A look back at the week
It was a busy week for me. Work was hectic as could be, my brother visited, we drove to Maryland and back on Saturday and fit a 90th birthday party in there for good measure and today I led the 9:00 AM shop ride.
Oh, and I lost two pounds and now sit just a smidge over 200. This is normal for me. I have been sitting between 200 and 205 for months now. Once in a while I sneak below 200 for a day or two but edge back to 200. I am very happy with this. I have said I want to settle in between 200 and 205 and that is what I have done.
First the visit from the Brother.
It was fantastic. There was a time when MB and I could not spend more than an hour together without an argument breaking out. Not an issue now. We sit and chat, talk about this and that and meaningful things and we don’t get riled up. It is nice. His enthusiasm over my weight loss and fitness improvement was obvious and frequently commented on. Even Saturday, as we celebrated my Great-Aunt’s 90th birthday, MB recounted his shock on seeing me Thursday, the first he has seen me in person since I lost the weight. It made me feel wonderful that he saw the hard work and appreciated the effort that Missus and I have put in to turning around our health and fitness.
At the party on Saturday my two cousins, the Doctors, were both overjoyed at the changes they saw in Missus and Me. Again, it felt wonderful. There were relatives who simply didn’t recognize me. Two cousins asked if I had “the surgery”. Sigh.
The drive to Maryland and back, more than 500 miles round trip, was tiring but it was a wonderful opportunity for Missus and me to spend some quiet time, just the two of us. I will be forever grateful to MR for watching the boys for us. On the way home we found a nice little Japanese/Chinese restaurant. I had vegetable in a teriyaki sauce with brown rice. It was very good. The vegetable dumplings in a spinach dough wrap were delicious. Missus and I split an order.
Today I rode the 16 miles from my home to the bike shop and then I led the 9:00 AM ride. We did a hilly 25 mile course and really had a good time. The heat and humidity were tolerable at that hour and the tree lined streets over much of the ride helped keep the ride comfortable. I had a great time with a fun bunch on the ride.
After a nice dinner at our favorite Indian Restaurant….. I am now relaxing and thinking about the work week ahead…
About That Sigh
I typed a SIGH above as a reaction to being asked about “The Surgery”.
I want to explain because I don’t mean to or want to offend anyone.
I have had NO surgery. Not Gastric Bypass, not lap band. Nothing.
I went a different path. I went a path that worked for me, that fit my life and what I wanted and what I thought I could accomplish.
This does not mean that I am negative about the surgeries or that I think people who take that path are wrong to have done so or have some sort of weakness or failing.
If the surgery is the last best option or if you have diabetes then I applaud you for your courage.
My sigh is because I am saddened that this is how people think. The think that a big weight loss is not possible without the surgery. Losing 35% of your weight is a big weight loss. Make no mistake about that. I find it disheartening that some people tend to think that a big weight loss must have involved surgery.
It can. It often does. But it doesn’t have to.
That is why I sighed. I have been asked which surgery I have had at least two-dozen times. Not did I have surgery. WHICH surgery. The assumption being I must have had surgery. I didn’t. I didn’t need to. Other do need it. For reasons medical science has not fully figured out, the surgery seems to cure type-2 diabetes. For reasons medical science has not fully figured out, some people have exhausted all other options for losing weight and the threat to their health is so severe that the surgery is needed.
I wasn’t there and I was able to change my life enough that I lost the weight and I am keeping it off.
Most dieters don’t.
That is the sad and simple fact.
So far… I have…
How it REALLY Feels
I have written about this before but I have given it more thought and I want to write about it some more.
How good do I feel?
People often say something to the tune of “I bet you feel great” or “You must feel wonderful”, referring to how I feel physically now that my body no longer carries around so much extra ME.
I always answer the same way, in the affirmative. I do feel great, I do feel wonderful. Things that once ached all the time now don’t ache at all or ache rarely or less. The interesting thing though is that it is only in retrospect that I realize how awful I felt.
I didn’t know at the time that being fat and out of shape caused so much of the aches and pains. Much of it I put down to getting older. The inevitable consequence of an aging body. I didn’t understand, or didn’t want to understand, that it was the weight, the abuse of the body from carrying over 100 pounds of excess.
How does it really feel? It feels as though I have taken 10 or more years off my body. I can do now at 52 what I could not do at 42. I can do at this age what 15 years ago was becoming a struggle. I feel as though I have lost not only pounds but age as well.
How does it really feel? It feels as though life has been given back to me. It feels as though I have opened closed doors and found a me I thought was lost forever.
Losing the weight, building the fitness feels like I found a secret to life. It is the kind of thing that if it happened for you overnight after the visitation of three spirits you would open the window and shout it out to all who would hear and you would buy a prize turkey for everyone in sight.
Do I feel great? What it better than great?
