Category Archives: Losing Weight

Update: The Challenge

We’ve decided to change the focus of our “Five-Pound Challenge.” We are rephrasing it to be something about each of us getting to our ideal weight/body place. Leslie’s personal challenge is losing five pounds; Richard has decided that his is about his clothing size, belt size and blood pressure, not just total weight loss.

This change in focus becomes significant when you note that Richard has already lost 7 pounds. He’s the one who suggested we change how we think about this challenge, because he’s already lost the five pounds and he’s not done.

Richard Ha reports in:

I was on the verge of getting a larger size shirt. That went away. Same with my belt – I was at the last hole and struggling. That went away. Jimmy suggested that I rely on those types of measurements, more than my weight.

I’m doing a combination of light weight-lifting and walking for a 45-minute period. I exercise with a heart rate monitor and make sure I’m in the fat burning zone or more.

My resting heart rate is now in the 60s. When I started, it was in the 70s. My blood pressure went down and has stabilized; it was very erratic when I first started.

Leslie Lang reports in:

I still weigh exactly what I weighed when we started. I have maintained this impressively consistent weight by only working out on the elliptical trainer twice since the challenge began, while simultaneously not cutting back on food much at all.

Oh my, and it was me that issued the challenge in the first place. I am slightly horrified to have to admit my lack of effort and progress, and hope to have a much better report next time. Must. Pull. It. Together.

If you are following our weight loss challenge in search of inspiration, you might want to be paying more attention to Richard’s efforts. I too will look at Richard’s efforts for inspiration and motivation. Wow!


The Five Pound Challenge, Week 1

It’s one week into our Five Pound Challenge and we’re reporting in.


I lost 1.5 pounds this past week.

I’m bringing myself to the point where I can do a combination of weight lifting and walking for 45 minutes everyday. Jimmy told me to work out in the mornings if possible. He said that your body is in a fat-burning mode when you first get up and you want to keep this going into the day as long as possible. He suggested I work another 40 minutes of activity into my day. I pretty much get that by working around the greenhouses. Lately, I’ve been looking at my bicycle.


I lost 1 pound this week.

This week wasn’t a typical one for me — I spent the week in Honolulu, out of my normal routine. I haven’t even gotten around to dusting off the elliptical trainer yet, though, as Richard said about his bike, I’ve been looking at it. I think I lost that pound by running around more than usual and not snacking as much. Gotta add exercising to the mix and see what happens.


The Five Pound Challenge, Day 1

Okay, I did tell Leslie that I was thinking about working out again. About a month ago I started thinking seriously about making a lifestyle change after the TMT decision. So I called up Jimmy yesterday, my friend who told me he would work with me if I wanted to work out. Jimmy knows everything about cardio training and nutrition. He said, put on your walking shoes and come down to the house.

During a 40-minute walk we discussed philosophy, motivation, strategy, nutrition, aerobic cardioovascular pathways, protein synthesis, bmi index, VO2 max, lactic acid, fat burning, liver, adrenal gland, antioxidants, juicers, etc. I understand all those terms.

Then he came to my house to check out my setup and he wrote me a 40-minute program.  I has to demonstrate that I understood the movements and got 20 more minutes of work out in. Then we went out back and went over everything for another 30 minutes.

Jimmy’s advice: Slow food and slow progress. He said to measure inches not pounds; the idea is that you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment. I’ll check my weight once per week to see how I am doing against Leslie. But I’m settling in for the long haul.

Today I’ll go with him to GNC to see what I will be using in smoothies.


I don’t enjoy exercising. Never have, never will. Also, my life is really busy right now and I don’t have any obvious time available for such a thing. But about five unwanted pounds have crept on, and I’d like to lose them, so somehow I’ll find the time. I know that exercise will be good for me for myriad other reasons, too.

I have an elliptical trainer, and my plan is to put on a movie and watch it while I make myself climb up on it and use it. I know I’ll never do it unless there’s something to look forward to while doing it. I love this idea and hope it works nicely.

