Am I Going Back? And the Answer Is…

Now that the science fair project is officially over (except for her presentation at Regionals on March 23), people have asked me if I’m “going back”. Uh, no! I’ve lost 20 lbs in 90 days. I feel better. My blood pressure is normal. I’m sleeping better. Besides the pain in my back (I think it’s the new office chair I was given), I feel better than I have in years.

I get the “are you going back” question the most at lunch time at work. I’ve talked with a lot of my coworkers (who have noticed the weight loss). Many of the women have joined a Weight Watchers group. Some of the guys are doing it on their own. Some are taking a radical approach. Some are successful…others are not.

Again, I’m not following a “diet” or reading a fitness guru book. I know this is a repeat, but this is what I’m doing:

1. Planning/Goal setting – I use My Fitness Pal every day, every meal.
2. Healthy choices – I eat more vegetables and fresh fruit. I have really cut back on junk food. I’m even thinking of moving towards a more vegetarian lifestyle.
3. Portion control – I don’t eat for 3 anymore. This has been significant for me. I think it’s been key.
4. Exercise – I exercise at least 3 days/week for at least 1 hour. My routine for now consists of 50% strength training and 50% cardio. I need to make some changes and intensify my workouts.

After all of that, what’s for dinner tonight?

* Steamed broccoli
* Quinoa
* Fruit (perhaps an apple)

Portion Control – it’s worth a 2nd look


This works. I’ve lost nearly 20 lbs in less than 90 days doing this.

Planning/goal setting: I use My Fitness Pal (on my iPhone & iPad Mini). Everyday, every meal.

Exercise: I go to Planet Fitness. Three to four days a week. 60 minutes (minimum) each time. About 60% cardio + 40% strength training. Early morning has worked for me.

Healthy eating: lots of fresh veggies (raw & steamed), fresh fruit (no canned), chicken, fresh fish, eggs, quinoa. Healthy snacks: raw nuts, beef jerky, low fat cheese stick.

Portion control: no, I have not starved. I can eat far less than I thought. Load up on veggies. Cut back on breads. Use My Fitness Pal to determine meat portion size.

Before & After


Well, here are the photos. The first one was taken at the beginning of this science fair project. It was taken on December 3, 2012. I weighed 226 lbs. the second photo was taken this morning (Feb 13, 2013). I know weigh 209 lbs. I thought you might like to see my progress to date. I plan to keep on going. Using My Fitness Pal, planning my meals, recording what I eat, exercise, portion control it’s working!

Benefits of a Fitness Journal


There are a lot of ways you can increase your chances of losing weight once you commit to that goal and tracking your progress is one of them. Keeping a weight loss journal is a great way of keeping track of the strides you make as you lose weight. Believe it or not, researchers have actually looked into the effectiveness of using a weight loss journal.

It May Help Increase Weight Loss

A group of researchers at the University of Pittsburg decided to review a bunch of studies that looked into whether or not keeping a journal helped with weight loss. They reviewed 22 studies that looked into the effectiveness of self-monitoring to lose weight.

- Some of these studies focused on self-monitoring diet.
– One focused on self-monitoring exercise.
– Others focused on self-monitoring weight loss.

After going over all of the data they found a strong connection between self-monitoring using a diary and weight loss.

Another study done at the National Cheng-Kung University in Taiwan was done to see if keeping a weight loss diary could increase weight loss while on a weight loss program. Researchers recruited 50 adults who were overweight or obese for this study.

- They were all put on a weight loss program but some were asked to keep a weight loss journal.
– They were also taught how to record diet and exercise details in an organized way.
– The weight loss program lasted for 12 weeks.h

While both groups lost weight the people who kept a weight loss journal loss twice as much weight as the group that did not. These results strongly suggest that keeping a weight loss journal can help increase the amount of weight you can lose.

Can Help with Diet

Another group of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago did a study on older women to see if self-monitoring had an effect on weight loss. The kinds of self-monitoring involved in this study were the monitoring of body weight and diet.

Researchers recruited 123 overweight or obese women for this study who went on a 12 month weight loss diet.

Not only did they find that completing a food journal caused 3.7% greater weight loss but they also found that skipping meals was associated with 4.3% less weight loss. They also found that eating out for lunch tended to cause 2.5% less weight loss. These findings not only suggest that keeping a food journal can help with weight loss but also that making a habit out of skipping meals and not eating home cooked meals can reduce weight loss.

Using Digital Journals

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh did another study to see how effective using a device called a personal digital assistant as a digital journal was at helping people increase the amount of exercise they got. This study involved 210 people who were put into 3 groups.

- One group used paper to record the amount of exercise they got.
– Another group used the personal digital assistant.
– The last group used the personal digital assistant and had it give a tailored feedback message.

After monitoring these test subjects for 6 months researchers found that all of these groups increased the amount of exercise they got but the group that used the digital device that gave the feedback message was the most likely to reach their physical activity goals. People who used the digital device tended to record the amount of exercise they got more than the people who used paper. What these scientists found suggests that using a digital journal can help you stick with your fitness goals perhaps because it is more convenient to use.

Keeping track of your progress can work by keeping you motivated and focused on your goals.

