Who Is This Guy? - The Blog

Welcome to our blog about food addiction, obesity, gastric bypass surgery and of course, Who Is This Guy? ... the book

Thank You For Your Support

 

For those of you who have read my book, “Who Is This Guy”, and took the time to write a review for Amazon, my heartfelt thanks for your support.  Every review that was posted on Amazon included positive comments and encouragement for continued success in my journey.  You can’t imagine how important positive feedback is from time to time, especially when the journey is really a life-long endeavor.

 

 

As I said in my previous blog, I have managed to maintain my weight at 190 pounds despite having to curtail my exercise program to probably half of what it once was.  I think about the “whys” of being able to stay on track, when once that was such a struggle.  Is the weather a factor?  After all, who can think about overeating when it’s so hot and humid outside.  But, of course, that never stopped me in the old days. 

 

 

I tell myself that I deserve some of the credit for maintaining my weight simply because I have been diligent in staying with my plan.  I continue to keep track of what I eat and how I exercise.  I continue to get help with the underlying issues, which is just as important as eating a healthy diet.  And I am also focused on how much better I feel when I am living a healthy lifestyle.

 

Let’s see where this goes?  I do know that I am determined to stay focused and positive.

 

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Keeping it Together

 

Coming up on the one year mark of my last knee surgery, August 26th, to be exact, and I am still maintaining my weight at 190 pounds.

 

If someone were to ask me how I am accomplishing this monumental task, I would throw up my hands and say, “I have no idea”.

 

I am going through a stressful time right now, probably one of the most stressful periods of my life.  I would call it a sustained stress, meaning not event specific, but a stress that is a daily part of your life until such time as you can make changes and work it out.  I am thankful for the  emotional support I get at home, however, I am the person ultimately responsible for getting things back on track with my business.  Historically, I turn to food for comfort.  I also use the gym as a stress reliever.  I am working out most days, however, I am not able to work out at the level of intensity that I am used to because I am still dealing with knee pain.  Also, as I mentioned in my last blog, I am being cautioned not to use my right knee because of complications from the surgery.  Talk about stress, I may be looking at a third surgery on my knee.  The reality of it is that I may never be able to exercise again the way I used to if they are not able to get my knee functioning as it should.

 

Because of the possibility of being on a limited exercise program, possibly for the rest of my life, you can imagine how important it is, now more than ever, to be diligent about my eating habits.  I still keep a daily record of what I eat and the amount of calories I consume each day.  And that continues to be a big part of my road to success.    

 

I am not completely sure why I am continuing to do well in maintaining my weight through all the stress I’m currently going through, but my strategy and my focus remain the same. . . just take it one day at a time, eating clean, exercising and thinking positively.

 

I would appreciate your feedback and your suggestions about how you have dealt with the issue of healthy eating when you are stressed.    

 

 

 

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Dodging A Bullet

 

It’s been a while since my last blog.  The long, slow comeback from a second knee replacement surgery on my right knee has taken a lot longer to heal than anticipated.  In fact, it’s been nearly ten months.  I mention this fact because those who have followed my previous blogs, know that I tend to focus on exercising in order to keep my weight in check and also as a substitute for my unhealthy eating habits when I am not focused on eating “clean”.  Well, the level of exercising that I normally pursue has not been possible for the past 10 months because of complications in my recovery and I have to say, I’ve been very concerned about gaining back the weight I’ve lost without the benefit of my usual exercise routine. 

I’m not quite sure yet how I’ve managed to avoid this dilemma of being somewhat sedentary and, so far, not gaining weight, but I currently weigh 190 lbs. without the benefit of exercising at the level I’m used to.  I still go to the gym, but not as often.  I am not able to do cardio at all so my workouts are less intense.   I am struggling with staying focused on eating right and I’m worried that eventually the lack of exercise and the struggle to eat “clean” might catch up with me.  I think that being aware of the possibility of heading down that road is half the battle because a big part in the success of the program is self awareness and a dedication to honesty.

I’ll keep you posted as my struggle continues and I’ll let you know how I’m managing my issues.   Meanwhile, if you’ve experienced this type of problem, let me know how you’ve dealt with it . . . I’m always open to suggestions.

