Friday, January 15

Weighing in for the Second Week of 2010

It's been a busy week and today is more of the same, but I'm not going to miss making a nice Weigh-in Day post here.

Just like last week, I lost another 3 pounds to bring the scale down to 245, and I am feeling great. I swam a little over a half mile in the pool this morning and did my 150 ab crunches, which makes 13 of the last 16 days for that regiment, and it would have been 14 out of 16 except that -- and how's this for a barometer of a busy week -- I got all the way to the gym yesterday morning without my gym bag.

So that's 6 pounds since the first of the year, as I continue to focus on 1800 calories a day max, lots of fresh fruit and good healthy protein, and more small meals every 2-3 hours rather than stomach-stretching big meals.

Danny's mom was out of town on a biz trip for a few days during the week, so Betty and I got to spend more time than usual with him. He's getting himself into better and better shape too, and he has such incredible discipline when it comes to portion size that Betty and I have a new "What would Danny do?" mantra when it comes to thinking about seconds or super-sized prtions. I'm not saying we always live by it, but we have it.

One other fun thing that has been enriching the past couple of weeks is that the two of us have joined a parents-and-teachers chorus at Danny's middle school. They set the bar very low in terms of musical talent, but it's fun, and it's one more endorphin builder.

Friday, January 8

First Week o' the Decade

What a great week!

First things first. Eating has been going nicely. Not surprising, I suppose, since you'd think that I would have this down after, er, many years of devoted practice. But here's what I have been doing:

  • Keeping overall calorie intake at or below 1800 calories a day.
  • Eating tons of fresh fruit including lots of blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries.
  • Eating nothing after 7:30 pm. Gandhi recommended eating nothing after dusk, but that's a little tough in New England in January.
  • Eating small portions and meals every 2-3 hours.
  • Eating lots of stuff I like including sushi, roast chicken, mushrooms sauteed in olive oil, eggs, veggies and all that fruit I mentioned, some good yogurt, a delicious meal out at Za's to celebrate a year since Betty and I met, and even a little egg nog to celebrate the New Year.

On the other side of the balance, exercise: I just got back from the pool, which makes 8 of the last 9 days I've done my half-mile swim and 150 crunches. This knocks off about 525 calories a day, so that my net calorie intake is under 1300 daily.

Naturally, if I keep up this regimen, I will lose weight. And today's weigh-in, after one week of this, shows me down from 251 to 248 since last Friday. This is a good start toward my short-term goal of getting my weight down under 225. The thing is, I like this regimen, so it is just a matter of keeping my priorities straight so that doing these things that are good for me does not get dislodged by anxiety that I need to do this or that instead.

One thing that has worked nicely in the last few days is getting my swim in at the beginning of the day. I've been dropping Betty at the train and going on to the gym for my workout, which puts me back at my desk with a sense of accomplishment, ready to do some work, around 10 am.

A note on the arithmetic of weight loss: Just to keep it simple, I am using this Basal Metabolic Rate calculator, which tells me that my BMR is 2098 calories a day. I then use the following chart to figure out the how many calories I need to maintain my weight:

Harris Benedict Formula
To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
  1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  2. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  3. If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9

So it's pretty straightforward. I've made my plans based on level #3 above, which would mean that about 3200 calories a day would maintain my current weight. So if I keep my calorie intake to no more than 1800 calories a day I should lose 2 to 3 pounds a week.

Just so.

There have been plenty of other things that have been great about the week, too, including over 7,500 downloads of my books and some great mid-day naps. But I figure it all starts with feeling mahvelous, or looking mahvelous, or whatever it is.

Monday, January 4

Common Ground and Blind Squirrels

The quickest of posts today, because I pick Danny up at school at 2:15 on Mondays and it's always a bit of a challenge, even when I am up at 5 as I was today, to squeeze a day's work in first.

The first weekend of the year is behind us, and it was a good one here. Starting off in a BMGS mode counted for a lot, as did having Danny over Friday and Saturday and having friends over for brunch on Sunday. Milton and Nancy are new friends of mine, old friends of Betty's, and we feasted on scrambled eggs with avocado, mushrooms, and cheese, sweet potato home fries, fruit salad, and egg nog, and common ground.

Today is an anniversary for me, and for Betty. A year ago today, on Sunday January 4 2009, acting on a New Year's Resolution to start subscribing to the print edition of the Sunday paper so I could bring it to Starbucks, get out of the house, take a break from the computer screen, and stop being such a hermit, I did just that. There was an easy chair next to me, and after five minutes a lovely woman sat down. We talked for an hour, and apparently we found common ground.

Why would I write a blog, at this point in my life, about my not quite relentless search for health of all kinds? Because I believe that we make many of the hard and easy things we do in life more meaningful and, often, more likely to be accomplished, by reaching out and finding common ground with others. No two paths are exactly the same, but there are few people from whom I cannot take or learn or feel something of value, and it is my conceit that the converse is also true. In the sharing, and in the feedback that comes sometimes when I least expect it, I occasionally find evidence that I am not a total alien. Or, at the least, that there are other aliens with whom I share common ground.

