Category Archives: Health

One Year Later…

LiveJournal, Facebook, and on this site… I’ve literally lost count of the number of times I’ve made posts like this one:

It’s the issue that has most vexed me throughout my adult life. Since the start of my very first serious effort almost exactly 20 years ago to reach and maintain a healthy weight, I’ve lost, gained, and then repeated the cycle for over hundreds of pounds. There are lots of reasons for this recurring pattern, but when being brutally honest with myself, most of them are truly just excuses. It doesn’t matter how long the healthy part a particular portion of the cycle lasts, it never stops being work or becomes second nature. Eventually, I tire of the effort and default back to eating unhealthily and not exercising enough.

Nonetheless, the good news is that since that Facebook post from last year, I’ve managed to lose precisely 40 pounds, dropping from 241.6 to 201.6. What makes that number even more amazing is my end-of-year attempt to pause the weight loss and simply go into maintenance mode was a disaster that resulted in my regaining 15 pounds, which in turn necessitated spending the first three months of this year simply working them back off. Currently, my motivation remains solid, and tt appears that reaching my goal of 190 lb should happen before the end of the summer. If successful, it will mark the third different time I’ve lost over 50 pounds in the last 20 years.

While there’s literally no doubt in my mind that it will happen, maintaining without significant weight fluctuation will be the serious challenge. I’m already giving thought to how to best attempt it this time around, because it’s always been easier to work my body back into healthy shape. In fact, I’m good at it. However, maintaining my ideal weight… Ugh. It seems like the act of increasing the caloric intake or reducing the exercise intensity puts a serious dent in the motivation. Something has to be different about my mindset or approach this time around — just what exactly is currently unclear.

As the effort to reach my goal and to resolve that dilemma in advance continues, some other thoughts and things related to a full year spent on this effort:

  • Given the number of trips on this roller coaster, it seemed odd that changing the kitty litter recently made me mindful of what 40 pounds equates to. (This thought is something already experienced in some form or another over the years.) Because we have three cats — two of them above-average sized — we go through a 35-pound bag of litter each week. Picking up an unopened bag last week made me realize just how much harder my heart needs to work when lugging that much extra weight. It also made me realize how much it can hurt my back. 
  • Today also marks the last day of the dry planned month mentioned in previous posts. The confluence truly was a coincidence. To be 100% honest, this dry month is actually only four full weeks.Because February is also only four weeks, Sally and I decided that our dry month was in fact February — we just started several weeks late.
  • Hitting the 40-pound mark today was also a happy coincidence, resulting from losing 3.6 lb over the past two weeks. I applied no extraordinary effort during this time, out of the desire to not get fixated on otherwise meaningless interim goals. However, I also made it a point to not skip any exercise or to allow myself any kind of extra caloric intake during that time. That’s coming to a temporary halt this weekend, and there will be no fretting over any of the (temporary) increase in weight resulting from taking a complete break from the routine for 48 hours.
  • One of the things missing from the past two weeks: a meal or a whole day of not worrying about my caloric intake. Typically, there’s at least one of these every couple weeks. I feel as a special shout-out needs to go to my friend Tommie, who is with me at those meals, or on those days, far more often than not. I’m not blaming him in the least for that — it’s all on me. Ironically, I’m almost certainly being the bad influence on him.
  • Amazingly, I’ve been successful over the past four months without regular public accountability posts. In all the years of doing this, it’s the first time the weight has come down without them. In the past, the lack of such posts usually meant the cessation of regular exercise and/or eating properly. Having said that, when the time to transition to maintenance mode arrives, it seems that a return of those posts will be essential (they’ve never been incorporated into a maintenance mode before.)

