A Year of Not So Much

Mike on Nov 18th 2011

Yesterday I looked back over my last year of records regarding my weight loss. In the last eleven months I’ve lost essentially…nothing. Well, not really. It does seem that way because on the scale I have fluctuated up and down around 15 pounds between 245 and 260, seemingly making no progress. In reality I have definitely lost fat and gained muscle, because I look different and my clothes fit differently than they did a year ago, and I’ve made steady strength gains while lifting weights. How much fat have I actually lost though? 5 lbs? 25 lbs? I haven’t got a clue.

Regardless of exactly how much fat I’ve lost, I know it isn’t even remotely near what I lost the first nine months or so of my program. Something has definitely changed in the last 8-10 months. If I get really strict on a reduced-calorie diet I lose very little weight, at least relative to what I used to lose. I also find that as soon as I cut the calories I get tired much quicker during a workout and have a hard time making it to the end. After a few weeks of that I start getting stressed, start thinking about food all the time, and the tiredness progresses beyond just workouts and starts affecting me all the time. Before long I can’t continue like that and I give up on the diet, just to feel “normal” again. According to all the research I’ve done, however, this isn’t something significantly out-of-the-ordinary for someone in my position. For the better part of the last year and a half I’ve been following a pretty strict diet and have lost in the neighborhood of 100 lbs of fat. That takes its toll on the body and can have a variety of unintended consequences (i.e. lower metabolism, out-of-whack body chemistry, and the like).

So where do I go from here apart from just continuing my four days of training per week? Clearly low calories isn’t working for me any more…it is just causing me to yo-yo up and down like I used to. I keep setting goals and missing them because I can’t sustain the diet for more that a few weeks at a time, with very little weight loss even while I’m on it. What do I try now? What have I decided?

First of all, I’ve increased my cardio after each weight-training session. I work out with the trainer about 45 minutes and then do an additional 45-60 minutes of cardio. I typically burn from 900-1000 calories per workout. Secondly, I’m done with low calories. Done. Finished. It’s over. I can’t handle that any more. I’m tired of being tired and tired of the stress. For now I’m going to try modifying my diet to something close to what I’d do if I were finished with weight loss, except the calories will be slightly reduced. I’ll be eating the same sorts of food that I eat now (i.e. lean meats, good carbs, egg whites, and the like), but much more of it. I’ll still be counting calories but increase them to around 2800-3000/day. My hope is that I’ll be able to lose at least a half a pound per week, or possibly a bit more. Even if that means it takes me another year or more to lose the rest of the weight, that would be better than the last year, and without all the stress and tiredness. I’m also considering doing another body composition test at the Cooper Clinic to see exactly where I stand now—how does my lean body mass now compare to where it was over a year ago? While I’m at it, I’m thinking that it would probably be wise to get a blood workup as well, to make sure there isn’t something else going on that’s contributing to my problem.

In any case, I’m still at it, working out as hard as ever, and not giving up.

Filed in Goals,Motivation,Weight loss | 2 responses so far

Is Mike Still Losing It?

Mike on Sep 17th 2011

As my last post a couple of months ago said, I had a break from the diet over the summer and did gain some weight, but the training never stopped. Several weeks ago I got very strict on the diet again, eating between 1500-2000 calories per day but found the weight just wasn’t coming off. Because of past experience I wasn’t willing to cut my calories any further than that, so I’ve significantly upped my cardio to about an hour per training session. I weight train four days per week for about 45 minutes and then do the hour of cardio on the elliptical machine, making my total workout about two hours long. It would be a bit of an ordeal if not for my Kindle and new BlackBerry PlayBook. Those allow me to get an hour’s worth of reading done during the cardio.

According to my heart rate monitor I’m burning about 3000-4000 calories per week during my workouts, and since increasing the cardio I’ve been seeing a drop of about two pounds per week. That’s a little less than I’d like but I can live with it. If that rate continues I should see the end of the weight loss portion of my program right around two years after I began, in February.