 

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The Book is Published

 

Well, my book was finally published this month and I know some of you have already read it.  It means a great deal to me to read your positive comments and remarks showing your support.  More importantly, so many people wrote to say that they shared those same feelings that I described in the book as I fought the battle to gain control and that they could totally relate to what I was going through.  It is my hope that they will take that message and pursue their own journey to better health.

 

The past few weeks have been exciting.  Some of you may have seen my interview on Face Book with People.com.  I’ve also just finished an interview with The LA Health Examiner which is a radio station in Los Angeles and have a couple more interviews coming up soon.  I have gotten so many compliments, not only on the book, but on my appearance at my current weight of 185 lbs.  And at the same time, so many people are reaching out to me asking for help or just wanting to compare stories.  I truly feel for all of these people because I do, indeed, know what they are going through.  

 

One of the reasons why the book took almost five years to finish is because I was reluctant to acknowledge what Dr. Forse kept calling my underlying issues.  He would, very tactfully, approach me from time to time suggesting that the book, in fact, could not be successfully completed without that final piece of the puzzle.  I thought I was just a unique kind of a guy who was wired differently than everyone else.  When I finally admitted, even to myself, that okay, maybe I did have a few issues to deal with, I decided to get help.  Only then could I begin to understand why it was so important to face the issues head on.  I could finally see, for the first time, that without facing those issues, I would continue to go on diet after diet without success and at the same time increase the possibility of going back to square one with my weight, which I never, ever want to do again.  I am very thankful that I had such a caring doctor who worked with me to get me to see how important the underlying issues really are.

 

I hope you will read the book and let me know what you think about it.  It is available on Amazon.com or Barnes&Noble.com.  Your comments are important to me.    

 

 

 

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Understanding the Medical, Social and Psychological Impacts to Obesity

 

The medical impact on your body when you are obese is extraordinary.  You are at extremely high risk for serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer to name a few.  At best, your quality of life will suffer because of these diseases, at worst, they can cause death.

 

Social impacts to obesity are just as devastating.  I speak from personal experience when I tell you that it is most certainly humiliating to go to a movie theater and not be able to sit in the seat to watch the show.  I still remember having to stand in the back of the theater because I couldn’t fit into the seat.  Another experience that caused me emotional pain was going to a restaurant and having to ask for a chair without arms and pray that it was strong enough to hold me.  Airplane travel was also a nightmare.  I always felt embarrassed by infringing on the space of the passenger sitting next to me.  The feelings that you are forced to deal with play havoc with your self-esteem and your self-worth.  It creates anxiety which ultimately leads to depression.

 

The emotional or psychological impact to obesity is very much linked to the social impact.  When you are constantly fighting depression and anxiety, you have no desire to go anywhere and you have no energy to do anything.  In my new book, “Who Is This Guy?” I address all these issues and share the events that brought me to Dr. Forse for help, which ultimately led to my success.  I found out the hard way, you can’t do it alone and you can’t even begin to hope for success unless you deal with the big picture.  In my next blog, I’ll share some information from my book that might be helpful.  If you are interested in reading it, it is available on Amazon.com. 

 

I hope you’ll share your experiences with me and let me know how you deal with them.  Maybe I can help point you in the right direction.        

 

 

 

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Trying to Understand Obesity Disease

 

Trying to Understand Obesity

 

Obesity is now a worldwide health epidemic.  It is estimated that over one third of the population of the United States is obese.  Globally, more deaths are linked to obesity than are linked to malnutrition and starvation.  According to the World Health Organization, over 1.4 billion adults are overweight with over 200 million men and 300 million women classified as obese.  In my opinion, there are many reasons for this drastic rise in obesity, and I’ll share some of them with you now.

 

The lifestyle that most overweight people lead today is extremely sedentary.  We live in a world where so much can be done without leaving the comfort of our living room chair.  We can watch television, play video games, or use our laptop computer, smart phone or tablet.  With access to millions of websites, we can shop for clothes, gifts, groceries or renew our prescriptions.  Even a college degree is possible without leaving our chair or getting out of our pajamas.  We can also turn off our lights and lock our doors with the touch of a button.

