Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lessons learned from losing weight

It has been nine weeks since I stepped on the scale on June 23 and decided I was going to begin taking steps towards ending being overweight.

Actually my 259 pounds on my 6'4" frame was obese on all manner of weight charts. While I'm still considered overweight according to a variety of weight charts, and my BMI of 27.87 on FitDay still classifies me as such, my weight this morning is 229 pounds, which is 30 pounds lighter than I was at the end of June. I've hit my weight goal three days ahead of schedule. Even better, I am in the best shape I've been in since 1993, when I was pitching for Coastal Athletics in the Twilight League, competing against college "kids" ten years younger. I'm starting to feel that athlete's "buzz" that comes from being in shape and having clothes fit properly.

Here are a few key things I've learned over the past nine weeks on my fitness/weight loss journey:

* Awareness of what I'm eating
* Losing weight requires limiting portion sizes
* The importance of regular, vigorous exercise
* A realization that this is a lifestyle shift, not a mere diet

It's interesting that whenever you make significant change (s) in your own life, these changes produce fallout, and will prompt naysaying from those around you that may not be in the same place that you are at the moment.

Yesterday, I was waiting for a meeting to begin and someone I've worked with over the past three years asked me if I've lost weight. When I told her that I had, she then began lamenting her own weight and went off on a rant about how "it's so easy for men to lose weight," and that it's so hard to eat right, etc. I mentioned that my wife had lost 20 pounds, and that seemed to quiet her a bit about weight loss and men (it was informative for me when this person mentioned that she had just been at a local eatery that has an all-you-can-eat buffet).

The reality of losing weight is that it is difficult. I love to eat and it would be easy for me to eat half a box of triscuits, or have a big plate of taco chips, piled high with cheese, sour cream, and salsa. There was a time when I might have two plates of nachos while watching a ball game. I regularly had second helpings at mealtime. Instead, I now am aware of how many calories those nachos contain, and I don't eat them anymore. I also limit myself to one serving of dishes at dinner. At the same time, I love cheese and I make sure I have a bit of cheese most days, as well as other treats. I've also discovered how wonderful apples, red peppers, and other fruits and vegetables are as lunch items, instead of a high-calorie sub from a local sandwich shop. In fact, I rarely eat out, choosing instead to pack my lunch each work day. I am also saving quite a bit of money foregoing these lunch purchases.

What I like about the routine I've adopted, as has Miss Mary, is that we are both eating healthy foods (and some not so healthy--I still have a penchant for pepperoni and other foods high in sodium), but practice moderation, not a trait that's in vogue any longer. This is a great time of year to be doing so because despite our rainy summer, many local farmers are selling their produce along Maine's roadways. During the past week, we've had fresh cucumers, zucchini, and corn (with butter, btw).

Another positive development from the past nine weeks is recognizing that targeting a healthier weight doesn't have to involve freaky diets, colon purges, or eating highly-processed, packaged food pitched by all manner of celebrities. It's empowering to recognize that it is possible to decide to do something, develop a plan, and through attention to that plan, achieve desired results.

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