With the Five-Boro behind me now I am looking forward to the next few adventures.
I am going on a hike this coming Saturday with good friends MT and PGB. I believe PGB said it is something like 8 miles of trail. Included in this is a “Billy-Goat Climb”, meaning, I suspect, that it is a hand-over-hand steep ascent. I am really excited about this. Not so long ago PGB would not have even proposed such a hike to me. Now it is simply another good hike in good company.
If I get back early enough I will go on a bike ride to the Bike Club Picnic. We will see. I plan to ride Sunday afternoon as well, once we return from visiting my Mother-In-Law for Mothers Day.
June 2nd I have the Tour of Bergen County. 45 miles through the hills of Northeastern New Jersey. That should be fun but I am nervous about the hills.
June 8th comes the next big challenge, the Ride 4 Autism. 62 miles through the countryside of central New Jersey. Beautiful area. This ride is very dear to me as it raises money for Autism awareness and research. It is my daily hope that treatments for Fragile X Syndrome will be found as a direct result of this research.
Between this weekend and the Ride 4 Autism, I will get in as much cycling as I can. I really need to hit the hills. I need the practice and I need to build the stamina and leg strength.
I need to find more rides for later in the year. I want to do the North-Fork Century on Long Island at the end of the summer but it is a very expensive and I am not sure I can justify the expense.
There is another Century ride in Connecticut in the fall that appeals to me and I am giving it serious thought.
Of course there will also be some hiking in there.
This is what I mean when I say I opened a door and found a me that was lost forever.
Today marks day three of vegetarian eating. No meat of any type: mammal, bird, or fish. This isn’t really intentional. It is just progressing that way.
We have added quinoa to our menu to increase the amount of protein we are getting, also added more beans. We also get protein from dairy. We are sliding to vegetarian, not vegan.
We are excited that local produce will start to hit the market in a couple of months and we will plant our own garden in another couple of weeks. We are especially looking forward to home-grown veggies…
The boys are not following us on this so far. They continue to eat red meats. Burgers are a big favorite. We are trying to set the good example and we encourage them to follow. We have had limited success so far. The Older One eats anything we serve him so we are having more success with him. The Younger One…
If you had told me two years ago this would be me I would have scoffed.
Life, who knew?
This is about me
This is about me, this blog, the tales of this Journey. I have never pretended to know much about nutrition or fitness or anything about this except as it relates to ME. I tell the story of my Journey, my trials, my tribulations. I talk about my failures and failings, my successes and my growth.
This is not about what is right or wrong because it is all good.
If you are doing something completely different from what I am doing and you are having success then it is good. If lifting weights for hours in the gym is your way and it works for you then it is good. If you made the difficult decision to have gastric bypass and it was your last best option and it is working for you then it is good.
I decided that the way for me was to significantly reduce my calories, from over 4000 a day to around 1500, to change the foods I ate, eliminating the trigger foods as well as red meats, peanut butter and jelly and pizza and changing to a nearly vegetarian diet and lastly, to significantly increase my physical activity with hiking and cycling. This is what has worked for me and it is good. For Me.
In the year plus that I have been on this Journey and writing this blog I have been told that I am doing everything wrong, that I will regain the weight, that my method is “stupid”… I have been told that I have to follow a special diet, get rid of carbs, eat only meats, eat only veggies, eat like the caveman, eat like the astronauts….
If that is what works for others, it is fine with me. My opinion really doesn’t matter when it comes to YOU. My opinion only matters when it comes to ME.
The only thing that matters is SUPPORT. Encouragement and support are the backbone of any successful plan.
Think about this: If you have a friend or family member who is significantly overweight and that person decides to get fit they are embarking on what SHOULD BE a life changing course. And it is hard. And it is frightening. And they need support. Not criticism.
When I say significantly overweight I am not talking about 10-15 pounds or even 20-30 pounds. I am talking 70 pounds, 80 pounds, 100 pounds or more. I am talking people who are carrying around an extra person, not a few extra pounds.
I am telling you that the weight loss and fitness Journey I started on December 27, 2011 has been at once the most rewarding and frightening thing I have ever done. Imagine this: 50+ years old and you change everything you possibly can about the way you eat, exercise, live. You go from eating indiscriminately to recording everything you eat. You change from sitting on the couch to walking 5 miles in the freezing rain because you have to get in your miles.
You give up some of your favorite foods, you push yourself to learn new ways to cook, new ways to shop, new ways to live.
And all the while you are diving deep in to your brain trying to understand why you have been slowly killing yourself with food. Why you have been “committing suicide by a thousand bites”.
Imagine that this is you. It isn’t easy is it?
The Journey is hard. It doesn’t matter how the Journey is made. It is hard. It is hard for everyone on it. I have lost 105 pounds since December 27, 2011, 120 pounds from my peak weight. It has been hard. It has been rewarding. It has been the best thing I have ever done for myself and it has been the scariest thing I have ever done to myself. I think that this holds true for anyone on the Journey.
