Saturday, February 28, 2015

One Month Anniversary

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.
Jim Rohn

What a month February was for my goal of getting healthier! Only talking about weight, I lost in excess of 12 pounds out of the 75 of my ultimate goal. The first week, I lost 5 pounds however everyone knows that the first week what you lose it’s not all fat, it’s a lot of liquid too. But the next 3 weeks, I lost 7 pounds, this is more than my goal to lose 1 pound per week but I’ll see in 4-5 weeks if it continues, I’ll eat more. I’m not complaining about this problem, but I gain this weight in so many years, I want to lose it in a slow and healthy way.

My energy is getting better and better with each passing day. To start with, I was not in bad shape, I could play 2 hours of pickelball which is great for the cardio and walk a few miles. 

The other morning, I almost ran to the bathroom, not for an emergency but just because I felt so good and was excited with the changes.

My mental health is excellent; I’m focused and look forward to this health journey.

I changed so many things in this short month:

Refined sugar. I’m the first one to be surprised about that one! I haven’t had any refined sugar this whole month. The last time that happened, I must have been a baby. I love everything made of sugar; Before, I was eating dessert at pretty much every meal. Even at night, there were sweets in my snacks. Now, I don’t even feel like I want some. It’s ok if I decide to have some but for now I prefer to wait until later to be sure I don’t fall off the sugar wagon.

Bread. I’m eating about 98 % less than what I used to. I didn’t target bread as my enemy, but it seems that in my sub-conscious mind, it was a problem, or it’s all those vegetables that are taking prime location in my stomach.

Vegetable and Fruit. My biggest intake of both was from potatoes and I mean French fries and chips. I just didn’t care for those vegetables and fruit. Since February first, I have had less than one serving of Fries and I had a little bit of chips once. What I have now is mainly fresh vegetables and fruits, can’t go wrong with that!

Coffee. I’m cutting down on this dark beverage. It’s not out, it’s just that I want to keep it, so that’s that. However, I did a change in what I put in it, I switched the coffee cream for skim milk. The first few mornings after I switched over to skim milk I didn’t enjoy my cup much. Now I’m used to it and won’t return to the cream. It’s not a big amount of calories I’m saving but it’s a lot of cholesterol. This is just a good example of doing a change for my health in general and not really for my weight. It’s also a good example of changing something and sticking to it. It doesn’t take that much time to be rid of an old habit and accepting and even enjoying the new one.

Dairy. We were already drinking low fat milk but my intake has been reduced to what I put in my coffee. I still have yogurt every morning so I have a healthy daily portion of dairy. I cut down on cheese to only the cheese needed in meals.

Eggs. My doctor told me to stop eating eggs. I will not, with all the good habits we took if cholesterol is still a problem at my next annual exam, I’ll scramble to stop and won’t be over easy about it. I don’t eat a dozen eggs per week, I have about 4. I could cut down to one, as long it’s an ostrich egg :)

Alcohol. For the past 5 days, 13 hours, 12 minutes I haven’t had a drop of alcohol. No I’m not that obsessive! :) We are retired so every day is Saturday for us. The opportunity of having a few is always there. It is good for the cholesterol to have a glass of wine, if that was enough for me, I would have some for (to) my health, but one glass to me is not enough. So I just cut the whole thing. June 1st I will be off that wagon. In our social circle, everyone has a few around the camp fire and I don’t want to eliminate it forever. I’ll evaluate then. Meanwhile it’s not going to be an issue, the decision is taken and I don’t debate with myself because myself is so much stronger than me!

Meat. I just cut down on the portion.

Snack. Right now the only snacks I take are yogurt, juice, or dry un-sweetened cereal. Boring right? It is but it does the job for me!

Water. This is my biggest problem; I have to force myself to drink more. When I’m good, I’ll have about 1.5 litres and it’s not even enough… I have no problem drinking water when I’m playing sport, but in a regular day, yerk!

Breakfast of the champs

Because I’m excessive, routine is a life saver for me. Breakfast is one of those daily meals when I have a routine and pretty much never derogate from it. For years, I had toasts with peanut butter and a banana. I never got tired of it!

Now I want to limit my cholesterol intake, so the peanut butter couldn’t be part of my routine. As a matter of fact, the whole breakfast has been changed. Every morning I have:

1 cup of low fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup of raspberry (or other fruit if there is none)
1 cup of Cherrios

It’s a little less than 250 calories and it sure keeps me satisfied.

