Week 23: The Thanksgiving Challenge

This is Thanksgiving week and I definitely have some anxiety. This whole holiday now revolves around overeating to the point where you are stuffed. This is not my goal and doesn’t help me.

My challenge for Thanksgiving day was my eating strategy as not to dramatically overdo it. I was ok if I was over my net calories by a bit, but not 1000+ calories over. I decided to eat conservatively for breakfast and lunch. Then, at dinner I made sure that half of my plate is taken up with vegetable dishes. Then, a little turkey and 1 tablespoon or less of each of the starches and other sides. Plus, I slowly drank 2 glasses of wine. I went back for a small amount of seconds, most veggies. And I had a very small piece of pumpkin pie, enough to enjoy but not have a calorie bomb. In the end, I actually wish I had eaten more and I didn’t go over my calorie target at all.

I didn’t starve myself and don’t feel bad at all about stopping myself from going hog wild. Food is fuel as a primary goal and enjoyment is a good byproduct. But, I am not going to allow myself to use a ton of food as entertainment. The company and togetherness is the goal and enjoying the moment is the best part. Allowing myself a 100% unconstrained eating experience does not move me toward my goal, it is a counter-productive distraction from the goal.

In addition to my Thanksgiving eating strategy, I did a pretty good workout at the gym the afternoon before Thanksgiving. Then, on Thanksgiving day I took a nice long walk in the afternoon before going to dinner and most of Friday was high-activity starting at the gym and then hiking with Liz.

As a result of my commitment to conservative eating and ensuring adequate exercise, I actually lost weight on Thanksgiving. How many people can say that?! Unfortunately, after that point, my weight has climbed for 3 straight days.

Some other interesting things that I learned this week… My alcohol tolerance has significantly decreased and the threshold for what causes a hangover is way lower. Even though my water intake is way high and I drink less, it has become very easy to feel hungover in the morning. Also, I am starting to see some tone start developing in my muscles, so that is very positive. But, I have also started developing some loose skin that I hope gets reabsorbed over time.

Finally, I am starting to understand what people mean when then get into “the zone” in the gym. I have hit points where I am so focused on the treadmill that I lose track of time. So, I am hoping that continues and my progress does too.

Last week’s stats:
Distance walked/run: 31.7 miles
Total calories burnt: 27,240
Total calories consumed: 13,961
Weight change: 1.6 pounds lost

Week 22: Getting Back On Track

After a pretty uninspiring week last week, I am seeing some new progress this week. I had a couple day of missed workouts and my weight fluctuated up a bit. Then, by mid-week, I started getting back into the regular routine of working on and saw some progress. I started seeing my weight more consistently getting to the 259 mark.

On Saturday, I dedicated a lot of time to exercise. I went to the gym for a workout and did a pretty good workout and burnt a ton of calories. Then, I got home from the gym and noticed that the weather was pretty nice. So, I went out for a second workout outdoors with a run around the neighborhood. Then, later in the afternoon, I went out for another walk. These are choices I would never have made on a Saturday morning/afternoon before this journey began and I am happy that it is requiring less and less willpower to keep moving and it is starting to become more of a habit.

A new issue I am starting to develop is that I am starting to struggle a bit with my daily calorie target. My daily calorie target is 2100 given my current weight. Unfortunately, one craft beer (which I really like) is 240 calories or more (more than 10% of my target). So, it is getting much harder to fit in everything in my calorie target and the importance of calorie burn through exercise increases.

Related to my calorie target is a mental struggle too. I have dropped my daily calorie target from 3000+ to 2100 in the span of 5 months. I think this physical change has happened faster than my brain changing to understand it. My brain doesn’t want fewer calories yet even though my body physiologically needs fewer calories. So, I still have cravings here and there that I need to manage. That was something unexpected for me and something that will take some work to manage. Plus, I am going to have to get ok with drinking WAY slower when I drink in order to stretch the calorie consumption over a longer period of time.

