Strategy and Tactics – How it applies to weight loss.

One of my personal hobbies is my affinity for the game of Chess. It is a game that qualifies under the “Easy to learn, Hard to master” mantra. It is a game that has been played for hundreds of years by royalty and commoners alike. In fact, the game in it’s original state is over one thousand years old, dating back to the 5th century.

What about the game is so appealing then? If it is so old, hasn’t every possible variation of the game been played out? Not really. There are billions and billions of possibilities out there and the maximum number of games  can’t even be calculated specifically. What keeps so many people interested in Chess is the infinite number of strategies and tactics available to the players. Before I continue this discussion, let me define the two because contrary to the belief of many… they are different.

  • Strategy – Your global goal or your overall plan. It isn’t specific moves or advances, it is simply what you wish to accomplish.
  • Tactics – Your individual moves or actions that work together to accomplish your envisioned strategy.

Taking those two definitions, let’s apply them to chess real quick. Your overall strategy may be to control the center of the board and use that as a springboard of your assault, but your tactics would be how to do that with the individual pieces. For instance, utilizing your knights to attack the center of the board from the flanks and occupying those positions with a pawn line would be the tactics used to achieve your strategical goal.

Okay, I know… this is not a Chess blog. So how does this apply to weight loss? The two actually translate quite well, and it is how I have been so successful so far. And although others may not realize it, it is how they have become successful as well!

In my case, my overall strategy has been to count calories. By reducing my caloric intake and exercising to burn even more calories, my body is forcing itself to use my caloric surplus to supply my body the energy it needs thus resulting in weight loss.

To achieve this, I implement various tactics that supplements my strategy. Running 3 times a week to give me a great cardio workout for 20-30 minutes is a tactical maneuver to burn calories. I also plan and prepare my meals ahead of time resulting in my knowledge of every calorie I eat (I would say drink as well, but I have had nothing but water to drink for over a month now!). Using these tactics allows me to successfully implement my overall strategy- reduce calories and force my body to burn fat to give it the energy it needs to sustain itself. And it has been working!

Like Chess, weight loss is NOT a new idea or something that is unexplored. Both activities have been explored to great depths and the blueprints have been laid out for you. People have done the trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t. In Chess, these are called Opening, Defenses, Mating Patterns, etc. I.e, the Ruy Lopez which was developed in the 1500’s by a Spanish Priest is one of the most popular openings that is used. There have been books written about it, and the many variables that could occur 5, 10, and even 15 moves in; and that is one of many openings that people choose to use. Counting calories is one of many methods that people use to lose. There are books about it, and many people use it to lose weight. It is not the only way to lose weight, but it is a popular way that many people use to succeed- such as the Ruy Lopez opening in chess.

When I first started playing Chess, I was terrible. But by learning a few classic openings and developing tactics by using proven successful strategies- I was my game increase. And by following proven weight loss system, such as counting calories, I could see my progress improving as well. In both cases, I was trying it on my own and not sure why I wasn’t succeeding. Once I discovered that there were developed blue prints that laid the ground work for you, all you had to do was adopt it yourself and then use it to begin to build your own path to success. Which is what I have been doing- both in weight loss and in Chess!

I am not advocating you to do what I do. I am simply informing you that the answers are out there for you to build your own plan for success. You simply need to develop your strategy and tactics to accomplish whatever goal you have to succeed!

As a side note: I have began playing at Chess.com both live and turn based games. I don’t claim to be any good, because I really am not! But if you want to play some casual fun game of Chess sometime (live or turn based with a 1-3 day move limit), just send me a message on Chess.com and tell me you saw my blog! My user name there is Shipweight. Hope to see some of you Chess enthusiasts there!

Couch to 5K! Week 2 Down!

I have just returned from my 3rd workout for my Couch to 5K regime. I will say, I am shocked by the improvement. I was always one of these people who are “bad runners”. I huff and puff, out of breath, legs hurt, etc etc. But you know.. after each run, I get more and more confidence and I notice a physical change occuring within my body. It is amazing.

This week, I alternated between 1.5 mins of jogging and 2 mins of walking, which was up from last weeks 1 min of jogging and 1.5 mins of walking. The transition actually was pretty smooth.

