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It Just Got Real | Dave McKew

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It Just Got Real | Dave McKew

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By 2011 Commit to Fit winner Dave Mckew
I've gained about 20 pounds in the last 3 months or so. As much as I would like to cry "How did this happen?" and victimize myself, I have to admit I do know exactly how it happened.But let me back up for a minute. For those of you who are not familiar with my story, I was the 2011 Commit-To-Fit winner. With the help of MV Nutrition and DIAKADI, I lost 112.5 pounds between March of 2011 and March of 2012. Ten months later, in January of 2013, I submitted an update to the DIAKADI blog indicating I had successfully maintained my weight for the last 10 months. Even though I'd wanted to *lose* more weight, at the time I contextualized this as good news since maintenance is way better than *gaining*. But if that blog was a pat on my own back, this blog is a kick in my own ass.

I can come up with a million excuses as to why I gained the weight but the sole reason is that I simply disengaged from my good new habits and slipped back into some bad old ones. Not eating breakfast caused me to over-eat at lunch; not having an afternoon snack caused me to over-eat at dinner; not having a drinking plan for the evening caused me to drink too much booze and make bad decisions such as having a spontaneous, not-very-healthy second dinner at 2am. Every time I committed a "crime against nutrition" in the last three months, I would just think "oh well I can correct this later" and then...I would ultimately not do so because of whatever the next excuse-du-jour was. ("I'm tired."  "Eating this is easier." "I'll go for a big uphill hike this weekend." "I don't have time to go for that big hike this weekend." etc.)

To be clear, I wasn't exactly sitting on the couch all day with a plate of doughnuts and fried chicken resting on my belly; I just was simply allowing myself to make bad decisions with increased frequency, with little regard for the consequences. Then my pants got tight and my shirts got short and the problem was impossible to ignore.

And speaking of clothes, I did some shopping on Saturday and it was a disaster. I'd been wearing XL shirts for about a year (down from 5XL two years ago) and on Saturday I discovered that 2XL was fitting better than XL.  Refusing to buy clothing that was a size up, I decided that I had to snap out of it and get my shit under control before adding ANYTHING to my wardrobe. I walked out of the store empty-handed.

For the year I was losing weight (and the ten months of maintenance that followed), all these people were coming up to me and telling me what a great job I was doing and how impressed they were because what I was doing was so hard. I would often think to myself, "Wow, this is actually kinda easy, everyone thinks this is so hard but it really doesn't feel like work to me".  But now that I've sorta "let it go," I realize now how much work, in particular mental work, it took me to change my habits (and keep them changed) for nearly two years of successful weight loss and maintenance. It was only "easy" because I was mentally "in the game"; at this point, I'm not even on the sidelines. I'm in the freakin' parking lot of the stadium.

I can beat myself up about it all day. In fact, I have been for weeks. But the fact of the matter is that I'm only human. And if this was really easy, then I suppose America wouldn't be facing an obesity epidemic.

I was talking to friend on the east coast about it on the phone last night, and I said "I don't want to be that guy who lost all this weight and gained it all back." And he said that if I became that guy he would come to San Francisco and stab me. I laughed and then he said he was totally serious, he would literally come to San Francisco and stab me. (Sometime fear is the best motivator, no?)Since my friend lost 20 pounds in recent months and is starting to lose momentum on that success, we came up with an idea to be accountability partners. We set some realistic goals (mine is to lose at least 8 pounds by May 11, which is my 40th birthday weekend) and we are going to stay in touch by text about our weight, and our progress with nutrition/exercise. I am hoping that the unpleasant incident at the clothing store on Saturday will motivate me to get it together, as will dragging you blog readers (and my Facebook friends) into this by making myself accountable to you as well.Wish me luck. I'll update you on my progress in May.

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Dave Mckew Checks in 11 Months Later | Commit to Fit

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Dave Mckew Checks in 11 Months Later | Commit to Fit

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By 2011 Commit to Fit winner Dave Mckew I can't believe it's been nearly 11 months since I "graduated" from the Commit To Fit program sponsored by DIAKADI and MV Nutrition in March of 2012. I will never forget that triumphant year that I earned 112.5 pounds of weight loss by learning to eating better and exercise. So many people in the DIAKADI community have been asking what I am up to now, I thought it might be nice to send you all an update.

I have successfully maintained my weight over the last year. Every time it goes up (holidays, vacations, total negligence), I know how to get it back down. I did not become a gym bunny like some people have been hoping, but I am substantially more active. Over the summer I did several walks across the entirety of San Francisco, including a ten mile walk from Daly City BART to Ghiradelli Square. It felt pretty amazing that I could pull that off. Over the summer I spent three weeks in Europe and did extensive walking in Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm that I would not have been able to handle 118 pounds ago. I make smarter choices every day, I no longer have trouble fitting in seats, squeezing between people, wearing seat belts, and buying clothing in regular stores instead of the big-n-tall store.

 

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I turn 40 this spring, but I feel like I'm 24. Probably because the last time I was this size, I was about 24.  Despite losing 16 inches of waistline already, I still want to lose another 35 pounds or so. It wouldn't be fair to say I've *struggled* with this final 35, because I know in my heart that I've not been trying too hard to lose it.  As I have said time and time again over the last few months: "I stopped losing weight for the best reason; I am happy, and comfortable."  I am confident that I will lose this 35 pounds when the time is right, but kinda also don't really care if I don't. Because I look and feel great, and frankly that is enough for me at the moment.

I hope each and every one of you who stops to read this will take a moment to think if you know someone who would benefit from the Commit To Fit program. There is a year's worth of free fitness training and nutrition counseling up for grabs for a deserving Bay Area resident, so even if you don't know of an obese individual, you should forward the contest info to everyone you know so that they can forward it to the people they know. I am sure the 2013 winner will be as excited as I was to hear about the contest back in 2011 as I was when I heard about it from DIAKADI client Tim Irvin. Wouldn't it feel amazing if you helped the right person find his/her way to DIAKADI, MV Nutrition, and Commit To Fit?

Apply Now!

 

And if you know any obese individual who is struggling with whether or not they should apply for CTF 2013, and possibly making excuses (I used to be so good at making excuses), I urge you to have them read this blog entry I wrote last year. It lists 12 reasons why you can't (or won't) apply for CTF and why I think you can (and should) apply!

"Im Tired of Your Excuses"

 

Good luck to all the 2013 contestants... the best year of your life awaits!

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Goodbye and Thank You

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Goodbye and Thank You

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Commit to Fit | Week 52

Author | Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave Mckew

My final weigh-in at MV Nutrition was March 2, 2012. Exactly one year to the day of my first weigh-in. I am clocking out my CTF year at 112.5 pounds down. And while the perfectionist in me is pretty sure I could have done a little better, my friends have been really good at making sure I keep my perspective. After all, 112.5 is...quite a bit of weight, isn't it?  I guess I did alright.  ;-)

It feels strange to have become an expert in something that I never thought I could accomplish. Well I'm not an expert in the sense that I am a registered dietician like Sarah, or that I have created an international weight management program and written a book like Manuel, or that I have been called one of the "Top 100 Trainers in the US" like Billy...but I have lost over a hundred pounds and I've met very few people in my lifetime who have done that without surgery or living on a "fat farm" or being on a reality show or doing one of those crash diets where you eat only 800 calories a day of "just add water" powdered "food."  I did it completely with lifestyle improvements in nutrition and fitness, eating real food and doing real exercise, basically changing my behaviors in a truly sustainable way. My greatest success is that during the year that I made all the changes, I still maintained my insanely busy life; this year I co-wrote, co-directed, co-produced, and co-starred in a play while simultaneously losing weight, maintaining the job I've had for over 11 years and fitting-in my active social life...thereby proving that "I don't have time to eat better/exercise" is really, just an excuse.

I feel like I am proof that anyone (who wants to) can do this.Yes, I had help but Billy didn't drag me to the gym 3 to 4 times a week, and Sarah didn't spoon feed me at every meal (or any meal). In that sense, I do feel like my success is my own. The sum of my own good decisions.

Today I feel better physically better than I have in over 15 years.  And I can't even begin to explain what it feels like to have accomplished all that I have accomplished in the last year.  When I set out to do this a year ago, I admit I was not convinced that I would succeed.  I was convinced that I would crack under pressure or frankly, injure myself.  And there were moments where I did crack under pressure, and there were moments where I did injure myself, and there were plenty of emotional and mental obstacles...but with Billy and Sarah there to help me navigate the treacherous waters of weight loss, I got through it, each and every time, with an A+.  (OK, sometimes maybe only with an A.)

