I graduated high school weighing in at 190 pounds. I was pretty lean. I’ve always been quite strong (muscular), and as a result have always been heavier than I appear. I gained the Freshman 15. And the Sophomore 10, and the Third Year 10, etc., etc., until I graduated college in 2001 at 245 pounds. It turns out I simply cannot be trusted to eat at a buffet for every meal and make good choices.
I was trucking along at 245# until my 30th birthday. I used to wear a lot of Hawaiian shirts, too. They don’t need to be tucked in, and the busy pattern fools the eye into thinking I wasn’t as big as I was. I got a physical exam at 30, and the doctor told me that my blood pressure was too high, my cholesterol was borderline ugly, and my weight was simply too much for a guy who’s only 5’ 10” tall.
I decided that if I was going to dance with my daughter at her wedding, and watch my grandchildren grow up, I was going to have to make some changes. I made DRASTIC changes. I stopped drinking soda, switched out starch-heavy meals for fish/veggies/brown rice, and walked EVERYWHERE. I spend the summer of my 30th year on the move. I dropped 37 pounds and for a brief moment in time, hit 208# on the scale at the gym.
Everyone told me I looked sick. I was too skinny. How in the world have we become a society where a guy weighing 208# looks too skinny? It dawned on me that losing nearly 40 pounds in a couple of months is too much, too fast. My plan, told to me by my doctor, was to continue to weigh in every week and stay below 220# at the most. No exceptions. I stayed at 212# for a long time before slowly packing on the pounds again. True to form, when I guessed I was over 220#, I stopped weighing in, because that meant I’d have to get motivated to do something about it.
Time wore on.
Until recently, I’ve found it much easier to sit on the couch in the evening and eat chips than it is to get off my butt and exercise. Things get busy at work so there are plenty of reasons NOT to hit the gym at noon. Nights are cold and dark in winter, so there are plenty of reasons NOT to take the dogs for a walk. Jammies and TV are good; working out is bad.
But here’s the rub.
Having to start making wardrobe choices based on hiding my love handles isn’t fun. Feeling like crap all the time isn’t fun. Not having the energy to consider doing anything active isn’t fun. Being 230#+ stinks.
You know what I need? And end-point. I don’t do well with open-ended play. Anyone that knows me can attest to that. I don’t like to “go for a walk.” I like to see how long it will take me to get somewhere. I want to time everything, measure everything, and beat my high score. I NEED competition. I had just begun slowly making some changes when an opportunity arose. They were doing a Biggest Loser at the nursing home I moonlight in on weekends. Eight weeks. Pay $10 to enter – winner take all.
I didn’t start off with a bang. I decided to take it more slowly this go-round. Start making better choices. I started reading labels. I got an app to track calorie intake. I became more aware of what I was putting into my mouth. Not just quality, but quantity. I started eating for one, not three. I’ve always LOVED bacon-double-cheeseburgers. There’s no need of it. A grilled chicken breast is just as good. That’s not really true, but a regular cheeseburger/hold the fries is close. Small changes.
I started walking again. Mostly at the gym, because -12 deg F is still too cold to walk dogs. I switched sodas for water. I switched piles of rice for a scoop of rice with dinner.
I bounced around a lot at the 228#, 229#, 227.5# for nearly a month. Once Biggest Loser started, I think my beginning weight entry was 226.8# or something. It was frustrating, but I was now in it for the long haul, not just the quick result that would be tough to maintain. Then the magic happened. The weight finally started coming off. Not in 5 pounds/week chunks like my 30th summer, but a pound or two at a time. I’m down nearly 20#, and nobody’s called me Ethiopian. In fact, I’m now re-using the coveted fourth hole on my belt. The belt’s only got five holes, and I’ve spent my share of time using holes 2 and 3. If I look closely at the wear and tear of the belt, it seems I’ve been on hole 1 a time or two. Now – solid fourth hole.
That feels pretty spectacular!
I’m even thinking about making a run for the old high school fighting weight once the snow finally melts and I can get out and start doing some hiking and biking with the kids. Who knows?
I write this not to brag, but to hopefully convey the idea that weight loss goals are possible. It’s not so much what you do, as long as you do something. Get informed. Open your eyes to your activities and the choices you make every day.