Brought low by my own hypocrisy

This is a follow up to the last article I posted.  Earlier in the year, I was chronicling my very successful attempt to lose weight.  In May, I fell off the wagon.  For the last few months, I have proceeded to undo much of the good that I did before I fell off.  Several times I have tried to get started again, but found an excuse to stop.

Yesterday, as I wrote about not taking irresponsible chances with my life for my daughter’s sake, I was faced with my own hypocrisy, and realized why I failed back in May.

I took my eyes off the prize and lost my focus.  When I started my weight loss program, my daughter was the reason that I was doing it.  At some point, I was so proud of all that I had accomplished, that I forgot why I was doing it.

So, yesterday, as I wrote about other people being irresponsible, I realized that I could not hold them to a higher standard than I was holding myself.  As a result, the diet is back on (for her sake), and I got off my fat ass and walked today.  Stay tuned….

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Taking no chances…for my family

Yesterday, I was reading a story about Andrew Lee, an ‘aspiring chef’ from England who bet his girlfriend’s brother that he could make a really hot sauce.  This inevitably devolved into a contest between the two to see who could eat the most of it and, of course, Lee proved that he was able to make a damn hot sauce.  Unfortunately, he lost the eating contest after it killed him. 

I am a guy, and I think I have a competitive nature.  I, however, do not understand why guys find the need to show that they are bigger, tougher, crazier and dumber than the next guy.  There is just no need for it.  I like hot sauce, and I like it hotter than most, but once the capsaicin is so potent that the food has no other flavor, I no longer see the point.  You might as well drink some battery acid and speed up the ulcer creating process, because ultimately that is all you are going to get out of it.

Obviously no one intends to die from eating hot sauce that is too hot or drinking too much water at a water drinking contest (check out water intoxication), but it seems every day we are presented with another act of needless bravado that results in someone’s death.  Perhaps when we are feeling all amped-up about something, it would be best to tap the breaks a little.

I will assume that in this particular case, the guy did not have a family, other than a girlfriend (though there is no guarantee of this by any means), which mitigates the tragedy a little.  However, in many of these cases people leave the world with a sad and confused family.

As a father (and even before I became one), I have developed some strong opinions regarding responsibility.  I really don’t care what people do with their lives before they get married as long as what they are doing is not hurting someone else or causing them to be a burden to society (see inexperienced climbers who decide to tackle Denali and have to be rescued: stupid), but I believe once you are married, and especially once you have children, you accept new responsibilities that should lead you to more responsible actions.  I believe that when we accept these responsibilities and limit our own selfish desires for challenges and expressions of bravado we effectively show love to our families.  Unfortunately many men even after they are married and have children approach life as if they are starring in their own movies, and of course, nothing bad ever happens to the hero of the movie.
For me, these responsibilities are far reaching, and affect my behavior.  I would not consider climbing Mount Everest (please refrain from personal shots at this point.  I know this is about the same as me saying, “I will not accept a date with Angelina Jolee.”).  The chances of dying are just too great.  I saw an article about a woman who died on K2 (the world’s second tallest mount which is considered by some to be tougher than Everest).  The piece talked about how brave she was, and what a pioneer for women she was.  It also informed the reader, near the end, that she was a mother of two, ages four and six.  I have to be honest.  This woman had her priorities all out of whack.  If you are a mother, that is your primary identity.  She was a mother before she was a climber.  Mothers, and fathers, should put their parental responsibilities ahead of their other petty desires for a challenge or even fame.  My feelings go farther than this needless act of irresponsibility, however.

Several years ago my sister and her boyfriend (who eventually became her husband) went skydiving.  I am not afraid to skydive, and think it would probably be an interesting experience, but now, as a father and husband, I just cannot do it.  I know that most people who skydive do not have any problems, and enjoy the experience, but I can’t do it.  The consequences of a mistake by myself or anyone else in this situation are too great for me to risk.  I am not motivated by fear.  I simply have too much responsibility.

It extends even further.  The best example that I can come up with is the motorcycle.  I live in the Dallas area, and commute some distance to work.  With gas prices as high as they are, it would be a lot cheaper for me to ride a motorcycle to work.  As a father, I will not do it.  There are too many other drivers out there that do not pay attention to the road for me to take the chance.  I owe my daughter and my wife too much to take the chance that something bad could happen to me.  If you are on a motorcycle, and get into an accident, you are going to lose, and it could easily be very bad.  Every day it seems like you hear of a local fatality accident involving a motorcycle.

