Category Archives: The Weigh-in

Why I won’t be eating at restaurants any more

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“The way I see it, food is fuel. If we think about the food we eat that way, we would all be a lot healthier. You know it and I know it. It’s time to change the conversation from gluttony to satiation, our daily diet from fattening to fresh. It’s not about how much we eat, but how well we eat.” – Tyler Florence, “Fresh”

A while back I wrote a post about a friend who said there are no “free days” if you are serious about significantly losing weight. I argued her then, but I’m still fighting these pounds two years later. I’ve developed mental blocks to weight loss over time.

Here are some of them:

“I’ll start eating right after the holidays are over; my birthday is over; summer parties finish; etc.”

“We had a bad breakfast, so we’ll just call today our ‘free day.’ Where are we going for lunch?”

“I ate healthy for breakfast and lunch, so I can go out for dinner as long as I eat reasonably.” (And I always fudge it a little.)

The list goes on, but at the core, they are all excuses.

What never occurred previously was that one day of overeating each week equates to eating poorly 1/7th of the year. That is sabotage. I cannot hold on to old ways while trying to forge a new me. Eating real, unprocessed food in moderation is the only way I will reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

So, I’m quitting restaurants. Scratch that. It’s been 11 days, and except for a handful of meals out for valid reasons (out of town guest/broccoli soup recipe turned out gross/9-year-old pizza-eating little sister visited), everything I’ve eaten has been made at home. Eighty-four percent of meals to be exact and I’m only hoping to improve on that as I get better at meal planning, parsing out the workload and budgeting money and food supplies.

Even when I went out, I never went overboard: Corn tortilla tacos at King Taco; Boxing up half my French toast at Break of Dawn for someone else; Thin crust pizza instead of regular pan; no mayonnaise and getting rid of the top bun on my sandwich at Puerto Madero. I’ve learned when I”m out I have to keep health in mind if I’m ever going to achieve my goals. It’s time to come to terms with the fact that I can’t eat certain things if I want to look and feel a certain way.

It’s the same thing I wrote about two years ago with my Fat Dude University: Weight Loss 101 post, only I wasn’t yet ready to commit to my own advice.

Restaurants were always my crutch. But I’m no fine diner, my choices were fast food restaurants and “going out” places like Hometown Buffet, BJ’s, Macaroni Grill, etc. In general I enjoy eating out less now anyway, because I can now make it better at home for the kind of food I like to eat. Proverbially speaking, Chef Brian has taught this man how to fish.

Once I started cooking at home I couldn’t wrap my head around paying $10 for a salad or $20 for a good steak anymore. Burgers, pizza, “fried” chicken–It might not be TK, Big O To Go and Roscoe’s, but I can make something just as tasty with less calories, and for less money. I won’t be crazy about it. I understand the need to go out when friends are here or I’m out of town and that’s okay. But I will not lose weight if I continue eating out as frequently as I do, so if I don’t have a good reason to be in a restaurant, I won’t be.

A healthy lifestyle does not become a lifestyle if executed sporadically. Developing lasting positive habits only comes from focus, determination and consistency. It’s taken a long time for me to comprehend that, believe it and want to make it a reality.

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Truthfully, there’s never been a period in my life when I have eaten healthy. Since I can remember, I’ve always preferred going out over eating at home to the point where I believed for a long time that food at home is inferior and less tasty. A product of growing up on processed everything.

I climbed toward my highest weight while taking care of my mom when she was sick. By the time I started at Food Frenzy in November 2008, I was holding on to relationship weight and cancer weight. And I would soon gain food blogger weight. I thought I still looked the same, but my gut just didn’t suck in like it used to.

I notice it most now in wedding photos. I remember having to wear a backless vest for the first time with my tuxedo because the backless ones are an adjustable “one size fits all” at Men’s Wearhouse.

My problem’s always been the food, far before I wrote about it. Being a food blogger at the Reg opened up a new world (and an expense account), but it was a license to eat terribly in the name of good journalism.

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I started Fat Dude On A Diet after leaving the Register to fill the void of blogging. I wanted to write and lose weight, so why not combine the two? Once I started achieving some weight loss success here, I thought I would go back to food reviewing as well. Enter OC Weekly’s Stick a Fork in It.

