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I’ve been keeping a secret

2011 April 20
by Troy Foster

OK, the contest is over, I’ve been away from the blog for awhile and I’ve been sitting on some big news.

But for posterity’s sake, I have just posted the five unpublished blog entries that disappeared when my laptop and the TextEdit files it contained were shipped to Texas (or was it Missouri?) for repairs. I will reveal my news tomorrow, but in the meantime here are my missing entries. I bring special attention to them only because they are among my favorites, they include most of the meals I ate during the missing week and they complete this 10-week writing exercise and food journal.

Tomorrow, my big news. Until then …

The Missing Blogs

March 21: Getting back into the skinny clothes
March 22: Getting reacquainted with an old friend
March 24: Protein BEEFCAKE!!!
March 25: 1 pound?
March 27: Tunnel Falls: When mother knows best

Just Lost It: 28.6 pounds in 10 weeks

2011 March 30

I lost almost 30 pounds in 10 weeks and posed for this ridiculous "after" photo (and yes, Duck fans, this T-shirt is for you).

This contest is over.

I went into Lloyd Athletic Club this morning for my official weigh-in. Ten weeks ago, on Jan. 17, I came in at a staggering 262.4 pounds on the Official Scale. Today that very same scale told me I weigh 233.8.

Count it: 28.6 pounds in 10 weeks.

I actually wasn’t expecting it to be that much. My trainer and I used two different scales over the past 10 weeks that were way off each other. One disappeared after six weeks and we never got a starting weight on the other. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the Official Scale was about the same as what my home scale told me this morning.

Just Lose It! is over, but the work continues.

When I hired Paisley Ann Meekin to help me get in shape I told her my ultimate goal was to lose 50 pounds. I figured I was in the low 250s at the time, but when we weighed in on Day 1 I was aghast to see I’d topped 260.

I took care of the first 30 in these 10 weeks, but I have now revised my goal to 60 pounds. That 200 mark still beckons. Another 10 weeks? We’ll find out around mid-June.

I feel better today than I have in years. Shedding almost 30 pounds does so much more than improve your appearance. Exercising five to six days a week, plus eating healthy, has made me more alert, less tired, and it’s generally improved my disposition. Instead of getting dopamine from the shitty foods I used to crave, I get it from exercise. I also love the new foods I eat. Don’t let the past few days of my food journal — I admit, I was pulling out all the stops — mislead you. This is good eating.

This official scale for the Just Lose It! contest said 262.4 on Day 1.

And make no mistake: I didn’t go on a diet, I made a lifestyle change.

Now if you’re a constant reader you know this blog is not just about that lifestyle change, it’s about the contest I entered at my gym called “Just Lose It!” The person who undergoes the most significant physical change in 10 weeks wins $1,000.

Did I win? I still don’t know, but I should find out soon. I was told today by the person who took my measurements that there are about 25 people left in the competition (some gave up), and after me she still had five more to weigh.

But I received an encouraging hint. I had lost more weight than the 18 people who stepped on the scale before me, and apparently I blew everyone out of the water. However, this contest isn’t scored on weight loss alone. It’s measured on things such as skin folds, changes in body fat percentage and body mass index.

I’ll have more to say on all that shortly. Meanwhile, I am waiting anxiously for a phone call.

Food Journal for Tuesday, March 29 (click to view):

Snack: Perfect Foods Bar
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and banana
Lunch: Turkey patty with broccoli and raw cashews
Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries and Stevia sweetener
Dinner: Sliced ham and vegetables dipped in vinaigrette dressing

A note to my constant readers

2011 March 29
by Troy Foster

Dear three of you,

When this weight loss contest ends in a few days, I will be relieved that I can take a break from blogging as well. If you haven’t noticed, I’m always a few days behind on the blogs. The former newspaper reporter in me just can’t bring myself to publish an unedited first draft of anything. I write everything in a “Text Edit” file on my MacBook Pro, let it sit for a day or two (or four), then try to clean it up before posting with all my meals and corresponding photos.

