Saturday, November 11, 2017

Reaffirming long-term goals and desires

I feel like it has been far too long since I updated my blog and website, and too long since I let my friends and followers know about the progress I am making on my journey. I deliberately didn't say weight-loss journey just now because, in the meantime, it has become about my life's journey too. As I once again start sharing some of my past successes and future goals with new friends and acquaintances, I am beginning to get excited about what the future has in store for me.

June 2015 was the watershed moment. 2016 was a year of tremendous physical progress. 2017 was a year of fun and adventures. 2018 is going to be a most excellent combination of physical progress and fun and adventure.

I am absolutely determined to reach my desired target weight of 178 lbs (80.7 kg). Based on what I was able to lose before and knowing how difficult it is, I'm thinking now that a realistic date to achieve this is probably in the spring of 2019, by which time I will be 52 years old. Along the way, I am still pursuing these major accomplishments:
Passing within 5 miles of Mount Hood (at Government
Camp) while on my summer vacation, August 2017

  • Hiking 100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in southern Oregon to Crater Lake in a week.
  • Riding my (pedal) bicycle 600 miles from Portland back to Montana (wherever I happen to be living at the time - probably Missoula). Should take about two weeks. 
  • Climbing to the 11,250-foot high summit of Mount Hood in Oregon.
My plan is to share my story and use it to inspire others to achieve similar results. 

Enjoying riding my Honda Rebel 500
To do this, I am going to continue with the earlier activities which I enjoy: walking, hiking, backpacking, cycling, snowshoeing, swimming. Along the way, there will be some new activities (which I've previously mentioned in this blog): boxing, T'ai Chi, and dancing. In addition, there will be some time for non-fitness-related hobbies: photography, motorcycle riding, astronomy, watercolor painting, joining a trivia quiz team and (a new one for me) improv comedy. 

I recently read the term "Renaissance Man", and while I can't aspire to be as great as Leonardo Da Vinci or even a modern one like Brian May, Viggo Mortensen or Steve Martin, I can try to be good at a number of different things and above all have some fun doing them. If any of my friends want to join me, you are welcome. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Endorphins - 271 lbs

"There is a close interaction between food, mood, and stress." Not my words but I agree 100% with the sentiment. Chronic stress can lead to increased consumption of "rewarding" foods (high in fat and sugar) leading to weight gain and further stress. Endorphins (a name contracted from "endogenous morphine") play a key role in this. The biochemistry is complex, so I will leave you to research it for yourself. Now, if only there were an easy way to break the vicious cycle, right?

One way is to remove the source of stress, of course, which is often easier said than done.

Another way is to do more aerobic exercise, since that triggers the release of endorphins. So, now that I have hit 271 lbs (gasp, shock, horror!) it's time to get back on the wagon. I sense that there will be some important changes taking place in the next few months which will lead to a renewed push towards my goal of being 178 pounds.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bouncing back up - oh no! - 263 lbs

I'm going to blame it on my new work schedule (closing shifts which end at midnight) following a promotion. I've gained about 25 lbs since the beginning of the year 😱 .

Up from 238 to 263 lbs since January
So now, far from intermittent fasting, I'm finding that I'm hungry enough to eat four meals a day. And I'm not as strict as I need to be about eating low carb. Portion sizes are also a problem for me again.

I guess if it were easy to lose weight there'd be very few fat people around, right? I have to remember the words of Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon computer science professor who died of pancreatic cancer in 2008: "... The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough."

I need to remind myself of how good it felt when I was able to buy new clothing that was size XL - not XXXXXL. I want to experience what it's like to wear a Large with NO Xs, maybe even a Medium. I have a white button up shirt that will only fit me when I'm down to 230 lbs. I want to wear that shirt before the winter kicks in.

Next week I'm off on vacation for nine days. There are lots of activities planned as I head to the Oregon coast via Seattle. I'm going to enjoy myself without overindulging.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Turning the ship around - 249 (again)

Like a hulking great oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico, making a slow and steady about-turn, I've had about three weeks of concerted effort to get myself back on track in terms of losing weight.
Broke through the 250 lb barrier again

After bouncing between 250 lbs and 260 lbs for a while, I weighed in at 249.6 lbs (113.2 kg) this morning. I'm sure it helps that we're at the perfect time of year to make headway: seasonal salad ingredients (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions) are plentiful and cheap. The long, light days and the warmer weather enable people to enjoy the outdoors more. Opportunities for walking, hiking, backpacking, cycling and so forth abound.

Last week I did another hike up to Lava Lake and stayed overnight. It was on a Wednesday (i.e. not a holiday or a weekend) so there weren't many other people up there (nor even any bears or mountain lions or goats). The solitude and peacefulness did allow me to think and ponder about big goals for the coming years. I REALLY want to conquer my "unfinished business" on the Pacific Crest Trail in southern Oregon and finally get to see Crater Lake in person, so that will be happening in 2018 - probably in late June.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

257 - Low carb is definitely the way to go, and IF works too

Before I start, the obligatory disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are based on my own thoughts and experiences. I am not a doctor or a dietician so please do your own research and consult the appropriate professionals before making any changes to your diet.

Eighteen months ago on this blog ( I wrote about some of the things I'd been reading about recently. As I was looking back to find references to "intermittent fasting" (IF), I came across the list again. Here it is, words unchanged, only in a slightly different order to reflect the importance (in my humble opinion) of these things to weight loss:
  1. low carb diets, high in fats (like Paleo), with or without grains and gluten
  2. the merits of intermittent fasting versus eating multiple smaller meals each day
  3. the importance of fiber in our diet
  4. the value of fermented food and drinks (pickles, sauerkraut, kefir)
  5. how the human gut is the second brain
Based on my recent experiences, I'm utterly and completely convinced that we humans don't need nearly as many carbs as experts say we do

There are three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat. While there are essential proteins (amino acids) and essential fats (linoleic and alpha-linolenic used to build omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) there's no such thing as an "essential carb". 