As for food, I’m going to pay attention to what I’m eating — three reasonable meals a day and two small snacks in between. My biggest personal challenge: not eating after dinner. I work in my home office late and eat late. Bad, bad. It’s gotta go.

I’m glad to read that Richard is going for slow progress, both because that’s a healthy approach and also because that gives me a better chance to win the challenge! (I told you I’m sort of competitive.)


The Five Pound Challenge

If you’ve been reading along recently, you know we’ve been discussing the TMT quite a bit.

Now for something completely different.

So Richard mentioned to me the other day that he was thinking about starting to work out again.

Richard and I are polar opposites on this subject. He likes to lift weights, knows what his resting heart rate is, and has used phrases here on the blog like “power lifting,” “cardiovascular workout,” “reps” and “crunches.”

I have never, ever used any of those phrases. I am not an exercise junkie by any stretch of the imagination.

I have been thin, I think, mostly because I was lucky in my genes. Now I guess I’m getting older, though, because suddenly my body would like to be about five pounds heavier than it has been. I would like to lose those pounds before they settle in for the long haul.

So when Richard mentioned in passing he wanted to lose some weight and might start working out again, I blurted out, “Let’s see who can lose five pounds first! I CHALLENGE YOU. We can write about it on the blog!”

He immediately accepted my challenge. And then I instantly regretted my impulsiveness, because I’m lazy about stuff like this and now I will have to do it.

And now, of course, I will absolutely have to lose these five pounds, because we are going to keep track of our progress here on the blog and I don’t want to be publicly humiliated. And possibly I might even need to lose my five pounds first, because I am competitive. Oh my.

We will do our official weigh-ins on Monday. Stay tuned.

And you can accept the challenge along with us if you’d like, by letting us know in comments (or just privately inside your head). If you want to accept the challenge publicly, by letting us know here in comments at the end of this post, then you can post your updates in comments when we do, and we will all cheer each other on.

See you Monday.


A Wide View

June and I cruised out to Waimea today for lunch at the house of our friend, the food writer Joan Namkoong. Joan has a new home on a hill in Waimea. It has ‘ohi‘a floors with koa all around. Just the right amount of koa—plenty, but not too much. The kitchen, which I’m sure Joan designed, is very open, efficient and functional yet elegant, as is the rest of the house.

June (not to be confused with Joan) oohed and aahed. She told me, “Remember when I asked you to make sure you design a window at the kitchen sink for our new house? That’s what I meant—a real window!”

I said, “Oh, you wanted a real view?”

Joan has a great, wide view from her kitchen sink. As well as all around the house. We were just so impressed with everything. And we had a great time. The food was unbelievable. There was roasted chicken with panzenella salad, a Greek salad made with Hamakua Springs grape tomatoes and Japanese cucumber, Wailea hearts of palm and feta cheese. Joan baked homemade bread.

Chef Eddie Goto of the Maunalani brought the chicken and panzanella, Joan cooked some of the meal, and some of the ladies brought desserts—a light and flaky lemon torte, chocolate chip cookies and bite-sized pecan pies.

The people were nice: The CEO of Parker Ranch Chris Kanazawa and his wife Mae; Executive Chef of the Maunalani Edwin Goto and his wife Dore Centeio; Lesley Hill and Mike Crowell of Wailea Ag Group, who were our down-the-street farmer neighbors  at Waiakea Uka for more than 20 years; retired Matson captain Norman Pi‘ianaia and his wife Nancy Pi‘ianaia, who is the leader of Slow Food Hawaii; and Pat and Doug Giles. Pat is the daughter of Monte Richards, of Kahua Ranch, who is one of my favorite people. He tells great Pidgin English jokes. We really enjoyed all the company.

As an aside, Norman’s dad, Abraham Pi‘ianaia, was my Hawaiian geography teacher at the UH when I attended back in the 60s. He taught me that being local had value. I really, really liked him and I respected him immensely. He was one of the people who made an impression on me as I passed through. I flunked out of school but I’m pretty sure I got a “B” in his class.

