Category Archives: Food for Thought

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 Darebee.com (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:

Fitness
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.

Recovery
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.”

Nutrition
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.

A great way to start off in the Bay

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I posted an announcement on the Fat Dude Facebook page a couple weeks ago, but for those who haven’t read it, I packed up in Orange County and headed north, back to where I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve started Knife & Spork Public Relations, a firm dedicated to the communications needs of emerging and established restaurants here in the Bay.

I’m also excited because now that I have my own schedule, I have more time to dedicate to this blog, cooking and building an exercise routine that works for me. I’ve been here a week and a half now and the focus has been on cooking, walks and weights. I even caught a guest invite to a cooking demo by James Syhabout, chef/owner of the revered Oakland restaurant Commis.

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He cooked the kohlrabi and salmon soup, pictured up top, at the Google Test Kitchen in Mountain View where my friend works. There, Syhabout shared his tips in the kitchen and lessons learned as the owner of multiple restaurants. As I embark on my own entrepreneurial journey, hearing the successes and challenges of others definitely helps craft my business sense and outlook for Knife & Spork and Fat Dude On A Diet.

There’s a lot going on these days, but I’m happy and incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to continue finding happiness and health in this new year.

Time to get to work!

First on, last off

IMG_0760.JPGIt’s been a while since I posted to the blog, but mostly because it’s been the most transitional time I’ve experienced since launching Fat Dude.

Long story short, what I’m doing at work has evolved more this year than at year prior in a very satisfying way. Also, the atlas adjustment treatment I’m doing for chronic severe back pain has been effective for the first time in four years. It’s a strange process and an even stranger journey to learn how to keep the adjustment. It’s not something I have really written about much, but I feel positive about this experience for the first time, so I might as well celebrate it.

The secret to holding the adjustment according to the doc is to be free of stress by keeping my mind calm, and tiring out my body by hitting the gym regularly. If not, my physical or mental stress tightens up the muscles around my neck, pushing out of alignment the top bone of my neck, called the atlas. This causes a lot of problems in my body, which are fixed when I’m in adjustment. In my mind, I’ve likened it to a lifebar in a video game and I need to maintain it to feel good. Trying to maintain consistency in being active and making healthy food choices has been my jam in the last month because it has to be.

With consistency in mind and the desire to light light but long so as to reduce the stress on my adjustment, I’ve been working on a full body circuit for lifting, one set of 100, for each machine. The goal is to lift every other day, with cardio days and rest days in between. A workout is better than no workout at all and I’m really enjoying this for now.

In general, I’m at a point. A crossroads of care. Where I finally see the way out, and now I have to push myself forward to get there.

Reminder to self: “Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.”

Nadia says I look like a Ninja Turtle these days because my legs and arms are smaller/slimmer and more toned than before, though my gut’s still hanging on for dear life.

I tell her I’m Michelangelo then, because we both like pizza. Lol.

But I’m back from a great vacation where I made it a point to exercise and stretch almost daily, and I’m ready to keep going. When I don’t take care of myself, it all goes straight to my gut. Now, my gut’s the only thing left to eradicate.

First on, last off.

I’m shedding a mindset. Gaining perspective.

300+ miles.

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I started weight lifting last year, but gave up after a while because of my back pain. Instead of the weights, I decided to dedicate my time to walking off the weight, which was what I originally set out to do on this blog.

My goal last year was to finish on Dec. 31 with 300 miles, because I like big round numbers. I started last March with a friend at work on a 2.81 mile track that we would later lengthen for a solid 3 miles each go-around. We marched through lunch break after lunch break, and over time the pounds started falling off. My calves got ripped (I get comments on them, for real, lol) and one woman even stopped me on the route one day to tell me how much weight I’d lost. I was down to the low 220’s, even seeing 219.something on the scale one day in mid-summer.

We were doing pretty good until the end of August/beginning of September when it got scorching hot outside (Orange County hot, so like high 90s). Then Halloween (candy). And Thanksgiving (pie). And Christmas (cookies). Somewhere along the line, Jack in the Box released the Munchie Meal and there went my waistline.

Chef Brian once told me “easy on, easy off” in regards to gaining and losing small increments of weight over short periods of time, say, a vacation or break from a stricter diet. I definitely took that too far, and watched as the scale went back up and up and up to 240.1, which has twice been my red alarm on this blog for the fluctuation in weight and roller coaster that is long-term weight loss.

In the beginning of 2013, I made a goal to give up on restaurants and create a better me, and while I started out that way, by the end I had given it back once again. That I had failed to make it to Dec. 31 with more than 300 miles really hit me hard. I hate failure. Especially when the blame is solely on me.

