Richie Hits a Roadblock

Posted 09/10/2012 | By HealthCorps

This is a continuation of comedian Richie Byrnes effort to lose weight. You can access earlier blogs here to read the whole story: Part 1Part 2 & Part 3.

Like many dieters, Richie was challenged when he had to face a two week road trip recently. Up until then, he had been steadily losing weight, following the Weight Watcher’s Points Program and exercising most days of the week. I talked to him about the trip and the issues that daunted his progress.

Why does “on the road” throw such a curve ball in your diet/exercise routine?

“There are always so many obstacles toward being healthy when you are on the road. I usually drive to my destination, and in the past few weeks that has meant 8-10 hours in the car per a day. I usually leave on a Thursday and return on Sunday, so a lot of time is spent sitting in travel. My other problem is that I no longer enjoy being on the road. Being stuck in some hotel or, in the case of the last 2 weeks, a condo!!! This puts me in depressed mood and then I just say what the heck! It’s only a couple of days. And before I know it, all bets are off. I am eating and consuming alcohol with no effort to controlling my vices.”

Do you give any thought to packing healthy snacks, staying in a hotel with a gym?

“I do try and go to the gym. Hotels are provided by the comedy clubs, so I have to stay where they decide. In a lot of situations you are only away for 3 or 4 days, but 2 of them are spent travelling, and another is spent doing radio and television interviews, trying to get the club filled. Then, of course, you have to (actually) do the shows. Finding time to get to a gym can be tricky. As far as packing snacks, I have never done that, but I think that mind-set has to change.

What foods did you eat on the road? Did you feel like a lot of extra calories came from beverages?

“I went to a few restaurants with the other comics, thought about ordering a salad and didn’t. In many cases, I could eat at the clubs for free and it became let the burgers and fries commence! I did drink alcohol…a lot…then would go back to my condo and think, Oh, I could heat up a hot-pocket or wings that the club gave me to take home! It‘s just one night. One night turns into 3 quickly!”

Did you do any exercise at all while on the road?

“Yes. I went to the gym maybe 5 or 6 days during the 2 weeks and ran 3 miles on a track one day. Had I not done that, it (my weight gain) would have been worse, I’m sure.”

How much weight did you gain?  Can you describe how you felt during and after the trip?

“I gained 2.5 pounds in10 days. I felt defeated…I can’t lie. You’d think that since I realize that I am on a diet now for my own personal health and well-being as the goals, I would be done with this (yo-yo dieting). This (going up and down in weight) has been the story for the past 15 years. Thinking about how I have my next public weigh-in coming up in 3 weeks on Sept. 5th definitely kept me from actually waiting to pick this (diet) back up till after Labor Day. Labor Day would have quickly turned into after New Year, I know it.”

Richie you sound really upset – do you want to share more? 

“I felt like a failure. I felt worse than ever before, because this time, I wasn’t only letting myself down. I have involved so many (others in this journey).”

“It’s funny, since we have been back to the show (Dr. Oz) people have been coming up and telling me how good I look…every time someone says that, I wonder if it’s just because they are aware of what I am doing for HealthCorps, or if I really look better. And then if I see someone and they don’t comment on how I look, I think to myself that I guess I don’t really look any different because they don’t notice! I hate that! There isn’t a positive (feeling and incentive) for me from either angle, and I’m not sure how to handle that (personal reality). The only way for me to be positive is to get on the scale, right? The numbers don’t lie. But, I am going through a period where that is very hard to do.”

“Well, the good news is I am working close to home for the next few months. Hopefully I can keep my routine going and face the ‘road’ demons when the time comes.”

As a re-cap:
Richie’s starting weight, June 27, 2012:               260 pounds
First weigh in on July 7, 2012:                                 245.6 pounds
First public weigh in on August 1, 2012:               247 pounds
Weigh in on August 9, 2012:                                     245.8 pounds
Weigh in on August 18, 2012 (after road trip):     248 pounds
Second public weigh in on September 5, 2012:   243 pounds

Total pounds lost:                                                        17 pounds

A nutritionist’s perspective:
Richie answered my questions honestly, and that is part of the mental exercise required when you participate in a lifestyle change. It is common to experience a setback.  Awareness is a huge step in helping you to learn from your mistakes and respond to the same situation armed with appropriate techniques and solutions. You do have to anticipate problems, so you have ways to defy temptations. Sometimes as a nutritionist I role play with clients to help them experience challenges. In Richie’s case, the motivation to stay on track this time is not just to achieve a specific goal weight, but also long term health and an improvement in his quality of life.  Next time he can prepare by traveling with healthy snacks like single portions of nuts, nutrition bars and green bananas, and bring an exercise DVD to use in his hotel room. Richie can also scout out a local supermarket that offers access to healthier foods (produce and non-perishables) to stock in the room. He can also ask for a small refrigerator and stock it with skim milk, yogurt, soybeans, hard boiled eggs and other quick grab foods. Richie can also go online and check out the hotel room service menu beforehand, so he knows best selections ahead of time. Reaching out for support, even by phone, can also help him to fend off temptations or defy a weak moment. It will take enormous willpower and preparing solutions ahead of time to avoid the temptations he is bound to encounter when he heads out on the comedy circuit.

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