Monday, May 14, 2018

Team Tortoise Part III: Carry That Weight

Boy, you gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
from Carry That Weight | Lennon and McCartney

This is the third article in a mini-blog series about running, diet and music. If you haven't read the other two pieces, Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run and, Team Tortoise: Part II: Getting in Tune, start there and then return here.

I don't care how healthy the above picture looks, for me, bread is "crack carbs." I could eat bread at every meal and then have toast late at night, for dessert. This is a family thing, built into my McDNA. Of all things possible in my recent quest for eating better, my aunt gives Mary Kit and I an electric bread maker this past week, and now I think of her as a drug dealer. 

Like most Americans, I'm addicted to carbs. It doesn't matter if I run everyday the rest of my life, there is no amount of exercise that's going to control my weight. We've all known the science for many years- reducing the level of carbohydrates one puts into their body is the first and most important ingredient to weight loss and management.   

But finally, after trying to lose weight since my 40's, I learned something. DIETING is actually the enemy of "health is a lifestyle." Dieting is a counter productive activity, a "bait and switch" that tricks your body for a short-term weigh-loss outcome. 

The Seven Day Cycle of Eating
I'm learning that I don't need to diet, but rather, just monitor the food I choose to eat on a seven day cycle. This cycle, combined with running every other day, is my 1-2 punch to lose and eventually maintain a healthy weight to carry.

If you want to lose (or maintain) your weight, there is only ONE RULE that you have to follow for the rest of your life-
  1. Cut out, cut back and replace carbohydrate foods that you consumed in your past "crack carb life." If you actively identify and target specific high carb (and sugar) foods, you will begin to reprogram yourself with healthy eating habits of mind and body that require the most important element, consistency.  
Change here is really just a series of small behavioral steps. Over the past several years, I have made a progressive effort to either CUT OUT 100% or CUT BACK a significant percentage of my "carry that weight" hit list of crack carbs, on a consistent basis. 

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I'm talking to you
Come on
From Shout | Tears for Fears

  • breakfast cereal and oatmeal (100%)
  • dairy milk (100%)
  • pancakes and waffles (95%)
  • bagels (98%)
  • all soft drinks, including sugar drinks like lemonade (100%)
  • fruit juice, and fruit smoothies (95%)
  • dried fruit (100%)
  • chips (80%)
  • crackers (appropriate name - 90%)
  • flour tortillas (90%)
  • quesadillas (100%)
  • deli sandwiches, I love deli! (90%)
  • regular pasta noodles (95%)
  • rice (90%)
  • potatoes, fries (90%)
  • jam (100%)
  • cookies, I love cookies! (95%)
  • pie (95%)
  • ice cream (90%)
  • pastries/donuts (95%)
  • bread, pizza and beer (0%) "A man's got to know his limitations."

But, I just couldn't go "cold carb." I needed to REPLACE my high carb intake with lower carb alternatives throughout the week. Here's some of my replacement behaviors. (Hey I should add a song to the playlist by the band, The Replacements.)

One thing Mary Kit and I learned several years back (on a WeightWatchers® diet) but did not practice again until recently, was to buy only low carb bread. Now you're probably saying, "but I don't want to eat bread that tastes like cardboard." Actually, there are some great low carb sliced breads out there. Here's a little simple math you need to do in your search for any lower carb food.
  1. Look at the "Nutrition Facts" on the back label on most any food product.
  2. Look for "Total Carbohydrate" (example - 12g, from Dave's Killer Bread 60 Calories Thin-Sliced, not to mention Dave playing electric guitar on the front label)
  3. Under Total Carbohydrate look for "Dietary Fiber" (Dave's 3g) and subtract that number from the Total Carbohydrate number. So, for Dave's 60 calorie bread the total carbs = 9 grams per slice.
  4. As a "carb standard" Mary Kit and I try to buy food with under 10 grams per serving. For sliced bread, our current favorites are the "Dave's 60 Calories" just mentioned and Eureka! Sweet Baby Grains (homage to James Taylor!) at 10 total grams of carbohydrate (Both breads found at Vons/Safeway). Once you start reading labels, you'll find that most sliced breads start in the 20+ Total Carbohydrate range.
Some "new habits" for NOT carrying that weight
  • I have a body weight scale (to the 1/10th pound) and weigh myself in the morning after I have gone to the bathroom. I don't weigh everyday, because like most people, my weight is always fluctuating a couple pounds, but I do weigh several times a week to get a feel and monitor for the (ding, ding)... Sunday morning weigh-in. Hint- If I know I'm having a carb carnival on Saturday night, I do my weigh-in on Saturday morning, remember don't punish yourself.