Filed in Exercise,Heart Rate Monitor,Weight loss | 2 responses so far

Then and Now

Mike on Jul 11th 2011

It has been a couple of months since I’ve posted. Not because I’ve given up but simply because I haven’t had much to report. Training has continued like normal, but concurrently I took a significant break from the diet. As I said in my last post, I was feeling burned out and exhausted all the time, always thinking about food. A couple of months not really thinking about what I can and can’t eat has been good, plus I had a couple of weeks of vacation thrown in there. The family took two road trips back to back, and in the middle of that we found out our house flooded and are still dealing with the aftermath of that. Consequently I wasn’t able to train for three full weeks.

I ate somewhere around 49 lbs of taffy and 63 boxes of Pop Tarts on the vacation, so I have no doubt I’ve I gained some weight, but no worries. The trips are over, the house is pretty much in order (although we are still waiting on new flooring due to the water damage), and I’m just about ready to start hitting the diet fairly hard again. As of this afternoon I was able to get back in the gym with Tim and get the normal routine going again. It was a painful and exhausting workout, but that was expected after a three week break.

I’ll end this post with a couple of photos I’ve been intending on posting since Mother’s Day. The last several years we have made it a Mother’s Day tradition to go out to eat at P.F. Chang’s for dinner. I was amazed when I saw the picture we took this year and compared it to the ones from last year and the year before. It’s easy for me to forget how far I’ve come until I see a comparison picture like this. It helps encourage me and keeps me motivated.

Filed in Encouragement,Lifestyle,Motivation,Photos | 3 responses so far

Up go the calories, and up goes the energy

Mike on May 5th 2011

After my last post I lost an additional 3 lbs over a period of about a week-and-a-half, which put me at 243. Unfortunately, during that same time I realized I was tired almost all the time, I dreaded working out each day, and I was talking about food constantly. Louanne noticed my comments about food too and mentioned it, because it is so out-of-character for me. What was the problem? Should I eat more?

Tuesday morning after trying to work out yet again with zero energy, I decided that I seriously needed to try increasing my calories for awhile. That day I ate, and ate, and ate some more. The tiredness was mostly gone almost immediately, and working out Wednesday was like a totally different experience. Today has been even better…I didn’t work out today, but my energy level has been great. Quite the difference!

Tuesday I didn’t even bother to monitor the calories…I just ate all day, but yesterday I ate around 2600 and today I’ll likely do the same. My plan is to eat around that much every day for at least a week or so and monitor my weight loss during that time. Then I will adjust it up or down accordingly. It might slow things down, but I’d rather lose the rest of the fat slowly and have a lot of energy than lose it quickly and feel like I did the last few weeks. The last few weeks of the program were terrible and stressful.

I’ll be paying much closer attention to my energy-levels from now on, and basing much of my calorie intake on that.

Filed in Diet,Exercise,Goals,Weight | 3 responses so far

Wednesday Weigh-in: 246.0

Mike on Apr 20th 2011

246 lbs today, so down 5 lbs this week. I’d love to have a few weeks like that in a row, but at this stage in the program I don’t expect that…it would be nice though.

Filed in Wednesday Weigh-in,Weight | One response so far

One month later and finally at a new low

Mike on Apr 15th 2011

This morning, one month after my last post, I finally hit a new low: 247.2 lbs. I had gained several pounds since our trip to China and I’m glad to finally get that off and in the past. That puts me down about 75 lbs on the scale, and more like 90-100 lbs of fat loss when you take into account the amount of muscle I’ve gained over the past 14 months of training.

My goal is to lose another 30+ pounds by the end of June when we take our big vacation to Myrtle Beach. I hope to be somewhere between 210-215 by then. When I get to that point it will put me very close to the end of my total weightloss goal…probably within 5-15 pounds. My final goal, as far as weightloss, is to hit a single-digit body fat percentage. When I think I’m at that point I’ll be visiting the Cooper Clinic again for another round of body composition analysis. Then my goals will switch entirely to building muscle.

The day I can more than double the calories of my diet will be a day of great relief. I’m tired of the severity of it and the lower energy that comes with the restrictions. Right now my daily intake is generally in the 1100-1300 calorie range. To stop losing weight I’ll need to increase it to around 3000 per day, and possibly a little more to help muscle gain.

Strict weightloss is getting VERY old, but I can actually see the end in sight.

