November 17, 2014

Portland in the Fall

Here are a few photos of Portland that were taken on a recent MAX light rail / OHSU aerial tram expedition led by my 12 year old son, Noah.

Tilikum Crossing from the east side, around sunset.

The view of downtown from the aerial tram.

Mt. Hood from the aerial tram.

Another shot of Tilikum Crossing, this one from around OMSI.

October 10, 2014

Before & After Photos

This is a repost from: The Glutton Free Diet

I never intended this weight loss blog to be an "oh look at me" kind of thing, but as my cousin, Ms. Tammy, pointed out in an email conversation, it might be helpful for those who stumble across my blog to see 'before' and 'after' photos. So here you are -- now you can see the difference between me at over 240 lbs., and me at just under 185 lbs. 

May these photos inspire someone to embark on their own journey of healthful living.

January 2011

October 2014

Most people say that they can really see the weight loss difference in my face, so I posted the close-up photos first. I believe that January 2011 was when I was at my absolute heaviest. I may not be quite as heavy in the following 'before' shot, but it's not too far off...

June 2009

October 2014

Now let's keep this journey going!

October 1, 2014

Glutton Free Diet: Risk Factors For Type 2 Diabetes

This is a repost from: The Glutton Free Diet

Before being told that I was pre-diabetic, I never gave a second thought to what the risk factors might be. In my mind, I was still fairly young and fit, and worrying about diabetes was the furthest thing from my mind. That diagnosis meant taking a crash course in learning what exactly type 2 diabetes was, and how I could prevent it...

I was involved with an online discussion today about what some of the causes of type 2 are, and was reminded how many misconceptions are out there. One person was asserting that the only thing that mattered in prevention of type 2 was eliminating virtually all sugars, starches, and carbohydrates from your diet. According to them, even whole grains were the enemy, and would contribute to blood glucose level spikes. Therefore, they suggested that everyone eat a highly restrictive low-carb diet, even to the point of eliminating complex carbohydrates -- something that goes a little too far, in my opinion .

I couldn't be too judgmental about that viewpoint, though; as it wasn't long ago that believed the same thing -- I thought that all I had to do was cut out carbs and everything would be OK. Well, it turns out that there's more to it than just that.

First, let's look at what type 2 diabetes is: Facts About Type 2

With type 2, either your body doesn't produce enough insulin on its own, or your body's cells ignore the insulin. When you eat starches and sugars, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is a basic fuel for the cells of your body. Insulin moves the glucose from the blood into the cells. If you aren't producing enough insulin on your own, or your body's cells are stressed to the point that they resist the insulin altogether, then you end up with excess glucose levels in your blood.

As noted in the link, having too much glucose in the blood can starve your cells for energy, and over time high glucose levels may harm your eyes, heart, kidneys, and nerves.

So, what exactly causes type 2 diabetes? Well, there are a number of risk factors involved, so it's difficult to say that any one thing causes it. The main risk factors include family history of type 2 diabetes, ethnicity (blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, or Asian Americans), body weight (obesity), low activity level, and age (40-45 and older).

Notice that carbohydrate intake is not part of that list. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't watch the amount of sugar you ingest, because obesity is still a major risk factor, and there are a lot of calories in simple sugars -- and if you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

It's obvious that there is a lot of misinformation out there about type 2, so the American Diabetes Association was nice enough to put together a fact sheet listing many myths about diabetes: Diabetes Myths

If you are concerned that you may be at risk for type 2 diabetes, the ADA also has a Risk Test that you can take. I took the test based on my current weight and activity level, and it put me at "low risk". But when I went back an entered my formerly obese weight and lower activity level into the test, it told me I was "high risk".

If you have more than one of the risk factors, and the risk test places you in the "high risk" range, it isn't too late to reverse the trend. Eat a balanced diet. Exercise. Burn more calories than you take in. Type 2 Diabetes doesn't have to be something that "happens to you" -- you can choose to make sure that you beat it before it beats you.

