Weigh-in #28: Back on track

Peak: 435 lb
Previous: 346.6lb
Current: 338.8lb
Loss this week: 7.8lb
Total Loss: 96.2lb

Food: 7/7. Exercise: 5/7.

Ok, so this was a great week, perhaps the most satisfying so far in terms of the effort I put in and discipline with my food. The big loss is inflated by last week’s gain-that-wasn’t -a-gain, if you average them out it is 3.7lb/week – which is still super.

Exercise was 3 weights + 2 cardio sessions and I felt kicked ass in all of them. I’m lifting heavier weights which is a very satisfying indication of progress. The gym I go to is a typical commercial gym, which means the weights room is 80% taken up by machines with 20% of the space for free-weights (machines are clearly for pussies ;)). I originally joined this gym because it is 50m from my apartment but it’s obvious to me now that their free-weights section is really poor; I’m thinking of moving gyms, but I’m not ready to give up the luxury of being able to pop over the road and workout (that’s helped me a lot, reducing barriers to going). My life gets mixed up a bit at the end of April, so perhaps I’ll try another gym then and perhaps overlap the memberships for a couple of months. I’m keen on getting my deadlift/benchpress/squat technique sorted which just won’t happen where I am now.

My cardio session last night was sah-weet! The gym was pretty busy and most machines were taken. So there I am, this big fat bloke just busting it out in front of everyone. Maybe it was just grannies and posers near me or something, but none of the other riders matched my intensity or duration. I’m sure there all doing there own thing which is great, but as a fat guy it’s a nice feeling when someone normal-sized sits down next to you and puts in half the workout you did. You can call me fat, but you can’t say I’m not working out hard.

On to my food. I already posted how the weekdays went – they were perfect. Those days broke down into 30% protein, 20% fat, 50% carbs which I’m really happy with. As long as my work routine stays the same I know I can keep that up indefinitely. The weekend was also solid but on both days my nicely scheduled weekday pattern went to shit. At the of the days though, I was still on budget and had mostly eaten clean.

So that’s that. Onto week #29 and the first shot at the 100lb milestone – perhaps a long shot for this week but let’s see. I wrote this before I weighed in, 3.8lb this week is totally doable! 🙂

Give or take a 100lbs

I was thinking this morning about how my life has changed since losing ~100lb. That’s a big number, but even when you put it in the context of a 400lb+ guy, 25% of your body weight is still significant. The surprising thing for me is that even though it’s a big loss, in many ways not much has changed.

My conclusion was that the difference between a 335lb guy and a 435lb guy isn’t a great deal. They are both obese, they both shop at plus-size stores and both have contempt for chairs with arms. One non-scale measurement I have is with my car’s seatbelt: at the start I maxed it out and now there is loads of give. That great, but neither of these guys fits in a Porsche. Don’t get me wrong, there are changes and I know who I’d rather be, but I’m not sure that my quality of life has increased proportionate to the amount of weight I’ve lost.

This got me thinking about the next 100lbs and what will change between now and then. I’m hoping for more, I’m expecting that there’s a bigger difference between 235lb and 335lb, than 335lb and 435lb. I do think there will be more things that I can do at 235lb, more non-scale victories.

I suppose what I’m getting at is the number on the scale doesn’t really matter, it’s all about how your life is improved (how ever you personally define that). The same is true for putting weight on as well. It’s like there are tiers to being overweight that are not directly tied to your weight; at one end you have the perfect beach body and at the other you get rescued by Jerry Springer. In between there all those other points at which we relate our lives to our body.

I think I’m starting to see that more clearly now.

Food This Week

Food This Week

This is probably my best food week so far.¬† I’m really happy with the consistency, every day follows the same pattern:-

  • Breakfast: Oats + banana + protein shake
  • Mid-morning snack: almonds, cashews and sultanas
  • Lunch: Chicken salad roll
  • Afternoon snack: piece of fruit
  • Dinner: 500 calories + piece of fruit
  • Protein shake before bed/after workout
  • + fish oil and flaxseed

I like this groove, it’s a comfortable routine that fits nicely around my day – I want to stay in it for a while :).

