Sunday, June 29, 2014


June is almost over and I am very happy to have just one day left in the 30-day Ab Challenge!
I can't say that I'm happy that I did it or that I received any noticeable benefit from it. I'm just glad that I stuck it out and that it will end with tomorrow's 125 sit-ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises and 120s plank.

So, what do I do for July?

One of the negatives (to losing 60 pounds) that I'm discovering is that sitting is less comfortable. I've lost most of my ass padding!  I guess I'm going to have to start working on building a little bit of ass muscle in the coming month. Glutes! I should call them my glutes (gluteus maximus)  .

Squats, kick-backs, lunges, bridges, whatever will build my butt, I mean glutes.

I'm not planning on body building. I just want to develop some strength and be fit. I need to work on a little bit of arm strength and I would like to be able to do a couple of sets of 10 pull-ups. That may not sound like much, but a year ago I couldn't even do a single pull-up. Now I can do a couple sets of...well, 3. But that's a big step for an out of shape old man.

Arms. Back. And butt.

I'll need to figure out the what and when and try to plan it in accordance with my crazy ATC work schedule.
Some days, just finding the time to take a decent walk can be a challenge--especially when there is weather to deal with. Fortunately, I have the indoor cycle and Nordic Track for such occasions.
Also, I don't plan on abandoning the abs or push-ups as a regular part of exercise; I just need to give some added attention the arms, back and butt.

I'll let you know what I come up with...when I come up with it.

John <><

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What's next?

There are only 5 days left in the 30 Day Ab challenge (and 1 of them is a rest day) so I think I'll make it okay. I've got to admit that there have been a few days that I wonder about it and the big days are yet to come, but I think I can manage the last four workouts.

The question is: What do I do for next month?

I am going to come up with an ab routine that is a little more diverse than the four exercises in the 30 day challenge. It will not be as intense as the last week, but still a good workout for three or four days per week.

I've been keeping up with the walking, but really haven't done much in the way of running. I did find a site that talked about exercises to improve hip strength to reduce knee strain. I may give that a try. Of course, the real problem isn't the knees, anyway. The real problem is endurance. I can't run long enough to do much damage to my knees!

Yeah, yeah, I know I could build up the endurance, but I'm just not that motivated to run. I know there are some great benefits to running over walking, but again--not that motivated. I think I'll stick to the walking, biking and the stationary cycle--mostly because I know that I'll stick to the walking, the biking and the stationary cycle!

I have been doing some minor strength building exercises and want to amp that up a little bit--more push-ups, pull-ups, squats and something for the arms. I'm not interested in adding a lot of muscle for size and strength. I'm interested in adding muscle for the fact that it burns calories (even when you're not doing anything!) and it's good for more than just looks--it's healthy!

I've got a few days to figure out what I'm going to be doing. I like the idea of having a routine or planned program. It's a little bit easier for me to keep on track.

I'll try to post what I'm going to do; not because anybody else really cares, but because it helps me to stay the course.

My new mantra is "You can't out exercise a poor diet!"

Eat well.
Live well.

John <><

Monday, June 23, 2014

Breakfast smoothie

My breakfast smoothie for this meatless Monday:

1/2c dry oats
1/2c skim milk
1 apple (pink lady, today)
1c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 scoop Body Fortress vanilla whey protein
a generous sprinkling of cinnamon
5 ice cubes

Mix in blender until... well, until smooth!

560 cal, 59g protein. 24oz of goodness!

John <><

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Losing Weight by Sleeping

It might come as a big surprise to some of you (it did to me) that sleeping is an important part of losing weight.

Alright, maybe it wasn't such a big surprise. I had read (many times) that some pretty important hormones are produced while we sleep. One of them is the hormone that signals your brain that you are getting full and it's time to stop eating. Apparently four and a half hours of sleep per night doesn't produce enough of that hormone because I never really felt full until I was way past the uncomfortable mark.

Your body also burns a surprising amount of calories in muscle and tissue repair and regeneration while we are sleeping.

One of the simple things that has helped me in losing weight over the past year was to purposefully increase the amount of sleep I was getting. I am now sleeping six hours per night on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes it's still less and sometimes it's around seven and a half hours (my sleep cycles are about ninety minutes).

I'd like to say that my CPAP machine helped in the better sleep mission, but it really didn't have a great impact on the way that I felt. It did help Chris to sleep better, though! I never really felt tired or extremely fatigued before the Obstructive Sleep Apnea diagnosis and I didn't feel a lot better after using the CPAP, either. The biggest change came when I decided to get more sleep!

