Apr 262012
My Fitbit Ultra

This is the fifth and last post of my opening post series about my struggles losing weight, and my journey to where I am now.

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

On February 18th, 2012, I purchased my Fitbit Ultra. (I got the blue one, mostly because blue is my favorite color.  Oh, and I’m a guy.)

My Fitbit Ultra

My Fitbit Ultra

A week before that, I had never even heard of it.

My boss, who is in the middle of an incredible weight loss journey himself, is a gadget guy. He buys all sorts of gadgets, and new electronic thingamajigs all the time. One day I was in his office, and he showed me his latest purchase, the Fitbit Ultra.

He started explaining how it was basically a pedometer with a ton of other features. I had had some experience with a pedometer a few years before, when our company was using a program in conjunction with our health insurance. The program basically gave you a pedometer to use, to be healthy. It didn’t count steps, I’m not really sure what it counted to be honest. A good day was like an 11. At any rate, I didn’t use it for very long. Looking back on it, it might have been more successful for me if the number had some sort of context that I could match up with my effort.

Back to the main story. My boss showed me the neat things that the Fitbit Ultra could do. It could track steps, mileage, stairs climbed, and calories burned. It could give me little motivational messages, and it could show my current activity level. He had spent over a year losing a very significant amount of weight, and he was as giddy as a child with a new toy when he was explaining this to me.

My interest was already piqued. Then he hit me with the next shot. Not only does it track all of these things on the device itself, but it uploads them to a website where you can set goals, keep track of your history, see your progress, and many other things.

It’s like a pedometer on crack.

Alarm bells went off inside my head. I felt faint. THIS is what I was looking for. THIS is what is going to help me lose weight. THIS is my savior.

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. That’s really how I felt. There are few things I love more in this world than statistics. My love of statistics is what drives my passion for sports. My love of statistics is what got me into programming. This little device was the perfect motivation for me. I could see my stats in real time, and align them with the goals I set.

I went out and bought my Fitbit Ultra from Best Buy. I had to search a few stores in order to find it, apparently only some of the stores carry it.

I read or heard somewhere that the average person takes about 5000 steps per day. I did a baseline test, and checked how many steps I took in an average work day. It was 2000 to 3500.

I decided to check my weight the next morning, and start on this thing for real.

I almost cried when I saw it.  I weighed 297, with no clothes on.  Are you freaking kidding me? I was beyond ridiculous.

I started out slowly. I decided I’d start with aiming for 4,000 steps per day, and increase it each week by 1000 steps per day.

The first couple of days, I could barely walk. I was so far out of shape that I had to work my behind off just to get back to ‘out of shape’. After about a week, my feet were blistered so bad that I almost quit. It was not easy moving this much weight that far, but I knew I had to do it. When I got to 7,000 steps per day, I couldn’t even comprehend how I could get to 10,000. Set a goal, aim for the goal, reach the goal. It sounded simple in my head, but it was very difficult in practice.

I look at weight loss like a struggle, I’m not sure if I’ll ever beat it. I’m going to give it my best, but I’m going to need to use every ounce of inspiration, motivation and accountability that I can in order to get there.

Today is April 25th, 2012. I’m down 17 pounds, and I am hitting 10,000 steps on my Fitbit Ultra every single day and have been for a few weeks. I picked 10,000 as a number to shoot for as a plateau, because it seemed like a ridiculously lofty goal at the time. When I started, I couldn’t climb a simple set of stairs. I plan to start increasing my steps again soon, but right now with everything going on in my life, it’s definitely a challenge to fit in time for the steps I already need to take.

I’ll be posting about things that help me down the path to a healthier, fitter, not-dead, me. I’ll be posting about the tools I use that help me, stats on how I’m doing,  and more failures if I have any. It’s going to be a very long road, but I’m going to try to be in it until the end.

If I help some people along the way, that would be great. If other people help and inspire me along the way, that will be great too.

I look forward to this journey.

What motivates you to lose weight? What is your accountability?



