Archive for the ‘progress’ Category
I don’t know why I can eat right and exercise throughout the Winter, Spring, and Summer, but Autumn always makes me crave more calories. Is it the increasingly colder temperatures? The lure of holiday baked goods and other unhealthy fare?
This particular Fall a number of various events have made it harder to eat right or get exercise. It’s the busy season at work so I’ve been spending more hours working. The shift to Standard Time means that it gets dark earlier. The weather has gotten cold very quickly, so I don’t take walks as much outside. My wife started a new job so I don’t have a couple of uninterrupted hours in the morning to walk on the treadmill while she’s sleeping anymore. Plus, there are a few other personal issues that have come up that take my time and attention away from Clean Livin’, or require me to eat & run more often.
I can come up with any number of reasons, but what it boils down to is that I’ve slipped. Luckily I have so many healthy habits that they haven’t all fallen by the wayside. I still weigh-in every day. I still record everything I eat (even the unhealthy, high-calorie foods).
How I Start To Slip
At first maybe I’ll grab some food on the run, or not calculate my caloric intake for dinner until the next day. Then maybe I miss recording a meal. Then miss recording a day. Then I get busy with other things and don’t do any research or writing for this site.
So far no matter when I’ve slipped a little (or a lot) I’ve still weighed-in. I think of all of my Clean Livin’ habits, weighing myself and then recording it are the easiest things to do. After four and a half years weigh-ins have become ingrained in my daily routine. Sometimes I forget to weigh in when my routine changes, but barring a day or so every few months where I don’t weigh-in, I have a solid record, and can at least see when I gain weight rather than lose or stay the same.
It’s hard to gauge gaining or losing weight when you weigh in every day, though, because you do go up and down even when you do everything right and are on a trend of losing weight. I think my threshold for thinking “Shit, I’ve got to do better” is going over a five pound mark. For instance, I was down as low as 254.4 a couple of weeks ago (so close to 250!) and then a few days ago weighed-in at 260.0, after going up and down a pound or so here or there for the past three weeks.
So that was a wake-up call. The hard truth is that losing weight takes conscious effort and attention. You have to think about it a lot more than you may want to, and stick to your daily budget most of the time. Sometimes it’s okay to go over budget, but not most of the time. When those indulgences become more frequent than eating right, you’re going to gain weight again. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked too hard and come too far to backtrack now. Fuck that noise.
Back On Track
It’s not like I haven’t written about derailment or plateaus before. When it happens, no matter how many reasons I have no one to blame but myself. A slip can be just the kick in the pants you need to refocus your weight loss efforts, no matter how cold it is outside.
I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to lose the next ten pounds (some of those pounds… again) but I know it’s doable. I’ve done it for weeks, months, years now.
Losing weight may be harder as the weather grows colder, life gets busier, and habits slip by the wayside. Plan for weight loss to be slower then, but as long as you’re aware of the difficulty and consciously plan means and exercise, you can hunker-down and do it.
Update: Slipped on Posting Here, Too
Speaking of slipping, I originally had this post set to publish in late November and haven’t finished it until just now. Everything else still stands, and now that the holidays are over and I’m back to focusing on weight loss, updates should be more regular once again.
I was interviewed by WalkJogRun.net for their podcast a few weeks ago, but there were audio issues so today they posted a transcript of the interview along with some photos from Clean Livin’.
I’ve previously written about WalkJogRun and it’s a great site for plotting the distance and path of my walks, and better yet, finding a great walking or running route when you’re traveling. They also have a fantastic iOS app and their podcast is always full of great information. I talked to Caitlin of WJR about Clean Livin’, my history of being a fat guy, and about my weight loss success over the past four years.
Being interviewed has given me the bug to start a podcast. Any interest in hearing me prattle on about Clean Livin’ for 15–20 minutes a week?
You can read a transcript of the interview at the WalkJogRun blog.
Now that I’ve lost more than 189 pounds, I’ve crossed another (minor) milestone and have lost more than three-fourths of the total amount that I need to drop (250 lbs from my highest weight of just over 451 pounds).
I was really close two weeks ago, and then my wife and I went on vacation to San Francisco. In my hubris, I was planning to try to lose weight while on vacation, but the best laid plans often go awry when you’re faced with eating every meal out. I figured that I could eat an extra 500 calories a day without gaining weight, since I usually maintain a deficit of 800–1000 calories. Sounds easy, no? I started out okay, but those bowls of cioppino, loaves of sourdough bread, and mission burritos aren’t going to eat themselves.
So I can’t say that I did my best. Sure, I continued to log what I ate and count the calories, but after the first few days I stopped worrying about it. When I came back I logged my weight and found that I’d gained three pounds (although I lost the first pound a day later after I flushed out all the salty restaurant food and lost the water I was retaining).
It took me a few more days to get back into the swing of Clean Livin’, but as of this morning I weighed-in at 261.8 lbs, which put me down below the ¾ mark.
You’re in my sights, 250 pounds.
Plus, there’s all that great Napa Valley wine that needed drinking. ↩
Sometimes you’re going to miss one of your goals, overeat, not have time for an exercise session, or otherwise screw up. Once you hit one of these failures to your fitness routine you may as well just give up, right? Cry yourself to sleep, shake your fist at the sky, and lose any hope of ever being in good shape. It’s over.