There Is No Spoon

There is no spoon

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

On the way home from work today I had a thought brewing about how my perspective has changed in the last 6 months. Back then I used to want to eat all the bad food I ate – I enjoyed it, eating was something I did for pleasure. But I don’t feel that way any more; eating certainly isn’t a hardship and I enjoy the act, but it’s not something I do specifically for pleasure.

My mental perception of normality has changed. Today it isn’t normal for me to eat cakes for fun so I don’t do it. I might still eat the odd piece of cake, but it is the exception not the rule. And when I do have a piece it becomes a big deal, I don’t make that decision lightly and I think about it a lot: “is it of a high enough quality to justify the calories?”, “does this occasion merit a treat?”, “can I offset this within my diet later?”, “will this affect my weigh-in?”, ¬†”what are the other options for this decision?“. That last question is really important: what are the easier options available to me? Perhaps instead of having cake and worrying about all these things, I can just have an apple instead – that’s the easier option. I can see a similarity with this thought process and when I used to try and go to the gym/eat healthy. Eating healthy then would be something abnormal so I’d start thinking about it a lot, debating the pros and cons of the decision. By doing this I’d come up with all the “little voice in my head” excuses (reasons) why eating bad food and sitting on my ass was the better option, the easier option.

There is also a cognitive bias to consider, the “status quo bias“, in which we “tend not to change an established behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling”. So when the established behavior is unhealthy, it takes more effort to do something healthy than when the established behavior is already healthy: this is perhaps why going to the gym is mentally easier for me than for someone at the beginning of their journey, and why it’s less likely that I’ll fall off the wagon and binge than he will.

Today it is normal for me to eat healthy. It is normal for me to go to the gym. It is normal for me to walk to work. I don’t spend any time thinking about a decision – I just do them. The things I do habitually I do on auto-pilot with no internal discussion. I no longer give myself the opportunity to talk myself out of going to the gym, I just get up and go. This is definitely one of the key differences between my life now and before, I’ve replaced my bad habits with good ones ‚Äî I wonder if this is the essence of making a lifestyle change?

Weigh-in #27: Fail!

Peak: 435 lb
Previous: 346.2lb
Current: 346.6lb
Gain this week: 0.4lb
Total Loss: 88.4lb

Food: 5/7. Exercise: 4/7.

Damn it! Everything was going so well during the week and then BOOM! The weekend!

It was my buddy’s birthday night out and I went down to London to celebrate with him. Not the best “calorie to fun” ratio, but still worth the deviation. I tried drinking less and for most of the day it worked, but it was still more than I’d have liked. I reckon I did myself some favours on the dance floor though, that was a workout! You shoulda seen the shapes I was throwing 😉 Before putting on party pounds, I was a comfortable 4lb down during the week, so really it was a great week and I expect the weight to melt away over the next couple of days.

The friend in question is also the first of my friends to bring up my weight-loss with me. I’m not sure if it’s a man-thing, or a me-thing or just normal for everyone, but talking about my weight is pretty damn taboo. It’s remarkable as we’ve been friends for 20yrs+ that this was the first time. He mentioned how my friends had been concerned about me, and noticed when I was bigger or smaller; there was a little bit of frustration/anger in his tone too, which I guess is understandable (I’d be pretty pissed at him if he was living a destructive lifestyle).

Another interesting moment came up over lunch, when the topic of conversation moved to fitness and going to the gym: my friend threw me a glance as if to say, “Jump in any time Harry!”, and I totally bottled it. I’m not ready to talk about this stuff in public, in front of my friends. I’m sure there will be a time when I am, but not now. Or perhaps I just need to get over it? It’s weird how I can even talk about talking about it with you, a “random stranger in the world”, but not some of my closest friends. I guess it’s inevitable that these conversations are going to happen more often, I need to get used to it sooner or later.