Filed in Body Composition,Goals,Weight | 3 responses so far

I made it by 45

Mike on Mar 15th 2011

One of the main goals I had just over a year ago when I decided to start my fitness program was to be in the best shape of my life by the time I reached 45 years old. Well, today I turned 45 and I’m happy to say that I made that goal. I still haven’t lost all the weight I want to lose yet–I still have about 40-50 more lbs to go, but I’ve lost around 90 lbs of fat, gained around 20 lbs of muscle, and have more strength and endurance than I’ve ever had at any time in my life. Just a few months ago I had a complete physical and have zero health problems, and over the last year there were countless times that I said to myself something like, “Wow, I could have never done this in the past.” When I think back to the normal state of my health and fitness in the past, I’m regularly amazed at the things I can do now without getting tired. In some ways my outlook is very different now, and I have no doubt that I’ll be done losing all the fat that I want to lose within the next several months. After that I’ll be able to concentrate exclusively and building more strength and endurance.

I’d also like to leave everyone with this bit of encouragement. If you are in a state similar to me when I started all this–150 lbs overweight, sedentary life, tired all the time, and so on–then you CAN get where I am now. You can. It has taken me exactly a year to get where I am and it will take me a few more months to get where I want to be, but that won’t be the end. There is no “end” to it. For the rest of my life I’ll be exercising, eating differently, and living better. You can do it too, but you have to change your lifestyle.

I’ll finish this post with something I’ve said on multiple occasions, “If you want to lose weight and keep it off, stop living like a fat person on a diet and start living like a fit, athletic person in training. It takes a lifestyle change, so change your lifestyle.

Filed in Encouragement,Goals,Motivation | 3 responses so far

Dad Strength in China

Mike on Mar 12th 2011

Since I’ve been back from China for about two weeks now and I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, I decided that it was well past time for me to post an update about what’s been going on.

Our trip to China was eventful to say the least. If you want to read about it in detail, then go to our family blog at Dwimble.com and start from February 8th. In a nutshell, we went to adopt our second daughter and were there just under three weeks. We started off staying several days in Beijing to visit some friends and adjust to the time difference, moved on to Yinchuan in Ningxia province (where our child was waiting) for several more days, and last stayed for eight days in Guangzhou where the U.S. Consulate is located. We all got upper respiratory infections, coughed constantly because of the pollution and dust in Yinchuan (it’s on the edge of a desert), and I got an ear infection and lost most of my hearing for the last week of the trip and the last two weeks here at home.

Louanne hurt her side in Yinchuan (possibly from coughing so hard she bruised a rib or pulled some muscles), which required me to do pretty much everything for both girls the last half of the tip…including carrying them both around all the time. Fortunately I have what my trainer calls “Dad Strength,” which every father can relate to and will see you through in a pinch. In truth, if I hadn’t been training for a year with Tim then the trip would have been ten times harder than it was. The one year anniversary of starting my fitness program was actually Feb 14, the day we got our daughter. That year has made all the difference. There was one day near the end of the trip where I was carrying both girls and the stroller at the same time up several flights of steps and across a bridge and didn’t really think anything about it. I didn’t even feel winded. A year ago I probably would have passed out…or I’d have at least found out just how fast my heart can beat before cardiac arrest.

The hardest thing of all didn’t have anything to do with the trip–the workouts since getting back have made the screaming kid, jet lag, ear infection, and coughing fits seem like a walk on a spring day. Tim took it easy on me and I still felt like I was going to die…and I haven’t even done any cardio yet. I’m going to add that back in next week. I did legs Monday, for the first time in a month, and six days later they still hurt. They STILL HURT. In spite of that, I’m still glad to be back in the gym. There were actually a couple of moments (just a couple) while I was doing the bench press that I thought it felt good to press the weight up. The feel and pressure of the weight felt good. Weird, I know. I haven’t gotten back on my diet yet, but plan to do that within the next week or so as well. It has been hard enough the last two weeks just getting through the workouts…no way I was adding the diet to that stress.

My plan is to be back to my full, pre-trip regimen within the next week, and my new goal is to have lost another 40 lbs by our family vacation at the end of June. That should put me near the end of my weight loss, but I won’t know for sure until I get there. After that I’ll concentrate solely on strength building.

Filed in Exercise,Lifestyle,Photos | 2 responses so far

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