Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper

Oh my god. I love the new Dr. Pepper flavor. My sister hates it, but I tend to go for these off the wall type flavors (including the last Dr. Pepper creation - Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper).

In other news, I'm bored sitting here at home with nothing to do. I should probably start some USMLE Step 1 revision, but I can't seem to motivated to get my @$$ off my bed long enough for anything besides eating and going to the gym. If anyone has any recommendations as to how to pass the time, please send them my way :-D


Sunday, January 27, 2008

The 6 Month Mark - a.k.a. the "secret" to weight loss

Disclaimer: Any product endorsements written here are solely based on personal experience and preference. I have not been paid/bribed/bamboozled/hypnotized into writing anything, good or bad, about them, so yeah...

Today (January 27th, 2008) marks the 6 month anniversary of the day I turned my life around.

I was a 6'3", 280lbs (127kg/20 stone), and 29.1% body fat. I had always seemed to have been in denial about my weight - I always knew I was big (I was 10.5lbs at birth - and only went up from there), but I never really thought I "looked" it. My entire life, my parents had been on my case about my weight, always telling me to exercise (but also always feeding me so much), but I would never listen. I had high cholesterol (although I also have a bi-parental history) and my blood pressure was starting to look dangerous. This, as you may imagine, is not normal for a 19 year old boy. But even still, I wrote it off - I had always been happy being 'big', except of course when I would be out of breath and sweaty just from walking to class. I had tried to lose weight in the past, but like many, never succeeded.

Then, something seemingly small led to something big: on our family trip to the Dominican Republic, I wasn't allowed on the free horse ride because they had a 200lb (90kg/14.3 stone) limit. This didn't bother me at all, but when we got back to the hotel, my parents had a fit. When we returned home, my mom called a family friend who had worked with a personal trainer, and we called him. The next day, July 27th, 2007, was the day my life turned around - the day I started with my personal trainer at 24hour Fitness, my bodybugg, and my new life.

The dieting and the exercise started immediately, and is quite literally the "secret" to weight loss. It's simple math: Calories Out - Calories In = Weight Lost. I was introduced to the bodybugg, and while the price was a pretty steep deterrent, we decided to go for it. Basically, you wear the bodybugg on your arm all day (and all night, if you prefer - I don't because I tend to sleep on my side), and then plug it into your computer. It uploads the information that it takes from a bunch of sensors inside, and uses them to calculate how many calories you've burned. It's surprisingly accurate, and not only gives you the day's total (or how much so far that day), but displays graphs of minute-by-minute burn. It's quite amusing to be able to visually see how certain things increase your burn, e.g. working out, and how others bring it back down to your BMR (basal metabolic rate), like sitting on your butt watching TV. It also asks you to type in the Nutritional Information for the foods you've eaten that day, and I think this is the major player in the weight loss. Having to type in your food leads to a certain amount of personal accountability. It makes you constantly look at the BACK of the food container, where the important stuff is, not just the front, where they try and lure you in with how tasty their food looks.

Using the information it has from your bodybugg and the information you give it about your food, it calculates a deficit/surplus (I can proudly say I have never been in a surplus - not even on Thanksgiving), which helps you estimate how much weight you should be losing. The bodybugg creates a "goal" burn, intake, and deficit based on how much weight you want to lose, and by when. As long as you stick to the numbers it gives you, you'll be on track to your goal in no time.

So, back to my story - I was in the gym, with my trainer, 5-6days a week, moving from core stabilization to resistance training, followed by cardio. With everything I have experienced in the past 6 months, I will say (as will countless other fitness buffs out there) that those are the 2 key ingredients (along with diet) to maximize your weight loss. Cardio burns calories like no other (especially the elliptical trainer, rowing machine, and treadmill), and resistance training strengthens your body and adds muscle mass, which increases the amount of calories you burn all day.

The only "supplement" I used all summer was a protein powder called Muscle Milk. Protein shakes after workouts are important for keeping your lean muscle tissue (although with any drastic amount of weight loss, expect a significant drop in lean body mass) and to maximize the effectiveness of resistance training. I had tried other protein powders in the past as well, which is why I was skeptical of this as well (as you may tell, I went into this whole 'personal trainer' business warily, constantly keeping watch for scams, etc). But again, I decided what the hell, and bought it. It was actually pretty tasty, but whether it had any significant effect on my loss, I can't tell you for sure.

With this routine of diet and exercise, the pounds started falling off (see the "Progress" column, to the right - now you all know what it is, if you haven't figure it out already lol). By the time summer finished and it was time for me to get back to school, I was down to 251.5lbs (114.3kg/17.9stone) and 22.4% body fat. I felt like a changed man - my clothes fit better, I had more self confidence, and people were noticing a difference (it's an amazing confidence boost, let me tell you!).

