Today marks one year since I sat down, decided I was unhappy with my body, and started taking steps to actively lose weight. Years of “oh, I’ll offset X with a salad tomorrow” had proven that weight loss approach ineffective, and with my daughter on the way, I decided it was time to stop being passive about my efforts.
I started tracking my meals and activity on MyFitnessPal; after a month or so (and weighing in at 12lbs less than when I started), I wrote a blog post, On Weight Loss, about what I had learned in the first month. It was an extremely personal post for me, but it also helped to keep me accountable throughout the rest of the year. I also received a lot of great words of encouragement, both on the post and through other channels, from both friends and total strangers alike.
The first post was followed by More on Weight Loss and Even More on Weight Loss, with each entry detailing the things I’d learned throughout my weight loss efforts. I don’t see a career as a weight loss blogger in my future, but again the posts were more for myself and, if I’m lucky, for anyone else who has been struggling with their weight their whole lives.
My original goal was to reach 200lbs – a full 60lbs less than my starting weight – by June 1, 2016. Unfortunately, I have not fully met my goal. As of this morning, I’m weighing in at 212lbs, a mere 12lbs from where I had hoped to be today.
You know what? I’m not ashamed of failing to meet my goal. 60lbs in a year was ambitious, especially for a “I still want to be lazy and enjoy my favorite foods, just in moderation” weight loss attempt. I still haven’t had to go running, step foot in a gym, nor switch to some crash diet. By simply measuring my caloric intake and trying to offset any overages with things like walking, drumming, and doing yardwork, I’ve still lost 48lbs in the last year.
A few high-points of the last year that remind me of how far I’ve come:
- Buying a new suit for about what it would have cost to completely deconstruct my old one from heavier days
- Donating a ton of clothes that began to hang off my body
- Swimming in public for the first time since my honeymoon
- Getting DMs from friends telling me that I’ve inspired them to start monitoring their calories (and how quickly they’re seeing the effects)
- Having a friend’s father, who has only met me a couple of times and hasn’t seen me since college, ask “is it just me, or have you lost a lot of weight since I last saw you?”
I still have some work to do before I finally reach my target weight, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last year. My gratitude goes out to all of those who have been supportive, encouraged me, and complimented me on my progress. As most anyone who struggles with their weight can tell you, a simple, genuine “hey, you’re looking great!” can be a huge windfall.
My latest weight loss findings
In each of the previous posts, I’ve outlined a few weight loss truths that I’ve found to be self-evident. It seems a shame to break that streak, so here we go:
Travel is hard on your body
In the last few months, I’ve been on the road a fair bit: a trip to visit my wife’s extended family in Indiana, my 10up pod meetup in San Diego, two weddings, and most recently a week in St. Louis for php[tek]. Breakfasts on the road can usually pretty easily be replaced with something like a Clif Bar, but buffets – especially those with desserts – can make tracking your caloric intake difficult. Worse yet, both San Diego and St. Louis included brewery tours, which usually means I’ll be taking in a lot of calories.
When you’re on the road, try to normalize your routine as much as possible. Just because food is available doesn’t mean you have to eat it. If you’re flying, pack healthy snacks in your carry-on. Opt for water from the in-flight beverage service. If you’re going to a conference, pack a water bottle (or pick one up from a sponsor) and carry it with you, rather than picking up sugary drinks.
If you’re waiting around in the airport, wander away from your gate a bit; you might be surprised how many steps you can rack up. Likewise, conferences are often spread out across a hotel or convention center. Take the long way between sessions, make extra trips to your room (especially to drop off all the free t-shirts you’ll need to update your wardrobe) and take the stairs. Travel doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in a seat the whole time.
Of course, don’t be afraid to let yourself cheat once in awhile to take in the local flavor. Going to a real, So-Cal taco stand? Splurge a bit and enjoy it, especially if you’ve never tried something before. Weight loss and healthy choices are important, but a life without San Diego tacos isn’t one worth bragging about.
How you feel is as important as what you weigh
This year, I’ve had moments that I haven’t had in a very long time: looking into the mirror and thinking “geez, I’m looking pretty good!” The disappointment would then come when I step on the scale and find that, in fact, I had gained weight since the day before. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: your weight will fluctuate, so focus on the overall trend. If you lose four pounds in a week, then put on two pounds the next, your net weight loss is still two pounds. Your body is adjusting to change, and there are a lot of different factors that can affect what you weigh from day to day.
Don’t make the mistake of getting too caught up in specific numbers. Your weight loss goal shouldn’t be about a specific number, but about feeling better about your body.
In the end, I didn’t hit my initial weight loss goal, but I did lose nearly 50lbs in the last year, which is something to be proud of. I’m going to continue tracking my calories, trying to make healthy decisions, and trying to be comfortable in my own skin.
Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me in these efforts. I know I’ve publicly complained about the number of calories in a meal more than I probably should have, but I truly appreciate all of the support I’ve received from friends, family, and random citizens of the internet.
If you’re looking to start your own weight loss journey, I’d encourage you to check out my previous posts on the topic. For someone who has struggled with his weight for ~20 years, I’m kicking myself for not starting down this path sooner. If you read through everything I’ve written and still feel overwhelmed, please feel free to connect with me and I’ll do my best to answer any questions.