One Week Without Soda

July 3, 2017 2:34pm
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It’s hard to believe that six years ago I gave up drinking soda entirely, and yet over the last nine or ten months – basically since the twins were born – I’ve let that caffeinated addiction slowly creep back into my life again.

I blame a combination of stress and a lack of willpower.

Soda tastes good. It’s refreshing, and it puts a little spring in your step … to the point where you don’t even realize that you’re drinking a few hundred extra calories a day, which adds up over the course of almost a year.

I had originally started only grabbing the occasional soda when someplace had a Coke Freestyle machine because I think that Cherry Coke made with actual syrup tastes better. In fact, I was actually making them myself at home for a while until Publix stopped carrying the syrup that I liked and I couldn’t find anything to really match the flavor.

So that was bad enough – I wasn’t even drinking Coke Zero or anything, but regular Coke coupled with sugary syrup on top of that!

It was probably only a matter of time before I started settling for traditional fountain drinks and cans and bottles from the gas station, too. Most recently, I found myself going through a 2-liter bottle in a couple of days, and I knew that I really needed to cut back, but life was stressful and instead I told myself that I’d change when things calmed down a little…

Of course, it didn’t work like that!

Instead, the other day I started having mild chest pains. I actually think it was just a pulled muscle from running around at Disney World the day before, but it was enough to spook me into actual change because I know that my weight is getting out of control and all of those extra calories – as soothing as they are – weren’t helping the bigger picture.

The first couple of nights, I found myself with mild headaches – nothing terrible like the ones I got from caffeine years ago – so I took a Tylenol here and there and pushed forward, each day telling myself that it was my Nth day without a soda, so no sense in breaking the streak now!

Today it’s been a full week without one, and the aches are starting to go away, not to mention the cravings … at least to the point where I can turn soda down in favor of water again instead, which wasn’t exactly happening in the past because it had become the go to whenever I ate Chinese, and then pizza, and then just about anything that I was eating. 🙁

I know that there are still a lot of other changes that I need to make to benefit my health. I don’t like running out of breath carrying my sons around or having so many aches after a single day at a theme park. But this was an important first step and reducing my calorie intake by a few hundred each day should be a good start towards some of the more intensive efforts that eventually need to take place.

Going forward I think I’ll still let myself have the occasional drink as a mixer with alcohol because I tend to limit myself to just one or two and those are infrequent at best anyways, but aside from maybe the great soda fountain over at the Beach Club at Disney that not only makes Cherry Coke with the syrup but also includes real cherries in it, too, I think my soda days need to be over.

Again.

Ahhhh, the blog post I’ve admittedly been rather anxious to write…

…because…

…yours truly has lost a total of 8.8 pounds in the last week!!!  😀

Now I know that this rate isn’t going to keep up forever … or at least maybe it’s not … it would certainly be awesome if it did, but nonetheless I’m pretty damned excited about this as a reward for my first week’s effort! The early boost of encouragement has definitely helped to push me through some of the tough spots so far, anyways.

I’ll write up a separate post about what I’ve been eating later, but there have of course been some challenges with cravings and whatnot. My mouth still occasionally waters for my favorite sub from Firehouse that I was previously getting on a weekly basis – the Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket, which can run anywhere from 890 to a whopping 1500 calories depending on whether I got a medium or a large … in one meal, before I even bought chips to go with it!!!

I’ve also been yearning for pizza a bit – Domino’s, in particular, whose slices can range anywhere from 225 – 475 calories a piece … as much as I can almost taste their garlic buttery crust in my mouth, I keep trying to tell myself that it’s just not worth the calories, at least for right now.

Thankfully, my analytical side can easily see that either of those ranges are pretty ridiculous when you’re only averaging 1,100 calories a day total, so I’ve been trying to weigh that logic along with dropping about a pound a day as incentive to stay the course so far.

For the most part, though, the meals I’ve been eating are pretty good and realistically the volume of food is still considerable – it’s just that instead of being a pile of bread dough and some processed meat, it’s a pile of broccoli or celery alongside a fresh-cooked protein. I’ve definitely been cooking a lot more, which takes some getting used to but I’m slowly finding my groove. I’m looking forward to over time building up a nice repertoire of menus so that there’s more of a variety to choose from, but so far I’m just taking it one day at a time.

Distractions also seem to be helping a lot, whether it’s focusing on writing a new blog post when I’m hungry or making myself do the dishes or laundry, or even just getting lost in a TV show but without the bag of chips at my side to slowly graze out of until I reach the bottom. Sometimes I think that my appetite is starting to subside, but other times I really have to work at it.

