Tuesday, September 25, 2018

259 - Five stalled months are over

258.6 lbs (117.3 kg)
I haven't been under 260 pounds since the end of April! The momentum is with me now. With some extra hard work and dedication, I can do this!

You can tell which two days I had off
As I am about to head to work today, I am aware that I'll probably walk well over 12,000 steps before the end of the night. If this graph is anything to go by, I can usually reach 18,000 steps these days. Obviously, in this particular week, I was off work on Monday and Thursday since I did less than 6,000 steps.

It makes a difference, too, that I'm now regularly lifting heavy boxes of groceries and moving huge pallets of freight three nights a week.

As the colder weather takes over, in this first week of fall (autumn), I've started to cook meals at home a bit more too. Yesterday's creation was a cabbage soup, with:
  • Yellow onion
  • White cabbage (chopped)
  • Carrots
  • Celery (diced)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • Green bell pepper (diced)
  • Vegetable, chicken or beef bouillon
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper and salt
Like I did, you can easily substitute, add or remove ingredients. I left out the oregano and basil but added diced rutabaga (swede) for extra flavor. You could easily add barley, or any kind of meat, if you like. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

261 - A quick recap for new readers

When my journey began, in June 2015, I weighed 405 pounds (183.7 kg). I was physically unable to walk more than a mile. Stairs were practically impossible. I was a wreck! I changed my domestic circumstances, became more active, and adopted a low-carb diet. For the next 18 months, I consistently lost 10 pounds a month. By the end of 2016, I was down to 243 pounds.

Caption
During 2017, I slowly started to regain some of the weight I'd lost. At my highest that year I tipped the scales at 288 lbs. Then I got back on the wagon and for three or four months lost the same 10 pounds a month again. Then I reached a plateau for a few months. Finally, in September 2018, things in my life changed again and I've started to lose weight again.

Since the middle of 2015, I've moved house five times and had five different jobs in four different cities. Now, I'm settled in the place that I belong. I can sense that there will be a few more job changes in the coming years but they will all be in Missoula. The low-carb diet, which I know works for me, will continue. The increased activity level will continue as I find a greater range of fun things to do.

I still have some big long-term goals to work on, and some smaller ones along the way. My ultimate target is to reach 178 pounds, and be fit and healthy. Along the way, I want to encourage others who have struggled with being overweight. If I can do it, so can you! Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes and hasten your own success. I wish you well!

Monday, September 17, 2018

265 - The downward journey continues

Pretty much as expected, I've lost a few pounds in the past few days:
265 lbs (120.2 kg) today

With a new job (a promotion) that is a little more physically demanding than my previous one, and slightly longer hours at work, the temptation to eat a fourth meal when I get home after midnight has gone, and with it the extra unwanted calories and carbs. The swimming (part of the therapy for my once-broken arm) also helps.

I can also tell that I'm losing weight and inches again because my clothing is fitting better. I'm a little sad that the colder, darker days are rapidly approaching and will limit some of my outdoor adventures. It'll soon be time to start compiling a list of places to go snowshoeing during the winter.

Monday, September 10, 2018

270 - Am I bovvered? Only slightly...

In the immortal words of comedian Catherine Tate on the news that I'm back up to 270 lbs, "Am I bovvered?" Only slightly, because I know it's only a temporary condition. Apparently, my weight has fluctuated between 260 and 270 pounds for the past four or five months now and it's currently at the crest of one of those small waves. It'll come down again soon as the effects of my new swimming regimen take shape. And, literally, they are taking shape as I seem to be able to more easily fit into clothing and my face is looking slightly thinner despite the scales saying that I'm gaining weight.

Since my last blog post, there have been a few developments. My fractured humerus (broken left arm) has almost completely healed. I've been able to safely ride my motorcycle again since the end of July. I can tie my own apron strings behind my back with a little extra effort. I can drink from a cup with my left hand normally now. I can scratch the top of my head with my left hand now - even if I can't put that hand all the way down to my shoulder blades like I can with my right hand (almost, but not quite). Importantly, I've been able to sleep on my left side for a few weeks now, which is SO much better than before. I've even had a few nights of sleep in my hammock without any arm discomfort.

