Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Today's topic is what I like to call stick-to-it-iveness. That is a word that I made up several years ago to describe a quality that most folks call perseverence. Last week's weigh-in was troubling for me because I actually gained a little. So this week I've been on a mission to get back on track and drop some weight.

Albert Einstein has been credited with saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". So I quickly decided that if I was going to reverse the results of last week's weigh-in I needed to do something different.

However, that does not mean straying off course completely, just tweaking the basic game plan.

So with that in mind, I'd like to examine my previous week's strategy.

1. Stick with the Flex Plan, count points and eat healthy all week.
2. Continue walking every day. I averaged 8,000 steps per day.
3. Joined the gym here at work. I went to the gym once and walked 30 minutes on the treadmill and stretched out before and after.
4. Started to work out with my newly purchased Fitness Ball. I did that 3 times. (More details on the Fitness Ball coming in a future post, that thing rocks).
5. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate.
6. Limit alcohol consumption to a bare minimum.
7. Maintain a positive attitude that this week's weigh-in will be much better.

And that is what I have done. My freshman year of high school (1969) I was on the wrestling team. Before every match we had to weigh in to make sure we were at or below the limits of our weight class. That was called "making weight". I have compared our weekly WED 715 meetings to "making weight" each week. I remember team members doing crazy stuff like skipping rope in the steam room for hours wearing a plastic suit to drop enough weight to reach their goals. Those practices have been eliminated due to the unfortunate side effect of death. YIKES.

Tonight I will see the results of my determination and stick-to-it-iveness.

Weight Watchers participants are "making weight" each week by sticking to the plan, remaining positive, and having determination that we will succeed in our personal weight loss goals.

Healthy eating to all.

Dave and Linda

Thursday, January 25, 2007

No Worries Mate

Today I would like to talk about what some might call "setbacks". I gained a pound last week at the Wednesday 7:15 weigh in. I was surprised to see that number come up on the scale to be sure. I had a good week with my points and really upped my walking, so I figured I'd be down at least a couple of pounds. But it was not to be. At first I was really bummed, but some gentle encouragement from my lovely wife Linda brought me around quickly.

Then of course the analytical side of me kicked in. What caused the scale to read the way it did ? And how can I resume my downward trend ? Losing weight is a complex equation with many many variables. Counting points on the flex plan is only a base, a starting point for many other factors that we as humans must consider on our journey for better health and weight loss.

So lets begin the analysis.

I (as well as others) have noticed a big decrease in the circumference of my buddah belly. In fact, I have been able to pull my L golf shirts out of the closet where before I was restricted to XL. So that in itself is a huge success. Yeah ! and as I previously mentioned, I am walking a great deal more. So why did the weight not drop?

My take on this is two-fold. By walking (I got over 10,000 steps on Tuesday) I am increasing the muscle mass of my legs and glutes (butt muscles). And since muscle tissue is denser it will add pounds. That is not a bad thing at all. The greater muscle mass a person has over-all the more calories a body will burn at rest. And added muscle mass means greater strength. All good.

Then my wife gave me the second reason. Happy Hour! Dang ! Yes I broke down Tuesday evening and located the MGDs. That in itself is bad enough, but added to that aspect is the fact that I failed to follow my own recommendation and consume enough water to avoid the water retention process (see Hydrate for Health post).

So badda-bing, there you have it ! A one-two punch that caused my "setback".

So this week I'm just a little upset with myself. However that only gives me motivation to stay the course even closer in the coming week. I cannot let my fellow WED 7:15ers down.

As we travel down the path to better health through improved nutrition, we ALL most likely will have trying weeks and suffer "setbacks". It is how we move forward that makes all the difference in the world. It would be way easy to just chuck it and say "This is not working, I'm heading off for a Big Mac!" Fortunately we have our built-in support structure, the WED 7:15ers to fall back on. Yes, gather strength and encouragement from our fellow Weight Watchers and move forward with resoluteness and courage.

And remember this is a journey not a destination.

Healthy eating to all.

