Sunday, August 30, 2009
In spring of 1981, I was the first born of an eventual 3 sons. Ronald Reagan is in his first year as President, and the first IBM PC is introduced.
In winter of 1983, my second brother is born. I meet him for the first time in the hospital and manage to poke him in the eye. I still remember this, it is one of my earliest memories. I can even still remember walking up to the side of my mom's hospital bed and having my dad lift me up there to sit with my mom and new baby brother.
We move into our new house in 1985, and live there for the next 12 years. The wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic is located this year.
My third and youngest brother was born in 1986. I am attending Kindergarten at a private Christian school.
In 1987 I start my heavy addiction to G.I Joes. Eventually I collect over 60 of the action figures. I also start first grade. I have my first crush, Carrie, and manage to chase her all across the playground until I catch her, pin her on the ground, and plant a big smooch on her back.
In the 4th grade, I start wearing glasses. I was one of the few that thought it was cool to wear glasses. Man, could I see the chalkboard now! I also learn the truth about the jolly red man from the north.
In 5th grade I am educated about the birds and the bees. A repulsive idea to me at the time.
In the 7th grade, at age 13, I get braces. I also get some mega contraption that resembles a retainer on steroids to help bring back my overbite. It works wonders, but makes me feel like a pro football player 24/7 with that giant mouthpiece.
At 14, I start high school and also start attending youth group at my church for the first time. I also get contacts.
Age 16 brings a handful of events. I am baptised and devote my life to Christ, I get my driver's license, and my dad gets a job promotion, in which we must move across state. Two years of high school left.
I spent the better half of my junior year of high school grounded, because I pretty much am fed up with parental authority. I count my blessings my parents loved me enough to keep me from heading further down a rebellious path.
Senior year comes, 12th grade, and I already have enough credits to graduate. I elect to stay in my senior year. I get my first girlfriend, and the relationship lasts 9 months until I have to go to college. I was a senior, she was a freshman. Dating younger women is a trend that would continue. We move back to our hometown after another job transfer for my dad.
First year of college I accumulate a whopping GPA of 0.9. Poor study habits in high school and staying up late with friends left me ill-prepared for the dedication college studyiung takes. I did not party, drink or do anything of the sort, but I just half-assed my way through that first semester. After finals, I come home and spend the next semester there.
The year 2000 starts and I meet my second girlfriend, who I date for a year and a half. During this time we share the same classes and go to the same church. Both still immature in terms of relationships, we eventually go our separate ways. A very difficult break-up that would forever change my perception on how I should act in a relationship. More maturity eventually evolves from this.
Late 2000, I head back to college to continue my education. I manage to bring my GPA up to a 1.1. I again come home after the semester and do not return. On academic probation, I do not attend this college again.
2001 comes and I am attending community college working towards a networking degree. 9/11 happens and we are sent home, classes are cancelled. My cousin was in relative proximity to the World Trade Center, but was safe and unharmed.
In late 2002 I start working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital my mom works at. She is an NICU nurse. So yes, I work with my mom. I change my degree from networking to nursing. I work hard at school and raise my GPA to a 3.2.
In 2004, fed up with the dating scene, I try online dating, with great results. Meet my third girlfriend, a teacher. We mutually agree to split up after 6 months realizing we had grown as far as we could together. We stay in contact as friends until we are both married, at which point we both agree to continue our separate journeys out of touch.
In October of 2005, I meet the woman of my dreams, Brittany, via match.com. Yes, it works. As with most girls it seems, her friends put her on match after a nasty break-up, and I of course, luckily found her. On the last day before my account expired, I figured I'd try one last time to see if there were any perfect girls out there. To my amazement, I found Brittany, and sent her an email. Being so beautiful, I was sure she wouldn't even give me a second look. I was wrong. When I received her email in reply, I was so excited. We eventually went out on a date and I knew it was meant to be from the moment I saw her.
Strangely enough, the medical director (a neonatologist) of my unit has a daughter who is best friends with my wife's sister. Strange how small the world can be.
In early 2006 we moved in together after only 3 months of dating. Just before our 1 year anniversary, I asked Brittany to marry me. She, of course, said yes! School is still a struggle for me, though I have all my pre-requisites for nursing school nearly completed. Just a few more labs to go.
June 2007, at the age of 26, I marry my beautiful wife, Brittany, age 22. We honeymoon in the Caribbean on a cruise.
In December of 2007, we find out we are pregnant. Brittany surprises me with the info by taking me to the restaurant we ate at on our first date, Friday's. She presents me with a glasses case, which I have no idea what to expect. I open it up and inside is a digital thermometer. Only it's not a thermometer (such is my now-medical way of thinking). It's actually a positive pregnancy test with a note telling me how I will be just as great of a father as I am a husband. I am speechless and shocked. I keep asking Brit if she is joking. I want to jump and shout and cheer with joy, but being in a restaurant, I control myself. I am ecstatic.