Healthwise, my blood pressure and cholesterol are way down. I feel stronger and I have more energy than before. I have joked many times that I am "38 going on 25" and really...it's not much of a joke, actually. I have lost at least 16 inches of waistline (size 54 last March, today 38"), I'm wearing XL shirts instead of 5XL shirts. And as much I have resisted admitting this along the way: I have more confidence. Which is really saying something because I've always been a reasonably confident person. I guess that means I'm arrogant now. (I'm sure my friends reading this are thinking, "No, Dave, you were arrogant before.")

There are a ton of people I need to thank before I go:

- Billy Polson. Trainer, mentor, friend.  Meeting you three times a week for the last year has genuinely been an honor, and dare I say fun -- always the highlight of my week! I am in awe of your attention to detail and your sense of commitment. Thank you for sharing your endless wealth of knowledge and doing it with that infectious smile, proving that personal trainers don't have to be jerks like the ones you see on reality shows. I can't believe you managed to make me so comfortable in the gym; a year ago I could hardly walk by one (on the outside) without collapsing into a fearful panic. I have learned so much about myself because of my time with you, most importantly what I am capable of. Thankful for helping me reach my full potential.  Thank you for being there for me, even outside of my appointments. Thank you for your endless enthusiasm, tireless determination and patience, honesty, and unrelenting vision. Working out by myself won't be as fun...but at least I know what the hell I'm doing now, because of you.

- Sarah Koszyk. We had a lot of laughs, didn't we? I don't know how the hell you got through a year of my neurotic blitherings, but I am so grateful for it. There were times where this was really hard on me mentally and emotionally, but you helped get me through it. I can't believe how comparatively relaxed and confident I am about eating, and weight loss, these days. For years my doctor begged me to see a nutritionist and I always said, "Yeah, yeah, I know how to eat healthy" but it turns out I really had no idea. Thank you for setting me straight and introducing me to so much...and teaching it to me in a sustainable way. Thank you for realizing that I'm not going to be a chef (in my current stage of life) and teaching me how to navigate eating out-of-the-house. You should see the jaw-droppage when people learn that I've lost over 100 pounds while eating about 75% of my meals out. It's a joy, every time. I wish I understood why more people don't see what a serious benefit a nutrition coach can be. I will be pointing friends into your direction for years to come, I am sure.

- Manuel Villacorta, for creating "Eating Free" and setting the events into motion that led to the start of the "Commit to Fit" program.

- Kelly Powers, office assistant at MV Nutrition, for meeting me every other week for a weigh-in. You were always a great way to start the weekend, even when the numbers weren't so great.

- The entire amazing staff at DIAKADI including Ed, Holly, and former staffers Jordan and Erin. Cristian you have been an amazing burst of positive energy and we are all lucky to have you in our lives. Gina Gutierrez and Mike Clausen, thank you for making me feel like I'm truly part of the family. You guys have all been so supportive and made "going to the gym" so comfortable and palatable for me.

- All the trainers at DIAKADI (especially Shelby, my "number one fan") for their continuous interest and encouragement. And Good Lord, some of you, and your clients, have supplied some very inspiring eye candy. Thanks for that!

- My co-workers: Philip and Jennine for accommodating my request for a schedule adjustment at work for the last year. Thank you for recognizing the importance of this. Lilei for being my 100 pound "fitness" model. Stephen for graphic design work (such as photo editing and updating the famous "Lilei" diagram). Angie for all the walks! And everyone for making this an "office project" that we could all take part in together!

- Tim Irvin, the friend (and DIAKADI client) who referred me to the CTF program. Thanks for thinking of me at just the right moment!

- Kevin Johnson and Kelly Clements, the previous CTF winners, for taking the time to meet with me last year.

- Michael Pell of The Pilsner Inn for keeping me hydrated (and being so supportive).

- All my friends and family, too numerous to list, for their love and support and encouragement. Thank you for sitting across the dinner table and keeping me calm when I was panicking about food "ruling my life," early on. Thank you for your back-pats, emails, facebook comments and likes.  Thank you for sharing your stories and listening to mine. Thank you for sharing your tips and letting me inspire you with mine...every time I was asked, I was flattered to share. I am still shocked at how much interest you have all taken in my progress. I'm glad my journey has been infectious and effected others. At times, I feel like that has been the greatest reward to come out of this. Though I suspect the greatest rewards have yet to come.

Wow. What a year. I have been very careful not to use cliche language like "I'm a different person now" and "I don't know that guy I used to be" because I don't have a lot of problems with the previous version of myself. That being said, the current version of myself looks and feels pretty freakin' fabulous so I am eager to complete this mission and drop the rest of the weight I need to lose. While I won't be blogging weekly, I do plan to submit blogs on my continued success to Eating Free and DIAKADI from time to time, so perhaps the title of this blog is not quite right. It should be "Thank You" without a "Goodbye."

Keep eating.  Keep moving. See you soon

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A New Journey Begins

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A New Journey Begins

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Dave McKew has been with us for a year now, and after losing an awe inspiring 113 pounds it is time for him to spread his wings and fly. Dave will be continuing to work out at 24 Hour Fitness near his home and staying on the path of his new fitness lifestyle. It has been fun to watch Dave continue to shrink and get into his new beloved skinny jeans while he seemed to become more comfortable working out and enjoying his weight loss journey.

“I’d been waiting for my most recent belt (my fourth since March) to indicate when it was time to get some new jeans.  This was the week where the belt was officially too big, so on Saturday I went to Macy’s and bought some new jeans.  This was monumental because it was literally the first time I’d bought a pair of jeans in a regular store (not big-n-tall store or big-n-tall department) in over 20 years.”

Though Dave said it was not always easy for him and sometimes he felt like “I just want this to be over” he found the strength within himself to strive forward, and with amazing results.

So here’s to you Dave! One year later and 103 pounds down! Though you will be continuing on your own we will always be here for support and help. Congratulations Dave and keep up the amazing work! Dave will continue to write for our blog quarterly so we can all still keep up with him.

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Fly Little Bird

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Fly Little Bird

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Commit to Fit | Week 49

Author | Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave Mckew

I've been working out three times a week with Billy since March 2011. Starting in December, he started having me work out for part of our session without him, so I that I would start learning "independence" in the gym. The day is coming where I will no longer work with Billy three times per week, and I'll need to be ready.

As I've mentioned in recent blogs, part of my post-CTF plan is to join a gym close to my apartment, because I honestly believe proximity to my gym will be a huge key to my success going forward. I love working out at DIAKADI and appreciate their generous gift of allowing me an "open gym" membership (for life!), but I know that my life will be much easier if I can pretty much roll out of bed and into the gym instead of adding commuting legs to and from DIAKADI to my already hectic life.

So I joined a major "chain" gym that is a mere 115 steps from my front door. (Yes, I counted.)  This particular gym has been staring at me, mocking me, for years as I walked by and ignored it! And this week I started working out there on my own to get a feel for it. And all I have to say is this:  Since CTF has been my first gym experience, I never realized I had it so good at DIAKADI until now.

My new gym is pretty crowded. I have a wait for equipment to be available longer and more often than at DIAKADI. The equipment isn't as well cared for; I couldn't take the horrific rattling sounds coming from some of the cable machines, and the saggy yoga balls could use some air, etc. Plus this gym is really stuffy and humid, and it's so cramped that it's hard to find a space next to a weight station if you are doing circuits.

I showed up on my first day and was shocked to see how crowded and busy the gym was at 3:30 on a weekday. I tried to ignore everybody and just focus. I started poking around, looking for my usual tools-of-the-trade and was disappointed that couldn't find certain things that I've always had full access to at DIAKADI. At one point I was looking around, frustrated, and suddenly felt intimidated when I turned around and realized that like 20 people on cardio machines were facing me while I schlepped around not knowing what I'm doing, where I'm going, and what I'm looking for. I actually started to panic; I had a feeling like I didn't belong in this gym and I almost left thinking I'd come back in the late evening when it was less crowded because I felt like everyone was staring at me (which they weren't, but this is panic, mind you). But then from nowhere a quiet calm came over me and I basically told myself I had to do this NOW and start figuring this out NOW because this is going to be my new life. I looked down at my exercise log, found a place to park my yoga ball, and got to work.

