I used to be fat. I still am, but I used to be too
Apparently I’m going through pretty textbook “divorced guy” stuff right now, and getting into shape is a direct result of that. Who knew I could do something considered normal?
Genetically, I come from a build of human that is broad and dense. I’ve always been “bigger” than average, which is something I’ve long come to terms with. Can’t change your genes, so why worry about them?
About two years ago, I started to feel fat. And by feeling, I mean that I saw pictures of myself and realized that I was a larger fellow, with an extra helping of gravity. That led to very short periods of time where I was actually motivated to change things. That would last about a month, then I gave up. Well, it’s probably more accurate to say I lost interest. Inevitably, something shiny would distract me. I would eat slightly better, and go for an occasional bike ride. Since the results weren’t immediate, I’d find something to justify giving up. “Whatever, I’m not really that fat.”
There’s nothing like a sudden and severe blow to your psyche to help shake things up. And there’s no better shake up than divorce. The decision to finally lose some weight and get into some kind of decent physical shape was nearly immediate. I made sudden drastic changes to nearly all aspects of my life; changing dietary intake and quantity, forcing myself to exercise in some form or another. The very first thing I did was to start playing more XBox.
You know you’re out of shape when 20 minutes with the XBox Kinect kicks your ass. And that’s just from the warm ups. It also makes you cry when the girl on the screen is yelling at you for screwing up. I swear I hear condescension in her voice at times:
“Ok, that was good. Next time, don’t be such a little bitch.” – not an actual quote
I started with Nike+ Kinect two or three times a week. That helped with the stagnation problem, but there was still a little issue of consumption. That had to change really dramatically if I ever wanted to see any kind of change. First up on the chopping block:
No more soda. For the most part, anyway. I had been drinking at least two sodas per day for many years. This was the first, and easiest thing to cut. Easiest in terms of empty calories to remove from the daily diet. After a few weeks of shaking uncontrollably, I managed to kick the habit. I still partake on occasion, but it’s no longer a daily requirement.
Next came the food. Turns out I wasn’t eating so terribly really, it was just far more than required. Using My Fitness Pal, I kept the calories in check. This was rather difficult at first, I was hungry all the time. I’d trick myself by drinking more water than normal, or by eating something that was more bulk than calories, like rice or potatoes.
Lunch didn’t differentiate too much from what it’s been for many years: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and yogurt. What had been two sandwiches, two yogurts, and a soda became one sandwich, a single yogurt, and water.
Dinner was filled with lots of pasta, scrambled eggs, potatoes and oatmeal, then I introduced fruit into the mix. I unintentionally became mostly vegetarian, primarily because meat, while not really high in calories itself, typically went along with things that are high in calories.
The hardest part was the mental aspect. It’s really frustrating to do a ton of exercise, only to see it earned you half of a banana in calories. Then you get to eat, and still feel hungry. Meanwhile, your body is making you feel like you’re violating the Geneva Conventions for cruel and unusual punishment.
I did a pushup today, surely that has earned me the right to eat an entire cake
Luckily, that only lasts a couple of weeks. Once your body gets the hint that this is the new normal, it just accepts things and cedes to just eating itself alive. Good thing we had all that fat stored up for this junk food drought.
The other frustrating part was the plateaus. I’d lose 5lbs, then no change for a week, then 5lbs, then no change, etc etc. Now I’m not going solely by what the scale says, it’s just the simplest tangible way to measure progress. I’m now at the point where it’s no longer a valid measurement of progress.
Forcing myself to get out of the house and move around was a struggle as well. Especially if it was even remotely hot outside. But I got past it, and managed to keep scaling up my rides. What started out as 6 or so miles once a week, became 12 miles nearly every day within about two months.
These last few weeks I’ve changed gears a bit. I’m riding the bike a bit less, but it’s been replaced with daily strength training of some kind. Now that I’m nearing the bottom of the fat that I can lose, I’m trying to build and tone the muscle. My diet has also changed, from pasta and eggs to meat, and lots of it.
While I’m not quite where I want to be physically just yet, it is nice to be within spitting distance of that goal. It’s really gratifying to see the changes in my appearance when I look at pictures side by side. It’s almost like looking at two different people.
But the best reward so far was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago. One of the cashiers that I see fairly regularly set me up for the perfect joke that I couldn’t walk away from:
“Wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight!”
“Yeah, I’m down about 150 pounds.”
“Well, 100 of that was the wife”