Monday, November 26, 2007

First Batch of Pictures . . .

As promised, I just got the first batch of pictures from Wendy. I've uploaded them to an album which you can access here:

Thanks for your patience guys . . . .

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Please Stop Either/Or Holiday Eating

I seriously considered posting this on Thanksgiving, but I figured the last thing you guys were going to do is read my blog. Hell, I know I wouldn't! OK, that being said, let me address an important weight loss issue that comes up around this time of the year; however, it serves as a great opportunity for you to start practicing portion control.

Yes, it's that time of the year when you probably attend more parties and dinners than you do for any other time of the year. This is also the time when many guys usually react by either just shrugging off the thought of losing weight and pig out until the next New Year's resolution which is right around the corner or they are in sheer terror of the thought of so many opportunities when the fat guy is given a free pass, and even encouraged in many cases, to eat till his gut's capacity has been reached. I'm very familiar with both because I've been each guy and will give you the pros and cons of each one.

President of the Al Bundy for President Club

What guy (uh, fat guy) in his right mind doesn't like being stretched out on the couch scratching his belly with one hand and a remote in the other? Oh, and there is the mandatory drink, usually a beer or something sweet, at our feet and snack food at arm's length. Flashes of my couch potato hero, Al Bundy, come to mind and that's probably why I silently declared myself the president of his upcoming, yet undisclosed, run for the White House. Well, during this time of the year, especially in 2002, this is what I did because I had made up my mind that 2003 was going to be the year that I stopped being part of the 300lb, my boobs are larger than my wife's club anymore. So, I basically did an Al Roker for the last two months of the year and here's the pros and cons of doing this fellas:

You are in absolute gluttony heaven because you are eating the best prepared and made food you'll get all year long. Hey, two days ago you got a nice taste of exactly what I'm talking about. As you went house hopping, especially for dessert, everyone's specialty dish tasted just that much better, right? Of course it did because these cooks knew that their house wasn't the only house you were going to. So, they put that extra special touch or, as my mom would say, put their foot all up in the dish. And I'm sure that you, as the fat guy, was expected to eat a nice size plate no matter whose house you went to or how much you politely tried to refuse. Well, taking this approach is great because you don't have to feel guilty about eating more than you know you should eat! As a result, you make a lot of cooks out there very happy and your wife loves you too because you will be eating leftovers for a couple of weeks. If you decide to go this route, have a clear conscious, regret nothing, and tell them to pass the sweet potatoes.

Rapid weight gain is the main bummer about this approach. Not only are you consuming way more calories than your maintenance level, but you're also not moving around that much. We have more parties and excuses not to work or move around during this time of the year, which makes sense because it is a festive time of the year. However, eating more calories + moving less = weight gain. So, you'll start noticing that simple tasks, such as walking, become a bit more difficult and you get winded a lot faster. If you have knee joint problems, then the extra weight ain't going to help them, and they're going to let you know. This may not be too much of a problem depending on what you do for a living because all those extra calories cause you to become pretty lethargic and not really want to do anything that involves moving around. My wife at the time was pretty pissed at me during this time of the year because, unfortunately, I didn't have energy or desire to do a lot of things. Also, be ready to buy larger clothes if you don't already have them handy because this was the time when I believe that I was close to wearing a size 50 pants. Lastly, it makes starting your journey that much more difficult because you've been pigging out for close to two months and then you expect yourself to stop on a dime and be ready and willing to be on a new diet (usually reduced calories) and exercise (usually tons of cardio) routine. Yeah right! Very few guys have the willpower to maintain this change, so they hold out for as long as they can and then eat, feel guilty, and resemble this guy:

Mr. Atlas Bearing the Weight of Weight Loss

I can hear Willy Nelson's voice in my head singing his version of "You're Always On My Mind" when I think about this guy because knowing that you need to lose weight is the first thought you have in the morning and the last one you have before bed, just don't tell your wife this for obvious reasons! You, like Mr. Al Bundy above, have tried and failed at different attempts to lose weight; but, unlike Al, you can't just let loose and eat as much as you want during this time of the year. You know that you need to lose this weight and stuffing yourself is not the answer, but it's so tempting because all of your favorite dishes are right there for you. This is the dilemma I was faced with in 2001 after I started to regain weight after I had stopped taking doctor prescribed weight loss pills. I felt that I couldn't stop myself from eating more, and I would feel absolutely terrible and guilty about this. I've come to learn that, for me, guilt is a useless emotion that doesn't truly help you reach your weight loss goals. I just wished I had known this back then.