 

You don’t have to look too far to find yet another reason for the rise in obesity.  The “fast food” establishments found on almost every corner are such a convenience in the busy lifestyles we lead.  They are a quick and inexpensive meal on the run, for sure, but at what price to our health?  Clearly, a trip to the supermarket for a supply of healthy foods will cost you more than the unhealthy variety, and that’s unfortunate.  Nevertheless, you can still have a healthy diet by making sure your trip to the supermarket is well-planned and cost efficient.  The choice is yours, and speaking from experience, I can tell you that the wrong choices have dire consequences.  Fast food and poor food choices played a significant part in my obesity.

 

In my next blog I will address the medical and psychological issues associated with obesity.  In the meantime, let me know what your struggles are and how you address them.      

 

 

 

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Getting back on track....It can be done.

If you're like me the holidays are a continuous battle. From Thanksgiving to New Years Day we are being tempted with unhealthy foods.  Candy, pie, cake, cookies, bread, gravy, potatoes, stuffing....I could go on and on. These are foods I normally wouldn't touch because I know that they will trigger my cravings.  Cravings are caused by the simple carbohydrates found in those foods. Simple carbohydrates are the quickest source of energy, but are very rapidly digested and won't satisfy your appetite for very long.

My solution to the holiday binge is to begin eating totally "clean" once the holidays are over. I increase my good fats and up my protein intake. I continue my normal exercise routine, drink plenty of water to be sure I am staying hydrated throughout the day, and cut out all simple carbs. Whereas simple carbs are bad for you because they induce cravings, complex carbs are very important to a balanced diet.  Complex carbohydrates are rich in fiber, thus satisfying and healthy. Complex carbs are usually found in whole plant foods that are high in vitamins and minerals. I eat plenty of vegetables, including sweet potatoes, and eliminate all simple carbs from my diet.  Within three or four days of eating "clean", the cravings are gone.  If I do slip and eat those "craving-producing foods, here's a tip that works for me and you might want to try; I distract myself until they are gone by keeping busy.  I clean my garage, go to the gym, take a walk or fold some laundry, and by the time I am done I no longer have that craving.  You need to be sure and do something that will keep your mind active. Sitting on the sofa and watching television or reading a book doesn't work for me.  Another way to curb cravings is to have a healthy snack like carrots, celery, cucumbers or other raw veggies. These will fill you up so you don't feel hungry anymore which, in turn, will lessen the odds of going for the "junk" foods.

So as difficult as the holiday season is, I have learned how to get through it the best I can and then make sure I start eating properly to get back on track once the holidays are over. That is what works for me.   The holidays are difficult to deal with, but if you stay positive and get back to the program in the new year, you'll be right back on track.  Don't give up.  It CAN be done!  I'd be interested in knowing how you handle the temptations of eating around the holidays and how you get back on track.  Please share your experiences.

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Update on The Book

We have almost finished writing the book that I have mentioned in previous blogs and the book proposal will be out to prospective agents soon.

To give you a brief overview, the book is about my life story in the first person.  A story of a nearly five hundred pound man with poor eating habits from childhood and a roller coaster ride, at times, of uncontrollable eating through adulthood.  It includes successes and failures at trying to manage my life and you will see how this out of control behavior extended to and affected other areas of my life.

The book consists of alternating chapters with my co-author, gastric bypass surgeon, Dr. R. Armour Force, a renowned specialist in bariatric surgery with over thirty years experience.  Dr. Forse’s chapters provide the medical point of view as it relates to the challenges of a person with overeating disorders.

The book is about more than just obesity.  Obesity is often a symptom of problems much deeper.  The fact is that all people with overeating disorders have underlying issues.  It is also a book about commitment.  The book points out that a total commitment to changing your life by changing your eating habits, including exercise as part of your day and addressing your underlying issues provides long term success.

Stay tuned for more information on the publishing date which we hope will be by mid to late summer.

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I am Back

I know it’s been a while since my last blog.  I have been busy at work and at the same time struggling with my eating habits and the weight gain that followed after the holidays.  I did okay until the beginning of November and then I struggled mightily until about three weeks ago.

