I did it…everyone knows now…

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Here’s what I posted on my blog earlier…letting everyone know about FGiaLC…wish me luck!

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[Disclaimer: This is kind of a long and serious post.]

Most of you know that Holli and I have been into blogging for a decent amount of years now. I tend to be fascinated by anything electronic, and at one point in time had strong interests in researching the Internet as a means of advancing organizational goals for my Ph.D. I still do, just maybe not as much.

Anyway, I’m digressing already…

Very few of you are probably aware of another blog I’ve been keeping since last summer, and more than likely there is a reason for it. This blog has been one of my decision to have a healthy life, to lose weight, and to start running.

Yes, I am a fat guy who runs. And I love it.

rhys-3-weeks-old-and-johns-5k-037

In fact, I ran so much from July to October last year that I lost 30 pounds. Didn’t notice? That’s okay. I didn’t really either which was the depressing part. What I did notice is that I have gained half of it back. I even ran a 5K last year that I took third place in for my age group (and yes, there were more than three of us). I don’t know why it is that I’ve been captivated by running, but I enjoy it when I get the time, and I don’t intend on quitting any time soon.

Most of the people who read this blog and know me have known me as a fat guy. Let’s dispense with the subtleties of whether or not I’ll get offended and call it what it is. I am fat. I know this, and have known this for most of my adult life. The blog, which you can view HERE, is one of the mechanisms I’ve used to keep me motivated. But, sadly, my studies and my family require significant amounts of time, and so the degree to which I need to be held accountable must be augmented. I’ve let the blog slip a bit, and have had a hard time regaining momentum. So, I am letting all of you know that this blog exists, and am allowing you to come into what was previously a private endeavor.

I am doing this primarily for my health. Today I was informed by my doctor that recent blood tests showed an exceptionally high glucose level and that I more than likely have developed Type II diabetes. Obviously, this is not good news, but I can’t say that I am altogether too surprised. My mother’s side of the family is replete with cases of diabetes…though it seems as if I am the one who was the youngest to receive the diagnosis. And obviously, the fact that I weigh in well over what I should is not helping the situation any.

This is not for vindication by any means. Yes, I was harangued, teased, ostracized, and bullied by a few people growing up in my little “Town of Friendly Neighbors” and I remember the who, what, and when of it until this day. But, I have gone on to achieve many of my life goals–mainly finding an amazing wife, starting our family and obtaining my education–without letting it ruin me. So, this is not to get back at anyone. I once heard a general authority of my church give a talk in which he stated, “You can describe a man in inches, pounds, complexion, or physique. But you measure a man by character, compassion, integrity, tenderness and principle.” My principles tell me to forgive those who embarrassed me. They didn’t know any better. And moreover, I have the best set of family and friends I could ever ask for, so it should be of no bother to me now.

I really don’t know who reads this blog any more, other than the faithful readers who leave comments on a regular basis. I do know the power of diffusion though. I know that our blog is probably linked to several others thereby spreading the knowledge that it exists. There are those of you who have never left a comment, those of you who probably haven’t spoken to us in quite some time, those of you who might not know us, and frankly those of you who might not even like me (I couldn’t say ‘us’ there because, come on, who doesn’t like Holli or Rhys?). I am sure that now that I’ve divulged the fact that I have a fat blog out there, my friends, family, spiritual leaders, colleagues, co-workers, and stalkers (ha ha) will have access to it.

That’s fine by me.

Since I started the other blog, I have found people literally from all over the world who have been exceptionally supportive and encouraging. One of these new friends even sent me some CDs full of running songs and a pair of running socks to help keep me motivated. Amazing, right? If someone who is still somewhat of a stranger is willing to lend so much support, then why not share this blog with family and friends? They have been exceptionally supportive, and I hope you will too. If you don’t comment this blog, that’s fine, but I hope you’ll feel compelled to comment on my weight-loss blog. Invent a name if you have to.