I realized quickly that I had learned so much from Billy and could improvise my way through any exercise or activity even without the exact equipment I regularly used at DIAKADI. I was looking for a dual cable station and remembered that I could do this one particular exercise with a single cable if I modified it a bit. I used a plastic step to support my hands on another exercise, instead of a rolled up rubber yoga mat. For something I usually use a staff for, I went without the staff and just paid particular attention to my form. I was fine.  Everything was fine. I got a decent workout in the end. And I called Billy afterwards to review my substitutions and he had some helpful suggestions that I implemented in my next workout.

More than anything, it felt great that I turned my intimidating neighborhood gym into an ally, and I overcame my fears of working out on my own.  The new gym isn't exactly home but I will make it work, even if it requires a bit more patience and hand sanitizer.  The staff has been very nice and I can't beat the location; I don't even have to use the locker room there because I can just change at home which is pretty convenient.  No gym bag to pack: I just walk out of my house with my water bottle and keys and leave my phone and wallet at home.

DIAKADI has been my routine, 3 times a week for over 11 months...now my priority is to set a new routine.  If later on I decide I don't need my precious 1-minute gym commute, I have other options in the immediate vicinity and of course DIAKADI will always be there for me.

My DIAKADI friends will still see me around the gym, from time to time, as Billy will still be teaching me the workouts I'll be doing on my own.  And I do plan to pop in on Saturdays now and again.  I won't be a stranger, I promise.

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How Far I've Come

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How Far I've Come

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Commit to Fit | Week 48

Author | Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave Mckew

On Saturday I met up with Sarah (Eating Free) and Billy and Mike (DIAKADI) to interview the 2012 Commit To Fit finalists at DIAKADI.  The candidates were a diverse group, men and women from all walks of life, spanning a 35 year age range.  I listened to them tell their stories...many of which were very familiar to me because, one year earlier, I'd sat in that very chair and told the same stories.

I heard about huffing and puffing while tying shoes, not fitting into restaurant booths or airplane seats or roller coasters, health issues and fears of health issues. I heard frustration and embarrassment.  I heard excuses.  I heard about rejection and being treated differently.  I heard about making bad decisions.  I heard about failure to meet certain goals.  One candidate had lost a hundred pounds several years back and had gained most of it back.  Another had taken off his shirt in his application video which I thought was powerful.  One candidate had managed to lose 50 pounds on her own in the last four months, which I thought was very impressive.  Another said she wanted to be able to wear tight dresses like her friends and pick up men.  In the end we all just want to fit in, don't we?

I thought a lot about my Commit To Fit interview from back in February 2011.  I was so nervous being in a gym.  I think it might have been my first time in a real gym.  I remember trying to convince people that I was ready to do this, even though in my head I was afraid that I'd be a massive failure.  I remember being asked where I might see myself in 5 years after successful completion of the program.  I remember not really having an answer because I'd never really dared to think about losing all the weight.  Today, I've lost over 100 pounds and I still don't have an answer.  I am trying to stay focused on the present, and not worry so much about the future.  I'll get there when I get there, right?

I remember the week between my interview and when I finally got the call from Billy saying I'd be the winner for 2011.   During that week, I was so scared because I'd come so far motivationally that if I didn't win I'd HAVE to do something about my weight but I had no idea what that would end up being.  I remember being glad that I'd ended up telling about ten friends that I was applying for CTF; in the back of my head I was hoping they'd all be there to nag me to do something if I didn't win.

When Billy called me to tell me that I'd won, I remember feeling relief...and dread.  I was so nervous about how the hell I was going to pull this off.  "I'm going to eat right and exercise for a year, and lose a ton of weight?" I thought.  "This will be a one-man comedy show that will write itself."

I'd say that assessment is half true.  Yes, there's going to be a one-man show but I'm not sure it'll be all humor.  As I predicted this whole thing has been fun, funny and downright ridiculous at times...but overall has felt pretty serious.  I've wrestled with some very real demons and had to do a lot of work and overcome a lot of obstacles during this year.  And let's not forget I still have more than 40 pounds to lose, so it's not over until the fat lady sings.  A fat lady who, let's be honest, is actually a thinner version of me, in an awful dress, performing a one-man show on a rickety stage in San Francisco's Mission District.

I must say I am jealous of the 2012 Commit To Fit Winner.  The rewards ahead will be exhilarating.  What I wouldn't give to do it all over again in a second!  I say this without hesitation.

Congrats to the winner!  I'll see you around the gym.

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Your Questions part III

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Your Questions part III

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Commit to Fit | Week 47

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave Mckew

(1) You mentioned in a recent blog that you have lost over 90 pounds and you still eat the majority of your meals at restaurants.  What are you eating when you eat out?

Three weeks ago I wrote in this blog, "I eat out a lot, and simply make better choices off the menu than I used to, thanks to Eating Free!  I do keep food in the house, mostly healthy snacks and breakfasts, but food preparation for one can be a little depressing so I tend to eat a lot of meals out of the house, with friends."  And it's true.  I really don't think Eating Free would have worked for me as well if it had tried to force me to magically become a cook.  In my opinion, Eating Free works for me because it works so well with my existing habits, likes, dislikes, etc.

So what do I eat when I go out?  People are perhaps most surprised to hear that I still eat burritos and pizza.  My usual burrito order is a "regular" (not a "super") that is usually just meat, salsa and beans (no rice or cheese - and I've never cared for cold sour cream and guac in the middle of my hot burrito anyway).  Nowadays I don't even eat the whole burrito, probably more like 3/4 of it, but I gotta have my tortilla chips.  15 to a serving, that's plenty for burrito-scooping.  As for pizza: I eat it by the slice for lunch or dinner once a week or so, I don't order a small pizza for take-out any more and eat most of it for dinner while saving the rest for leftovers.  When ordering out at a restaurant these days, I try to avoid food that comes with sauces that I don't know the composition of, so I tend to stay away from Chinese and Indian food because it's just so hard to know how fatty the sauces are.  (I used to eat Chinese food twice a week, now I do it once every other month or so.)  For Asian food, I still eat sushi (just not a ton of rice or the super saucy rolls), Vietnamese food including pho (not too hard to eat healthy at most Vietnamese places), and ramen soups.  When ordering salads, I get dressing on the side so I can self-administer.  Frankly I hardly use it; most of the time I use 5 to 25% of the dressing they give me.  For weekday lunches, I often go to San Francisco Soup Company and get a low-fat soup, half sandwich and/or fruit.  Sometimes I'll get a deli sandwich, and if I want to save some fats for dinner, I'll avoid mayonnaise and cheese (but I do get both of these fairly often).  Love chips with my sandwich, so I stick to Baked Lays.  A lot of convenience stores and delis downtown have chopped fruit cups available for dessert or snacks, or I'll just grab an apple or banana and/or yogurt somewhere.  I still eat burgers, I just do bacon and mayo less often and pretty much always skip the French fries.  It's more fun having a bite or two of someone else's French fries anyway.  If I go out to breakfast, I usually get eggs and English muffin, usually choose ham over bacon or sausage, and replace the hash browns most of the time with fruit.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, do I still eat bacon, sausage, hash browns, French fries, Chinese food, Indian food, desserts, and fried foods?  Yes, but if I have a particularly "fatty" day, I really try to have lower fat days in the days that follow.  Eating Free works on "weekly averages," so you just need to compensate later in your week if you eat too many fats, carbs, etc.  My 'week" is Saturday through Friday, because I tend to eat more on weekends... and it's easy to keep my meals more structured during the week when I'm course-correcting.

(2)  When you drink a lot of alcohol, eat desserts, high fat foods, etc., do you continue to  track  it on the Eating Free website? One of the things I continue to struggle with on Eating Free is tracking when I "stray." When  those boxes turn red [when I go over my allocations] I freak out a little. So I'm curious to know what you do.

I'm definitely not the poster boy for tracking.  I haven't been very disciplined about it over the last 5-6 months.  But that is because I tracked diligently for the first 5-6 months and really got a good grip on portion control and good feel for making smart decisions when I eat.  In short, I learned something!  In fact, I learned a lot.  So I've been able to lose quite a bit of my 100 pounds when I wasn't tracking as diligently as I used to.

That being said, I don't know how anyone can learn portion control (or balanced nutrition) if they aren't tracking their foods.  How on Earth would anyone know what a 2000 calorie day is, or a 600 calorie meal is (etc.) without tracking?  So I think tracking is most pivotal when you are first starting out losing weight, and when you reduce your daily caloric intake as your weight loss progresses.

So, I hate to say it, but if you're tracking, there's no point in skipping logging something just because you see red when you go over your allocations.  It's red for a reason, to intimidate you!  So OBEY THE RED, move on, and aim for less red (or better yet: no red).  We all have "red" days.  You just have to follow them up with "green" days and your week will balance out.

