Thursday, September 24, 2015

I'm not dead!

Hi All,

I'm not dead and I didn't quit losing weight.  I started work again and life is BUSY.  Holy cow.  I miss summer. 

Anywho, this is going to be my last post for a while.  Here is my most recent weigh-in result.

So I'm down 28.8 pounds.  Not a bad place to leave off.

I won't be checking the blog for a while, but if you want to check in visit my Facebook page or twitter @waterballoonist.

Bye for now.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Quick Weigh In

I'm doing thirds from my phone so I'll be brief.  I had a 1.6 pound loss this week.  I'm really hoping to see the 280s next week.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday - My First Post

So apparently Throwback Thursday is a thing.  If it's trending on the interwebs, I'm on top of it.  I thought I'd start with a reflection on my very first blog post from November 2009.

Am I being too ambitious?

I remember the first time I was called fat I was in second grade. I didn't quite know how to handle it. Since then, like many people in this world, I've struggled with my weight. I've been growing ever since. I've moved up the ranks through chubby, husky, chunky, overweight, fat, and obese. I now weigh nearly 300 pounds. I was up to 312, but I managed to drop back down to a svelte 296. It may not seem like a lot, but anyone my size can tell you 300 is a particularly nasty psychological barrier.

I realized today that to lose 100 pounds over the course of one year, I would have to lose, on average, less than two pounds a week. That's something I can do.

So over the course of the next year, I'll be writing about my experiences. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing. I've tried WeightWatchers, going to the gym, and even SlimFast. Hopefully, this goal and this blog will keep me on track. I'd really like to weigh 196 pounds in one year.

Weight: 296
Pounds Left: 100
Days Left: 365

So here I am, five-and-a-half years later.  I'm 1,719 days past my goal and I've moved a net total of 4.1 pounds.  God that's depressing.  I wish I could write myself a letter.  Let's give it a shot.

Dear Andrew,

This is future you.  No I'm not skinny.  I weigh just four pounds less than you do.  Don't give up.  Come back here.  Seriously, sit down and read this.  It's going to be okay.

You're undertaking something big.  Something bigger than you've ever done before.  There will be bumps in the road, and you won't reach your destination on time.  But you will make amazing progress.  You'll discover a love for bicycling.  You'll learn what making good choices (and sometimes bad) does to how you feel.  You'll push yourself at the gym and at home.  You'll make new friends.  You'll get the support of everyone around you.  

Sure, you'll stall out.  Life will get in the way and you'll slip up.  You'll overeat, you'll go weeks without going to the gym, you'll let your blog lapse.  But every day is a chance to start fresh.

If I could give you just one piece of advice, I'd tell you to quit eating sugar.  It makes you hungrier.  Knock off the diet pop too.  It's just as bad as the regular.  Breakfast cereal is crap.  Scramble some eggs in the morning or find a recipe for something you can keep in the freezer and microwave.  

I'll leave you with one comment.  You're not being too ambitious.  Be bold, throw your cap over the wall.  Shoot for the moon!

Good luck.  You've got this.

You from the future.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Weigh-In: Post Vacation

I'm back from vacation.  I've actually been back from vacation for about a week-and-a-half now, but took a little time to get back to this whole blogging thing.

That's not to say I haven't been making smart choices in that time.  I just haven't had time to write.  I've been doing some stay-at-home dad-ing while my wife runs her law firm (insert shameless promotion for Tralle Law here).  Let me tell you, anyone who is a stay-at-home parent is a saint.  A SAINT!  It's absolutely exhausting.  I keep thinking I'll blog or work on baby proofing or get dinner started when H is napping.  Then she doesn't take a nap.  Now she's cranky because she didn't take a nap.  Now she won't sleep because she's too tired.  Now shes crawling toward the cat food.  I'll just rock with her for a few minutes, that usually puts her to sleep.  Oops, headbutted in my windpipe.  I know logically she didn't do it intentionally.  Now she's got the mail in her mouth.  I should have put it higher.  What's that smell?

Okay.  I'm here now.  I'm sure you all want to see my weigh-in results.  What's that?  You want to see pictures of H instead?  Okay.

Alright.  Back to it.  My last weigh-in was 295.1.  Let's see how I did this week.

Eff it.  I tried rotating this picture and nothing worked.  You'll have to rotate your head instead.

291.9 pounds.  That's a 3.2 pound loss.  Not bad at all.  However, I got a reading very close to this before I left for vacation, and it took a while to get back here.  I feel like I've also been stuck here for a while and want to push myself into the 280s.

But a loss is a loss, and this one was a sizable one.  I'll take (or rather give) those 3.2 pounds as a victory.  Let's keep moving forward!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Vacation Post 1: A Controversial Video

I'm on vacation this week.  So I'll leave you with this video I saw on Reddit.


Friday, July 24, 2015


Tomorrow the family is piling into the car and heading north(west) for a vacation. 

We're going to Long Lake just outside of Park Rapids, MN.  We'll be taking it easy for a full week.  I'm so excited.

However, I'm a little worried about what vacation is going to do to the progress I've made so far.  We'll probably eat out a few times when we're there and I don't want to spend all my time cooking. 

My goal is to maintain my weight while I'm on vacation.  I'm not going to obsess about food or exercise.  I will be on vacation, after all, and I want to enjoy myself.  I need to make enough good choices that I don't backslide.