I find it’s so much easier to manage breakfast with this practice. On days when I can’t make it happen I’ll eat something else but I will not enjoy it as much. There might even be some occasions when we’ll go out to a restaurant and I will have eggs and bacon and I won’t feel guilty about it because I know the very next day I will be back to my healthy habits.

Yesterday we came to our “summer house”. The road to our home is not ploughed so we have to park the car at the campground entrance and carry everything we need for our stay.

First thing we did when we arrived was to start the heater. Then we went outside to get warm! It took 4 hours before our place was warm. This is what happens when you leave a house with no heat in winter in Canada.

Our physical activity for the afternoon was all about our “summer” home. We had not been back since the end of December. Well about 3 feet of snow were waiting for us so my exercise consisted of shovelling a path to our home, removing the snow from the roof of our 2 sheds and dig the truck out of its igloo. Christiane cleared a path to our 2 sheds and to the wood pile and dug the fire pit out and cleared an area around the pit to put our chairs.

This is the first time we’ve come here and didn’t bring any wine with us. I have been wine free for 4 days now, my liver must be wondering what is going on!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Frozen buns and weiner

Yesterday I went outside for a walk. What a difference a week makes… 

Last week: sneakers, shorts and t-shirt

This week, Boots, leopard underwear, pants, t-shirt, pull-over, coat, gloves and a tuque! 

This is what happens when you leave Florida in the middle of winter for our perma-frost land of never-ending-winter-hell named Canada! 

As it always happens on those strolls, my mind was traveling in time… 

I remembered when we were in our early twenties; my wife and I attended a course on the military base in Kingston (Ontario). It was in winter and we had rented a small cabin in the outskirt of the base. Our neighbors were Leo and J9 (not really part of the story but I felt like throwing their names in, in case they read this :) ) 

Before cabin fever set-in, I decided to go for a run. I was in great shape and could pound the pavement forever. 

It was cold with a little wind so I wore shorts, sweat pants and a wind breaker. Usually when running in the cold is not an issue as long you wear the proper clothing. I thought I did… 

The cabin was located on a major road. There was no where else for me to jog so I ran on the road, with the wind in my back. I might have run a mile or two. By the time I turned for my return leg, I had buns of steel; they were so frozen! 

Now running with the wind in my face, I felt really exposed (below the belt). When I finally arrived at the cabin, my front apparatus were all frozen. I could have gotten a vasectomy right there and then; I would not have felt a thing. But we wanted to have kids, so I just let every thing thaw slowly. Luckily nothing was frozen so much that it fell off! 

Needless to say, that was the last time I ran outside in the winter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fitbit for dummy

- Fitbit Noun from the Latin meaning: “Get off the sofa and go walk 10,000 steps.”

Couple of days before my birthday, my wife asked me if I would like a Fitbit. I didn’t know what it was and I wasn’t sure if she was joking. So I answered: “No thank you!”

She must have guessed my ignorance because she started to tell me what it does. I had said NO so I was not about to change my answer and look like she was right about me wanting one. A man has to assume himself!

Today we went to Costco and while she had her eyes examined I just walked through the store aimlessly, just browsing. In the electronic department what did I see? A gizmo that does something similar to the Fitbit, it’s a distant cousin, a Vivofit.

I looked around, my wife was no where in sight, so I approached the Vivofit to see what it’s all about.

Interesting, I thought, maybe it would be useful. Now that this is MY idea it must be a good one, right?

For those who won’t admit they don’t know what it is I’ll tell you what I understood. It’s like a pedometer, it measures the number of steps you take. You wear it around your wrist and keeps counting all day. It will help you keep track of your daily activities. You can set goals (like walking 10,000 steps) and when you reach your goal it will vibrate at which time you are free to use your sofa. It also tells you how many calories you burnt. The most advance one will also monitor your heart rate. Every thing is downloadable to your smart phone or PC.

My problem with it is that I don’t like wearing stuff… I don’t wear my watch; I don’t have bracelets, chains or any other piece of hardware on me except for the clothes I wear.

With all the research I did, I still couldn’t figure out if it also tells time. If you have to wear it all day it might as well have another purpose.

If you wear it in bed, well I don’t know if it will track all exercises but it will tell you how you slept. I’m at a lost on that one; I think I sleep with both eyes closed, that’s pretty much my only concern.

