In his 1996 HBO comedy special Bring the Pain, Chris Rock does a comedy bit about people wanting credit for things they are supposed to do. In the bit he jokes about people bragging about not going to jail and follows it with, “You’re not supposed to go to jail,” followed by a few choice words. The bit is definitely Rated R due to language so I’m not going to link to it here, but it’s pretty easy to find on Youtube if you want to see it.
After a month (or two) of letting things slip, I decided to climb back on the healthy horse this week. I chose this week because last week I was just coming home from vacation, and the week before that I was out of town. Oh, and the week before that, it was cold. It turns out excuses are pretty easy to find if you go looking for them.
For the past two days I’ve eaten sensibly and gone for walks. I’ve been wanting to brag about it and then it hit me: Rob, that’s what you’re supposed to do!
We’re not supposed to eat dessert every single day, or double (or triple) our calorie intake because we’re on vacation. We’re not supposed to stop exercising the entire winter.
So after receiving a couple of prods from friends, I’m getting back on track. Not for them, or the blog, or the book… but because it’s what I’m supposed to do.
It’s been a while since I commented on the status of Gastric Steps: He Said/She Said on the site so I thought I would take a few minutes to get everybody up to speed.
In case you didn’t know (or forgot; like I said, it’s been a while!) Gastric Steps: He Said/She Said is a book my wife and I wrote to document our decision to have gastric band surgery. It covers our lives pre-surgery, our decision to have gastric band (aka Lapband) surgery, our experience with the surgery itself, and how life has been ever since. In the book we talk about our successes, and unlike a lot of books or websites dealing with bariatric surgery, our failures. The “He Said/She Said” comes from the fact that my wife and I took turns writing chapters. (You can see the proposed list of chapters here.)
So, where are we at today? First, the book has been written. Right now it’s at around 45,000 words.
I am currently going through the book’s second edit. I already went through the entire book once, finishing incomplete sentences, moving paragraphs around and making sure everything flowed and made sense. I’m almost exactly halfway done doing a second edit right now, making sure everything is perfect. When I’m done with that I’ll send the book out to a couple of editors and get their opinions. Each morning I finish another chapter so I should be done with this part within the next two weeks.
I began sending book proposals out last fall, roughly five a week for two months. That’s roughly 40 proposals. I got rejection notes from three of them. I didn’t hear anything from the other 37. One of the rejection letters said that if I were willing to make some significant changes, it might be possible to publish the book in 2016.
I’m not willing to wait that long — so, like my previous two books, Gastric Steps will probably end up being self-published. I expect the book to be available in both physical and electronic formats. I’ve had several requests for an audiobook version as well so I’m also looking into that.
As mentioned in the book, my intended audience is (a) people who are considering having bariatric surgery, (b) people who have already had bariatric surgery, and (c) medical professionals involved in bariatric surgery. I think people from each of these groups will take something away from the book.
Diet, exercise, and writing are all similar in the fact that they involve setting and meeting goals. I hope to continue setting and meeting goals in all three of these categories!
The United Health Foundation has once again released its list of the 10 Healthiest States. Each year, the UHF ranks each of the 50 states based on a number of different variables.
From #10 to #1, if you live in Nebraska, North Carolina, Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, Connecticut, Massachusettes, Vermont, or Hawaii, then congratulations — you live in one of the ten healthiest states of the union!
My state, Oklahoma, came in 46th. The bottom ten states, from #41 to #50, are: Indiana, South Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
According to the article: “Ranking 46th, the Sooner State has a high prevalence of physical inactivity, low immunization coverage among children, and a limited availability of primary care physicians. Since 1990, violent crime has increased 12%, while the nationwide rate dropped 37% during the same time period.”
Or, as we like to say, “at least we’re not Mississippi!” The least healthy state in the country “ranked last on six measures: physical inactivity, rate of infectious disease, low birth weight, infant mortality, cardiovascular deaths, and premature deaths.”
