A Post for 2012

I’ve spent the last 10 days on vacation. A much needed one. When you’re dealing with agencies on a large-scale project that requires virtually all of your time, it’s good to take a break when they do.

So I spent my Christmas vacation sleeping, catching up on movies and generally laying about while I wasn’t eating.

And man, did I ever eat. Three amazing dinners to celebrate my birthday — one at Trezo Vino, one at J. Gilbert and one at Blanc Burger. Great meals all, but my waistline is definitely worse for the wear.

My birthday and Christmas were terrific: I got everything I really wanted (except more storage for my computer…I’ll just buy that myself), including two new rad pair of sneakers and a new leather messenger bag for work (it makes me feel totally grown up).

And now, it’s officially 2012. Resolutions suck, but it’s a great time to start anew and set new goals for the year. So here are mine:

  • I’m getting back onto Weight Watchers for real. We had some great success with it last year, but I stopped counting points and really lost my way. No more messing around. I’ve got 50 pounds to get to my goal weight. I’m aiming for getting there by the end of the year. Ideally, I’d like to be there by summer, but I want to be realistic too.
  • I’ve got two big website launches this year. I want them both to go well.
  • I want to find some sense of purpose for this site. Whether it’s WordPress or Tumblr or whatever…I want to post more and have more clarity in my posts.
  • I obviously want to improve my work/life balance…whatever that might mean.
  • I want to go on another adventure with Alli. It’s been too long since our Italian adventure. It’s time for another.
  • Drink more water.
  • I’d like to take another crack at reading 25 books this year. It’s been 5 years since I last did it. Look for an upcoming post with the books I intend to read this year.
  • Keep being awesome.

Now that they’re written down, I have to stick to them, right? Isn’t that the point of stuff like this? What do you plan to do this year?

Progress and Plateaus

Like many people, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to lose weight. I’ve consistently put on weight year-over-year since we got married 11 years ago. I decided to break the cycle this year. Heck, if Jennifer Hudson can do it, so can I.

So back in January, Alli and I started Weight Watchers Online. I’ve never been very good about watching what I eat, so being forced to enter my points every day was something I had to get used to at first.

But the progress I saw initially was pretty great. I lost my first 10 pounds in 4 weeks and felt better. Alli said I almost immediately stopped snoring, which made me feel even better.

Over the year, I’ve lost an additional 25 pounds, prompting me to get a tattoo as a reward.

Since I got over the first 30 pounds I wanted to lose, I have kind of floundered. I haven’t put all the weight back on, but I haven’t been losing anymore. It’s easy to identify why…I’ve stopped tracking my points, being less diligent about watching what I eat.

That hasn’t caused me to balloon up to my original weight, but I haven’t gotten past my initial 35 pounds, which is frustrating.

My last weigh-in, though, a small miracle. I lost 2 pounds and I finally feel like I’m back on track. This has been a challenging weekend since it’s Alli’s birthday today, but my hope is that I can make up any ground I might lose this weekend during the week.

We’ll see. My weight has been a battle for much of my life. I love food and I particularly love nights like Saturday night that are spent around a dinner table with people that you love, talking, eating and enjoying each other’s company. Honestly, if I gain any weight this week because of that, I won’t be mad.

Still, I’m hoping for more progress and less plateaus.

Start Being Fit

Several months ago, my sister-in-law began dating my worst nightmare. A FITNESS GUY. Everything I heard about him, even before I met him, was “he runs” and “he works out a lot” and the stuff that people that are in the shape that I’m in (more round than anything) would be considerably intimidated by.

After meeting Tyson (who comments as Ty on this here web space), I found him to be much more approachable as a person, especially considering that he and I soon bonded over subjects like nerdery and technology.

He never really pushed his fitness on me, but I found him the kind of person who makes you want to be a little more active. Several months later, I’m totally happy for my sis-in-law because she’s got a great guy. It’s really great that they’ve found each other.

A few months back, Tyson launched StartBeingFit.com, a website devoted to fitness and health, built to help connect folks interested in those subjects with information and resources that they need. Even more cool is that he built the site himself using the very capable web application framework, Joomla.

If you are a person interested in fitness or even in just learning more about fitness and some tools, articles and other resources, go check it out.

In related news, Tyson is trying to encourage me to do the Chicago Urbanathlon with him – a 10-mile trek around the city of Chicago over obstacles and up stairs in Soldier Field and more. There’s a 12-week training program that I’ll have to start pronto in order to do it and I’m considering it because WHY NOT. Like I shouldn’t have a reason to get more fit. Still, if I stop posting entirely sometime around October, it’s likely because I HAVE BEEN CONSUMED BY THE URBANATHLON.

That can’t be right

When I undertook the task of raising enough money to buy a cow from Heifer International, one of the added benefits of all the do-gooding was going to be that eating less red meat was good for my rapidly increasing cholesterol (weighing in a year ago at 197).

So I thought.

Dr. Robert Jarvik

Today, after my physical and subsequent lab testing I found that 4 months of eating no red meat actually managed to INCREASE my cholesterol by 6 points, bringing it over that dreaded 200 mark and bringing my doctor to prescribe Lipitor, made famous by the creepy Jarvik artificial heart guy.

I’m not thrilled about the news in the least.

After 4 full months of not eating red meat, I was expecting my doctor to say, “You’re doing great. Your cholesterol is no longer a problem.”

Not so much.

After talking it out with Alli, I’m pretty sure I know why this is: I lead a sedentary lifestyle. My life consists of getting up, showering, driving a half-hour to work, sitting at a desk all day, driving a half-hour home, and sitting all night. Occasionally (when it’s nice out), I’ll take the dog for a walk, but that’s not happening nearly enough.

In talking with my doctor, I found that I need to lose about 55 pounds to get into the “normal” range for my BMI. I’m a tall, big guy, but 55 pounds is still a lot of weight. It’s daunting, for sure. But now I know that diet alone is not going to cure my health problems. (Let it be stated that I consider myself in “okay” shape. I couldn’t run a marathon or anything, but I grew up an athlete, so the muscles are still there.)

Whatever my circumstances, something has to change. Maybe this latest bit of news will be the kick in the pants I need to work harder.

One month left

Back in January, I challenged my readers to help me raise enough money to purchase a dairy cow from Heifer International. If I raised the money by the end of January, I promised to not eat any red meat until Memorial Day.

This may have been a bit over-zealous, but I’ve stuck with it for the last 106 days. 42 days left.

I’m excited because next week, I’m going to the doctor for a physical and I’m planning on getting my cholesterol checked. Prior to the Red Meat Experiment, I had received a note from my doctor that my cholesterol was too high and I needed to keep an eye on it. For the past several months, we’ve been diligent about eating food that should help with my cholesterol, specifically eating natural steel cut oats for breakfast.

With the decrease in red meat as well as other changes I’ve made, I’m looking forward to seeing the progress I’ve made. And while my weight hasn’t necessarily decreased, I am confident that my cholesterol has.

Thanks again to those of you who helped make it happen. My cholesterol thanks you, my heart thanks you, and my wife thanks you for helping me cut down my red meat intake.