Thursday, October 14, 2010

Welcome to the new 'me'

There is an old gospel song that has a line or two in it like this:

"When I look back down the road, where I laid my heavy load, and I'm thankful for the victories I've won. Sometimes I get a thrill, when I look back down the hill, and I see just where the Lord has brought me from."

That may or may not be exactly right, but it is as close as my memory will get me.

This is the tenth week of my changed lifestyle. Some folks like to use the word 'diet' to describe what I am doing. I prefer to think of it as a lifestyle change. When we think of diets, we think of something that is temporary. Of course, that is just what the problem is; most diets are temporary. A person notices they are 10, 20, 50, 100 pounds overweight and they begin a diet to correct it. Once they lose the goal weight, they go off the diet. It has done what it was supposed to do. Then they go back to the lifestyle they had before. That's the problem. Their excess weight was a product of the lifestyle they had before and they have just returned to it. In time, they will gain back the lost weight (and generally more) because they haven't changed their eating habits permanently.

My primary goal and focus of my attention right now is to lose 130 pounds in a year. My goal year began August 8, 2010. I weighed 350 pounds on that day and that was not even the heaviest I have been. It was just what I weighed on that date.

My primary goal is to get my weight back down to 220 pounds.

Here is what I am doing to accomplish this:
• I changed my eating.
• I changed my inactive life.

Allow me to elaborate about the changes.
I changed my eating. This has been a radical change in some ways. Let me first say, I always had healthy eating in my food consumption.
• I didn’t eat a lot of fried foods.
• I didn’t eat a lot of sweets.
• I ate a goodly amount of vegetables.

My problem wasn’t as much what I ate as how much I ate. Even eating healthy foods can be a problem when you eat too much of them. Without actually counting them, my wife estimates I was taking in between 3000 and 3500 calories a day. Those were the calories she saw. There were some days she didn’t see all the things I would eat.

I can tell you this, not as an excuse that I suffer from hypothyroidism. My thyroid tells my brain that I am starving most of the time. I was generally and genuinely hungry most of the time. I am on medication to control it, but the medication cannot control the habits acquired before the problem was diagnosed.

My usual consumption (if eating out fast food) included:
• Wendy’s – 2 singles with cheese and a biggie fry
• McDonalds – a quarter pounder with cheese, a big mac, and large fries
• Taco Bell – 2 beefy 5 layer burritos and a chicken soft ranchero taco
• Burger King – a triple whopper with cheese and a large onion ring

You should be able to see a problem already.

Then, when eating at home, I would have two bologna with cheese sandwiches for lunch and a full supper later, followed by late night snacking. I would sit at the computer and graze all evening. I would open a big bag of chips and eat my way through most of it unconsciously. I would say that 3000 to 3500 calories might have been an optimistic estimate.

Now, on to the non-existent exercise. There isn’t a lot to tell here, since exercise didn’t happen. I walked, when I deemed it absolutely necessary, with a cane. When shopping, I used the cart for support. There was little or no moving around during the day. I have been off work for a while, so there was no going to work and moving there. I worked construction before, but for the four years before becoming unemployed, I was teaching. This entailed moving from the desk to the chalkboard or from the desk in the classroom to the desk in the shop. Again, this was little or no exercise.

That was where I was, on the road, on August 8th, when I decided to change things. There was not a catastrophe in my life. There was not a cataclysmic event that triggered the change. I was visiting a relative in the hospital. He was near 500 pounds and was in the hospital due to an infected port. They had removed the port and were keeping him a few days to insure the infection was under control. He told the hospital that he was dieting so they put him on a low calorie diet plan. He had just finished dinner when I got there to visit. While I was there he had his wife order him a sub sandwich from a local sub shop. In that moment, I saw my future.

At that moment, my lifestyle changed.

I went home that evening, had supper, and didn’t eat anything afterwards. I told my wife that I was changing my eating starting the next day. The truth being told, I started right then. I didn’t snack that evening at all.

I am, in no wise, suggesting that anyone follow my example as far as how much or what they eat. You have to find the plan that works for you. You have to eat in a way that satisfies you or you will not continue. My daily caloric intake dropped from 3500+ to between 900 and 1100 a day. I wish I could tell you that it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it wasn’t. If it were the hardest thing I had ever done, then I might be able to hang on to my excuses. Compared to the health issues related to gaining and weighing 500 pounds, it was relatively simple.

I have: a slim-fast drink (190 calories) in the morning for protein; a salad (275 to 325 calories) or healthy sub (320 to 360 calories) for lunch; and a moderate supper (whatever I want for around 400 to 600 calories.)

I lose twelve pounds the first week.

Week two began the exercising portion of my life change. I walked around my block. To be fair, the cross streets included a steep incline. However, it was 1/3 of a mile and the first trip took me 20 minutes and almost killed me. I did it without my cane. By the end of the first week, I had logged in 2.96 miles in walking. I know it isn’t a lot to some, but to me, it was 2.96 miles more than I would have walked otherwise. Then, it began to grow.
• Week 2 – 3.29 miles
• Week 3 – 7.71 miles
• Week 4 – 13.33 miles
• Week 5 – 11.27 miles
• Week 6 – 11.04 miles
• Week 7 – 6 miles (had several days with interfering events that prevented walking)
• Week 8 – 7.33 miles (same as above)

Still, even with interfering events, I have walked almost 65 miles since I started walking for exercise. Nine weeks of eating differently, and 8 weeks of moving differently, and I have lost down to 302 pounds. That is an unprecedented 48 pounds. I am two days from this week’s weigh-in, but feel this week may get me down to at least 300, maybe even under it.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument that I do lose 130 pounds in the time I chose. What do I do then? Do I end my diet? Do I end my exercise (I have added some strength training now as well)?

I mean, the diet has done its job. It has accomplished its task. Isn’t it time to discard it?

That would be like throwing away all the work I did to get to my goal weight.

There would be some slight modifications, as my goal would no longer be to lose weight.

I don’t think I could ever go back to the ‘me’ I was before. My new eating plan is just my eating plan now. It isn’t new and it isn’t temporary. My walking plan isn’t new anymore and it isn’t temporary either. It is just part of me now. Eventually, I will run as my weight allows the pressure on my knees. That, when it comes, will just become part of me too.

Welcome to the new me.

Sometimes I get a thrill, when I look back down the hill, and I see just where the Lord has brought me from.


whitney blane said...

Really sorry for all with a diagnoses of hypothyroidism. But it's curable if you're mentally strong enough to deal with its complication. This is by far the most helpful resource I've foiund so far.

My sister has hypothyroidism and we are looking for as much information as we can find.

Patrice said...

Good for you! I too struggle with inactivity and grazing...keep up the good work, you are very inspiring! :o)