
  • An MP3 player
  • A strap/case/clip for that MP3 player that keeps it in a controllable, safe and DRY location.
I started off with a routine at LA Fitness assigned to me by a trainer. The point of the routine wasn't to push it to the limit, but to maintain my heart rate for an extended time. Here is the set.
Racing for a Charity, How you like me now?
  1. 45 minutes on the treadmill
  2. 20 minutes on the elliptical
  3. 15 minutes on an exercise bike (no recumbent bikes or bikes with backs, if you can quietly read a book, you're not exerting enough)
  4. 10 minutes on the stairs to cool down.
I looked at him like a mad man. I mean .. that's an hour and a half of activity. WTF dude. How am I supposed to spend all that time doing that? I can't ... well, I can try anyway. I made it through the first one, and it was pretty rough. I came back and did it again and it was easier. I got my heart rate monitor and stopped holding on to the metal monitors on the machines. Keeping it in the zone is the goal. Too high and I start getting really tired, too low and I'm not getting the best benefit. I was surprised at how little effort it took to stay in the zone at first. I was doing 3mph on a level 6 incline on the treadmill for the entire time (BOOOORING) about 4 to 5mph on the elliptical, no idea on the bike (I used the stationary bikes in the spinning room) and some light pace on the stairs. Having my heart rate feedback was critical and useful for avoiding early burn out. Having my MP3 player kept me motivated, and I played with the tempo of the songs I used for motivation, breaks and pacing. As this continued, I incremented the incline and speed of the treadmill. Slowly working my way up from 3mph and 6(degrees? I have no idea) to 3.5 mph and 8. At some point, I decided to try it. Running, just a shot, I was losing weight, I was making progress, I was feeling less and less tired from all the exertion, I knew if I could control my breathing, I could try it.

My first run lasted 5 minutes, I was super excited, I had never run that long before, only sprinted, I think it was 5pm, which for me was hauling ass. When I finished the 45 minute set, I tried it again at the end and I had 10 full minutes of running in one workout. So I started adding more running and using walking breaks to balance out my heart rate, still walking on the incline to do so. Well, now there's an app that tells you when to run and when to walk and how to pace yourself and get ready for a 5K from a lack of activity. I don't trust a running program that has no way to monitor how well your body is reacting to the stress, but that doesn't make it a bad idea.

The cardio I do nowadays is more along the lines of "Fartleks" where I stay level and modify my pace so that I can run for higher exertions for short periods, then rest and resume. It's helping my to jump ahead speed-wise. Forcing my body to grow more accustomed to the faster pace and bringing my control and heart rate into balance. Thanks to that, I have been consistently improving over time in 5Ks, runs and even dancing all night and partying with friends. I enjoy the energy I can sustain and it all started with some very difficult first steps, and the right set of Phat tools.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

245.6 - Weight loss powered by Nike

By your powers combined I am Captain Caveman!
Wait, that's not right ...
I am a gamer. Well, not really, a gamer plays a game for enjoyment and to embrace the experience. I need something else, I need to win. I need that score, I NEED POINTS!!! I want all the points, I want to rank highly, I want to beat everyone else and I have dedicated hours to this. Games as classic as Mario World, as complex as Grand Theft Auto and as silly as the YoVille balloon game. I got all the balloon combinations, and I bet most of you reading didn't even realize there was a balloon game. As soon as I found out it existed, I had to pwn it, hard. Then Nike came along and gave me a challenge, and my obsession is finally harnessed in the area of fitness.

I wear the Nike Fuel band. I get points for activity. Simple enough concept, but it get's better. I have a daily goal. At first, it's a little tricky figuring out just how much more than my normal daily output I need to add to get the point value I'm targeting, but I start walking more, running more and generally adding more activity in my day with the goal of hitting this score. I start getting sneaky about it. I go on walks instead of eating snacks. I take the stairs, and use the bathroom on the next floor so I have to go further to reach it. Soon enough, the goal is too easy to attain and I'm pushing it up.

On days that I work out, I naturally expend more energy, and that's when trophies kick in. I can earn trophies for hitting 50%, double, ... up to triple my daily target. So when I am scheduled for a bit more than a normal day, I can aim for a trophy instead of my resting target, but maintaining my goal performance means on rest days I have to be ready to at least hit the minimum.

It's really well done. Really motivating and useful, and my progress has been a lot steadier with the tool on my wrist. One of the phrases you hear a lot from the LA Fitness loud speakers is "What get's measured, get's improved". I think this holds true for my activity level. I thought it was enough to push it in the gym to cover for my slacking elsewhere, but being motivated to spend more time thinking about being active and working towards a goal is definitely giving me a motivating edge, and as you can read here. The social interaction is also very motivating.

