Category Archives: Exercise

Reflection, action and dedication.

I’m approaching Week 8 in Norcal and I’m finally starting to feel grounded in many facets of my life. This is an opportunity to better myself through reflection, action and dedication.

This change hasn’t come over night, but I’m pushing every day to stay consistent and honor myself through hard work in the kitchen, in the gym and on this keyboard. I’m seven pounds down since arriving in February and while I still weigh more than I did at this time in 2014, the pieces are in place to accomplish my weight loss goals through action and dedication.

To that end, I have implemented several changes or stuck to certain routines over the last several weeks that have helped me build a consistent routine and stay on course:

I’ve been forcing myself to cook even when I don’t want to … especially when I don’t want to, actually. It has helped me regain my creativity and resourcefulness in the kitchen and I’ve been making some of the best-tasting dishes that I’ve ever made. Most of them have been reasonably quick and simple to make, which has been a bonus. Follow everything I’m cooking on the Fat Dude On A Diet Instagram page.


I’ve also been working on a new streak of days logged on MyFitnessPal. I have a 23-day streak logging my calories and I take it very seriously because it has provided me with an engaging way to document what I am eating. Counting calories this way has become an integral part of my efforts now that I am focusing on the consistency of my healthy choices. It was also something that helped me in previous weight loss efforts.


Finally, I’ve been pushing myself to improve physically almost every day. I train in the mornings, at nearly the same time every day, and my routine carries between many different activities: walking long distances, burst running up hills, throwing punches at the bags, and doing box jumps, bear crawls and planks. I was struggling to walk even two miles in February; now I walk more than five miles a day and recently accomplished a goal of walking 25 miles in a week. I’m also able to box longer than before. Fitness is becoming fun, and that’s how I hope it stays.


I have one month before I leave on an exciting vacation, so there are certain actions I am talking beforehand to ensure I can be the healthiest I can be when I get there. I will continue counting calories and eating healthy, trying to do a better job of eliminating sugar from my diet. I will also start weight training very soon, with the intent of hiring a personal trainer beginning in June. I was taught by my former boss to always have a strategy 40 days out. I have a gameplan and whether I fail or succeed is solely on me now. There are no other variables left in the equation.

Only me. Only dedication.

My favorite fitness and nutrition website


The best thing about the Internet is also the worst thing about the Internet when it comes to self-researched weight loss: there’s a lot of information online, but almost too much information to know what to do with. That’s not including conflicting sources, stories or methods, or websites designed to sell quick fix weight loss solutions.

Everyone I know who has lost weight or maintains a healthy weight earns it through consistent diet and exercise. But even that for me can be confusing at times. That’s why I like (formerly Neila Rey). The website provides in-depth resources and information, meal plans and the greatest workout plans, modeled after cartoon and video game characters (like the Super Mario workout or the Batman workout).

I went through the website recently and had several links I wanted to keep for reference, so I thought I’d write this post and get them all in one place. Here are some of my favorite resources from Darebee:

How to maintain your commitment to fitness
A few tips to get to the right place mentally to stay committed to your fitness routine

How to lose weight
“In order to get fit and then stay that way you need to understand how the process works. It’s not magic and it’s not rocket science, it’s logic—more specifically your body’s logic.”

How to get rid of the belly
“Since we can’t target our bellies specifically no amount of crunches or other ab specific exercises will help us burn reserves there faster. It doesn’t matter how much muscle we put on in a specific part of the body, we burn body fat in an overall way.”

How to build muscle
“It really comes down to what you have access to. Any way you choose to train will get you results provided you put in the time and you keep on challenging your body.”

Boxing basics
“Boxing training is awesome. It will teach you to use your arms and legs. It will push your aerobic capacity to the max. It will tone you and make you feel like a war machine. And it all starts so seemingly simply.”

Hero’s Journey
The ultimate video game-themed battle: A 100 percent bodyweight training crash course in 60 days. Level up, then defeat win the Boss Fight on Day 60.

Muscle soreness and recovery
“Exercising with sore muscles, reasonable training without going all out, is extremely beneficial and will help you get stronger faster and, eventually, reduce the next day soreness.  You just need to power through in the beginning and do something, anything but do it all the same.”

Calorie counting explained
“Although Calorie counting can be very handy if you want to keep yourself in-check there are a few things we should keep in mind when you count them.”

Practical guide to eating healthy
“A reasonable guide to eating just a little bit healthier by changing our eating habits and not going broke in the process.”

Healthy eating on a budget
“Healthy doesn’t mean rare or complicated, that’s where “expensive” comes from. Healthy is what your body, not just your taste buds, will appreciate and then use to build a healthier and stronger you. It simply means: nutritious food.”

Top affordable protein sources
“If you need to lose weight protein diets are the best. Low calorie diets may work fast but you lose too much muscle in the process and then gain fat back a lot faster.”

How to eat more fruits and vegetables
“The key to solving this lies in convenience: if we make it convenient to eat more of the healthy food and we will. Here are some practical tips.”

