29 09 2008

Current weight: 252.8lbs

Change from last time: – 2.2lbs

total lost: 15.2lbs

Waist circumference: 44.5 inches

Change from last time: -1.1

Body fat %: 47.6

Notes: It feels a bit miraculous when I think that I’ve lost 15 pounds without skipping meals, being hungry all day or spending hours on boring cardio machines.



23 09 2008

Current weight: 255lbs

Change from last time: – 2lbs

total lost: 13lbs

Waist circumference: 45.6 inches

Change from last time: -.4

Body fat %: 48.0

Notes: Steady and healthy and a bit frustrating. Probably only because I’ve done my fair of extreme dieting where I lost four or more pounds in a week (not all of them body fat, I know.) I know this way is much healthier, but it’s hard not to want it all to happen faster. Body fat analyzer is still jumping all around.

Oh Noes! Exercise!

23 09 2008

Everyone’s been talking about this study so I thought I’d hop on the bandwagon.

Both DR over at healthhabits and Mcbloggenstein at Stop Being so Fat have written some good posts about it. I don’t want to repeat too much of what they’ve said, so go over and give both of their entries a look.

First, I want to repeat what a lot of people are saying in that this isn’t such an unreasonable idea. Like I said in my post about NEALS (non-exercise-activity-levels), being active is more than going to the gym, it’s also about making a hundred small choices a day. And yes, most people do have the time to be active for several hours a day *and* go to the gym 3 days a week.

This is one of those areas where people are really good at lying to themselves and sabotaging their own efforts to lose weight/improve health. According to the Nielsen ratings company, Americans watch over four hours of tv every day. I know so many people who are absolutely adamant that they cannot go to they gym because they lack the time and yet they always know what happened on some sitcom the night before. People are as good at forgetting that hour and a half in front of the tv or computer as they are at forgetting that half a cookie or those couple of m&m’s they ate.

But But but! I can already hear all those excuses. All over the internet people dismissed the idea that they had the time or the energy to maintain those kind of activity levels. “We have jobs and kids and commutes!” Just like I always find it amazing that the internet manages to have such high representation among those with fairly rare conditions (everyone on the internet has celiacs, some sort of diagnosis for a auto-immune or metabolic disorder and is most likely on some sort of genius-yet-troubled spectrum of behavior), I am equally amazed at the number of people who can argue for hours on the internet about how they have no time for fitness. A full 70% of people on the internet have 8 kids, a four hour commute and a physically demanding job?

Probably not. Chances are these people have pretty sedentary jobs, sit in a car for maybe an hour or so a day and have more than enough time to stay active, read to their kids *and* still watch The Daily Show before bed.

Three to four hours of activity sounds like a lot when you try to spin it to mean that you must be in a gym for three to four consecutive hours. How about instead you start making it a priority to get a decent night’s sleep so you’re not completely dead in the mornings. Then…
1) Try to fit in a 15-20 minute walk before breakfast just to wake you up and get your blood moving.
2) Instead of sitting in front of good morning america with a bowl of sugar flakes, put a radio in the kitchen and listen to the news while you putter around and make a decent breakfast.
3) At the office you can make it a rule that you only use the elevators if you’re a) running late for something important or b) having to go up more than 5 floors.
Hell, I won’t even tell you to spend your lunch break walking.
Once you get home, don’t turn on the tv or instantly grab some high calorie snack or beverage. Find other ways to unwind. Maybe…
1) tossing a ball with the dogs or chatting with the kids while you cook dinner or clean up.
2) If you’re a type that does well with stricter rules, then make it a rule that the tv must stay off until an hour after dinner is over.
3) You can do what some married friends of mine do and take turns going to they gym. They each get several nights during the week where they go to they gym while the other takes care of dinner.
4) Make physical activity part of family time. Walk and chat with your spouse while the kids ride bikes.
5) Invest in a trampoline. Great exercise. Kids love it.
6) Housework is wonderful. Keeps you busy and, when you do sit back to relax, you’re going to be able to really let go and not worry about things you want to get done.

Not including time in the gym, it would be easy to work in 45 minutes of light activity in the morning and well over an hour at night. Including the stair climbing at the office (and maybe some walking breaks during the day) it would be perfectly feasible to get 2.5 hours of activity a day without stepping foot inside a gym. Assuming a person is sleeping 8 hours a night, spending 11 hours at and travelling to/from work, that would still leave five hours in a day. So long as you make activity a part of actual life and not just a terrible chore, you don’t have to feel like that time is a sacrifice either. In fact, it can be a much better way to connect with your friends and loved ones that sitting slack-jawed in front of the idiot box.

A final note, the gene that was the focus of this study, dubbed FTO, is associated with increased weight and an increased risk of obesity, but it’s not a guarantee and not all fat people have this particular gene variant. So whatever you do, don’t listen to the headlines or to the people who would have you believe that this study is proof that your weight is beyond your control. Instead, marvel at how our lifestyle choices can change the expression of our very genes. Remember, you are still in control.