What do these rankings mean to you as an individual? Not much, probably. Just because few people in your state eat right or exercise doesn’t mean you have to, too. Yes, there are trends by area that often correlate to income levels, but it doesn’t take any money to walk a lap around your neighborhood once a day.
I’m going to do my best to get Oklahoma up to 45th next year. Who’s with me?
Each of us have different comfort levels when it comes to sharing the details of our weight loss. There are people who go on diets and never tell a soul. Then there are people like me who will gladly share the details of how their current diet is affecting their poop. (I haven’t actually written that article yet; I’m saving it for a rainy day.) I can’t say why some people feel more comfortable sharing than others. I can tell you that public failure is a pretty rough thing to deal with. As someone who has had gastric bypass surgery and been asked “Why are you still fat?” by people, I can tell you those things sting and I can understand why not everyone would choose to do that in a public forum.
This just went on my Christmas wish list.
Social media has of course made sharing things faster and easier with more people than ever before. Ten years ago, only a few co-workers or family members might be informed about a new diet or exercise routine you were starting. Today if I announce I’ve started a new diet on FaceTwit, 1,500 people immediately get notified. In the old days, all I had to do to cheat on a diet was make sure I didn’t eat donuts with the same people that I had told about my new diet. Today, one virtual check-in at Dunkin’ Donuts or a selfie with chocolate icing in my beard is enough to bust me.
Some people share a lot and some people share a little and some people don’t share anything at all. All of those choices are fine. The one category of people I worry about are the ones that start sharing and then stop.
Boy howdy is it easy to share when things are going good. When I eat salads you can bet I’m going to take a pictures of each one and post that roughage on Facebook. When I exercise, every step taken and every calorie burned is shared immediately with people who I haven’t personally spoken to in twenty years (and some I’ve never met in person at all). Why? Because when we’re doing good, we want the world to know. Social media’s a funny thing. Very rarely do people post pictures of themselves eating cookie dough at three in the morning — mostly because selfies taken under a refrigerator light tend to be unflattering.
Before I had lapband surgery, I searched the internet to find other people who had gone through the surgery. What I found was an alarming number of abandoned blogs. Most of them started off strong with a lot of entries documenting their initial weight loss, followed by a few entries documenting their struggles, followed by… nothing. They just end. Nobody likes to post about their own failure. Occasionally those blogs, after being dormant for a year or two, would have one final update about how the author had fallen off the wagon but was “getting back on.” The problem is, when you share things openly, you don’t just fall off the wagon; it kind of drags you and your failures publicly through your friends’ news feeds.
If I ever get dragged behind a wagon, I will totally live tweet that event. #WagonDragging2015
Even those of us who share (some would say over-share) are guilty of this behavior. I don’t share every lap I walk with RunKeeper, but I never share the fact that I didn’t walk. (How sad would that be? A little blank map with “0.0 miles” written across it.)
Here’s my point: we don’t always realize we’ve fallen off the wagon. A day of not exercising can turn into a week of not exercising pretty quickly. Fortunately, I have a few friends who will occasionally poke me. “I haven’t seen you on RunKeeper lately.” “How’s my virtual walking buddy doing?” “When you walk, it inspires me to walk.” It really doesn’t take much to support a person. You would be amazed at what a few words can do.
If you’ve noticed someone who used to talk about diet or exercise has stopped, you should poke them today. Reach out and ask that person how things are going. They may want to talk about things and they may not. Just letting someone know that you care about their well-being might be enough to get them back on path. I’m not talking about nagging; I’m talking about caring.
Let somebody know you care about their health today.
I jokingly posted on Twitter last night that I made 10 New Year Resolutions, have already broken 3 of them, and plan on breaking the remaining 7 this weekend. While it was a funny joke, there’s a hint of truth to it. I said I would walk every day. I have not walked every day.
Here’s my message to you today: don’t give up!
Today is January 7th. The year is not over! The year is not ruined! It’s not too late! Dig your heels in. Re-read those resolutions. If you’re not meeting them, figure out why! The ship has not sunk yet; it can be righted.