It has been a constant struggle and I have put on weight, but the good news is that I seem to be back on track now and slowly taking off the extra weight I’ve gained.  No excuses, but I have not been able to exercise as often and as intensely due to back problems and a problem with my wrist, knee and shoulder.   I know that is part of the reason for the weight gain.  I was not burning off the calories.  Also, I was not eating clean and consequently, the weight was slowly creeping up.

For now, I am once again back on the program and I have a good feeling that I will keep going in the right direction.  Three perfect weeks behind me and I’m still in the zone.  I have started researching and experimenting with foods that could help to reduce inflammation in the joints which may help me with some of the discomfort I am having in my shoulder, back and knee.

I’ll share the information I find on what foods are working to reduce inflammation in my next blog.  Meantime, I’m happy with my progress and my continued focus. I feel so much better physically and mentally.

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Know the Difference Between Hunger and Cravings

Hunger is certain to make you want to eat.  Hunger is a state where your body and brain are depleted of nutrients and your system is asking your body to resupply them.  Many people rarely get to the point of feeling hungry because they are driven to eat by what is going on in their lives and not by the actual feeling of hunger. For example, emotional eating is common in people that suffer from eating disorders because they are using food to make them feel better.  For many years I used binge eating to make myself feel better when I was stressed.  It is my opinion that many of us are driven to eat unhealthy foods because of the food and beverage manufacturers.  Processed food and sugary drinks are known to cause cravings.  The processed food makers and sugary beverage makers can accomplish these cravings with its one main ingredient, sugar.

I believe that people should take responsibility for their own actions.  I also believe that when predators like the processed food  and sugary beverage manufacturers are allowed to target advertise to children, they are no better than the makers of cigarettes, who, before they were forced to limit how they could advertise, flooded the market from teenagers to adults pushing their nicotine-laden products. They know that their products are likely to create lifelong problems for their consumers yet in the interest of sales, they continue to develop new products which hook unsuspecting users.

My struggle with sugar continues.  I have not had a sugary beverage in almost 13 years.  Not so with sugary foods such as candy and cakes. I work hard at it all the time and I have become educated and aware of the triggers.  What about you? How do you feel about my views on sugar?

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Proactive Lifestyle Changes

Day to day poor eating habits have a way of becoming the “norm” – a way of life that doesn’t merit a second thought.  During the time that I was gaining weight on a daily basis, my poor diet was always in the back of my mind, but when I got very busy with work and other commitments, I always managed to get through the day without worrying about what kind or the amount of food I consumed.  I’d just tell myself that I would start fresh tomorrow.  But tomorrow never came.  And the weight problem became more than just a problem; it became a life or death situation.

Letting poor eating habits go on for too long could have dire medical consequences.  Those consequences include, but are not limited to, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and respiratory problems.  We all face the difficulties of “staying with the program”. . .  staying focused on eating a healthy diet, exercising, and dealing with your underlying issues.  I urge you to take your health seriously now and get help before the medical problems begin.  Once the medical issues take hold and the control is out of your hands, it gets more and more difficult to make the necessary lifestyle changes.  The setback of dealing with any illness saps your strength, your emotional state and your resolve.

I was one of those fortunate people who made the decision to get help before I was forced to deal with medical problems.  But I have seen others who are not as fortunate and I can tell you, personally, that it is difficult to watch them struggle both physically and mentally trying to get a grip and take their life back.

Think about your own situation and ask yourself if today is the day to seek help in reaching your goal.

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The Book Is For Real

After a year of many discussions concerning the book about my struggles with obesity that I've mentioned in previous blogs , we are finally making some traction. The long talked about book is coming together at last. To give you the gist of some of the details that you can expect to read about such as who the authors are, what the subject matter is and what target market would be best served by the content of this book, I offer the following.

The authors are myself, Nick Mirrione, who was born and raised in Massachusetts in 1950 and still resides there, and Dr R. Armor Forse, who was born and raised in Montreal, Canada in 1950 and currently lives in Nebraska.  Nick is the subject of the book and Dr Forse is the Bariatric Surgeon who performed the gastric bypass surgery on Nick on January 16, 2001 that changed his life significantly.