Well, sadly I had to take my laptop to the MacBook Hospital today where it will undergoe treatment for the next 5-7 days. It wouldn’t boot up last night at all and it might require a new logic board to fix. Gone with it are several unpublished blogs from last week that covered some fun topics, such as getting back into the skinny section of my closet, my obsession with protein bars and how nice it is to look down and see my balls again without needing a mirror.

I’ll publish those as soon as the MacBook comes back from the Mac Hospital.

And thank you for being a constant reader.

— Troy


The laptop is back, and my unpublished files have been resurrected from the dead.

March 21: Getting back into the skinny clothes
March 22: Getting reacquainted with an old friend
March 24: Protein BEEFCAKE!!!
March 25: 1 pound?
March 27: Tunnel Falls: When mother knows best

Who are you calling No. 2?

2011 March 28

I stepped on the scale Friday and was horrified.

Standing there naked, the number staring back at me said 236.4. Another pound! Hooray, right?

I’ve never been so upset, with the exception maybe of the first time I stepped on Paisley’s scale almost 10 weeks ago.

I mean, what does a man have to do to lose some weight around here? Just a week earlier on Friday I came in at 237.4 pounds. And the very next day I came in at 235.6 pounds. On Monday I came in at 234.6 pounds. I was so giddy. I was going to win this weight-loss contest! At this rate I would be down to 231 by Friday. I told myself, “Stop weighing yourself and just wait ’till Friday and you’ll be excited by what you see.”

I’ve been in overdrive the past two weeks. I cut out the debauchery and skipped my allowed Eat Whatever You Want Days. Then I stepped on the scale Friday and get 236.4? This is my fucking reward? This is what I get for eliminating alcohol, all processed carbohydrates, doing an extra workout last Sunday, climbing a mother fucking mountain like Rocky Balboa and drinking almost two gallons of water a day? For 236.4? To gain almost 2 pounds between Monday and Friday?

It’s just an anomaly, I thought. I tried to shrug it off but it bothered me all day Friday. I’ll just weigh myself tomorrow and it will be back down to 234.6, I told myself. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and stressing over day-to-day changes in my weight is about as productive as trying to pop zits on my back.

I weighed myself Saturday morning and the same thing: 236.4. No change, WTF?

Have I been eating too many protein bars?

I felt defeated when I went for my hike in the Gorge to Tunnel Falls. What did I do wrong? Was it the steak strips I ate for four meals last week, the one’s dipped in salty teryaki sauce? Or was it the protein bars? I’m eating way too many protein bars! That must be it.

As I went to through the potential causes in my mind, I figured the best I would do now was to finish No. 2 in the Just Lose It contest. Speaking of No. 2 … wait … no way!

It’s not like I keep these things in a log book, but I could not recall the last time I took a shit. Definitely not on Saturday. Not Friday either. Thursday?

Needless to say, I realized I was having a bit of a problem. You could say I was having trouble letting go. But my hike helped shake it out of me and my visit to the lavatory Saturday night was something straight out of a South Park episode.

Today I’m back down to 234.2 pounds.

Talk about a shitty situation. But now I have some new friends: Citrucel and prunes.

I explained this phenomenon to Paisley this morning, because that’s what I pay her for, adding, “I’d hate myself if I lost this contest by a turd.”

Citrucel and prunes, my new friends.

Food Journal (click to view):
Breakfast: Pork loins, grapes and raw cashews (in baggies because I ate them while driving to the gym).
Snack: Perfect Foods Bar.
Lunch: Meat loaf, banana and raw cashews from Whole Foods.
Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries and Stevia.
Dinner: Lentil soup
Snack: Prunes and Citrucel

Tunnel Falls: When mother knows best

2011 March 27

At Tunnel Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

“You need to tell someone where you’re going,” my mother said.

“Mom, no,” I said. “Just because I live here right now does not mean I’m your teenage son again. And besides, I have a cell phone.”