Dave and Linda

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Little Help from our Friends

Today I would like to discuss a very enjoyable experience that occurred last night. My lovely wife Linda and I were invited over for dinner at my step daughter's house. Of course we were happy to come over and visit with her, her boyfriend, the 2 little ones, and enjoy a nice meal.

Since we have started Weight Watchers we have told everyone and anyone about our goals for losing weight as well as achieving better health through improved nutrition. I am proud of all our friends and family for being super supportive of our efforts. Every time we see or speak to them we get positive feedback.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this type of encouragement. That positive re-inforcement validates our efforts and goals. Wednesday at 7:15 we come together at our Weight Watchers meetings to do just that. I absolutely love the little rewards (stickers and stars) and the applause that accompany them. That is why it has been proven that meeting attendees lose on average three times as much weight as the solo participants.

But back to our dinner. Ganny is an excellent cook and is known for preparing wonderful meals ranging from to die for manicotti all the way to chinese feasts. This time however, she was preparing her famous fajitas. In order to accommodate our Weight Watchers guidelines, she made some simple adjustments to her recipe.

Low fat tortillas replaced standard tortillas. Broiled chicken replaced fried flank steak. Fat free refritos were served on the side. She also loaded up on the red peppers, which she sauteed in just a touch of olive oil. Fat-free sour cream and low-fat grated cheese were offered as condiments. My favorite salsa is a point free food. The entire meal was just as fantastic as usual and no-one felt like we were being denied our culinary treats. Thank you Ganny, it was wonderful.

As a side bonus, her boyfriend John is a diabetic, and our healthy lifestyle goals have motivated him also to start eating better. As we all know, diabetics really need to be careful with food selections to avoid long-term health issues. So it was a win-win situation for everyone.

The bottom line is don't be shy in trumpeting to the world what we are doing. You will be pleasantly surprised at the level of support you will receive. Also like a shining beacon, we can motivate and encourage others to start the healthy lifestyle journey.

So like the Beatles told us, "We get by with a little help from our friends" (and family) !!!!

Healthy eating to all...

Dave and Linda

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hydrate for Health

Todays topic is water. Simple H2O. Most Americans are in a constant state of dehydration. We are hooked on coffee, soda pop, and the latest craze, energy drinks like Red Bull. The problem is most of these drinks contain lots of caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic. Diuretics cause the body to dehydrate by ridding the body of essential water. That is not good for overall health and even worse for folks trying to lose weight.

When your body is dehydrated, your cells attempt to rectify the situation by holding on to the water that they have. Like a camel in the desert, this is called "survival mode". That prevents flushing out the toxins that naturally accumulate in your body through normal metabolism.

We are lucky here in Colorado Springs to have excellent water straight from the tap. Out in California (and other places too), one of the most common stores you see is called "Water and Ice". When I saw that the first time I went "What ? ". It turns out that the liquid coming out of the tap is better suited to removing varnish from old furniture.

But I digress once again. So how do we get the cells to release excess water ? By downing at least eight glasses of water (8oz ea.) daily. I was confused at first how this works, but once you supply your body with a sufficient amount of water, the "survival mode" switch gets turned off. Then your cells release the accumulated waste laden water and accept the new fresh water through the process of osmosis. The waste products are then carried out of the body.

It's kinda like getting an oil change in your car. Out with the old dirty oil and replace it with new fresh oil.

The adequate consumption of water enables the kidneys to function at peak capacity and enables the liver to metabolize stored fat much more efficiently. And folks, that is how we lose weight right ? So it becomes imperative to hydrate adequately.

Then how does one accomplish this goal? The best way is to get a re-usable plastic container that holds 16-20 oz of water. First thing in the morning, fill it up with water and keep it handy. I must admit I cannot function in the morning without a couple of cups of coffee. However, right after I finish my joe, I down a bottle of water and re-fill the container. I heard a great tip a while back on how to easily keep track of your consumption. Let's say your bottle holds 16 oz of water. So therefore you would need to drink at least 4 bottles during the course of a day. Find 4 rubber bands and put them around the outside of the bottle. Then when you drain the bottle, take one of the rubber bands off. So when all the rubber bands are off, you have accomplished your goal !