There are a couple of these tools available, some have less features and a lower price tag, but I recommend that anyone trying to push themselves to do more find a way of tracking how well they're doing. Progress, the Phat way.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

245.6 - Achievement unlocked 25lbs ... again.

This week at WeightWatchers, I was awarded for hitting my 25lb goal. Progress has been slow because for some time it has been rather unsteady, but knowing that this trinket was earned with dedication and commitment to purpose makes all the difference.

I find it funny that I went in today expecting to have gained. Some mandatory work related holiday meals went a little less than ideal. Fortunately, my behavior at and around those event compensated for the moments I was not able to be as strict or as focused as I would have liked.

For those of you paying attention, I actually got to this point two weeks ago and had a modest gain between then and now, well these recognitions come slowly and the person doing the math doesn't always to remember to count them. I'm happy to be awarded today as a surprise rather than back when I was due. The holidays come with their emotional weight, but I will be continuing to strive for excellence in fitness, because as they say aim for the sky, if you miss, you're still on top of the world.

Wait, did I just quote a Lil Wayne lyric? I need a vacation. Phat Guy out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

249 - Tis the season!

Seasons Greetings from Bob Rivers and Richard Simmons
 Kudos to my good friend Andy for the link!

Monday, November 26, 2012

249.0 - Don't put your future on hold.

Don't fear the dread-mill.
I enjoyed this past weekend. I had some fun, met some friends, helped out with my family and showed people my appreciation for their influence in my life. Did this without the banquet, but I won't pretend I was die hard dieting all weekend. I just know I did way better than I would have, if I hadn't taken the hard stance on avoiding the big meal and dodging the ceremony of it all.

I talk to a few people who decide that around this time of year it's appropriate to hang up your running shoes and "take a break" from diet and exercise. Maybe this works for some, but in my personal story, this means setting myself back a chapter. I don't accept that. I don't concede that my ultimate goal of being in shape, and healthy, should take a back seat to emotional or celebratory eating. That somehow this season demands consumption and not reflection. I know there are traditional foods associated with this time, and skipping them is hard. The thing is, if it's worthwhile, why put your destination further out of your reach intentionally? Avoiding temptation is hard, but working your way through the end results will also be hard. Short term sacrifice for long term benefit. Sounds Phat to me.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

245.4 - Reality Check

I'm sitting here craving something sweet. Bad. I'm not going to go get anything because I have stuff to do, but just knowing that I'm missing out on a big meal with all the fixings while I'm sitting here with a fridge full of vegetables is frustrating. That's to be expected. This is what I planned for. I planned for my weakness. I planned for my frustration. I considered my past failures and surrounded myself with the tools I need to be successful, instead of the temptation that would lead me astray.

People say this is strength. No, this is managed weakness. When I treat myself, it's going to be on my terms. My portions and my choices. I wont have anyone to blame for any gains, and I won't have anyone to thank for any losses. Now pardon me, I have to go take a walk, because #TeamBAWSE always takes a working vacation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

245.4 - Burned it and earndit

Despite how I feel,
I'm still just a hamster in a wheel!
Do you use any running tools to track your duration or pace? If you do, you might qualify for an account with This service rewards your efforts with points that can be spent on discounts for food, fitness equipment, or even donated to a worth cause of your choosing.

I've been using the Nike Running app, and Foursquare (you get points for checking in at your gym or wellness center) to rack up points and participate in challenges with prize awards. I haven't earned a prize yet, but I did donate a few points to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and a 3rd world education program.

Whether you get stuff, or give back, I think it's a great idea to take the effort you're putting into fitness into tangible rewards, and I'm all about the rewards of Phatness.

Monday, November 19, 2012

245.4 - A challenge for the eating season.

Why choose?
Except for all the reasons you should ...
I applaud the efforts of those who have made it this far with your New Year's Resolutions or promises to self and family. Whatever inspiration you have for being on the fit and healthy path, congratulations. However, I am here today to tell you that the most perilous period of the year is upon us, and your efforts have little chance of making it through unscathed.

Notice the chill in the air? Your body certainly does. Whether you're watching snow pile up in the north or just avoiding the beach in Florida (because 65 is just too cold man), your body has an instinctive response to this situation. Worse than nipple hardening or shrinkage, your body demands insulation. From the onset of Halloween all the way through to the breaking of the chill and the welcome of Spring, your body is wired through centuries of evolution to respond to this period by adding soft squishy insulation around your vitals to prevent you from freezing to death. Your body did not get the memo about sweaters, fireplaces and furnaces.

