Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Walking Away From It All!

That's it!  I'm walking away from it all!

No, I'm not giving up on my weight loss efforts.  I'm walking away... from my former self.  Not figuratively... literally.

About a month and a half ago, I started taking daily (or almost daily) walks around my neighborhood or in the middle of the day at work.  It started as small walks, but now I walk about 2.5 miles a day.  This has significantly helped with my weight loss.  So quite literally, I'm walking away from it all.

My daily walks have had some unintended results as well.  It seems to have significantly impacted my sleep cycle and how I wake up... for the better!  Starting a few weeks after beginning my walking routine, I started to wake up earlier and earlier.  I've never been an early riser in my life and now I find myself willfully waking up at 6:00 am.  I sleep much better now and I don't need to keep hitting the snooze button.

I've also never been one to be excited about exercise, but that has also changed.  I now find myself excited to take my daily walk.  It gives me a chance to think, relax and slow down.  Perhaps it's fatherhood.  Perhaps it's middle age.  But it has become one of the favorite parts of my day!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Kicking the Brown Dragon....

Hi, my name is Charles and I have a problem...

I have an addiction to diet soda.  I would drink it liters at a time from waking up to going to sleep.  I couldn't imagine a meal without it.  It was a habit that I didn't believe I could kick, but things change.

Last December, I gave it up cold turkey and haven't been drinking it since (with a minor exception for an alcoholic drink mixer on occasion, because I can't stand the regular soda).  I stopped drinking diet soda and replaced it with drinking water and a 50/50 mix of 100% fruit juice and seltzer.  I noticed the changes quite quickly.  I felt much better overall.  I had more energy.  As a big surprise, I didn't feel as hungry.  There was definitely something in diet soda that made me eat more.  It is now much easier to regulate my hunger and eat at a more regular pace.  In addition, I sleep much better now without all the caffeine.

I'm not going to delve into the science of why it's bad.  There are many different studies that have identified significant issues with drinking this stuff.  The bottom line is it's real bad stuff and I'm glad I don't drink it anymore.

I've learned that commercially produced "diet food" is perhaps the worst thing you can eat for a healthy life style.  Most of the time it's filled with horrible additives, which confuse your body and cause you to eat more.  If you're looking to lose weight, I recommend eating "real" food that is healthy, limit your portions and getting more activity.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Using Social Media for Accountability and Encouragement

For those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook, you will have noticed that I use social media extensively to track my health progress.  I post my weekly weight loss (or gain), when I'm excited (or dismayed) about my exercises, foods that I enjoy that are healthy, and even some of my vital stats (for example blood sugar) from doctor's visits.

Why do I do this?  Two reasons; accountability and encouragement.  First, by posting regularly and seeing that other people are following my journey, it makes me more accountable.  It's very easy to lie to yourself, but very difficult to lie to hundreds of your friends.  Second, hearing positive feedback from my friends gives me a lot of encouragement.  I'm always stunned to see the number of friends that "like" my weekly updates and leave great comments.  My friends also share their own experiences, which makes me feel that I'm not alone in my journey to better health.  To my friends out there who have given me some great feedback in the past, I thank you!

This blog is also another example of social media that I use.  I've been happy to see that it has helped.  Since I started the blog in April of 2014, I have lost more than 20 lbs.  I took a look at my post history and I saw that I mostly posted from April 2014 to June 2014 and then again recently for the past two months.  It's no accident that my greatest losses were during the same time that I was posting to the blog (as you can see below).  Accountability and encouragement works!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Six Months to Berlin

Today is March 20th.  We are scheduled to leave for Berlin on September 20th.  That means that we're exactly six months away from the trip.  Time to take stock.

I have lost 48.8 lbs of my 100 lbs so far, which leaves me 51.2 more to go.  At 26 weeks away, I will need to average 1.97 lbs a week until we leave to reach my goal.  This is a healthy and realistic average for weight loss.  What makes this even more realistic is that we're approaching the spring and summer months, when my activity jumps up and it's the start of grilling season.  These two aspects of the warmer months makes it much easier for me to lose weight quickly.

Here's to the next six months!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Staying on Track while Sick

One of my biggest difficulties has been staying on track with my healthy eating while feeling ill.  When my normal routine gets disrupted by being bed-bound and not working, it has been far easier in the past to simply order some fast food and not track.  Since the progression from sick to well is not a sharp transition, this has always been a problem for me to start eating well again, because it was far easier to keep eating badly.  Essentially, being sick has been a traditional point where I would typically fall off the wagon.

Unfortunately, I found myself in a situation again where I am not feeling well.  On Tuesday, I started to come down with a head cold and sore throat.  Today, I have lost my voice.

Fortunately, I haven't fallen into old habits this time by pushing my Weight Watchers tracker to the side and eating what was easiest.  Instead, I recognized this bad habit and continued to eat fruits and vegetables, while tracking all items that I ate.

The big lesson here is that it is important to recognize and visualize past difficulties in order to change those behaviors and make new routines.

As an additional note, I'm spending this morning watching European travel videos, which is a good reminder of my ultimate goal - 100 Pounds to Berlin.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Not Just Berlin Anymore...

Another update to the plans surrounding this blog is our travel itinerary, as well as who is taking the trip.  In addition to my wife and daughter, my mother will be coming with us for the entire time and my brother will be flying in during the middle of the trip for two weeks.  Instead of traveling only to Berlin, we're planning on traveling a little more extensively.  Here is a breakdown of our upcoming travel plans.


We're flying into Berlin via New York and staying there for a little less than three weeks.  We're renting a nice apartment in Pankow through AirBnb (I'll have a post about AirBnb coming up).  My brother will be arriving our last week there.


In the middle of our time in Berlin, we will be flying to Paris for two evenings.  We're renting an apartment in the 10th ARR near the République Metro Station.


After Berlin, we will take a train to Prague and stay there for a week.


After Prague, we will take a train to Munich and stay there for a week.  In the middle of this stay, we may take a day trip to Austria.  At the end of this stay, we will fly from Munich, back to New York.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Long Overdue Status Update

It's been awhile since I last posted to this blog and I've got a lot of catching up to do.  I fell off the blogging wagon mainly because of being so busy with the birth of my daughter, Clara, last July.

With her now approaching eight months old, life has now started to even out and I've been focusing on my weight loss again.  Luckily, I didn't fall to much off track during her first half year and I didn't gain weight since then.  Now that I have a bit more time and freedom, I plan on updating this blog frequently with my progress to 100 pounds to Berlin.

Errrr.. Well, my goal has changed a bit.  Instead of waiting until I lose the hundred pounds before planning the trip, I'm hoping to hit the hundred pound mark by the time we leave for Berlin.  Due to several factors, we decided to plan the trip for this coming fall, so I have until Sept 21 to hit my goal.  I believe this is very possible.  Wish me luck and follow my progress.  Let the adventures begin!