I have achieved my goal, I think. I am roughly 6250 kilometers east of my bathroom scale this morning, again in the UK, ironically. So, there is no way to be sure, but I am quite confident I made it. My last weigh-in on the morning of day 99 was 199.2, down one pound from 200.2 the day before following an evening of slight indiscretion while dining at a friend’s house. Such is life. Prior to that I had put together a string of 5 sub-200 days with the low point being 197.
The reward? Success is its own reward.
All of my clothes fit again. Now when I catch a glimpse of myself in mirror there is no fear, guilt, or shame. Make no mistake, this is not out of vanity. It is out of wanting to be healthy. The feeling that accompanies eating well and being active far outweighs (groan!) any benefit to change in outward appearance. That is just a bonus.
How did I do in following the steps I’d laid out and what have I learned?
Healthy eating goes a long way to feeling good all the time. I already knew that but checking oneself in the moment and taking a second to override the impulse to shove slightly more pizza in your mouth than is reasonably polite is extremely difficult. Of course, I haven’t eaten a lot of pizza in the past 100 days because I know how hard it is to override that urge. I’ve maybe had fractions of slices on the rare occasion when it has come into the house via other family members. But by and large I’ve steered clear of the stuff.
When you eat too much bad food (which, when you’re generally eating well is not that much, put another way, it doesn’t take a lot) you pay for it.
Case in point the popcorn I couldn’t refuse the other night. It was served with the straight-faced announcement, “This is a low calorie snack,” which, even though I got the joke, I wanted desperately to believe. Half of the nearly uniform popped kernels were dusted in a zesty, cheddar flavoured powder, the rest coated in a sweet caramel. The combination proved too much and my internal monologue of, “I’ll just have a taste,” was quickly drowned out by the much more gratifying, “OM-NOM-NOM-NOM-NOM!!!!” That, and a relatively (for me) small quantity of Miss Vickie’s Original potato chips as I barbequed one evening were my only unhealthy snacking deviations. Snacking can still be bad if it is healthy food so I tried hard to be careful with nuts and cheeses. I find vegetables either too bland to eat in mass quantity, or fill you up long before they become dangerous.
My main weakness is sweets. I still ate chocolates in moderation and only in the evening after a healthy meal. Walking past the candy dishes in cubicle land or not buying impulsive candy bars at the grocery store is still extremely difficult to do.
I have been intermittent fasting. It has been years since I’ve been a regular breakfast eater, although I do like a good breakfast. I just carried on with that. Some days, if I knew that my activity level would be low, I would skip lunch. This one is harder because you have to deal with that gnawing feeling in your gut. But if you’ve been eating good food (meats and veggies) and drink a ton of water with a few strategically placed coffees you can get by. Then, if you control yourself and eat healthy, you can eat less at your next meal and be quite satisfied. Key is to check yourself.
My wife and I had a talk about the changes I’ve been making and I reflected on my capacity for food as I’ve been eating less overall without becoming uncontrollably ravenous. This caused her to comment, “Yen rentre là-d’dans!” which translates to, “I can’t believe what a pig you are!”
Far and away, not drinking alcohol was the biggest enabler of success. This had a three-fold benefit:
- Direct caloric reduction – a six pack pushes 1000 calories. When your needs float between 2000 and 2500 and you’re drinking 2 beers a night or a couple of six packs on the weekend that’s an extra day of eating per week. 52 extra days per year.
- Indirect caloric reduction – snacking and drinking are common cronies. Whether it is a bowl of something salty-crunchy at home or a basket of deep-fried batter at the bar, you can add that to the calories you already don’t need from drinking and your surplus grows.
- Drive – nothing removes the motivation to get things done quicker than a couple of bottles of beer. I have a hard time motivating myself to begin with so mix in a little booze and it’s all over.
I drank water and coffee only. A lot of water. No shitty coffee until later in the 100 when I was using it strategically to stave off hunger. Lots of water is good.
I started out weightlifting and was making okay progress. I was doing the workouts, weights were going up (the ones on the bar, not mine) and I was feeling good. But I did start to have knee pain. I went to the doc and we did some x-rays and he sent me to physio. I was told in 2015 that I have early onset osteo-arthritis and now the x-ray shows some deterioration. After one particularly intense training session I was in agony for a week. I’m assured by my physiotherapist that staying active and properly stimulating the knee will promote the right strength and consequent reduction in pain. Taking weight off the body takes it off the knee and that’s reason enough for me to pursue weight loss.
It is still cold in Manitoba, snowing as recently as 2 days ago with sub-freezing overnight lows. I’ve managed to get back on the bike though and hopefully once back from this trip it will be more of a full-time endeavour.
I’ve neglected moving as much as I could so that is my area for improvement in the coming weeks.
I have managed to get up earlier! It isn’t nearly as hellish as I thought it would be. There is something magical about finishing your chores for the day to discover that the clock hasn’t struck 12 yet. I’ve felt lately that I don’t have enough time for everything I want to do but the problem wasn’t the time, it was me. I was spending it in bed.
I did have a forced period of phone-less-ness after forgetting my charger on a trip. I turned on power saving mode and kept the phone off most of the time. I would turn it on in the morning and the evening to check messages. If I had any other business on-line I would go to the computer to do it, just like in the halcyon days of the early 2000’s. There was a certain relief in knowing I didn’t have thing and I may try this out some more soon.
There absolutely was no phasing in, or starting tomorrow. I ran into this thing headlong and so far I haven’t looked back. I don’t plan on it either. I chose 100 days because it would be a tough streak to end. It would encompass enough life events to test my mettle (my birthday, my wife’s birthday, and a particularly stressful time at work). I chose it after thinking a long time and coming to the conclusion that there is no good time to start making changes, hence the best time is right now.
Also, I’ve decided that this is not the end, but the beginning.