What is best in life?

I’m finding that the best things about losing weight and getting in shape are the things I don’t actually think about, most of the time.  Here’s an example.

Yesterday, we finally got training wheels on my son’s bike.  He got it for his fifth birthday back in October, and I’d been meaning to put them on for… well, four months now.  I had time and opportunity yesterday and sat down to do it, only to learn that the type of training wheels we bought didn’t work with the type of bike he had.  So, giving up, we hauled his bike over to the good people at Montgomery Cyclery.  After forty minutes of fooling around with trying to install the original set, I thought it was worth paying them to do it for us (after buying new training wheels that worked).

My son was excited.  So excited that he rode his bike out of the store and out to my car (which he nearly hit, because he’s still getting the hand of the whole “pedal backwards to brake” thing…).  So my wife and I look at each other, and we decide to go to Woodland Mound – it was about five minutes away from the store, and had a lot of level walking and biking paths for him to try out.  He rode around for a good half hour, covering a distance of – hmmm… somewhere between half a mile and three-quarters of a mile.  He also wiped out five times (didn’t get hurt any of those times, though), and declared he didn’t like the wind (it was strong enough at the park to shove him around), and panicked a little at the thought of going down a hill (because he’s just getting started).

I can sympathize with that “hill” thing, too.  When I was his age, my dad tried to teach me to ride a bike without training wheels through the simple expedient of pushing me down a hill and shouting “pedal, pedal!”.  The slope was a whole lot gentler than I remember it being, but I remember being terrified.  After a couple of days of this, my mom intervened and I got training wheels.

But I digress.  I had a point to this, and that point is that I didn’t think at all about walking three quarters of a mile with my son, or about trying to keep up with him when he was pedaling madly.  I just did it.  It wasn’t actually until this morning that I realized how much improvement that represents – back in July, there is no way I could have kept up with him.  Or that I could have managed to walk that much (especially with the ease I managed it).

I’ve said before that wanting to be able to do things with my son is one of my “whys” for this weight loss.  It was nice to see that starting to pay off.

T.G.I.F.

I’m glad it’s almost the weekend. I’m tired of walking.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it, and I’m glad to be back to walking. It’s a nice bout of physical activity puncutating my work day, and I feel better for doing it. But taking two weeks off let me backslide just enough that my legs ache. Just a little bit. I’m sure things will get back to normal in the next week or so, though. So maybe it would be more accurate to say I’m tired from walking?

Despite feeling tired, though, all the walking has left me feeling more confident about my weigh-in tomorrow. FitBit says I’ve upped the calories I’ve burned by nearly 50% since I’ve resumed exercise, and I’ve managed to be on-target for my calorie budget all week, so I should be seeing some weight loss tomorrow. Losing the final four pounds to hit my halfway mark may be a little much to ask, but I’m feeling pretty good about my prospects of hitting it by next week.

Oh, a little word of warning about that egg salad recipe I posted. If you make it, be sure to rinse out any containers you store it in once you finish with it. That stuff sets up like cement, if you let it dry out, and you’ll have to let it soak for a while to get the container clean. That is no fun.

Finally, the weather forecast is for beautiful Spring-like weather for the weekend (52 degrees on Saturday and 64 on Sunday, as compared to today’s projected high of 37 degrees…). So, even though I don’t have any official weekend walking goals, I may very well be getting some walking in tomorrow. Because it would be a shame to waste that kind of day.

Be Someone’s Hero

I wish I’d been wearing my Superman t-shirt yesterday, because I had the opportunity to really help someone.

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We went out to dinner yesterday, because the entire street I live on lost electricity for two hours. (It’s really hard to cook, when you have no power.) We let my son pick where we went, because we figured we’d be out for a few hours, and he picked Chik-Fil-A. Which was fine with us, since the food is good (for fast food) and the restaurants are clean and they have an indoor play area to keep the five-year-old engaged.

While we were eating, a little girl got stuck in the play area. She’d slipped down between the wall and the slide and was stuck, and she was screaming and panicking and her mother was in a bit of a state as well because she couldn’t get her daughter out. So I went in and asked if I could help. Then I pushed the child back along the slide (which curved, meaning there was more space between the wall and the slide as you went further back). She struggled and screamed and cried, and tried to fight me as I did it, but then I lifted her out and handed her to her mother. I felt like a superhero, particularly when I later heard her tell her mother that I “saved her”.

It got me thinking, though. That little girl got trapped because she was trying to push forward, when she could have gotten herself out by just pushing back and then climbing out. And the more she pushed, the harder it got to turn things around. Which is a pretty good metaphor for the way we take on challenges. we come up with a solution that seems to make sense, and then we tackle that solution. And if it doesn’t work, we push harder. And harder. And we keep pushing, convinced that by sheer force of will we’ll make it work. But then we make no progress and begin to believe that the challenge is hopeless, even though there would be a better solution if we could just stop and look at it differently.

Sometimes, though, we can’t see that better solution ourselves. Sometimes it requires someone else stepping in to help us find it. It’s not always easy to accept that help, though. We’re so convinced that we have to do it the way we’re doing it, or that we’re doing it right, that we won’t accept that help when it’s offered. We fight, and scream, and push back, and then suddenly we’re making progress once more.

Situations like this are why accountability partners and supportive family and friends are so important to achieving any goal. They’re there to cheer you on, yes. But they can also be that outside observer. They can help you see a different way to tackle a problem, or to make progress when you’re stalled. So, when they help, be sure to thank them. But, equally important, if someone you love is stalled and stuck, take the time to help them. They might not thank you, not right away, and they might even resent it. But help them – not because you want to be right, not because you think you know better, but because you want them to succeed.

