June 2009 Archives

Bad Start

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I've gone over my calorie limit for the second straight day, so I decided to take an early bike ride. In the video below, I've just arrived at St. Ann's Church in Lansing, about 3 miles from my house:

Sox Win!

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'Twas a glorious weekend for Chicago baseball as the Sox lose the first game at home but take the next 2 to win the series! I love hearing all the Cub fans whine about this call or that play and how lucky the Sox were. Never understood it, but love to hear it!

My problem was during Saturday's game. I went over my 2000 calorie limit by about 700 without even knowing what happened due to the excitement over the 8-7 Sox victory (even Cub fans agree it was the best of the series). This is the second Saturday in a row I've went over. Part of the problem is that I hate crowds, and since most people are home on the weekends, I tend stay in the house which leads to boredom and more eating. I'll have to figure something out but knowing what triggers certain behavior is half the battle, so I'm now aware at least.

Healty living ok, but what about the kids?

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Good Morning!

This last week has been a whirlwind of activity.  With the kids out of school and their varying ages (13, 10, 3, and 4 mos) it's not all fun and games.  Don't get me wrong; I love my kids and everything about them, but it's their interests and what they want to do that gets confusing and difficult. 

Take Tuesday for instance.  All of us went to Skyline pool here in Glenwood where we've been members for about 9 years for a day of fun.  The difficulty comes with the fact that my wife is nursing our son Aaden so she is pretty limited in what she can do.  Kaleigh, our daughter is at the age where she wants to go in the 'big pool", but can't do so without adult supervision, which is fine, but Connor, my 10 year old needs attention too and really wants to play with "the old man", and I really want too as well.  However, Kaleigh is still little and much less apt to be understanding, so CJ is the one that ultimately gets left out and it breaks my heart.

So I promised him that on Wednesday, I would take him and only him to the pool, and we'd mess around until we had to get his older brother, Tristen, from basketball camp at Marian Catholic High School.  But what happens right when it's time to go?  Torrential downpour the likes of which we haven't seen in sometime.  The disappointment in his eyes was gut-wrenching.  The thing is, this is only one scenario my wife and I deal with on a daily basis and it's hard to stay positive when it seems like we are constantly letting our children down. 


Busy, Busy

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My apologies for not posting yesterday. The weather was too nice to stay around the house and I took the opportunity to enjoy the day with the kids. I'm planning on doing the same today so I'll make it short..........

(Sigh), I promised you all some video and I plan on getting it up, it's just in the summer there is too much going on with sports camps, swimming, kids sleeping over at other's houses, etc and the time is just not there. I'm not going to promise anything anymore and just put up what I can, when I can so as not to look incompetent or lazy!

Also, since I'm only losing about 2lbs a week, I don't see the need to post a picture of me EVERY monday. Instead, I'll post once a month so as to see the real gains!!

Thanks everyone and I'll make sure to have something better for you all tomorrow.

Nutrition for the Soul

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Happy belated Fathers Day to all you dads!

Hopefully, you didn't use the day as an excuse to over indulge? I managed to stay within my 2000 calorie limit, but it wasn't easy. The day started with a big breakfast; 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, 3 pancakes (fiber one), and 2 pieces of whole grain toast, which ran me 743 calories. That was almost 1/2 of my daily allowance so I had to be good the rest of the day until dinner, which I knew would be T-bone, Italian sausage, baked potato, and salad (I knew this because all of this food would be grilled by me!). After all was said and done, I finished up the day at 1900 calories, plus change. Not too bad.

One activity I've been really enjoying is riding my bike early in the AM. I like to use the trails built by the Cook County Forest Preserve, which are about 6 miles in length. The mid-point of the trail starts about a block from my house and takes me to either Lansing, Lynwood, or other dirt trails in the forest preserve itself. I haven't been on the dirt due to all the rain we've had, but that hasn't stopped me from using my bike to go to the bank, store, etc using the concrete trail, sidewalks, and streets. Whatever way I go, I need to use the FP trail to get back home so I try to plan my trips so that I can stop at the forest preserve pavillions and catch the sunrise, watch the deer and other wildlife, and enjoy the quiet before the world gets moving.

My son is editing some video we shot, so that should be up tomorrow. Have a great day and see if you can find your own "trail", or whatever adds a little peace to your soul.