  • My strategic plan is to lose 1 pound a week for however long it takes me to get to 185. I use Google Calendar for all my scheduling and on the upcoming Sunday I have my current weight listed as an "all day event." For example, this week's goal is 201. It's been my goal for two weeks now. If I go under 201.0, my next week's goal is 200.0, if not, it remains at 201 and I slide that 201 calendar event down to next Sunday. If I weigh 199 this Sunday, my goal for next week is still 200.0. and I put up a new calendar event for 200 for next Sunday. I try to remain "slow and steady" and most importantly, not to create a weight system that punishes myself or causes me to feel I have to be on a DIET.

  • Eat the majority of your your carbs in the morning. I often have two pieces of toast as part of my breakfast, but got to watch it for lunch and dinner, not everyday but maybe 5 days out of 7. Give yourself the whole day to burn those carbs off as they turn to glucose, and then from sugar to fat. Also, have a little real butter on your toast, and no margarine as it is part of the artificial diet machine.

  • Eat a banana (or two) one hour before you run. It is high in carbohydrate and you'll burn the glucose for your running fuel. Bananas are also high in potassium and for me help prevent muscle pulls while running. For many runners, a banana also settles the stomach before a run.

  • You must always hydrate everyday, but one hour before a run I also drink a 20 oz. Vitamin Water Zero (Lemonade or Orange) because it has electrolytes and helps with the muscle pull thing I tend to get. (Note - A 12-ounce serving of Gatorade's Thirst Quencher contains 21 grams of sugar.)

  • You probably noticed I never stopped eating bread or pizza. Behaviorally, I made a choice. If I was going to continue those two habits, I was going to need to cut out, cut back or replace other carbs I was consuming.

  • Channel your Jim Gaffigan (Bacon!) and have a couple of cheat meals a week. Your body metabolically actually needs the food change ups if you want to lose weight, and after all, "variety is the spice of life." (If you're a Seinfeld fan, kind of analogous to, "sex to save the friendship" to my take, "pancakes to save the stomach.")

  • Protein is your friend. Find foods you like with higher levels of protein and increase that percentage from your old eating habits. Eat your protein after a workout because protein helps repair muscle and tissue.

  • Start drinking protein shakes at least 3-4 times a week. My current favorite is Muscle Milk 100% Whey Vanilla Concentrate Blend (from Costco) at 27grams of protein per serving (no after taste). My simple protein shake recipe includes:
        -2 cups of Almond Milk
        -1 scope of the above whey vanilla concentrate power
        -1 frozen banana
        -a spoonful of peanut butter (helps the medicine go down) and let it all blend in the blender. This is my new smoothie as the frozen banana is the key to the smooth!

  • I now literally go "cold turkey" with my "new sandwich" - a cold cut slice (or two) of turkey or ham between two pieces of cheese.

  • I haven't eaten red met (99%) for many years now, but if you are a meat eater and like fish, increase your intake and you will feel the difference. If you hate fish, go with turkey, ham and chicken. For example, make a chicken salad sandwich and just leave out the bread. I make chicken salad with boiled eggs, pickles, mustard and some mayonnaise and just stir it up and eat it from the same bowl.