Still, it’s only been a week, so I know that I can’t really expect too much all at once. 😉

I think week #2 is going to present some new challenges – tomorrow is my and Sara’s anniversary, so we’re going out to dinner, but we picked a restaurant that specifically caters to smaller portions. And then on Monday we’re hitting up Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party over at Disney World, but I actually think that as long as I plan well and take it easy before we get there, I should be ok as long as I can take it easy in the candy shop! A single counter service meal for dinner isn’t going to kill me, and there are probably some halfway decent options to pick from there if I really think about it…

All in all, I’m obviously ecstatic about my results so far – I was really expecting maybe 3-4 pounds with water weight, not upwards of 10 pounds! So it’s very encouraging to think that even if/when it dwindles down to 1-2 pounds per week, I could still be down 30+ pounds by Christmastime, which would be absolutely fantastic.

Mind you, even the notion of dropping into the 250s as soon as this weekend after being 270 a week ago is equally satisfying!

Onward and downward! :mrgreen:

So far I think things are going surprisingly well!

Avoiding junk food hasn’t been too bad … I think mostly because I’ve affirmed to myself that this is something that I just have to do, which is making it easier to steer clear of Dominos and Taco Bell and everywhere else that I normally go to avoid actually preparing my own food.

I’ve also basically convinced myself that I’m just not doing Halloween candy this year, which admittedly is more superfluous anyways. If I’ve already taken the steps to give up chips and pizza, saying no candy, too, really isn’t that big of a blip! 😉

Anyways, so far I’ve averaged about 1,000 – 1,200 calories per day, which is a lot less than I normally eat but as far as I can tell still an acceptable minimum as far as not starving oneself is concerned.

I also got in walks with the family for two of those days, so that’s a nice bonus. I still want to try to get in some yoga on the WiiFit today because I didn’t get around to it yesterday.

For my efforts thus far, the scale when I got up today said that I was down about 4 pounds!!! I’m trying not to get too caught up in the numbers because I know they’re going to fluctuate and water weight can be a quick loss when you’re first starting out, but it’s still encouraging to see the number going down after so many big changes to my diet all at once…

😀

14 Days of Self Control

October 1, 2015 3:32pm
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I haven’t written about this in a while, but I really need to because it’s been too long.

I’m not at all happy about my body right now. In fact, the last couple of weeks it’s been kind of depressing. I feel super lethargic all of the time, walking not that far makes me winded and tired … even moreso when I’ve got a toddler in tow, and I haven’t really been sleeping well and wake up most of the time with aches and just generally feeling terrible.

And it admittedly scares me a little because if I look back over the years, I can see myself progressively getting worse and worse, past points that I never pictured myself getting. Like when I first moved down here in 2003, I weighed about 215 and wanted to lose 20 pounds … even something like 225 seemed so far away that it really wasn’t that bad, and yet eventually over the years I passed 225, and 235, and 250, and so on…

It’s kind of embarrassing – I don’t even want to say how bad it’s gotten.

Ok, fuck it – today I weighed in at 270 pounds.

Which is scary both for the number itself, not to mention that 300 pounds doesn’t seem all that far away, even though previously I would’ve thought about it like some sort of ridiculous weight that really fat people weigh, but not me…

…just like I once felt about 250 pounds, too. 😛

So I’m writing here both a little bit to vent and also to work through the plan I’ve been devising in my head to get myself on a better track. Even though I know that I need to exercise eventually, too, I’m not gaining weight due to a lack of exercise, but to all of the horrible food that I’ve been eating, and so even though I’m generally not a fan of diets, per se, in favor of lifestyle changes longterm, since I haven’t actually been able to do that myself, we’re going to try things a little different this time!

For the next two weeks, instead of trying little changes over time, I want to try holding myself to a very strict diet in hopes of shocking myself into realizing that this is something that I can actually do if I put my mind to it because frankly, otherwise I just haven’t been taking the little changes seriously and eating a healthy breakfast followed by a box of Tastykakes for lunch kind of defeats the purpose altogether!

Anyways, here’s the challenge:

  • The Nos…
    • No carbs (or at least no doughy carbs … fruit and whatever is fine)
    • No junk food … cookies, cakes, chips, candy, ice cream – basically, everything that I love
    • No fast food
    • No sugar cereal
    • No eating after midnight
  • The Yeses…
    • Lots of protein – chicken, shrimp, turkey, fish, maybe even steak
    • Lots of fruit & vegetables
    • Experimenting with new kinds of salads
    • Gorging myself on tea

It’s going to be especially tough because it’s pumpkin season and I’m currently surrounded by donuts and cakes and other junk to review, but that’s all going to have to take a backseat for now … maybe I can review the healthier stuff or something, I don’t know.

