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Posts Tagged ‘milestones’

Milestone: Down 175 to 275

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

I wish I could take the weight Ive lost and toss it away like this.

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.”

What’s Next?

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:

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And then to contrast and/or compare, here’s one from July 2012 (last week):

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Four Years of Clean Livin’

As I contemplate my Clean Livin’ quadrennial I’m reminded of the last time I celebrated my healthier lifestyle anniversary two years ago.

In the interim I got busy with life, stopped writing here, continued to remain active, but otherwise stagnated for almost two years. When I started trending upwards again I decided to redouble my efforts, get back to basics, and work the program that I know is effective… when you actually do it.

Some things I do every dang day:

  • Walk on the treadmill (okay, I do this almost every day).
  • Ride my bike to work during the week (most days, about 8 months out of the year).
  • Weigh-in and record my weight.
  • Log everything I eat or drink that isn’t water.
  • Assess my caloric intake at the end of the day.

Stat Me Up

Anniversaries are good for celebration, but also a good time to reflect on pass successes and stumbling blocks. Since life is a continuum and every day is a new Start Date you can’t fail, just not succeed as fast. As long as you’re alive, you can be a bit healthier than you were yesterday.

Here are some numbers to consider on the fourth anniversary of when I made the decision to improve my body, get healthy, and help others do the same:

  • Weighed-in just over 1,200 times (which means I missed about 250 days due to travel, or missing a day or two here and there).
  • Since I got my Fitbit in February, 2010, I’ve walked over 3,500 miles.
  • Starting weight: over 451 lbs (since that was the max of the scale that couldn’t weigh me when I started – but considering that I was measurable less than a week after I started, I couldn’t have weighed that much more than 451).
  • This morning’s weigh-in: 287.2 lbs. That means I’ve lost 163.8 pounds, or a 36.32% decrease from my former body weight. That’s about the weight of a full keg of beer[1]. Have you ever tried to lift a full keg? They’re heavy. Now imagine wrapping yourself with that much weight and carrying it around every day.
  • My current goal weight is around 200 pounds. I’ll re-adjust when I get closer. If my calculations are correct, when this body drops 88 pounds you’re going to see some serious shit.
  • At an average of –1 lbs / week, I should hit my goal by the beginning of 2014, which is a bit later than I’d originally planned, but of course if I can lose more faster I will.

It’s still a little shocking to me to see pictures of how I looked four years ago. I wish I thought of taking progress photos, or at least a “before” picture, when I started down this road, but here’s a photo of me from Thursday, 19 June 2008, three days into Clean Livin’. I’m in yellow, sitting on the steps at Daley Plaza by the fountain with some of my co-workers at the time (I wish I had a better quality image, but I think this was taken with someone’s old cell phone):

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And to contrast and compare, here’s a full-body photo of me from our trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum last week (wearing, now that I see the picture, a shirt that’s too big for me):

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  1. A standard U.S. “half-barrel” keg. Perhaps you’ve seen one at parties or in movies about college keggers.  ↩

Plateaus

There’s going to come a time when you’ll stagnate in your fitness. You’ll stop losing weight (before you reach your goal weight), or exercise less and less frequently. You’ll stop tracking your caloric intake, or even stop thinking so much about food.

While losing weight and getting fit is simple, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. In order for your body to burn stored fat you have to create an energy deficit on your intake. In plainer terms, you have to expend more energy than you take in (in the form of food). We measure energy that the body uses in terms of calories (technically, kilocalories, but most labels ignore the kilo- prefix). Obviously, if you’re going to keep under a certain caloric limit you’re going to have to know how many calories are in the food you eat each day. On top of that, you’re also going to have to track it cumulatively so that you know when you’ve reached your limit. Ideally, of course, you’d also log your food before you eat it so you can make decisions based on your caloric needs.

Ohio: One Big Plateau
Ohio: One Big Plateau

Looking up a food in a reference to see how many calories it has before you eat it? Simple. Doing it every single day before every single meal? Not so easy.

I’ve found that when I track my caloric intake and stick to a daily hard-limit that I lose weight pretty consistently. When I get lazy, though, and stop actively logging everything: I either gain weight or stay the same.

For the last few months of 2010 through the early part of 2012 I remained relatively stagnant in my weight loss. Actually, to be completely honest, in the latter months of 2011 I actually gained about 15 pounds back. Ugh. I stopped logging my food because quite frankly, it’s annoying and a bit of a pain in the ass to do it all the time. It works, but it’s a pain.

Where I Went Wrong

I had some major life changes in that timeframe. I got engaged, and then 13 months later got married. My then fiancĂ©e and I bought a house. Having moved to a new neighborhood, we of course wanted to try out new restaurants that were within walking distance. Eating with a partner instead of eating alone meant that my ridiculous habit of eating the same meal for five days in a row because I still had the ingredients for it wouldn’t fly. All of these things are excuses, of course, for why I wasn’t losing weight. Obviously, my stagnation was my wife’s fault.

I kid. I have no one to blame but myself, and the worst part of it was that I was a bad influence on her, too. We decided to get a treadmill instead of joining another gym we’d stop going to after a few months (I’ll have to write more on gyms later), which turned out to be a fantastic investment. No longer will Chicago’s harsh Winters be an excuse to not walk.

Back to stagnation. I’ve heard that dieters often face plateaus as their bodies get used to their new diet. That’s fine, but I’m not on a diet. I’m just adjusting my eating habits and activity levels. So why have I stagnated?

Was it any of the excuses I listed above? Eh, I’m sure they all played their part, but really I stopped succeeding because I stopped working the system. It happened slowly over time. I started to guesstimate calories in a meal rather than look it up. Doing the math in your head is fine if you’ve already looked up the food and know its caloric intake – I still do this when eating out sometimes – but over time I stopped doing even that. Then of course the unhealthy meal every once in a while became more frequent.

The habit that didn’t break for me was being more active. I kept up other habits too, like weighing-in nearly every day and wearing my FitBit so I could track my steps. Of course, I stopped trying to hit my 10,000 steps per day goal. But I was wearing the FitBit all the time and at least tracking how little I sometimes walked on a lazy Sunday.

So those are the things I internalized and made part of who I am. Tracking calories? Not so much.

How I Got Back On Track

I got back into Clean Livin’, full-swing again when I got the results of the blood test taken during my annual physical. Everything was pretty much normal except that my cholesterol was high for the first time ever. Not super-high, but my LDLs was a little on the high side, and my HDL (good cholesterol) wasn’t as high as it should be. My doctor said that if I should adjust my diet and increase my exercise levels to try to correct my cholesterol naturally, and if I couldn’t affect results within three months that I’d have to go on a statin drug in order to correct it with medication. Immediately I made changes to my diet and started exercising more.

I was scared straight.

I’m now four weeks into doing the right thing and I’ve lost 15 pounds so far. I’m still not down to the lowest since I’ve been tracking it, but I expect to be soon.

Writing this is clearly an integral part of Clean Livin’ for me. I’ll keep you posted.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I'm just some guy who lost a lot of weight and studied up on nutrition, diet, and exercise in order to improve my personal fitness. The contents of this site in no way contains medical advice. You should visit your doctor before making any dramatic changes to your diet or activity. While I make every attempt to be as accurate as possible regarding current knowledge and scientific studies (please feel free to let me know when I'm wrong about something), and may from time to time post updates to correct inaccuracies in previous entries, the information on this site is provided "as-is" for entertainment purposes only. Don't do something stupid and then sue me. I'm just trying to help. Thanks.