Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bitter and Sweet Successes

Post Number: 7
Days of Tracking: 0 (first full day today, on track for everything eaten so far)

So today has been a bittersweet experience. I had a great discussion with my good friend SM. He lives near ITT so we see each other when I am on break on Saturdays. Today is the last day we can do so. Adding to the bitterness, it was the last class of the group that launched me into this blog. It was nice to be able to wish them well and receive their well-wishes also.

From my conversation with SM, I have been thinking about visions, goals, directions, actions, and destinations. I want to borrow a quote here:

     Vision without action is merely a dream.
     Action without vision merely passes the time.
     Visions with action can change the world.
          - Joel Barker

I want to change my world for the better. It will take:
  • Vision - seeing things as how I want them to be in the future
  • Goals - a description of the end towards which my efforts are directed
  • Directions - my mapping of the pathway that leads forward
  • Plans - ideas, techniques, and methods for overcoming hurdles and barriers including forgiving myself when I make a mistake (as distinguished from Directions)
  • Actions - the efforts necessary to move forward, and
  • Destinations - the description that is used to measure success.
Unfortunately, there is no convenient acronym that will work for those words. I have already described the goals in detail that I am using to stay focused. I need to work them all into a single vision. Right now, it looks like this: Me playing with my my older kids' kids at the last kid's wedding. The others will need attention, too, but I wanted to described some other events.

I have been tracking everything I've eaten in my paper tracker. I hope to be able to transfer it to the online system, but that is not a priority. It has been a learning experience. There were some surprises. A single graham cracker is 2 points. That was more than I expected. A grilled onion cheeseburger from McDonald's is 8 points. That was less than I expected. I am still trying to get a handle on writing everything down, but I've been able to stay up with it today. That is a success.

But I wonder at the point system. I know that Weight Watchers intends to the safest weight loss with there point system. Supposedly, I can lose up to 2 lbs a week this way. But I have over 250 pounds to loose. That's 125 weeks. That's 2 years and 21 weeks. That is a very long time. Now I know, that the faster you lose, the faster you regain. And I understand that this is a retraining process. Retrain the brain to eat properly. But I still wonder. I have 71 points to work with. Fruits and veggies are zero if they are fresh, frozen, or canned so long as they are unadulterated, such as canned in syrup. So with 71 points, I can go to McDonald's for lunch. I can eat the aforementioned cheeseburger and a small fry for five meals. If I add in fresh veggies in the form of a salad, I can consume quite a bit of food. I'm not sure that's how I want it to work.

I will do the work, because of the retraining aspect. Hopefully, it will lead me in a direction that will require only small changes. After all, some goals can become a moving target. And with my income changing, Weight Watchers may be more than I can afford all too soon. So I throw myself into the effort and learn to ways of the weight loser. I will have to make this process mine to be able to really succeed.

And there is already some success to describe. I went to Fred Meyers to pick up some bread. I have had a pear in quite some time, so I went and bought one. Between the bread and the fruits is the ice cream. And since it was in the 90's, ice cream sounded good. So I picked up one of those ultra-small Ben and Jerry's ice creams. They are only 3 ounces or so. A glance at the nutrition label and a quick tap at the Points Calculator. It was 6 points. It went back. The pear was zero.

Yours in the future of successful success that succeeds successfully,


P.S.: How is it I can eat 4 ounces of cake and gain 2 pounds?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ugly and Overcoming Ugly (Evaluation: Week 1)

Last Weight In: Friday, 30 August 2013
Weight Information -
      Weight: 455.2 lbs
      Weight Change This Week: +3.4 lbs
      Weight Change To Date: +2.0 lbs
      Weight Gauge: Really?!? 

