Thursday, July 28, 2011

You Don't Miss the Well...

She was the cheerful leader that inspired all that attended her sessions. She inspired each of us with her real-life weight loss journey that surprisingly resembled each of our own. For seven years she was there even when some of us, like me, were not.  Last week our Weight Watchers @Work leader, Ty Gardener, unexpectedly left our account and left a void.

The new leader is very energetic, knowledgeable and over time will do a great job I'm sure.  But losing weight is such a different kind of struggle - one that requires trust, mental connection, along with information.  For many years our Weight Watchers group were fortunate.  We had a constant coach who was there to celebrate our incremental successes as well as encourage us when we had the periodic slips.

Anyone who has struggled with weight can tell you that sometimes all it takes is an encouraging word to keep you motivated. I will miss our cheerleader, Ty.  I didn't realize how important that weekly connection was unfortunately, until it was no longer there.  Ty, the Wednesday @work session will miss you.  Take care.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finally taking the plunge

In my quest to improve my health, I have FINALLY decided to quit drinking my drug of choice -- diet Mtn Dew.  Yes, in exactly 216 hours, I will be taking my very last swig of this cool and very energizing drink.  This is a very big step for me but I know it will drastically improve my health.

Since I know this is a good and long time coming decision, why am I so apprehensive?  I've made similar changes in the past.  After my marriage ended twelve years ago, I gave up alcohol. No problem.  After I received my MBA over twenty years ago, I gave up cigarettes. That was a breeze.  But my addiction to this zero-calorie caffeinated beverage is more engrained -- I don't bleed red; I bleed green.  So, while I am looking forward to being free from this addiction, I really am not looking forward to the withdrawal that I will go through -- the awful headaches, the mood swings, and the lack of energy.

I am sure there are betting pools among my friends, coworkers and family on just how many days I will actually make it dewless.  It won't be easy but quit I must.  I realize the fallacy in my logic that this zero-calorie drink did not impact my weight and health.  Boy was I WRONG!  I now know better and am ready to take on the withdrawal symptoms.  Thank you to all of you readers who tried to tell me about the health issues concerning sodas and weight loss.  I'd like your suggestions on a new, yet healthy energy source.  What do you drink in the afternoon when you feel like taking a nap? 

Nancy Johnson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who Knew?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and on Monday I asked for breakfast suggestions and you really came through. Who knew how much knowledge is out there just for the asking!  Thank you for all of the suggestions, websites, and words of encouragement. I will try some of your suggestions. I will let you know how they worked in a later post.

Now on to my next hurdle -- exercise. It's funny that Dan and I have approached our weight loss journey from different ends of the spectrum. I went the food route and Dan embraced exercise, but our weight loss is almost identical. This shows that there is much more to health than the number on the scale. Exercise is to the body as flossing is to oral hygiene. Both can be painful and can cause soreness, but both are necessary for long term health. My immediate plan this week, back to my walking tapes (it is just too hot outside) and stair climbing.

This quick exercise jumpstart will suffice for a week or so, but I know I'll soon get bored and will need to kick it up a notch. Many of you have established exercise routines. What type of routine did you start your exercise program with?

Nancy Johnson

Monday, July 18, 2011

Got Breakfast Ideas?

For most of my adult life, I have not been a fan of dairy products. When my broken finger took longer to heal than expected, it became clear just how important calcium was to my bones.  So, I decided to finally find a source of calcium that I could start eating on a regular basis.  After trying several types of yogurt with little success. I found that I actually liked Activia lowfat yogurt. This has helped me meet some of my daily calcium requirements and was a welcome change to my breakfast choices.

My search for a healthy yogurt selection took time, money and persistence.  I'm curious, what do you eat for breakfast to get you jumpstarted for the day? I'd like ideas for low calorie and low carb breakfast ideas that are cheap and quick.  If you know of a link that has great ideas, you can comment or send your ideas to my email linked to the blog --

I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas.

Nancy Johnson

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Thin and Thick of It

Its so easy. Its so hard. Its a mystery. Its an Art. Its a Science. Its a shame. Its a blame game. What is "it"? Losing weight. On the surface its the old calories in and calories out routine. But below the surface its all kinds of habits and culture and psychological differences.
Advertisers spend billions trying to get us to eat their stuff then other advertising companies offer us diet books and pills and clubs/gyms to get us to lose weight. Ying Yang I'll be danged its a mess out there folks.
That's why, in my own mind, its to a large degree up to each of us individually and corporately to dwell on this national problem and personal problem until we start at least turning the tide in this battle.
I've lost weight. But I've also hit a plateau and must kick it back in gear. In my case its mostly mental energy. Or perhaps a better word is "focus" or lack of will. Half a year gone and the last few months are mostly a blur of personal activities that don't relate to my sticking to a honest routine.
Next week I'll lay it out as to the first half of the year as to what seemed to work and what occurs to me to be the current stagnation problem.
Later fellow loser buddies.