Part of me showing love to my wife and daughter is to avoid these things that add needless risk to my life.  Raising her, helping her to be a good person, and being involved in her life are just too important to me.  I know that I still have no guarantees, but I am going to do my best to do what is right by her, and the things that are beyond my control, I cannot worry about.

As I wrote this, I was faced with certain issues in my own life.  I could not finish it without confronting them, but I will deal with that in the next post.

Crazy Days

It has been a couple of crazy weeks.  It started with the trip to Sea World two weekends ago.  During that weekend, my uncle died and I was asked to deliver ‘the message’ at his funeral last Wednesday.  My In-laws arrived Thursday evening to assist with things because my wife was having surgery Friday morning.

We woke up at 5:45 to go to the Hospital.  This is my normal time to wake up for work, but it seemed wrong to have to wake up so early if I was not going to have to go to work.  The procedure went well, according to the doctors, and she was released at 10:30 the next morning.  It only took the nurses about five more hours to get the paperwork to us which my wife recognized as papers that had been on her chart the whole time.  Maybe it took them five hours to find a wheelchair in the hospital.

The last few days have been spent entertaining the in-laws.  They have been helpful, but the between the trip, the funeral, hosting the in-laws, the four and a half days off and a holiday over the past two weeks, the eating out has been through the roof.  This is not good for a diet.  No matter how much you attempt to make good choices on a diet, food prepared at restaurants tends to have more calories and fat (and other things that you don’t want on a diet) than foods you prepare at home.

The exercise also took a big hit over the past two week.  Walking much of the day at Sea World was good, but much of that walking was very slow, and did not compare with the pace I set when I am walking to lose weight.  I did not walk while I was preparing for the funeral either.  Honestly, I was preoccupied with trying to come up with something good to say, and calling many of my relatives for information.  The day and a half that I was actually at work this week Left me no time for exercise.  I had to clean up from being off for two days, and prepare to be off two more days.  The hospital was even worse.  I felt like I needed to be in the room giving my wife and her family as much support as I could.  This meant sitting in the same chair with only moments of walking for short distances to refill my coffee cup for two days.

I made it a point to take my family to the park on Sunday and Monday.  It was not as much fun as usual.  Normally, my wife and I park at the City Hall and walk the greenbelt to the park and back.  This ends up being about a mile and a half each way.  The baby stays interested with the scenery and we get our exercise.  She also gets to play, once we get to the park, which she loves.  This time I drove straight to the park because my wife is on light duty, and the mother-in-law cannot walk well.  This meant that I had to leave the ‘fun’ and go off to walk on my own while they entertained the baby at the park.  By the time I returned, they were all pretty much ready to go.  I did not realize how much I would miss having them along with me on the walk or how much I would miss being seeing my little girl have fun while she was at the park.

The purpose of all of this is to justify the diet numbers that I have cranked out over the past two weeks.  I put on another pound this week, but all things considered, I actually expected to gain more.  Things should be getting back to normal now, and it’s time to get serious about this again.  I took the time to prepare my lunch for this week, and I plan to make time to exercise every day.

Turning it all into a positive, I feel like I have weathered the biggest storm of the diet so far without too much damage.  I currently weigh 265 and have lost 94 pounds total.  I am 45 pounds away from my reevaulation weight of 200, and am now making a goal to reach that weight before my birthday in late October.

 

Weight Loss Update

The 100 Pound mark continues to elude me.  This week I lost 4 pounds.  I am now at 261, and have lost 98 pounds in the last 18 weeks.  I am 70% of the way to my reevaluation goal of 220 lbs, and only have 41 pounds to go before I reach it.  It is becoming clear that I may indeed have ‘skin issues’ when this is all over.  I knew this when I began this process, and it looks as though I may have to see a doctor to see what needs to be done.  Hopefully, some of it will just go away, but I am trying to stay realistic.  In any case, I have no regrets about where I am now, only that I wish I had never gotten so big in the first place.

The Long Haul

I have definitely come too far at this point to turn back as far as my weight is concerned, but the heady and unrealistic goals (maybe more accurately said as dreams) that I had of the weight continuing to fall off rapidly are not meeting the harsh reality that it just does not work that way.

