...hopeful for a chance at that Chicago 2023 start line.
Studies have shown that each heel strike produces a force that is equal to 3 - 4 times your bodyweight." So, that extra twenty pounds equates to 80 pounds of force applied to my knee with every step. That's significant. Significant enough that I don't think I can realistically both train & heal unless I do something about it first.
My so-called diet ends at midnight tonight and with one last weigh in tomorrow morning I'll have whatever final number goes into my spreadsheet and tracking app and logs into my brain as my starting weight for a summer of marathon training.
All that said, I don't think that number is going to budge much from where it landed this morning and where "officially" still in the boundaries of said diet I'm going to call it and note it and write a short little epilogue to my blogging thread here.
How did it all pan out?
official weight change: -22.8 lbs
compared to original goal: 2.8 lbs better than planned
time spent: 66 days (or 9.4 weeks)
largest gap: -25.6 lbs (unofficial, highest/lowest weigh ins)
change in bmi: -3.2 points
change in body mass: -10.6%
change in pant size: -4 (36 to 32)
Some other subjective food notes worth pointing out...
breakfasts: variations on sourdough toast, jam, natural peanut butter, eggs, coffee, avoiding "dessert for breakfast" except for pancake Saturdays with the family
lunches: whole food approach including beans, fish, salad bowls, or small portion leftovers (when at home) or Subway, rice bowls, light sandwiches (when at the office)
suppers: modest portions of almost anything, including occasionally pizza, fried foods, etc. noting that the key here for me was portion control more than specific restrictions, rarely eating out (but not never eating out)
condiments: no cream-based or oil-based, only vinegar-based mustards or hot sauces
snacking: virtually none
desserts: limited to weekends or "special days"
alcohol: same as desserts, and at most two servings
Of course people who might want to follow this may also be interested to know that while I attribute the loss about 80/20 to food/exercise, I was ramping up to start a marathon training plan for the summer (read the other posts!) which undoubtably factored into the daily caloric calculation needs for my body.
distance run during diet: approximately 290 km
steps walked: approximately 1.2 million (no, really)
other activity: basic cross training, swimming, physiotherapy for my knee
I've false started on serious diet plans a half dozen times in the last ten years. Why this one worked this time, I don't know for sure.
Motivation for my race was definitely a factor, and being in a good place mentally and emotionally at the start of it certainly helped. Heck knows I had some trying days at work and with some personal stuff over the course of things, but I carried on with the momentum I had during those two months to see me through. It also helped that there wasn't much for big family meals or candy-focused holidays (save for Valentine's Day) during that span, and we only went out of town on a vacation once making meal planning at home and work the focus of the effort.
This was never meant to be an advice column for dieters though. Everyone is different. Everyone needs their own plan, but I'll go back to what I wrote in my much earlier posts at the start of this effort: in the end, all of this comes down to one thing... willpower. Every diet plan, every app, every club, every system that you might sign up for, pay for, subscribe to or join all boils down to just making good decisions 98% of the time for the duration of your effort. Those thing can help, if you let them, but in the end it's an agreement with you and your body to make those decisions consistently. Set a plan. Set a goal. Hack you own brain with shortcuts, lists, recipes, and a properly stocked pantry so that when those decisions need to be made they are easy (or already made for you in advance). And set a timeline. Don't diet forever. Set a date and go. And that's as close to advice as I'm going to give.
Thanks for reading.
I seem to have lost 20 pounds. If anyone finds it, please just keep it or throw it away. I don't want it back.
For multiple days in a row my morning weigh in has landed at or below my goal weight, so...
… my "confident to report" status is currently, happily, joyfully at… 20 down, 0 to go, and 7 days until my training starts.
Yeah, you're reading that right. Success has been found in twenty missing pounds.
Am I done?
Well, objectively yes. I've crossed the finish line and the race has been won. Hard fought. Two months of carefully planning every morsel of food that I eat and ramping up my running distance to accompany it. Objectively, if someone asked me how it all went, I'm going to say I did it. I lost it. I met and slightly surpassed my goal.