(3) Was your weight loss journey what you expected it to be? Was it harder or easier than you at first thought it would be and did you learn anything new about yourself?

Overall, it's been much easier than I ever expected.  I spent 15 or 20 years imagining how losing the weight would be impossible and take forever, so in retrospect it almost makes sense that it ended up being easier than what I'd always feared it might be.  Working out was made palatable by Billy at DIAKADI, I never felt that I couldn't handle it or that it was going to kill me.  Not even close.  Changing my eating habits was occasionally intimidating at the beginning, and psychologically a little grueling at times, but breaking patterns and changing habits always is.  I remember in my first few months feeling like I was obsessing about food, because I was always trying to figure out how many ounces that meat was, how many cups of vegetables that salad was, how many fats in that sauce, but I eventually learned to relax and just not worry about it so much.  There is a certain amount of approximation with tracking food; I'd like to think that most of my errors ultimately cancel themselves out resulting in an accurate record for each day where I put the effort in.  Some weeks you eat very carefully and you still gain weight, and some weeks you eat too much and you still lose weight.  Once I kinda figured out that so many factors can contribute to the number on the scale, I was able to relax a little.  I had some weeks where I gained 3 pounds, and some weeks where I lost over 10 pounds.  It was the overall downward trend that was important, not the individual number every week.  I can't stress that enough to anyone embarking on a weight loss journey.

The surprises have been the best part.   I won't rehash them all again but you can find my comments on sex in my Week 32 blog and my general sense of spatial awareness in my Week 41 blog.  Another big surprise: I am capable of discipline!  Who knew?

Very moving to me is the fact that I have become an inspiration, and an unexpected "authority" on nutrition and weight loss, among my peers.  I used to wish I could hide under the couch when these topics came up.  Now I tell people at a party that I lost 100 pounds, and suddenly everyone wants to know how I did it. And I would say probably 25-30 people in my life have told me that they are eating better and/or exercising because they thought to themselves "if Dave can lose 50/75/100 pounds...then why can't I lose 10/20/30 pounds?"  It is so flattering, and quite a rush, to learn that I have inspired so many people.  I don't think I ever realized I had that potential within me.

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100 Pounds Down!

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100 Pounds Down!

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Commit to Fit | Week 46

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave Mckew

On January 13th, my weigh-in at Eating Free revealed that I had lost 100.1 pounds in just under ten and a half months.  My initial long-term goal was to lose 100 pounds by March 1, 2012, and I managed to get there 7 weeks ahead of that goal.

I'd wondered if I would cry tears of joy on the day I hit the 100 pound marker but I did not.  While it's obviously an important milestone, I still have more weight to lose, so that makes "100" just another number in the grand scheme of things.

However, being the attention whore that I am, I did milk this moment long enough to gather the troops for a Hundred Pound Happy Hour celebration on January 20th.  Nearly 50 friends came out to celebrate with me, including Sarah from Eating Free, Billy and Mike from DIAKADI, and of course Lilei, my 100 pound "fitness model," who came out in a red body suit reminiscent of her now famous diagram.

Here are some pictures from the event.   That's Lilei, Billy and I in one picture, and the other is a gratuitous shot of my old jeans (eight sizes, or sixteen inches, larger than my current ones) from ten months ago.

 

It ended up being a great weekend to reflect on my success.  After pausing to celebrate (and eat way too much at Gorilla BBQ in Pacifica) I am ready to move forward and attack my final 40-50 pounds.  Wish me luck!

 

Oh, and for good measure, here is the completed Lilei diagram showing Lilei completely filled-in:

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Eight Sizes Smaller

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Eight Sizes Smaller

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Commit to Fit | Week 45

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave Mckew

As promised, I re-engaged with food after the damaging holidays and lost over 6.5 pounds during the first week of the month.  This was my largest drop since October, and a welcome one after basically "treading water" on the scale for most of November and December.  At this point I have lost 98.3 pounds in just over 10 months.

Here is the updated Lilei diagram:

For those new to this blog, Lilei is a hundred pound co-worker of mine who has volunteered to represent the 100 pounds I'd wanted to lose between 3/1/11 and 3/1/12.  (I've got more to lose than that, but 100 was my goal for my Commit To Fit year.)  I've been asking my friend Stephen to fill in the diagram every few weeks so we can all watch the progress.

Lilei had been asking to be a "ninja" on the second-to-last diagram, so when I asked Stephen for the updated graphic, we worked out leaving Lilei with nothing but an "eye hole" in her "ninja mask."  I think she looks more like an international "do not enter" sign, but that's just me.  Some people on my Facebook think she looks like a welder or that dude from Daft Punk.

I'd been waiting for my most recent belt (my fourth since March) to indicate when it was time to get some new jeans.  This was the week where the belt was officially too big, so on Saturday I went to Macy's and bought some new jeans.  This was monumental because it was literally the first time I'd bought a pair of jeans in a regular store (not big-n-tall store or big-n-tall department) in over 20 years.  When I brought them to the counter, the saleswoman asked if I'd found everything I need.  "Lady," I said, "You have no idea."  And then I told her my story.  And then of course she upsold me by making sure I left the store with a Macy's card.  Clever, clever girl.

As I type this, I am wearing jeans that are eight sizes (sixteen inches) smaller than the ones I was wearing in March.

Leaving the store, I got a little choked up because it's so validating to feel like I'm a size that marketing people have determined is "normal" for the "mass market." Apparently, I'm a regular person again in the eyes of the people who really matter, America's retailers.

As I wrote at length in my Week 19 and 20 blogs, I've been shopping at big-n-tall stores since I was in high school, and always felt like my clothing selection was severly limited because I couldn't just walk into any store in the mall and buy anything.  While I won't be doing any serious shopping spree until after I lose a few more inches of waistline, I'm getting kinda psyched about all the choices I'll have when I do.

Here's a photo of Mr. Skinny Legs for your viewing pleasure:

Hopefully in the next week or two I'll cross the hundred pound mark.

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Holiday Wrap-Up

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Holiday Wrap-Up

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Commit to Fit | Week 43/44

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

Funny story: Billy at DIAKADI gave me two amazing grass-fed steaks for Christmas, and challenged me to actually cook them, since I NEVER cook.  (Yes, it's true, I've lost over 90 pounds since March and I hardly ever cook at home.  I eat out a lot, and simply make better choices off the menu than I used to, thanks to Eating Free!  I do keep food in the house, mostly healthy snacks and breakfasts, but food preparation for one can be a little depressing so I tend to eat a lot of meals out of the house, with friends.)  So anyway...I get these *beautiful* steaks home, I fire up the stove, turn on the overhead fan and go to town with cooking one of the steaks in my awesome grill pan, a gift from my old friend Tracy.  I do a great job, it looks beautiful...but my apartment is filling up with smoke, because apparently my kitchen fan sucks and the overall ventilation is poor, even with the windows open.

(If I actually ever cooked, I would have known this sooner.)  So, in the middle of eating my delicious, juicy steak in my smoke-filled apartment, I make the bad decision to open the front door of my apartment to vent out the smoke into the hall.

I'm sure you can see where this is going....The building alarm is activated and our 18-unit building starts evacuating.  I go down to the street and start chatting with my neighbors, who, are really nice to me because they don't know it was my cooking that caused us to all run out into the cold.  (Strangely, my unit's own smoke alarm did not go off.)  The firemen arrive and I feel obligated to explain to the head fireman that it was my cooking that triggered the alarm.  He yells back to his team not to worry, that it was just "burned food."  And I am all insulted.  I did NOT burn that steak!  So I yelled to the team of firemen, "It's not burned, actually, it's perfect!"  Hey, I dont' want some black mark on my record with the city of San Francisco that says I can't cook!

The lead fireman says he has to inspect my unit.  I'm thinking this will be a great opportunity to show him my flawless meat.  So he comes upstairs, sees that there clearly was no fire that I was trying to cover up, and then gets on the radio: "Nothing to worry about, just burned food in apartment seven."  And now I'm REALLY annoyed, because my food was NOT burned.  So I yell into the radio with an eye-roll, almost singing, "It's not burned, it's perfect!"   Then I turned to the fireman and said, "I mean, just LOOK at it!"  And we looked down at it together.  "Hmmmm...." he said, with an approving head-wobble. "Seared."  And then left.  I finished my steak, which was crazy delicious.  Prather Ranch Beef Ribeye, by the way.

