thoughts on, once again, losing 100 pounds

If you’ve come to brip blap via search, you probably landed on one of a few pages: How to make money without a job is still popular, and 25 quotes on ambition spikes up all the time. However, one post is far and away, the most popular: 101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds.

I wrote that post in 2007. I had actually started losing weight in 2000, but by 2006 had really hit my stride. I was eating well, exercising constantly (running and weight lifting), and was in tip top health. The post seemed to resonate simply because most of it was anecdotal – it’s almost like one of those “Chicken Soup” types of books, where you can jump in, read a few points, then move on. But it was quite popular – it generated hundreds of thousands of views and I was quite proud of it. It was an odd topic for a personal finance blog (which was what I was concentrating on at the time) but it got people interested.

So why am I writing about this?

I gained it all back (practically).

Last time I basically went from 300+ down to 185. So in all actuality it was more than 100 pounds. Some of it was fat being replaced by muscle, too, so there was a lot to lose. And once your metabolism is operating so well that you can slip up with a pizza once in a while and still lose weight (due to exercise, muscle mass, etc.) it becomes easy to make excuses.

  • I had kids – sleep went out the window.
  • I hurt my foot running; took an “extra” few months to “make sure” before running again.
  • I got bored and started eating worse.
  • I took in a lot of empty calories from snacks and alcohol.
  • I ate out for convenience all the time.
  • I had a long commute – a bagel and cream cheese on the ferry was easier than a light breakfast at home.
  • [Insert random excuse here]

And so on and so on, ad nauseum. The thing is, if you are in good shape, you can go a year or two eating worse, exercising less, before you really see results. I thought I had just permanently fixed my metabolism. Nope. The weight crept up. I thought “tomorrow” every evening. I quit running. I stopped biking. I lifted weights intermittently, which does no good. I basically did everything I could to get back OUT of shape.

And it worked.

By 2012, I was back up to (probably) 270 pounds. I say probably because I wouldn’t get on a scale. I was demotivated and giving up. Doritos were back in the rotation. I’d pass on salad for fish and chips or burgers and fries. I tried, here and there: there was a vegan phase (tofu pizza!) and a calorie restriction phase (works for me for about two days, then…pizza). I lifted weights (wow, what a workout…let’s have a pizza). But despite some bounces back and forth, I slowly increased.

Most studies show that dieters will have life-long yo-yo struggles with weight. You can’t diet and then alter your lifestyle…being healthy is a lifestyle that simply means certain foods can’t ever be consumed on a semi-regular basis. You can have a 1400 calorie mongo burger once a year on your birthday…but you can’t just drop in and grab one because you are out running errands. The lifestyle has to revolve around making healthy choices on an almost constant basis, and by almost constant I mean “default to healthy” all the time.

So why am I writing this?

I realized a few months ago that following other people’s advice was pointless. I had written a guide as to what worked for me 7 years ago. Why was I chasing other diets? I had a quantified, proven system that had worked brilliantly for me before.

So I took my own advice, and it is working.

I’m down from the 270s. My chosen form of exercise this time has been biking (seems easier on the joints) and soon I plan to begin weight training. I have read a lot about the ketogenic diet; reviewed Atkins and various nutrition sites. I’m not happy about eating so much meat; philosophically I’d rather be vegan. But I had to recognize what worked for me. I drink bulletproof coffee (coffee with butter), lots of eggs and egg whites, grilled chicken and beef, and drink seltzer instead of alcohol unless I’m going out. I have gotten lazy and let diet sodas creep back in, but I’m quitting that. When I go out I have salads with ranch dressing, so I get vegetables. I am monitoring my sleep (using sleep apps on my phone), too, which seems to be important.

Result so far? Down to 225 (45 pounds down). 

I’m not done, far from it. I have several actor role  models for physical fitness – Daniel Craig, Jason Statham, Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Tom Hardy.  I don’t see any of them, other than Statham, as being any more of an athlete than I am – they were actors who needed to get super fit for roles. So healthy eating, targeted exercise and discipline could give me similar results. It won’t be easy – their JOBS are to get fit like that, and they have time-saving resources I could only dream of (chefs spring to mind). But it’s doable. Take a look at Chris Pratt, from Guardians of the Galaxy: before and after. Or this guy from a thread on Reddit: progress pics. Both pics are slightly NSFW (nothing too bad, just guys posing shirtless).

What have I learned? It’s a lot easier to get fat than to get fit.  But you can recover from your mistakes, and the recovery can make you even stronger. You have to be vigilant in all aspects of self-improvement, and if you are not improving, you are declining. And no one can do it for you. You can certainly have support and encouragement and motivation, but at the end of the day YOU have to put down the slice.

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

 – Quote from Thomas Wayne:, Batman Begins

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  And check out 101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds, too.

A year.

A year.

When I Realized I Needed Life Insurance and Some Helpful Tips

There are a lot of key moments in life. When you met that special person and know that she’s the one. When you actually ask her to start her life with you. When you buy your first home.

Then there’s the first time you realize that you need life insurance. For me, and many others, it comes with holding their first child in their hands. That’s a hectic time and there’s not much sleep to be had, but that doesn’t make life insurance any less important.

With that in mind, here are some things about getting life insurance:

Know Which Type to Shop For

There are two basic types of life insurance, whole and term. Whole life you keep forever (as long as you continue to pay the premiums). Term life is for a specific amount of time. Typically, that’s 20 years. In my situation, I wanted to make sure we had enough money to cover the kids through high school and into college. The twenty year option seemed like the perfect fit. After that, the wife can support herself with our retirement savings and social security.

Since term life insurance is a lot cheaper than whole life insurance, I’ll be able to invest the difference, grow my retirement fund, and maybe self-insure my family in 20 years.

Know How Much to Get

Most likely the salesperson is going to try to push you to buy more insurance than you need. It makes sense, might as well get as much from the fish that’s already been hooked. They may try to steer you towards extras that give them higher margins. Just stay away.

How much life insurance do you need? It’s a complicated question and you’ll have to do a fair amount of financial analysis to get a good number. One of the biggest things to consider is replacing your income. Retirement planners use a guideline of 4% your nest egg to calculate your replacement income. That would mean carrying 25x your current salary. If you already have savings, you can expect your wife to be able to work a little, a more realistic goal may be between 10-15x your current salary.

Take the Time to Shop Around

I remember calling many places and filling out a ton of online forms. I took the approach that I take with getting contractors. Get several bids and see who comes back with the right price. There are tons of places that sell life insurance (such as GIO life insurance), so the more quotes the better. The best price isn’t always the best deal, but it will help give you a very good idea of what you should be looking to pay.

Feel Free to Negotiate

If there’s a company you already do business with and you know and trust them, ask them if they can match some of your low prices. Tell them that you really like to give them your business and they’ve earned your business with their great service in the past. In never hurts to butter them up.

Whatever you do, the most important thing is to have something planned. It’s the first, and most important step to securing the future of those you love.