The most significant thing that is left, in respect of my arm, is that the range of motion isn't what it once was. Evidently, there is some scar tissue that is affecting the tendons of the rotator cuff. It's still getting better. I'm only about 10% "disabled" in my left arm now compared to the right, and that percentage is getting smaller all the time. To give myself the best chance of returning to normal, I've started swimming regularly again, which has already helped me - even in just the two weeks that I've been going. The trouble is that I prefer to go early in the morning, while most people are still asleep in their beds, but I'm still in a job (at the moment) where I work until midnight or later. So my sleep schedule is a little disrupted.

The scorching hot summer has been and gone, and the inevitable forest fires are dying out now. I've been on a few hikes recently, including to the summit of Mount Helena again:
At the summit of Mount Helena last Friday

As Google Photos reminded me this morning, it was two years ago today that I was last up there. I've been to Polebridge, next to Glacier National Park, recently. Last month I was in northern Wyoming and south-central Montana. At the end of July, I returned to Blodgett Canyon to hike all the way to the waterfall (five miles there and five miles back). While the weather remains favorable, I really want to make the most of these last few days of summer (the fall equinox is on September 22nd).

I hinted at "priorities for the next two or three years" in my last blog post but didn't have time to elaborate. I had been having a dilemma between my desire to achieve the big, hairy goals (PCT hike to Crater Lake, 600-mile bicycle ride, and climbing Mount Hood) and my desire to settle down a bit and become an integral part of my home community in the wonderful city of Missoula. The clarity came when I decided that - after a couple of tumultuous years of change - I really need to settle down and become part of the community that I am living in. A second "lightbulb moment" 💡 came this week when I finally figured out that I'll be happiest working in the voluntary sector. Having been in the public and private sectors for most of my adult life, I believe I'll find the greatest satisfaction helping and benefiting the public without thinking about making a profit from it. Now I have to position myself so that I can achieve that goal in the next five years.

I've also been thinking about this blog and the website. I've been wanting to incorporate more recipes and more photographs. I also want to freshen up the links to low-carb resources (the "Eat Right" part of this site's name) and to good exercise tips (the "Get Out Of Breath" part). Watch this space!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

265 - Fractured humerus update and some 2020 clarity

Despite some good hikes (between 3 and 8 miles long) on some of the Missoula area's many trails, and mostly good eating habits, the scales haven't budged at all, remaining steadfastly at around 265 lbs. The terrain and weather conditions have been almost perfect - not too wet or too hot or too cold. The only bad thing was about two weeks ago when there were MILLIONS of mosquitoes (only a slight exaggeration).

My arm is healing nicely, if a little too slowly for my liking. I'm being frustrated by the parlous state of the American health and insurance systems. For someone whose early training and career were in the British health service, and who is passionate about health, I don't think I could work in that sector again. I'd be pulling out what little hair I have left! The bones in my arm are well aligned and fusing together nicely. I am no longer wearing a sling on my arm. Now it's time to work on rebuilding the tendons and muscles so that I can regain the full strength and range of motion that I had before.

Slowly, day by day, there are small improvements. Simple things like sleeping on my side (which I prefer) were not possible immediately following the accident. Now I can sleep on my right side as well as my back, which means that I no longer have to sleep in my recliner in the living room but can sleep in my bed at night. I can scratch my own nose with my left hand, which I couldn't two weeks ago. I can lift my arm to about a 45° angle, which is forty-five degrees more than three weeks ago (but still not the 180° - straight up - that I can lift my right arm). I start physical therapy tomorrow for approximately six weeks. By the end of it I'm expecting a number of outcomes:

  1. to be able to ride my motorcycle again! 
  2. to be able to tie my own apron strings behind my back again at work
  3. to be able to drink from a cup with my left hand without looking like a T Rex
  4. to be able to scratch the top of my head with my left hand, and 
  5. to be able to sleep on my left side. 
The orthopedic specialist thinks it'll be early August before I reach these goals. I'm shooting for the end of July! 

The extra downtime that I've had to endure have given me an opportunity to think about priorities for the next two or three years. 

... to be continued ...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

262 - A dent in the plans with a dent in the gas tank

Regular readers who know me will know that it's been just over a week since my motorcycle accident (on May 3rd). After swerving to avoid being hit by a car driver who failed to stop when he should have, the bike (and I) took a tumble, resulting in a dented and dinged up bike and a compound fracture of the proximal humerus for me. So now my arm is going to be immobilized in a sling for another five weeks until the bone regrows and I can start working on rebuilding tendons and muscle strength.

