Monday, January 30, 2012

My First Outdoor Run




I was going to the gym Saturday and decided to do my Couch to 5K outside. It was sunny (a little chilly) but I had all my new duds and my new shoes, so I was ready to go!
All I had a goofy ski mask for a stocking cap but I made it work. I had a vest and gloves so I kept pretty warm. I started out with the normal 5 minute warm up walk. The sun felt so good on my face. It felt like early spring. I was a little stiff when I started my run/walk, run/walk, but it got better with each interval. I took in all my surroundings and listened to some great music, which made the time go fast.
When on the treadmill I am forever looking at the time - so just listening for the prompt to "begin running" or "begin walking" made the time seem to go by much faster. I refused to look at the program on my iPhone. The music and scenery helped. My 30 minutes of run/walking, including the 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down was just at 2.3 miles. It was was actually a little faster than I do on the treadmill, but I also increased the running time this week, so that probably had something to do with it.
I was on a roll, so I walked another mile - just because. It was a great experience and I plan to put in some outdoor time this week because the forecast looks great. I liked being at the park. It felt like there was a degree of "control", which I liked. 3 times around the park was a little over 3 miles.
My shin hurt when I first started and actually, by the time I finished the pain was gone. I felt GREAT!!! I just had to take the (very unflattering) photo of myself so you could see how elated I was! Goal accomplished.
That's all for now - nothing too clever, funny or exciting. Just the facts.
xxoo

It Takes Twelve Weeks...

I saw this quote on a picture today and thought it was awesome:

"It takes four weeks to notice your body changing. 8 weeks for your friends, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Give it 12 weeks. DON'T QUIT"



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mama Got a New Pair of Shoes (and a few incidentals)




I love to go shopping! I even like to shop at the grocery store! I know, I'm weird. So when it was suggested I get a new pair of running shoes for my Couch to 5K thingy, I was all over it! You don't have to tell this girl twice to shop for shoes!

I waited 2 weeks because I wanted to make sure that I was committed and that I bought the right shoe at a running store. I haven't had much time to get out to the west end of town, but yesterday while I was working in Rockford, I noticed that there was a specialty running shoe store about 5 blocks from the location I was working at. How convenient!!!

So after my meeting, I went and began the process of finding just the right shoe. The sales person was very knowledgeable. I told him I was a new runner and that I was doing the couch to 5K thing. I told him about my car accident and the issues I have with my back, knee and shin on the right side. He asked me to walk across the room and he told me that when I walked my feet turned in a bit. Then he brought me 4 pairs of shoes. 1 Nike, 1 New Balance, 1 Sauceny, and 1 Brooks. I tried them on and they all felt pretty much the same. I tried the Brooks on last and they fit like a glove. (I had never heard of Brooks) I tried the New Balance and the Brooks on together (the New Balance was a closeout model and a little cheaper) and felt pretty confident that the Brooks felt best, so I bought the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12.

I was so excited I just had to do some more shopping! I found a Marshall's and bought ear buds, new socks and 4 pieces of running attire. I was elated!!!

I remembered someone saying to buy your shoes 1/2 size bigger than dress shoes. I hadn't checked the shoe size before my purchase and realized before I started my run this morning that I came home with a size 8. I just assumed the knowledgeable fellow at the shoe store had me try on 8 1/2 because I told him I normally wore a size 8. They felt fine when I ran - but I just keep thinking I should have gotten an 8 1/2. I checked the Brooks website and sure enough - they recommend buying 1/2 to 1 size larger. The shoe store in Rockford didn't open until 11:00 and I was due back at the office at 1:00. I'm feeling pretty stupid bout now.

I called the nice young fellow and asked him about the size. He said he remembered me and felt like when he checked my toe that it felt like it was right. He said he was pretty good at sizing, but I could detect a faint "oops" in his voice. I admit - the shoe feels fine - but there is not a whole lot of "wiggle room".

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. This is going to bug the crap out of me!!! Darn! I wish I would have taken the time to check.

PS - Don't tell my husband I bought the new duds. He was fine with the shoes - but I don't want to push it!!!

PSS - What else do I need to buy?????




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Couch to 5K Journey by KCarver


Hi. I'm Kim Carver. I'm not necessarily fat - but I ain't skinny neither. Most of my life I was petite, small framed, and average. I was never athletic; I never played any sports. My brothers were the only ones who played sports. And not "girly" sports" like soccer, as my dad would say. Just good ole fashioned baseball, football and basketball. God forbid, any of us girls would participate in a sport!

First of all, there were no "girl sports" in my day. Second, no one would be there to watch or cheer us on. In my day, girls only took gymnastics or dance, neither of which my family could afford. My parents barely went to my brothers games - it was the era when you rode your bike to the baseball diamond and back home again. Games and practices both. Parents weren't INVOLVED. If you wanted to do something, then you had to initiate it. Out of 4 girls and 2 boys in my family - only the boys played sports. Two of my sisters were cheerleaders. They learned all their cartwheels and such out on the front lawn with neighbors. Not me.

It's not that I didn't WANT to be athletic. I really did. I just wasn't coordinated. At all. I did, however, have an interest in being fit. Vanity, of course. Back in the day, I had the Jane Fonda Workout Book and CD tape, to boot. I joined Silhouette (now Fit Club) and even had a leotard and leg warmers. I breezed in. I breezed out. I did not do any aerobics. I tried; however, I was always going one way while the rest of the class went the other (embarrassing!) I was intimidated. I would do the machines-whatever they were at the time, equivalent to about 15-20 minutes tops! Never broke a sweat. Felt good about "getting in shape". Stayed at about 115lbs.

Had two more children - stayed relatively fit - worked out some - never committed to routine or life style change. NEVER changed my diet. The more I worked out - the more I figured I could eat. So, naturally, I gained weight. But here's the deal. I was like the opposite of an anorexic girl. They look in the mirror and see a distorted image of themselves and say "OMG, I am so FAT!" I looked in the mirror and said "OMG, I look GREAT!" In reality, I was getting bigger and more out of shape than ever!!! Denial, denial, denial.

There is one sport that has always piqued my interest - although my dad would never call it a "sport". Running. I wanted to be a runner. I wanted to wear the shoes and get a "runners high". It is a sport that "they say" anyone can do. This year I decided I was really going to do it. I was challenging myself. Not only to exercise - but to eat right. And run.

I have watched Shane and Tammy over the last few years, along with some other friends, transform themselves through running. They seem happy. They are motivated. They have set goals and you can tell that they feel good when they achieve those goals. They are disciplined - which is a huge factor in any goal setting. I have to say I am impressed. More than that - they make me want to be a runner. They make me believe that I CAN be a runner. They inspire me and give me the incentive to "go for it!"