“But you need to leave a note …”


I was sitting on Mom’s couch Saturday afternoon, having this conversation while searching the Googles for a hike to burn some calories and lose some more weight. Mom was really bothering me. I live with her right now — have since Nov. 1 — but I’ll have my own place again come April.

“Don’t you think it’s getting late to do a hike today?” Mom said.

“Mom, please,” I said. “I am trying to find a hike and I need to do it today. My final weigh-in is this coming week and I want to win the contest.”

“But don’t you think it’s raining too hard for a hike today?”

“I’m not going to argue about this, Mom.”

“The weather’s really not that good.”


“You need to leave a note when you do things like this.”

If she would have just stop pestering — or, as she calls it, “Momzing” — I would have chosen my hike a lot quicker. But I knew she was right, kind of. It was getting late to begin a long hike.

I finally gave up my internet search and settled for a hike I did last year with Yoss. I didn’t want to tell Mom where I was going. I was annoyed by her nosing, but I did so begrudgingly.

“Tunnel Falls.”

“Tunnel Falls?” Mom said. “Where’s that?”

“That’s all you get,” I said. “You can look it up.”

By the time I escaped my mother’s inquisition, drove to the Columbia River Gorge and put the $5 fee in the envelope at the trailhead, it was 3:38 p.m.

Yoss and I did this a year ago as part of Hike Club, and I knew what to expect. Six miles of a gentle uphill slope to Tunnel Falls, then six miles back.

It was raining, and it was muddy. What I hadn’t told Mom was that there were parts of this hike where a safety wire has been attached to the side of the cliff so you don’t fall to your death.

You need to tell someone where you’re going, a little voice in the back of my mind said.

Punchbowl Falls photo courtesy of Portland Hikers Field Guide.

If you’re doing this hike you have to bring a camera. There are just so many beautiful sights begging to be photographed, including several waterfalls, footbridges and something called the potholes. I breezed by most of these sites because Yoss and I snapped pictures the last time we were here. And there was another reason.

My cell phone — which is my de facto camera — was almost dead.

You need to leave a note, the little voice said.

I passed a lot of hikers coming the opposite way near the beginning of the hike, but after a while I wasn’t seeing anybody. When I felt like I should be near the my final destination, I came across four hikers and asked them: “Am I almost to Tunnel Falls?”

“About another mile and a half,” one of the hikers said.

I thought about turning around, but I had come most of the way. Little did I know I wouldn’t see another human being for three hours.

I finally reached the highlight of this hike about 45 minutes later, the place where you snap a lot of pictures before turning back. There is a towering waterfall that drops into a pit. The only way to continue beyond this point is through a tunnel that was blasted through the bedrock behind the falls 100 years ago. Since I didn’t do a good job playing photographer, you can view some good photos of this spectacle here, here and here.

I walked through this tunnel and held onto the safety wire on the other side. I turned on my phone and took a self portrait to prove I’d made it. When I looked at the picture on my phone, I also noticed the time.

Exactly 6 p.m.

Holy shit! It had taken me almost 2 1/2 hours to hike here, and at the same pace I wouldn’t get back to my car until 8:20. What time does it get dark this time of year? Is it 7? Is it 8?

Don’t you think it’s getting late to do a hike today?

Photo courtesy Jeff Statt via Portland Hikers Field Guide.

My phone had less than a 15% charge, so I turned it back off. Not knowing how much light I had left, I began to jog when I re-emerged on the other side of the tunnel. I was pretty sure I was going to run out of light and I wanted to be as close to the trailhead as possible before it got dark. Jogging would not be an option later.

So my 12-mile hike included at least three miles of jogging. Not what I had planned. I stumbled a few times and slipped here and there in the mud, but I stayed on my feet.

But don’t you think it’s raining to hard for a hike today?

I jogged for a while, then I walked. Then I jogged again until I got tired. Then I walked.

The sun had clearly gone down on this overcast, rainy day and it finally got too dark to jog. I figured I was 2/3 of the way back.

I finally ran into a young couple who were, amazingly, walking in the opposite direction. I stopped them and asked how far I was from the trailhead.

