This is the story of my journey trying to lose over 70 pounds, regain my life, and hopefully help others have success doing the same thing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Things are looking UP!

So let me tell you about the Jawbone UP…

At its simplest, it's a wristband pedometer that you wear 24/7.  It tracks the steps you take in a day and compares your results to a goal that you set (the default it 10,000).  By syncing it to your smartphone or tablet, you get feedback on how you are doing. It also (based upon your age, weight, and gender) computes how many calories you burn during the day. 

Secondly, it's a sleep monitor (I know…weird). You put it into "sleep mode" when you go to bed, and it tracks a)how long you sleep, b)how DEEP you sleep, and c)if you wake up.  Like the steps, you set a goal (default is 8 hrs, mine is 7 hrs), and each day it reminds you how well you've done relative to your goal.

Also (what? we're not done yet?), the software that comes with it allows you to track the food you eat, doing all the calorie counting for you.  Just tell it what you ate and how much, and it does the rest.  If you eat something pre-packaged, you can just scan the UPC (I do that with snack bars).  SO--if you know how many calories you took in and how many you BURNED, losing weight is simple: if calories burned is greater than calories eaten, you're losing weight! (Notice I said it was SIMPLE.  I did NOT say it was EASY--there's a difference.)

So what's the point?  Personally, I'm a goal-oriented person.  I can't just say, "I'm gonna exercise more" or "I'm going to eat less."  I have to SEE what's going on, because that's the only way I can control it.  Every day, every time I pick up my PHONE, I'm reminded that I need to walk more.  I find myself making excuses to walk MORE, rather than less.  Before I eat, instead of thinking how much I want bad stuff to eat, I KNOW I'm gonna have to look at it on the app and I make better choices.

I've had the band for about two weeks.  I've only really tracked my food for the last 8 days.  Over that time, I've burned 4131 calories MORE than I've taken in.  That's over a pound of real, honest-to-goodness weight loss (not water weight). And that includes a couple of days like Friday (my niece's graduation nite!) where the after-grad party included cake, yeast rolls, and cajun chicken pasta! 

I still eat what I want--I just find myself WANTING different things.  Having to confront my own bad decisions on a daily basis makes me more responsible.

Basically, if you're honest with yourself, it WILL work.  Losing weight is simple math.  UP is a great motivator, at least for me.  It's available at (here's a link) for $129 (same price everywhere).  I have the large band in light grey--you can pick a color to suit your wardrobe choice, eye color, etc  ;)

I have been VERY pleased with this thing since I got it.  A friend had one and got me interested, and I got one for myself and one for the wife.  We both are taking maximum advantage of them. 

Hope this helps.  I know I have sure hated being overweight, and I wanna stop.  So I am. 

Today's weight:  According to the hotel scale, 274 pounds.  Maybe the title of this blog will be valid again soon!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Welcome (back) to my increasingly inaccurately named blog...

So when I started this blog, it was about 3 years ago, and I weighed 270 pounds.  I wanted to get down to 200, so I named it "From 270 to 200."  I wrote a bit, worked out a bit, watched my eating a bit.  Then I quit.  All of it.

About a year went by.  I gained 5-10 pounds, then decided to start over.  I couldn't rename to blog to "From 280 to 200", so I just went with it.  But not for long.  Soon I gave up.  Again.

So here I am.  Almost two years since my last post, and again, things haven't changed.  In fact, I topped out at almost 290 pounds (286 to be exact) and finally I had had enough.  It was time to get serious.

I had my first "real" physical in about 10 years.  I say "real" physical, because as an airline pilot you get a flight physical every six months to a year.  They check your vision, blood pressure, give you a cursory body exam, and (if you are over 40) an EKG.  I had NO problem passing that physical each year, but I finally realized that it wasn't proving anything. So I went to my non-flight doctor and told him to run the gamut.

All in all, it wasn't TOO bad.  At least not considering I'd gained 30 pounds since leaving the Air Force 6 years ago.   My overall cholesterol was a bit high (212), but that didn't worry the doc too much. He was more concerned about my triglycerides and my LDL cholesterol.  When I asked what I do about that, he gave me the bad news--I needed to get more aerobic exercise.  (Crap...) 

The exercise.  They say that it takes 21 days to build a habit.  I'm now at day 30 or so, and I can't really say it's a habit yet. 
As John Pinette would say, I could quit anytime.  You won't see ME in the exercise wing of the Betty Ford clinic.  However, I HAVE been trying to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day, and for the most part I've been successful.  And in that area, I have a new ally...

The Jawbone UP is basically a 21st century pedometer that syncs to your iOS or Android device.  It measures your activity level, counting your steps through the day.  Additionally, it monitors your sleep.  It (theoretically) tracks when you are in light sleep, deep sleep, and waking.  I say "theoretically" because I don't think it's entirely accurate.  I wake up a could of times a night and look at the clock, and it doesn't catch those.  Maybe it classes that as "light sleep", I dunno.  

As for the pedometer part, though, that DOES seem to be helping. During setup, you set a personal daily step goal.  The default is 10,000 steps per day.  As you sync it, the app tells you how you are doing relative to your goal.

Another fun aspect of the UP is the ability to form a "team."  If you know someone else with an UP, you can monitor each other's progress, cheer each other on, and keep each other honest.  It puts a bit of "social" in your workout.  My wife and I (members of "Team UP Yours") have been trying to stick to our 10,000 step goal.

Finally, the app also has a food tracker module that lets you chart calorie consumption.  It's not the easiest to navigate, but it works okay.  And by comparing your calories burned to those taken in you can make wise choices about what to eat, how badly you need to work out, and how to live your life.

At my physical, the doctor also prescribed fish oil.  Lots of it.  Four grams a day.  For perspective, MOST people might take up to 1 gram per day.  I am now taking FOUR.  That's four horse pills a day.  At first, the fish burps were miserable, but as my body has adapted, that has gone away.  I also added some other supplements (some common sense, some as recommended by Dr. Oz, some as recommended by the "working-on-commission" bunch at GNC).  Here's what I am taking:

  • Fish oil
  • Green coffee bean extract
  • Raspberry ketone
  • CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid)
  • Multi-vitamin
As you might guess,  the GNC folks smile when I come through the door.  It may be that, as Sheldon of "Big Bang Theory" would say, all I have are the ingredients for expensive urine.  But, they may help.  We'll see.

So instead of renaming my blog "From 286 to 200", I'll stick with the original title.  After a month, I occasionally see a "7" as the middle digit when I get on the scale, so we'll call it close enough, shall we?