Saturday, May 20, 2017

Anxiety & Relief

Today I got a new digital bathroom scale delivered from Amazon - purchased in large part because my previous scale has been giving an Error message since mid-November, meaning that I'd passed the dreaded line into numbers beginning with 3 (older bathroom scales didn't go higher than that). I kept thinking that surely my weight would dip back down and I'd see an actual number again, but it hadn't happened since the January 31st weigh-in, which gave me 297 right after the liquid fast and purge for my colonoscopy the week before. Other than that, it's been all "ER" since November 20th.

Finally, the anxiety of having no idea how much more than 299.5 I weighed conquered the fear of seeing some horrific number, and I ordered a better one with a higher limit - because how can you monitor or motivate yourself when you can't even know if you're losing or gaining unless you drop back into the scale's range?! Given that it's been nearly 6 months of error messages, I was imagining that my weight was still climbing upwards - 310, 320, who knows how far I'd gone?!

So today the scale arrived, I unpacked it and put the batteries in, and fired it up. And much to my relief, it only said 303. (Yes, I know: "only.") I've obviously been hovering right in that just-above-300 range all winter/spring rather than continuing to gain. That's just 7 pounds ahead of where I was in May last year, which at least doesn't indicate a catastrophic spin out of control. Of course, though, the relief is mixed with the sinking feeling that this must be my body's new set point that I don't exceed but also have trouble dropping below - like the 280-285 set point I used to have 5-10 years ago. I'm hoping that actually being able to see numbers again will be helpful in motivation, though.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Quarterly Report

Consider this a quarterly report.

As you can see over to the right, this first quarter of the year was uneven, with plateauing and even weight gain, but in the latter half of March, I managed to refocus and end up precisely on schedule.  Of course, if I'd stayed focused the whole time, I might be ahead of schedule now, but I'm focusing more on not repeating those mistakes in the future.

While we're on the subject, what were those mistakes?

1.  I let myself slide away from the intermittent fasting part of my new system, the part where so many days/week I'm supposed to go from dinner one day to dinner the next day without eating anything in between.  Those intervals are when fat gets burned, because no new fuel is coming in. But I started allowing myself nibbles and noshes at other times (in the name of "energy", of course) as long as the calories were low and the foods were healthful; even though those small pick-me-ups weren't adding much to my calorie total, they were keeping my system from going into "fast mode" and dipping into the long-term fat reserves.

2.  I let the number of calories on the fast days creep upwards, seduced partly by MyFitnessPal's running calorie count.  I started thinking, "Well, my weight maintenance total is around 2000-2400 calories/day, so if I restrict myself to 1200 calories, I'm still running a deficit."  But even though holding the line at some decent percent on what were then only nominal fast days was good behavior and prevented any serious collateral damage, a 50% day is still not a fast day and it isn't going to yield those results.  Fast days need to be down around 25% (600 calories) for the serious fat burn effect, and there need to be a few of them each week.

So, live and learn.  I know at least part of what I was doing wrong, which is at least part of avoiding the same traps during the next 3 months.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Not Giving Up Quite Yet ....

Yes, I have the weight blogger's typical (but totally understandable!) habit: I put off posting for weeks and months if I don't have anything to boast about.  In 2014 I did keep updating my weight in the log to the right, no matter how depressing the numbers might be, but otherwise the first nine months of 2014 did nothing to motivate me to write new entries: I started the year at 289.5 lbs., then stayed in lose-a-little-gain-it-back mode all the way through September.  I was not very happy about this, weighing so much and making no real progress. 

In October, though, my birthday started approaching and so did (more distantly) a December trip I had planned to New York.  I don't like feeling trapped in a weight rut when my birthday rolls around, partly because that's so often been my target date for major weight loss goals that didn't materialize.  And the New York trip would of course involve plane travel, and I hate Flying While Fat: I hate imagining as I walk down the aisle that people are thinking, "Please, God, don't let him be sitting by me", and I hate worrying that this will finally be the trip when I have to ask for a seat-belt extender. 

Whether either of those feelings was the actual cause or not, in October I somehow started gaining a bit of traction, eating more carefully and saying "no" a little more often.  I also tried to get on the elliptical more regularly.

Then in November I became curious about various kinds of intermittent fasting/calorie restriction, approaches like Michael Moseley's 5:2 diet and Krista Varady's Every Other Day diet.  Being me, of course, I bought used copies of their books on Amazon, then based on their ideas decided to try eating only 500-600 calories two or three non-consecutive days a week, but to let myself go (within reason) the rest of the time.  No forbidden foods, and no day-in-day-out regimen. 

