Thursday, October 27, 2016

Burger Repurcussions

From late April through early October, I ate almost exclusively hamburgers and pizza and big sugary desserts. I also regularly stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning, watching TV or videos on YouTube. The bulk of my days were spent sitting in the car. Sure, I'd get out and run a bit with River, and often got out to go on small hikes or climb on rocks or jump in waves. And I'd occasionally stop to teach a Nia class. But it was mostly a sedentary, unhealthful lifestyle--something new to me. I noticed, during this time, I was more susceptible to getting sick and being cranky. I also gained significant weight. My usual weight range hovers around 155, and whenever I get above 160 I know I've gotten off track and seek to right myself. But during those past five months, my belly started growing enough to bulge out over my waistband. I was embarrassed to remove my shirt, which is unlike me. I could even see myself bulging when I wore form fitting clothes.

An interesting aspect of this scenario is the fact that I was teaching these Nia classes, but they didn't seem to be keeping me in shape. My theory is since I was teaching the same routine to a new group each time, that my body quickly adapted to the demands of that routine. And since I wasn't increasing my challenge, the fitness it brought me was stagnating. It is important to keep challenging our bodies and changing our programs to keep ourselves in top shape.

I had a great time on my five month road trip. The decision to eat burgers and pizza all along the way. sure made things easy. This was partially a response to how much difficulty I'd encountered while attempting to eat healthy food on the road on past trips. I would lug around an ice chest and keep it stocked with fresh food, and stop at a healthy grocery store every few days.

It wouldn't be nearly as difficult as it was if I weren't traveling with a dog. But something as simple as stopping at the grocery store became an ordeal, especially on a hot day.  And since I was traveling across the country mostly through the summer, it was usually too hot to leave the dog in the car.

And then, it was another challenge to keep things fresh.  Even though I was using an ice chest, sometimes, when I was teaching class or enjoying a park, I'd have to park the car in the hot sun. In the summer heat, the inside of the car would get to near oven-like temperatures, making it likely that the fresh food in my cooler wasn't kept in safe food-storage conditions. I ended up throwing away a lot of food that I wasn't sure about.

My solution was to live, as I called it, "like normal people". I didn't concern myself with eating healthy. I just enjoyed burgers and pizza and brownies and candy with impunity. Part of the fun of it, in my twisted mind, was actually seeing myself gain fat weight around my waist. I fought it at first, but soon realized I couldn't have it both ways. I either had to eat healthy or accept that I was going to gain weight. So I devised a plan that helped me tolerate and actually enjoy the resulting weight gain. All along, I was motivated by how much fun it would be to lose the weight once I got back home and could be in better control of my eating and lifestyle again.  I rationalized that the more weight I gained during this period, the more impressive it would be when I got home and lost it all.

So, now I've been home for three weeks and I've lost a total of 8 pounds. I didn't go on a diet, but I did create some rules for myself to create a healthy lifestyle environment.

One: I committed to going to bed every night before midnight
Two: I committed to doing all of my eating before 8PM
Three: I committed to having three meals a day, each one including at least one fruit or vegetable.
Four: I committed to doing at least 15 minutes of daily exercise.

Those were the basics. I didn't want to create a situation that I couldn't wait to be free from. My goal was to create a lifestyle that I could live with long term.  I don't consider myself "on a diet". I still basically eat whatever I want, just not WHENEVER I want.  I needed to address the biggest things that I was doing wrong.

For example, drinking water is one of the first issues I address with clients who seek weight adjustment. But I never slacked off on my water drinking, so I didn't need to fix that in this program.  But I know that staying up late puts the body into a hormonal state that makes it retain body fat instead of losing it, so getting to bed at a decent hour had to be part of my new lifestyle.

And to be fair, I'm very conditioned to eating healthy foods. I enjoy it and have done it for several years. So it's not difficult for me to choose wholesome meats and fruits and vegetables and to avoid lots of bread and simple starches. It's much different than for someone who has never made a healthy choice and might find themselves at a loss for what to choose, or feeling a severe sense of missing out on potato chips or ice cream habits.

It's three weeks into the recovery project as I write this and I'm still comfortable with all of the rules I've set. On occasion I slip up, but that's not a big problem as long as I get right  back on track as soon as possible.  One day, I had a sweet tooth and let myself stay up til 12:30am and have a half pint of root beer ice cream. And on a couple of days, I skipped my workouts. But I find it easy to get right back on the program. As I said, it's not very disruptive, nor does it leave me feeling deprived. It may not be the quickest way to drop weight, but it's comfortable and sustainable.

At my highest weight, I measured myself at over 168 pounds. Almost 169.  This is the most I've weighed in my life. And I don't recognize my body as my own.  But I did get a sense of how someone could easily slip out of shape. Most of my professional life, I've worked with people who wanted to lose weight. I have been able to help them because of what I'd studied, but never because of what I'd experienced. I'd always just been keeping myself from gaining weight, but rarely trying to lose more than a couple of pounds.

Now I have the experience that I'd heard so many of my clients tell me about. "I don't know how this happened.  It snuck up on me. Etc."  I realized that I could get used to my new shape because it changed so gradually. And if I didn't stop my burger and pizza ways, I would have just continued to slowly balloon up and up.

So three weeks later and I weigh in at 162 pounds. I still consider that in the overweight range for myself, but it's much better than 168. I had made an unofficial goal to be under 160 pounds within 30 days. That gives me nine more days to lose two more pounds. It's very doable.

But the funny thing is that I lost four pounds within the first week, and then two pounds in the second week and I lost nothing during the third week. I'm worried that I may have stagnated. But before I decide to ramp up the intensity, I'm just going to see what happens if I stick with it for another five days. If I'm not continuing to lose, I may ramp it up for the last five days and still be able to make my goal of being under 160 pounds by Nov 6.

If you have any questions about what I'm doing, please feel free to ask them.  And if you have any ideas or suggestions, I'm open to hearing those too. But I'll tell you right now I don't take any sort of aids or supplements of any sort. I never have been a fan of them. I believe that living a healthy lifestyle involves eating sufficient real food and not taking pills.

I hope to be able to report that I weigh under 160 by Nov. 6.

More to come (or should I say less to come) :)

2 comments:

Jason Alan Griffin said...

It's November 7. Yesterday I weighed in at about 159 and today I was 158 in the morning and 157 after my afternoon workout.
So YAY!! I succeeded. Met my goal.
I didn't go on any sort of extreme diet, nor did I exercise fanatically. I stayed on the program I described above, just following sensible healthy lifestyle habits and eliminating bad ones.
I was hovering at just over 160 for several days, so I went one step further and removed my evening glass of wine with dinner and eliminated all grains.
That degree of restriction is not something I intend to adapt for a lifestyle, but I did it only to drop those last few pounds in time to reach my goal.
I will add them back in after I've been down at this weight for a few days and if it adds those few pounds back on, I'll decide at the time if it's worth it to me.

Jason Alan Griffin said...

just to be clear: I only eliminated grains and wine for the last three nights.
If I didn't have the goal of being below 160 by Nov 6, I probably would have kept enjoying the wine and the grains and just been more patient.
I think, if I continued how I was going, those last few pounds would have eventually dropped off.