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!