It's not just you. Collectively we respond to this urge by suddenly providing food in abundance. We start with Candy and Costume night, where we judge people who hand out fruit and love those that give us, and our impressionable young, copious quantities of chocolate. Then it's on to Appreciation and Turducken night. Who completes a plate of Turducken without the accompanying cranberry sauce, 3 pies A LA MODE, and dangerous levels of alcohol? Terrorists, that's who. How about gifts and Ham night? Don't forget to drape the tree in candy hooks and blend those egg yolks with lots of sugar because just drinking brandy is for alcoholics. Then increment the year, pound the booze night. Candy because you love me day, and I guess we could throw in Cadbury Egg, and Marshmallow peeps for the savior's sacrifice for humanity day, but admittedly, by this point you've already recommitted to, and dropped out of your fitness program.

It's a long season. This year, I'm skipping it. The whole thing. I won't show up to any occasion for the expressed purpose of eating a large meal. My recommendation to you? Don't do that. I'm an asshole bailing on my family. Still, I issue you this challenge should you choose to accept it. Lose something. Take your weight, pre-Halloween, or right the heck, right now and make it less by January 1st. Don't succumb to innate instincts, or Brenda's cookie tray. Tell Brenda you love her directly, then pass on the tray and keep right on focused on your goals. I was 248 when I decided I want to be 240 on January 1st and would you look at that, I made it past major hurdle numero uno and I have a little progress in the bank.

4th 5K Race, 35:19
First 5K race? 52:00
It's not all bad news, remember that cold weather? That means that thing you can't do in the summer is more possible now. This is the time to walk, or run, or play a sport outside. This is the time to get out and get active, because if you already have the padding and are trying to get rid of it, this is the time of year when you can naturally stay active for longer, feel your true stamina, and make measurable progress. The overweight person overheats easily, but in the winter time, overheating becomes good old regular heating. Snow on the ground? Get that shovel. Strap on those boots and take a hike. Lower the temp in your room and jump rope or jacks like you've jumped before! Set a goal. Set a personal record. Break it tomorrow. I did a 9:58 minute mile pace run last Friday after rarely being in under 11 minutes. Try your body out. Like learning a new super power. Embrace your inner Phatness and tell me about it in the comments.

Good luck. We're gonna need it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

249 - Health and Fitness InfoGraphic

I can't take credit for this, but I found it on Reddit while I was browsing the health content and I thought it had some interesting facts. Grain of salt, there isn't a physician approval on this.

More Health and Fitness News & Tips at Greatist.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

249 ~ Adding dimension to the sphere

My goal for this blog is to make my journey of self-betterment an open dialogue with people going through similar struggles. I believe my voice is unique in the landscape of fitness advice as it comes from the informed place of someone using these techniques and improving, but still facing the day-to-day challenges in the search for my ideal. This is just one slice of the betterment pie. After an introduction some time ago, I've become increasingly more curious and invested in the landscape of advice on self-improvement, both physical and social.

I have taken it upon myself to earn the association with a group of online authors and content generators who have dubbed themselves the Man-o-sphere in hopes that what I offer will enrich the content available to their readers. This means more of what I've already demanded of myself - content, honesty, personal stories, and recommendations. This certainly includes the open discussion of progress as I adopt and experiment with new approaches, techniques, and mentalities.

Many thanks to my good friend at ThePrivateMan for his introduction to the ways of the sphere and it's benefits.

249 ~ Crossing the bridge.

I am all these guys.

Yeah, from the chubby unkempt one, to the more polished one, the smiley guy. That's all me. I have had the same jokes, similar (if not in some flux) life views and opinions. I've been consistently intelligent throughout that time. It's always been me, but lately something has changed. Lately the jokes are funnier. More laughing, more commendation, I actually considered a run on a comedy stage before I sobered up. I'm not funny. Or not crowd funny anyway. I'm just hot now. I didn't change who I was, I just changed what I looked like and amazingly the world is changing for me.

There's a funny joke I'm missing out on about how I lost weight, but my words gained it and I'm kicking myself for not finding a good one here, but people listen more. Sure I may get cut off in conversation, but when I talk, people respond insightfully as opposed to the wallpaper nature of the replies to my musings from before. Yeah, sure, I listened well and gave decent advice and I still do, but among friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances, the words have more meaning. Whether people agree or not, I have the ability to change your mood with what I say. That's an amazing ability. I use it to lay a compliment from time to time and you know what? I went from a polite "shudder thanks" to a much more pleasant "blush thank you!". Did I learn some new technique? Nope, I didn't study Don Draper and emulate him. You can tell by the fact that I give compliments. No, I just look better giving them. Oh, and this is not gender specific either.Tell a guy he's got a sharp outfit on and he'll appreciate the recognition. Tell him that with your own apparel and fitness on point and you may not get out of the conversation for 20 minutes.

