25 Health & Weight Loss Tips From A Former Fat Guy. I Need Them More Than Ever

After my last post, I was all pumped up to write the next, revealing tips and advice on how I lost a bunch of weight when I was younger, and how I have managed to maintain my good health since then.

I started the draft of the post, doing my outline and taking notes, thinking of what a great piece of writing it would be, and how it could help. On the Friday before Columbus Day, I received a mail packet from my physician with the results of a recent blood test.

Briefly, some of my test results were less than optimal. My blood glucose levels were on the high side, but that wasn’t the number that set off the alarms. I had a triglyceride reading of 472. Above 500 is something my doctor refers to as “dangerously high”.

To say I was bummed by this would be an understatement. I was shocked, frankly. I thought I was living the right kind of life, that would keep me healthy. But, I wasn’t really living it at all. I definitely got more than a little mad at myself for this. And my ambition to write the next post was a little deflated.

For those that are unfamiliar with triglycerides, just think “fatty acids in your blood”. An overabundance of them puts you at risk for heart disease. Factors like a diet excessive in carbohydrates and alcohol use can raise your triglyceride level.

Apparently, the “party all weekend” mentality has caught up with me.  🙂

To lower these numbers, my doctor wanted to put me on a low dose prescription medication. I think I’m going to hold off on that for now, and try lifestyle change instead. Modifying my diet, as well as stepping it up with daily exercise.

After some consideration, I’ve decided to go through with the original post idea (it was meant to be part two of this previous post), although part of me feels that I’m obviously not the expert on living a healthy life. But, I have lost a ton of weight before, and I can keep this info in front of my face and make myself healthier by sharing with others. A win-win.

I don’t have a problem going this route now, as starting to change my eating and activity  habits seems to be working for me. Last week, I weighed in a 206.5 lbs. This week I’m at 203.

Here’s my two cents on what helped me lose weight in the past, and what will hopefully get me back to better health now:

  • Eat healthy foods that you actually enjoy eating.
  • For me, this includes fruits like apples and bananas, eggs, chicken breast, turkey, and green veggies cooked with garlic and olive oil.
  • Go for natural foods every time, not stuff in a box.
  • Just because the box has words like “lean” and “healthy” on it doesn’t make it so
  • In other words, be wary of food marketing. Educate yourself.
  • Eat only pastas that end in the letter “i”  🙂
  • Exercise. Your first move: push the plate away.
  • Moderation, in all things, is the key.
  • Avoid drive-through windows like the poison center they are.
  • If you must do the drive-through, get the salad.
  • Salads don’t mean “boring eating”. You can add to them with lean proteins, nuts,  and berries to make them filling and tasty. Just no fatty dressings.
  • Track your meals for a week. You might be surprised what you put in your body.
  • Pick a “cheat day”. Mine is Sunday.
  • On that day, have yourself some pizza and ice cream.
  • Just don’t eat a whole pizza and a gallon of ice cream.
  • Use the stairs. Leave the elevators for the elderly and the handicapped.
  • Exercise. Try walking. You have all the equipment you need.
  • Eat sweet potatoes instead of white.
  • By the way, have I mentioned fruits and veggies?
  • I’ve cut just about all sugar out of my diet. You can reduce it too.
  • I’ve eliminated white flour. This is poison too. Whole grains only.
  • Ask yourself: Would a caveman have eaten this?
  • Cavemen ate meat they killed and plants that grew on trees or in the ground. They didn’t have Pringles and Doritos back then.
  • Consume alcohol moderately, or not at all. Red wine is a good choice if you must.
  • Exercise. My doctor’s letter practically screamed the word “aerobic” at me. I’m running now. For my life.

Bonus Tip: Exercise some more. Make it fun! Since I’ve gotten those test results, I’ve walked, jogged, sprinted with my dog, played touch football with my son and his friend, did jumping jacks, and calisthenics. I jumped rope last night for the first time in years. Wanna sweat? Try jumping rope for 15 or 20 minutes. I had a blast!

