Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Losing Weight (and Finding it Again)

I was a skinny kid up until around age 12. Then my love of lounging around reading comic books and eating Pringles caught up with me, and I put on quite a bit of weight. I was never huge, but I was in poor condition and was carrying around quite a few extra pounds. It affected my confidence, self-esteem, relationships and my health.

When I was around 20, I decided to fix the problem. I became a real fitness addict for a while - push-ups, sit-ups, jogging, and weight training were all parts of my regular regimen, and I did my best to lay off much of the junk food. It worked pretty well, too - I got into seriously good shape there for a couple of years. There was a big problem, though - while I was able to force myself to exercise, I was never able to force myself to like it. I never did, never have and still don't really like it. Given a choice, I'll do pretty much anything else.

As my life got busier, I found less and less time to work out, and more and more excuses not to, and my weight not only went back up, it far surpassed and previous peaks I'd ever hit. I became extremely sedentary to the point where running even short distances totally winded me, and I developed type 2 diabetes. My only saving grace was that I hit a weight plateau and pretty much stayed there for the last ten years. My body's natural equilibrium seemed to be around 225, and I didn't budge from that number too much one way or the other. It's fortunate, really - I'm sure if my body hadn't decided to stop there, I'd have just kept on going up and up and who knows where it would have stopped. But it stopped around 225.

Lately, I've started to feel as if I might like to bring that number down - a notion that I haven't seriously wrestled with in many years. I'd pretty much come to accept that 225 was my body's optimal weight, since it seemed to maintain itself there no matter what I did. Certainly it's been easy to stay there. I did ask my doctor a few years back if there were any medications that could help, and he put me on Meridia. My experience was lackluster. I would immediately drop 5-7 pounds of what I assume was water-weight, and then I'd bottom out. Sort of like now, actually, but we'll get to that in a sec. Anyway, I used it for a couple of months, but I really didn't see any effect. It wasn't covered by my insurance, so it became too expensive to stay on and since it didn't seem to be working anyway, I got off it. Then I pretty much went back to being indifferent about my weight for another couple of years.

My incentive this time really comes from the fact that about ten pounds of my weight seems to have abandoned me. I'm not entirely sure where it went, but it's gone and it seems to be staying gone. I have to figure that it's the result of one or both of two factors: I've been working out vigorously 2-3 times a week at karate since March, and I've been skipping dinner 2-3 times a week since August.

The karate thing is a no-brainer. I work out for 35-40 minutes per session, with probably 10 minutes or so if breaks, stretching and other low-energy activities added on. That's burning several hundred calories that I wouldn't otherwise have burned, and that's GOT to help.

The dinner thing sort of happened by accident. I don't really like to eat too close to karate, as the vigorous exercise can give me an upset stomach and, if it's really strenuous, leave me feeling as if I might be sick. So I would wait to eat dinner until after karate, usually around 7 or 7:30 PM. This is really late for me to eat dinner - I'm a 5:30 dinner-eater, give or take half an hour. But even more than that, I'd often get home from karate and discover that I really just wasn't hungry. I'd worked out hard enough that I had little or no appetite and I was too tired to feel like preparing anything elaborate. I'd often satisfy myself with a yogurt or a fruit cup and be done with it.

Those things, individually or combined, had an effect, as I've lost 7-10 pounds since my last doctor's appointment back in March or so. That's awesome news, and I admit that it's motivated me to try to lose more. In addition to skipping dinner on Tuesday and Thursday, my usual karate evenings, I've also started skipping dinner at Denny's on Mondays when I meet with my writer's group. I didn't like spending $5 a week anyway and usually just got an order of french fries, but that's obviously a pretty crappy dinner and I'm better off not having anything. So now that's what I eat on Monday nights - nothing.

Now, logic and science are pretty clear that if I eat fewer calories and burn more calories, I'll lose weight. I mean, this guy lost 27 pounds just eating twinkies and other junk food for three months.That's just how it works. Except when it doesn't. It's been almost two months since I lost those first ten pounds, and as far as I can tell I haven't lost another ounce since. That's frustrating and the lack of obvious results is a big demotivator for me. I'm going to try to stick with it - I'd sure love to lose about another 20 pounds. Or thirty pounds. Or forty pounds. Honestly, I think my so-called optimum weight has me down around 165 or 170, but I'm pretty sure I'd look like a twig if I were anywhere below 175. But, let's face it, I'm nowhere near having to worry about that, now am I? I'm still in the vicinity of 218, which means I'd need to drop another 48 pounds to get down into that territory. I don't see any indication that that's going to happen soon. Or ever.

So that's where I am now - I've made some inadvertent progress, but once I decided to apply myself more deliberately, the results ground to a halt. I'm no more inclined to vigorous exercise for the sake of exercise than I ever was, but if I were to see an ongoing trend I might be. I'm just not sure how to make that happen.

Yeah, this is a pretty crummy blog today, I know. Sorry. It's the only thing I could think of. The last couple of weeks have been pretty decent, though, right? That ought to count for something.

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