Bicycle riding is too dangerous to do one-handed, and motorcycle riding is not an option until the bike gets fixed (and my arm heals). Which means that I'm once again limited to either public transport, relying on kind friends for rides, or "shanks's pony" (walking). Even the walking that I do do is not as comfortable or pain-free as I would like yet since the left arm gets shook up a little. So, I'm not getting the exercise that I'd like to and I'm not hiking and backpacking as much as I had originally planned. I can't even enjoy the T'ai Chi that I'd started recently (well, not without some adaptation on my part).

In terms of my weight loss recently, the bouncing around continued. At one point I'd reached 268 lbs before dropping to 260, then 262 lbs this morning. I'm still struggling to cut out the "fourth meal" after I return home from work. Simply not having anything in the fridge and cupboards seems to be the best strategy for me. I'm trying to stick with low carb meals but not always succeeding.

One thing (of several) that my arm injury has taught me is that I need to work on improving my core strength. I kind of already knew this, so a priority for the summer and especially the coming fall/winter will be a regular muscle-building and defining workout of some sort, with weights or other resistance exercises.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

258 - Reached a plateau, and a new peak

At the summit of Mount Sentinel, well above the M
For the past three weeks, I've been struggling to make any further headway in terms of weight loss. I'd dropped to 253 lbs before bouncing up to 262 lbs and being around 258 lbs for a few days, despite an energy-burning trip to Lincoln a few days ago to go snowshoeing.

This morning, one of my co-workers (thanks Jonas!) called me to go hiking up the back side of Mount Sentinel. I've previously done the zig-zaggy front side from the university, but this was from the Crazy Canyon trailhead, about 3.5 miles to the summit.

If you can, try zooming in and out of the panoramic photo (link below):  https://photos.app.goo.gl/3ZRmpMpMxS3YUZ8D3 and scroll (pan) to the left and right.

The thing I know I need to work on next is NOT eating anything when I get home from work after midnight. It's basically a fourth meal, which I really don't need. That's one of the things I was doing when I was living in Belgrade that contributed to my weight gain there last year.

I'm also going to compile a list soon of future hiking destinations, which I will publish and distribute to my friends so that any of you/them who are inclined to do so can come and join me in an adventure. See you on the trail!


Saturday, March 24, 2018

253 - Another small step closer to my target

253.4 lbs (114.9 kg)
It's taken several days to get there, and there was a blip in the numbers along the way (although there weren't any significant deviations from the low carb plan) but I finally broke past the 254-pound barrier. I had climbed to the 'M' on Mount Sentinel too during the week, but that didn't seem to register on the scales much.

One important bit of news: I did go to pick up my motorcycle from Belgrade on Thursday (a long three-hour ride in the cold). Now, I'm able to travel more independently and explore places further from my home. With the rapid approach of better weather, there will be many more opportunities to get outdoors and do fun, dynamic things.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

254 - The job continues

Bouncing from 405 to 243 to 288 and to 254 lbs
Sometimes, a picture really is worth 1,000 words. Here, we can see when I started this adventure - way back in June 2015 - at 405 lbs. Throughout 2016 I lost an average of ten pounds a month. I moved house at the beginning of 2017 and regained about 45 lbs. Since moving again, I've managed to lose 34 of those pounds again. This morning I was at 254.4 lbs (115.4 kg)

Even without constantly checking on the weighing scales, I can tell I'm losing weight and inches because the new pants (trousers) that I had to buy before Christmas (because my old one no longer fitted) are now almost comically too big for me. The new belt I had to buy, which had 5 holes, is also being secured ... not in the fifth hole, or the fourth, or the third, but now comfortably in the second.

I'm once again able to wear clothing that I haven't worn in many months (in some cases, many years!) When I do go clothes shopping again someday, I'll be shopping in the "normal" fashionable stores, not in the "big and tall" fat people's stores.

Even my co-workers at my new workplace - where I've only been working for seven weeks - have noticed that I look slimmer.

