As you might have noticed, ScienceBlogs picked up a couple of new bloggers recently. Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders moved their blog, Obesity Panacea, over to these parts last week. Their move gives me an opportunity that’s way too good to pass up – an excuse to present my latest excuse for a prolonged gap in blogging.
I’ve been too busy getting thin to post much.
OK, maybe “getting thin” isn’t the most accurate description. But it sounds so much nicer than reality – which is more like “becoming merely overweight instead of downright obese”. (For starters, it’s a much pithier phrase.) The combination of the time I’ve been putting into weight loss combined with the 45 or so hours I spend without internet access during the course of the work week combined to drastically reduce my available free time. But I’ll whine more about that another time.
Two months ago, I said that I’d be joining the ScienceBlogs fitness challenge. In my typical fashion, I then proceeded to do absolutely nothing about it for a week. It’s quite possible that things would have stayed as they were for longer, but then an in-house version of The Biggest Loser kicked off at work. That was the little nudge I needed to get up and actually try to make the lifestyle changes needed to drop the weight.
It took some effort, and some substantial research, but I seem to have found a weight loss plan that really works for me. The evidence certainly seems to be pointing in that direction, anyway. Since late January, I’ve lost slightly over 32 pounds (or 14.5 kg or about two-and-a-quarter stone depending on your measurement system of choice). My BMI has gone from an atrocious 33.4 to a more reasonable (if not actually good) 28.9. My body fat, resting heart rate, abdominal circumference, chin count, and clothing sizes have all also seen corresponding drops.
My energy level is up, I feel better than I have in years, and I owe it all to this extremely simple, amazingly effective weight loss program I discovered:
I’m eating fewer calories, and I’m exercising more.
Seriously, that’s it.
I haven’t been doing any of the popular diets, haven’t been counting carbs, haven’t been doing P-90X or any of the other popular workout programs. I’ve just been eating less, and exercising more. I have been trying to make sure that I’m eating well enough that I’m getting enough protein, but I haven’t even been paying that much attention to my fat intake.
The vast majority of my dietary efforts have involved nothing more (or less) than portion control. I’m not eating footlong subs, I’m not value-sizing takeout meals, I’m not slapping enough oily condiments onto my food to lubricate a 1975 Ford Pinto – that kind of thing. Fortunately (or not), my “before” diet was heavy on the Burger King for lunches – it’s the closest fast food joint, and I hate wasting time going back and forth to work. In theory, based on what I was eating before I started trying to drop pounds, I could lose 1/2 pound a week just by dropping the onion rings by one size and saying “hold the mayo”. I actually scaled back quite a bit more – no mayo, no rings, no fries – but I’m still getting my whoppers. Similarly, I’ve gone to lower-fat cuts of meat, lighter use of condiments, and healthier breakfast selections. The overall result has been that I’ve been able to cut a considerable number of calories from my diet without actually having to go the Full Atkins.
But it’s the exercise that’s probably (almost certainly) made the biggest difference. I went from swimming somewhere between 500 and 1500 meters five times a week to swimming that distance plus getting in at least 45 minutes of cardio per day – at least initially. More recently, I’ve been shifting my focus more from losing the weight toward getting into a routine that I can maintain that will keep the weight off. I’ve been working out less – every other day instead of daily – and I’ve adjusted my diet so that I’m eating just slightly less than the number of calories I need at the weight and activity level I want to maintain. This has slowed the weight loss, but I think it’s giving me a better chance at keeping the weight off.
There’s one other step I’ve taken that I think (hope) will help keep the pounds from coming back: I’ve given away virtually my entire wardrobe. A couple of weeks ago, I hit the point where nothing I’d bought for myself in the last decade fit right – everything had become noticeably oversized. So it went. I’m making due with a very condensed wardrobe at the moment, and I’m not planning to buy more clothes for another few weeks (and, hopefully, pounds). I’m hoping that if any of the new stuff I buy becomes too tight, I’ll pay attention and get back to where I need to be – and, since I really don’t like shopping for clothes, it might work.
Anyway, that’s the long version of where I’ve been for the month I wasn’t blogging: working, and working out. And if I haven’t enjoyed every minute of it, I’m sure enjoying the results.