“Starting in 2015 I will walk ten miles a day. I will stop eating sugar and drinking pop. I will do P90X twice a day until my abs look like I’m in the UFC. I’ll do pull ups until my arms fall off, lose 50 pounds a month, and take up hard core yoga.”
Do any of those sound remotely familiar? God knows I’ve made a lot of failed resolutions throughout the years. 2014 was a good year for resolutions — I can’t even find my list, so I’m just going to assume I wrote “exercise for two months out of the year and gain a few pounds from egg nog and rum.” If that was indeed the plan… then success!
I’m a firm believer in setting goals. Goals are just barriers you set for yourself to smash. I’ve always said to be successful, your goals need to be measurable and you need to review them regularly. Writing up a list of things you want to achieve next year won’t do you any good if you can’t even find the list by March.
My wife recently explained the SMART system to me, which she picked up at a work meeting. After doing some reading online I discovered the SMARTER system, which I like even more. SMARTER stands for:
Making New Year’s Resolutions like “I’m going to walk more” or “I’m going to eat healthy” are just setting yourself up for failure. It’s not that the ideas behind them are bad; it’s that the way they are written doesn’t make them easy to achieve.
Take “I’m going to walk more,” for example. A better resolution would be, “I’m going to walk 30 minutes a day, three days a week.” Now, that’s a goal! Let’s take a look at that goal through the SMARTER system. It’s specific (30 minutes a day, 3 times a week). That’s also measurable. For me, it’s achievable. I have the time to allot and am physically capable of doing that much. It is relevant to weight loss and health. It meets my timeline (I don’t need anything but dedication to get started).
Those last two letters (E and R) are more for maintaining your goals. A month from now I’ll evaluate this goal. If I’m not meeting this goal, why not? Perhaps I need to adjust the time of day I plan on walking. Reviewing your goals is also key. You should look at your list of goals every day, or at least weekly. Remind yourself why you set these goals.
Take that other example: “I’m going to eat healthy.” Change that to, “I’m going to count calories” or “I’m going to eat less than 2,000 calories a day,” something like that. Make your goals clear and obtainable. Run through the SMARTER list when making them.
No matter what your personal goals or resolutions are, make smart (or SMARTER) ones. I wish you the best in achieving them.
So, I have a Christmas confession to make — I don’t really know what a sugar plum is. Simply based on the name I’d always just assumed they were plums covered in sugar (see: caramel apple), but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Apparently it’s just candy (or a type of fairy).
It doesn’t matter much. My visions this time of year aren’t about sugar plums — they’re about cookies, and cake, and candy canes, and egg nog, and egg nog with rum in it. Last night, Susan and the kids made a bunch of holiday snacks and cookies. My kitchen table looks like this:
Did you know there are roughly 110 calories in a single Oreo truffle ball? UGH! Every single one is worth a walk around my neighborhood in calories. Based on the number I’d had today, I need to walk to Mexico and back.
It’s always good to “just say no,” but if you can’t (I can’t), moderation is the key. One or two cookies, just enough to have a sample taste, and then quit. After Christmas, we’re going to find someone to donate all our leftover snacks to, rather than have them sit around and eventually get eaten. The worst thing for me is having the snacks sitting out, where I’m tempted to pick one up every time I walk by.
What do you do to keep holiday weight gain away? I’m doing really good so far by maintaining. I’m hoping to make it to New Year’s and kick things up then.
The older I get the faster the seasons seem to change. Summer gives way to fall and before you know it, it’s winter. The leaves fall off the trees, the wind kicks up and the temperature goes down and suddenly nobody wants to walk with you anymore.
Mason broke our last treadmill by accidentally dropping a set of hand weights directly on to the motor. I don’t remember exactly when we bought that treadmill, but I do know I bought it new from Sears and I brought it home in my Chevy Astro minivan (which I owned from 1998 to 1999), which would make it roughly 15 years old.