I still have some objectives to work on and some intermediate goals to reach:

  • reaching 243 lbs [where I was when I last left Missoula, 15 months ago], 
  • being under 100 kilograms (220.4 lbs), 
  • under 200 pounds, 
  • then my big goal - reaching 178 pounds)

Friday, March 16, 2018

258 - A little bounce and a few winter hikes

After briefly bouncing up to 261 lbs, I managed to get myself back down to 258.0 lbs (117 kg) this morning. I'd had a bad day emotionally (unusual for me) on Tuesday and had resorted to some unwelcome comfort eating. By Wednesday, I was feeling better again and back on the wagon.

On Mount Sentinal in Missoula, at the foot of the 'M'
Spurred on by one of my customers at work who had asked me if I had climbed to the 'M' on Mount Sentinel in the previous week (because I'd told him I would - but I hadn't), I had to climb it on Wednesday morning. The conditions were perfect. It was cool enough that I didn't overheat and yet warm enough for the few patches of remaining ice to be relatively small. If it had been any warmer, the mud would have made for slow going. There were few other people out on the trail.

The journey up and back down again was a great time to clear my head and think about some of the things that have been bothering me lately. One conclusion I came to: it's time to "let go" of certain things, whether they are old possessions that I no longer need or previous relationships that I am clinging on to. I had a vision, this evening, of having my hands full, and someone giving me more to hold on to. I couldn't take the new things without first putting down some of the old ones because my hands could only carry a finite amount.

At frozen Lake Como, about 10 miles south of Hamilton, MT
Today, I went down to Hamilton to visit a very talented and creative friend there and see her tiny house and studio. While there, I also visited Lake Como and walked around the shores of the reservoir and on the "beach". It really was quite spectacular and will be well worth another visit when the water isn't frozen.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

255 - Leading a full and busy life

255.4 lbs (115.9 kg)
After a few more days of careful eating and a pleasant (if very muddy) hike in the Blue Mountain Recreation Area, I was thrilled to discover that I am down to 255.4 lbs as of yesterday morning. When I'm not working, I try to fill my day with fulfilling activities and I try to plan some fun physical activities for my two days off each week. After snowshoeing in Lost Creek state park and the Garnet ghost town recently, it will so be warm enough to get my bike out and start cycling again. Various mountains in Missoula's five valleys are calling out to be climbed, and the outdoor camping season will be here very soon. On top of that, I do need to get going on my quest to find a T'ai Chi instructor. It's all "go"!

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

257 - Fantastic weekend at Garnet ghost town

257.0 lbs (116.6 kg)
One of the things I like about my current job is that I get two consecutive days off that are not at (but close to) the traditional "weekend". Mine are Thursdays and Fridays, which means that for two and a half days (I usually start work at 16:00 [4.00 pm] on the days that I do work) to go and do something fun. Last weekend I went with my roommate to the abandoned gold mining ghost town of Garnet, about 20 miles NW of Drummond, Montana. We had three options for getting there: a long but level 10-mile hike, a scenic and winding but slightly uphill 5-mile hike, or a steep 3-mile trek. In the summer you can drive right up to the old town but in winter the roads are not snowplowed, although they are groomed for snowmobiles. So we had the choice to rent snowmobiles (too expensive and not physically challenging) or cross-country skiing (didn't have the skis) or snowshoeing. Since we had equipment for the latter but not the former, we snowshoed in on the 3 miles long road.

Perfect conditions for snowshoeing
Holy cow! That was a steep road. It took us five hours to get there! When we finally arrived there was such a tremendous sense of achievement. We had rented one of two rustic cabins there from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for $30 a night (with a nearby outhouse, fresh water spigot in town, propane stove and cut firewood in the cabin - http://www.garnetghosttown.net/cabin-rentals.php). True to the spirit of the ghost town, there were no other humans there on either night.

It snowed steadily or heavily part of the time and was crisp and cold and cloudless the rest of the time. Snowshoeing around the old town at midnight with only the light from the stars and from headlamps was FANTASTIC. At the end of the adventure, we snowshoed out, downhill back to the car, and it took only two hours!

Friday, February 23, 2018

258 - It's a Wonderful Life

257.8 lbs (116.9 kg)
If someone says "it bears repeating," that means it's worth saying again. "It's a Wonderful Life!"