I have set several goals for myself in the next 90 days, one of which is running a 5K. Or at least being physically able to run a 5K. I downloaded the FREE Couch to 5K app and have been faithful to do it, even the day my shin hurt like crazy. I am doing some strength training and exercises that my physical therapist gave me to strengthen my back. I really WANT this and am willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

So, I said all that to say this. I am doing the Couch to 5K and will be "blogging". I am not a great writer - but I am committed. I know that once I "put it out there" I am even more apt to accomplish my goals. I now have accountability. Currently, I am on week 2, day 2, so I will post again and give a synopsis of my first 2 weeks. Today, I just wanted to tell you a little about myself and why I want to be a runner. From here on out I will post regularly to let you know how I'm doing. Why don't you join me? It will be FUN!!!!

Pick up heavy things, put them down...

Hi,

My name is Scott and I'm a fatass. I used to not be a fatass.

Here's an example of non-fatass me -




Here I am today -



First pic I was at about 175lbs. I hit a high of 213 three weeks ago. Unacceptable. I've decided to un-fatass myself.

Most of the other bloggers here are runners. I'm not. Years of flailing around on stage have torn my knees up pretty good. The last time I ran any distance I got 1.5 miles into a 3 mile loop from my house and blew out a knee. That was an unfun limp back home. My fat loss will be achieved by picking up heavy things and putting them down again. I've got a good barbell set-up in my basement and will be doing a program based on Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. Bench press, squats, deadlifts and pull-ups...rinse, repeat.

I'm not a resolutionist. My foray back into the world of weightlifting just happens to coincide with the beginning of a new year. I do however have resolve.

I have no plans to do any of the following -
  • get toned
  • get ripped
  • get in shape (Hey! Round is a shape!)
  • get jacked
  • *insert any other handy slogan that the ad execs have invented ad nauseum

I resolve to be a walking, talking jungle gym for my daughter and soon to be born son. It's already a challenge to keep up with my 2 year old. I can't imagine what wrangling another kid at the same time is gonna do to me unless I make a drastic change in my strength and conditioning.

I resolve to be able to play football, basketball or any other sport of their choosing with my kids when they are older. I'm an old dad and I am only going to get older. I'll be in my mid to late 50's when my kids are teenagers. That freaks me the hell out.

I resolve to be a living example of what an active lifestyle looks like for my kids. Every day we hear about America's 'obesity epidemic'. It's a real thing and only going to get worse.

I resolve to be alive and healthy for as long as possible so I can be here for my family.

Rock on and stuff!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Warrior in training...

"Whyyyyy am I doing this??"  This I asked myself while pushing through the last five minute interval of my Couch-to-5K training yesterday.  Quickly enough though, I checked myself "Oh come on, you can do this!!"  I think these internal conversations happen to everyone at some point.  But why am I doing this? Why am I running?  Ultimately, it's about setting a goal and hitting it head on!

Up until now, my goals have been centered around weight loss and eating healthy.  Exercise, working out, running... ugh! A clue about my motivation to workout; I paid a full year's gym membership last year and likely stepped foot in the place ten times (don't tell Dave Ramsey).  My sister asked me to join Abe's Army with her last year, but I had no interest in running.  Friends run, co-workers run, I see posts on Facebook about running, success story after the next, and nothing hit me.

What changed?  Some co-workers started talking about the Warrior Dash and running it together.  If you haven't heard of it, the organizers of the Warrior Dash call it "a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell."  More specifically, it is a 5K with 12 obstacles throughout including a cargo net climb, a stampede through a scrap yard, repelling down a ravine, crawling through mud under barbed wire and more.  Call me nuts (you wouldn't be the first) but THIS caught my attention.  I mean, how awesome is this?  I am signed up for the June 16, 2012 Warrior Dash in Channahon, Illinois. Fitness goal, check!!!



Couch-to-5K has a great reputation for new runners and I am having great success with it.  Is running easy? My answer is, not yet.  Easier than I had imagined.  I still have much to learn.  Thankfully, I am surrounded by family and friends, some of whom are experienced and knowledgeable runners, to support me in reaching this new goal of mine.

What ever you are doing, what ever goal you have set for yourself... keep it up! You can do this! Surround yourself with awesome people who will support you and push you.  Don't talk yourself out of it, talk yourself up!


Fat in the Brain!

This entry will have no scientific information, no call to action, and no guilt. I promise.

I am simply at a point where i feel like I need to talk. Human to human. Fat person to fat person. Yes, I called myself fat. I just called you fat, too. It never feels good. Especially if you ARE fat.

But I just wanted to get something of my chest that pops up from time to time. Like the state I'm currently, and quite frequently in:

I feel fat. After a year of busting my ass, I'm still a fat guy.

I can't help it. And I know some of you, who have worked really hard, and made great strides to change your lives and your habits, and your bodies, feel it too. I know I am not finished with my weight loss, and I am eager to lose the last 10 or 15 lbs, that I feel like I must lose...but I have hit a wall, and really do need to work a little harder for that last few lbs. But here's the thing...I'm worried about it. It's like having anxiety about waking up, and all that progress will have disappeared. It's looking at the scale and seeing the same number every day, and it feeling the same as it did 50lbs ago. No progress.

When you start and stick to a plan, seeing results is intoxicating. When you level off, at first it's okay...but it's been since before Christmas, and I am still at the same weight. And now I am once again...seeing a fat guy staring at me in the mirror. This is dangerous ground.

It is the point where people... emotional people, like myself, lose control. This is a gut check (pun intended.)

Gone are the exciting revelations: "Hey, look....my collarbone!", or "Wow, I can fit in my high school jersey!". Now, at least for me, it is: "I look dumpy in my fat boy clothes...but I'm afraid to buy new ones, cuz I'm an phony. I'm not really this size...I'm a fat guy...a fraud.".

We all have insecurities, and my friends know, I'm chock full of them. I have always been like this, and I must confess...I hide it pretty well. It doesn't matter how I try to counter it...I have a massive inferiority complex. I'm bad, you're good. I'm good...YOU'RE BETTER. When I was a three sport athlete in high school, and in the best shape of my life, lean and ripped...I still felt fat, comparing myself to the other athletes. As I have gotten older, it has made socializing, working, and performing, tough. Sometimes, it was easier mentally to just be fat.

This is relevant because it happens to a lot of people who lose weight. We keep waiting for someone to jump up and shout: "IMPOSTER!", while pointing at us.

This is the moment when people give up, and go back to being fat, or go overboard, and do damage to themselves, that can have dangerous and deadly results. Beware...(pointing at myself).

