One chunky rollercoaster ride

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One afternoon I checked out a local park near my office which is in an industrial area. This is what I found. Needless to say, I’m not coming back to this park for a relaxing walk on my lunch break.

In 2011 I lost 50 pounds. That was great. In 2012 I found 25 of those pounds. That was not-so great. What does 2013 hold for my waistline? I have no freakin’ idea but I’m not very optimistic at the moment.

We’ll see how that pans out as the year unfolds.

As a die-hard baseball fan it’s hard not to look back as 2011 as an outlier, an out-of-nowhere career year from an average/mediocre player who never comes close to posting similar numbers. Up until 2011 I was a fairly lazy desk jockey who steadily gained weight since graduating from college. I made several efforts to get on top of my diet and work exercise into my routine but nothing ever stuck.

Somehow, some way, things clicked in 2011. By the end of the year I was pretty confident that I had a solid new set of habits in place to at least keep me on the road to better health. Then 2012 came around and everything started to unravel.

I’d be lying if I said some personal issues from 2011 didn’t spill into 2012 and lead to some unhealthy indulgences with grog and grub. Health also ended up playing a major role in the return of 25 pounds to my gut. At the beginning of 2012 we moved our kids into a large day care center and the rest of the year was Plague City. Every time I started to get back on track with exercise the entire household would get sick and I’d end up out of action for a couple of weeks. I’m actually at home sick right now so it looks like The Plague still has a hold of me.

The pounds slowly started glomming onto me and then the onslaught of flab picked up pace when I landed a long-sought new job. The new gig led to a seismic shift in hours and just like that, the time to exercise seemed to vanish.

Committing more hours to work by adding a notable commute to my life also led to a slew of sloppy habits with my diet. I went from having the time to eat healthy breakfasts to being lazy and eating breakfast burritos and bagel sandwiches in San Francisco. Man, oh man, I love me some breakfast burritos!

By the time winter 2012 came along, my waistline was rapidly expanding and my energy level was steadily shrinking as the calories piled up and the exercise slipped away. All in all, a terrible combination.

I’ve tried to dig back in a few times over the past couple of months and get my diet back in line while finding some opportunities in my new schedule to squeeze in some walks. When I stay on top of things it seems like my weight at least holds steady. Of course, the negative momentum from 2012 has a lot of … well, weight behind it which has a tendency to keep dragging me down.

So here we are, a couple of months and a few pounds into 2013 and I’m left scratching my head while gazing down at my plump belly wodering how things will play out this year. Will I rediscover the success of 2011, will I continue the fall of 2012, or will I end up landing somewhere in between?

Of course, acting like the whole thing is out of my hands is kind of absurd and totally lazy but I guess that’s kind of my thing. It really just gets down to coming up with a workable plan and having the willpower to stick to it long enough to develop new habits.

Knowing what to do is the easy part. Actually doing it is a whole other challenge.

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It’s a Happy Meal, right? So why aren’t I smiling?

The Happy Meal is actually a gateway drug to a lifetime of obesity isn’t it? Ronald McDonald, you are one wickedly clever clown.

A few times a week our 3-year-old son asks for French fries. Sometimes it’s when he’s getting picked up from day care and sometimes it’s when we’re out running errands and we cruise through a part of town with some fast food joints. He doesn’t even need to see the restaurant. If we get to an intersection he’s familiar with and he knows that there’s a McDonald’s several blocks ahead we’ll hear an excited call for fries burst out of his mouth.

The little man fell hard for those delicious little cuts of potato several months ago and there’s been no looking back. He digs’em, big time. And we love him, big time. Which leads us to treating him and his 1 1/2 –year-old sister to Happy Meals as often as a couple of times a week.

Why not? It makes the kids happy (McDonald’s nailed it when they named these things), saves us some time at dinner or lunch, and amuses them anywhere from 10 seconds to a whole 24 hours with the utterly worthless toys that come with every grease-laden calorie bomb.

But all these Happy Meals are leading a little problem. Dad’s been swooping in and absent-mindedly finishing off what they leave behind.

Our daughter will eat just about anything so if you give her half a cheeseburger she’ll knock off anywhere from 90 to 75 percent of it. Hand the other half to our notoriously picky son and there’ll still be half a cheeseburger sitting there when he leaves the table to play in about 10 or 15 minutes. The same goes for chicken nuggets.

As for the French fries, our son treats fries the way Cookie Monster treats cookies and more often than not he lays waste to every bit of crispy potato put in front of him while our daughter leaves a handful at the dining room table by the time she’s done chowing down.