Now, I’ll be honest in letting you know that I can be quite candid on the other blog. Granted, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve in real life, but probably even more so on my weight-loss blog. This hasn’t been easy. It never has. But it’s something I have to do, and I hope the reasons why are as implicit to you as they are to me.

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Okay, okay…I’m doing it.

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I have finally reached the point where I am now compelled to “go public” with this blog. I am nervous, but frankly what do I have to lose?

1. I am married to an absolutely wonderful woman and have a beautiful baby boy. Who am I trying to impress?

2. So what if people know about it. Maybe the blog could actually change some perceptions about how I treat my health.

3. Accountability. Did I mention that I’m currently engaged in a research project on public sector accountability? All of these issues I’ve been paying attention to in terms of state agency service delivery could literally be adapted to my own weight loss journey.

I have been showing strong signs of diabetes for months now, and though I have a family history of it, I don’t want to deal with it for the rest of my life. I’ll be headed back to my doctor soon for more blood work, and hopefully I can get a definitive answer.

So what? The rest of my family will find out, my other friends and colleagues might also find out. My religious leaders and potential employers could even find out.

I don’t care.

The time has come for my health to be priority number one. Wouldn’t everything in life be much better if my health was too?

“Well, that sucks…”

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Those were the first words uttered by me this morning after weighing in for the first time in probably a couple of months, and the first time I’ve recorded my weight since my October 20, 2008 weigh-in. Then, 340 pounds even. Today?

358 pounds.

I’ve gained 18 pounds, and the first thing I have to say about it is, “Well, that sucks.” 

Obviously.

I’m not too shocked by this gain, though I am glad that it is not the entire 30 lbs I had previously lost. Nevertheless, I’d probably be exceptionally upset if the gain was just a few pounds.

In any case, I have been working on some more goals, have talked to my trainer/coach/friend and wife and am ready to get back on the path to success. That kind of sounds cheesy, but hey, it is what it is.

Sorry this is so short, but stay tuned for some new posts!

In the news: Calorie Counting

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OK, short and sweet is the theme of the day. Two things caught my attention last week, both of which centered on calories. I know most of us hate calorie counting…I can attest that I’m not a fan, but I am actually doing my best do so because I think I’m at a stage in my weight loss where it matters.  I will certainly concede that it is not for everybody.

The first item came from a blog post on Yahoo from Lucy Danziger, editor-in-chief of SELF magazine.  I am not familiar with SELF at all, but obviously the title caught my attention…

Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

OK, well this will be completely obvious to just about anyone who has a pulse. Let me briefly reiterate her tidbits: 1) pick up produce, 2) snack smart, 3) sip more water, 4) map out your meals, 5) eat every meal. With no disrespect intended for Ms. Danziger, it seemed the the first utterance out of my mouth was, “duh.” Is it that simple?  I think it can be…though we know it usually takes much more than that to get real results.

The second item is still in the same ballpark, but with a twist.  I am an alumnus of Arizona State University and on occasion I’ll check the website out to see what’s new. Last week I came across a press release for a recent study done by the W.P. Carey School of Business…

ASU Study: 100-calorie packs makes dieters eat more

Slightly intriguing, no? I think there is clear face validity here…doesn’t it make sense that our minds often focus on the quantity we eat over the content? Well, let me put it this way…I get what they’re saying, but I don’t know if I always buy it. I think there’s a problem here with external validity in terms of the study. They used M&Ms and Mini M&Ms and I just think that some other food combos should be tried out before a b-school tells the world what’s up with how people perceive and eat their calories. When I think of 100-calorie packs, I think of the little, low-fat Oreos or packages of Wheat Thins. We don’t get them often in our house, but when we do, I think it’s understood that you still just eat…one. I don’t like diet food in the first place…I prefer to eat regular food with extreme moderation and monitoring…but hey, that’s just the way I prefer it.

So, now, I throw it to you…what are your thoughts on calorie counting and 100-calorie packs?

