Tag Archives: Weight loss

Sometimes It’s All About The Stomach Punch

Pre-hernia porktastic.

Almost 320 days ago I went under the knife to correct a hernia that had been a rather annoying health concern for approximately 2 or more years prior to surgery. The hernia was the major factor in an almost 50 pound weight loss, and led me to replace my wardrobe several times over. I went from medium and large shirts to small and eventually extra small. I went from a size 34+ pants to my current 28. It was, to put it lightly, life changing1.

So why am I bringing this up now?

Well, a significant portion of the initial weight loss could be attributed to the fact that I wasn’t able to eat large meals without getting sick. The hernia, as wonderful as it was, acted like a band on my stomach – which meant that large meals led to discomfort, nausea, and in many cases vomiting.

EAT A SANDWICH! (No, I wasn’t sucking in my stomach)

Post surgery, I was informed that I’d be able to eat more eventually. That is, I’d be able to have a normal person portion again. While I can’t say that my portions aren’t larger than they were 10 months ago, they are also not back to normal person portion. And it seems at times that the portion size varies by day.

For instance, tonight I met some friends at the Wooly for a pint. I was hungry – almost starving when I arrived. My meals for the day had consisted of oatmeal for breakfast, a small snack before lunch, a bowl of soup for lunch, and a coffee this afternoon. Dinner, as it was, didn’t arrive until about 9:30, and it consisted of a half order of fries. It should not have been sufficient to fill me up.

Today – hernia free and healthy. Well, as healthy as a man can be when he’s able to run a marathon AND be thwarted by a half plate of fries. DAMN YOU FRIES!

And yet, here we are. I am full. Painfully so. From a half order of fries. I realize that this is something that will take a while to correct or normalize, but sometimes I find this limitation obnoxiously frustrating. So much so, that I almost want to punch my stomach square in the face for being such a wuss. Of course, I realize that punching my stomach square in the face would likely not help the situation. I also realize that my stomach doesn’t actually have a face. Suffice it to say, if it did, I’d want to punch it. Punch it real good.

Anyway, I guess the moral of this post is that my stomach doesn’t have a face, and that’s a good thing otherwise I’d punch it, or perhaps I should have had more than a coffee post lunch, or even A half order of fries is obnoxiously frustrating.

Honestly, I have no idea what the point of this post is. All I know is that my belly is full, and I didn’t eat very well today. Clearly this is something I need to work on.

1 Ultimately life changing in the best way possible. I am far healthier now than I’ve ever been, and I attribute that to the hernia, hernia associated weight loss, hernia enforced diet change, and the need to get healthy post hernia surgery. It’s really all about the hernia.

A Simple Universal Rule

Mmm, Hendrick's martini. Not shown - two garlic stuffed olives that I'd already eaten. YUM.

Yesterday I headed to Simcoe to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. As expected, it was a night filled with excellent food, wine, scotch, and laughter. It was also a rather late night, and to be perfectly honest I’m amazed that I wasn’t hungover today. I mean, I felt pretty happy after my first glass of wine1, and that was well before I had even considered the requisite birthday martinis and birthday scotch.

Okay – maybe birthday martinis and scotch weren’t required, but who am I to argue when our waitress basically insists that I order one?2

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before I made my way to Simcoe for the festivities, I decided that I’d wander over to the Stone Road Mall on a quest to find something new to wear. After picking up some Starbucks – also known as shopping fuel – I headed to Le Chateau. There I found myself a nice new shirt and vest to go with the jeans I was wearing. As has been the case over the past year or two, whenever I’ve purchased new clothes I’ve always started off by selecting something about 2 sizes too large. Yesterday was no exception. Long story short, I finally found myself trying on the slim-fit extra small stuff3. And despite the initial sizing issue, I was quite happy with the result. You know when you buy something and just feel awesome in it – I was that guy yesterday.

When we finally arrived in Simcoe, the first thing my mom said to me was Please stop losing weight4. Whenever I hear this I have to remind whomever is saying it that I’m not trying to lose weight – because I’m not – and that I’m healthy – because I am. Furthermore, I was confident that I hadn’t lost any weight.

I insisted Mom, I haven’t lost any weight.

You have. I can see it in your face. You’re so thin.

In the limo on the way to dinner.

It probably didn’t help that the new clothes I bought for the occasion were extra small and form fitted.

Regardless, I insisted that I hadn’t lost weight. And I still felt like a million bucks in my new clothes.