But am I done?
On the other hand, I have a few days left until Easter. My super-goal (the one in my head that I never mentioned here) was actually to lose 21.5 pounds. Why 21.5? A couple reasons. First, it gives me a little rebound buffer, which is something that I'm going to need to watch, track and guard against for the next month or so. But second, twenty-one point five is exactly ten percent of two hundred and fifteen, which was my official starting weight. So, to end this whole thing next week by saying I lost ten percent of my body weight... I'm a maths nerd, what can I say?
But really, am I done?
I'm going to have a minor cheat day today. Nothing crazy. Not a heaping hot fudge Sunday to finish of a bucket of fried chicken sort of cheat day. But I've got lunch plans and I'm going to eat semi-healthy but off-tracker. Second, since it's spring break we're going out to a movie tonight and I'll be damned if I skip the popcorn. So. A couple little things... and then back to it for just one more week.
Then training begins and the rebound-prevention plan begins and the spring and summer start to roll in and...
I did this whole thing to build a healthier starting point for a summer of marathon training. I knew I could not even entertain the idea of being in a "I'm on a diet" mindset while I was simultaneously training for and epic distance race like a marathon. No way. I would literally injure myself nutritionally. So, as I ramp up my distances towards twenty-plus klick runs, burning an extra two thousand calories in a morning run, I need to start consuming that to match.
I also want to start converting that calorie intake to muscle-first. I'm planning to start incorporating weight training into my general training plan. Lifting. Leg work. Upper body. Core! If I start to add weight again, I would prefer to guide it into the lean muscle mass category and not the flabby gut category.
So, I'm not done. This was the first step in an eight month training and rebuilding my entire fitness situation plan. And it seemed to have worked. Twenty pounds down. A couple more (and one last check in on this page) to go. And a lot of klicks to run before this is all over.
My graph, the chart I've created from all the data of my daily weigh-ins, is a scatterplot of a few dozen blue dots spread across nearly two months of tracking with a neatly sloping blue trendline down and towards my goal, that graph has error bars.
I write here and report numbers I'm confident that I've achieved, so when I write something like..
… my "confident to report" status at… 17 down, 3 to go, and 16 days until my training starts...
...then that usually means that I've exceeded that goal for a few days in a row and the numbers on the aforementioned graph are all being plotted firmly below that horizontal axis line on the regular.
The point I'm trying to make, is that the data point I plotted this morning was (a) lower than my "17 down" number and (b) had error bars on it. Those error bars are now dipping below my final goal weight.
Or, in other words, within a statistical margin of error, literally, I'm getting ready to land this thing successfully: seats upright, table trays to their locked position, and time to gear down, folks, we're coming in for our final approach procedures.
And I have over two weeks left until my training starts (which is when the "diet" actually ends) so there is a very likely scenario where we not only land but drive this plane right to the front door of the hotel for some extra points.
And it's starting to show, to be honest.
My wardrobe is temporarily doubled because all the too-tight clothes fit again and my larger, formerly-just-right gear is baggy but doesn't look too out of place with my late-winter, early-spring gear. Summer will be a different matter.
A jacket I bought about six years ago and then promptly "outgrew" during one of my stressful phases, fits almost perfectly now.
The metaphorical cat is out of the bag, and people have made comments about "looking thinner" and "your face is skinnier" even just this past weekend.
And I've been feeling a lot lighter on my feet was I go out and break through some of my milestone training distances as I work on my pre-season training build up to training-proper.
There have been as many false starts over the years as there are years, but 2023 seems (knock on wood!) to have been a good year... so far.
Now, I just don't want to crash this plane with a mere two weeks to go. Focus!
If I had ever considered myself a thin guy, I wouldn't be writing blog posts about dieting would I?
I come from thick people.
Growing up, we would be encouraged to "get our money's worth" at all-you-can-eat buffets.
Extended family gatherings were eating contests crowned by rites of passages around how many plates of food the guys could eat.
