Happy new year, everybody. I know a lot of you must have a flurry of self-improving ideas dancing around in your head. It's that time of year, after all. Watch less TV. Learn to juggle. Commit fewer murders. It's our nature to yearn for a clean start around this time of year.
I had that yearning sometime around this past September. For the twenty-or-so years before this past September, life was one big happy plate of nachos. I ate what I wanted and drizzled it in whatever I wanted. There was no such thing as weight, calories, or exercise. Sometimes I would jokingly describe myself as anti-athletic, but I certainly didn't think I was fat. In my brain, I was still just the six foot, hundred eighty pound average male I had been since sophomore year of high school.
Then this past September, I stepped on the scale. I was 235 pounds . I felt fat, and now I had the numbers to prove it. Suddenly, pictures started to jump out at me. The first I remember was when I proposed to Marissa.
Figure 1: Marissa sharing sparkling grape juice with a well-dressed manatee.
Here is another photo that terrified me. This was right before we left for our stay-at-home honeymoon.
Figure 2: Marissa and her beautiful sister's posing with a grizzly bear. I thought they were supposed to be hibernating…
All of this was a big shock to me. I had never thought about my weight before. I had no idea what I was doing wrong, and I didn't know where to start.
In sort of a desperate cry for help, I bought a pair of gym shoes and attempted to run outside. It was hailing, I was wearing black dress socks, and I was running along side of the road. There was ice, and I fell down about three times, but I pressed on valiantly as if somehow my penitence would make me lose all the weight in one painful jog through freezing rain. I puked when I got home.
Lucky for me, my wife put a stop to this madness. It was as if all of the sudden I remembered that she had a degree in health science. She got me back in the gym running a mile at a time at a challenging 6 mph. On top of that, I started managing my portions with LoseIt , a weight loss app I found.
The first ten pounds were exciting. They seemed to just kind of melt off. But the ten after that took a lot of patience. It took a lot of time for me to understand how much your body weight can fluctuate. Your weight will not always make sense from a day-to-day perspective.
Once I hit 210, things turned great. It was almost like my previously sedated and dying body awoke and said something like Oh yeah - I'm only twenty-four years old . Things happened really quickly after that.
So it's January 3rd, 2015. I currently weight 188 lbs. It's not the most dramatic transformation out there, but I'm putting it out there in hopes it will motivate you. All in all, here is what I've learned over the past few months.
1. Eating healthy is not the same as eating less
Setting out to lose weight does not mean fasting from sugar and switching to an all kale diet. Most of the time, it's just a matter of eating less. I still occasionally eat fast food, except I order much less than I did before. Those are probably things I should stop eating all together, but I think the real enemies are foods with ambiguous portions . Stuff like a big bread bowl of Panera soup or a meal from Boston Market.
2. Know as much as you can
Calories are wonderful. They are a direct measurement of how much energy is needed to burn off the food. Weather your are concerned with a single stick of butter or a suitcase full of carrots, this number will stand. This system is designed to make eating decisions easier.
A can of coke is 140 calories. A PB&J is about 350. A cinnamon crunch bagel is 450 calories. Now, would you rather have a PB&J AND a beer, or one cinnamon crunch bagel?
The moral of the story is that everything from Panera bread is awful, and you should just go home and drink a beer instead.
3. Working out is hard
This was a hard lesson I had to learn. Looking from the outside in, exercise seems awesome. Anyone who would identify themselves as a runner has plenty to say about the magical feeling of the runner's high and gym camaraderie . I have been running for about five months now, and I still hate every minute of it. I'm getting better, and I can run for about 4 miles straight, but every minute is still just excruciating. If I was in it for the high , I would be seriously disappointed.
But I still run because I still have a debt to pay. I spent too many days consuming more energy than I needed. Every second feels like hell, but it's something sinners like me must do to win back a normal body again. I deal with the pain by turning up the rap music really loudly and thinking about the 2 oz. of ice cream I can eat when I get home.
I still have eight more pounds to go before I can stop scanning the bar code of every Twix bar I eat, I'm not worried about it. There's really no secret to losing weight. Just figure out how much food you can eat every day, and go running when you eat too much.
Here's to a much thinner 2015, readers. All this talk about weight loss is making me want some pizza. See you at the gym, everybody.
Figure 3: Obligatory "After" picture