This immediately led to a challenge: the next I was at my parents’ house I had to get on the scales. My mom even wanted to be present to make sure I didn’t lie to her about my weight. I laughed and agreed – knowing deep down that I had this challenge wrapped up. In fact, in my mind it wasn’t even a challenge. Although, I did tell her there was no need for her to be present for the reading because why would I lie about my weight?

Sooooo, flash forward to this the morning-after-the-night-before. Aidan and I had crashed at our parents’ place last night. After waking up, I walked to the bathroom to splash some water on my face. The first thing I saw was the scale. I smirked to myself. Giddily I turned it on (it’s one of those fancy-pants electronic scales) knowing full well it was going to say that I was 147 or higher. I jumped on.


What the what?

I knew this had to be a mistake. I went downstairs to the other bathroom which has one of the non-electronic scales.



I was gobsmacked.

Being the statistical type of person I am, I took the average of these two weights and very quickly realized that I’d somehow managed to lose 10 pounds since Christmas. Crikey! I’m not sure what upset me more – that I had lost weight, or that my mom was right. Dammit. Moms are always right. How could I have forgotten that simple universal rule?

I guess I can’t be terribly surprised that I’ve lost weight given all of the marathon training I’ve been doing. And I guess the weight loss could explain why some of my runs have seemed a bit more sluggish than normal, and why I’m the walking dead after my long runs. But I feel healthy, so I’m not really worried about it.

However, the weight loss does suggest that I might not be fueling properly – something I have mentioned previously in other posts – so I’m going to have to redouble my efforts on this front. I mean, I still have another half marathon and a 10 miler to run this month, and 2 marathons scheduled for next month. Fueling could mean the difference between finishing, and finishing but feeling like a bag of smashed-ass. I’d much rather finish strong.

In light of all of this, I’m going to go make myself a deep-fried gravy, butter, and bacon sandwich with a side order of bacon-crusted bacon-wrapped back bacon5. That should make up for some of the Calories I’m missing. :)

And of course mom – if you are reading this – date squares would really help with this weight loss thing. Just sayin’.

1 Likely a combination of being a light-weight, and also having just run a half marathon.

2 Clearly the phrase insists that I order one means that she enquired if I would like a drink. In my defence, I was already 1 glass of wine drunk, so my logic and decision-making abilities were highly suspect. Regardless, the martinis and scotch were delicious, and I probably should be suffering for my choices today.

3 Extra small. Crazy. Just over 2 years ago I’d have been trying on the large clothes. It’s amazing the difference a little hernia and some running can make.

4 She has been very concerned since day 1 of the hernia because, well, she’s my mom and that’s what mom’s do. Also, I did lose a lot of weight in a not-so-healthy way; her concern was clearly justified.

5 Okay, I won’t lie. A side order of bacon-crusted bacon-wrapped back bacon is making me drool just a little.

I Ain’t Fatty-Fat-Fat-Fat No More

Welcome to another entry in a list of entries detailing my innate nerdiness and desire to track data; all Dan, all the time1.  In this case, I present for your perusal an iPhone app (as well as a web based app) known as LoseIt2. And what data do I track with LoseIt?  Only those data that are specific to my eating habits; when food was consumed, what food was consumed, and how much food was consumed.  It also allows me to track any and all exercise so that my net daily Caloric gain or loss can be monitored.

Now don’t fret folks, I am not using this application to lose weight.  Even I know that would be insane.  Instead, I am using it to try to maintain my weight.   You may recall that since I began living with my hiatal hernia, I’ve had a very difficult time eating enough food in a day.  Compound that with any sort of exercise routine and you can imagine the outcome.  For me, the result was a drastic weight loss of almost 50 pounds in only a few short months (as detailed here).  The vomiting and the pain sort of put a damper on eating big meals, or eating at all.  So clearly, consuming (and retaining) enough Calories to keep my weight stable has been a chore.

LoseIt has been a huge help in this challenge.  That is, it helps me see very clearly what I’ve consumed in a day, and I can modify my behaviour accordingly.  To maintain my weight at 145 lbs, I should intake about 2250 Calories (net) per day3.  When I’m off of this mark, a pretty little graph will tell me.  Green if I’m under, red if I’m over.

This is one of my not-so-good weeks. Although, in comparison to the 4 weeks prior, I guess it was about par.

Normally the green would be desired as it indicates “go”, as in “good”, or “go get ‘em tiger”; clearly cheers you want to hear if you were attempting to lose weight.  Red would indicate “stop”, as in “stop eating that deep-fried flan, fatty-fat-fat-fat”4.

Since I’ve started using it, I’ve managed to up my Caloric intake per day by snacking far more often; almost consistently to be honest.  But the outcome has been worth it.  I have managed to maintain my weight around 145 lbs (~65.77 kg) for a little while now.  I don’t appear to be losing weight anymore, and I am confident that I won’t have to start buying extra-extra small clothes5.

