Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shifting into Gear

     Well, it has been nine days since my last post.  This should be sufficient time to have accumulate enough content worth writing.  This morning, even after having over a liter of water and a banana and a nut bar, I stepped onto the trusty Swedish scale.

     Three pounds are gone.  Sure, I slipped up this week when handed Starbucks pastries for free and also with caramel-flavored, vodka-infused whipped cream on Bailey's... Judge me all you like, but it's getting there.  The only "fast food" consumed this week came from Chipotle and Panera.  At the former, I opted for the brown rice and had them load on the fresh salsa and guac.  If anyone feels that this should be justified in some way, I ran out of time to make my own food, due to the worst snowstorm since this time last year.  Also, I had not had Chipotle since November.  The Panera was a tomato-basil panini with an apple on the side.  This feels like progress.

     Goals, in my mind, should not be like a light at the end of a tunnel.  Those are dreams, and as much as we all can reach for them, none of us (thankfully) is Stretch Armstrong.  In case you have forgotten:
Achieving one's dreams takes a lifetime, as those dreams evolve and mature.  As Americans, we're even reminded of this fact in the Constitution.  The pursuit of happiness is and always shall be ongoing.  If we stop looking ahead and pushing ourselves, we die; however, assuming that dreams are to be realized in the near term is naive.  With this in mind, I prefer to think of goals as highway mile-markers.  They can seem insignificant, and there are thousands of them... but little successes will add up to one hell of a road trip.

     That said, my goal for last week and this has been to adjust to both working out again and to a different schedule and way of eating.  There are some things that don't need to be kept in my cabinets and fridge, so I've been consuming the healthier ones and discarding the worst.  My body took FOUR days to fully recover from a 2-hour work out last Wednesday.  This week, though, I'm not noticing that kind of fatigue or pain.  Better food will help my body perform in the gym, while making double portions of a meal at home  provides a healthy and cheaper option for meals at work.  This coming weekend heralds the end of my re-acclimation and my first-ever entry into developing and logging my own fitness plan progress.  I think I'll need a notebook.

     Each week, I plan to discuss the little goals, the pitfalls, the triumphs, and the overall progress.  Last night, a friend recommended the Jillian Michaels in-home DVD work out.  My best friend has, in the past, also affirmed that it "kicks your ass."  Even if my ass gets kicked just one or two nights a week at home, that's more exercise than going to the gym on its own.  Plus, getting used to working out in-home will be a good habit to construct.  Look for more on that in a few weeks.

     We all have out own passions - one of mine is biking.  I love to go out riding for hours.  One medium term goal I have set in stone now is to, by the end of this spring semester (the 2nd week of May, 2012), have strengthened myself enough to complete a bike ride from the Metra station in downtown Highland Park, IL all the way out to my apartment here in DeKalb, IL.  I estimate the distance to be between 70 and 80 miles.  This will be completed in one day, while it is light outside.  Sure, there will be nothing in it except to congratulate myself (and maybe relax in a hot tub afterwards?), but it's something healthy that I want to do.  Once that's done, a new goal will present itself.

     SO, that is my challenge to anyone who reads this.  Let your mind wander and settle on something noteworthy and wholly doable that you can work on alongside me - something you can do within about six months, now that you've got yourself set on it!  We should all have something to be very proud of now and then!!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

In the Beginning...

Dear Jillian and others,
     My name is Chris.  You haven't met me, but I promise to be painfully honest with you.  If I ever slip up, hopefully someone will have the guts to call me out.  That said, allow me to introduce myself and to explain why you're reading these letters.  This could get long, but it's all pertinent.

     So, I'm 24 years old, and I'm just starting my senior year at Northern Illinois University.  You might wonder why I haven't graduated yet, and there are a billion possible explanations...but that's not why I'm writing.  Suffice to say that I've had problems in the past, JUST LIKE YOU.  Thankfully, with help from God, my parents, and my friends, I have overcome many already!  I used to be depressed - not anymore!  I almost didn't graduate high school on time, before nearly failing out of two different colleges - now my grades are near perfect!  I used to have a 40" waist size - now it's much smaller!

