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April 18, 2007

Progress and Plateau

I know some of my blog entries lean toward providing information to those that are interested in weight loss but some are just self indulgent ramblings about myself. This is probably going to be the latter.

Well...I'm still making progress but I'm hitting a block. About 3 weeks ago I reached a new low weight of 239 pounds. This was big news for me as it broke the 240 pound barrier that had been haunting me. Then it was an absolute stand still. I couldn't seems to get past 239. And before that 240 was taking me forever to break.

I had to admit it...I hit a plateau...

For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, a plateau (in weight loss terms) is what happens when the body adjusts to what you have been doing and creates a sort of balance. So what worked before, doesn't work so well anymore. The technical term for this is biological homeostasis...commonly referred to as a plateau.

This is one of the worst things that can happen to a diet plan. It is incredibly frustrating to be going along at a good clip and then SMACK! You just feel like you are banging your head against a wall. It really is enough of a blow to your motivation to cause you to go off your diet plan...you know those Skittles are looking pretty good right about now...

<-----Skittles, Skittle, Bite Size Candies!!
I do everything right...but I can't seem to get my weight loss to kick into high gear again. Sure...I'm still losing weight...but I'm having to fight for every pound...and it has slowed down to a crawl.

I didn't really think about it until a few days ago when I was reviewing my exercise log. I keep a log of my weight and I saw that in the last six weeks I really haven't changed much.

So I'm faced with the task of figuring out how to break a plateau. After exhaustive research into the subject (a 10 minute search on Google) I found that that the best way to get this pig off the ground is to make some changes...any changes...well...any SMART changes.

The thing with the plateau is that is that it is your body adjusting and adapting to the changes you've made. Once it fully adapts to the change, it stabilizes.

Here is an example...

Let's say I start lifting weights because I want bigger biceps. So I do 'standing curls' once or twice a week. Eventually, my body will grow more muscle tissue to adapt to the new strain. But after a while my biceps will stop growing. So I increase the amount of weight I'm lifting. But I still don't see the same gains as I did when I started. That's because my arms are now accustom to that exercise. So I have to switch to a different exercise the targets the same muscle group....something that my body isn't used to doing...forcing it to adapt again and make me stronger.

The same basic principle applies to the body as a whole. Once my system gets used to what I'm doing, I get less and less of a benefit from doing just the same old thing.

There are lots of things you can do to shake up your routine. Here's what I plan on trying over the next couple of weeks...

1. Increase the amount of food I eat. This is a hard pill to swallow. I have to EAT to lose weight. Sounds so wrong...what sort of idiotic nonsense is this? No really! Over the last 6 months I've put on some additional muscle mass. But I haven't recalculated how many calories I should be consuming everyday.

2. Drink a protein shake before bed time. I used to do this but I stopped for some reason and I never resumed it. Props to Patrick for reminding me...and explaining that it should be a slow protein...I didn't know that before.

3. Replace one of my cardio days with swimming. I never liked doing 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. It gets boring. So I'm just going to use elliptical for my weight lifting days. I like to get about 10 minutes of cardio after lifting weights to pump up my heart rate and burn some extra calories. So on Tuesday I'll start swimming.

This should be enough to shake things up a bit. I'll let you know how it goes.

Web Site Progress

The web site is still being changed. I like the new look but it is slow going getting everything moved over the way I want it. Some of you have expressed concern about my weight loss chart saying that it isn't getting updated as regularly as I was doing before.

Well, there are three reasons for this...

1. I'm on a plateau...so my weight isn't really changing that much. No real reason to update the chart that often.

2. The changes to the web site make it harder for me to swap out the chart. I'm working on this.


April 11, 2007

High Fructose Corn Syrup

I thought it was just me. Honestly...I thought 'I' was the only person that didn't know. I figured that I had been asleep that day in Health Class...like any day in Health Class.


I'm talking about High Fructose Corn Syrup. I didn't really understand what it was or did until I was well into my career as a full time fat ass. I just assumed that I was the only one that didn't know about it. But my most recent trip to Michigan proved that I was wrong and that lots of other folks still don't know about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

HFCS is a sweetener that was created back in the 1950s and made popular in the mid 1970s. It was quickly adopted by manufacturers of processed foods and soda pop as a substitute for cane sugar. It is cheap to create and it tastes great. As time has gone by, more and more foods are found to contain this insidious goop.

<-------Another type of goop. You shouldn't eat this one either.

If you don't know about it already, you might wonder what the problem is with HFCS. Well, part of it is what pure fructose does to the body. Studies have shown that pure fructose short circuits the way the body deals with sugar. Normally when you take in sugar at some point your body will produce hormones that tell the brain that you have taken in enough and you can stop eating. Pure fructose bypasses this process. So you keep eating (or drinking)...and you don't want to stop. Anyone that has been on a serious sweet-tooth binge can tell you that when this happens you don't stop being hungry...you just eat and eat and eat. Even though you can feel pressure in your gut from all the trash you just consumed, you aren't getting the signal from the brain that you don’t need any more.

