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March 22, 2007

Atkins Unbound

Before I get started I want to make a weight loss announcement. As of last week, I have broken the 50 pound barrier. That's right..."292 Pound Robert" is now "242 Pound Robert". Now...on with the story...

I like talking about weight loss. I enjoy talking about exercise. It helps me to better understand how other people have struggled (some losing and some winning) in the war on weight gain. Now that I'm wearing my Token Fat Guy t-shirt, I get lots more people stopping me to chat.

NOTE: You can buy TFG shirts from my web site. If your 'starting weight' is not listed, just let me know and I'll add it in for you. Currently all possible 'starting weights' listed are from 301 pounds to 250 pounds.

The idea is that it shows people what your progress is. I like to wear mine when I'm on the treadmill. That way everyone on the rows behind me can see how far I've come.


Not long after my return from Washington State, I was approached by some one who said that he recently lost some weight on the Atkins diet plan.

Normally I'm pretty receptive to listening to other people's weight loss stories. But Atkins people scare me...badly. And I have to admit that I was surprised that anyone really used this anymore.

I know Atkins was popular for awhile but I thought it had pretty much died out after the lawsuits against Atkins Nutritionals, the company that puts out the book touting the advantages of the Atkins diet plan.

The science behind Atkins is sort of interesting. It is a low carb diet that works to throw the body into a state called ketosis. This is were the body runs out of energy stores that carbs provide and starts to burn up the energy stored in fat deposits. You might think, "Hey StrangeDOS, isn’t that the whole idea? to burn off fat?"

Well...yes...but not at such a large cost. Two points make the whole thing fall apart...

The Atkins plan would have you reduce your carb intake so low that while you are losing weight, you are starving your body of much needed fuel. Yes, if you take in too many carbohydrates you will gain weight but your body does need some carbs to operate correctly (although truthfully we in the US have a tendency to eat 'bad carbs')
The plan also allows an insane amount of animal fat to be consumed. This just go against common sense. Not to mention the recommendations of nearly any competent doctor.

The human body needs carbs, it needs proteins, and it needs fat. Yeah...you need some fat in your diet to survive. Think about it...your BRAIN is made of fat. Just don't over do it on the fat...and stay away from trans fats and saturated fats.

The Atkins diet will allow you to drop some weight...that's probably what makes it so dangerous. Just like most diets, the weight you lose at first will be mostly water weight. Depending on your size, you can be carrying around an extra 8 - 12 pounds of water. After that, you will probably lose some more weight...and some of it is going to be muscle mass. Sure some of it will be fat too...but how much muscle mass are you willing to trash while trying to reach your target weight? Personally, I protect my muscle mass as much as possible. I need it to keep my system burning as high as possible...even when I'm at rest. The more muscle I have the more calories I burn...even at rest.

Some Atkins folks will tell you they feel great, and I don't doubt it. There is an exhilaration that comes with dropping ANY weight. On top of that, there is a certain euphoria connected with cannibalizing your muscle tissue. Blah...

Of course my favorite reason for keeping away from Atkins is this...


...any diet that is so bad for you that a bunch of doctors band together and put up a web site warning you of the dangers...well...that's just more than I can ignore.

The final thing that keeps this particular diet plan on my 'no_freakin_way' list is the fat that I mentioned earlier. I've read some Adkins friendly sites and wasn't able to find ANYTHING showing that they address the problem of increased cholesterol levels. And all the anti-Adkins information that I've read shows that low carb diets are linked to increased LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreased HDL (good cholesterol). Personally, the reason that I'm dieting is to IMPROVE my health...not shorten my life span.

So my word to you, my loyal readers, is do some research on diets before you commit to one. There are some good ones out there, but there are others too that will really mess you up good.

Use some common sense...ask your doctor...hit the gym (no don't hit some guy NAMED Jim)

<-----Actor Jim Carey

There are lots of people at the gym are dieting too and can be a wealth of information.

Next week...who knows? I'll be in Michigan. Perhaps I'll be able to stay on my diet while traveling.

Either way, buzz off and bother me later.

March 14, 2007

Dangers of travel

Recently my job sent me to Redmond, Washington. I was pretty excited about it but I knew that it would throw a big monkey wrench at my dieting plans. As if travel wasn't already difficult for me.

Last time I flew I was still in the 290 pound range. With the exception of first class, the seats on an airplane are just not meant for people in my old weight class. I usually had to request an aisle seat and even then I was stretched out into the aisle for most of the trip.

And if THAT weren't bad enough, I always had issues when checking my baggage. Apparently there is a man on the FBI's Most Wanted List that has the same name as me. Because of this, my name is on 'the list'. So whenever I try to check my baggage, I can't use the kiosk to do it. If I try it will tell me that I need to see the person at the counter. Then it will take them forever to figure out why I'm on 'the list' and to verify that I'm the GOOD Robert and not the EVIL Robert. Then I get singled out at the security check point for the same reason. It can add an extra hour to my check in time.