Do you own one? Does anyone you know have one? Do you (or they) like it or after a few weeks did it took a last step to the bottom of a drawer?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Once I write something in the blog, it becomes automatically law in my book. I can’t just go and tell you dearest blog friends about something and quit after a while. I want to be accountable for it and I don’t want to lose credibility so here we go… 

In the next 3 months, no alcohol will touch my lips; I’ll drink from a straw… kidding! I’ll be as sober as a monk, oh wait wrong analogy, monk drink wine right? I’ll be as sober as a sleeping beauty. Make me think I should ask to be put in a coma for the next 3 months. LOL

So this is it, no alcohol until May 24th, I’ll even add an extra week to make it easier to remember so it will be June 1st when I can have a drink to all the sobers out there!

You might wonder “Richard, why would you do such a thing, why?”

My goal is to become healthier. I’m a little excessive and I can’t control myself when it comes to wine, if I take a glass of wine I end up having a second one and sometimes I don’t stop until the bottle or in some cases the bottles are empty.

A whole bottle of wine is 600 calories. If I’m conservative, I think that I drink at least half a bottle every 2 days. Let’s throw a few more in the count for good measure. So in a month, I might have enjoyed 10 bottles. That is 6000 calories or about 1.7 lbs per month.

I’ll take those 3 months to cleanse myself, it will also add to the benefit that there will be no headache the following days and I will be able to enjoy physical activities. It will also be beneficial economically. The wine we drink is about $13/bottle (in Canada) so 10 * 13 = $130 saved. How many happy meals at McDonald can I get for this… never mind!

To be successful, I have developed strategies:

  1. Never walk in a wine store
  2. Remove the words “wine” from my dictionary
  3. Go to bed at 7ish
  4. If someone want to drink around me, they can’t they have to do their drinking 100 feet from me.
  5. Do not eat pasta
  6. Do not participate in toasting
  7. Put red dye in my water glasses
  8. Be ready with good answers when in social event people ask: “Would you like a glass of wine Richard?”
“No I joined a cult and we don’t drink.”
“No I’m allergic to the color red.”
-  “No I’m the designated driver”
-  “No from Monday to Sunday inclusively I don’t drink.”
-  “No it would be against my parole’s conditions.”
-  “No I don’t like you and I only drink with people I like.”
-  “No but if you have drugs that would be great.”

Only 3 more months to go…

Monday, February 23, 2015

Losing Face

This morning I went to the bathroom. Did my business, got to the sink to wash my hands. I raised my eyes and was shocked! Part of my face was missing!

I don’t spend much time looking at myself in a mirror, I’m confident about how good looking I am so why waste time checking it out! LOL

For a while now my head has been as round as a pumpkin, it almost looked like I belonged to the chipmunk family and that I stored a lot of nuts in my cheeks.

Let's face it, it is no longer so round. Maybe in my sleep, I have spitted some of the nuts! I can even see some valley under my cheek bones.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week 3


I have gained .4 lbs this week! Then why am I so happy?

For one thing, spending 3 days on the road could have brought the weight gain considerably higher than .4 lbs. Also, I blame the scale… and that’s no joke. 

I knew I would weight myself on our daughter’s scale when we arrived and that scale is not that accurate to start with. I will have a more precise idea when we get back to Florida. I just reported the weight for this week because I want to see what will happen in the next weeks. 

The target will be to lose 1 lb/per week on my daughter’s scale and I needed to have a reference. I even thought about bringing our scale on this trip, but in the end, I decided it was a little fanatical.

I’m also so happy about our choices while on this 3 days road trip. We made so many excellent choices. We are aiming to become healthier and it starts with the choices we make. We are not doing any kind of die-et, just changing our eating and exercises habit to better ones which will bring us to our goal. In other words, it’s a lifestyle change which we are enjoying.

I use the “we” in my post most of the time; my wife is also on this journey. It is so much easier to do this together, we are each other’s most important ally!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

On the road

Almost 3 weeks since I’ve turned left on the Health Journey Boulevard. I knew a slowdown period was coming this week; we had to go back home to Canada from our winter spot in the sun called Florida. It’s a 2400 KM (1500 Miles) and a 3 days drive.

Three days when you are at the mercy of those pit stops where French fries are cheering you to pick them up. They say they will be quiet just hang around your over-sized love handles, “Pick me pick me” they are crying their little potatoes’ eyes out… I HATE YOU or is it I ate you.

I knew temptations would not stay in my blind spot. It would keep showing up. I would have to be careful and keep McDonald in my rear view mirror if I wanted to move ahead in my planned route.