In the dry climate of Colorado, it might be advisable to even try to drink a bit more than 8 glasses a day. Also you should add 8oz per day for every 25 pounds that you would like to lose. At first you will experience (as Linda and myself have) when you increase the water enough to turn off the "survival mode" switch, the path to the restroom will a well-worn one. However after a week or so, the excess water will have all been flushed out and potty breaks will return to normal.

Ladies another added benefit from hydration is much better looking skin. It's true ! Finally for those folks who like to exercise, hydration eases muscle contraction and enables lactic acid (the familiar burn) to more easily be removed from muscle tissue. If you are not a big fan of the taste of plain water, add a bit of lemon juice for guilt-free flavor.

There you have it. Another essential part of the healthy lifestyle puzzle.

So lets all raise our glasses and get healthy !


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let's Get Moving !

Only two weeks into the Weight Watchers program and I have lost almost 7 pounds. It has been a great experience for me so far, and I feel great things coming in the future. My buddah belly is shrinking daily and I have not felt this good about myself in a long time.

The next phase in my Weight Watcher experience is the week three "Move More" phase. I am looking forward to this phase. Historically I am a very active person, enjoying walking, gardening, roller blading, skiing, and hiking among other activites. I played soccer in high school and college (Texas Tech University) so I am very experienced in working out.

Unfortunately I have been unable to workout much over the past couple of years due to a string of injuries. I'm finally off the shelf and my "recovery" could not have come at a better time. Fitness experts all recommend starting out slowly with any new exercise program. Also it is a good idea to discuss your plans with your Doctor if you have any health-related concerns.

In this regard I recommend walking as a great starting point for your exercise program. In as little as 30 minutes a day you can do tremendous good by walking. If you have access to hilly (not super steep) roads or other terrain that will add to the benefits.

First and foremost I recommend investing in a decent pair of walking or cross-training shoes. Most cities have places like FootLocker or other sports stores that carry a good selection of shoes. Ask the salesperson to recommend a good brand and style for you. Make sure they have good support, and are comfortable. At the same time, get some good socks to wear with them.

I also recommend investing in a pedometer. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, a pedometer is simply a small device worn at the waist that counts your steps. The pedometer will run 10-20 dollars depending on the features included. The reason a pedometer is needed is to keep track of how much walking you have done in the course of a day. A common goal of walkers is to accumulate 10,000 steps each day. That sounds like quite a bit, but is actually not too difficult to achieve with a little effort.

Make a point to incorporate a walk (or walks) in to your daily routine. For myself, working in a cubicle all day, I look forward to my two daily 15 minute breaks. I go outside, (or use the halls during bad weather) and just go for it. The combination of fresh air and walking clear the mind as well as lift the spirits. For added benefit, make sure you breathe deeply and swing your arms. It might look dorky but hey, it works.

Having a partner to walk regularly with you is also fantastic. We all have our "blah" days when the couch looks like nirvana. A walking partner can get you up and motivated. I promise you this, I have never felt bad after a nice walk. Your blood gets moving, you get to smell the flowers on a spring day, and you'll see things you never knew existed in your neighborhood from the vantage point of your car.

So fellow Weight Watchers (and everyone else) let's get MOVING !


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Planning Menus for Success

Today I would like to discuss what I feel is a critical element for success in the Weight Watchers program. Menu planning. As we live our all-too-busy lives, dinner time arrives every night about the same time. How we approach the task of preparing our meals goes a long way in determining the outcome of our health and fitness goals.

In this regard I have to give all the kudos to my lovely wife Linda. Each week, she pores over her myriad of cookbooks, selects healthy meals and plans out the menu for the week. Then she carefully prepares a list of all the needed ingredients and makes a detailed shopping list. My job is to push the cart around the store !