I see a lot of you doing so well, and looking so very good. We are none of us perfect. It is in that imperfection, that beauty and individualism flourishes. We do not have to look like magazine models. Curves are okay, good in fact (my personal taste bubbling to the surface...rolls, not so much.) Embrace who you are, not some vision of who you think you should be, or what you believe others want to see. And I'll try to practice what I preach.

So I am writing this note to myself, and to all of you:

Don't stop. Don't give up. You are worth the effort. You are not a fraud. Learn from this doubt. Things are no different...keep making every choice, and day count.

You got this.

Excuses Excuses



Excuses Excuses
           
           6 total weeks I was too sick to run.  I had just found a plan that worked.  I had started going through the mixed bag of pain and elation when a nasty virus took me out.  6 weeks is a long time to be laying around.  Luckily I wasn’t feeling good enough to have much of an appetite so I didn’t gain (or lose) any weight.  What I did lose was momentum.
            I despise excuses.  I can’t stand to hear people rationalize and minimize and whine about why they failed to do something.  It enrages me.  It actually makes me a bit ill.  Recently I was an indirect part of a conversation about weight loss and exercise between two people.  One person was encouraging the other to get going on some sort of plan and no matter what this person said, the other person had an excuse of why they couldn’t do it.  It was pathetic.
            Just say “I’m just not into it right now.”  Or say, “I don’t want to take the time to do it right now but I will keep your advice in mind.”  Or for crying out loud just say “I like being fat and out of shape, leave me alone Captain Fitness.”  Don’t lame out be continuing to excuse your pathetic behavior with rationalizations and excuses that no one believes, including yourself.
            My excuse was, I was ill.  I am no longer ill, therefore today I started back on my couch to 5k plan.  Back to week 1.  Its nasty outside, coldish, rainy, a great day to stay indoors…but I went out and did it anyway.  No excuse.  Yes it was difficult. Yes it was tiring.  Yes I questioned why I was out in the elements doing this to myself.  Yes I feel better for having done it.


           
Please enjoy this list of excuses that I heard in the above mentioned conversation, and then don’t use them.  “John” is the fitness guy.  “Mary” is the excuse girl.

Mary:  I’ve reached a plateau in my weight loss
John:  Try making some changes in your routine.
Mary:  I’m so busy I don’t have time to change anything.  All I do is work then go to bed.
John:  Try eating better instead of just dieting.
Mary:  I do that.  All I eat is Subway for lunch and then something right before bed.
John.  Try making a healthy lunch and taking it to work, that’s what I do.
Mary:  I don’t have anywhere to keep it.
John:  I take a cooler.
Mary:  I already have to carry so much stuff and I don’t have anywhere to put it.
John.  Why do you eat so late.
Mary.  My boyfriend gets off work late and we usually eat whatever he wants.
John:  You don’t have to do that do you?
Mary:  Well he makes sweet tea, that is my real problem.
John.  Sweet tea was my weakness too.  I make green tea and use an exact amount of sugar and have tapered off slowly.
Mary.  Well he makes it so.  Its there and I forget and cant help it.
John:  Maybe try exercising—walking or running just a little each day.
Mary:  I am so busy I just don’t have the time.
John.  I run during my lunch hour.  Do you have a lunch hour?
Mary:  It takes me a long time to get to Subway, by the time I’m done my lunch hour is up.

....and this conversation went on and on and on and on and on

Lose and Win!

Want to make some extra money? Try dropping a few pounds.
One company in Colorado is literally putting it's money where your mouth is. They are offering to pay cash to anyone in the state who is willing to lose weight, and be accountable for it.
Check out the story below:
The last few years at my workplace they have implemented a program with a similar goal called the Health Improvement Program. Basically they incentivise a healthy lifestyle by offering cheaper health insurance with lower out of pocket expenses if you will submit to a yearly health screening, and work with trained nurse / coaches on any health issues you may have.

The program was fairly unpopular when first implemented. But management recently announced a major costs savings in our health insurance program, so apparently it's working. Or it's propoganda! (Hehehe, only kidding!)

As for myself, I wasn't thrilled when they first put the program in place, but wasn't about to pass up cheaper health insurance so I kept my grumbling to a minimum and tried to jump in with a positive attitude. And I can honestly say I've come to like the benefits it provides. I have found myself slowly changing many of my habits over the last few years, lost weight, took up running, improved my diet, etc.

The program is designed to get good information into our hands and brains, via force if necessary. Not only are we required to submit to the health screening, but we are required to take quizzes periodically that are designed to teach us good health habits. One of the quizzes is required before each yearly health screening.
Honestly, it seemed like a pain in the butt when I first started doing it, but I found over time the information was sticking in my brain.

Each year I have made small changes to try to improve my score. I have recently started taking a multivitamin, mostly because they recommend that we do, to boost immune systems, and they provide research that shows that people who regularly take a multivitamin get sick less often that those that don't.
I also deal with high cholesterol. It runs in my family. So one of my goals is to try to get that number down. Last year I was excited to see how all of the running and exercise would pay off. And there was a significant improvement. But nowhere near what I thought it would be. This year I am at least 25 pounds lighter, and have made a lot of positive diet changes, so I'm really hoping it to see a big improvement. My cholesterol was 270 the first time I got it checked. Normal is supposed to be less than 200. There was a drop in my bad cholesterol levels last year, and an increase in the good kind so I'm going in the right direction.
It's good to have goals, as many contributors to this blog have pointed out.
Even if your goal is to avoid a phone call from a nurse practitioner from a health screening plan!

Weight issues are a plague to the United States. It is getting so bad that predictions are within the next 10 years over 2/3's of Americans will be overweight. We will literally bankrupt ourselves by eating our way to early graves if we don't change our ways.

I think the insurance company in the article above is on the right track, and I hope to see more offerings like this going forward, and better yet, I hope we can stop the free fall as a society, educate our kids, and help them learn a healthy relationship with food, and the bounty most of us have by proxy of living in the best country on earth.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Think I Can...