Nice Comeback, Cub's

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There are a million reasons why the Chicago Cubs got lucky against the South Siders yesterday, but none of them matter. The Cubs pulled it out late and the Sox got "Linebrink-ed". They need to send that guy to where Contreras went to work out his problems because he's obviously having some.

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to go out yesterday, AGAIN. With 4 kids of varying ages, it's hard to get out before bedtime. I did manage to overeat a little bit. I had 3 slices of pizza and 3 s'more's which put me over 2000 calories for the day by about 700. So I look to food for comfort? Apparently so, but I didn't really see it until I started writing about it. At least now I'll be aware the next time. Now I have to buckle down and get back on track. The one thing I can't do is get down on myself, and neither should you if you find yourself in the same situation. Just get back to being careful about what we eat and make sure to exercise and we'll be fine.

Have a good weekend and I'll see you all on Monday!

Sox Win!!

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Sox Win!! 

What a great game.  Great pitching, clutch hitting, and brilliant managing made this contest a joy to watch.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to go out for the game as planned and have no big stories as far as any sort of temptation goes. 

I had my smoothie in the morning, which consisted of 8oz of watermelon, 3oz of red grapes, a serving of whey protein and flax seeds, 1 1/2 cups of skim milk, and some ice blended.  Calories:  490.  For lunch I had 2 slices of deli turkey on some wheat bread with a little mustard and a banana.  451 Calories and pretty satisfying.  Dinner was mostocolli with ground beef, with some parmesan bread and butter.  990 Calories.  Well within my 2000 calorie limit.

I'm not much for pop/soda anymore.  In fact I drink nothing but iced tea, and have done so for about the last 15 years.  I was getting bad heartburn from pop and made the change.  Dave Grotto states this is a good thing, especially since I use Sweet n Low to flavor it.  The thing that surprised me is when Dave informed me I should be drinking 3 quarts of liquid daily.  I'm getting in about 2 quarts lately so I need to step that up some.

Lets hope the White Sox can continue to play well!

Go Sox!!


Eating well, if not feeling it

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cubs sox.jpg

I'm disgusted by the rainout yesterday, but whatever. Let these million dollar prima dona's postpone a game because of a little moisture. It's not like there was any thunder or lightning. The funny thing is, I ran to the store for my wife about 10 minutes before scheduled game time and saw the little league players out playing in their little poncho's and raincoats for the sheer joy of it. But this is not the place for that discussion.

Luckily for me, I decided to stay home and not meet my friends out to watch the game. Instead, I burned off some of my disgust at the rainout by working out on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I did not have any "traditional" baseball food (hot dogs, polish, hot pretzels, and of course, beer) and actually was under my goal of 2000 calories by 800 on the day, so I think I'll have a turkey-on-wheat and some vegetables to close the gap a little.

I also want to apologize for not getting video up as promised last week. I have been studying for my Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam to improve my chances of getting work and have not had time to shoot the kind of video I feel comfortable posting. I'll get that up as soon as I can, but it will have to wait for now (sorry Tom!).

Anyway, let's hope the 2 Chicago teams can take the field today. One good thing about being unemployed is I don't have to lie to my boss to get out of work to go out for the game, which I will be doing today FOR SURE. I'll fill you in on if I'm able to control myself or not, as far as both my eating and my behavior during the game.........

Sox -vs- Cubs Game Day!

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Hello All Chicago Sports Fans!

Today is the day! I love the summer, but every year since the games actually started to count, my 6 favorite days are when the Sox play the Cubs. It doesn't matter to me which stadium they play in as they are both filled with fans from both sides of town. As a city we are united behind The Blackhawks and Bears, but start talking baseball and it's like the 5th grade dance; everyone staying with their own kind on their own side of the room. And that's just the way we like it!!

I'm a die hard Sox fan and always have been. It's the way we're raised. I don't know why I hate the Cubs, I just do and that's it. I do like being around other Cub fans during these games because of all the ribbing we give each other, all while drinking some beers, grilling some food, and just having a good time. Once in awhile one guy will have too much to drink and start being obnoxious (usually a Cub Fan after his team just received a thorough butt whooping by The Sox), but all in all, much fun is to be had.

