Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Make The Trend Your Friend

There’s an old saying, “The trend is your friend”. I’m not sure where, when or how this saying originated but it is probably related to Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of physics: “Every object continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless compelled to change that state by external forces acted upon it.”

When applied to weight loss and health enhancement, I find the law to be applicable, because our state is a result of our behavior, and our behavior is largely a result of habits. Until we are compelled to change our habits, our behaviors won’t change and our state (health, weight) won’t change.

We’ve all run into someone we haven’t seen in a while and heard “you haven’t changed a bit”. Sometimes they’re being kind, and sometimes they’re pretty accurate. Because we experience most of the changes in our lives in increments too small to easily observe, we need an objective external measure to provide a true reflection.

One of the measures important to this stage of my journey is my weight. I know, its just a number. An arbitrary number at that, and only one of many that need to be understood in relation to each other in order to have a good picture. But it is a number that is easily obtained and whose history is easy visualized. And, for this stage in my journey, its a pretty good measure of progress. So, I track it.

Since most of us are impatient creatures, it is important to look at the short term. So, I pay attention to today’s weight, and the default view on Lose It! is a week. Over the past week, I’ve done well, as you can see below:

Its also important to look at the long term, in order to understand where we’ve come from, and whether we’re heading in the right direction overall. A one year trend helps with this:

Hmmm, as you can see, I’ve made significant progress over the past year and things appear to have been “stalled” for approximately the past 6 months. With the data, I can look at various ranges to see what was going on with varying levels of detail. For example, look at the past month, which shows a disturbing pattern…


Looking at the past three months exposes an even more disturbing trend:

I’ve got to admit it is awfully tempting to look at those lines and note that low and high weights in the range are separated by less than five pounds. I know I’ve said it before, some days I feel like I pee more than 5 pounds away in one trip to the necessary room. Not a big deal, right?

Well, I need it to be a big deal. If every time I gain a few pounds in some social celebration the new high is a bit higher than the last one, and every interim low between highs is a little bit less low than the last one, the ultimate trend is not in the direction I want it to go. This needs to stop and it needs to stop now. My task this week is to make sure the second half of Newton’s law applies to continue this week’s downward trend. I’m following my program and there’s no social celebrations coming up until 7/4. I need to build the momentum and roll through the 4th without a “social celebration bump”.

Are you with me? Make the trend your friend!

Hope Dies Hard

One year ago today, I started using the web site to change my life. Right up front, I need to thank my lovely wife Teresa for recognizing Lose It! as something I might be interested in. She sensed I wanted to change, knew I had tried a few things that weren’t getting the results I was hoping for and realized this site had potential to work for me.

The Lose It community – Lose It is way more than a web site or a smart phone app – has many facets. One is a series of “badges” for successes. Some of them seem rather random, others clearly designed to help motivate toward a specific goal. Today I achieved the goal of logging daily for 52 continuous weeks, and earned the “Die Hard” badge.

LoseIt! Die Hard badge for 52 weeks of continuous daily logging

One of the many things I have learned is that for me to be successful as I adopt a healthier lifestyle is that I seem to have a poor (or maybe just selective) memory regarding what I eat and drink. In fact, I just realized I forgot to log the orange juice I had with breakfast and jumped online to do so before I have an extra serving of something later thinking I have an extra 167 calories in my daily plan. The Lose It tool which helps those of us with a problematic memory is logging. And, to help develop the habit of logging, Lose It awards badges:

  • 3 days: Keep It Up
  • 2 weeks: Regular
  • 4 weeks: Dedicated
  • 8 weeks: Committed
  • 24 weeks: Hardcore
  • 52 weeks: Die Hard

I get it, and I got it. Its displayed proudly with the others on my Lose It profile page, and above for anyone who ventures here to see.

When I first joined Westwood Health & Fitness, I had a simple goal…enhance my cardio capabilities enough to survive a High Adventure week at the BSA National Sea Base with my son Matt and other scouts and dads from Troop 24. Goal achieved, and we had a great time. Fast forward a while to spring 2011. I had a goal to lose 21 pounds so I could ride the zipline at Utah’s Olympic Park on our vacation in June 2011. After starting Lose It, I did lose 21 pounds, and I did ride the zipline. Then I wanted to be lose 26 pounds by our 26th wedding anniversary a few weeks later. Goal achieved.

Then I went out on a limb. Double or nothing so to speak. I hoped I could lose 52 pounds by my 52nd birthday, and began thinking about my long-term target weight. By that time, I had begun to realize that a number on the scale isn’t really much of a goal and doesn’t provide much satisfaction or motivation. Maybe that’s why I missed the 52 goal. In fact, I’m still trying to get past 45 pounds. It seems I’ve stalled here, gain a pound, lose it. Gain 2, lose 3. Gain another, lose 2. Gain 3, lose 1. Etc.

I mentioned that Lose It is a community. Anyone who is just using it on their smart phone (there are both iPhone and Android versions of the app available in addition to the web site) is missing the best part of Lose It, the community of friends. People who are there with you. Who have similar hopes and struggles. People who have similar goals and are working along side you to meet them. People who have made their goals and want to help others. People like Belle, who has made some incredible changes in her life, lost over 265 pounds and starts every day sharing a joke and ends every day sharing a motivational or inspirational quote. People like Cheri, who cheer *\o/* everyone on. A few family members who are getting healthier along with me, a few “real-life” friends, who joined after seeing my success. And people like Debi, who posted something really profound a few weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly ever since.

“If you really want something, you’ll make time for it. Otherwise you’ll make excuses” – Debi O.