I know this is going to sound like I'm contradicting myself here by mentioning guilt as a pro when I just said it was a useless emotion--just hear me out here fellas. What's useless about feeling guilty is the stress and anxiety that usually comes with it. Being aware that your behavior is working contrary to your weight loss goals is a good thing; it's just our reaction to it. So, since you are aware that you shouldn't be eating like a damn cow, is a step in the right direction, and that's what you need to focus on. Just don't beat yourself up when you eat to the point that you need to unbutton your pants like you did the other day.

The stress and anxiety from being guilty causes you to binge, especially when you are in the midst of food and feel bad about what you've eaten already. You know that feeling and voice in the back of your mind reminding you that you shouldn't be eating this or that. Also, since there is more than enough research showing a direct link between stress and heart disease, I think that the cons of this approach is actually compounded. You eat just as much or maybe a little less than Mr. Bundy above, but you still consume more than you need and all of Al's other cons apply to you too.

OK, now consider this . . .

Whether you pig out with or without guilt is really not that important when you consider that the end result--weight gain--is still the same and not the desired result. So, what should you do? Deny yourself all the treats and goodies that are calling your name? Buy one of those fat burner pills you see on TV to help you "melt" away the fat? No, I want you to try three simple techniques that I continue to find very useful:

  • Stop either/or thinking when it comes to eating. I teach my Basic Composition students that even though we live in a country whose political machine falls in this category, when one is making a logical argument s/he should avoid this mistake. Once I started applying this to my eating habits, I found that I became less emotional about eating and more conscious about how much I was eating. So, there's no need to be either Mr. Al or Mr. Atlas because these are just two of many options for you to explore and imitate.

  • Drink plenty of water, especially before a party or dinner. You need to be drinking as much water as you can anyway, so why not drink a couple of cups to help fill your belly a bit before you are presented with a buffet of food. Drinking more water will also help you to watch those deadly liquid calories in sodas, juices, and other sweet juices. It's not just the sugar/carbs but the calories that we seem to overlook, especially during the holidays.

  • Save room for dessert. While you are fixing your plate, keep in mind that you want to save room for dessert and if you get that full beyond belief feeling before dessert, then no dessert for you! Make this promise to yourself and stick with it because you'll enjoy the dessert more because you don't feel like a stuffed pig. Also, be conscious of your portion sizes. If you plan on starting your weight loss journey in 2008, then now is a perfect time for you to be conscious about how many helpings and plates you're eating. I'm not asking you to count calories, as much as I am asking you to be an active eater and not passively shovel food in your mouth. Don't deny yourself, just limit the amount. This approach allows you to eat what you want without guilt, but you are learning to see how much food you're eating.
I hope these tips work for you as they have for me.

On another note, thanks to all those who participated in the poll. I will be posting about my daily diet next. And, I'm still waiting to hear back from the photographer. As soon as I get the pics, I'll post them. You have no idea how anxious I am to see them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My First Photo Shoot (Part I)

First, I want to apologize for posting so late, but Wendy, my photographer and owner of Wendybird Fotos, and I couldn't meet last weekend as we had hoped. So, we rescheduled for this past Saturday and had a blast! I didn't want to post without having some sort of new picture for folks to see.

OK fellas, I have to be honest here because I didn't quite know what to expect since this was my first time at a photo shoot actually taking my shirt off. Hell, the last time I consciously and willing took a picture with my shirt off was probably when I was 16.

So, the shoot starts with Wendy suggesting that we move my empty fish tank so that she could take the pictures against a plain white wall. By doing this, she is able to manipulate the background; however, and I want to be clear about this, besides the lighting effects and the coloring (e.g., sepia), my body has not been touched up or tampered with at all. In light of the whole Kimkins fiasco, I don't want anyone to think that I'm putting up photoshop'd images of myself. Don't worry, when you see my trademark saggy skin and stretch marks on my belly in the other shots, you'll know she didn't do a thing. LOL!

Alright, back to the shoot. Well, I start with a tank top and sweats on. I'm so nervous and really didn't know what to do. So, Wendy told me to do whatever and to act as if she wasn't there. OK, so I shadow boxed a little, jogged in place a bit--I told you I didn't know what to do--and then it hit me: go grab my kettlebell (KB). It still pains me to type kettlebell without an "s" because at one time I had a pair of 54lb KBs, but one was stolen from the fitness center in my complex. This is a long story that I plan on blogging about in another post. So, now I'm left with only one which I decided to workout with in front of the camera. After a couple of one-arm clean and presses and KB rows, I felt warmed up and ready to take off my shirt . . .