The world makes clothes in S, M, L and XL, all other sizes are tolerated extremes and if you need more than one X you better know a tailor or be comfortable with having one option per mall. No offence to the wonderful work being done at the Casual Male, or Big & Tall franchises. Thank you guys. You were there for me when everywhere else decided I was too big to clothe, but let's not pretend about a fundamental issue here. I needed your products because I was mistreating myself. In the manner of a great nurse who tends to your wounds, you may appreciate the attention, but you have to be sick to get it, and I'm getting better. Marshall's, Ross, JC Penny, these's aren't exclusive and exotic, but if you wear north of a 40" waist and XL shirt, good luck compiling a single outfit between 3 locations. Designer brands don't make you a good person, but that's not the point. Designer brands make you look like you care about how you look and people respond to that. In droves. They compliment, they get inquisitive, they smile when you smile, laugh when you laugh and they respect you more.

The point of all the new clothes and updated features is my last point. Women are easier to interact with. Across the board, I am completely fine making that blanket statement. I got more attention and favors from friends. I can make strange women blush with the same old quips. Heck, even my Mom has stowed away her criticism of my habits and lifestyle that I used to get while I was working on my health. "You need to pay attention to this serious problem" is now "you look amazing, whatever you're doing keep it up". Protip: One of those makes me want ice-cream, one makes me want to get in a quick jog before dinner and I got both while I was dieting, exercising and doing the work.

Maybe I give too much credit to my appearance for the change in interaction because the changes have started internally. I am more confident. Go ahead, read some of my earlier apologetic material, and compare it to some of my new work, or just take my word for it, whatever. I'm not entirely over the mindset or self image issues I developed by getting so close to 300lbs, but I am far advanced in interactions and influence. I'm the Phat Guy I always wanted to be and I'm only halfway to where I want to go. So if you're starting out and you're wondering if passing on that fried meal, or throwing out that box of cookies or taking that walk is worth it, don't anticipate, but plan on the world congratulating you for it when you chain enough of those decisions together to make a difference.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

249 ~ 1000 Served

The first person to read this will apparently be my 1000th view. Thank you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

248 ~ #TeamBAWSE

Living the healthy lifestyle is a lengthy and exhausting process. Workouts, eating properly, all the micro-decisions and major commitments I have to make each week are enough to make me throw my hands up and call the whole effort off in favor of some cathartic gorging. I have a purpose. I have a mission and a plan, but what I have lacked for the longest time, I now have. Co-operation. I have a team. We are a unit with the specific goal of our mutual betterment through competition and motivation. We used to clock into our weight-loss like employees, but now we've given ourselves a promotion. We are #TeamBAWSE.

Ugh, can't wait for this workout to be over alreadyHmm, that workout didn't quite do it, I need to do a run
Another day on diet, another run through the same meals.This week, I think I'll use more fish and try that new seasoningto add flavor and variety
Well, I guess I'll celebrate this accomplishment with a treat.I'm going to share this accomplishment and I know I can expect some supportive feedback from my fellow teammate.
I need to weigh in to know what's happening.I track my activity level and my food intake to make sure I'm always in control of my weight loss.
This is a personal struggle that I must undertake on my ownThis is a shared experience, and I can give others the benefit of my knowledge and learn more ways to be successful.
When this is over, I'm going to relax and take a well deserved break from all these rules.This is my life, I make changes to who I am, not what I do, and I will make more changes for who I will become.

@JenMeanIt and I have been good friends for some time, and we've talked about our struggles and progress for years. Thanks to the Nike+ FuelBand (and a few other tools) we're doing more than sharing our stories; we're sharing our journey. We're competing, we're congratulating and we're doing this from about 1200 miles apart, and as you can see, we're reaping the benefits.

Give me a challenge and I'm good, give my team a goal and we're unstoppable.

#PhatGuy #CEOTeamBAWSE.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

248.6 - The empowerment of awesome.

I am very awesome. It's inspirational actually. I feel like giving myself a high five right now, hang on a moment ... there, it looks like clapping above your head to people who are less in tune but that was a well deserved high five and I'm gonna go ahead and pat myself on the back.

I'm at 248.6lbs or 20lbs down from my latest peak, which isn't a couple pounds lost, no my friend, those are pounds targeted and destroyed with the rage and fury befitting the legions of enemies who drape at my frame and crowd about my heart. I'm coming for you, I might take a couple of you out next week, just for looking funny in that new shirt I bought, because I am an awesome destroyer of weight and fat is powerless against my full focus to defeat it.