Next week, begins a transition from timed jogging intervals to distance intervals. I will jog 200 yards, walk 200 yards. jog 400 yards, walk 400 yards. I will do 2 repititions of that. And that should total up to half lap jogged, half walked (1 lap), 1 lap jogged, 1 lap walked (3 laps now), and do that twice which would total 6 laps or 1.5 miles.

Also, if you haven’t noticed… the Tennessee area was slammed with an ice storm this morning. When I went to roll down my car window, a sheet of ice was left in place! I had to snap a pic…

And yes! I ran in this weather today! Took some extreme motivation ha!

Next week I tackle Week 3 in Couch to 5K and I will be honest, I never thought I would be this far a long a couple months ago. I could barely jog 100 yards without getting winded and having to rest. It really proves to me that our bodies are far more capable than we thing. Staying focused and believing that you can achieve your goals will go a long way to getting you there. Mind over body as they say!

Weigh in Wednesday – Week 3

After stepping on the scale, once again I was surprised. I weighed in at a grand total of 290 lbs. That is 6 pounds less than last week at 296, and 11 pounds since I started seriously counting calories and blogging! And back in July, I weighed 330 so this brings me to a total of exactly 40 pounds! Too bad I hadn’t started this blog or counting calories until a few weeks ago, I think my progress would be even better!

Want to know what is even more amazing though? Not once did I deny myself the food I wanted. Here are some foods that some nutritionists would scoff at:

  • Friday night, I had sushi. For the most part this was healthy, minus the cream cheese filled rolls I devoured!
  • Saturday afternoon I went and had chicken fajitas from my favorite Mexican restaurant in Knoxville, El Charro’s.
  • Monday night, I had chicken strips, pulled pork, slaw, fries, and wings. Smaller portions, but still not “the best”. And I took the ribs in for lunch the next day!

So for those 3 meals, I deviated from my home cooked healthy food and ate the bad food I wanted. I simply ate smaller portions and didn’t just say “oh well, I ate bad this meal… maybe tomorrow!”. Or if I knew I was going to eat a not so good dinner, ie Monday night… I simply adjusted my lunch to include less calories than I wanted. Calories are key to losing weight. There is no quick fix, no miracle “lose weight now” gimmick. I didn’t balloon up over night and I certainly won’t lose it over night. 5 or 6 pounds here or there may not seem significant in relation to my total weight… but 5 or 6 pounds here or there adds up fast!

So, hopefully today will be Goodbye to the 290’s forever. And next week, we can say hello to the 280’s for a couple weeks!

Quick Low Calorie Meals – The Playbook!

One of the things that Tyler talks about over on 344pounds.com is to have some sort of “go to” low calorie dishes that are quick and simple to make. I believe this is an exceptional idea and is key to managing a healthy and proper lifestyle!

Let’s face it, with today’s fast paced environment and the stresses we endure at work, the last thing we all want to do is go home and cook. It can be tiresome, long, and frankly… time consuming. Sometimes, we feel it may just be easier to eat the 700 calorie burger and fries from the local fast food joint. I know, I have done it before. In fact, the night I did that is the single night I can point back to that I did not want to be this person anymore. I literally had a meal that totaled 1100 calories, and wasn’t very satisfying. From that night on, is when I was serious about changing my life.

I like to call these “quick and healthy meals” my Playbook. Having a Playbook is tremendously effective and allows you to craft your lifestyle change around every meal. It gives you an idea of what to go out and purchase at the grocery store, what to pack for lunches the night before.

Think about it, do you think NFL teams go out there and just start orchestrating plays? Even Peyton Manning would fail if he started barking assignments to every player, “Dallas.. you run out 10 yards, and turn right… Pierre, go deep… Center, you blog left. Left guard, block left. Left tackle, double team the guy the guard is blocking.. etc etc”. It would take hours to complete a game, would confuse many of the players, and honestly- it just wouldn’t work. They memorize a Playbook and that is how the succeed. Now apply the same concept to your kitchen- if you go in without an idea of what you want to do, what to defrost, what to cook, etc.. you will only become frustrated and it will be a long night! Creating a playbook  is how you can succeed, just as the pros do in the NFL! It will keep you organized and prepared to save you time and energy! I will outline 3 of my favorite meals in my Playbook for each meal, and offer some tips! These are not sexy or fancy dishes by any means, they are simply my favorite “quick and easy” recipe plans.