Running—yuck! That was my initial reaction in junior high when a friend suggested we join the track team.  But, we joined anyway and I found no enjoyment in it.  I was slow and unable to run further than 100 yards without wanting to die.  My track career ended with the season and so did thoughts of ever running again….until I turned 30.
The milestone birthday brought with it a lot of turmoil in my life.  I started walking alone in the evening just to find solitude and clear my head.  One evening after a few weeks of walking, I realized I was bored with the pace, so I started jogging and surprised myself when I was still jogging after about 5 blocks—a personal record for sure!   
This unleashed a desire to conquer my running phobia.  Each night I pushed myself a little further until after about a month, I found myself running the entire 3-mile route that included lots of hills (I lived in Petersburg).  I had a significant sense of accomplishment.   I began to dream big as I held aspirations of running a marathon one day!  But, the dream never came to fruition and eventually my marriage ended in divorce and I lost all interest in running.  That was 1998.
In late 2006 I took up running again as a means to clear my head and find solitude.  During the second round of running, I battled bursitis in my hip and a bad knee…so I quit after about six months of frustration.  Finally, in early 2009, a girlfriend suggested we join Abe’s Army and run Abe’s Amble (6.2 miles)!  I thought she was crazy.  But, the old desire surfaced and we joined.
It was great having a team to run with while I trained.  But, during that time I battled tendonitis in my right leg and the bum knee reared its ugly head again.  I decided I was going to push through it.  So, I saw a sports trainer and he gave me exercises to overcome the tendonitis and suggested I start bicycling for cross-training.  I shelled out $500 for a bike and started my uphill climb to overcome.  After a few weeks of short runs and lots of cycling, I returned to the running group and finished my training for Abe’s Amble.  In 2009, I finished my first race ever---and I was addicted.
The next year proved a difficult running year (2010) and I opted out of all running after I blew out my knee in July.  I had to start feeding my addiction again in 2011 and found my way to running Abe’s Amble again.  I also ran another 10k with a great time and that further fed my need for speed…so to speak.  I ran my first 5k in October and trained to run a 10-miler in November (which I did not end up running due to family obligations).  Now…I am on fire to complete my first half marathon in the spring. 
There are days that running is fun…and days that running completely blows!  But, each of us as runners has a purpose in the madness.  Some do it for health reasons.  Some run to lose weight.  Some run just for the fun of it.  I run to stay focused and disciplined.
Distractions have always thrown my dreams off course.  Running keeps me focused.  I have to be disciplined to get my body to run 13.1 miles.  The awesome thing is discipline is beginning to transfer to other areas of my life…and I am reaping the benefits of fulfilling some of my other life-long dreams as a result!
Oh yeah--I've lost weight and I'm more healthy too.  Great side benefits of discpline.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Run Forest Run! How To Go From Couch Potato Zero to Local Running Hero!

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." -John Bingham


'I wish I could run like you'
'I want to run a 5k'
'I want to run a marathon'

These are all comments I've heard recently from people who've been following my blog or even just friends who decided they want to become a runner, or lose a few pounds.

After being accosted in a church hallway by a skinny miles reader about how to become a runner, I figured I better get something posted.

When I first started running, I had no experience. I didn't take the two minutes it would have taken for a google search on the subject, which would have been incredibly helpful to me. I just figured as long as I was wearing sneakers and willing to try, I was good to go. I must have looked like a real goofball huffing and puffing down the sidewalk in jeans, a cotton T-shirt and worn out basketball sneakers in the 80 degree heat. Talk about naive! I know it sounds stupid, but the first time I ran in a pair of shorts, a sleeveless shirt and new shoes I couldn't believe how much easier running seemed! DUH!!!


Luckily, it worked out for me in the long run, but it certainly was not the smart way to go about it. Hopefully I can help new runners or people who may be coming back from a long break acclimate smoothly with minimal discomfort, minimal chance for injury, and maximum fun!

Here are some tips to help you get started!
  1. Have A Goal. It's amazing to me how many people just jump in headfirst with no clear goal in mind. If you just want to run to run, that's fine, but at least be clear on why you're doing it. So many people give up after a week or two because they don't have any greater purpose for their training. If you need a goal, sign up for a 5k. There are dozens of races to do, and most support a good cause of some sort. If your goal is a marathon, you should definitely break that goal into smaller pieces. If you've never run three miles and you start out by saying 'I want to do a marathon', you might be biting off more than you can chew. Break your large goals into smaller pieces.
  2. Buy Good Running Shoes! Your feet, legs, knees, etc. are going to take a beating, especially in the early stages of your running program. It takes time to acclimate to running and it pays to start with a good foundation on your feet. Don't skimp! Good shoes are pricey, but well worth the bucks. Getting injured sucks, and your shoes are your first line of defense against that. I prefer Asics 2160's, but running shoes are a very personal thing. Experiment. Read the reviews from Runner's World--research! I also recommend you go to your local running store for you first pair. The staff will usually be very knowledgeable and can look at your stride and gait and pick the correct shoes for you. Be sure and ask questions, find out which type of support you need if any, and remember this information. It's good to know. 
  3. Get Good Gear! If you're going to be running outdoors (and I recommend that you do!) you'll need some basic running gear. The bare minimum I recommend is a few pairs of running socks (yes, there's a difference, yes they're expensive, yes, they're worth it!), a pair of compression shorts for your under layer, a tech running shirt and a watch. You can pick up a pair of compression shorts at Walmart for $10. The tech shirts you can often find at Kohls for a similar amount. Tech shirts, and running socks wick sweat away from your body and help you stay comfy while you run. Priceless! Obviously if you're starting in cold weather, there is a lot more stuff you'll need. Hats, Gloves, Layers, Layers, Layers. Runners world makes a great web tool to help you HERE.
  4. Use a Couch to 5K program. This is the meat and potatoes of my recommendations. If you are a newbie runner or haven't put down more than a mile in months, this is the way to go. This program will ease you into running slowly and surely. This is the best way to avoid injury, build up your endurance, and maximize enjoyment! Most plans have you run/workout three days a week over a period of several weeks, working you from a brisk walk up to a healthy three miler. One of our contributing authors, Scott Nichols is chronicling his Couch to 5k experience, so you should be able to read what it's like from a regular non-runner's perspective. Start here to read Scott's post on his progress. There are lots of Couch to 5k programs out there, most are similar. The one at Cool Running is my personal favorite. Check it out! If anyone of you has done the Couch to 5k and would be willing to share your journey with us, we'd love to hear from you. I would like to provide success stories for newbies to read so please, send them my way! 
  5. SLOW DOWN!  Time and time again, I hear someone say they hate running.  It's too painful.  It's too hard.  This is probably the number one reason why people quit running.  What this tells me is that person is trying to run way too fast.  If you go slow enough, and don't break your running stride, you can run so much farther than you think you can.  If you ever feel like quitting, don't.  Just slow down.  Don't worry how far you are running at first.  Get yourself running for a long stretch of time non-stop (at least 30 minutes).  Funny thing happens in the meantime though--you'll get faster without even trying.
  6. Read an Inspiring Book or Two. Sometimes we need a little more motivation. A couple years back I read a book that literally changed my life, and convinced me to give running a try. I was never able to run more than a few minutes without having shin pain in my younger days. This book convinced me to try a different running form. To my amazement, for the first time in my life I was able to run till I ran out of breath, not till I couldn't take the pain anymore. The book is Christopher McDougals "Born to Run", and it is very informative, as well as very entertaining and inspiring.  I also recommend "ChiRunning" to beginners. It's really a method of running, designed to help you run injury free. It may not be for everyone, but there is a lot of really good information in there for new runners.  If you are looking for something a little more motivational, John Bingham's "The Courage to Start:  A Guide to Running for your Life" might be just what you are looking for.