Food avoidance? Ha, no. I don't play that silly keep away game anymore, I'm just done entertaining crap foods. I don't eat that. Chocolate bars? Oh delicious, but I'm far too awesome to let silly taste bud appeasement get in the way of my purpose. I am too awesome to pollute myself. So I don't. It's not worth it.

Oh, let me talk to you about my workouts! I am killing it in the gym now!! I'm so much better than I was before in every dimension! I can run faster for longer, I can lift heavier and my form is much better, to be honest, I've gained a decent amount of muscle in place of the recently deceased fat and it shows in my improved movement, energy, and flexibility. It's brilliant! I can't wait to see the next level of improvement. I can even work out solo, I don't know that I remember what it is to wait on someone else now. I'm completely self motivated. Sure, my trainer is there a few times a month (quick shout out, follow @TJFitness on Instagram for photos of training and prepping for his bodybuilding competition this month) but he's in awe of my achievements as well and I don't depend on his presence to have a good session.

Props to those who helped me unlock awesomeness. Every like, every comment, every private message or smile, to everyone who ever let me rant about my progress, I thank you for giving my ego the boost it needed to hit this level and really appreciate it. I want the thank the dude at the gym who dances when he runs on the treadmill, who showed me enjoying a workout isn't about effort or accomplishment, it's about attitude and commitment. I want to thank the guy who comes in on his wheelchair to work out his upper body and who works out on the bike to do cardio. Yeah, he does cardio with his arms on the floor in the middle of the gym and no-one cares. Well I care, because it showed me that obstacles are meant to be overcome, not leant on. I gotta thank my trainer too, he's entirely into the philosophy of awesomeness and it's helped him overcome serious injuries in preparation for his first event.

I am awesome, and I believe you are awesome too. I really truly believe you can find that seed within you and foster it and care for it and grow it with solid achievements and measured progress that you can look at your achievements with pride and take that impulse forward. Phat Guy, awesomely signing off this awesome post. How awesome was that?! Very :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

258.8 - Just another guy struggling.

I've spent quite a bit of time since my last post wondering whether or not I deserve to be writing a blog about fitness and health. After all, I spent much of that time trying to apply everything I thought I knew about losing weight to moving past my latest obstacle. Every thing from weight watchers tracking, working out, eating foods from my Slim4Life program and trying to distance myself from the sources of my usual setbacks, all seemingly without progress. I have spent over a year trying to attain the 'short term goal' of getting below 260lbs, and finally this past week I guess the stars aligned in my favor. It's a major milestone, not so significant for any particular health benefit of being this weight as opposed to slightly higher. Moreso for finally justifying the techniques I've returned to after a long absence.

Of note, I cook more for myself than I have for some time. I haven't missed a workout in months despite the temptation to spend a few more evenings brooding at home. Most importantly, when I hit the plateau a while back, and had a couple medical setbacks, I managed to renew my confidence that I was doing the right thing for my body and my overall well being. It kept me going when the scale disappointed me, and this past week I cleared my hurdle, and now I can finally pat myself on the back briefly and begin the hard work of the next 10lbs. Here's hoping that's not another one year commitment!

Friday, January 6, 2012

And then you wait ...

They say patience is a virtue, well, I'm having my virtuous nature tested daily. It's been less than two full weeks since the new year got underway and thanks to some last minute celebrating in the holiday season, I'm starting a behind the pack on my goals for this year.

I usually pass on making resolutions. The concept that major life changes should begin on the first of each new year is an easy scapegoat for all the bad decisions made prior. This year, however, I took some time to reflect. I considered advice I've received for increasing the efficacy of my workouts. I considered my performance aiming towards last year's goals, I considered my current position in life and where I wanted to be. I too a lot of time to reflect, and as a result of this reflection I put together a few new plans. Resolutions? Sure. Why not? It was right around the time that I needed to make some serious changes.