But I’ve always struggled with the balance. I went to Vegas with my friends last summer and ate my weight in delicious meals. When I returned I never stopped eating because OC Weekly launched it’s 100 Best Dishes of 2012 (of which I wrote 15 percent of the list). From there, I was back to my old ways, hitting up places like Del Taco, Arby’s and the local pizza joint on my own time because the food I was making at home just didn’t taste as good as what I was eating out.

I entered Vegas weighing 226, my lowest recorded weight on the blog. I entered 2013 feeling bloated, just over 240 lbs.

It’s taken a lot of self-examination and reflection to understand the patterns of my personality and my relationship to food. What I’ve realized is my weight is a reflection of my relationship to food. My back pain and fatigue aren’t just “back pain” and “fatigue.” They are symptoms of a bigger problem. Symptoms of a Big Me.

Nadia and I were watching The Biggest Loser a couple of nights ago and we felt bad for one kid who was hiding candy under his bed. Then I remembered doing the same thing when I was little, with Halloween candy and Little Debbie brownies (which I used to eat for breakfast, too). One summer I got caught stealing money from my sister’s piggy bank and had to pay it all back in chores. What they didn’t know is I was using the money to eat out because I didn’t want the ethnic food we had at home.

I never gave it much thought, but I’ve been struggling with the relationship between food and weight for a long time. I’ve said it so many times on this space: This has been a long process. What I thought I could easily get done in one year has taken me three and I’m still not the person I want to be. But I am who I am, and that’s something to work with.

One of the first posts to come out of this new approach in the kitchen was my Freestyle meal: Arrachera rib-eye. I called it a freestyle meal because it was me using the spices and the ingredients in my pantry and the techniques in my brain, to make something out of what I had.

A ‘freestyle meal’ because I had nothing better to call it. A ‘freestyle meal’ because I wasn’t using someone else’s recipe, I was doing it on my own.

And then it dawned on me: “‘It’s called ‘cooking,’ dummy.'”

Right now, I’m only interested in visiting one restaurant. It’s called “The Grocery Store.”

Now, let’s get cooking.

In August 2009 I squeezed into a backless vest at 267 lbs. Today, I weigh 237.5 lbs.; a loss of 29.5 lbs.

“The only way to fail is to stop trying”

Once upon a time, my large ass topped out at 267 lbs.

When I looked in the mirror, I still saw the same handsome dude I’ve always been, but the stretched-out XXL t-shirts and size 47-inch jeans told a different story. A story I never saw until I look back now at pictures and realize how unhealthy I had become, and how much I had let myself go.

But, stepping on the scale this morning marks the beginning of another new chapter in my weight loss journey. Today is the day I can say I’ve lost 40 lbs. total (31.6 since starting the blog), and truthfully, I never thought I would make it to this point.

Why? Because I’m still the same ol’ lazy me, who loves to gorge on cookies, pizza and the like, only now, because of this rollercoaster I’ve been on, I understand the meaning of moderation, and especially the understanding of perseverance.

There’s been more times than I have fingers to count that I’ve wanted to pull the plug here, but every time I have thought that, there’s been something that brings me back, something that adds knowledge to this ever-collecting derth of information about weight loss, healthy eating and how my body responds to both.

I was at the doctor today, reading one of those informational pamphlets, and a line on the page stuck out as the perfect example of why it’s important to never give up, to never surrender:

“Each attempt gives you new information about what works and what does not work for you. Use what you learned in your past experiences in your current effort. The only way to fail is to stop trying.”

My goal is to weigh between 185-200 lbs. Now I’m about halfway there.

And this train keeps on rolling …

Fat Dude On A Diet: Report card No. 2

I’ve been wanting to write another “Fat Dude: Report Card” for nearly a year, but the time never seemed right.

Originally this blog was supposed to be a year-long herculean effort to get fit (or die!). On that schedule, I published my first report card in February 2011, when I was still generally going strong with the effort to blog three nights  a week and walk everyday.

I used to feel like I had failed myself, being unable to keep up on this self-imposed schedule in order to accomplish my goals. This has been a rollercoaster ride, and I’ve grown a lot through this process. In short, I wouldn’t trade those failures for success. I’m happy to have come up short, because what I learned from it will ensure success in the long run.

In these times of modern convenience and demands, I’ve learned that you have to take the time to treat your body right with good food and exercise. Both are important; necessary. The idea I repeatedly remind myself of–both as motivation when I’m already kicking ass, and when I need an ass-kicking to get back into it–is this: How can you meet your obligations to family and work when you are not meeting your obligations to yourself?

