Working It Off

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It’s time for me to break my silence about my journey. This is a journey that has not been sponsored by random people on the internets. This is not a journey that has been told about in the news. Also, this is a journey that is still going on which will likely only end the day that I die.

It’s also a journey that I have not written about at great length to anyone until now, because I this has been very much a private journey that I have been taking which has been shared with just friends, family and my work mates. Also, I am a very quiet person and tend to not open up much about myself to most people.

I have been extremely overweight since I was a small child. When I was in school, I was the kid who was always picked fun of and singled out for embarrassment, such as the time that an opposing baseball team actually specifically hit balls towards me because they knew I couldn’t field them properly.

Also, when I was in High School, my marching band was invited to perform in a lengthy parade in the winter. While I did some of the exercises in preparation of the parade, but at the end it was decided that I would not march due to concerns over my not being able to make the entire route. Had I not made the entire distance, there would have been no way for me to leave the parade route. Also, for that trip, it was decided that it would be best to buy two airplane seats for me.

Through college, the situation didn’t improve over that time mostly due to the fact that I had unlimited dining in the three meals a day I had access to. A typical breakfast for me would be eggs piled quite high, at least 7 or 8 sausage links and toast as well, plus hashbrowns when available. That was in 2002, and I’ll pick up the story in 2011.

At that time, nobody knew what my actual weight was. The scale that I had went up to 200kg – 440lb, and every time that I would stand on the scale, it would just say “error” meaning that I weighed more than the maximum weight. I estimated my weight at maybe 450 or 460lb, but in hindsight, I think my weight was pretty close to 550 or 600lb. We will never know the truth of that time in my life. But that has changed.

When things changed for me was when I took a trip to Australia to meet my best friend, Snoskred, in person for the first time. While on the way, it was a struggle for me to fit into the airline seats, especially on the long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland where the arm rest did not go all the way back up, so I spent nearly 14 hours in a 747 with an arm rest in my left shoulder. On nearly all of the other flights, I had a row to myself, but still was unable to put down the arm rests in those seats.

I didn’t notice the things that were going on during that trip, for example, having to use a specific car because I probably would not have fit into the other car that they had. One thing that I did not see was a group of tourists on an escalator who pointed in my direction, and then decided that staring was not good enough, so they took a photo. Of me. I didn’t know about this for quite some time after the trip actually finished.

Carrying all of this weight around had its complications for me as well. One of which is that I had poor coordination, especially when walking around. When I was in Australia, we were walking along one of the beaches, and while going down a slight embankment on the sand, I fell backwards into the sand, then needed a moment to recover from the fall. Then when I was on my own in Hawai’i on the return trip, I was walking from the airport to the post office. On that walk, I came across a curb and not realising that it was a slanted curb, I stepped and there was nothing there, so I wound up falling again.

Another complication is that the weight affected my posture greatly. When I would sit with my legs up, for example in a recliner, my legs would be splayed in a fashion like this – \_/ (but with the feet quite frequently completely at 90 degrees to my midsection).

Turning things around started in the build-up to my trip to Australia. I joined a gym and began going every day after work, starting with just doing the treadmill and then moving to the elliptical machine and pulling in some weights as well. I did look a little bit at my diet, but was not completely focused on my eating. Because of the exercise I was doing, I did lose some weight by the time I went to Australia, but it was only the beginning–and still no idea of what I actually weighed.

In the beginning of 2012, Snoskredย — who I will say has been responsible for the vast majority of my successes in the last 11 years of my life through her encouragement and, at many times, showing me the “tough love” that only a true friend can show — got me to finally order Nutrisystem. That is the time when the weight has really started to fall off. It would be yet another month or two after starting Nutrisystem that I would finally get a number on the scales.

That number was on April 19th, 2012. I was able to weigh in at 201.7kg, 444.7lb.

I’ve been continuing with Nutrisystem and exercising at least 3-5 times per week (at least 30 minutes of good aerobic work on the elliptical, bike or treadmill) for nearly the last 4 years.

In that time, I have not had any issues where I have tripped over uneven surfaces, and while it is something I have to be aware of, I am able to comfortably place my legs in the correct position when sitting in a chair – i.e. the feet pointing upward instead of pointing to either side.

Am I where I want to be? No. Unfortunately, for the last 2 years, I’ve stayed in the range of 330-350lb, with my current weight at 348.2lb/157.94kg. My goal is to get myself down below 300lb/136kg by the end of this year.

I will now share a photo of my body – the one on the left is in Australia and the other is 2 years later in Hawaii.

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Considering that we will never know what the starting weight was, it has been a long journey, but one that will keep on.

The Aldi Pattern

Follow me here. I promise the title will make sense later on. There’s definitely a pattern to this stuff which will be quite apparent ๐Ÿ™‚

This all starts with a comment that I made over at Snoskred’s place regarding brand names for Aldi products. Apparently Aldi use the brand name of Manhattan over in Australia…of course, everyone knows Philadelphia, but do you know Happy Farms?

