Going to the Movies

MoviesI went to the movies the other night, and realized how much I used to love sitting there eating popcorn and drinking soda. I don’t even want to figure out how many calories I would eat sitting at a two hour movie, I’m sure it’s mind blowing. I decided that I wanted to snack on something. My girlfriend and I were out at Target, so we hit the candy aisle. I started looking at the $2 bags of candy, for something that would be satisfying, fun to have during a movie, and not insane calorie-wise.

It was downright depressing. Almost all of the bagged candy was about 140 calories (or more) per serving, with 5-10 servings per bag. I knew that if I chose a bag, opened it, and tried to just have a serving, it would be two, then three, then I’d say screw it, and eat the entire bag. I looked at bagged popcorn, it was just as bad. Licorice wasn’t the answer either, the reality of calories and sticking to a budget set in once again.

I was getting bummed out, and then decided to go look at granola bars and fruit leather/snacks, they were lower in calories, and smaller portioned, but still wasn’t what I wanted. I finally ended up with a moderate sized bag of beef jerky, 3 servings at 80 calories each. Yes, I ate it all, and while red meat is not the greatest for you (or the sodium), I think it was better than the 1000+ calorie mistake I was about to make. I also got a bottled water, awesome, no calories, and a total of 240 calories for my movie snack. I left room in my daily calorie budget, it was high protein, and a decent amount of calories in comparison to candy, popcorn, or nachos!

Some other ideas are granola bars, generally 110 – 200 calories per bar, fruit leather (natural) around 80 – 160 calories depending on serving size. If you’re at home, you can air pop popcorn with no butter, and light salt for about 15 calories per cup! You need someone with a decent sized purse to smuggle it into the theater. The best thing to do is go with a plan in mind. If you like to snack during a movie, don’t deprive yourself, just make a better decision than the last minute popcorn/nacho/candy purchase, your scale will thank you, AND you’ll save a TON of money too. I think a medium popcorn and large drink tops $12 here in Portland. You can buy two packs of beef jerky (not the cheapest snack) and two bottled waters for that much!

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10 lbs. Left Until My First Goal

I’m about 10 lbs. from my first goal of 220. I’m at 228.8 right now, so I guess 9 lbs. really. I’ve had a good week, lost about 4.5 lbs., but I think I’ll probably put a few pounds back on this week, that’s typically how it goes for me. I’m trying to lose about 2-3 lbs. per week.

It’s been almost exactly 3 months since Aruba. I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone so far. Once I hit the 220 mark. I’m going to set another shorter term goal to get down to 210 lbs. That would be another 10 lbs, bringing my total loss to 50 lbs. At 210, I’m going to maintain that for a bit, and see if I think it’s even remotely possible to get to 200. I can’t imagine being any less than that, despite what the BMI charts say. I need new clothes. A lot of the stuff I have is just simply too big right now. Here’s some pictures, scroll to the bottom to see the ‘before’ picture!

John

10 lbs. to go! 228.8 lbs. Dec 5, 2012 – about 3 months since Aruba

10 lbs. to go! 230 lbs. Dec 5, 2012 - about 3 months since Aruba

10 lbs. to go! 228.8 lbs. Dec 5, 2012 – about 3 months since Aruba

Geocaching in Aruba

262 lbs.

The Gym as a Tool

Quite arguably the best tool in the arsenal to lose weight is your local gym. While it’s possible to lose weight and gain strength without one, I think that most people feel the need to have a gym at their disposal. I joined a gym years ago when I lived in Seattle that was acquired by 24 Hour Fitness. It worked out great for me, I have unlimited access to the majority of 24 Hour Fitness gyms for a mere $10 a month now. It’s a monthly fee I’ve often paid years for when I have never even used it. But now that I’m living close to one, and they seem to be more prevalent is the area I live, I don’t regret that the years of non use at all.

Most gyms are broken down into several distinct functional areas:


Weights/Free weights/Machines
– The main floors of most gyms have a free weights section comprised of dumbbells, weight benches, bars, and other types of interchangeable weight systems. They typically also have all the machines that can take weight plates and racks for doing squats. Weight training is good for burning calories and for building muscle.

Cardio Equipment – These consist of the machines used for doing cardiovascular training like treadmills, elliptical  stair masters, stair climbers, and rowing machines. These machines are great for cardiovascular training and fat burning. Cardio machines typically are a great way to burn a high amount of calories with the right type of workout.

Spin Bikes – Although technically cardio equipment, I like to break spin bikes out into their own category, as most gyms keep them all together. They are typically located near the other cardio equipment, but you’ll often find gyms that have rooms full of nothing but spin bikes. These spin studios are used for spinning classes and bike related workouts. Spinning is a great workout, and is ideal for almost anyone as they require no special skills to use.

Zumba/Pilates/Aerobics/Dance/Yoga Studios – Another thing that most gyms have is some sort of dedicated studio for Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics and Dance type of workouts. These type of workouts are great for people that like to work out with a group of others, and change up the monotony of being stuck on cardio equipment.