Current Goals (Updated: Friday, 30 August 2013) -
     Number Goal: 430 lbs
     Distance to Goal: 25.2 lbs
     Feel Good Goal: Set aside time to relax
     Distance to Goal: Happening later this afternoon
     The Y:
          Go to the Y three time next week.
          Get a swim suit.
     Distance to Goal:
          Need to sit down with calendar and plan which days
          No swimsuit but today is payday.
     Weight Watchers:
          Use the paper tracker tomorrow
          Make a meal cards with the PPV's worked out.
          Attend at least two Regular meeting this week, most likely Thursday and Friday
     Distance to Goal:
          Paper tracker is out
          Meal cards are planned for Monday
          Thursday and Friday are still ahead of us

This was an ugly weigh in. There are three primary reasons that I feel the weigh in went the way it did.
  1. High stress week (little sleeps, too many activities, too many chores needing my direct attention, too many irregular activities, etc.). Only work was relaxing.
  2. Poor attention to detail when it came to eating. Ate the wrong things. Justified it by eating a single item (small bag of potato chips, for example) over the course of several days. Obviously, it didn't work. 
  3. Not a single point was recorded.
So, to overcome these three issues:
  1. Long relaxing Labor day. Working all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Fewer events for next week. Re-initiating the point system for family chores. Discussion on Sunday for rules, regs, preferences, and schedules.
  2. Take the Eat This, Not That mentality. I know what good choices are. Time to make them.
  3. Start recording every things I put in my mouth starting tomorrow morning. Today and Monday, use 3'x5' cards to list individual meal ideas and their points.
Additional Issues/Solutions:
  1. Header much too long for daily attention. / Simplify entering header. Full header once a week on weigh in. Remaining header only if there are updates.
  2. Individual entries take too long to enter and edit. / Shorten individual entries. I may like to write, but I don't have to go for prolific.
  3. Names for immediate family / MBWM (My Beloved Wife M), Horse, Asian Red Fox, Jaguar, Iguana, Lemur (Ring-tailed like Zaboo), Quail. And ya know, some days, home feel like a zoo.
Good Idea: Snap and Track - When you snack, take a picture of the item and then track it when you are ready.

Post Number: 6

So I learned a couple things this morning. First of all, I only get two Power Start meetings from Weight Watchers. From now on, I only go to the regular meeting. Good to know. Also, my frustration tends to express itself a little later. Delayed release as it were. I made it back to the van before I expressed my feelings with an angry, "Why even bother?" I know why I bother. I just need to be bothered into making better choices. Okay, maybe bothered isn't the best wording. Especially since I'm trying to face down a birthday cake for Jaguar. She has been a delightful, flighty girl bouncing from excitement to excitement. I don't think she could have been anything less than thrilled regardless of what happened to her.

So here I sit, ready to make plans. I explore, I delve, I research. And why this attention to planning:

"A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So first, the goals. I know, there are quite a few listed above. And those are good. But lets have a few more. That way, different goals will help me combat different temptations.

Overall Goal: I am losing weight so I can live longer.
Long-term goals: I am losing weight so that I can...
     Attend every sealing: Horse, Asian Red Fox, Jaguar, Iguana, Lemur, and Quail
     Bike, swim, walk, play with my kids and my grand kids
     Comfortably fit into a pair of pants that can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Shopko, JC Penney’s, …
Intermediate goals: I am losing weight so I can...
     Stand during lectures, seminars, etc and not feel extreme pain in my ankles, knees, hips, and arches.
     Recover from long day of work in one good night’s sleep
     Handles stresses better
Short-term goals: I am losing weight today so that I can...
     Take charge of this part of my life today
     Abstain from compulsive eating today

Next, I will come up with SMART goals related to my weight loss. Tonight, I am just brain-storming categories for the SMART goals. Once I have categories. I will work at describing the destinations for those goals. And then once I have the destinations, I can get SMART. So here are my thoughts on categories:
  • Physical Activity
  • Food
  • Emotional Assistance
  • Spiritual Assistance
  • Family Assistance
  • Miscellaneous
I know this sounds like quite a bit of effort. But frankly, left to my own devices, this week shows I am prone to failure. I suspect, in time, I will ramp down to fewer goals, statements, descriptions, and destinations. But at this stage. The hope here is that the more I focus on these things of importance, the easier it will be to make the best decisions, always with the destination in mind. Better to have too many descriptions of the best life I am seeking. Then I can find the ones that work throughout today, through the entire week, on into the entire months, and for years to come.