The Modern Hero Diet
A full weight loss and maintenance meal plan. Here’s one for vegetarians.

Healthy snacks
Pictures and recipes of some great healthy snacks.

Health is not a state of mind, it’s a state of action



When I started this blog in October 2010, I said then that it may not be my last time trying to lose weight. In fact, as the graph above shows, these last five years were anything but a victorious decent toward skinnier jeans.

Weight loss is often described as a roller coaster, and for someone who has struggled with weight and their relationship with food for their entire life, it’s interesting to look back on what I’ve done, examine what I’ve learned, and see how that correlates over time.

Things I’ve deduced:

-I start strong every year, but end up giving it all back (and sometimes then some) by year’s end.

-Based on what was going on in my life at the time, it was a combination of how I deal with stress during busy times (by letting go of will power and stress eating everything in sight) and having that coincide with the holiday season from Halloween to New Years (when everything delicious IS actually in sight).

-The greatest dip in my weight loss came in mid-2013 when I was walking at least 3 miles per day, three to five times per week for more than 250 miles that year.

-I always thought healthy, or at least thought of my health or lack of healthiness the entire time, but it was only during times of action that anything positive occurred.

And now I’m basically back where I started from. I ended up in the same cycle this November and December. Combined with an impending move and having all of my stuff in boxes, I gained a lot of weight back in the latter part of 2014 and early 2015. But part of the reason I made huge changes in my life was to actualize my desire to be a healthier, happier person. This week is my sixth week in Northern California and I’m learning something new with each experience a new week brings.

I was recently talking to my friend Neil about this blog and he said what I knew a long time ago, that it lost its focus. Really, that’s a reflection on me and the fact that I had lost focus in making my physical health a priority. I’ve mentioned briefly before that I have struggled with major back issues throughout the last several years. I’ve been recovering for the first time since mid-August and every day I get better in that regard.

Which leads to where I am now, and what I’m doing to get to what’s next.  Continue reading Health is not a state of mind, it’s a state of action

All the heavy lifting


It’s time to shake it up again.

Since January my main tool for weight loss has been miles-long walks and bursts of cardio on the treadmill or elliptical. I used 30 second intervals and wrist weights to help melt the fat and shape my flabby batwing arms. For all the wrist weight haters, too bad for you, they actually work. My arms lost some girth and gained some shape. My legs too. Actually, my legs are friggin’ ripped because I’ve been walking so much.  I’ve walked 60 miles since March 19, which is crazy considering I wouldn’t get off my couch just a few months ago.

If you’re looking to start your own fitness routine, let me pass on this advice: Suck it up and jump in. It’s going to be a challenge for a couple of weeks to a month, but eventually you’ll find that your body craves the exercise more than it wants you to lounge around. Tough it out and you will be rewarded.

Speaking of rewards, I’ve figured out the best gift to give myself: weight lifting. Thank you, Niyaz. You’re welcome, Niyaz. 

It’s been a long time coming, but the time is right to transition. Lifting reshapes the body and builds a strong, lasting frame. I have separated my plan into two parts, the first involving two to three months of a total body cable machine regimen and the second involving a 12-week free weight program. From there we’ll see, but for now, here’s where I’m at, courtesy of this amazing resource at Answerfitness.

Workout #1 (Day One) Exercises
Chest Press Machine: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Pull Ups (Can be performed on a pull-up station with assist or a traditional pull-up bar): Perform as many pull-ups as you can for 3 sets.
(Substitute Exercise: Cable or Lat Machine Pulldowns)
Seated Overhead Shoulder Press Machine: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Seated Leg Press Machine: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Seated Calf Raise Machine: 15 Reps for 3 Sets
Bicep Curl Machine: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Tricep Pressdown Machine: Perform as many dips as you can for 3 sets.
Back Extensions (performed on 45 degree back extension bench): One Set of 15
Swiss/Stability Ball Ab Crunches: 20-25
Rest and Recover for at least 48 hours.

Workout #2 (Day Two) Exercises
Dips: Perform as many reps as possible for 3 sets
Cable Rows: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
(Substitute Exercise: Seated Machine Rows)
Cable Front Shoulder Raises: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Smith Machine Squats: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Smith Machine Standing Calf Raises: 15 Reps for 3 Sets
Cable Bicep Curls: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Cable Tricep Pressdown: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Back Extensions (performed on 45 degree back extension bench): One Set of 15
Hanging Leg Raises/Roman Chair (Abs): Perform as many as you can for 3 sets
Rest and Recover for at least 48 hours.

Workout #3 (Day Three) Exercises
Pec Deck Machine: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Lat Cable Pulldown: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
(Substitute Exercise: Lat Pulldown Machine)
Cable Side Shoulder Raises: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Smith Machine Lunges: 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Seated Calf Press (Performed on Leg Press Machine): 15 Reps for 3 Sets
Reverse Bicep Curl Machine (Palms down): 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Cable Press Downs (performed with palms up on the bar) 8-10 Reps for 3 Sets
Back Extensions (performed on 45 degree back extension bench): One set of 15
V-Crunches/Jack-Knife Sit Up (Abs): Perform as many as you can for 3 sets.