“Some weeks are just better than others…”

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This is something my wife just reiterated to me.

I didn’t realize traveling would be so hard on my exercise plan…because let’s face it, I don’t want to consider exercise being hard on my traveling. I did a run this morning, and while I was still happy that I did the requisite 3 minute intervals, the course was not as long as I hoped. However, I guess I shouldn’t be too upset because I’m about to make a pivotal turn in my Couch-to-5k training. I’m starting week four (week five for me since I repeated a week) on Wednesday and am about to kick up the running time. I am truly excited for this…call me crazy, but I just can’t wait.

My diet has been crap, and I should have done better in planning ahead while traveling. The past few days will surely incur the wrath of my coach when I call him. He’s maybe 5’7″ tall and lives in Salt Lake City, but the distance is the only cushion…that fire of his will definitely burn through the phone line.  But I deserve it…it’s a lesson learned, and I’ll need to do better in the future.

My back seems to be improving. It’s still sore when I’m sedentary or immobile, but seems to be fine when I walk, or even run. My father-in-law and I went to Massage Envy the other night and I greatly underestimated my therapist. She found all the right spots…nearly killed me, in the process, but I think it helped.

Friends, can I just tell you how great I feel despite all of this? Sure, I have complaints, but this is the best I’ve felt in a very long time. I am still flabbergasted that five weeks later, I’m still here, and I’m still doing it. I can actually see a difference in my body. My belly is shape-shifting, my man-boobs are shrinking, and I think I’m slowly going back to one chin. I run in the mornings and see people who smile and say “Good Morning.” This is the opposite, in fact, of a bad dream I had where I was running down the street with people pointing and laughing and making some really horrible remarks.  Eh. If it happens, they can say what they want. I’m doing this to make a better me.

It’s been hard for me to say this, but whether one agrees with me or not, if one perceives something differently, regardless, I can now categorically state:

I am a runner.

What is Your Biggest Health/Fitness Vice?

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I have been tagged by Andrew from Andrew is getting fit!

And, I might say, I think this is a great topic to be tagged on. It seems as if there are numerous things I could call a vice in terms of health and fitness, and I’ve had difficulty in pinpointing what could be the biggest or worst of all of them.

I don’t smoke (my mother did for over 20 years and it revolted me), or chew tobacco (my father did/does and I was equally repulsed by it). I don’t drink (too many alcoholics in the family) and I’ve never tried any drugs (unfortunately, I’ve got loved ones who are substance abusers, and its just not for me). So, I think we can cross all of this ‘big’ stuff off the list.

When I really think of it, I think the biggest health and fitness vices I have are: 1) doubt and 2) carbs.

Doubt. Yes, doubt. Doubting that I can accomplish what I want to. Doubt that I could actually lose weight and learn to live a healthier life. Doubt led me to quit anything, which in turn led to depression, which led to weight gain. Hell of a lot of good doubt did me. And it’s weird, because I was and am still competitive. I was an athlete in high school.  I played football, basketball, soccer (yes, believe it or not), golf and threw the shot put and discus. But through it all, the doubt won, my weight fluctuated, and what can I say? I got fat.

Carbs. When I was most recently living in Arizona, I saw a nutritionist who’s response to nearly everything that went wrong was, “Ohitsdefinitelythecarbs!” She really did talk like that, by the way. But it was frustrating to accept that answer, though she was more than likely right. I don’t load up on much fat, sweets or salty things. I eat meat sparingly (and after living in Georgia and seeing the gigantic chicken transportation trucks, I’ve wanted to quit altogether…but I won’t). But, I love bread, I love pasta, I love potatoes, I love grains…the list goes on and on, and I just hear Debbie rattling off, “Ohitsdefinitelythecarbs!