So it's Monday the 4th and I am hopeful that Betty and I will do something modest or immodest to celebrate a year of gradually increasing common ground this evening after I drop Danny off at 6 and go for a swim. I am so grateful -- while acknowledging my common ground here with the blind squirrel who once in a great while finds an acorn -- for this gradually increasing common ground.

And I am grateful that I had the good sense to fire up the BMGS editorial department once again on January 1, not only because I am feeling healthy this morning after three days of healthy eating and four straight days of getting to the gym and the pool, but because, yes, my first post of the year brought once again to the rich soil of my common ground with great friends, even if the richness was marked as well with deep sadness.

Amidst the warmth of reading warm, fuzzy feedback from great friends after my post, I also heard from one friend who told me that his brother might be getting something positive from BMGS as he fought for good health against far more extreme adversity than I have had to deal with. Which, of course, is further inspiration for me to be accountable here in various ways.

And then there was an email from Stewart, one of my closest friends over the past three decades and more:

We are fortunate and should be grateful for all we have. You remember Bob, my oldest friend from Malden, Mo? He had a serious gambling addiction that he never addressed. He started day trading a couple of years ago, got way deep in debt, had to declare bankruptcy, get divorced and killed himself on my birthday, dec 17. As hard and terrible as your experience has been, you did what you needed to do to survive. Bob left 3 kids--2 grown and one only 5. Sorry to burden you with this. 
As you may or may not be aware, I share a ton of common ground with Bob. As I wrote back to Stewart,

It just breaks my heart. And hell yes, there is so much common ground between his experiences and mine. It seems strange to say now, but there are a lot of ways in which, destructive as it was, I am lucky to have gone through what I have gone through. And of course, even luckier to have you and the other friends I have had who have stuck with me and talked me through and helped me talk myself through the process of putting myself and my life back together. You never need to apologize for sharing anything with me, Stewart. 

Common ground, and a whole lot of gratitude for it. That's what I'm talking about.

Friday, January 1

Happy New Year!

All is well -- very, very well -- in the land of BMGS, and I hope with you.

It's a little after 6 a.m. and I've been up for about half an hour, which means that I slept longer than usual, a solid 8 after Betty and I began dozing off a little less than halfway through Nashville, around 9:30.

My first act of 2010 was a weigh-in, central to our themes here. 251, which is what I weighed on June 29, 2009 and is 25 pounds less than I weighed on January 1, 2009, so 2009 was a good year in that respect.

And my enterprise here is to make 2010 even better -- to make it my healthiest year in years -- by doing a few simple things:

  • keeping my calorie intake below 2,000 calories a day
  • swimming daily
  • getting my weight under 225 and keeping it there
  • making and following a medical plan that includes addressing my knee and ankle problems, even if they require surgery, as well as submitting to some of those pesky 50-something bodily inquiries that I have managed to avoid for the first 9 1/2 years of my fifties.
I guess we can call it BMGS 3.0. These things seem to come in waves.

But while I focus on the physical, I will also continue to build upon the blessings that made 2009 a truly wonderful year:
  • I'll enjoy my three children and my grandson and be a good Poppa to them.
  • I'll continue to get to know and love the wonderful woman I met at Starbucks on a Sunday morning 362 days ago.
  • I'll focus on the essential things about my work that made the last few months of 2009 so successful, while keeping an eye on where my work and I will be at the end of 2011, 2013, and 2015, and trying to avoid taking on projects that take me away from long-term goals for a few short-term bucks.
  • I will meditate in the steam room each day after my swim, and I will find my way back to a regular GA meeting (because whether or not I need it now, a daily could certainly come when I need it, and in the meantime I have a lot to give).
  • I will cherish my friendships with Betty, Larry, Ned, Rena, Nick, Deborah, and Steve, and re-connect and be a better friend with Stewart, Bill B, Jim, René, Ariane, Pete, Rick and Emmy, and others.
  • I will continue to get my financial house in order.
So, like the oysters, I will polish my pearls.

Happy 2010.

Monday, August 24

Weekly weigh-in, Julie and Julia, and more

Oh dear.

Where I have been?

Living my life. Swimming. Eating 2500 calories a day. Falling in love. Working on the blogs that I must work on because they have hundreds of paid subscribers who will throw me to the curb if I do a disappearing act.

And I can barely pop my head in here even today after 10 days away, so I know that I am being accountable onlyt to myself, but hey, that's something, isn't it.

So, first and foremost, you like apples? Good. How do you like these apples?

I like 'em a lot. This is the best, most gradual and sustained, that I could have hoped for. 25+ pounds since January and 13.4 pounds since I started swimming in mid-May. On track for 225 by my pal's birthday and the end of the year! Way to go! (Question: I know there's some state that still has a law on the books about how many yards of clothing a woman must wear lest she face arrest, but how much gift wrap would I need?)

I swam 3 days last week and felt great, but now the pool is closed for 3 weeks for its annual repairs. Not to worry. Thanks to Annie (Danny's mom and the best ex any guy could have), I have a one-week pass to the pool at the Waltham Y. I'll think about after that after that.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about Julie Powell. And, of course, Julia Child.

