Monday, January 27, 2014

Meeting with Mindy

I had my first much-needed nutrition consultation with my health coach Mindy on Friday.  Closing on two weeks of dieting and exercise, I had been doing well, restricting to nil the bad foods: the sweets, the fried foods, and the empty calories, like alcohol.  In truth, I'm like many chronic dieters, I start off following a plan zealously only to fall off.  This is a tendency people have to treat what is a marathon as a sprint race.  This journey isn't, can't be, a passing fancy, but rather a life-long lifestyle change. 

I had also made the twin mistakes of not eating enough and not eating enough carbohydrates.  Using the MyFitnessPal app to log my food diary and monitor my nutritional goals, scheming me thought, why not eat as much protein as possible in the fewest calories required?  Carbohydrates?  Dr. Atkins laughs at carbs--not required for healthy weight loss--A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing.

A Sweaty Mess and Mindy

And that adage is what I was soon repeating as I sat in the conference room with Mindy; myself,  a sweaty mess after have trained with Laurie, and Mindy, how fit, pretty people are: apparently perfect (No need to undermine this appraisal; since I am able to change, it's like my beautiful team--Laurie, Mindy, Stephanie, and Joseph--that I wish to become more like).  After going through my health history, Mindy looked over a weekly food diary I had prepared.  I sat there ruefully reflecting how much low-fat string cheese and Tyson Grilled-and-Ready Chicken Breast and how few fruits filled the chart.

Now Mindy is a exceedingly nice person, and she was very nice indeed when she told me that that was all wrong; but Mindy is not the type of nutritionist to let a client's food delusions go unperturbed.  Thus the bubble that contained what I thought was my knowledge of food and nutrition was forever pricked; while I may revert  back to my old habits in choosing foods I will always remember, tasting the sodium in packaged products, how Mindy told me that processing food leeches nutrients and puts in unhealthy additives unneeded if you were to just make it yourself.  Mindy told me that I was going to need to cook for myself!

Oh no, I thought to myself, sitting there reeling.  This is too much.  I don't know how to cook.  I don't know what to shop for.  Do I have time to cooks every day?  As if sensing my trepidation, Mindy told me that you start off learning how to prepare one thing at a time.  Then you add to your repertoire of healthy dishes.

Since it was obvious that I liked chicken, substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the grocery for the packaged Tyson product.  Get the biggest package of raw chicken, and all you have to do is season and bake it all at once.   Store it in airtight baggies and you'll be able to eat it throughout the week. 

                                                                                 Eat This, Not That

It's healthier, it requires only about an hour a week to prepare, and it turns out to be much cheaper?  It's a no-brainer; I can do it!

Mindy's final emphasis was incrementally increasing the nutritious foods I introduce into my diet.  She did this by giving me an assignment to pick from a list all the green fresh foods and vegetables I liked or thought I might like to try.  While there are fats and proteins, these are largely nutrient rich carbohydrates that will help to keep me full and give me the energy I require for strenuous workouts.  There were some foods that I had to Wikipedia when I got home, and this peaked a natural curiosity that I took with me to the grocery store.

I bought lettuce mixes (Anything but iceberg! Thus spoketh Mindy), cucumbers, Granny Smith apples, celery, and sugar snap peas.  I was amazed to see what a variety of colorful bounty the supermarket offers even during the bitter cold of winter in a snow-and-salt whitened Cincinnati.  I am excited to try these munchies in my diet!  

The Goods, in Green

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Party That Is My Team

The date was January 10, a Friday.  I found myself crossing the fine brickwork contained under Five Seasons Family Sports Club's elegant porte-cochere.  As I pass through the double wooden doors of the club, I note that it's a threshold I had not crossed for, what. . . at least seven years.  It was with regret I confessed that, while I had been a member since it opened, I had literally become an inactive member. 

As they had since I first saw it, my eyes drifted up toward the gorgeous twinkling purple ceiling that just connotes luxury, and caps what must be the most beautiful fitness facility in the city.  But when I looked down expecting, as it had been, an open lobby, I saw the kindly faces of the ladies that staff the welcome desk, now upstairs.  It is the first of many agreeable changes I was to noticed that lets me know that my old club, far from staying the same, has gotten even better--with more exercise equipment, upgraded facilities, even better food than I remembered.

A few minutes finds me in a conference room, with its over-sized table and big, castered chairs all around.  I was rendered in a surreal position, at the head of the table; and joined, two on either side, was  what I must indubitably call "my team."  Wow! 

It is very humbling to think that I could have a team to support and guide me through this weight loss adventure (To think about it too much stirs the nerves...).  They are:

"Gentleman" Joseph Pinnell--rocker of the bow tie--is the organizer of the contest, and is kind of my mentor through this journey.  Joseph is Five Seasons' Vice President of Club Performance.  With a background in hospitality, a field of which one might say amiability is taught, Joseph is genuinely among the nicest people one shall ever met.  He is tireless, hard working, and donates time and energy to the community.