     It's that last thing that really brings me here tonight.  I'm fat, and I have been since age 8.  Sure, I'm a lot thinner than I was two years ago, but this story is far from over!  Over the summer of 2010, I lost over 50lbs.  Some of you are certainly shocked, as were the regular customers at the Starbucks where I used to work, as were my friends, family members, etc.  Looking back, I firmly believe that this was a gift from God.  If you don't believe in that, it's ok; call it karma or luck or whatever.  The point is that I didn't have much to do with it.  I had jaw surgery at the end of that May, and that took off over 25lbs from my highest weight of 232.  After the weight loss plateaued (as surgery-related things do), I gained a couple back.  Then, I got a heat rash AGAIN.  After seeing a dermatologist and looking at a hundred medical photos online, I made my best guess that the main culprit was the excess of sugars in my diet.  I already ate better than many people my age, but I LOVE CARBS, and if you've ever had a Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino or Iced White Chocolate Mocha, you know they're dangerous!  Imagine being faced with them - discounted or often for free - every day.

     Instead of cutting back on my drinks at work or giving up desserts in general, I declared war on sugars!  No longer would I eat anything my body could turn into sugar.  I stopped eating ANY kind of grains or starches (this includes soy sauce, beer, corn [which is in practically everything, btw], potatoes, bread, avocados, carrots, bananas, and SO much more).  I went cold turkey on the drinks at work and began having plain green tea instead.  Juice was out the window because it's so sugary.  In fact, the only significant source of sugars I ate was from plain whole fruits - fresh or dried.  My diet mainly consisted of some meat, a couple ounces of dairy per day (butter for cooking or a bite of cheese), fruits, and tons of vegetables.  Water and plain green tea were my only beverages, and I drank a lot of them both.  Miraculously, I never batted an eye at this revolutionary diet.  Not once did I really feel a craving for the foods I loved most.

     From the middle of July to the middle of August, I lost over 25lbs MORE!!!  The heat rash, incidentally disappeared after about a week of this regime.  The lowest our home scale ever read was 179.  That's a difference of 53lbs in roughly three months.  I went from a size 40 to a 32/33.  Some of you are jealous now, and I do not blame you.  This was one of the simplest things that ever happened to me, and I am eternally grateful for the inspiration and confidence it produced.

     It's January 16th, 2011 - almost a year and a half to the day since I first dove head first into better nutrition.  Last night, I had Domino's pizza.  The night before, I had (my biggest weakness) Panda Express AND Taco Bell.  :(   One could make the excuse that I just got my tonsils removed after 4.5 years of sporadic agony, and I deserved to indulge.  That's a pretty weak one.  Thankfully, I've hovered between 180-190lbs since my original loss.  Right now, I'm 192 on my IKEA scale.  Crap.

     Thinner or not, dating has always proven to be... a waste of time.  I just ditched all of my online dating attempts, and this blog is my new outlet.  Maybe there will be tons of followers... maybe not, but it doesn't really matter.  MY GOAL HERE IS TO INSPIRE  ONE OTHER PERSON TO TAKE THE PLUNGE INTO TRULY HEALTHY LIVING.  There will be no listing of every single thing I eat, nor will I tell you about every individual kind of exercise I do.  Every person is different and will need to make health their own.  Before October 2011, I had never worked out regularly on my own.  I haven't since November because my tonsils and the antibiotics have had me pretty sick.  It should be known that I'm not excluding all grains and starches this time around, because I will be exercising also (not the case last time).  

     My own inspiration has come from Jillian Michaels.  If you don't know who she is, just go Google her.  She used to be fat too.  Now, she is thin, in great shape, successful, inspiring and helping other people to be truly healthy, and smiling her way through it!  This is what I want to do also.  No, I don't want her career;  I have my own aspirations.  But, she is making a positive, lasting impact on people and giving them the tools to live longer and better.  What legacy could be more wonderful?!

   To Jillian, in the even that you ever stumble across this, thank you for the inspiration!  I'd sign up for your web program, but I can't afford it right now.  Don't worry, my money is going to better food.  I'm going to fill any free time by reading one of your books:  Master Your Metabolism.  My mom has it.  Also, it makes me smile when you roll your eyes as you throw out the gingerbread house in the commercial that's on TV right now.  It's obvious how much you hate junk food!

That's all for today.  The Rec center on campus isn't open because of MLK Day, so I'll be doing my basics at home.  Then, I have work for 8 hours, followed by a drive back and immediate bed time.  I'll be waking up at 5:30a.m. Tuesday to get to the Rec by 6.  Wish me luck!

-A Chris in Progress