Posts Tagged ‘healthy living’

March 26, 2014

Fast n’ furious

9:25 am - Posted by Gregg

I got a well-deserved slap from the universe the other day. Well, it wasn’t as much of a slap as it was a gentle nudge. I’m grateful for the reminder to step outside of own head… And happy to share it with you — just in case you can use one yourself (a nudge, not a slap).

It all began one morning while driving to my favorite coffee place in town. While I usually make coffee at home, every couple of days I treat myself to a stronger brew that I didn’t make myself. To get to this spot during the morning hours, one has to deal with rush hour traffic — something I don’t normally have to contend with since I work from home. Adding to the journey is an awkward (yet legal) left hand turn into this local coffee place’s parking lot.

On a recent outing, as I waited in my car to make my turn, I noticed an older man and woman walking across the driveway entrance. Thus, I waited to turn, even though there was no oncoming traffic.

“Look at me,” I thought to myself, “Being nice to the walkers.” (Sure, the law dictates that pedestrians have the right of way, but I was still mentally applauding myself.)

Only it turns out that the man was taking his sweet time walking across the driveway entrance. And we’re talking about a short distance here. Minute turned into minutes turned into… Well, more minutes.

Don’t worry. I didn’t honk or do anything crass like that. But I did have a little passive aggressive hissy fit in the confines of my brain, wondering why the man was lollygagging and/or why he just didn’t check to see if a car needed to enter the parking lot and wait if he was going to be so slow about walking across (and therefore blocking) the entrance.

After what seemed like an eternity (one song had ended and another had started on my car stereo — a true mark of time passage if ever there was one), the man finally made it across, which allowed me to make the turn (after some oncoming traffic went by). No big deal, right? Except that once in line at said coffee place, I happened to start talking to the woman who was with the man.

This wasn’t my choice. I saw them both in line in front of me, recognizing them from what would forever be known as “The Great Slow Walking Incident of 2014” and thus I judged them harshly in my brain. After all, they’d robbed me of 2 to 3 minutes of turn time.

(Yes, I know I’m being ridiculous here… But please, stick with me!)

After the man left the line to get a table, the woman turned around and offered me a smile. What could I do but smile back? And after that, a conversation ensued (how dare she!). During the course of what turned out to be a surprisingly nice discussion, the fact that my dog, Latte, is a trained therapy dog came up. At which point the woman started raving about therapy dogs and how much they had helped her husband who had just gone through a series of surgeries and lengthy hospital stays.

UniverseSlappingMe. (In a gentle, nudge-like fashion.)

Yeah, Gregg… This man had taken a longer than usual time period to walk across the parking lot entrance. And what a celebration that may be have been for him (and his wife). After several surgeries and multiple hospital stays, he was up and walking — and even enjoying a sunshine-y day while out for coffee with his spouse.

And yet, when in my car, observing all this, I made it all about me.

I’m tempted to shame myself here. But we all know (or at least are hopefully learning) that shame doesn’t do much to encourage change. So instead, I’m admitting my ridiculous response to what I thought was dilly-dallying man and celebrating the fact that I was not only able to learn why he was “walking slow” (by my silly standards), but also that his situation offered cause for happiness… Not just in regard to his health and his wife’s appreciation for it, but also for my own mental health and inner joy.

It’s often when caught up in life’s to-do list (or quest for a stronger cup of coffee) that we can also get caught up in our own mental interpretation of what’s going on in the world around us — and then make it all about us, when in fact, it has nothing to do with us. And if we would instead take a moment to breathe and observe, we just might learn something and/or find a reason to count our (and others’) life blessing(s).

I probably don’t have to tell you that my coffee tasted even more delicious that day. And that now when I see someone doing something that I don’t understand, I do my best to stop myself from decoding what they’re agenda is and lamenting about how it’s affecting me. Instead, I think of this older gentleman and his wife and send out a nonverbal thanks to them. Not only for the valuable reminder, but also for not being as caught up in their own mental drama (as I had been) so that they were able to unknowingly share a valuable life lesson/reminder with me, the guy who really needed to slow down that day.

