Sunday, April 6, 2014

If it sounds too good to be true……..

I was at the YMCA for my early morning workout recently and noticed a young man on a treadmill that I had not seen previously. He appeared to be college age; maybe a little older and also appeared to be someone like me who had struggled with weight issues, maybe for most of his life.  I was glad to see him taking action and figured I’d give him a little encouragement if the opportunity ever presented itself.

A little later as I was shaving this same young man went by me and it sounded like he was saying something about being too fat.  I poked my head around the corner as he was heading back toward the shower room just past where I was shaving. I said Hi, ah….. excuse me but it sounded like you said something about being fat.

He was holding one of the YMCA towels in his hand and said he was too fat for the towels. I told him I had seen him on the treadmill and that he was doing the right thing. I very quickly shared that I was 263 lbs. when I was 25 and tried to encourage him to keep doing what he was doing. I think he realized I was being sincere and he thanked me for the comment.  

After not seeing him for a few days, I did see him again near the end of last week so he is back at it.

I mention this incident because not long before this, I had heard a story about another young man, a very bright fellow who had graduated from UNF (the University of North Florida) and had gone to work for the family business. This young man, named Marty, had struggled with his weight; he smoked and had high blood pressure.

I assume that this young man, Marty, had tried to lose the excess weight. Maybe he had even used the same treadmill in the same YMCA. I understand that he had tried to stop smoking which might have caused him to eat more and aggravate the excess weight issue.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could enjoy all the rich decadent food that we wanted? We could even use food as a comforter on stressful days. When the inevitable weight gain turned into 50 or 75 or even 100 extra pounds we could just book a visit to the local liposuction clinic and have the excess pounds sucked away. We could then recover and continue to enjoy all the food we wanted knowing that another trip to the liposuction clinic was always an option to cure the effects of excess consumption.   

For some unknown reason, when Marty was 31 years old, he concluded that liposuction was the way to remove the excess body weight. He signed up to have all areas of his body done at the same time. A father to two young children, at 31 years old he passed away within hours of the surgery.

When I heard this story, I realized that it could have applied to me, or maybe even the young man I saw on the treadmill at the YMCA recently. Certainly; eating all the rich decadent food that one wants and just having the resulting fat sucked away and washed down a drain with no ill effects would be too good to be true for many people.

I understand this. Maintaining a healthy body weight is hard work. I know many people try and give up. But it can be done, the old fashion way, through diet and exercise. Hard work that will produce real results.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Eragrostis tef

Here it is the 10th of March. I am finally getting around to updating my weight information in the right sidebar and general comments in the form of a blog post. As you can see from my weight history, since returning from a cruise in January that resulted in a bump up in weight I have for the most part been able to push my weight in the right direction. The drop in weight has just been excruciatingly slow.

I suppose you are wondering about the funny title of this post. Well, Eragrostis tef is a whole grain that is also known by the name Teff. I was reading about this whole grain recently because it is naturally gluten free which is a good fit for our primarily gluten free home.

Teff is an annual grass native to the Ethiopian Highlands of the Horn of Africa. The whole grain has an attractive nutrition profile, being high in fiber and Iron while also providing protein and Calcium. It is said to be similar to Millet and Quinoa in cooking; however, the similarity to quinoa, which I have cooked, was lost on me. The whole grain Teff seed is very small. (think poppy seed)

I also read that Teff is high in resistant starch, a newly-discovered type of dietary fiber that can benefit blood sugar management, weight control, and colon health. It’s estimated that 20-40% of the carbohydrates in teff are resistant starches.

So, after finding out that Teff is available as a whole grain or flour in either a brown or ivory color I came across information about its use. Turns out that Teff flour is used by Kenyan and Ethiopian distance runners to make injera, a traditional flat bread which is said to be a staple of their diet. Hummmm……

Teff is now being produced in the USA, primarily in Idaho, and I was able to locate a package of brown whole grain Teff at my local health food store. I’ve been experimenting with mixing it in my oatmeal for the past month or so. The ratio I seem to like the best is 3 parts Teff to 1 part oatmeal. I also throw in some chopped walnuts and diced dried apricots.

So, while Teff is an interesting little grain, I have to report that I am still running more like an elderly Hoosier than a Kenyan or Ethiopian.   

