Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Putting It Together"

I've spent the past week researching and trying to decide which diet to follow. When I say diet, I don't mean that I'm thinking of this whole endeavor as temporary, or even as a "diet" as it is commonly known. A few definitions of diet:

diet (ət)


1- what a person or animal usually eats and drinks; daily fare

2- a special or limited selection of food and drink, chosen or prescribed to promote health or a gain or loss of weight

So while what I'm doing may be eating a special selection of food and drink to promote health and lose weight, I will be looking at this all as my new "diet", definition number one. This is now what I usually eat and drink; my daily fare. I was considering following the Weight Watchers' Points system, where you place a point value on a serving of food, based on an equation that considers calories, fat, and fiber. However, I've decided against that for a few reasons. First, if I'm not 100% following the prescribed Weight Watchers plan, I shouldn't really do it at all. Secondly, I'd like to do something that anyone can do, without joining or paying or learning a proprietary system

So we're going back to basics. No fasts, no eating grapefruit at every meal, no removal of carbs, etc. We'll follow the simple equation of: less calories in, more calories burned = weight loss. This will mean doing some math, tracking calories in my food, etc. Not gonna lie, it's going to be a lot of work, at least in the beginning. But anyone who ever claimed you can lose weight easily LIED. This will be hard work, and rightly so the pay-off will be enormous. Simply, I will create a calorie deficit. To do this, we have to figure out how many calories our bodies burn every day. Researchers suggest that you should then only drop your caloric intake by no more than 500 calories per day for optimal weight loss. Dropping too many calories per day from your daily needs will put your body into a famine mode, where it will protect and prevent you from losing excessive amounts of weight. Thinking you literally cannot find enough to eat, your endocrine glands purposely slow your metabolism.

Basal metabolic rate is the minimum calorific requirement needed to sustain life and bodily functions while your body is at rest. Your BMR is determined based on a formula that examines weight, age, height, and sex. Once you figure out your BMR, you use the "Harris Benedict Formula" to figure out your daily calorie needs, based on your activity level. This will give you an approximate total number of daily calories needed to maintain your current weight. Then, to lose fat (and only a minimal amount of lean tissue), you reduce your calories by 500-1000 per day. If you only have a little to lose, obviously 1000 is a far too large deficit. It is commonly recommended to reduce calories by 15-20% below the daily calorie maintenance number that you learned from the Harris Benedict Formula.

Figure out your own BMR here. Then figure out your daily calorie needs with the Harris Benedict Equation. Based on your weight loss goals, subtract 15-20% to create a deficit. There we will finally have that magic number we've been looking for! Mine is right around 2500 calories. This may sound like a lot, but as I begin to lose weight, it will constantly change, as my BMR will lower as my weight lowers. This will allow me to lose at a somewhat slow but steady pace. As I kick exercise into the mix it will of course also switch things up. Cutting 3500 calories total in one week will result in approximately a 1 pound weight loss. I've got to admit, with what I've got to lose, one pound per week does not make me happy. I'm sure there will be lots of tweaking with my daily calorie intake, and maybe this will finally be the thing to get me on a hardcore exercise regimen. Let's say I burn 800 calories per day exercising, then that's at least another two pounds per week! Dealing with these concrete numbers makes me feel so much more in control. It kind of de-mystifies the concept of weight loss.

I'm going to Florida this weekend, so I will be starting my new plan on Tuesday, July 28th! Now, before I get yelled at for waiting until after my weekend get-away, please understand that if I had started two weeks ago and was on a roll with the plan, I would definitely stick to it while away. I know from experience though that the first few days can be tricky territory, so why make it that much harder for myself by doing it away from home?

"Bit by bit, putting it together. Piece by piece, working out the vision night and day. All it takes is time and perseverance, and a little luck along the way."

Coming up next: I detail exactly what types of food I will be eating. A very general look at my eating plan!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Man In The Mirror"

Y'all, I am having a moment here. Get out the smelling salts and a church hand fan, because either you or I will need them. Step into my shoes for a moment, if you will. If you are or ever have been overweight, you know that you have photos that you have decided will NEVER, under any circumstances see the light of day. They are hidden in a shoe box under your bed, or a folder deep in the recesses of your hard drive. For those of you who are visions of beauty who have never had a weight problem, just think back to that day you had a whopper of a zit on an important day. The photos live on forever, whether we like it or not.