Late February 2008 we purchase our first home. An absolute steal during the housing recession, we snatch up a 2700 sq. foot, 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath house built in 2004 for dirt cheap. Having gone past foreclosure, we purchased the house as a HUD home (US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development owned).
September 2008 our baby girl is born at 6 pounds 15.2 ounces. 40 weeks and full-term, she is a beautiful baby! Both sets of grandparents are at the hospital when Brit delivers. They are allowed to come in to see mom and baby about 30 minutes after delivery.
With a good job in the NICU, but now not attending school, I am at a crossroads on where to go from here. Finish with nursing, or take another medical related job such as billing and coding, or medical transcription in order to stay at home with our baby girl. Tough choices.
Brit works full-time during the week, and I stay home to watch the baby, still working my full-time NICU job. I couldn't imagine a more perfect life right now!
Keep this going and post how YOU got to where you are now!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Also, since she has been so busy this week, she herself has not had the time to do this post, so I'm not sure if she will get around to doing it at all. For those of you that find yourselves reading this blog by route of her site, welcome, and enjoy her pics!
The wedding shower was hosted at her friend Nancy's house, and almost all family and close friends were invited. Being right around Easter, it was the perfect Spring Wedding Shower!
(Sorry if the photos come out a little blurry, I had to yank them off Brit's facebook, then reload them onto blogger.)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Tonight, I lack the creative juices to summon up an interesting written post, so I'm posting via video. Sometimes it's good to see and hear the face and voice of the blogger you are reading, so here is a chance to meet me! Check it out! It's only a couple minutes long, so just about the same time it would take you to read a post I had written.
Now that my video post is over, here are my Not My Child! entries for MckMama's weekly Not Me! Mondays...
My baby girl definitely did not give me the worst scare in her short little life thus far when she spiked a 104.3 under the arm temperature in the middle of the week. Knowing pretty well how fevers work, I definitely was very, very worried.
My baby girl did not cry as I got into a luke warm bath with her at 3am in the morning as I tried to help lower her temperature (which worked).
My baby girl did not respond to children's Motrin 100 times better than children's Tylenol. The fever actually dropped 3 degrees with the ibuprofen.
My baby girl did not keep me awake with her uneasy sleep until 5am that night.
And on a serious note, I love Savi with all of my heart and there is nothing I wouldn't do for her. Daddy will always be there to take care of you when you are sick, baby girl.
First, let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor. Nor is any of this medical advice. This is purely to raise awareness for families and my fellow bloggers on what to expect this upcoming flu season, especially sinice the swine flu is now an additional concern. Always consult your family physician for medical advice.
What is the Swine Flu?
The 'swine flu' is not actually the influenza found in pigs. The reason it was named as such was because of the amount of genes seemingly related to the flu that circulates among the pigs of North America. However, this has since proved to be a very different form of virus.
Now called the Novel H1N1 Virus, we now know that it has genes from 4 different sources. There are two different genes that are from two different types of pigs originating from Europe and Asia. It also contains genes from viruses that pass among birds (avian), and humans as well. This combination of four different types of genes makes the virus especially unique.
Still called the 'swine flu' among society, it is important to remember that it is, in fact, a very different virus.
As a new parent, my heightened sense of alertness is reaching new peaks the closer we get to flu season. Symtpoms of the novel H1N1 virus are strikingly similar to that of the normal influenza we normally see. They include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body Aches
If a physician determines you or any of your family has these symptoms because of the flu, then they can determine whether or not it is the swine flu by running a test.
How Severe is H1N1?
The cases of the H1N1 virus range from mild to severe. Most of the cases resolve themselves without medical treatment, but other infections from the virus have resulted in hospitalization or even death. This is not with the intention to scare anyone, but these are the simple facts.
There are groups of people who are at much higher risk to more serious illnesses related to the swine flu. Because any flu virus can cause your body to go into defense mode, other illnesses (such as pneumonia) can pose serious threats, especially to the following groups of people:
- Children under the age of 5 years old
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic disorders, diabetes, heart conditions, asthma and kidney disease
- People with conditions making them immuno-suppressed (low or weak immune systems)
These groups must take extra precautions during flu season, and should see a doctor if any flu-like symtpoms present themselves.
Symtpoms of possible H1N1 or influenza viruses that require immediate medical attention
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be heldF
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
How is 'Swine Flu' transferred from person to person?
The novel H1N1 virus can be spread via two methods: by air and by direct contact. If a person sneezes or coughs, the moisture left in the air containing the virus can be deposited on numerous surfaces. An influenza virus can live for as long as 2 to 8 hours after coming into contact with an object.
Any person that touches an influenza contaminted object, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth stand at risk to contract the virus. A person can transfer the illness to another 1 day before getting sick and up to 7 days after. Immuno-compromised individuals may carry the virus longer.