Yours in the joy of being refocused,


P.S.: I have seen so many before and after pictures in weight loss ads and at weight loss clinics. To be honest, I'll be thrilled to make it to the before picture.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Background: Employment

Last Weight In: Friday, 23 August 2013
Weight Information -
      Weight: 451.8 lbs
      Weight Change This Week: -1.4 lbs
      Weight Change To Date: -1.4 lbs
      Weight Gauge: Haohaohaouch (To quote MBWM)

Current Goals -
     Number Goal: 430 lbs
     Distance to Goal: 21.8 lbs
     Feel Good Goal: Relax
     Distance to Goal: Long range sensors report an M-class planet
     The Y:
          Get there twice this week, three time next week.
          Get a swim suit.
     Distance to Goal:
          Been once this week. (unchanged)
          Used the walk, jog, run track briefly. (unchanged. I walked, by the way)
          No swimsuit but Friday is payday. (unchanged)
     Weight Watchers:
          Use the paper tracker.
          Make a menu plan with the PPV's worked out.
          Attend PowerStart and Regular meeting this week.
     Distance to Goal:
          Paper tracker is still in top drawer of night stand. (unchanged)
          Menu plan a gleam in the eye. (unchanged)
          Friday is still ahead of us. (unchanged)

Post Number: 5

I am in Theory 6, for those that know the Boise ITT campus. For those that don't, it is a small lecture room that would hold about 40 students. As I sit in this room, dark and cool, passing time between one tutoring session and the next, I ponder the background to share that may bear witness as a reminder to me of where I have come from that brought me to this point in time, place, and life.

The time: Four days of employment left - Today, Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

The place: Theory 6 at ITT-Boise.

The life: Embarking on a new health-ifying adventure.

This first one in particular has led to strange sensations in my life. At this time of the quarter, when I find myself caught up on preparations and grading, I use the time to start preparing for next quarter. Except, I won't be here next quarter. So, how to I fill my time now?

Once upon this mid-day dreary, here I ponder, weak and weary, Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken. I memorized it years ago as a Freshman in High School (Go Clippers!). It was astoundingly beautiful to me at the time. I still remember how it felt. This was a dramatic change for me. Before this poem, I had been delving into Edgar Allan Poe's works. I had memorized The Raven. In contrast, Frost's poem re-awakened in me the wonder and joy of simplicity and light. I was once again awestruck by visual and metaphoric imagery. These types of personal feelings and internal visions hadn't been felt in quite some time. I had been introduced to poetry by my parents. They had given me two books of poetry by A.A. Milne. I simply adored, and still do, those books and especially his poem, Now We Are Six. I believe it was one of the first I memorized. Probably not the first as I was big into Seuss as well.

Beyond the poetic background, I have been lost in thought because I have been pondering Frost's poem. I do not regret, as the somewhat disconsolate traveler in the poem does, that I will not be able to return at take The Road Not Taken. As I depart ITT, I know that this is the road that will make all the difference.

So what does all of this mean? Like so many stories that have a lead-in ahead of vital information, it's time to fill in the plot points, the back story needs told for this to make sense.

My educational background is in Chemistry, specifically the Electrochemistry of redox active cyclophanes. I enjoy teaching. My students tell me I am good at it. So what better option than to teach chemistry? My first teaching opportunity, back in 1989, was to teach Calculus. That first class taught me much about pedagogy: How to write quizzes that don't slaughter students' grades, How to break down my single step in a calculation into multiple steps for the students, How important it is to be more the drill sergeant at the beginning of a class and then lighten up on them as the term progresses, How to front-load a term to make the term progressively easier, How important it is to be available for students, and much more. I was on my way to being a Chemistry professor.

Towards that end, my next teaching assignment was as an Organic Chemistry Lab instructor. And I was still an undergraduate. I thrilled at what I was doing. Other honors and accolades built from my self-made and externally offered opportunities were to follow in graduate school. Through a series of events too numerous to make exciting in a quick-draw blog, I ended up at ITT as a part-time instructor. I threw myself into the work. And was rewarded with my first full-time teaching gig. I had arrived. I may not have been teaching Chemistry for more than 2 weeks out of the quarter, but I was teaching. Plus, it's easy to add Chemistry topics into lessons from the other sciences. And, as every one that has passed through my Science class knows, Chemistry is the core science upon which all of the other applied sciences rely.