The funny part is that the EVIL Robert was put in prison years ago (I looked him up on http://www.fbi.gov/wanted.htm). But airports are funny about security nowadays, so I try not to make a big deal about it.

Anyway, I was looking forward to this trip as I'm much smaller (48 pounds smaller to be exact) and should fit more comfortably in the seats...even on a coast to coast flight. So I started preparing for my journey.

I knew I was going to miss some workouts so I checked with the hotel I was staying at to see what they had for gym equipment. I was disappointed to learn that they only had cardio equipment. That would have been fine for my cardio days but I needed some weights for my weight lifting days. So I checked with the YMCA database and found that there was one not two miles from where I was staying. So I had access to a full gym after all. I made a list of what muscle groups I was supposed to be working on the days I was gone so I wouldn't have to remember them.

Now there was the food part. The place I was staying had a kitchenette so I figured I would be able to mix up my protein shakes and cook up some healthy meals. I even picked out some protein bars and Ostrim sticks to carry with me on the flight so I didn't have to eat airline food. Hey...I was ready for this trip. And my diet didn't have to suffer at all.

That's when I learned that even the best laid plans can go all pair shaped.

Day One...

Water is a big part of any successful diet. You have to drink a lot of it. Airport security will not allow you to carry water bottles past the check points anymore. So you have to buy the water that they sell at the gift shops once you are past the check point. So you basically have overpriced water and no choice in brands. You have to drink what they are selling...even if it is Aquafina...probably the nastiest bottled water on the planet. And no telling how long it has been in the cooler...so it probably is going to have that plastic taste to it.

Then you can't take enough water with you on the flight to stay properly hydrated...not if you are flying from Georgia to Washington state. So I had to down a bunch of water before taking off. Then I remembered how much of a hassle it is to get to the airplane lavatory. I had a window seat...so I had to get everyone in my row to get up every I needed to run to the little boys room.

By the time I got to the hotel, the LAST thing I wanted to do was go shopping and cook. The last meal I had was an airport salad and it was hours ago. I needed food and NOW. So I found the list of delivery places that the hotel provided and looked for something decent...but something decent was not to be found. We (my wife flew with me) settled on some Chinese food that didn't sound too bad. But it was...it was terrible. It was a disgrace to all Chinese restaurants. I ate the shrimp...and tossed the rest.

So the day I traveled was trashed. I didn't drink enough, I didn't eat enough, and I wasn't going to get enough sleep...not if I wanted to hit the gym in the morning and then get to work on time.

Day two...

There are some days when you just don't feel like going to the gym. Then there are days when you have jet lag. Then are days you just can't pull yourself out of bed to do anything. That was day two.

By the time I tumbled out of bed, I had to jump into yesterday's clothes and rush down to the lobby to get my breakfast or I was going to have to go hungry. I've had healthier meals but I've also had much worse (I've eaten at Waffle House). But now I was all full from my meal and knew that working out was just not an option. So I moved my workout plans to the evening. I and my lovely wife would go pump some iron after I got back from work.

Yeah...right...that worked...

By the time I got back to the hotel, I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch with my sweetie and take in some mindless TV. Then the subject of food came up again. Who are we kidding? This isn't working. Let's be BAD...let's get a PIZZA! Yeah baby! Let's pizza-up this trip!

And we did too.

Day three...

I've been so bad...I feel terrible. I haven't worked out in days, I eaten junk and more junk. Damn it I'm going to the gym today if it kills me.

So we load up in the rental car and head for the YMCA. We get all checked in and go to the weight room. Then the rest of the plan falls apart. I had made a list of muscle groups that we needed to work on the days that we were gone but I didn't make a list of what exercises corresponded with said groups. I used to lift free weights so I figured it would all come back to me. Nope...I drew a blank. Guess I'd gotten spoiled on my Bowflex. I knew how to work a couple of groups but I didn't have a plan for the rest. I'm such an idiot some times.

So we left the gym, depressed and demoralized. We had cobbled together a mini workout but it just wasn't as intense as it should have been.

Then we made our last mistake. We stopped at the grocery store…while hungry. After that there was no stopping us. We were going to have a carb overload.

Day four...

Left over pizza, the last of the junk we got from the grocery store, and then checkout time. I freaking give up. Let's just get home and try to put our diets back together.

Day five...

Home at last. Now it is time to pay the piper. I step on the scales...

I gained 8 pounds (but don't be too freaked out...I'm sure most of it is water weight).

NOTE: I wrote this entry when I first got back from the trip. Over the next 3 days, I dropped 7 pounds. So it must have been all water weight.

Before(292 lbs)...During(255 lbs)...After(244 lbs)

Now bug off and leave me alone!

March 8, 2007

NOTE: Last names changed for privacy. My last name isn't really StrangeDOS.