So how am I going to get there?  I have a couple ideas.
1. Establish a routine
I want to start each day with the following routine:
  • Light Cardio
  • Body Weight Exercises
  • Go Swimming
After I get those things out of the way, I can spend the rest of my day any way I want (well, any way that my daughter wants). 

I'm a little worried about my feet, however.  In years past I've done some jogging at the lake.  This year I don't want to further mess up my feet, so I'm going to go easy on the running.  I can't bring my bike with because we don't have the necessary rack to strap it on the car.  I don't know what kind of cardio I can do besides running and swimming though, so I'll have to do some researching.  Any suggestions?

2. Cook
I'm going to bring my sugar detox cookbook with.  I'm gonna make some amazing dinners!

3. Make good choices when eating out
I'm not going to be afraid to have salads for dinner.  Especially when they're delicious gormet salads.  I'll keep my sugars to a minimum.  I might have dessert a couple times, but it will be intentional.

4. Snack smart
I'm not going to be afraid to eat peanuts by the dock or some fresh fruit.  But the sugary snacks aren't going to have a place in the cabin this year.  No sweets for snacking.

5. Keep busy
I'm going to try to keep myself occupied so I won't want to eat all the time.  This shouldn't be too difficult with my wife and daughter along. 

I'm psyched.  Regardless of where my weight goes, I'm planning on having a great time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Turning Down Food

It's my last day teaching summer school.  The director just came by with donuts.  They looked AMAZING.

I turned her down!  No sugar, flour, and more sugar for me.  I wanted it, and thinking back, I still want it.  But I said no thanks. 

Happy three weeks off to me!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NSV: 2XL T-Shirts

Ever since shortly after H was born, I've felt like I've had to squeeze into a 2XL T-shirt.  This has been my T-shirt size since high school, and while I've been able to fit into XL shirts at a couple points, I've generally gone for the 2XL.  In February or March I picked up a 3XL shirt on Shirt Woot.  It felt so good not to have to squeeze into a shirt I bought a couple more. 

I've been wearing mostly 3XL shirts this summer, and every now and then squeezing into a 2XL.  I have a couple that I absolutely love.  Like this one.

I have to stretch it out when I put it on a lot and my belly usually hangs out the bottom. 

Something different happened recently.  I put on a 2XL shirt and it fit!  It's not loose by any means, but it's definitely a shirt I can wear out in public.

So look out world, Andrew as a new (old) wardrobe!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Weigh-In Results

It's weigh-in time.

The scale tells me I lost 1.7 pounds this week.  I've lost a grand total of 16.9 pounds and I passed a major threshold.  I've lost over 5% of my body weight.  One twentieth of me is gone.  5% of the weight on my knees and feet is gone. 5% of the weight that puts me at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and a whole host of other nasty stuff is gone!

I actually weighed myself a couple times last night.  This was the when I got home but before dinner weigh-in.  I stepped on the scale after dinner to weigh my daughter (she's not heavy enough for the scale to register her by herself yet) and I'd gained like 4 pounds.  I've been having a lot of water with my meals lately, so I don't think that's a bad thing.  How much does a Chipotle burrito bowl weigh by the way?

I don't necessarily feel I'm doing everything I can to lose weight right now, but I think if I plan carefully, this could be more sustainable than previous times I've lost weight.  I know yesterday I kind of ranted about how I'm worried I won't be able to manage in September, but I think I can make it work.

Before I forget.  There won't be a weigh-in next Tuesday.  I'll be on vacation.  Hopefully, I'll be able to maintain my weight while I'm at the lake.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I've got a weigh-in tonight.  I doubt it's going to go well.

I've been stuck in a place a couple times this week where I haven't wanted to spend two hours in the kitchen making dinner.  The meals I've been eating taste great and are healthy, but take a TON of work.

So I slip sometimes and order out.  I had a burger and fries twice this week.  I picked up a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant for lunch yesterday.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still avoiding sugar like the plague, but it's in ketchup, it's in bread, it's even in dried mangos.  Hell, the croissant I had yesterday may as well have been a piece of cake.  According to Google, a large croissant has 8 grams of sugar and 31 grams of carbs.  That's white flour.  It made me feel super jittery. 

There aren't a lot of good options for eating out for someone who doesn't want sugar in his diet.  Subway's bread is full of refined sugar and flour.  Panera's salads are pretty tasty, but I wonder about the dressings.  Plus they have bread to tempt me there.  Chipotle has been the best for me.  A bowl with brown rice is not only delicious, it's free of added sugars and the brown rice is a lot better than white.  But I don't have much luck convincing Claire to eat there every time we need to just grab something.

So here's the issue.  How do I live when I don't have the time to cook for two hours?  How do I sustain the healthy(er) diet I've been enjoying when life gets busy again in September?  How do I eat healthy when I don't have the energy to cook?  How am I going to stay motivated when I don't see the numbers on the scale change (or see them change in the wrong direction)?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lemon Ginger Chicken

I've been spending a ton of time in the kitchen lately.  A TON of time.  If you want good, healthy food, it's kind of mandatory. 

I'm working on perfecting my execution of a recipe for a whole chicken.  I've never made a whole chicken before starting the whole sugar-free thing, so I was kind of nervous.  But I've made it three times now and it keeps getting better.