So my Journey is my own. I can’t tell you and I won’t tell you how to do this. If you are going about it in a completely different way, that is fine. I am happy that you are on the Journey. It’s all good.
Whether or not you are on your own weight loss and fitness Journey, support your friends and family and even the strangers you meet who are on the Journey. We need the support. This is hard. A pat on the back helps to ease the Journey.
Mileposts on the Journey
As they started flying by and it became “expected” I reported on them less often to the point that I have not really written about them at all in months.
I have passed a few recently and I wanted to write about them a little.
I passed my goal weight on August 8, 2012. I hit 209 pounds that day blasting right past the 210 pound goal. That was 228 days ago. For those 228 days my average weight is 202.5 pounds. Today I weighed 203 pounds when I stepped on the scale. Yesterday I was 202.6. I go up and down as much as a pound from one day top the next. So I am essentially right at my average weight since I hit my goal. And I am 7-8 pounds under my goal. 228 days at or below my goal weight.
The cold weather is interfering with my cycling plans but I am still getting out for hikes. The milepost here is the 7 straight weeks of achieving my fitness minutes. ….
More Hiking Today
I went for a short hike yesterday. I went close to home and climbed the trails around Turkey Mountain in Northern New Jersey. I think many people outside of the area might be surprised that New Jersey has wilderness areas and hiking trails but those of us who live here know. There are beautiful views, steep climbs, deep woods where the sound of traffic does not disrupt….
The hike was just under 4 and a half miles and was with good company. The air was crisply cold and the sky was mostly clear. There was snow cover on much of the trail but it was not a difficult hike and we made it safely.
I hike most weekends now. I know it is frustrating Missus that I spend so much time away from the family on weekends but Missus also understands how important the fitness aspect of my Journey is to me.
I am hiking again today. I am driving to a park and I hope to get in 6-8 miles. This will give me 10-12 miles for the weekend and that will be good.
I am wishing for warmer weather but instead we are getting more snow tomorrow. This is getting old.
So I will keep hiking. I can hike in the cold. I find it very difficult to ride in the cold.
More hiking today.
I did nothing today
I didn’t go to work because I had root canal scheduled for today. When that was done all I did was sit in front of the computer or watch TV or putter around the kitchen.
I didn’t snack at least….
I also didn’t exercise or…
Lazy day. I don’t like it. It can become habit-forming… And it is a bad habit.
Dinner with Friends at a Vegetarian Restaurant
I have mentioned before that I have a group of friends that I get together with from time to time for dinner. Last night was one of those times. I proposed that we go to a Vegetarian restaurant in a nearby town. The restaurant specializes in Asian cuisine. I was very pleased when the group readily accepted the idea and we met at the scheduled time. I had General Tso’s Crispy tofu and is was delicious but not quite as spicy as I would like it. The others gathered had a variety of dishes that were well received. Having restricted my calories all day so I could really enjoy the dinner without remorse, I ordered the Vegan Chocolate Cake. It was tasty but really suffered from the lack of eggs and milk in the recipe. The texture was dry and firm. Tasty as I said but…
It really made me happy that my friends were willing to go out on the culinary limb and try the vegetarian restaurant. I am not strictly a vegetarian, though I am leaning that way, and I could find something to eat almost anywhere but the selection of a vegetarian restaurant makes it easier for me and for that I am grateful.
The group has been overwhelmingly supportive of me on my Journey. PB and MT have gone on hikes with me, MT nearly being trampled as I fled down the trail in the opposite direction of the snake… Never once have they told me ENOUGH WITH THE WEIGHT LOSS STORIES!
It was a fun gathering, we talked about a range of topics and we enjoyed each other’s company.
Baked Salmon marinated in low sodium soy sauce with fresh ground ginger and fresh garlic, multi-grain rice with black beans and pepper and onion, and Kabocha Squash. It was delicious. I love cooking. Exploring new varieties of foods has been one of the truly rewarding aspects of this Journey.
After three consecutive nights of Vegan dinners, we have had two in a row with fish. We like the variety.
All of this has prompted us to start planning a garden. I want a large garden. We have the space for it and so…
I am planning 3-4 varieties of tomato, a range of herbs, several pepper varieties, squash (Missus has banned zucchini), eggplant, leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss Chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and maybe some corn and cucumbers…. Critical to this plan will be a fence. Have to keep the deer and rabbits away….
Anyone out there with some good gardening advice?
The Weekend Plans
A 10 mile hike. I want to go to the preserve and do a ten-mile hike. Last weekend I hike 7.5 miles with MT and it was really nearly effortless. This weekend I would like to add an hour to the hike and get to ten miles. I have no doubts about doing it. I just want the weather to cooperate. Anything around 30 degrees and sunshine will work as long as the wind is mild.
