All Hail Kale!

Well hello!

      I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted but to be quite honest, I didn’t want to bore you with the same ol’ same ol!. In my last post I talked about getting my fair share of fruits and vegetables while eating green, leafy vegetables and a better variety. I mentioned that I didn’t like a lot of veggies and that I needed to cut down on the amount of fruits that I was eating and eat fruits that were lower in sugar content. When I wrote all of that, I weighed 257.4 lbs. I was teetering on the edge of 260 and I’m willing to bet I probably had borderline diabetes and some other health issues that I was ignoring because I didn’t want to know about them. My doctor did tell me my cholesterol was “quite high” and aside from my horrible sleep apnea, I can only imagine what other health issues I have; but I’m not going to dwell on that, I’m just going to do what I need to do in order to get my weight down – so let me tell you what I’ve done over these past few weeks.

     Do you recall those fish and brown rice lunches I mentioned? Well, I’ve been making those lunches religiously! Every day, at 11:30, I meet with my co-workers and I microwave my lunch for two minutes and then I sit down and eat my fish, brown rice and broccoli (or Brussels Sprouts – depending on what I felt like packing the night before) and I listened to everyone complain about how awful I made the break room stink I would just smile and eat. When I was done with eating fish and rice, I would open my salad. My salad is the newest addition to my lunch and it’s made with baby spinach and baby kale and just ONE cut up, green leaf of ice berg lettuce. Now, I wasn’t sure how I’d like eating spinach and kale, so I chop it up and mix it all together with a few sliced up cherry tomatoes and a few pieces of cucumbers and some raw broccoli florets and I mix a little vinegar and oil over the top and I have myself an amazing kale salad!   This salad is the perfect finish to my lunch and I’m not snacking a sugary yogurts or high sugar fruits. I’m actually stuffed by the end of lunch and around 1:30 or 2pm if I happen to get the munchies – I have a bowl of strawberries and blueberries in my lunch bag. I’ve been doing this for my lunches for the past two weeks and I need to tell you that each night, when I get out of the shower, I look in the mirror and I see no difference. Each night, before going to bed, I remove my robe and when I look down I still see my gut and I think to myself, “When the hell is this going to happen?!” It’s frustrating as hell and there have been times I’ve wanted to quit and just say, “To hell with it!” And order a pizza! My wife isn’t much help, either. I’m married to a tiny, little black woman who loves to put ranch dressing on everything. She cooks Macaroni and Cheese with her meals and she loves to deep fry her Chicken instead of baking it; so the weekends are difficult for me to continue eating sensible.  When we go out, she’ll ask to go to places like “McDonald’s” or “Wendy’s” and I’m like, “Oh, GREAT!” It is so difficult to make healthy choices in places where you want to make all the wrong choices!

     So, this morning I woke up and after my morning bathroom routine, I walked over to the closet and took a deep breath and sighed because most of my clothes don’t fit me any longer. I want to go buy more clothes, but I’m determined to lose this weight and fit back into my clothes that I already have. So I look for a shirt that I know will fit and didn’t embarrass me too much the last time I wore it. I Then look for a pair of trousers to match as well as trousers that will fit well. The shirt is a light, gray color, so I find a pair of slate gray trousers. The last time I wore them, I only had to take a full breath in and use my belt to keep my button from popping. The shirt is tailored well enough that I can keep it un-tucked and wear no tie and have a semi-casual look. This way I can hide my fat (sort of) and still look fashionable enough for work. Can you believe this is the type of stuff I have to think about while getting ready for work? So, after donning my under pants and my t-shirt and sock, I reach for my trousers with a sense of dread. I take a deep breath and then slide one leg in and then the other and slowly VectorToons.com I pulled my trousers up to my waist and just as I’m ready to take in a deep breath, I realize the clasp is already clasped. I look down and rather than peering over a large, bulbous belly to see what’s going on, I’m looking straight down at my trousers’ zipper and I can see that it’s clasped. “…the fuh…?” So, I’m thinking I may have grabbed a different pair of pants, and perhaps these are not the pair I thought they were. I then pull my shirt from the hanger and slide my arms through and when I attempt to pull the buttons closer to the button holes, I notice there is plenty of room. There is no need to pull or tug on anything. As I continue buttoning my shirt, I notice my pants are sliding my but and legs. I actually have to open my stance to keep my pants from falling off. “What the hell is going on?

     thz86yts5cOnce I was fully dressed, My shirt looked normal and I actually didn’t look like “Tommy Boy”  singing “fat guy in a little coat“. Just then I remembered my sport coat. The last time I wore it, I couldn’t get the coat to close because I was so big. I reached in and grabbed my coat and slid it on and grabbed at the buttons and pulled. I was able to get the coat to close, but it was still a bit tight on the buttons. I now have a new goal to strive for!

