Plan your work, then work your plan. And don’t stop.

Yesterday, I talked about growing up cooking and eating. It set a pattern for most of the rest of my life.  When I went to college at that liberal arts school, I had no concept of self-control. From everything to getting up in time to attend classes (no Mom to wake me up) to eating in the cafeteria (unlimited amounts of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), I was completely lost. I didn’t know how to decide what I needed to do, when I needed to do it, or how much I needed.
Does that sound familiar to anyone else?
It took a lot of growing up before I realized that no one can decide for me. I love to cook. I love to brew beer. I love to eat what I cook, and of course, drink what I brew. And that was killing me. That’s not a figure of speech. My blood pressure was far too high. My knees were in constant pain. I had no stamina (a single flight of stairs was cause for me to stop and catch my breath). I wasn’t sleeping well.  I felt awful. In 2006, I was at my peak weight. On my driver’s license, I claimed 295 pounds, but that was only what the scale said the last time I stood on it, many months earlier. By October of that year, I looked like this:
By the way, that’s a 3XL shirt, and I was straining the buttons across the belly.
July, 2008 was my turning point. My wife and I decided to change our lives. We changed our pattern of eating, adopting a Mediterranean-type diet, focusing on portion control. It was delicious, and over the next year, I went from 286.5 to a low of 217. 
(Me, February 2009, at about 223 pounds.)
Success! For a little while. Then I stopped remembering portion control, and stopped thinking about good choices, and stopped being as active. And the weight returned. (Welcome to the “yo-yo!”)

Me, May 2011, at 262.5 pounds. Wearing my “fat suit” again. I was smiling in the picture, but depressed, frustrated and ashamed inside. (Can everyone relate?)

On May 25, 2011, I found (and most or all of my followers are from there). I relearned the idea of portion control, but more importantly of planning my meals, my day, my life. Every Saturday morning, my wife and I sit down over some good coffee and plan the next week’s meals. We schedule them so we don’t have to make another decision at the end of the day. Planning ahead also makes grocery shopping easier and cheaper, because I am less likely to buy random stuff. And when we cook, we try to cook efficiently. If I am making chicken breasts (as for my meal posted yesterday morning), I make extra breasts for tonight’s chicken enchilada verde. Tonight’s dinner will be easy to assemble, which make me more likely to follow the plan.

I always try to look at what I am making and decide how else the ingredients can be used. Over the weekend, the boys wanted Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches. My wife and I made ours with portabella mushrooms instead of beef. However, I sauteed extra onions and green peppers, and saved some. This morning, I made scrambled eggs, and added 1 cup of sauteed peppers/onions. Delicious. (It was supposed to be an omelet, but the darn think stuck to the pan, and didn’t flip, so I made them scrambled. Adapt to the changing conditions! I would have taken a photo if the omelet had worked.  Oh well. I’ll make it again.)

When I ran my restaurant, prep and planning was vital. Decide what you need, and prepare what you can in advance. It is a lifesaver … and for me, that turned out to literally be the truth.

Last night was a simple meal of baked cod in a white wine-leek sauce, quinoa with lemon and kalamata olives, and roasted asparagus with olive oil and garlic. (362 calories) Plus a piece of rye bread and olive oil (another 200 calories).

Breakfast was the aforementioned omelet-turned-to-scrambled eggs, and this awesome pineapple-spinach smoothy:

That’s a one-liter mug. 1 cup pineapple, 1.5 cup water, 2 scoops whey powder, 2 tablespoons milled flaxseed, 1 packet of crystal light. Blend until smooth, then add 3 ounces of baby spinach, a little at a time, until creamy and smooth. (300 calories.) Absolutely delicious! I wish the camera had picked up the real color. It’s the color of a perfectly ripe avocado. I’ll try for a better shot another time.

Finally, let me know if you like photos of my meals. I probably won’t take pictures of everything I eat, but I think it’s good to see what can be eaten in a healthy diet. And I will start including photos of other things important to my plan. Lastly, I’ll try to start making my posts a little shorter, but right now I seem to have a lot of stuff to say (and I don’t have that stupid character count limit that LoseIt sets).  However, I will try to have a new post every day. As I begin training for my 10K, you can assume I will be talking about that, as well as my menus.

Thanks for reading this.

Who am I?

When I attempted college the first time, I took a philosophy course (doesn’t everyone at a liberal arts college take at least one?). We never attempted to answer that question, because of course, there is no answer. 

