Now more than 100 days into the plan, I am reevaluating where I've been, where I am currently, and where I still want to go. Losing 70 pounds has been amazing. But has that success changed my original plans and goals?
I went to see my doctor last week. The nurse weighed me and then went to input the digits into the computer charts. When she hit enter, I saw the red flag pop up on the screen alerting her to a potential error. I just watched for the expression on her face as she realized there was a huge differential from the last time I saw her less than six months ago. She looked at the screen, looked at me, then back to the screen. "Did you, uh... Have you lost weight recently?"
And while I get the congratulations, handshakes, and high fives for the success of losing more than 70 pounds so far, I am also hearing the "Yeah, but..." as well. You know, the people that tell you their weight loss story and then a few months later it's all back? Not going to lie, I don't need that pessimism in my life--though I understand where it comes from. Because while hundreds of pounds are regularly shed, they are also regularly put back on.
Wardrobe malfunctions, compliments, and the cure for the fear of being photographed: Five milestones in my journey to better health that make me hungry for more gains as I lose weight.
I've heard you're not supposed to step on the scale every day when you're trying to lose weight. But as I got closer to my next milestone, I found myself stepping on the scale every morning. Over the years of struggling to lose weight, I had never been able to pass below 250 pounds. I would get close, but always plateau just before and then start climbing again.
Since starting this new plan, I have had 250 circled as a milestone to celebrate. Losing 10, 20, and 50 pounds was exciting. But I wanted to be below 250. When Week 11 ended, I was at 253.8. So close, but not there yet. In the days leading up to the Week 12 weigh in, I was stepping on the scale everyday. I wanted to see and remember the moment I got below 250. As the day approached, I had to fight discouragement as two days the scale showed I had gone back up to 255. Then came my Thursday morning weigh in...
I'm now in Week 10 of my health plan, and down 58 pounds overall! In fact, I was recently looking at a picture my health coach posted of my wife and me from a year ago side by side with one from a week ago. The results speak for themselves. I have so much to be excited about, and don't misunderstand as you continue reading--I am very excited by the transformation I am experiencing.
But in Week 10 I'm not quite half way to my overall goal. And while I am not really facing discouragement in the program, I did catch myself thinking about other things this week. Part of my health plan includes being in a closed Facebook group with many others who are on similar journeys as mine. Once in a while I will see someone post about how they had a slice of birthday cake or they allowed themselves to eat this meal or that item that isn't in the plan. This week, I saw half a dozen or so such posts, and I realized, I wanted to eat something else as well. I love vegetarian sushi--with avocado, asparagus, and cucumber. And I love cheese enchiladas with refried beans and rice. And for just a moment I found myself reconciling how I could do have it. It's been 10 weeks, I could just...
It's been 9 weeks since I started this new plan. I just read my Day 1 and Week 1 entries to my blog. It's amazing to me how just a few short weeks can revolutionize your life. When I started Day 1, I was over 310 pounds, couldn't walk to the mailbox without getting winded, and in general a train-wreck when it came to personal health.
Fast forward 63 short days, and it's quite a different story. So far I've lost 55 pounds and am almost half way to my ideal weight goal. Before I started the plan, I was needing to buy new clothes because I was getting to big for what I had. Now, I'm needing to buy new clothes because I am getting to small for what I have. In fact, it has been fun to pull clothes out of the closet that I saved because I was "going to get back into them someday." Now I'm in all of those clothes, and in another two or three weeks, they will be too big as well.
After 21 days, I realized I was grinding based on will-power and self-determination with a lot of encouragement from my health coach, wife, and friends. But the choices I was making weren't based on any habits.
They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. So at the end of Week 3 I did a self-examination to see what new habits I've formed. After all, I want this weight to stay off when I reach my goals. No going back to 300+ pounds again for me. In fact, I don't even want to get up to the 250s! I determined after 21 days, I didn't have any new habits formed. I was grinding based on will-power and self-determination with a lot of encouragement from my health coach, wife, and friends. But the choices I was making weren't based on any habits.
Then I read, and subsequently wrote that the 21-days-to-a-new-habit concept is really a myth, that it really takes closer to 66 days for a new habit. Now almost to day 66 myself, I'm revisiting that earlier blog with some startling conclusions:
First, I'm not missing anything. Sure, every once in a while I would like a bagel or a doughnut. But different from day one, doughnuts aren't a temptation to me anymore. I took my kids to ice cream the other night, and it didn't bother me in the least to just watch. Out with friends at a pizza place, I ate a salad. At a wedding reception last weekend I realized that the food being served would be okay to eat, but it really wasn't in my plan. So, I skipped it and ate later. On Day 21, it would have been difficult if not painful to do that. Today, it's about feeling good--not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.
On Day 21 I wrote that I was in Phase 2 of habit formation--having to fight through. Because at Day 21 I still wanted pizza and fettuccine alfredo and ice cream. Today, because I've been litigious and regimented in my health plan, I can honestly say I am in Phase 3 of positive habit formation. What I'm doing has become second nature. I don't wince passing the buffet anymore. I'm finding it easier and easier to say, "No thank you." And I don't have the feeling of missing out that I used to endure.