Now, I have some personal resolutions regarding prioritization of family and friendships, and certainly some financial goals I would like to meet this year, and also some personal development, but this isn't a relationship blog, and I'm not qualified to hand out financial advice. So here's how my weight loss strategy is changing this year.
  • Self awareness is key, last year I had a large group of exceptions in my diet, not necessarily because I was weak, but mostly because they were required in my social setting. I allowed these setbacks to retard my progress moreso than they warranted by compounding the incidents with more ill advised actions. In more plain language, I started a lot of internal justifications with the phrase "Well, I'm already screwed, I might as well ...". I used to think the solution to that was hoping back on the horse as soon as possible, now ... I think maybe it's safer not to dismount. Planned exceptions, anticipated events, and compensatory physical output. That's the method this year.
  • Eggnog tastes great, but I consume it in unholy quantities. This year, I'm adding nog, to alcohol and most ice-creams as a compound I never consume in private. I don't make a habit of drinking alcohol alone, but I don't have a problem with alcohol. The compounds I actually do have an issue with are now banned from my private stock, only to be consumed in the wild. The nice thing about this resolution is, the seasonal nature of a lot of these things will help me stay away.
  • Every plan needs a contingency. Rules and laws typically have loopholes to allow for a special circumstances, I have to find some way of compensating for eventual deviations and as such, I'm upping my gym attendance from 'regular' to full on 'rat'. I've fought this one for a while, but I'm ready to accept that in my current physical condition, and with my current set of obligations, not only am I able to sustain a more regular presence in the gym, the impact that has on the rest of my live just isn't as adverse as it would have been. I'm more fit, but to hit my goals, I need to make more regular use of that fitness. My body is still complaining about this new schedule, but if I can make it through the period of protest, I can reap the benefits later.
I'm writing this at the twelve day mark of this new year, but somehow I'm expecting immediate and drastically positive results. I'm trying to talk myself off my scale (and away from any ledges) but it's hard not getting any  feedback from all this new effort. Still, I have the confidence that I'm doing the right thing. That's enough to get by for now.

I would resolve to update more, but no. Here's the thing, I update when inspired by a particular topic. Thankfully, I don't have to write fluff, I know this means I wont be as interesting to follow since I don't have regular updates, but I'd much rather the quality of what I produce always meet a certain standard, rather than making my deadlines every month. Churning these out just isn't phat to me, but I'll have more to say soon, just be patient.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

262.6 ~ Check it out

Someone shared this video, and I thought it would be great to pass on. I get a lot of advice on being healthy and it usually all says "if you're still fat you're not doing enough" well, what is enough? What is enough to improve your life an begin reaping benefits of living healthier.

Sure, more effort leads to greater benefit, but there is a diminishing return above a given point, give yourself credit for what you are able to accomplish, and if you can do more, then do it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

262.6 - Making progress ... losing weight that is ...

I'm busy ... but I'm kicking ass ... back in a bit.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

260lbs - It can't be easy.

Weight loss contest at work, a history of success, a positive training experience and all the incentive in the world I still can't seem to move the number on my scale. If anyone still follows these rantings, please post in the comments about what you do to break the back of a slump.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

260 - Check this out

I like reading a lot of cracked articles, and one thing I appreciate is when they take a break from making Batman jokes to give some good advice. Here is Cracked on 'Diet Products'.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

269.1 - Fatman Returns: The Sequel

When I last posted, I was coasting along with Weight Watchers and LA Fitness workouts helping me along the way. I made it all the way to 228 (according to the scales at WW) and things were looking great, I was looking for smaller clothes and getting ready for a whole new wardrobe ... then I went through a significant life change that caught me unprepared, and I faltered ... for about 6 months. During this time I worked from my home, had limited social interaction (moved partway across the country) and generally wallowed in imagined misery.

The spirit of this blog is to share my story in total so people can learn from my success and mistakes and make progress on their journey, in that vein here is my self analysis of the mentality that brought me to where I am now.

"I can't workout if I work from home!", I told myself this so much that when it came true it was the fulfillment of a great fear ... on that I invented and gave credence. I'm lazy, I wouldn't be heavy if I wasn't, so it takes an extra effort to leave the comfort of my home to go to the gym and exercise. Working from an office with a gym on my route home was a great convenience, but convenience can't be the only reason to chose fitness. Determination should have been enough to get me to at least the free community gym for some activity on a treadmill, but alas, that happened once, and far more often I spent blocks of time laying in bed and watching new TV series on Hulu.

"I can't do this by myself, I need help!", this lie was a particularly offensive one in retrospect as I've spent a lot more time working out alone, making shopping decisions alone, cooking alone, than I have in any communal setting. What's more, I had help, weight watchers groups, gym trainers, friends, family all were available to me, and all were regarded as "too much effort" or "unavailable" when the truth was, I probably just needed to ask.