September 30, 2014

Glutton Free Diet: Dessert

This is a repost from The Glutton Free Diet

There's nothing that says eating a healthy diet has to be bland and boring. In fact, based on my own experience, an eating plan that doesn't allow any sort of fun is not going to be effective in the long run because it will soon grow tiresome.

It was not long ago that I [mistakenly] thought that I despised dark chocolate, but maybe that was because I just hadn't tried any good stuff. But after being told that I was "pre-diabetic", I knew I had to make a change, and Google searches indicated the lower sugar content in dark chocolate (when compared to milk chocolate) made it a reasonable dessert option for me.

Finally, I finally gave in and bought a Ghirardelli variety pack that included small squares of both 60% and 72% cacao, as well as truffle filled and salted caramel squares. Immediately I noticed complex flavors with both of the dark chocolate varieties, something I never got with milk chocolate.

What I was even more excited about was the calorie count. At 50 to 60 calories per square, I could eat two squares for dessert and get some intense chocolate flavor, all at a fraction of the calories present in a bowl of ice cream or a stack of chocolate chip cookies. On days when I didn't have many calories left, I could just eat one square.

I found during the summer months that fresh fruit made a great accompaniment to the dark chocolate -- strawberries, peaches, mangoes, etc; they were all good. Or, if I have been really good, a dark chocolate square set atop a small piece of brownie and microwaved for a few seconds is absolutely divine.

I had originally considered calling this blog "The Dark Chocolate Diet" before settling on "Glutton Free", because I felt that keeping some kind of dessert in my eating plan was so important to my successful results. This doesn't have to be all carrots and celery. You can, and should, have a little fun with it.

August 6, 2014

Glutton Free Diet: Caloric Intake

This is a repost from The Glutton Free Diet

On the most basic level, any weight loss or healthy living plan will only be effective if it enables you to burn more calories than you take in each day. You can choose any successful diet plan out there -- it doesn't matter what gimmick is used accomplish the weight loss, the reason for the weight loss is directly correlated to caloric intake.

How many calories each person needs each day is going to vary depending on a variety of factors including age, weight, height, activity level, etc. Luckily there are many online calculators out there that can estimate the amount of calories you need each day to accomplish your goal -- whether that goal is losing weight, or simply maintaining your current weight.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) Calculator: BMR Calc

The BMR calculator will give you an estimate of the amount of energy your body would expend if you basically just laid in bed all day. The online caloric intake calculators will use this BMR figure, along with your standard activity level, to determine approximately how many calories you need to consume to accomplish your goal. The following calculator will provide three different intake options: one for maintenance, one for fat loss, and one for 'extreme' fat loss.

Daily Caloric Intake Calculator

I have used both the standard "fat loss" and "extreme fat loss" figures in the past to determine my daily caloric "budget", and have found both to be effective. I currently use the standard calculation because I am in this for the long haul, and found the extreme option to be overly restrictive, and it was too tempting to binge after several days of limiting myself to 1500-1600 calories (especially when accompanied by regular exercise).

For maximum effectiveness, I suggest using a smartphone or iPod app that will track your calories for you -- some of them even have extensive food databases. I have had good luck with the free version of DailyBurn Tracker, and found the barcode scanner to be useful for many pre-packaged items that I consumed. A quick Google search for "Calorie Counter App" will tell you that there are many other options out there, too.

The idea of tracking every calorie you ingest may seem like a real bother, but it really helps you grasp the amount of calories in the different foods you eat, and eventually you may not even need to use the tracker. My daily eating schedule is routine enough that I no longer need to track with an app -- I know that I will have approx. 1000 calories available for dinner and dessert, so I will try to make appropriate choices when I fill up my plate. But if I hadn't spent time tracking every calorie, I wouldn't know that a piece of whole grain bread is going to have ~110 calories, or that a typical piece of pepperoni pizza is going to have ~300-350 calories.

No, this calorie counting thing isn't very glamorous or exciting, but it is effective, and it is part of the Glutton Free way.

August 4, 2014

Glutton Free Diet: Snack Time

Here is the link to my latest entry on The Glutton Free Diet: Afternoon Snack

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." — Matthew 19:14 NoahEmSillyBW.jpg

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