These tips are a great starting point for the beginning runner. For those of you who may feel that you are not ready for running due to obesity, there is still hope for you! Here is a program designed to help you acclimate your body to being on your feet till you're ready to tackle a bigger challenge:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/Programs/conservative_program.htm
I hope if you're reading this you are considering the possibility of becoming a runner. I never thought I would be able to run a half mile, let alone a half marathon! But you might be surprised at what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. So get going! What are you waiting for? You can do it! You too can proudly wear that label, 'RUNNER'.

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." -John Bingham

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Weight Loss Secret Weapon

Lets face it, weight loss is all about calorie management. The tried and true formula of running a calorie deficit does the job every time. But it can also be a pain in the rear to figure out just exactly what you're burning. The job of figuring what you take in is made fairly simple these days by the creation of some super simple websites with apps like MyFitnessPal or Livestrong. They make tracking what you eat a snap because they have huge databases of food with calories already entered by other users. If you come across something that's not entered...then you are eating very weird stuff.  You can track exercise burns here too...but that's where the problem comes in.

There is a lot of conflicting information on how many calories any particular exercise burns. Anyone who has spent time trying to find out how many calories vacuuming the living room or riding a bike for 30 minutes burns can attest to this.  And how accurate are those calories burned on exercise machines anyways?  Those things seem to good to be true.

That's why a few years ago when I first saw the BodyBugg on an episode of the Biggest Loser, I was intrigued. The BodyBugg is a device that straps on your upper arm and uses a variety of measurements to calculate how many calories you are burning just doing normal, everyday things. You can even wear it while you sleep.



In my first attempt at weight loss several years back, I wasn't so calorie savvy as I am now (after a lot of research and experience), so when I heard what it was supposed to do, I really, really, really wanted to get one. The problem was the price. Back then, it cost $300, plus you had to buy a monthly subscription to their website to keep track of your burn. I tried to justify it for a long time, thinking I could share it with my wife, but I just couldn't bring myself to shell out that kind of money.

So, when my wife messaged me one day about a huge sale on BodyBuggs, I jumped on it. I have come to view such expenditures as an investment in my health, and the short term sum is negligible when compared to the long term gain.

When it arrived, we were so excited to get it going.  I strapped it on and started experimenting with different exercises each day.  Of course, running was the number one experiment. 

We had all sorts of questions about burns.  Are online calculators and MyFitnessPal entries accurate?  How about those exercise machine readouts?  Does pace affect your burn while running?  What does the after-burn look like on different exercises?  Just how awful is my sedentary desk job?  So many questions, and for analytical junkies like us, we were like kids at Christmas time!

How it works
The BodyBugg uses four measurements to calculate your burn per minute:  motion/steps, sweat, skin temperature, and the rate heat is dissipating from your body.  No, it doesn't measure heart rate, which totally surprised us.  Wasn't the heart rate supposed to be the be-all end-all of calculating calorie burns?  This worried me a little, but we were giving it the benefit of doubt.

This is what the readout looked like part of the way through the first day while my wife was wearing it: 

She put it on around 8:00 a.m. as you can see the calorie spike while she was getting ready for work.  You'll notice the tremendous drop off in the burn around 8:30 when she got to her desk.  Or maybe she was a little late that day...looks like 9:00 really.  Oops. 

This shows how bad sedentary jobs can be on us.  The burn from 9:00 a.m. to about 10:15 when she takes her morning break and walks outside, her calorie burn is as low as if she was asleep--about one calorie per minute for a 140 pound female.  The walk burns about 4-6 calories per minute depending on the intensity.  Then you can see a little spike for her lunch hour at 1:00 p.m. and her afternoon walk at 3:00 p.m.  She got off work at 4:30 p.m. and you see the activity start picking up.  She's doing every day things like walking to and from the car and getting dinner ready, and she's already tripled the burn from sitting at her desk.  So, if you don't think that taking a walk on breaks will do much for your weight loss, you are wrong.  Get up and move as much as you can during the day.  It all makes a difference!

From the questions we had before using the BodyBugg, here are the things we found out:

(1) Exercise machine readouts are very high.  I've always suspected, but couldn't tell you for sure that our elliptical machine wildly over-estimated calories burned on its screen.  Before I knew much about calorie burns, I happily accepted that I could burn 300 calories in 20 minutes on the elliptical (WRONG!).  In reality, it was about 140 calories.  See the problem here?  You THINK you burned twice as many calories as you actually burned, so maybe you feel you can eat a little more today.  Then you wonder why you are not losing weight like you think you should.  Bottom line, the machines lie!  Never trust a calorie readout on an exercise machine.  Even if they have those little heart rate monitors--those will get you closer, but they still aren't accurate. 

(2)  Running and other high intensity workouts have an after-burn.  I was happy to know that I burned an extra 100+ calories for the 15-20 minutes after I stopped running.  I already knew, but was curious about how much.  Your elevated heart rate takes a while to get back down, and your body take a while to get back to normal temperature, so all the while, you are still burning calories.  So, get that heart rate up and get your bonus burn too! Weight training is even better. After an intense weight training session, your calorie burn can stay elevated for up to 36 HOURS after you stop. All those muscle repair processes in the body burn calories!

(3)  Online calculators and user-entered stats (MyFitnessPal) are hit and miss with accuracy. 
User-entered stats are only as good as the information entered.  Some good, some bad.  I've found that they can be trusted sometimes, but not all times.  The running and walking entries can be accurate when they take pace into consideration, because if it knows your weight and intensity it's fairly accurate.  They seem to be close to what the BodyBugg comes up with.  However, things like "Aerobics, high impact" is subjective.  You may think you did high impact, but the BodyBugg might say otherwise.  That one wasn't too accurate.  As for other online calorie burn calculators, they are most accurate if it lets you enter your weight and gender, but again, there is the problem with not being able to enter the intensity.  Not everyone ellipticals at the same speed or resistance.  You will have accuracy problems for sure.  No way to know for sure by just using the online calculator.

The bottom line is it helps to use something, anything: a BodyBugg, a heart rate monitor, or one of the other calorie gadgets out there.  Just make sure whatever you buy that it has a lot good reviews.  There are some really junky heart rate monitors out there so don't waste your time or money on them.  Better to spend a little extra and get what you pay for. 