The call came early in the morning for me. I keep weird hours because of my job. So 9am is actually early for me. The caller ID said the call was coming from Tucson...which is where my dad lives. At first it didn't make sense in those blurry moments when trying to wake up. I knew my dad was in Michigan, taking care of my Grandpa. So the call couldn't have been him. But as consciousness seeped into my brain I remembered that while Dad and his cell phone were in Michigan, his calling plan lived in Tucson. So I answered to find out what he wanted.

My grandpa had died.

I'm sure some other information followed but I didn't hear any of it. My grandpa was dead.

Later my dad contacted me again and asked me if I wanted to write something to be read at the funeral since I would not be able to attend. I started thinking back on some of the times that I had with Grandpa and I realized something. I couldn't tell you anything about Robert StrangeDOS. I didn't know much about his life as a young man. But I can tell you a thing or two about Grandpa StrangeDOS.

I guess it really started when I was born. I was named Robert William StrangeDOS after both my grandfathers….Robert and William. Once I learned that, I thought my name was so cool.

When I was growing up, Grandpa sported grey and white in his hair and beard. Just like a grandpa should. He had round belly and could easily have stood in for Santa if the need would have called for it.

His skin was weathered from decades of being in the sun. I remember how pronounced the veins were on the back of his hands. As a child I was fascinated by them. I would sit on his lap and play with his hands like they were toys. And like a good grandpa, he just sat there and let me do it.

He never yelled at me or even raised his voice that I recall. I always felt like I belonged...I always felt loved...I always felt safe.

It is the parents' job to make sure that you are ready when it is your time to leave the nest. But grandparents have a much simpler job description. They just love you and enjoy having you around.

Grandpa StrangeDOS was one of the best grandpas ever.

March 3, 2007

Eating every 3 hours...

Part of the Body for Life plan is changing your eating habits to take advantage one of the ways our systems naturally work.

The idea goes like this...

When we were barely evolved from the monkeys our bodies evolved into a routine of storage and fasting. If food was plentiful then we would constantly eat. Our bodies would respond by using food as we ingested it. We wouldn't store much in the form of fat because our bodies understood that it wasn’t needed as we would be eating again shortly.

The other side of that is the fasting. If we were to start eating less our bodies would respond by doing the following...

Lowering metabolism
Storing fat whenever able

Now here we are...much later...and our bodies still work basically the same. This is one of the reasons that most diets fail in the first couple weeks. Let's look at how it would play out...

The idiot dieter gets up on a Monday and says, "Today I'm starting my diet". He eats something sensible for breakfast. But then he shoots himself in the foot by saying, "I'll just skip lunch so I'm not taking in so many calories." And it just goes downhill from there.

By the time the dinner bell rings for our idiot dieter, he's absolutely ravenous. His instincts take over and tell him to EAT NOW! RIGHT NOW! AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! And even if you CAN resist the urge to over eat (which isn't likely), the body has already lowered his metabolism and when it sees food coming it is going to store as much of it as possible in the form of fat. The reason being that the body thinks his food sources are drying up and it is reacting by trying to keep the body alive.

Keep doing this sort of thing and the fat will add up very fast.

Just like the saying, you have to spend money to make money, it is the same with fat. You have to eat more to lose weight.

I eat 5 to 6 meals everyday. I try to space them out about 3 hours apart. That's not set in stone. If I have to allow 2 hours or even just an hour between meals to get in everything, then I'll do that.

Now keep in mind that while I'm calling these things 'meals'. They are NOT the same as the meals that I would eat when I was getting fat. I eat a small amount of protein and a small amount of carbs. Added together, it can be anywhere from 150 to 350 calories. Also, I try to consume the heavier meals earlier in the day and eat more greens in the later part of the day.

Believe it or not...everything I just said was so I could set the stage for the following story.

This means I can usually be found munching on something. Recently, I was in the kitchen area at work and I was approached by one of my coworkers. He asked me how the diet was coming along. I love discussing weight loss with other people so I gave him a break down of how it completely changed my eating habits...and how I was losing more weight now that I was eating more food.

Now you would think that I just told him that my dad could beat up his dad, because he got all stupid and defensive. He started off telling me that I was full of baloney and that what really mattered was reducing my overall caloric intake within a 24 hour period...and that it didn't matter WHEN I ate. He actually claimed that I could eat all my allowed calories in one super meal.

It was pretty much at this point that I stopped listening to him prattle on and got that glazed over look in my eyes that warns others that I'm probably daydreaming about ice-cream.

Before I was able to finish my Ben and Jerry's dream, my coworker got the message that while I was still making 'ah huh' sounds, I was in fact completely zoned out.

As he stormed off in a huff I thought to myself, "I know he thinks he's right...but my 48 pounds of actual weight loss trumps his half-baked, fat-assed theories."
I've had my say....now go away!