It’s a question that has lit a fire within me. I want to feel better. And I do.

But I know even better days are ahead as long as I stay motivated to eat healthy be preparing my own meals and exercising regularly. So, if there ever is a right time to check in officially, it is now. I’m ready to kick it up a notch in the gym and switch from  a full-body routine to exercises that target different areas on different days. This will work more muscles within each muscle group for better results long term and will also allow me to shorten my workouts so I can fit everything I need to do within the days I need to do them. (I can only imagine what adding a child to this mix will do, which is why I’m pushing myself now to get on track before the wife starts lookin’ to get cookin’ in the next couple years.)

It’s not always easy. There are days where forces outside of my control dictate my schedule, what I eat, or both. There are  days where I’m not up to it. Heck, there are weeks where I’m not up to it. But the important thing is to call your own bullshit and force yourself to keep on going. As I’m seeing now that I have the pictures side-by-side (a size-smaller shirt in the second picture), slowly but surely, the hard work is paying off.

I started this blog on Nov. 8 at 258 lbs. Today, I weighed in at 230.7, a total loss of 27.3 lbs.

My body mass index went from 39.6 to 36. Today, I’m at 35.4. I’m still considered obese, (under 30 is “overweight”, around 25 is the goal) but I’m closer to being healthy than I was before, and that’s what matters to me most.

It’s a sprint from here until Coachella in mid-April. My goal is to be in the low 220 lbs. by then.

I know I haven’t been cooking regularly for the blog, but I’m still trying to find the balance between work, blogging, freelancing, the gym and Wifey Nadia’s schedule. I’ll borrow a wok from a friend this week and get back on the menu by knocking out at least the stir fry from  the vegetarian menu.

Until then …

Correction … salads still suck, and a book report to come

The headline’s a joke, really not really … I don’t think salads suck anymore, but I am over them and ready to move on.

I hope to eventually cook both meals I skipped from the Week 29: Salads that don’t suck menu, but in the spirit of progress, I’m going to cook Chef Brian’s Week 30 menu this week. I’ll start posting it next week.

If you want to check out the delicious one I did cook, just follow the link for Week 29, Meal 1: Glazed salmon over spinach salad with mango, avocado and coconut-peanut dressing.

I’ll also have a review of a book that has been essential in my weight loss journey. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all.

Another diet and exercise update: I didn’t want to record my weight this month because I didn’t want the added pressure. After getting back from Mexico and running face-first through the holidays I was 241 lbs (with clothes on at a doctor’s appointment on Dec. 29).

My friend Matty visited for five days after that and we didn’t eat too bad, but we definitely did not eat great. Jan. 3, the day he left, was the day I decided to stop passively failing and start actively accomplishing my goals. I was 239.9. On Friday when I weighed myself I was 233.2. I’m not going to weigh myself again until Feb. 1.

That being said, yesterday was not a day that helped any, lol. I had pizza (3 slices, Digiorno at a party) and ice cream. Also, In-N-Out (cheeseburger, not a double, no spread, but a whole order of fries). Today I will not have any of those things. I didn’t hit the gym yesterday because of knee pain and I’m going to take it easy today too. But instead of a Tuesday/Thursday gym schedule for the week, I’ll switch to Monday/Wednesday/Friday to make up for one of the lost days. I’m not going to exercise if it hurts, because I want to maintain long-term fitness and not burn out or injure myself in the short-term.

And though I’m taking a couple days off, I know physical activity is becoming habit now. Starting the first week of February, I plan to add weight training to the regimen. More on that later …

Trying to make my dollas holla!

After reviewing my restaurant bill last month (and realizing that I was blowing money left and right) I started to scale it back this month. I’ll still finish the month spending around $300 eating out this month, but $150 of it was for the fantastic DosLime pop-up and the $50 was spent when best friends came into town recently, so I’m not doing as bad as I did last month.

To compensate for eating at home more, I’ve upped my grocery budget just a little, but the extra money has gone a long way in allowing me to cook a variety of foods throughout the week. I haven’t cooked at home this consistently in quite a few years, and the last time I did was the first time I lost a significant amount of weight (239 lbs.-202lbs., then I went back up to 267).