Yes my friends, I have the easy part. But seriously it makes all the difference in the world. Last minute running into the kitchen and throwing together a healthy meal is next to impossible. In the past, that was our way of doing it. Open the cabinets, stare at the foods available and then just go for it. And of course lots of times, faced with little or no options in that regard, and not wanting to race off to the market, we'd just go the fast food route or call the pizza man.

Having a good plan for the week not only makes healthy meal preparation easy, but greatly reduces the stress of making last-minute meal decisions (Lord knows we all have enough stress in our lives already). Also I like to look up at the fridge and anticipate the good food that is coming my way. Flexibility comes in the fact that the days are interchangeable also. Let's say you have A. written down for Monday, but instead B. for Tuesday sounds better. So just switch meals around.

It does require some extra work initially each week but reduces the daily work each night. And once you get in the habit of doing it, it becomes easier over time, as we all have favorites that can be a once a week items or a couple of times a month items. As far as Linda and myself are concerned we absolutely love the following recipe that Linda developed and serves often.

Happy and healthy eating to all.

Baked Orange Roughy

1 Package fresh or frozen Orange Roughy (approx 4 oz per serving needed)
1 Tsp. Tarragon
1/2 Tsp. Lemon Pepper
1 Lemon (sliced)

Preheat oven to 400. Spray baking dish with Pam. Place fish in backing dish and lightly spray with I can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Sprinkle tarragon and lemon pepper on fish and cover with lemon slices. Bake uncovered for about 35 minutes or until fish flakes apart with fork.

Serve with steamed vegetable and steamed rice.

Point Value: Fish & veggies alone only 3 pts. per serving. Add 3 pts. for steamed whole grain rice.

Dave and Linda

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Weekend Challenge

Today we will look at the challenge of staying the WeightWatchers course over the weekend. This past weekend demonstrated fully the challenges of being consistently nutritionally healthy. Freezing cold temperatures kept us inside the house, NFL Football was on all day Saturday and Sunday, and to top it off, we had friends over on Friday night for a small party.

I think the Friday night party was the toughest segment of the weekend. My wife Linda and I enjoy having company over occasionally, and in the past we would put out a large spread of food. Chips, bean dip, melted cheese dip, BBQ of all kinds, chili dogs, you name it, especially on football days. And oh yeah, beer, lots of beer.

So this weekend we were faced with the challenge of enjoying ourselves sensibly, and I feel we did a pretty good job. Instead of going for the giant food spread, we ordered BBQ brisket sandwiches from a BBQ house. No fries, just the BBQ itself. I cut mine in half and saved the rest in the fridge. That was still satisfying and kept me inside my point range food-wise easily.

As far as the cold ones were concerned, 3 MGD's counted for 9 points, and the dancing burned off a few points for sure. Linda's recommendation is to drink one glass of water for each brewski to counter balance the water retention action of the alcohol. That is an excellent idea, and very effective.

The two following days, we both made sure we were under our points to "make up", and concentrated on the water intake to make sure we got enough.

That brings up another point, the habit of munching on food while glued to the TV. We both love NFL Football, the Denver Broncos in particular. On days when we are not at the stadium, we are sure to catch the game or games on TV. This weekend I was enjoying the games going on, but at the same time my hands felt like they needed to be doing something else, like stuffing nachos into the old pie-hole.

I suppose it's similar to quitting smoking, the cravings to eat that one gets are associated with certain activities, like smoking is associated with after dinner converstion. This situation is handled fairly easily however. The famous veggie tray, and light ranch dressing to the rescue. I love fresh veggies and it's hard to eat too much celery, carrots, and broccoli.

Also, the WeightWatchers program allows 35 "flex" points that you can use over the course of the week. Those points can be allocated like in this example, on one night (party) or over the course of the entire week. Or not used at all if you don't need them.

That is part of the beauty of the WeightWatchers program. Flexibility makes it easier to stick with the plan long-term. Plus the guilty "Oh my gosh, I've blown the entire week" feeling that often is associated with other "diets" is not a factor.

So bottom line is it's Ok to party once in a while if you keep your eyes on the prize (Good health) and don't over do it.