The two main studies of HFCS will tell you that the affects are actually closer to sucrose and that this short circuit doesn't happen. However, it is interesting to note that both these studies were funded by the soda pop companies (the people with the most to lose if people were ever to get wise to the affects of HFCS).

The other problem with HFCS is availability. We've made it so easy to 'sugar up' something that we do it to everything and often. I recall growing up, I might have a soda pop once a month. In the 1980s when HFCS was starting to really get a hold on us, I was drinking about a soda a day. By the time I hit adulthood, I had completely replaced water with sugary drinks.

And how many times have you heard some one say that they lost weight by just cutting out soda pop? Lots I'll bet. Even if HFCS isn't doing the same short circuit that pure fructose does, we've made it WAY too easy to load up on empty carbs that provide no real benefits to the body. In fact, the explosion in the number of obese people in the US coincides with the time that HFCS started to become popular.

Let's look at the stuff that has this sugary taste added in...

White Bread...yep
Wheat Bread...yep there too
100% Wheat Bread...some do, some don't
Breakfast Cereals...most do, almost ALL the kids cereals do
Soda Pops...you bet! Even 7-Up with the big "Natural" on the label has HFCS
NOTE: The FDA doesn't regulate the use of the term "All Natural" on labels.
Cookies, cakes, pies...do you really have to ask? Canned Fruits...some do, more than you'd think

And most disappointing...and surprising...nature's perfect food...ketchup. I was shocked! I grew up drowning my food in this red, delicious stuff. And now I have to come to terms with the fact that my favorite food....which I thought was pretty inoffensive...was in fact responsible for some of the extra pounds that I now carry around with me. The good news for you ketchup lovers is that the folks at Heinz have come up with a substitute for us.

The new Heinz organic is new to the shelves at your local grocery stores. It was released in response to a growingly more educated and health aware public. I picked this stuff up last week and gave it a try. Now keep in mind that I wasn't at all thrilled at the thought of having to change this part of my diet. But I was willing to give it a chance since it was not laced with HFCS like its mainstream counterpart. I found that it tasted great. It actually allowed the flavor of the main food to come out instead of being completely overwhelmed by the tomatoy goodness. I approve...this yummy alternate will have a place in my heart...but not in the form of stored fat.

So back to the subject of HFCS...

We have a sweetener that is in most foods and has been linked to obesity. What is the best way to combat this horrible ingredient? Read the nutrition labels when you shop. If you go out for food, ask if they have nutritional information on their dishes (some do...McDonalds has a BUNCH of stuff with HFCS in it). Don't assume that because something says healthy on the label that it actually is. Read what's in it. Yes, this means that you are going to have to spend some extra time shopping at first, but once you get used to it, you will know what is good for you and what isn't.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." -Wendell Phillips
(I learned it from an episode of Star Trek)

Now go run your fat asses around the block a few times...

April 1, 2007

Last week I hit a major milestone...

**** 52 pounds *******

Yes...my weight which was once a hefty 292 pounds is now down to 240 pounds. This means that it is time once again to take stock in how much weight that really is.

The average adult female red wolf weighs in at 52 lbs.

Lightweight, compact, and easier to ride than a bicycle, the Bladez Moby XL Comp 40 Gas Powered Scooter comes in at exactly 52 pounds with its all-terrain design and ability to exceed speeds of 22 miles per hour (unlike me...as I max out at a slow 6 miles per hour).

Hitting close to home the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbell maxes out at just less than 52 pounds (I just had to include it even though it doesn't quite meet the 52 pound requirement).

Speaking of the Bowflex...as most of my readers know, I own a Bowflex home gym. The big news is that I just added a set of Bowflex dumbbells to the mix. I got a pretty good deal by getting them off eBay. There were some problems with the stand but I got it all working. The next time I mix up my workout routine, I'm going to include some dumbbell exercises.

The reason I added this to my home gym was that when I went to Redmond a while back I had to use dumbbells for the one workout I actually did. While I still support that the Bowflex power rod workout is just as good as (if not better than) a conventional workout using free weight, I got hooked on the unforgiving factor that steel has. What I mean by that is if I use the Bowflex and I start a rep that I can't finish then I could just relax and let the power rod pull the cable back to the start position...or if I completely bit off more than I could chew, I could just drop it. No harm, no foul. Free weights, however, can push you a bit more since you can't just relax and let yourself fail.

Of course of you are failing, you need to reconsider if you should be lifting that much. But it is really a different mindset...using free weights. I liked the feel of it so I got the dumbbells to allow me to incorporate this into my workouts as well.

Some of you are probably noticing that I didn't get in a blog entry last week. Well, I was in my home town of Niles, Michigan (a place I refer to in my heart of hearts as 'the land that technology forgot') so my access to the Internet was...ah...unavailable.

I'm just getting back to Charlotte, so I'm posting today.

So for those of you that are disappointed in me because you had to wait an extra week, remember this...YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.

Now beat it you weirdoes...