Hopefully, I will be able to share some more interesting information at the start of next month.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Calorie King vs My Fitness Pal

My updated weight history is in the right sidebar. Unfortunately, after spending the 3rd week of January on a cruise ship, where I allowed myself to enjoy all the fabulous food, my weight went the wrong direction.

Having struggled the last several months since the move to Jacksonville, I haven't had much success getting my weight to where I am comfortable with it. I know that I will eventually find the key to move the number on the scale in the right direction. Maybe now that we are starting to feel a little settled here in Jax I will be able to give my food consumption the necessary focus.

For me, I have always felt that keeping a log of everything I eat to be a necessary component for weight loss. For years I have used the subscription CalorieKing program at a cost of $50 to $75 per year. Lately, I have heard that many people really like the free MyFitnessPal program. I decided to try a little comparison.

Since returning from the January cruise, I have been entering my food intake on both programs and making an effort to do some of the things with MyFitnessPal such as creating meals and recipes that I have done with CalorieKing. I have concluded that the free MyFitnessPal is more user friendly and has a larger database of the foods that I actually eat. The result is, I have already made the switch to the free MyFitnessPal.

I am now recommending the MyFitnessPal program for anyone that is interested in keeping a free food and exercise diary in an electronic/digital format.

Wishing all a peaceful and happy February until we connect again around the first of March.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Start of a New Year...

2014 has arrived. Happy New Year.  After all the excitement of the last few years, I for one wouldn’t mind a little less during 2014. I could certainly do without changing jobs, moving across the country or a visit to a surgical suite. I am extremely grateful that our journey has brought us to Jacksonville where we have a comfortable home, I have found employment that seems to be working out and we seem to be receiving a little higher quality medical care.

I’ve written before about how much I like the start of a new year. 2014 brings a new beginning, a clean slate and a fresh start. These things hold the same promise and offer the same opportunities as always. I’ve spent a little time the last couple of weeks thinking about where I am and in what direction I would like the transition to 2014 lead me.

As you can see from my weight history in the right side bar, I was above my stated goal weight of 160 to 165 pounds most of 2013. Not by a lot, just enough to be slightly uncomfortable. My weight was above where I would like it to be for no other reason than I ate too much and didn’t exercise enough. I am responsible for eating an appropriate amount and getting an appropriate amount of exercise. I hope to do better in 2014.

That being said, I am not pummeling myself for my weight being a few pounds above where I would prefer for most of the year. After all, I had to go through what I went through to get to where I am today.

As I was sitting at home after surgery this fall I was pouting because I couldn’t exercise and reading the group exercise schedule for the YMCA. To my surprise, I found a yoga class on the schedule on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6AM. I have tried yoga in the past and liked it so I started going to this early morning class at least once a week several weeks ago. I always feel very peaceful at the end of the class so I was not surprised when I read recently that yoga is actually a form of meditation.

Now, for the big news, since I seem to be getting so much out of the yoga classes, and since Jacksonville is one of the least bike friendly cities in a state that is not bike friendly, I’ve decided that now would be a good time to transition away from bike commuting and invest the energy that I might have spent bike commuting on developing a regular yoga and meditation practice.

As we move through the decisions and days that will comprise the year of 2014 I am wishing all a year filled with healthy decisions and happy days.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cornbread Topped Casserole

My weight history has been updated in the right sidebar. Really not much of a change but at least headed in the right direction last week. The change has been I have finally gotten mostly compliant with filling out my food log. I have also consciously worked at restricting calories.

Really, the big news is the Cornbread Topped Casserole recipe that the little Mrs. found in Kathy Hester's Great Vegan BEAN Book. I swear, this is so good, it reminds me of a bean lasagna. The recipe follows:

Cornbread Topped Casserole
4 Cans of beans rinsed and drained (Black, Red Kidney, White Kidney, Pinto)
1 Can dices tomatoes – Red Gold Chile ready
1 C. frozen roasted corn
½ package Publix frozen seasoning blend
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Chile powder
1 tsp Chipolte powder
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp garlic salt
Mix all together taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Pour into greased 9x13 dish. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cornbread topping.
Cornbread Topping (if you like sweet cornbread add a little sugar)
1 ½  cups unsweetened almond milk
2 Tbsp ground flax mixed with ¼ cup warm water
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup gluten free flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ salt
Mix all wet ingredients together.  In separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Add wet to dry gradually to keeps lumps from forming and mix well. Pour evenly over filling in pan.
Bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until middle of cornbread is firm.
It makes 8 generous servings. We like to serve it with salsa on top.
 339 Calories per serving