Be someone’s hero. Care.

Eating Well: Egg Salad

I finally made myself lunch again. Small victories, right?

Somehow – and I don’t reqlly get why – injuring my foot made it really, really difficult to pack my lunch. Instead of either making it the night before or getting up on time and making it before work, I ended up being a slacker and just buying out. Strange, right? After all, I don’t use my feet to make meals. To be honest, it was probably just an excuse. Either that, or things just got hectic right around the time that I hurt myself.

As you might imagine, this contributed to my struggles to hit my calorie goals over the last couple of weeks. Generally speaking, when you eat out, you have two options:

  1. Eat too much, and feel full.
  2. Eat a reasonable amount of calories, and get hungry in a couple of hours.

If you have time to go somewhere decent (and more expensive), you might be able to strike a happy balance between the two. However, if you’ve got a half hour for lunch and are trying to keep things inexpensive, you have to choose one or the other. I got tired of doing that, and tired of making excuses for doing it, so I packed my lunch. Homemade egg salad, on wheat bread. Here’s the breakdown:

Egg Salad

Ingredients

6 large eggs, 432 calories
3 oz mayonnaise, 578 calories
1 oz dijon mustard, 28 calories

Directions

  • Hard boil the eggs. The best way I’ve found to do this is to put them in a pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cover the pot and turn of the heat and let them sit for 15 minutes. Then remove the eggs, crack the shells, and put them in ice water for half an hour or so. They peel nicely, if you do that.
  • Cut the eggs in half. Turn the yolks into a bowl and crumble with a fork. Chop the whites finely, and add them to the bowl as well.
  • Add the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix thoroughly.

Notes

  • When I weighed all of this out, it made exactly 16 ounces of egg salad. The calorie count comes out to 65 calories an ounce, and I figure about 4 ounces for a sandwich.
  • The 800 pound calorie gorilla in this recipe is the mayonnaise. If you use a light mayonnaise instead, you’ll cut things to 42 calories per ounce. (I must have used a reduced calorie mayonnaise, because I came up with 51/ounce from the nutrition labels).
  • I don’t care for pickle relish in my egg salad. If you do, sweet pickle relish runs about 37 calories per ounce. Remember to adjust the calories accordingly.
  • If you want to make this a “deviled egg salad”, add red pepper and paprika (or, even better, smoked paprika) to taste – I’d start about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and work from there.
  • Note that I haven’t factored the bread in to the calorie costs.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Yesterday, I tried to do something stupid and “get away” with eating something by not writing it down. This is, in a word, stupid. I mean, let’s be honest here – whether or not I put the calories in my tracker, they’ve gone into my stomach. What on Earth was I thinking the benefit would be? So, in the end, I added the chocolate chip cookie and deducted the (estimated) calories from my budget.

I don’t have any need to “cheat”. My calorie budget is set up so that I can eat whatever I want, as long as I stay on budget. And that cookie was (barely) within that calorie budget. I could have eaten it proudly, aware that I was still on goal. But instead, I acted like I could fool myself. Like somehow, if I didn’t write the calories down, they “didn’t count”. This kind of behavior can become a huge problem, if left unchecked.

So, I’m not going to let it go unchecked. That’s why I added the cookie to my tracker. And that’s why I didn’t give myself credit for doing my exercise cards, when I didn’t do them. It wasn’t my fault I didn’t – traffic was so bad yesterday that my son and I didn’t get home until nearly 7 pm – but I still didn’t do them. And that’s all right. My goals are there to encourage me, after all. They aren’t there to flagellate me if I fail. But I still can’t claim to have done something I didn’t do.

Honesty is the best policy, after all. And if I can’t be honest with myself, who am I going to be honest with?

Back on (the) Track

I am excited! It’s Monday, and I get to get start walking again! Hopefully, my two weeks of forced inactivity haven’t done any damage, because I plan to hit 5.3 miles today.

I’m especially excited because last week was a bit of a wash for me. I weighed in at 353.2 lbs, which was a 0.2 pound gain. Not a huge deal, but it’s a little frustrating. After all, as near as I could tell from trying to track my calories, I hit my intake goal most of the week. So either I underestimated something, or I really need the extra exercise to make sure I hit my goals. Either way, I’m glad to be getting back to walking!

Yet Another Friday Potpourri

No coherent theme today. Just a collection of random thoughts about my progress:

  • I made a French bread pizza for dinner last night. It’s quite a bit like the baguette pizza I talked about in December, only French bread is bigger. As a result, it came in at about 950 calories instead of 617. Naturally, I waited until after dinner to calculate that, which put me over my calorie budget by 100. Sigh. Tasted good, though.
  • I’m feeling skeptical about having any weight loss when I weigh in tomorrow. Even though my FitBit app is showing that I’ve burned significantly more calories than I’ve eaten, despite not walking as much this week. I guess I’m just naturally pessimistic about these things.
  • I’ve got one hole left on my belt! That’s a good sign! And it’s the 50/52 waist belt! And my new jeans are getting loose! Not “clown pants loose” yet, but loose. Yay!
  • Did you get whiplash from the wild change in tone and attitude between those last two points?  I sure did.
  • My wife said I was a little “ranty” yesterday, and asked why. Here’s what set me off: I looked at Facebook, and saw something like twelve “recommended posts” trying to sell me no the virtues of ridiculous products “guaranteed” to help me lose weight. Green tea capsules and colon cleanses and the like. It just got under my skin.

Have a great weekend, everyone! And wish me luck at my speech contest!