The journey towards health and happiness continues, unceasingly. Yesterday was a special treat since today is my new roommate's birthday, so she and I went to Lost Creek State Park near Anaconda. It's officially closed until the beginning of May (http://stateparks.mt.gov/lost-creek/) but you can park your car at the locked gate and hike or ski or snowshoe in the mile-and-a-half to where the waterfall is at. That's what we did.

At the frozen waterfall in Lost Creek State Park
near Anaconda, MT
It's a gradual incline most of the way on a pretty straight path. What surprised me a little bit was just how steep the slope was going in. I didn't really notice until we were leaving. That's why it took us 58 minutes to snowshoe the 1.4 miles in but only 46 minutes (it felt like longer!) to come back out. Apparently, there are 25 campsites in the park, including some that are very close to the waterfall, which was frozen yesterday (well, it was only 14 ℉, -10 ℃). Double layers of pants and gloves, and extra layers of shirts were called for.

It's a two-hour drive to here from Missoula but would certainly be worth it when the warmer weather gets here.

Next "weekend" (my current work schedule gives me two consecutive days off on Thursdays and Fridays) I'm going to stay in a cabin at the Garnet ghost town (http://www.garnetghosttown.net) 20 miles northwest of Drummond, MT. In the winter it's another place that has to be reached by foot (skiing or snowshoeing) or by snowmobile. The road from Bearmouth is shorter (I think it's about 5 miles) but steeper and with spectacular views. The Garnet Range road from Greenough (on MT-200) involves a 10-mile hike, which seems a bit daunting now, given how sore my thigh muscles are after yesterday's comparatively short jaunt.

I'm so grateful to be in a place that feels like "home". I'm enjoying my job (although I could always use more pay). I'm enjoying the location of my new apartment (fairly central in Missoula and within easy walking distance of most things for me). I'm enjoying the setup of my new place, with its own washer and dryer, and small wooden deck that faces the westward setting sun in the evening. I'm enjoying the presence of my new roommate who shares many of my ideas on diet and enjoys cooking as much as I do. I love being among such a diverse group of people, and the fact that most people here in Missoula don't care too much how you dress or who you associate with. I love that there are so many cool things to do in town. I'm looking forward to fulfilling my ambitious plans for the next year or two. It really is a wonderful life!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

259 - Enjoying cooking again

258.6 lbs (117.3 kg)
My first two weeks of living in my own apartment in Missoula have been a joyous feast of healthy home cooking. I twice made some un-potato salad (with small pieces of steamed cauliflower instead of potatoes), chicken Waldorf salad (with apples, grapes, celery and walnuts), a root vegetable beef stew (with rutabaga, turnips and parsnips). Today's lunch was BLT (with bacon and tomato on a Romaine lettuce leaf spread with mashed avocado). A few days ago I made Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with a sweet potato skin (innards scraped out) replacing the hoagie roll. It has been fun thinking of creative and tasty ways to replace the added sugar and wheat products from traditional recipes.

When I stepped on the scales this morning I had lost another fifth of a pound.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

261 - Another fantastic week

260.6 lbs (118.2 kg) today
It's been another fantastic week for me. I completed my first full week at my new job, got myself moved into a new apartment, helped my new roommate move her stuff in. Our new place is beginning to look like "home" now, and will only improve with time.

With some careful eating and a little bit of intermittent fasting, I managed to get my weight down to 260.6 lb this morning, down three pounds in the past week. For the first time in six weeks, I've been able to cook for myself which has been great.

It feels like the second half of a long journey, which started in June 2015, is beginning now. Everything is in place for an assault on the summit of the mountain. The real mountain climb (to Mount Hood in Oregon) won't happen for another year or two, and there will be many smaller, less technical peaks to be bagged on the way there. I expect this present leg of the journey to reach its conclusion at the end of 2018.

Missoula winter market every
Saturday morning from 9 am to 1 pm
This morning I went to the Missoula Valley Winter Market at the Senior Center on S Higgins St. There were some really interesting vendors there selling fresh eggs (including some duck and turkey eggs!), potatoes, onions and garlic, baked goods and jams, and other fantastic goodies. We ended up with a few tasty morsels.