Pools/Sauna/Steam – The pool is one of the best low impact, high calorie burning workouts you can find. Swimming laps takes a significant amount of energy, and can be a very challenging workout. A lot of gyms also have some other pool related amenities available like Sauna, Steam Rooms, and hot tubs, which are all great after a tiring workout. They’ll make you sweat, and the heat feels great on sore muscles.

Basketball – Playing one on one, or traditional basket ball is a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Stretching/Floor Areas – There are typically multiple areas where you can do stretching and floor exercises like push ups, sit ups, and exercise ball work.

A lot of gyms also offer low cost day care that you can take advantage of for those times when you have your little ones with you. Finding the right gym for you is important, as if you don’t like the gym, you ultimately won’t go. Why would you want to spend your hard earned money each month for nothing? I know that memberships at my gym start at around $40 per month for unlimited access to that single location.

Watch for sales, and deals too. Costco is a great place to check, but make sure you read the details, some clubs have different service levels, you don’t want to buy a 2-3 year membership at a discount to find that it didn’t work for the primary location you were considering. Be sure to do your homework and ensure that the membership you purchase works for you. Also keep in mind that there’s generally some wiggle room when it comes to joining a gym. Be sure to remember you can negotiate some, if they won’t come down on monthly fees, or waving initiation/joining fees, ask for a few free personal training sessions. The gym should be able to do something to win your business!

Finding a gym with all of the things listed above is a great step in having the tools you need to create a workout routine that will lead to your weight loss success!

Working Out Mentality

Establishing the mentality to lose weight and workout is hard. It’s probably harder than going to the gym and doing the actual workouts. There’s several components that I have to drill into my thick skull on an almost daily basis to ensure that I’ll continue to keep at it. Ensuring that I keep these things in mind helps me a great deal!

Dedication – Realize that losing weight takes dedication. If you don’t dedicate yourself to the process, the process will not work, no matter how half-assed you go at it.

Never take No attitude – Don’t let yourself become victim to excuses. Beat your brain into submission, that you will be working out a lot, and that you will be good at it. Don’t let your life be the excuse to hinder your progress.

Don’t settle – Don’t settle for less. Remember that you’re worth the hard work, and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

Push yourself – For me this is key. If you’re not physically drenched in sweat at the end of your workout, my opinion is your weight loss is going to take way longer. I’m drenched in sweat at the end of my workouts, and I continually try and push myself further.

Try new things – Trying new things at the gym, or for your workouts will help you progress in your weight loss journey. I’ve tried running, spin class, and kick boxing.

Measure your calorie burn – Measure what you’re burning. You’ll feel a better sense of accomplishment and appreciation for what it takes to lose weight. Remember you typically have to burn roughly 3500 calories to lose a single pound. You’ll also develop a sense of how hard you have to work to burn several hundred calories. I try to burn 500+ calories at least four days a week. A good week I’ll see five days of workouts.

Know you’ll fail at times – Know that there will be setbacks, but don’t let them beat you. Fix the problem, and move on. Realize that some amount of failure is inevitable, don’t let it consume or beat you. It’s ok to cut yourself a little slack sometimes.

Tech Review – iPhone Nike+ Running Application

This is the second Nike+ running application that I have reviewed, you can read the previous article here. What’s different about this application is that it requires no external sensor in your shoe, it uses the sensors and technology built into your phone that the application is running on.

The application is very basic but works well. There’s several different ways to start a run:

Basic Run – A basic run is just that, no time, distance or speed constraints or goals.

Distance Run – Set a goal of beating a certain distance, the application will even note your furthest and average distances.

Timed Run – The application will stop at the end of the duration of the time you choose. It will also tell you how long your last run was, and encourage you to run longer.

Speed Run – Choosing a speed run will give you options of beating your fastest 1K, 5K, or mile, once you’ve established some runs.

Location – Allows you to specify your location, outdoors, indoors, etc.

Music – Let’s you choose if you want random music, a certain playlist, or none.

Get Cheers – If you elect to share that you’re starting a run on Facebook, anyone that “likes” or comments on your run, you’ll supposedly hear cheering during your run, I don’t think anyone has done that during my runs yet.

Once you’ve chosen a run type, and start your run, the application gives you a three second countdown, allowing you to put your phone where it needs to go. Any time while you are running you can look down and see your pace, distance traveled and the current song that’s playing. There are also controls to go back and forth between songs. There’s a power song button that will play one of your power songs that you setup in the application settings. The power song is helpful for when you feel like you’re about to run out of energy. You can also lock the screen to prevent any accidental changes being made during your run.

During the run, the application will audibly alert you at 10 minute increments of your time.

After the Run

There are several great features that you can check out after you’re done with your run. The achievements system in Nike+ is better than I’ve seen in almost any application. At the end of your run, it’s possible to get achievements based on your performance. There’s also celebrity athlete voices that will congratulate you on your new achievements. It’s kind of fun to get the recognition and unlock new achievements. Note the awful bug below, that shows my fastest 5K was 44:17 on the iPhone app, but login to the Nike+ website, and it says 30:08?

