Week 5 Day 2 Back in the Swing of Things

It’s a day off because of the May 1 holiday.  I’m a little late getting started.

Ruth just got off the machine.  My turn.

Okay, 630 calories in 31 minutes.  Powered by frustration and anger, trying to get my Magix Movie Edit Pro `7 PlusHD to work the way it’s supposed to work.  I have it running now, but not without a lot of frustration and entering the 30 digit serial number at least a half a dozen times.  Bastards.  I suppose this is what I should expect when I buy a $69 software program that claims to do as much as Final Cut Pro.

Fabulous dinner.  We went shopping and I made another two liters of skimmed milk into cottage cheese.  Ruth poached up some salmon, made a delicious mixture of squash and potatoes in the microwave, plus lots of Chinese greens which we learned from our friend Panda are called 空心菜 “kong xin cai” (hollow heart greens).  Sprinkled with green onions.  Ruth also mixed up a bean and lentil salad with chopped tomato. Here’s a picture.

Our dinner April 30, 2012.  Delicious.

We just got back from a long walk.  Stopped by the fruit store on the way and bought durian for everybody for desert.  Perfectly ripe and very tasty. The rain started at exactly the point when we were turning back, but fortunately we had umbrellas with us.  I’ve just given GouGou a rinse.  She’s low to the ground and was very muddy by the time we’d walked through the village and back home.

I finished the day today with an orange with cottage cheese.  Very tasty and satisfying.

Week 5 Day 1

Wow.  Here we are at week five already.  My how time flies when you are having fun.

Yesterday’s cheater day ended with a pig out on hong shu pian (sweet potato chips) and two glasses of very inferior yellow wine, that all going down on top of a Starbucks vente latte that went down on about half a bottle of Argentinian red wine.  I felt quite toxic this morning, a real “Get me back on the program.” kind of feeling.  Wasted a lot of time surfing the net and practicing my banjo this morning.

Finally got on the elliptical early this afternoon but only did 569 calories in my 31 minutes.  Still managed to work up a good sweat, and feel marginally better now.

I just made a new pot of brown rice and heated up the soup for lunch.  Need a shower.  Badly.

You might have noticed that I didn’t take any pictures on Friday, the day before the cheater day and the traditional day for photos.  Just couldn’t be bothered.  Every two weeks is going to be good enough.  I think pictures would show a difference, but not enough to write home about, or blog about, despite the supposed 15 elbow weight loss.

Week 4 Day 7 Cheater Day

I started off this day quite mildly, with a large orange cut up with cottage cheese for breakfast.  Did not do any time on the elliptical trainer, though Ruth did her usual.

It’s a Saturday, and usually we are not teaching, but this weekend we are working because they are giving us three days off, starting tomorrow.  Most of our students have gone home for the Labour Day holiday.  This morning I had three students and Ruth had four, so we combined our classes for a debate and everything went very well.

At lunch time we went to the International Cafe on campus and ate French fries.  I had a bowl of niu rou mian (noodles with beef) with two fried eggs added that was very filling. Then we came home and Ruth made grilled cheese sandwiches.  I had one, even though I felt truly stuffed by the noodles and beef.

We had a class this afternoon, but Ruth had no students and I had only one, so I invited her home to watch us rehearse for our performance at the wine bar this evening.  A very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

At 6:15 we walked to the East gate to meet our driver, who took us to the Blue Bar downtown, where I had garlic bread and Ruth had a Blue Bar burger with fries.  We both had two tropical coladas, which are are thick ice-cream and Malibu rum drink.  Then we went on to a wine bar where we sang some songs and drank a lot of red wine.

On the way home I had the cab stop at a Starbucks and I finally got my latte hit for the day, plus a heated chocolate muffin.  Now we are devouring hong shu pian ( sweet potato chips) and I’m thinking of having another shower because I’m sweating.  It’s been a good cheater day.

Week 4 Day 6

I stepped on to the scales this morning, after my morning bowel movement, and find that my weight is now 102.7, give or take .3 kilos.  The weight range of these inaccurate scales gave it as 102.7 to a low of 102.2  so I’m taking the highest, and most frequent, number.

Let’s see what that means:  starting weight was  109.6 kg. so this means I’ve lost 6.9 kg. or 15.2 lbs. in four weeks.  That’s a fast enough weight loss.