So what does all of this have to do with healthy living? Plenty! For starters, the beer I like to drink has 96 calories a bottle/can. I'm not a big drinker anymore, but If I'm having a good enough time, I can have 960 calories in no time flat. I get 2000 calories a day to work with on a daily basis, so stay with me here. Add another 700-900 calories after a couple polish sausage and/or burgers, and I'm just about done. I'll probably have already eaten by then anyway, so I'll already have 400-600 calories already. In other words, I have to watch it these next 3 days. Rats!

I'll keep you all posted on how I do, so stay tuned and of course, GO WHITE SOX!!!


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Hello again!

I finally understand what Michael Jordan meant. It's hard to stay focused and motivated through a long, grueling season. I don't have to travel to dozens of cities, deal with hordes of fans, or the press constantly critiziing me, but I do see how it can be hard to stay the course when trying to keep focused on a goal thats going to take some time.


MJ shows the end result of hard work

Sometimes, I just don't feel like getting on the treadmill, going to the gym, going on a bike ride, or any of the activities I try to engage in. Other times, I don't feel like counting calories, making sure I get enough fiber, and watching my cholesterol intake. It just gets monotonous

But these are the times when it is most important to suck it up and do the work, count the calories, get to the gym. Why? Because this is when we see the greatest results, feel the best overall, and gain the best positive attitudes when we do complete the days work.

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Good morning and happy Friday!

There's nothing like a Friday if you work a standard week and I hear this weekend will finally be "summer-like"! I hope you have a great one and stick to your guns as far as eating healthy if you plan on attending any picnic's, bbq's, etc!

Starting next week, I'll be posting some video so check back! I'll be showing things like what I do when I work out, some activities I do with the kids, and even how we are getting our dog, sasha, to get more exercise by running on the treadmill, Ceasar Milan style!

If you have any questions or comments about this whole process, I'd love to hear from you, but for now, I have a bike trip I need to get ready for with my kids!

I'll see you on Monday!

Fruits and Vegetables

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I want to apologize for not getting a chance to post yesterday. We had some family activities going on that prevented me from getting on and writing to you. I thought yesterday (for the most part) was a great day weather wise, and I didn't want to waste it.

Things are going along pretty well. The biggest issue for me is eating enough fruits and vegetables, and Dave Grotto, who is the dietician assigned to me by the Sun-Times, always nags me to eat more. Honestly, I'd rather not eat at all sometimes, at least when it comes to the veggies.

I know it's important and my wife, Lisa, keeps our fridge stocked with the green stuff so it's not like its hard to do. Veggies just never really appealed to me. I know that has to change and I'm going to make a solid effort to do so the rest of this week.

Fruits are a different story. I love fruit. However, being on a limited budget, I don't do so as much as I'd like. With so many kids of varying ages, I find myself urging them to eat the fruit, which leaves little except the frozen kind I use in my morning smoothies. I'm not complaining as my kids will always be #1, I'm just curious as to a solution to this problem. Anyone have any suggestions?

See you tomorrow and healthy eating!


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The word "nope" is a funny, magical sort of word. If you ask someone for a favor and they just say "no", there's a little room to work there. You can try reason, begging, etc and maybe, just maybe, you can convince the person you're speaking with to see things your way. But when someone says "nope", there's finality to it. "Nope" has a sort of cockiness to it, arrogance really. It says "there is no way I'm going to do what you ask, and I'll be amused if you try to convince me; I'm not budging". I especially like when the second syllable is emphasized as in "no-PUH". There is another variation I learned from Mrs. G when I was in high school; NERP. NERP is worse than "nope" because it has the entire cocky flavor "nope" does, but with a little extra salt in the wound.

I've learned to embrace the word "nope" while on my lifestyle change journey, and it works to perfection. The other day for instance, I was at a BBQ when the hostess started asking if people wanted desert. Apparently, she had made way too much and was actually nagging people to eat some more. Most of us had eaten enough already, and when she was going around the table trying to persuade us to eat, I could see people squirming with the internal conflict of not wanting any, but not wanting to be rude either. Some accepted, some suddenly had to use the facilities, and some pretended not to hear. I, however, gave her the old "nope" and stared her dead in the eye when I said it. She looked like a puppy that heard a whistle for the first time as she cocked her head, started to say something, but decided against it and moved on to the next person. See?! Magical! I was not rude, or unappreciative, just firm. And yes, I did emphasize the "PUH".