Of course my apartment smelled like steak for days, which was both disgusting and amazing at the same time.

On the weight loss front: my weight loss slowed down during the holidays.  And by "the holidays" I mean the two months from Halloween through New Year's, when food was coming at me from all sides!  In my office, there was the Halloween candy people kept buying at Walgreens and dumping into our candy bucket, the post-Halloween candy people stole from their kids and brought into the office, seasonal baked goods (pumpkin this, apple that) that employees or their spouses would bake and send to work.  Socially, there were all these celebratory happy hours and parties, plus Thanksgiving dinner, plus the big Christmas Eve group dinner at 2223 Market (alas, they closed for good over New Year's) and my recent Christmas-week excursion to San Francisco's hard-to-get-into Flour and Water restaurant, where they hand-make perhaps the best pasta I've ever eaten.

Yes, "the holidays" is one of our easiest excuses.  It's so easy to blame "the holidays" on our lack of discipline, isn't it?  Don't blame yourself, blame hundreds or thousands of years of tradition!  Let's be honest: I didn't have to eat all that stuff, I was just "living a little" so often that it was basically "living a lot."  And while I still lost weight in November and December, I averaged about 2.75 pounds of loss per month.  (Compare that to the 10.5 pounds per month I averaged between March and October.)

Like all the people who who use the world's oldest excuse, I am planning to re-engage now that the holidays are over.  I'd wanted to reach one hundred pounds of weight loss by New Year's Eve and that just didn't happen.  But if I can get my act together, it could happen by the third week of January.  Stay tuned!

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"Your Questions Part II"

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"Your Questions Part II"

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Commit to Fit | Week 42

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

When are you writing your novel?

It's a flattering thought, but I assure you my life isn't interesting enough to sustain a novel. Even if I lose 50 more pounds, my weight loss story isn't all that compelling because I've not overcome any personal tragedies or anything like that.  In fact, my life has been generally free of major obstacles (knock on wood or whatever this desk is made out of), even when I was at my heaviest.

That being said, my life's journey has definitely been ridiculous enough to sustain a one-man comedy stage show, and that will probably happen in San Francisco in late 2012, so...stay tuned for that.

* * * * *

 Do you consider yourself an over-eater?

No.  In fact I recently confirmed this by attending an Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meeting, for the first time.  I went to lend support, and do some research for a writing project (which may or may not be the one-man stage comedy about weight loss I previously mentioned.)   Overall, I found the OA experience to be cult-like (talking in sync, memorized prayers, etc.) and just... thoroughly disturbing.

At the start of the meeting, I felt pressure to identify myself up-front as an overeater which, frankly, set a poor tone for me for the rest of the evening.  The meeting was so regimented, with everyone who spoke having a strict time limit denoted by a loudly beeping stopwatch (and everyone was given a “warning” when their time was almost up, it was like watching Oscar speeches... you aren't even listening because you're so stressed out about how awkward it's gonna be when they're cut off.)  The people in this meeting were obsessed with food at a level I could never have been.  There were two people in the meeting who said they’d weighed and measured EVERY meal they’ve eaten since the early 1980’s. A woman said something funny that was kinda "anti-OA" and no one laughed.  It was erie.  How did they all know not to laugh?  I don't get it.  Anyway, I left the meeting feeling like OA had actually made some of these people feel like they had a problem they may not have actually had.  Yes, I am probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but the impression I got was that OA actually may CAUSE people to obsess about food.  I can't see how people don't leave these meetings feeling like food is their personal demon and a horrific challenge, based on what everyone was saying.  I should have brought some Eating Free brochures.

Perhaps I sound very closed-minded.  Perhaps I can't relate to skinny people who think they have weight problems.  But as I looked around the room and heard stories both familiar and unfamiliar, I found it remarkably easy to distance myself from these people; I truly don't believe I was ever like them. I never recall eating in secret, feeling guilty about food, eating differently in front of people vs. alone, partaking in "emotional eating."

I suppose when push comes to shove, I guess I've always felt different from other obese people because I haven't shared a lot of their more common problems.  If you read my blog, you'll see that I don't say "Biggest Loser" style stuff like "now I have my life back" and "my life was spinning out of control" and "I'm a different person now" (and my favorite: "I don't know who that guy is" when I'm looking at an old picture of myself.)  I don't say stuff like that, or even think it, because I don't feel that my previous life was some horrific disaster.  In fact that is one of the reasons why I went to the OA meeting, and I said this when I was there: “I’m here because I’m in a great place in my life, and I wanted to be reminded of where I’ve been, because I respect how remarkably easy it is to get off this successful track that I'm on."  I further explained that I was checking out OA as a possible support network I might need in the future.  However, at this point I know it's not for me.  I won't be going back.

That all being said, if these people feel like OA is helping them, who am I to say it’s not? These are my observations as a first timer; I was basically an outsider to a process that I simply don’t understand.

* * * * *

Now that you've gone through this huge transformation, are there other challenges you feel like you're able to take on, that you wouldn't have before?

The two most common questions I get these days are "What's next for you, after Commit To Fit, in terms of food and exercise?" and "What's next for you, in terms of life?"  I answered the former last week and this week I'm tackling the latter.

As I've mentioned before, I'm an actor/writer/comedian and for the last ten years, I've been largely performing my own material, which is rewarding but limiting as an actor because you instinctively don't write parts you can't play.  Acting isn't much of a challenge when you know the character inside and out, right?  Losing weight will undoubtedly open up some opportunities for me.  I don't usually go to auditions because I've been too big for most roles.  But at both my current and future sizes I'm far more apt to get work on stage or in a commercial or movie, which would be challenging and rewarding in  a different way than playing parts written by myself or my creative partner.  And as I get smaller, even more doors will open for me there. So I suspect I'll be auditioning more, and seeing what's out there.  I'd like to do some drama, which I've not really done since my college acting class.

I have a few other ambitions and several big ideas for sure...but I'm not ready to announce them here yet.  I am focused right now on finishing my Commit To Fit year before focusing too much on what comes after. But watch this space in the coming weeks as I expect to have more to say on this topic!

* * * * *

Thanks for your questions!  If you have any others that you'd like to see answered here, email me at dave@diakadibody.com !

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"Your Questions Part I"

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"Your Questions Part I"

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Commit to Fit | Week 41

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

What is the most surprising thing about your weight loss?

My increased sex drive. Good Lord, I'm 38 going on 25.  It's insane.

Another thing, perhaps less predictable: my concept of how much space my body takes up has NOT adjusted to my decreased size.  I keep saying "excuse me" to people who I *think* need to move to get out of my way, but it turns out I don't need them to move.   This happens almost every day, in the aisle at a store, on while standing on public transportation...everywhere.  When I'm about to sit down between two people on the bus, I'm convinced I'm going to brush against and disturb both of them, and now I can sit between two people without even touching them. I am just so used to needing extra space that apparently I don't need any more.  What a relief!

* * * * *

What is the most disappointing thing about your weight loss?

My expensive, professional-grade Santa suit doesn't fit any more!  It was so embarrassing when I wore it at Halloween this year, it was four or five sizes too big, and it just didn't feel right to "stuff" it, so I didn't. Instead, I looked like the baggy, deflating red balloon from the 1956 film "The Red Balloon".

Actually, I had a bunch of pretty nice big-n-tall clothes that I've had to retire (donate).  It was kinda a bummer, seeing some nice, expensive stuff go away for nothing....but, of course, it feels great to donate.  (I tried, without success, to sell some of my nicer stuff on craigslist, but there is just no secondary market for big-n-tall clothing, most big-n-tall people don't bother looking for it on craigslist.)

* * * * *

Once you are no longer in the Commit To Fit program, how do you think you will stay in good shape?

Food-wise, I'm not too worried about going back to my old ways.  Eating Free has taught me a lot, I think most importantly how to self-correct after a day where I've eaten too much or a week where I've gained weight.  I'll need to get a scale!  Mine is broken and I decided not to replace it so that during my Commit To Fit year I would weigh myself ONLY at MV Nutrition (and sometimes at DIAKADI)...I was worried that I'd weigh myself at home every day and every night and obsess about it all the time.   They say you should weigh yourself only once a week, and I found this easiest to accomplish by not having a scale in my house.

As far as exercise goes, Billy is going to continue to design workouts for me that I will do on my own.  I am so grateful for this.  I've decided that I will need to join the gym on my block.  This is a hard decision given that DIAKADI has given me an open gym membership for life, but realistically I know that I am more apt to succeed if working out is a mere 120 steps from my front door.  As I mentioned in my recent blog about excuses (Week 40), it is remarkably easy to find excuses to not go to the gym.  Working out on the same block as my apartment eliminates several of them.  Of course, I will pop into DIAKADI every now and then because I will miss everyone there, without a doubt.