You might remember that I was a bit depressed after my last weigh in, at the end of week 2, which showed I had actually gained .1 kg.  I fought off that depression by telling myself that weight is not a reliable indicator, since it fluctuates so wildly with water retention and the amount of food eaten before the weigh in.  I should be telling myself the same thing about this weigh in.  Don’t take it too seriously.  (Is it cheating to do the weigh in first thing in the morning after the bowel movement and before drinking any water or eating breakfast.  That could easily add a kilo or two to my weight. ) Yet it is encouraging.  I feel lighter, and I’m definitely pinching less belly flab.  Ruth said she can see a change in both my belly and my face.  I noticed a bit more definition in my arms when I looked in the bathroom mirror yesterday.  This program is working, as it must.  How could it not?

Anyway, my official weight is now 226.4 pounds.  Down from 241.6 pounds.

Time to get on the elliptical.  Which I didn’t.  Went back to bed instead.  I woke up to find Ruth on the machine, having weighed herself.

Ruth’s starting weight was 73.9 kg. or 162.9 lbs.
Her weight this morning was 69.4 kg. or 153.0 lbs.
weight lost = 4.5 kg. or 9.9 lbs.

These numbers might not seem like such a big deal but I imagine a standard Canadian sized pound of butter, and then stack fifteen of them up.  That’s a pile of weight loss.

One pound of butter.  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter.  I've lost fifteen of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!A pound of butter..  I've lost 15 of these puppies.  Yes!

These cut and paste pictures are too hard to size, and my comparison should have an actual stack with something for size reference.  I’ll replace this with a properly done graphic at some point, when I can find the time. And the butter.  For now, it’s really time to get on that elliptical trainer and burn out some sweat.

627 calories in 31 minutes.  Now sweating and eating breakfast.  For the benefit of anybody who may be inspired to follow this program, you don’t need to do this much exercise.  It’s probably a wasted effort.  I’m just an extremist by nature.

And that’s it for today.  Cheater day tomorrow.  No specific plans, except we’ll have some French fries at the International Cafe, and I’m sure I’ll make it to a Starbucks at some point in the day. (Are there points in a day?)  We’ve been invited to an open mike night at a wine bar downtown, so Ruth and I will sing a few songs and I’ll play a bit of fiddle.

Week 4 Day 5

Beautiful morning.  Good energy.  621 calories in 31 minutes.

I’m now rushing to get ready for class. Must hit the shower.  So many distractions.

I had great energy this morning, and we had a really good class.  I’m having fun “gamifying” it, and the students seem to be responding.

Now to lunch.  We put the left over veggies from last night into the soup, which is now quite thick.  And we’re down to the end of the pot, so tonight I’ll take some of our frozen soup stock and add cabbage.

We’re meeting Jin Bo at the cafe, and I think I will fall off the program far enough to have a glass of hong cha (black tea, specifically Liptons) with a glass of milk.  That doesn’t make this a cheater day.  Moderation in all things.

Week 4 Day 4

Rough night last night.  Woke up at four in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Feeling uncomfortably sweaty, but not bad enough to get up and have a shower even though I knew that would make me feel a lot better.  This left me feeling very unmotivated this morning, but I managed to climb on the machine and crank out 597 calories in my 31 minutes.

Ruth commented this morning that she is seeing a difference in my pot belly.  Good to hear that.  I want the pot belly GONE in two more months.

Gotta say one thing about that  elliptical trainer, it does make me feel good.  I’m just finishing my standard breakfast and I’ll hit the shower.

Not much more to say about today.  It went by.  After class today I ate the last banana.  Ruth cooked up a lot of Chinese fiber for dinner with a very small amount of meat.

I’m not being fastidious enough in my water consumption.  Must try harder to drink more water.  That said, we’re on the program with no cheating during the week

I’m going to bed early.  It’s only nine thirty, and I’m thinking of turning in.  G’night now.

Week 4 Day 3 Meet My Guru

It’s a quarter past seven in the morning.  Ruth is on the machine right now.  I thought I’d take a few minutes to introduce you to my weight loss guru, Yvan Cornourier.  Here he is.

Yvan  Cournoyeir, my guru for weight control. Definitely not the hockey player.Yvan is a professional body.  If you want to know about losing your body fat, you should talk to a guy who has made losing fat and shaping muscle a profession.  I was fortunate to work with Yvan about ten years ago when I cast him in a movie about tree planters.  That movie forced me into bankruptcy and never got completed.  Yvan and all the other actors were participants who never got paid.  Life is tough sometimes.  I can only hope the experience had some value as scene studies and acting exercises for the cast, and life lessons for me.  One great value it gave me was the lasting benefits of meeting and talking to Yvan about health and fitness and fat loss.  Here’s what I looked like after eleven weeks on Yvan’s program, the same program I’m following now:

zale before and after the first time on the body shaping program.