     Today is FAT TUESDAY!
The Break room table is FULL of Giant Cinnamon Buns; Cookies and donuts! I’m in FAT MAN HELL! But I’m staying in my office and snacking on my grapefruit and hard boiled eggs and praying I can make it until Lunchtime.
     GOD! Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change!
     The Courage to Change the things I can
     And the Wisdom to know the difference!
This morning I put on my trousers and FELT the difference when I buttoned my waist. My belt needed an extra notch and my shirt fit better. I may not be able to “see” the difference from what I’m doing but I’m DEFINITELY feeling a difference!
I’m not stopping! I CAN DO THIS!

Filling and Tasty!

…usually, I feel tired after lunch. That old ham, turkey and cheese would sit heavy in my stomach and if I wasn’t falling asleep at my desk, I was wanting to go move my bowels. Today, I’m sitting at attention and ready to for the rest of my day! I feel fantastic!

As you may have learned from my previous blog entries, I’m a fifty-two year old, overweight guy who’s trying his best to lose weight. In the past, it was easy. I’d cut down on the soda and I’d stop with the sweets and BOOM! I’d lose 10 or 15 pounds. If I wanted to lose more – I’d quit the beer for a bit and even go for walks and it would just fall off me. Such is not the case any longer and I’m finding it more and more difficult to lose this weight. Now I’m having to watch what I eat and believe it or not, I thought I was watching what I was eating by puttingheart-disease-risk-factors fruit in my lunch. However, I was bringing ham and turkey sandwiches on rye or Italian bread with sweet pickles and large tomatoes and mayonnaise and spicy brown mustard. My sandwich alone was over 600 calories! On top of that I was snacking on yogurt, grapes, mangos and apples – all high sugar fruits. But I felt good about it because I also had a bottle of water and would go walking for lunch. In my mind, I was doing all the right things and comparatively I was doing better, but I still could have been doing more to help myself.  I started recognizing that I needed to cut more sugars out of my diet and get more green, leafy vegetables. I needed to up my game when it came to exercise and I had to adjust my diet to my age. I’m not 20 and my metabolism doesn’t burn the way it used to. Being 52-years-old, it takes a lot more for me to burn off calories and I need more help.

After some more reading, I found the perfect lunch and yesterday I brought that lunch to work and today I copied that lunch and I have to say that it was quite satisfying. It was tasty, filling and it didn’t make me feel like I was some fatty on a diet. I had fish, brown rice and steamed broccoli. Yesterday I had fish, brown rice and steamed green beans. 4785Now – you can fix your fish any number of ways and to your liking but for me, I boiled my fish. After my rice was finished, I laid it out in a bowl and then placed my boiled fish over the top  and when lunch time was ready, I nuked it together for about two minutes. With a hint of soy sauce for flavor, I had a fantastic lunch! after my fish and rice and broccoli, I had a pear. Pears have a lot less sugar in them than apples have. I had a bottle of water and then took my afternoon walk and usually, I feel tired after lunch. That old ham, turkey and cheese would sit heavy in my stomach and if I wasn’t falling asleep at my desk, I was wanting to go move my bowels. Today, I’m sitting at attention and ready to for the rest of my day! I feel fantastic!

In the past, I would get on a “diet kick” and eat chick and rice, but I would eat the white rice. I’m telling you right now – if you want to do right by yourself you need to eat the brown rice! white-rice-brown-riceAccording to “worldsheathiesfoods.org, “The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just color! A whole grain of rice has several layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce what we call brown rice. This process is the least damaging to the nutritional value of the rice and avoids the unnecessary loss of nutrients that occurs with further processing. If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point, however, the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing. Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain–a layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats. Because these fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, are highly susceptible to oxidation, this layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. The resulting white rice is simply a refined starch that is largely bereft of its original nutrients.” Basically, with white rice you are getting calories but you’re getting empty calories. There is no benefit to eating white rice other than simply eating.

Fish produces Omega-3 and our bodies cannot naturally produce Omega-3. Are you aware of that? I discovered that as I researched the benefits of a fish diet. According to everydayhealth.com Although the link between omega-3s and heart health has long been known, several new studies present even more evidence that fish high in fatty acids is essential for total-body wellness.” Now that I’m 52-years-old I really need to keep my heart health in check and I honestly do believe keeping fish in my diet will help.

