UPDATE: (2012-10-23) As of this past Saturday, October 20. I have lost 100 lbs. Previously, in cleaning out my closet, I decided to keep one of the last pair of pants I bought before starting the diet. So, here’s the obligatory photo of me in those pants today. Just 30 weeks ago, these pants fit. There’s still a ways to go, but I’m two-thirds of the way there now.
I haven’t written much about this because it’s kind of embarrassing, but if you know me, you know I’m a big guy, and I have always been a big guy. However, over the past 5 or 6 years especially, I’d really put on a lot of weight. I finally reached that breaking point, and realized I had to deal with it, so what follows are some random thoughts I’ve had about weight and weight-loss.
Back in the early ’80s, after college, I decided to lose weight. I started with a 1500 calorie diet, and lost nothing in two weeks. I went to 1,000 calories a day, and lost about 2 pounds in two weeks. Given the amount of weight I needed to lose, I knew I could never keep up a 1,000 calorie a day diet for the time it would take me to lose the 60 pounds I wanted to lose, so I went to an 800 calorie per day diet, and like magic I started losing one-half to one pound per day. Even after several weeks, when I allowed myself to cheat a little on weekends, I still kept losing.
This was no magic diet. It was just very low caloric intake, and as such, you had to eat exactly the menu for each day to get the proper nutrition. As I recall, one of the dinners (the big meal of the day) was two fish sticks, a half cup of broccoli and a patty of butter. I know many argue that rapid weight loss like that isn’t healthy, and it’ll just come back. Indeed, I did, as is often the case, gain it all back, and more, but that was over a nearly 25 year period, and caused because I just didn’t pay any attention to diet, and particularly exercise.
That diet worked for me, and if I could have found it, I would have done it again. I’ve read several diet books over the years, including the original Atkins book, and at various times I’d tried some do-it-yourself diets, but I just never stuck to it. I know a number of people who’ve had pretty good success with Weight Watchers, and I’ve considered that program, but again, just never followed through.
Some months back Lay put a movie about a juice diet in our Netflix queue. We watched it together, and since I had a juicer from years back, we decided to give it a try. The movie really turned out to be a marketing thing, but I went to their website and found some juice recipes that sounded OK. I found several I actually liked, and I lost about 20 lbs over about three weeks, but I came to realize it just wasn’t practical. First off, it takes a lot of some fruits to get enough juice, so it was expensive. You can’t really make the juice more than about a day in advance, which meant doing a lot of slicing and peeling. Also, it was not going to be something I could adhere to when traveling. Lay only lasted about five days on it.
It was a couple of months after that I decided I needed to find something to keep going. At about this time, a friend suggested the new version of the Atkins diet, and I’d coincidentally read a couple of articles about, so I decided to try it. I read the book, and registered on their website which will create weekly meal plans for you. Now that I’ve learned a lot of the things allowable, I don’t really follow it, but it’s been fairly easy to stick with.
We eat out a good bit, and Lay works second shift, so I eat dinner by myself most evenings. I’ve almost always been able to find something I can eat at a restaurant, and it’s been fairly easy to keep and prepare food I can eat here. As an example, if I’m rushed in the mornings, I’ll run to McDonald’s and get a sausage and egg McMuffin, and just eat the sausage and egg. There’s a burger place we go, and I just order the burger I want without the bun.
As of this writing, I’ve been on the induction phase of the diet (the most restrictive) for 22 weeks, and I’ve lost 85 lbs. (Below, you’ll see a graph of my weight loss that I update once or twice per week.) I understand you’re not supposed to weigh daily, but I do. I’ve averaged about a half pound of weight loss per day, and the daily weigh-in works as motivation for me. On days I’ve lost weight, naturally I’m motivated to continue. When I hit those periods when I don’t lose, or even gain a pound, it actually serves to make me stick to it. As long as I can continue to motivate myself in this way, I’ll keep weighing daily. I do weigh at about the same time each day, under the same conditions.
After several weeks, I added an evening walk of 45 minutes to an hour, and now, many days, I also get in a 30 minute walk in the mornings before starting work.
Lay’s family regularly uses a Nuwave oven to cook things, and we’d always thought it would be good to have, so we asked my family to all go in last Christmas and get us one. This has been very handy for this diet. I keep a bag of chicken breasts and fish in the freezer. It’s very easy to throw a couple of one or the other in the Nuwave, and add an allowable vegetable, and I have a good dinner, or a piece of chicken to cut up to add to a salad.
What I have learned about diet and diets is that there is no one answer. People wanting to sell something can almost always find some scientific explanation for how a particular diet will work. What one eats and how much exercise one gets certainly are a big factor, but I can tell it includes a lot more than that. No one has yet found that one single answer to weight-loss, and I’ll be surprised if there is “one” answer. What each person has to do is find not only the motivation, but the particular diet that works with your lifestyle and your physiology.
What has changed? Lots of people like to comment that, “You must feel better.” I have to admit, I don’t feel particularly different. I have realized I do sleep better. I am certain I had/have sleep apnea, but starting about eight or ten weeks ago, I realized I was sleeping better and all through the night. It is easier to bend over to pick up objects, but those are the main physical things. My endurance is better, but that, I suspect, has more to do with the walking. Of course, that walking is made easier by the weight loss.
Without any doubt I feel better about myself, but frankly, I don’t even notice the weight loss that much in myself. Only recently have i decided I can see some difference in my face, but I’m still a big guy. I certainly notice it in my clothes. My waist and neck sizes are down significantly, so getting to give away my big clothes and drag some long-saved smaller clothes is nice, and when I still wear some of the bigger shirts, I certainly notice how loose they hang on me.
This acknowledgement of how I honestly feel isn’t meant to reduce anyone’s motivation. I know my health is better, and lots of things in life are easier and better. It’s easier to find clothes, I certainly fit better in airplane seats, and I can move better. The weight loss is totally worth the effort. I think that maybe one of the things that makes any diet difficult is the fact that dieters’ image of themselves changes very slowly. I just don’t notice the changes as much as others do. Sure it has something to do with seeing myself everyday, but even Lay can see the difference where I can’t.
So, as I noted, you can follow my weight loss, if you’re interested, in the graph here (and for a while on the side bar of this site), and I may update this post as I have more observations about the process.