But it wasn't to last. In time, the dwindling enrollment at this campus led to the loss of all full-time faculty except Nursing. I have worked for 24 years to be a college professor. I spent just shy of two years actually doing what I love as a career. And to make matters even more irksome, corporate had changed the hiring requirements during short tenure in the full-time category. I could not be hired back to full-time. The local administration at ITT has been strenuously generous by providing me all of the additional opportunities they could for the benefit of me and my family. And for that, I am and will be extremely grateful. Thank you EF, AF, JB, KE, CK, AC, and so many more for your supportive efforts and encouraging words.

But two roads diverged in a yellow wood. One was the path I was already on. I have failed miserably at keeping at bay what little weight I had managed to beat back while maintaining part-time employment and seeking full-time opportunities. The other path: Total devotion to improving my health, regardless of the current lack of employment. So, without any certainty in my future employment, I gave ITT my 5 week notice. I hope it was enough to make the arrangements necessary for my replacements. MBWM (My Beloved Wife M) says it will take at least three people to replace me. I hope it took them fewer weeks.

And be one traveler, long I stood. I have walked this failing, frequented path too long. I must throw off what hasn't worked. Take the time, take in the way the Vikings took. Bludgeon time fillers gleefully. Plunder health forcefully. Take the time to make my life more healthy. I do not know that I will even be employed one year from now. I do know, I will be healthier for it.

And that will make all the difference.

Your fellow life-traveler on the road seized,


P.S.: IVCUFI. Which means -
     Invenietis viam (find the way)
     Corripuere uiam (seize the road)
     Frui iter (enjoy the journey)
     Thank you Google Translate

Point of Trivia: Edgar Allan Poe is considered the inventor of the detective story.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Y Goals

Last Weight In: Friday, 23 August 2013
Weight Information -
     Weight: 451.8 lbs
     Weight Change This Week: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Change To Date: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Gauge: Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow

Current Goals -
     Number Goal: 430 lbs
     Distance to Goal: 21.8 lbs
     Feel Good Goal: Relax
     Distance to Goal: Not even in the correct solar system
     The Y:
          Get there twice this week, three time next week.
          Get a swim suit.
     Distance to Goal:
          Been once this week.
          Used the walk, jog, run track briefly.
          No swimsuit but Friday is payday.
     Weight Watchers:
          Use the paper tracker.
          Make a menu plan with the PPV's worked out.
          Attend PowerStart and Regular meeting this week.
     Distance to Goal:
          Paper tracker is still in top drawer of night stand. 
          Menu plan a gleam in the eye.
          Friday is still ahead of us.

Post Number: 4

So I went to meet a Wellness Coach at the Y today. B was wonderfully attentive and warmly supportive. We discussed several things:
  • Where I am physically (horrible).
  • Limitations (obesity, really painful knees)
  • Doctor imposed limitations (provided phone number)
  • What I want to do at the Y (simple exercises, especially in the water).
  • What my kids will be doing (youth and teen programs).
  • And what goals I wanted to use the Y to help me accomplish (lose weight, increase flexibility)
So that is the nutshell of what we accomplished. She wanted to know what my goal was for the next few weeks to one month. I said I just want to come 4 to 5 times a week. My goal is only to get there and keep getting there repeatedly. And I've given myself a month to get the hang of it. I report back to her in the first week in October. B said she would rather I picked an earlier date to see her again, but she understood that the timeline for our next appointment made sense for the goal I was setting. She said I should feel free to ask her or any of the other support staff any questions that I may have whenever I am at the Y. Plus, there is the additional bonus that I plan on taking one kid at a time every chance I get when I go to play in the water. I suspect that playing in the water with a kid will be a work out. B did recommend a few classes that had words in the title like Senior or Arthritis or Easy. For her recommendations, I am very grateful. I am hoping to start into the water aerobics soon. I just need a bathing suit.