 April 26, 2012  Posted by  Tagged with: , , ,  7 Responses »
Apr 182012

This is the third in a multiple post series. To start at the beginning, click here.

My second failure is a deeply personal one. I’m ashamed of it, because I had all of the correct motivations in place, but in order for me to truly be on the correct path of weight loss, I need to get it off of my chest.

In early 2010, both of my sons were starting spring baseball. Ben was in his third year, and Alex was about to begin his very first year of baseball. We were friends with the people that ran the league, and at one of Ben’s practices they came up to us and said there was an opening on the 5-6 year old team, and Alex could play at four years old if we wanted him to.

We decided we’d probably want him to play, but we’d like to meet the coach.  We met Coach Duane, and he seemed like a really great guy. He had a son on Ben’s team and a son on his own team as well. Alex really took a shining to him, and would constantly talk about how much he liked his coach. He even talked talked to him on the field when he should have been paying attention to the batter.

Coach Duane was the kind of guy that loved to be around kids, and enjoyed teaching them things. He was always having fun with the kids on the team, and some of the parents as well.

About halfway through the season, on June 3, 2010, Coach Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Having to explain death, and funerals and all of the various things involved to a four year old was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

In the days that followed, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This guy was younger than me and he was dead. He left behind two small children that would grow up without a father. *I* had two small children. I was more at risk every single day than Duane was. I could die at any second because I let myself get to this ridiculous point. I was intentionally putting my children at risk of growing up without a father. I was intentionally ignoring my health.

I decided on June 4, 2010 that I was going to lose weight (again).

I started this failure at around 275 pounds. I decided that the reasons I failed last time were not going to derail me this time. I did not sign up for a gym membership. I did not start any exercise, reasoning that I would add it later, after I had the diet portion under control.

It seemed like a pretty good plan. I began to eat oatmeal for breakfast, a grilled chicken breast and mixed vegetables for lunch, and a grilled chicken breast for dinner. I lost some weight to start, and everything was going fine. We visited my brother and sister-in-law over the 4th of July weekend and I shared my plan to them. My brother confided that he and his wife had been worried about me for a while, and had realized the full extent of my fatness/laziness the previous Christmas when I wasn’t able to follow my kids up a very small hill while sledding. I told them that this time was different. I said I didn’t care how fast the weight came off because I had the proper motivation. I felt supremely confident. I even posted on Facebook that I was losing weight, and that definitely wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. I tend to shy away from things that could cause me embarrassment. I usually stop doing things after a while, and I hoped that exposing myself in this way on Facebook would help with accountability. It did in the short term, I got lots of encouraging posts. I posted a ‘before’ picture. Everything was humming along.

I plateaued at about 20 pounds lost. When this happened, my plan had been to start doing exercise. I was tired all of the time, so I never really got into the exercise. Pretty soon the diet started slipping. I would stop for a cheat day, or a cheat weekend, or a holiday. It unraveled pretty fast.

As I said earlier, I’m deeply ashamed of this, because I had the right motivation: My children. If I were to die before this process is over, if were to I die before I lose the weight and increase my overall health, if I were to die and leave my children fatherless, not completing this task would be the greatest regret of my life.

What I didn’t have, was the right accountability (among a few other things). Sure, I timidly put myself out there on Facebook to some people who know me well, but that’s about it. I had a plan and I didn’t execute it properly.

For a long time after this, I was pretty down about it. I don’t think I was depressed, but I sure felt bad that I failed. As a matter of fact, the failure hurt so bad that I was pretty confident at that point that I’d never try to lose weight again. I reasoned that it didn’t matter if I started or not, I was going to fail, so why try? I’ll just take my ball and go home. And die. In a corner. From a heart attack.

I kept that attitude for quite a long time, and I believe it did quite a bit of damage to me.

To find out how I turn my life around, read the next post in this series, Losing weight: Starting the new me.

What about you?  Are you ashamed of your failures in weight loss?  Are you ready to change?





 April 18, 2012  Posted by  Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »