What is Goal 298? It is my plan to lose weight. In fact, it is my plan to get myself to the weight I was when I was when I left college. That still seems heavy, and realistically it is still above what a normal 6’1 male should weigh, but I am no mere mortal average human. My frame is sturdy and I think at that weight I can do everything I want to do. Not only that, but getting to that point is not going to be easy, so setting a goal further down the road from that might only set myself up for failure. At this point a failure would be to do nothing. I don’t want to wait until health or mobility issues make this kind of austere effort necessary for continued survival. As of a two weeks ago, my weight was 398 pounds. This is not my heaviest, a sad fact I know. I stopped stepping on my scale at the point where I was eclipsing Ted Williams’ batting average for a season. So I’ll ignore that period of time and focus on the number 398 and where I want to go from there. The answer is -100. 298. If I can get to that number it will be a win on many fronts. Health and mobility will be victories, as I feel better even now in the beginning, as I’m just getting started. Another victory will be self control, not eating things just because they exist, not purchasing foods that I know are bad, and if I do buy them, buying them in reasonable quantities or not eating the whole damn box in a day (I’m talking about you Little Debbie – you high calorie temptress). So goals need plans and plans need steps. I’m sure this will be an iterative process, so more things will likely be added and plans adapted for the realities of the situation as they arise.
Get Mobile Plan:
Walk – 7 miles per week
Swim – 2 times per week
Bike – 3 times per week (weather permitting)
Hike – 1 time per week (weather permitting)
Kayak – 1 time per week (weather permitting)
- Walk. The plan has always been to walk with Rio at least a mile a day for an entire year. This shouldn’t be that hard. I’ve already started this part of the plan and since January I’ve walked a total of 95 miles for the year. While it doesn’t average up to a mile day (134 days leaves be short about 40 miles) I had to fight winter colds and sickness and record snow falls to get to that point. I think the rest of the year should find me caught up and maybe even going past the goal.
- Swim. I love swimming. So to vary the mobility part of the plan I’m going to include swimming. Swimming in Duluth means joining a gym with a pool (Lake Superior swimming is very cold). The plan is to swim two days a week. I don’t know how much swimming (distances) as that will depend on how my stamina goes, but just getting in the pool twice a week initially will be beneficial.
- Bike. The biking part is easier and harder. I can bike to work. My bike is tuned up and ready to rock. I work 4 miles away from home, so the distance isn’t really prohibitive, but the hill between the Lake and my house is quite daunting. My thought for the moment is to coast downhill to the Lake walk and then go from there. I’m not really trying to save gas, so I might actually drive my bike down to the park and ride at 26th Ave and London Road and bike from there. It would be a good workout and if I did it two or three times a week I feel I could make a difference.
- Hiking. While the miles for hiking will likely be folded into the walking miles, I am going to make it a priority to get on a trail at least once a week. Duluth is full of hiking trails, which are fun and challenging in a way that a sidewalk is not. Plus getting out into nature a bit is always a good idea. Rio loves to hike and so I will have no problem getting her motivated. A hike should also be a longer distance, maybe setting a two mile minimum distance would be good.
- Kayak. I don’t know if you saw the pictures but I recently bought a kayak. It is pretty awesome. Now I just need to get it in the water. While the plans for the kayak has more to do with adventure and fishing than getting in shape, for the summer and fall at least I’m going to try to get my boat on the water at least once a week. The water is cold right now, but as summer approaches I’m pretty sure I can take the thing out onto the big Lake, at leas on nice days and paddle along the shore. It will be good way to exercise and also to figure out how to kayak.
Mantra and Ditty Plan
This part seems a little ridiculous, but I think it might actually work. By saying things over and over in my head, will help me believe in the goals that I are setting and ultimate goal. It will also help me be mindful of how the decisions I make throughout the day (like what to eat or how much to walk or exercise) can have a big impact. I’m sure more will be added as I go along on GOAL 298, but for now these are the starters.