I'm not a big fan of sleeping. I think it's a waste of time. I'd rather watch old movies or television shows (and I don't do very much of that) than just spend time sleeping. I don't mind a brief power nap, but that's different. My power naps are seventeen minutes long. I don't have to set an alarm. I just quickly doze off and wake up refreshed 17 minutes later. I feel very blessed to have this somewhat unique ability.

Once I came to the realization that there is an important purpose to getting enough sleep, it became easier to justify sleeping more. I don't know what your sleep habits are. And it's not really important to me. But it should be important to you if you are interested in good health.

So, work hard today...
...and sleep well tonight!

John <><

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Simple Steps

When I first began down this path to improve my health and drop some weight, I knew that I needed to do something sustainable. Over the years, I would guess that I've lost and regained hundreds of pounds! I didn't want a diet in the sense that I would stop whatever diet I was on when I reached my goal and once again regain my lost weight.

Over those same years, I have read a number of books on different diets and philosophies of weight management. I follow a number of healthy habit kind of blogs. And I would say that I have a better idea than most people about how different foods, activities, sleep (or lack of it), meds, etc., affect my body. It was time to put that knowledge to good use and lose some weight.

Recently, the receptionist at a doctor's office (she is trying to lose weight) asked me what motivated me to lose 60 pounds since my last annual physical. Thinking back, I guess it was a number of little things.

One thing was that I was struggling with my blood pressure. I noticed that 250 seemed to be the magic number. Above that weight and I would get occasional headaches. When I'd check my BP, it would be high enough that I'd really watch my fat and sodium for a few days and it would drop enough to make me comfortable again. Above 250 I would notice a little less energy. I wouldn't sleep as well. I seemed to be less comfortable--all of the time.
Although I was never tested, I figure I was probably pre-diabetic--or worse.

At almost 53 years old, it occurred to me that I was around the same age as my dad when he had his first heart attack.
...And I was heading down that same road!

Chris (my wife) had already started to lose weight by cutting out starchy carbs. That meant there wasn't any bread or pasta in the house and we limited our use of rice and potatoes. In addition to that, the two biggest little steps that I started on were to quit drinking diet sodas and start drinking more water and tea, and I stopped eating fast food.
No fast food breakfasts.
No fast food burgers.
No fast food fried chicken.
No fast food period.
Not even a fast food salad!

The only drive-thru that I regularly frequented was Starbucks...and I even stopped getting cream in my coffee--most of the time!

It was just those two things--water instead of diet sodas and no fast foods--that got me started.

My suggestion to you would be to do something similar. Pick one or two things that you CAN do and stick to it.

Cut out doughnuts or sweet snacks. Eat an apple instead of a candy bar. Go zero calorie on drinks for a day. Just pick a do-able small step and do it!

It's just one good habit replacing on bad habit. You've got this! What's it going to be?

John <><

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Getting Started

If you are a reader of one of my other blogs, welcome to Healthy Living!
If you just happened onto this blog randomly or from another link, I welcome you and invite you to check out my other posts at Out of My Hat.

I decided on a new blog so that I could post about my journey of weight loss (60 lbs so far) and exercise without wearing out my friends at Out of My Hat. I probably shouldn't mention that I also post occasionally at Amateur Cigar Smoker, but as this blog title says, I am your normal, unhealthy guy.

This introductory post won't have much in the way of content other than to say what I'd like to do with this blog.

I am looking to share my struggles and victories over food and weight.

I'd like to do the same with exercise, but will say from the start that I'm not a P90X guy or any kind of high intensity, fat burning, drop pounds quickly through exercise kind of guy. I believe in the philosophy of -- Eat for weight management. Exercise for good health. I know that there is a correlation between exercise and weight loss, but believe that 80% or more of your weight loss will happen in the kitchen, not the gym.

I want to share some of the small steps I've taken (it's taken me a year to lose the weight so far) and some of the recipes that I like.
And I'd like to hear some of your favorite healthy recipes.

I also want to encourage you to be healthier.

And I want to find out what is working for other people. We all have different starting points and different objectives; yet we share many of the diets, activities and methods for reaching those diverse goals.

Stay tuned for more.
Subscribe here, follow me on Twitter, or check back from time to time to see what's been posted.
And if you find anything helpful, share it with a friend.

The (formerly) Unhealthy Guy