Should parents of extremely obese children lose custody for not controlling their kids' weight?

This was the question posed in yesterday's Observer article entitled "Physician suggests taking obese kids from parents". Someone sent me the link to this article and I finally read it and the 81 pearls of wisdom this morning. It's amazing how many people honestly believe that this proposal is a viable "solution" to the complex problem of childhood obesity.

I was disturbed to see that once again, many posted their comments without consideration of the many reasons why children are obese. Sure, the obvious reason why so many American children are obese comes down to three primary reasons: portion size, unhealthy foods and being sedentary. Much of this can be controlled by parents when children are young. Yes, I agree that parents have a huge role in the health and weight of their children when they are young. Notice I didn't blame the media, restaurants or Ronald McDonald. 

Now, that I have shared the pros to this article, humor me as I share the cons:

  1. Foster Care Funding – Foster care should always be a temporary separation reserved for only the most egregious parental issues. Unfortunately, there are too many more serious societal issues that require this type of intervention. Mecklenburg County’s 2011-2012 total budget for Social Services is $431 million. Food and Nutrition Benefits account for 70% of this total ($300 million). Foster Care related services were only allotted 4% of the county’s budget a mere $16.3 million. Mecklenburg’s current budgetary allocation clearly would not be able to fund this physician’s very controversial proposal.
  2. Simple solution to a complex problem – There are many studies which prove that people’s metabolic systems work differently. Society quickly assumes that parents are the problem. If you look at families in your neighborhood or in your church, you probably know children who are a little larger than their siblings and/or parent(s). There are many adults and children who eat fast food and don’t exercise, yet they are “normal” sized. This author’s proposal doesn’t take this into account nor does he take into account health or other issues such as weight gained as a result of trauma.
  3. Healthy food – Let’s face it, everyone doesn’t have access to healthier foods and yes healthier foods generally cost more. I am not using this as an excuse. It’s pure economics. Look at the grocery sales papers and the coupons readily found. Most of them are for processed foods that are already cheaper than non-processed foods. Food growers, processors, and manufacturers have aggressively lobbied to alter the natural processes used to feed Americans. We as Americans have silently watched as hormones and antibodies have been used in the meat that we now eat. 
  4. Food labeling -- We don’t take the time to really understand what we are eating and drinking. We all know that we should eat whole grain bread.  Today, go to the grocery store and count how many variations there are on "whole wheat" and "whole grain".  Take a chair, you will be there a while.
I am on my final weeks of drinking diet Mt. Dew which I have been drinking faithfully for over 16 years. Why?  If you want to know, google brominated vegetable oil (BVO). This has been used in America for decades in clear soft drinks, yet it is banned in over 100 countries. Was I irresponsible each time I drank my Dew?  I don't think so.  Sometimes we simply trust the food companies, the FDA, and USDA a little too much.

Yes, obesity and specifically childhood obesity is a very serious problem with very long term consequences. Yes, parents like me need to take responsibility for the problems we are causing when we make daily food and exercise choices.  However, the bigger solution will not come from irresponsible proposals such as putting obese children in foster care.  Often these kids are already feeding an emotional void, foster care just makes it worse.  Real solutions will come when society realizes that through personal and community education we can solve this problem by making healthier choices one meal at a time.

Nancy Johnson

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweat Doesn't Count

If only the temporary weight loss from sweat was true weight loss. Today, Monday, I worked in the yard from 9am till 10am then walked my 3.25 mile course in the neighborhood. To add to my heat misery I then worked a couple of hours in my garage assembling shelving. At one point during the day I weighed myself and was down 3 lbs from the beginning of the day. That was my clue to pick up the drinking big time. Water mostly. No beer. Anyway, by the end of the day was back to normal weight still stuck at the 24 pound weight loss routine.
I feel like a juggler who can more or less keep up with only 2 balls in the air at one time and occasionally able to keep 3 balls rotating in air. My 4 juggling balls are diet, walk/jog, biking and weights/other exercise. I can't get my routine to be a complete "routine". Something always "falls" to the ground and lately its been weights and diet taking turns it seems.
The year is half over and I will be a "loser" for sure in this challenge if I don't get very serious from this point on. Over the next three weeks I will be on the road for an additional 4,000 plus miles on motorcycle and car. I must keep my walking shoes handy at all times and hope that being busy will at least keep me away from my own refrigerator.
I'll report the stats more completely next week as to the halfway point.
Now its time to squeeze the garage floor out as its almost underwater from my perspiration. Yuck.