- Lower numbers make me happy. Saying this like a mantra in my head pretty often can help me focus on what I’m about to shove in my mouth. Do I really want to eat all the leftover from dinner right before I go to sleep? Do I want eat candy and soda? It is also particularly helpful in when I’m eating a salad.
- I’m not going to McDonalds. This is a little ditty with no official words, but it helps me drive past McDonalds without stopping, or at least getting the thought of it from locking onto my brain. I’m a fast-food junkie. I like the taste and I will eat a lot of it at any time day or night. I am particularly vulnerable during the afternoons, driving home from work, when I haven’t eaten lunch. By singing a little song with lyrics about why it isn’t good for me or what I can eat at home instead, I can pass on by. Every time I’ve used the song it works, I don’t go. I know going or not-going is really a conscious choice on my part, but singing this stupid song helps.
- 3. Food is not love. Grease is not stress relief. These are both good mantras on those sad and down days, or when I’m feeling stressed about something. Those are the day when fast-food really starts to call my name. I know in my head that eating won’t solve the problem, but reminding myself of this is a key. So many times in the past I’d get down and eat crap and feel worse. I think some of this would be an effort on my part to shift the blame of feeling worse onto something else. Instead of feeling bad about something I had no control over (or only limited control) I could feel bad about eating 1000 calories of fat and salt. Other times, I am stressing out about something I know how to fix or accomplish, but is challenging, and for some reason I’m drawn to the worse food choices. Some of it is genetic (sugar and fat to help that big brain work), but I’ve got to get past that and make good choices when I can.
- 4. Full is too far. This is another mantra. It will help me be thinking about how much food I’m really eating and what I need to eat. Do I need another portion, do I need another helping? My stomach has conditioned itself to be quite expansive. Just because more food fits down my gullet doesn’t mean that I should eat more. This is how I got here in the first place. Leave some on the plate, leave some in the serving dish, don’t make as much.
Eat Good Things Plan
For me this part may be the most difficult. I love junk food and fast-food and cookies and other sweet treats. I also love red meat. To top that off I hate salad and raw vegetables. I eat many different vegetables once cooked, but just the crunch and texture is too much. So how do I then start to eat healthier and eat good things? This brings me to the plan (part of which might shock my family).
- Eat a salad. Yep, that is correct. For this plan to work I need to change my eating habits along with getting more exercise, and the first thing on that list is to eat a salad. I hate lettuce; and have hated it for as long as I can remember. I could tolerate it on fast food tacos when no other choice was available or in a salad if social niceties required me to do so, but in general I never eat salad or really anything with salad in the name. However, nobody ever died because they ate salad for lunch all the time (unlike perhaps cheeseburgers). So my goal is to incorporate a lunch salad everyday. This however will likely never include iceberg lettuce. I can tolerate the greener types (arugula and spinach are ok, and I’ve yet to try romaine). Things such as taco salads or tuna salads or chicken salads are not on the menu either. My thought is to have a lunch salad every day where vegetables (or maybe some fruit) are the primary ingredients, with maybe some light salad dressing. For a lunch salad there will be no cheese and no heavy dressing. There could be a little protein, but only tuna, cooked chicken, or maybe hard boiled eggs. I’m pretty sure this will evolve over time and I’m not sure I can always stick to it, but better a good plan today than a perfect plan tomorrow
- Eat a good breakfast. I’m not going with the old cliché that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t seem like starving is a healthy way to lose weight. So the thought is to eat something fairly substantial for breakfast. It really doesn’t matter as much what it is, but should follow some healthy guidelines. I like cereal and milk, but I’m going to focus on healthy cereals (less sugar, high fiber, low fat) like shredded wheat or raisin-barn or maybe even granola. Alternately, I like yogurt with some granola and a bagel with some cream cheese or oatmeal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Another alternative is eating leftovers from the night before, as long as they were good then, they should be good now. What is gone? Doughnuts and McDonalds breakfasts are out. Skipping breakfast is also out, keeping a healthy metabolism is important when considering weight loss. Juice with added sugar, out.
