Sunday, February 16, 2014

Two years later

So, an anniversary of sorts today. Two years ago today I went to the gym for the "first" time. I put the quotes in there because I have been to the gym before in Iqaluit, but it never stuck. Three (months) and out is how it usually went.

But it stuck this time. I'm sure I've written at length and tediousness about my decisions to lose weight and get in better shape, so I won't subject everyone to it again. But it was two years ago that I walked through the doors of the gym and resolved to do the following:

1. Lose 80 pounds.
2. Keep going to the gym at least four times a week.
3. Eat healthier, eat less.

So, how'd I do?

1. Never really came close to losing 80 pounds. At my best I lost 67.2 pounds and I manage to do that in about 10 months. That meant I dropped from 250 pounds down to 182.8. Which is pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. But most of 2013 was spent holding around 185 and not getting any lower. Then, as much as out of boredom and frustration as anything else, we had a bad few months in the fall, so I bounced up a bit more. I'm currently hovering around 192 pounds. I'm trying to get back down to around 185, which I think is a good weight for me. I am desperately trying to never go above 200 pounds again.

People will tell you that weight doesn't really matter, it's taking care of yourself - exercise and diet - are the important things. And they're right. Trying to get to 170 pounds was a pure arbitrary number that I drew out of a memory of standing on the scales at my (then) girlfriend's house. It's the last time I remember standing on a scale from my time at MUN. So figured that was a good number to shoot for.

Cathy thought it was unrealistic. Cathy, as is the case in most things, was right. I've actually been under 170 pounds twice in my adult life, but as both of those occasions involved me being stupid (soccer injury that earned me 15 stitches in my mouth, unable to figure out food in Korea) I thought it would be best not to aim for those goals.

And really, it was pure bullheaded stubbornness that got that much weight off. I didn't follow a diet plan, I didn't start Weight Watchers, I didn't go in with a tailored exercise regime. Just pure force of will, a little luck, and a lot of stubbornness. What worked for me probably wouldn't work for others. But I'm glad I got away with it.

2. When I went to the gym today, I checked. It said that in the past two years I've been to the gym 368 times. I think that's lowballing slightly and it wouldn't surprise me if there were times they forgot to sign me in. Divide that by 104 weeks and you get a total of 3.54 times a week of going to the gym. And again, there have been many weeks where I simply wasn't in the territory to go to the gym or I was sick (although that seems to happen less these days, which is nice).

So I'm ok with that number. And I go for at least an hour each time. 30 minutes on the elliptical (I can't do the treadmill. It kills my left knee) and 30 minutes or so of lifting weights. The intensity level is also much better. I used to do 15 minutes at level 8 on a wussy elliptical and it would kill me. I could do about 10 sets of lifting 80 pounds and that was it.

Now I can do 30 minutes on Level 20 of the elliptical and burn over 600 calories (hit my personal best of 602 calories today, which made me happy). I can now also do three sets of 10 on the weights at 170 pounds, which also makes me happy. And that's on a few of the things I do there. But you've got to keep pushing these things...

3. I eat better, but still not as good as I could. Cathy and I simply aren't great cooks. I think we could both eat fantastic if someone else would just cook for us. We're both adequate cooks, but the fact that we both try to beat the other to the punch at lunch time by asking the other what they want for supper (the first person asked has to pick. Much swearing normally results).

We're better than what we once were, when we would routinely be eating pizza, nachos and macaroni and cheese (all in one week, mind...), and hell, I eat yogurt and fruit for breakfast, which is nothing short of astonishing. But yeah, I can do better.

But man, there's only so much will power to get you through a day. I really believe that. And I spend so much of it just making sure I keep going to the gym, and keep moving (really need to do that FitBit review one of these days), that the food does suffer a bit.

Still, one of the most important changes is accepting that this is going to be the rest of my life doing this. This is never going to be "well, I did this for two years so I can stop now." Noooooo. My little lapse this past fall shows how quick the weight will fly back on if my diligence slips.

So anyway, I'm pretty happy with my results, two years later. Certainly better than being 250 pounds and on my way to my first heart attack. And given my family history, that's exactly what I was on my way towards.

Last Five
1. Dark angel (live) - Blue Rodeo*
2. The vanishing breed - Robbie Robertson
3. One flight down - Norah Jones
4. My heart is broken - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
5. Come as you are - Nirvana

1 comment:

John, Canberra AU said...

Going from 250 to 180? Wow, that is an excellent result, though "result" is not quite the right word. "Effect" would be better.

"People will tell you that weight doesn't really matter, it's taking care of yourself - exercise and diet - are the important things. And they're right." Of course they're right. I looked at your 1-2-3 and thought, "It's 2 and 3 that cause 1". You are how you live, and you're living better, so you are better. Your new weight is the result of your exercise and diet discipline.

20 cal/min on the elliptical is a great accomplishment. I also prefer ellipticals due to joint issues. However...

"But you've got to keep pushing these things". No, you don't. You've reached a great exercise equilibrium, probably close to your potential. Don't be too tempted to go much harder in the gym. That way lies injury and discouragement.

My only advice for now is to help your diet. It may be hard given Iqaluit's supply issues, "shopping" only a few times a year, but preparing meals in advance is a great way to prevent cheating. I usually spend an hour or so each Sunday getting my meals for the week ready.

Perhaps more important, give yourself one reward/cheat day a week (Saturday for me). It's a great incentive to stick to the diet and prepared meals knowing that, if I last through the week, I can have as much pizza, etc, as I want on Saturday. And I actually eat less on Saturday now than when I started, long ago.

So well done, Mr and Mrs Bastard. Stay with it.