Talking with B reminded me of the goals L asked us to set at Weight Watchers. When we complained of the lack of access to the mobile electronics we were enticed by, she suggested using the paper tracker. MBWM (My Beloved Wife M) mentioned that we use a meal planned. L suggested that we determine the Points Plus Values (PPVs) during the menu planning. Then it's only a matter of transferring that information to the paper planner once we've actually had the meal. That idea was well received. Now we have to sit down and do it. MBWM, center of my love and love of my life, and I are in calendric negotiations even as I type to determine when we can put the menu plan together. <pause for effect> Negotiations fell through. MBWM and I won't even be able to attend the same meeting this week. So I will start making individual meal suggestions and calculating the PPV.

I have a few other ideas on goals that I will have to record at a later time. I have a few ideas on situational analysis, decision making, and other aspects of this weight loss that I would like to record as well. We shall see.

Health-ifyingly Yours,


P.S.: Two Weight Watchers attendees walk into a bar. You would have thought the second would have ducked.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Named: Endless Amusement

Last Weight In: Friday, 23 August 2013
Weight Information -
     Weight: 451.8 lbs
     Weight Change This Week: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Change To Date: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Gauge: Crushing

Current Goals -
     Number Goal: 430 lbs
     Distance to Goal: 21.8 lbs
     Feel Good Goal: Relax
     Distance to Goal: Approaching Pluto

Post Number: 3

As I have gone through life, I have had a few certainties that buoyed me up. I am going to focus on the one of them today. I am certain that everyone has something to teach me. I have learned quite a bit. I continue to learn. And proper plethora of people perform as my professor. This led to two e-mail addresses that I used for a long time:
These e-mail addresses came into being because people have always been able to do both of them. So now I have extended this wonder into the realm of blogging. The title, Endless Amusement, is not necessarily the most exciting of reasons, enticing of titles, or exemplary of my theme (improved health through weight loss), but I like the idea of it. And with time, even this mental, intellectual, emotional, spritual, and especially physical journey of self-improvement may provide endless amusement to a few readers beyond myself. Because, really, my expectation is that this blog is my window into the past so I can measure for myself the steps I've taken, the joys I've felt, and the hurdles I've overcome.

And running in a similar vein of being bemused by people, I offer a comic: Dalai Lama's quote from Zen Pencils. I have heard the quote in this comic before, but it's theme is a reminder of choosing to regain my health before it's forced upon me. By the way, the comic Zen Pencils is a wonderful addition to your comics line-up, even if you may disagree with the depiction within the comic or the reasoning behind the quote. I disagree with the depicition of a favorite poem: Invictus. I always pictured Invictus as something more uplifting like Martin Luther King Jr's rise above his circumstances to lead a life built upon lifting others beyond their circumstances. I disagree with the some of the reasoning behind Carl Sagan's quote that is based on secular humanism.

So I hope to be able to offer a little encouragement to myself when I review my health-ifying blogging efforts during the dark times to come. C.S. Lewis spoke of undulations in life. Strong early conviction worn down by time and experience. I know this euphoric feeling that comes from taking on an exciting new challenge will one day become difficult, especially since I haven't started exercising. So, to the reason of accountability as a motivation behind this blog, I seek to add a little light and humor as a store for the dark and dreary to come.

And, perhaps, therein lies the greatest opportunity for amusement: light amid the monotony, humor amid the heartache, joy amid the pain.

Happy Health,


A Bloggers Haiku:
Democratic Form
Typing, Seeking More Meaning
Becoming Nothing

Lost in Open Thought, Formless
Becoming Something

Focused Beyond Here
Building in Joy and Pain Now
Creation of Self

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pushing Past the (Low-Level) Disappointments

Last Weight In: Friday, 23 August 2013
Weight Information -
     Weight: 451.8 lbs
     Weight Change This Week: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Change To Date: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Gauge: Update

Current Goals -
     Number Goal: 430 lbs
     Distance to Goal: 21.8 lbs
     Feel Good Goal: Relax
     Distance to Goal: Pluto is within sight

Post Number: 2

So I am still interested in those initial entry topics, but I had a few things bugging me. I am going to get them out, get past them, move on, and tackle today. At my weight, I'd make a great tackle in (American) football. Problems had better watch out or get squooshed.

