Weight loss is one of the hardest things to deal with and just about everyone considers trying to lose weight at some point in their life. For many, it is a struggle they live with every day of their life. I am not claiming I have any answers, only that for the second time in my life, I have managed to drop back down from a point of excess weight to one more reasonable for my height and build.
I started with Lose-It back in 2010 (roughly at the end of February) at 185 pounds and lost weight to get back to what I called highschool skinny (around 155 pounds). I remained at that weight for a few months (roughly Aug – Nov) and then started a gradual climb to around 165. I stayed around 165 for a year, and then started a slow climb up into the 180s. I bounced back to the mid 170s and stayed there until 2018. At that point, I launched myself into the 190s (the highest I recorded was 193.4).
I know what pushed me to gain weight each time: stress. I am a stress eater. I can deal with a lot of stress and compartmentalize it (I worked as the escalation point for down systems for a database platform used by many large corporations for six years and the buck stopped with the team I worked on). However, for me, another bad habit that comes from stress is a tendency to veg and do very little. So, combine snacking (and drinking sugary beverages) with minimal activity and you end up with the graph below.
The chart above doesn’t use a starting point of my heaviest, so it only says I lost 19.6 pounds. Going from my peak of 193.4 last August to today’s 165.4, I am down 28 pounds over the least year.
I will admit to being very proud of the weight loss. I want to say it took no effort and I breezed through it, but that is not true. The least ten pounds fought me considerably, and I found myself discouraged more than I should have been. Combine in a fluctuating commitment to exercise, and I saw a very spiky month before I hit my target.
What is different
I am more hopeful this time with my weight loss. Ten years ago I was younger and dumber. I had confidence I had not yet earned (I may still have some of that hubris today—I hope not) and let myself get complacent. I had also set what I now believe was an unrealistic goal. While 155 left me skinny enough I could play David Tennant as The Doctor, it is not something I think I can maintain over the course of my life. Fortunately, the graph data showed I naturally tended toward 165 pounds, which is the goal I set this time around.
And while I am at my target weight, I am not at my target percent body fat. So, as I continue to strive to turn fat into muscle, I hope that a few more inches will fall off my midsection, even though I won’t drop to my highschool I had back in … let’s say a few years ago.
Part of what I have changed is walking four to six miles a day. That has given me more stamina, and I’ve even been able to do a solid two mile jog without dying from the effort. I want to work that up to 4 miles so I can easily do a 5k (and then some) and then get myself over 6 miles running to take part in 10k races. (The two mile units also relates to a two mile loop I have near my home.)
I don’t think I will ever aim for a full marathon. Not that I think I couldn’t do it, but because the time needed to train for that would prohibit too many other things I like to do more (such as writing, drawing, photography, and hiking).
I will take the cop-out answer of saying each person’s journey in the effort to lose weight is different and I can’t say what will work for you, but I can say that what worked for me involved:
- Tracking my calories, even when I had to guess at the actual amounts, and especially when I went over the daily budget (forced me to remain accountable to myself)
- Adding exercise, starting with walking, then adding light weights, and increasing the effort until I could sustain jogging and heavier weights (burns calories, makes me feel better, and improves my overall health)
- Giving up sugary drinks (they have so many calories and I could drink over 1000 calories in one meal)
- Staying with it even when I made no progress and things got difficult (again, remaining accountable to yourself)
- Setting realistic goals (1-2 pounds of loss per week and a target my body can sustain long term)
- Cutting portion sizes down so I can still have dessert, just not as much of it as I used to eat (I love pizza, ice cream, Jello, … I really love these things)
- And to repeat, not giving up; learn from prior attempts and adapt; I’ve done this twice in the last decade (continual improvement)
Good luck, stay safe, and remain positive!