Breakfast

Breakfast #1 Yogurt & Banana
Low Fat Lite Yogurt – 80 Calories
Medium Banana (~7 inch) – 100 Calories
Total Calories: 180 Calories

Breakfast #2 Bowl of Cereal
Fiber One Honey Clusters – 160 Calories
1/2 Cup Skin Milk – 40 Calories
Total Calories: 200 Calories

Breakfast #3 Saturday Morning Special
2 Slices Oscar Meyer Turkey Bacon – 70
2 Scrambled Eggs – 200 Calories
Total calories: 270 Calories

Lunch

Lunch #1 Turkey Sandwich and an Orange
6 Slices of Hillshire Farms Turkey – 50 Calories
2 Slices of Low Cal Wheat Bread – 75 Calories
Yellow Mustard As Desired – 0 Calories
1/4 Sliced up Tomato – 7 calories
1/2 Cup Iceberg Lettuce – 3 Calories
Orange – 85
Total Calories: 220 Calories

Lunch #2 Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwich
2 Slices of Low Cal Wheat Bread – 75 Calories
1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter – 100 calories
1 sliced skinned apple – 50 Calories
Total Calories: 225 Calories

Lunch #3 Select Harvest Light Soup
1 Can Southwestern Style Vegetable Soup: 50 Calories
10 Low Salt Saltine Crackers – 130 Calories
Total Calories: 180 Calories

Dinner

Dinner #1 Turkey Breast & Broccoli
1 4oz Turkey Breast – 120 Calories
Any low sodium season, season to taste – 0 Calories
2 Cups of Steamed Broccoli – 50 Calories
Total Calories: 170 Calories

Dinner #2 Turkey Tacos! (2)
1 4oz Turkey Breast sliced into strips – 120 Calories
Any low sodium seasons, season to taste – 0 calories
1 Cup of Iceberg Lettuce – 6 Calories
1/2 Cup Chopped Tomatos – 14 Calories
2 6″ Mission Foods Wheat Tortillas – 160 calories
Total Calories: 300 Calories

Dinner #3 Pork Chop and Green Beans
1 4oz Centercut, Boneless Porkchop – 235 Calories
1 Cup of Steamed Green Beans – 35 Calories
Total Calories: 270 Calories

Those are the top 3 dishes for my meals in my Playbook! Now these may not be your favorite, or may not be the easiest to you. However, they are what work for me. They are all quick, easy, and portable. You may feel free to try some of my meals, or create your own!  The point is you need to find a solid core of foods that you enjoy cooking, enjoy eating, and are quick and easy. It gives you a solid plan for the day and keeps you from making that 1100 calorie pit stop on the way home.

One thing you will also notice, is that I eat a lot of turkey. I rarely ever eat beef, ground beef, etc. Turkey is such a great substitute. For example, 1 4oz slab of Turkey breast is 120 calories, 1.8 grams of fat, and 19 grams of protein. My point here is that, if you can- find a healthier substitute! By substituting healthier options for your meals, you can cut calories significantly. Go for the leaner cuts of meat, steamed vegetables, etc.

One small note, I am an avid supporter of taking a daily multivitamin. I would say a large percentage of the population does not consume the right portions of every food group to get the vital vitamins that your body requires to function properly. I use the Walmart brand Men’s  One a Day equivalent. Has the same amount of vitamins, just 1/4 the price. I paid $3.50 for 100 tablets. If you don’t believe it is necessary, take a look at the supplemental facts of one of these tablets here.

Hopefully, this will get you motivated to generate your own Playbook and get you rolling on an effective and continuous change to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle!

Meet Sadie! Our Humane Society Rescue!

Unrelated to weight loss or the Navy, Michelle and I have been contemplating adopting a dog from the animal shelter. After a few weeks of tossing the idea around, we decided to plunge right into it!

I am somewhat of a sensitive guy, and I wanted to take all of the dogs home. I was talking to an adoption rep from the Humane Society and she said they get 60-80 dogs per day,and that is just in a small city like Knoxville – population 200k or so. They have to euthanize many dogs, which breaks my heart.

We decided we wanted an older dog, kind of give one a second chance you know? Especially after hearing one couple going down the kennels and the woman saying to her husband, “Oh this one is 6 months… too old.” Are you kidding me? I wanted to vomit when I heard that. How is a 6 month old puppy too old? There are many great older dogs who need just as much, if not more, love than a puppy. Such as the one we found.