This will have to be Saturday because the weather forecast for Sunday is not so nice. I may do the track at the school on Sunday.
I love planning weekends.
Dinner at least once of the nights will be Vegan and the other will be some nice fish we have in the freezer. Probably some Mahi-Mahi….
The Magic and Wonder
I still feel a sense of the magic and wonder of all this. The Journey, how far I have come, the distance yet to travel. Feels like magic to me. It is uplifting and affirming. It can take a dark mood and lighten it. All I need to do is put on last year’s winter coat or an old suit and I am lifted. I am reminded of the change and it changes my day.
No matter how accustomed I become to the revised me I will not lose the sense of wonder that I managed to do this. I lost the weight. I am almost 6 months in to the maintenance part of this and I am still well below the target weight of 210 pounds. Still around 200.
I can’t help but think that I succeed at losing the weight and I am succeeding as maintaining the weight because I kept it simple. I reduced my calories and I increased my activities and I stuck with it and I continue to stick with it. I have done this through trials and tribulations, confusion, stress, fear and anxiety. No matter what, good or bad, was happening in my life I have stayed with this plan.
To me, this is magic and wonder.
Food shopping has changed so much for us. Where once meats were the bulk of the groceries now they make up the barest percentage of our purchases. Once we would not buy vegetables and fruit at the warehouse club because we wouldn’t use it up before it started to go bad. Now we by a high percentage of our fruits and vegetables at the warehouse club and never throw any away.
What impresses me is the fact that this has all become natural for us. We do not have to resist the temptations when passing the beef and pork. We have to remind ourselves to buy some ground beef or some sausage for the boys. They don’t quite share our diet yet.
Walking around the Stop & Shop tonight, walking past the tubs of chocolate chip cookies that were once part of our weekly buy and not picking them up, not even thinking about it, not having to talk myself out of it tells me that a very real change in our diet has happened.
We spend more time selecting the vegetables and choosing among the varieties of rice than we do on any other part of the shopping. It is a great thing.
Tonight we bought some fish for dinner tomorrow, we bought more kale, more string beans, frozen fruits, some rice. We bought no-fat Greek yogurt, some all-natural whole grain cereals. This is how we shop.
Yesterday we went to the farmers market and bought peppers, greens, fruits…..
It has changed so in just a year. Truly reflecting the changes we have made.
A SLIGHT area of Concern
The last several days my weight climbed three pounds and I was really concerned and confused by this. I checked and rechecked my calories consumption and my calorie burn and I should have held steady or perhaps lost a slight amount but instead it went up. I knew something was going on because my ring became tight on my finger and it has been close to falling off again after being reduced by two sizes just a few months ago.
To gain the weight that fast had to be water retention I figured so I started to look at what might have changed in the last week that would make me gain weight like this. I found it: penicillin. My Dentist prescribed penicillin for me and I found that a side effect of penicillin is water retention. I feel better now.
But it got my attention.
The GetFit Challenge started today and I dutifully logged in my fitness minutes. I got in 45 minutes of extra walking today at a moderate pace. I am expected to do 150 minutes for the week so I am well on my way. With the good weather expected the next two days I am expecting myself to hit the 150 minutes sometime on Wednesday, maybe Thursday night as I am going to dinner with friends on Wednesday.
Very excited about this challenge. I love having something pushing me like this. Working as part of a team (where I only know one member) is a great motivator. Never want to be the person that let the team down. I Kind of wish that the Challenge started yesterday as I got in a 7.5 mile hike at a brisk pace and it would have really gone a long way towards hitting this week’s goal. Well there is always next weekend’s hike! Perhaps PGB will be available….
Well, the streak of vegan dinners came to an end tonight as we had some fish with dinner. Just felt like having some Swai.
Otherwise the dinner was veggie heaven. A slice of Kabocha Squash, broccoli, red pepper and onion with curry, Basmati brown rice and the Swai with salsa and horseradish mustard. Oh, and half a sweet potato.
The interesting thing is that none of this is particularly demanding to make either in skill or time. I put the broccoli, pepper and onion together in 5 minutes with another ten to cook. The Kabocha and the sweet potato roast in the oven for about half an hour or so. The rice cooks during that same time. The Swai goes in the oven at the same time I start cooking the veggies and is done about the same time. Very quick and very easy.
I mention this because a friend once told me he doesn’t eat the way I do because he don’t have time to cook the food. He makes a steak or roasts some chicken and boils up some pasta…. My contention is that it takes about the same time to eat healthy as it does to make the meal my friend mentioned. If life is so busy that you can’t squeeze another 5 minutes to prepare a healthier meal then perhaps you need to reorder your life a little?