What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments, I can use all the help I can get!

Hi, My Name Is Joe. And I’m Addicted To Food.

My wife and I indulge in a guilty pleasure each morning before we leave for work. Nope, it’s not what you’re thinking. This little slice of sin that we partake of is seeing what senseless drivel NBC is promoting on the TODAY Show.

I will give credit when it is due. At times, the show will have a story that is riveting and inspiring, like the one about the late Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn. But, for the most part, I think a lot of what TODAY offers is, to be kind, less than stellar.

It’s like that train wreck that you shouldn’t look at, but you can’t turn away.

What the show seems to specialize in is turning the spotlight on people who do things that are stupid and/or detrimental to their lives, and then refuse to take responsibility for it. For that, you get the reward of an interview with Matt and Ann.

One of this week’s features was “food addiction”. You know, the type of addiction that happens with drugs and alcohol, but with burgers and fries instead.

It was, in a word, awesome. It detailed the life story of a woman who said she tried all kinds of diets, and always struggled with certain types of food. She was addicted to it. She finally opted for surgery as a last resort to lose weight. No mention of attempting a  healthy lifestyle, vegetables, walking, exercise, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Just diets (which ultimately fail: lifestyle change = success) and surgery.

I will say, I did empathize. Because I think I’m addicted too.

You heard me right. My name is Joe. And I may have a food addiction.

My drug of choice is Italian food. When I’m not eating it, I’m talking about it with a friend or a co-worker. If I’m not talking about it, I’m probably thinking about it. Or I’m watching my wife cook it. Sometimes, I cook it. I’ve just begun, within the last couple of years, to take a serious interest in what happens in the kitchen. And I’m not bad at it.

I make a mean tomato sauce. And I do some other things very well too.

Yup, say words like marinara, carbonara, puttanesca, cannoli…you may as well be on a street corner, whispering “Hey, pal…you want some of this?”

We all have our issues. I’ve certainly had my struggles with food. When I was a kid, I was the pudgy pre-teen that was an easy target for the occasional cruel comment or joke. I did what I needed to do, taking responsibility for myself, to take that weight off. Back then, I used inspiration from Sly Stallone’s breakthrough project to possibly save my life.

Back when I was a kid, there was no such thing as a frivolous lawsuit against a restaurant you thought made you fat because they put a gun against your head and forced you to super size the fries. Nope, that phrase “personal responsibility” reared its ugly head.

Almost one in three people are obese at this point in our country, and there seems to be some confusion as to why it happens, and what can be done about it. In the battle for the title of most obese nation, America’s the champ. Were number one…

Although weight loss tips may not apply to everybody (read: don’t post an angry comment here on how your glands don’t allow you to lose weight–I’m covering all my bases), some very simple but time tested principles will always work when trying to drop some lbs and get in better shape.

Want some tips from a former fat guy on how to lose weight and keep it off? Sweet. Stop by for the next post to get the “skinny” 🙂 To make sure you don’t miss it, just subscribe already. I won’t spam you, offer you a free e-book (yet), or try to sell you anything other than the advantages of putting some Old School principles into your hectic, short attention span, modern life.

My grandmother and grandfather showed them to me. So I know they’re right.

Like this post? Tweet me. Share with your friends. Facebook is good. Do the right thing.

ItalianAmerican: Sylvester Stallone

88th Annual Academy Awards -Arrivals
The 88th Annual Academy Awards Arrivals Featuring: Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Flavin Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 28 Feb 2016 Credit: Apega/WENN.com

Since the mid 1970’s, Sylvester Stallone has been my definition of the term American Idol.  As writer, actor, and director of some of the most famous franchises in the film industry, he has been nothing less than an Italian American inspiration.

He has inspired me for many years. In a previous post, I wrote how the original Rocky, the movie that was his breakthrough project, was also important in the life of  a particular socially awkward pre-teen.

With this inspirational movie as my training catalyst, I went from an overweight introvert destined for a life of sloth and obesity, to a young man that could do miles of running with ease, and, if needed,  physically eject uncooperative patrons from my family’s bar/restaurant.