The program also informs me of the percentage of Calories that come from protein, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as some info on other nutrients (sodium, cholesterol, etc.).  I don’t normally care about this, but I do check it from time to time.  The only problem here is that some of the foods in the database do not have all of the nutritional information listed to produce an accurate daily representation of my nutritional intake.  Additionally, I sometimes wonder whether or not the food I’ve selected adequately describes what I’m eating.  For example, does the Tropical Trail Mix actually represent that home-made trail mix I eat?  Likely not.  But since I’m not losing weight anymore, I’m gathering that it is a good approximation.

A four week trend of Caloric intake by source. According to the intertubes, about 20-35% of Calories should come from fat, 10-35% from protein, and 45-65% from carbohydrates. I'm not sure how valid those numbers are though. It appears that I fall into these ranges.

There are other reports available, such as a simple summary identifying the foods that you most often consume.  Since I am a creature of habit (I sort of have to be so as not to upset the volcano gods that clearly live in my stomach), I am not surprised to learn that I eat the same foods almost daily.  Lots of fruit, salad, tuna, english muffins, and other good things.  I am also not surprised to know that I consume a large quantity of soy milk lattes.  The program tells me that I’ve had 187 of them in the past year (equivalent to 40,141 Calories6).  To be honest, I’m surprised it hasn’t been more.

Being the nerd I am, I am thinking about purchasing the Withings Scale, which works with the LoseIt application.  Basically, it would allow me to weigh myself on a daily or weekly basis, then automatically transfer my weight (and various other measures) through the magic and mystery that are the intertubes directly to the database that is the LoseIt application.  It means all sorts of extra charts and nerdy goodness.  However, I’ve not convinced myself yet that I want to shell out the large dollars for a scale.

Bottom line, this application is great.  I recommend it to anyone that is trying to watch their weight.  Of course if one is trying to lose or gain weight, one should always chat with a nutritionist first.  Thankfully, I can always rely on the expertise that is Dr. Beth, as she knows a thing or two about nutrition :)

1 Such entries as

2 Download the iPhone application here (it’s free last I checked).  The website can be found here.

3 This value comes directly from LoseIt. However, according to the Health Canada website, there is a formula to determine my Caloric requirement.  A formula, people.  And not just any formula, one that includes Physical Activity Coefficient.  I’m swooning.  Anyway, according to the formula, and based on my age and gender, I should consume

  • 2292 Calories per day if I were sedentary (I am not).
  • 2508 Calories per day if I spent 30-60 minutes per day performing moderate activities, such as walking 5 to 7 km/h (I do this every day just going to and from the school).
  • 2783 Calories per day if I spent at least 60 minutes per day performing moderate activities, or
  • 3234 Calories per day if I spent at least 60 minutes per day performing moderate activities, AND an additional 60 minutes performing vigorous activities.

I would say I fall somewhere between the third and fourth options.

4 Note that Fatty-fat-fat-fat was one of my nicknames when I was younger.

5 I have started buying extra small and small shirts. Talk about a weird experience, given that not so long ago I was buying large. With that in mind, I have a huge basket full of mens large shirts if anyone wants to look through them.

6 Which would be burned off if I were to run 10 kilometres per hour for about 51 hours straight.  Riiiiiiight.

Four Fifths The Man I Used To Be Means My Awesome Is 25% More Concentrated

I started using RunKeeper in December of 2008. Since that time I have used it to track my runs, walks, hikes, bikes, and such.  Being a big spreadsheet nerd, I also started tracking my yoga1 in January of 2010.  Of course, I’m not always religious with tracking, in the sense that I don’t use RunKeeper to monitor all activities. And in some cases, such as when I’m on vacation, I have to ballpark my distances as best I can. I try to be reasonable about these types of activities so as not to make myself look better than I am. That is to say, I purposely underestimate a lot of my exercise when I can’t actually track it.

Having that in mind, I was blown away when I actually took a peak at my numbers today. Being a numbers person it’s amazing I haven’t really paid too much attention to this previously. Not only was I amazed at the Calories burned over time, but also with the change in activity level in just a few short years.

According to RunKeeper, as of February 1, 2011, I have

  • burned at least 102, 439 Calories,
  • performed 315 activities, and
  • covered at least 2, 916 km.
Summary of my RunKeeper data since 2008

What exactly would 102, 439 Calories look like?  I wondered that too.  So I googled it.  The verdict: 102, 439 Calories is equivalent to consuming approximately

  • 640 tall vanilla soy lattes from Starbucks2 (mmm, soy latte),
  • 190 Big Macs3,
  • 11.382 kg of fat (equivalent to about 25 pounds), or
  • 27.317 kg of white sugar.