That morning I had made a comment about it being too cold to ride my new bike and my schedule being too busy to get to the gym so I was just going to have to try to get some extra steps in that week. As I look back on the past 4.5 months – the time I’ve been “stalled” at my current weight – I can see I’ve made a lot of excuses. You may have even heard me make some of them.

  • I’m traveling this week and its hard to lose weight eating in hotel restaurants.
  • I’ve got meetings every night and won’t be able to get to the gym this week.
  • Its too cold/windy/rainy to ride my new bike.

This past weekend, I didn’t use any excuses. We went camping as planned even though the weather forecast was for overnight temperatures near/below freezing. And I took pictures of the snow on our tents and smiled. I hiked the west bluff trail at Devil’s Lake state park even though it was cold and rainy and my knee hurt.

Over the past year, I didn’t use any excuses about logging. If I was away from my computer, I made notes and logged when I got back. When I got an Android phone, I got the app and started logging wherever I was. I earned that Die Hard badge.

And, now, I’m setting my next target…I will have that 50 pound badge before the end of the month. No excuses.

What are you making excuses about in your life? Leave me a comment, or drop me an email if you’d rather talk about it privately. Stop making excuses. Stop hoping. Start doing. Start succeeding. Want to make some healthy changes in your life? Join me and Teresa and Sami and Jon and Belle and Cheri and Debi and over a million others on Lose It.

Friends Share

Good friends share good recipes. Here’s one of our favorites, Zesty Vegetable Enchiladas. Hope you enjoy them. Have a recipe you’d like to share with me?

 Zesty Vegetable Enchiladas

1 1/3 cups water
½ cup dry lentils
¼ teaspoon salt
8 – 6 inch flour tortillas
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 ½ teaspoon chili powder or ground cumin
6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese w/ Jalapeno peppers, shredded
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise & sliced
1 – 14 ½ oz. can chunky chili stewed tomatoes.
(note, I prefer to use a jar of medium salsa instead of the stewed tomatoes).

In medium saucepan – combine water, lentils & salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, simmer 20 min. or till tender. Drain w/ cold water. Set aside.

Meanwhile wrap tortillas and heat them for 10 minutes in oven heated to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 quart rectanglar baking dish with nonstick coating.

In a large skillet, stir-fry carrots & chili powder in hot oil about 2 minutes. Add zucchini, stir fry for 2-3 minutes or till crsisp-tender. (Add oil if/as necessary). Remove from heat. Stir in lentils, ½ of undrained stewed tomatoes (or salsa), and ½ of cheese.

Spoon veggie mixture onto tortillas, dividing evenly. Roll up tortillas, place seam side down in prepared dish. Cover w/ foil. Bake 8 min. Uncover and bake 7 – 12 min. or till heated through & tortillas are crisp.

In small saucepan heat remaining tomatoes, spoon over enchiladas. Top w/ remaining cheese; bake 1 min. or till melted.

Nutrition information (each):

473 cal.
20g. fat, 38 mg. chol.
22 g. protein
53 g. carbo,
7g. fiber,
762 mg. sodium.


54% calcium
34% iron,
117% vit. A,
35% vit.c,
18% thiamine,
29% riboflavin,
20% niacin

Life’s Not Fair

How many times did you hear that phrase as a kid? Awww, that’s not fair! Well, life’s not fair, you’ll have to get over it. Ever catch yourself saying it? Sure you do… If you know me you may know that I’ve been planning a trip to Peru with my wife and 20+ folks from our church. We will depart Friday 12/26, take a limo/bus to Chicago, fly to Miami then after a layover take the red-eye to Lima, Peru. Another layover to freshen up a bit and a local flight from Lima to Piura where we’ll be picked up by volunteers with pick up trucks and taken to Santisimo Sacramento, our “sister parish” and return to the frigid midwest a week later.

You’re right, this isn’t going to be your ordinary winter vacation. It will be warm and should be sunny. Piura is a desert area, with daytime highs around 95F and overnight lows around 70F. With the current Milwaukee temperatures, Piura weather sounds rather wonderful. So, what will we do in a desert? Anything the pastor needs us to do. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Distribute supplies, gifts, visit an orphanage, help build new thatched roofs for some of the “houses”, meet the families we support, go to church, visit, pray.

If you’ve seen me recently, you may have noticed I’m walking with more of a limp than usual. Early this month, I had two days of flu-like symptoms that turned out to be the onset of a nasty infection – cellulitis – in my left leg. I’ve been on a program of injected and oral antibiotics to kill the infection, a diuretic (sp?) to help reduce the swelling, culturel to combat one of the side effects of the antibiotics and a steady diet of Alleve to help with the pain, itching and swelling.

Last Thursday I saw the doctor again and there was good news “I think we’ve killed the infection” and bad news “like a war, after you’ve killed the enemy, there’s a lot of cleanup and rebuilding to do”. My leg has a number of open sores that need to heal and the real bad news is that I can’t go to Peru due to fears that the sores will get infected with no decent treatment options available.

Did I mention we’ve been planning this trip for a year? Paid for it months ago? This was my Birthday and Christmas present to Teresa, and her Birthday and Christmas present to me. Now I’ll be staying home. That’s not fair!

Well Steve, life’s not fair, deal with it. Fortunately American Airlines will let us change my ticket to our 14 year old son. Lan Peru is not so accommodating. They’ll let me use my Lima – Piura – Lima ticket some other time in the next six months and we had to buy a ticket for Matt. Ouch.

Matt was really looking forward to staying with some friends from his Scout troop. We think he’s really looking forward to Peru now. I asked him if he’d take my camera to take pictures for me. Wow…

Obviously God has some reason that Matt has to get to Peru or that I have to stay here. I wonder what’s in the plan? I wonder if we’ll recognize it when we see it? Will it be fair?