I’ve been reluctant to post about this because not only does it feel a little personal, but I’ve had so many false-starts (read: failure) that I feel if I fail again I’d like it to be my own business. But I’m wondering, if I make it public, maybe it might put some extra pressure or motivation on me to hang in there and make it a success.
I’m trying to lose weight.
I’m 6’3″ tall and presently weigh about 225#. It’s the most weight I’ve ever carried around in my life. Of the three body types, I’m closest to ectomorph. I’ve got a long tall frame so most people don’t believe I need to lose weight. But if you look closely, I’ve got a growing gut, and certainly there’s growing flab spread over my entire frame. While no one would really look at me and say I was fat, certainly I’m carrying around more flab that my frame should have.
I’m not happy about it.
How did this happen? Food is more than nutrition. It’s comfort, it’s pleasure. I love to eat. While I was good about holding my weight around the 200# mark for quite some time, the past some months I’ve packed it on because I’ve been eating. My life is good, but it’s full of stress. Generally the solution is to address the stress directly, but when you cannot you seek other ways to balance out the bad with something good… and food provides pleasure for me. After a brain-frying day of work, sitting in front of the TV for 30 minutes to let my brain disengage is nice. Couple that with a beer and some chips and salsa, and I might scarf down 500-700 calories right there. Then my level of physical activity has dropped the past some months since I stopped attending martial arts classes on a regular basis, and while I want to go check out Aikido I haven’t yet due to lack of time (other things have been priority, all that stress). So I’m taking in more calories than usual, and burning off fewer calories than usual, and the result is obvious: weight gain.
I don’t like it. I don’t want it. But I’ve struggled to deal with it.
I’m aware of my issue. It’s simple caloric intake: taking in more than I’m burning off. My overall nutrition is good, I’m overall healthy (doc always gives me a clean bill of health, better shape than the vast majority). There’s no real issue of what I’m eating, it’s a simple matter of amount.
I’ve tried to cut back on amount. I’ll succeed for a little while, but eventually my body screams that it’s being deprived, I handle it for a while, but then other stresses rear up and I fall off the wagon. And I repeat this cycle and always feel bad about it. Plus, depriving myself of the comforts that food brings just adds additional stress, and it’s a big snowball effect.
I will say, I have gotten better about amounts, about minding how much I put on my plate, to stop before I feel full (because that’s a mighty large amount). I accept I’m not 18 any more and cannot eat like I did when I was a teenager (tho my brain still wants to). So management concepts are better, but still consumption is more than it should be.
I don’t like to deal with fad diets or well, any sort of diet, because I know it’s a passing thing. You need to make a lifestyle change that you can accept, live with, and live with for the rest of your life. It must be a long-term thing. While things like Weight Watchers or NutriSystem are solid in their concept, I don’t want to be tied to their food. Besides, that means I have to eat their food — and Wife is an awesome cook! I’d hate to have to eat some packaged crap and be deprived of Wife’s cooking. But I will admit, NutriSystem did appeal to me, mostly because I appreciated the simple aspect of portion control that they provided. I thought about perhaps doing it for a month just to see how the portions looked, how a 200-250 calorie setup would be. But I never pulled the trigger on it because of cost and deprivation of Wife’s cooking. 🙂
But a friend of mine has been losing weight for while. Slow and steady, but solid. I became aware because sometimes we’d go to lunch and he’d mention having a “light day”, so we’d just eat at Subway. I saw how much it was working for him, and how little effort he really had to make. It wasn’t a massive lifestyle change, but it was manageable. So I was curious and finally asked him about it.
Up and Down
What he followed was something called the UpDayDownDay Diet Plan. Now, the notion of following some faddish plan turns my stomach, but this doesn’t seem all that bad. It’s a simple premise that’s quite do-able, and the logic behind it is sound. No fad, no “cleansing”, no products to buy, no change in food or diet or much of anything. I like that because having to make a radical shift is generally a path to failure because it’s a radical shift and those things can be hard to stick with over the long-term. Of course, this still requires a change, it still requires dedication, it still requires self-discipline.
What I think is different about this for me is I examine the problems I have and reasons for past failures. I’m hoping my body won’t have serious deprivation issues — especially when I start martial arts study again. If I do feel a need to have a bowl of chips and salsa, I can do that, just on the up day. It doesn’t totally take away the comfort aspect, just regulates it. But in the end, overall caloric intake goes down.
Will I succeed? I don’t know, but I want to. This seems better than other approaches I’ve tried in the past, so why not give it a try.
My goal? I’d like to get down to 190#, but that’s only a guide. What I want to shed is fat. If I stay at 225# but I drop fat and gain muscle instead, that’s fine. I won’t be doing any serious weigh-lifting tho, so I figure at least 200# and then see from there… 190# is probably likely. If nothing else, 190# is a good initial tangible target. Once I reach it, I’ll see where I am in relation to my more nebulous goals.
One tangible goal I have, yet I can’t put a hard number on when that point will be, is I want to be able to have a slim enough stomach so I can easily carry AIWB. 🙂 The gut pushes the holster out, thus pushes the bottom of the holster (muzzle) into you and just hurts. That’s a big motivator. I’ve put my AWIB holster on my desk as a reminder. Speaking of reminders, I added notes to every day in my iCal calendar to note “up” days and “down” days. That should help.
I would love to drop it overnight, but so long as the loss is steady and constant I’m willing to take the time. If I can feel good about my shirtless appearance come next summer, that’ll be great. I mean, at a rate of 1-2# per week, might take me 6 months or so to drop it. Of course, I also feel I need to get back to formal martial arts study and practice, not just for the enhanced physical activity, but I’ve been “all work and little play” and I need to bring some of that balance back into my life. Hopefully tho as well, that will help the weight loss not just from the enhanced calorie burn but if it can provide some stress relief then I can use that instead of a before-bed-snack.
So… wish me luck. It’s a journey, and I want to succeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if I fail, but so long as I pick myself back up and get back on the wagon, that’s alright.
I started composing this post last week. I just dove in and made the decision on 15 September 2010 to start on this, so the 16th was my first down day.
My friend told me the first week would be brutal. Frankly, it’s not been that bad. Not easy, but certainly not brutal.
I have already lost 5 lbs, and I know it’s not water weight because I’m drinking a lot of water. The past some weeks (even prior to this) I got back on the exercise wagon. I might just do a session of calisthenics, I might do time on the treadmill, I might go work out on the heavy bag, but whatever it is that I do, it’s more expenditure of calories. That’s good.
I haven’t felt my body screaming that I’m depriving it and felt a need to gorge. In fact, on my “up” days I’ve found myself still wanting to eat less! Not a bad thing.
The hardest part so far has been, of course, the down days. Overall it’s not bad. I mean, I budget in a beer… how bad can that be. 😉 But after my last “meal” of the day, I know it’s going to be probably 12 hours until I eat again, and that is a bit of a mental and emotional blow. But the upside is the point of the program: it’s only at most a day away, and really, the 12 hours isn’t that bad since most of it I’m sleeping away.
All in all, it hasn’t been that bad. Wife and Children are all supporting me. They find it odd to look at Dad’s plate on a down day and see so little food on his plate, but they know I want this and are helping me (even if it’s the kids lovingly calling me “Tubby”). 🙂
So far, so good. We’ll see how it goes.
I’m sure I’ll blog about it from time to time. Maybe the public pressure will keep me motivated.