Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Better Me, A Better You

Author Jason Jack here, interneters! If you haven't read my prior two posts on how I lost weight and began a life long trek towards a healthy lifestyle, check them out now:

Losing weight taught me how to go out and find the best workouts and most nutritious foods for me.

After having worked off a total of 65 pounds during my senior year of high school, going from 225 on the scale to a lean 165, I gained a lot of knowledge, but I knew I had room for growth.

  • Phase 1: I started running in my room to lose weight. It worked fine, and that is how I shed over sixty pounds in a single year.
  • Phase 2: To add a bit more excitement and variety in my cardio plans, I began playing the music-dance video game, Dance-Dance Revolution (DDR) on a consistent basis for a solid four to five years. This is how I kept the weight off, increased my stamina, and was able to breathe better. DDR was great at improving my stamina.
  • Phase 3: Expanding from DDR, I went on to play full body workout video games such as the Just Dance series, the Zumba game series, and a variety of other physical-active games for the Wii videogame console. Full body workout was a focus for me in my ever evolving active regimen—it burns more calories and works out the entire body. Win win!
  • Phase 4: I continued my full body workout by doing long walks outdoors as well as taking walks prior to eating breakfast for a great boost in metabolism and even greater results.
Weights/Resistance Training:
  • Phase 1: I did not have a lot of money so I used Minute Made jugs full of water as free weights and bench press weights. They worked fine and I could feel the burn with multiple repetitions!
  •  Phase 2: When I could afford weights, I bought 20 pound dumbbells, a curl bar, and a set of leg weights to increase resistance while I ran and walked.
  •  Phase 3: In order to increase the burn, I began doing sets of different activities such as multiple sets of pushups, and curls.
  • Phase 4: I began doing more resistance training with resistance bands as well as doing a lot more body exercise like dips, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. that were full body activities as well as cardio. These type of exercises kill two birds with one stone, increasing muscle strength and improving cardio. This is my regimen to this day.

  •  Phase 1: I ate food that I thought was healthy including granola bars, apple juice, and “health” branded TV dinners.
  • Phase 2: I added fruits and drink V8 Splash fruit juice that had less sugar and more nutrients than apple juice.
  • Phase 3: This phase came about when I met my significant other. She introduced a lot of vegetables to my life including cucumbers, broccoli, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, and more. I also stopped drinking any drink with sugar, and I began drinking sugar-free drinks such as Crystal Light. I introduced packet oatmeal and chocolate milk for breakfast.
  • Phase 4: I stopped drinking chocolate milk because it was too sugary and had too much saturated fat. I exchanged my pocket oatmeal for real, old fashioned non-instant oatmeal and introduced smoothies as meal replacements and as nutritious, tasty drinks. I got rid of any flavored drink other than an abundance of water and green tea. I also began eating home cooked meals, slow cooker meals, with the emphasis of clean eating. I also say no to ninety five percent of boxed meals.

There you have it—my evolution of cardio, eating, and training for the past decade. And I still have room to learn and to grow. I also hope you never stop improving your health as well.

I hope you enjoyed the last three weeks learning about my weight loss, and I hope it proved helpful or insightful.

Until next time.

(I'm an author of adult and children's books, a positive advocate, and lover of sweets [to my detriment at times]. What you just read is a snip-it of my ever evolving, very malleable philosophy of life based on experience, conversations, and years of studying. If you get anything out of reading my words, I hope it is to think and be positive :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Author Jason Jack: 'Losing Weight' Part 2

Author Jason Jack here, intereneters? And what better way to start off the new year with a story of wieght loss? My story :)

If you haven't read part one of 'Losing Wight', read it here--

Now, onto Part 2.


This number signifies my weight when I was sixteen.

It is the heaviest I have ever been, and it was my weight at the beginning of Summer 2003, just three months before my Senior year of high school.

Fearing for the well being of my heart, I changed my eating habits and increased the amount of physical activity I was doing for the first time in my life.

This is the summer I worked off 35 pounds.