The book will be approximately 17 to 20 chapters in length.  The story begins during Nick's teenage years, growing up in Braintree.  You will read about  a seemingly normal life that somehow tumbles out of control as, over a period of time, his weight begins to yo-yo from an average of 180 pounds to a high of somewhere in the vicinity of 475 to 500 pounds. You will follow him through his Military days, which included two tours in Vietnam, and then the adjustment period when he returned home.  It moves on through his marriage, business successes and failures and the eventual failure of the marriage.  You will follow his struggles with doing anything at all in moderation, and as he moves into middle age and feels time is "running out" on the opportunities to get a handle on his life, you will see how he came to the decision to have gastric bypass surgery, and how that decision brought him to Dr. Forse.

Dr. Forse provides background on his own life, along with the evolution of bariatric surgery from the onset, when it got so little respect as a tool in the struggle with obesity, to today's belief that the surgery is a very viable solution for a better quality of life for many patients dealing with morbid obesity.  Dr Forse will take you through the changes and improvements in the methods used over the years and will fill in details as to how the surgery relates to Nick, specifically.

We are making significant progress and our goal is to have the book proposal in the hands of a literary agent by the end of summer and published by the end of November 2013.  Let's see how it goes.

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Underlying Issues

Dr. Forse, who is the surgeon who performed my gastric by-pass surgery in January 2011, insists that all gastric by-pass patient's need to become aware of and address their underlying issues. Dr Forse goes on to say that there are always underlying issues for bariatric surgery candidates, that is to say anyone with a BMI index ( body mass index) that's over 40 and who's tried diligently to lose weight and has ultimately failed, there is always something underneath- something psychological- that needs to be dealt with. Without getting to the root of and dealing with those issues, even bariatric surgery will not always be successful.

I am in total agreement with Dr Forse that long term success for a bariatric patient essentially requires three primary disciplines.  First, a restriction of calories along with an understanding of what and when to eat. Second, lifestyle changes such as exercise and physical activity and third, the patient needs to identify and and understand how to deal with their underlying issues. This is why diets alone don't work.  Diets are doomed to fail for a patient who ignores the psychological component of why they overeat.

Personally, I am ashamed to admit that it is only now that Dr Forse's words are sinking in to my thick skull.  He has been telling me this for quite some time, but it is only recently that I "got it" and went to see a psychologist.  I made the appointment, in part to search for a clinical diagnosis for the book that Dr Forse and I intend to write.  I thought it was time to verify my self-diagnosis of obsessive compulsive personality disorder whih, I believed showed up as an inability to moderate much of my behavior, especially eating.  I thought I was just wired differently that others and needed to learn to live with that.  I am grateful to Dr Forse for being so patient with me and moving me in the right direction toward identifying my underlying issues. I was amazed at how wrong I was in my self diagnosis.

 

More to come on this subject in my next blog as we learn about the traits that drive me to distraction and consume more of my energy than the should.  For now it is safe to say that I am encouraged by the information that I am gathering.  Sixty two years old and I am still learning who I am and what makes me tick.  Fascinating.

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Post Holiday Let Down

Making it through the holidays was a major accomplishment for me.  I struggled the last two weeks, but I made it through without any deserts or candy or any of the other trigger foods that have a history of knocking me off my program.  But now that the holidays are over, I find that the number of calories are going up and I am having a hard time staying focused on the strict eating program that I was doing so well with from June to January.

I am trying to figure out what has changed.  It is as if I have taken the blinders off that have kept me focused for so long and now being tempted by things like pizza and sandwiches and even an extra slice of my healthy, homemade pumpkin bread that I treat myself to every day. The combination of these foods have moved my caloric intake up from my comfort zone of between 1800 to 2200 calories per day to the 2500 to 2700 range.  Although I have only gained two pounds, I feel lousy and look soft.  I prefer the lean, hard look that my clean, high protein, regular eating program provides.  All of this causes me to be anxious and I deal with that anxiety by exercising harder.  Sort of like trying to outrun the problem rather than facing it.  But if I stop and face the problem, I don't know what to do, so I keep running and hope that I figure it out before I just can't run any more.  When I was in Vietnam, we knew that moving targets had a better chance of survival than stationary ones.  There comes a time, though, when you have to stop moving, and when you do, you could have a fight on your hands.

