Another Difference Between Reading Weight Loss Entries Here Versus Other Blogs

The other day I mentioned that one of the differences between reading a weight loss-related entry here versus other blogs is that I understand reality. In other words, some days you just can’t work out because you’re out of the house from 7am until 9pm and when you get home you’re truly exhausted so you fall down onto the couch or bed and go to sleep. I get it. That’s life sometimes. Well, after reading another well-known blogger who writes about how he lost over 140 pounds, I’ve realized another difference between JerseySmarts.com and the rest of the blogs:

I don’t think you are a bad person.

Too often I read these weight loss blogs and the writers suggest that their former, fat selves are people that they don’t even remember. They refer to their fat selves as existing in a previous or past life. They do everything they can to distance who they’ve become from who they were for, sometimes, decades.

It’s disgusting.

How lonely and pathetic must a person’s life be for them to want to distance themselves from… themselves!? And how much internal self-hate must these people harbor for them to despise who they “used to be?” Talk about people who seriously need to see a psychiatrist! For these folks, it’s not about losing pounds – it’s about getting over their own self-loathing and self-hate masked in the rhetoric of weight loss.

Don’t be fooled, people.

Let me talk from experience. After I lost 125 pounds I distinctly remember looking at pictures of my 380+ pound self and thinking, “That’s a fat guy in that picture, but that’s a very, very good guy, too.” I also distinctly remember a feeling of sadness when I looked at those pictures because I remembered all of the times when that 380+ pound guy would get snide looks or overhear exaggerated sighs in the airport and movie theater or have to deal with people look at him from afar. In fact, I remember walking in the store one day and seeing a really big person and thinking, “That poor woman. I bet she’s a saint, but that people judge her without hearing the first word out of her mouth.”

After I lost all of that weight people would ask me about what it’s like to live a new life and shed away my past. I’d immediately think, “New life? What the hell are these people talking about?!” I wasn’t a different person after I lost all of that weight. Not at all! The difference was that the portion of society that wasn’t overweight tried to bring me in to their cabal of divisive comments and unspoken disgust of fat people. It was almost as though they wanted me to say, “Yeah – I couldn’t believe what a worthless piece of trash I used to be!”

That type of drivel will never come out of my mouth because I’m fully aware of my self-worth.

Aside from the religious reasons why I don’t believe that any life is a worthless piece of a trash (least of all my own!), I don’t believe that a person’s weight should determine how society acts towards them. And yet I read people writing on these weight loss blogs about how they’re excited to have a new body and how they hated life before they lost the weight.

That’s not a weight problem, that’s a psychological problem.

The point of this entry is to tell all of you who might be in the midst of battling the bulge that you’re fighting the good fight. And, more importantly, don’t believe the voices of the self-hating people out there who already lost a bunch of weight and are now condemning their former selves. These are people who have a mental issue and are trying to compensate for their long lasting, deep-rooted, self-hatred. Love yourself. God gave you the beautiful body that you have. Treat it as the temple it is expected to be.

Don’t hate yourself – today or tomorrow.

Yesterday’s Update Annoyed Me, So I Did a Little Something About It

After I posted yesterday’s update which showed just how sedentary my lifestyle is mostly forced to be, I got a little annoyed. Well, I was actually annoyed while I wrote it and then a good friend of mine called and he and I bitched to each other about the various pains in the neck that we have to deal with every day. During our bitch session, I cited the fact that I have this ultra sedentary lifestyle and it creates a much less in shape and physically powerful “me” than should exist.

The combination of writing yesterday’s entry and bitching with my buddy pushed me to a point where I had to do something about the week’s worth of results that I posted yesterday. And I did. Here’s the graphic from FitBit showing the statistics that I achieved yesterday:

Yesterday’s results from my FitBit Ultra.

This is what happens when someone gets annoyed at being forced into the proverbial corner. And this proves that I have the physical ability to generate these types of statistics (which I don’t think was ever in question anyway).

I’d like to suggest that I’ll keep this high level of activity going throughout the week, but I’m more realistic and understand that making such claims will ultimately lead to failure. For example, looking at my schedule for Monday I already know that I’ll be spending 13.5 of my 16 waking hours that day either driving, sitting in meetings, or crunching numbers behind a desk. Could I squeeze in a walk or two around the block while I’m at the office? Of course. Could I take the stairs instead of the elevator? Well, I normally do that already. Could I reasonably get the type of statistics that you see in the image above with the planned schedule that I have to navigate on Monday?