- Eat tasty, healthy things for dinner. The only way that weight-loss can work long term is to have it be a life style change. If I have to eat crappy food I don’t like all the time, I’m likely going to fall off the wagon. What I think this means is to still make things I like to eat, just use smaller portions and perhaps substitute ingredients (as available). This first thing will be less red meat, substituting in chicken (or maybe fish) for meat in some things won’t hurt the taste and provides less fat. Adding more vegetable to things always can increase the bulk (making me feel fuller) while not really adding too much to the calorie count. In general smaller portions of good food would be good. Perhaps the mantra here is full is too far. Just because there is food leftover doesn’t mean it needs to be eaten immediately. Eat a portion, and be done. Another way I can help myself is by making some frozen things ahead of time and putting them in controlled portion containers (so that only one meal fits in one container).
- Live and enjoy life without being a food weasel. What I mean here is that having a meal at a restaurant or someone’s house doesn’t have to be a production. I’m going to go and enjoy myself. If I spend every waking minute thinking about diet and weight loss I’m going to be very boring, and probably annoying if I start asking questions about ingredients and calories for anything that goes into my mouth. I will make smart decisions about ordering and portions without having to resort to something that looks like I’m sacrificing my happiness. While I’m putting this plan out there into the ether, the implementation and the accomplishment is strictly for me, so I don’t need to drag other people into it. If this is truly going to be a lifestyle change, it has to be able to include things that are part of my lifestyle. Going out with friends, having a few beers, having a backyard barbeque, Christmas dinners. All of those things are required events in my life, I need them, and my plan has to work with them.
- If you’re going to be a bear, be a Grizzly. The point of this is if I am going to go off plan, do it for something that is worth it, and do it right. Rather than just binging on some crap ice cream because it was available, go for just the good stuff. If I am going to eat a steak, take the time to buy a good steak, get out the grill, season the meat, and sit down and enjoy the whole show. Burgers, pork chops, nachos all could follow the same rule, do it right or don’t bother, and eat something else health.
- Don’t obsess. The one thing that happens to me when I diet is I start to think about the food I’m not eating. Doughnuts or McDonalds, or steak and pork chops, all of which are fill my head and tantalize/taunt my taste buds, are likely off the menu. For this plan to work I can’t always be wishing I was eating something else. For that reason I’m going to build in some cheats, but with some restrictions. Schedule a time when I can actually sit down and enjoy what it is I want to eat rather than wolfing it down in the car. Knowing when I am going to stray might help curb the food demons in my belly, demanding the steak and doughnut sacrifice. If I know when I can, I will help my brain justify not going off schedule. Lastly portion control. Not a dozen doughnuts. Maybe a small fry and cheeseburger not a double quarter pounder, large fry and a coke.
- Repent and be saved. This part of the plan is about the deals I make with myself when I’m about to do something off plan. If I have to have a doughnut I have to walk an extra mile, if I eat a cheeseburger I have to swim three more laps. Beers and pizza means a summer salad for dinner the next night. While this isn’t the way to operate on a daily basis (I don’t think it will work long term), but as I’m working into this plan the idea of bad decision redemption seems important. And I feel like this will morph later on into a kind of exchange board, where food sins and exercise or dietary consequences can be found based on the conversion rate of the particular transgression. It will never really be a calorie in calorie out kind of situation, but more a way to keep myself accountable for what I’m doing, kind of a positive self-flagellation.
- Make better grocery choices. This will mainly be about not getting so much processed food. When I make my own food I tend not to include a lot of processed things in there, but I want that ratio to increase in favor of whole food (vegetables, meats, grains, etc) rather than processed things (canned soup for example). This doesn’t mean I’m going to be obsessive about it, and only shop at certain places and not eat anything with high-fructose corn syrup in it, I’m a consumer in the modern world. What I can be is aware of what I purchase and think about if it is good for me or not.
- No foods from vending machines or gas stations. Nothing good comes from either of those two places. Even if it is something I really want there is always a better version somewhere else.
- No candy. I am an adult, I don’t need Nerds or Skittles. Find some fruit.