My aunts would walk around and pat the bellies of their husbands and then turn to their nephews ask how "their family gut" was coming along.
I could go on.
By the time I finished high school, my five foot eleven frame was comfortably sitting around the 190 pound mark. By the time I'd finished university, my weight was a number that started with a 2.
I've alluded to my first diet in previous posts, but in 2013 I decided (for various reasons) to get into better shape. It was tied to vanity, of course, but also I'd been running and wanted to tackle the marathon (for the first time) and knew I couldn't do it with my weight in the 200s.
So I dropped about 25lbs and for a couple years I hung back at about 190. Not thin, but solid. And I hung out there long enough to do crazy things like replace my wardrobe and resize my wedding band and get comfortable being a guy who was under 200lbs for a while.
Life intervened. I've alluded to this progression, too. A pound a year for a few years, then a couple big pushes due to job change, stress, and the infamous covid-15 weight gain. Then a knee injury topped me out over this past Christmas to the point I was like "enough is enough" and have been working through the last month and a half to drop some of that weight again.
This series is called twenty-pounds Canadian, partially in reference to a joke from a sitcom I heard where, dig it, a British guy was hinting for a tip ("maybe if you could stand to lose five pounds") while the American took it as a slight at his weight... and partially to the literal "Canadian guy looking to lose 20 pounds..." even though we weigh everything here in kilograms.
I was trying to get back into the 190s, and specifically a modest target of 195lbs for Easter... when my marathon training-proper will begin.
And so it brings me great excitement to write here that for the last two days I've seen a number on the scale that starts with a one instead of a two...
...which amazingly puts my "confident to report" status at… 15 down, 5 to go, and 24 days until my training starts.
I'm sitting here this morning, getting ready for work, fitting into clothes I haven't worn in a few years because they sat funny and tugged in awkward ways, and pondering that I might be close to nailing this thing as a success story.
I mean, I still have multiple weeks to go, and a couple little hurdles to overcome, but part of me wants to pat myself on the back and say... this, even this, seventy-five percent of the way to my goal is rock solid progress. Because it is. And those numbers, as arbitrary and relatively mediocre as they are, are little milestones of progress for me towards the first step in completing this damn marathon in October: not bringing the buffet with me to the finish line.
Data is a guy on a diet's best friend.
If you'd have asked me on Saturday morning how I was feeling about this whole thing I would have glowered at you, let out a big sigh, and told you that I'd finally plateaued.
Let's look at some of how I think I understand this all works (noting that I'm neither a doctor nor even a nutritionist.)
See, the body loves stasis. The body does not want to change. The body craves stability in weight. The body cannot think for itself, but all sorts of systems and feedback loops and balancing mechanism have evolved over the millions of years of human development to make wild fluctuations in our bodies unlikely. Your body gets to where it is slowly, and then moves away from where it is ... also, slowly.
And so when you are actively trying to break through that statis, to move the needle on your weight down (or maybe up) your body is going to resist your efforts. And not only that, but because of how some of that biochemistry works, your body is going to glide easily through a fuzzy zone around where it's comfortable and give you the illusion of rapid progress, when in reality things are moving a lot slower than they really are.
Simply, that first five percent of your body weight, or so, is going to feel like it's melting off easy-peasy. For me, that first ten pounds was like melting butter off a hot cob of corn. There are a lot of biochemical reasons for this, but I think it mostly revolves around the idea of short term energy storage and long term energy storage, and that longer term stuff being (a) what you're trying to burn off for weight loss, and (b) being the stubborn weight that's going to take longer. That butter is the short term stuff... and water weight and on and on and on.
Did I mention that I'm not a doctor? I'm just cobbling together my own personal thoughts on this and you should talk to a doctor or a nutritionist and get real medical advice if you're serious about weight loss.
So, on Saturday it seemed like the easy-peasy phase had finally arrived and the numbers were not dropping (or even rising a bit) or wait... no, they're back down again... oh, wait again!
It felt like I'd plateaued. It felt like the data on my weight loss was a horizontal line.
