Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jesca Hoop's New Album Is Out!

For those of you who have begun to share the same passion for her music that I have, her new album is here!

I bought it yesterday, and have listened to it non-stop since. I really like it. It's another great output from her. As with all her other albums, there's so many good songs on it that picking one favorite is hard. I start with one song as my favorite, and then a few weeks later, realize that another one has taken that songs place as my new favorite. Then, as time passes, another moves in, and so on and so on, until nearly every song on the album has spent time in my mind as my favorite.

You can listen to the whole album, to decide if you would like to support this artist as well. Just follow this link. I hope you enjoy it.

Now I just need her to schedule a show somewhere other than the UK. I'd love to see her perform live.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Daily No Bread

It's enough salad to feed a whole family, a large family, and one that really likes salad. I eat it every day. It keeps my big mouth occupied, and keeps me from looking for other things.

But best of all, there's about as much calories in this whole bowl of salad as there is in two pieces of wonder bread. Veggies are basically free when it comes down to it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jesca Hoop's New Video

I guess this is the first single off the new album. It's coming sooooon folks. I'm so excited! You should be too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

How I Did It

Okay, so I promised that I would tell anyone who is interested how I went about losing 38 lbs. or 13% of my body weight over the last three months.

First of all, let me tell you what I discovered when my body aches started in April. I had to quit working out, and I was afraid that the contest would be over for me. I was in first place at the time, and the next week came along, and I continued to be in first place. What I discovered, and it has been backed up by comments from fitness professionals that I've heard since discovering it myself, is that, for weight loss, nutrition is the number one factor. Keeping the weight off later depends much more on exercise. But losing weight is all about nutrition (I say nutrition instead of diet because of the negative connotations the word diet has gained over the years. These cars are pre-owned, not used!)

Photo by Arctic Warrior

I did exercise for the first month, and I lost the most weight during that month, so that might mean something, but, in my experience, the first month is when the most weight is always lost. The easy to lose weight falls off quickly at first, but the more entrenched fat that is still hanging around later is harder to chip away. So, I'm not saying don't exercise, because I think exercise is integral to good health. But I am saying don't expect exercise to lose you weight. What it does is keeps it off when you're done. Which is kind of the point right? Nobody diets hoping to lose weight for just a week and then put it right back on.

So, what did I do? I loosely followed something that was introduced to me as the paleolithic diet, which instructs you to eat as your caveman ancestors might have. I kind of mixed that with the zone diet which follows pretty much the same style. These are both low-carb diets. They want you to eat a reasonable portion of meat, healthy amounts of vegetables and fruits, as well as some healthy fats too. Healthy fats include things like avacados, nuts, and olives.

I also made sure to keep my calories right at the level I was supposed to be eating. There's dozens of websites out there that will help you calculate the amount of calories you should eat to lose weight, I won't recommend one over the other. Just google it, and you'll find one easy enough. I found that with my body type, I was supposed to eat around 2,400 calories to lose weight.

So, I worked out a meal plan that factored those things in. For breakfast, I would eat an omelette. It consisted of my protein, which in this case was two eggs. My vegetables, which in this case was a bunch of chopped up bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. And my healthy fats, which for this meal was half of an avacado. I mushed the avacado down to where it was like guacamole without the spices in it, and spread that over the eggs/veggies, folded it over, and chowed down. It was pretty satisfying.

I also have heard that it is important to keep you blood sugar at a certain level to promote fat loss, which means having a snack halfway between your meals. My snacks were much smaller, but had similar breakdowns for content. I had a mozzarella string cheese stick for my protein, a fruit for my vegetable/fruits, and a serving of almonds for my fats.

Photo by HealthAliciousNess

At lunch, I would eat another serving of almonds for fats (I really love almonds). I would have an appropriate amount of meat for my protein, usually whatever was leftover from dinner the night before, be it chicken breast, meatloaf, whathaveyou. And I made up a giant salad to have for my vegetables. I really do mean giant. At Costco, we buy the five pack of romaine lettuce hearts, the tub of baby spinach leaves, and the tub of spring mix lettuce. I mix all that together along with sliced red cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced celery, sliced cucumbers, and diced tomatoes. This makes a salad that would feed a group of ten people in a normal dinner setting. I don't put dressing on it, because if I used the dressings that I like (ranch, blue cheese) it would make the salad about as healthy as a cheeseburger. Besides, I like the taste of these vegetables, and I see no need to drown them in fat or oil.

I eat my way through this salad all afternoon. It's kind of like eating a bag of very, very healthy chips. It keeps my hands and mouth occupied in eating, which is something they like to do a lot, but I don't ingest a bunch of calories in the process. All added up, my salad has less calories in it than the handful of almonds that I eat, or the string cheese. I never worry about calories when eating vegetables. They are so low in calories that in my mind they're free.

About the time I head home from work, I eat another snack that is just like the one I described above, almonds, cheese, fruit.

For dinner, I eat whatever my wife makes. Sometimes, I'll skip the pasta or the bread component in it, but I don't put together something different than everyone else at the table is eating. My wife knows my dietary needs, and makes things that go well with that. So, it works out well.