Where to Start

I got sick and tired of the way I was feeling and looking. I’m over 50, and I have no delusions of looking like (or acting like) a 20 year old. But something had to change.

This science fair project gave me the opportunity to begin to make changes that could/would change my life. It gave me my launching pad. My first steps. What did I do to start?

1. Commit to doing it. My wife can’t make me. My kids can’t. My friends can’t do this for me. I had to decide this.

2. Use effective tools. I chose to use the app, My Fitness Pal. I had used it years ago. I was familiar with it. This tool gives me the ability to monitor my calorie intake on anything I eat. I helps me plan meals. It helps me decide what to eat and what not to eat. It records meals, exercise, and water intake. It gives me progress reports. And I carry it with me everywhere I go – access 24/7.

3. Healthy eating. This has meant the I reduced the portions I had been eating. I was eating way too much. I also needed to change what I was eating. As a family, we didn’t have a horrible diet. We worked hard to always have veggies and fruit with every meal. But I needed to increase my consumption of vegetables. I also needed to decrease my portion size of meat. I love to cook, so this hasn’t been hard. I found some great recipes and books that have been a big help.

4. Exercise. Since I am so out of shape, I’ve learned I have to start slower then I thought. But I started. I’m to the place now that I need to increase the intensity. I’m exercising 3-4 times a week – typically around 30 minutes for a workout.

After nearly 6 weeks, I’ve lost just over 10 lbs. Do I look dramatically different? Not really. I wish I did. But I feel better…on the inside. I’m sleeping better. I do feel better. I’m gaining confidence every day that I can do this. I’m getting encouragement from my wife, my daughter, coworkers, family. I believe my goal of getting to 200 lbs is attainable.

I share all of this to say is that I really believe I will hit my goal. I don’t have major physical issues to overcome. I really only have one hurdle – ME. And right now, I’m winning.

Planning Meals Is a Must

It’s week #5 of Hannah’s science fair project. I’m learning a lot, and I’m pleased with my results so far. I’ve lost around 2 lbs/week. That’s more than I expected. Exercise has been consistent. I need to ramp up the intensity, I think, to do more to get my fat body to become more fit.

One thing I’ve learned that has been a tremendous help is meal planning. As I’ve already shared, I am using My Fitness Pal (iPhone & iPad app) to log all of my meals, snacks, water, exercise, etc. What I’ve been doing lately is this.

I get an idea of what I should fix for dinner (for example) and plug in those foods. I see the calories, nutrients, how my carbs, protein, and fat are balanced (or are not). I make adjustments. I do the same for my lunch which I take to work. Breakfast as well. This has helped me plan my entire meal day. So far, it’s working.

I also use MFP if I happen to eat out. Yesterday, the kids were with me (no school). After getting my wife’s van’s oil changed, they wanted to eat at McDonald’s. I looked up what I thought I should eat (it’s tough eating well there). I ordered 2 of the angus beef wraps – only meat, cheese and pickles. No fries. That was more calories (and fat) than I normally would eat, but it wasn’t as bad had I ordered a big burger, big fries. That would have been nearly 1,300 calories. I consumed far less than that.

I’ve been reading that to get into an exercise routine, you need to schedule (plan) your time. I’ve learned the same is true for meal planning. For me, if I don’t, I am more susceptible to eating poorly. Don’t misunderstand: I don’t build a detailed weekly meal plan. I have an idea of what I will prepare and do my grocery shopping accordingly. I really take time to look 1 day ahead and plan that day in greater detail. I have ideas of what the week will look like, but I really only focus on 1 day at a time.

Thanks for reading my blog! Get motivated and get fit. Make a plan and stick to it. It works if you work it!



An Insurance Guy’s Story

This is from a friend, Jim (great name):

Becky and I just started using MyFitnessPal. It is a huge pain in the you know what but is the most effective way I’ve found to discipline myself in my eating habits. My daughter has used it for eight months and lost 32 pounds. Mt Dew was my big guilty pleasure and now when I know that one can will take a big chunk of my calorie allotment for the day, it is much easier to avoid it. So far I’ve lost 3 lbs in two weeks. It was 4 lbs but I enjoyed three days of Christmas dinners with assorted deserts. :(

Here’s what Jim does. Check out his business:

Portion Control

It’s Wednesday, week 3 into Fat Dad, Fit Dad. My weight loss is well under way. At this point, I really believe it has a lot to do with portion control. Yes, like a lot of men (and women?), I ate too much. My portions got out of control. So it was time to get them under control.

Along with that, I have consciously tried to eat far more fresh veggies. I prefer steamed vegetables the best. Boiling them makes veggies mushy. I’ve made sure that the meat I’ve eaten has been a smaller portion than I normally would have consumed. This seems to be making a difference.

On December 27, Hannah and I will be meeting with a licensed nutritionist. We will discover how much current diet change is helping me or hurting me. We will learn about a balanced diet – something I’m a little concerned about. I’m not following a published diet. I’m just eating less and avoiding sugar. But I want to be sure that I’m not missing things that will keep my body in balance.

Once that interview is completed, we will share what we learned. I’m also having Hannah think about what she might blog about. Coming soon.