Today marks the end of the first full quarter of my dietary change.
I just deleted a whole bunch of text that followed that initial sentence because, frankly, that stands alone for me. I have significantly changed a previously immutable part of my lifestyle, and that change has lasted me 90 days. Some time ago, I posted a milestone and a request was made that I talk a bit about the specifics of what I’ve done and how it has affected me. I immediately thought, “Hell yeah, that’s a fantastic thing to write about!”
Over a month later, I’m finally writing that post. Let it never be said that I am timely with my posts. Later, I’m going to talk a bit about how much I hate G.W. Bush…right on time! This is almost assuredly going to be very tl;dr, so I wouldn’t blame you if you give it a miss entirely, but if you are hoping to be able to just peruse a small part of it, I’m including this set of links to each of the sections I’m going to talk about: a review of the background of this, statistical information, qualitative information, and plans for the future.
If you are just tuning in (or possess my wife’s memory for conversations), I wrote almost three months ago about starting a doctor-directed change in diet; the goal being to lose weight, sleep more, and feel healthier. It amounted to:
More than the average 4 hours per night I was getting, my goal was to get closer to 8 hours.
Continue, or even increase, the amount of exercise I have been getting.
Adjust my food intake
Maintaining my reduction in calories, properly spread out through the day, heavy on protein, light on carbs.
Scheduling hobby and hang-out time, getting massages (apparently without happy ending, though), and reducing my business wherever possible.
All of my statistics have been tracked on myfitnesspal (which has an Android app and a web presence) on which I’m known as jer_. It isn’t perfect, but it works for my purposes.
My weight is currently 37 pounds lower than it was three months ago. That’s an average of around 3 pounds per week, which is still a bit on the high side of what we were hoping for. The goal was to do between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds per week average initially, and that as I approach whatever my body considers to be normal, that should taper off. More concerning is that most of that weight loss was actually in the first two months; I had apparently grossly undercut my caloric intake, so I had lost 30 of those pounds in the first two months. I upward adjusted my intake, and I’m back to a more rational rate.
For the past nearly two weeks, though, I’ve been at something of a plateau. I gained back a bit of weight, then lost it again, so I’ve bounced off of 260 pounds a couple of times without breaking below it yet. At yesterday’s weigh-in (my official record day is Saturday morning), I was at 263. I am not displeased.
About a month in, right while I was losing weight like crazy, I remembered that my doctor suggested I also do regular body measurements…not as regular as weigh-ins, but regularly. My tape points are neck, my waist (for which I’m using the largest point around my substantial gut1), and my hips. I have no idea where I began, but 30 days in (and around 20 pounds down), at 17½/51/46½. Today, I have managed to gain a half-inch in my neck, lose an inch around my middle, and shed almost two inches from my waist, putting me at 18/50/44¼. The neck measurement is an interesting one; as little as two weeks ago my neck had trimmed to 16¾, but now has shot back up to 18. My assumption is that there is some measurement error in there, but who knows.
It took a while to dial in my nutrition, but I think I’m finally in the right area. My caloric intake has continued to decrease along with my weight. Initially, I was consuming 2,200 calories per day with carbohydrates between 40 and 60 grams and protein falling between 70 and 160 grams. I had to bump my calories up because of an initial dump of weight (a pound per day for two weeks, and nearly that for the next two weeks), bringing me up to 2,600 calories per day. Today, my caloric goal is 1,700 calories per day with between 60 and 120 grams of carbs and 70 to 160 grams of protein. I am not, at this time, paying any attention to fat or sodium intake.
Overall, I’m still feeling really positive toward the whole experience. My principle goal was to change my entire attitude toward food consumption. When I was constantly moving and getting tons of exercise, had a ridiculous metabolism, and hadn’t yet aged myself into fat gain, I could afford to eat more of what tasted good and less of what didn’t and ignore such things as “calories”…and “portions”…and “nutrients”…and the ability to see my “genitalia.”
My quality of life has not really diminished at all. I’m simply making relatively minor changes to my way of life. I eat less carby things—when I’m out, I look for things that aren’t smothered in sauce or sitting next to a pile of starch. I am more cognizant of how many calories things are—generally I try to enter my food intake before I start eating it so that I get a feel for how much I’ll be ingesting. Generally, this results in feeling full sooner; as in, “Wow, I must be 500 calories into this steak, and I’m pretty stuffed. Weird.2” Other times I just say, “You know what, calorie count? Fuck you in the face. I want to eat those motherfucking Chipotle Chicken Crispers and there’s not a thing you can do about it!…MMMMmmmmm…do you hear that? That’s the sound of extra-thick batter soaking up grease and transporting it directly to my moobs. It is the sound of shame and failure! And those are widely regarded as the most delicious emotions!3”
My cheat day is a day that I can eat whatever the hell I want, and so it leaves me never feeling deprived. I don’t have to say, “no, I don’t eat $X anymore” where $X is some (probably delicious) thing that is not conducive to weight loss. Instead, several times per week I say, “Oooh, on Saturday, that shit is going in me!” On cheat day, I almost never get around to cheating as hard as I plan during the week (although there was an outlier that involved a 2,600 calorie lunch that included a Mac N’ Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt and mac n’ cheese smothered fries and a side of mac n’ cheese, but it’s best not to discuss such things). I pretty much never feel deprived (although, I do miss sushi fairly often.
