Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Losing Weight Without Diet and Exercise - Initial Struggles

It is amazing how much of the food we eat has sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in it!  Pancakes, waffles, syrup, just about all bread, crackers (like Ritz, Townhouse), Graham Crackers, cookies, bread, biscuits, bagels, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, mayonnaise, Thousand Island/ French/Ranch/Honey Mustard Salad Dressing (and many others), barbecue sauce, some seasonings, soda, koolaid, juice cocktail (examples: grape, cranapple, sparkling juice cocktail, etc.), ice cream, pudding, cake, candy bars, chocolate, and the list goes on and on!

Here’s a funny story:  when I first started, it took me about a week to weed out sugar & HFCS from what I ate and drank.  For whatever reason, I thought Graham Crackers did not have sugar in it!  LOL!   I ate an entire box of Crackers in one sitting!

There was another instance in the 1st 10 days or so where I ate an entire box of Townhouse crackers.  Since they were crackers, I thought they were “safe”, so I didn’t look at the ingredients.  Then I looked and saw that they had sugar in it!

Of course, this change in food approach also meant no more ice cream, cake, or milk shakes.   Several fast-food places came out with smoothies, but just about all of them put sugar in it in addition to natural fruit sugar.
So I started to realize that I had to come up with some food and drink swaps without resorting to “diet” drinks or dessert.  I also needed to learn how to eat on holidays and in restaurants.

Sans Soda Product Review

I had a chance to grab a free can of Sans Soda after a free weekend  bootcamp that I do twice per month. Sans Soda flavors are Cola, Lemon Lime, Orange, and Root Beer.  I grabbed the Black Cherry Soda.

If you’ve read this blog, you know that I don’t do diet drinks at all.  I have from time to time sweetened foods/drinks like Cream of Wheat and non-caffinated tea with pure maple syrup, honey, or  agave nectar.  Other than that, I have not bought ice cream, drinks or anything else “sweetened” with your typical “natural” sweeteners like stevia, molasses, xylitol (is that a natural sweetener?), etc.

Since I’m in Phase #3 of my weight loss, I decided to “try” it.  I say “try” because I did not drink the whole can, I just took a few sips.

The 1st thing I do when I decide to try something like this is do some research on the sweetener.  Sans Soda is sweetened with Rebiana, which is considered on the label as a natural sweetener. 

When I do the research, my goal is to see if there are negatives to the sweetener like there are with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, etc.

Rebiana is the name of a pure calorie sweetener made from Stevia. Rebiana is derived from a specific part of the stevia plant.  Rebiana was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008.  I have not seen any negative information on Google about Rebiana.   So it passes that test.  However,  I would advise you to Google Rebiana to get more information to satisfy your comfort level.

Next is the taste test.  For me, the aftertaste reminded me of my memory of diet drink aftertastes from way back.  But again, that’s just me!  It must be that I just don’t make it a habit to eat or drink things with “natural” sweeteners in it like Stevia, etc.  That habit has worked out well for me.

So from a standpoint of whether SansSoda is bad for you in comparison with sodas with artificial sweeteners, I personally don’t have any qualms about it.  However, since I am used to not eating or drinking things with “natural sweeteners,” and it’s worked well for me, I’ve decided not to change that approach.  If you do choose to drink Sans Soda, there are other product reviews out there.  I recommend that you check out the reviews on Amazon.com.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Tips on Eating at Restaurants

For the purpose of this post, I consider fast-food places to have their own category.

Honesty, I don’t eat out very often.  My favorite places to eat are steak houses and Italian food restaurants.

Based on looking at labels in the supermarket, I make several assumptions when I go to a restaurant.  Here are the assumptions:

  • All condiments like barbeque sauce, ketchup, etc. (except mustard) have sugar in it.
  • All salad dressing (except usually vinaigrette) has sugar in it.
  • All bread has sugar in it.
  • All desserts have sugar in it!  (Duh!  LOL!)
  • All drinks except water, milk & 100% juice has sugar in it.  So I always order water to drink.


When I go to an Italian restaurant, I usually order chicken or seafood pasta, a Caesar salad (or regular salad with vinaigrette on the side).

When I go to a steak house, I usually order their rib-eye, a salad (with vinaigrette dressing on the side), and either mash potatoes or baked potato (with butter, cheese, sour cream on the side).