I’ve been paying special attention to food cost and trying to maximize my food dollars. Making my own marinara sauce (for pizza, sandwiches, polenta, meatloaf and more), cooking multiple servings of dishes (like lasagna cupcakes last week) and preparing my own carrot sticks and other snacks have helped to keep the costs down.

Where I’ve been saving money in the kitchen, I’ve been wasting money in the gym. I bought a gym membership a couple of months back, but I really haven’t been using it like I should be. I’m hoping to get on a regular schedule for at least three muscle workouts per week, but instead of trying to tackle both a cooking schedule and a gym schedule, I’m choosing to focus on the food first. By December if I’m still not using the gym, I’ll reevaluate then.

I’m losing weight again, but I could use some freakin’ muscle, and probably some dedicated cardio too, so the push is to get in there, not to give it up. One thing at a time though. But, to finish on a positive note, check out the second pile of clothes headed to donation since starting this blog.

First went the XXL’s and size 44 jeans. For some reason, some of my XL shirts and size 42 jeans fit differently than my other XL shirts and size 42 jeans. So I got rid of the bigger ones and am even fitting into some shirts I haven’t been able to wear in nearly 5 years.

Yay!

As for the scale: Today I weigh 233.3 lbs. Last Monday I weight 233.3 lbs. That’s a one-week loss of 2.2 lbs. I started this blog weighing 258 lbs. That’s a total loss of 26.9 lbs.

On the verge …

I have short term weight-loss goals and long-term weight loss goals. In my mind, I want to be under 200 lbs. by March/April — just enough time to get some rad new tank tops for Coachella.

But in the short term, I want to be under 230 lbs. by Oct. 1. Even sweeter, I’d like to reach 228 lbs. by the end of October which would mean 30 total pounds lost in nearly 1 year.

I’m on the verge … and I’m going to get there.

In the last week I’ve been very focused on cooking everything at home and using all of the ingredients in my fridge. I think it’s paying off because I’m in control of my calories, and also because cooking multiple meals a day gets me on my feet a little longer than I usually am.

Burning calories by cooking. That’s what I’m talking about.

As for the scale: Today I weigh 233.3 lbs. I started this blog weighing 258 lbs. That’s a total loss of 24.7 lbs.

A new “low” for the first time in months! Huzzah!

I went in reverse this week, but this was how much I weighed on on Monday.

The way this blog has gone, I’ve been kicking myself come weigh-in time because I wasn’t keeping my eye on the prize and it effected my progress. This, however, is a first in a long time — this is the first week that I’ve posted a new low. (The previous low, btw, was back in February during my Quarter 1 Check-In at 234.3.)

I’ll be back with a proper weigh-in on Monday and then we’ll finish out Week 26: Breakfast for Dinner 2 and move on to Week 27: Time for Thai.

So, to sum it all up … As for the scale: Today I weigh 234.1 lbs. I started this blog weighing 258 lbs. That’s a total loss of 23.9 lbs.

Week 25: Back to basics

Back in Week 10 of this blog, I titled my weigh-in post “I’m only one cheeseburger away from being a fat ass.” My weight then: 239.9 lbs.

Irony in it’s truest sense, as this week was the first week I went into “Emergency Fat Dude Mode” after stepping on the scale a week ago and seeing it read 243 lbs.

I freaked out because it was nearly a 10 lb. gain since my lowest low on the blog (234 lbs.) and a general reminder that resting on my laurels is not really an option because I’ll eat and eat and eat and do nothing, nothing, nothing for the benefit of my health.

Re-re-re-determined, I put on the shoes and got back to simple walks, racking up at least 30 minutes on most days, but as much as 55 minutes on a couple of days. Thankfully, my weight quickly decreased from the 240s to the 230s, but really, I’m hanging on by a thread.

It’s a reminder that I need to be in control of my good and bad habits if I ever want to achieve the goals I have set for myself. Which brings me to another realization I had last week.

In it’s simplest form, I really only have two jobs to do. The day job I have in communications and the night job I have as a blogger/exerciser.

I have the support of my wife on both fronts, so really, the only thing holding me back is me.

So, to break from that feeling, I’m pushing myself to be accountable 24/7 by logging things into My Fitness Pal. Counting calories worked for me in the past, but I didn’t have the healthy eating habits or kitchen know-how to maintain the weight loss. I’m still not the best at eating right or consistently exercising, but I have learned healthy habits from this blog and should be using them always.

