Category Archives: In his words

In his words: Documentation, Accountability, and Consistency (or “You’re Only Cheating Yourself”)

Have you ever heard the phrase “You’re only cheating yourself!”? Have you ever wondered exactly what someone meant by that? Growing up teachers, parents, and other adult/authority figures would say that to me and it really didn’t make sense. Until I was 34 years old. Then it made complete sense.

After my initial diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes I started to record my daily blood sugar numbers along with the times that I took them as well as any pertinent notes regarding what I ate or drank that may explain a spike or dip in numbers. I know that the digital meters all record numbers, but over the years I have found for myself that if I write something down in my own handwriting, it tends to stick with me.

Starting April 21st, 2011, at 7:51 AM, I began a lifelong habit that, while it did not directly result in reversing Type 2 Diabetes, definitely supported the effort–I began documenting my progress in a tiny little notebook. The first entry was 240, “no food.” Right when I woke up.

The reason I started doing this was so that I could track my progress in my handwriting. Type 2 Diabetes is all about a number. Oversimplified explanation: Less than 6 (your A1C number) and you don’t have it. Over 6, and depending on how high it is, you’re either a pre-diabetic or full on Type 2 Diabetic.

If I could see a pattern, then I could figure out what to change, what to keep doing, and what to do more of. That’s also when I started to record my weight. I wanted to see a correlation and pattern with that as well.

For about a month before I started walking (more on that in a bit), I made dietary changes thanks to my beautiful, patient, and loving wife. And as the days went by, my numbers went down–weight AND blood sugar!

When we hit Memorial Day weekend that year, I went and bought a pair of Nike ACG hiking shoes (mentioned in this post) and started walking. That same weekend, I decided it might be a good idea to start logging my miles in addition to my blood sugar and weight to see what those numbers would show me.

It may seem silly, or obsessive, or a waste of time to most people, but one of the greatest tools that helped me was that notebook. Every day that I walked, I weighed myself and wrote down the mileage and the weight. At the beginning, walking wasn’t a daily, let alone twice daily, occurrence. There wasn’t a LOT of consistency until late June when I began walking twice a day.

But as I walked more and more, I weighed less and less, and my blood sugar numbers came down. As I got more consistent with my efforts, I got more consistent results. And documenting that was what helped me on days when I might have weighed MORE than the day before or my numbers were inexplicably higher than they should have been based on what I ate and how much I moved prior to checking myself (… by the way, always make sure that you wash your hands before you check yourself…). If I hit a plateau or stalled, I could flip back a page or two and look at the progress that I *HAD* made and be encouraged.

One the biggest challenges to my success early on was myself. Liv has admitted in earlier posts, she was a bit naggy at the beginning. Some days after a rough day of work, I understandably didn’t feel like doing anything but sitting on the couch and vegging out. And truth be told, there are still nights like this and sometimes I do skip my afternoon walk, but it’s very rare and it’s either weather related or my cat cries/whimpers at me and she just wants to play.

One evening that first year, I was walking past the middle school and it was a really nice evening and I thought to myself, “You know, I could just go lay down in the grass, set an alarm, close my eyes for a minute, and then go home. Liv would *never* know!” And then a voice said very clearly, “YEAH, you could do that. But you’d know. And you would only be cheating yourself.”

That’s the day my attitude changed. That’s the day that I got serious about the lifestyle change. That’s the day that I went from “Well, I’m gonna do this until I am all better and then go back to the KFC and Taco Bell for lunch every day and a couple of Cadbury Easter Eggs for dessert every night” to That was the moment that I realized no one could or should actually care more than me. As concerned as Liv was for me and my health, at the end of the day, I was the only person who could change. If I wanted to cheat on the diet when I was at work, there wasn’t a thing that she could do to stop me. If I wanted to lay down and take a nap in the park before dinner, I could. She’d never know (until of course she realized that all that walking wasn’t doing anything!). I could cheat, sure. But in the end, I would have been cheating myself. And I would have known. And I didn’t want to live with that.