So here I am, changing my diet; considering my heat health and already I’m starting to feel better. It’s only been a couple of weeks and I can’t wait for this Wednesday, February 22nd, when I get to step up on that scale and let everyone know how well I’m doing. I’m quite eager to see the progress myself.

Click here for fish and brown rice recipes!

Fruits and Veggies… YUM! (NOT!)

Once I realized that I needed to eat better I started buying more fruits and vegetables. I put a fruit bowl on the kitchen island and my veggie crisper in the fridge has lettuce and tomatoes and fresh broccoli. Sounds amazing, right! As it turns out, I hate veggies. I hate onions and peppers. I gag on Kale and I can’t stomach squash or beets. The idea of radishes makes me vomit just little into the back of my throat. Celery is the vegetable version of the devil to me and carrots are the anti-food, but cucumbers aren’t so bad! I can stomach cabbage, as long as it’s wrapped around a gob of beef and smothered in tomato sauce, but that’s about my limit. So, I thought my idea of keeping healthy would be to pack my lunch bag full of “healthy, nutritious fruits!” Sounds good, right! I would get to the office and rather than pick from that plate of cookies that someone put out in the break room, I was able reach into my bag and nibble on an apple or have a handful of grapes! I became very proficient at picking out the most perfectly ripe mangos. The trick is to pick them not by color but by firmness. Too soft and they may be brown and mushy on the inside. Too hard and they’ll too bitter. You have to get them just between and they’re perfect. I was amazed at how well I was doing and proud of the choices I was making. The only problem is that I was getting way too much sugar in my diet!

kit_kat-vs-appleDespite how much healthier an apple is over a candy bar, snacking on an apple, and then mindlessly grabbing for grapes to hold you over until lunch is just loading your body with sugars. Just one cup of green, seedless grapes hold 25 grams of sugar and 110 calories. With the cup of yogurt I was eating (65 grams of sugar and 160 calories) I was getting way more sugar than I needed. Rather than my body burning calories, it was burning sugar and carbohydrates. Meanwhile, the excess calories are being converted over fat because my body is starving and afraid that I won’t be eating for a while.

So how can I correct this?
First of all, I need to cut down on the fruits that are highest in sugars. I also need to get over my dislike for vegetables. I mean, I can get some cucumbers and broccoli to replace my grapes and mangos. I can make more salads and incorporate brussel sprouts into my lunch meals (I actually like brussle sprouts). I do like spinach, so I can make salads from spinach, but I need to stay away from the canned spinach, which is extremely high in sodium.

I’m looking in my lunch bag for today and I have a ham and turkey sandwich with American cheese. When I enter that meal into my food journal, it shows as being more than 500 calories and having more than 2,000 grams of sodium. (sigh) I’ll be donating my lunch to the homeless and ordering a salad today. Perhaps a spinach salad?

T-Minus Seven pounds…

This has me scared because now, my snoring is full blown sleep apnea. For the past nine years, I have not been able to sleep at night without having a machine strapped to my face; otherwise, I could choke and die in my sleep.

     It was eighteen years ago and I was working in the health care field, specifically cardiology. I assisted the cardiologists and the physician assistants with their patients by setting them on Holter monitors, or running stress tests. thpl4ymdbqI also called the patient in from the waiting room and took their vital signs, including their weight. One gentleman in particular came back and stepped up on the scale, causing it to creak under his weight. I moved the counter weights back and forth, until the fulcrum balanced perfectly and recorded his weight as 264 lbs.  I walked him back to the exam room and explained to him that he doctor would be with him shortly. Before I could turn and close the door, I noticed the man had looked pale and his skin looked very sweaty. “Are you okay?” I asked, but instead of answering me he simply looked at me with a very scared looked in his eyes. Suddenly, his fear was transferred to me and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. Before I could respond the man collapsed and fell to the floor with a resounding thud.  I called out for help as I ran over and dropped down to the man’s side. Everything I had learned from CPR was jumbled in my brain and I did my best to focus as I recalled the ABC’s, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. I titled his head back and listened for his breathing. Just then the doctor and two nurses came into the room. “Get a crash cart!” One of the Nurses demanded. I got up and ran into the hall and pulled the crash cart into the room and suddenly the cardiologist and his team started working on the patient. I stayed just outside of the room in case they needed me to get something. After fifteen minutes, the ambulance showed up and the paramedics assisted. There were I.V. bags on the floor and medication tubes strewn about. The doctors and nurses were talking with panic and after another twenty minutes the room was silent. “You have to call it, doc.” One of the paramedics said solemnly.