I eat at a restaurant about 6x per year.

Fast Food

My favorite “fast foods” are Subway (made with flatbread) and McDonald’s chicken wrap with no sauce.  I don’t order hamburgers.   I will also eat some fried chicken.  And oh, how can I forget Chick-fil-A?  Probably the best fast-food place around!

However, I do not eat fast food very often – usually 2x per month at the most!

What About Holidays? Tips for Holiday Eating

This is a great question.  Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in particular are loaded with sugar items typically in the forms of bread, desserts and drinks.

Many times the cook (especially if it’s a relative) can be offended if you don’t eat their food.  Here’s the best advice I can give:

  1. Inform the cook ahead of time that you don’t do food or drinks with sugar in it.  Based upon the K.I.S.S method I talked about in another blog post, that typically means no desserts, no bread, no cranberry sauce, and no sweetened drinks life fruit cocktail (which is a code word for sugar in it!).
  2. Suggest some alternatives & make them yourself (if this doesn’t offend the cook) – like fruit salad, smoothies, etc.  I have another blog post that talks about food swaps or “instead of this, eat this.”
  3. Consider ordering some food from a place like Whole Foods Market.
  4. For birthdays, I just don’t eat the desserts, unless of course it’s all fruit.  If I know there’s going to be a birthday celebration, I usually eat my own “dessert” (smoothies, fruit salad, yogurt, etc.) ahead of time.  Or, if it’s at my house, I’ll make myself a smoothie or have a healthy snack.

Since my body changed for the better during my Phase #1 Weight Loss, it was not the time to backslide!  I figured my health was too important. 

Let me also say that I have never had a problem with holidays, even to this day.  I just communicate what I’m doing & why I’m doing it, and people understand.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

3 Simple Steps to Success in Losing My 1st 30 Pounds!

When I started Phase #1 of my Weight Loss as discussed in a previous post, I did not write these steps down.  They just happened.  Here they are:

Step #1:  Know your “Why”.  My “Why” was to be healthy for my family.  When you have a “Why” then when struggles occur, you can persevere through it!

Step #2:  Accountability.  My daughter had a blast with this one.  I’d look at the ingredients & she would look too.  She loved pointing out to me when something had sugar or HFCS in it so I wouldn’t buy it.

Step #3:  Stick-to-itiveness.  This goes with the 1st step.  This one started getting easier for me after 6 weeks when I felt so good, I kept going.  I actually noticed that my clothes were starting to get too big!  I was “like” “hey, this is working!”

Remember, in losing my first 30 pounds I did not:
  • Exercise
  • Count calories
  • Go on any name brand diets
  • Have any medical procedures (HCG injections, surgery, etc.)
  • Take any pills or supplements
  • Drink any weight loss drinks
  • Have any diet drinks
  • Do weigh-ins
  • Keep a journal (not saying that you don’t have to, it was just something else for me to do)

You could almost say that I ate my way to weight loss! LOL!

Phase #1: Losing Weight Without Diet and Exercise - K.I.S.S.

Webster's dictionary defines "diet" as "a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight." You'll see in this blog that I did not do that!

How it Began

It all began with my daughter’s Godfather when he dropped by came by the house for my daughter’s birthday party.  He did not want to eat any cake or ice cream because he was on a sugar fast as part of his Christian music group in preparation for a concert. 

I mentioned to my oldest kid that one day I wanted to “fast” sugar just to see what kind of impact it would have on me.  So it was then that I decided to do it.   I “fasted” as I describe below under K.I.S.S. for 6 weeks and felt so good, I decided to keep it going!


K.I.S.S. = Keep It Short and Simple.  I’ve told you in earlier posts how I roll – I don’t do calorie counting, weigh-ins, diet drinks, etc.

So to keep it simple, if the ingredients had sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the food labels, I didn’t eat or drink it.  I also learned about all the all the other names for sugar like sucrose, glucose, cane sugar, cane juice, dextrose, corn syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, caramel  – and if it was listed in the label, I wouldn’t eat or drink it.

Finally, I didn’t do any diet drinks/food with artificial sweeteners!  So, if there was aspartame/NutraSweet, splenda/sucralose, saccharin, Equal, etc., in the ingredients on the label, I wouldn’t eat or drink it.