To top off the day, my workout was especially good today, too. My plan was to do my regular four-set workout alternating weights and aerobics. While accomplishing my regular workout, I also set out to do four sets of 30 crunches starting with no weights and adding 5 pounds for each successive set. On the last set, I wanted to do as many reps with 15 pounds behind my head as I could. I was prepared to do 15 or so, instead of the full 30.

By the middle of the second set, I had hit a heart rate of 130. I kept my heart rate around 135 for the 50-minute workout, slowing down a bit when my heart rate went into the 140s. I was saving my energy so I would not be exhausted by the time my last set of crunches came around.

I started the last set of 30 crunches with 15 pounds behind my head and without any unusual strain. I did 10, then 15, and then I realized I could probably do all thirty okay. When I hit 25, it was downhill all the way to 30—no strain no pain. It was great!

I’ll stay around here for the next couple of weeks before I try 20 pounds. No rush. All in all it was a great day!


Coming Along

My exercise sessions are coming along nicely. I am combining weight lifting and aerobics, and warm up on the elliptical trainer or treadmill at a moderate rate for 8 minutes or so. Then I do 10 reps of exercises that hit my lower back, mid back, biceps, triceps, front shoulder, side shoulder, front thigh and stomach. This is eight different exercises using dumbbells and cables as necessary, and then repeating this combination four times.

Depending on the exercise, I may increase the weight a little on each set. But never to the point I cannot do the exercise in strict form. After the second set is completed, I’m completely warmed up and my heart rate, as measured by a heart rate monitor, is around 120 or so. By the end of the third set it’s in the mid-130s and by the fourth set it hits the mid-140s.

The objective of monitoring one’s heart rate while training is because the heart is a muscle and should be trained like any other muscle. Train, rest, recover and then train again adding just a little more stress.

I’ll speed up, or increase the weight that I am using in weight lifting, to achieve a certain heart rate. The basic idea is that one can improve a little bit at a time. It is counter-productive to try to rush thing,s because of the dangers of injury. In general, over a 12-week period a weekly increase in volume and intensity of more than three percent is probably too much.

Several months ago I increased my crunches to 25 per set for four sets, which is a total of 100 crunches. Now I can do 30 on each set and place a 10-pound barbell plate behind my head for the last two or three sets.

I’m in no particular rush. But it is good to know that one can improve steadily at age 62. To put things in perspective, a few at the gym can do crunches with 45 pound plates behind their head.


Behind Me

This morning my resting heart rate was 54 beats per minute. The GreenLight laser procedure that I did a couple of months ago is now completely behind me.

June and I just finished loading up the Kona delivery van with a couple hundred boxes of bananas and tomatoes, and it was no problem at all. In fact, now I’m considering getting on the elliptical trainer for a half hour or so.

I’ve been exercising consistently for the last month or so and I’m feeling like it’s time to increase intensity. My goal is to get my resting heart rate below 50 beats per minute. It will take intervals of fairly high heart rate exercising several times per week.

I’ll do this by alternating weight lifting and aerobics in the same session. Twice a week, I’ll try to get my heart rate up to 150-160 beats per minute two or three times for a few minutes.

In a couple of weeks I’ll start making an effort to lose a few pounds.



Next week I resume normal activities after undergoing a GreenLight laser procedure five weeks ago.

Just prior to the procedure, my resting heart rate was in the mid- to high-50 beats per minute. Two weeks afterward, when I was instructed to just rest, my resting heart rate climbed into the mid-60s.

When I’m out of shape it’s in the mid-70s. When I’m exercising sporadically, it’s in the 60s. And when I’m in good shape it’s in the mid-50’s. That’s where I want it to be all the time.

I resumed light exercise two weeks ago and my resting heart rate is now in the low-60s. I expect to be in the 50s soon.

My hard-to-achieve goal is to drop into the 40s. But this will take intense short intervals of high heart rate training. My general rule is that when I’m running at a pace where I need to take a breath on every step, I’m close to 160 beats per minute. And I will need to do maybe three or four short intervals at this rate to get my heart rate below 50 beats per minute.