- No soda or sugary drinks. I already do this for the most part. I’ve switched my caffeine source from soda to Crystal Light packs (eliminating 95% of the calories). Again it is about making good decisions, and water is almost always a better choice than Coke. Now I have to say one of cheat items will likely be grape pop, but I think I can hold out until I find the right kind and then only just a can or a bottle
- Balance and variety. Think a good way to make this work will be eat a highly varied diet. I am not my dog. I don’t like eating the same food every day. To be honest I don’t think Rio really likes it either, but she gets enough of my food to make up the difference. Salad is healthy but if I eat the same lunch every day it will become like a monotonous chore, so I’m going to have to mix it up. Different vegetable, add some fruit, strange leafy greens. The same will go with all other meals. At some point you have had enough shredded mini wheat. The world is full of many wonderful and delicious foods, many of which are also healthy and good for you. Meals should also be balanced as much as possible, but heavier on the veggie side and lighter on the meat, grains, and dairy.
- Eat healthy snacks everyday. The food in between meals needs to have its own plan of action. I like to eat snacks, and they help keep energy levels and metabolism up during the day. What that snack is, however, makes a great deal of difference. What I need to do is plan for three snacks a day, one after breakfast, one after lunch, and one after dinner. Of course that can all change based on meal schedules and events, but never the less they should be planned on. Since at least two of them will occur in my office, they need to be things that are easily kept, stored, and eaten without much preparation. A bag of Cheetos or a candy bar might seem like a snack but those empty calories and salt and sugar are going to do me bad. Having whole fruit around may be the best plan. I like many different fruits, so having them in my office during the day sound like a good plan. Healthy granola bars (nature valley or fiber one) will also be good. The other option for work would be yogurts. This are pretty healthy and generally not too many calories. Yogurts also carry over to the home, after dinner snack. This could also be something like hummus and pretzels or cottage cheese with some fruit. Just that little bit of something to curb my appetite to help prevent me from making a bad food choice at night.
- Try to keep eating on a schedule. This doesn’t always work, I like the random nature of my life, but it would be good if I can develop a timing framework around which to build. Breakfast is easiest. It occurs when I wake up. Lunch during the work week is easy as it can just be noon. Dinner is always a bit more unpredictable, but the way I think it should be is that the later it gets, the lighter the fare should be. So that after a certain point, it is no longer a heavy meal that need time to digest before sleep. If the evening meal is going to be too late, than maybe it is just a snack type item.
Life Style Adjustment Plan
This part of the plan isn’t necessarily about losing weight, it is about living better and being better as a person. Some of these will sound like platitudes or cliché (and perhaps they are) but it is about what is going to help me achieve this goal, not about how to best present my ideas to the world. Later on, when I am famous, I can re-write this crap and add it to my memoirs. One of my favorite historical figures, Theodore Roosevelt, advocated the strenuous life, vigor of mind, vigor of body, and vigor of character. In my own way, I hope to implement this philosophy into my daily existence. Just because life isn’t easy doesn’t mean that can be fun and exciting. This life style adjustments should help me in both the short and the long run.
- Go to the doctor. I think this will be important to do, because I need some sort of baseline screening. I don’t feel unhealthy, other than being obese. And I think if I do have any underlying problems, this will help and/or eliminate them. However, despite my advanced training and brilliance, I am not a medical professional. I don’t know what my cholesterol is, I don’t know if there are some exercises that I should avoid, or if I need to be wary of diabetes, or about 1000 other things that a MD might think about that a PhD (in fish ecotoxicology) would likely miss. Maybe an MD might even suggest a specific diet or a nutritionist to help me achieve this life goal.
- Start doing a daily morning routine. Having just read a scientific paper about how a 7 minute intense work out can be as beneficial as running or other longer timed exercises, I need to put some action into my mornings. I take out Rio every morning, it would be very easy to incorporate some stretches and workouts into what is normally time spent just sitting there waiting for her to poop.