What a distraction this causes.  I spend way too much of my day thinking about and worrying about what can go wrong if I slip any further.  I do take some pride, however, in the fact that I haven't gone off the wagon to the point where I am eating candy and cake.

Has anyone had the same experience?  Why do you think this happens?  Is there a way to keep it from happening?  Please share your thoughts.

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I made it Through the Holidays without a slip-up

Well, I can't really say that it was easy, but I can say that I made it through the holidays without falling off the wagon.  When you last heard from me with three weeks to go until the end of the year, I was all pumped up and completely focused.  As we got closer to the finish line, the temptations increased and my resolve was being put to the test.  What is it about the sight and subconscious memory of certain sugar-based foods that has such power over me that I have to use all my concentration and willpower to resist it? 

As I analyze what worked for me this year and did not work in past years, I clearly see that it is zero tolerance for trigger foods that works for me.  As I have said so many times in past blogs, I have the type of make up that has a problem with moderation.  It literally takes only one M&M or one bite of cake or pie for my system to recognize past pleasures and start demanding more of the same.  So powerful are those cravings and demands, that my mind is no match for those urges.  So, after so many years of failure at the moderation approach, this year's goal was to resist all urges and temptation by having absolutely none of those trigger foods.

I am also in the process of trying to figure out why I am like this.  What makes me different from those people we all know who are able to moderate most, if not all, aspects of their life.  I, myself, don't seem to be able to do anything in moderation.  I am going to leave it at that for now because I will  be doing a short series of blogs specifically on that subject of moderation.

In the "baby steps" concept that I try to follow, I made it through the holidays still in my groove.  Present weight 192 and hoping to keep it there.  As always, I welcome dialogue from anyone with similar problems.  I think that dialogue will be helpful to all of us.

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Three Weeks to go and Still Focused

I am so proud of my daughter Marisa who has lost 63 pounds in the last four months.  If and when she gets into an exercise program, I think she will finally understand the combination that is so critical to long term success.  This is a very difficult time of year to stay disciplined and not be tempted to try "just one special treat".   Marisa never really "got it" when it came to grasping the concept of diet, nutrition and exercise.  This is the best I have ever seen her do, and I will keep you updated on her progress.

As for me, I am on cruise control and not having any problems at all.  I love it when I am this focused because it means that I am not constantly frustrated, afraid or distracted from life while trying to get my eating back on track.

Back to Marisa for a minute.  She is so much like me, it's scarey.  I would guess that many people with overeating disorders are like Marisa and me.  She is a binge eater.  She can do nothing in moderation.  She has to learn everything the hard way.  Like me, she learns best from past failures rather than from listening to the experiences of others.  There are no filters or governors when she starts to binge eat.  Hey, she's 38 years old and if I'm right, and she does have it figured out, then she's 12 years ahead of me.

As for me, with 11 days left until Christmas, I am still doing well.  This is the week that I hit the bump in the road last year, so I am very cautious.  Dinner with friends in Boston coming up on Monday, followed by various exposures to food leading up to Christmas day.  Will keep you posted.  Current weight 192.  Anyone else who'd like to share their struggles, I'd love to hear from you.

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Made it Through Thanksgiving

Well I made it through Thanksgiving day and the weekend too, which included my granddaughter Chloe's 2nd birthday party. The fact is, I am in such a zone right now that I had no problem at all resisting temptation.  I ate all of the traditional Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and an assortment of vegetables.  What I did not eat was gravy, bread and butter or the tremendous assortment of desserts that were offered.  When it came time for dessert, I was prepared.  I unwrapped my own homemade pumpkin cake which, I  know, is made with healthy ingredients and contains 130 calories.

Fortunately, my gym opened at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning so I was able to get my normal workout in before I went on to give thanks at a few different locations.  I ended the day singing happy birthday to Chloe but not having any of her Mickey Mouse birthday cake.

I still have 5 weeks to go to make it past the most difficult time of the year for me.  I feel very confident that I will make it this year and am aided by the fact that I am very busy at work.  I find that the busier I am, the less I think about food and, therefore, the less I eat.  My weight right now is 193 lbs.  Last year at this time I was 192, so the week before Christmas I thought I would try various desserts.  I was in such a groove, I knew I could get right back on track.  I was wrong, though, and I am determined  not to make the same mistake again this year.  Last year's mistake caused me to battle with cravings and a weight gain of 7 to 12 pounds that I spent 6 months trying to lose in addition to trying to regain my focus.  Lesson learned!