Starting Out With the Basics

Having vowed to not eat any sweets, sodas, or fast foods for a solid 90 days, I had to look elsewhere for healthier diet staples. I did not have much knowledge of nutritional foods but used the little knowledge I did have to make better eating selections. It was time to go to the grocery store!
  • I traded my super sugary sodas and Kool-aides for Minute Made and Apple Juice.
  • My breakfast was a nutritional bowl of cereal (not kids cereal).
  • And my “Saturday Morning Special” was weeded down to a few eggs, jellied toast, and a sausage or two with a cup of apple juice.

These changes went a huge way in lowering the amount of fat, sugars, and extra calories I was consuming. In fact, simply removing all excess sweets and unhealthy calories went a long way in helping me work off 35 pounds in the summer.

And I disregarded the cries from my sweet tooth when I rid my diet of pop tarts, candy bars, cakes, soda, and ice cream. To satisfy this sweet craving, I added Natural Valley granola bars, bananas, and semi-sweet multi-grain cereals to my daily list of eats.

My unhealthy fast food dinners went out the window and were replaced by either my mother’s home cooking or Smart One’s low calorie TV dinners. And for the first time in my life, I began eating vegetables by adding small salads to my fish stick dinners.

My first attempt at eating healthier was good freshmen try (at best) and worked until I learned more and found something better. The same can be said for my simple workouts.

No Wrong Way

I always noticed how the media basically tells us (the viewers) the “right way” or the “only way” to lose weight was with a gym membership or costly weights and workout programs. Since I did not have the money to join 24 Hour Fitness or buy a weight room, I used my creativity. I would not be deterred from working out. My life depended on it.

For free weights, I used empty Minute Made jugs filled with water to curl and bench press. And contrary to what television told me, it worked perfectly fine.

This revelation was invaluable—working out is not about what you use or where you are but about the results. If you can get similar results using a piece of wood, and if that’s all you could muster, than use the wood!

I rounded out my weight activity with pushups and dips (sort of reverse pushups).  I even started drinking a lot of water and energy drinks during my workouts, drastically increasing my fluid intake. There wasn’t much to my exercise plan but it worked and I achieved results.

Creative Cardio

I definitely did not feel secure enough in my own body, form, or shape to go running in public so I decided to run loops in my bedroom—literally fifteen feet run one way and fifteen feet back.

Yes, I shed 35 pounds in one summer by changing my diet, doing push ups, lifting Minute Maid jugs, and by running circles in my room.

I did not care what other people or the media thought of my ways. I had motivation behind me and that was all I needed.

I started off running ten minutes because that was all my overweight body could handle. When the weeks went on, that ten minutes became twenty, thirty, and forty five until I was eventually running for a full hour. And I stuck to this routine, every other day, for a full ninety days.

There was no way my heart would ever pop again. I was hell bent on avoiding a premature death. I would be fit. I would be healthy.

Judgment Scale

By the end of the summer, I witnessed my body transformed. The mirror did not lie nor did the scale. The “225” that would flash back at me just months prior now was a new number, a number far below of the “200 Club”. A number I could be proud of. I stepped on the scale and smiled when “190” looked up at me.

I did it, I thought. All that hard work paid off.

The running, the new eating regime, and the consistency had all worked. My heart no longer hurt or popped, I had more energy, I was breathing better, and I needed an entire new set of clothes!

To top it all off, working out and eating healthier no longer felt like hard work. It was now a way of life for me. A way of life I vowed to continue for, well, the rest of my life.

After Summer

No one could change me but myself. Three months after suffering a scary heart event in my Chemistry class, I was 35 pounds lighter, eating better, with a positive outlook on life.

For me, the dramatic weight loss and knowledge I had gained during that Summer before my Senior year in high school was just the beginning. I had much to learn about a healthy lifestyle going forward, and next week, I’ll share how I continued the momentum into my college years and beyond.

Until then, be motivated; be healthy!  

