Week Nine

Nine weeks down, more or less, and this past week was a bit of a milestone for me.  I hit 238.5 on the weekly weigh-in, breaking the 240 lb mark, which was a bit of a personal target for me.  My next personal goal is breaking the 234.5 lb mark, which is the lowest I’ve weighed in the past decade.

A few notes on what I’m doing might be in order here.  My primary source of cardio exercise remains walking.  I try to do at least five miles a day, though some days I don’t hit that target, while other days I go way past it.  Most Saturday mornings my wife and I are up around 530-600 and walking about 7 miles.  On Fridays, I am up around 6 and I do a five mile walk with a thirty pound backpack.  That walk, depending on how I feel, may include a few interval sprints as well, since nothing gets the heartbeat up like a quick jog with some weight.  Bust most of the walk is just done at a quick pace.  I am also doing some body weight exercises, martial arts, and participating in a few random challenges from some of the on-line groups I belong to.

As for food, we continue to primarily eat at home, concentrating on whole foods and lots of vegetables.  When we do eat out, we try to go to places where we can get good quality food (and we are on a bit of a Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern kick here lately) and continue to avoid the sugary drinks, foods, and deserts.  It’s really all about quality.  While I continue to concentrate on calorie counts, I am finding that it is pretty easy to keep myself at my daily goal when I’m not junking it all the time.

One thing I have noticed, and I am reminded of some things I learned as a trainer a long time ago, is the importance of water.  Despite giving up almost everything to drink except a morning coffee, I still find that I do not drink enough water, and this can be a common issue.   Oftentimes going from a SAD style of eating to a sustainable pattern of healthy eating results in a lack of hydration, especially if you are starting to exercise for the first time.  I think there are a couple of reasons for this.  First, an increase in protein requires an increase in water to properly digest and move the product through the gut, and we don’t really think about that.  Low water intake can quickly contribute to constipation in higher protein diets.  Second, it takes a while to get used to drinking water, which does not have the flavors and sugars we are used to and become addicted to.  All that crap in our drinks would cause us to consume more and more, which of course is horrible for us, but still helps us to stay hydrated.  It takes time to readjust and get used to drinking plain water, though once you do it’s hard to go back.  We stopped for lunch the other day and the restaurant only had tap water, which was plenty nasty, and so I had iced tea.  It just didn’t do it, so I ended up eating lunch with only a few sips of tea, then drinking water after we left. It takes a bit of time, but eventually water becomes the go-to drink.

I am very pleased with my progress so far, and on a side note, my wife is also doing extremely well with her weight loss and I am so proud of her.  She has way more health issues than any one person should be stuck with, and good excuses for not being able to loose weight or exercise should she want to, but she is right there keeping up with me.  Amazing and inspirational.  So take it from us – no matter who you are, no matter what your situation is, you can change, you can transform your life.

Five Weeks into Weight-Loss

So I’m about 5 weeks into the weight-loss, maybe 6 weeks, it’s really too early in the morning to figure it out.  But this mornings weigh-in put me at 244.5 lbs. for a total loss of 18 pounds so far.  Which I am happy with.  I have started to tweak things a bit.  After looking at my daily macro levels, I felt I just wasn’t getting enough protein and my carbs, while within range, could be lower.   So I have started making a few changes.  I’ve cut back on the intermittent fasting and started having a few eggs and a single piece of Ezekiel toast in the morning.  Then I am having a protein bar (or something similar) each day but splitting it up and doing half in the mid-morning and half in the afternoon.  That is making it a bit easier to hit the protein mark which I was finding hard to do with the intermittent fasting.

One big change I’ve noticed is that I am not enjoying eating the way I used to.  It is hard to eat healthy (and semi-kosher) when you go out to restaurants and I end up feeling guilty for having spent money on something that just isn’t as good as what I could have done at home.  While my wife and I enjoy taking a break from cooking and cleaning, I’m just not sure it’s worth it.  The other thing I’ve noticed is that the quick packaged foods we used to eat a lot of are kind of grossing me out.  We are fans of Trader Joe’s and used to eat a lot of the packaged foods from there (like Mandarin Orange Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice) but they just don’t do it for me anymore.  I want fresh, whole foods that are not processed.  And I really dislike eating meals that don’t include a lot of vegetables.

Of course, those are good healthy changes within me, but to be quite frank, they caught me a bit off guard.  The last few times I have tried to make major lifestyle changes and get into shape, I never had the appetite changes that I am seeing now.  But I feel that a more positive outlook will produce more positive outcomes that are long-term and life altering for the best, rather than just being some temporary diet that ends up with more weight gain when I stop.  I’ve also found, quite contrary to the naysayers, that it is not more expensive to eat healthy, just a bit more work.  It takes more planning and maybe less variety from meal to meal, but I feel so much better from one day to the next.  So let’s keep going.