The process of gluconeogenesis produces all the glucose that the body needs. It happens in all of us, especially overnight, which is why some diabetics wake up with blood sugar levels higher than when they went to bed. Low carb diets use this fact to derive needed energy from stored fat. 

Whether you fast for 16 out of 24 hours a day (eating all your food in the remaining 8-hour window) or choose to fast (500-600 calories only) for two whole days out of 7 (the 5:2 diet), you are creating the conditions your body needs to burn fat. If you have an hour to spare and are interested, check out the BBC documentary from five years ago called "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" at It's very interesting. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Where has the time gone? - 255 :(

So many of my friends have been asking me, "Where are you?", and, "How are you doing?" It's been a while (more than three months) since my last blog post.

A lot has happened in the past few months. After leaving Helena last Septmeber, and quitting my secure state government job, I had moved to eastern Montana for a few weeks. Narrowly avoiding a disaster out there, I was in Missoula (my spiritual home) for a few months. I am now living and working in Belgrade (near Bozeman), Montana. As in Sidney, I'm working in a low-paid but a low-stress retail job. I'm very happy not to have to deal with computer software from companies I intensely dislike (Microsoft, Adobe, Apple - yuck!) I do miss some of the people I used to work with.

My weight loss progress had stalled temporarily (see the chart below):
From 320 to 236 and up to 255 lbs again...
My diet has changed a bit from before. At the moment it's not all low carb like it was for the previous 18 months (but it's still mostly vegetables and protein). I still struggle from time to time with portion control (hard to resist when the food tastes so good!)

In terms of exercise, I wish that I had embraced the Montana snow and cold weather better than I did last winter. Despite my best intentions, I just can't say that I love the freezing temperatures. I did go snowshoeing a couple of times, and I now have the gear to be able to go again in November/December when the next lot of heavy snow inevitably comes again.

I have been hiking a bit; to Lava Lake near Big Sky and Drinking Horse mountain outside Bozeman, as well as some of the Blue Mountain trails just south of Missoula. I'm looking forward to being able to go backpacking and camping in the next month or two, and I still haven't given up on the idea of hiking a significant part of the Pacific Crest Trail near Crater Lake in Oregon (maybe in 2018).

Where I'm living now, we have the Bridger Mountains to the northeast, the Tobacco Root Mountains to the southwest, the Big Belt Mountains and Horseshoe Hills to the northwest, the Hyalite Peaks of the northern Gallatin Range to the south and the Spanish Peaks of the northern Madison Range to the southwest. The opportunities for climbing and hiking in some of the most picturesque mountains in Montana are limited only by time and the weather.

I'm still cycling, a litte bit but not as much as I'd like to. I haven't found a good place to learn T'ai Chi yet or to start boxing.

At the same time, I am regaining my interest in photography, thanks to my sister. I'm also trying to get back into watercolor painting, reading and writing - some creative endevors that are relaxing and stimulate my mind.

So, my friends, that's the quick version of what I've been up to these past three or four months. If any of you are up for a three to ten-mile hike some time in central or western Montana, let me know. If the nighttime temperature is above the low-40s Fahrenheit, I'd be up for an overnight backpacking hike too. My days off work are typically Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Where are the photos?

I keep meaning to post photos from my recent excursions, and then I forget. Also, I've been asked if I'll post "before and after" photos of when I first started on this journey and now. So, without further ado:
Snowshoeing in Hyalite Canyon
near Bozeman, MT - New Year's Eve 2016
I'd never been snowshoeing before. In the past I've always intensely disliked the snow, but this season I'm learning to embrace it. I'm looking forward to giving it another go soon.
Hiking near Lake McDonald in GNP - early Dec 2016
No snowshoes for this one, but I was very glad to have been wearing my ice traction cleats.

And, now, a couple of before-and-after shots:
31 months and 188 pounds difference
Looking and feeling so much better now, but aware that I still have a few months to go until I reach my goal.
I'm NEVER going back to the 'old' me!

243 - My 'marker' for the start of 2017

This is going to be the year of breakthroughs and more victories. After a fantastic New Year's Eve weekend, 2017 has started with a bang.
243.0 lbs (110.2 kg)

Two key words for this year: "Mindfulness" and "Purposefully". The ongoing changes; the low carb diet and the increased exercise and activity regimens will continue. New activities will be added. New partners in the journey of life will join me (well, one anyway!)

And, that brings up the third new key word for the year: "Inspirer", one who inspires others. Having surpassed the halfway point of my own metamorphosis or transformation, I feel like I want to inspire others to make positive changes in their lives. I want others to feel the benefits of losing weight, eating nutritious meals prepared mindfully and with love. Wouldn't it be great to HAVE TO buy new clothes because the old ones are far too big and baggy? That was my position a few months ago, and I'm there again now. I can tell you, when you've had to wear clown pants (sweatpants with a 60" waist) for so long, to fit into a 40" waist fashionable pair is a FANTASTIC feeling!

Here's the important thing: IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN ANYONE if they are motivated enough. Honestly, I'm not Superman. I don't have a red cape and a big 'S' on my chest. I'm just a 50 year old guy who is willing to do what it takes to reach my goal.