The Unbearable Lightness of Being… Light

My diet and weight loss efforts are paying off. I started off at 255 lbs and I am now somewhere below 209 lbs. My goal is to get back down to 180 pounds, which is where I was last time I went on a big diet and got myself back in good shape … almost 10 years ago.

Back then, I was also in the habit of shaving my head to show solidarity with those suffering from breast cancer. I managed to freak out a few people who saw my skinny, bald-headed frame and thought I had come down with some horrible wasting disease.

However, I wasn’t able to keep the pounds off due to depression and bad eating habits and lack of exercise. I’ve been stuck in the 240 pound to 250 pound range for several years. My former primary care physician retired three or four years ago and my current PCP has only ever seen me at my obese, 250-pound level. She’s a nice lady and I like her a lot …but she’s been almost a little too tactful: trying to manage my high blood pressure through one medication after another and saying very little about how maybe I should lose weight.

I am really, really, really looking forward to walking into her office in a few weeks or months and doing the normal pre-appointment weigh in and totally freaking out the nurses and then my PCP when they realize that I’ve lost 70-plus pounds since they last saw me.

Everyone should have a goal. That’s mine.

Weight Loss Update

Against all logic and reason, my weight loss plan is going well. From a high of 258 pounds in February, I’m down to 209.4 as of Saturday.

I know that people lie about their diets all the time, but my scale is WiFi/Internet-integrated and the numbers don’t lie. It’s knowing that the scale will rat me out digitally for all to see that helps keep me honest. (I’ve got my IFTTT account set up to automatically tweet/share my weigh-ins, syncs to Fitbit, Fitbit updates my weight, IFTTT tweets it. Isn’t technology wonderful?)

I’m pleased by my progress, but at the same time I feel awkward about what may come across like bragging — as though that nice even line of descent from 255 to 230 to 209 was easy.

It wasn’t.

Okay, some of the weight loss seemed to happen just by itself. I attribute that to stopping my carvedilol and losartan, both of which were prescribed to help with high blood pressure and neither of which was making any dent at all (I never could get my systolic blood pressure below 150 consistently while on those two drugs) and both of which have a known side effect of causing water retention. Since stopping, my blood pressure didn’t get worse, but I lost a lot of weight very quickly, dropping from 255 to the upper 230s almost overnight.

But the rest is the result of some seriously anal calorie counting using the MyFitnessPal app and doing a ton of walking. Case in point: I walked nine miles a day Monday through Thursday of last week and then close to eleven on Saturday. That kind of activity adds up. I’m walking to burn calories and I’m walking to build muscle. I eat a lot of high-protein/low-fat/low-sugar foods, too. So far, it all seems to be working.

But I’m borderline ‘hungry’ a lot of the time — the result of a body trained to expect food every time a little hunger surfaced, just like a cat who expects to be tossed cat treats on demand. Rest assured, I’m getting enough nutrition; being hungry doesn’t mean I’m on a starvation diet. Learning to ignore hunger, or at least to not give in to it, is the hardest part of dieting. Well, that and the “oh, what would one _____ hurt?” All the little lies we tell ourselves, you know?

I did all this once before, back in 2009-2010, and got down to 180 pounds. Then I put it all back on, and then some, in the intervening years. I blame depression and stress and a lot of lies-to-self. I hope this time I can keep it off. The only semi-guaranteed way to do anything about high blood pressure is to lose weight. Once I’m down at my target weight, we’ll see where my BP winds up — and then we can make a sensible decision regarding medication.

Diet progress, week 4

Four weeks in, I’m down 20+ pounds and my BMI just went below 30, which means I am back in the land of “overweight” and out of the land of “obese”.

So there’s that.

Weight loss update: Week 2

This is a follow-up to Weight loss update: Week 1

I did not lose any weight this week. However, I have decided that since I already eat a pretty reasonable diet — breakfast/lunch/dinner-wise, anyway, I’m going to focus on getting more physically active, and hope the weight loss comes along as a result of that.

This past week I walked from work to rehearsal of the Aurora Chamber Singers rather than driving, and walked back at the end to pick up my car. Round trip about a mile, but that’s something. And then today Jay and I walked 4.5 miles.

I really, really, really want to get back in the habit of doing a daily walk at lunch and to doing yoga classes after work. The reason I haven’t been is twofold: on Mondays and Tuesdays, when I could’ve gone to a class or something, I’ve been too lazy and tired after work to trudge the whole block to Sangha Studios on Pine Street in Burlington for yoga. And on Wednesdays and Thursdays I have rehearsal of musical groups I’m in. And on Friday, I guess I tend to want to leave that open for doing something with Jay. Of course, I could do yoga on the weekends.

“Concert season” will be wrapping up soon with concerts of the Aurora Chamber Singers on May 11 at the College Street Congregational Church in Burlington (information here) and Me2/ Orchestra at Lamoille Union High School in Hyde Park, VT on May 18. (information here). (There’s also a concert of Me2/ Orchestra in Montreal on May 11 but I can’t go because of the Aurora Chamber Singers concert the same night.) Once rehearsals wrap up for the summer, it’ll be a lot easier to get exercise in.

It’s also easier when Jay’s in town because he can guilt/harangue me into going to a yoga class after work or come by and drag me out on a walk. Burlington (where I work) has lovely walking trails, especially along the waterfront, and I work a block from the waterfront.

Then, too, I plan to start aikido lessons once the concerts are over. I’ve already got my gi (the white jacket and pants that you wear while out on the mat) and made connections at the local dojo on Pine Street (also a very short distance from my office).

So I do have plans. I just need to stop making excuses to myself and carry them out.


Diet Update: Week 2

This is a follow-up to Diet Update: Week 1.

On Sunday of last week, my weight stood at 243.8. I weighed myself after coming in from gardening this afternoon and my digital, WiFi-enabled scale dutifully registered my weight as 237.4. For what it’s worth, my weight two weeks ago was 252.2.

I know. That’s impossible. No one loses fifteen pounds (okay, 14.8 pounds) in two weeks unless they’re on the Bataan Death March.

There are factors that can skew the numbers — am I hydrated or not? Have I, er, been to the bathroom? I have to assume, given my results just now (again, 237.4, down 6.4 pounds from a week ago), that I am:

  • somewhat dehydrated
  • er, “empty”

At the end of the day, I do have a theory. I’m losing weight because:

  • I’m crash dieting, eating 1200-1600 calories a day of mostly vegetarian protein sources
  • I’m getting a bit more exercise (multi-mile walks twice in the last seven days)
  • I’m shedding the excess water that my blood pressure medications have caused me to retain.

I know water retention due to medication is no joke; last summer they tried me on a drug called Bystolic and I promptly put on about ten pounds. In one week. They took me back off it — the excess weight almost immediately went away.

So here’s my theory: something is causing my body to start shedding the excess water it’s been retaining ever since I went on those meds. Maybe it’s the longer hours of daylight. Maybe it’s the significant reduction of my food intake. Maybe it’s getting a bit more exercise — I’ve gone for walks twice this week (and I should have done more).

It’s a mystery.