Four Weeks In

After four weeks of working on the diet I am down to 247.5 lbs, a total loss of 15 pounds so far.  It is in fact the lowest that I have weighed this entire year. It hasn’t been an easy smooth couple of weeks though.  I have had a few rough days where I went a bit crazy snacking.  There were also several days where I would weigh myself and the weight went up rather than down.  And that can be very depressing.  While I know that it is perfectly natural for most people to fluctuate weight (both up and down) from one day to the next, sometimes as much as 4-5 pounds, it can be a bit nerve racking to step on a scale and see your weight up two pounds from the day before.  In moments like that you almost want to give up, to say screw it I’m going crazy in the junk food aisle.

Fortunately, my wife and I are pretty good at balancing one another out in situations like these and she helped to remind me more than once that I need to look past that one weigh in and keep going.  And of course she is right, it is the overall progress that matters far more than the day to day progress, which is one reason why I am not a fan of stepping on a scale every day.

One thing to share is that, while I refer to what I am doing as a diet, we haven’t made a huge number of crazy changes.  No Atkins, no strict Paleo or anything else.  I am still watching the calories carefully since that is what determines weight loss, but a lot of what we eat is stuff we’ve always eaten.  The key has been moderation.  On hamburger night, instead of two big burgers and fries, we have one hamburger, made with thin whole wheat buns rather than more traditional large buns, and a heap of vegetables rather than fries.  I still get to enjoy my burger, but in a much healthier fashion.  I’m really not a huge fan of the idea of crazy radical diets, I want to make long-term sustainable changes that I can carry with me for the rest of my life.  All-in-all I am quite pleased with my progress.

Personal Training and Trainers

When most people who are in my physical condition decide they really need to get into shape, one of the first things they should do is to engage a reliable trainer and work with them.  This goes especially true if you are older (especially if you are over 40), have never been physically active, have any physical impediments, or have medical issues.  A good physical trainer who is experienced in weight loss, who understands how to work with medical issues and communicate with your healthcare providers if necessary, and who understands your nutritional needs, can make all the difference between success and failure.  Very few people can make the transformation from obesity to fit without extensive help from professionals. Continue reading “Personal Training and Trainers”

Three Weeks In

At three weeks into my body transformation I am down 11 pounds to 251.5 from a starting weight of 262.5.  I am quite happy with the progress so far.  A few things that I have started this past week are long walks early in the morning on the weekends, some body weight exercises, and a few minutes of yoga.  For the walking my wife and I are getting up at 530 in the AM and going for a long walk, about 3 miles.  This is early enough that I can be done before work on Sunday and it gets our day off to a good start.  Eventually, we may start doing this during the week, but that depends on our schedule.  the body weight is mainly just some squats, push-ups, and planks followed by a few minutes of yoga that is a part of my martial arts tradition. Continue reading “Three Weeks In”

First Week of Weight Loss

Okay, so week one is down and my current weight, taken about 6am this morning, is 255 lbs.  That is a drop of 7.5 lbs from last week’s weigh-in and I am very happy with that progress.  I know that the first few months will probably see a lot of wild fluctuations, some big drops that are as much water weight as anything else, there may be some weeks with very little loss, some weeks may be like this one.  But my starting plan for my weight loss is going well.

I should mention that this was a rough week to start a life-style change like this.  My birthday was this past week, a good friends birthday was the day after mine, and my wife and I spent yesterday at a wedding.  All of which meant more food, more cake, than I would have liked to consume.  But it’s just plain rude to starve yourself (or eat really healthy) at a party.  So, my approach was to moderate what I ate, 1 small piece of cake, avoid a few of the worst foods and eat some of the healthier stuff, like the salads.  Balancing out the cake calories by eating less heavy food, I was able to keep my calorie counts at or below my goal every day this week.

Other than that, I saw a huge upswing in my water intake, and I pretty much eliminated drinking everything else, except a morning coffee.  No gym or crazy cardio (which I don’t believe in), just walking and trying to take the stairs over the elevators while at work.  That’s about it.  I do not feel like I am starving, in fact I am writing this at about 8am Sunday morning and I am not the least bit hungry, though I am enjoying that coffee.  I think drinking a lot more water helps to satiate the hunger for me, but just as much- seeing that number drop the way it did this week is a huge confidence boost.  I expected it, but to actually weigh in less feels good.

My Weight Loss Goal

The day I am writing this I weighed in at 262.5 pounds. At 6 feet even, that puts me about 75 pounds overweight. So my initial goal is to start dropping weight on a regular basis every week and aim for 190 pounds, give or take.  Now this will change as I get closer to my goal, since I want to start lifting heavy again and get back into shape.  Obviously, this would change my ideal weight goal, but for now let’s just say I am aiming for 190.