My pal and I saw the movie yesterday. There was lots of butter. I wanted to stop for dinner afterward at Chez Henri. This morning I placed an order for Mastering the Art of French Cooking (as did, apparently, about a gazillion other people, since Amazon has now sold out clear into the Fall). So BMGS may be headed for hell in a handbasket.

But I feel some kinship with Julie. As a personal blogger on a mission, I love her story, and I love the way it has been turning out for her over the past six years.

I'm going to spend some time looking at her original blog and her current efforts over the next few days. And I'll be back.

Thursday, August 13

Viva la difference: Messing with perfection

I've lost 24 pounds since the first of the year, and 12 of them at a very consistent pound-a-week since the middle of May when I took out a new membership at the pool and started swimming several times a week. My progress has all been based on the accountability that comes with posting regularly here at BMGS 2.0 and acting reasonably on the knowledge that I will lose a pound a week if I limit my calories to 2500 a day or fewer and get regular exercise. This is not rocket science.

But I suppose it has made an impression on my pal, and in the past couple of days she has kind of asked me if I would help her do the math so that she could get on track herself and maybe drop a pound or two by the time she celebrates what some might consider a big birthday in late December. Although I am not one to mess with perfection, I have agreed to help.

She is 5'8", and that is all you need to know. Although I have recorded other data in the table that follows, I am a wise man who understands the value of the little Google Docs gizmo that blacks out certain fields. If it worked for Bush and Cheney, it can work for me. Some information is best handled on a need-to-know basis.

As you can see from the table, life is not fair or gender-blind when it comes to the arithmetic of weight loss:

My pal's exercise program involves:

  • a) a combination of walking and running for 30 to 60 minutes on the bike trail near our home,
  • b) the 8-minutes-a-day workout program with weights, and
  • c) situps
  • c) some yoga.
Based on her numbers, my take is that, if she does (a) and (b) 4 times a week each and does (c) and (d) once a week, her BMR based on the "moderately active" calculation would be 2087 calories a day, or 14,609 calories a week. That is the rate of calorie intake that would keep her weight at its current level. In order to lose a pound a week, she would have to consume 3,500 calories less than 14,609 each week. In other words, her target rate for daily calorie intake is 1,587 calories.

Now that I am finished with the considerable exercise involved in moving and I am back to swimming with an occasional day of walking and jogging, my exercise program involves:
  • a) swimming laps for 60 to 90 minutes without resting;
  • b) walking and slow jogging for 20 minutes; and
  • c) crunches, pushups, or weights.
Based on my numbers, if I do (a) three times a week and (b) and (c) once a week each, my BMR based on the "moderately active" calculation would be 3227 calories a day, or 22,589 calories a week. That is the rate of calorie intake that would keep my weight at its current level. In order to lose a pound a week, I have to consume 3,500 calories less than 22,589each week. In other words, my target rate for daily calorie intake is 2,727 calories.

It isn't fair that I can lose weight just as quickly as my pal while I consume 1,140 more calories a day, or about 8,000 more calories a week, but, well, viva la difference!

Sources: BMR Calculator, BMR Calculator2, Harris Benedict Equation Calculator.

Afterword: In my 12-step program, this draft post would be called 12th-stepping. But whether I post it will depend, of course, on whether my pal feels her anonymity is protected.

Wednesday, August 12

Weekly Weigh-In: There's More Than One Way to Get My Exercise

The past few weeks have featured an interesting kind of triage in my life:

* I finished moving into my new home and office in Arlington. I suppose moving is always an ordeal, and this took dozens of hours and a lot of hard work, but I am done and it feels wonderful.
* I completed work on a major effort to resolve a very specific financial situation that was threatening to be challenging for a long time without resolution.
* I finished several weeks of hard work on my most recent book and published it -- FREE: How to Get Millions of Free Books, Songs, Podcasts, Periodicals And Free eMail, Facebook, Twitter and Wireless Web With Your Amazon Kindle -- and it is doing great as you can see from this screen shot:
So, long story short, the past 10 days were crunch time and I didn't get much formal exercise into my days. This is not something I can afford to do very often, but the reality over the past few weeks was that I was getting a lot of everyday exercise because of my move, and I was also making a point of eating healthy.

So I am happy to be back here, posting an entry after getting back in the pool for a half-mile (36 laps) swim tonight, flipping back and forth between a couple of pretty good ballgames:

  • here in Boston Josh Beckett is one-hitting the Tigers through six on the way to his 14th victory with Jason Bay and Mike Lowell providing all the needed offense by going 5-for-5 between them with two doubles, two home runs, and four RBI; and
  • over in Chicago a future Hall of Famer named Pedro Martinez (5' 10" and 175 pounds) has fanned four in three innings and leads the Cubs 4-1 in his first appearance of 2009.
And just as happy to report that I did my weekly weigh-in yesterday and I am almost a full pound ahead of schedule at 245.2, down over a pound from last week:

I'll be back soon.