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups low-fat milk (we use lactose free, 2% fat)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional, we don’t use it but if you like your waffles sweeter…)
Mix wet ingredients together, add dry ingredients, mix until slightly lumpy. Do Not Over Mix…
Ladle on to your waffle iron according to the manufacturers instructions. Serve golden brown.
Comes to about 164 calories per waffle if you omit the sugar and make 8 waffles……. all depends on the waffle iron. The entire batch is about 1320 calories so divide 1320 by the number of waffles you make and you have the calories per waffle (of course). Adding the sugar adds only about 6 calories per waffle….
Also makes good pancakes……The silly reference to Alcohol in the nutritional profile is because of the tiny amount of alcohol in the vanilla extract.
A Vegan Dinner Tonight
Wanted to share:
Made a Vegan dinner tonight
Jasmine Rice, Bok Choy and Spinach with sweet red peppers and fresh ginger, Peas and Corn with Cranberries flavored with Orange Juice, Oven Roasted Butternut Squash.
It was all so good!
Medallions sprinkled with fresh ground black pepper and ginger
I am working hard. Physically hard. I am back to working as an electrician for the first time in many years. Up and down a ladder all day today, lifting 1 ½ inch pipe in to place. 15 feet off the ground, stretching, bending, pulling, pushing, carrying…
I could not have done this a year ago. No way at all. After climbing the ladder at least 40 times today I am not tired in the legs at all. The shoulders hurt because they are no accustomed to working this way after all these years of NOT working this way… I am so glad that I decided to take care of myself and get fit again.
Life would be hell right now if I had not done all this.
This is another reason to do it: it opens up possibilities.
When my new job up and died on me, I had the option of going back to the physically demanding job I left 25 years ago. If I was still in the condition I was a little more than a year ago it would not have been a real option. I may have tried it but I would have failed. Up and down a ladder all day when walking up the stairs to the bedroom tired me out? I think not….
The weather is projected to be spring like this weekend with temperatures in the mid-50′s and sunny. I plan to get out and ride and hike. I need to contact my friend PGB and ask him if he would like to hike on Saturday or Sunday. Sunday is expected to be the warmer day but Saturday promises sunshine. Either day works for me to ride… I should see if KG or SA want to ride Sunday..
Other than that I want to sleep late. I may call the physical therapy place and make an appointment. I haven’t gone in weeks due to my crazy schedule and the holidays.. Time to get back to it.
I need a haircut…
I love weekends. So many possibilities..
When is it too much
I am thinking about pushing my weight down to 190. That is the very top of the “official” weight range for a man of my height and age. I am in the 197-198 range right now and I really feel great. I am not having much trouble maintaining the weight and keeping it below 200. I feel good about the way I am eating, enjoying the selection of foods. I have learned how to go to restaurants and control the urges to gorge on bread and such… I feel really good about where I am…
So when is it an area of concern that I still want to push my weight down. I am not thin. Truly I am not. At between 195 and 200 I am not thin. I am solid. I am lean. I am not thin. So then the question comes in: when Do I cross from lean to thin and am I really over thinking this all? At 190 I would be only 7-8 pounds less than I am now, I would be at the top of the normal range, I would have that much less to push up a hill….
But when does this cross from a solid concern and plan to an unhealthy obsession?
I really don’t think I am there yet and I think I am still a good distance away from that.
Here is how I view it right now: I lost the weight I HAD to lose. Then I lost the weight I should lose. Now I am looking at the weight it would be good to lose…
Or am I just rationalizing…
The drift to Vegetarian
With the exception of fish (mostly in the form of sashimi or sushi) I have drifted in to the vegetarian diet. I have not had poultry now in several weeks. I make the critical point here: vegetarian, not vegan. I have dairy and I will have eggs as an ingredient. I just have drifted to vegetarian as I have concentrated on improving my health and I have to say that I feel so good now.
I don’t know if the way I feel is because of the diet change or not. I eat mostly vegetables and fruits, some grains, some fish… I just know that I do feel good and the BP is excellent, the heart rate is very good, the cardio-fitness is very good. Exercise and the weight loss certainly must account for most of this but the I have to believe that the change in what, not just how much, has a significant part in the improvement as well.
The thing I had not known about was the cluelessness of some people when I ask for vegetarian options on the menu. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told “we have chicken”, or I have had to explain to the them that pork is meat…
In any case, the drift continues and is actually picking up speed.
Lunch yesterday was an orange and Tabbouleh salad… This is not atypical. A year ago it would have been….
Then dinner was a sauté of Swiss chard, bok-choy, onions and peppers with ginger with brown rice. Acorn squash and beets on the side.
Notice anything missing? Yeah, the fish, poultry or red meat. I don’t miss it at all.
I have worked on organizing my thoughts with the anniversary of the start of my Journey upon me.
So many things to reflect upon, comment on, ponder some more.