Other tricks. During my three months, I made sure that I didn't feel like I was not allowed to eat things. At work, there is cake for people's birthday, or someone brings in a different treat to share with everybody. If it's one that I want to have, then I have some. I just make sure that it is a very small piece. For example, one time one of my co-workers brought in five different cheesecakes that he had made to share with everyone. Now, I love cheesecake like I love my children, so I couldn't just turn that down. What I did was cut off a forkful from each of the five cheesecakes, and enjoy those. I even went back and got a second forkful from a few of my favorites. I didn't feel left out. I was part of the fun, part of the group, the gathering, the joy, but I didn't eat enough calories to ruin my progress either.

Photo by AWholeLotOfSpinky

Also, I keep a bag of M&M's in the trunk of my car. It's a good place for them, because I can't just grab them whenever I want, especially not while driving, because that's dangerous. I get a handful in the morning, and eat them, and maybe another handful in the evening. And if I'm especially needy for sweets, I get a third handful during the day. A handful of M&M's is something like 75 calories or so. So, it gives me the sugar/chocolate fix I need, but doesn't allow me to overdo it like I normally would.

Lastly, I have a 52 oz. mug. It's one of those Wal-mart specials that are called Bubba Kegs. Probably because if you fill it with soda each day, you'll be fat enough that Bubba would be a fitting nickname (no offense to anyone who is actually called Bubba, I'm sure you look great sir, or ma'am). Instead of filling that with soda, however, I fill it with water. At least twice a day, I drain that thing dry. Lots of water really helps keep your body working right, and your stomach full. You will be less likely to overeat if your stomach is full of water. I've heard that many people drink so little water that they confuse the signal their body gives them to drink with that of hunger, and they overeat.

Photo by Carol VanHook

Drink water. Actual water. Not diet soda. Diet soda doesn't work. It may not have calories, but it has other problems too numerous to list here. And definitely don't drink non-diet soda. That stuff could replace those weight gain powders at the GNC, it's so effective at packing on pounds. Don't drink juice either. Juice is fruit robbed of all its nutrients, fiber and so forth. If you can even find juice that's actually made of juice. Juice is full of calories, and you don't need them at all. Just drink water. It's what your body wants, so give it to it. It will thank you for it by dropping some excess weight.

Anyway, that's what I did to lose weight. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to respond.

I had myself a little party this weekend, eating a bunch of pizza, and drinking soda. Now, I'm back to work, and eating the way I should. They're doing a second round of the weight loss contest that runs for the next three months, and my goal this time is to make it to 213, that would be another 13% weight loss, and I will be looking supermodel-esque when I reach it. See you all on the cover of Vogue.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cosplay

Each year in my town, there's the annual city celebration, complete with a parade. There's a guy who walks the parade that always has the most amazing costumes. The first time I saw him, he was dressed like this:

That's obviously not a costume that you can buy at the store. I know there are folks out there that make these kind of costumes. I've seen plenty of them at Comic-con, for example. The next year, he came with this costume:

Once again, really impressive. Now, he had become the highlight of the parade for me, and I was excited to see what he would be the next year.

Well, apparently, it was a bad year or something, because he was:

I was so disappointed. I assumed his reign of awesomeness was over.

However, yesterday was our parade, and he was back at it again. Check this one out:

In honor of the butt-kicking Avengers movies, he did a sweet Iron Man costume. I wonder what he looks like under that mask. He's never done a costume that doesn't include a full face mask. But he always rocks, even when he has to re-use a costume, and that's what matters.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Final Update

In February, I was pretty disgusted with myself. Over the past six months, I'd gained a lot of weight. I'd given in to all of my cravings whenever they struck, and it showed. I was weighing about 275, and I knew I had to do something.

For the last two years, I have been trying to change my fitness and nutritional outlook on life. But nothing seemed to stick. I tried HCG, and lost a lot of weight, but then, once I was no longer using it, I gained the weight back. Although HCG gave me an idea of what was possible, I could tell it wasn't the answer.

I was doing what doctors call yo-yo dieting. Losing weight, then gaining it back...and then some. Losing that weight, then gaining it back...and then some. Each time, you wind up worse off than before, because you lose some of the muscle from your body along with the fat. The muscle is what powers your metabolism. Metabolism is the amount of calories your body needs to function. If you have a lot of muscle, then you will have a high metabolism. Your body will burn a lot of calories just functioning from day to day, and that means your body won't have left over calories that it can store as fat.

So, with yo-yo dieting, you lose a little muscle, and gain all the fat back, plus a little. Then you do that again, and again. Soon, you're fatter than ever, because you killed off the motor that was burning your fuel. Now all you've got is cargo.

How do you avoid this? Well, two things. One, change your nutrition, and keep it changed. Don't go on a diet, make a lifestyle change. Stop eating the crap you used to eat in the amounts you used to eat for good. And two, start exercising. If you are exercising, your body cannot do without the muscle that you have, so it won't get rid of it along with the fat. Those two things together will keep the yo-yo from going up and down over and over.