After any run is done, you can drill into your historical run, and see your pace on a graph, you can see areas where you ran faster, vs. slower, see your overall pace, and calories burned. If you want to track your mood, type of run, and what shoes you used, and any notes you may want to write. You also have the option to share the data on many social networking sites.

Nike+ Running is connected to your Nike+ account online, and run data is uploaded to Nike. The application displays your cumulative mileage total, number of runs, total calories burned and overall average pace. Turning the phone to the landscape position reveals a bar chart that shows runs on a graph, clicking any of the bars takes you to that run’s detail view.

The Good
The application is simple to use, shows all of the data after the run I like to see, and works well considering it’s using the built in hardware of the iPhone vs. a sensor in the shoes. I like the social media aspects of it, and think it would be cool to hear cheering while I am running.

The Bad
Overall the application is very good, I don’t like the fact that I have to dig it out of my pocket to see the distance, and pace. Pressing the “home” button on the iPhone does nothing during your run. The other Nike+ application announces time, distance, and pace whenever the home button is pressed, I really like that a lot better.

Conclusion
I probably won’t use this application much during the run. I will however use it after the run is uploaded from my other Nike+ running application. I wish the other application I use had the social media integration, but the fact that I can’t audibly hear my distance, pace, and time is a deal breaker for me.

Racquetball

Playing racquetball is one of my favorite work outs that I do at the gym. The tough thing about racquetball is that it requires depending on another person. Another challenging thing is most gyms don’t have racquetball, I’m lucky that my gym has one court. I typically have to play later in the evening, but generally it’s easy to get in to play.

The game keeps you moving all the time. The thing I like about playing it is the competition, my good friend and I play at least once or twice a month. I also like the fact that it mixes up my workout, and keeps things fresh.

During a one hour session of racquetball, I’ll generally burn at least 600 calories. It’s so fun that I don’t even realize that I’m working out. I’m just playing a game with my friend, trying to beat him at it!

It’s not a very expensive sport to break into, all you really need is eye protection ($10 – $20), a racquet ($20 – $$$$), and a can of racquetballs! The courts usually have a place inside that you can store your wallet and keys/phone during the game. It’s pretty hard to have a conversation when you’re playing, as the sound bounces all over.

If you’re interested in how to play check out this out, the rules are seriously simple, you can learn them in this video, that’s just over one minute.

Calorie Budgets and Holiday Stress

During the holiday season it’s usually a very stressful time to try and lose weight. There always seems to be an infinite amount of food, candy and sweets no matter where you go, and people always wanting you to try their favorite (read – fattening, caloric, un-needed) food. Everyone’s favorite excuse is to delay making any sort of weight loss pledge until the holidays are over. “I’ll start after new year’s”. We all know how it goes, “This year will be different…” or “I’m going to get fit this year!”.

It’s always so relevant and decisive to be past the holidays, but people usually don’t stick to their new year’s resolutions for more than a month at best. That’s why I’m telling you now, don’t let the holidays be an excuse. If you can get through the tempting holidays while continuing to consistently work towards your weight loss goals, imagine how empowering that could be. It’s huge, and a testament to working hard, controlling your eating, and winning over your emotions.

Turkey on GrillThis Thanksgiving I was exactly in that position. And while I did eat more than I should have, it wasn’t repugnant like holidays past. I wasn’t sick-to-my-stomach full. The thing I noticed is I was eating because the food was available, not really because I was hungry. It was just there, and so easy to snack on. I snacked (a small amount) pretty much all day long. When it came to dinner, I was hungry, but not starving, I took a reasonable portion of turkey, a small amount of mashed potatoes, and some green beans, that’s it. I splurged a bit and had some wine too, probably 2-3 glasses. I was probably around 2400 calories for the day just about 800 – 1000 calores over my budget. When you figure most men eat 2000 – 2200 calories per day, that’s not that far out of whack.

The next day I woke up, kind of scared to get on the scale. I had gained two pounds. I was so disappointed. It was a setback, I kept thinking how long it takes to lose two pounds and I just undid this in one night? My (awesome) girlfriend said I was being too hard on myself, she was right. I used to let something like this be enough to derail me and send me packing. Not this time, I decided I was over-reacting and headed to the gym. I drank tons of water, and went back to my calorie counting regimen. The next day I had dropped those two pounds, and a little more. Sure there’s probably some ‘water weight’ in play, and it’s normal to fluctuate a bit, but my point here is realize there will be setbacks and failures, make sure you don’t let these bumps in the road over power you.

My holiday advice is pledge to lose weight now. Don’t wait for the holidays to be over. Create the challenge for yourself and excel at it. Realize that on the holidays you may go overboard a little, have a reasonable amount of snacks and candy, but don’t make that be the norm. Keep focused in your goals and fight everyday to ensure you get to where you want to be. It’s all in your control, it’s all up to you. Now go and do it, because you have the ability, desire, and drive to accomplish whatever you decide to do.