More Bullet-Pointed Goodness

As the title of this post states…

  • Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter yesterday brought a drastic, tire-squealing reversal to my fleeing Facebook (at least temporarily.) Facebook suddenly became the lesser of two otherwise extreme evils. I’m going to need to rethink my approach to maintaining an online presence. Using this site far more often remains the core to whatever I decide moving forward, but the fact its that while I have more control over how I post here, posting 2-3 sentence (or smaller) entries on this site doesn’t feel right. Furthermore, I’m not aware at this time of a WordPress feature that allows me to quickly and easily share photos, and tag the location and people I’m with the way Facebook does. Admittedly, Twitter doesn’t have a nice easy way to simultaneously share, manage, and curate photos either, but the smaller posts were right at home there. In regards to the Twitter-sized posts, I certainly should simply get over myself and start putting them on this site.
  • Last year I watched 50 episodes of MST3K and thought that it would be difficult of top it. Last night, I watched my 24th so far this year. At this rate, this 2022’s total will be over 70 movies riffed by MST3K or one its alumni riff groups. The frightening thing is 120 films isn’t even half of what I own. Yes, I own a significant collection of crappy movies containing mocking commentary.
  • As much as I’ve fallen in love with Tears for Fears’s new album, The Tipping Point, I couldn’t bring myself to buy tickets for their show at The Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer. By the time I looked at ticket prices, lawn seats were the only realistic option, and frankly, if I’m going to sit for hours at a concert, I’m going to need a proper chair. I’ll try to catch them the next time a tour brings them through the area.
  • Text from a post I made on Twitter yesterday: “I’m on day #17 of a planned dry month. I don’t think I’ve ever come close to being this dissatisfied with a healthy lifestyle choice.” Seriously, I need to come up with some other coping mechanisms for experiencing this country’s descent into true dystopian authoritarianism. Given that my two favorite means of coping — the other being stress earring — are currently off the table, I need to figure out another means to deal with maintaining awareness of what is happening in the world around me.
  • Rather than simply imply it, I’m going to state it outright: living in America right now must be an amazing analog for what it felt like to live in Germany in 1932. Either that, or we are in fact in The Bad Place.
  • As was true yesterday, more in another post later today, or tomorrow.

February 17 “Weekly” Public Accountability Post

So, it’s been three weeks plus a day since last checking in with one of these — hence the quotation marks in the title for this post. Typically, that kind of time between public accountability entries is bad sign. However, in this case it’s not. I’ve basically been continuing to eat and exercise properly, and as of yesterday’s weekly weigh-in, when this post should have gone up, 9.2 pounds gained during the debacle at the end of last year are gone again. That number was given a rather significant boost by this past week in particular, in which I didn’t allow myself a cheat day as I typically do.

So, tonight I’m treating myself. Sometime this afternoon, possibly as early as lunch, this week’s cheat day begins. Planning on lots of chips, some kind of dinner that’s in no way whatsoever conducive at all to my long-term goals, a couple adult beverages, and almost certainly some chocolate from the carefully monitored “secret stash” in the kitchen. Then, back up on the horse tomorrow.

I earned this, dammit.

Three week gain/loss: -3.4 lb
Total loss since May 6, 2020: 28.2

Public Accountability Post (Week 20)

Loss for the week: 1.6 lb; total loss: 29.8. Normally, these posts go to Facebook where an effort is made to minimize the commentary on attempting to get back down to a healthy weight yet again. This week, though, that kind of restraint seems to be too much of a Herculean effort. So, a much longer than usual public accountability post is going here instead, with lots of related thoughts to share.

The primary one is that this is easily the most difficult time I’ve had on one of these efforts. It’s not simply a result of the fact that losing weight is harder as you get older. The biggest obstacle is actually the lack of gym equipment — in particular, an elliptical motion machine. Thankfully, we have a treadmill (Sally bought it long before we met) so getting exercise is never a problem. However, it isn’t the ideal exercise for me, and using it as my primary method of exercise meant making all kinds of adjustments to the amount of time spent on workouts, the intensity of them, and the expected results.

In addition, the pandemic continues to add a layer of difficulty (aside from not feeling safe in going to a public gym.) When it started early last year, my stress eating had already been a constant problem for quite some time for reasons that are now resolved. Thanks to the pandemic, the stress eating went into overdrive for most of the time between March 2020 and when this effort started. It’s difficult to believe that I’d have had this much success over the past 20 weeks if those previous stress-inducing issues still existed.