So, at work, a friend of mine decided that he wanted to lose weight, and to do so, he got a bunch of people excited about a weight-loss contest. He was going to make it run for three months. Everyone would throw in $20 and at the end, the big winner would get 50% of that money, and the 2nd place male and female would each get 25%. He managed to get a lot of people excited about it, 21 to be exact. So the grand prize would be $210.

When I heard about this contest, I realized it was exactly what I needed. Three months would give me enough time to really commit to changing. Thing number one that I mentioned above with avoiding the yo-yo. Change my nutrition and keep it changed. Not a short diet, but a long term change. Three months seemed like plenty of time to really change the way I was doing things.

The contest would start March 5th. I decided I would do it, but it was still the middle of February. I figured, since I was going to go hardcore on this fitness challenge, that now was the time to live it up as much as I could. I ate pizza, Carl's Jr. Six Dollar Burgers, chips, cookies, candy, and pie as much as I could for my final two weeks. I had a Mountain Dew Code Red refill of my 52 oz. mug every friggin' day. I probably overdid that a bit. By the time the contest started, I was sick and effing tired of Code Red, something that I thought could never happen.

I'd also gained another seven pounds. I weighed in that first day at 282 lbs.

Over the last two years, however, I'd learned what it took to lose weight. So, unlike some in the contest, who were still just thinking that drinking diet soda is the way to cut the calories necessary to lose weight, I had actual knowledge on how to proceed.

I upped my commitment to crossfit. For the last six months I'd been attending, but only half-heartedly. Never working hard, and I was only going two or three days a week. Now, it was going to be four days a week, and full effort whenever I was there. And I managed this. I got up early four days a week, sometimes as early as 5:45, to be at my crossfit workout. I was so dedicated, that I outdid my trainer. She became more and more lax with each week, until I was lucky if I saw her at all. She would text me the workout each day, and I'd come to her house and work out in her garage by myself. But I did it.

And I changed my eating to. I changed it and stuck to it. All the stuff that I pigged out on before the contest was out the window. I didn't indulge in any of it. Especially not the Mountain Dew. Soda may be the worst thing for unnecessary calories, and diet soda, despite being gross, doesn't help any. You'll never lose weight if you're drinking diet soda all the time. That big 52 oz. mug was filled with water now, and I'd drink it through twice each day.

I started weighing 282 lbs. When I considered what my goal was, I figured 260 would be really nice. There was a time, after several rounds of HCG, that I made it as low as 245. I didn't think I could come even close to that, but 260 would be a good goal, and 245 could be my pie-in-the-sky you'll-never-reach-it goal.

After the first week, which is always the biggest week of all, I'd lost 11 friggin' pounds. There were a couple of other people who were in that vicinity, but I'd already taken a big lead. The next week, my weight loss had come back down to earth again. It was more like one or two pounds, but I continued to remain right near the top the whole three months.

I definitely had struggles too. If you've been reading this blog over the last few months, you know all about the health issue that I ran into. A health issue which is still unresolved. After about a month of working out, something happened to my body that kept me in pain constantly. At first, it felt like I had just trained a little too hard, but the healing never came. I stayed sore, and it even got worse. I went to the doctor, who put me through a bunch of unhelpful tests, and discovered nothing. But I have been unable to workout since then. I've done the rest of my weight loss without the ability to exercise.

As time went on, however, I passed up my goal of 260, and started to eye that pie-in-the-sky you'll-never-reach-it goal of 245. Could I make it? A few weeks ago, I was hovering right around 250, but I just couldn't drop below it. Then, after consistently eating right for a while, I finally dipped down to 249.

Then two weeks ago, I made it down to 247. I had a little over a week left. Could I make 245? It really seemed possible.

Each day I weighed myself, and came a little closer. I got on the scale on Monday, and BOOM BABY! It said 245.4. It seemed like a big drop from the day before, but hey, I'll take, right? Well, I thought, maybe I'd better double check. 246.8. Gah! I better double check that double check. 246.8, staying firm. I don't know why my scale sometimes gives me bogus weights, maybe it wasn't flat on the floor for the first weight or something. Apparently I hadn't made it yet.

246.6, then 246.4. I would certainly be 245 the next day, right? The next morning, the scale said 247. Aww, eff this! I only had one last chance now. Friday, June 1st, the last day of the contest, the final weigh-in, would have to be the day I reached 245. Or I guess I just wouldn't reach it in time. It didn't really matter, I guess, because I'd changed my habits. If I didn't get it Friday, well then I'd get it Saturday, or Monday, or the next week. But I'd get there.

With that healthy attitude, I stepped on the scale this morning.

BOOM BABY! This time it was real! I weighed myself several times over to make sure. I nailed it. I made it to that pie in the sky, and it tasted as good as pie in the sky should.

In my next post I'll detail how I did it, if you're interested. Maybe you can do the same in your own life. Pretty soon, that moniker Big Anklevich just plain won't apply...well, at least when it come to belly size. It'll still apply where it counts.