I should learn by now that life is better when it evolves organically, not when you try and force something, because, by the end of the year, there were a couple of changes that happened which have brought me to where I am now.

One: I found a solution to this back pain in the form of the atlas adjustment. I’ll likely get into it in a future post, and while it’s not a permanent fix, it’s the most-permanent fix I’ll ever have and I’m so thankful for it. After being in pain for nearly three years straight, to finally experience some relief has literally saved my life. I was starting to lose it a little and fray at the edges. I’m doing better now.

Two: Nadia gave up meat in November. There was a time before I met her in 2006 when she was a vegetarian (and survived on the veggie burritos from King Taco). Sometime before Thanksgiving she decided that she didn’t want to eat meat anymore for heath and ethical reasons. Writing this in the same week that Hot Pockets have been deemed poisonous, I don’t blame her. I’ve likened myself to Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction when he wants a bite of the Big Kahuna burger because he’s mostly vegetarian now since his lady dictates the diet.

Nadia isn’t telling me what to eat so much that it’s easier to cook for two if I’m making the same things for both of us. Plus, the omission of meat has allowed us to stretch our food dollars a little more. We ate a lot of beans (and bean burritos), shrimp and tuna fish sandwiches in December and January while I was still figuring out–as a life-long carnivore and glutton–what exactly the hell to do to in the kitchen.

That’s where seitan and brown rice/pasta come in. I don’t know what changed, but I no longer think brown rice or pasta are disgusting. They’re just fine and I’m good with it. I’ve also started making my own seitan, which is a vegan meat substitute made of gluten (YES, THAT GLUTEN). It’s the isolated protein of wheat and you can use it just like you would chicken or beef in a ton of recipes.

As I continue to update Fat Dude, a lot of posts will cover the number of things I’ve been making with seitan lately. A few of my meals are even vegan. By choice. What?!

Three: I’ve been working out again and it’s made a lot of difference.

Rewind a little though … I hate New Year’s resolutions because I think they’re bullshit. If you want to start something, start it today. Don’t wait for an arbitrary restart that you’ll likely give up on. I say that as a person who made those kind of promises to myself year after year only to give up over and over again. I only started this year in January because I still wanted to shove my face with sugar and crap and Munchie Meals during the month of MostOfTheEndOfLastYear. Straight up.

I know myself and know that I can’t allow myself to fall into patterns with fatty/sugary foods. We all have different issues and triggers and I recognize that– and recognize I am easily susceptible to mine if I allow myself to be weak/on auto-pilot.

I started hitting the weights with my friends from work and then Nadia too started hitting the weights with me, so I’ve switched to only lifting with her. I’ve been tracking gains, of which there are some, and I’ll be posting those here soon. The best part though is the shape of my body is changing. I even have triceps that pop out when I flex. They make me feel like the Hulk.

Having Nadia with me has made a world of difference because it’s something we can accomplish together. I started walking again, by myself, with my group of friends at work, and with Nadia, too. Recently we started taking these 5-mile hikes from a neighborhood in Aliso Viejo to the top of a peak in Laguna Beach called Top of the World.

It wasn’t December anymore. But I hit 300 miles. I earned them, each one. And, though I went down then back up, I weigh less at this time this year than I did last year, and I have more muscle. That’s a win. No matter how ugly it was at times.

Just another reminder that it’s not the end result, but the journey of getting there that really matters. If you focus on the journey, you’ll eventually reach the end.

Perseverance is the key.

“The A to Zen of life”

From a Dalai Lama poster I saw in someone’s office recently, but it’s so inspiring that I wanted to post it so I could read it whenever I need to find some focus:

Avoid negative sources, people, places and habits
Believe in yourself
Consider things from every angle
Don’t give up and don’t give in
Everything you’re looking for lies behind the mask you wear
Family and friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches
Give more than you planned to
Hang on to your dreams
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it
Keep trying no matter how hard it seems
Love yourself
Make it happen
Never lie, steal or cheat
Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values
Practice makes perfect
Quality not quantity in anything you do
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer
Stop procrastinating
Take control of your own destiny
Understand yourself in order to better understand others
Visualize it
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson
Xcellence in all your efforts
You are unique, nothing can replace you
Zero in on your target and go for it

“What losing 180 pounds really does to your body and your mind”

I found a post on Yahoo! this week about a woman who lost 180 lbs. with the help of weight-loss surgery. She recently wrote a book detailing her struggle with her loss of identity once she developed a slimmer body.

