A word on weight loss

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This journal entry is about my weight loss project. Since June, 2001, I’ve lost 45 pounds. I didn’t use fat blockers, get my stomach stapled or learn faux-boxing with Ty. People have asked me how I did it, so here’s my secret:

Don’t eat so much and try to move around a bit.

Because I live most of my life in my head, I was never one to think much about my physical health. As long as my body didn’t interfer with my brain, that was good enough. Besides, I pretty much looked like I did in high school, right?

That illusion came to an end last year for a number of personal reasons. One way you can tell if you’re overweight (or in my case, obese) is to use the Body Mass Index (BMI) tables provided by the US Center for Disease Control. This is a good way to estimate how much weight, if any, you ought to lose. The index is a number derived from your height and weight. Adults should ideally have a BMI between 19-24.9. When I started my BMI was over 30, indicating that I was in the initial stages of obesity. You can find before and after pictures of me on Taskboy.

With the problem identified, a solution could now be sought. The first thing to understand about weight loss is that you got fat in the first place from your lifestyle. Being a programmer, I tend to sit around the house. I don’t enjoy running, nor did I at the time have any physically demanding activities. The other problem is that I ate whatever and whenever I wanted to. I drank a lot of really good beer. This combination of eating indisciminately and not moving is the most effective way to become a lardbutt.

In order to stop gaining weight, I had to modify some of my behaviors. To lose weight, I needed to commit to long-term plan.

I’m a lazy guy. Dragging my butt to gym and eating celery sticks for lunch is as appealling to me as getting bamboo sticks shoved between my fingernails. Here was and is my strategy:

  • cut back on beer (ouch)
  • do pushups 5 days a week
  • walk around my local park 5 days a week
  • eat diet frozen dinners or salads for lunch and dinner. Have ceral and (100%) juice for breakfast.
  • take up biking
  • go off plan once in a while

Most dietary experts I came across suggest that you should only lose 1-2 pounds a week safely. When I started actively trying to lose weight, I was 215 lbs. I wanted to be 170 lbs. At best, I was looking at a 23 week program, but more realistically a 45 week one. In other words, I wasn’t going to lose the weight in a week, or a month or two. I think this is the hardest part about weight loss. It’s a long term commitment.

Life goes on, despite our best efforts to halt the world for a moment. I knew that I wasn’t going tto follow a strict regiment for 10 months without some deviations. Like I said, I’m lazy and not into pain.

My exercise started very modestly. I think I was doing 5 pushups and walking 1.5-3 miles a day for the first month. I pushed myself to do more as the weeks when on. At some point during late winter, I was doing 40 pushups and walking 6 miles a day. This translates to about 2 hours of continuous excerise. It’s enough to build up a sweat, but not enough to require time in a hot tub (that’s optional).

I think what helped me stay on track was that I built a web tool, called Thinner, to track my exercise and morning weight. It uses MySQL on the backend, so I am able to create graphs of my progress (or lack thereof). Instead of that, let me reproduce a table of my average weight and BMI for the last 10 months.

+——————————-+——————+———-+ | date | avg (lbs.) | BMI | +——————————-+——————+———-+ | 2001, 06 (June) | 215.00 | 30.85 | | 2001, 11 (November) | 205.00 | 29.41 | | 2001, 12 (December) | 200.20 | 28.72 | | 2002, 01 (January) | 192.48 | 27.62 | | 2002, 02 (February) | 186.00 | 26.69 | | 2002, 03 (March) | 179.92 | 25.81 | | 2002, 04 (April) | 172.86 | 24.80 | | 2002, 05 (May) | 169.92 | 24.38 | +——————————-+——————+———-+

More SQL fun can be had. Here’s the total number of miles I walked by month.

+——————————-+———————+————-+ | date | miles walked | avg/day | +——————————-+———————+————-+ | 2001, 06 (June) | 0 | 0.00 | | 2001, 11 (November) | 1 | 1.00 | | 2001, 12 (December) | 104.5 | 3.48 | | 2002, 01 (January) | 129.5 | 4.18 | | 2002, 02 (February) | 95 | 3.39 | | 2002, 03 (March) | 122 | 3.94 | | 2002, 04 (April) | 75.5 | 2.60 | | 2002, 05 (May) | 51.5 | 1.66 | +——————————-+———————+————-+

Finally, here’s a glimse at my push-up record.

+——————————-+—————+————-+ | date | Push-Ups | avg/day | +——————————-+—————+————-+ | 2001, 06 (June) | 0 | 0.00 | | 2001, 11 (November) | 0 | 0.00 | | 2001, 12 (December) | 305 | 10.17 | | 2002, 01 (January) | 510 | 16.45 | | 2002, 02 (February) | 447 | 15.96 | | 2002, 03 (March) | 751 | 24.23 | | 2002, 04 (April) | 589 | 20.31 | | 2002, 05 (May) | 487 | 15.71 | +——————————-+—————+————-+

You’ll notice a huge gap between June, 2001 and December, 2001. That’s because I hadn’t committed to diet and excerise. Unfortunately, you cannot lose weight without both. The good news is you don’t need to live a gym (or even go to one) to lose a small child’s worth of weight. It just takes time.

Hope this helps.

[Original use.perl.org post and comments.]