Dave and Linda

Friday, January 12, 2007

Diet versus Lifestyle

Today I would like to discuss semantics. At the Wednesday 7:15 Weight Watchers meetings some people refer to WW as a "diet". I do not prefer to use that term "diet". When I hear the word "diet" I think of crazy, temporary changes in eating patterns. Grapefruit diet, cabbage diet, kumquat diet, etc. I prefer to think of what we are doing at Weight Watchers as a lifestyle.

Healthy eating is something that is not only easy to do, but like a snowball rolling downhill, it gains momentum and becomes even easier to do over time. All that is required is some basic guidelines (as published in our WW materials) and a little motivation. Add to that the positive feedback and support of our fellow Wednesday 7:15 'ers and poof we are on the way.

My wife Linda and I are thinking long-term with our health and fitness goals. Rome was not built in a day, so we are not expecting overnight miracles. It seems to me that the quick-fix mentality of most Americans is what prevents them from sticking to anything long-term.

Instant coffee, instant oatmeal, instant news on cable, instant this and instant that. Waiting 2 minutes for the light to change is a major inconvenience. What ever happened to patience as a virtue? I have to admit, I'm guilty of this attitude at times also. However as a society, we would be well served just to take a breath and chill. When you are stuck at the light or behind a long line at Wal-Mart, what is wrong with looking at the sunset, or just taking a quiet moment in your mind to thank God for all your blessings ?

But I digress from my topic of the day.

WW as a lifestyle means embracing the entire concept, believing in the program as well as yourself, and having fun with it. When an individual says to a friend "I'm on a diet", the immediate connotation is that the dieter is doing something unusual and temporary.

When we say to our friends "I'm on Weight Watchers" the same connotation should not apply. Most folks have heard of WW, but few really understand the holistic aspects of what we are doing. By this I mean it's not counting points only, it's all about thinking in a new way, understanding all the components of a healthy lifestyle, and putting the pieces together on a daily basis to create a brand-new paradigm.

Every day we wake up and make choices. Once we have placed our old, poor decisions regarding healthy eating in the dustbin and replaced them with new, better decisions, that is the success that we are all striving for. I would call this the virture of selfishness. Selfishness in this regard means that it's OK to put my health and fitness considerations first. It's so easy to say, I can't do A. or B. because of family, job, or other outside pressures. In this case, denying yourself the healthy choices, not only robs the individual, but at the same time robs their family and friends of the wholesome, energetic person that emerges when we make the good health decisions EVERY SINGLE DAY.

And that's it in a nutshell. Embrace the program, value yourself, take time to enjoy life, and always have a positive attitude that today is going to be the greatest day ever.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Week One recap

Our Wednesday 7:15 Weight Watchers group is great group of folks, all with a common goal, lose weight, and become healthier individuals. We have an assortment of new people and some that have been in the program for a while. My wife Linda and I started January 3rd, 2007. There were quite a few other brand new members that started at the same time as us so it's kinda cool like we are in the same boat, learning new habits in regards to health and nutrition, and at the same time, discarding our old, unhealthy habits.

Linda has had success in the past with Weight Watchers as is very enthusiastic in regards to the program overall. I, being a natural skeptic, had some reservations initially but those have evaporated in the space of just a few days. I have lost 4 pounds in just one week, and I can feel the positive changes in my energy level, and overall attitude towards myself.

I have been wanting to get started with a health improvement program for some time now, but always kept putting it off. That led to kind of a depression regarding my unhappiness with being overweight and not having the motivation to actually put down the pizza and soda pop and actually do something about it.

However, thanks to my lovely wife and life partner, we decided to give each other the gift of improved health and fitness in order to be able to live our wonderful life together for a long-long time.

I love my wife so very much and I know she feels the same about me. So it's only natural that we should embark on this journey together.

The Mission of this blog is to chronicle our daily pursuits in our health improvement goal. We will post recipes that we have tried and like, and the comments portion of the Blog will be an open discussion forum for feedback from 7:15 people as well as anyone else that might be willing to participate.

Good Eating and Good Health to all.

Dave and Linda