Hmn, there’s no partying scheduled for this week… 7/7? 🙂

Week 27: 3/7 To be sure to be sure

Alright! 3/7 and everything’s going well. Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Food today was:-

Oats + banana, splash of milk (300)
Protein shake + flaxseed (145)
Almond, cashew and sultana mix (250)
Chicken Salad roll (~500)
Prawn stir-fry (400)
Apple (80)
Protein shake + flaxseed (145)
.. and, of course, 1 Pint of Guinness (210)
Total: 2030

That’s pretty much a flawless day for me. I don’t drink Guinness every day of course, even though it’s “good for you” :). Normally “those” calories would be spent on an afternoon/evening treat. Things are definitely tighter now that I’m eating ~300 calories of protein shake, there’s not much room for me to deviate or indulge, but this is actually ok: I know a candy bar is going to make me go over budget, so having one isn’t even an option. KISS: less things to think about is less moving parts, which makes my weight-loss machine more reliable!

Gym today was 35 minutes on the recumbent bike, clocking in 14.5km on resistance level 8-10 (out of 25 max). ¬†I’ve been biking a lot recntly because my gym shorts are just too damn big for me ‚Äî if I do anything where I’m standing upright then there’s a good chance they’ll fall off! Sweet: even my workout clothes are now too big for me. /dance.

Week 27: 2/7. Standardising my food

Rock on! Another day of good calories and a solid weights session.

This week I’m tightening down on my meals, almost standardising them. For example for lunch I’d normally take my pick of 4-5 outlets near work each with their various options, but this week I’m keeping it simple: chicken salad roll from the same place every day. Breakfast is always the same for me (porridge + banana) so all I need to do now is nail my evening meals.

This is interesting. So far I’ve not really done any meal planning and haven’t felt like I’ve been on a “diet”, which I see as being a very structured and restrictive thing. The truth is, I think most people’s meals are already semi-structured: take the average person and analyse what they eat over a month and I’d expect the same meals to keep coming up. We have our favourite breakfasts, the same lunch choices and the things we like to make (or that people make us) in the evening

I’m trying to crowbar the pareto principle into this post but I’m not sure how to phrase it. My point is that the majority of the food we eat comes from a small number of meals. Perhaps 80% of the food we eat comes from 20% of our recipe¬†repertoire/available options?¬†That means you’ve only got to switch/learn a relatively small number of recipes to be able to have a large effect on your nutrition.

Come up with a couple of breakfast, lunch and snack options, learn 5 healthy evening meals and start living a healthy lifestyle. No one’s ever put “dieting” to me in that way before, I really like it as a concept – it seems much more doable.


Rather randomly I stumbled upon a TV programme today called “Diet or My Husband Dies“. For the people not in the UK, which is all of you, you’ll have to try and use a proxy or something to view it online. It’s about a couple where the man needs a kidney transplant and his wife is both a match and willing to donate – however she is too fat to do the surgery. DIET OR HE DIES! lol. Despite the title and melodrama it’s actually a good watch, with a lot of sound nutrition/fitness advice (because I’m an authority on that now, of course!). Lots of chat about lifestyle changes, lifting weights in the gym and, of course, protein shakes! It made me smile when I saw she was drinking them every day, it really does seem like that’s standard practice for healthy living/dieting. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but she loses the weight (60lb or so) donates the kidney and they all live happily ever after.

Bring on Wednesday!

Week 27: 1/7 and a good start

The last time I pulled out a stonking good week I blogged about it every day. Let’s see if that helps me out this time: we’re going for a 7/7 week for both exercise and food (well, 6 days down the gym and one rest day – I call that 7/7 ;)).

Today was an easy one. I worked from home so had no time pressure stopping me making the gym. I wasn’t up for weights so kicked things off with 35 mins cardio: recumbent bike, level 9-10 resistance and 14km covered in total.

Food has been on under 2k. Lunch was a monster (750 calories) but everything else was good. I still have enough left for my evening protein shake, which so far I’m finding not too bad to drink (although it is a “down in one” process, certainly nothing to savour!).

The big challenge is coming right up: I have my last cooking lesson this evening and the theme is chocolate. Just chocolate. Cakes, truffles, mousse and who knows what other tasty stuff the chef has planned (this is his speciality too). Old Me would scoff the lot as soon as they were made; New Me is going to take my chocolate goodies into work and score brownie points in the office.

Hmn, if I fatten them all up then perhaps I’ll look slimmer…