My advice to anyone starting out on a health/lifestyle change or weight loss effort is this: Be consistent with what you do, when you do it, how you do it. Be patient and believe in the process. Document your efforts for self-encouragement down the road. Write it down in a notebook like I do or take photos, but be consistent with that as well. And be accountable to you. Take it seriously and if you do these things as well as make simple, modest adjustments to your diet and activity level, you will be successful.

By the way, I still have those original notebooks. The blood sugar notebook entries ended in August 2011 and I filled up my fitness log notebook on December 31st, 2014. That one contains my notes from over 6000+ miles and I started a new notebook the next day on the 1st.

In his words: Staying motivated

My walking route has stayed pretty much the same since Spring 2011. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with wide streets, hardly any traffic (especially in the early mornings when I start my day), and it’s overall a very safe place for me to walk. The only downside is that it’s expensive, so we don’t live *in* the neighborhood, but it’s a mile from our front door so it’s easy enough to get to.

My routine has evolved a bit since the VERY first time, but it’s generally the same. Which means that on most days I walk past the same houses about every 12 hours.

So after a while, people notice you. And after that, sometimes they wave from their cars or their kitchen windows. After that, they start saying hi, introducing themselves, and even talking to you regularly.

So all of this back story gets us to my point regarding my motivation:

The other day on my after work/before dinner walk, an older couple walked past me, introduced themselves, and mentioned that they see me day in and day out walking past their house and wanted to know what keeps me motivated.

Now as an extrovert who has completely fallen in love with exercising, being healthy, and feeling good, I could probably have talked about the variety of reasons that the residents of the West Slope/Valley View neighborhood see me so much, but the most immediate and easily understandable reason that I gave them was that I used to be very overweight and a Type 2 diabetic and now I am not and I feel better than I ever did before and that I want to stay that way. We chatted for a few minutes and then I headed home.

Here are just a few of the reasons I still walk 3.5 miles twice a day (getting up at 4:15 AM every morning and heading out for a walk right when I get home from work), even when it’s wet or cold or below freezing or I am tired in the morning:

  • I have more energy overall.
  • I am virtually unrecognizable to people who haven’t seen me in over 4 or 5 years. This can be a good things sometimes.
  • I like being small. I’m only 5’8″ and generally weigh in around 155 lbs. Call it whatever you like, but I like being able to wear a size 30 waist in shorts and pants and a size small in shirts and jackets. For the first time in my life, I actually like how clothes look on my body.
  • For the first time in my life, I am actually at peace with my body and like it. Growing up, I was always heavy and had very low self esteem and poor body image. Sometimes I still struggle with it, but each day is easier.
  • I haven’t flown in an airplane in 4 years, but the last time I was on a plane, I fit in the seat more than comfortably and that was great.
  • Sex is better.
  • On the weekends, I like being up very early (before the sun rises) and drinking my coffee and eating breakfast after my walk before Liv gets up for the day.
  • It wakes me up in the morning and gets me set in the right frame of mind for the day and then helps me decompress and relax at the end of the work day. Lots of time to think, problem solve, reconcile the day that I have had, and to pray – which I need to do more than I am currently doing during this time.
  • I love watching the change of seasons each and every morning and each every evening. Especially in the late spring/early summer when the weather is nicer and the days are longer.

But one of the biggest things that really motivates me is something from the very first morning walk that I ever did.

When I first started walking after work I noticed that my blood sugar numbers were coming down, and as they did, my weight started to drop as well. I had been heavy my entire life and had always wanted to lose weight and be thin/athletic/skinny. I also knew from a young age that I would probably be bald at some point. I told myself that I could be bald or I could be fat, but I wouldn’t let myself be both at the same time and that I had little control over being bald. I also figured this was probably the best time to make that change in life. I had exercised and dieted in the past, but as most people often do, I gave up before results ever started to take hold and I didn’t really understand the basic principles of how to make those changes to my life in a long term fashion.