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March 12, 2014

Flour power

9:38 am - Posted by Gregg

Lately, there’s been a common question that I seem to be asked over and over again. And that question is, “Why aren’t you a professional model?”

No, wait… That’s not the common question.

The question is actually one that lots of people ask me: “How do you eat all those baked breads without gaining any of the 250-plus pounds that you lost back?”

The question comes as a result of me posting pictures of my freshly-baked bread creations to the Just Stop Eating So Much! Facebook page — usually on weekend mornings when I’m in the mood to explore my inner Martha Stewart. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-baked goodies wafting through the house. My latest was a loaf of Sour-Cream-Blueberry Bread. And when enjoyed fresh out of the oven with (heaven forbid!) cream cheese, it makes for a wonderful treat that delights almost all the senses.

Did you catch the key word in the paragraph above? Treat.

Fresh-baked bread with cream cheese is not something I eat daily. Sometimes not even weekly. But it is something I enjoy in moderation. Even if I’m being strict with my eating plan (something that, for the record, I’m always paying close attention to, even when “treating” myself).

When working to get or stay healthy, any food and drink requires portion control. This is as true for green beans as it is for fresh-baked breads. That’s what moderation is all about. And whether you incorporate moderation into your lifestyle before, during or after a diet, it’s something you’re going to have to master at some point.

The reason I keep drilling the concept of moderation into your heads is because I’m constantly drilling it into my own. Believe me, I’m human. I get it. I want to take the whole loaf of fresh-baked Sour-Cream-Blueberry Bread, put it in a big bowl, add a vat of vanilla ice cream and find a big ol’ spoon. But this is when I quickly remind myself that this is what 450-pound Gregg would do. Not 175-pound Gregg.

The differences build from there. 450-pound Gregg, while eating every last bite of the full loaf, the ice cream and whatever else could be used as a topping (a package of Oreo cookies, for example), would be telling himself that “this is the last time I’ll ever eat foods like this.” 450-pound Gregg would devour every last bite — perhaps even while standing up or watching TV. (In other words, he wouldn’t go to the trouble of putting out a placemat and making for a nice presentation and a relaxing eating experience.)

450-pound Gregg would then be in great physical pain from eating so much all at once. And he’d likely repeat this same ritual (“last supper before starting the diet”) the very next day — if not the very next meal.

Contrarily, 175-pound Gregg would let the bread cool, then immediately slice it up, based on reasonable serving sizes. In this case, he would cut about 12 slices into a nine-inch loaf. He would then go a step further, and put the unused portions into individual containers for future use. All without lapping up any crumbs. These containers with the separated portions would be saved in the fridge or even the freezer. And since the slices are stored in portion-sized containers, the temptation to overdo it is greatly minimized — both now and in the future.

175-pound Gregg would place his current portion on a cute bistro-style plate and sit down and eat the reasonable portion (even with a small amount of low-fat cream cheese and with half of a banana, sliced up). 175-pound Gregg would enjoy this eating experience for all it’s worth. Afterward, he would realize he’s full and, more importantly, satisfied, and look forward to enjoying this treat again in the future. It should also be noted that 175-pound Gregg also got his butt to the gym at 5 a.m. — yes, even on a weekend morning — before he mixed up the batter and baked the bread.

I’m going to stop talking about myself in third person now because I don’t want to be one of “those people.” But hopefully you get the point. One person’s routine vs. another’s. Only, in actuality, it’s the same person — with only about 250-plus excess pounds separating these two different ways of enjoying fresh baked bread.

Small differences? Maybe. But consistent differences? Totally. Differences that result in better thoughts, better digestion, a better body and better health. And that, my friends, is the recipe for something most delicious indeed.