     A short time later, the doctor walked out of the room and placed his hand on my shoulder, taking a breath before he spoke. “Did he have any family in the waiting room?” I froze because I wasn’t sure. When I called his name, I was looking at his chart and didn’t even notice when he stood up. It wasn’t until I looked up from his chart that I noticed him standing next to me. “I honestly don’t know.” I said. The doctor grimaced and walked out towards the waiting room to deliver the worst news anyone could ever expect to get.

     As it turned it out, that gentleman was there with his wife and his young son. He was instructed by his primary care physician to see a cardiologist because of some issues with recent EKG tests and chronic complaints of chest pain. He was just 42-years-old and as the doctor described him, “a very unhealthy individual”. He stood no taller than five feet nine inches and weighed two hundred and sixty four pounds. The strain of all that weight was too much for his heart to endure. He smoked, he ate a high fatty diet and he lived a sedentary life style.

     At the time, I was just 34-years-old. I was recently discharged from the Navy for a seizure disorder and was taking Depakote to help control my seizures. What I hadn’t known at the time was the nick-name for Depakote was Depa-BLOAT. It causes people to gain weight and over the past six months leading up to that point I had gone from weighing 182 lbs. to 227lbs. I was being told that I snored and I waking up most mornings with an inflamed uvula. That’s that little ball thingy that hangs in the back of our throat. The reason it would get inflamed and swollen was because of the way I was breathing at night. I was snoring so loud and so forcefully that it was irritating the uvula. When that man died on our clinic floor, I remember thinking, “Wow! I hope I never get that fat!”

     Eighteen years later, I am 52-years-old and I weigh 257 lbs. I am just seven pounds shy of the weight where that man was when he died. I still smoke. I work behind a desk for eight hours a day and my diet could be better. This has me scared because now, my snoring is full blown sleep apnea. For the past nine years, I have not been able to sleep at night without having a machine strapped to my face; otherwise, I could choke and die in my sleep. I am suffering from THREE (yes, more than two) hernias that are on the verge of popping and they are painful every day. I have a left inguinal hernia which feels like my guts are about to fall into my scrotum. I have an umbilical hernia which I have to cover and push on whenever I feel a sneeze or cough coming on and then I have a hiatal hernia, which shows up whenever I try to sit up or lift something heavier than a grocery bag.

     Over the past eighteen years, I have been able to lose weight whenever I noticed I was “getting up there”. Someone would refer to me as “Big Guy” or they’d pat my belly and ask me when I was due and I’d get offended and I’d stop drinking soda or I’d watch what I was eating and after a few weeks, I was down to where I looked and felt good. So I’d keep going and when I couldn’t get the results I was looking for, I’d give up and say, “I’m fine”. But then I’d put the weight back on and then some more. It’s like I’d lose ten and gain back twenty. I’d lose twenty and gain back thirty. It was horrible. Now I’m at the point where I’m afraid to lose this weight because I may gain it all back and even more. I don’t want to be 300 lbs. That scares me so much. I mean – here I am just seven pounds away from where I had hoped I’d never be – does this mean in another 18 years I’ll be 287 lbs.? Perhaps it will be even worse and in 18 years I’ll be 317 lbs.!

     My cousin, Darci (God Bless her!) has given me the basic tools to help myself and I’ve been squandering them. She’s given me an app to put on my phone and to help me log my meals, and I was doing that; however, until today, I wasn’t really looking at what I was doing. I’ve been eating my breakfast and eating my lunch and going home and having dinner and also eating my snacks and logging them all on the app to keep track of my calories. I had always thought that if I stayed under my calories, I could lose the weight. I was actually starving myself and telling my body to hold on to my fat. I was forcing my body to keep fat in reserves because it never new when it was going to get food for energy again. I mean, I was eating healthy, right? I was eating broccoli and cucumbers as snacks. I was eating lean meats for protein and having plenty of fruits throughout the day. So why wasn’t I losing weight?! I wasn’t watching how much fruit I was eating. I started breaking down my snacks and meals and realized I was taking in a TON of natural sugars by eating grapes and apples and pears and mangos. So besides starving myself for food, I was loading my body with sugar. I was doing it all wrong and today, I’m staring this blog to share my journey with you.

     I’m going to learn how to eat properly. I’ve started seeing a nutritionist and the things we talked about will be shared in this blog. Foods and recipes; and even exercises for those of us who cannot exercise. I look forward to updating you as often as I can. I’m fifty-two years old and I weigh as much as a Pittsburgh Steeler’s Line Backer. I’m hoping that over the course of this blog I can start looking like a line backer and stop looking like a defensive tackle! (Those are the fat guys!) I’m hoping that I can get another fifty-two years of life for this body!.