Joseph rockin' it

Stephanie McFarland is Five Seasons Cincinnati's Personal Training Director.  Stephanie will help guide me into the some of the club's fitness classes, and even wants me to join her kickboxing class!

Mindy Homan is the club's Certified Health Coach.  Mindy will help me with nutrition, replacing poor food choices with healthy ones.  Mindy will be key in helping me find the right fuel mixture for challenging workouts to come. I look forward to working with her.

Last and possibly most important is the lovely Laurie Lefton, my personal trainer.  Laurie is a mother, and has a terribly nice husband.  While I think I might wilt under the machismo of a male trainer, Laurie's feminine energy is a great match for this mama's boy.  In addition to being nice and caring, Laurie is conscience of my physical abilities--of what I can and can't do--and I am excited to reduce my physical and improve my abilities, so to say, with her help throughout the year.

Beauty and the Beast, from Right to Left.  Myself and Laurie


As I sat there, taking it all in and trying not be become overwhelmed, it became apparent how precious is the prize that I had won.  My team represent the most advanced approach to getting fit, and contact and compliance with them means that one can't help but get healthier.  Here's wishing for a healthy, ailment-free year!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


These are some feelings that I experiencing.  In just the last week and for the first time in the at least last eight years, I've gotten up at the same time, early each morning; I've taken more photos of myself; and I've have eaten the most healthiest.  And while this is conceptually pleasing to me (It's the first step toward great personal growth), I can't help but feel a near overwhelming  sense of anxiety.

I've had now five contact days with the wonderful staff at Five Seasons.  I've experienced it fully and with personal enjoyment--I like being there.  I've penciled notes of my activities, and the staff have documented the early moments of my journey in photographs.  So why can't I finish the blog entries?  Why am I sitting at an open Word document and it feels like I have never written anything before?  For God's sake, it's Day Five and I haven't even introduced you, the reader, to the Players in this, my story!

I've come to the conclusion that it must be the combination of a change in brain chemistry and the sense of a loss of control.  Exercise is known to release endorphins in the brain; who's to say that it might not be the release of this and other hormones (brought on by exercise, stress, change) that must regulate in other for me to feel more "normal."  Maybe it's the last (hopefully) of a cycle of depression that must pass like any other illness.

I must also internalize that, in order to meet of goal of a healthier life, I have volunteered to incorporate a host of healthy activities whilst forsaking less healthy activities.  I had felt, in doing these less healthy activities, comfort and control I am now missing.  If I was unable to fill the soul, overeating certainly made a filled stomach feel satisfying.  [This has diminishing returns like, for example, when one gets too large to physically reach every place on one's body while showering, if you can see where I'm going.]  

I would keep late and varied hours in going to bed, because I would be doing something of a solely person interest and didn't have a reason to get up [Getting up stinks (who gets up when they have the opportunity to sleep in?); but it's part of growing up: business is done in the morning, and to be an adult in that world, one must get up.].

Lastly, in the past I would very rarely allow photographs of myself.  Call it low self-esteem, call it not wanting to face the incontrovertible evidence that I was, to be blunt, a grossly obese piggy-boy, but I would wave off photos of myself like a North Korean propaganda officer [This was purely unproductive: it was part of a self-delusion about my health, and it deprived my family of photographic memories they would have had (They, strangely, love me for me, and didn't share the opinion that my appearance was a blight to the aesthetic quality of their photo albums).  Alas, this is the past; we must live in the present, and conduct ourselves so we may meet our projected futures.].

Cue the clich├ęs--Without these comforts I'm feeling: lost in time and space; like I misplaced by safety blanket; as though I am falling in the dark. 

It uncomfortable, but it's temporary.  To appropriate the mantra of gay youth: 'It gets better,"  And I expect it will; if it gets much worse I'll need to change this blog's name to 'Notes from the Asylum.' 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Morbidly obese from the age of 12, and in a constant cycle of dieting and overeating from 17, I've tried all sorts of diets, from the easy to the downright eccentric.  Stuck in the cycle of losing a little then backsliding up and off the scales,  I became depressed and unfit for the physical strains of everyday life.  I dropped out of college, cut contact with friends, and buried my emotions in food.  My rock bottom has a number: 467lbs.  

With the combination of great support and effective therapy, I was able to gather the will to get healthier.  I bought a pair of supportive running shoes and waddled my way around the neighborhood, and by doing so have lost nearly 100lbs.  Still morbidly obese and driven inside by winter, I could sense the backslide coming.  

Then--by Providence--I won Five Seasons Family Sports Club's' "Making Fit Happen" contest.  The prize includes a gold membership, personal training sessions twice a week, nutritional counseling, and entry to local fitness events.  Follow me as I chronicle my journey--struggles and triumphs, highs and lows, growth and setbacks-- towards a lifetime of better health, all throughout this year!

Day 0, 378lbs