The fatter Americans get, the more he smiles. OK, maybe I’m being a little too hard on the guy. It’s not like anyone puts a gun to our head and makes us buy lard bombs from McDonalds.

All in all, that leaves a handful of fries and a little more than half a cheeseburger and a few chicken nuggets behind for Distract-O Dad to scarf down in between chasing the kids around the house after they decide they’ve had enough of that whole sit-still-in-one-place-and-eat-thing. That’s not a ton of calories to add to my weekly regimen but when you add it up over several weeks and months it starts to register on the bathroom scale.

About a year ago when I started this blog I cut way back on fast food and what little I did eat was far better than what I was indulging in before I started paying attention to what I was shoving down my gullet. I was going for turkey burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches and gravitating toward side salads or just splitting a small order of fries with my wife. Not bad for a guy who usually went for the biggest, greasiest thing on the menu while enjoying every single artery-clogging bite.

But now I’m sabotaging myself by giving in to the easy temptation of finishing off what looks like a harmless little bit of fast food that my kids leave at the table. Once you wrap your head around the cold, hard fact that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet you come to the conclusion that the iconic Happy Meal ultimately doesn’t lead to a happy place even in small doses.

For now I think my kids can get away with eating Happy Meals if we only indulge them a couple of times a week at the most. They have the amped up metabolism of a small animal and spend almost every waking moment running around so the calories Ronald McDonald (you’re an evil little clown) throws at them are quickly burned off.

But for this old man, a little bit of a Happy Meal here and there is a dangerous thing.

What came first, the chubby guy or the egg?

These used to gross me out in the morning but now they kind of turn me on for breakfast.

Somehow, some way, I basically made it through almost four decades of life without eating eggs for breakfast. Don’t ask me why, but they grossed me out as a kid and I stubbornly fought them off and protested their appearance on my plate for so long that after a while all I knew was that I didn’t eat them for breakfast even though I had kind of lost track of exactly why I despised them.

OK, I guess I kind of know why they grossed me out as a kid. The sight of a fried egg, sunny side up, bleeding yolk all over the place seemed rather repulsive and the stench of a hard-boiled egg just seemed too vaguely fart-like to stimulate my appetite. And the fact that an egg is part of a chicken’s reproductive cycle also turned the far younger version of me off to the idea of making eggs a staple of my morning routine.

I got bailed out of the whole being-forced-to-eat-some-egg thing when my allergist diagnosed me with a very, very minor allergy to eggs when I was a pre-teen which was a major victory against my well-intentioned parents. If you think I’m crazy for being so anti-egg for so long you’re not alone. My wife always thought I was a nut for having so much disdain for the chicken’s gift to the breakfast-eating world and was determined to eventually get me to eat them in the morning.

Of course, that just made me dig my heels in even more that I would never chow down on eggs for breakfast. Have I mentioned that I can be just a wee bit stubborn at times?

But for some odd reason I gave eggs a try one morning when we were at a restaurant for breakfast and now I’m an egg-eating fiend in the morning. The big moment came at Country Waffles on one of the very rare weekdays my wife and I take off from work where we send the kids to day care and chill out together. My pancake breakfast came with eggs and I just asked to have them scrambled and served on the side with the intention of giving them to my wife.

Halfway through my pancake I got bored and threw some salt, pepper, and Tabasco on the eggs and tried a little bit. A few minutes later I had demolished the little plate of scrambled eggs and had to help my wife get her jaw off the table as she stared at me in disbelief. Just like that, I morphed from egg hater to egg-eating machine and now that I think about it I’m not too sure if it’s been the best thing for my waistline.

About a year ago I finally swore off buying donuts and bagels on my way to work for breakfast and started going with cereal or yogurt and some fruit as part of my weekday routine. I also ditched pancakes/waffles with bacon/sausage and hash browns on the weekend for a ham steak and hash browns. Those were little moves that seemed to pay off handsomely almost every time I stepped on the scale. But eggs have opened up a whole new world of breakfast options on my drive to work and I’m convinced that some of the bloat I’ve been experiencing over the past several months are tied in to my new loving embrace of eggs.

Breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches are suddenly in play Monday through Friday when I cruise to the office in the morning and I’ve been catching myself indulging in far too many of the yummy, filling, calorie bombs. In fact, I think I’ve become something of a connoisseur on the quick-hit egg fixes available to the hungry working man in the A.M. and here’s my ranking of what seems to be out there:

1. Jack in the Box: The steak and egg burrito  is the undisputed king of the stuff-I-really-shouldn’t-be-eating-for-breakfast contest. I just looked up the nutritional value and the thing has a whopping 821 calories with 450 from fat. No wonder I’ve packed on pounds from eating one or two of these a week. Is it a bad thing that the guy at the drive-through window recently stopped offering me picante sauce because he now remembers that I’m the guy who always asks for taco sauce instead? Yeah, I think that’s a bad thing.

