Eating Well: Barbecue Chicken

Once again, this is a recipe I got from Cooking Comically.  And it turns out to be fairly easy on the old calorie budget while still being quite tasty.  So, without further ado, I present:


I’d recommend you just go and read the recipe.  And then read all of the others, because they’re both tasty and funny.  But here’s what you do in a nutshell:

  1. Put three chicken breasts in a crock pot.
  2. Add half a cup of chicken broth, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and a tablespoon of lime juice.
  3. Cook on high for three hours.
  4. Remove chicken and shred.

At this point you could stop and simply have flavorful chicken for use in burritos, or tacos, or stir fry, or a casserole, or anything else you can think of that could benefit from tasty shredded chicken.  Or you can toss it back in the crock pot on low for an hour or so, along with barbecue sauce to taste.  I did that, and made pulled chicken sandwiches with it.  And I plan to use some of the leftovers to make a barbecue chicken pizza.

But lets talk calories, now.  I did a double batch, which weighed out at 28 ounces (793.787 grams) before I added the barbecue sauce.  Cooked chicken comes in at 1.65 calories per gram, so that was roughly 1310 calories.  The barbecue sauce I used runs 980 calories for an 18 ounce bottle, and I poured the entire bottle in.  So, if I ate the whole thing, it would have been 2,290 calories.  However, it’s only 50 calories per ounce.  Six ounces made a good sized sandwich, so that worked out to 460 calories with the bread.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.  And it tasted good, too.


Breaking the rules has consequences

So I figured out why I’m so irritable about my weight loss right now.  Looking back over my records, I’ve been hovering between 301 and 308 pounds since the end of April without making any serious progress.  Why?  Well, it’s tempting to talk about “plateaus” and make all kinds of excuses at this point, but that’s not whats happening.  Not at all.  Because I’ve also looked back over my FitBit logs of my calorie intake, and I’ve gone over my calorie budget nearly half the days since the end of April – 28 out of 60 days.  And I’ve only hit my walking goal 20 days out of the 42 days I’ve expected myself to hit those goals since the end of April.

No wonder I’m not making progress.  No wonder that I’m feeling frustrated.  I’m breaking my own rules about diet and exercise, and somehow I’m still expecting myself to make progress.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not hating on myself.  It’s interesting to see that, without hitting my goals very successfully, I’ve been able to maintain my weight at an average of about 304 (plus or minus a few pounds) with minimal effort.  I’ll take that as a sort of consolation prize.  But, you know what?  The consolation prize isn’t good enough.  Because it isn’t helping me reach my goal.

This is why record keeping is so important, I think.  Without these records, I wouldn’t have had any way to check up on my activity.  I’d be left with the vague feeling that I was doing “all right”, and I’d still be confused about my lack of progress.  Consistency is the key to success, and without those records there’s no way to demonstrate consistency.

Time, I think, to get back on the wagon.  So let me restate my rules:

  1. Eat within a 2,300 calorie budget.
  2. Walk 5.5 miles each week day.
  3. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday do the workout routine my trainer designed for me.
  4. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday take my son swimming (as long as it isn’t raining and the pool is open).
  5. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday do two levels of the Dungeon Runner app.
  6. Daily, do the Kung Flow warm-up stretches (more on that in a later post).

It’s been two months since I made any significant progress.  Time to change that.

I’ve got fears, but I’m not afraid

Sometimes, I’ll write a blog post and then look back at it the next day and find myself saying something like this:  “Wow.  That was way more depressing/self-critical/what have you than I intended.”  And then I’ll write some sort of post recanting some of the previous day’s statements.

This is not one of those posts.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not living in constant dread of what will happen when I lose weight, and I don’t have any significant concerns about becoming anorexic or obsessed.  But I do worry.  It’s hard not to, I suppose, when I’ve put so much effort into achieving what I’ve done so far.  I have fears, but I’m not afraid.

Does that make sense?  I hope it does, because it made sense in my head.

The fears, I suppose, have driven some of what I’ve tried to do with my health.  I know I’ve talked about how a fear of being diabetic and going blind is what pushed me to start exercising and counting calories in the first place, but I’m not talking about that kind of fear.  What I mean now is this:  those fears are why I put my emphasis where I have.  They’re why I focus on positive things, on adding exercise to my daily routine and on my health and physical fitness.  I’m aware of my weight, don’t get me wrong.  And I obsess a little on it, starting around Friday (because I weigh in on Sunday).  But my daily focus isn’t on my weight.  It’s on my health, and my energy, and my ability to do things.

Trying to lose weight is terrifying.  Trying to swim more is fun.  Being able to go for long walks on nature trails is exhilarating.  Being able to keep up with my son when he wants to swordfight and wrestle for two hours is amazing.  Spinning my staff and doing tricks is fun.  And all of those things are reminders of why I’m losing weight.  And I fully believe that, as long as I keep those facts in mind, my fears won’t be anything to be afraid of.