It's not plated or anything, and the image quality is kind of potato, but isn't this a nice looking bird?
Here's the recipe:
3 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 Chunk of Ginger (2-3 inches long)
2 Tbsp (maybe more like 1.5) Coarse Sea Salt (for the love of god, don't use anything fine!)
1 Whole Chicken
2 Lemons
Lots of Spinach
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat your oven to 425.  That seems to be the temperature that's almost always used for chicken.

Peel and mince the ginger. The smaller pieces, the better.  In a small bowl add the salt and 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil.  Smash it up really good.  I use a pestle and a stonewear bowl and just go to town on it.

Take your chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel.  Get rid of the gibblets inside (if there are any).  Very gently get your fingers under the skin at the top and bottom of the breast.  Wiggle them around until you separate the skin from the meat.  Be really careful here.  You want to keep the skin intact so avoid tearing it even a little (though it's not ruined if you tear it). 

Stuff half your ginger-salt-oil smush under the skin you just loosened on the breasts.  Try to spread it evenly.  Again, be careful not to tear the skin.  Spread the other half of your smush in the cavity.

Slice one of your lemons into wedges for serving and the other into thin slices.  Shove the slices piece-by-piece into the cavity. 

If you can, tie the legs together with kitchen twine.  I keep forgetting to buy some, so my legs just stay in the air.  Tuck your wings underneath.  I can't figure out how to do this so they stay tucked.

Cook until it reaches an internal temp of 165.  It takes my oven about an hour 15 to get there.  If you don't have a meat thermometer, get one.  You don't want rare chicken.

Every 20 minutes or so, use a turkey baster to get the juices out of the pan and back on the chicken.  I was using a brush, but I bought a baster and it works so much better.

Once your chicken is at temp, set it on a cutting board and tent it with foil.  Leave it sitting for a few minutes while you work on your spinach.

Dump a whole bunch of spinach into the pan you roasted the chicken.  The recipe I used calls for nine ounces, but I'm going to dump a pound of it in next time.  Sprinkle some red pepper flakes on the top.  Stick it in your oven for 3 minutes.  You just want it to wilt.  Then mix it up with the delicious chicken juices in your pan. 

Carve up your chicken and serve with lemon wedges from the other lemon.  It's amazing.

I hope I made you hungry.  Do you have a healthy recipe that's amazing?  Let me know. 

And let me know if you try this recipe.  I'd love some feedback.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Weigh-In Results

I went into this weigh-in thinking I was going to have a gain or remain stagnant.  I ate out too many times this week, and while I made the best of a lot of situations (like getting brown rice with my Chinese food instead of white), I was still in those situations too much.  I had pizza for dinner on Sunday and lunch yesterday.  I had sugar a couple times (sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident), and it totally messed me up.  I got all jittery and tingly.  And that's why I thought this week would be a bust.

So let's get to the numbers.

296.8.  I was wrong!  I lost 2.6 pounds this week for a total of 15.2 pounds.  I'm feeling really good about this number. 

To be honest, I weigh myself almost every day.  I know I shouldn't, and it drove me crazy when I used to do it.  I give myself permission to fluctuate now.  I don't let a slightly higher reading take the wind out of my sails.  I remind myself that the weekly weigh-in number is the important one.  The lowest weight I've hit recently is just a hair below this, but it was after a bike ride on a hot day when I didn't eat lunch.  This weigh-in is the real deal.  Normal time, normal activity.  This is official.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dried Mangoes

Yesterday I went to Aldi.

I really hate going to Aldi.  No one has any respect for anyone else's personal space, you can't find anything, and there's usually some feral kids running around I'm assuming just belong to the store.

I keep going back because their prices are outstanding.

I usually get myself something small as a treat to pick up my spirits afterward.  This time I happened to see some dried mango when I was picking up almonds.

I know dried fruit is more calorie and sugar dense than fresh fruit, but this was a splurge.  After packing all my groceries into my car, I ripped open the bag and had a handful of pieces.  It was probably about a serving.  I was planning on munching on the rest on the car ride home.

I decided to take a look at the nutrition panel.  I don't have the exact numbers with me writing this, but this one I found online is pretty close.

Serving size: 6 slices (40 grams).  Okay, that's reasonable.  Calories: 130.  Makes sense.  Dietary fiber: 1 gram.  I expected more, but whatever.  Sugars: 27 grams.  WHAT?

I checked the ingredients.  The top three were Mango, Sugar, and Powdered Sugar.  WTF?

In a similar sized (37 grams) serving of Haribo Gummy Bears, there are 130 calories and 19 grams of sugar. 

Why does an already sweet fruit need more sugar than candy that is essentially entirely sugar?

This just illustrates how food is marketed. I thought I was getting dried fruit and maybe some preservatives to improve shelf life. What I was really getting was candy.  

I know it's on me to read the label first.  I have control over what goes in my body.  But I can't help but feel a little betrayed.  I thought I was getting a snack that, while not the best thing for me, still had some nutritional benefit.  I thought I was doing better than getting a candy bar.  I was wrong.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Weigh-In Results

I've been writing these posts a few at a time, so my weigh-ins have been drifting.  I used to do Monday weigh-ins, but a scale reading on Monday may not show up until Wednesday.  So bear with me, please.

Alright, let's check the numbers.