However, I wasn't even closed to finished (and I'm still not). When I returned to University, I decided not to let the ridiculously unhealthy hall food and freezing weather ruin all my hard work. I continued making the right choices about what/how much I ate, and I was back in the gym, Monday-Wednesday-Friday. For those of you who find going to the gym tedious and boring, a tip I suggest is finding a friend who thinks the same thing. Not only will you keep each other motivated (the friend I go with constantly calls me fat-ass - but only after I started dropping the weight - it's an amusing incentive to constantly prove him wrong), but it makes the workouts go quicker and makes them more fun.

By December, I was down another 30lbs and 6% body fat. My clothes were no longer fitting (I have never, in my life, been able to say that something was "too big" for me - I was as big as they come, with a 52" chest and 42" waist.) But this Christmas break, amongst the multitude of sales, I was finally able to buy nice clothes that fit well, rather than having to settle for whatever came in my size. I'm down to a 44-46 chest and a 36-38 waist. It's absolutely amazing.

Essentially, I'm writing this whole story as a motivation to those like me. If you put your mind to it and set goals, you can do it. It just takes the right mindset, attitude, and some basic knowledge of what you're doing to achieve what you want. Emotional support from family and friends helps too. Who knows, you might even get a poster up in your gym like I do now!

I am currently at ~220lbs (100kg, 15.7 stone) and 20% body fat, so I'm not even close to being finished. Who knows, if both the weight loss and this blog keep going, maybe you'll see another post such as this one in another 6 months :-)

If any of you need advice, motivation, information, workout/diet plans, etc, feel free to leave a comment and I will gladly help where I can.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Traveling time, once again...

So I'm currently sitting at my gate, waiting for my flight back home to start boarding. The travel this time has been surprisingly easy, completely contradictory to the normal airport/airline stereotypes I usually run into. I had an empty check in line, cleared through a nearly empty security checkpoint, and had a fairly empty domestic flight (am currently waiting for my international flight).

Uh oh, they just called the boarding. I am looking forward to 2 weeks of nothingness at home!


Monday, January 21, 2008

VizD winner!

Looks like I won last week's VizD challenge. If you haven't ever checked out NY Emergency Medicine, it's a great site, and it has a weekly challenge called "VizD":

VizD is a weekly contest of an interesting or pathognomonic image from emergency medicine. Its goal is to integrate learning into a fun and relaxed environment. All images are original and are posted with the consent of the patient.
Well, last week was clubbing, and since it was one of the only VizD challenges I have ever been able to answer fully of my own accord (eg without google/wikipedia), I submitted answers, and it looks like I won! It's always a plus when theres something random like this showing you that you're actually soaking up some of the information they throw at you :-P

So yeah, check it out!


Heh heh...

OSPE on Wednesday. I was a patient for 2nd year OSPEs today...might write a post with the amusing things they all did (e.g. "On Palpitation and Awskyoolation")...

We'll see how it goes. For now, enjoy the comic


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Because Cal doesn't believe me...

I took the thing again.

92 words

Touch Typing online

And to prove it: (click)

heh. and the spanking continues...


p.s. If I fail my exams tomorrow, I'm blaming you.

A little de-stress before bed...

88 words

free Touch typing

Seen on Short White Coats.

off to bed so i can wake up early, been doing this early morning cardio thing and it leaves me quite tired throughout the day, more from the lack of sleep than anything else.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Contrary to popular belief...

I have not fallen off the face of the planet. I am currently busy studying for my exams, which will be over soon (SAQ on Wednesday, MCQ on Friday, OSPE on the following Wednesday). I am horribly behind schedule on revision, and as such, will get back to it now.

I will try and update on life later.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Year, 2008!

Hey guys, I know its a few days late but Happy New Year everyone! My family and I went on quite a long road trip last week, visiting family and family friends along the way. New Year's eve was pretty tame, watched Ratatouille and Hot Rod.

Along the trip, we spent a night with a family friend who is an Internal Medicine/Hepatology Physician. We went on a tour of his new office, and let me tell you, the feeling I got when I walked in there made me want to reconsider a future in an office-based practice. He runs a totally paperless practice, using EMR software called eClinicalWorks. It was pretty awesome, letting him do basically everything he/the nurse/the receptionist needs to do, and its all amalgamated into one piece of software. I promise I'm not being paid to toot their horn, and all the info I've seen on it is based on the little 10-minute run through that he gave me, but it looks like my kind of office lol. Computers in each exam room (I would go with a single tablet PC, but whatever), a computer for the nurse, one for the receptionist, and involved faxing prescriptions, telephone records, everything.

SO, I was kind of excited for a little bit, and then all of a sudden, our family friend doc starts talking about how the work he puts in isn't really being reciprocated by reimbursements, etc. He was one of the few people to try and convince me to go into ER medicine. Anyway, that's definitely something to think of in the future...we'll see how it goes (gotta pass the Step 1 first!)

As my winter break comes to a close, I'm not looking forward to going back to St. Andrews for a week of revising and then 2 weeks of exams...but I definitely am looking forward to the 2 week break after that - one of the good parts of the St. Andrews calendar :-D