I will keep you posted of my progress.

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Holiday Overeating Anxiety

Here we are, the week of Halloween and I'm getting anxious about my holiday eating.  I should be worried; the most vulnerable time of year for me is the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Other than the year of my surgery, 2001, I have never been able to control my eating during this period.  Some years I try harder than others to avoid the traps that lead me down the path of over eating, but let me address the post surgery era.  Every year since 2001, I have slipped up during the holiday season, but last year, I went into Thanksgiving on cruise control - six months of perfect eating.  No sugar, no cream-based foods, no white breads. Then, with two weeks left before the end of the holiday season, I convinced myself that I was so focused, I could have a piece of apple pie and a couple of chocolate covered pretzels and get right back on track.  As usual, I was wrong.  I had been wrong the last hundred times I told myself I could do this, so what made me think I would have different results this time?

As always, my plan for this year is to avoid those trigger foods that cause the problem of overeating.  I know what they are and I am afraid of them because of what they can do to me.  I have said it before, and I will remind myself again; it is a lot of work to stay focused and disciplined, but it is much more work to get back your focus once you lose it.  I will keep you posted as I navigate through the mine field of the holidays.  I can use all the help I can get, so please, if you have some ideas to share about how you handle holiday eating, I would love to hear them.

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What Causes Me To Eat

The experts say that the primary reasons why people overeat are alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation and TV watching.  According to researchers, alcohol consumption has the biggest impact, followed by sleep deprivation (less than 5 1/2 hours per night) and then TV watching.

Personally, I do not consume alcohol of any kind and I usually get 6 hours of sleep each night.  I rarely watch TV, unless it is sports related and when I do watch TV, it seems that I am up and doing things at almost every commercial.  Yet I am as inclined to overeat as anyone else. 

In my case, I think that the cause is a disorder called Binge-eating disorder.  Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food.  Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal, but in my case, overeating is caused by eating trigger foods, such as candy, white bread, pasta or cake, to name a few.

Over the years since my Gastric By-pass surgery in January 2001, I have, through the process of trial and error, identified the foods that I can eat on a regular basis that do not cause me to crave more food.  In fact, when I am eating right, I am never hungry and have to almost force myself to eat on a regular schedule so that I take in at least 1900 calories per day.  Among the foods that cause me to have the least cravings are:  egg whites, cottage cheese, white meat fish, chicken and turkey, canned tuna fish, fruits and vegetables, yogurt , rye or whole wheat breads, fat free cheese, peanut butter, bran cereals and skim milk.  My goal is to make sure these foods supply the biggest portion of my diet plan each day.

What do you do to try to avoid overeating? Please share with us.

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How Physical Activity Affects Me

Physical activity does four things for me.  First, it speeds up my metabolism so that I burn more calories; second, it suppresses my appetite; third, it increases my energy level, and fourth, it makes me feel good about myself and the way I look.

Exercise, depending on its intensity and how long it lasts, will elevate your metabolism anywhere between one and several hours after you have finished your workout. In other words, you will continue burning calories at a faster rate than normal after you have stopped working out.  One of my goals over the past 11 years since my surgery has been to change my body composition by increasing my muscle mass and reducing body fat. I have accomplished this through strength training (weight lifting).  Increased muscle mass increases your body's fat-to-muscle ratio which boosts the rate at which you burn calories all the time, not just after exercise.

In my case, exercise suppresses my appetite.  I am just not as hungry as I am on the days I do not exercise.  Plus, you have less time to eat if you are in the gym for two hours.  I choose to exercise early in the morning for two reasons:  I am never too busy at 4:30 in the morning and it jacks me up for the whole day.  I feel great after exercising.  Of course the exercise alone will not work if you don't employ a sound eating plan along with it.

I encourage you to see your doctor before starting an exercise program.  Start slowly and get proper instruction on the use of the equipment to  avoid injury.  Let me know how physical activity affects you.

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