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10 years of weight loss and maintenance January 2, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Food, Health, Personal.
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The mid-2000s were an unhealthy period of my life. I repeatedly indulged in desserts and dinners. I went from normal weight to overweight to obese. I surpassed 200 pounds late in 2004 and climbed all the way to 233.4 when I stepped on the scale on the morning of January 2, 2007, ten years ago today. By then, even my size 42 pants were too small. Enough was enough. I vowed to go on a diet. My goal was 160 pounds.

This diet required a lot of discipline, going for long periods between meals, and limiting myself to under 2,000 calories. I had a little over 2,000 calories on January 2, but the days that followed saw my daily calories drop to 1,600. A typical day began at noon with an Atkins bar, which was 240 calories at the time. A few hours later, I would eat a can of Progresso soup, either Hearty Chicken and Rotini or Homestyle Chicken. At the time, both were 200 calories. An hour or two after that, I ate two cups of Ronzoni Ziti Rigati with 1/2 cup of Ragu Traditional or Meat Sauce and four teaspoons of Kraft Parmesan Cheese. For dessert, which came after another hour or two, I ate three 100 calorie packs of Pringles or Sun Chips. Eventually, those would be phased out in favor of either Special K vanilla or chocolate bars that were 90 calories each, and then Quaker Chewy Granola Bars that were 100 calories each.

Besides eating, I also made an effort to walk daily with the aid of a step counter that I attached to my belt. In my hour-long walks, I averaged around 6,000 steps.

While on my diet, I skipped Easter and Passover dinners, adhering to my routine. When I was in Florida in March to see the PGA Tour’s PODS Championship (now, the Valspar Championship) at Innisbrook Resort, where my grandparents lived, I stuck to my eating routine. My grandpa Carmen was nice enough to buy the foods that I ate daily for the four days I was down there. A few days before the trip, I fell below 200 pounds. By March 30, I broke 190. On April 27, I broke 180. I was below 170 on May 18.

I reached my goal of 160 pounds on June 16, and my body fat was below 20%, but I was not ready to stop. I continued my diet, falling below 150 pounds on July 24 and breaking 140 on September 7. I had lost 93 pounds in eight months!

I added calories to my daily intake, remaining below 2,000 per day until October 10.

In the following months, my weight hovered in the mid-to-upper 130s. My lowest weight was 134 on April 25, 2008, a day which also saw my lowest body fat: 11.7%. My body fat would hover within 12% (varying tenths of a point), occasionally breaking 13%.

Throughout my diet, I took selfies, though not in the common way, to document my progress. Here are those selfies, all from 2007:

January 30: 215.2 lbs.:
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February 19: 205.6 lbs.:
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March 5: 199.8 lbs.:
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March 30: 189.2 lbs.:
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April 20: 180.8 lbs.:
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May 9: 173.6 lbs.:
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May 29: 165 lbs.:
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June 16: 160 lbs.:
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July 3: 155.6 lbs.:
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July 16: 152 lbs.:
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August 3: 147.6 lbs.:
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August 26: 142 lbs.:
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October 1: 137.4 lbs.:
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October 28: 135.8 lbs.:
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I was still able to maintain my weight for the first half of 2009, but my body fat was regularly within 13% by this time.

Unfortunately, the second half of 2009 marked the beginning of my regain. At first, I was able to keep my weight in the low 140s, occasionally reaching the upper 130s. But by the summer of 2010, I was averaging mid-to-upper 140s. By late 2011, I was averaging the low-to-mid 150s.

After Hurricane Sandy, I had reached the upper 160s to low 170s, where I remained until August 27, 2013. That day, I weighed 173.2 pounds and vowed to begin a new diet. The weight loss was slow at first, but I was down 12 pounds on December 23. Unfortunately, Christmastime dinners and desserts followed. Eventually, I was able to find an under-2,000-calorie routine and stick with it most of the time. There were days where I faltered, but not many. I had broken 160 pounds a few times between January and March 2014, but always came back above 160. That changed after March 16. I have not been 160 or above since. I haven’t been 150 or above since June 29, 2014. I fell through the 140s thereafter. I went below 140 pounds several days between September and December, but no lower than 138.8 on two days in October. I otherwise hovered in the low 140s, except for two days after Thanksgiving when I topped out at 146.

I remained below 140 pounds between June 2015 and January 2016, even breaking 130 several times in October and November. After peaking at 144 pounds in early June 2016, I fell back below 140 by mid-June. I was able to hover in the low 130s starting in mid-July, with body fat staying within 11%, but Christmastime eating has put me in the mid-130s and increased my body fat to around 13%. That’s where I stand as of this post.

What helped me lose my weight the second time around time was running, rather than walking the first time, with the help of the Nike+ Running (now Nike+ Run Club) app on my iPhone. Between May 2013 and May 2015, I opted to run and walk. But then, I challenged myself to only run. If I needed to rest, I would stop, and the app would pause. My early runs were around three miles, then four, then five. Nowadays, I’ll run up around 7 1/2 miles, running above eight miles on a few occasions. My average pace has gone from around 15 minutes a mile, when I started, to between 7:30 and 8 minutes per mile today. From spring to fall, I ran outdoors, but I opted for the treadmill in the winter. So far this winter, I’ve continued to run outdoors. In April 2016, I began stretching before each run, something I should have done all along. I seldom experience stiffness thanks to those stretches. Friends say I should run in a 5K, 10K, or higher, but for now, I feel more comfortable running on my own, setting and achieving goals. In the early days, my goal was 80 miles a month. These days, I like to run at least 100 miles a month. It’s even more satisfying when I reach 130 or 140 miles. My first month above 130 miles was September 2015. In September 2016, I broke 140 miles. And just last month, I broke 150 miles. That’s high enough for me; I don’t want to overdo it.

Since August, my eating routine consists of a protein bar, almonds, Progresso soup, pasta, and six graham crackers. That’s around 2,000 calories. There are days when I’ll break that routine, which I hope will be few and far between in the months ahead.

If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, I wish you luck. Thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with a second diet before picture from August 2013 at Planting Fields Arboretum…
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…and an after picture from October 2016 during my live WCWP Homecoming Weekend radio show:
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