What Is Acceptable

I considered all fruit sugar to be acceptable for me to eat and drink.  I did not make any distinction between juices from concentrate or fresh squeezed juices.  As far as I was concerned, juice is juice!

Meat, veggies, nuts, oats, rice, potatoes, are also considered acceptable.  Of course if you read the label and it has sugar, HFCS, or any of those other sugar names I mentioned before, it would not be acceptable

Read my future blog posts where I’ll talk about Initial Struggles, Reading Food Labels, Food and Drink Swaps, and topics such as Holidays and Restaurants.   Keep an eye out for videos that will show you how I read labels.  I will also talk about my 3 simple keys to success in losing my 1st 30 pounds.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weight Management Timeline

Note:  As mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t the type that would constantly weigh myself.  I knew I was losing weight because my clothes got too big!  So the weights provided below represent some landmarks.

Start Phase #1 of Weight Loss: 
  • Sept. 2006: 268 lbs
  • Dec. 2006: 250 lbs
  • Jan. 2007 – March 2007:  240 lbs

Begin Phase #2 of Weight Loss: 
  • March 2007: 240 lbs
  • April 2007:  225 lbs
  • May 2007 – March 2010:  215 – 220 lbs.

Begin Phase #3 of Weight Loss: 
  • March 2010: 215 lbs
  • May 2010:  205 lbs
  • June 2010:  210 lbs
  • August 2010 - March 2011:  205 lbs
  • July 2011: 198 lbs
  • August 2011 – Feb. 2012:  190 – 195 lbs.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Before and After Weight Loss


Pictures at or near Sumo Weight:

After Weight Loss:

Taken During Phase #2 of Weight Loss

Taken during Phase #3 of Weight Loss:

Note:  These are the jeans I wore when I was at my Sumo Weight!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My 3 Simple Phases to Weight Loss

Looking back, I saw that I had 3 simple phases to weight loss.  These phases are also labeled in this blog:

  • Phase #1:  I lost the first 30 lbs without doing a name brand diet, HCG injections, surgery, drinking weight loss drinks, counting calories, or even...wait for it (or should I say weight for it - LOL) exercise!

  • Phase #2:  3 words: Rapid Weight Loss!  Here I share the #1 tip I learned for rapid weight loss!  This phase talks about how my weight loss kicked into high gear!  But it could only happen after Phase #1!
  • Phase #3:  Keeping the weight off.  It's common now-a-days for people to experience the "yo-yo" effect:  lose the weight, then gain it back.  Then lose it, and gain it back, etc.  I kept the weight off, and I'm going to share how I did it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Considered Myself to be the "Average Person"

I had thought about losing weight for a long time.   When it came to weight loss, I considered myself to be “the average person.”

Here’s what I mean:  Every new years, as a resolution, I wanted to lose weight.   I thought the way to do it would be to exercise.  But then, I’d have to join the gym.  Either that wasn’t in the budget, or I didn’t want to “waste” $ where I’d be gun-ho for a couple of weeks & that’s it.

There were sometimes that I did exercise a little bit, but I’d get tired too easy and would stop.  I really didn’t know what I was doing anyway.

I considered myself a “busy person.”  I didn’t think I had time to go to a gym.  I heard somewhere  that  I heard that the key to losing weight was to reduce the calories you ate per day. Well, I wasn’t the type of person that would track the amount of calories I ate per meal, because to me it would take up too much time, plus I’d starve, and on top of that I had no idea how much was too much!  

I watched the “Biggest Loser” on tv and thought – oh I could try to lose weight like them.  So I went to the website and to get their  weight loss program, it cost money…and that turned me off.

I also knew people who went on all sorts of diets: some did the no-carb/low carb diet, others did that beach diet, etc.  All of them lost weight, but eventually they gained more back.

I even knew some people that did the HCG injection diet.  They lost like 40 or 50 pounds.  Then they gained it all back, plus.

I also heard of the master cleanse diet.  But those that I knew that tried it basically starved themselves.  Alll they had was lemon juice and maple syrup - maybe a few other stuff.  To me, that was some type of "shock" treatment diet.  It wasn't something that lasted though.

So the bottom line is that I thought of weight loss as literally a gigantic mountain (pun intended): thinking it would be some type of combination of starvation, lots of exercise, detailed diary, constant weigh-ins, counting calories, etc., etc.  I far as I was concerned I didn’t have the time, the budget, or the patience – and that’s if I even knew what I was doing!