My Commit-To-Fit year is over on March 1, but I will probably send a blog update to Eating Free and DIAKADI every now and then so readers can keep up with my progress. This will keep the pressure on!   I've said since the beginning that losing weight so publicly has really helped motivate me and keep me on track, partially because the fear of failure in front of an audience helps keep me on target.  (Remember, I'm an actor/comedian...so I LIVE to do stuff in front of people.)  It's been a lot of pressure, but I'm motivated by that.  And I should stress that all the pressure has come from myself - Billy and Sarah have really encouraged me to succeed but don't really get on my case when I fail.  They challenge me to want to do better for myself, which, really, is what we all need to succeed.

* * * * *

If you have questions for Dave that you'd like him to answer in his blog, you can email them to Dave@diakadibody.com

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"I'm Tired of Your Excuses"

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"I'm Tired of Your Excuses"

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Commit to Fit | Week 40

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

The Commit To Fit team is looking for their 2012 winner.  I cannot stress what an amazing gift this opportunity is for someone in the Bay Area!  So if you or someone you know (who is over 18 and has a BMI greater than 30) is ready to benefit for a year's worth of personal training and nutrition counseling, make sure you (they) click on the links below.  And if you're a local-to-SF obese person who is making excuses as to why you shouldn't apply...then you should keep reading.

You know, that might have sounded a little bit rude... but as a man who spent a good 15 to 20 years coming up with excuses as to why I can't (or shouldn't, or don't need to) lose weight, this seems to be one of the few fields in which I am a true expert.  I'm so good at making excuses, I would have a Masters in Obstacle Building and be teaching classes at a local college if I weren't so busy coming up with excuses.

 

(That was a pretty cleverly-structured joke, I hope at least one of you appreciated that.)

 

OK, back to you.  Reasons why you can't apply for Commit To Fit:

 

(1)  You are too busy to exercise.

So was I.  I have a full time job, a pretty active social life... and this summer I co-wrote, co-produced, and co-directed a play that I co-starred in AND I went to London for 10 days, and I still managed to make Commit To Fit fit in to my life well enough to lose over 90 pounds since March.  So, you can, too.

 

(2)  You are too tired to exercise.

So many people say, "after a hard day's work, I am too tired to exercise."  That's cool.  So do it in the morning, before work, it won't kill you.

 

(3)  But you're not a morning person.

Become one.  I'm pretty sure if you had to wake up an hour earlier for your job or your family, you would do so.  So think of it as your job.  Or go in the middle of the day and make it a long lunch.  Seriously, if it's important, you can find the time.

 

(4) You work weekdays 9 to 5 (etc.) so you can't go to the appointments at MV Nutrition and DIAKADI.

So do I.  I simply asked my employer if they would accomodate a few weekly schedule adjustments for the benefit of my health, and they said yes.  So don't say you can't make it work in your schedule until you've asked your boss.  Blackmail him or her if you must.

 

(5)  You are too old to exercise or have some health issue that might get in the away.

Don't decide that yourself.  Let a doctor make the recommendation and let your trainer customize a program for you.  I see folks working out at DIAKADI who are of a variety ages and ability levels.  You might be surprised what constitutes "working out" or "exercise."  No one's gonna make you run a marathon on Day 1.  That won't happen until at least your third week.

 

(6)  You are intimidated by the going to gym, because everyone is so darn beautiful.

So was I.  But at DIAKADI, the clients and trainers are serious about their work.  So they're not all standing around and chit-chatting and modeling like at the gym down the street.  (Which I may have meant literally or metaphorically, it's up to you.) (Oh yes, I did.)  My point is that you won't have time to notice what everyone else is doing, and they won't be noticing you.  Because they're busy...and you're so focused on your work, and your trainer.

 

(7) You have a plan to start exercising and eating better later, you'll just stick to that.

Hahahaha, OK, that's just a riot.

 

(8) I'm too busy to cook/eat better.

So, just so we're all on the same page, I used to eat 100% of my meals out. My fridge was empty, 24/7 for YEARS, except for some really old jelly and mayonnaise and something that I couldn't recognize anymore that carbon-dated back to the Jurassic period. And now since I started Eating Free, I still have lunch and dinner out 5-7 days a week.  I just make different choices when I eat a restaurant.  You can eat out and still lose weight, I promise.  I've lost over 90 pounds in the last 9 months, mostly eating out.

 

(9)  My partner/child(ren) will revolt if we only eat carrots and apples in the house.

If your concept of eating healthy is just eating carrots and apples, then you probably need to see a nutritionist whether you win this contest or not.

 

(10)  If I had to give up fried chicken and doughnuts, I'd kill myself.

If you DON'T give up fried chicken and doughnuts, you probably WILL kill yourself.  But seriously, these are two of my favorite foods and I still eat them...from time to time.  Eating Free is absurdly flexible...every food fits into the plan.  Check it out!

 

(11) I don't have any sense of discipline.

So change.  Losing the weight you've wanted to lose for years will never be as easy as when you have a team of people to help you out, to guide and advise you, and perhaps most importantly, hold you accountable for your actions. So go for it.  What if you win?

 

(12)  I'm not ready.

If you've read this far, you are ready.  If you're ready, they might pick you.  If you win, you'll do awesome because how can you not, with all these folks on your side?

 

Now, if you're as good as I am at making excuses, then you've already got 10 more that I've not listed.  Focus all your excuse-making energy on applying for Commit To Fit instead.  I did, and look where it's gotten me so far.  And the great thing is...the best part of my story is really just beginning.

Commit to Fit Link

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"The Biggest Loser"

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"The Biggest Loser"

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Commit to Fit | Week 39

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

As a fat person, I have been particularly sensitive about how fat people are portrayed in media.  For example, I hated that movie "Super Size Me," that movie about the guy who eats nothing but McDonald's for 30 days, becomes unhealthy, and then we're all supposed to think his research is groundbreaking and that he's actually NOT an idiot.  I feel like in that movie the filmmaker creates a strong association between obese people and stupidity, and that basically no one noticed this because the film's anti-corporate message was Bandwagon Of The Year that year so it overshadowed everything else in the film.

Another example of what peeves me: I can't stand when news sites and TV shows do a spot on the obesity epidemic in America and show photos or video clips of obese people (often standing in line at a fast food joint or walking out of Wal-Mart, mind you, because that's all we do, you know) with their heads cut off by the frame to anonymize them, as if to imply that these obese people were too ashamed to show their faces in association with this news story.  In my opinion, this dehumanizes the obese and suggests they have no self-respect.

So when "The Biggest Loser,"  the reality TV show about weight loss, starting airing on NBC in 2004, I couldn't bring myself to watch it.  Frankly, I was offended by what I'm sure the producers thought was a clever title.  But I don't think it's clever at all; the American media is so down on fat people that as far as I'm concerned the title basically was calling us a bunch of Big Fat Freakin' Losers.

I accidentally watched about a minute of the show once, a few years ago.  The clip I saw featured an obese man running around a gym with a little blond woman on his back.  She was his trainer and she was screaming at him to do it better, do it faster.  I thought this was demeaning and couldn't believe that people watched this crap.  So I turned it off.

And I didn't turn it on again until recently, because, well...suddenly I was curious about it, for obvious reasons.  Since the marketing NBC does for the show is always bragging about how it's infectious and has inspired so many people to lose weight, I tried to watch the show from the perspective of an obese person who might want to try to get motivated to lose weight.  I wondered, "Would this show inspire me to lose weight?  Or scare the crap out of me and paralyze me with fear?"  Here are my observations:

(1)  The trainers are really mean to the contestants.  Obviously this is for show, and to make the show interesting and perhaps amusing to viewers, but it perpetuates the myth that the only way to lose weight is to suffer at the hands of a real aggressive jerk.

(2)  In one episode, a trainer was annoyed at his contestant for only losing 8 pounds that week. And the contestant was all depressed about it, too.  Now, I understand these people constantly enjoy much bigger weekly losses because they're basically losing weight full time (they don't have pesky jobs or lives to get in the way) but it made me wonder if viewers really grasp that these numbers would be insane for anyone trying to lose weight at home.  It also made me wonder if obese people realize they can lose weight at a respectable pace on their own WITHOUT having to live in a "boot camp" or "fat farm" for months.