2. Any breakfast sandwich from any bagel shop on my way to work: Posh Bagel usually gets my money in the morning because they’re close to work and the staff has warmed up to me over the years. But Sunrise Bagels and Noah’s have also been graced with my egg-loving presence in the morning. Noah’s bacon and cheddar offering  “only” has 599 calories with 265 from fat which doesn’t sound too bad compared to what I ravenously stuff into my pie hole at Jack in the Box. I’m going to assume that the cheese and ham-filled bagel sandwiches I get at Posh and Sunrise blast more calories at my body than Noah’s.

I’m starting to think the fast food egg burrito is actually slow death wrapped in a tortilla.

3. Burger King: The Southwestern breakfast burrito  tends to reel me in when I cruise through the Home of the Whopper in the morning. I just learned that it has 870 calories with 53 grams of fat which makes me wonder why I don’t just cut to the chase and sit down with a can of Crisco and a spoon for breakfast. I didn’t eat any of this stuff until eggs came into my life. Does it help that I usually walk a mile around the shopping complex Burger King is in before I buy a Southwest breakfast burrito? Probably not enough to offset all the calories and fat.

4. Subway: There’s never anyone in the joint when I come in for breakfast which makes me wonder why they even waste their time opening in the morning but I won’t complain since the food isn’t too bad. I think the fact that I can have some veggies thrown on the Black Forest ham, egg, and cheese flatbread melt  I get makes me think I’m being kind of healthy when I’m really not. Then again, now that I look at the nutritional info the 6” melt I get is only 420 calories with 140 of them from fat so I guess this is the place I should be going to more often if I’m going to keep egging out in the morning.

5. Carl’s Jr.: I don’t have a set menu item from this fine establishment to cite in this post since there isn’t a Carl’s Jr. on my route to work but I did get a breakfast burrito here one time when we had to hit the road early on the weekend with the kids and it was really good … which also means it was probably packing about 1,000 calories around those eggs I was trying to get at.

6. McDonalds: When I was a kid I loved Mickey D’s for breakfast because you could always score pancakes with sausage and hash browns. Now that I’ve gone egg crazy I have to say that in my book this place is overrated for breakfast the rare times I’ve sped through the drive-through. Serving sizes and flavor are nothing to write home about and with tastier options within driving distance I don’t frequent the golden arches very often in the morning.

7. Taco Bell: At this point I’m sure you’re reading this list and wondering how I’ve only gained several pounds this year if I honestly eat all this junk on a semi-regular basis. I’m kind of wondering the same thing now that I have it all in front of me like this. I guess it’s a minor miracle and proof that walking several miles a day can do a world of good for a man’s health. But back to Taco Bell as a destination for eggs in the morning. All in all they kind of suck and it has nothing to do with what they serve and everything to do with when they serve it. I was running late one morning and grabbed a pretty good steak and egg burrito on my run to the border but what I’ve learned since then is that Taco Bell doesn’t seem to open for breakfast until about 9 a.m. which is pretty useless for people who always get to the office well before 9 a.m. Why are they even serving breakfast? Then again, maybe they’re saving me from myself by opening so late.

So there it is, my rundown of the wicked, calorie-filled world that eggs have opened me up to over the past several months. At this point it looks like bagels and donuts would actually be healthier for me than what the fast food establishments are offering. Scary thought and one more example that I should just stick to the Vitamix veggie and fruit smoothies my wife whips up for me every morning.

Damn you bathroom scale, damn you all to hell

If I stepped on this scale the only way it would read out 127.2 pounds is if I cut off one of my legs.

Like anyone battling the bulge I have a love/hate relationship with the bathroom scale. The fact that I’m back posting to this blog after months away shows that I’m still duking it out with my waistline.

I lost 50 pounds last year so the scale wasn’t my enemy all that often in 2011 but this year I’ve packed on a few extra pounds and I’ve been trying to get back into a good routine to lighten my load.

There’s clearly no better way to track my progress than by hopping on the scale but over the past few weeks the old thing started messing with me. My frustration peaked a couple of weeks ago when I got a 203+ pound reading before a shower and a reading close to 206 pounds right after I scrubbed myself down.

I didn’t drink every last drop of water in the shower so gaining almost 3 pounds in the span of about 10 or 15 minutes of bathing seemed totally absurd and mildly infuriating.