We instantly fell inlove with Sadie. She is a 5 year old Pug/mix mutt with the prettiest silver/gray/brown brindle coat, who had a serious case of heartworm. She was getting passed up by many people, and it was heartbreaking. She was in a corner cage in the rear of the facility, surely one step closer to being euthanized. The crazy thing was, a local business donated the money for her heartworm treatment last month and her adoption fee which covers spay/neuter, first round of rabies shots, microchip, and a voucher for first vet visit of our choice. Yet, everyone seemed to want to forget about her.

Michelle and I immediately fell inlove. They let us interract with her in a separate room and she was very scared at first. She would slowly come to either of us when we motioned for her, and she would gently creep into our laps. When you raised your hand up to pet her, she was started wincing and leaning away from you, as if bracing herself for a barrage of beatings. It makes me wonder just how badly she had been beaten. We wanted her.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to pick her up until Monday late afternoon. We will also be taking her to the vet on Tuesday for her first appointment! We are very excited and can’t wait to bring her home!

In keeping with the “Pay It Forward” theme, I have also decided to pay the adoption fee for another older dog there that doesn’t seem to have a chance that we can’t bring home. Even though we didn’t have to pay anything for Sadie, we were still prepared to pay the fee. So when we go to pick her up tomorrow, I will hopefully give another dog a second chance it so much deserves!

And of course once we get Sadie home tomorrow evening, be sure to check back for more pictures!

Navy Nuclear Program

Many of my posts so far have been primarily dedicated towards the achievement of weight loss. While that is one milestone in my desire to succeed, it is only a milestone. The second part of this blog will be about getting into the Navy Nuke program, which I am sure will be a hotter topic of discussion once I get closer to my target weight.

What is the Navy Nuke program?
The Navy Nuclear program is an intensive program that trains men and women to operate and maintain nuclear reactors on shore locations, Nimitz class aircraft carriers, and submarines. The standards for this program are high and require impressive ASVAB scores, an extended enlistment commitment, and an intense amount of academic training.

How can I qualify for the Navy Nuke program?
To qualify for the Navy Nuke program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Meet the following ASVAB requirements: VE+AR+MK+NAPT = 290 (with minimum 50 NAPT score) or AR+MK+EI+GS+NAPT = 290 (with minimum 50 NAPT score) or VE+AR+MK+MC = 252 (No NAPT required) or AR+MK+EI+GS = 252 (No NAPT required)
  • Qualify for ‘Secret’ security clearance
  • Must not reach 25th birthday when entering Active Duty (boot camp), however waivers can be granted on a case by case basis.
  • Enlist for minimum of 6 years to account for the ~2 years of training required.

What are some of the perks of the Navy Nuke program?
The Navy Nuke program is offers some incentives for choosing this rate due to the difficulty it is to recruit qualified candidates and retain candidates who have fulfilled their 6 year enlistment obligation (those who leave the military after 6 years as a Nuke, usually go work in nuclear plants making $75k+ a year. See NukeWorker.com). Some of the incentives include:

  • Enter the Navy as an E-3, with accelerated advancement to pay grade E-4 once personnel completes all advancement-in-rate requirements.
  • A pretty decent size enlistment bonus, from 12-24k depending on needs of the Navy. This is split up to be dispersed to your account as you progress through the Nuke schools.
  • A high re-enlistment bonus is usually offered as well.

What is the process for becoming a Navy Nuke?
Once you meet the requirements and you enlist, you will be given a date you will ship off to boot camp. Until that date arrives, you will be placed in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). At this point, you follow the process just as any other sailor would. You go through the 8 weeks of boot camp in Great Lakes, Michigan just like all sailors. Once you are in boot camp, you will be assigned one of three ratings, based on the needs of the Navy at the time:

  • Machinist’s Mate (MM)
  • Electrician’s Mate (EM)
  • Electronic’s Technican (ET)

Once you graduate from boot camp, based on the rating you are assigned, you will then go to “A” School with the rest of the personnel who were assigned as the same rate as you. MM A School lasts 3 months, while ET and EM last 6 months.

After you completed your A School, you will be promoted to Petty Officer Third Class and will then head over to the power school, officially known as the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command.