This whole journey has been a lot of work for me and has required commitment and focus. So far, I have done great with that and have managed to lose 20% of my body weigh in 5 months. I am very proud of that accomplishment and most people never achieve what I have achieved. But, I think the next chapter is going to be even more difficult. The weight burns off way more slowly now and there are more days where I gain than there used to be. My body is more sensitive to peaks and valleys of consumption now than it used to be. My heart and lungs are becoming more efficient, so the same exercise is less impactful than when I started. But, my running endurance has not ramped up as quickly as I had hoped and I struggle with more than 2 minutes of running. I have not done a good job with putting together a plan for the gym, so I do the same things there, I meander around and get bored. I know I can do this, but it is harder than it was to achieve the same successes.

One other win this week is in my cardio fitness score measured by my Fitbit. I started in the range of “Poor to Fair” and this week I moved fully into the “Average” category after spending a month or more in the “Fair to Average” category. I really hope this is real and my heart health has really improved this much.

Last week’s stats:
Distance walked/run: 26.9 miles
Total calories burnt: 25,614
Total calories consumed: 13,180
Weight change: 1 pound lost

Week 21: Unexciting Week in My Journey

This was pretty much just a ho-hum week in my fitness journey. I got some good workouts in and tried to make mostly good decisions. But, a long weekend at Indian Lake hurt a bit because it was too cold to go outside for a run (though we worked in one hike) and calorie consumption usually goes up when there. Plus, it was another week (albeit 4 days) of excessive stress that left me so drained that I was falling asleep before 10p each night, which is abnormal for me.

On a positive note, there was one morning this week that my weight dipped below 260 and I was in the 250s. I did a fairly good job of managing my calorie intake even with alcohol and junk food at the lake. So, it wasn’t all bad in the health department.

Plus, this was another week where it seemed like more people are noticing the changes. I had several people come up to me and make comments about my weight loss. I really think a lot of that was related to some new jeans that I bought. I bought the jeans at Target! I cannot remember the last time that I could go into a Target and buy clothes to fit me. That is progress.

Last week’s stats:
Distance walked/run: 33.2 miles
Total calories burnt: 27,840
Total calories consumed: 14,434
Weight change: 2.4 pounds lost

Week 20: Birthday Week Wins and Losses

My birthday week is now complete and I did celebrate a bit too much. I had a delicious Mexican lunch with my team at work and they got me a cake. All wonderful. Then, I had a huge birthday dinner that I referred to a s brutal calorie assault. Add to that some pretty heavy drinking and it wasn’t my healthiest choice yet. The next day, I was up 3 pounds, which is clearly temporary water retention and unprocessed food in me because that is not biologically possible.

On the topic of biological mysteries… I had a killer workout on Saturday. I walked/ran over 16,000 steps and 6 miles. I had 2 total hours of exercise. I even extended my running duration even a bit further than I have to-date. I burnt about 5,000 total calories and stayed at my consumption target for the day. In all ways, that should translate to weight lost. But, I was .6 pounds heavier the next morning.

I have thought, up until now, that the big temporary weight gains were related to alcohol intake. I had pretty much convinced myself of that. Then, I ended up drinking on a planned non-drinking day this week (perhaps related to ridiculous levels of work stress) and the next morning I had lost 4 pounds. So, it is becoming clearer to me each day that I really don’t understand my body.

On a positive note, I have hit a new low weight this week even with all of the fluctuations. At one point this week, I was down to 261 pounds. At the same time, I have learned something else new, weight loss impacts the size of your fingers. My wedding ring has started falling off and I have even accidentally flung it across the room because it is so lose. This is a fascinating result of weight loss that I would never have thought possible, though it makes sense once you think about it. But, this also means that I am at my smallest point in at least the nearly 17 years we have been married.

Last week’s stats:
Distance walked/run: 28.4 miles
Total calories burnt: 26,962
Total calories consumed: 14,439
Weight change: 5.1 pounds lost