I did it!  I broke into the 200s.  It's going to be a long time until I break out of the 200s, but I'm heading in the right direction.  I lost 1.2 pounds this week, which isn't huge, but I'm going to go with the idea that this is sustainable and, while not as exciting as losing ten pounds in a week, I got here just by cutting (most) sugar out of my diet.

If I have a loss this size every week, in a year I'll weigh 234.6.  That's huge!  That's about what I started college at (when I had even more insecurity with my weight, oddly enough).

So I'll keep on keeping on.  Try to eat healthier, and start moving my body more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My New Bike!

I've been saving for a new bike for a couple years now.  I finally had enough.  Plus my old bike is falling apart.  So I pulled the trigger.

Behold!  My Surly Troll.  I was going to get a road touring bike, but after test riding a couple, I fell in love with how this bike fit.  It handles how I want it to handle, the bars are where I need them, and it's just plain fun to ride.  I was set on Surly's Long Haul Trucker, which is a road touring bike.  But after riding both, I settled on the Troll.  The biggest con is it's heavier, but I weigh just a hair over 300 lbs at am planning on attaching the Xtracycle, so realistically a few pounds of frame weight isn't going to make much difference.  I can lighten my bike by over 100 pounds by losing that weight.

A few adjustments need to be made.  I replaced the saddle with my trusty Brooks Flyer.  I cannot say enough good things about my Brooks saddle.  It looks rock hard.  And it is.  But now that it's broken in, it feels more like part of me than part of my bike.

I ordered a handlebar stem riser to get the handlebars high enough for me.  I'm kinda built funny.  I have a long torso, but short legs.  It makes things not fit well.  My knees also hit my tummy when I'm bent over too far, so there's that.  I'm looking forward to getting my handlebars where I need them.

Claire has given me a lot of shit for buying a bike without pedals.  I had the bike shop throw on a pair of Fyxation Gates pedals.  They're pretty okay.  They seem pretty sturdy.  I have big, gross feet, and they almost fit on these pedals.  I still would have preferred them to be a little wider, but these should be fine for a good, long time. 

Gates Pedal

I'm planning on putting my Xtracycle Free Radical on this bike.  I contacted Xtracycle to make sure it's possible and they assured me it is.  They even sent me this picture of someone who had done it.

I'm gonna hold off a little while on this one, but hopefully not too long.  I'll have to buy a larger disc for my brakes, longer cables for brakes and my derailleur, and another chain to splice in, but I have most of the tools I need already.

Somewhere down the line I'm going to get a trekking bar too.  I'd like to be able to have multiple hand positions and they're relatively inexpensive.  There's no hurry on this one either.

Nashbar Trekking Mountain Bike Handlebar

So there you have it.  My new bike.  I'll post more once I've gone on a few rides.   

Monday, July 6, 2015

Chocolate Chips

The other day I had a little bit of a breakdown.  I've been struggling recently with recharging my introvert batteries.  I love my wife and daughter more than I could ever say and really like work, but I'm always around people and I'm fried from interacting.  I needed time alone and I wasn't getting it and I had a little breakdown.

In these situations I normally eat.  I just wanted to eat the crappiest food I could find, and lots of it.  Suddenly this change of diet thing that I've been doing a pretty good job with seemed impossible.  I couldn't keep going.  I was never going to make it to a healthy weight.  I was going to struggle for a couple months and throw in the towel.

Claire saw me spiraling and gave me 8 chocolate chips.  8 little chocolate chips.  These were the mini chocolate chips too. 

It wasn't about the sugar, it was about the recognition and support.  Claire saw that I was in pain and helped.  I felt loved. 

I still need alone time, but I'm doing better than I was.  And I didn't eat the whole bag of chocolate chips.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Cheating (On My Diet)

I've had a few cheats in my diet this last week.  I'm going to put them all out in the open and maybe receive forgiveness from the diet gods (or myself).

On my birthday I had a burger, fries and a big ol' piece of cheesecake.  It was delicious and made me super jittery from all the sugar in it.

I was having a really rough night one night and my wife gave me eight chocolate chips.  I kid you not, she gave me eight chocolate chips and told me to eat them because I needed them.

A couple days ago some friends showed up at my door and we went out. I had a beer and three burgers.  I didn't have lunch that day, so I'm impressed with how little I ate.  I did go home and have a bowl of popcorn to myself that night.

Last night I got a burger and fries from a restaurant called The Anchor.  Sooooooooooo good and soooooooooooo greasy.  I also missed lunch yesterday. 

I also had a non-cheat last night.  Claire found an ice cream at Lunds called Arctic Zero.   I won't go into it too much, but it had minimal sugar and didn't hijack my brain's pleasure centers, which I really appreciate.

Overall I'm doing right a lot more than I'm doing wrong.  However, there's still plenty of room for improvement. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Didn't Disappear

So I haven't written anything in a week.  I've been busy, get off my back.  Just kidding.

It has been a pretty busy week so I haven't had time to write anything.  But I'm here now, so let's start with a weigh-in.

I lost 1.2 pounds this week.  It's not the massive weight loss I had last week, but it's something.  I feel like I've been slowing down now that I'm getting used to my new diet.  I still feel a whole lot better.  I've got more energy and I'm not hungry all the time.  But I've had a couple cheats since last week.

The 10-day sugar detox is officially over, but I'm definitely keeping the white stuff to a minimum in my diet from now on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sugar Free Dinner

Look what I made!