(to be continued)

* * *

The picture above was taken when I was either doing a windmill or a bent press--I don't remember. Nevertheless, it really doesn't matter which one I was doing, all I know is that I was focused on keeping my eye on the KB at all times! This is the first and only picture that Wendy has forwarded to me from the shoot, so I had to get it up as soon as I could. In the second part of this post, I'll talk more about how the rest of the shoot went and how Wendy handled my request to take a couple of pics of me in my bikinis!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

MLBF News Flash: New Pictures Coming Soon ...

The first time that I did Nike Hill with my ex and her youngest daughter, Katherine, I remember that she told me the wrestlers at her high school would pump themselves up by saying, "Get some . . . get some!!!" in an almost snarling grunt. So, when we were making it up the last hill before reaching to the top, we kept telling each other to "Get some" the closer we got to the top.

Well, this phrase has stuck with me, and I use it to get me through my all aspects of my training. Fellaz, I've been working my ass off these last six weeks just to see how much I could continue to lean out by following a high frequency training (HFT) full body routine using only body weight exercises, and I'll have more answers for you next week as this is week six.

Also, on this coming Saturday, I have an appointment to have my first professionally shot pictures taken. I'm pretty excited, a bit nervous, but mainly excited about sharing with you my progress so far.

I've been so focused on working out that I haven't even been posting on my favorite weight loss forums. If you're looking for places with different views on low-carb eating and working out, then you may consider checking out the following forums:

OK, without giving anything away too much about how I'm progressing, I'll leave you with this little tidbit--I just bought a new pair of jeans with a 34 inch waist! Yeah baby, Get some!!

Talk to you next week and please be sure to answer the poll question to give me an idea of what you'd like for me to post about next ...

Plateau Does Not Equal Failure

OK, so you've been losing weight at a pretty steady clip and then, all of a sudden, you stop seeing the numbers on the scale go down. Panic starts to set in, your palms get sweaty, and all of your failed weight loss attempts of the past start flashing before your eyes. Sound familiar fellaz? I'm sure it does because anyone who has tried to lose weight has experienced a stall. Hell, I know that I have on many occasions.

As I've already discussed in my post on the Atkins Diet, I went through pretty much a one year plateau after losing 50lbs. It was a frustrating, yet rewarding, experience for me in many ways. I don't suggest that people follow my take a whole year to figure out you need to change something attitude; however, I now realize that while I was definitely not pleased with the pitiful weight loss numbers on the scale, I wasn't regaining my lost weight either. For the first time on my journey, I felt as though I really did have a little control over my bodyweight. Yes, one can argue that I really didn't lose any weight that year since our bodyweight can fluctuate up to five pounds on a daily basis, but that's taking the glass is half empty approach.

An alternative view, and just as valid, is that I was able to control my weight for an entire year by exercising and eating low-carb. Also, we have to remember that the scale is just one tool that we use to see how we are progressing on our weight loss journey. Keep in mind that you also have a tape measure, a full length mirror, and your clothes to see if you are still losing inches. If you are weight training, then you can expect to go through a period of possible gains on the scale because of your muscle growth. Those new to weight training or seasoned vets returning after a lay off will see the most initial growth in strength and size.

Next, you have to figure out how you can burn more daily calories. Don't always look to slashing more calories first. Guys, this is the wrong approach and one that leads to yo-yo dieting and weight loss. It's really simple: look for more ways to burn not cut calories. Stop parking so close to the front door of the mall. Get off the escalator and get out of the elevator and take the stairs. And, don't even think about getting on those moving sidewalks in the airport! Do these activities burn hundreds of calories? Nope, not even close, but they burn calories nonetheless and that's the point. To break through a plateau, try and figure out how you can holistically burn more calories first through a structured exercise routine (think weight resistance before cardio) and spontaneous activities like those I've mentioned.

Now, if you know that you are eating more calories than your maintenance level, then you need to do what I've said above and eat the number of calories that you've already calculated that you should be eating. Hey, don't beat yourself up and get down on yourself because I'll let you in on a little secret. The more you concentrate on eating whole, unprocessed foods, the easier it is to clean up your diet. It takes time, and it's not easy. But, man is it ever rewarding!