And yeah, that two-plus pounds a week I'd achieved back in early February had slowed because...
...as of right now my status is… 12 down, 8 to go, and 29 days until my training starts.
That's only one pound less than last week at this time, right?
Well, like I wrote above, data is a guy on a diet's best friend. I finally did what I should have done a couple weeks ago and I got nerdy: I made a spreadsheet. And you know what happens when you put numbers into columns beside dates and then plot that out on a scatter chart with an actual computed trend line? I'll tell you. You start to see that the trend line is cutting a nice path right down towards (and even past) your goal, and what you thought was a plateau was, yes, a little bit of slowing but still inside the error bars of that trendline and, oh wait... things are actually still going pretty well.
Oh, plateau? It could happen tomorrow, but looking at the data it hasn't yet.
Advice from my doctor reminded me of a very simple rule as I continue into month two and approach a possible plateau: limit the stuff you actually want to burn off. "Snack on protein." he said, "You don't want to start losing muscle mass now that you're training again, so skip the bread and extra veg, and instead lean into lean meats, fish and beans." A balanced diet with carbs, fat, protein and fibre are all important, counting calories as I do every day, but readjust the plate to focus on cutting back on carbs and fats (which I want to burn) and replacing those calories with protein (which I want to maintain!)
It's the first day of March, and since I technically started this so-called-diet in the waning days of January, that means I've survived a whole month (albeit the shortest month) with a clear progression of positive (tho technically, negative) results.
This also marks roughly the halfway point of this effort, which is good that I'm confident enough in those positive-slash-negative results to declare that:
...as of right now my status is… 11 down, 9 to go, and 36 days until my training starts.
Halfway, but one milestone that I've been carefully pondering in my thick little skull was a milestone that I quietly passed since my last update post.
Three Marches ago, March came in like a lamb and definitely left like a lion.
As March 2020 started I was hum-drummily writing away on this website (it was only weeks old at that point) and fumbling through and pondering the the idea of eating better. I'd given myself some loosey-goosy guidelines in January and was determined to drop about ten pounds leading into an April 2020 training season with a very similar goal to what I'm currently swishing around in the aforementioned thick skull: train hard all summer, run Chicago Marathon... 2020.
Over the five or so years preceding the pandemic I had slowly climbed back into the 10-pounds-heavier-than-I-liked zone and was hoping to drop it before official training began.
Then, well, we all have a story about this: COVID-19 happened. I wouldn't actually meet the virus for over two more years, but March started with all sorts of lofty running goals, and ending with me working 12 hour days, eating like shit, stressing constantly over work and the universe, and ultimately starting a ride that would let me join the covid-15 club.
The weight I recall being, those numbers on my home scale, as that happened, my pre-covid but still 10-pounds-heavier-than-I-liked weight was that milestone I just passed -- what would have been 10 down, 10 to go -- one measly pound heavier than I am notching on the chart today, and currently a state that is in the rear view mirror.
Meaing that ...as of this weekend I officially dropped my covid-era weight.
I'm back to my pre-pandemic body. Full circle. Almost exactly three years later. A positive negative result.
So there it is. Apparently March is coming in like a lion this time around.
Dieting is like investing.
You either pay attention to the data a lot. Or you check in on your portfolio once in a while and hope to things moving in the direction you need it to go.
Last time, back in 2013, when I successfully dropped about 20 pounds I was in the latter category. I checked the scale once per week on Saturday mornings before breakfast and made a note of the number in a spreadsheet.
This time, in 2023, I've taken the former tactic. I've become a data junkie. Maybe because like investing I have the need to micromanage things this time for optimal gains and the end result is something I only see through dozens of short term moves. But what I've had to come to terms with is that the line isn't straight down, it's wiggly.
Down, down, up, down, up, down, down, up, down...
The reality is that you can get up each morning, stand on the scale at 6am before breakfast, and then add that number to a spreadsheet or an app or a little black notebook you keep under your pillow, whatever you choose, but then there are two things you need to take away from those numbers... so many numbers.