I may as well start with a tale of the tape:
December 27, 2011:
Weight: 305.6 pounds
Waist: 46/48 inches
Jacket Size: 56
Neck: 18 inches
Shoe Size 11.5 EE
Blood Pressure (medicinally regulated): 125/85
At rest Heart Rate: 85 Beats Per Minute
Body Mass Index: 39.8 (morbidly obese is 40.0)
December 27, 2012
Weight: 201.2 pounds
Waist: 34 inches
Jacket Size: 44
Neck: 15 inches
Shoe Size 11.5 D
Blood Pressure (medicinally regulated): 116/65
At rest Heart Rate: 65 Beats Per Minute
Body Mass Index: 26.2
Those number don’t even begin to tell the story.
I knew from the first that I had to do much more than go on a diet to lose the weight. It is rare that one gets to more than 100 pounds overweight without having dieted a time or two (or three or four…). I knew from the first that for this to have a lasting result I would have to learn why I overate, why food was so central to my personality, why being overweight had become central to my identity.
Long before I started calling this “My Journey” I understood that I was embarking on a course of discovery. I also understood that I would likely not like what I would discover about myself.
How it all Began.
I tended towards HUSKY as a boy. That is what they called a boy who was a little wider than average back in the day. I wasn’t fat but I was big. Pictures of me from my childhood show a solidly built kid but no belly, no pudgy face. I was bigger in build than my two brothers, both of whom tended to thin. They were both more athletically gifted and inclined than I was. I was built more along the lines of the men on my Father’s side of the family. The oldest brother took after my maternal Grandmother’s side. The other brother took after the maternal Grandfather’s side.
By my High School years I was actually thin. From 15 years old until 18 I was best described as skinny. Nearing my full adult height of six-foot, two-inches, I weighed between 160 and 175 most of the 4 years in high school and due to my very high activity level I was able to eat like any three people you might know.
The weight gain began towards the end of my senior year of High School though I can’t say why. I was working as a waiter in the Catskill mountains on weekends and that may have been a part of it. Access to food nearly 24-hours a day… Not much to do during down time but eat. I was 210 pounds and 36 waist when I had my pre-college physical in July of 1979.
I lost weight briefly at the end of that summer due to illness but I made up for it at the all you could eat breakfast and dinner service on campus and the nearly lethal “Roger-Burger” at the school snack bar. Three burgers, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato served on a sub-sandwich roll.
From college on my weight would not drop below 200 pounds again for 33 years. I would see my weight rise and fall between 225 and 250 for a number of years and then begin the nearly uninterrupted climb to 300.
The how is really very simple. I ate much. I moved little.
The why is much more complicated.
The Failed Efforts
I was about 310 pounds in 2003 or 2004 when I was told by my doctor that I was pre-diabetic and that if I wanted to avoid diabetes and stay off the medications I would have to lose weight and change my diet. He gave me a copy of “The Diabetic Diet” and I followed it religiously. I lost 60 pounds. It was almost effortless. At 250 I looked better, felt better, and the pre-diabetic condition had gone away, all my numbers were good. In less than a year all the weight was back and then some. I passed 300 pounds again less than a year later.
In 2009 I again went on “The Diabetic Diet” and I added cycling back to my life. I lost 50 plus pounds, did the 42 mile Five-Boro Bike Tour in 2010 (Meeting NI in the process) and did a couple of other rides. A muscle tear in my right calf was all the excuse I needed to stop exercising and start eating wrong again and the weight climbed back over 310 pounds by the summer of 2011.
I had lost, gained, lost and gained 100 plus pounds over the course of a few years.
I thought I knew how to lose the weight. I had no clue how to keep it off. I was right only on the later. I was wrong about knowing how to lose it.
The Moment of Painful Recognition
Our emotions lie to our brains.
We don’t see our physical self the way others do. I never really understood the jokes about my size. I didn’t think I was really all that big. My body language, trained over years of acting, lied to others and to myself. My face hid the pain of the comments behind crinkle-eyed smiles and jovial laughter. Mostly I was hurt because I didn’t understand why the jokes were being made. I knew I was big. I didn’t think I was THAT big, the kind of big jokes are made about.
I didn’t fit in diner booths. I blamed the diner for having small booths. I was a tight fit in airplane seats. I blamed the airlines for being cheap.
I simply didn’t see myself with the clarity that other did.
I didn’t really see myself at all.
That all changed on December 24, 2011.
I saw my reflection and, before my mind could switch to denial mode, I recognized myself as the man a split-second before I had seen in my mind as HUGELY FAT. The denial phase had been trumped, bypassed, circumvented.
I was forced to admit that I was not merely big. I was fat. Hugely fat. Obese.
It was a stunning revelation to a stubbornly in denial man. I couldn’t hide from it. I couldn’t deny it. I couldn’t blame it on the camera, the shape of the window, the angle of the sun, the amount I had to drink.
