Saturday, August 21, 2010

Less of a Man

From Mid-March until now, I have lost 37 pounds. I have been thinking about this in various ways; for example:
  • In my business, I handle a lot of milk. A gallon of milk (or pretty much any watery liquid) weighs 8 pounds; so, I have reduced my weight by the equivalent of four-and-a-half gallons.
  • When I started this weight-loss regime (I hesitate to call it a 'diet'-- that would imply a level of organization that I haven't really reached), I weighed 220 pounds; I now weigh 183. This means that I have reduced my weight by almost 17 percent.
  • I just gave several pairs of pants to a local charity; my waist is now 36 inches, and the pants were 42s. My tighty-whiteys are not so tight anymore; they're now baggy at the leg openings, turning my briefs into boxers.
  • I'm not sure how long it's been since I weighed what I do now... but I'm guessing that it's been at least 35 years. Richard Nixon was president then.
Why did I decide to do this, and why now? I'm not sure-- but I think my trip to Houston may have had something to do with it. For several not-very-good reasons, I had not had any dental work done for about eight years; I decided that it was time to do something about it, so I arranged for a dentist relative in Houston to work me over for several hours over the course of three days. I came back from the trip with a willingness to develop the habit of daily dental maintenance, and somehow one thing led to another-- I decided that I was ready to take on the formation of another good habit pattern.

A lot of acquaintances and customers have noticed the difference in me and some have carefully asked me about it; in this day and age (and at my age), there is always the concern that a significant weight-loss may be a sign of illness. Once they understand that it's a result of deliberate work on my part, they usually ask me how I did it. I've tried not to bore people with the details, but there are a couple of points I generally make:
  • The key is knowing yourself. I somehow knew that I was ready to do something about my obesity, and that I knew that (for a change!) I had the attention span necessary to persevere. The point is not just that nobody can go on a diet for you, it's that nobody can persuade you but yourself.
  • I also knew that I needed to make the minimum amount of changes in my lifestyle in order for this to work; this meant that I would have to come up with compromises between my need to cut my food intake while still eating as many of the foods that I love as I could manage. In short: how much could I get away with and still go to heaven?
  • The mechanics of it all were simple: I counted calories during my day at work, trying to rack up no more than about 900, then I would go home to the so-called 'sensible dinner' that they used to advertise in the commercials for Slim-Fast.
  • Along with counting calories, I decided to adhere to a paradigm: that I was on a caloric 'budget' of approximately 1400 calories per day, and I wanted to get the most bang for my nutritional bucks by 'spending' carefully.
So how do I feel? Physically, not so different-- though I enjoy being able to bend over and touch the floor or tie my shoelaces without grunting. My bloodwork tells the tale, though: my cholesterol is ridiculously low (though it *is* drug-assisted-- who's isn't?), and my cardiologist has reduced or eliminated several of my meds.

My mental state is where there are some interesting changes. I am unconsciously equating any good thing that happens to my body as a result of my weight loss, logical or not; if I look in the mirror and my hair looks less gray that day, I have to remind myself that it's (probably) unrelated. My self-image is beginning to change also; I looked at some photos taken of me about 20 years ago, and I am for the first time seeing my former self as uncomfortably overweight. I'm hoping that this will be helpful in making sure I don't regain the weight I've lost, which is always a concern.

This weight-loss thing could have become an obsession, but it looks like I've found ways to turn it into a hobby instead.
  • One of our local markets gives a 10% discount to those of us who are 55 or older on the first Wednesday of the month. Since Wednesday is usually my day off, I'll go there and prowl the aisles, thoroughly examining the shelves for items that sound tasty and are low in calories and fat. I've added all kinds of stuff to what was once a somewhat limited palette of foods I enjoy, and the discount provides an incentive to try new things.
  • I am also becoming increasingly interested in cooking. My culinary knowledge is spotty at best, and I lack experience in some basic kitchen skills; however, I can follow a recipe, and I have an intuitive grasp of what to add in order to improve the taste of a dish. My wife generally doesn't enjoy cooking all that much, so she's been happy to turn over some of the task to me-- and the results have been pretty tasty. I have printed out a whole binder full of recipes from the EatingWell website, which has a wonderful variety of recipes under such headings as: meals for two, 30-minute 500 calorie meals, dinners in 3 steps or less, dinners at $3 per portion, and much more. All recipes have complete nutrition info as well as comments and suggestions from people who've tried them.
I don't know what the future holds for me, but I'm aiming for a 'soft landing' at 180 lbs., which will give me a BMI of less than 25, and I'm hoping I can find a way to eat more of the junk foods that I love so well without spoiling my efforts. Stay tuned...