(3)  In the same episode, the contestants were finally heading home after several months at the boot camp.  They were reunited with their spouses before they went home, and the trainers stressed to the spouses that their support was key to the success of the contestants once they got home and were dealing with fitness/nutrition on their own.  In other words, the contestants would need to be accountable to their spouses in lieu of their trainers.  I wondered how an obese single person would feel watching this.  I wondered if they felt like they might have an uphill battle in front of them, because they don't have someone in their life at home to support them.  As I've written about before in my Week 8 blog, fat people don't really need any more excuses to NOT lose weight; we come up with plenty on our own, thank you very much.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the show is entirely bad.  It seems to have a lot of heart, and it's hard not to feel some compassion for the contestants' stories.  And I liked that the Thanksgiving episode I watched responsibly included some cooking tips on how to make your Thanksgiving dinner healthier.  But overall I think the show might be doing damage to some viewers (while admittedly inspiring others).  In short, I think it would be interesting to see how many people it turns off to weight loss... but I suspect no one in the NBC marketing group is keeping track of those numbers.

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"Earning Every @#$%&! Pound"

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"Earning Every @#$%&! Pound"

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Commit to Fit | Week 37/38

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

Announcement: People in my life have asking me tons of questions about my experiences this year with fitness, nutrition and weight loss in general. Everything from what I'm doing, how I'm feeling, my life in the past, my plans for the future, changes, etc. For an upcoming blog, I will be answering any questions you, the readers, might have for me. So if you have questions for me that you'd like me to answer in an upcoming post, please email them to Dave@DIAKADIBody.com.

Over the five month stretch from June through October, I consistently averaged about 2.5 to 2.6 pounds of weight loss per week. By mid-October, I was pretty confident that I would lose my 100th pound some time between Thanksgiving and mid-December.  But I recently went through a four week stretch where my net loss was only ONE pound. I gained two pounds, then lost three, then gained three, and then lost three. My weight loss was bouncing around between 83 pounds down and 86 pounds down. It was driving me crazy because I'd enjoyed a relatively smooth ride up until this point.

I mentioned this to my friend Jeff and he suggested I write about this, even though I wasn't really taking about it with most people. He said that this experience is a good reminder for me that I'm *earning* every single @#$%&! pound I lose. I'd said a million times this summer that I was finding my new lifestyle to be relatively easy, but didn't realize until more recently (see my Week 35 blog "Meltdown") that this entire process has actually been, at times, a colossal, emotionally-taxing pain in my ass. Even when I was doing better at it than I'm doing right now (my weight loss average since March has dropped to about 2.38 pounds/week), it still required a certain amount of concentration, patience, will power and emotional bandwidth -- whether I'd realized it at the time, or not!

Looking over the weight spreadsheet I've been keeping since March, I took comfort realizing that I'd actually had a worse four-week stretch earlier in the year. Weeks 7, 8, 9 and 10 reflected a net loss of ZERO pounds. I'm sure at the time I was flipping out and thinking this game was over then.

And of course since then I've lost over 65 pounds. Turns out the game was actually far from over. So I need to remember to keep mindful of that, now.

 

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“The Incredible Shrinking Dave”

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“The Incredible Shrinking Dave”

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Commit to Fit | Week 36

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

I own a ton of costumes because I've been writing and performing sketch comedy, doing plays, etc. for the last ten years.  So every year at Halloween I usually just pull something out of my closet to wear to local Halloween parties.  This year I decided to wear the "professional" Santa suit that I got not even two years ago, for one last time.  I say "last time" because it's simply too big on me now  Last year it fit like a glove, but now, it's embarrassingly large.  I felt like it was bad karma to pad it, so I wore it "baggy style" this year.  Frankly, I looked a little ridiculous but it didn't stop people from sitting on my lap and telling me what they wanted for Christmas.  Which, let's be honest, is the whole point in dressing up like Santa.

Speaking of costumes, this week I also performed a comedy show in Sacramento, to make up for the one I had to cancel when I had to visit the E/R a few weeks ago (see my Week 31 blog for that funny story, if you missed it).  Digging through my costumes to find the jackets that I wear on stage to play bosses/doctors/etc., I discovered that they were all too big on me.  I'd purchased these jackets in the 2002-2004 time frame, and by 2006 or so, they were all too small.  Not any more...now they're too big!

I couldn't button it comfortably at the beginning of this year.  And now, even though it's not the best picture, you can clearly see it's far too big.

The biggest news of the week is that I wore my first XL sized t-shirt this week, since...the mid 1990's, maybe?  It was a little more snug than I'm used to, but I expect I'll "shrink" into it. Attached is another not-so-great picture from my Sacramento performance, but you can get the idea of how much "leaner" I am these days, even though the photo is black-on-black.

8  months ago, I was wearing 5XL t-shirts, and I confess I did own a few 6XL shirts as well.  In September I attended an "Alter Ego Costume Party" as "Previous Me," wearing an old 6XL shirt and my old jeans (that were 6 sizes too big).  I was simply "swimming" in my old clothes.   Someone didn't get it, and told me it was time to buy new clothes!   I don't have any pictures of this, but will likely create some "same clothes, different body" before/after shots for an upcoming blog.

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"Meltdown"

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"Meltdown"

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Commit to Fit | Week 35

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

I blame last week's weight gain, in part, on Halloween candy.  There was a ton of it in the office and it was hard to avoid. And this week was going to be worse, because it was the week leading up to Halloween.  So I decided to get everyone in my office involved in keeping me away from the candy.  I sent the following email to the company: "I have made a pledge not to eat a single piece of office Halloween candy this week.

I decided this challenge was only amazing if the office was filled with my favorite candy, so I just bought a ton of my favorites (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Ways, M&M's, etc.) and put them out in the red tub.  (Yes, I am trying to fatten you up because it will make me feel thinner.)  Please enjoy!  And please help me avoid candy all week by telling me "NO!" like a bad pet, if you see me anywhere near the bucket.  Thanks, -Dave."

This plan totally worked...until Friday afternoon.

Friday afternoon was my biweekly appointment with Sarah at Eating Free.  And it was time for my next body fat test.  I'd had two perviously.  My first body fat test (March) established that I had "x" amount of fat free mass in my body, and my initial target weight was determined based on those numbers.  My second body fat test (June) revealed that 90% of my weight loss was burned fat, so therefore the weight of my fat free mass was still very close to "x."  However my third body fat test (this week) showed that I'd lost a significant enough amount of fat free mass that my target weight would need to be revised.

Now, there's nothing really alarming about any of these results.  Sarah had explained to me before, several times, that when you lose weight, you aren't just burning fat.  You do lose some water, muscle, etc., and this is normal. You need less muscle when you weigh less, right?  And she'd told me, on four different occasions, that future body fat tests could (and likely would) lead to my goal weight being revised.  She'd even said it could be revised by "10, 20, or 25 pounds"

So...I'd been completely, fairly warned of this possibility.  But when Sarah crunched some numbers and determined that my new target weight was now 22 pounds further away than I was previously planning, I kinda lost it anyway.

No, I didn't go all "Incredible Hulk" on her office.  The response was more emotional.  I was getting attached to the idea that I *might* hit my goal weight by March 1st  and now that was likely being pushed into May/June.  I felt like I just gained 22 pounds.  A venting email I sent to Billy at DIAKADI later in the afternoon best explains what I was feeling:  "I told Sarah that I'm sick of losing weight, I just want this to be over, previously it was starting to feel like it was almost over, but now adding nearly 20% to my weight loss goal (128 becomes 150, ugh) just makes this timeline of me wearing crap clothes and feeling like a work-in-progress even longer than I expected.  I know on some level I deserve this for letting myself get to be so fat to begin with, and I [should feel] lucky that I can course correct my life in a "mere" 14 months or so - but I just am ready for this to be over.  (And yes, I should not be thinking about this a project that will actually end someday, but there is a definitely a "project phase" that ends with reaching my goal weight and things do change at that moment.)"

Additionally, I wrote, "At this moment, I'm feeling like [that party I wanted to have this winter] to celebrate losing 100 pounds is just...lame.  it's feeling more like "Wow, Dave Has 50 Pounds Left, That's Kinda A Lot, Isn't It?" party.   A "Jesus, Dave Was Fatter Than We Thought" party.  I was planning [an ambitious trip] in May to celebrate my weight loss, but frankly, I'm scrapping that now because who knows if I'll actually be done by May.  I don't want to celebrate "I have 20 pounds left" or "I almost reached my goal," I want to celebrate being done.  And more importantly, starting to move on."