In the three weeks after the procedure, I gained five pounds. At my present weight of 202.7 pounds, I’m still up two pounds. But I hope to lose that in a few weeks.

Since we started eating more vegetables a few months ago, we’ve started grilling vegetables. I didn’t realize how tasty vegetables such as corn, eggplant, squash and tomatoes are when grilled with olive oil. In fact, that’s what we’re going to do right now.

When June and I went to visit our friend Judy in Santa Maria, we experienced how their social lives revolved around grilling. We had a nice relaxing time. We’re thinking about how we can redesign our lives to do more of that.


Fitness vs. Fatness

It’s been more than a year since I started writing about my attempt to lose weight and become more fit.

I have since learned that fitness and weight loss are two different things.

Which one is more important? Fitness is more important than fatness.


Steven Blair, Ed.D., of the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, agrees. “Fitness, not fatness, is the more important issue.” He bases his conclusions on years of research, conducted at the Cooper Institute, studying the relationship of cardiorespiratory fitness to mortality in men grouped by Body Mass Index (BMI).

That work has shown similar death rates among men of all BMI levels who were moderately or very fit. But the death rates were significantly higher among men with low fitness levels, regardless of their BMI. (Women were not included in this study due to a limited sample size, Blair says, but “we would expect to see similar results.”)

The most important thing I have learned: Don’t get discouraged if you do not achieve your weight loss goals. Just keep on working on your fitness goals. Then revisit your weight loss goals.

I have used resting heart rate as an indicator of my fitness status. I know from past experience that my resting heart rate is around 75 beats per minute when I am out of shape, in the mid-60s when I’m in moderate physical shape, and in the high- to mid-50s when I’m in very good shape.

My goal is to maintain my resting heart rate in the 50s. With imaginative exercise I can achieve this regardless of my body weight. It does take exercising at a high heart rate for short periods of time. Long slow walking does very little to achieve a low resting heart rate.

My resting heart rate this morning was 61. This is not bad considering my doctor has instructed me to take it easy for six weeks following a GreenLight Laser Procedure.

I’m slowly beginning to exercise again. So far, so good.


Keeping It Light

Richard Ha writes:

I’m back lifting light weights and getting in some aerobics training. I have three more weeks to take it easy before I can go back to the gym and start lifting weights seriously again.

In the meantime, I’m doing a routine that is ideal for someone who wants to strengthen his or her cardiovascular system. It goes like this: On an elliptical or treadmill do a one lap warm up—six minutes or so. Then do a warm up set of ten reps of light curls, dumbbell front laterals, side laterals, cable pull down and crunches. Move from one to the next smoothly. Then get back on the elliptical or treadmill and do another lap at a moderate speed. Go back to the dumbbells and repeat the cycle at 10 reps.

I do four cycles increasing the weight a little if I feel strong or the same or less weights if I don’t feel strong. I train by feel rather than by a rigid schedule. That is how I was able to enter 16 straight powerlifting meets without an injury.

When I’m 100 percent, after four cycles, I continue for two more laps on the treadmill, for a total of 35 minutes or so of walking. Together with the weightlifting that can be an hour of cardiovascular exercising. Depending on how hard one pushes the weightlifting, it can make for a strenuous workout. My heart rate can hit the 160s if I’m doing curls with 45 pounds or front laterals with 35 pounds on the last set.

I like this exercise combination because it breaks up the monotony of doing just one thing. It is very important that one performs the weightlifting in slow strict form. This helps to prevent injuries.

In my mind I squeeze the blood in and out of the muscles when using the weights and then when I walk on the treadmill I imagine replenishing the oxygen and removing the waste from the weightlifting. To me this is better then just lifting weights or just doing aerobic exercises.

I’m off to Honolulu to go to the Father’s Day Brunch at Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room. We got the sneak preview menu, and I’ll have to try as much of it as I can. And Leslie is on the East Coast. But we’re still blogging!