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January 7 snowstorm & January 8 aftermath pictures January 10, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Weather.
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The first significant snowfall of the season came on Saturday when Wantagh received about 9 inches of snow. The initial forecast that I saw on Thursday called for a third of that, but as with most winter storms, the forecast track moved closer and closer with each run. I was prepared for up to a foot, but we were a few inches short. This is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to forecasting winter storms and snow accumulation. Either the forecast starts high and goes down or it starts low and goes up and up and up. That’s what happened here, and I doubt it will be the last time that happens this season.

Nonetheless, I felt I needed to photograph the storm and its aftermath for posterity. Below is a photographic timeline from the latter half of the storm to the day after:

January 7, 3:35 PM:
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3:36 PM:
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3:45 PM:
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9:09 PM, after shoveling:
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Snow was tapering off, but still accumulating. I chose to shovel anyway and shovel new accumulation in the morning.

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January 8, 11:04 AM, after additional shoveling:
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11:08 AM:
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11:13 AM:
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2:05 PM, after my mother shoveled what was underneath her car and my father’s car:
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As I type, milder temperatures are forecast for the next few days with rain coming tonight into tomorrow; perfect melting weather. Until the next snowstorm…

10 years of weight loss and maintenance January 2, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Food, Health, Personal.
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The mid-2000s were an unhealthy period of my life. I repeatedly indulged in desserts and dinners. I went from normal weight to overweight to obese. I surpassed 200 pounds late in 2004 and climbed all the way to 233.4 when I stepped on the scale on the morning of January 2, 2007, ten years ago today. By then, even my size 42 pants were too small. Enough was enough. I vowed to go on a diet. My goal was 160 pounds.

This diet required a lot of discipline, going for long periods between meals, and limiting myself to under 2,000 calories. I had a little over 2,000 calories on January 2, but the days that followed saw my daily calories drop to 1,600. A typical day began at noon with an Atkins bar, which was 240 calories at the time. A few hours later, I would eat a can of Progresso soup, either Hearty Chicken and Rotini or Homestyle Chicken. At the time, both were 200 calories. An hour or two after that, I ate two cups of Ronzoni Ziti Rigati with 1/2 cup of Ragu Traditional or Meat Sauce and four teaspoons of Kraft Parmesan Cheese. For dessert, which came after another hour or two, I ate three 100 calorie packs of Pringles or Sun Chips. Eventually, those would be phased out in favor of either Special K vanilla or chocolate bars that were 90 calories each, and then Quaker Chewy Granola Bars that were 100 calories each.

Besides eating, I also made an effort to walk daily with the aid of a step counter that I attached to my belt. In my hour-long walks, I averaged around 6,000 steps.

While on my diet, I skipped Easter and Passover dinners, adhering to my routine. When I was in Florida in March to see the PGA Tour’s PODS Championship (now, the Valspar Championship) at Innisbrook Resort, where my grandparents lived, I stuck to my eating routine. My grandpa Carmen was nice enough to buy the foods that I ate daily for the four days I was down there. A few days before the trip, I fell below 200 pounds. By March 30, I broke 190. On April 27, I broke 180. I was below 170 on May 18.

I reached my goal of 160 pounds on June 16, and my body fat was below 20%, but I was not ready to stop. I continued my diet, falling below 150 pounds on July 24 and breaking 140 on September 7. I had lost 93 pounds in eight months!

I added calories to my daily intake, remaining below 2,000 per day until October 10.

In the following months, my weight hovered in the mid-to-upper 130s. My lowest weight was 134 on April 25, 2008, a day which also saw my lowest body fat: 11.7%. My body fat would hover within 12% (varying tenths of a point), occasionally breaking 13%.

Throughout my diet, I took selfies, though not in the common way, to document my progress. Here are those selfies, all from 2007:

January 30: 215.2 lbs.:
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February 19: 205.6 lbs.:
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March 5: 199.8 lbs.:
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March 30: 189.2 lbs.:
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April 20: 180.8 lbs.:
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May 9: 173.6 lbs.:
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May 29: 165 lbs.:
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June 16: 160 lbs.:
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July 3: 155.6 lbs.:
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July 16: 152 lbs.:
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August 3: 147.6 lbs.:
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August 26: 142 lbs.:
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October 1: 137.4 lbs.:
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October 28: 135.8 lbs.:
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I was still able to maintain my weight for the first half of 2009, but my body fat was regularly within 13% by this time.

Unfortunately, the second half of 2009 marked the beginning of my regain. At first, I was able to keep my weight in the low 140s, occasionally reaching the upper 130s. But by the summer of 2010, I was averaging mid-to-upper 140s. By late 2011, I was averaging the low-to-mid 150s.

After Hurricane Sandy, I had reached the upper 160s to low 170s, where I remained until August 27, 2013. That day, I weighed 173.2 pounds and vowed to begin a new diet. The weight loss was slow at first, but I was down 12 pounds on December 23. Unfortunately, Christmastime dinners and desserts followed. Eventually, I was able to find an under-2,000-calorie routine and stick with it most of the time. There were days where I faltered, but not many. I had broken 160 pounds a few times between January and March 2014, but always came back above 160. That changed after March 16. I have not been 160 or above since. I haven’t been 150 or above since June 29, 2014. I fell through the 140s thereafter. I went below 140 pounds several days between September and December, but no lower than 138.8 on two days in October. I otherwise hovered in the low 140s, except for two days after Thanksgiving when I topped out at 146.

I remained below 140 pounds between June 2015 and January 2016, even breaking 130 several times in October and November. After peaking at 144 pounds in early June 2016, I fell back below 140 by mid-June. I was able to hover in the low 130s starting in mid-July, with body fat staying within 11%, but Christmastime eating has put me in the mid-130s and increased my body fat to around 13%. That’s where I stand as of this post.

What helped me lose my weight the second time around time was running, rather than walking the first time, with the help of the Nike+ Running (now Nike+ Run Club) app on my iPhone. Between May 2013 and May 2015, I opted to run and walk. But then, I challenged myself to only run. If I needed to rest, I would stop, and the app would pause. My early runs were around three miles, then four, then five. Nowadays, I’ll run up around 7 1/2 miles, running above eight miles on a few occasions. My average pace has gone from around 15 minutes a mile, when I started, to between 7:30 and 8 minutes per mile today. From spring to fall, I ran outdoors, but I opted for the treadmill in the winter. So far this winter, I’ve continued to run outdoors. In April 2016, I began stretching before each run, something I should have done all along. I seldom experience stiffness thanks to those stretches. Friends say I should run in a 5K, 10K, or higher, but for now, I feel more comfortable running on my own, setting and achieving goals. In the early days, my goal was 80 miles a month. These days, I like to run at least 100 miles a month. It’s even more satisfying when I reach 130 or 140 miles. My first month above 130 miles was September 2015. In September 2016, I broke 140 miles. And just last month, I broke 150 miles. That’s high enough for me; I don’t want to overdo it.

Since August, my eating routine consists of a protein bar, almonds, Progresso soup, pasta, and six graham crackers. That’s around 2,000 calories. There are days when I’ll break that routine, which I hope will be few and far between in the months ahead.

If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, I wish you luck. Thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with a second diet before picture from August 2013 at Planting Fields Arboretum…
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…and an after picture from October 2016 during my live WCWP Homecoming Weekend radio show:
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