So I signed up for Weight Watchers. There were three primary reasons for picking them.
  1. The teachers have been through the program.
  2. The meetings are groups sessions to encourage support through commiseration, different POV's, and mutual understanding
  3. The online tools would make journaling faster and easier leading to more thorough journaling.
Well, I have to admit that the third one was the deciding factor when it came to picking Weight Watchers over other options like TOPS in spite of the drastic price increase (More on TOPS later). Weight Watchers does not have their mobile app for Windows Phone. Which means I don't have the best source for making sure I efficiently enter my food and exercise efforts. After enrolling and then finding out that iPhone and Android were the only options for their app, the registration process says you can always use your phone's web browser. The problem here is that Weight Watcher's web service uses Flash. And Windows Phone 7 doesn't have Flash. Now I am reduced to using the Weight Watchers service only when I am at a computer. This isn't really an improvement because I was already using the one that WebMD provides, which is functional through my phone, free, has an extensive food database, recipe builders, and meal builders. You can see their Food and Fitness Planner here. Or the other option is using Weight Watchers paper journal that, while cleverly laid out, compact and refined from years of experience, still has me determining point values.

Incidently, I contacted Weight Watchers by e-mail on Friday, 16 August 2013 to ask when I could expect the Windows Phone app. They have yet to reply.

So, moving beyond this disappointment with Weight Watchers electronic journaling, I will be doing my best to practice their paper journaling, looking up or calculating points, and seeing how well WebMD's service will work with Weight Watchers by running it simultaneously. If I can get in the habit of journaling in both places, canceling the paper journaling will then make my life easier. We shall see.

In the meantime, I am still looking forward to the training from experienced leaders and mingling with fellow weight-loss adventurers.

There are a few other things bugging me, but they will have to wait.

Thanks for reading,


P.S.: If I get tired of blogging but grit my teeth to be able to get an entry done, is that slog-blogging?

Update: Monday, 26 August 2013
Received the following reply:
Dear Eliot,

Thank you for contacting Weight Watchers. My name is Richard, and I am happy to assist you with your account today.

I apologize, but our application is currently only available for Android phones, iOS phones, and the iPad. We do not currently have the mobile application for Windows or Blackberry phones or Android Tablets. We do offer the Points Plus Calculator for Windows phones.

We do not currently have an ETA for when these applications will be available on other platforms.

You can access our mobile site at for most of your online needs. Our website requires Adobe Flash Player to access all of our tools. If your phone does not have flash player support, then you will need to use a computer in order to access the tracker.

Weight Watchers is committed to your success. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you for contacting Weight Watchers. I wish you the best of luck on your weight loss journey. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Customer Service Associate
Weight Watchers International

Which leaves me with even less information because, at least before, I had the hopes that they were working on the app. Not having an ETA is not the same as the app being built.

Oh well. It is time to get things done.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blog Creation Motivation

Last Weigh In: Friday, 23 August 2013
Weight Information -
     Weight: 451.8 lbs
     Weight Change This Week: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Change To Date: -1.4 lbs
     Weight Gauge: Huff 'n' Puff

Current Goals -
     Number Goal: 430 lbs
     Distance to Goal: 21.8 lbs
     Feel Good Goal: Relax
     Distance to Goal: Pluto feels closer

Post Number: 1

This past Saturday morning, the students of my Survey of the Sciences course asked if the information they were told was correct. Their informant had reported that I would not be teaching their Math class next quarter for which the Science course was a prerequisite. I explained that my health had deteriorated too far for me to not pay intense attention to it. In order to concentrate on the key detriment to my health, my weight, I was leaving ITT. I have no other job lined up. One of them suggested that I start keeping a blog. I immediately thought this was a good idea as it provided an additional form of accountability. Plus, I like to think of myself as a recreational writer. This will provide one more forum for me to have some pleasure from writing. So here it is, a blog on my experience on weight loss.

With this in mind, I am planning to write a few of other initial entries. Namely, I will provide more information on the naming of this blog, the background of who I am, some history of my weight loss, and the initial plans on attacking my weight issues, mental, emotional, and spiritual, as well as physical.

So come along with me. I don't move fast, so it should be easy to keep up with me.

Take care,


P.S.: Someone suggested that vlogging was faster and easier. To me, that sounds like violent flogging. No thanks.