I spent the rest of the night in a funk, avoiding looking at the window again, eating all night long, trying to figure out how I got so fat.
I am slow on the up-take…..
The Start of the Journey
So that was the start. Right there in that moment of shocking recognition. Three Spirits dragging me around Dickensian London could not have had as great an effect on me.
I decided to begin the weight loss right after the New Year. Not a “resolution” but resolved to eat right, exercise more.
I planned our usual New Years Eve with our friend MR and didn’t want to give up the special treats and dinner I prepare. So not a New Year’s Resolution at all. Just a practical delay to the start….
I cannot tell you why. I really do not know. I have thought about it and thought about it but I do not have an answer. I just don’t know. Even after a year of wondering, pondering, questioning, I cannot tell you what happened the morning of December 27. I can only tell you that as I sat on the edge of the bed, having just taken my blood pressure medications, I turned to Missus and I told her I was starting the weight loss effort that day and she mumbled OK.
I had a light breakfast, a light lunch, a moderate dinner and a light snack and I was on my way. The Journey had begun.
Creating the Plan
I understood two things when I started that day. One: I had to eat less. Two: I had to move more.
Beyond that, I had no clue what I was doing. I thought I understood how to lose weight. I had done it so many times before… I knew I had no idea how to keep it off because I had never done that before. I also had never followed a diet for as much as a year or lost more than 60 or so pounds.
I started by loosely following “The Diabetic Diet” given me so many years before by my doctor. It was a way to start but I knew that I could not follow it forever and I knew that I would drift away from it as I had the times before.
I searched on-line for ideas and came across so many contradictory concepts that I was frustrated to the point I decided I would have to go with my own plan, follow my own instincts and learn as I went along.
The first thing I did was recreate the spreadsheet I had made several years earlier for tracking my weight.
The second thing I did was toss out the idea that you should not weigh yourself every day. I weigh myself every day. I even travel with a scale so I can weigh myself when I am out on the road.
Next I found a website for recording my food and calculating my calories.
On January 5 I started this blog as a means of keeping my focus on the weight loss and perhaps get a little support if anyone ever decided to read it. I have to say that this part of the blog has worked our far better than I ever dreamed, the support of the readers has been wonderful, inspiring, affirming and energizing.
By the end of January 2012 I had the plan pretty well-formed. I was walking almost every day, eating a good yet light breakfast, a small lunch and a healthy and filling dinner. I had started to call this “the Journey” and was coming to understand that I needed to get a grasp on why I overate and what part of my life food occupied if I was going to be able to continue to lose the weight and then keep it off.
That part of the Journey would be the hardest and would reshape me much more than the weight loss.
Lessons Along the Way
It took me 50+ years but I finally began to understand that there was more to my overeating than bad habits and a love of food.
There are emotional issue at play and I had to understand them beyond the “mom will love me more if I eat” scenarios. Certainly that was a part of it, still is, but there had to be more even if the reasons spring from the same emotional roots.
I understood early on that this was not going to work if I didn’t define, confront and conquer those issues.
I am introspective by nature. I have spent a life time exploring my emotions and putting them to paper as blank verse. I have also spent a life time dealing with a certain emotional volatility that makes any trip in to my psyche an adventure. While I have explored much of my mind,I never went down the paths that would help me understand the food thing.
Here is what I learned:
My mother expressed her love for people by cooking for them. Expressing love to my mother was as easy as eating what she served.
I express my love for people in the same way. I cook for them. When I want someone to know they are my friend, I invite them to a meal at my home. Acceptance of that invitation is acceptance of my friendship.
I am comforted by food: the consuming and the preparing.
When I have a home full of dinner guests I am really just channeling Sally Field. Inside I am saying “You Like me, You really like me”.
A great deal of who I self-identified as was wrapped up in being the big (fat) guy who loves to feed everyone.
This is a recipe for getting very fat….
And I did.
I also learned that I channel my anger in to my focus on food, mostly cooking oddly enough. One would think that anger would be expressed as hunger but instead I am motivated to cook. Then eat.
I also learned that all the above became a social crutch. Insecure in the value of my friendship to others, I found my niche as the one who cooked or the one who suggested evenings out with the friends. Hiding behind the proverbial stove as well as the real one. As long as I was feeding people, the (il)logic went, I was a part of the crowd. A declined invitation was a crushing blow to my emotions.
I wrote several times about this particular dynamic. It is something I am still working through but at least I understand it a bit better now.
At social events, be they business lunches or dinners or parties at a friend’s, I could hide behind the plate of food. With food in hand and mouth I didn’t risk talking to much (a known trait of mine) or saying something that might sound ignorant to those more intelligent than me (most if not all of my friends). Again, food as a mask for unfounded insecurities.