I'll call this Southwest Chicken Salad.  It's pulled chicken, jalepenos, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and some other stuff.  It's supposed to be wrapped in romain lettuce and served with avacados, but I didn't have any ripe avacados at the time, so I served it over spring mix. 

It was so good!  So good.  Claire said it was better than Chipotle.

It took a lot of time to get everything together.  The recipe said 15 minutes of prep and 15 minutes cooking.  It took me about an hour.  I'm sure part of it was I hadn't done it before and didn't time it right, but I know to double whatever times my cookbooks give in the future. 

The recipe called for homemade mayonaise, but I just subbed regular mayo (yeah, I know there's not great stuff in there, but I'm not a purist).  The one mistake I made is the recipe called for two jalepenos.  I had giant jalepenos.  I should have just used one.  But I used two, and while delicious, it sure made our eyes water.  The next day the flavors mingled a little more and it lost a lot of its heat.  This also made a lot.  We got two days of lunches out of this in addition to dinner, so six meals isn't bad.  I may double or triple this and freeze it in the future.

One word of warning:  Wear gloves when cutting jalepenos!  My fingers stung for a full day after making this.

Update: I added cayenne pepper instead of cumin.  That's why it burned my face off.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Weigh-In: The Birthday Edition

I'm 32 today.  I'm glad to be 32.  31 was an amazing, and tough, year.  I saw the first seven months of my daughter's life.  I learned what it was like to live without sleep.  I also learned what it was like to have your heart cracked open and filled with love you didn't know you were capable of.  Work was particularly grueling this year.  In part, due to the lack of sleep, but also because it was just a challenging school-year.  To cope with all this stress, I ate.  And ate.  And ate...

31 also saw me gain about ten pounds.  Before H was born, I weighed in at a svelte 302 (or thereabouts).  My peak was 313. 

So let's see what the scale has in store for me on my birthday.


I've officially lost my baby weight.   I weigh about what I did before my daughter was born.  Thank you, scale.  That was a nice birthday present.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Things That Have Sugar In Them That Shouldn't - Volume 1

Sriracha Sauce

This delicious rooster sauce has been a staple in my fridge for the last decade or so.  A glance at the label shows sugar is the second ingredient.  Each 1 tsp (5 grams) serving has 1 gram of sugar. 1 gram doesn't seem like a lot, but that's 20%.  For reference, Coca Cola is about 10% sugar.

I know you only need a little, but cripes.  Guess I won't be eating this until I'm done with my sugar detox.

Lemon Pepper

McCormick makes an amazing tasting lemon pepper grinder.  It's so tasty.  But the nutrition on their website shows brown sugar as an ingredient.  Why McCormick, why?

Pasta Sauce

Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce has 10.1 grams of sugar in a half-cup serving.  That's ludicrous.  What's more ludicrous is that gave it an A- for nutrition.  A- with that much sugar in it?  Are you kidding?  It's the fourth ingredient after tomato paste, water, and diced tomatoes.  I guarantee they could make something that tastes just as good -if not better- if they cut the sugar either way down or completely out.  A half-cup of Coke has about 13 grams of sugar in it.  So we may as well just start carbonating our spaghetti sauce and drinking it right out of the jar.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Foot Update

Last week I was complaining a lot about my feet.  They hurt all the time and I can barely stand when I get up in the morning.  Well, I made a leap and finally bought insoles to try to correct the problem.

I went to a CVS nearby that has one of those kiosks where a bunch of sensors and there's a big computer thing that tells you your fortune.

Just kidding.  It tells you which expensive insole you should buy.  Turns out I'm a CF 440.  I have low arches and I'm fat, so that's the one need.

I slipped them into my shoes on Saturday.  Since then I have to say I've felt a noticeable change in my feet.  They feel a little stretched out sometimes because there's a lot of arch support and my feet aren't used to it.  But overall, the pain I feel has gone way down.  I was wearing a knee brace last week because my knee really started bothering me, probably due to how I was walking.  But now I only wear it as a precaution when I'm doing physical activity.

My feet are nowhere near 100% yet.  But they feel a lot better.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flat Tire Adventure

Tuesday was the first day I bike commuted in a long time.  I was worried I was going to be a lot more sore than I was, so that was good.

That's where my luck ran out.

My phone died on me at work.  Because I'm teaching summer school at a different school than I teach the rest of the year, I didn't have a charger.  Slight inconvenience.  Not really an issue.

As I was packing up I noticed my bike had a flat tire.  Crap.  How am I going to deal with this?

I locked up, used my land line to call my wife to let her know what was going on and why I'd be late and unreachable.  In the parking lot I decided to pull out my iPad and use the school's WiFi.  

My keys should be in here too.  Where are my keys?

Back up to my classroom with a bike with a flat tire.  

There they are.  

Alright, it was time to fish out my iPad. 

I was in luck.  There was a Bike Fixtation a few blocks away.

What's a Bike Fixtation?

It's a set of tools for bike repair available to the public.  I got my flat tire filled, picked up a new inner tube in the vending machine, and I was on my way.  I'm really lucky since there are only two of these in Minneapolis.

I knew I was on borrowed time so I pedaled home as fast as I could before my tire went flat again.  I made it, and, as of this morning, has stayed full.  Hmm...

Overall, it wasn't a terrible experience and I handled it pretty well.  Way to go, me!