We highly recommend the BodyBugg, especially if you can catch it on sale (maybe right now), or use the link to the $20 off discount code we posted below.  Even if you only keep the subscription for 6-months, it's well worth it to learn what you burn (accurately) if you are serious about losing weight.  Six months is a good amount of time to get familiar with your base metabolic burn (calories burned if you were sedentary all day) and your burns during different activities.  You'll be surprised at how accurately you can estimate your burns on most days after wearing the BodyBugg consistently for a couple weeks.

24 Hour Fitness has the best deal going on BodyBugg's right now, you can get yours here.


Not this kind of body bug....totally different.




Friday, January 6, 2012

Chronic Pain, Shmonic Pain! How Stella...errrrr...JANET Got Her Groove Back

So Shane asked that I provide my input to the blog after I dropped him a line to tell him how I have so enjoyed reading all the other entries. Everyone has had some really inspiring stories and advice. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my quest to find fitness again!

It’s a well known fact that as you age, your body goes through changes. Some of them good; some not so much. I just didn’t think it would happen to me so soon! At some point in my late thirties I began to feel like a car that reaches a certain mileage then starts breaking down every time you turn the ignition. For most of my life I have been active and physically fit. During my school years I was a cheerleader, a dancer, and ran track. In my twenties and beyond, I was heavily involved with Tae Kwon Do, Tae Bo, weight training, walking, jogging, yadda, yadda, yadda. Check out those abs for crying out loud! Are you kidding me?!?!


And that was at age 34 after two babies! So what happened? At some point after the age of 36, my body ran into some road blocks:

Spinal Issues

In a nut shell, I have three degenerative disks in my neck, a displaced vertebrae, bone spurs, pinched nerves, and nerve damage. I have had several MRI and CT scans of my neck, and consulted with a neurologist and other doctors. The answer is the same. I’m too young for the invasive surgery and my problem isn’t “bad enough” yet for them to consider the surgery at my age. Even though my left arm tingles and goes numb on a daily basis and I deal with varying degrees of pain in my neck 24/7, the neurologist informed me that I just have to deal with it “like the other millions of Americans that deal with chronic pain every day” as he handed me three prescriptions for a pain killing cocktail. I was pissed! I wanted it fixed, there had to be something they could do. For the love of all that’s holy, how bad does it have to get?!?

So I filled the scripts and took the pain meds. They helped with the pain, but caused other adverse side effects of feeling lethargic, exhaustion, and weight gain. I found myself driving my desk at work all day, driving home from work; then driving the couch for the rest of the night. I was wallowing in a foggy haze of self pity as I slipped into the trap of a sedimentary lifestyle due to chronic pain. If you hurt, you sure as hell don’t want to move, right? How on God’s green earth could I possibly re-gain my active lifestyle and even consider working out, when getting through a day of normal activity was hard enough? For the better part of a year, this was how I lived my life…and my weight just kept increasing.


Here’s the deal with pain killers: the more you take them, the more you need them. It’s a vicious cycle that is all too easy to get sucked into. If you take them for any length of time, your brain will actually convince your body that you are in more pain than you really are. Prolonged use of the opiate type pain killers decreases the brain's ability to tolerate pain, and increases one's sensitivity to pain. It’s a phenomenon called opioid- induced hyperalgesia. After reading an article about this, I asked my doctor at my next visit to prescribe me some physical therapy instead of pills (the fact that I had to initiate this suggestion is sad quite frankly, but I digress). A few simple exercises helped, and I was able to wean myself off of the pain killers until I no longer needed them. I still have problems with my neck and I suppose I always will. But when it gets bad, I resume the stretching and exercises I learned in physical therapy, hot baths help too, and I control the pain with Advil or Tylenol only…nothing stronger. Even on bad days, this alleviates some of the pain. And just when I thought I was on the right track and ready to start working on my fitness…..

Bad Knees

I inherited bad joints from my dad. I have a bad ankle that has been broken twice, sprained and ligaments torn a thousand times over again. But even worse are my little ol knees. My knees suck! I have cartilage problems that were present even at a young age; however, it didn’t slow me down back then. When I was young, I used to use the extreme popping in my right knee as a novelty act at slumber parties. It was always a great way to gross out my friends and make them squirm…”Hey, listen to this everyone!” Cupping my hands around my knee as I bent it repeatedly amplified the sound so that it was loud enough to hear from a room away, thus increasing the “ick” factor. I remember my mom always used to say “You’re gonna have arthritis in that knee one of these days” and as much as it pains me to say this…mom was right! I have arthritis in both of my knees but my right one has been exacerbated by two injuries involving torn cartilage. The first injury occurred in my early 30’s. Nothing exciting…I simply squatted and tore cartilage and surrounding tissue. It took over a year to recover, but after several months of physical therapy, it did improve for the most part and I was able to resume my active lifestyle.

The second injury was a different story. It involved an altercation between my high heel shoe and my Capri pants…I still blush with humiliation every time I think about it. It happened shortly after getting my neck in a better place and this time required surgery to remove damaged cartilage, followed by months of excruciating physical therapy.

(My entire right leg after knee surgery was swollen from my hip to my toes and discolored from iodine. One word...cankle! The knee was too gnarly to photograph...it looked like a small pumpkin.)


Unfortunately, the surgery did not solve every problem with my knee, and actually created other issues. My surgeon said he has done all he can do without another surgery to completely remove and replace all of my cartilage. It’s a newer procedure, and it’s a big surgery…with big recovery…and I’m not ready for that yet. I have had other surgical procedures and the knee surgery has proven to be the most painful and is the hardest to recover from. Although it is in my future, I have decided to put that off for as long as feasibly possible as I don’t have time right now for all that down time. As such, I have to deal with chronic pain in my knee as well.

This time, however, I refused to allow this set back take me back to the place of “woe goes me I can’t work out anymore” and was determined to find a way to fit exercise and fitness back into my life. After the experience with my neck, I was convinced that movement helps chronic pain. This is a fact that any doctor or physical therapist will confirm.

Physical therapy was the catalyst to re-introducing exercise into my life. I started slow, and worked my way up and have found a variety of ways to modify workouts to avoid aggravation to my knee or my neck. I can no longer run, walk for long periods, or kick ass with my sweet Tae Kwon Do moves without my knee swelling up like a grape fruit. And I can no longer “windmill” my hair at rock concerts or work awesome “hair-ography” into my dancing without the risk of being placed in traction. But through other methods, I have lost 25 pounds and 4 pant sizes so far! I feel better and stronger than I have in a LONG time! Can I get a Woot Woot! I have more energy and muscle definition, and even though I still have more to lose, my ideal weight is finally within reach.