First, the BIG picture is about the trend line. For example, I've now got nearly four weeks of data points where, barring the few days of vacation last weekend, I can map out about 25 data points on a graph and see a downward trend between the start and the end. A trend line is a straight line plotted across the averages of all that data. Today I was up, but I know that I had a micro-cheat day yesterday when I had a nice lunch out, and also the weather was brutally cold so I didn't get as much exercise as normal (so fewer calories burned) and I drank a lot of water, like 3 liters of water, because I had a splitting headache and I figured it would help. All that added up to a single data point that was above the trend line... which is sloping downwards to easily meet my end goal.
But second, those SMALL picture daily data points matter too, because they can tell you about the effects of your little actions adding up. That I drank seven pounds of water yesterday and that I only logged 4000 steps because it's minus 30 outside and I didn't feel like freezing my eyeballs just to get in a walk around the park, that meant there was less of a gap between my calories eaten and calories used, which is at the core of how this whole losing 20 pounds thing is supposed to work after all.
So, as of right now my status is… 9 down, 11 to go, and 40 days until my training starts.
I'm trending down, even though the daily data checker in me had a disappointing morning with an uptick in the pork barrel market.
Check every day ... or check every week ... or never check at all. Just make sure you understand what you're looking at.
I'm not usually nervous about vacations, especially short local getaways to favourite places less than a half-day's drive from home. But I had this lingering dread late last week as we were packing out suitcases and the car for a trip to the mountains.
Every three or four months we make this trip.
There's a small town on the edge of the Rockies, four hours of driving door-to-door, house to hotel. It's nestled at the gateway of the much more famous Banff National Park, but Canmore has access to almost all the same amenities but with more local tourists and about half the price. There is hiking, skiing, great views, good shopping, tasty restaurants and a solid local microbrew scene.
Those last two points are what had me nervous.
I've been making really good progress on my weight loss effort.
In fact as of right now my status is… 8 down, 12 to go.
I'm more than a third of the way there. And that's a solid number. (Technically I weighed in this morning and it was more like 9.5 down 10.5 to go, but I'm calling out the honest numbers not the first-thing-in-the-morning pre-breakfast and a bit dehydrated numbers.)
Leading into the vacation though all I could focus on was ... oh shit, we're going to be eating out, drinking beers, snacking in the hotel, scarfing trail mix and candy on our hikes, and visiting the local bakery for sweets and treats.
Willpower is great, but it's also fragile. Simple changes to almost anything can upset that balance. Willpower comes from routine and planning and knowing when your next meal is going to be so that the little Vacation Gremlin in your brain telling you that you're hungry can be squashed down by the knowledge that you'll have something to feed it at no later than 6pm, so, shut the front door!
But could we get a table by 6pm? Would the restaurant have healthy options that I actually wanted to eat? How could I resist a cold beer after a long day of hiking? What if... ? Oh no? OMG? The Vacation Gremlin is a sneaky little pain in the arse.
Yet, here we are on Wednesday morning, back from the trip late yesterday, and ...
And I didn't make progress, but I didn't bounce back.
It might have been all the stewing and worrying about it, or it might have been the day of 25000 steps, or it might have been putting a frame around the trip and setting rules that were looser than home but still balanced the diet effort with the vacation fun. One well-deserved beer. A measured portion of snacks for our hike rather than just tucking in as I felt like it. Checking the menus online and having a plan for sit down meals. All the little things add up in the end and keep the momentum rolling.
And now we're back home and I can step comfortably back into my healthy eating routine as before, still on a balanced footing, Vacation Gremlin caged once again.
Though I'm not particularly religious, today also marks the start of lent and the starting day of what was originally my Plan A for losing weight. Everything from the last three-plus weeks has been a prelude to these next 40 days of restraint and personal reflection for physical, mental and spiritual betterment. I'm rolling into lent with some momentum and results, though. My pants are a wee bit looser. My wedding ring fits comfortably again and doesn't squeeze my finger numb through the course of the day. I'm feeling the results. Forty days starts today with a family feast at the end of it, hopefully with a running plan firmly putting me on a course to Chicago in less than eight months. Eep!