“About 30 minutes,” the guy said.

“Do you guys have a flashlight?” I said. “I think you’re going to need it.”

“We’ll be OK dude,” the guy said back to me.

“Did you leave a note?” I thought about saying. I was dangerously close to turning into my mom.

I was thinking about this as I returned to my car at 8 p.m. I couldn’t see very well anymore, and I was worried about the couple I’d seen 25 minutes earlier.

I hope they told someone where they were going.

Food Journal (click to view):

Sunday, March 27

Breakfast: Turkey meatballs, half an apple, walnuts
Snack: Protein bar
Lunch: Grilled turkey, steamed broccoli, couscous
Snack: Plain yogurt with blueberries
Dinner: Pork loins, salad

Saturday, March 26

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with bell pepper
Snack: Hard-boiled egg, apple, string cheese
Snack: Perfect Foods bar
Dinner: Pork loins, salad, steamed broccoli
Snack: Pork loins, banana, cashews

1 pound?

2011 March 25

OK, getting lighter. But c’mon, only 1 pound since last week?


Food Journal (click to view):

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, brown-rice sushi
Snack: Protein shake
Lunch: Hard-boiled egg, half an apple, brown rice sushi
Snack: Perfect Foods bar
Dinner: Grilled chicken, half an apple, string cheese

Protein BEEFCAKE!!!

2011 March 24

Experimenting with Beefcake Bars.

Let me tell you something: I’m not on a diet.

I’m not eating weird food for 10 weeks, then going back to Panda Express and chicken pot pies.

I’m not starving myself or being deprived of what I want. I don’t eat broccoli and spinach all day and secretly crave a beefy five layer burrito.

I’m not on a diet. I changed my diet. And I love it.

When my trainer, Paisley Ann Meekin, sat down with me for the first time to talk food and nutrition, I clearly remember her saying “You get to eat all the time and it’s awesome!” I eat between five and six meals a day, about three hours apart, and it is awesome. The only time I ever crave things like Taco Bell or Panda Express is on the day of a big hangover, and if you’ve been paying close attention to this blog I’ve had a few of those (as well as Panda relapses). There must be some kind of scientific explanation.

I’m starting to get off track, because what I really wanted to blog about today was what I use for one of these five or six meals a day.


I fucking love protein bars. I’ve been having one of these almost every day recently and it’s like having a candy bar, and I think it’s good for you (I’m going to need to double check this with Paisley). It fits into that whole Glycemic index thing that’s keeping my blood-sugar level steady as I build muscle and burn fat. A protein bar can count as one of your meals/snacks.

I went to GNC today thinking I would buy an entire box of protein bars. But when I got there I was only confused by the number of options. A store employee who looked like a suaver version of Napoleon Dynamite with his crazy curly fro came over and began discussing the various bars. Some had 30 grams of protein and we gravitated to those. The Builder’s Bars I’ve been having on a frequent basis only have 20 grams.

Most of the protein bars I’ve been eating do have sugar in them, but the store employee pointed me toward a couple that have very little sugar. In their place they have something called “sugar alcohol.”

“Don’t eat more than one bar a day if it has sugar alcohol in it,” Cool Napoleon said to me with a cautioned look. “Sugar alcohol acts as a diuretic.”

“Diuretic?” I said. “You mean it will make me shit myself?”

Seriously, just be straight with me.

Macho Napoleon told me his favorite was the Detour bar with 30 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and only 12 grams of the kind of sugar that won’t cause you to crap during squats. He pointed me toward several options, then walked away to help a guy pick out some protein shake mix.

Several minutes later I made my way to the counter with 9 protein bars of the following brands: Detour, Pure Protein, Supreme Protein, 2:1 Protein Bar and Oh Yeah!

The only one that didn’t have sugar alcohol was the two Detour bars, which Prom King Napoleon had recommended. He laughed as he began ringing me up.

“You’re really serious about these protein bars, aren’t you?” Super Cool Napoleon said.