Now why in the world would the scale screw with my mind and emotions like that after everything we’d been through together? It wasn’t the first time I got such odd results in a small window of time but this was easily the wildest swing in weight I’d ever seen and the worst 1-week gain I’ve experienced in more than a year if the scale was to be believed.

Did the scale have any reason to hate me? I’ve been watching “Toy Story” with my 3-year-old son often enough over the past month to be open to humorously entertaining the idea that an inanimate object can have a heart, soul, and life of its own when we’re not looking.

I bet one of the reasons that Buzz Lightyear is smiling is that he ended up being manufactured as a toy and not a bathroom scale.

If the scale had a secret existence along the lines of Buzz Lightyear or Woody then I guess it had plenty of reasons to hate me. Who wouldn’t hate being thrown on the floor and stepped on by a naked fat guy a couple of times a week? Who wouldn’t hate being resentfully glared at by the earlier-mentioned naked fat guy when you simply do your job as a bathroom scale and honestly tell him that he gained a little weight?

With that in mind, I guess I can see why the scale decided to start fighting back by attacking me with a disinformation campaign. Then again, why not shoot me straight with an accurate reading the first time I stepped up to do my weekly weight check and get it over with?  A suspicious reading just makes me hop on the scale over and over, prolonging the scale’s misery and adding to the indignity of being trampled by a pale, naked Irish guy.

Anyone who knows me really well knows that I hate B.S. Don’t lie to me, don’t shine me on, don’t dodge me or tell me what you think I want to hear. Let’s just cut to the chase and speak in direct terms. In the long run it saves everyone a lot of time.

The more often the bathroom scale gave me an odd reading the more often I stepped on it to see if I could get a weight that made sense. I don’t mind gaining a little bit every now and then, it’s just a part of life, but when the scale tells me I packed on almost 4 pounds in a week even though I didn’t eat anything crazy and I walked about 5 miles a day I tend to get a little ticked off.

So in the end the inaccurate readings were too much to handle and it was finally time to part ways with the bathroom scale that was with me every step of the way as I dropped 50 pounds in 2011. Out with the old and in with the Homedics Bamboo Digital Scale.

We’re already off to a good start since the first time I hopped on the new Homedics scale in my birthday suit before my shower on Saturday morning it told me I lost a couple of pounds.

Music to my ears and hopefully the start of a long, healthy relationship.

I gave birth this year

Yeah, you read that headline right: A middle-aged fat guy had a kid … kinda.

The last time I hit the scales was last Saturday and that marked 2 weeks in a row where my weight loss for the year added up to 38 pounds.

Sunday was the day my wife and I went out for a nice long walk with the kids strapped into the double stroller. Everything was going fine until we were about halfway back when our 2 1/2-year-old son got sick and tired of passively riding along and wanted out of the stroller.

We granted him his freedom and he had a blast sprinting after my wife as she continued pushing the stroller through the park with our daughter on board. But when you’re 2 1/2 there’s only so much gas in the tank and the little man promptly bonked after running around in the afternoon sun for about 5 minutes.

After that all he wanted was to be in dad’s arms for the quarter mile trip back to the car. By the time we got back to our SUV I was an exhausted, sore, sweaty mess.

That’s when it hit me:  Our son weighs almost as much as I’ve lost in 2011 … which means I basically gave birth to a toddler this year. It explains why I could barely do a short walk around the neighborhood when I started trying to lose weight earlier this year.

I’ve made a lot of progress this year and I believe it’s just the beginning. My eating and exercise habits have changed.  What used to be a chore is now just routine which is all I could have hoped for because that was the only thing that would save me in the long run.

And on that note I’m going to close up shop on The Beer Gut Chronicles as a standalone blog. I’m slowly going to transfer this stuff over to a page on my main blog over at Junkball and update my progress as time permits (if it permits).

I head back over to Junkball a little thinner, a little wiser and a lot more hopeful that I’m on track to stay on the road to better health. I think 40 pounds lost is a mark I can hit by the end of this month and by early next year I may able to realistically hit 50 pounds lost and drop below 200 pounds for the first time since … well, I can’t even remember.

The next time I’m under that mark I’ll never forget it.  Even if I drop dead of a heart attack the moment after that momentous weigh-in at least I’ll know I met a major goal and I cut my pallbearers a break.

If I’m not posting I must be doing something right

 

I think my blogging was powered by fat.

I had the time and motivation to blog about all kinds of things more than 30 pounds ago.  Now?  Not so much.

I’m still cranking out some A’s-related stuff for Swingin’ A’s but that’s just because I’m an insane A’s fan and I’m supposed to produce about 5 posts a month for the site.  But I haven’t been doing a damn thing here or at Junkball which leads me to assume that I was a lard-powered blogger.