Sometimes you just have to look and you will find there are signs out there to remind you of your destination. I don’t know how many times I saw truck scales weigh stations where trucks had to pull over to get weighed, when the trucks are overweight they get ticketed. What is good for the trucking business must be good for me too, I don’t want to be overweight!

But seriously, this time I was apprehensive about those 3 days on the road. We used to just eat anything, anytime. We didn’t care if it was junk or not, as long as it didn’t slow us down (isn’t this the definition of fast food?). We would probably put over 5 lbs on a 3 days trip.

This time we are on the lookout. We are doing very well: the first day we had a homemade muffin (not one of those oversized store muffins) and oranges (the fruit, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about). I stopped and got a coffee at Duncan Donut, a double cream double sugar as I used to order them; didn’t order any donuts. In the last 3 weeks I have switched my coffees to non-fat milk and one small sugar. The DD coffee was not as good as I remembered it.

At around 10:00, my wife said: “How about we stop at a Wal-Mart around noon and get some exercise walking the store?” When we travel we go from point A to point B in the fastest way possible. We don’t stop for a walk in a shopping center…well, apparently we do now! So to Wal-Mart we went and every time we walk by one of the camera I couldn’t help myself from smiling. I could visualize a nervous security guard wondering “what are those two up to? They’re not even pushing a cart and they sure look like they are not here to buy anything”.

For lunch, we stopped at Chick-fil-a. We ordered one combo meal, which is a small French fries, a chicken sandwich and a pop. And we ordered one more sandwich, we shared a pop and the fries and didn’t even eat them all.

Around supper time we were in Charlotte and there happened to be a shopping mall across from the hotel so we decided to go and walk there too. Hopefully the security guard at Wal-mart didn’t put us on a no walking list! When we were done we stopped at the food court. My wife had a Philly Steak sandwich which was only packed with steak and a ton of vegetables. I ordered a spinach and mozzarella Stromboli. I thought it tasted like grass but It was filling. I ate two third of it.

Yesterday we had breakfast at the hotel. There were waffles, eggs, bacon, sausages. I can’t tell you how they taste we had none of this. Just an order of toast, yogurt and fruits.

For lunch we ended up at Five Guys. We each had a little hamburger (no cheese, no bacon), 1 order of fries. If you’ve ever been to a Five Guys you know they are really generous with the fries. We ate just a few, everything else went to fill up the garbage bag.

Supper was at an Italian restaurant, we both couldn’t finish our plates. I had some pasta with tomato sauce and real tomatoes… just yummy and healthy. There was a basket of garlic bread, we each took one and I can proudly say that I only ate half of mine but the thing is, before, we both would have empty the content of the basket and today the basket went back half full!

Remember yesterday I wrote to eat less… I am surprised to say that even on the road we achieved this, it was not perfect but it was manageable and we ate a lot less than we used to. Great job if I say so myself!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Top Secret

What follows is from years of observation, research and personal experience.

If you want to lose weight and maintain it follow these steps:

1. Eat less and eat more

- Fried food
Soft Drink
Cheese and Cream (ice)
- Bread
Cake, Cookie or pie
- Bacon
- Butter
- Enter your own here

- Vegetables
- Fruits
- Water
2. Be more active

See, you don’t need to buy expensive products, this is FREE, however if you send me $29.95 with a prepaid stamped envelope, I’ll send you a copy of this secret in my very own hand writing.  For the first one thousand customers, I’ll butter up the offer with the following pearl of wisdom: Popcorn; not just corn that pops.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Last night I had a dream… I dream t of celery! There is no mistake, you read right: c-e-l-e-r-y and I’m not even fond of this particular vegetable. Where this did come from? I never heard of anyone dreaming of celery before. If you hadn’t heard about someone dreaming of celery before, well now you can say you have!

Yesterday’s post about walking vs running has cleared things up for me. I always thought running was the best exercise of the two. I did it in the past; I enjoyed it and was now only walking till my weight would be low enough so I could start running again… So, as I wrote my post and did the math about the calories and the other benefits, I convinced myself that walking is the best exercise for me and that I am no longer a runner.

There will be other big changes coming up, for one thing my running shoes have been re-labelled, they are now my walking shoes.

I will never be training to run a marathon, and no, I will not be walking one either! Maybe I’ll walk a half marathon at some point but it’s not even in my goals.

One more benefit from walking is that after the walk I have energy left to do other activities. This will be really helpful this summer as I intend to keep my walking schedule and enjoy playing pickleball. Beware though that I might not have enough energy left for vacuuming *cough* *cough*
So here is my pledge: I pledge to walk to the finish line of my 150 pounds goal.