Here’s what one day’s calorie log looks like for me:

According to MFP, sticking to about 1,800 calories will get me down 10 lbs. in five weeks, which is about right for healthy weight loss. I want to/need to lose this weight in this lull in my life between establishing a career and making a baby(ies — don’t tell my wife I pluralized that).

I used to use Calorie King software and was tied to a single computer, so logging my calories didn’t always work for me. With MFP, I can update the calories from any computer or even my cell phone. Pretty rad.

Hopefully, counting calories will help get me there. If I continue cooking and diary-ing, I should reach my goal weight and finish all 52 weeks of Fat Dude cooking in Spring 2012. Later than the November 2011 that I had hoped for, but I’m still here, I’m still learning, and, most importantly, I’m learning to improve.

As for the scale: Today I weigh 239.9 lbs. I started this blog weighing 258 lbs. That’s a total loss of 18.1 lbs.

Dear Fat Head, you’re an idiot.

It’s rare that I write sarcastically or pointedly at anyone but myself — though there was that one time with Kogi) — but “Edutainer” Tom Naughton, the writer and comedian behind the documentary “Fat Head,” needs his head checked (oh, sick burn).

I stumbled upon Naughton’s film on streaming Netflix. The cover art, of Naughton with rolls of bologna shoved in his mouth, caught my eye.

Quick summary (and I might get a few of the details wrong, but I don’t want to re-watch the film to get them right): Naughton’s on a quest to debunk Morgan Spurlock’s 30-days-of-McDonald’s experiment. He eats fast food for every meal in an attempt to prove that you can eat fast food and still lose weight.

He meets his goal — I believe he dropped 12 lbs. in a month — but his experiment works less like a lazy-man’s how-to manual and more like a reminder that keeping track of nutritional intake, whether it’s calories, carbs, fats or sugars, plays an integral role in weight loss.

Spurlock ordered off the menu for a month, purchasing a breakfast, lunch or dinner combo. He Super Sized the meal if asked. This is how most people order fast food.

Naughton not only limits his calorie count to 2,200 calories per day (roughly), but he also limits his carbohydrate intake to 100 grams per day.

Dude. That’s not the same thing as eating fast food for every meal each day. That’s called a low-carb diet plus calorie control. His method proves that you can eat healthy (calorically-speaking, I’m not talking about the processed nature or sourcing of the food), but instead of going on auto-pilot like Spurlock, Naughton proves the opposite.

Losing weight requires hard work. And not only hard work, but CONSISTENT hard work.

It’s what I’ve been struggling with in the second quarter of this blog. Committing to any type of regimen when work, family, friends (and one day, children) are involved can be maddening. A person must have the drive, determination and time to put into eating healthy and exercising.

Truly, every bite of food or every food choice and every time I do or don’t lace up my shoes  is a battle in the effort to lose weight and maintain good nutrition.

Early last week — when it became apparent I’d be eating out most of the week — I started off healthy, only to end up a few days later at a pizza buffet. Then came frozen yogurt. Fried chicken. A burger. Cupcakes. (Not all in one day, but as the days progressed, I craved the bad stuff more and more).

Before I realized it, I was making my food choices based fully on deliciousness and not at all on healthiness.

I’m doing this to myself, I know, but I’m not going to change overnight, and I want to go through this year of Fat Dude on a Diet being as true to myself as possible. I love to cook, but I’m lazy and struggle with maintaining my goals long term. If I can’t conquer the root of the problem, I’ll never conquer the problem itself.

I’ve noticed that my weight loss works like this: If I eat right and exercise I lose weight. If I eat right, but don’t exercise, I lose a little or stay the same as the week before. I gain when I eat whatever and stop walking.

It’s a daily struggle to be anything but the third option, which sounds silly, but it’s absolutely the truth.

I have made many changes for the better — that I exercise at all now is great; that I don’t eat fast food anymore is better — but there’s still so much to be done. This is a reminder of those efforts, and a reminder that great results come from great choices.

It’s a journey … and I’m on it.

As for the scale: Today I weigh 236.1 lbs. I weighed 234.4 lbs. last week. That’s a one week gain of 1.7 lbs. I started this blog on Nov. 8, 2010 weighing 258 lbs. That’s a total loss of 21.9 lbs.

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