As a dad and a neonatal intensive care unit staff member, I follow a fairly strict routine when it comes to the flu. For work, I have to stay home if I have any flu-like illness to prevent the spread of the virus to other co-workers and the infants themselves. Often, this means I may miss 2 or 3 shifts if the virus casues any serious illness. It is simply not worth the risk when you work in an intensive care unit.
In regards to being a dad and parent, I am gaining a clearer view on what my perception of children going to school sick is (even though she is not in school yet). The important thing to remember is, not only does my child need rest and care to get better, but I have to consider all the other kids in my daughter's classes. Me sending her to school sick puts everyone else at risk to get sick as well.
I realize I am in a unique and lucky situation where I can stay home with my daughter when she needs me, and not everyone has that opportunity. The best advice I can offer is to find whatever situation works best to be in the best interest of your child.
Tip: Teach your kids to sneeze and cough into their arms or shoulders, and make sure they throw used kleenex or tissues into waste baskets. Make sure they understand the importance of handwashing after blowing their nose, and after touching their eyes, mouth, and nose when sick.
Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you stay home for 24 hours until the fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.
Other important actions that you can take are:
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
- Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious
Treatments, Vaccinations and Medications
A common fear and misconception is that there is no treatment for the swine flu, or the novel H1N1 virus. This is simply not true.
Vaccinations for the novel H1N1 virus are currently being produced and used in trials that should be available to us this fall (2009). This new vaccine is more than likely going to be 2 new shots in addition to the normal influenza shot. For those counting, that makes 3 potential flu shots this year. The two H1N1 vaccines are right now looking at being given 3 to 4 weeks apart.
The nasal vaccines are also going to be available, both for the normal influenza and H1N1 viruses.
Medication treatment for these includes the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir. Remember, viruses cannot be cured by medications and antibiotics. Bacterial infections can be treated in these ways, but not viruses. However, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
Mentioned before, this is absolutely the best way to help prevent the spread of the swine flu, or any virus or bacterial infection. Good handwashing consists of washing with warm water and soap for 15 to 20 seconds. Practice makes habit, so keep your kids washing their hands regularly during flu season to help form good handwashing habits.
From a Daddy Blogger
From me to you, flu season can be a tough time. When it rains, it pours, especially amongst immediate families in the same household. Remember and inlfuenza virus, including the swine flu (H1N1), can be serious, so take the precautions necessary to keep your family as safe as possible this season.
Vaccinations are always recommended, and as a healthcare worker, I will be getting all of mine as usual this year. My wife will be getting hers as well. Trying to keep our baby girl as safe as possible. We averted any major illness last year with her, so we were lucky. Crossing our fingers for similar results this year.
The more knowledge you have on the novel H1N1 virus, the better equipped you will be if it finds its way into your family. Always consult with your family physician regarding any medical advice.
Stay safe and stay healthy!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I work in a Neonatal ICU, and of the 50 or so people I work with, a grand total of 3 are men. So that means the rest are women, and they all threw me one heck of a great daddy shower!
It was sports themed with little pink footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, tennis balls...if it was sports related and pink, you can bet it was there! The cake was a football field. Perfect! GO COWBOYS!
My co-workers were extremely generous and knocked out just about everything we had remaining on our baby registry (Brit had her baby shower a couple weeks earlier). Thank you so much ladies (and gents)!
Needless to say, I had a great time. They really went over the top and I was so thankful and appreciative for all they did! Couldn't have imagined a better Daddy Shower!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
My family and I have been going to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for over 20 years now. It is a tradition I have carried with me to my own family I have started. We stay at Red Bud Valley Resort every time. It is a beautiful little deluxe log cabin resort nestled in the Ozarks of Eureka Springs.
There is so much to do, there, including great shopping, great areas to explore and go hiking, as well as being a great place for live music and classic Victorian homes. It really is a great place to visit.
Some of the fun things you must do in Eureka Springs:
- The Great Passion Play
- Thorncrown Chapel (I saw several Kelly's Korner visitors got married here! It's beautiful!)
- Jamborees and Hoedowns (They really are lots of fun!)
- Downtown Eureka Springs for great shopping and food
The front porch of our cabin
Brittany and I downtown around Christmas time.
A guy had his pet monkey out for a walk and I got to meet him!
Brit and Savi napping in the cabin
Cozy in front of a warm fire!
The view from behind our cabin at Red Bud Valley
Looking down from the loft of our cabin into the living room.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Here is a pic of our baby girl drinking her afternoon snack of milk while watching some Baby Einstein.
Savannah has recently started cutting more teeth, and she is getting really fussy. Poor baby. The first three teeth didn't cause her any problems, but now she's just miserable. We have some baby tylenol and some baby orajel that seems to be helping. We are also using the frozen teething rings, which seem to provide some temporary relief. Any of you moms and dads out there have any other remedies that might help our baby girl?
Head over to MckMama's blog for more Not Me! posts.