I think it might be time for a new bike though...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ten Day Sugar Detox

A week or so ago I ordered the Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook.  The idea is I spend ten days not taking in any sugar at all.  In addition, I shouldn't be eating dairy, gluten, beans, or anything that's not organic to try to clear out my system.

I'm using the recipes, but I'm not cutting dairy or non-organic veggies out of my diet.  I'll try to minimize them, but I don't have the means to buy all organic fruits and veggies.

Bottom line, I'm going to avoid sugar as much as possible over the next ten days.  I'm trying to get my sweets from fresh fruit.  Including the strawberries in my garden.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Weigh In Results

So I weighed myself again.  I'll just get right to it.

310.3.  Hey!  I actually lost weight!

I'm psyched.  I don't know if it came from me weighing myself at a different time or what, but I'd like to think I'm making better choices in smaller ways.

I started using the sugar detox cookbook.  I'll talk more about that later though.

For now I'm going to celebrate with... How do you celebrate without food?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fed Up

I just watched the documentary Fed Up.  It was really good.  You should go watch it on Netflix.  I got a lot of insight into my own relationship with food and to why I'm hungry all the time.

They talked about responsibility for weight.  Fat people are perceived as slow or lazy.  All we have to do  to lose weight is take in fewer calories than we burn.  What's so hard about that?  Turns out everything is hard about that.  

The problem lies in sugar.  We put sugar in everything.  According to the movie, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.  We're marketed foods with sugar from a very young age.  Here's one from my childhood.

This is an example of flavored sugar water being portrayed as a health drink.  An 8 oz glass of Sunny D contains 63 calories and 13.8 grams of sugar.  The top two ingredients are water and high fructose corn syrup. The label then says contains less than 2% of the following: Concentrated Juices: (Orange, Tangerine, Apple, Lime, Grapefruit).  Less than 2% juice?  That's ridiculous.  It's no better for you than the purple stuff.

This kind of advertising is being directed at us ALL THE TIME.  I switched over to TV and in the first commercial break saw two commercials that directly benefit from us being addicted to shitty food.  The first was a cholesterol drug and the second was a fast food commercial.  I've been socialized to be addicted to sugar since I was a kid.

They talked about different foods affect you differently.  For instance, if I eat 100 calories of almonds, the fiber slows the digestion and I absorb the nutrients more slowly.  If I have a 100 calorie glass of soda (or purple stuff), it goes straight to my liver.  My pancreas sends insulin over to help deal with the spiking blood sugar.  My body needs to store all this energy, and how does the body store energy?  Fat.  All that energy is stored, so I'm hungry again.  The more sugar I eat, the worse my body gets at processing that sugar.  And bam, I've got diabetes.

The food companies are interested in making money.  We're bombarded by their marketing all the time.  Every time I check out at ANY STORE, seriously any store there's a bunch of candy I can buy.  IKEA and Aldi are two places I will never be able to resist the checkout aisle candy.  I hate those places.

This movie really made me worried for my daughter.  She's only six months old now, but I don't want her to have the same twisted relationship with food I do.  

So what can I do?

I ordered The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Cookbook today.  It's a little bit fad-diet-esque and trips up my bullshit detector a little, but the alternative is to sit on my fat ass and blame food companies for my weight (which I am doing by writing this post, by the way).

I'll be going through this book and figuring out exactly how to cut the sugar out of my diet.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Point of No Return

Last night I left work insatiably hungry.  I tried to tide myself over until dinner with a meal bar.  That made me hungrier.  I'm pretty sure those things are designed to make you want to eat the whole box.  Granola bars are just candy bars that disguise themselves as being healthy.

"Hey let's mix some fiber powder in with this candy bar, we'll call it healthy!"

After that, I ate and ate and didn't feel full.  It wasn't until I stuffed myself at dinner that the voice in my head telling myself I was hungry shut up.  Stupid voice.

At this point I was overstuffed, but I still wanted to eat more.  My wife, who stopped when she was full like a sane person, asked me how I could even want to eat when I was uncomfortably full.

I thought about it for a while.  I wanted more of the feeling I had when I was eating.  It was so satisfying to shovel food in my face after being hungry for so long.  I just wanted to keep going.

THIS IS MY PROBLEM.  I don't know how to start teaching myself to stop eating when I'm full.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Junk Food

I just listened to an excellent podcast from Stuff You Should Know on junk food.

Everyone needs to listen to it.  Like right now.

Seriously, here's a link.

Here are my takeaways from the podcast.

Junk food has never been as cheap and plentiful as it is right now.
At no other time in human history, has it been as easy to get calorie-dense food as it is right now.  We've been making cookies and chocolate for a long time, but now it's easily packaged, stored, and sold to us for dirt cheap.

We get addicted to junk food.
In the same way our bodies react to drugs, we become addicted to the dopamine rush we get when we eat junk food.  At first it's a great rush.  After that though, our bodies tell us we need it more and more and we get less of a benefit from it.

Junk food companies are using science to hijack our bodies.
There's a ton of science that goes into making a junk food.  What that science focuses on is how to get us to cram more of their product into our gullets.  They do this by mixing flavors because the body tells you to stop eating after a while of just one flavor.  They do this by tricking our bodies not to feel full.  They're jerks.