Mention needing a treadmill and you may be surprised how many people you know who are willing to donate one. We got this one from my mother and her husband Jack, who even helped us load it into the truck. Talk about service!
Nobody wants to stare at a wall for half an hour and so I bought an iPad wall mount ($7, Big Lots) and put our oldest iPad there. With AirPlayer, Netflix, VLC, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and several other apps installed, it’s like having an entertainment center at your fingertips. (I haven’t tried playing games while walking yet, but give me a week or two.) I haven’t run the power cord all the way down to the wall socket yet, but it’s long enough to either Velcro or zip tie to the treadmill and hide all the way down. The wall mount has little slots along the sides that allow you to still connect power chargers and headphones to the unit.
This treadmill is way fancier than our old one. It has adjustable inclines, a built-in fan to keep you cool, and one of those little magnetic connectors that, should you fall off the treadmill, will disconnect and stop the motor. At least the thing won’t grind up my legs as I lay there looking at the Christmas tree.
Walking on treadmills is not my favorite form of exercise, but it’s better than nothing and will help me keep moving forward until spring returns.
It’s been cold for two weeks now. When it turned cold, I quit walking outside. I also didn’t go back to the YMCA. Because I quit walking I quit RunKeeper, and because I quit using that, I stopped updating MyFitnessPal. The result of all of these actions (or rather, inactions) is that I gained two pounds.
Two pounds is not a lot of weight. My winter coat weighs two pounds, but that’s not the point. The point is that positive actions lead to positive results, and negative actions lead to negative ones. Through diet and exercise, I can lose weight; I’ve proven that. Through diet alone, I can maintain my weight. By ignoring both, I gain weight. This is not rocket science. This is basic cause-and-effect.
Over the past couple of days I’ve cut my calories back and lost the two pounds. That puts me at exactly where I was at the beginning of the month. My previous goal of repeating October’s weight loss is out the window. My new goal is to walk at least ten miles between now and the end of November. There are six days left, so this should be doable.
So far my plan of walking one mile around my neighborhood each morning and a second one each evening has gone well.
But. Winter is coming.
Soon, the cool fall breeze that greets me each morning will be pushed aside by brisk Oklahoma winds. I know those days are coming. In fact, according to the weather forecast, those days are coming next week. Local forecasters are predicting a “wintery mix” will arrive late next week. Walking outside won’t be an option all winter long. I need a backup plan.
That backup plan is the YMCA. It’s the same Y that both Mason and Morgan played basketball at last year and plan on playing for again this year. To play basketball, each kid has to be enrolled as a member of the Y. I might not have the numbers exactly correct but I believe Susan said it’s $30 per kid or $55 for a family of four, so we went ahead and enrolled the entire family.
I haven’t been in many gyms so it’s tough for me to compare, but the workout room in the YMCA closest to us is nice. There are probably 20 heavy duty treadmills, followed by another 20 bicycle machines, stair steppers, and other things. There are tons of free weights and other machines to work out on. There’s also a swimming pool and a basketball court. In the lobby there’s also a couple of pool tables and a ping pong table. They open at 5 a.m. and close at either 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., depending on the day of the week.
In front of the treadmills are six large flat screen televisions tuned to three different channels (two each). Each treadmill has a headphone jack so you can listen to the television. Both times I’ve gone I’ve listened to music while watching basketball.
There are also lots of classes, everything from karate and kendo to Zumba and spinning. I don’t plan on taking any classes, but they’re included in the monthly fee. Susan and Morgan took a Zumba class last week and enjoyed it.
Because RunKeeper keeps track of your walking and running via GPS and you’re not really “going anywhere” on a treadmill, I had to figure out how to manually input my walks. Other than that, it’s been a smooth transition from walking outdoors to inside on a treadmill. Walking on a treadmill is boring; watching ESPN while listening to music makes it slightly less so.
I still prefer walking outdoors I think, but when Old Man Winter finally arrives, I have a backup plan waiting for him.