(Before)


(After)


I have had several people ask me how I’m doing it. So without further adieu, I’d like to share some of what I have learned:

1) First and foremost…if you are having continuous pain anywhere in your body, consult with your doctor immediately. Do not put it off like I did, it will only delay your recovery. Ask the doctor about physical therapy even if he/she doesn’t mention it as an option. I’m obviously not a physician, so some of the things that worked for me may not be appropriate for your situation. However, don’t let pain stop you from moving! Moving equals less pain, even if it hurts at first. So unless your doctor has ordered you to bed-rest, get your ass in gear and talk to your doctor about your options!

2) Start with small muscle conditioning exercises. Do not worry about cardio in the beginning, as you will have plenty of time to add that after you gain some strength. It’s important to be patient and go at your own pace. For instance, with my knee, we began with a variety of leg lifts and leg extensions at low repetitions then increased the repetitions at each session. We later added ankle weights, a pound at a time, and worked our way up as the exercises got easier. Even if your issues are skeletal, conditioning and strengthening the muscles around the skeletal issue will help take stress off of the joint, which means less pain!

3) Eat Healthier. Allow me to reiterate what other blog posts have already stated: the only sure fire way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in. Don’t diet, or deprive yourself, as eventually you will binge. I still eat pizza every now and then when I get a hankering. I just started eating healthier foods that are lower in calories instead crappy, fried or processed foods, and exercised portion control. Trust me when I say that once you do this, the crappy foods you have been eating will not even taste good (with the exception of pizza that is). The healthier you eat, the better and less sluggish you will feel.

4) Pilates are the shit! If you are not familiar with Pilates and you suffer from chronic pain, you should get edumacated as soon as possible. Pilates is a body conditioning routine that builds long, lean muscles, strength and endurance. It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing to relieve stress while allowing oxygen flow to muscles, developing a strong core (abs and back), and improving coordination and balance. The exercises can be modified in a range of motions from beginning to advanced. Intensity can be increased over time as you get stronger. This type of workout does not place heavy strain or shock on your joints as a lot of the moves are done on the floor. It’s all about breathing, relaxing and toning those muscles! Try it once. You will be surprised at how amazing you feel afterwards! And you don’t have to join a gym; I use a Pilates DVD that works just fine. Sure, there are certain moves that I can’t do. The key is to do what you can, modify what you can, and if you can’t modify, skip the moves that hurt. You will still get a great workout.

5) Yoga, Yoga, Yoga! Did I mention Yoga? Yoga is a little more intense than Pilates, but it’s a really AWESOME way to ramp up the muscle toning without high impact aerobic activity that may hurt your joints. As with Pilates, there are certain poses that I can not do. I have found ways to modify the ones that are too hard on my knees though and I still get a great workout! If you take a class somewhere, let your instructor know what your limitations are and they can provide an alternate pose. I use a Yoga DVD, as I prefer to make an ass of myself in the privacy of my own home! So through trial and error I found what worked for me when encountering a troublesome pose.

6) Elliptical Machine or Stationary Bike. The elliptical and bike machines are a great way to fit some cardio in without heavy impact to your joints. These machines work really well for a lot of people with joint problems. I personally can not always work out on these machines. Sometimes, the circular motion irritates my knee and causes undesirable catching and grinding. But that’s me. So depending on your limitations, you may want to start slow to see how well you tolerate it.

7) Dancing. Yes, sweet Jesus, I can still dance! I’m not ready to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance” or anything, but I still got some moves. I have had to re-learn how to do some of those moves, and for a while after my surgery, I looked like Bambi trying to walk for the first time! But I’ve gotten better and sometimes, when I’m all alone, I turn on some Tina Turner and just shake it like a Polaroid pictcha! No jumping around mind you, just shakin the rump. I have found that wiggling your hips and shakin your ASSets is a really good way to get your core in shape. I always feel it afterwards in my waist, abs, hips, thighs and rear. Plus, it’s a lot of fun, so it doesn’t feel like a work out.


8) Swimming and Water Aerobics. I have not personally tried this yet, but am scouting out classes as we speak (or type). Shane actually suggested this one to me. Why I hadn’t thought of it sooner is beyond me. So, after I give it a go, I will provide a full report of my experience! It makes sense that this would be an ideal work out for anyone who has chronic pain. The water in water aerobics and lap swimming supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint injury while still providing muscle resistance and a good cardio work out. So friends and neighbors, this will be me in the very near future! I’ll let you know how it goes!


Please feel free to provide me with your input and ideas. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m on a mission to get my bod back! So any suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Top Five Things Fat People Hate (and by "Fat People" I mean Me).

This is actually a blog I wrote last year, but, it recently got voted as one of the best blogs on MyFitnessPal.com - so I thought I might share it here as well. I hope you enjoy the read. :) - Lindsy

It's just after lunchtime, and I find myself avoiding writing an English Comp paper that is due TOMORROW. For some reason, I got to thinking about the things that I HATE as a fat girl.

1. Skinny people who complain about their weight. Are you frigging serious? You look like you could fall through a crack in the sidewalk at any moment, or that you'd blow away if a kid on a tricycle passed you by. It makes me irate to hear my skinny friends b*tch about how flabby they are, or how much cellulite they have. Please. Until your muffintop/saddlebags need their own pant leg in your jeans, do not moan to me about how awful you look. I'd give my left arm to be as thin as you, to eat those french fries and not feel like tossing myself off a bridge, but then I would just be a fat girl with one arm.

2. Restaurants. For me, as a fat girl, walking into a restaurant is probably comparable to a meth-head walking down the bleach aisle at Walmart. The possibilities are Endless! Then you sit in the booth and right away you realise that this is just not a good place to be. Whoever made the booth CLEARLY did not see me trying to squeeze myself into it. If you are lucky enough to not be seated in a booth, you still aren't out of the woods. Next comes the waiter, who is usually an obnoxiously skinny/perky person - who most likely does NOT ever eat a meal at this fine establishment. After ordering a water, turning down all the mixed drinks and the specials, you flip to the "Light and Healthy" area of the menu - only to be slapped in the face by the cold reality that your endless possibilities has just turned into a salad, or a soggy piece of fish. Appetizing. All of this is compounded by the fact that you normally go to a restaurant with the above mentioned skinny friends, who order and devour the 8968 calorie platter, and then proceed to moan about how fat they are. Excuse me while I slam my forehead into my desk.

3. Clothes Shopping. Why is it that I think, somewhere out there, hidden on a department store rack, is a magical piece of cotton (preferably a cotton/spandex blend...) that is going to transform me into a Disney Princess when I manage to wrestle it over my head? Stop laughing. This is serious! Every time I go out clothes shopping it ends in tears. Either my tears, or the tears of the exhausted employee who just found my pile of "this might fit me in a few months" clothes that I was too dejected to put back on the rack. And, I swear to God - these department stores use fun house mirrors. Something will look relatively good on me when I try it on in the store, but, when I get it home and look in the bathroom mirror, its like somehow the garment shrunk four sizes in my trunk! Usually I'll stand in the mirror for a few moments resembling a horrified Polish sausage, and then the item will go back on the hanger, to be shoved to the back of my closet where all of my "this might fit me in a few months" clothes have been hiding for the better part of three years.