Shut Out the Noise

I don't know about you but I was getting pretty sick and very tired of the noise from those "silent" anonymous people. I almost let the daily negative rhetoric from those without a name to stop me from blogging about my journey. When I took this gig, I knew that there would be those who would share their "expertise" in not so kind of words, but I have heard enough from the nameless mouthpieces. I've decided to shut out their noise so that I can focus the last six months on refocusing on making healthy changes.

Maybe you are like me; listening to the negative noise from family, friends, work, doctors, or the media. Shut out their noise and persevere in spite of them. Contrary to popular belief, losing weight is not easy but you and I can do it. The first thing you must do is get our heads 100% in the game and then find the support needed to get started.

I pledge to get back on track and will use this forum to share my journey and the things I've learned with you in hopes to inspire each of you to not give up. Sometimes the journey takes longer than planned, but we will arrive together.

Take care.

Nancy Johnson

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sympathy Fat?

There have been news reports on the various States and their rate of obesity this week. Huge (an appropriate word indeed) increases in the percentage of us who are now classified as overweight or obese in the last ten years.
It occurs to me some part of this increase is also due in part to the "aging" of our population as you tend to get heavier with age if you don't fight the battle. The battle in fact that I at age 59 am currently fighting.
As a society we need to encourage fitness and proper weight. There can be a negative responses from some folks to criticize and belittle those who are fat. I suspect an encouraging approach to get fit might work better to get people working for themselves and then overall for our society as a whole to get in shape. If we as proper human beings don't wish the best for our fellow citizens then what does that say about ourselves? That does not excuse, however, each persons own responsibility to themselves and their families and to our nation to be healthy. Especially any aspect of health that is directly in our own control. Our weight, amount of exercise, what we eat and personal hygiene to a large part are all something we can personally impact.
A bit of sympathy toward the struggle of others might be a positive push to get society moving. Not coddling or excusing bad habits, just urging in a positive way to help those who struggle with these issues.
Think about it on your next walk, jog or treadmill session.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Road Food

On the road this week in and around Washington DC. Today my wife and I are going to Gettysburg to tour the battlefield.
Yesterday my wife has tried to sabotage my diet with cupcakes from the supposedly famous Georgetown Cupcake.
From the crowds of folks waiting to chunk down $16 for 6 cupcakes I'm sure they are heavenly tasting. Not exactly diet food however. Vacations are certainly a battlefield of sorts to one who is on a diet.
I've always been fascinated with battlefields and the tactics that went behind the opposing sides efforts. The Civil War was a horrible time not all that long ago in our ancestors lives.
In a way, the battle of our own efforts to be better people still continues. In my case one area of improvement is the battle of my own personal "bulge" (ok, different war and era). In some ways it makes about as much sense killing each other in the Civil War as it does to eat cupcakes and then go out and exercise. As in war, however, few wars are won in a single battle. No one tactic tends to be the only way to victory. To the winner of the war goes the spoils as they say. In my case and others out there trying to get and stay in shape including weight loss, the spoils include many things. Things like personal pride. Things like better long term health. As a nation, things like lower health care cost that impacts us all.
Fight the battles as our cause is worth the pain and occasional suffering we think we are going through. It really isn't that big a sacrifice given the freedom from guilt and disease we hope to gain going forward.

Freedom has a price - Who pays?

We are truly a blessed country. Everyday we awake to something many take for granted -- freedom. We have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to be whatever we want to be -- even to be overweight. But just like all other freedoms, the right to be overweight has a cost and often these costs are borne by others in society.

I never thought about how my lifestyle impacted others until I received my company's summary of what was paid out in for employees' health insurance claims in 2010. I was shocked! Weight and lifestyle choices were a large amount of the total claims. Although I am blessed with very good health, the statistics were very sobering to me the statistics junkie.

For years my company has been encouraging employees to become more conscious about our health. The company has created great educational programs to tell us what we should do and how we could make lifestyle changes to become healthier. Looking at the company's statistics, I see that am not alone in my struggle with weight.

Today as our country celebrates a decision made 235 years ago to become free, I am appreciative of our freedoms. Freedom has a price but it's cheaper to pay today through diet and exercise than to let others or my health pay the price tomorrow.

Nancy Johnson

Happy 4th of July!