- Be more productive. I waste a lot of time and that needs to stop. That is not to say I don’t want or need downtime, but there is a balance between downtime and nothing. There is so much that I actually want to do with my life and my time. If I can better manage the time I’m not at work I can get things done around the house (egg laundry and dishes) without sitting around doing inane things. There are things I want to build and books I want to write and other ideas to foster to fruition. I think this part will just be about being mindful of the time I am wasting. Not all down time is wasted time and sometimes I need to shut off the brain for a while, but every day after work the TV doesn’t need to come on.
- Watch less television, be on the computer less. TV saps my will to do other things. I know this. This is why I don’t turn on the TV in the morning or I will never get to work. The internet is a comparable time suck. While I don’t know for sure how this will help me lose weight, I know it will help break up some of the sedentary life that has led me to this particular weight. I’ve already started this by getting rid of cable. This way I can watch TV on my terms (through Hulu or Netflix) and not have to think about a TV schedule or wait for a program or lose 5 hours flipping channels.
- Read more. I love to read, and occasionally I find myself getting away from it for what-ever reason. Reading sharpens the mind, broadens the imagination, and kick starts ideas in my own head. If TV is the pain killer for my intellect (numbing it to a point I don’t need to think), books are the antihistamines and anti-depressants. They clear my head without being numb. It is pretty good way to feel better. While I like to read multiple things at the same time, I’m going to focus on three general area: pulp fiction (detective novels, favorite authors etc.), historical and educational books, and classic fiction (Faulkner, Hemingway, Vonnegut, Kerouac). That should keep me covered for quite some time. With both a lot of actual books and a Kindle I should be busy for some time.
- Drive less. Today I saw gas for $4.37 a gallon. That is both ridiculous and a call to action for me to break out the bike. I love my car, and I’m not sure about the hill of Duluth, plus winter, but I think as much as I can in the coming months I’m going to bike. Maybe even to the grocery store, like my days at UHCL, where I didn’t even have a car. It is already in the plan, the walking and the biking, but as a means of exercise not particularly transportation, which is why I think it needs mentioning again. While I don’t think I’ll be snow shoeing 40 blocks to work, I think I can make it on a bike in the summer, even if I have to walk it up the hill.
- Be outside more. I love outside. Nothing rejuvenates me more than some time in nature. It brings me back to center and helps me focus. Winter is hard and cold here in the great white North, but even then I have to make myself be outside, because it makes me feel better.
- Spend more time in water. Something about water makes me feel better. Cold or warm, Amazon or Lake Superior, salty or fresh it is all good. Nothing brings clarity like dunk in the sea. Nothing bring serenity like a soak.
- Setbacks aren’t failures, failures are just lessons learned. I think this is going to be of particular importance to learn. This goal isn’t something that will be accomplished in a week or a month, and it may even take me longer than a year or two years, but at the end it will be worth the journey. Failures will happen. I’m going to have some weeks where I gain some weight. I’m going to have some months where I just can’t walk that much. This sound like it is just an empty saying, but I’ve got to believe it. It will give me the strength to go preserver in the face of setbacks.
- Let the people around me know what I are trying to do. This is kind of the purpose of this little manifesto de weight loss. Letting those closest to me know what I are trying to accomplish will help in a number of ways. Those are the people that love and support me even when I am doing stupid shit, now that I’m trying to do something good and worthwhile they will have my back. Also, by publically declaring this plan I am held to public account. Even if no one ever calls me on it, I know that people will read this and look achievements. If other people know what I’m trying to accomplish, I don’t have to explain so much why I don’t want to eat that cookie or why I need to go for a walk. All that said, this goal isn’t my life, it isn’t the end all be all of my existence, and I would hope if I start to head in that direction someone might pull me aside and give me a bit of reality check.
In the end GOAL 298 is my manifesto to myself. No one else can live my lives, and ultimately my success or failure at this plan impacts only me. This is not to say that the implications and impetus for initiating and ultimately succeeding at this plan will not impact the lives of other. Being healthy, being more active, being more engaged in my life will impact those around me, those I love and who share my life. Here goes a big life changing effort.