So far I'm getting good results from it: today the scale put me at 250.5 pounds, 39 pounds down from last January 1st and 43 pounds down from my worst 2014 (and lifetime!) weight, 293.5 on July 10th.  I like not living in perpetual self-denial, too. 

The question, of course, will be how well this might still be working in 6 months or a year.  Like every chronic dieter, I've had initial success with various approaches that didn't prove effective or sustainable in the long run.  Intermittent calorie restriction seems more promising right now, but only time will tell.  And in the meantime, I feel a bit like that elephant in the picture!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Back to the very beginning, it's a very good place to start ....

So the scale was kind this morning, especially so in light of my lack of elliptical time lately: for whatever reason (maybe because I haven't left the house since Sunday and I've been living on Lean Cuisines, low-fat cottage cheese, non-fat yogurt, and fruit), I somehow dropped 4 lbs since the 10th.  (I need to go to Panera less, I think.)
Depressingly, though, my refrigerator spreadsheet and this blog tell me that I'm exactly where I was on February 1st ... of 2009!  That was when I had an epiphany and I decided I was going to dig in, take charge, blah blah blah.  And I was going to weigh 100 lbs less when I turned 50.  Ha!  So, after all the intervening upping and downing and running and ellipticalling (hey, if I say it's a word, it's a word), I'm exactly where I was 5 years ago, except with a 5-year older and slower metabolism.  *sigh*
I suppose, on the bright side, it's better than being worse off than I was 5 years ago.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Persistence - Virtue or Willful Stupidity?

I keep a spreadsheet on my refrigerator door.  It tracks my weight back to 2004.  During that time - almost a decade now! - I've weighed as much as 294 and as little as 202.  It shows my best efforts, like the 18 months when I managed to stay below 225, and my worst, like the most recent 20-plus months, when I've remained stuck in the 270s and 280s.  Anything encouraging on this spreadsheet seems more than cancelled out by the rest of it: not only have I failed to maintain substantial weight loss on the relatively rare occasions I've achieved it, but the weight losses I did temporarily achieve were never even enough to move me on the BMI chart from Obese to Overweight.  A rational person would not predict future success based on this decade's worth of hard data. 

But yet, I keep stepping onto the scale and recording my weight on the spreadsheet 3 times every month.  And every so often I summon up a surge of will power, clean out the kitchen, and try to be more conscientious about using the elliptical machine.  I'm not even sure why, because I honestly have a hard time imagining that (or how), at nearly 50, I'm going to be able to achieve and maintain the kind of weight loss that's consistently eluded me throughout my 30s and 40s.

But yet, I never quite give up. Maybe it's the fear that if I ever listed the elliptical on Ebay and gave my running shoes to Good Will, then soooner or later my weight would cross the 300-pound mark, I'd turn into a recluse, and someday I'd be on the news when the EMT's had to cut a hole in the side of my house to get me out!  Or maybe it's the simple vanity of still hoping that someday I can reach and maintain a weight which wouldn't be the first thing people noticed about me.

So, I'm persistent.  But, given years of only insufficient and temporary successes when my body was younger and responded to diet and exercise more readily, is persistence still a virtue?  Is it even smart?  I have no idea.     

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why It All Seems So Futile Sometimes ....

That feeling of futility ....
I quote:
"When an overweight person cuts down significantly on what he eats, the body defends itself by using fewer calories. The effect can be long-lasting: If a person’s weight drops to 150 pounds from 250, significantly fewer calories must be consumed daily to stay at that weight than would be necessary if the person had never been overweight. 
"Even if a 170-pound person loses 20 pounds, he needs 15 percent fewer calories to maintain the new weight than someone who always weighed 150."

Really, the dispiriting thing about an article like this is that it basically says, "If you're already overweight, forget those fantasies of losing weight and living like a 'normal' person, because even if you do, you won't.  Oh, and did we mention?  Once you've been overweight: there's about a 99% chance it's already too late." 


Sunday, March 11, 2012

... and start all over again!

"Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again." That's the attitude I'm taking right now, faced with the reality that not only did I fall off the wagon, I tumbled all the way down the hill, too.

As the graph and the weight log to the right show, over the last several months I've managed to surrender all the territory I won since I started Sancho Panza's Weighty Thoughts back in February 2009. I decided, though, that I wasn't going to delete the blog or even reboot it - pretending that I didn't lose over 70 pounds and then gain it back is not going to help.

Instead, I'm leaving the unvarnished truth up here for anyone to read who stumbles onto this blog. Yes, I lost a substantial amount of weight, and yes, I gained it all back. But I'm going to focus on the first half of that statement. I did lose it. That means I can lose it again. My new target date for losing those unnecessary 100 pounds: October 26, 2013. The day I turn 50. It would be very cool to weigh myself that day and see a number representing a real achievement like that.

Wish me luck.