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August 7, 2012

Alarming behavior

9:01 am - Posted by Gregg

When I tell people I workout seven days a week, the usual reaction is “Really?!” Followed by, “How do you do it?” When I add that I get up around 4:30am every morning and that I am at the gym by 5am — including on weekends and even holidays, people usually start to wonder if my body’s been taken over by an alien being. And, I must admit, on certain mornings I wonder the same thing.

First of all, no — it’s not easy dragging my butt out of bed when the alarm rings every morning. This can be as true on a Thursday or Friday as it is on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday. When the alarm rings, I’m not always a ‘happy camper.’ But I never (and I mean never) reach out and hit ‘snooze’ on the alarm clock. Instead, I do a quick stretch (sometimes with an added ‘groan,’) cuddle with my puppy for a few seconds and then jump up and get going. At this point, I’m usually in ‘robot mode’ (AKA ‘automatic pilot’) as I brush my teeth, wash my face and run a few fingers through my hair (before deciding the early morning gym crowd can just deal with my ‘bed head’). After getting dressed and grabbing my gym bag, I’m out the door.

I’m usually the first to arrive at my gym (even before the person who opens it). And I see the way the person who opens the gym looks at me, wondering himself if I’m part alien. At this point I’m forced to admit that the answer is probably ‘yes.’ This is because I’m a much different person today than I was years ago when I weighed over 450 pounds, during which time I would become breathless just from talking on the phone and participated in no physical activity whatsoever (unless you count ‘chewing’ as a physical activity). Ironically, during the time I was that heavy, I usually always wore sweatpants and t-shirts (AKA the usual gym-wear), since with a 60-inch waist, those were the only types of clothing items that I could find that would fit (not to mention stretch with me as my body grew bigger and bigger).

When I think about ‘those days,’ I’m able to understand why I’m somewhat obsessive about working out these days. I never want to go back to my former habits (the ones that kept me tipping the scale at over 450 pounds). And while also helping me to maintain my self-imposed work schedule for the rest of the day (after my daily workout is complete), exercising also keeps my ‘inside’ as healthy as my ‘outside.’ And I’m not gonna lie — I like looking good as well as feeling good.

Now, just because I exercise 7 days a week at the crack of dawn doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Just as with a healthy eating plan, you need to create and stick to an exercise regimen that works for you, individually. The good news is that you don’t even have to join a gym to do so. Just walking several times around a block (or a track field, a park, a mall — the list goes on) is a good place to start.

After years and years of yo-yo dieting, I find that working out 7 days a week is essential to my metabolism and my current dietary needs (and occasional dietary splurges). One exercise program is not right for all people. So you need to do what works for you as well as what works for your schedule. (And depending on your current medical condition, you might want to consult with a doctor first — be smart about it.) Personally, I find working out first thing in the morning a better choice, since by the end of the day I’m tired and can usually come up with 100 excuses why I don’t have time to (or don’t feel like) work(ing) out.

But do I love it when the alarm rings? No. Am I thrilled when stepping onto the treadmill knowing I’m going to be on it for an hour? No. Do I love waiting for a trainer and his or her client to stop using the one piece of gym equipment or weight set that I need to complete my workout routine? No.

But do I love how I feel when my workout is complete? Yes. Do I love breathing without difficulty? Yes. Do I love getting a medical checkup and my doctor telling me my lab numbers are “Insanely good?” Yes. And do I love being able to treat myself to occasional indulgent foods knowing I’ll work the calories off the next morning? Hell yes. I mean, um, yes. You get the point. The working out is worth every morning groan (when the alarm rings) and every drop of sweat. Bedhead be damned.

So join me in my insanity, won’t you? Whether you’re setting the alarm for early in the morning or scheduling a 30-minute walk later in your day (perhaps during your lunch break), please do your body, mind and soul a favor and make working out a part of your life — one that you stick with throughout the year.

Again, it doesn’t have to be every day. It doesn’t have to be at some crazy hour. But it really does have to be. As much for looking good and feeling good as for being healthy on the inside. Your health is important to me. So let’s be mad workout alien beings together!

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