Getting the body and mind moving
As soon as I started this Journey of mine I started working out. First it was walks at the high school track. I would drive the half mile so I could walk a mile…. I remember coming home from that first mile. I was exhausted. I was also embarrassed. When I walked two miles for the first time I thought it was a cause for celebration. I also started walking up the bleachers. I called them Bleacher-sets: 18 steps up, 18 down equaled one set. The first time I did it I did five and spent a full 10 minutes on the bottom step thinking I was having a heart attack.
I walked nearly every day and then I set out a course in the factory where I worked and started doing laps during lunch break at work. First a mile and then soon I was up to 4 miles, then 5. At the High School I was doing a mile and then ten bleacher-sets. Then another mile and another 10… Soon it was 5 miles and 50 bleacher-sets. Only the coldest weather or rain would keep me from my walks.
This is when the good things really began to happen.
I wasn’t exhausted going up stairs anymore.
I wasn’t too tired to walk the dogs, or goof around with my sons.
I wasn’t too tired to hike with friends.
I found it easier to address the demons. I found my energy level and my attitude improved. The more energy and positive attitude I had the easier it was for me to confront the issues.
My first little victory was that first 5 pounds.
Then came the bigger victories, the signs that I was moving forward.
The ten-mile bike ride in early March on my birthday. I was gasping for air when I was done but I had done it. The first five-mile walk and the first time I did 50 bleacher-sets.
The Ride in June to raise money for Autism research. 50+ miles (plus a few extra when I missed a turn).
Finding a way to keep it going after the knee injury, not losing focus, not giving up.
Climbing the nearly vertical section of the Hike in Harriman and not being winded, tired, worn down… The tears in my eyes were not from the wind.
Passing the original goal of 210 pounds
Passing the 100 pounds lost marker…
Reaching the one-year anniversary still on the Journey
Where am I now?
I am now hitting my stride. I may stumble a little but I am able to recognize it and take the steps needed to right myself.
I am dedicated to fitness. I walk and hike and make sure I stay active.
I am still planning, still focused on the goal, still traveling this Journey of discovery. I am discovering new bits about me daily.
I am most proud of the fitness. Losing the weight was one thing, getting myself fit was quite another. One required eating less. The other required hard physical work and a dedication to it that I expected to lack.
I am more comfortable in my skin but I still have fights to wage and to win. The mind still wants to lie to me and I still have to fight the lies.
The best way I can think to say this is I am right where I should be.
Some years ago I developed a saying:
Where you are is where you belong.
Everything that has passed in your life has brought you to this place at this time.
It is where you are going that you can change
It took me a very long time to listen to my own words.
Friends along the way
Encouragement from my friends, some of whom I have grown closer to because of this Journey, and some I know only through this blog or theirs, and some whom I have met on the Journey, has been of incalculable value.
I have been very out there and open about this trip I am on. I talk about emotions and fears and insecurities. In written words and in conversation I have opened up long closed doors and allowed anyone who knows about the blog to read about the bumps and brick walls, detours and blind alleys of my Journey.
Without the advice, the ideas, the pats on the back and the hand up I might well have come to a stop or retreated back to the beginning.
If you have ever posted on my blog with a word of advice, commiseration, or a firm GET OVER IT, I thank you deeply.
To the friends in my life who have offered me ever more challenging hikes, a boot in the butt to set my sights higher, put the hand on my back and help push me up a hill on a bike ride, waited patiently a the top of the hill as I slogged my way up or shooed the snake off the trail, or carefully calculated the calories of the homemade snack you brought along, I thank you.
I keep going. I keep the focus, I keep the plan and the goal and the Journey going.
I have so much more to learn, to do, to plan and to dream. Many more mountains to climb, rides to make, miles to put under running shoe, mountain boot, bike tire…
I have much to learn about how to maintain the weight, improve the fitness, build lean muscle.
I have much still to learn about me. I am still peeling away the layers. Still so much I need to understand about the things that move me along in life.
I will continue to write. The blog will continue as long as I think I have something to say and there are people stopping by. Even if I am the only one that reads it I think I will continue to post in my blog.
It is impossible for me to quantify how much the blog has helped me. The place to open up about all I was experiencing. The encouragement. Knowing there were people reading it from as close as down the road and as far away as Australia and that they cared how I was doing on this Journey has been a tremendous inspiration for me.
And to Wrap This Up….
I know this posting is long and I know it travels over roads long ago explored.
I wanted to see the Journey over my shoulder, to look back with the perspective of a person that has come a long distance. How would the road traveled look to me after the fact? I hope you don’t mind terribly.
I see the victories more than the defeats. I see more of the good days than the bad. I remember the days of success and the feelings of exultation more than the difficult days and the feelings of despair.
Mostly I look back and see the work paying off more than I can see the work itself.
That is both the blessing and the curse of this. I must learn to enjoy the victories but I can never let myself forget just how hard I fought to win them.
Peace and Love.