"Nope" can be used in any variety of situations to garner the same effect. I choose to not overuse it as saying it too much can relegate the meaning to that of "no", therefore making the word useless. Also, I'd use NERP with close friends and family ONLY. There is so much attitude to the word that it has been known to solicit right hooks that start from Kansas.

So, I have another weapon against the plethora of obstacles facing me during this whole process. I encourage you to use it when faced with one of them. The thing is, later on when my host was cleaning up and trying to fit brownies, coconut cream pies, and cupcakes into the fridge, I could have easily snuck by her with no hard feelings and a little less time on the treadmill. But did I?


School is IN

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Thumbnail image for monday blog week 2.jpg 

Good morning and I hope you had a great weekend!

The weather could be better these days, but I for one am not complaining. I hate the overpowering humidity usually associated with the summer here in the Chicagoland area. However, I do like the fact that my son's are out of school, probably much more than in the past.

I'm pretty good at rationalizing myself out of many things, but the one thing I can rationalize the best is not exercising. it's a fact that the humidity here can be brutal and I'm not alone in feeling like I'm wearing a wet blanket that just came out of the dryer half done on many summer days. But most people just "grin and bear" it and enjoy the warmth. That has not been the case with me for some time; I use it as an excuse to not do anything. The problem is, I use the same excuse in the winter (too cold to go out), so I end up watching TV, eating chips and hot dogs, wishing the weather would "get better".

With this new partnership with the Sun-Times and Dave Grotto, I've done some soul searching and have realized the ridiculousness of my "summer thinking". it's all just a bunch of excuses and I'm done missing out on some fun times with my family.

This year I'm even more pumped up that my kids are out for the summer. My youngest, CJ, is an early bird like the old man, so instead of sitting around watching TV until the pool opens at noon, we'll be able to go on bike rides. My best "energy" times are in the mornings as well, so the boys and I will be able to hit the gym earlier and hopefully see some better gains as we won't have to wait for equipment, etc. Also, since I'm down some pounds now, I feel better all around and more likely to act sporadically when it comes to activities with my family.

I'll end todays entry here as I have to get to the gym.  Dad's new summer school is IN.

"Back" in the saddle

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Good Morning!

I want to apologize for not being able to post yesterday. I have a chronic back issue that flares up every once in awhile for absolutely no good reason. This actually occured on Monday, but I pushed it on tuesday and aggravated it a little more so I had to take it easy then next couple of days. The rest did me wonders and I'm "up and at 'em" again, to quote my Mother.

This is an opportunity to address a common ailment associated with those of us who have a few extra pounds. I've had this problem since my football days at Marian Catholic High School. While I wasn't overweight by any stretch of the immagination back then, I've never been one to work my abdominals on a regular basis. This is a big factor, along with my weight gain over the last few years, as to why I experience this ailment. Another, suprisingly enough, is that I'm a smoker. Smoking constricts blood vessels and can cause pain, or irritate an already existent condition http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/back-pain/back-pain-risk-factors-what-can-increase-potential-back-problems

I do plan on quitting, I just don't plan on doing it right now. I know this is an excuse, but I have too many other things to worry about such as finding a job, losing this weight, and keeping up with my little ones. I know; If I quit smoking, it will be easier to exercise, keep up with the kids and increase my energy level, not to mention help my back issue. I just don't want to deal with another "stressor" right now. I will though, and I'll chronical the process right here when I do set my "quit date"

One thing I have been doing for my back is doing abdominal exercises. I have this old Ab Roller machine that I got from a friend many years ago and I try to do at least 2 times a day. Hopefully by doing these exercises on a regular basis, combined with losing weight, I'll keep these flare-ups to a minimum in the future. And yes, I know that quitting the "cancer sticks" will help too.

I welcome any comments or questions you may have on the subject of back problems or quitting smoking or anything else for that matter!

Have a great weekend and I'll talk about how I'm hoping the kids being out of school will increase my activity level even more (it has to!).

A Better Day

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If you read yesterday's entry (listed below this one), you may have noticed that I had a bad day on Monday as far as eating and calories go. Tuesday was much better. I didn't get a chance to exercise (officially, as in a treadmill or gym, but I have 4 children, 3 of them under the age of 11 so I get my exercise, believe you me!), but I stayed well within my 2000 calorie allotment.