So junk food is so pervasive that I can't just avoid it.  I can, however, understand what junk food does to my body.  In the podcast they talked about how Type II Diabetes is preventable, but not necessarily reversible.  I recently talked about having a window of time before my choices irrevocably mess up my health.  Cutting out as much junk as possible will go a long way toward going through that window.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Last Day Of School!

Happy last day of the 2014-15 school year in Minneapolis Public Schools everyone!

That is all.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

So Hungry...

I am so hungry.  Right now I'm starving.  Absolutely starving.  I want to eat.  I want to fill my fat face.  I want to shovel food into my mouth until I can barely breathe.

I'm not going to do that.  And why not?  Because I don't eat lunch until 1:50.  That's right, I don't eat until 10 minutes to 2:00.  It's not a diet thing.  It's a work thing.  I'm a teacher and I don't get my lunch break until 1:50.

It's not a big deal.  The school year is almost over.  Plus next year I get to eat lunch at 10:45.  Like a normal person... wait.

Okay.  No more complaining.  For now.

Note: I sometimes write these ahead of time when I have a couple minutes.  This one was not actually written at 9am.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Weighed Myself

So Sunday night I stepped on the scale.  Sigh...

My weight was 312.9.  Do not like.

I know, this isn't a journey that's going to be traveled in a week, but I was hoping I'd be able to chip away a little at my weight just by making smarter choices.

I could beat myself up and tell myself nothing I do will change that number, which I know isn't true.  I am beating myself up though, so I need to redirect.

Here are a couple reasons why the scale said what it did. 
  • I didn't take a before weight.  I was going on memory from a couple weeks ago when I said I weighed 312.  I could have weighed 315 pounds last week for all I know.
  • I weighed myself without consideration for what time of day it was and when I ate.
  • I was wearing a lot of heavy clothes, which I may not have the last weigh-in.
These aren't excuses.  They're variables I need to get better at.  The scale is a cruel, inconsistent bitch.  If I minimize some variation, I can make things a little more consistent so I'm not torturing myself.

I'd like to focus on a non-scale victory.  I feel good.  I'm not bogged down by heavier foods and I'm getting my baggage out of my brain and onto the internet.  For now, things are pretty good.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Feet

Since I was about 14, I've had problems with my feet.  First off, they smell terrible.  Much worse than average.  My armpits only smell bad when I've gone a few days without a shower, but make sure you aren't around when I take my shoes off.

I had a lot of trouble with ingrown toenails in high school.  They hurt, they got infected, and they made my gross feet even grosser.  I had four or five surgeries to fix the problem, all of which ended with a prescription for Tylenol 3, which is a little heavier duty than the over the counter stuff.  My left big toenail is permanently jacked up from the podiatrist killing the nailed on the borders.  It kinda looks like a claw now.

My feet are also abnormally wide.  On some shoes, I can squeak I to a size 12 EEEE.  I hate how hard it is to find shoes.  It's so hard.

I'm pretty sure being overweight is what turned my feet into pancakes.  I'm also pretty sure they're always going to be wide and gross, and I'm okay with that.

What I'm not okay with is how much pain they've been in lately.  Seriously, they ache all the time.  When I wake up in the morning they are screaming at me not to put weight on them.  It gets better after I stretch them out for a little bit, but it totally sucks.  Totally sucks.

So I switched shoes, I'm trying to stay off my feet whenever I can, I'm using a little foot massaging robot I got for Claire when she was pregnant.  Nothing seems to be working.  I know the answer is lose weight, but it's kind of a catch-22 because I need to be really careful about how my exercise is impacting my tootsies.

I've suspected for a while that I have a short window before my weight starts seriously impacting my quality of life.  Right now (for the most part) I can do anything someone half my weight can do.  I may have to slow down for some of it, but overall, I'm pretty healthy.  This is going to change and it's going to be bad unless I can get my house in order.

Feet, I promise to treat you better from here on out.

Monday, June 1, 2015


On Friday we packed up the car and headed north to Duluth, Minnesota. 

My friend Nolan was getting married and the wife and I took the day off work to go to the wedding.  We had a great time.  The ceremony was up on a hillside and had an amazing view of the harbor.  As both the bride and groom are finishing masters programs in music, there was really great music at ceremony and the reception.  I played name that tune with some friends while the jazz trio played.  Nothing like a bunch of music teachers trying to out-music each other.  Overall, it was a really great night and I couldn't be happier for the bride and groom.

Some highlights of the night:
I never once felt stuffed
I passed on seconds at the buffet, though the food was AMAZING!
I only had one beer.

Some things that could have gone better:
I forgot a belt and my pants kept falling down.  Luckily the reception venue was very close to the Duluth Trading Company where I paid way too much for a belt.  So for the rest of the evening, instead of being preoccupied with my pants falling down, I was preoccupied with how much I paid for that damn belt.
They had a sweet and salty bar.  I probably ate too much candy.

I really tried to eat healthier on this trip.  We went to Subway over Culvers or DQ on the ride up.  I purposely let myself be hungry a couple times.  I just kept reminding myself it was okay to feel hungry.  The rest of my body felt fine, but that hunger really bothered me.  I had a burger and fries on Saturday for lunch, but I'm not concerned about one meal.  My problem is EVERY meal (and between meals, come to think of it).

Bottom line, I'm proud of the choices I made on the trip.  I'm also proud of this little cutie who traveled amazingly well.
Here are some other pictures from the trip.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Feeling Better

Since I posted my first update in recent history I've been feeling better.  I think I've made some better choices when it comes to food, and have been generally more aware of my intake and activity levels.