(I'm an author of adult and children's books, a positive advocate, and lover of sweets [to my detriment at times]. What you just read is a snip-it of my ever evolving, very malleable philosophy of life based on experience, conversations, and years of studying. If you get anything out of reading my words, I hope it is to think and be positive :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Author Jason Jack: 'Losing Weight' Part 1

Author Jason Jack here, interneters! What better way to start off the new year with a story of weight loss? For the next for weeks, my blogs will be centered around my personal ups and downs with healthy eating habits over the past decade.

My story begins in early Summer 2003 . . .


The sensation in my chest, I could only describe it as my heart “popping”.

My body went warm and my pulse quickened, while I sat in Chemistry class during my Junior year of high school. I wondered whether I would die in seconds or last the remainder of the day.

Being only sixteen, I didn't want to die. That was enough motivation to jump-start a lifelong path towards good nutrition and exercise.

Roots of the Problem

I still remember telling doctors about my heart. They did tests but told me nothing was irregular. Funny thing, though, not a single doctor asked or even attributed my heart popping to the food I was eating. Just crazy! That’s the first thing I looked to.

After all, I was a 225 pound sixteen year old made of extra fat and little muscle. I also wasn't very active at the time doing little more than a daily walk home from school which my body already got accustomed. I had added on the pounds over the years, and something had to be the culprit.

Devil’s Food

It was definitely the overabundance of food, as well as the types of food, I was shoveling down my throat that added inches to my waist and was subtracting years from my short lived life. Here’s a sample Saturday morning breakfast I ate back in 2001-2002. I warn you—it’s not pretty:

  • 4-5 Large whole eggs
  • 1 Large Onion Bagel with cream cheese
  • 5 Finger-sized sausage links
  • 4-5 Pieces of bacon
  • 2 Pop-Tarts
  • 1-2 glasses of Soda (usually Sprite)
  • Perhaps a bowl of ice cream or a piece of cake if we had any

And that was just for breakfast. Whoa.

The daily candy bars, chips, Cheese-Its, cheese, ice cream, and cakes didn’t help (nor did my penchant for sweets). The occasional fast food burger and fries made things worse. And to top it all off, I can’t remember drinking much water during my pre-heart popping years. It was all about the soda and kool aide.

Knowledge is Power . . . Is Weight Loss

The first step to a nutritional, healthy life is to acknowledge the unhealthy eating habits. The second is to find and recognize nutritional replacement foods.

Given that my family as a whole was not overly educated (or enthused) on eating healthy, I took it upon myself to find better alternatives for breakfast through dinner.

I analyzed what needed to go and what could stay. I also knew I had to be more active rather than getting most of my daily workout from pressing buttons on a video game controller.

I was determined to live. And I wanted to enjoy my Senior year of high school looking—and feeling—as good as I could.

Summer Is Here

I was 225 pounds at the start of the Summer before my Senior year. I knew vegetables, fruits, and juices were healthy. I also knew candy, sweets, chips, and fast foods were out. Going into my three month vacation, I vowed that I would not eat any sweets or eat any fast foods for the entire Summer. A lofty goal for a sweet fanatic like me, but it had to be done.

I also vowed to work out on a consistent basis, with no gym membership and no workout gear.

And finally, with the help of my mother and my measly bus-boy income, I would start buying better food for myself.

The goals were set. The time was now.

The Fight To Live

I can still remember the seconds feeling like hours the moment after my heart popped. My arms were jittery and I had no idea what was happening. The sensation of muscles pulling and contracting in my chest was a startling experience that sent me into a “Oh crap—I better take care of myself” state.

My parents and family had little knowledge of proper nutrition and my doctors even more oblivious to my needs. As it should be, it was up to me to take control of my weight and nutrition. The only other option was to die, and I was going to fight to live.

Come back next week when I detail how I shed over thirty pounds in a single summer . . .

Until then.

(I'm an author of adult and children's books, a positive advocate, and lover of sweets [to my detriment at times]. What you just read is a snip-it of my ever evolving, very malleable philosophy of life based on experience, conversations, and years of studying. If you get anything out of reading my words, I hope it is to think and be positive :)