I figure that a part of my process is to accept the fact that I am currently overweight (and used to be even BIGGER) before I can take my next step in finally losing it. I'm now controlling my weight and body instead of my weight controlling me. Therefore, I present to you a photo journal of my ups and downs since approximately 2001. Grab a healthy snack and settle in, this is gonna be epic.

Let's start back in 2001 and move to the present. This way we get the worst (read, biggest) photos out of the way early, and perhaps we can all forget them by the end of this entry. Also, I've cropped nearly everyone out of these photos, please don't take offense.

First up, early 2001. I was 16 or 17 in this photo. I was a totally average child; not skinny or fat. In early high school I slowly began packing on the pounds, but this is when it was starting to get out of hand.

I believe this is probably the biggest I have ever been. My own perception of my weight is so jacked that I really can't be positive either way. This was July of 2003, taken four days before I made my move to New York City. I didn't crop out Kimberley Locke simply because she's honestly the only reason that this photo wasn't destroyed. Just keeping it real! This photo takes my breath away; I feel like I'm looking at someone else, that there is no way in hell it could actually be ME.

This is from November of 2003. A solid four months of life in the city was obviously doing good things to me. I did a modified version of Atkins beginning in July of 2003. To this day, I still believe that Atkins (the REAL plan, not a bastardized version that claims you can eat bacon and cheese all the live long day) is a great plan. It's just very hard to stick with it.

Fast forward to May of 2004. I had maintained what I had lost, and continued to lose (albeit at a slower pace).

Just a few months later in August of 2004 I reached my lowest weight. I was still approximately 40 pounds from my final goal. However, I reached the point where I was finally starting to get too comfortable with the amount of weight I had lost. The impetus that made me start losing weight was that I wanted to be able to walk into any store and find clothes that fit properly. At this weight, that was no longer an issue, so I began the slow ascent to back up the scale. The one thing that strikes me about this photo is how young I look. I look like such a baby! I was 20.

Here we are sometime in mid-2005. You can see I put maybe 10 pounds back on, but nothing extreme. All of my slimmer clothing still comfortably fit and I felt fairly good.

This was taken in late September, 2005. When I look back at this I think, "I look pretty good!". The crazy thing is that I very clearly remember thinking when this picture was being taken that I did NOT want to be photographed because I felt that I had put a massive amount of weight back on. I was convinced I was back to obese. Now in present day 2009 (some 30 or 35 pounds heavier than in this photo), I wonder what was wrong with me back then. I'm convinced that every person with weight issues has at very least a mild form of BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder).

Perhaps since my late 2005 brain was already believing I was a failed fattie, the thought became reality, as you can see from this photo from March of 2006. This began the destructive cycle of: become unhappy, comfort myself with food, gain weight, become even more depressed, eat bad things (almost subconsciously), and continue the climb back up the scale.

Taken in October 2006, I reached the highest weight I had been since 2003. Having not been on a scale in probably a year, I was shocked to see the scale climb to above 300 pounds. The week before these photos were taken I had started another round of low-carb living, but the open bar put a momentary kink in that plan, as evidenced in the photo. :)

For whatever reason, the low carb lifestyle wasn't working for me as easily as it had in the past. This photo, from December 2006 shows very little change from two months prior.

There were very few photos taken of me in the first half of 2007. After seeing others manage to have some success with Weight Watchers, I attended my first meeting two days after my 23rd birthday in April. Down a significant portion of weight, I was feeling fairly good in August of 2007. I know I look like a bit of a douche in this photo, but in my defense the person that took it told me to "look like you are dancing!"

I continued to lose (although fairly slowly) into September of 2007. However, I had reached that magical weight that I had reached back in the Summer of 2004 where I was JUST comfortable enough to not care ENOUGH about maintaining a good diet. The problem with this is that I was still a solid 40 to 50 pounds away from my goal.

Though I had pretty much stopped losing weight (up 2, down 1, up 1, down 2), I was still attending my Weight Watchers meetings and half-assing it. Because of this, I was at least able to maintain all of my loss. This photo is from December 2007.

Throughout the first half of 2008 I stayed pretty much the same as the fall of 2007. I had one minor jump up of about 10 pounds, and that held steady for a while. This photo is from August of 2008. The funny thing is, I thought that it was a huge deal and that I had gained "so much weight back". As in the past, thought became reality, and after I was laid off from my day job, the weight began to pile on.

This is from Thanksgiving 2008. I had gained approximately 15 pounds since August. Much of my clothing was no longer wearable, and I had to purchase a few new shirts.