After a few weeks of better and better blood sugar numbers and modest weight loss, I decided that if I was going to get serious about losing weight, I should probably try walking twice a day. And that meant getting up extra early. 5:30 AM to be exact. A time of day that exists for very few people in life. And a time that up until June 22nd, 2011, only existed for me on rare, rare, rare occasions. And usually unwillingly.

Well, I did it. And it changed my life. See, June 22nd, 2011, was the second day of summer that year. And it was GLORIOUS. It was 60 degrees,  the sun was up, the birds were chirping, and it was just delightful. The neighborhood that I walk in is on top of a hill with lots of ups and downs and beautiful views of the valley below. With the sun reflecting off of windows in the distance and the warm (relatively speaking) weather, I was sold. That was it for me. The sun coming up on a warm summer morning is what keeps me going day after day. I get up a little earlier now than I did that first summer, but I go for an extra lap or 2 on summer weekend mornings so that I can watch that sunrise.

Sure, it’s great being skinny and fit, I won’t lie. I love being able to fit in to clothes that would have been snug on me when I was a fat little 12 year old (YES, I own 3 pieces of clothing that are technically from the children’s section, but you’d never know it at first glance).

I love being able to walk past someone who I haven’t seen in a long time and watching them try to guess who I am when I start talking to them. I love feeling better physically than I did for as long as I can remember. I love knowing that I can walk faster than a Target or Fred Meyer store automatic door opening sensor can detect me (true story – yes, I ran in to a door once…). I love the lifestyle change that my wife and I made and the things that those changes have brought.

But those early morning sunrises on my walks in the summertime? That’s what keeps me going day in and day out, even when the weather is nasty. The knowledge that it will be summer again.

Check out this blog post to see how I initially found my walk.

How I eat: Andy

Okay, technically, Andy isn’t writing this, but the information about what he eats came directly from his own mouth so it’s almost the same thing.

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you will have noticed that our weekly meal plans only cover dinners for the week. There are a couple reasons for this. 1) Andy has eaten basically the same breakfast and lunch every day for the last 4 years. 2) My relationship with food is a bit more complicated. We’ll get into how I eat during the day next week, but here’s a look at what Andy eats day-to-day.

Breakfast: Apple, banana, avocado, 2 cups of coffee with coconut milk.

Lunch: Roasted cabbage, steamed broccoli, 2 eggs*, chili.

Andy is one of those rare creatures that can eat the same thing day in and day out, which makes meal planning and building the grocery list super easy. It also makes weight management/maintenance fairly straightforward as dinner is the only wildcard is dinner.

While I don’t expect everyone to follow Andy’s daily eating regimen (goodness knows I certainly couldn’t!), I can certainly see the appeal and it does make aspects of my life fairly easy.

Stay tuned later this week for Andy’s chili recipe!

* Andy’s eggs are actually a frittata-like mixture of eggs and peppers. We’ll post the recipe soon!

 

In his words: Shoe count

Andy here! I just got the first of two shipments of new walking shoes this week, so I thought it’d be a good time to talk about my walking footwear. I am now currently on my 14th pair (not including the previously mentioned shoes that just arrived and the two that are on the way), dating back to Memorial Day weekend 2011.

  1. Nike ACG hiking shoes:

I can’t remember the exact name but they lasted 6 months and they were VERY comfortable.

  1. Nike Air Pegasus TR:

A gift from my beautiful wife. Great for the treadmill but not great for cold/wet winter weather.

  1. Nike Air Moto 8:

I demolished these in 6 weeks. No joke. Wore them down to the white cushiony part under the black sole. Running shoes are NOT good for walking and at the end, these hurt my shins and made walking very painful.

