Thursday, June 30, 2011

20 Pounds Lost!

Despite beginning my four week stay living in a dorm, I've now lost over twenty pounds. Because I'm working at this summer camp, I attended my first Weight Watchers' meeting without Stacey. The funny thing is we were both texting each other during our respective WW meetings -- she in Carrollton and me in Denton.

One of the things I've found myself doing is making the process a game. I strive to maximize my point usage, including snacks. I've not been afraid to use every point I'm allocated for the day, but I continue to work on making smart choices. This has meant adapting my snack habits.  I realized today, when I shared in the meeting about what has been working for me, that one of the problems with weight loss is that very few "experts," including doctors, give specific practical advice. I have found that the WW meetings do.

One specific practice that I believe has significantly helped in my weight loss is taking a look at my food choices and replacing some with healthier alternatives. For example, my morning ritual used to include two Pop Tarts with my morning espresso. I've loved Pop Tarts as far back as I can remember. The point totals for Pop Tarts (translate that into calories or added pounds) is the equivalent to a large breakfast.  To make matters even worse, I often ate two more Pop Tarts with my afternoon coffee. Now I have discovered VitaTops as a healthy replacement. Essentially these are muffin tops. Eating these reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine's old boss has opened a muffin shop. To make it a complete breakfast, I also have a bowl of oatmeal and add three slices of lean center cut bacon for protein. If I want to go low on points, I can eat the Vita Top and then make a one egg English muffin with Canadian bacon and some Laughing Cow cheese. Stacey currently makes those for me before she leaves for work and then I warm them up in the toaster oven.

More recently at lunch, I have stopped using mayonnaise with my turkey sandwiches and replaced it with spicy mustard. I could use a low calorie mayo, but even that costs a point or two. My view is that I would rather spend that point on something more substantive than a teaspoon of spread. It's this perspective that has made WW intuitively work for me. I liken it to being on a cash only budget. When you are out of cash, you can't spend any more. Like that cash budget, you can also set aside points and splurge when you want to. I can plan to have a Pop Tart or even pizza if I like.

One of the interesting observations I have discovered about weight loss is that you can see the change on the scale but you don't necessarily see the change in the mirror. Not because you haven't gotten smaller, but because you see yourself everyday. One other way of tracking success is measuring inches. I have not done that. Instead, I have "measured" the weight loss in the clothing I can now wear. Yesterday I wore a pair of shorts that have not fit me in nearly three years.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, June 27, 2011

Top Ten Things Thankful for While at Summer Camp

I am one of the many high school teachers who works during his so-called summer vacation to earn a little bit extra. I'm fortunate to be one of the debate coaches able to work at a debate summer camp. Every year about this time, I spend four weeks living in a dorm with over 200 hundred high school students. I am the Assistant Director of Residential life, or better known as the Dorm Dad.

While earning the extra money is great, the four months can be trying. I am accustomed to sleeping in a plush king size bed. Here I sleep on a twin bed without a box spring which takes some adjustment. Then there's the dorm food. (I've long bypassed this by bringing food for breakfast and lunch). The hours are crazy and it's nearly impossible to maintain any semblance of a healthy sleep schedule because we alternate office and on call hours.

Last night, I was thinking -- despite some of the relative hardships -- there are a few things for which I am thankful. Here is my Top 10 List of things I am thankful for during summer camp:

10. Taco Cabana - This fast food Mexican restaurant has one of the best nutritional guides for a fast food joint  and it has some healthy choices at affordable prices. I particularly like their build-your-own taco bowls. 
9. Better Oats - This is a nifty way to eat oatmeal daily. The packaging pouch also acts as a measuring cup for water. A pouch of water added to the contents in a paper bowl, nuked for 2 minutes and I have a hearty and healthy bowl of oatmeal.
8. Poncho Liner - I don't know what it is, but even as warm as the dorms get, I can't sleep without some sort of cover. The US Army poncho liner I received when I went through boot camp in 1984 still serves me well. This is the best piece of equipment I was ever issued in the Army. It is light weight and keeps you warm enough during fall, but it's light enough not to heat you up during the summer.
7. APOGEE WiFi - The wifi in the dorms has been nothing short of excellent. Even when the students return from lab and you know they are all doing research, the speed remains fast. This has enabled me to continue to blog, track foods on Weight Watchers, surf and watch online videos.
6. Handbrake - This freeware software allowed me to rip DVD's of movies and TV series like Seinfeld and Friends we own. While there is some debate about whether or not this fair use under the law, my personal opinion is that a person should be able to convert DVD's he purchased into a more mobile format. Being able to "handbrake" those movies onto my hard drive saved me from having to lug all those DVD's to camp and risk losing them in the process.
5. Netflix - While I am at camp, I really do cut the cord. The last thing I want to do is lug around something as big as a TV. Netflix, especially the iPad/iPhone app, has allowed me to watch movies and TV shows (I'm stuck on Scrubs right now) while I am eating a meal or when I am winding down at night (or early morning).
4. iPad - This will be my first year at the camp with our iPad. The biggest advantage I've gained from having it with me is that I can leave my laptop in my room when I have duty. I can use the iPad to check mail, review roster lists on Dropbox or read a book while I have office duty. I also use it to watch Netflix when I am going to bed.
3. King of Fans - Over the years I have worked at this summer camp, my biggest complaint has been the temperature in the rooms. Admittedly I like it cold so I am setting myself up for disappointment, especially when temps can hit 100 n the Texas summer. This year, I brought my super velocity King of Fans and I am very comfortable.
2. Close to Home - Now we can't take advantage of this all the time, but I do like the close proximity to home. It's about a 25 minute drive between the camp and our house. This means, Stacey can come and have dinner with me at least one night a week. It also means if I have forgotten to bring something she can bring it to me more easily. Recently, Denton opened its train system. I am tempted to try taking the train home once while I am here.
1. Gmail Video Chat - The one thing that helps keep me sane is the ability to video chat with Stacey every night before she goes to bed. It makes it seem like I am not really away from home. I also like the fact that I can see and "talk" to my puppies: Calvin and Hobbes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night...

The new Green Lantern movie opens today at theaters across the land. The story is about a test pilot, Hal Jordan, played by Ryan Reynolds, who encounters a dying alien who gives him a magical ring. Accepting ring, enjoins him to an intergalactic group of super beings. The movie is based in part on the Emerald Dawn story arc.

The early reviews are not good. The consistent theme of the write ups is that the movie spends too much time filling in the back story of the character. Others say the special effects are solid.

I must admit I have a bias against DC, being a Marvel-Man myself. Nevertheless, it seems DC can't hit a winner with any of its comic based movies that do not have Dark Knight in the title.

Stacey and I are fans of Ryan Reynolds so we will probably catch it later in the summer. If you want to watch an under-rated movie starring Ryan Reynolds, catch Chaos Theory available to stream on Netflix.