I do know that I’m committing myself to hitting the grocery store more often because we have a habit of buying lots of diet food and then pitching it all in the trash after it spoils two weeks later, so maybe if I go with a single meal or two in mind (and spend less), it’ll be a bit easier.

We’ll see how this goes … of course I’m motivated today, but that’s how diets always go. Talk to me six hours from now when all I’ve had to eat was lettuce, tea, and a protein shake and see if I’m still on the wagon then!

Focus. Focus. Focus.

So as I blogged about last time, my focus right now is simply in trying to teach myself how to eat better, and I think for the most part I’m succeeding.

It’s true that last night I caved and ordered pizza because it was a really hectic day and I felt that I’d earned it…

But looking back over these pictures from the last week or so, my meals have definitely been looking better than they did in the past. Big reductions in processed foods – no chips, cookies, or crackers – with fruit and vegetables and cheese for snacks instead, and I’m also not snacking in the late night hours nearly as much as I used to.

It’s a slow process, but I think my body is starting to adapt because the cravings are going down and it’s easier to turn back to a piece that I’m writing instead of agonizing at 12:30am about wanting something to munch on. Which reminds me that I wanted to write something about Snacking While Bored … will have to try and remember that for next week!

Anyways, here are a few of the highlights…

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I think one of my next focuses will be learning to make better choices when I’m going out to eat, too. I still don’t think that I did nearly as bad as I have in the past, but I did eat out for a couple of lunches (Subway, Firehouse Subs) and dinner (Chinese) – lunches because I was in a hurry and dinner to spend some time with the wife. And next week is probably going to see more eating out because Sara’s sister will be visiting, so I need to carry these same principles over to when I’m eating out, too.

For what it’s worth, when I ate at Red Lobster a week or two ago and this last week when we had Chinese, I did take food home both times … which is significant because both places typically serve huge meals and I end up gorging myself and regretting it soon after … so that’s something.

Scale-wise, I think I’m going to just avoid it altogether for a while and let myself focus on this other stuff. I’m a little frustrated because it had gone down, but yesterday was floating right back where it had been before, so I’d rather not let it demoralize me as I focus on making changes to the diet instead. I know that the actual weight loss is going to take a long time – no sense obsessing over it if I can make positive changes elsewhere.

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It’s funny when you look back and realize just how hard it is at training your body to not want the horrible crap that you’ve been feeding it for years and years and years!

That’s something that I’ve realized lately that I really need to tackle because although I’ve done marginally ok with my last task of upping the breakfast and tea antes appropriately, over the last couple of months I’ve probably circumvented whatever good effects have resulted by stuffing myself full of pizza and chips and other miscellaneous junk food the other five meals of the day.

…so that sucks, but we’re trying…

The last couple of days have been a bit of a mental battle as I’ve tried to steer myself away from my usual snacking and eating and towards that real food target that I’m gunning for. And it’s been tough because we really haven’t done much grocery shopping for actual meals lately – instead, one of us runs to the store and buys whatever they want to eat for the next couple of days … and a lot of it is usually crap … and then a day or so later, the other will go. So on my part, there have been a lot of hot dogs and frozen pizzas and microwave chicken – easy stuff – of course, coupled with lots of junk from the bakery and snack aisles that taste delicious, but end up disappearing and thus making me feel like crap two days later when I’m like, “Seriously – those cookies lasted how long?!”

I’m actually pretty proud of our trip to the store last night, though – lots of produce, some meats and cheeses, and almost no junk carbs to speak of whatsoever!

As you can see, I had kiwi as a snack last night and what inspired this post is the notion that even though at the time I could’ve plowed through a bag of Sweet Chili Doritos just the same, instead I had a kiwi and a cup of tea and not only was it hundreds of calories better for me, but I ended up feeling a lot better about myself when I was done. I think that’s important and is going to come into play here more in the future as I try to reprogram my brain to be less dependent on chips and cookies and other snacks with hopes of enjoying other snacks like fruits and vegetables just the same.

I mean, I’ve done it once before – it’s been over three years since I gave up on drinking soda and I really don’t think that I’ve ever looked back. There was a time when I used to like a Coke with certain meals, but even that has changed for the better – I pretty much steer clear from soda altogether unless it has some sort of booze mixed in with it.

…which isn’t very often at all, mind you!  😉

In a way, it’s a little sad because I’ve enjoyed some of these foods for so long, but it goes along the lines of facing growing older – if I want to enjoy as much of it as I possibly can, these changes need to happen. Plus, the wife and I have talked about it a lot and we REALLY don’t want to pass these kinds of bad habits on down to our kid now, either. I don’t want him to struggle with being overweight for decades because he was taught all growing up that eating five Oreos at a time is ok. I want our house to be the kind of home where there’s always lots of fresh fruits and vegetables around, and we cook actual meals instead of heating them up or deep frying them, and eating is something that you do for fuel, not just because you’re bored.

In retrospect, it’s also a little shameful to look at the calendar and realize that I’ve been conscious about my weight for over a decade now – pretty much ever since I moved to Florida in 2003. That’s way too much of a person’s life to be living it so poorly … if I had a time machine, I’d go back and tell my 20-something self – who was only a little overweight at the time – that it really does get a lot worse if he doesn’t take diet & exercise a little more seriously in between chugging cans of Dr. Pepper and playing Warcraft 3 until four in the morning!

If it takes a little bit of guilt to keep me away from the bad foods and steer me towards the ones that’ll keep me around as long as possible, then maybe I deserve it at this point. And I don’t mean that in a negative way – I mean that very much in a realistic way.

I’m feeling surprisingly good about my direction as of the last three or four days – now let’s see if we can talk the scale into reflecting that. 8)

So I think I did ok for my first day yesterday.

I’ve decided that for my first week, my two simple goals are going to be:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast everyday
  • Drink more tea

I should probably note that “healthy” in the first bullet point isn’t defined by mountains of virtue or anything … my goal is just to eat real food to start my day – whatever time of day that actually happens to be! 😉

Yesterday it was a simple scrambled eggs (with cheese) and a glass of OJ.

Today was a little bigger because it was a bit later – I added an extra egg and also a couple of pieces of toast.

And that’s that.

I’m not even trying to get into calorie counting or scrutinizing every little turn – the only major change is that I might need to switch to egg whites (on account of old man heart health), but it’s not like I’m making pancakes with a huge pool of maple syrup, so even with a couple slices of toast on occasion I don’t think it’s a very bad start. Next week I’ll probably pick up some ham to dice into it as well as some veggies … my main goal with this meal is just quick and simple, healthy, and filling enough that I won’t be lunging for a snack 2 hours later.

And hopefully bullet point #2 can help me a little with that as well because my main driver for tea is simply that in the past it’s tended to help cut down my cravings for other snacking when I have something to sip on that isn’t water.

I even bought a little mug warmer thingy to keep at my desk so that I can stop pouring out half-empty cups of cold tea!

That’s it for changes at this point, though – again, the real goal is small, simple changes that months from now will all add up to a healthier routine for me across the board. And it’s admittedly weird because even yesterday I felt the drive to add just a couple more things to my list because I was in the mood and wanted to dive in headfirst, and I had to actively tell myself, “No – this is enough for now … we’ll add more next week.”

I mean, there’s definitely plenty to tackle – carbs, junk food, other meals, sleep schedule, late night snacking … I fought with that a little last night, which to me oddly enough is actually sort of a good thing because it tells me that my body is sensing a change. It’s fightin’ it, too, but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if after a month or so of tweaking other things with my diet, the midnight snacking cravings just sort of manage to dissipate on their own.

Last night I had a big bowl of Reese’s ice cream with whipped cream and that chocolate shell stuff that I’d bought at the low of my being sick, and even though an hour later I wanted a plate of pizza rolls, too, I was able to distract myself long enough until it wasn’t on my mind anymore. The eating while I’m sleeping thing is a little different, but I think it’ll go too with time.

One day at a time… 🙂

So I’ve been thinking about weight loss stuff again over the past couple of days…

Yeah, it’s been a while! 😯

I don’t know … maybe it’s the 5 pounds less that I weighed in on the scale yesterday – mostly on account of being sick for the past week and a half, but this topic has been on my mind yet again and I think I want to talk about it. And this is going to seem odd because despite this big, old blog just recently passing 800,000 words, in the last couple of years I’ve kind of steered clear of talking about weight loss and dieting efforts – frankly, I think, because I did so much of it early on and it feels a little embarrassing to keep writing the same stuff over and over again.

It’s true that a lot of what I’m going to write is probably stuff I’ve said already, but who knows – maybe I’m finally in a better place to actually be able to do something about it.