I think a big part of that is writing again.  I've been accumulating all this garbage that didn't have anywhere to go until I dumped it all out on the internet. 

Writing again also forces me to reflect.  What's going well?  What's not?  It's a lot harder to sweep problems under the rug when I'm talking about them every day.

So I'm going to try to keep on keeping on.  I'll do my best to keep conscious of the decisions I make that impact my health.  Now to actually lose some weight.

Full disclosure: I made myself a cookie in a cup last night.  I regret nothing.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

8 Reasons This Guy Gained Back All The Weight - Number 6 Blew My Mind

Yesterday some jerk had the nerve to ask me why I gained back all the weight I'd lost.  These issues can be really hard to deal with, and I don't want to bog you down with my own baggage.  So I thought I'd lighten it up a bit.

The average person on the internet has the attention span of a yellow lab.  Myself included.  So I thought if... SQUIRREL.

What was I saying?  Oh yeah.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  BuzzFeed, eat your heart out.  Here are the 10 Reasons I gained back all the weight, in the most annoying infotaining way possible.

1.  Making Excuses

Cheezburger animated GIF

I can't exercise today.  It's raining.  My feet hurt.  I have too much on my plate.  It's too late.  It's just a little chocolate.  Well, I already had one, may as well make it a pair.  I already ate a bunch of chocolate, a little more won't hurt.  I need the energy today.

I'm exceedingly good at getting in my own way.  I keep trying to hold myself accountable, but cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing.

2.  Letting Past Failures (and successes) Get In My Way

funny animated GIF
I've been at this weight-loss thing for a long time.  I've had a lot of victories and a lot of defeats.  They become baggage sometimes.  That voice in the back of my head telling me I have to start all over KILLS my motivation.

3.  Letting Pastries Get In My Way

food animated GIF

Just kidding.

4.  Emotional Eating

food animated GIF
I'm someone who eats his feelings.  Happy?  I'll eat.  Sad?  You better believe I'll eat.  Bored?  What better cure than stuffing myself?  Food kind of becomes a medication for me.

5.  Not Making Exercise A Priority

exercise animated GIF
I've talked myself out of exercising so many times.  I have been paying $40 a month for a gym membership I haven't used since February.  Even when I do go, my heart hasn't been in it.  Not cool.

6.  Having A Baby

baby animated GIF

In November my wife and I had a baby.  It's been an amazing experience.  My daughter is amazing.  I didn't realize I could love someone the way I love her.  Seeing her as a mother has also made me fall more deeply in love with my wife.

However, anyone who has ever had a kid will tell you it's a ton of work.  The first couple months were especially tough.  Life was kind of a blur where I was shoving shit in my face to stay awake.  When my daughter started sleeping through the night, I realized I had gained about 12 pounds in three months.

7.  Treating Food As A Reward

eating animated GIF  
I had a rough day at work. I deserve ice cream.  I just finished the spring concert.  Let's go out for dinner!  I lost a pound.  Let's get chips with our burritos.  Rewards don't work anyway and I should decouple food from success and failure.  Alfie Kohn, if you're reading this, I've let you down. 

8.  Not Giving A Shit

Lollapalooza animated GIF

File this one under having other things on my mind.  I've been busy, stressed, and stretched out and my own health has become the lowest priority.

I've gotten to the point where I don't want to have to think about my weight.  I don't want to worry about my health.  I don't want to worry about how I'm perceived in society.  So I don't.  I turn it off.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dealing With Disappointment

Hey Andrew, what happened?  How did you gain all that weight back?

Shut your damn mouth, hypothetical questioner.  Mind your own business.

What's that?  You're just a writing device I'm using to bring up a topic in a more interesting way?  Sorry I snapped.  I'm just feeling a little sensitive about my weight.  I might not have the most healthy body image right now and confronting my weight candidly is still really hard.  Maybe that's why it's more important than ever to write about it.

I feel like attributing reasons for gaining weight is making excuses.  I'm responsible for everything I do.  I need to be candid and compassionate simultaneously.

So what better way to explain my backslide than a BuzzFeed style list, complete with a click bait title?  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Here I Am Again


 I'm back where I started. 312 pounds.

I'm feeling thoroughly defeated. My wife and I had a talk last night. She's worried about my health. It's been on my mind a lot lately as well.

 I don't want to die young.   I don't want to have to spend a good chunk of my life dealing with complications from obesity.  I don't want to pass on my relationship with food to my daughter. So, reluctantly, here I am again. Trying to reflect on how to change for the better.

I don't have a plan yet, other than trying to write here from time to time.   I'm trying to keep my health in the front of my mind.  Looking back, I had so many times where I felt so committed.  I don't feel committed now.   I feel like shit.  I'm not hopeful, I'm not happy, I'm feeling absolutely worn down.

However (you were waiting for that, weren't you?), I have a window.  My teaching job is winding down for the summer.  I'm about to begin summer school.

Summer school is awesome. I teach for 6 hours a day, bike to work, get a few hefty paychecks, and get to hang out and play guitar all day.   It's a great gig!  Life is easier for me in the summer.  So there's room, time-wise and emotionally, to focus on my health.

 I want to change, but there's a voice in my head telling me I'm going to fuck it up.  Shut up, voice.