4. The Gym. No, I don't hate the gym because I don't want to work out. On the contrary, I love to work out. What I hate about the gym (other then the outrageous amount of money you pay) is the dirty looks I get as a big girl. I can hear the dirty looks as clear as if the people giving them were broadcasting it in a mega phone. I'm at the gym because I want to lose the weight you douchebags! The comments about how big girls shouldn't take cycling classes since you have to look at the big asses, and about how big girls shouldn't take the hip-hop dance classes since "who are they going to dance with anyways" are completely unnecessary. Heaven forbid I get all hot, sweaty, and red-faced while working out. That just proves that I don't belong there, right? In Lindsy's World, skinny people would have to stay at home to work out, so that those of us who NEED to go to the gym could work out and not feel judged! Of course, former fatties would be welcomed- since they've been there, done that!

5. Fad Diets and other weight loss gimmicks. These snake oil peddlers are pretty much heartless. They know that I am desperate to wake up tomorrow morning looking like Jillian Michaels, without having to do any of the work and sacrifice to get there. They also know that we are willing to shell out millions of dollars every year to find that "miracle pill". Are you tired of being fat? Yeah. Do you want to lose 20, 50, 100 pounds or more? Yeah. Then suck it up, and put your big girl panties on. The only way is the hard way. Go right ahead and do one of these fad diets, or starve yourself only your 354 calorie a day plan that you paid $800 dollars for. And the second you come off that diet, you will put every single ounce, and then some right back on. No, you cannot eat Deep Dish Pizza six times a day and lose weight. Well, maybe you could if you invested in the tapeworm diet... "No sacrifice, No Victory!" Forgive me, my son has been watching Transformers every day in the car... Oops, my nerd is showing.

Vote this up if you agree, and feel free to add your own top thing that you hate as a fellow MFPer/weight loss supporter. There is nothing on the Earth worth having that you do not have to put effort into getting.
-Lindsy

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Official 'How To Not Be Fat" Formula OR How to look like Kara Goucher in just weeks!


There is a secret to losing weight. It's been proven to work every time. It has two equal either/or halves.

Are you ready? Cause this is big... look around... make sure no one is looking over your shoulder. I'm about to share it with you.


Here it is:
"Burn More Calories Than You Take In."
OR
"Take In Less Calories Than You Burn."

Wow. Isn't that impressive? I bet you've never heard THAT before. Okay, I'll stop being facetious now.  But honestly, this is the formula. Now obviously there are more "details" to it then that, but that is the basic formula.

Here is the nuts and bolts outline of my formula to lose weight.

Step 1. Establish a baseline understanding of how many calories you're eating each day. This means counting calories for everything you take in, including liquids. There are a few great websites that make it easy, Livestrong and My Fitness Pal are two that I've used. Both make it easy to count your calories with just a few clicks.

Step 2. Remove 500 calories a day from your diet. How you do this is up to you. You can either control portion size (good practice anyway) or replace something in your diet with a lower calorie version. You just need 500 less a day. No restrictions on what you eat, but you'll find the more healthy a food is, that often it will be much lower in calories than foods that are bad for you. All green vegetables are extremely low in calories for example.

Step 3. Add 500 calories to your daily burn. This essentially means some sort of intensive exercise for roughly an hour a day. You can split the hour in pieces if you like, but you need to be putting real heart pumping effort in each time. Weight training is the best because it elevates your calorie burn for up to 36 hours after a session. Running is probably your best bang for your buck in terms of calories burned per minute of cardio exercise. Most people do fine just by walking 60 minutes a day. If you can only manage a half hour a day, you will still lose weight, just not as fast.

This should lose you two pounds a week. Probably more the first week as water weight gets sweat away.
3500 calories equal 1 pound. With a net reduction of a 1000 calories day, 7000 calories per week equals 2 pounds. I guarantee you if you follow the above steps you will lose weight. Roughly 2 pounds a week.

I think it bears mentioning also that one of the easiest places to cut calories is often in our liquid intake. Switching to water can be such a huge benefit. If you regularly drink soda or juice or coffee, you're probably adding a great many calories into your diet that don't need to be there. My rule is: EAT your calories, don't drink them! It means more FOOD on a daily basis. This is important, especially in the early stages when you might be missing those 500 calories you cut out.

For many people who need to lose a significant amount of weight, this is a rock solid plan. However, if you only need to drop 5 or 10 pounds, I would recommend cutting these numbers in half and going for 1 pound a week. Cut 250 per day, and burn 250 per day. This will get you one pound a week. When you are closer to your ideal weight, it is easier on the body, schedule, and mind to drop weight a little more slowly. Part of the advantage to losing weight in small amounts each week, is it gives you plenty of practice to keep it off. Remember, you're not just trying to reach a goal, you're making changes that should stay around permanently.

Sounds simple huh? It is! The hard part is practicing it, every day.
I'll be the first to admit, after having done this for a whole year, that when I miss a day or two, I immediately start slipping in other areas. I don't know why it is, but bad habits seem to be contagious.  A little slip here, a little slip there, and the next thing you know I'm slipping everywhere!

I usually weigh myself every morning. It keeps me focused and on point. This is one of the first things to go when I start falling out of my regimen.
One thing that has been really helpful for me is constant goal setting. I usually do this in the form of signing up for a race. Last summer I did a triathlon. In the spring my wife and I have 3 half marathons in 3 months booked. So having a race on the horizon helps me stay in the groove as I get into my race training cycle. It's good to have a goal to work towards. In the past I joined weight loss contests at work or with friends because it motivated me. Find something that works for you and use it to stay motivated.

This is the basics of my 'How To Not Be Fat' formula.

So who wants to  take me up on this challenge: Try this plan for 2 weeks. I guarantee (or your money back!) that you will lose 4 pounds in 2 weeks if you actually reduce your calorie intake by 500, and burn 500 a day. The chances are if you are just starting out, you will probably lose MORE than 4 pounds. The first week or two tend to eliminate a lot of water weight when you start an exercise regimen. It's not unusual to lose 5 pounds that first week. If anyone is willing I would love to hear about it!

I should also mention that I am starting a photography business, and I would be more than happy to take before and after pictures of you:


Ok not like those, that would just be wrong!
Maybe more like Erik Chopin, of Biggest Loser fame:

So Get Going! And Please let us know if you take the challenge how you do. We'd love to hear from you!!!