I did not discover a new route to work this week, taking a toll bridge over a beautiful lake that sheds nearly 10 minutes off my drive. I hit the lake at sunrise and sunset going to and from work. It's now a very nice drive!
I did not get poison ivy a couple weekends ago. And it is not still on my arm after two weeks. Grrrr.
And finally, I am not putting off laundry so I can write several other posts for some of my other blogs. Priorities, I tell myself, priorities...
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Our reception was beautiful. Brittany had it all planned out perfectly. The lighting, the table settings, the flowers, the cake...you name it, she had done an excellent job! I think we had about 150 people at our reception.
We had such a wonderful time, so wonderful that it seemed to fly right by!
Our flower girl, Emily, was the daughter of one of my good friends at work. She drew this picture to put onto our wedding present. We still have the picture tucked away and kept safe :)
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
You know what the best part is? I never went to a gym, never hired a personal trainer, and every bit of what I needed was easy to get and very cheap! Every workout I did I was able to do from home, and both men and women can do this!
This post is going to be a long one, but what I did really worked, and it worked well. The pounds were literally falling off. I'm hoping to share this information with you, in hopes that if you want the same thing I did, you'll realize it is easier to achieve than you thought...with a little discipline.
The above is my 'after' photo. I really wish I had taken a 'before' photo, but I never learned about doing that until after I had lost the weight!
(I just did a word count, and this post is a 6,000 word monster! If you're running short on time, feel free to bookmark this and come back later! It's worth the read though, I promise!)
Let's look at my numbers real fast.
Before: 183 pounds
After: 157 pounds
Total weight loss: 26 pounds
Total weight loss percentage: 14.2%
Waist size before: 34 inches
Waist size after: 31 inches
Body fat percentage before: 21.7%
Body fat percentage after: 9.1%
Here is a Body Mass Index calculator: BMI Calc
So with those numbers, let's talk about my what those mean. I am 5'11" and 'overweight' for that height is over 180 pounds. I was 183. I have a slender build, so I've pretty much been slim my whole life. I needed to lose at least 20 pounds to get back to my ideal weight.
But, marriage and the ensuing laziness that seemingly comes with it made sure that I went from around 165 pounds to 183 pounds in about 2 years. That's not bad, but the weight gain had really started to increase. I had a small 'beer' belly (I don't drink beer, but we'll use the term), my chest was starting to lose definition, and my face and neck were getting fatter. Yes, I said fatter. It was a horrible feeling.
Early in December I decided enough was enough, and if I didn't do something soon, I was likely to continue to put on weight at an increasing rate. I was out of shape, couldn't run the length of my street without getting winded, and couldn't even bench press 100 pounds any more.It was horrible. I could barely do 15 push-ups without collapsing. This was not what I was used to. And, honestly, it scared me.
The first and foremost part of deciding to lose weight is the motivation to do so. I had always talked about starting to work out again, but always found very good excuses not to do so. One morning though,I woke up and looked at my 3 month old daughter, and realized I wanted to be around for a long, long time. I wanted to see her grow up, get married, and have kids. I wanted to celebrate my 50th anniversary with my wife.
Being overweight increases the chance for so many illnesses, diseases, and conditions, not to mention cardiac and respiratory issues. I wasn't having any of that.
So, my motivation was my daughter and my wife. Every time I wanted to rest, I put them in my mind. Every time I finished an exercise or sprint, I thought of them and pushed myself just a little bit further.
They are the most precious things in my life, and if I want to spend as much time with them as I can, I needed to take care of myself.
I did a TON of research on how to lose weight. I educated myself on the value of protein and fiber in a diet, the breakdown and building of muscle, the way oxygen is used when working out, how the heart is strengthened through exercise, how to boost metabolism to keep it working for up to 48 hours after I finish working out, and much more.
After understanding what I needed to do, I needed a structured regimen. I knew that if I tried to make my own routine, I would not obtain my desired results. However, I really couldn't afford the time for a gym membership since I'm a stay-at-home dad, and trainers are way overpriced. So, I set out on an internet hunt for a solid, reliable workout routine that would not only help me with exercises, but with interval training and diet.
How I stumbled upon this site is kind of lame, but I was on youtube and was looking up the 300 workout, which is what the actors from the movie 300 did to achieve those hard-cut bodies. Tucked away in my search results was a video from Arnel Ricafranca. Again, this isn't designed to be a promo for him or his site, this is merely what I did and used for successful results. But if it turns out to be so, give him his due credit for creating a free website that helped me completely burn off all the weight I wanted to. (His 16-week workout plan is what I used, though I tailored it a bit to push myself harder on some of the exercises)
Notice how I am listing diet first? It is because this is THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR of losing weight and burning fat. If you want a cut stomach, great legs, and a toned butt, you absolutely MUST nail down your diet first, or all the rest of the work you do will be for naught. To see results, you must stick with your diet plan. Have I said it enough yet? Diet, Diet, Diet!