I want to preface this by saying that I am very pleased with my accomplishments so far, and in no way feel let down.  I have consistently met and exceeded my goals throughout this program.

I have lost an incredible 94 pounds in the last 17 weeks.  Tomorrow will mark the four month point since I began the diet.  That means I have averaged losing 23.5 lbs a month for four months.  It’s great, but it is no number for me to set my goals by.

The harsh reality is that with all weight loss programs there is a certain degree of diminishing returns as you go along.  Broken down into four week increments, I lost 33, 22, 16 and 20 lbs respectively over the first 16 weeks of the diet.  The last four weeks, I did a little better than the four weeks before it, but overall, there has been a significant decline in the amount of weight that I have lost.  This week’s three pound loss after a week of working out fairly hard, underscores the point, that I cannot keep using the amount of weight I lose to set benchmarks for the coming weeks.

I have increased both the time and the impact of my workouts, but I am getting to the point where they are what they will be.  I cannot work in any more time, and they are getting pretty strenuous.

What I am going to do now is to change my focus a little from how much I have lost, to how much I have left to lose.  Losing 94 lbs is great, but looking at what’s left, I only have 45 lbs to lose in order to reach my reevaluation goal of 220 lbs.  I will now concentrate on chipping away that 45 lb pound number until it gets to zero.  If it takes three more months to get there, so be it.  I am not going to let my attitude change.

 

Where’s the beef?

I have eaten a lot of fish and chicken on this diet.  I like them both, so that is OK with me.  However, I really like beef also, especially steak.  I have been getting my beef through soup and an occasional taco salad, both of which are great ways to get the great flavor of beef into your meal, but to also stretch it so that you are not ruining you diet.

This week, however, when my wife and I went to Cosco, we bought something besides the usual fish and chicken.  We bought a whole beef tenderloin.  They are expensive (I saw them anywhere from $50.00 to $75.00), but if you cut them into 6-8 oz portions, they go along way.  I got 15 fillets and a pound of stew meat off one tenderloin.  When you break it down, I only paid about $3.70 per fillet (not counting the stew meat.  That’s not bad at all.  It is important to note that if you do this you will have to trim a good bit of fat and silver-skin off the tenderloin.

The tenderloin can be used just like the chicken or fish in a meal (though it does have more calories).  For 6 oz. fillet, you only take in around 400 calories.

So, last night I got out one of the fillets, coated it with fresh cacked pepper and Kosher salt, and grilled it up.  I also grilled some mushrooms (almost no calories in these if you avoid butter and oil) and caramelized a little onion.  On the side I had a can on green beans seasoned with a few Bacos.  The steak cut like butter, and I have to say it was easily the best meal I’ve had since I began the diet, and probably for a good while before that.  This is not to say that I have not eaten well.  This meal was just especially good, and I will probably work it in about once a week from now on.

Week 16 Update:  This week I lost four pounds for a toal of 91 lbs. lost so far.  I am at 268, and am only nine pounds away from losing 100 lbs.  I am 65% of the way to my reevaluation goal at this time.

 

Accountability

Much has been made of accountability in exercise programs.  The effectiveness of accountability has been documented by many substance abuse programs including Alcoholic’s Anonymous.

When we began our weight loss programs, my wife and I made commitments to one another.  We have held each other to our commitments and have expectations that each of us will keep up our ends of the bargain on a weekly basis.

Accountability helps us because neither wants to have to admit failure to the other.  We encourage each other every week, cheering on a good week’s total weight loss, and consoling a bad week’s weight loss because we know the effort that we both have put into it.

I also feel accountable because I have decided to write about my attempts to lose weight on this blog.  My little girl also holds me accountable though she does not even know it.  Seeing her refer to the hefty male figures in her books sweetly as ‘daddy’ reminds me of my commitment to her.  All of these accountabilities have added up to help me hold myself to a successful program.

However, true person-to-person accountability is only as good as the commitment of the people who decide to be accountable to each other.  Don’t be afraid to hold people who make a commitment to you to their commitments, and don’t be afraid to ask them to hold you to yours.

 

Update: I lost 8 pounds this week and am now at 272 lbs.  That is 87 lbs in 15 weeks, and I am 62.5% of the way to my goal.  I am seeing the 100 lb mark on the horizon.  I hope to be there in three weeks.