"Tomorrow I'll be back into it, so today I can do what I want", this little demon kept me eating greasy ethnic (Jamaican, Indian, Haitian, supposedly Chinese) foods, fast foods, large quantities of dessert items and other dietary atrocities all the while 'planning' to get back into the healthy lifestyle. The truth is, and I'll put this in all caps so you take me seriously (that's how the internet works right?), THE MOMENT YOU DECIDE TO LOSE WEIGHT, CHANGE YOUR HABITS. Don't wait till the next day, don't put it off till next week, don't bother with the last indulgence. If you're serious, commit to changing your habit, and then change your habit. It's not easy, but it's not supposed to be easy, delaying the process just makes the obstacle you have to overcome all the more daunting. Don't waste time reminding yourself of what you're giving up when it would be better to spend that time learning and adjusting to your new lifestyle.

"It's not that bad yet, I can do this a little more.", so a week after working from home I lost a pound, and the following weak I lost a little more. My metabolism had improved to the point that I could actually blow off my routine for a little while and still make weight loss progress, but the notion that this would continue gave me a ridiculous false sense of security and I paid for that with 40lbs of bad decisions regarding health, fitness and overall lifestyle.

So there, after 60lbs worth of weight loss progress that I was constantly congratulated for, I sacrificed myself for no reason and wound up 40lbs regressed. I've returned to weight watchers meetings, and I made it back to the gym last night, but they're not habitual yet. It takes time to reform habits. Time and commitment. I know I can do it, but it would be nice to not have to do it again. Still there is a new important lesson to learn. There is no weight at which my old habits are sustainable. I cannot have the expectation of somehow, someday leaving this weight loss process behind and not returning to where I was before. If I want to prevent "Fatman: Forever" I have to learn from these experience and grow ... or shrink ... yeah, I have to shrink from these experiences ... or something :P. Till next time, I'm the Phat Guy saying "Did I tell you to smoke racks? No, Phat did that so hopefully you wouldn't have to track through that." ... yeah, Jay-Z and Batman references. You're welcome.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What's the point?

To follow up on my post regarding weight watchers, I wanted to give a better practical idea of how the program works. I posted a sample meal and some insight on the calculations but charting my time in the gym gave me the idea of running down a list of comparisons for a fixed point value. So here goes a list of what weight watchers considers is 5pts.

  • 15 egg whites
  • 2 1/2 eggs
  • 7 large tomatoes
  • A slice of Banana Bread
  • 3 1/4 slices of normal bread
  • 6 slices of reduced calorie (35 - 45 calorie/slice) bread
  • 1 3/4 table spoons of butter
  • 1 2/3 table spoons of margarine
  • 7 table spoons of Hummus
  • 8 table spoons of whipped Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 17oz Apple (about 3 medium apples)
  • 1 Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar
  • 2 Atkins Endulge Caramel Bars.
  • 1 1/2 Kellogg's double chocolate protein bar.
  • 1 2/3oz of beef brisket
  • 5 ounces of grilled chicken breast.
  • 3 1/2oz of Salmon
  • 8oz of Tilapia
Points for food are based on the caloric content, the total fat and the amount of fiber contained in one serving. As you can see, a day spent eating tomatoes and egg whites is going to be better than downing buttered banana bread.
    Exercise is judged mostly on Calories
    • 25 minutes of competitive singles tennis
    • 1hr of shooting baskets
    • 25 minutes of basketball
    • 90 minutes of billiards.
    • 25 minutes of cycling (over 12 mph)
    • 60 minutes of cycling (under 12 mph)
    • 60 minutes of disco dancing
    • 25 minutes of hip hop dancing
    • 90 minutes of Wii Sports Tennis
    • 60 minutes of Wrestling (can't seem to find the points for hitting someone with a chair)
    • 25 minutes of Tae Kwon Doe
    So what does this mean? The numbers mean whatever you want them to. So if you want a Hershey bar and you don't have any points left over, you can find a hip hop club to dance at for 25 minutes or spend 90 minutes in front of your Wii. In general, you earn activity points through the week and spend them on the foods you love and you continue to lose weight as long as you can strike the balance. Keep it up and you'll be phat in no time ;)

    234.2 - Never can say goodbye.

    The Jackson 5 may have been talking about their heart strings being too strong to break from their love interest but I find this is also relevant to my wardrobe. When I started this article I had celebrated more than 6 inches of waist reduction without a single new shirt, new belt, or anything but changing pant sizes to landmark my progress. Thanks to a friend, I've made steps towards a quick refresh of my daily wear and I'm better off for it.