Combined with what I had already learned, I incorporated Arnel's advice as well. I had to make some major changes, and have been the better for them. First was to cut out,and I mean COMPLETELY cut out all the unhealthy crap foods I was eating. Here is what I was consuming on nearly a day-to-day basis:
- Softdrinks (1-3 a day)
- Fast food (every other day)
- Sugary snack foods (cookies, brownies, all those Little Debbie snacks)
- Chips (lots of chips)
- Any food with high saturated fat content
Cutting out those foods was the number one thing I had to do, and it was hard. The soft drinks just about killed me, and not because of the caffeine. I'm addicted to the taste and the tingly feeling it gives the back of your throat!
Here is what my diet included after the changes:
- 97/3 Ground Turkey
I was able to make hamburgers with ground turkey, which I seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and even threw in some finely shopped jalapenos into the mix. Don't ever say ground turkey doesn't taste the same. You can always spice it up.
A big no-no is mayonnaise and even ketchup. Mustard was okay though.
The nuts and eggs gave me a quality source of protein as well as the good 'unsaturated' fats. Completely stay away from the 'saturated' and 'hydrogenated' fats.
Veggies / Fruit
- Green / Red Bell Peppers
- Honeydew Melon
The fruit is very important, as those natural sugars give you pure, healthy energy to replace all those soft drinks, coffee, and energy drinks we a re so conveniently used to now.
Berries, in particular, are especially healthy choices, as they are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. These were usually my snack of choice. Normally, the fresh berries can be quite expensive. But here is a trick. Go to the freezer section and buy the frozen berries. Not only will they be cheaper, but they might even be healthier, as they are usually put straight through the freezing process very close to when they are picked. This allows the berries to maintain most of their nutrients.
Bread / Grains
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat pasta
- Brown Rice
Here was my trick to flavor up that brown rice. This also works for Rice-A-Roni, which I had as well as a splurge item. Those are actually fairly healthy and have a good protein content, but the sodium is wickedly high. Make sure to get the low sodium kind. Herbs & Butter and low sodium Chicken were my favorites.
Anyways, to flavor these up, sautee some onions, celery, green pepper, and tomatoes and add to the rice when it's done cooking. Let it sit on low heat for about 5 minutes so the flavors can combine. Not only does it taste great, but your packing more healthy contents into the rice, as well as nearly doubling the content of the dish. A normal box would give me 4 servings alone, but adding the veggies nearly pushed me to 8.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 100 Calorie low fat yogurt
Garlic has so many healthy benefits, that it is impossible to list them here, but to name a few we have the potential to lower heart disease risk, as well as bwing another heavy source of antioxidants to protect your body.
I'm a garlic fan, and I use garlic in just about everything I cook. You just can't go wrong with it! Ask Emeril!
- Orange Juice
- Cranberry Juice
- Whey Protein Shakes
Whey protein is the by-product of milk when turned into cheese. To keep my protein intake where it should be, I used these as a supplement. Unfortunately, I hated the taste, and since I hate milk, I had to find another alternative to mix it with. Luckily, strawberry flavored whey protein mixed with orange juice is pretty darn yummy.
A little factoid for you. Often, when people have little hunger cravings, they are often thirsty instead. The mind plays a trick on you making you think you are hungry, when in fact you are really thirsty. Next time you have a craving, grab a glass or bottle of water instead.
The Meal Plan
Now that I have shown you what I ate, here was my meal plan. I figured out I needed 2000 calories a day for goal. This was not a diet in the sense of eating less. This was a diet in the sense of eating right. It is important to distinguish between the two.
Often, many people think eating less means losing weight. While this may be true to some degree, people often take it overboard, which basically starves them, leading them to break their diet, and ultimately abandon their weight loss plan all together.
It's best to consult someone such as your physician or a dietitian on what the best caloric intake for you is. I myself already had some knowledge in this area, and since I was just on the edge of being overweight for my age and height, so I knew 2000 calories a day was what I needed.
- 5 meals a day at 400 calories each
- 1 scrambled egg with diced tomato, jalapeno and bell pepper mixed in
- 1 slice wheat toast
- 1 orange
- cranberry juice
- 1 protein shake (drank during and after workout)
- 1 apple
- turkey sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, pickle
- 1 cup raw celery and carrots
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 100 calorie low fat yogurt
- 1 grilled chicken breast
- 1 cup brown rice mixed with tomato, onion, bell pepper, celery
- 1 cup berries
- 100 calorie yogurt
- 1 slice wheat toast
- 1 cup cantaloupe
- orange juice
- 1 protein shake (drank during and after workout)
- 1 cup berries
- turkey burger on wheat bun with jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mustard
- 1 apple
- 1 cup celery sticks
- 2 tbsp peanut butter (for dipping!)
- 6 blackened shrimp
- 1 cup Rice-A-Roni mixed with tomato, onion, bell pepper, celery, crushed red pepper (YUM!)