Stallone kicked ass, and he showed me how to do it, too.

Again…thank you Mr. Stallone.

“I think everyone has a certain kind of formula in their life. When you deviate from that formula, you’re going to fail big or you’re gonna win big.”

“I believe there’s an inner power that makes winners or losers. And the winners are the ones who really listen to the truth of their hearts.”

“I have great expectations for the future, because the past was highly overrated.”

“Once in one’s life, for one mortal moment, one must make a grab for immortality; if not, one has not lived.”

“Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure.”

The “Stallone Effect:” A Rocky Road to Weight Loss

I can imagine in this modern day, it is not easy to be the fat kid in class.

Stallone with my favorite exercise equipment: the heavy bag

I remember it well, as I was that kid. It was years ago, in elementary and middle school, but I was once the fat guy. Chunky. Overweight, whatever you prefer to call it.

I empathize with today’s modern kid because even if you want to lose weight, there is temptation everywhere. Fatty foods, high carbs, sweets, sugar in everything…it seems worse now than when I was young.

It’s challenging to be overweight when you grow up Italian American as well. Although I’ve mentioned before that my grandmother cooked me a lot of great meals that were heavy on the vegetables, I also ate a lot of things that could potentially put on some weight.

I’m talking meats, rich sauces, sweets and pastries galore.

As much as I loved my veggies, meatballs and manicotti were likely to be on any menu as well.

If there was a cannoli in the room, chances are I would eat it.

Things were also made a little more difficult attending middle school at a military academy.  With the extra weight, I obviously did not look the part of a polished cadet. Among the sharp creases, perfect shoes, and shiny belt buckles, you stand out from the crowd when your stomach flops over that belt buckle.

I have to admit, when I finally decided to make some changes to take weight off, it wasn’t  for any health reasons. I was too young to think that way. I just wanted to get those rotten kids in school off of my back.

Although I wanted to make some strides in taking off some weight, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. I had little knowledge about health and fitness, and even less inspiration and motivation.

Then my inspiration hit me, square in the face, while sitting in a movie theater.

Rocky.

For anyone unfamiliar with this mid 70’s classic, Rocky is the not so improbable story of a boxer with slightly less than average fighting talent, living in near poverty, who is randomly chosen in a 4th of July marketing ploy to fight the world heavyweight champion.

In the movie, the fight scenes are dramatic, the acting crisp, and the training montages, where Rocky prepares for his big night, are inspirational. For me, very inspirational.

Can you picture the face of a young kid, watching Star Wars for the first time, or some great animation, staring at a movie screen with eyes wide, his mouth agape? That was me while I was watching Rocky, as he trained by climbing the summit of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or pounding a side of beef posing as a heavy bag in a desolate freezer.

He transformed himself from a washed up, out of shape fighter, to a lean physical specimen that was a whisper from calling himself champion. I had my answers.

After seeing the movie, I ran circles around my neighborhood. Running became a top priority in my life. I learned to use a heavy bag, worked around my awkward attempts at jumping rope, and although I never aspired to do the one handed push-up that Rocky did in the movie, I became pretty good at the two handed version.

Rocky was Sylvester Stallone’s baby. He wrote the script and played the lead in what was to be the breakthrough moment of his life. And I can’t thank him enough for it. It also wound up being a breakthrough moment in my life.

Fueled by the motivation I had gotten from the movie, I worked for months to shed pounds and get fit, and it was a success. I don’t know exactly how much weight I came off, as I lost track after the first 20-25 pounds.

By the time I was 15-16 years old, I was in pretty good shape. And I stayed that way. When I met my wife years later (I was 30), I was 6’1″ and 170 pounds, with a 32 inch waist.

I’m not in that kind of shape now, I confess I am a little heavier. But as far as I can see, Stallone still looks fantastic physically, now in his 70s!! Knowing that, maybe it’s time for me to recommit to the roadwork, the heavy bag, and the sit ups.

Yo Rocky…how ’bout a rematch?