My lunch today was especially enjoyable. As I reflected with gratitude upon the events of the past few weeks, and upon the friendships that had been created and strengthened, I was enjoying a scrumptious plate of shrimp with a spinach salad that had some bell peppers, carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, nuts and seeds with Annie's Goddess dressing – a creamy tahini and lemon concoction with chives and parsley. The flavors were divine.

Friday, February 02, 2018

264 - The journey continues

Today was a great day. I finally got to move into my own apartment again.

After moving to Missoula at the end of January, and living in a friend's basement for a week (thanks, Julie!) while I started a new job (technically a transfer, really, to a different grocery store but still part of the same group) I moved most of my "stuff" out of the temporary storage location not far away and into my new place. I had to buy a whole new pantry full of food (new vegetables, new condiments, new salad dressings, new protein sources - eggs and oily fish).

The only substantial thing missing for me in my apartment was a bed since I gave away the last mattress that I owned when I left Helena about 16 months ago. I have a new mattress arriving on Thursday or Friday (i.e. in a week from now).

More than halfway towards
losing the gains of 2017
When I stepped on the scales this morning I weighed in at 263.8 lbs. Thankfully, I'm WAY down from my recent high (just before Christmas) of 288 lbs. With my new work schedule (4.00 pm to midnight, five consecutive evenings a week) I've found that I'm more easily able to do the intermittent fasting thing that I've been wanting to do. I can now happily skip breakfast altogether on some days and not eat my first meal until 1 o'clock or so. My regular dinner break is at 7.00 pm. I can usually manage without having another substantial meal before going to bed between 12.30 and 1.00 am. It's a LOT easier to resist the temptations of eating carbs when carbs barely enter the apartment. For the first time in five or six weeks, I have access to a full kitchen again with all my own pots and pans and knives and other tools. Tomorrow morning I'm going to see what fresh produce is available at the Missoula Valley Winter Market.

263.8 lbs
Even if I didn't have bathroom weighing scales, I'd be able to tell that I'm losing weight again because my new pants (the ones I had to buy because the other ones couldn't accommodate my growing girth) and my old jeans are both feeling really baggy now, and I'll soon have to tighten my belt to the third hole (currently comfortably using the second hole, and the holes appear to be about an inch apart). I'll soon have to go and get another new pair of pants. The next huge milestone for me, in terms of clothing, will be when I have to swap my 2XL work shirts for just an XL size.

As part of the process of moving house, and with it all of my worldly goods, I rediscovered some old coats that I had kept but not worn in a while. Some were comically too large. I shall be disposing of them soon. I still want to go out one day to a campground somewhere and record a video of the ceremonial burning of my old 5XL clown pants. I'm NEVER going back to that size again.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

265 - First day in my new job

Approx. 12 lbs lost in January (so far)
Well, it's the same job that I was doing before, Customer Service Supervisor in a large grocery store, just in a different city - Missoula. My work schedule is more regular now. I'll be working from 4.00 pm until midnight, Saturday through Wednesday, with Thursdays and Fridays off. Nice!

The chart on the left shows how I dropped from about 277 lbs at the beginning of the year to 265 lbs this morning, with a couple of little (pizza-induced) blips along the way. Seriously, I've learned that for me, on a low carb diet, pizza is as bad as eating pure sugar. As soon as I get into a place where I can do it, I want to learn how to make a really good cauliflower-based pizza crust.

It'll be interesting to see what effect the increased amount of walking will have because I'm temporarily living a lot further away from my workplace (2.7 miles) than before (1.2 miles) and there is a 135 ft elevation change now.

Fantastic trails and recreation areas really close to town
Also, once my housing situation is resolved and I have easier access to all of my gear, I'm looking forward to exploring the recreation areas nearby; Pattee Canyon, Blue Mountain and Rattlesnake, as well as the South Hills and the downtown Riverfront.

There are lots of exciting changes and opportunities coming my way soon. I hope you can join me for them, either in person or by following the blog.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The future is looking bright

I moved back to my "home" city of Missoula yesterday. The only thing I wasn't able to bring with me immediately, because of the icy roads and cold temperatures, was my motorbike. At least "Red" is safely tucked up in a warm garage now until I can go and retrieve her in a few weeks time.