No.

And that’s the difference between reading weight loss and health-related stories on this blog versus reading them on other blogs. I’m realistic. If I was to buy-in to the bullshit that we sell elementary, high school, and college athletes, then I’d be panicking and going crazy right now. You know that line of bullshit that we sell those athletes. It takes different forms, but it mostly sounds like: “The only one stopping you is YOU!” or “If you WANT to do it, then you WILL do it.” or “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Alright, that last quote was from Yoda in Star Wars, but you get the picture.

Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons for you not to be able to get to the gym or walk the suggested 10,000 steps in a day. If you believe the bullshit hype (and, unfortunately, I think that most people do), then you’re going to drive yourself nuts trying to find out how you can fit in those 10,000 with almost no free time in your day and without compromising your professional efficiency.

It’s about balance, folks. It’s not about hysteria and it’s not about believing the motivational crud that we sell to people who don’t have any expansive, real world responsibilities. If you use your free time effectively – when you have it – then you might be able to get a day’s worth of work like what’s noted in the graphic above. Much more importantly, though, is realizing that you may not be able to achieve this goal on a daily basis because of other personal and professional commitments… and that’s okay.

What a Sedentary, Desk Jockey, Office-Based Lifestyle Looks Like

My Mother recently bought me a FitBit Ultra tracker. The FitBit is part-pedometer, part-sleep meter, part-calorie counter, and part-everything else. You wear it similarly as you would wear a pedometer, except the rules for attaching it to your person aren’t as rigid as a pedometer. For example, a pedometer must be placed in a specific location on or near your waist in order for it to track your steps. The FitBit, on the other hand, can be thrown into your pants pocket or even a shirt pocket among other places.

I wanted a FitBit Ultra for two reasons: to track my sleep and to track my activity levels. For a while now I’ve not been sleeping well. I’d say that I began noticing this back towards the end of April 2012; I figured that the FitBit could at least provide some level of tracking to see what was going on with my sleep.

In addition, I’ve gone from being an athletically active guy in high school to an academically and socially active guy in college (i.e. not working out in the gym, but still up and about) to a graduate student with so much free time that he lost 125 pounds (most of which has been gained back) to a guy with a good job which, unfortunately, requires about two hours of driving every day and the majority of my time being spent sitting at a desk staring at a computer. That’s some roller coaster for a body to go through over a 7 – 10 year period!

However, just like I began feeling that something was wrong with my sleep back in April, for some time now I’ve felt extra-sedentary. It’s a weird type of feeling to describe, but the feeling of being extra-sedentary is somewhat unnatural. It’s an interesting feeling in that you have the desire to go out and workout and you understand all of the motivational bullshit that folks like coaches and personal trainers try to sell you. But at the same time, you’re swamped with commitments and requirements that force you to sit behind a desk, in a car, at a meeting, on the phone, etc. for extended periods of time.

And that’s the key to understanding this extra-sedentary mode that some people fall in. There is a tremendous mental weariness and physical drain that comes with being an office worker, a long-term commuter, an active volunteer who does great things for causes at the result of lost free time, etc. If you can understand that drain and creeping innate exhaustion, then you can understand the feeling that I’ve been feeling for some time now.

Combine that feeling with a lack of sleep and, well, you don’t feel right. So I wanted the FitBit to track some of these items and this is what I found out:

My averages from July 1, 2012 – July 7, 2012

Take a look at those statistics. They’re horrible! Those are my average outcomes for the week of July 1, 2012 – July 7, 2012. If you’re looking at that graphic and wondering what the 33,828 steps taken means, it means that I walk an average of 4,833 steps per day. That’s less than half of what you’re supposed to walk each day! That pie graph shows that 68.7% of my waking hours are spent in a sedentary mode with a scant 3.3% of my time spent in a “very active” mode. That’s terrible!

And then you have the sleep bar graphs. The first bar graph shows how long I slept each day that week. It may be hard to tell from the graph, but the average amount of sleep that I get each night is between 6 hours and 6 hours and 20 minutes. Wondering where that innate feeling of exhaustion comes from? There you go! The last bar graph shows that I wake up a lot when I sleep. I’d estimate that the average amount of times that I wake up is between 25 and 35 times each night. That’s terrible! FitBit provides a more exact tracking of your sleep on a daily basis showing exactly when you woke up and how long you were awake, but I don’t want to bog this post down with a ton of graphics. The point is that I don’t sleep well and these figures prove it.