4-8. Nike Salbolier ACG:

These were the best and my absolute favorite shoe. A reasonably priced hiking shoe ($50.00 – $55.00 per pair) with a stiff ride with lots of tread which fits my walking stride very well. It’s counter-intuitive, but my shin-splint pain was gone almost immediately and these shoes allowed me to walk pretty fast.

I went through 5 pairs of these amazingly good shoes. They lasted an average of 2.5 months and from about July 1, 2012, through mid-May of 2014, this was the shoe. Sadly it was already discontinued by the time that I found them on clearance at Big 5 Sporting Goods in Beaverton. As soon as I fell in love with them and realized I didn’t want to have to ever switch to another shoe, I scoured the internet for them. I was able to order 4 pairs from Amazon.com (through a retailer in the UK).

I still look for them online when I have a few free minutes at work.

9-11. Merrell Moab (Ventilator):

A reasonable replacement for the Nike Salbolier ACG’s that I loved. I started in on these after a recommendation from a clerk at the Washington Square Track N’ Trail store. A good, stiff ride combined with a fairly thick Vibram sole made them great on wet or dry pavement.

The downside: $90.00 a pop, and they’d only last about a month and a half to 2 months before they were done. And when they were done, they were DONE i.e. shin splints. Also, the Ventilator version of the shoe means it’s a vented shoe and not great for winter/rainy weather walking.

  1. Merrell Moab (Waterproof):

Ditto to the above but waterproof*.
(*the extra $20.00 for this version isn’t worth it and if your pants hang just right, the water will run right down the pant leg onto your socks and get the shoe wet from the inside out. Better to just wear hiking shorts and have wet legs.)

13+14.Merrell Pulsate (Ventilator)

The closest that I have come to finding “the shoe”. I bought 2 pair from The Clymb on a lark in November 2014 (based on a suggestion from my beautiful wife). These have been a VERY good shoe. $60.00 a pair, lasting about 2 – 2.5 months with a stiff sole and lots of tread (not a Vibram sole, so they are a little slick on wet pavement).

I am now on the second pair. I first laced them up around January 24th and they seem to still be holding together quite well.

Because I like to have backups ready to go and ideally trade off on shoes to help them last longer, I have placed orders for 4 more pairs. The Clymb (www.theclymb.com) is an online retail clearance type site that sells sporting goods at less than retail. Normally this shoe is sold at $60.00 per pair, but recently they marked down to $50.00 so I ordered a couple pair. When I got an email a couple of weeks later that they were having a random, one day sale (sitewide – an extra 20% off orders over $75.00), I placed another order.

Based on my past usage, average mileage, and experience, the shoes I am on currently should last me through the end of March and the next 4 pair should get me through the end of 2015.

(Please note that the statements and reviews are NOT paid product endorsements of any kind. These shoes were all purchased through brick/mortar and online stores by my wife and I with our own money and were NOT given to us by any of the above named companies.)

In his words: My mileage

I get a LOT of people asking me how many miles I walk every day, and resisting the urge to be a wise guy and saying “all of them”, here is the actual answer.

Daily mileage: 3.5 miles every morning and again every night after work*. Speed: 4 – 4.5 mph. Mormons have had to jog/run to keep up with me. True story.

*Weekdays. Weekend afternoon walks can last up to 11.5 miles in some instances, although the average in the fall/winter/spring is 5.5 – 7.5 miles.

In his words: Introducing Andy

Hi:

I figured I’d better introduce myself …  I’m Olivia’s husband. “Who’s Olivia?” you ask. Well, she’s my wife.

She’s also the creator of this blog and the loving woman whose cooking contributed to and then saved me from Type 2 Diabetes. Along with cutting out junk food, carbage (processed foods made with grains like bread, pasta, etc.), consistent and daily exercise, and not drinking my calories (haven’t had soda in 2 ½ years).

I figured I’d better help out around here and will be periodically writing some blog entries in order to share my perspective on our journey to better health and what not. Thanks for following along!