“This is the sampler,” I said. “I’ll come back in two weeks and a half and buy a box of the kind I like the most.”

“Don’t eat these all at once, you know,” Really Cool Napoleon said.

“Well, I was thinking about throwing them all into a blender and making one giant protein shake,” I said, returning the sarcasm.

“Go for it man,” Awesome Napoleon replied. “I’ve always wanted to meet someone who wins a Darwin award.”

Food Journal (click to view):

Thursday, May 24

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with chopped bell peppers and onions
Snack: Hard-boiled egg, three brown-rice California sushi rolls, 1/3 bell pepper
Lunch: Salad with ham and cheese (no dressing)
Snack: Detour protein bar
Dinner: Steak strips, half an apple, raw cashews

Wednesday, May 23

Breakfast: Perfect Foods Bar
Snack: Protein shake
Lunch: Tuna salad, grapes
Snack: Builder’s Bar
Dinner: Steak strips, salad with vinaigrette dressing (did not end up eating the sushi rolls)

Getting reacquainted with an old friend

2011 March 22

I did my interval training tonight at 10th Avenue Athletic Club.

I usually don’t shower at the gym, but I was headed to the Rose Garden right afterward to watch the Blazers take on the Wizards. And I was sharing my extra season ticket with an attractive female.

So I brought my soap, tooth brush and razor with me to the gym. After I got off the treadmill, I hit the showers.

I was surprised — but not terribly disappointed — to find that 10th Avenue has individual stalls and shower curtains so you can clean up with a degree of privacy. At Lloyd Athletic Club, where I work out 80 percent of the time, everyone showers in one big communal area. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a big fan of standing around naked with a bunch of guys I don’t know. I mean, they can see something even I can’t: my balls.

But as I was showering this evening in my own private stall, I looked down and there they were. I mentioned yesterday how nice it is to lose weight and get back into clothes you haven’t worn in a while, but another fringe benefit is being able to look down and see your balls without leaning forward, pulling in your stomach or using a mirror.

I was totally, like, “Hey there little guy Big Fella. It’s nice to see you again! We should hang out more often.”

Food Journal (click to view):
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with onions and bell peppers
Snack: Hard-boiled egg, apple, walnuts
Lunch: Steak slices, grapes, raw cashews
Snack: Power Bar
Dinner: Steak slices, salad

Getting back into the skinny clothes

2011 March 21

Suddenly all these shirts I've been holding onto fit again.

If you’ve ever gained weight, then lost it, and gained it back again, and then lost it again, or gained it and never lost it you know what it’s like to have a part of your closet known as the skinny section. Or maybe you have a box for skinny jeans. I’ll bet you even labeled it.

If you look in my closet you’ll see a lot of shirts. But if you’ve been around me the past two years, you’ve probably noticed I don’t wear a wide variety of clothing.

Truth is, I’ve been on a five- or six-shirt rotation for the past year and a half. I don’t wear new or interesting ensembles, and what I do wear is mostly black, because it supposedly has a thinning effect. I even had a friend ask me recently, “Do you only wear Oregon State T-shirts?”

2XL: My size the past few years.

I horizontally outgrew most of my clothing in 2009. But instead of replacing it, my selection narrowed to the point where it was nearly nonexistent. I didn’t want to buy a bunch of stuff for a fat guy, so I didn’t, aside from a few new 2XL OSU T-shirts I picked up on game days. I only bought new jeans when I was forced to. I got to the point where only two pairs fit and they smelled like stinky ass because I wore them all the time.

As I enter the last week of the Just Lose It! contest, I’m wearing some of my skinny clothes again. I’ve moved two notches on the belt, which I desperately need now to keep some of these pants from falling to my ankles.

I actually have two levels of skinny clothes I’ve kept all these years: the clothes I wore 2-3 years ago and the clothes I wore 4-6 years ago. I’ve gone from 2XL to simply XL, and I now fit into my second favorite T-shirt. If I shave off another 15-20 pounds and I’ll be down to L and be able to get into my favorite shirt — one that I picked up in Paris in 2006 and haven’t worn in four years.