Of the 315 activities, 19 have occurred so far in 2011, 269 were recorded in 2010, 22 were recorded in 2009, and 5 were recorded in 2008.  Of course, 2008 wasn’t a full year, and I don’t recall how much I actually recorded any exercise I might have done during 2009.  However, I have no memory of being overly active then given that I was in the depths of my Ph.D., so these numbers might be representative.

Ultimately it has paid off.  At the end of 2008, I was weighed by my doctor during a routine physical.  Apparently, during the course of my Ph.D. I had ballooned to 185 lbs.  Yikes!

This is me circa 2008, at the Annual Math & Stats Christmas Party. Pork-meister extreme.

It was shortly after this time that I developed a sliding hiatal hernia (the same type of hernia that recently sent Charlie Sheen to hospital), which affected my appetite (in the sense that eating hurt, and I was throwing up a lot).  Clearly this had an effect on my weight.  That is to say, it dropped pretty quickly, as evidenced by the following picture.  Give that man a sandwich.  Ew.

This is me in September of 2010. I clearly need a sandwich.

To compensate for this unhealthy weight loss, I decided to start exercising more.  The rationale was that any further weight loss could be attributed to ‘healthy living’.  It made sense at the time.   The hernia still remains; to be fixed via surgery sometime in June/July.  Anyway, throughout the past year and a bit, I’ve had to learn how to eat enough, so as to maintain the level of exercise I want to perform, but also to prevent myself from further losing weight, and in such a manner as to prevent an episode of intense pain brought on by acid reflux; a major side effect of the hernia.  It hasn’t been easy.  This is not the norm for me; I typically can gain weight just by looking at a delicious slice of cake-y goodness.  Or thinking about one.  True story.  In October of 2010, I was down to 137 lbs (attributed to the hernia, a 30 day challenge at the yoga studio, a lot of biking, about 5 km of daily walking, and training for a half marathon).  Crazy stuff.  Since then, I’ve actually managed to gain some weight.  I’m up to 145’ish, which is a weight that I’m happy to be.  Now I just have to maintain it :)

Anyway, getting back to the data,  in 2010 I:

  • walked approximately 1, 491 km,
  • biked approximately 1, 557 km, and
  • ran approximately 347 km.

“But how can that be, since 1, 491 + 1, 557 + 347 > 2, 916?” you ask. “Good eye” I reply. But to really answer your question, we need to note that for several months in 2010, I didn’t actually use RunKeeper to record my daily walk to and from the school. And I’m too lazy to back input the information. The missing walks would have totalled approximately 540 km of the 1, 491 listed above.

Prior to running the 2010 Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon
Post running the 2010 Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon (1 hour, 50 minutes)

My most active months were June through October, where I covered on average 13.52, 17.78, 15.23, 11.60, and 13.15 km per day.  During these months I also spent anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes daily on average practicing yoga. Crazy stuff.

Speaking of yoga, in 2010 I managed to log 14, 840 total minutes practicing.  That’s 247.33 hours, or 10.31 solid days of bendy goodness.  Clearly I love bendy goodness.  Even if sometimes it means I smash my face into the ground.

Posing with a pineapple on the black cliffs below our house. Because it seemed like the thing to do.

Of course, being a numbers nerd, I can’t help myself but to set up new goals for this year.  And yes, I know it’s already February so I’m a little late to the setting of goals for 2011, but I’m not one to follow rules unless they are mathematical in nature.

So here is my plan/goal for 2011:

  • Walk 1, 800 km,
  • Bike 2, 000 km,
  • Run 500 km, and
  • Spend 20, 000 minutes practicing yoga.

So far this year, I have:

  • Walked 176 km,
  • Biked 0 km,
  • Ran 15 km, and
  • Spent 955 minutes practicing yoga.

Clearly I need to step it up a notch if I want to reach my goals.  I’ll have to try to remember this next February 1, to see how many Calories I have managed to burn between now and then.  Wish me luck.

1 I practice yoga both at home (typically 30-60 minutes now per day in the morning), and at Moksha Yoga Guelph; check it out if you want to do something AWESOME for yourself. You won’t regret it.

2 Based on a 160 Calorie tall vanilla soy latte made in Canada (the US version has 180 Calories for some reason). Full nutritional information here.

3 Based on a 540 Calorie Big Mac made in Canada. Full nutritional information here.