- 1 cup honeydew melon
Each meal was roughly 400 calories. I'm not going to nitpick an extra 40 to 50 calories here and there. I wasn't going to stress over my diet.
My list is what I wanted and knew I would enjoy, but there are so many other healthy options out there. Salads are a great side item, as well as broccoli. Anything high in protein and fiber, or with healthy oils and antioxidants is going to be a wonderful choice.
Even with this lovely meal plan, and even after drinking all the water I could, sometimes I still had cravings. Here is my best snack that will fill you up: Blueberries and Strawberries. Get them by themselves or mix 'em up. Either way, if you absolutely MUST have a snack, gRab about a cup of berries and some water and you're all set!
Now, after beating diet into you, let's move on to interval training. This is the second most important part of losing weight and burning fat. I'm going to steal from another blog post of mine. So, if you feel like you've read some of this before, maybe you have.
There are many different types of interval training, but I follow a custom routine that focuses on my individual skills and abilities. As I get better during these workouts, I gradually increase the intensity and duration.
By definition, interval training is a repetition of short bursts of medium to high intensity activities, followed by brief periods of rest. For example, I use an advanced form of interval training called high intensity interval training, or HIIT. My exercise of choice is sprinting. Biking, rowing, and jump roping are other types of workouts that comply. The idea is to find a high intensity activity that uses as many muscle groups as possible. Sprinting is widely recommended as the best option, but for those that have limitations disabling them from running, the other forms mentioned above are decent alternatives.
I would love to cover the benefits of interval training in regards to weight loss, but intervaltraining.net does a MUCH better job. Check them out, it is very informative reading!
When I first began my interval training, I aimed for three days a week. I started out by stretching for five minutes, followed by 30 jumping jacks. Then I ran a light jog for about three minutes to warm up. I did three sets of 30 second sprints as hard and as fast as I could, followed by three minutes of rest (walking). Let me tell you, I about passed out after my first time. The second day was still tough, but the third was much easier. I followed this routine for 3 weeks. Then I moved up to four days a week, with stretching, warming up, and doing four sets of 45 second sprints followed by two and a half minute rests. This is currently the level of intensity I am still at. I hope to push myself to five days a week, with five sets of 45 to 60 second full-out sprints, followed by two and a half minute rests.
Interval Training vs Cardio
One quick little subject I would like to cover is the fact that many people do various forms of cardiovascular workouts, with the goal of increasing the duration of performance and boosting metabolism. One little factoid that slips by many people is that cardio workouts only boost metabolism for the duration of the exercise. Interval training can boost metabolism for up to two days!
Also, I have seen people proud of the fact that they started jogging for 30 minutes, and burned x amount of calories. They assume that when they can start running for 45 minutes, then an hour, the calories burned will scale accordingly. Wrong. When performing a cardio workout like jogging, the body gets used to performing at a certain level and burns x amount of calories while doing so. However, as the body gets into better shape, it starts taking moreand more of the same activity to burn the same amount of calories. To burn x amount of calories in 30 minutes, the body will eventually take 45 minutes to burn the same number. Our bodies get very efficient at using energy, so, at a certain point, cardio workouts stop burning fat, and starts converting muscle to energy, thus creating muscle loss.
Interval training continues to burn calories long after the workout is done, due to the vigorous intensity of exercising. In doing so, you maintain lean muscle, and continue to burn fat.
Tabata is another form of interval training, and I started this around my second month of the regimen. This is NOT for the feint of heart, or someone who is not in decent athletic shape. Tabata pushes you to your very limit, so don't attempt this unless you're ready for a 4-minute hardcore workout that will kick your tail, and push you to your limits. This really works, and just 4 minutes of Tabata will replace a full high intensity interval training workout. However, only do tabata once a week, as it is not meant to be done on a day-to-day basis.
Stealing from another post of mine, here is my write-up on tabata. Feel free to skip this section and move on to Workout / Exercises if this does not interest you.
Tabata is one of the best, fastest, and hardest forms of interval training you will ever do. With it being so blasted cold in the winter at times, it is hard for me to get outside to do my normal interval training, in the form of sprinting.
I tried to do a couple different forms of interval training inside, including jump rope, burpees, and squats.
The jump rope did not work because I have no ceilings high enough. I kept hitting the ceiling with the jump rope. The one ceiling that is high enough has too much furniture that would have to be moved.
I managed to do burpees very successfully, but they just were not challenging enough with the routine I was doing. The same went for squats, as I did not feel I was pushing myself hard enough.
So, I needed a form of high intensity interval training that would allow me to stay inside on days I could not get out. Enter tabata.
Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training discovered by Dr. Izumi Tabata, for whom it is obviously named after. It consists of a 20 second exercise at very high intensity followed by a 10 second rest. This is repeated eight times for a total of four minutes.