The after picture is a bit of a cheat, in that I don’t think I ever achieved the six pack and certainly didn’t get a body like Yvan’s.  But the improvement was dramatic and well worth eleven weeks of following a not unpleasant regimen.  And the improvement lasted for some years. It’s just time to do it again.

Okay, time to get on the elliptical.  I’ll be back when I have my morning numbers.

631 calories in 31 minutes.  Feeling good energy this morning.

I’m now sitting down to what has become my standard breakfast on this program.  A fist sized blob of pre-cooked brown rice with a shredded skinless chicken breast,  a small handful of Chinese greens, all steamed together with a bit of the juice from the chicken breast.  Toped off with a large tablespoonful of cottage cheese.  If I wanted to get fancy I could sprinkle on some chopped green onions, but I’m not feeling fancy this morning.  Must get this breakfast eaten and hit the shower.

Lunch today again was soup and brown rice.  I think I may be eating too many bananas.  Three today, if I haven’t lost count.  But I also burned off a lot of energy today, with very active classes that kept me on my feet and moving around.

Ruth has been making a batch of skinless chicken breast strips, which she marinades and bakes.  Good lean protein snack.

Dinner was a rather nasty experiment – mushrooms, bamboo shoots (from a package that had them soaking in liquid, possibly pre-cooked), some left over cooked broccoli and a very small package of shredded beef.  I also nuked a small potato for each of us, and a section of squash with juice from the chicken bake.  Again a dab of cottage cheese on the potatoes.  It was an acceptably tasty meal, but I didn’t enjoy the bamboo shoots as much as I expected to.  I much prefer them fresh.

I just poached up some chicken breasts for breakfasts.

Week 4 Day 2 Into it Again

This morning is beautiful.  608 calories on the elliptical in my 31 minutes.  Felt almost nauseous before I got on the machine, like I’d drank too much water.  Feel great now.

Breakfast is rice, chicken breast (skinless of course), Chinese greens, cooked up with a bit of water and added a dollop of cottage cheese for variety.  Delicious.

Why do I get such a kick out of making my own cottage cheese?  I think it’s because cottage cheese has always been a mystery, and I thought of it as something exotic and difficult to make.  It’s all part of taking control of my life, understanding mysteries, learning.

My banjo fingers aren’t even sore this morning, even though I practiced a lot yesterday.  My fingers must be toughening up.  I almost have “Cumberland Gap” up to speed, which is pretty damn fast.

Does anybody remember Jack Lelanne?  I didn’t realize until I just Googled him that he died last year at the age of 96.  But here he is at the age of seventy one.   Age will get us all eventually, but Jack proved that you don’t have to lose your body when you hit middle age.

I remember my mother watching Jack, and I think exercising along with him though she may have just been having sexual fantasies about his body,  when I was in grade school.  I remember being very impressed by his biceps.  Jack continues to be an inspiration to me.  Not that I want to make fitness and my body the most important thing in my life, but that I realize there is no necessity to look like a bag of shit.  Not at any age. If you don’t know what an incredible guy Jack Lelanne was, check out this link, paying particular attention to his publicity stunts.  I read once that Jack had a standing challenge, with a large cash prize, for any professional athlete who could last with him through his workout.  He never paid out because he never lost.  At at 54 years of age he beat a 21-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger “badly” in an informal contest.

Right now, I’m on the program because my birthday is coming up in October, my sixty-fifth, and I’ve been letting my body slide for at least ten years now.  When I get to my weight and fat/muscle ration goal, I’ll ease back on the obsession.  I won’t be quite so constantly thinking about this body.  I’ll relax.  But hopefully I’ll also make some lifestyle changes that will prevent me from sliding back into the state I was in when I started this program, this time.  I never want to have a belly like my before pictures again.

One of the big things about being on this program is that it’s a break from all the bad habits I’d developed.  It’s a reboot of my lifestyle.

Oh yeah, dinner this evening was poached salmon with a small potato and lots of broccoli.  Ruth poached a tiny amount of red onion, some green onion, and some straw mushrooms with the salmon.  We had some of my cottage cheese on the potato.  All together it was a very filling, very tasty and satisfying meal.

