A Goal Reached

On the morning of April 3, 2013, I stepped onto the scale and it read 189.5. The number may not seem that special on a glance, but to me it’s a big milestone. It marks the conclusion of more than two years of work to drop over 100 pounds. To put the change into a bit more into context in 2010 I wore an extra large shirt and forty four inch waist pants that sometimes felt snug. Today I wear either a a medium shirt or small shirt depending on the type and maker and pants with a thirty four inch waist. That’s a drop of three or so shirt sizes and ten inches off my waist. So forgive me a bit to indulge in a bit of a story of getting from there to here. I’ll have another post in a few days more on what I did so think of this more as the overview.

The highest weight I ever saw on a scale came in late 2010 when I weighed in at 290 pounds. While that was the one measured weight, it probably moved 290 and 300 pounds for much of the late summer and early fall of 2010. There wasn’t any kind of epiphany that day. I never really recall a single moment of “I need to lose weight.” If anything it was just the slow realization that I didn’t like being this heavy. At some level maybe that 300 number I knew I’d reach anytime in my current path started the pressure.

As December arrived I started exercising. Nothing outstanding or grand. Some days I walked, but being winter I I mostly used my elliptical. If I remember right my first exercise session lasted about ten minutes and I felt exhausted. I wanted to avoid gaining weight over the holidays and as I got past Christmas I’d succeeded and still hadn’t hit that 300 pound mark. In January I moved to exercising two or three days a week on an elliptical for about twenty minutes at a time. I didn’t really diet, but became a bit more aware of what I ate. Not cutting out anything, but ordering the small instead of the large when eating out.

And it worked. I don’t remember the exact amount, but maybe ten or fifteen pounds as spring 2011 got here. Whatever the amount a few acquaintances and friends commented on it. That was I think the shift, that I’d not only been able to lose weight, but enough to be noticed by others. Don’t underestimate that feedback that came in being a motivation to keep going.

Another incentive with spring coming came from an interest in getting outdoors more for hiking and photography I’d developed the year before. I wanted to be better able to take those hikes without spending as much time resting and recovering as I’d done before. From that first time on the elliptical when ten minutes at a slow pace left me exhausted I could now do thirty minutes at a decent speed. And while I felt tired afterward, I was no longer exhausted. Walking up several flights of stairs into work still left me winded, but not as much as before. I noticed the changes. They were subtle even after a few months, but I had changed.

I again looked at my food intake. I didn’t go onto a real diet and I didn’t stop eating what I wanted. I just ate a little less of it. I’d have a salad on occasion for lunch. I paid attention to portions trying to east smaller ones. No more large fries with lunch and now I’d have one hot dog instead of two or the regular burger and not the double. Not much, but the small things will add up over time. The weight came on over years and it wouldn’t go away overnight. By the end of the summer of 2011 I’d dropped down to about 250 pounds. I exercised pretty regularly now, usually five days a week. The only stretch of any length I missed was after tweaking my back helping a friend move furniture and taking most of a week off to let it heal.

I hit a wall a bit there. I made it to around 245 as September moved to October and really didn’t move much over the rest of 2011. When 2012 began I’d gotten to about 240 pounds. It seemed I’d lost more fat than weight. My health was undeniably better and I had better endurance and strength than probably since I’d been in college. Still I just couldn’t get the weight to budge more. I finally figured out the months of futility came to medicine I took, but whose dosage hadn’t been adjusted for the weight loss. Once I made that change and over the next few months I got my weight down through 230 and to near 225. Then I kind of took the summer of 2012 off a bit and just worked to maintain weight.

By the time I got to fall I was ready for a more serious effort. I wanted rid of the extra weight and back to a normal rate. I was ready to focus and do the work to get there at a faster pace. I set the goal to reach 200 pounds by January 1, 2013.

As September began I started tracking my activity, everything I ate, and my weight daily. Before I’d weighed more sporadically, often just when I remembered to. There are cons to weighing everyday, but overall I think it worked well for me in this case. In September I weighted in at 227. I started a steady drop keeping to a target of dropping a bit over 1.5 pounds per week with the goal of weighing in at 200 pounds on January 1. In the end I missed it by only a few days. I continued the drop through January and took another short break through February. I’m now under the 190 mark that always felt like a big goal to me of getting to 100 pounds below my peak.

I’m not done yet as I have a bit more weight to go. My next target is to get to around 180 and I think I’ll be pretty close to a good weight for me once I get there. In addition to the weight I’d really say the bigger change came in my overall health. I’m probably in better shape now than I’d ever been. I can walk up flights of stairs while having a conversation. I regularly do four mile hikes and while tired, feel quite good after them.