Who we are changes, day by day. With every choice, we change our potential outcomes. And if we don’t make a choice, that too is a choice that will affect us. We are governed by what we do. Therefore, it is not “we are what we eat,” but, “we are what we choose.” And obviously, choosing what we eat makes a lasting effect on our future options.

For example, when I was a child, instead of watching Sesame Street and learning my numbers and letters, I would come home from school and watch Grahan Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) and learned that wine, butter and cream make food taste delicious. Instead of running around outside playing football and tag, I stayed indoors and read my encyclopedia. A to Z. Oh yes, I was THAT much of a geek/nerd, even then.

I was four when my mom bought me my first cookbook. When I was 20ish, I got hooked on PBS and the cooking shows, especially the Frugal Gourmet. Yup … Saturday afternoons were not spent playing sports, or even watching them on TV. I watched cooking shows. And then bought the cookbooks and practiced. And a good cook eats what he makes. 

Did I mention that I used to be a big boy? And a portly man? No wonder. I was set up as a child to LOVE cooking and LOVE eating. As an adult, I still feel that way, but have added a LOVE of cooking for others. It’s a challenge. To do what you love, when what you love is slowly killing you, is not a good choice for the long term. 

I made a choice. I changed “me.” I’ve been eating better. And by better, I mean AWESOMELY GREAT food. Not low-cal, low-fat, low-cholesterol foods. But REAL food! I just eat less of it. Last night, I pan-fried a chicken breast and topped it with a tomato-kalamata olive topping, and served it with a lemon-leek whole wheat fettuccine and oven-roasted vegetables. Total calories: 626. Delicious! Full of flavor, protein, good fats, and fiber.

This morning, I toasted a mini whole-wheat bagel in the pan with some olive oil, then fried two eggs in the residual olive oil, and topped everything with a quarter of an mashed avocado. 370 calories.

By the way, I am not a professional photographer. Er … that was obvious, I suppose.

So, back to the beginning of this post. Who am I? I am a guy who was fat and not fit. I am becoming a man who is normal sized and more fit. And I am making my choices, rather than letting my lack of choices make me.

You can all do this. It’s not easy. It requires first that you know what you want, and what it means to you. That will tell you if you are willing to pay the price to achieve your goal. But always remember this one thing:

You are worth it.

Final note: In yesterday’s post, I made an off-hand comment about never having said “someday I will run a marathon.” Well, I decided to move way outside my comfort zone, and I registered for my first race that was not part of a hated physical education class. On June 9, 2012, I will participate in the 2012 Bellin 10K Run. I paid for the registration, and ordered the t-shirt. If you are in Green Bay on that day, stop by at the local hospital to visit me! 

My first race. About a month before I turn 49.

You can do anything! I know you can. Now … you need to know you can, too.

Someday, I will…

We’ve all said that phrase.
“Someday, I will go back to school and finish my degree.”
“Someday I will lose some weight.” 
“Someday I will get the job that I love.” 
“Someday I will run a marathon.”
Okay, I never actually said the last one. But everyone has something in the back of their mind, something that they really want to do. But don’t do it. And there is always a good reason. A new job. Or no job. No time. No money. Someone else doesn’t want them to attempt. Or maybe you just don’t know how to do it.
Great reasons. Logical reasons. Sensible reasons. And all are excuses. I know. Because, while those statement apply to anyone reading this, they also apply to me.
Welcome to my journey. I am in the process of growing. We all are. But I have learned that the only thing that happens when you wait for “someday” is that you get old waiting. When I look at my calendar, I see Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. I see Januarys, Mays and Decembers. But I can’t find “someday.”
If you choose to follow my thoughts (and I hope you do), I’ll tell you a few things right now. 
  • I don’t have all the answers (but I’ll share what I know). 
  • I don’t know the magic secret (but I think it involves hard work and courage).   
  • I won’t tell you anything in this blog that you don’t already know (but you have probably told to someone else at some point, too).
This might be a late-striking midlife crisis (I am 48). But rather than go out and buy a cherry red ’69 Corvette Stingray, or a ’67 Pontiac GTO, or find a new girl 25 years my junior, I have decided to change myself into what I can be. Over the next couple posts, I will describe where I was (physically) and how I got to where I am now (it’s a story too long for a single post). 
Please, feel free to leave messages back. Also, if you want to follow me with a more weight-loss-specific focus, look for me on – where all the cool people get together!