And here’s the big news.  I realized this afternoon that I had my belt cinched at the third hole from the tip today without being uncomfortable.  So I’m obviously making progress, even if I still feel fat and far from my goal.  I must remember that this is only the start of week 4, which isn’t even half way through the eleven weeks.  I am a bit worried that the 80/20 rule will come into play here, and that it will take 80% of my effort to gain the last 20% of my goal.  But that is to be seen.

What is my goal?  I’d like to have a six pack when I turn 65.  Hey, not a bad slogan.  A six pack for sixty-five.  But this may not be possible.  I’ve never had a six pack, not even when I was a teenager.  I may not be the type to ever have one.  Our fitness trainer friend, Kat, told me that some people just don’t ever have a six pack, no matter how healthy and athletic they are.  She said to take a look at Olympic divers.  They all have great bodies, and are all in peak physical condition, but some of them have rippling abs and some don’t.  I suspect I’m the type that don’t and won’t.

Anyway, that’s the extreme goal.  The outrageous success.  The realistic goal is simply to have no bay window, no pot belly, and to be wearing my belt comfortably where it was 30 years ago.

Week 4 Day 1 Sunday Morning

We’re back, as I said in my cheater day report.  I’m trying to work up enough enthusiasm to get on to the elliptical.  It’s still only nine in the morning.

The conference was very interesting.  We met one of the co-founders of Feel Good (“Ending world hunger one grilled cheese sandwich at a time”) a brilliant concept that gets university students volunteering to make and sell grill cheese sandwiches with 100% of the proceeds going toward sustainable development in third world countries aimed at reducing poverty and eliminating hunger.  I have a copy of their power point presentation.  We also met a woman who is promoting sex education in China, something that is sorely needed.  I practiced a lot of banjo plucking in the hotel room, and Ruth and I had one short rehearsal of some of her songs, but we didn’t get around to performing for anybody.

Breakfast this morning was the whites of three hard boiled eggs with a whole pile of steamed Chinese greens.  I think it was close to program acceptable, though the greens had been cooked with a bit of oil.

I’m definitely losing the belly flab, and Ruth noticed this morning that she is changing shape too.  And this is still only the start of week 4.  I’m looking forward to the photo session at the end of this week,  and REALLY looking forward to the photo session at the end of week eleven or twelve.

Now, is this all just vanity and an old man trying to hold onto his youth?  Of course that’s an aspect of it.  I do want to look good.  I want to look good without the qualifier “for a man of his age.”  But there’s more than that.  This is about quality of life.  I know I feel better, have more energy, less knee pain, and better health if I’m slimmer.  More than this, I want to feel in control of my body, not controlled by my body.  I’m inspired, in a negative way, by the men I saw in Winnipeg last summer.  So many men carrying around a gut the size of a beer barrel.  Not just a beer keg, an whole barrel.  I imagine that could be me if I don’t get a grip on things.  And when faced with something I don’t like, my natural tendency is to do something about it.  I love food.  Love a good glass of scotch.  But I don’t love those things enough to give up my body for them.

I said I was going to post about calorie restricted diets, so here it is:

Calorie Restricted Diets

It isn’t how much you eat so much as what you eat that determines how fat you become.  We need calories.  Without calories we have no energy.  Without calories we feel sick.  But there are sources of calories that give us steady slow burn of fuel, and sources that flood our metabolic carburetor.  When we eat pure calories, empty calories, without doing very rigorous exercise, the body naturally stores those calories as fat.

The rate of burn of calories is called the glycemic index.  Some foods, like oatmeal, have a low glycemic index.  Some, like white rice and corn, have a high glycemic index.  You can’t tell from looking at a food, or tasting it, how fast it’s going to release its sugar.  You need the chart for that.

You can read all about the glycemic index here:  http://www.whatfoodsarelowgi.com/

And here are a couple of charts from the same source.

Here’s what happens if you go on a calorie restricted diet.  Keep in mind that we evolved as a species that was subjected to feast and famine conditions.  So the minute you cut down on calories, your body goes into survival mode.  It does three things:

1.  This could get dangerous.  Maybe I can’t find food for some time.  I’d better conserve energy.  So let’s make this body sluggish and lethargic and sleepy.  You feel downright sick.

2.  I may need my body fat for later.  That’s my emergency food supply, and this could develop into an emergency.  But I don’t seem to be using the muscles very much.  So I’ll burn the muscles to get the energy I need to stay above room temperature, and I’ll hang on to the fat in case things get worse.