Now, before you shrug this off as 'only four minutes', let me tell you this has kicked my butt! When I say maximum intensity, I mean go as hard and as fast as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10, burst into another 20 seconds, rest for 10, rinse and repeat until you have done four minutes straight.
Tabata vs Cardio and Aerobics
Tabata is by far more efficient than normal cardio and aerobics. Before I explain, there are two related abilities I want to briefly cover.
- VO2 Max - This is the maximum capacity of oxygen a person is able to use and transport through their body while working out, or doing interval training. The more in shape a person is, the higher their VO2 max will be.
- Anaerobic Capacity - Measures the body's ability to perform exercises at maximum effort.
Tabata is considered superior to aerobic exercises and normal cardio routines because it increases VO2 max , and anaerobic capacity. In Dr. Tabata's study, doing the specific high intensity interval training routine increased VO2 max by 14% and anaerobic capacity by a whopping 28% as opposed to normal cardio workouts.
So what does all this mean?
For me, everything adds up to metabolism. For those of us trying to lose weight and burn fat and calories, interval training is the way to go (Tabata being an advanced form). Keeping your metabolism at a high level will help you break down food and burn fat and calories to use as energy even when not working out.
Normal cardio routines only boost metabolism for the duration of the workout.
Tabata training, along with weight or resistance training (which is what I do) can help keep your metabolism high for up to 48 hours. That means even burning calories during sleep!
The key to my losing 15 pounds in only 6 weeks was the interval training, and eventually adding tabata into the mix. Do no let the 15 pounds fool you, that was 8.5% of my original bodyweight when I started working out! Pretty big weight loss for me, and it puts me exactly at the weight I should be.
Exercises for Tabata
There are several exercises for the tabata method, including some of the following:
- Thrusters - Squats with dumbbells. Squat, then raise up and overhead press the dumbells.
- Burpees/Squats - For those starting out that want to slowly work up to harder tabata routines.
Keep in mind you do as many of these exercises as hard, and as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, then do seven more sets. If using weights, do not set them down during the 10 seconds rest periods.
Interval Training Summary
Right now, my preferred method of interval training is sprinting. At the current moment, I am doing 5 sets of 30 second sprints, each followed by a 1 minute cool-down. It takes me a total of 10 minutes from start to finish.
Remember, doing interval training can be simple jumping jacks, squats, or burpees. Even if you are away from home, you can still do these very easily!
At last, we finally come to the working out part. Most people think this is the number one priority, when it fact it is last! Diet is always first, then interval training, and lastly exercise.
Here is the equipment I had to buy:
- Resistance Bands w/ door anchor - $40
- *Pull-up Bar (fits in door frame, no screws!) - $24
- Resistance Ball - $15
- Rope - $1
That's it! I had some free weights already, but I didn't really use them until much later. I only used them to add weight to my backpack, which I wore during bodyweight exercises to make them harder.
The way I did this was to follow Arnel's week by week workouts, for which he has written and video explanations. For week one, here is an example video from his site:
Personal Trainer Reveals His 16 Week Journey To Six Pack Abs - Funny home videos are a click away
The specific routine was to do:
- 3 sets of push-ups x20
- 3 sets of body squats x20
- do each back to back without rest called a "superset", 2 supersets total. Rest 20 seconds in between each superset (for me).
- 3 sets of stationary lunges x20
- 3 sets of pull-ups x20 (I only got to 3, 2, and 2, man was I out of shape!)
- These two form a superset
- 3 sets of burpees x20
- 45 seconds in plank position x3
- These two form a superset
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to start getting in shape and getting you on the road to burning off all that extra weight! Here is a list of my top 10:
1. Jumping Jacks
The most basic, and easiest of the 10. Jumping jacks work out a large number of muscles in the entire body, and can help build endurance and work on cardio conditioning.
I used these as warmups, and did a full 60 seconds of these before each workoout session. The first day, I was breathing heavily just after these alone. By the end of the first week, I was completing the full minute with minimum effort. Such a huge change in a short period of time!
Push-ups are probably my favorite exercise to do because of how effective they are for your arms, chest, core, shoulders, and back. The trick is to make sure and do them in the correct form, else you risk injuring your back.
At first, my goal was to do three sets of 20 push-ups. I was so out of shape that I did 20, 15, and finally 13. The second day I was at 20, 20, and 15. The third day I pushed myself to 20, 20, and 22!
I know 20 push-ups sounds easy, but after a long period of time with no intense physical activity, they are much more to take on than you anticipate.
Now, after two and a half months, I can do 20 normal push-ups easily, with me advancing to do three sets of 35. I even timed myself to see how many I could complete in 60 seconds, and I managed to get 50 push-ups in that time frame! My goal is 60 in 60 seconds by the end of the month.
Most people think of walking lunges, but I tend to do stationary lunges. With limited room to walk back and forth, this is a much easier way to complete the exercise.
I never really had any trouble doing these until I progressed to jumping lunges, but that is a whole separate topic I will post about at a later date (a la Advanced Bodyweight Exercises).