I’ve already completed the full routine for one week and I can feel this working already. I’m focusing on form and tempo rather than the amount of weight I can lift. If you focus first on those things, you will gain strength inevitably and the numbers will increase.

I’ll share numbers soon, but in the meantime, at least I’ve dropped another pound. I expect to lose little in the initial stages of this transition, as muscle weighs more than fat, but eventually I know the muscle is what I need to continue losing weight.


As for the scale: Last week I weighed 223.8 lbs. Today, I weigh 222.4 lbs.; a loss of 1.4 lbs.

I was at my heaviest weight, 267 lbs., in August 2009. That’s a total loss of 44.6 lbs.

All I really want for my birthday is shoulder blades

I’ve written a couple of times about the first time I lost significant weight, back in 2004. At the end of that summer, I spent three weeks with my mom in Northern California. She had this indoor smokeless grill contraption and all I ate was “grilled” chicken and beef kabobs off that thing. By the time I came back to Orange County, I had dropped a few pounds and decided to keep going. From August to October of that year I went from 239 to 202 by working out six days a week with a friend.

As my body started to slim down, I noticed all the fat on my back had started melting away to reveal … shoulder blades! Well, what would have been shoulder blades had I lost more weight.

Unfortunately, that never happened. The stress of working in a college newsroom, then the OC Register newsroom, plus meeting and moving in with Nadia, taking care of my mom throughout her battle with cancer and then becoming a food writer at the paper, provided all the distraction I needed to balloon back up.

I remember being at the doctor’s office and weighing in at 267 lbs. I kept thinking about how close that was to 300 lbs., and how shameful it was that I’d made it to 202 only to take it all back and then some.

In hindsight, had I dedicated a portion of my time to fitness, I likely would have been able to maintain. But just because I was able to work off the weight doesn’t mean I had a true understanding of health and fitness and I think that in itself is the whole reason I was unable to maintain.

Now, nearly eight years later, I’m wondering how it took me so long to get back to this place–the mindset needed to strength train. On second thought, forget wondering why, I’m just glad to be here. I’ve set a target date for slimming down to mid-October when I turn 30, and truthfully, all I really want for my birthday is shoulder blades.

And I’m going to do it this time. I started exercising on Jan. 3. In the past month I’ve managed to walk 40-60 minutes each weekday, plus make it to the gym three times per week for 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. Mid-month I started adding machines for abs and trunk muscles, front, sides and back.

With January in the bag, I’m going to continue with the plan I laid out and start strength training using machines. I know there are different schools of thought on weight machines vs. free weights, but while I’m starting to build muscle I’m going to use the machines. By the beginning of summer I hope to move on to free weights.

I used the Google machine to find results on strength training for beginners, with the best results coming from

Here’s my February workout plan, found on the website:

  1. Warmup
  2. Squat (or leg press)
  3. Bench press (or chest press)
  4. Deadlift
  5. Crunch
  6. Seated cable row
  7. Triceps pushdown
  8. Lat Pulldown
  9. Overhead press
  10. Biceps curl
  11. Cool down, stretch

I walk to the gym and stretch when I get home, so numbers 1 and 11 are taken care of already. Everything in between is pretty simple to start with and each exercise provides a way to build major and minor muscle groups in a broad way. In future months my routines will be whole workouts of one muscle group, with multiple exercises for the targeted area.

But I gotta start somewhere, and this it where it all begins.

Resources: Before you begin that  first weights session Burn more fat–Secrets of exercise physiology Basic strength and muscle weight training program

Trying something new: Hiking Orange County

I never really posted a Quarter 2 report card because I never really posted it.

It was supposed to be written May 8, but that date came and went and my weight pretty much stayed the same (I’m still 235).

Then I decided to break it all down and take a slower approach to the blog just to make life more manageable, and I’m happy to say it’s been beneficial.

I’ve been toying with the idea of strength training at the gym to help me through this plateau phase, but I haven’t fully made the decision yet. I’d like to think I can do this just walking and eating right, but I think it’s time for something in the equation to change.

When the time is right, I’ll take the next step in my fitness routine. As for cooking, I’m still making my way through The Fat Dude Diet and will deliver 52 weeks of recipes as I originally promised myself, though the one-year span I planned to do it in will be longer.

I’m still plugging away though, mostly cooking healthy meals at home and finding new activities to enjoy. I went fishing with my buddies a few weeks back — check out the 70-lb. thresher shark my buddy Jason caught here — and while I wanted to fish, I ended up throwing up for six hours off the side of the boat.

On the plus side, I probably dropped a couple of pounds that day.

Regardless … activities. I went hiking a couple of days ago and loved the experience. I’ll be looking for new hiking trails to explore. If you have suggestions in or around Orange County, let me know.

In the meantime, keep reading to see the pictures I shot while trekking in Cleveland National Forest. Continue reading Trying something new: Hiking Orange County

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