Cutting Myself in Half: 150 Pounds Lost, One Byte at a Time

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9780757313592: Cutting Myself in Half: 150 Pounds Lost, One Byte at a Time
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At age fourteen, Taylor LeBaron was nearly 300 pounds. He had difficulty just getting to the mailbox without becoming short of breath. A chubby kid from birth who was prone to obesity, Taylor allowed his weight to skyrocket through mindless 'whatever' eating and his sedentary techie lifestyle. But a membership to the Y, a keen imagination, and an indomitable spirit changed all that.

Approaching proper eating and weight loss as he would a new video game, Taylor made fitness into a fun challenge with his creation of THE ULTIMATE FITNESS GAME (UFG)―a method of tracking calories, avoiding pitfalls, overcoming obstacles, and working out by following hard-andfast rules that literally helped him shed half of his body weight in a matter of a year and a half.

Cutting Myself in Half is Taylor's motivational strategy guide to THE ULTIMATE FITNESS GAME.Taylor shows kids who are currently where he was that weight loss and fitness are within reach . . . one workout, one calorie, one 'byte' at a time.

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About the Author:

Mary Kinney Branson is the author of seventeen books, including Murder in Mayberry, which she coauthored with her husband, Jack.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

I'm a techie guy, and I love everything about computers and electronics. When I started my exercise program, I was playing a lot of military games on my PlayStation. So when I came across Marine Corps cadences at www.militaryrecordings.com, they were the perfect accompaniment to my exercise program. I purchased two Marine Corps cadence CDs and downloaded them onto my Zune and let them take me to boot camp five or six times a week. (There's a Marine Corps cadence CD for women, too.) I loved the beat, and I listened to the messages: Go strong! Don't give up! Endure!

I discovered that I was a natural for Marine tactics. The cadences did more for me than the double workouts I'd done over the summer. I would like to thank the U.S. Marine Corps for my increase in speed and endurance. The cadences helped me run faster and longer. I repeated the messages back in my mind as I ran at full speed on the treadmill: One mile, no sweat. Two miles, no good. Three miles, we're going strong. Four miles, we're almost there. Five miles, we're going home.

I felt like I was training alongside the Marines, listening to the sound of boots hitting the ground and dog tags jingling. Wearing my own dog tags tucked under my shirt, I imagined I was running at Parris Island instead of the Forsyth County, Georgia, YMCA. The cadences kept me disciplined and inspired. If I could keep up with Marine training, even if just on the CDs, I felt I'd accomplished something pretty great for a boy who, a year ago, couldn't run a 20-yard dash.
I still wear dog tags when I work out, and I still listen to cadences. When I feel like I can't go any farther, I crank up the volume and let the Marines tell me I can.

I tackled the physical part of my fitness program by turning my training over to the Marines. I let the cadences motivate me as I followed the YMCA's exercise plan. The more I worked out, the more calories I burned. It actually became fun. And without realizing it, I began approaching fitness just like I played a video game. I called my approach the Ultimate Fitness Game.

THE ULTIMATE FITNESS GAME (UFG)

In most video games, you follow a path and confront obstacles along the way. Dangers lurk in dark, narrow corridors. You enter a room and everything you click on offers you a choice. And there's always something you run out of: ammo, money, energy, stamina, health. I play UFG like calories are the money that I'll run out of if I don't spend wisely.

I follow a road through my day, and I have a choice of transportation, just like I'd have in a video game. I can run down the road and increase my skill level, or I can hop in a car and drive. Every time I decide to walk or run, I add money to my account because I'm burning more calories.

Obstacles are everywhere. Each room I enter offers choices. In the kitchen and the school lunchroom, all sorts of 'dangerous' foods loom out at me. They look good, but they have high price tags and do nothing to advance me in UFG. In fact, they fight against fitness. I have to make my money last all day and cover my necessary expenses, so I can't be tricked into buying dangerous foods. They're the enemy.

The Money

Each morning, I calculate how much 'money' I have to spend for that day―one dollar for every calorie I'll burn. I know that my BMR is 1,850. (That's the amount of calories I'd burn if I did nothing all day. You can find BMR calculators on a lot of Internet sites.) I know I'll burn a couple of hundred more calories just working at my computer, talking, walking to class, and doing normal stuff. And I know that my body will burn an extra 10 percent of the calories I consume just to digest my food. So if I'm sick in bed with a cold, I still have more than $2,000 to spend without gaining weight. For all other days, I factor in my exercise to determine my 'salary' for the day.

I usually take a break from the Y on Saturday and just hang out with friends, see a movie, or work on my computer. I figure I can safely spend $2,000 on lazy Saturdays. My weekend treat is usually a 12-inch plain meat sub, so I know I'll spend $600 for supper. That leaves me $1,400 for the rest of the day. As soon as I wake up and determine my salary for the day, I start planning how to spend it. And I keep a running count all day so my money lasts the full sixteen hours I'm awake. I like math, so I figure everything in my head. But most cell phones and computers have calculators, so anyone can keep track of calories.

I know that on a no-exercise day I'm on a tight budget, so just like I was shopping on a budget, I look for bargains. If I can find a two-for-one sale, that helps me stretch my budget. I can buy two pieces of whole-grain bread for $50 each instead of one piece of regular bread for $100.

One frosted cupcake may cost $350, so I can't afford that kind of splurge too often. I have bills to pay: meat, milk, fruit, veggies, and whole grains. These foods are like my basic house and car payments, insurance, and utilities. Until I pay them, I'd be irresponsible to spend my money on luxuries. The basic foods are where I get my energy. If I don't pay for them first, I'll run out of energy before I run out of day.

I consider snack treats like my real-life movie budget. Since I'm on a tight budget and don't have much money to go to the movies, I may be able to go only once a month. When I realize that my favorite candy bar will cost me $230, I know I will rarely have the money to buy a candy bar.

On days I go to the Y, I feel like I got a big sales bonus at work and I have more money to spend. I know that just forty-five minutes of free weights will burn about 350 calories, so on days when I know I'm going to do free weights, I add $350 to my starting budget. On a regular busy day with exercise, I start my day with $2,500 to $2,600.

That's more than enough if I play the game right. But if enemy foods lure me into spending too much of my money, I'll end up broke too early and GAME OVER will print across the day's screen. Then I'll have long hours that night with no money left to buy food.

©2010. Taylor LeBaron, Mary Branson, Jack Branson. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Cutting Myself in Half. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

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