What will I learn at NNPTC?
NNPTC is a rigorous 6 month training program that includes, but is not limited to, a curriculum of thermodynamics, chemistry, nuclear physics, nuclear reactor technology, reactor principals, and more. Most students spend 45 hours a week in class and an additional 10-50 hours per week studying. Since much of the information is classified, studying must be done in the classroom since the material is not permitted to leave the building. Once you complete NNPTC successfully, you will then head over to the Nuclear Power Training Unit for an additional 6 months.

What will I do at NPTU?
Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU), or known as Prototype school, will have you learning about operating and maintaining nuclear reactors. These schools, some of which have decommissioned submarines for training, all have live nuclear reactors and provides hands on instruction. You will learn the day in and day out operation of nuclear reactors, how to interpret readings, how to troubleshoot/solve any problems, etc. As stated, this hands-on training course is an additional 6 months.

What happens when I am done with NPTU?
Once you are done with Prototype school,you will then be assigned to a duty station. You will either be assigned to a nuclear surface ship such as an aircraft carrier, or a nuclear submarine if you volunteer for that (to be assigned to a submarine, you must volunteer.. and this is something I will do when I make it this far!). You will be qualified to receive special pay for working in the nuclear field, and if you work on a submarine, there is special pay for that as well.

I am not the world authority on the Navy Nuclear program, this is just the material I have been able to glean off of multiple sources and different levels of experience from ex navy nukes. As stated, it is an obviously very rigorous program. Failing scores due to personal negligence rather than ability can result to charges of dereliction of duty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). You can either be reassigned a new rate, or be discharged from the Navy all together.

This is my ultimate goal. Weight loss is simply a mile stone to get there. And you better believe, I am not going to let an excess of calories keep me from meeting my dream.

Humans Crave Community

Since the dawn of mankind, one thing that has allowed our species to flourish is the need for community. Man is a very creative and ingenious species that constantly seeks out like minded people to share, learn, and compare notes with those who have similar interests. The key word is similar interests, not similar thoughts.

Community is also not defined by time either. Or physical presence. For instance, the first person to introduce the idea of Heliocentrism was by Aristarchus around the 3rd century BC. However, it wasn’t proven until the 16th century by Copernicus with a mathematical model and later confirmed by Galileo’s observations another century later. These thoughts were differing from the common thought that everything revolved around the earth. Yet, these men in this specific community from different times were able to collaborate and work together to prove a scientific model.

Much has not changed since then, we simply have quicker access to such community. Look at social networking. Facebook, twitter, delicious, tumblr, blogs (including this one)etc etc etc. The list goes on. And within these social networking mediums, you find specific communities that support specific interests and allow people to share their ideas, thoughts, experiences, etc. The rate of information exchange is unprecedented in human history and allows people to collaborate on specific ideas and come up with better ways to do things, debate different thoughts, etc.

That is why it is important to surround yourself with like minded people and find a community of people with similar interests. I guarantee I don’t know everything about weight loss, eating right, exercise, the navy, or heliocentrism! But by finding people with the same ideas and thoughts, I can learn more and better fine tune my own experiences.

As I stated before, communities are even easier to find now with the rise of the internet and social networking. What you put on the internet is immortalized on some hard drive somewhere, and people could be reading it years from now. For all we know, everything we know today about weight loss may be proven wrong tomorrow. But we had to start somewhere, and community gives us that base to build on.

I was thinking about this while running last night. I hate running on treadmills and ellipticals, I much prefer a track or some outdoor path. It was in the 20’s, dark, cold (yes, I am going out to purchase some new running gear today. Hoodie here I come!), and lonely. But one thing that kept me going and didn’t make me feel so alone was the communities I have met in my short time on this journey.

If you are in need of some kind of community to share your weight loss goals/ideas with, I highly recommend the community over at 344Pounds. Tyler has created a wonderful community of those looking to lose anywhere from 10 lbs to 200+ lbs. Many people are willing to share their ideas and experiences to help motivate one another. Many people, including myself, are keeping a journal of their weight loss over there as well. Currently there is a January Challenge going on, where we are trying to reach individual goals we set by January 1st.

Or perhaps you found my blog while searching for Navy related items. A great community I have found is the forums over on The Navy Cafe. There are many people there who have gone through the DEP process, are on Active Duty, etc. They will be able to answer many questions about different job functions performed by different rates, etc.

The point is, if you find people that share the same interests as you- it is best to stick with them and collaborate within. You will be surprised what you learn and how much of a greater success rate you will experience. In not only helps motivate you, but keeps you just a bit warmer on those cold dark night runs!