9 09 2008


Current weight: 257lbs

Change from last time: – 2lbs

total lost: 11lbs

Waist circumference: 46 inches

Change from last time: none

Body fat %: 48.0

Notes: I suspect my body fat analyzer is full of crap. It jumps around dramatically. Still, I think it can give me a good general idea of the trend wrt my body composition.


4 09 2008

It’s been a while, I know.

Current weight: 259lbs

Change from last time: – 2lbs

total lost: 9lbs

Waist circumference: 46 inches

Change from last time: -.5 inch

Body fat %: 48.3

Notes: Had company and some life stuff, but mainly it’s the snacking that gets me, I think. Every time I walk through the kitchen, I tend to take a bite of something. It adds up. I can definitely see a difference in my body though which is mainly attributable to the weight training.


1 09 2008

Exercise is fantastic. It makes me feel great. It’s great for my heart. It helps me re-shape my body. It’s good for the libido. I also believe that it is helpful in losing weight. However, it’s never been shown to be *that* helpful – at least not at the levels that most people do it. Why? Probably lots of reasons: People don’t push themselves that hard, They get stuck in ruts where they do the same exercise each time, They don’t gain muscle mass. But at least one of the big problems is that moderate exercise doesn’t burn that many calories. Think of it this way, to lose one pound a week, you should have a calorie-deficit of 500 calories/day. Even when I’m working pretty hard for 1/2 hour, I probably burn, at most, 300 calories. If I was only going to the gym 3 days a week (not so unusual considering most people’s hectic lives) I might only burn 900 calories per week exercising. It would therefore take about 4 weeks to lose 1 pound of body fat by exercise alone. This is why running a calorie deficit is so essential to losing body fat.

There have, however, been a few studies which show that natural fidgeters burn a lot more calories than people who are good at sitting still. This led to the recommendation by some to try and learn to become a fidgeter. Er? Maybe not. It kind of feels like trying to force yourself to have a tic. You might be able to do it so long as you’re conscious about it, but the moment it slips your mind, you’re probably going to stop.

One thing I’ve realized about myself during the introspection leading up to this change is that I’ve often used exercise as an excuse to be utterly lazy the rest of the day. I know I’m not alone in this. We go to the gym. We sweat a lot. We feel all good and virtuous then spend the rest of the day being pretty sedentary. We avoid heavy duty chores or yardwork. We take the elevator. We decide to lounge around after dinner instead of taking a walk. Why not? We already worked out! Except, as I said above, gym exercise, especially moderate cardio, isn’t generally going to be the deciding factor in weight loss.

For me the answer includes weight training, doing smarter cardio and N.E.A.Ls. NEAL stands for non-exercise activity level and is my personal measure of all activity not involving a sports bra and stretchy pants. I truly believe that a lifestyle change is more than just food, more than the gym, it is about how you spend your free time. It is about taking that leisurely walk after dinner instead of watching tv or about not putting off cleaning the house. It’s all those little things that don’t really do much, but can add up over weeks and months to thousands upon thousands of extra burned calories.

It’s more than just calories though. It’s about being an active person. I really believe that movement begets movement. It feels easier to come in from a stroll and clean the kitchen than it does to force myself out of a chair and do so.

So what are some easy ways I increase my NEALs?

  • Walk and talk: anytime I’m talking to some on my cell phone, especially during long conversations, I walk around. Sometimes I can add over a mile of walking in a day just by slowly walking the neighborhood while I talk.
  • Being a neat freak: My house won’t pass the white glove test, but I make sure to work at keeping it vacuumed, scrubbed and mostly dusted. Also, when I notice something that needs to be done (like the fan blades need to be wiped down) I do it as soon as possible.
  • Taking the stairs: Seriously, it’s advice you’ll hear from everywhere and there’s a good reason for that. Do what I do and treat every set of stairs like a mini HIIT session (unless of course, there are lots of people in front of you.)
  • Meander. Find some place in town that you really like. Maybe a neighborhood with great architecture or a botanical garden or a museum and make it a go-to place when you’ve got nothing else to do. Then just enjoy wandering around. Trust me when I tell you it’ll be more fun than watching tv.

There are lots of ways to incorporate movement into our lives even outside the gym or the running trail. At first, it can feel as forced as trying to make yourself fidget all day long, but give it time and you’ll find yourself craving movement more and more. And even better, those times you do sit down to watch an entire season of Doctor Who or to read a book for hours on end will feel like a refreshing treat.

weekly stats

13 08 2008

Current weight: 261lbs

Change from last week: – 2lbs

total lost: 7lbs

Waist circumference: 46.5inches

Change from last week: -1 inch

Body fat %: 49.0 – this is a depressing amount of fat

Notes: none