I always thought that losing weight can’t be that complicated or overwhelming!  I wanted a method that would be simple, keep my weight down, and thus have a healthy lifestyle.  I came across this method that still allows me to eat delicious food.  I've lost over 80 pounds and in some of the best physical condition in my life!  So I’m going to share with you what I did & how it worked for me!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How Did I Get To Sumo Weight?

Mt. Fuji, Japan, September 2006

I was not used to being at a sumo wrestler weight.  I was a track athlete in high school.  In college, I walked on the football team for one semester.  After graduation, I stayed active by playing basketball.  But in my early to mid-40’s, I got bigger and bigger.
Well to put it bluntly, I ate, then I ate, then I ate some more.  Oh yeah, I sat at my desk in the daytime & on the couch at night.  Here’s a summary…

I ate when I was hungry, which started as soon as I work up.  So I’d usually eat pancakes and bacon.  Or maybe a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich (I used to make those back in the day when I worked at a fast-food joint).  Or maybe grits, eggs, and bacon.
Then about an hour or two after breakfast, I would be hungry again.   Usually, I couldn’t find anything to eat, so I’d have to “suffer”  another hour until lunch.

So lunch was usually dinner leftovers, or fast food, or hot dogs & chips, or a ham & cheese/turkey & cheese sandwich.  Of course, if I had fast-food, I had to get a milk shake!   About an hour later, my sweet tooth really kicked in.  I needed a sugar fix.

Afternoon Snack
This is where my chocoholic kicked in.  Can anybody relate?  Sometimes I would eat an entire bag of Hershey’s Kisses.  Or I’d buy one of those giant Hershey’s or Nestle’s chocolate bars.  I would usually catch them on sale for 99 cents.   Also, the Dove candies.  Sometimes I’d catch Kit Kats, or 3 Musketeers on sale.

Other afternoon snack faves where milk shakes.  I considered myself a conniseur of fast-food vanilla shakes.  I loved the ones that were advertised as being made with real ice cream.  Oh yeah, egg nog shakes and mint shakes – when in season, were better than vanilla.
If I had dessert after dinner the previous night, I would sometimes have that in the afternoon instead of the aforementioned snacks.

I don’t think it was about what I ate, I think it was more about how much I ate, what I drank during the meal, and what I ate afterwards.
Dinner consisted of a meat, a vegetable and a starch.  Meats were usually steak, chicken, hamburger (spaghetti), pork chops.

Veggies were usually broccoli, spinach, green beans, sometimes salad, mixed veggies (lima beans, corn, peas, carrots), cauliflower.
Starches were corn, rice, potatoes, and lots of bread.  My family probably went through a loaf of bread every 2 days!

My deal was that I could easily eat 2 plates full at each dinner – because I felt I was hungry.  I’d usually wash it down with something sweet: koolaid especially, juice cocktail, or soda.
Then after dinner, I almost always had to have dessert.  Chocolate cake & vanilla ice cream was the dessert of choice!  Also in the top five was banana pudding, vanilla pudding,  jello, cookies (homemade & store bought), and graham crackers.

About 3 hours after dinner, I was hungry again.  So sometimes, I would make another (but smaller) dinner plate.

So can you imagine this “cycle” going over and over and over again for like at least 2 or 3 years? 
I got tired very easily.  It was hard for me to play with my kids.  I always knew in the back of my mind I wanted to do something to lose weight.  My motivation was to be and feel more healthy for my family.   But for years I didn’t do anything, even as the pounds started piling on…

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Sumo Weight Loss: There's Hope!

What is significant about this blog?  Well, I started losing weight without going on a “guru diet”, popping diet pills, drinking “potions,” having surgery, getting injected, counting calories, keeping a diary, performing constant weigh-ins, or even…wait for it…exercise!

Why this blog?  Because I’m always getting compliments about how I look and about keeping the weight off, and people who know how I did it always say I lost weight the right way (and stress free), and I wanted to share my story!

USA Track & Field Southwest Master's Championships, July, 2011

After a Track Workout on March 3, 2012

So stay tuned and keep reading this blog to find out how I got rid of the Sumo weight & how I kept it off!  If I can do it, my hope is that you can too!