  • If you are a burger nut, switch to lean turkey pre-made patties in the meat isle. (Making patties from ground turkey takes too much time and they are just too dry.) I'm a cheese burger guy from way back so include the DELICIOUS melted cheese but eliminate the bun and keep the lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.

  • Avoid packaged foods with the leading label "Non Fat." That is a bait and switch for your mind but your body just breaks downs the excess carbs to sugar and stores as fat.
  • If you are a vegetarian of any kind, you still have to reduce your carbs and get more protein, otherwise you will never lose weight and keep it off.

  • Replace chips and crackers with (dry roasted) nuts as a snack. Costco has a good selection, but don't blow it and buy the trail mix (doh)!

  • Replace pasta noodles with low carb Dreamfields Pasta noodles. Believe me, you won't even know the difference between regular pasta and Dreamfields.

  • Sugar is the enemy. Choose sugar treats few and far between because the body is just going to convert it and store it as fat.

  • If I need a sweet treat, I buy a variety of low carb Atkins Protein Bars, they are delicious. I make sure to buy the bars WITHOUT artificial sweeteners. But use your common sense, you shouldn't eat 3 bars a day (I have, several times).

  • Fiber is your friend. It helps bring down your carb count and keep you regular in the digestive department. I also take a Philipps "Fiber Gummy" with every meal at home. I don't have any hard data (other than my scale) to support its helping me lose weight, but it's helping in the digestive department.

  • Buy most of your fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk from Costco. It's just Mary Kit and I in the house, but it forces us to eat these foods more often before they spoil. Nobody wants to throw away food, so it's just another built-in motivator. Also, we have a pantry we used to call the "carb cabinet." As your behavior changes, your pantry should reflect that change. Your refrigerator becomes the new snack machine with things like dill pickles, olives, apples, cheese and berries.

  • If you're a big time snacker like me, Become a big time berry eater. I eat a fair amount of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries from Costco. If you reach for the carb cabinet, take a few nuts and get back to the The Americans.

  • Lastly, if you are living by yourself, it's up to you to create these new eating and exercise habits. If you live with a partner, your task is a bit harder because with most relationships, you often eat together. I'm not going to get into couple behavior here, other than to say you and your partner need to be on the "same page" when changing up your eating habits. My weight drops over the years have always been tied directly to Mary Kit. Relationships are an on-going process and hopefully the concept of "team" comes together for the both of you during your eating/exercise transformation. 

Boy, I carried that weight for a long time, this time for the last five years. One day, I just got sick and tired of the feeling that I had lost my former self in image and flexibility at 215 pounds. As I mentioned earlier, I wrote this Team Tortoise blog series to continue to motivate myself and maybe motivate you in some small way. I know as a Clydesdale or tortoise, I will need to continue to monitor my weight the rest of my life. I continue to strike the DIET word from my behavior and enjoy the "slow and steady" mantra of Team Tortoise in my running and lower carb healthy lifestyle.

As a lifestyle, Team Tortoise is also about stress relief. Music soothes the soul and is as important to me today as when I was a young 175 pound lean running machine. I hope this blog helps you a little more to connect to music on a weekly basis so that the current burdens you carry don't weigh you down too much. And, if you're looking for a Frank Costanza, "Serenity now" moment, you'll find it in your music. 


Here's a running start playlist that I've been adding to over the last three weeks to get us moving and smiling.

Notes on videos chosen- The Dave Wottle 1972 Olympic race really inspired me to start running | My first running shoes were the Nike "Cortez" | The movie clip from, The Black Stallion is about freedom and the freedom running can bring. It also reminds me of running at the beach in 1978 when I moved to Mission Beach | The "mans got to know his limitations" clip is just knowing who I am and listening to my body | The Nike commercial with the boy running on the road is about us all being on that lonesome road all by ourself, and that we will prevail on our journey.

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