An important note about the food restrictions, though: I don’t let it get me down when I fail…and I do fail. A histogram of my caloric intake shows numerous spikes of “Oh shit, why did I eat that” moments, but I have to remind myself regularly that I am not on a diet. I have changed the way I eat. This is a permanent change, and like most permanent changes, they aren’t required to be absolutes. If I decide to watch less television, I don’t castigate myself for watching a bit here and there. If I decide to spend more time with my family, I don’t begrudge myself some lapses into overtime here and there. I have decided to eat healthier, and I am way happier if I don’t beat myself up over a decision to ignore that once in a while.
I have added some medical resources to the mix, though. I am seeing my doctor regularly, and we’re keeping an eye on my blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, enzymes, and a bunch of other stuff that sounds like Latin and probably translates to “things fatties have to worry about.”
I am on something whose name I cannot recall now (but I think begins with a ‘T’) to aid in getting to sleep and staying that way, and it is amazing. I am sleeping around 6 or 7 hours per night now. Re-read that sentence, because I just said that I…sleep…7…uninterrupted…hours…now! It’s madness. I genuinely feel the lack of sleep when I get less. If I do get woken up in the night, I just go back to sleep. Lunacy!!
I am also back on phentermine. I took it for two months then stopped refilling the prescription because
I assumed that it was okay to stop I hate pills. When I had my last appointment, my doctor got ready to write me a new prescription for them and I pointed out that I had stopped taking them a few weeks before. She responded with the same look that she used when I described how I ate 80% of my calories after 6pm (and many of those after 9pm) most of the time. It’s a look that says, “can you actually be this stupid, or are you yanking my chain?” I love my doctor. She reminded me that we’re trying to fix my metabolism, and me jerking with my meds for no apparent reason isn’t going to help. She also gently reminded me that it isn’t much good for me to come see her if I then ignore her on things that are trivial to do.
She is entirely correct. I am back on phentermine.
The results have been a huge help too. My weight has fairly steadily decreased at basically the desired rate. More importantly, when my loss plateaued recently, I continued to decrease in size according to the measuring tape, so I didn’t feel like there was no progress. I am starting to hear from people that see me infrequently that I appear smaller, which is nicer than I’d expected, since I didn’t really feel like I cared that much about the appearance part of it. An entire section of my wardrobe has opened up to me. A suit that I had adjusted to better accommodate my rotund stature a couple of years ago is now a bit loose on me; pants that were snug or wouldn’t even fit now will not stay up without a belt. One of my belts, one that I used to have to suck-in-my-gut-and-tug to get into the first notch, now rests comfortably in the third or fourth notches. My most frequently used belt used to have about 2 inches of excess hanging out of it; it now has about 6 inches.
I’m clearly somewhat smaller. That, or somebody is sneaking in and replacing my stuff with bigger stuff, which…well…well played, I suppose.
There’s not a lot to say about the exercise and stress relief parts. I have not brought my stress levels down as much as I probably should have (although I have taken decidedly less involved positions in both Penguicon and ConFusion), and I haven’t really had both time and cash to blow on frivolity like massages. For exercise, I’m still walking several miles per week when I can fit it into my schedule, cycling when I get the time (which is pretty rare) and lifting weights for stamina more than strength. Time has been as much of a factor as anything in that area, but that’s not new material if you know me very well.
So from here, I guess it’s just more of the same. I am going to continue to keep track of things on myfitnesspal, as it’s more convenient and quick to use than was Spark. My calories will continue to get adjusted periodically, and my carbs will rise infrequently as well.
I am really hoping to work out a way to get more exercise in (I really wanna play racquetball again) but with my daughter starting sports after school, my already stretched schedule is going to be pretty screwed. I’m hoping to see at least 30 to 40 more pounds of loss, but at a more reasonable rate, so with luck by next summer things will have tapered off to a natural weight for me. If it doesn’t, though, I’m not going to sweat it.
In all, I’m pretty happy with the way things are going; and that’s important, because as I was explaining to someone a week or so ago, there’s no finish-line on this one. This isn’t a diet, it’s a new version of my diet. I’m making changes that will hopefully last, so it’s important that I am pleased with how things are. That’s really the essential bit.