Shedding pounds is this blogger’s kryptonite.

Now that I’m focusing on getting my rear in gear that’s cut into the time I usually spent blogging about the random things that pop into my head.  I used to write on my lunch break and after work but now I spend a lot of that time taking brisk walks to burn some calories.

By the time I finally have a free moment at the end of the night it’s past 10 p.m. and I’m too exhausted to plop down in front of the keyboard and share some semi-coherent thoughts with whoever is stumbling across this stuff.

Does weighing less = writing less?  In my case it certainly looks like it.  I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world if I’m too busy losing weight to post to my weight loss blog, right?  Funny how it seems to have worked out that way.

On to some other light thoughts from a fat guy:

* Did you see how I snuck in the fact that I have now lost more than 30 pounds this year?  In my previous post I crossed the 25 pound mark and since then I’ve whittled myself down a little more.  I’m actually amazed at how far eating better and moving more can get a guy.  I’m crossing my fingers that I can maintain all my new habits and never see those lost pounds again.

* Who am I and what the heck is happening to me?  As I sit here writing this on my lunch break I realize that I’m regularly snacking on veggies and hummus.  Broccoli, green beans, edamame, sugar snap peas.  I even made my own hummus over the weekend.  It’s like I’ve been body snatched by someone who actually gives a damn about their health.

*  I keep cutting new holes in my belt which is a little annoying because it’s a pain but it’s also really great because it means my gut is slowly, steadily, shrinking like the polar ice cap.  Feeling like my pants are going to fall down while I’m walking around is a new sensation but after years of literally bursting at the seams I can’t complain.  I can tell that my wife thinks I’m crazy because I’ve gotten into the bad habit of cutting a new hole in my belt using a pocket knife while I’m wearing my belt.  One of these days I’m going to stab myself in the gut and I’ll have a lot of explaining to do at the hospital.

* When did I become a creaky old dog?  I’ve been trying to work some more jogging into my routine and every time I do I end up paying for it.  If I have the gall to jog as much as 25 percent of my usual nightly walk my feet, shins, knees, hips and back are sore for days.  A nice new pair of running shoes has done a tremendous job at significantly reducing the pain but it doesn’t change the fact that I always end up feeling like I tumbled down the rocky side of a mountain the morning after running a little.

* Damn you muscle, damn you all to hell.  Last week I really pushed myself to exercise more and despite running myself into the ground I barely lost anything.  Part of the motivation was to make up for having one too many gin and tonics during the week and part of it was to see if I could get within shouting distance of 35 pounds lost.  My wife thinks I’ve gotten to a point where my daily walk through some steep hills is building muscle.   I hope she can handle living with a husband who isn’t just a lot thinner than before but also a lot more muscular because apparently that’s what she’s getting.  Sexy’s back Honey, deal with it.

Hit the road flab, and don’t you come back

I gotta sneak this post in before an indulgent Fourth of July weekend catches up with me when I step on the scale this weekend: As of my most recent weigh-in I’ve lost 25 pounds this year.

How crazy is that?  I’ve been tracking my weight since January 2006 and I’m now more than 5 pounds below my lowest recorded weight.  In fact, I’ve lost so much weight that a friend at work who doesn’t see me very often was worried that I’d been sick recently.

Nope, nothing to worry about folks.  I’m as healthy as a horse and as stubborn as a mule.  The weight loss even surprises me.

As far as I’m concerned I’m kind of eating and drinking the same as always.  Sure, there’s a lot more fruit and veggies mixed in and I’m thinking before stuffing a couple of donuts in my face at breakfast.  Throw in some Weight Watchers recipes for dinner and general eating tips from my wife and you have an improved diet.  But I’m still enjoying a gin and tonic and snack when I feel like it in the evening.

The biggest change is probably on the physical activity front.  The bottom line is I’ve been able to keep my lazy butt in motion for the past several months by taking at least one long walk a day and I actually hopped on our elliptical trainer for the first time in about 4 years.

Who knew that a walk a day and some moderately improved eating habits could pay off in such a rewarding manner?

Of course, the real test is to keep the momentum going and keep the weight off.  If I post another photo of a massive beer gut in a year then you’ll know that I fell back into my old rut.  I kind of did that during the Fourth of July weekend with a little too much beer and junk food but I think I’m making up for it this week with some massive walks and veggies for afternoon snacks instead of other sources of calories.

I’ve managed to lose 25 pounds and I hope they never come back.  Somewhere out there there’s a bone-thin super model or a scrawny high school geek who needs to gain a few pounds and they’re more than welcome to the 25 I set free.

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