In a way, there’s a lot to be learned in looking back at those failed attempts. One high level thing that I noticed just now is that for each time that I fell off the wagon, it was easy to cite some big thing that had just happened that threw us all for a loop – got married, got a puppy, got a house, dealing with pregnancy stuff – and the funny thing is, despite having the mother of all excuses to be thrown just down the hall from me, thankfully sleeping soundly at this very moment, I guess that almost-34-year-old Scott has learned that … there’s always going to be something to throw you off your game…

For the next few years it will be baby, or maybe even another baby, and then school, then teenagers, then high school … holy cow, how did this turn into a post that whipped through the next twenty years of my life in the better part of a sentence?!  😯

I think the takeaway from it all is just what I’ve said before – I need to find a way to maintain a healthy diet that fits with my day-to-day life because if big chunks of time were only sporadically available in my 20’s, I can tell already midway through that my 30’s aren’t looking any better and I don’t even want to think about the decades after that!

The funny thing is, despite my existence feeling kind of topsy-turvy right now with the introduction of a new human to care for, at the same time this is kind of perfect timing to start making some changes like this in my life for the better. My current work arrangements after the baby was born have had me working from home almost exclusively, which means that in both a bad way and a good way, the refrigerator is only a 15-second walk away from me at any point during my day.

What this should mean in the positive way is that instead of eating whatever I can scarf down in the car on the drive in for breakfast, there’s really no reason I shouldn’t be eating something simple and delicious like a quick omelette or some scrambled eggs and juice every single morning.

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And for lunch, not having questionable cafeteria food within walking distance (and super good, 400-calorie cookies…) and tons more fast food options a quick drive away, there’s really no reason I shouldn’t be throwing together the types of lunches that I always avoided taking to work – sandwiches that would get soggy sitting in the fridge, pretty much anything not frozen for simplicity’s sake.

Snacks can be healthy stuff like fruits and vegetables that I don’t have to carefully portion out in the morning when I’m already running late.

My tea can … well, there’s really not much different about the tea because that’s where I actually started drinking it in the first place, but I can start that again, too!

And that’s all just food!!!

I’m not going to ramble here incessantly because just like the changes I want to make, I’ve been reading a lot of posts that remind me that it’s small, consistent changes over time that will really make the difference in the long haul, so that’s what I want to do. Long term, I’d love to see a slightly more photogenic me by Christmastime so that I don’t have to be as crop-happy when choosing which family photos to post as I have been lately; in the short term, while I’m still trying to get over this sick stuff, I think I’m going to start making some small tweaks here and there and we’ll see what happens.

I’m sure we’ll talk again soon! 😉

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I just cleaned that gigantic mess out of our kitchen pantry, where it had accumulated for several months.

My wife decided to try NutriSystem around November of last year, and for the first couple of months it worked great! She probably lost 20-30 pounds – we’ve got the Beanie Babies with the #s stitched into them around here somewhere to prove it, but the problem was, just like Weight Watchers or any of the others where they sell you food to eat, is that inevitably you eventually realize just how terrible the food actually is, and gradually you start eating less and less of it as you slip in just a bit of regular food here and there, and before you know it you’ve got shelves of this crap with new shipments coming in every 4 weeks that you don’t even have room for anymore!

Seriously, I think our last shipment before she finally put the thing on hold earlier this year probably stayed in the box for a good month and a half while we convinced ourselves that it was still possible to “catch up” and get back on track. even started eating some of it myself – at least the ones that I could stomach – but that only lasted so long because you can only eat so much of the same packaged, microwavable crap day after day. There are only so many choices that they can give you, and if you end up not liking a sizable number of them, you’re pretty much committing yourself to eating the same thing every. damn. day…

Of course, I don’t have a huge bushel of room to talk because I was trying to lose weight right alongside her doing my own thing and I wasn’t really very successful, either, but it just goes to show you that it’s really willpower that you need to lose weight – not some fad diet or books or a new workout routine. I never really cared for these types of schemes because the question always in the forefront of my own mind was “How am I supposed to switch back to normal foods after eating all of these meticulously-planned meals for month after month???” Sure, they tell you that they’ve got a graduated plan to ease you back into the real world once you’ve hit your target weight, but the truth of the matter is that most people probably never even get to that stage because they slip far before they ever reach their target weight and once they’re reminded what a hamburger not made out of cardboard tastes like, the food starts backing up like a clogged toilet. 🙁

I need to see if there’s a food bank nearby where I can donate all of this crap instead of feeling guilty about throwing two months worth of “food” in the garbage…

Note – I actually listed to the original versions that he offered off of his blog when he did Thing a Week so many moons ago, but this seemed a little easier to post in a playlist-type format, so you end up getting a mix of live performances, fan music videos, and more – enjoy!

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