You could just shrug it off, go for a walk, and eat better next time. Everyone has a favorite unhealthy food – their own personal kryptonite. For me, it’s hamburgers, beer, Chinese food, pizza, and other savory, often fried, things. My wife is really into noodles. You may have a sweet tooth for ice cream, or like salty snacks like potato chips and pretzels. Maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever your vice, let’s say you ate some of it and now you’re feeling bad about yourself.
Embrace the Process
When you eat too many calories at a single meal, you’re not failing at the process. Occasional slipping is part of the process. So don’t despair and think of it as a setback or problem. You’re not on a diet, you’re making better choices for the rest of your life. Depriving yourself of any enjoyment of food is only going to last so long. Rather than eliminate everything you enjoy eating, you just want to cut back on the unhealthy things. Then eat them sometimes. It’s okay.
How well you’ll fare with your healthier lifestyle in the long-term is largely dependent on how you handle failure in the short-term. The good news is that unlike most things in this world, how you think and feel about things is entirely within your own power (although it doesn’t always feel that way). Seriously, you’re in complete control of your own attitude. So you can either choose to despair and gain weight again or shrug it off, do the right thing most of the time, and succeed. You fall down. You get up. And so it goes.
Bruce Wayne: I wanted to save Gotham. I’ve failed.
Alfred: Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Bruce: You still haven’t given up on me?
– Batman Begins
Hair of the Dog
So, you had a few drinks, appetizers, dinner, and dessert out with friends last night and now it’s the sober light of day and you’re beating yourself up about it. You’ve totally blown it, right?
Maybe not totally. While your body is still processing all of those extra calories you can force it to burn those first by exercising the next morning. So don’t wallow in guilt, get out there and walk, run, or lift heavy things. That extra energy hasn’t yet been stored as fat, so you can burn it off by exercising your muscles which will consume those calories rather than make you fatter.
Even if it’s too late, it’s never really too late. Just eat better next time. One meal’s not going to hurt you. The worst part about restaurant food is all of the salt anyway, so give yourself a day or two to recover from the excess sodium that makes your body retain fluid.
My wife and I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden on Saturday to walk around, look at flowers, and take pictures on a gorgeous Chicago summer day (sunny, clear, a little breezy, low 70s). As we were exiting the vegetable garden I saw a giant pumpkin and remembered having my picture taken with it the last time I was at the Botanic Garden back in April 2007. I remember being shocked and ashamed to discover just how fat I’d gotten when I first saw the photo.
Here’s that photo from 2007 and another one that was taken on Saturday. Sure, that was five years ago, and I actually gained more weight between April 2007 and when I started my Clean Livin’ in June 2008, but I’m still probably over 150 pounds lighter now than I was when that first photo was taken.
It’s helpful to consider how far you’ve come whenever you slip a little. One meal isn’t the end of the world, and you can usually make it up or at least try harder later. Give yourself a pass now and again so you don’t have to feel like a failure.
By tomorrow I won’t be happy weighing just under 275 pounds, but today it’s a milestone that feels worth celebrating. I’ll celebrate a milestone with every 25 pound loss, which means I have about three major weight milestones left (maybe four if I count my “ideal weight”). After that I’ll have to set new fitness goals to make the most of my new body, like running a marathon, climbing a mountain, etc.
Of course, there are some BMI range and personal history milestones left to come:
- 262.5 pounds – 3/4 of the way down from my starting weight of 451+ pounds
- 250 pounds – over 200 pounds lost, and a nice round number
- 240 pounds – dropping from “obese” to merely “overweight” on the BMI scale
- 200 pounds – my base goal for now – will need to re-evaluate once I reach it – but also moves me into the upper range of “normal weight” based on BMI
Getting my weight down to below 275 feels almost as significant to me as being below 300, but maybe only because it’s been so long in the making. I reached my previous weight-loss milestone post a little over two years ago, although what really happened is that I maintained a weight of around 300 pounds for two years, and then gained 15 pounds back, and now have lost 40 pounds in the past four months. So here I am 27 months after my previous milestone celebrating another 25 pounds lost.
A Little Perspective
According to Wikipedia, a Scottish caber weighs about 175 pounds. While I’ve never picked up a caber, they sure do look heavy. I suppose that from now on whenever I reach a milestone and say I’ve lost the equivalent of [blank] that most people will have no real idea of how much that is exactly.
Since people rarely lift things that weight more than just a few pounds I’ve run out of reasonable comparisons. I know that 175 pounds is more weight than most whole persons, so maybe I should just pose for photos with people weighing what I’ve lost so I can point to them and say “There. See this guy? I’ve lost this much.”
Weighing under 275 pounds was my goal for Labor Day so now that I’ve reached it five weeks early, I’m re-setting my weight loss goal to 262.5, which is 3/4ths of the way to my overall weight goal. It’s a little ambitious, but even if I miss it, at this rate it won’t be by much. I’m losing about ten pounds a month, so losing 12.5 pounds in five weeks isn’t that unreasonable.
Because everyone loves before & after photos, here’s one of me playing pool (badly) about a month into my Clean Livin’, back in July 2008:
And then to contrast and/or compare, here’s one from July 2012 (last week):