I was telling a friend earlier today that it feels really good to be back in Missoula, even though I don't have my own place to live yet. My "stuff" is still in storage and I'm living "out of a suitcase", in a manner of speaking. But that's okay (for a couple of weeks anyway). I know that I'll find somewhere suitable very soon, and then the next stage of my journey can begin.

Along the way (while I was in Belgrade), I was able to make a few new friends and share the address of my website and blog with them. They will be my accountability partners as I strive towards my target weight of 178 lbs (80.7 kg). Just as important, I want to tone and shape my body and build up the musculature.

So, I'm in a new city (in the sense that I just moved), a new job (in the sense that my co-workers are all new to me - it's the same job title, just a different location). I'll have a new house or apartment soon. It's a new start, and the future is looking bright. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

265 - getting fresh

As I was looking at the website of a popular online shopping company last night, it occurred to me that I really couldn't use most of their food offerings. My cupboards will contain a few standbys for emergencies, sure, but the bulk of the food I'll be preparing and eating will be fresh produce. Fortunately for me, I work in a grocery store and have easy access to some good quality produce, including some exotic things like dragon fruit, jackfruit and kiwano melons (and everyday things like nopales, a.k.a. cactus paddles).

265.2 lbs (120.3 kg) this morning
You've seen and heard it be said elsewhere, I'm sure, that you should shop the perimeter of your grocery store, not the center aisles, because those contain all the packaged "convenience" foods that are full of artificial additives and preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients.

Food writer and journalist Michael Pollan says in his book "Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual": "Processed food products dominate the center aisles of the store, while the cases of mostly fresh food—produce, meat and fish, dairy—line the walls. If you keep to the edges of the store you’ll be much more likely to wind up with real food in your shopping cart."

This morning I tipped the scales at 265 lbs. I had to buy myself a new belt yesterday because the old one was literally hanging together by a single thread and was incapable of doing its job of holding my pants up. It's only a cheap Chinese belt because at the moment that's all I can afford (since I'm saving up to move house again) but I will allow myself something nice-looking once I'm more settled.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

I spent the day thinking about food and cooking

With just a few days to go until I move 😃, I had a day off work today and I spent a large part of it thinking about food. As the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food". I also spent more than an hour on the phone with my daughter talking about her diet. She has been a vegan for quite a while now and has enjoyed excellent health as a result.

As I contemplated what kinds of foods I would be buying, preparing and eating in the near future (and also which ones I would be avoiding altogether) I came up with this list, almost a manifesto (in no particular order): spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, lettuce (not iceberg), kale, artichokes, asparagus, avocado, zucchini, chard, kohlrabi, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, cabbage (red, green and white), cucumber, fennel, okra, green beans, turnips, rutabaga (swede), carrots (particularly purple ones, not baby ones), snow peas, Brussels sprouts, jicama, radishes. Also, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, nuts and seeds, lots of garlic and mushrooms.

Keen nutritionists will notice that these foods are largely low carb, high in vitamins and minerals, and have a low glycemic index. The list specifically doesn't include potatoes, corn or peas and avoids most fruits. Not that I'm opposed to things like apples, grapefruits, strawberries, cherries, plums, dried apricots or pears. I would just eat them in very small quantities. I would use citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes as garnishes and freshly-squeezed for a little bit of juice, but will definitely NOT be drinking orange juice or other fruit juices by the glass.

There will also be plenty of red (chili) pepper, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger.

My list of things to avoid includes: refined sugar in any form, wheat and corn in its many forms (therefore, very little bread and no breakfast cereal), processed foods, rice and pasta and (for ethical/moral reasons more than nutritional ones) any products made by Nestlé ** or Kraft Foods ***.

I'll be looking to substitute zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash for wheat-based pasta; making "bread" and "pizza crust" with cauliflower instead of wheat; using rutabaga and turnips instead of potatoes in potato salads and French fries. I'll be adding nutritional yeast to some dishes that normally require cheese, and checking out Lighlife's Fakin' Bacon and Smart Ground products as well as Field Roast's vegan sausages, deli slices and Chao slices.

I don't think I'm ready to go full-bore vegan just yet because I want to still have eggs and fish and real cheese and yogurt from time to time, just a lot less than in my past. 