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Unless you shop at Aldi, you don’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

And if you have an Aldi near to you, it’s well worth checking out if you’re interested in saving money – which last I checked, everyone is (I’m assuming people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates may not be, but they are probably spendthrifts). There are stores that have very competitive prices to Aldi, but none are as prevalent as the German store.

As you can see in the picture above, the Colby Jack cheese (Happy Farms brand) is $1.89/8oz (225g +2g) – typically for name brand cheeses like Kraft, it’ll be at least a dollar more, so the savings are very clear.

How can Aldi do it? Private Labelling of products. That’s why we have things like –

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Savoritz Cheese Crackers instead of Cheez-Its (12.4oz @ Wal-Mart for $2.88). Fancy something sweet? How about these…

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Benton’s Vanilla Wafers (these are actually vanilla-creme filled wafer cookies, not to be confused with Nilla wafers, of which the Benton’s brand covers).

There are more sweets, but as you go along, there’s one pattern beginning…each category has its own brand name. Here are just a few examples in this picture of items that I have in my kitchen –

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We have the following brands in this photo –

  • Boulder – Plastic wrap and other food storage such as plastic bags
  • L’Oven Fresh – Breads from traditional sliced white to hot dog and hamburger buns
  • Lunch Mate – Literally anything you would chuck into a school or work lunch…lunch meats, fruit cups, etc.
  • Casa Mamita (little mother’s house) – Some of the Mexican range, but now there is also Puebla Linda (pretty town) in the range
  • Sweet Harvest – canned fruits in sauce
  • Reggano – Run-of-the mill pasta. Speciality pastas will fall under theย Prianoย brand usually
  • Baker’s Choice – Puddings, cake mixes, flour, chocolate chips – all of your baking supplies ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Fit&Activeย – This is the name that Aldi use as a catch-all for anything in their healthier range of foods (low-fat, low sodium, etc.)
  • Countryside Creamery – Butter, margarine, spreads fall
  • Happy Harvest – Canned and easy-to-prepare vegetables (the sweet corn in the picture can be made in the microwave in about 30-45 seconds and serves 1)
  • Chef’s Cupboard – Coatings for fried foods – breadcrumbs, stuffings, easy side dishes like instant mashed potatoes

Take special note of the bottom three…notice anything peculiar about them? Aldi accepts the active adoption of alliteration when assigning aliases.

Here’s some more alliteration –

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There is one other brand that deserves a quick mention, mostly because it’s one that will appear from time to time as a way to prevent homesickness for Aldi (specifically Aldi Sรผd, but Aldi Nord operates here too…and it’s actually the same company!)…Deutsche Kuche – this is pork Schnitzel, but they will have traditional German bratwurst, pretzels in a can, and other German goodies available from time to time….all of it made in Germany ๐Ÿ™‚

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So…are there any particular brands that you like to buy, or are you more into saving money and picking up a high-quality substitute under a non-brand name?

They’ve Finally Arrived!

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One of my favourite guilty pleasures is to enjoy the occasional Tim Tam. In fact, I’ve had quite a few different flavours of them, but if you wanted to get them, you had to either know someone in Australia who would send them to you ๐Ÿ˜‰ or travel to World Market and buy them yourself.

Now, you have a new option ๐Ÿ™‚ –

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I spotted these at Walmart recently. In the past, they were made by Pepperidge Farm for sale in the USA, but they didn’t last long. These ones? They’re the proper ones – sold as Arnott’s Tim Tams in the stores!

And they’re only $2.98 at the Wal-Mart! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you are in the ‘States and have not tried them out, buy a packet and let me know what you think of them ๐Ÿ™‚

I can haz KRudd Tea?

Why, yes I can! ๐Ÿ˜€

Every night after I go to the gym, it’s a habit to stop at the mailbox to check the post for the day. However, this time there wasn’t anything in the post, when there should have been at the very least a newspaper. There are two possible explanations for this –

1. Someone has gone down and picked up the mail, which doesn’t happen all too frequently; or
2. There was a package in the post, so the mailman brought it to the door.

As it turned out, answer number 2 was the correct one ๐Ÿ™‚

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Now, the Airmail sticker wasn’t exactly the first thing that I saw, but I can’t really show the first thing I saw since it’s the real signature of my bestest friend in the whole world (who I’ve known now for 10 years), Snoskred ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a package that came to me as a surprise – the best kind of packages!

Of course, as you do, the first thing you do is to send a quick message on Kakaotalk (which I was shown to when she switched phones over from the iPhone to Galaxy), saying that a fing arive. Then you frantically search for a scissor to open the package not realising that there is a easy-pull tab on the back. Luckily I noticed the pulltab prior to trying to slice the package open.

The first thing that I pull out is this –

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At the sight ofย Salted Caramel Tim Tams, I literally squealed. Maybe not my proudest moment…though of course, there was also hockey on the teevee so a close play could make me gasp or make other involuntary noises…such as cursing the referees for disallowing a goal. I will note that the size is a bit weird to me – 171g, otherwise known as 19g per biscuit as there are 9 in the packet.