Don't miss tomorrow's post, I will be giving you the secrets about losing weight and keeping it all off. I'm sure no one would be able to sleep tonight because of all the excitement! 

Sweet dreams

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Walking Vs Running

Speeding to Injury 

In the late seventies, I read a book about running: “The Complete Book of Running” by James Fixx. He instantly became my Idol.

After finishing the book, I went to a store and bought an $80 pair of Adidas running shoes. At the time, that was a lot of money, but it was worth it.

I started running 1 mile, then 2 then 3. I slowly increased my speed to where I could run a mile in less than 6 minutes (if the wind was at my back :) )

My goal was to run a marathon. I increased the distance to where I ran 6 miles which I did a few times but my knees would get so sore I would have to stop running for a while. Then I would start over and the same cycle repeated itself and I would end up having to stop running again.

And every time I had to stop for a while it would be a mental battle to start running again; but I would do it until I reached a decent distance and then I would need to stop to recuperate from injuries.

In 1984 my idol died while running… this was a real shock. James was only 52 years old.

Burning Calories

Running versus walking: If only for the risk of injury, walking wins by a land slide. However, if you do some research on this debate you’ll read that the best of the two options to lose weight is running. I disagree…

In one of the research I read, and this is common, it refers to a simple calorie burning count for each exercise.

For example, at my weight, running at 5 mph I would burn about 750 calories an hour. While walking at a 3.5 mph pace I would burn 390 calories an hour.

This comparison only takes in consideration the time spent doing the activity. So it would be true if my choice was to run for one hour vs walk for one hour.

In my case if I were to run or walk 2.5 miles, walking would win. If I ran, I would run about 5 times a week because I need time to recuperate. And let’s say I can run 2.5 Miles at 5 mph. Per week, I would have burned 750 calories divide by 2 (5 mph / 2.5 Miles) multiply by 5. Total calories burned for the week: 1875

When walking, I walk 7 times a week. So for the same distance, now the formula would be 390 calories divided by 1.43 (3.5 mph / 2.5 MIles) multiply by 7. Total calories burned for the week: 1909

Walking wins again!

Mentally insane

From personal experience, starting to train for running is a constant battle. While running I’m always questioning myself, am I running too fast? Am I out of breath? Should I walk for a while? Can I reach the next mail box?

I don’t enjoy my surrounding; I don’t wave, talk or acknowledge anyone that I might come across. This is rough and that stage lasts about 4 weeks. It’s like hitting a wall.

After 4 weeks, you know yourself well enough to run at your most efficient pace but then you shift your focus to: should I take a break tomorrow? Can I increase my pace or the distance and by how much?

After 6 months of running and having to stop because you are hurt and can’t go on a run, you are frustrated and promise yourself that next time you’ll do better. Sure!

This week during my walk I came across a group of people and I stopped and talked with them. Since I started my daily walk, I have been waving to neighbours and pet a dog or two.

I also look at my surrounding, there are so many things to see when you are not in a rush and constantly looking at your stop watch, aren’t there?

I even take time to think while I walk… the mentally insane section of this post comes directly from my last walk.

If you didn’t keep score: Walking 3 - Running 0

Choice will vary from person to person but the main thing is: Let’s get out and move.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 1 and 2

February 1st, my weight was 215 pounds. This means for my height, my BMI was 33.7 which label me in the obese group. I can’t do anything about my height (apparently even wearing 6 inches high hill doesn’t count). The only thing I can change is my weight.

I didn’t put all that extra weight in a few weeks; it has been years of gobbling all the wrong food in excess amount. I take full responsibility, if I had kept my mouth shut more often, my dough- dough body would be more like a spaghetti shape.

My target for the next 40 weeks is to loose one pound per week. After that stage I will be only over-weight. I will still have a long way to go, but I will already be pushing-up my health.

I am retired so training time is not an issue. I will torture myself walking and jogging. I’m really careful not to put too much stress on my over-size frame. So right now it’s more walking and I just lightly jog few times in the last mile.

I used to run a lot, my weight was lower but even then my knees didn’t appreciate all that pounding. This is why I have to be really careful about how I will approach my schedule.

I walk without a timer, I know if I started to run with one I will be ending running against the time and end up faster having to stop for a while to recuperate from injury. Slow and steady will win my race.

Once a week, I will put a walking and weight log. Nothing hidden, the truth the whole truth and nothing but…