But, the success is notable more than just on the scale. My sciatica did not flare up at all during the Philly trip a few weeks ago (something noted previously on Facebook,) and it was awesome to fit into a smaller pair of blue jeans this morning now that the weather has cooled enough to wear them again. In another few weeks, it will be time for a regular check-in with the doctor, and hopefully the blood pressure and cholesterol numbers will show even more improvement since the last visit at the end of June.

Finally, I just wanted to note here that I have every expectation of passing the 30-pound mark this coming week. Seriously, unless I screw this up massively, there is no reason why it shouldn’t happen – it’s only 0.2 lb away. If this wasn’t something like the sixth or seventh time I’ve done, I’d probably get much more excited about it.

Something to Obsess About During the Pandemic

My body has ways of making it clear when it hasn’t properly been tended to for far too long — when the excess weight is more than just an inconvenience or annoyance. It did so during the early spring of 2011, and the health problems that surfaced in turn motivated me to drop 60 pounds. For most of the time since then, the desire to prevent those issues from happening again drove me to take significantly better care of myself than I ever had. 

But, like many people, I put on weight during the pandemic. Fortunately, that meant a small increase of between five and 10 pounds. However, that’s only because when the pandemic started my weight was already at its highest in over nine years. Without getting into the details, a few years ago a couple high-stress, chronic situations resulted in my employing the coping tactic that soothes me best: stress eating. Not that I want stress in my life, but it would be awesome if it resulted in the pounds shedding off rather than stacking up on each other as easily as LEGO Duplo bricks. Thank to this, when the pandemic started my weight was already the highest it had been since 2011.

A common sentiment going around these days is that you shouldn’t beat yourself up for weight gain during such a stressful time — it’s more important that you maintain your mental health stability. Without question, I subscribed to it. By the start of this month, my weight was hovering roughly 10 pounds below my all-time peak. Then, on what should have been one of the best days since the start of the pandemic, my body decided to emphatically inform me that it was time to stop making excuses.

To be fair, it did send me a warning notice last month, when I experienced the worst hive attack I’ve had in years. At that time, Occam’s Razor provided the simplest explanation for my body freaking out: the months of cumulative stress brought about by living during a pandemic and mindfully trying to do all the right things (other than eating) finally became too much. Unfortunately, the simplicity of that explanation provided on easy excuse for me to ignore my physical fitness.

That purposeful lack of self-awareness came to a halt on Saturday, October 10, 2020. It should have been one of the best days of the year. It was my first day back in Philly since the pandemic started, Sally and Brandon were both there, I was seeing my dad for the first time since January, and the weather was exactly the kind we needed to safely spend most of our time in the city outdoors. When we did go into a few select shops, we felt relatively safe given that everyone was wearing masks, social distancing was readily evident, hand sanitizer was in ready supply, and the number of customers in them was actively being controlled.

Actually, it was the best day I’ve experienced since the pandemic started, but enjoyment of it was notably tempered by the fact that my sciatica announced its presence with authority throughout the day. The thing is that it’s only a problem when I’m grossly overweight and spending a significant amount of time on my feet — especially if most of that time is standing still or walking very slowly. To make matters worse, grabbing a table somewhere we could sit for a while and have a snack and beverage — the thing that would have best helped to alleviate the problem — simply wasn’t an option. Although we were able to settle on some solutions that eased some of the pain, such as simply sitting down for a half hour or so in the park immediately next to Christ Church in Old City, it didn’t lessen my overall frustration with simply having to deal with it.

That frustration and annoyance did not subside after returning home or during the following day. The more I thought about how the sciatica affected my day, the greater the frustration I felt about myself. So, much like the health problems back in 2011, that day in Philly is now motivating me to lose weight all the excess weight yet again. Using all the techniques that have worked in the past has already yielded results: I’m now down nearly 10 pounds in just 2½ weeks. Of course, knowing the holiday season is nearly here makes me question the wisdom of starting this endeavor at this time, but I also know to take full advantage of this kind of motivation.

So, I’m now obsessing about calories (both the quantity and kind of), getting enough exercise, and getting on the scale every morning. With some luck, the holidays won’t present too much of an obstacle. Hopefully, the next time I’m in Philly, the sciatica won’t flare up at all.