It's Valentine's Day as I write this and when I came downstairs to make my coffee and my breakfast, my wife had left a little box of chocolates on the table with a small card. (I had done the same, so it wasn't too surprising!) It was sweet and appropriate for the day. Though it was yet another reminder that the world doesn't care about your personal motivation and sacrifice in an effort to shed a few pounds... the world rolls on.
I logged into my computer later this morning and checked my email, then rolled over to a news feed. Every ad on the page, or so it seemed, was food focused. In particular, there was a determined push to get me to order a breakfast egg sandwich online from a certain golden arched hamburger vendor, and eagerly reminding me that I was probably hungry and craving something warm and delicious.
I've been dedicatedly eating better for about twenty days now.
And right now my status is… 6 down, 14 to go.
Which is pretty solid, if I do say so myself. Six pounds in twenty days puts me on track to realistically meet my goal by the end of March or mid-April, about 45-60 days away... assuming I don't plateau, eat too many Valentine's chocolates, or cave and order a bag of greasy egg muffins.
And that's the trick, right? There is a distinct feeling of the world's lack of cooperation with my plans to improve myself. Ads in my face, holidays popping up out of nowhere. Dinners out. Weekends away with a favourite brewery nearby.
Life goes on and somehow motivation needs to change. Willpower needs to hold steady. Personal fortitude must be rock solid as the world inundates me with reminders that while I'm not starving myself, I am eating less than normal ...and oh by the way wouldn't a few french fries be delicious right now???
6 down, 14 to go.
That's a win, and better progress than I've made on this in about 10 years (since the last time I dropped weight).
I reminded myself that not only does the world go on, but life keeps rolling too. This is not permanent. This is not forever. It is a moment in time, and an opportunity to correct course and starting, getting to today with "6 down, 14 to go" was a huge step and maybe one of the hardest. Maybe the next 6 will be even harder. Or maybe I'm on a roll.
Thinking and writing about it helps.
But in the end, it's all still down to willpower, even if the world does seem to be against me and my plans right now. Stay strong... I'm talking to all of us.
One of the trickiest parts of my current work-life balance situation is that two days per week I commute downtown and work out of a small cubicle in an office tower.
I could easily pack a lunch, but for years it has been my treat to go out and grab something to eat from a take-out place, and this is particularly so after spending two years of pandemic lockdown eating instant noodles and/or grilled cheese sandwiches every single day.
But when I'm trying to watch what I eat, and in particular how healthy those choices are, there is a moment of weakness as a morning of work, meetings, and paperwork pauses and I have thirty minutes to grab food.
Choice and motivation are sometimes contradictory and incompatible.
One can be motivated to do the right thing and eat well, while simultaneously making a bad choice because one is driven by urgency, hunger, boredom, and other mental excuse-making that goes on when the lure of spicy chicken, or cheesy burgers, or saucy pizzas are mere footsteps away.
Having to mentally inventory every healthy option ... and then choose that option .. and then simultaneously avoid the chemical lure of tasty aromas and vibrant colours and familiar flavours. That's hard.
I used to write about this idea of a "hackable me" ... that little hacks, tricks, and mental shortcuts could assist with this kind of incompatible decision making. Making the right choice ahead of time, or providing data to myself before I need to make a decision... these seem obvious, but involve some work.
For example, I have started inventorying the healthier take-out food choices from restaurants within walking distance of my office in a kind of take-out sorter of sorts.
It's not that I'm unable to make these kinds of choices "on the fly" or in the moment, but if I rely on being actively thinking about this kind of thing every time I rush out of a meeting room, down the elevator and into the food court.... well, I'm going to make poor choices at least half the time. I know myself enough to know that.
So, a hack. Hackable me says that given a list of options of choices that I actually like, fill me up, taste great, and are not complete compromises on my lunch out "treat" ... I can almost always choose from such a list without much problem.