As I was thumbing through the skinny section of my closet the other day, looking for something I hadn’t worn in a while, I realized I can probably expand my five shirt rotation to maybe 20. But there’s one problem.

This stuff isn’t even cool anymore.

Food Journal (click to view):

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs
Snack: Perfect Foods bar
Lunch: Salad with tuna (no, I don’t mean tuna salad, silly)
Dinner: Steak, salad
Snack: Hard-boiled egg, grapes, string cheese, almonds

Manic Sunday: Channeling ‘Rocky IV’

2011 March 20

Top of Dog Mountain ... again.

I hit a point today in my training and exercise that felt manic.

My trainer, Paisley Ann Meekin, showed me the new facility where she’ll be working in a few weeks and gave me a free session on the house. Our last several workouts have been as tough as any, and I frequently found myself out of breath this morning. When it was over, I was finished. Done. Exhausted.

So what did I do?

I jumped in my hybrid and headed to the Gorge.

I was on a high as I drove east on I-84 after my workout, blasting the radio and thumping my hands on the steering wheel. I realized I was what the kids might call “amped.” I was on a high from the morning workout in particular, and the past week of exercise in general.



In a manic kind of way, I missed my exit and and overshot my target by more than 20 miles. I nearly ran out of gas before I hit a station in Hood River, then I crossed the Columbia and backtracked to my intended destination: the trailhead of Dogwood Mountain.

This is the same hike my buddy Yoss and I did four weeks ago, and in the days afterward I noticed a significant weight drop. This hike is a ball buster (and chaffer), and if you look it up online it falls into that extremely difficult category. There are two ways to the top, and the hardest path is 3.8 miles straight uphill. I normally wouldn’t do the same hike twice in a row, but this one kicks your ass and I decided after working out with Paisley that I was going to win this fucking weight-loss contest. Not maybe, definitely. I was juiced.


When Yoss and I did this hike on Feb. 21, we stopped multiple times on the way to the summit. He would get way ahead of me, then get tired and need a breather. Then he’d get way ahead of me again and stop again 10 minutes later. By the way, if I haven’t already mentioned it, Yoss is an asshole.

Riding solo this time, I kept a medium pace and never stopped unless it was to drain the Oscar Mayer or take a picture. About 30 minutes into the hike, the heavens opened and unleashed the rain. But I charged on. I was feeling manic.


Heavy snow near the summit.

The snow this time was even worse. I encountered several hikers, and seemingly all of them were wearing waterproof boots, designer REI clothing and those hoity-toity hiking poles. I was wearing a cotton hoodie, blue jeans and my tennis shoes. Everything was soaked.

When I reached the top it was nearly whiteout conditions. The spectacular view I had seen here with Yoss four weeks earlier was replaced by blah. I took a picture of myself flipping off Yoss at the summit so I could text it to him. When I looked at the picture on my phone, the first thought that came to my mind was “I Know what you did Last Summer!

But the second thought was of Rocky Balboa from “Rocky IV.” You know, the one where he opens a can of Ronald Reagan on that Soviet punk. There’s a ridiculous montage in that movie where Rocky is training in rural Russia, chopping wood and sprinting to the top of a snowy peak.


I felt like Rocky as I charged to the top of Dogwood Mountain today. I think I know what it feels like to be an exerciseoholic. But instead of screaming “Drago!” (or “Adrian!”) from the top of the mountain, I yelled “BEEFCAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Food Journal (click to view):

Sunday, March 20

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, orange
Snack: Builders Bar
Lunch: Cheeseburger (with buns removed) and small cup of vegetarian chili with black beans (at Big River Grill in Stevenson)
Snack: Perfect Foods Bar
Dinner: Grilled chicken (from freezer), small apple, almonds.

Saturday, March 19

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, orange
Snack: Power Bar
Lunch: Sausage, grapes, orange
Snack: Greek yogurt
Dinner: Turkey burger patty with extravagant salad
Snack: Power Bar