Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finding a healthy weight

It’s common for the American male, particularly former athletes, to gain weight and “go to seed” when they hit 40.

At 47, I’m about a decade into my downhill deterioration. Actually, my real weight gain began when I was in my mid-30s, just after I stopped playing semi-pro baseball. My playing weight gradually began creeping upwards, first five pounds, then 10, and before I knew it, I was a good 25 pounds above my “fighting” weight.

One thing I’ve gotten pretty good at over the years is embracing some weird diet, which always produced rapid shedding pounds—kind of like instant dieting gratification. I’ve done time under the care of the good Dr. Atkins and other variations on the low-carb theme. I’d lose 25 and even 30 pounds over several months, only to see the scale creep upward again a year or 18 months later.

About a month ago, I climbed on the scale and saw my weight approaching my all time high for me and thought, “I’ve got to do something about this.” My clothes felt tight, and I could catch a look at myself in windows or mirrors and I didn’t think I looked that great. In fact, the last time I was interviewed on television for my job, I said to my wife when we watched the clip, “look at that fat load,” the fat load being me.

I decided to start by determining what my caloric intake should be just to maintain my weight, without gaining anymore poundage. I located a formula online. Afterwards, I determined what amount of calories I’d need to reduce that intake to begin losing weight. Losing weight isn’t rocket science, really. It’s simply burning more calories than you consume. In America, land of junk food, huge portions, and shoveling food into our faces while watching television, that’s often easier to recognize than it is to carry out.

During this period of inquiry three weeks ago, I happened upon a great website developed by FitDay™. Their free site lets me track my food intake, while keeping a journal, as well at tracking my fitness activities, and even my moods.

For me, coming to an awareness of just how much I was eating was the key. Even though I had been biking regularly since May, I was still consuming more calories most days than I was burning off. Once I recognized this important equation and began making adjustments, I’ve started taking weight off, to the tune of 15 pounds over the past three weeks.

While the number of pounds I’ve lost in a short period is more than most weight loss sites (including FitDay™) recommend, for me, I’m receiving a sufficient number of calories, even with the reduction I’ve factored into my daily allotment.

My goal is to get down about 20-25 pounds by the fall, and if my first three weeks are an indication, it will certainly be possible.

Given that my weight has see-sawed back and forth over the past decade, what feels different this time is that I’m not on some strange cheese, pepperoni, and egg diet, or eating foods to match the ebb and flow of the tides. I’m eating healthy foods, in moderation, with variety factored in, plus I’ve introduced regular periods of activities like biking and walking on the treadmill (on rainy days).

What feels remarkably different this time is that my energy level is high, as I’m biking at least four times per week, about an hour or more per ride. Additionally, I’m not hungry all the time.

Only time will tell if this new routine is sustainable. I’m encouraged three weeks in, however.

1 comment:

Fatso said...

You should get a lot of hits with this post today. You know how much Americans love READING about diets.

Good luck with improving your health