Fast forward to late Spring of 2009, and I've gained an additional 10 to 15 pounds. It's odd how I seem to maintain one weight for a while, and then seemingly within the period of only a week, it jumps 8 to 10 pounds. It teeters for a few days, and if I don't make a drastic change in my eating, it ends up sticking. It's very strange the way it works.

I'd venture to say that I'm a similar size to what I was in late 2006. I'm certainly not at my highest ever, but if I don't put a stop to it, who knows where this could lead. This photo is from July 2009.

I've been holding steady for approximately two months. No gains, no losses. I want this to be my FINAL before photo. I want every picture from here on forward to be an AFTER photo. I never want to see this weight again.

I'm so glad you all are here with me to help me become an AFTER. I did it before, and I know I can do it again. It just seems to get harder and harder with each re-gain. How many times can you put yourself through the cycle mentally and physically? It has to stop somewhere. There are so many goals I want to achieve in life. I want to be successful. I want to be inspirational. I want to be confident. I want to be a working singer/actor. I am confident in my abilities. I simply KNOW that I am good enough, and I have no doubt that I am capable of achieving all of these things and more. I just need to get my mind and body in order to be able to do them.

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. And no message could've been any clearer..."

Coming up next: I will detail my eating plan, and set a firm start date. Be here!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"I Know Where I've Been"

Well here we go! Thank you for visiting what I hope becomes a busy and popular place. I've started this blog for a number of reasons. Let's get the obvious out of the way: I am fat. Obese, in fact, according to the popular BMI (Body Mass Index) chart. For years I have struggled with my weight. I have fluctuated quite a bit over the last six years. That's why the tag line of the blog is "I've been up, then down, and back up again." This all started with the idea that I wanted to get back on track and (yet again) lose weight, but also wanted some extra reason to really stick with it. I figured that having an audience to report to on a daily basis would help me stay in line. I have done Weight Watchers in the past with success, and I think it is by far the best weight loss program out there. However, I tried doing WW again this Spring, but for some reason I just couldn't stick with it the way I had in the past. The "fear" of the weekly weigh-in just wasn't enough, and it simply was not working for me.

The original simple intention of this blog was to make myself accountable, on paper, to essentially the whole world. I plan on exploring the struggles, accomplishments, and set-backs that come along on the journey of weight loss. However, the more I've been thinking about what my relationship to the blog will be like, the deeper I really want to take this. I am planning on being 100% honest with myself and with you, my reader. Like Oprah always tells us, struggles with weight are never just about the food. You have to fix what's going on in your head, and then the rest will fall into place. I look at this as almost therapy. For instance, I'm going to admit, talk about, and try to grow past the problem that I have where when I happen to be on an upswing of gaining weight, I don't want to see friends and family that might not have seen me since I was 10, 15, even 20 pounds lighter. It's really sad when you think about it. These are people you love and want to share things with, but you always have that nagging thought in the back of your head saying, "What will they think? They're going to be surprised to see I gained all of this weight back. They'll be disappointed and think I'm weak." Just even recognizing and admitting to myself that I feel that way makes me want to challenge my own thoughts and stand up for who I am, and what I can become.

I'm thinking that the blog posts will fall into the following categories:

  • Rants - from being annoyed at the skinny friend who eats nothing but burgers & beer, to any other thing I feel like bitching about
  • Tracking - what I eat; the good AND the bad. I will gloat when I have the perfect day, but will also admit when I fall off the wagon.
  • Making Progress - Simply, how much weight I lose, etc.
  • Moving More - My relationship with exercise is not one I enjoy. Let's explore what works to get and keep my ass moving.
  • Eating Better Food - Exploring what I eat that's bad, figuring out what I like that's good for me, and sticking to it.
  • Goals - Weight goals, life goals, clothing goals, you name it.
  • Begrudgingly Healthy - Where I take a food or meal you think can't be done healthily and I find a way to make it "legal" on my plan. Recipes, etc.

Let's end this mega-post with a song quote. It may seem cheesy, ("Oh he's using song lyrics to describe his weight loss journey.") but hey, shut up. If it rings true for me, then that's all that matters.

"There's a dream in the future. There's a struggle, that we have yet to win. And there's pride, in my heart, 'cause I know where I'm going. And I know where I've been."

Coming up next: A (frightening, for me) photo scrapbook of my weight's ups and downs over the past six years!