“I lost my sense of self. My sense of proportion. My sense of dignity, of maturity, of control. I was skinny, but my life wasn’t suddenly and magically perfect-and that completely astonished me. It sounds ridiculous, having really fallen for the fairy tale of weight loss. But I had fallen for it completely, and then was blinded by the egregious lack of a happily ever after.

… The problem was that I lost all those pounds, but I didn’t have to change a thing about my self. I didn’t have to address any of the emotional or psychological issues. I didn’t have to figure out why I had been depressed–why I was still so, so depressed, despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.”

It’s really her second paragraph that struck me. Though I never considered weight-loss surgery, I understand the idea of doing something drastic to lose weight, and how that effected me when I did it. I’ve talked before about my first major weight loss try in 2005–going from 239 lbs. to 202 lbs.–and how I managed to get there in three short months by going to the gym six days a week and eating a very calorie-restricted diet.

Once the reigns were released, I ballooned over time to 267 lbs. and was depressed that I had squandered my gains.

Aside from those with major health problems, I hardly think surgery is the right answer for weight loss. Weight loss is simple actually: Consistently burn more than you intake. No pills, no shakes, no gym needed. Make healthy choices and good things will happen. Weight loss and nutrition are complicated because we’ve made it so. In her case, the surgery was what helped her shed the weight, and because she didn’t have to earn it, she didn’t learn anything from the process.

I’ve done a lot of introspection and I understand that I didn’t keep the weight off because I simply went through the weight-loss motions. Through the food blog motions. I really believe that those who struggle with long-term weight loss have underlying issues that compel them to eat what they eat or avoid physical activity.

I believe it because I did that. And felt that. And know it to be true.

I’ve always wanted to be thin and athletic because I thought it would make me happy. What I’m learning is that healthy is happy; being thin and athletic are the side effects of a healthy lifestyle. It took me so long to come to terms with that, but I’m better for it.

The author faces those same worries and imagines how she would treat herself in a perfect world:

“I want this: I want to say, don’t love yourself even though you’re not perfect–love yourself because you have a body and it’s worth loving and it is perfect. Be healthy, which is perfect at whatever size healthy is and at whatever size happy is. And of course that’s totally easy and I have just caused a revolution in body image. Let’s all go home now.”

Sarcasm aside, she’s right, hard as it is to do.

“Be healthy, which is perfect at whatever size healthy is and at whatever size happy is.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately. Where do I want to end up by the end of this year? What would make me happy and healthy?

Instead of a gut, I’d like to see my toes when I look down. And I still want shoulder blades. After 40-something pounds, I’ve only recently developed a collarbone and I’m glad I have one now because I like drumming music on it. (Weird, I know.)

It’s not about the weight. That’s just a number. A marker. A progress report.

It’s going to be about the way I feel inside. How it feels to do this for the millionth time, to finally fail upward high enough that I’ve reached my goals. No shortcuts. I’m in it for the ups and downs of this roller coaster.

I want to know that I’ve fully tackled my “emotional.” The “physical” will be my reward.

That’s my goal. And I’ll have found happiness in weight loss.

 

Structure. I need structure.

I’m finally back to blogging after a wasted summer and a fall season spent on the campaign trail for my day job. In assessing what I’ve been missing in the “health” department, and when typing that headline, I truly heard my dad’s voice in my head.

But it’s a fact–I need structure. So, I’m building one:

Food: Back to basics. Nothing processed (a la Pop Tarts or plastic-wrapped pastries) and nothing heavier on carbs than protein. I’ve found that if I start my morning with an egg-based breakfast vs. cereal/oatmeal/fruit, I end up staying fuller much longer.

Instead of focusing on cooking Chef Brian’s meals, I’m taking all of the knowledge he’s given me and translating that into everyday meals. Cooking Light, Real Simple and the Food Network website have become great resources for easy recipes that can be prepared in a snap. I’m also going to increase my entree soup or salad intake as a way to reduce even more calories weekly.

The blog will still feature Chef’s recipes, though only once a week, or once every two weeks, as his winter plans are much busier than mine.

Exercise: It’s taken a long time in my relationship to get to this point, but my wife and I are finally on the same page about eating well and exercising. Today was the first morning together that we woke up before 6 a.m. to get to the gym. And every time I turned to look at her from my elliptical machine, I realized how much happier I was to have her in the gym, but especially in the gym with me.

Food has always been the focus of this blog, but I was mistaken to think I could lose all of my weight without putting in any effort.

We have to start hitting the gym, and, so long as we are adamant about packing lunches early and being prepared for the next day the night before, we can do it. But I’m going to take some advice that I found on a website she reads called BirchBox and ease into a routine slowly.

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