There was also a packet of dark choc Tim Tams in the package – and I actually liked them better maybe because the salted caramel was a little bit too subtle…I may revisit this later ๐Ÿ™‚

Next up is an item I knew would wind its way to me at one point in time or another, the KRudd Tea (legally, I must note that the packet’s marketing claims it was crafted by Australiansย plural, but the truth is that it was Kevin Rudd’s blend that wonย from the five celebrities that were chosen)

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In trying out the tea, I really like it. I know that it claims to be a full-bodied tea, but I think it’s actually a milder cuppa especially when I tried a taste test of sorts at work – I first had a cuppa of English Teatime tea (from Bigelow) and then the Twinings tea in similar circumstances – two bags (for a ~500mL cup) with 4 teaspoons of sugar for sweetness, and the Bigelow tea actually seemed a bit stronger.

There were two other items in the package – the first is the Original Source Surfing Tropical Pineapple shower gel…I had never used shower gel until I was in Australia, and ever since I’ve been converted to it from using bar soap – mostly because of the different scents ๐Ÿ™‚ This one has a great scent and it was a great pick-me-up when I had my shower Wednesday morning ๐Ÿ˜‰

The other item was a very beautiful card with some words in it, partly saying that it was sent from Australia with โค๏ธ ๐Ÿ™‚

I will leave you a picture here of the things in the packet and many millions of thanks so Snoskred :), with a note about the wrapping of the shower gel – I am fairly certain that the bag that was used to protect the other items in the bag from leakage was a repatriated bag that we had purchased in Hawaii in order to protect some of the shower gels and liquids that were bought there in the epic shoppery that was done. I suspect that because of the bag being a Ziploc bag with both English and French on it. I somehow don’t see the Aussie bags having French on them :p

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Oh, and neither the shuttle nor the MacBook were in the package ๐Ÿ˜€

Again, many thankies ๐Ÿ˜‰ and as you know, there is a new package headed your way shortly as well ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Really, Frito-Lay?

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For the last few years the Frito-Lay company have run a contest called “Do us a Flavor” (Note – You’ll need to log in with Facebook to view anything, and they’ll harass you to post to there if you vote on anything…that annoys me to no end) where people across the US are invited to submit their suggestions for new flavours of potato chips. The first winner was the “Cheesy Garlic Bread” flavor, which is now in occasional rotation for sale. There was also the “Chicken and Waffles” flavor. I tried that one, and I can tell you, it had a real maple syrupy flavour to it which was not very good.

Last year, when they held the contest, they had their four finalists –

  • Cheddar Bacon Mac-and-Cheese
  • Cappuccino
  • Mango Salsa (Wavy Lays)
  • Wasabi Ginger (Kettle Cooked)

I tried all four flavours and, thanks to finding the small bags on a quick pit-stop at a grocery store to get cash out on my way to Chicago, found small bags to send along to Snoskred, so she could try them out herself and give an opinion. Just a side note – she found the Wasabi Ginger flavour her favourite of them all. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is what I thought of the different flavours –

Cappuccino? It’s actually quite interesting, but it doesn’t have enough of a coffee taste for my liking, so I didn’t really like it. Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese? I didn’t notice any bacon flavour in there at all, and to combine the macaroni flavour into a potato doesn’t really work. I was not a fan of this one either. The Mango Salsa was the one that I was wanting to try the most of them all, as it sounded so promising. In fact, it was the one that I tried to vote for, but couldn’t since for some reason they make you either sign in with Facebook or use a text message. I was totally uncertain about the Wasabi Ginger one, as it sounded such a weird flavour combination, but HELLO! this is what you mix in with your sushi, so of course it’s a good fit! I tried it and it was actually quite awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

When the results were announced, I was admittedly expecting the bacon Mac and Cheese to come out on top, because of the bacon thing…but it was the Wasabi Ginger, and I was asked to by Snoskred (and I quote here) “Send me about 600 packets pls! ;)”

Figuring that they would have them in the stores right away, I thought this would not be a problem, even going so far as offering to get the 600 packets as requested (though quoted as 50 dozen). There was some other stuff that I was lining up to send along anyway…

So, I go to the store. None there…just the regular flavours. And I go to a different store…nope. Literally all winter, whenever I would go into a grocery store, I would take a trip down the chips aisle and see if they had the Wasabi Ginger chips and the answer Every. Single. Time. was “Nope! Not today!” Of course, over this time, I’ve got a package pretty much ready to go, and I pretty much give up on it and finally sent the package out, substituting the (equally as awesome) cheddar and sour cream flavour of chips in place of the wasabi ginger ones.

And wouldn’t you know it? Literally 7 days after I send the package with the substitute image, I see the image above (well I saw the cheddar bacon mac chips first, but figured they’d be there)…Considering the numerous fruitless searches I had for these chips, immediately upon seeing them, I snapped 4 into my trolley and was on my way.

The other package? Well, it was delivered today, and the contents will have been well noted by now, and well enjoyed ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, and to the people at Frito-Lay…well played sirs. You successfully trolled me by making them available just after I sent the other chips (also made by your company may I add thankyouverymuch) out ๐Ÿ˜‰