This week, I put back on all the weight I lost over the past year. All 52 pounds, and then some.
I took a backpack and stuffed in three 10-pound metal barbell plates. I wrapped a heavy towel around them so they wouldn’t clink around. While Nik strapped Malley to her chest in her baby carrier, I hoisted the backpack around my shoulders with a grunt. Then I took Malley’s diaper bag, which has spare diapers, toys, bottles, changing and nursing stuff, blankets, and a slew of Nik’s gear, and carried that on a shoulder too.
We walked a mile downtown to the public library at a decent pace, laden with stuff. Every so often the metal plates in the backpack rang together. I’d do a little dip and hike the bag up onto my shoulders. After we picked out six books and a DVD for Malley, I stuffed them into the pack. Then I lifted the pack onto my shoulders again, took the diaper bag on my left shoulder, and we walked a mile back home. Uphill.
When we got in, I weighed myself carrying all that shit: 209 pounds. Exactly one year ago, that’s more or less what I weighed naked.
I did that partly to remind myself what it was like when I was fatter, so I’ll know not to pull that shit again. It was very odd. It’s different than it used to be, because obviously I didn’t carry all my old weight on my shoulders. And I’m fitter and stronger than I ever have been, so I was able to carry that 52 pounds without a whole lot of trouble. At the same time, I felt the same twinges in my knees I used to feel. They were sore afterward the same way my knees used to be. My shins are tired too. To think I used to run like that. For miles. Jesus.
It took a year to shed the real stuff. I took the backpack and diaper bag off in about four seconds. That felt nice.
I thought I’d wrap up the year with a few stats. Because I’m a data nerd.
• Officially, I lost 52 pounds. I was 208 on Feb. 23, 2012, and today I’m 156 exactly. That means I lost an average of 1 pound a week, which was exactly my goal when I started. Go figure — it works.
• Unofficially, earlier that week when I started counting calories, I weighed 212, the highest number I’d seen on a scale. Which would mean a 56-pound loss. But who’s counting.
• I suspect I’d been heavier than that here and there, but I used to weigh myself very infrequently because it was scary.
• Here’s my weight chart for the year. It’s leveling off lately as I move from a weight loss mode more into a maintenance mode.
• I’m 2 pounds away from moving out of the “overweight” BMI level into “normal.” I might get there in a couple of weeks. Not that BMI matters, but whatever. It’s a milestone.
• I weighed myself about every other day, more or less. I don’t believe in the idea that you should weigh yourself rarely or only once a week. The reason why people say that is, I’ve heard, so you won’t get weird about the number. I prefer the approach of weighing yourself often and learning how not to be weird about the number. Fix the problem, not the symptom. That way you get lots of data (I ♥ data), but you also learn how your body gains and loses weight and why. You are not a number. You’re a free person. You’re also a range. Unless you get lots and lots of data, you have no idea what your range is. You’ll think you’re that one number for a week or a month or however infrequently you weigh yourself, and anything in between you’re guessing. Fuck guessing. Know. Get the knowledge. My range is anywhere from 156 to 158 throughout the day and from one day to another, depending on how much or how little water I’ve drank, how much salt I’ve had, how sore my muscles are, how much muscle-pump I have from lifting, if I’ve taken a shit or not, if I’ve eaten, if I’ve worked out, if my hair’s wet, and so on. You weigh yourself a lot and you figure out how the range ranges. Then the number on the scale doesn’t become scary anymore. It becomes one data point out of many. You conquer your fears by confronting them, not avoiding them. I don’t avoid the scale. I learned to use it.
• I ate almost the same thing almost every day. I ate salad nearly every day out of 366. Sometimes twice. I’m more than fine with that. My salads taste great.
• Number of times I ate cottage cheese: 208 out of 366. What can I say. I like it.
• Number of times I ate ice cream: 31.
• Number of times I drank beer: 5. Lately I don’t see why I’d ever want another, but that’s just me.
• Number of times I ate bacon: 276. Holy shit…
• Number of days when I didn’t log any food: 11. That means I logged at least some food 97% of the time. The days I skipped included those I spent at the hospital for my daughter’s birth, Christmas, New Year’s, and my birthday.
• When I started, I was regularly eating 160 to 180g of carbs a day or more, and less than 100g of protein. That worked for a bit. Then I eventually reversed those numbers. That’s when I really started to cut body fat and build more muscle.
• Number of times I had to drop a belt notch: either 8 or 9. Something like that.
• Average number of days per week I exercised: 3.08. Each time was about an hour. Less if I went for a run, which was rare.
• Number of times I went for a run: 22
• I still wish I’d taken tape measurements and photographs at the start so I could compare to now. I didn’t. That was stupid. I can tell you that in mid-September I took tape measurements. I was 174 pounds. My stomach around the belly button was 36”. Eighteen pounds down from that, it’s 34.25”. Around the fattest part of the ass, I was 41.5” in mid-September. I’m 38.5” around the ass now.
• I took a body-fat calculation with calipers, and it came out to 15.46%, but I don’t believe that. I’m more than that. Last time I took a measurement, on Jan. 1, I was 17.66%. And I don’t know if it’s likely I’ve dropped that much in that time. So let’s say I’m probably somewhere in the 16 to 18% range. I think I started somewhere in the 27% region. I don’t know for sure where I am without getting it professionally tested, which, no, it’s expensive and there’s not much point.
A year out, I don’t have too much to say about my progress that I haven’t blathered on about several times before: I ate well. I exercised only a few times a week. When I did, it was very hard. I rested often. I lifted weights that were very heavy for me at my newbie level, and I worked hard to get above that. I didn’t do things that were a waste of time. I kept good records, stuck with good habits almost every day, even when it was a pain in the ass. I didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t make great choices, and treated setbacks like an opportunity to do more work. I made it a mission to be successful at this. I’m not successful at this yet. If in a couple of years I’ve kept it off and improved, we’ll see. I’ll make breakfast, we’ll talk. Until then this is still a work in progress.
Below is me in October 2011. I was a little bigger than this, when I decided to start this bullshit in February 2012. Below that is me today.
Go and do likewise.
Or don’t. Do what you want. Or do nothing, if you’re happy. Not my business. I’ll be over here, squatting.
[Drops microphone] *