Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jumping on the weightloss bandwagon

My associate Mattbear has inspired me to share my own weight loss/fitness status, so I'll start with some history:

A little over two years ago, I was at my highest weight - 230 lbs. (I'm 5'11", for reference) I started running a few times a week, doing aerobic kickboxing classes at the gym, and eating better, and dropped 19 lbs. over about 9 months. It was rather painful, but culminated in running a 5k marathon, and I was in much better shape overall. But then we moved, our instructor got pregnant and left for a while, and I was basically just slacking and eating whatever, and crept back up to 218 over the next year or so.

A few months ago I decided to get a handle on things again. I can't say I've make any drastic changes in my life, but it seems to be working, and I'm dropping a pound or two a week. Basically, this is what I'm doing:

Cutting down on food intake:
My eyes are always bigger than my stomach. In fact, it seems silly but I noticed that I have this tendency to get a little panicky if for some reason I think I won't get enough food at a meal. I'm not sure where that came from, but for instance, if I walk into the cafeteria at work, I would always look for something that looked big and filling, which usually ended up being full of meat, dairy, and grease (burgers, fries, lasagna, pizza, fish & chips). In the morning, I would always eat a big heaping bowl of cereal, or a big bowl of oatmeal plus a donut, but I basically always had this subconscious goal of being "full". So, my first change is to simply start eating less, and remove this emotional/stress component of my eating.

This is my standard diet now: A small (half-normal) bowl of raisin bran in the morning, plus coffee (soy milk, no sugar). A big vegetable-and-tofu salad at lunch (Intel has a great salad bar, so I'm spoiled here), with wine vinegar for dressing, water to drink. And pretty much whatever for dinner, although I try to make it non-dairy, and I try not to eat as much. If I'm feeling snacky, I can usually distract myself with some water or an apple, but I usually just try not to think about it.

Improving Food Quality:
Basically, I try to avoid dairy and sugar. I'm not a big salt fan normally, so that's not a huge issue. Honestly, if you can simply avoid cheese and processed sugar (corn syrup, etc.), your diet will become healthier exponentially by default. For instance, I used to eat a lot of ice cream. Ice cream is the food of the devil. It tastes great, but contains solely the worst things you could possibly eat - pure dairy, pure sugar, and tons of salt. I don't drink soda or juice anymore, mostly just water. I'm not a vegetarian, but I try to eat only "whole" non-processed meats (whole fish, steak, sliced ham, bacon). Stuff with dairy in it (bread, etc) is generally fine, but I avoid cheese and cream-based sauces/dressings. It's odd, but when I have eaten a lot of cheese lately (had a burrito for lunch one day), I can definitely feel the difference - I just feel heavier, and more congested somehow.

I can't say I'm always successful, I will sometimes eat a cookie in the afternoon, make some waffles, or eat pizza with the kids, but overall my diet "trend" has improved drastically.

I'm currently doing my one-hour aerobic kickboxing class every Monday, and jogging about two miles (40 minutes or so) a couple evenings a week. I would like to start doing some actual weight lifting to work on my upper body more, but haven't got there yet.


I weigh myself in the morning after I get out of the shower. I've noticed that my weight can fluctuate by a pound or sometimes two from day to day, probably due to water retention, which I'm guessing depends a lot on how much salt I ate the day before. In general it's at it's lowest the morning after my kickboxing class, and will pop up and down a bit during the rest of the week. I can definitely correlate my diet quality and amount of exercise to whether I lost any weight that week though.

So, my current status: two weeks ago I got down to 206, the lowest weight I can remember. I had this work conference and started slacking (eating out & conference food) and missed kickboxing one week, so my weight popped back up to 210, then settled back to 208. I went kickboxing this week and am back on my cereal/salad regimen, so as of this morning I'm back to 207.

My goal was to be under 200 before Burning Man, but I don't think I'm going to make that. I think I stand a good chance of being below 200 *after* Burning Man though, so I would be very happy with that. I'm going to get myself a present, or celebrate somehow when I break the 200 barrier, haven't decided what yet.

Long-term, I'd like to get down to 185. According to this Ideal Weight Calulator my ideal should be 182-200, so 185 seems about right. I'll hereby set a goal for that of the end of 2008. Will update weekly, wish me luck!