Pant, pant, huff huff: Working the biceps at the Active Edge gym
Hello and I'm glad to have you here!
My name is Greg Ortiz, and I am an overweight father of 4. Our fourth child, Aaden Murphy, was born 2 mos ago and he is happy and healthy. I mention Aaden (I call him "Murph," at left) because he was one of the main reasons I contacted the Sun-Times and asked if we could start this whole process up again. I want to be around to see him, as well as his brothers and sister, grow up, go to college, and get married and start their own families.
When I recently visited my doctor for a routine visit, I stepped on the scale. After rubbing my eyes a few times, it hit me; I'm not going to see anyone do anything if I don't do something about the horror I was staring at. I "clocked in" at a whopping 263, the heaviest I've ever been, and right then and there, I knew it was time to get moving finding a solution to this dilemma and fast.
This blog is the record of my day to day conquests and struggles with this project. Hopefully, between this blog, Dave Grotto (a dietician assigned to me via the Sun-Times; I couldn't be happier with the choice as you'll read later!), and your support, I'll be able to change my approach to food, and life in general.
This is actually the second time the Sun-Times has helped me out with this. About 4 years ago, Sue Ontiveros ran a story in the Sun-Times asking readers who were around the age of 40 and overweight to write in if they were interested in a program they would sponsoring. I usually don't read the food section, but that day I was just skimming through the paper and saw it. I decided to fire off an email with just the facts; I was overweight, had parents who were both diabetic, and had a baby on the way (my daughter, Kaleigh, at left) along with 2 great boys I wanted to be around for, not expecting anything to come of it. A couple of weeks later, I received a call from Sue asking if I was still interested. I said yes and we set up a meeting with her, a photographer, and a dietician.
I was actually doing pretty good. I had started at around 255 and was down to 229 at one point. However, it was hard. The dietician the paper assigned to me was a really nice person, but not very proactive with the project. There was no follow up and so I felt kind of "out there".
However, Her advice at the initial visit was sound; wear a pedometer and get in at least 10,000 steps a day (about 4 miles) as well as control my portions. As a guide for my portions, we used a picnic paper plate example. I'm talking about the kinds that have the dividers so the food doesn't all spill together. In one of the little sections was where I was to put any kind of meat or main dish. In the large section would go the vegetables (I seemed to have forgotten what the other little section was for). Some other advice was to not eat free food and don't pick off of the kids plates. If I just followed these steps, I would drop the weight, which I did. But I was hungry much of the time and not happy.
This time, the Sun-Times hooked me up with Dave Grotto (left), who is the author of the new book 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life (you can view the official site here). This book is full of information on different kinds of food and their health benefits, most of which I was unaware. But he didn't just give me a book and send me on my way. That's not Dave's style.
When we first met at the Sun-Times offices, we discussed where I am as far as weight (I was 255 at the time of our meeting; I had lost about 8lbs but wasn't losing it the right way so I use the weight I was when I met him), what I wanted out of this whole deal, what kinds of foods I can't live without, and what kinds of foods I just can't stand. Then he took that information and made up a list of dishes that incorporate that information into a menu (I'll be including some of my favorites as we go along).
From there, he set up what he calls a "Shelvic Exam" where he actually comes out to the house and goes over everything in our fridge, cupboards, etc and used "smiley" and "sad" face stickers to indicate what is good to have, and what's not so good to have.
On Mondays, we go over everything that I have eaten that week so as to gauge how I'm doing. In order to do this, I have a "food journal" which consists of a list of everything I've eaten for that day/week. Dave has this nifty little program online called Food Prodigy where I can enter all of this information, and I do so as soon as I finish a meal. It keeps track of things like calories, dietary fiber, cholesterol, vitamins, fat percentages, etc. On Sunday nights, I email him the report and we discuss the next day.
All of this is very cool. I never thought I'd be the kind of guy to be counting calories (it just seemed like such a chore) or caring about that sort of "stuff". But I have to tell you, it is addicting. I now find myself copying all the information on food labels so I can have the exact calorie counts, etc. Dave has me on a 2000 calorie a day intake program. I am absolutely amazed at how much I can eat without crossing that given threshold (more on that on future posts!).
The best part about this program is that we are changing the way I'm eating, not dieting. By being careful of what I eat, the weight loss will be a by-product of eating correctly. I like that because it takes the pressure off, so to speak. When most people think of dieting, many negative ideas are manifested. The idea that comes to mind when I think of "diet" is "starvation" and "embarrassment" if I "slip". But when I think of changing my eating habits, that's all there is. There's no guilt associated with the phrase. I'm just eating differently, and ironically, more!
I have also increased my physical activity by joining up with a local gym in Lansing, IL called Active Edge Lifestyle and Fitness club. I've also enrolled both of my son's, Tristen and CJ. Tristen has been dealing with a sinus issue so hasn't gone much this month, but CJ goes with me all the time and really enjoys it. This has allowed me to not only get my kids on the proper path to fitness, but has given us time together we wouldn't usually have, or make time for in my case.
Me with my sons and motivators: Tristen (left) and CJ (in front) at Active Edge.
I'm going to end it here for today. I know I've left alot of loose ends, but I've done so on purpose so as to keep everyone somewhat interested! I do NOT want this to be just a blog of numbers and facts. I'm going to add as much personal and everyday living scenarios so that you too can relate and hopefully get as motivated as I am. I have no illusions of an overnight fix as it took years to get this fat, hence, it will take many months to shed the pounds I've put on. This is only the very first step, but as the saying goes:
"The longest journey begins with the first step"
-- ancient Chinese proverb