4. Prison Squats
Prison squats are squats done with your hands placed behind your head. Next to the jumping jacks, this was probably one ofthe easier exercises for me to comlpete. My goal was to do three sets of 20 squats, but instantly realized that was way too easy, so I pushed it up to three sets of 30.
There are so many variations of crunches, and I have done quite a few of them, but the one I started out with was the basic crunch. It is not as challenging as the other forms, but it is a good starting point for core training.
My first day I did three sets of 40 crunches, which was right on target for what I needed.
Planks were new to me, and I was really surprised at how tough they were. I really felt the burn after each workout from these. They focus almost ocmpletely on the core, but I also felt them working out my calves and shoulders.
My starting day I opened up with three sets of 45 seconds. I barely made it to 45 the first set. The second set I collapsed at 35 seconds. I got back up and completed the last 10. The last set I made 30 seconds and could not finish.
By the end of the week, I was able to complete all three sets for the full 45 seconds, but was definitely struggling with the last set.
Pull-ups are still the only exercise that I cannot complete my sets. I orignally began with a goal of three sets of 15 pull-ups, and managed to do three, two, and two. That is just sad, but this is the exercise that most people have difficulty doing. I had to substitute a dumbell overhead press to finish my sets of 15, because they closely resemble pull-ups and the muscle groups used are almost the same.
Now, I can do sets of eight, seven, and seven. That is not nearly the progress I had hoped for, but each week I am trying to add one more pull-up to each set.
Pull-ups are phenomenal for the biceps, shoulders, core and back muscles. The trick to doing more reps is to just keep doing them, pushing yourself to get one more completed each time.
8. Chair dips
Here, I actually am to use a prop. Chair dips are easily done with, you guessed it, a chair. I have a small workout bench, so I used that instead so I did not have to leave the room I was working out in.
These were relatively easy, but I really felt the burn in my triceps. Starting out, I completed three sets of 15, and by the next week I was doing three sets of 25.
9. Calf Raises
Another exercise that requires a 'prop'. You can use anything from a step stool to stairs to an extra 2x4 lying in the garage. I opt for the stairs because it is just a little bit more challenging and my heels never hit the ground below me.
First day I was able to complete three sets of 20 easily, but definitely felt it in my calves later on.
I always finished my workouts with burpees, as they took the most out of me. This is a full body workout, and although I completed each set, the quickness at which I completed each rep got slower and slower.
On the first day, I started with three sets of 20 burpees. Being out of shape, it was tough to complete these, especially after doing all the other bodyweight exercises first. But at the end of the week, I was already in better shape, and was able to complete all the sets with much less difficulty.
Make Bodyweight Exercises Tougher
After the first two weeks of doing bodyweight exercises, I got used to the amount of work for each workout. The exercises were becoming less difficult, so I altered a few of them to make them more challenging. I added jump squats, jump lunges, and explosive push-ups. Even those became obsolete, so now I wear a weighted backpack (about 20 pounds) with all my bodyweight exercises. Definitely adds some 'oomph' to my workouts!
Each Week's Routine Gets Harder
With each new week the workouts got harder and I had to push myself further. It was just crazy how much I could accomplish in such a short period of time!
There were times that I really had to push myself and think of my motivation, my baby girl and my wife, and that pulled me through.
I was seeing results from week one. I lost a steady 3 pounds each week. By week 8 I had already lost all my weight! I was shocked. I still had 8 more weeks to go through the program. I continued all the way through week 14, at which point I started customizing my own workouts. At that point, I felt I had learned enough about my body and my limits to push myself as hard as possible.
The key thing to remember when working out is to focus on ALL muscle groups. This ensures that every bit of your body is working hard to burn fat. Focusing one one area, such as just your legs, or just your abs, will get you nowhere. Sure that area may be stronger, but you won't be burning fat.
Doing 1000 crunches a day won't get you a six pack if you aren't working out the rest of your body as well. To burn away that stubborn belly chub, you have to do a complete workout, in addition to core exercises. The muscles in your body need to work extra hard to repair and build themselves, and only that will allow the muscles to pull extra energy by burning fat from those hard to melt places.
From Me to You
Again, these are my results!
This is hard, and it's a challenge. But it is SO worth it. I feel better than I have in almost 5 years, I am in shape, I am stronger, and I look so much better! My stomach is gone, you can see my abs now, I have that V at my waist that all guys want, and my face is much thinner!
People always are shocked to hear how much weight I lost, but then I tell them how much I weighed and they couldn't believe it. I guess I hid it well.
This works, I promise, you just have to set your mind to it and follow through. Don't give up, because the work ethic you create will deliver results.
Some weeks may be better than others, and some weeks may be worse, but keep your goal in sight. Setbacks happen, so just rekindle your focus and plow right through.
Any questions about what I did, feel free to email me at Khordaddy@gmail.com!