There are other statistics that I can provide, but they aren’t the focus of this entry. For example, I always knew that I didn’t really eat that much (regardless of how much I weigh). By tracking my calorie intake through FitBit, I was able to confirm that I typically eat between 2,000 and 2,500 calories each day, which is right in line for what a guy of my size should be eating to maintain a decent level of health. I don’t need to track this through FitBit because I get quarterly blood tests and checkups at the doctor and I get it confirmed there, but I’ll track it anyway since it doesn’t take up much of my time.

This all begs the question – now what? Now that I have this information what is it that I plan to do with it? Well, I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I wanted to find some validation for what I thought to be true and I found that validation through the FitBit Ultra. What I need to do now is find a way to begin breaking the sedentary lifestyle. However, that’s a very tough task. For example, I look at my schedule for the coming week and I’m booked solid – in a forced sedentary mode – all day Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. On Saturday, I’m booked at two social events which will take up the bulk of my day. That leaves three days where I can potentially do something to get my activity levels up.

I suppose I could work out on those three days and I’m sure that I’ll do something active even if it’s just walking through the local mall or walking up and down the boardwalk by the beach. Yet, it all feels very disparate to me. In other words, it doesn’t seem like a long-term solution and, frankly, it doesn’t even seem like a short-term stop-gap measure.

In the end, I’m a data wonk (thanks, graduate school) and now I have a source of reasonably reliable data that confirms my prior suspicions. What this provides me is a better understanding of what I need to focus in on in order to improve my health. And those improvements center on two areas: higher activity levels and more restive sleep periods. If I can manage those two improvements, then they should combine with my already low caloric intake should put me in a much better physical condition.

Infographic: Nursing Your Lungs – Don’t Smoke

The other day I received an e-mail with a link to the infographic below. Smoking sucks. Not only does it aggravate those of us who do not smoke, but it’s extremely bad for your health. And I’m not kidding about aggravating those of us who don’t smoke – there’s nothing worse than being downwind of a smoker and getting that toxic secondhand smoke blown in your face. I don’t know about you folks, but it gives me an immediate headache that doesn’t go away very quickly. Totally sucks.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this infographic – lots of interesting information to consume.

nursing-your-lungs

The Rug In My Townhouse Is Absolutely Filthy… Take A Look!

Since 2001, I’ve lived with different roommates in different rental, living situations. For a few years I lived in my fraternity’s chapter house, for a few years I lived in a smaller setting with, essentially 5 – 6 roommates (across two apartments), and for a few years I’ve lived with 1 – 2 roommates. There are certain things about the rental life that I enjoy like the lower overall cost of living and there are certain aspects that I don’t like (any more). One of the things that irk me the most about rental living is the lack of ownership that my roommates and I have regarding our apartment.

When I write “lack of ownership” what I mean is that owners have a different approach to their living space than renters. Owners want to improve or stabilize their living space in an effort to increase the value of their homes. Renters, on the other hand, by and large don’t care about increasing the value of the property (in some respects, they are against the value of the property increasing because it forces a higher rent on them). What I’ve noticed, though, is that people living in rental situations actually accept a lower standard of living. Let me explain with a visual example.

The picture below is what my rug looks like in the living room of my apartment:

Some spots on the rug before OxiClean

No, that’s not some weird modern art pattern on the rug – that’s filthy dirt and stains. It’s disgusting. It looks like they purchased this rug from a battlefield hospital during the Civil War. It’s gross. Now most folks would look at this and think, “Just clean your rug, Joe. Stop being a pig.” And those people would be morons.

The rugs were like this when my roommates and I moved into this place a few years ago. After a few years of complaining, our landlord paid for the rugs to be professionally cleaned. Like most professional cleanings, the rugs looked amazing when the job was done… and then a few weeks later they attracted an incredible amount of dirt and filth like magnets.

But my roommates and I are trying to take the typical property owner mindset and fight back a little bit. Below is a picture of what the same spot on the rug looks like after we hit it with some OxiClean.

Rug after OxiClean

Not too bad, right? Sure, there are dozens of disgusting stains all over the rug, but hitting them with OxiClean and getting this result is a good use of our time because it improves the feel of the living room. Who knows? Maybe after two or three applications of this stuff the stains will actually be gone.

Note: The pictures above were taken over a month and a half ago and the stain is still gone. I’m beginning to think that OxiClean can actually clean the rug and keep it clean for good. That would be a nice change from the “professional cleaner” that the landlord spent several hundred bucks on last summer.