    Some quick progress stats.
    • Pants: Started off getting pinched in my 46" waist pants. I'm now teasing a 38" waist.
    • Shirts: I've been wearing XXL for as long as I can remember but apparently I'm ready for a Large
    • Shoes: No change apparently, but there is a possibility for reduction of shoe size when losing weight.
    • Weight: 293 - 234 = 59lbs which, for an overall of 110lbs means I'm passed my halfway mark to my goal!
    • Pushups: I used to be able to fire of 15 and now I can make it to 25
    • Pullups: I can do one now!
    • I can also run on a treadmill without my heart leaping out of my chest
    I'm trying to keep better track of my clothing sizes by keeping something a size too small in the back of the closet and trying it every couple weeks. My waist can handle a 38 right now, but my upper thighs are a current problem area. I'm flirting with the idea of some before / middle shots. Let me know what you think in the comments.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Lessons I learned while watching my weight.

     I've been working the weight watchers program for about a month now and aside from a few errant meals that ran through my point allocations (business trips are tough) I've been making good progress towards my goals and I've learned a few things along the way. I thought it was about time that I shared a few points.

    To begin, here's a quick run down of how the program works. A short 2 minute test gives you a number of 'points' allocated to you for each day of the week. It's based on gender, age, size and a few other components that judge your body's natural ability to burn calories at rest. Your daily point allocation is supplemented by a weekly allocation for variety. These extra points can be used on surprise birthdays or business lunches, or planned deviations from the usual meal grind. The system doesn't tell you what to eat (although suggestions are made as to what essentials should make it into your plan during each day) but it gives guidance in an array of scenarios. Here is a sample breakdown:

    I have 36 points which is a lot or not much depending on how you look at it. Breakfast is typically this:
    • Some egg whites which are about .5pts each egg v.s. 2pts for a whole egg.
    • A serving of fruit (typically 1-2 points)
    • Some slices of reduced calorie toast (Sara Lee's 45 and delightful .5 a point per slice)
    • With some smart balance spread for essential plant oils and who in their right mind eats dry toast. (2 pts)
    • 8 ounces of milk, measured, at about 2 points.
    • A whey soy protein powder mix for extra protein energy (2pt)
      This starts my day with about 8~9 points. It addresses, protein, nutrient, dairy and starch requirements for my day. I still have 28 more points to allocate between snacks and meals. Since I have complete control over dinner and breakfast during the week, because I cook and eat those meals at home, I save the most points for lunch to give me the most flexibility. On the weekend I will typically skip lunch and use my points for a big breakfast, a couple snacks during the day, and a satisfying dinner. This is how I use the program and it seems to work out pretty well. I've almost hit 5lbs lost on the program, not the same pace I was doing before, but progress is progress and these lifestyle changes are incredibly easier to adapt to my routine. Now for the lessons.

      Watch what you eat. Alright that pun was beneath me, but it's still a good point. One of the most important lessons you learn from the weight watchers system is that nothing should cross your lips until you have some idea of the effect it will have on your overall nutrition. We eat for many reasons, but the most important reason is, we eat to nourish our bodies and provide the energy and strength needed to perform activities during the day. So when you put fuel in the tank you should have an idea of whether you're topping off or overloading your system. The energy in a whole medium pizza may get you through a marathon but is far more than you require to channel surf on the couch for an afternoon. By the same token, a healthy nutritious salad (light on dressing) might hit the spot at lunch and get you to your afternoon snack, but don't go climbing any mountains without getting some extra proteins and carbohydrates into your system for the haul.

      Record what you eat. All of it. Being forced to track every morsel that crosses the tongue has the effect of discouraging unnecessary snacking. Point calculation on each food before eating it helps me to plan for the current meal and the ones coming later. A heavy lunch may need to carry me to bedtime but a light morsel will allow me an evening snack and something to eat at the end of the day. I can plan for special events by racking up more points with exercise so I have more padding for unusually eating patterns, which brings me to the next point.

      No diet plan is complete without exercise and weight watchers has a great system for demonstrating that. Activity adds points. My yoga class gives me 4 extra points for the week for each hour I attend. My gym cardio gives me 10 points (but takes an hour and a half), and a training session gives me about 5 points. If I'm low on points for the week, I need more activity. If I'm eating badly, I need to account for that behavior with increased exercise output. Making that association is with actual numerical values is awesome because it lets me draw a direct corollary between the effort I expend and the freedom I get to deviate from the norm while still losing weight.

      Lastly, I learned that sharing the experience of losing weight with a stranger in the same position as you can be more useful than pouring your heart out to a friend who never had your problems. It's a harsh realization, but there is a difference in the mentality and approach to fitness that someone takes if they've brushed with morbid obesity, v.s. what someone who has only ever had to battle vanity weight. The struggle to avoid triggers and stay on course is best shared openly. I'm not saying everyone needs a support group, but we all need support from someone who can identify with our challenges and lead us in the right direction. I hope in sharing my experiences, I am helping you get more used to the idea of being phat.