The great carb debate came about on Saturday when a couple of other guys and I went to give a little bit of service to a Vietnam vet in some pretty bad condition (cancer, super-emaciated…down to 97 pounds). One of the guys cleaned his house, while another cleaned his yard, and I took him in to town for some errands. The first thing he said to me once in the car was, “You have to stop eating carbs after 3 p.m. God knows we’d hate to lose you so young.” Wow…two minutes into our relationship, and I get hit with this bomb.  I wasn’t too shocked though…I’ve heard things like this most of my life. Like when I lived in Italy…a woman whose house we painted, Ines, just stared at me (while speaking to someone else as if I were deaf or not there), “Ma, dai…questo qui deve dimagrire subito…e’ troppo ingrassato!” Which more or less means: Come on, this one here needs to slim down immediately…he’s too fat! I wasn’t nearly as big as I am now, not to mention her son was much bigger than I am. I was reluctant to paint her house after that comment, but did it anyway. Afterward, she fed us lunch as kept pushing a plate of bread and cheese at me. “Mangia,” she’d mutter as if she didn’t really mean it.

I lost it. I told her I wasn’t a circus freak, and I hopped on my bike and left.

For those of you who recall, I actually lost a lot of weight while in Italy (only to gain it back of course — you can read that earlier post HERE if you’d like).

So, plain and simple…I’ve stopped doubting myself.  I have a great network of supporters who help me a great deal, not to mention more motivation than ever to help me make these changes. Carbs and I will be at war for a long time. I’ve done a decent job at managing them for the most part over the past 25 days, but I am prepared to educate myself on how they should best be consumed for me. It will be a battle that will last a long time, but I know that there’s a strategy for winning the war…

I think that a lot of hard work in these two areas will definitely help make a better me.

OK, I tag:

Elisa

Paul

Matt

Sharon

And anyone else who might want to give it a whirl!

FOOD!

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Food is an interesting topic with me. I think a lot of people tend to generalize that all overweight and obese people are fat because they eat too much, when in fact, I might not completely fit into that category. I know, I know…it sounds like an excuse, but sometimes my wife has to prod me to eat! But those who know how the body works know that not eating isn’t exactly healthy either, especially for those of us who tend to be insulin resistant.

I am not, nor do I intend to start a diet anytime soon.  I am done with dieting.  I’ve tried and tried, and realize now that I’ve gained nothing (but my weight back) from dieting! So, I have a goal to make healthier choices with food, to use portion control, and to eat the right amount of calories my body needs per day.

When I was in my early 20’s I lived in Italy for a couple of years.  One lady who found out I was going there was worried about me. “Oh my,” she said. “They have such a fattening diet.” Suggesting that she obviously though I could stand to lose a few…which I could have. I wasn’t too offended because she perpetually stuck her foot in her mouth, but she did make me think about it for a minute.  I’ve never seen a fat Italian, I thought. Maybe I’d actually lose weight? And that’s exactly what happened.  I ate a diet high in carbs nearly every day in a country where my main modes of transportation were bicycles and walking…after three months, 38 pounds melted away, and over the next five I lost 26 more and then plateaued after moving to a city where I traveled mostly by bus. In two years of not a lot of exercise, and a so-called “fattening diet,” I still managed to lose 64 pounds.

When I returned to the U.S., over the next three years I gained back 80.

Yikes.

One of the reasons I love Italy (and loved my experience there) is not only because it’s the land of my ancestors (alla parte della mia mamma), but also because I loved the food! I learned how to cook what the Italians cooked, but the food had a reverse effect on me when I came home.  Why?  Because I decided to lug my fat ass around in my truck instead of walking or biking more…that’s why.

And so goes my challenges and goals with eating healthy. I know it’s a perpetual process, and of course, I always welcome suggestions from others.  Since discovering MizFit’s blog, I have really enjoyed the recipes she’s posted and will definitely have to try them out. But I know that in the long run, I need to exercise more to burn off more of that I eat.  I need to avoid huge meals, and perhaps get better at ‘grazing’ or smaller, more frequent meals.

Any thoughts lingering out there?