Sure, I might be craving take-out lemon chicken over Singapore noodles from the Cantonese place, but according to my list right next door I can get teriyaki chicken with brown rice and smother it in spicy sauce, and I actually really like that too... and, oh by the way, it's half the calories and a quarter the fat and I won't feel guilty about my choice later in the day.
I eat better. I feel better. And I barely even had to think about it.
This specific approach is not for everyone, but nearly every diet and eating plan that someone will sell you is based on almost the exact principles: something, someone, some plan or algorithm, somehow is making a choice so you don't need to make it on the fly. They are hacking the autopilot lunch decision. And you can do -- I have done -- pretty much the same thing customized for my own little chunk of the universe.
Dieting is math.
I've been doing a lot of math over the last week in an effort to give my weight-reduction effort a kickstart and a chance of both success and early gains.
Having done this in the past, I know that early progress is deceptive. The body hates change. It resists it. It fights against it. And the only weapons the mind has against the near-invisible actions of the body are motivation, data and math.
Right now my motivation is high.
I wouldn't call it calorie counting, per se, but I have been very strict on my eating over the last week, only eating reasonable portions at meal time and not snacking (at all!) except once this past weekend when The Kid made homemade cookies and insisted I try one. One cookie for cheat day, I guess. But generally, just eating better by sheer force of willpower and motivation.
The early results are that my mind has caught my body off guard and won week one of the weight-loss effort.
I weighed in this morning and according to my highly precise fifteen dollar digital bathroom scale I am exactly three pounds down from last week.
And as much as that's an initial win, following a week with 22km of running, a lot of walking, and an effort to drink more water (so that wasn't water weight, is what I'm getting at there) I'm bracing for week two to be a week when my body says "hold my beer" and fights for the stasis that it so greatly enjoys.
So right now my status is… 3 down, 17 to go.
But also right now my brain needs to step and hold ground against some hefty moves that hormones, hunger, and laziness are going to throw at it.
The math is on my side right now. And that's all I'm going to say.
I hate being a guy who obsesses about weight.
Almost ten years ago we went on a trip to Disneyland and while I've never been a slim guy, the photos of me that showed up in our vacation album were the last straw (in a greasy fast food bag full of straws) to lose some weight.
Over three months of careful eating and methodical exercise and dedicated tracking of it all, I dropped twenty pounds. (Then I dipped another ten or so while doing some hardcore marathon training, though that ten promptly came back a few weeks after the race ended.)
But that twenty stayed off... for about six years.
Then the pandemic hit.
My running slowed. I worked from home and the combination of walking less, running less, working long stressful hours on pandemic communications for the government, and snacking though the stress of it... well, I gained back about ten of those pounds in six months.
Steady again for another year or so, but... knee injury.
Not being able to run and cranking the stress and snacking against the lack of exercise yet again... another ten pounds.
So here I am, in early January with a Marathon eight months away and...
I need to drop about twenty pounds. Not for vanity. Not to fit into my expensive suit which I bought in my "thin" phase. Not to look better in vacation photos (tho that is an added benefit.)
Rather, I need to drop twenty pounds to spare my joints the added strain from upcoming marathon training. For my health. For my confidence to do those long distances. For my heart and my lungs and my blood pressure and my I'm-not-getting-any-younger body. For my knee, if for no other reason.
"Studies have shown that each heel strike produces a force that is equal to 3 - 4 times your bodyweight." So, that extra twenty pounds equates to 80 pounds of force applied to my knee with every step. That's significant.
A much as there are a million diet advice websites out there (and this is not intending to be one) there is just one method that works (and that most diets are just trying to simplify or subcontract or outsource) ... willpower.
You need to eat less energy and/or you need to burn more energy, and you need to make all the decisions, everyday for months and months until your body, which has no intention of changing from steady-state, is overcome by the force of your mind and willpower.
So, that's where I am. I am making myself accountable. I am tracking my goals. I am setting boundaries on what I consume and I am making deliberate choices about movement, exercise and using energy day-by-day.
And right now, my status is... 0 down, 20 to go.