Weekly Weigh In

I’m not even going to bother pontificating beyond stating that I wish I was one of those people who couldn’t eat when stressed. Anything else I write with this post is just the unnecessary regurgitation of a similar, previous post made at some point in the past 15 years.

Today’s weight: 231.0
Goal: 190.0
Gain since last such post, two months ago: +2.0

Accountability Posting

Back at the beginning of January, one of my cousins stated on Facebook that she was going to start periodically posting about her various goals for the year. The notion was that it would help her keep herself accountable, and I thought it was a great idea. In the past, I used weekly updates as a similar means of keeping myself motivated to eat healthily and exercise regularly. However, despite my previous success with such posts, I did not follow her lead.

Over this past weekend, I decided that was a bad idea.

Two first two months of the year went as planned: I managed to spend more time reading and got off to a good start embarking upon yet another round of eating properly and exercising. March devolved into a disaster on both fronts. Although Gravity’s Rainbow became my new most-hated book I’ve ever set eyes on and understandably brought my reading pace to a halt (more on this in a future post), it wasn’t a viable excuse for my reversion to last year’s crappy eating habits and sporadic visits to the gym.

So, in an effort to get myself back on track, I am beginning my own accountability posting this week. Tonight’s post is the return of the Weekly Weigh-In, which I supposedly made a permanent feature of this blog at the beginning of last year. Rather than wasting anymore time preambling about it…

Today’s weight: 229.0
Target weight: 190.0

All future weigh-in posts will be on Mondays as well.

Tomorrow: the first reading accountability post.

2018-04-11 Weekly Weigh-In

Six weeks. It’s been six weeks since I did a “Weekly Weigh-in” post. Typically, this is a major warning sign, as it usually means that I went off the rails and then went into avoidance mode so I didn’t have to face the growing amount of damage I was doing to my overall health.

But, not this time.

While my weekly loss since my last post averages barely less than ½ pound, it still means my weight continued to drop, even in the face of a three-day birthday weekend eating bender followed by a remarkably similar one on Easter weekend. In fact, even without taking those into consideration, I’m satisfied with that weekly average. For this particular spin on the weight-loss merry-go-round, the hope is that a prolonged, slower loss results in an improved ability to go into maintenance mode once goal weight is reached. Clearly, that point is still months away, but for now, things are going to plan — even without posting every Wednesday as planned.

 

Change since last weigh-in (six weeks ago): -2.8 lb
2018 Cumulative loss: 9.6 lb
Pounds from goal:  21.0

2018-02-28 Weekly Weigh-In

News of Kevin Smith’s heart attack earlier this week was a reminder, an unneeded one at that, that the weight yo-yoing needs to cease. Admittedly, he smokes and at his peak weighed 100 pounds more than I did, which put him at greater risk. However, he’s only two years older, and — as painful as it is to say — someone once mistook me for him on a summer evening back in 2010. (I was near my peak weight at the time and the length of my hair was similar to his.) So, yeah… news of his heart attack was unsettling.

The good news is that full workup a couple years ago on my heart arterial health showed no moderate or significant signs of blockages and my overall cardiovascular health was good. While the yo-yoing is putting stress on everything, it hasn’t caused significant damage — yet. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, once the weight gain from last year finally disappears, this time it needs to stay off. I’m hoping that the fact that a less stringent exercise routine prevents the type of proper eating and exercise burnout I’ve experienced each of the last four years. However, it’s meant that the weight loss for the first two months of this year has been slower than in similar previous efforts. It’ll be a number of months before knowing whether this change makes a difference.

In the meantime, as for the weigh-in itself… I actually did weigh myself, as per routine, the last two weeks, but I just didn’t post about it. Purely for reference sake, I lost weight on the 02-14 weigh-in, and gained enough weight on the 02-21 weigh-in to put me slightly back over where I was on 02-07. So, really, I lost a little over three pounds this past week, though I’m not going to claim it given what happened on the week ending 02-21. For what it’s worth, I’m now back to roughly 35 pounds below my 2011 peak.

Change since last weigh-in (three weeks ago): -2.4 lb
2018 Cumulative loss: 6.8 lb
Pounds from goal:  23.8