About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sticking With It

Lately a few of my Facebook friends have posted status reports on their diet. I've read comments like, "Oh God, I start my diet tomorrow," "Man, this is gonna suck," and "I'm so hungry."

I absolutely guarantee their efforts are doomed to failure. If you want to start a successful weight loss campaign, you can't approach it with the idea that your diet is some sort of penance that will finally be over once you reach a magic number on the bathroom scale.

Unless you're a masochist, there's only so long you'll be able to take self-punishment. If you're already in the "poor me" mindset when you're following your diet, you'll feel even worse when you slip up. (Trust me, I've had plenty of experience in this area.) Then, one of two things will happen: Either you'll punish yourself further by redoubling your diet efforts, or you'll break and give up your diet. If you're doing dietary penance, you will eventually give up and gain weight again.

Also, don't think that the diet will be over once you've reached your magic weight, and that you can then start eating all the "good" food you've been denying yourself. This is another recipe for disaster. All that "good" food is what made you gain weight in the first place. Again, I have plenty of personal experience in this area.

Rather than punishing yourself with a fad diet that no human could possibly stick with, think of it as altering your eating habits. There is plenty of good food out there that also happens to be good for you. Gradually alter your eating habits, and by the time you've reached your goal, you won't even feel like you're on a diet. (And even though this blog entry is about diet, I must strongly state that it'll help you enormously if you add moderate exercise into the mix. You don't have to follow my path and become a born again long distance runner. Try 30 minutes of quick walking. If you don't think you have time for 30 minutes, then go for 10. It's better than nothing.)

I'm not qualified to tell you what to eat on your diet, but here's the simple approach that's helped me lose 122 pounds so far.

  • Breakfast. Usually 1) cereal (non sugar) and skim milk, or 2) granola (3/4 cup), berries, and a big glob of plain non-fat yogurt, or 3) oatmeal (no sugar) with a little honey mixed in.
  • Lunch (usually my biggest meal). Some kind of lean meat (usually chicken or fish) and a big pile of vegetables. Another common meal is a large salad (very light on the dressing).
  • Dinner (usually a smaller meal, and usually early…around 5 p.m. In general, I try not to eat after 6). A repeat of breakfast or lunch, but with smaller portions unless it's a salad. As long as you go very light on the dressing and don't blanket it with cheese, you can generally eat as much salad as you want.
  • If I eat out, I order a side salad instead of fries, and I've trained myself to look for grilled items and salads on the menu and ignore fried foods.
My approach to diet is very basic. There's nothing magic about it. I simply eat healthy foods in reasonable portions, and I do my best to stay away from sugars, fried foods, and processed foods. I do get hungry on my diet, but that's because I'm running a caloric deficit to lose weight. Although I get hungry, I never feel like I'm starving or denying myself. Once I've reached my target weight, I'll be comfortable sticking with this way of eating, and I'll be able to eat larger portions because I'll be maintaining weight instead of losing.

Rather than approaching your diet as a negative ("It sucks to be so hungry"), approach it as a positive ("I'm finally going to turn my health around."). A positive outlook and a simple eating plan will go a long way toward helping you stick with it and turn you into a successful weight loss story.

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