3.  This body needs motivation to find some calories because I’m starving.  So let’s manufacture some cravings.

So that’s the story.  If you go on a calorie restricted diet, you feel sluggish, weak, and sick.  You eat your muscles and hang on to your fat.  Even though you seem to lose a lot of weight, much of the weight you lose is muscle, which weighs more than fat, so your fat to muscle ratio goes up.  And finally, after a month or so on the diet, fighting cravings all the way, you get tired or don’t have the willpower to hold out against the urge to eat, so you devour the entire birthday cake that was in the fridge.  Now you feel like a failure and fall right back into the bad habits that made you fat in the first place.

What’s worse, the fat you did manage to lose has simply been emptied out of the cells.  Those cells haven’t gone.  It will take years for your body to actually re-assimilate the cells themselves.  They’ve just been emptied.  Your body doesn’t need to manufacture the whole cell to make you fat again. They can fill up very quickly.  So the end result is that you soon become fatter than ever, with an increase in fat to muscle ratio.  No wonder the diet industry does so well with their fat farm business.  It doesn’t work.  They get a lot of repeat customers.

Disclaimer:  I’m not an expert on any of this.  I’ve just absorbed information through the years.  I’d welcome any comments that verify or refute what I’ve said here.

More soon.  It’s almost time for me to climb on that elliptical again.

Speaking of the elliptical, Ruth and I bought a fitness center quality elliptical trainer over three years ago.  I had a number of worries about doing that.  I worried that I wouldn’t use it, and so would be wasting my money.  I worried that I would use it, and would hate using it.  I worried that it would sit in our living room, a constant rebuke for my lack of dedication to exercise.  But the machine has turned out to be one of the best investments we’ve ever made.  Ruth has used it every day since we bought it.  I was strict for some time, but was getting slack recently.  I would skip exercising on those days when I had classes.  But since I’ve started on this program, I’m using it every day.
Ruth just commented that the exercise feels good to her, and she doesn’t mind using the machine at all.  I’m not quite there, but I can tolerate it, and it does make me feel good when I do it.  A bit like hitting myself on the head with a brick – it feels so good when I stop.  But the health benefits of regular exercise, half an hour a day, are indisputable.

All of this said, if you don’t have the money, or don’t want, to buy an exercise machine, you certainly don’t need to own one to be on this body shaping program.  Just go for a brisk walk each morning before breakfast.  As the video Elaine linked us to explains, you can’t lose weight just by exercising.  It’s impossible.  In my 31 minutes each morning I burn between 500 and 600 calories.  That’s the energy in 5 large apples.  I just looked that up and it’s better than I thought.  But that’s not as much energy as in one big Mac (not that I’d ever eat a big Mac)

Elaine sent us a link to this Horizons program about exercise, and the new scientific discoveries being made about its effectiveness.

Very interesting, and I’m giving some thought to the value of our exercise regime.  But the most impressive part of this program is the fat that can be centrifuged out out from the blood, floating at the top of the test tube.  That is motivational.

Finally got on the elliptical.  I first mentioned it at about nine this morning.  It was ten to two in the afternoon by the time I actually started the workout.  My how the Internet sucks my time up like a temporal vacuum cleaner.

This afternoon:  604 calories in 31 minutes.   Feeling not quite the usual energy after a cheater day, but then I didn’t absorb the usual amount of sugar yesterday.  Time to fix myself some breakfast.  Got brown rice cooked, some veggies, and some skinless chicken breast.  Sounds yummy.

And it was.

We just got back from shopping.  It’s getting a lot simpler.  We bought skinless chicken breasts, bamboo shoots, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, garlic, brown rice, skimmed milk for making cottage cheese, one lean beef for soup stock.  I’m about to make that cottage cheese.  Ruth is marinating chicken breasts.  I have two poached ready for my breakfasts.

Best batch of cottage cheese so far.  Just wonderful.  I’m not sure what it is, a combination of getting the temperature right and not adding any more vinegar than necessary, plus more salt this time.  Anyway, I could just eat it all with a spoon.

That’s it for tonight.

Cheater Day

Okay, we’re back and it’s Sunday morning.  The Cheater Day was very mild this week.  I did have three grande lattes at Starbucks.  Not all at once, but two in the morning and another in the early afternoon.  That left me absolutely buzzing.  Chinese food for lunch and dinner – ma po doufu and chicken and meatballs and rice.  Altogether not that far off the program.  We bought some absolutely delicious durian for desert from the fruit store next to the restaurant.

Friday evening we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant, but managed to stay fairly close to the program, though the mystery meat probably had way more fat content than I would like.