So, I'm back. Started tracking my diet and exercise a little over a month ago, May 20th, 2017. At that time I was at least 290 lbs., maybe more. One-hundred pounds (yes, 100 lbs.) over my goal weight.
I've re-calibrated my goals to lose that 100 lbs by my 46th birthday which will be August 21, 2018 -- 15 months from when I started (this time...) That will require me to lose about 1.5 lbs / wk. which equals cutting about 750 calories a day below my BMR (basic metabolic rate, or the calories required to maintain my current weight.)
My current BMR based on my age, weight and activity level is about 2900 calories, so I am trying to stay in the 2100-2200 calorie range for now. I find if I eat less than 2000 calories I end up compensating with something like an entire bag of Doritos the next day, which appears as a 2 lb. jump on the scale the next day.
I've had to accept that I am not going to have some huge weight dump like I did last time. I'm over 40 (will be 45 in a minute) and quite overweight, and very out of shape, and it's slow going to get a train that big, going that fast in one direction to stop and start heading the other way. What I'm hoping is that it will get easier as I go, instead of how it has been in past attempts: big weight drop right away, lots of success and patting myself on the back from all the praise I got from my friends, and then... a plateau that I never got past, followed by a collapse back to my bad, old ways.
I have been walking to work every day, and home from work almost every day, which is 1 mile each way with a pretty steep uphill climb on both ends. I have also been strength training at home, and have stuck to my every-other-day (or two days in a row with 2 rest days) for six weeks now, which is a record for me. I've also been taking the stairs at work with a once-daily allowed elevator trip, and some days I don't use the elevator at all.
I've noticed some improvements right away:
- I'm sleeping better
- I find myself looking forward to the walk every morning (sometimes trudging home uphill after work is still a challenge...)
- My cardio conditioning is coming back -- I don't need any breaks on the morning walk any more (was 2) and only one (was 3) on the way home
- My Instagram is active again because I see things on my morning walk to take pics of every day
- I've started to like my strength training routine, which I just allowed to develop organically
- I'm finding that for some reason, this time around, I feel accountable to myself, and it's working -- I catch myself sliding on some goal (usually the weights workout) and I think, If I don't do it, I'm giving up. And I can't stand that, so I do it.
About this self-accountability thing:
I can't count how many times in my life I've looked back at some failed exercise or fitness attempt and thought to myself, "Well that was [however many years or even decades] ago, imagine if I'd been doing that every day since then..." And then I move on to some other topic that is easier to talk about, like television or my pets. I've finally come around to realizing that it really is my fault. I chose not to do those sit-ups. I chose to eat mayo right out of the jar. I chose to blame locker room bullies for why I am still fat 30 years later. I chose to close my eyes.
My eyes popped open when I saw this picture:
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
Who the fuck is that fat guy?? Oh, shit. That's me in November 2016 (eight months ago.)
Where'd THIS GUY go?? From 2011??
(And I thought I was fat back then....)
That picture for some reason, really put it into perspective. I knew I was gaining weight. The blue shirt I'm wearing in the pic on the right above doesn't even button anymore -- it was loose on me in that pic. It was my favorite shirt, the go-to for a date or the bar. Same for the red v-neck next to it: last time I tried it on, it was tight like spandex and I couldn't pull it all the way over my belly. Also that necklace with the cross perfect in the dip of my clavicle won't go around my neck any more, I couldn't wear it if I wanted to. I am literally not that person any more, and I hate that.
Not saying I hate myself. In fact, I think I have come to love and respect myself way more than I did when either of those "skinny pics" were taken. Back then I thought I was as fat as I truly am now. I thought I was unhappy because of my weight, when the truth of course is the other way around. And I thought that losing weight was going to fix all my other problems, too.
I will now offer all the justifications I have for gaining 100 lbs. (Yes, I was at my goal weight back then, just needed to tone up some saggy places...)
I moved back to Maine in 2012 to care for my ailing mother, and my aging grandmother (whom my mother was no longer able to care for alone.) I was still a wreck from getting dumped by my rebound fling -- which was supposed to be medicine for the end of a horrible 5 year train wreck of a relationship -- and instead just messed me up worse. (For some reason I just fell apart when it did.) I had crash landed here with less than $500 in the bank, no job, and a place to live I couldn't afford. That first winter I really suffered. I was stressed about money constantly, wasn't sleeping, was drinking more and more heavily all the time, and living on restaurant food (burgers, fries and greasy everything.)
The winter of '12-'13 alone, I think I gained 30 lbs. I kinda freaked out about that the following summer, and I was getting my sea legs being back here, so to speak. I bought an elliptical and joined Weight Watchers and lost a dozen pounds. A year went by and I stayed about there, still not happy with my weight or my appearance, and still probably gaining a little, too. I stopped exercising.
Then in 2014 the shit hit the fan. My mother went into the hospital July 3rd, 2014 with her 3rd heart attack and never came out -- she was in either the hospital or a nursing home for 5 months, then died in December. Two months later, in February 2015, my phone rang at 9:30 pm and I was told by a nursing home worker that my grandmother had just died. Three years later I am just starting to be able to see all that in the rear-view.
The first year after it all happened is truthfully a drunk blur. I started drinking every day, getting drunk every day, mixing wine and shots of hard liquor. And when I wasn't getting drunk (or working, I did work...) I was eating my way through it: mac & cheese, Thai and Chinese takeout by the bushel, think nothing of having 4 cheese sandwiches for dinner and still eat a box of Cheez-Its while I watch TV in the recliner. My mother left me a very, very small amount of money (about 20k) and I pretty much ate and drank it. And shopped it. I totally spiraled down into total debauch. By the time I came up for air, I had gained all the weight back and then some. I was hitting 300 lbs.
I turned it around again for a little while, right around the time I met Matthew and we started dating. But it was not for long. Ironically, he and I did something really great and hard to do together, that made me gain weight -- we quit smoking cigarettes. And I packed on 25 lbs. I wouldn't go back, and in fact I gave myself carte blanche to eat my way through quitting. And boy did I. That guy up there in the necklace and the nice tan -- he was a 36 waist and wearing a men's medium. Today I can barely button my 40 waist and everything is XXL again.
OK - actually -- I wore a 38 waist yesterday for the first time in like a year. So, it's working. And since I have been walking every day and eating salads again, my belly is getting smaller. The number on the scale isn't dropping as fast as I'd like, but I am feeling better. And I'm enjoying making healthy changes, which is a first. I feel bogged down and vaguely sick now when I fill up on crackers and dip, instead of secretly telling myself I deserved a treat. Ick.
I don't know what's different this time, but I've changed my mind somehow. It's the same as I felt when we quit smoking this last time -- I just stopped. No patches. No gum (well, I did eat a lot of Altoids.) And no problems, I just stopped smoking, I was ready. I'd changed my mind about it. And that is how I feel about losing weight and getting fit this time -- I am that person now. It might be a while before it shows on the outside, but that's ok. I'm not doing it to get noticed.