Weird, Anxiety-laden Dreams

Overall, I have no complaints about my weight loss. I feel better, I have more energy, and my wife says I look better.  What’s not to like?  But, apparently, I still worry. Sometimes that I’m not losing fast enough, and sometimes that I’m losing too fast, and sometimes both of those at the same time.

Case in point. I had this dream, a couple of nights ago.  In this dream, I happened to take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror and discovered that I’d lost all my weight.  And as a result, my skin was loose and saggy and hanging in folds.  Shar pei dog folds.

sharpei2DobramilFuChousideLike this.

It was an unpleasant sort of dream.  The kind where, after you wake up, you find yourself having to check and see if it’s true.  The kind of dream that stays with you, and makes you think far more than you really should about things.

Here’s the thing.  I know I’m losing weight at a healthy (if, at the moment, somewhat frustrating) rate.  My doctor has fully endorsed my weight loss program and the rate the weight is coming off.  But I still worry.  I’ve been fat for so long that I can’t quite wrap my head around getting thin, and I find myself worrying that something will go wrong.  I’ll gain it back, or I’ll have the skin coverage of a 419 pound man on a 219 pound frame, or I’ll be so obsessed with weight loss that I won’t stop and I’ll suffer from anorexia.

Yeah, men have body issues too.  We just don’t talk about them as much.

Maybe we should.

I Am So Terribly Frustrated Right Now

Here I am on day three of my aching back, and I feel like I’m going stir crazy.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Even back before I started walking all the time and exercising, I hated the feeling that I couldn’t get up and move.  It’s one of the things that make me a terrible sick person – I don’t mind laying around in bed all day, as long as it’s voluntary.  But put me in a position where I have to lay around, and I immediately want to go somewhere.  Anywhere.

As a result, it’s killing me that I can’t go walking.  And that I can’t exercise.  I even – slightly foolishly – tried.  I dragged myself out on my first break yesterday and hiked up one of the nature trails around my office.  A quarter mile into the walk on uneven gravel trails, and my back was twinging enough to make me wonder what the heck I was doing to myself.  And then, despite my back being sore, I had to force myself to sit and read during lunch.

On the up side, I don’t know that I would have ever expected to write a sentence like that before I started all of this weight loss.  So, that’s a good sign.  And I think it’s proof that I’ll be back up and working again just as soon as my back feels better.  Which is another concern of mine, to tell the truth – historically, if I start an exercise program and then have to lay off for a bit due to injury or illness, I don’t start back.

I know that won’t happen this time, because this isn’t the first injury or illness that has stopped me from exercising.  But I still worry.

Ah, well.  C’est la vie, and all that.  I will – hopefully – be back up and running (well, walking) by Monday.

Well, That Ain’t Good…

Tuesday and Wednesday I was so proud about adding in a little more exercise to my week. I was feeling good, too. Even if my inner thighs were sore because the new exercises were working them in ways that the old exercises weren’t.

Sadly, some combination of old and new exercises caused me to strain my back.

It isn’t as bad as it could be, not by any stretch of the imagination. I threw my back out once, and this is nowhere near as painful. But it makes bending and stretching painful and occasionally sends twinges through my lower back if I step funny while walking. So, no bending or stretching or significant walking for a few days – which pretty much describes my entire exercise program.


Gear Up: Dungeon Runner

Yesterday, while lamenting how much I was sweating, I made reference to adding some aerobic exercise to my workouts. Because I’m a huge nerd, that aerobic exercise takes the form of an app called Dungeon Runner. It’s a video game, with graphics reminiscent of old 8 and 16-bit RPGs (Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda and similar). To play, you have to exercise.


Well, you have to put your iPhone (it’s only available on iOS devices right now) on a level surface with the forward camera facing you. The app uses that camera to watch your motions as the game plays, and successful repetitions let you attack an opponent, or push a block, or jump over a hole. You don’t get to pick the exercise you perform, though – as you approach an encounger, the app tells you which one you are going to do. So far, the exercises consist of:

  • Punches
  • Squats
  • Side-to-side shuffles
  • Power squats
  • Burpees
  • Ski jumps

I’m not honestly sure what the difference between a squat and a power squat is, and my internet searches for “power squat” turned up nothing but weightlifting results. Fortunatly, the app seems to accept “squat” when it declares “power squat”. And a “ski jump” turns out to be crouching like you’re skiing, leaping to the left, and then leaping to the right.

So far, and I’ve only gone as far as level three, the app only requires 3-5 of a particular exercise to overcome an encounter. However, each level lasts about five minutes, so it ends up making you do multiple reps of each exercise. At no point does it tell you what any of the exercise are, though. If you don’t know what a “power squat” or a “burpee” is, you either have to stop and go look it up or fake it and see if the app will accept it. So far, the “faking it” option has worked for me.

Does it work? Well, it sure seems to. It’s about five minutes a level of vigorous punching, squatting, and jumping, so I’ve averaged about 10 minutes a day using this. As a supplement to my usual routine, it’s fine. I wouldn’t recommend it as your sole source of exercise, however, as the available exercises (on the free version, at least) are fairly limited. But it does make the exercises fun, which helps quite a bit.