Yesterday, I said I'd answer a question from one of the readers so I'll do that today. One of the questions I get asked regularly is "How does being unemployed affect your "lifestyle change"?". That is a good question. There are many things in my life that are not ideal. I am not working (though trying hard TO work, as I'm guessing most of us who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed are) and it can get discouraging. I'm applying for jobs that I am highly qualified for, and maybe even over-qualified for and I have not even had an interview in 6 mos. I have asked people to look over my resume to see if there is something that is unappealing, out of place, or incomplete. The answer is always "It's looks great, it's just the economy". So I don't know what the problem is.

However, this is a great time to get in shape! There is nothing I can do about the economy. There is nothing I can do about having a baby we were not expecting (though we love 'ol "Murph" dearly). And there's certainly nothing I can do about the increase in costs just to survive. However, I can do something about my weight and how I eat and live in general, and that has it's own comfort.

So I'm making lemonade out of lemons. It was time no matter what, but my situation just makes it a little easier to focus on the good that I do have have and not worry so much about what we don't. Besides, I'm eating less which means more food/cheaper grocery bills. I'm driving less and riding my bike more, which means less money spent on gas. And most importantly, I'm not bloated all the time with bad food, which means more energy to play with the kids. It's all in the perception and attitude I guess.

Do you have any stories or other suggestions on how you've turned the bad economy into something positive? We'd ALL love to hear them!

Still on The Tree

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Yesterday was one of those days where I bent pretty far. It all started with the realization that not only is this the last week of school, but the kids don't get their usual "hot lunches" this week either and the day just sort of spiraled from there.

As is usual for a Monday morning, we were low on food because Monday's are the days my wife goes shopping. We plan our meals out pretty well for the week not only for organization sake, but also because of the economy and the fact that I'm not working.

When my son, CJ, reminded us that he had to have a lunch for the day, all we had that even resembled a "take to school" lunch was some bread, peanut butter, and jelly. There was one yogurt to throw in there as well, but he was going to the park so we had to round it off with something else. On the way to school, I stopped at the gas station to get him a drink and a small bag of chips. Next thing I know, I'M eating a bag of hot fries and a dilly bar before I even had breakfast (my wife took all the kids to Dairy Queen the night before and bought extra. They are 210 calories by the way).

For lunch, I had a 6 inch turkey sub from Subway that only ran me 370 calories (Thanks Jarred) but I also had a PBJ that kicked me up another 500 (even on wheat bread) and who knows how much fat. For dinner I had a pork chop, 3 cups of mashed potatoes, and some salad which put me over my daily allowance of 2000 calories, but not by much. I then had to have another PBJ for some reason, which really ruined the day. I also did not get a chance to work out at all (probably from so much time spent eating nonsense) so I felt really bloated and fat again, which in my case, usually leads to more "guilt-eating"..

However, after talking to my friend, who is herself a health nut and looks no older than 30 at 44, spoke the words I needed to hear. "You had a "bend" day", she said. I asked the obvious, "What is a bend day?", to which she replied "A bend day is when, like a branch, you bend when the wind blows, but as long as you're strong enough to not break, who cares...you're still on the tree".

Kinda weird and It took a little thought, but I realized that these were, in fact, great words and exactly what I needed to hear.

Do you have any motivation advice someone may have told you that you really took to heart and cleared things up for you? I'd love to hear them! You can write me about anything at all and I'll try and get at least one story/question posted a week.

Chew on this..........

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Good Morning! I hope you were able to get outside and enjoy the great weather we had this weekend!


blog WEEK 1.jpg

Me, 10lbs down from the picture at the right!

Anyway, lets get into another tip Dave Grotto RD, LDN, turned me onto. What happens if you've just eaten or you have an hour or so until lunch but want to keep your calories down? Chew some gum! Thats right, chewing gum has been shown in studies to actually satiate the appetite http://www.eatright.org/ada/files/FINAL_Wrigley_FINAL.pdf"> and has also been shown to improve short- and long-term memory by as much as 35 percent http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_13_18/ai_84804845/.

So next time you need to tame that appetite for awhile or need to concentrate, grab a piece of gum and let the magic work!

About the blogger

You know how it goes. The kids come along, there’s less time for you and in trying to keep up with their busy lives, your eating choices aren’t always so hot.

Greg Ortiz is a 39-year-old south suburban man who, tried, with the Sun-Times’ help, once before to get back to the athletic — and thinner — guy he once was.

About this Archive

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