Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year, New Challenge

It's 2013, everyone.  New Year's Resolution Time is upon us, and among the most common resolutions is to lose weight.  Why is that?  As you'll see below, we're not very good at fixing the problem.  We hope someone else will solve it for us:  a cure for diabetes and obesity will surely be found in a pill or injection, right? 

We're doing it wrong.  It's not for medical science to cure.  We already have the cure - and we're in denial, individually and collectively.  I won't tell you what the cure is; you've read it before a thousand times.  It's the one you're avoiding like I did for the first 35 years of my life.  I'll tell you later in this post what I'm doing to fix it, and I hope that you'll see that it's worth the effort for yourself.  You're welcome to join me.

Spend a few minutes looking at these images, and remember this is just the adults being counted - the childhood obesity epidemic among kids aged 2-4 is even scarier. 

Source: CDC   Percentage of obese (BMI > 30) adults:

Obesity is an epidemic, and for so many reasons I won't go into, this is absolutely a national emergency.  It's time for us to take personal responsibility and fix ourselves, a decision I made almost four years ago.  If you've read my blog before, you'll know the health issues that started my journey, my successes, and a few of my failures.  I'm a little more vocal on Facebook - including my eating habits, including photos of some amazing food I come across.  It's a Facebook thing - you post kittens, I post chicken.  A few of my "friends" have called me a hypocrite for being health-minded and eating burgers.  How about calling me "human" instead - you think I went 35 years as a hardcore carnivore and will stop cold?  No, if it were that easy, the 2010 chart would look like 1985. 

In 1986, when I was 12, I would come home from school, go to Subway, get a footlong double-meat sub with extra mayo, go to the Frozen Yogurt place next door, get 8 ounces of yogurt topped with most of what they offered, and eat all of that in my room while playing computer games.  Two hours later, the call for dinner would bring me to the table full of steaks, burgers, carbs, chicken, buttery sauces... and yes, I'd somehow eat it too.  I weighed 120+ pounds at age 12.  I should have been about 90 pounds per this CDC chart.  This continued into my adult life... in 1997 I would eat a Whopper at Burger King nearly every day for lunch and dinner.. and a Croissanwich if I could find the time for breakfast.  Add in 32-40 ounces of soda (it was only 40 cents more, a real bargain!) and we're looking at 1,000-1,500 calories per meal.  So, as you can tell, I love food.

What I have done so far in the past four years:  I've stopped eating out at McWendyKing... after seeing what they do to ground beef, it horrified me.  I noticed I felt better within weeks.  I have adapted to eating whole grains, lower-fat meats and lesser quantities of them.  I used to eat a pound of steak in a sitting; now, if I order a 9 ounce steak it's to have leftovers for lunch the next day.  I add vegetables... forget what's a good veggie and a bad veggie... it's not meat, that's a huge step in the right direction.  I have reduced my cola and soft drink intake by about 95% (no artificial sweeteners - they hurt my head).  I've started doing a lot of research into what I'm eating - ingredients, protein/carb/fiber ratios, and more.  I know how to do this, but again, I'm human and fall backwards once in a while.

So the challenge is consistency and commitment.  Here's what I'm going to do.  USANA has a 12 week weight-loss competition called the RESET Challenge: Destination Transformation, starting January 7.  Full immersion in the challenge is adherence to the RESET program.  Details are at the link, but basically, replace most of your meals with the Nutrimeal shakes (I've got a few blog posts about them - they rock), include snack bars on a schedule, take the vitamins and eat healthy for the remainder; physical activity is encouraged but no specific program is dictated. This is the same program I used and lost 52 consecutive pounds before - even while I ate out once in a while.  It's not about starvation, it's about moderation and training yourself to make smart choices when real life happens.  At the end of the 12 weeks, I hope to lose about 30 pounds of fat and gain a few pounds of muscle.  I currently weigh 233.2 pounds.  If I lose 31 pounds, I will be officially no longer "obese" - a label I have held for over 20 years.  That is an attainable goal, and that is motivation.  Once I reach that goal, I will continue a reasonable path towards a healthy weight. 

Starting today, every Sunday I will take measurements of my weight, chest, arms, belly, waist, and legs.  I will not obsess over a pound or two.  I will not measure daily - that would just screw with my mind.  I will, however, blog about my weekly experience.  This is to help me through public accountability, and to hopefully help at least one of you make the same choice - to improve your health, through whatever means you prefer.

An important part of any weight management program is physical activity.  Yesterday I signed up for a year of tai chi classes at the Shaolin Institute here in Mobile.   Because my health has improved over the last few years, I'm going to attempt kung fu as well... they're going to try me on a combined tai chi / kung fu program and let me work up from 'level negative potato.'   For another stretch goal, I'll aim to be able to walk up 9 flights of stairs at my office by April - without much strain.

It gets better:  My wife Jeannie has challenged me to a duel.  While I'm working the RESET angle, she's taking her approach: trying to adhere to a vegan diet in the South.  Her blog Southern Fried Tofu should be pretty entertaining.  Adding to the fun, I've agreed to follow her vegan ways as much as possible for the home-cooked meals.  I think I can comply most of the time, but remember, I'm human.  If I screw up, it's not about the mistake I make, but about how I fix it.

Like I said above, you're welcome to join me on this.  The RESET Challenge officially runs from January 7 - April 7, and I expect the 30 winners will mostly come from early starts.  But if you want to join the RESET program during that time for your own health, I can get you started.  Find me on Facebook, Twitter or send me an email.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Individual results may vary. RESET weight-management system lowers your daily caloric intake and recommends moderate exercise for best results. Typical results are 4.5 lbs in five days.

It is suggested that you take these products to your physician and secure his/her advice if you intend to change your diet, begin an exercise program, are pregnant or lactating, have allergies, are taking medications, or are under the care of a physician.

Children under the age of 18 should not participate in the RESET program, except on the advice of their physician and/or dietician.


  1. Good luck! I look forward to following your journey to better health.

  2. good job! :) from a human, to a human :)