If you make this, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Never, ever give up" Diana Nyad - September 2nd, 2013

Since today is a holiday, I have been planning to update my weight history and write a little post for this blog, in my spare time, on my day off from work. I had only a couple vague ideas about what I might write as I sat down in front of the computer.

I thought I would check the news before jumping into this project and was instantly rewarded with just the right story. It turns out that just today, Diana Nyad stepped out of the water and on to a beach in Key West, FL after swimming the 110 miles from Havana, Cuba in 53 hours. In doing this Diana set a record for the longest ocean swim without a shark cage or flippers.

The title of this post, "Never, ever give up" is what Diana said after finishing this historic feat. She also said, "Your never to old to chase your dreams" which is a reference to her age of 64 years. Yes, Sixty Four, that is not a typo.  You see, Diana first tried this swim 25 years ago in 1978.

I guess I find this interesting because lately I have been wondering a bit about why I have been able to have some success with this body weight management thing considering just how difficult it is. I believe the answer has two parts. First, I think that when I recognize negative "self talk", I tend not to let it divert me from my ultimate goal.  Secondly, I haven't given up. Sure, some of the things that worked for me 25 or 30 years ago are not the things that seem to be working for me now. But I've kept at it. The things that still work (exercise), I still do. But when something isn't working, I move on in search of the thing that will.

Since its been awhile, I will remind all that I still consider my goal weight to be 160 to 165 pounds. The last time I have been in this range was December 10th, 2012. I am back to weight training and feel that I am headed in the right direction. My weight history is updated in the right sidebar.

This past month I read "Sugar Nation" by Jeff O'Connell. This book could have just as easily been called Diabetes Nation and gives a very scary account of what insulin resistance does to the human body.  From there I moved on to "Meals that Heal Inflammation" by Julie Daniluk. I find this book to have a lot of good information and it turns out, I seem to be doing a few things right, well at least according to Julie.:)

I will also note that my acclimation to life in Jacksonville progressed today with my initial exploration of a bike route to my office. I am not going to have the luxury of a rail trail for my commute here so I will need several more exploratory trips to make sure I have a safe route to work on two wheels. Due to my ongoing right shoulder issue I have decided it is finally time to give up the traditional diamond frame "wedgie" bike in favor of the recumbent I've been riding for the last year or so.

So, as we move through September, I can only second the statement that Diana Nyad made on the beach this morning in Key West.

Never, ever give up!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wake up and be awesome !!!

First off, I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Independence Day. I borrowed the title of today's post, Wake up and be awesome, from runner and 100 pound weight loser, Lonnie St. John who was recently featured in the Runner's Stories section of  While Mr. St. John is hardly the first person to lose a significant amount of body weight with the help of a running program, he has once again proved that this seemingly impossible task can and does happen.

In the past month I've made some small changes that seem to have helped my weight move in the right direction. As I've said before, small changes can yield big results. The first small change was to stop buying the pints of frozen coconut milk in favor of the individually wrapped fudge pops and ice cream bars. It's obvious that this change is all about portion control.

Secondly, I was much more diligent about recording my food intake on my Calorie King diary. I also made an effort to increase my exercise including weight lifting. While I think I am heading in the right direction, I know this journey lasts the rest of my life.

This month I started reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. This book was published in 1906 and is an expose about the Chicago meat packing industry. This book is credited with causing the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Federal Food and Drug Act, both of which passed in 1906. Sadly, the Humane Slaughter Act was not passed until 54 years later in 1960. I am still at the very beginning of this book and was told by a co-worker that it is one of the most depressing books he has ever read so it may take me several months to get through it.

I came across this poem recently by Edgar Albert Guest that I thought I'd share.  

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.
Now you might want to turn the volume up a bit and listen as Ashe Jaafaru recites this pretty poem.
Let's make July a fantastic month.