Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Come on Baby

We are still (not so patiently) waiting for the baby to come.  Our stubborn son is currently 8 days late and making no signs of his arrival.  I'm in my last week of FSI, in a pretty cool class on Islam.  While the class is interesting, I'm ready to meet my son.

Friday, September 11, 2015


I've spent the past three weeks at FSI and have regularly run into old colleagues, friends, and A-100 classmates who I haven't seen in 2-5 years.  It's the Foreign Service rite of passage - catching up with old colleagues who you haven't seen.

What's been interesting about this latest go around of catching up is how many people simply don't recognize me.  I know I've lost a ton of weight and added a beard, but it's been a gradual(ish) change over the past three years, so I forget how dramatic the change is for people who haven't seen me since I left Belize.  I was in a class two weeks ago with my boss of two years.  She knew from the class roster that I was in the class, but until I spoke and introduced myself to the class, she didn't recognize me.  Several other colleagues required me to say, "It's Al Caniglia - from Belize" before they made the connection.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

I (finally) did it!

I've always been the fat kid.  I was a chubby baby.  I was chunky in elementary school - the first kid to cross the 100 lb mark.  I was fat in middle school, which proved somewhat useful in middle school football.  In high school, on a steady breakfast of glazed donuts and Dr. Pepper, I ballooned to 270 lbs.  In college, I added beer and eliminated most exercise, meaning I was now all fat and no muscle.  My official fraternity nickname was "Robert Paulsen", a Fight Club reference that you can google if you don't understand.  By law school, I was a steady 250 lbs and stayed that way when I moved to DC.  When I went to Belize, I added weight and came home at a steady 270.  Add 15 pounds on home leave and I topped the scales at 285 pounds in July 2012.

Middle school field trip (1996)
High school - just before my first trip to Italy (1999)
Los Angeles - 2006

Hong Kong - 2012

That's not to say that there weren't times where I lost weight.  Each time I lived in Europe, I lost significant weight.  On my first visit, I went from 270 to 220 in about 6 months.  In college, I lost 30+ pounds when I went to Italy.  In Ireland, I lost around 40 pounds.  Most of this weight loss came simply from walking everywhere and eating less fast food, or more accurately better fast food.  Pizza and pasta in large unending quantities is not the best diet in the world, but it's better than Burger King, Arby's and Wendy's everyday for lunch.  The easiest way to lose 30 pounds is eating like shit for years and then just eating slightly better for 6 months.

The 200 pound threshhold has always been important to me.  I remember some class in middle school (I want to say 5th grade, but that seems insane to me now, so it may have been later) where we were messing around with those big doctor office scales.  In this memory, one of the other kids was moving the weights and he kept slowly moving the small weight higher.  He had to move the big weight from 100 to 150 and he slowly inched up the small weight, but the scale didn't budge.  Finally, he moved the big weight to 200 as everyone around me watched.  I weighed 202 lbs. and was easily the heaviest in the class.  There were some boys, I remember, who hadn't even cracked triple digits.  It was not a good day.  In high school, I bet my friend Kris that I could lose the 70 pounds necessary to drop below 200 pounds while I was in Italy.  I came damn close - losing over 50 pounds - but I still had to pay my friend Kris the $10 from the bet.

So, the 200 pound mark has been stuck in my head for quite some time.  Throughout my 20s, I don't think I thought I would ever cross below the mark again in my life.  It seemed an impossible goal.  Even after completing the marathon two years ago, I just barely got down to 220 pounds.  When I started crossfit last November, one of my primary goals was to lose the last 15 pounds to get below that pesky number.  And I couldn't quite get there.  Until last week.  We came back from San Antonio and I stepped on the scale that I use each morning and I saw one of the most awesome things I had ever seen.

Because I know my weight fluctuates considerably depending on the time of day, how much water I drank the previous day, whether I've peed recently, etc., I wanted to wait a few days to confirm the number.  I've now had three consecutive days below 200 pounds and 5 of the last 8.  Unfortunately, I know that a big part of my current dip is losing muscle mass since I haven't been doing crossfit since I returned from Germany.  I think I am okay with that right now.  It's just delayed gratification.

My final weight loss goal is to get to about 180-185 pounds.  This weight will put me into the "healthy" weight category - a category I have never actually been in.  It will also give me wiggle room to gain and lose like a normal person (those 10 pounds at Christmas) without crossing back over the 200 pound mark.  It's been 20 years since I weighed less than 200 pounds - here's hoping I can go the next 20 years without weighing more than 200 pounds.

A special thanks to those who have supported me and helped me in this endeavor.  My wife Sara has been by my side.  Family and other friends have helped immensely in their support, encouragement, and assistance.  My cross fit family in Germany are fantastic and a great group of people.  I also want to thank Weight Watcher and Couch to 5K.  I would not have done this without these two apps.

July 2015 - Martha's Vineyard