But, if you're where I am, be mindful of this caution. Being in Phase 3 can also give the feeling of invincibility. And with invincibility comes the possibility of backsliding. To combat this, I constantly remind myself that it's easier to make bad habits than good ones. Good ones you have to work at. But when you do, the rewards are immeasurably better.
Here are 3 things that helped my stay focused and allowed me to build new, healthier habits.
1. Every day is Day 1. Even though I've completed more than 60 days, in my mind, I'm still on day 1. Every day is a new day and an opportunity for success. Every new day is the beginning of the rest of my life--therefore, I want it to count.
2. Remember were I was--daily. As long as I remember where I was and what stimulated my desire for change in my life, I am less likely to revert back. I didn't like where I was--why would I want to go back to it?
3. Talk about what I'm doing to others. I'm amazed at how many people are interested in what I'm doing. In a way, I get to be an inspiration for someone else, and don't kid yourself, that feels good. Talking about it also builds in accountability. It's amazing how much more disciplined I am becoming as I share my story and goals with others. Not only that, it helps them to know and be an encouragement to me as well.
Week 9, 63 Days--Down 55 pounds overall.
On to Week 10 and more victories... and more good habits!
If you missed my post on Day 21 about Habits, here is the link:
I remember the first time I decided I was going to lose weight. It was the summer before my senior year of college. I had just gone form a 34" waist in my jeans to 36", and I didn't like it. I decided that summer I was going to get back down to 34s. To accomplish this, I decided follow a catabolic diet where what you eat takes more energy to digest than the number of calories you take in. Raw foods such as carrots, broccoli, and celery became my staple. I was bound and determined to get back down to a 32" waist. Fast forward to the end of the summer...I was still a 36.
Losing weight is also about gaining. Every day is a process of learning and growing. While some focus on diet and exercise, I've realized it's more about understanding and managing my thoughts and behavior.
It's not that it wasn't a good plan or idea. But all these years later I realize I wasn't invested in the plan. Yes, I ate lots of raw carrots and celery. But I also ate lots of pizza, enchiladas, and drank lots of soft drinks. I did this telling myself it was okay because I was eating lots of celery and broccoli.
No I didn't gain any weight that summer, but I certainly didn't lose anything either. In fact, until eight weeks ago, I had only every successfully continued to gain weight.
Over the years I've tried different things to lose it though. I've done Weight Watchers, a program my friend put me on, and juicing. In every case, I lost some weight, but within a year, it was all back.
As a result, I have been asked, "What will be different this time?" I'm glad they asked.
Losing weight is also about gaining. Every day is a process of learning and growing. While some focus on diet and exercise, I've realized it's more about understanding and managing my thoughts and behavior. Everyday is about gaining self-discipline, self-acceptance, and self-awareness. It's about understanding struggles, challenges, and temptations. It's about celebrating victories, triumphs, and the positive changes happening not only in my overall health, but also in my physical appearance.
Here are 5 things that losing 50 pounds has taught me that I believe are going to make this weight loss experience a permanent one.
5. Understand Your "WHY"
It' can't just be about losing weight. If it is, you'll undoubtedly gain it back eventually. Everyone has their reasons. For me, I realized I was only surviving each day, but I longed for more. I wanted enjoyment. I wanted to be able to run and play with my kids and not feel like a heart attack was imminent. Understanding your "why" is more about having a change of heart--not just a change of mind.
4. Stay Balanced
This is really overlaps all my points, but in my experience, I needed it to be a conscious part of what I'm doing. Many people live life from one extreme to another. They go "all in" on this program or that idea. Then sometime later, they flame and return to their old ways. For me its a process. My diet is just one component of my overall health plan. In general, I'm eating better, drinking more water, sleeping more, relaxing more, and walking more. So while some may see my diet as radical, I think it's because in the balance of things, it's producing radical results.
3. Stop Comparing Myself With Others
I may be losing weight faster than some, slower than others. What difference does it make? What I've discovered is that when I compare myself with others, one of two things happens: Either I get discouraged because my results weren't as good, or I get a false sense of accomplishment because I may have out-performed someone. At the end of the day, I am who I am. I've learned to be okay with that. Being okay with it takes the stress off. And less stress makes it easier to lose weight!
2. Filter Out the Negative
I'm glad I have some friends that have asked me what's going to be different this time. They have forced me to make this a total, balanced, journey to better health. But in reality, their question has a negative connotation. I'm discovering that I don't want to hang out with the people who are not supportive of my journey. But through my personal, ever growing optimism, I'm actually discovering that more people are positive of my life-changes. In fact, my results are obvious, many have asked what I'm doing because they want to do something too! All this is an encouragement and helps keep me on the path.
1. I Still Have to Live
A few weeks ago I was lamenting to my health coach my fear of failure during two weeks where I would traveling and having to eat out. She made a comment that has helped me relax and stay balanced: "Ben, you still have to live." Now, I don't worry about going out to eat. I will find things that keep me on plan. But even when I can't find something exactly on plan, I am learning to be sensible and exercise self-discipline in my order, while at the same time enjoying and even embracing the experience with friends.
WEEK 8 Results:
Overall Weight Loss: 51.7 pounds