More than you ever wanted to know

Don't we all

Don’t we all

I’m a big believer that small changes over time can have a huge impact.1 This year I made some commitments to bring about changes in my life.  These aren’t resolutions – I’ve had and broken resolutions before.  These were ambitions.  The most drastic changes to my lifestyle has been my work on losing weight and exercising more.

  • What I am doing. I have logged everything I’ve eaten for the last 100 consecutive days into FitDay.com.  Doing so has made me more aware of what I eat and helped me make good food choices.  This along with some other really minor tweaks has allowed me to drop 20 pounds pretty easily.
    • I can eat whatever I want and as much as I want, just so long as I am willing to log it into my Fitday account.2
    • I try to stay under 2000 calories per day, but I don’t beat myself up if I go completely off the rails.3 Every single day when I wake up is a brand new day.  This is a two edged sword.  It doesn’t matter how “bad” I was the day before, I get a clean slate.  Then again, even if I was “good” the day before, I don’t get to give myself any extra leeway.
    • I try to incorporate a little extra exercise into my routine.  Instead of using the bathroom one door down the hall at work, I walk up a flight of stairs and use that bathroom.  Instead of driving to lunch or walking to one of the places near my work, I walk 0.3 miles to the second nearest grocery store and get my lunch there.
    • I only drink coffee, water, and very occasionally alcohol.  This actually isn’t any different from my usual routine, but I figured I’d mention it.  I’m not big on drinking juice or soda.
    • I avoid potatoes and rice when possible.  I eat bread and pasta sparingly.  I try to eat more leafy greens and veggies – usually spinach.  I eat tend to eat more yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese than I used to. (More of an explanation for these changes below).
  • Why these changes.
    • At the beginning of the year I found that some of my clothes were a little tight.  I decided that every day I could get a little bit heavier or a little bit leaner.  That day I decided I would get leaner.
    • Some of these changes are because of a news bit I heard on NPR a while back.  The study, discussed on the Harvard site here, was published in June of 2011.  If you get a chance, I highly recommend listening to the NPR clip, scanning the Harvard article, and then glancing through the index to the study where the findings are included.  The study basically found that after controlling for many factors, certain foods could be associated with yearly weight increases or losses.  Nuts, vegetables, fruits, and yogurt were all associated with net yearly losses and potatoes, red meat, and processed meats were associated with net gains.  Surprisingly, cheese didn’t seem to affect the net gain/loss.
  • What I’ve noticed.
    • After being on this “diet” for a few months, I’ve fallen into a little bit of a routine.  I tend to consume about 150-300 calories at breakfast, 300-700 calories at lunch, and the remainder of my 2000 calories at dinner.  At first staying below 2000 was very tough and now it’s pretty effortless.
    • I’ve found that as a result of this “diet” I’ve mostly lost my sweet tooth and I don’t seem to crave salty/fatty/fried/starchy foods nearly as much.
    • I probably lost a pound in the first week – which was good because I could “see” a change caused by my minor lifestyle tweaks.  At the end of two weeks I had probably lost about two pounds, and while my clothes were still snug – they were less so.  When I lost five pounds my clothes actually fit and felt better.  When I lost ten pounds I found I was sleeping better.  When I lost fifteen pounds people I hadn’t seen since the end of 2012 noticed and commented on my weight loss.  Now that I’ve lost twenty pounds I can fit into clothes I haven’t worn in about two years, I sleep better, and I feel like I have more energy.
  • Looking forward.
    • They say success begets success.  Having lost a few pounds, I felt encouraged to lose five.  Having lost five, I felt ten was a reasonable goal.  Then fifteen, then twenty.  When I was twenty pounds heavier, the differential between what I used to eat and my 2000 daily caloric intake goal was enough to account for fairly easy weight loss that was also reasonably forgiving.  If I had an “off” day, I still had a pretty big caloric deficient which meant I was going to lose weight.
    • Now that my caloric intake and weight have reached something of an equilibrium, something has to change.  My weight loss has leveled out at twenty pounds.  With the differential between my caloric needs at this weight and my caloric intake pretty close, a single “off” day is enough to erase any caloric deficits I might have accumulated over a week’s time.
    • Either I need to reduce my caloric intake a little below 2000 (which is possibly a little on the high side for my height/frame), get more exercise, or realistically combine the two.
    • I’ve installed a chin up/pull up bar in a doorway in my house.  A very very very long time ago I used to do pull ups several times a day.  When I installed the bar last week I could do two in a row if I struggled.  Yesterday I did five in a row.
  1. Photo courtesy of m.a.r.c. []
  2. I call it “confessing” to Fitday. []
  3. One epic day saw me consuming 3,800 calories.  That was a GOOD day. []

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