I've been thinking about adding a Recipes section to the main ERGOOB website (http://www.ergoob.org) where I can include step-by-step photo and video directions on how to make and adapt recipes so that they are "healthier". As I experiment, I'll post the results in this blog first, but I'd like to have a repository of tried and tested, tasty, healthy dishes that are easy to prepare and fun to share.


** Including brands such as Nescafe and Nesquick, Carnation, Haagen-Dazs, Buitoni, Maggi, CoffeeMate, and Cheerios.
*** Including brands such Grey Poupon, Gevalia, Planters, Jell-O, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Velveeta, Kool-Aid, Philadelphia cream cheese and Claussen pickles.

Monday, January 15, 2018

267 - A good weekend in Missoula

267.2 lbs (121.2 kg) this morning

I spent a couple of days last weekend visiting my new home city (my "spiritual home") of Missoula, prior to moving back there permanently on January 25th. I was very careful about eating a low carb diet, opting for green salads most of the time. It paid off. At this morning's weigh-in, I was three pounds lower than at any time in the past few months.

One good discovery that I made was a new chain of fast-casual Brazilian restaurants called Five on Black (http://www.fiveonblack.com) with two locations in Missoula, one in Bozeman, plus one each in Denver and Boulder. You get to pick a base, a protein, a side, a sauce and a topping (hence the Five) in whatever combination you like. I opted for mixed greens of Romaine lettuce and spinach, with oven roasted beets, jicama and sweet potatoes, accompanied by steamed collard greens covered in a fantastic spicy coconut sauce, topped with a chimichurri verde (with cilantro, parsley, minced garlic, oregano and chili pepper flakes). For me, it had the perfect amount of 'heat' and was very tasty.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

270 - a stunningly good start to the new year

I did finally dig out my bathroom scales yesterday and was delighted to learn that my "gut" feeling was correct.
I've managed to get down to 270 lbs (122.5 kg), a loss of twelve pounds in a week and a half and 18 lbs lower than my recent high of 288 lbs (about three weeks ago). I'm very happy about that.

"Success begets success" goes the phrase and so I plan to continue what I have been doing (eating fewer carbs and less overall) at least until I get myself settled into a new home and a new job in Missoula. Then it will be time to re-evaluate.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

282 - gained nearly 40 lbs in the past year - and will lose the final 100 lbs this coming year, you just watch me!

Looking back a year at my first blog post of 2017 (a year when I posted only eight times altogether, versus 107 blog posts in 2016) I see I weighed 243 lbs. Events at the end of 2017 were a bit chaotic but the last "official" weigh-in had me at 282 lbs. My ultimate goal is to reach 178 lbs by the end of this year. Based on past performance (losing about ten pounds a month) I think it's totally possible.

My friends who are familiar with my story know that I am currently in the process of moving back from Belgrade to my "spiritual home" of Missoula. I am already feeling more optimistic about the future, and about regaining 100% control of my diet and exercise. Sadly, my bathroom scales are packed away at the bottom of a cardboard box. It'll be another three weeks before they see the light of day again. In the meantime, I am sticking more closely to my former low carb diet and avoiding (as much as possible) sugar and wheat and corn. My new pants (the ones I had to grudgingly buy from the "Big & Tall" [a.k.a. fat people's] store a couple of weeks ago) feel like they're a bit loose now.

I'm looking forward to plenty of four-season hiking in the Missoula area on Mount Sentinal and Mount Jumbo, the Rattlesnake trails, Pattee Canyon, the Riverfront trail and the Blue Mountain trails. As the warmer weather returns, I'll be taking my motorbike with me on backpacking trips further afield. I'll also be scouting out sections of the ACA Lewis & Clark route (Highway 12) from Lewiston, Idaho, back to Missoula, in preparation for my 600-mile bicycle ride from Portland, Ore., in 2019. I'll be taking my camera(s) with me a lot more this year too.

I anticipate that there will be more opportunities for me to share the details of my progress and more news and photos in 2018 than in the year before. I'll be doing a lot more reading about the evils of added sugar and the virtues of a heavily plant-based (more vegetarian) diet. With so much of our body's energy expenditure (70%) going towards maintaining our basal metabolic rate, the marginal amount of extra energy burned through vigorous exercise is so small as to make extra exercise far less important than diet in our quest to lose weight. Exercise does have many other positive benefits though - it's just that it doesn't directly affect weight loss so much ("Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym!")