Now here is how I approach this.  Bare minimum, I want to loose .5 lbs (1/2 lb.) per week.  I weigh myself every Sunday morning, if I have not lost at least a half pound from the previous week, then my self-imposed punishment will be to fast for the entire day and not eat again until Monday during my regularly scheduled eating period.  So what does this do?  Obviously it creates a motivator for me not to cheat excessively during the week, or if I do, to compensate for it elsewhere in the week, whether it be through increased exercise or decreased calorie consumption.  However, while I set the 1/2 pound mark as my bare minimum, my target is 1.5 to 2 pounds per week of weight loss, though I will not be sad if I see slightly less or slightly more.  And in fact, I actually expect to see some fluctuation up and down.  As long as the overall rate is a steady decline I will be quite happy.

Ideally, that means that with a weight loss of 1.5 pounds per week, I will hit my target weight in 50 weeks, less than a year.  Sounds like a long time.  But realistically it isn’t.  It takes a long time to develop healthy habits and to break old ones.  After all, I have spent decades putting this weight on, decades making poor health decisions; taking a single year to correct all of that and drastically improve the second half of my life should be well worth it.  Of course, I could get lucky and have some periods with additional weight loss accelerating the time line.  On the flip side, there could also be some weeks without any weight loss, offsetting gains.

Some of my initial basic targets are:

  • 6 August 2018 – 256 pounds
  • 7 October 2018 –  244 pounds
  • 6 January 2019 – 226 pounds

We will see.

Getting Started Loosing Weight

There is no one single right way to get started loosing weight.  Just as their is no one single way toward getting fat.  We all got here on different paths, so we have to find our own path back out.  But there are probably some pretty common landmarks along the way and I’d like to share what I am doing to get started.

The first thing that I am doing is adopting the practice of intermittent fasting.  There are a number of approaches to intermittent fasting, and I am sure I’ll discuss some of them later on.  For now what it means is that I am only eating during a specified time period and I don’t eat during the rest of the day.  I am limiting any calorie consumption to an eight hour window every day which doesn’t sound like such a big deal when you first hear it.  Eight hours, so what?  But think about it just briefly before I move on.  Most of us get up and eat breakfast early in the morning, lets say 7 or so.  Then we eat lunch around noon and finally, dinner goes down around 6 or 7.  Maybe later if we had a long day.  Of course, there are snacks all day, and probably some after dinner as well.  Now, let’s say we eat our last snack around 9 pm (which is pretty common for me).  That means you were eating regularly for more than 14 hours through out the day, and it is only during your sleeping hours that your body is not consuming calories. Continue reading “Getting Started Loosing Weight”

My Motivations for Improving Health

No one starts the long and tedious journey of loosing weight, of getting into better shape, without some type of motivation.  Maybe you went to the doctor and she told you to loose weight.  Maybe you tried walking up a flight of stairs when the elevator was out of order and almost passed out from the exertion.  Maybe your favorite suit stopped fitting.  Whatever it is, no one takes that first tentative step on the road to healthy without an initial motivating factor.  But is it enough?  How many of us really care what the doctor says?  How many of us go right back to using the elevator when its fixed?  And why not just buy a new suit?  Everyone starts out motivated, the secret is to find long-term motivation.  Better yet, find multiple long-term motivators.

Having a motivation is what keeps us going.  But having multiple motivations drives us forward when a single one might fall by the road side.  Imagine your just trying to loose weight and get into shape in order to be more attractive to the hottie who just moved in down the hall.  You bust your ass for a few months, you drop a ton of weight crash dieting, you’re hitting the gym and looking good.  And it shows in your attitude, your self-confidence, and that person your interested in finally notices, shows some interest, and before you know it, you’re dating.  Guess what?  You just lost your single motivating reason for loosing weight and getting in shape.  You scored your mate.  Now you’re out eating lasagna at the Italian place, scarfing down chicken wings and beer at the pool hall, or chowing on a pizza while sitting on the couch watching reruns of Glee.  And before you know it, you have put the weight back on.  That single motivation you had, the one that drove you hard, didn’t last one you achieved the initial goal.  We need to have multiple motivations.  And like our goals, there should be some that are long-term while others might be more readily dropped.  This way, when you loose one motivation, you have others to keep you going. Continue reading “My Motivations for Improving Health”

Challenges

Second article in the ongoing struggle-to-loose weight series of blog posts.  Everyone, when they first approach the issue of having to loose weight, have their own personal challenges to face.  Each of us, and I am speaking to those who, like me, are overweight, out of shape, perhaps obese, has had a unique journey getting to where we are today.  A journey filled with bad decisions, failures, poor lifestyle choices, and so on.  None of us are where we are today because we were making good decisions about our health, about our diets and our (lack of) exercise.  I mean, let’s be honest- if we were making good choices we wouldn’t be where we are today.  So I think the first thing to do is simply accept the fact that the decisions I have made to end up obese were the wrong ones, they were mistakes and failures.  So what now? Continue reading “Challenges”