My pity party continued with "I think I learned something from writing [recent blog entries.] I'm getting tired of meditating on weight loss revelations and all this other stuff already.   I've spoken with you a few times about wanting to educate or somehow help others with their weight loss "journeys"...but I'm starting to think that when I'm done with my weight loss, I want to keep my eyes forward and not dwell so much on an accomplishment that just gets further and further into my past.  In other words, I think when I'm done blogging for you guys, there isn't going to be a one man show [like I've talked about], I'm not going to try to change other fat people's worlds or blow their minds or motivate anyone else, I think I'm just not going to want to dwell on this stuff any more.  I'll need to figure out what the next thing is, and go after that."

And then, I ate a bunch of Halloween candy for the first time in a week.  Because, you know what?  Sometimes you just have to say "to Hell with it" and have some damn Halloween candy.  (Especially on Halloween weekend).

Looking back on all this a few days later, I have mixed feelings about how I feel and what I said.  In one sense, it's raw but completely self-aware and honest.  In another sense, it's ridiculous that I was being such a baby over 22 more pounds.  I've lost that under two months before.  This "meltdown" serves as a good reminder that I need to stay present-oriented and not future-oriented since my issues here are about expectations and, frankly, assumptions.  Most of the fatigue I'm feeling is from pressure, and most of that pressure is pressure I've put on myself, not pressure from external sources.  And as several people in my life have made a point to remind me lately: just because I've not yet met my long-term goals doesn't mean my accomplishents-to-date aren't worth celebrating.

As for the Halloween candy...well...no regrets.  Shit happens, right?  And then you move on.

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"Gaining Weight"

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"Gaining Weight"

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Commit to Fit | Week 34

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

I gained some weight this week.  And I knew it was going to happen.  "Tomorrow's going to show a weight gain, and I totally deserve it," I said to Billy at DIAKADI, the day before my weekly weigh-in.  Sometimes after a big drop, I get kinda cocky and I'll indulge.  This week was one of those weeks. Not that "living a little" is a bad thing, but I would say I "lived a lot' this week.  So the scale showed a 1.8 pound increase.

Not the biggest deal, actually. A lot of people don't realize this, but even though I've averaged over 2.5 pounds per week of weight loss, for 33 weeks, I've had several weeks where I've gained weight.  In fact, this was my SEVENTH week showing a gain since I started losing weight in March.  But because of all the skills I've learned from Eating Free,I know what I need to do to "reel it in" for next week and get back on track.

In other news, I've had some issues with my left hamstring since spring, so I've been seeing a massage therapist named Joel Banuelos that Billy recommended to me several months back.  Joel and Billy have both done some great work on my hamstring problem (which also affects my knee).  Billy's been customizing my workouts so that my hamstrings get good stretches, and we've worked on other related issues like balance and strengthening muscles in and around the effected areas.  I've been very grateful for Joel's and Billy's help and particularly impressed that they talk to each other about what they've observed and experienced with my hamstring/knee, so they're both working on my problem together.  Billy has conveyed what he's seen my hamstring do when I'm "in action" and Joel has made recommendations that prompted Billy to make changes to my workout that should help improve this situation with my leg.

Joel works out of DIAKADI on Fridays, and in a convenient downtown location (close to Montgomery Station) on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays.  Check him out!  His work is truly amazing.

Lastly...How about this gorgeous, late October San Francisco weather?  Knowing I'll be less inclined to go for walks after "winter" hits and after we switch the clocks back to Standard Time, I recently vowed to get a lot of extra walking in this month.  I've definitely succeeded with this goal; this week I walked home from work with my friend Matt, walked home from the gym on Thursday, and on the weekend I walked the Filbert Steps to the top of Telegraph HIll (again) with my friend Beth and also enjoyed a nice walk in the Presido with my friend Angie.  Here's a picture of me on Telegraph Hill.  It felt great to get out and enjoy the late summer weather before the November gloominess hits!

 

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"84.9 Pounds Down"

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"84.9 Pounds Down"

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Commit to Fit | Week 33

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

One of the great things about almost dying (see my Week 31 blog) is that you end up getting a lot of medical tests done, which is great when you're hungry for your personal medical data because you're losing weight and you want to watch the numbers improve.  Recently my bloodwork revealed that my total cholesterol is down another 17 points, after previously decreasing 41 points a few months ago.  While this is obviously good news, my blood work also revealed slightly elevated VLDL cholesterol and triglycerides (despite the overall decrease in "total cholesterol") and a declining level of HDL (or "good") cholesterol.

I brought this news to Sarah at Eating Free and she's been working with me on trying to raise my HDL number first.  She gave me plenty of options and let me decide which ones would fit in best to my lifestyle.  I chose to take fish oil supplements, re-introduce flax seed meal into my breakfasts, and start using a particular heart-healthy butter spread.  I suppose when I get my cholesterol tested in a few months we'll see how that goes!

I've lost something like 13 pounds in the last two weeks.  Currently, my total weight loss stands at 84.9 pounds, which averages out to over 2.6 pounds per week for 32 weeks.

Here is the update of the increasingly popular Lilei diagram.  (For those who missed this in my previous blogs, Lilei is a 100 pound co-worker of mine who's agreed to be my "fitness model" to represent the 100 pounds I wanted to lose during my Commit To Fit year.)

 

I don't want to jinx anything, but with my Commit To Fit year ending March 1st, it's looking like I might lose closer to 110-120 pounds by then.  We'll see.

In other news, I'm trying to do more walking before the rainy season starts.  (I'm a New Englander, I refuse to use the word "winter" to describe the weather in San Francisco).  I've pledged to walk home from work, and walk home from the gym, at least once per week.  Plus I'm trying to do more city hikes on weekends.  Below are two photos of me (lookin' pretty lean!) from Levi's Plaza, just before I climbed the Filbert Steps on Telegraph Hill last

weekend.  (I would have included the photos from the top of the hill, but I was too sweaty.)  My friends Angie and Jason and I climbed about 525 steps that day, this includes the steps at the base, and at the top, of Coit Tower.

 

 

 

 

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"Sex, Love & Romance...OK, Maybe Just Sex."

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"Sex, Love & Romance...OK, Maybe Just Sex."

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Commit to Fit | Week 32

Author: Commit to Fit 2011 Winner, Dave McKew

"Sex sells," so they say. And it's true. Chances are you clicked on this blog entry because you saw it was about sex. You simply couldn't help yourself.

Lately I've been wondering why the beauty/fitness industry that so badly wants you to feel inadequate and out-of-shape doesn't actually more clearly spell out that YOU WILL GET LAID MORE if you lose weight. Maybe it's simply the limitations of marketing; you can't be too tasteless and you probably legally can't make promises like that (though they are definitely, strongly implied).  Regardless, I have to say had I realized this fact sooner in life, I might have tried to lose all this weight sooner.

I'm a single-and-looking thirtysomething living in San Francisco, so it's not surprising that bars, personal ads, dating and sex are a part of my life.  Since March, I've lost nearly 80 pounds, and there is no question that there have been significant positive changes in my life in all of these aforementioned areas.

Nowadays I'm getting a lot more glances and smiles from men on the street.  And I'm definitely getting noticed and chatted up in bars more often than I was previously.  Hell, I think the UPS delivery man just flirted with me when I was typing this.  I'm not kidding.  *fans self*

I've had a personal ad online, off and on for years.  I used to have a rule where I would only post photos of myself that were taken in the last 1 to 2 years.  But recently I was updating the ad and realized that my photos from early June (only four *months* ago) were simply not representative of me any more, so I took them down.  "These photos are soooo 45 pounds ago," I recently told a friend.  Now my more recent photos from August and October are drawing in different men than I used to attract with my older photos.  My ad is definitely receiving more views and more replies than I used to get, no question.

As for the sex (hey, don't judge me, it happens!)...here are my main observations so far from "this side" of significant weight loss:

(1) My sex drive is up, so I'm substantially more interested in sex. (2) Physically, I have more stamina and energy. (3) I've got more offers and more options, because I look different and carry myself differently.

As much as I would love to elaborate, I don't want to be accused of flying you all in to TMI International Airport.  So, in short, I'll just say I'm 38 years old but sexually I feel like I'm in my twenties again.  Increased confidence likely plays as big of a part as looking "better" does.  And the moral of the story is this: if you're overweight, working out and eating better can do more for you than just make you healthier.  It can make you a man magnet.  (Or maybe a woman magnet.  But I don't know anything about that part.)

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