28 March 2019

Sometime last year, probably August when I was staring at a birthday barreling down on me, I had another enough-is-enough moment and decided that this was it, I was damn well going to lose some weight.

I'd had those moments before. Be all rah-rah about it, lose a few pounds, get less rah-rah, and gain it back. I turned to fad diets because why the hell not, and because I wanted fast results.

I still want fast results, but for once I wanted to approach the whole thing with a realistic bent. And I didn't want to dive in hard, because the Boy's wedding was approaching and I didn't want to buy clothes for it that would end up not fitting on his wedding day.  With his bride's help, I picked out some spiffy things that I liked, and I was damn well going to wear them.

Still, I lost about 6 pounds before the wedding, and promptly gained back 3 because of the food we ate that week...and I was totally cool with that.

When we got home, the Spouse Thingy and I both decided to be sane about this for once. No more fad diets. No Jenny Craig (even though we liked the food), no Nutrisystem, no keto or paleo or Whole30. sensible. Nothing is off the table. But accountability is definitely on the table.

I'd been using MyFitnessPal for years (1449 day streak, woohoo!) but not as seriously as I could have. He downloaded it, and we started paying attention. Since I also have a Fitbit scale, I was able to look back and track when I'd gained and when I'd lost, and go back and see how and what I was eating. It was a little disheartening at first, because I really haven't been overeating in the last few years.

I just hadn't accounted for a dead slow metabolism. By every metric I could find online, I should have been losing about a pound a week. I kept my intake to 1300-1400 calories most days, rarely going over 1500. I didn't allow for the things that set me apart from most people: zero--and I mean zero--growth hormone, which even at my age would give me a bit of a boost in terms of lean muscle mass, which aids in how much energy you burn; hormones out of whack because of the pituitary tumor, and a host of other things.

The answer, the same as it is for anyone, is to burn more calories than I take in. Common sense. No one is immune to the laws of thermodynamics; if you burn more than you take in, you're going to lose weight. The problem is figuring out where the tipping point is. Just because the average person of your height, weight, and gender can eat 1500 calories a day and lose a pound a week doesn't mean you will, as well.

And I had to get that into my head.

I dropped my calories bit by bit until I figured out where I needed to be to lose. I wasn't happy about it because it's not a lot of food. I like food. When I dropped to 1100 a day--less than the minimum recommended for women--I started to lose. And while I didn't feel hungry, I knew I needed more.

So I started riding the hell out of my pretty electric bike. It was my favorite toy, so that wasn't a problem. I wore a heart rate monitor, tracked the calories I burned, increased my mileage, and ate back less than half those calories. It was enough to get the scale to move, and I got to eat a little more. Win-win.

But eventually, it took seriously long rides to get to the calorie burn I wanted. I love my pink bike, but 20 miles takes a while, and this town is small and riding the same streets 10 times a day gets old. My heart rate wasn't getting as high as it had, and while it was technically still in the burn zone for my age, I didn't feel like I was getting a good enough workout.

I've been following this one guy online for a while now, reading posts he's made about his journey to fitness. Last year around this time, he was over 400 pounds and had also had enough. He has kids, he wants to play with them with the energy they deserve. So he sat down, did the math, figured out how much he was taking in every day and how much he needed to cut to lose...and then bought a bike.

He started with a cheap bike from a big box store, and hated it. He hated it so much that after a few weeks it wound up in his shed, and he started asking online about why other people seemed to ride so easily, even heavy, and he couldn't. The answer--get properly fit for a bike. Then get a better bike. It didn't have to be expensive, but it needed to fit his body and riding style.

So he did, the ride was easier, and a couple weeks ago he did his first century ride. 100 miles.

He weighed himself the morning of the ride and was 190 pounds.

I'd already gone to a local bike shop and had a casual fitting, and bought a road bike. Riding it was a hell of a lot easier than I expected, though I honestly don't think I could have taken off on it the way I have if not for all the miles on the electric bike. But reading about his victory and how he got from 400+ to riding 100 miles in a day, and knowing how much happier he is, made me a bit more determined.

No one said I couldn't take Starbucks breaks...
 This isn't just about weight. It's about being healthy. Having energy. I have a goal weight in mind but if I get to where I feel fantastic and am happy with where I am, I'll work for maintenance.

I'd be lying if I said I don't care what I look like. I don't like being fat. I really hate my turkey-waddle-multiple chins. And along with my weight goal, I want to be able to wear a tight t-shirt and feel great about it.

Mostly, I want to be okay.

And just as much...I want to be able to get on the not-pink bike and ride for hours at a time. Maybe not a century ride, but a half century would be aces.

No more fad diets. No torturing myself over food, no telling myself that I'm cheating for eating pizza, that I'm being bad if I have a cookie. attention to what I'm eating, keep moving, and for once, don't give up.

No more dieting at all.

Eat. Move. Be well. And bike, like, a hell of a lot.


Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

I'm not a weight expert. I don't even play one on TV. But one thing I've learned from reading serious health articles is that trying to lose weight by dieting is a real Catch-22.

When you eat less, your basal metabolism slows down to adjust for the fewer calories and nutrients. The best way to lose weight is to eat a good standard diet of some meat and mostly veggies and fruits, and increase your activity. Muscles burn more calories just by existing, and veggies and fruits provide nutrients more efficiently than almost anything pre-prepared.

I don't exercise deliberately. I do yardwork and gardening. I gain about 5 pounds during the Winter and than it goes away naturally during the Summer months. My weight hasn't changed in the past decade.

I would probably jog around the block once a day, or cycle around sometimes, but my right knee complains too much and I get muscle cramps. Well, I'm going on 69 and some parts aren't what they were at 30, LOL!

Thumper said...

Generally, the effect on basal metabolism happens to people who lose massive amounts of weight in short periods of time--like the contestants on The Biggest Loser. Losing a pound a week isn't going to have that negative effect.

And I can kiss off using more muscle mass to jack up my metabolism--I don't have the hormones necessary to really gain any. I can get stronger, but only so much, unless I go back on HGH, and I doubt my doc will prescribe it again.

caircair said...

I've long found it sad that, in our culture, when a woman talks about how she's been bad, she's usually talking about food. When a man talks about how he's been bad, he's usually talking about other women.