Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The First 50 lbs Are Easy

At the time, I thought it was a mountain.  Vanderbilt Parkway, just west of 231 in Dix Hills.  Some of the locals may know this hill-a quarter mile, 8% average grade.  A good cyclist might get slowed down a little when making this climb, but I was a novice, carrying a little more weight than the average person.  I shifted into my lowest gear and put everything I had into the pedals.  I was not wearing a heart rate monitor at the time, but I know I was red-lining it the whole time.  Gasping for air, heart beating out of my chest, lactic acid burning in my legs and I was barely making progress.  I was absolutely determined to make it to the top without stopping or walking the bike up this hill, that would be embarrassing.

About halfway up the climb, I hear a very calmly spoken "Good Morning."  Another cyclist was passing me on the left.  To my surprise (and dismay), the polite man that passed me was easily twice my age.  He flew by me like I was going backwards, which at that point, I might have been going in the wrong direction.  I was the young buck here, how was he taking this hill with such ease?  Then my analytic, engineering mind kicked in.  The "X" factor here was mass.  He carried significantly less weight up that hill.  Although he was twice my age, he was half my weight.  That was it.  Game on.  I couldn't let a 60 year old man show me up like that!  I had to make a drastic change and lose this excess weight.  The question was how?

I needed advise and counsel.  I needed guidance from my wife Tara.  She had been successfully using the Weight Watcher's Points program for a few months.  My ego would not allow me to go to the meetings or stand up in front of strangers to bear my soul.  That approach works well for women because they tend to be more open-minded and cerebral when the walls come down.  Putting me in a vulnerable state would have reinforced the padlocks on my ego and not allowed me listen to good advise.  Although it sounded like it would work, there was no way I could partake.

Then I discovered the answer.  Weight Watcher's Online!  This was perfect.  I could follow the plan and hide behind the proverbial curtain of cyberspace.  There were no misconceptions going into this endeavor.  It was going to be difficult.  Simple math stated that I needed to take in less calories each day.  Less calories meant less food, and I loved food.  If I wanted to lose weight, I was going to have to give up something I loved for something I just started to enjoy, cycling.  Seemed like a sacrifice worth making.  Off we go!

May 2004 after losing my first
50 pounds.  Big improvement, but
a lot of work still to be done.
I had no idea how much I actually ate until I was recording the caloric values of everything that made it past my lips.  I would put a real "serving" of pasta on my dish and think, "Are you kidding me?"  The portion size part of this diet was a real eye opener.  Previously, I would have eaten half the box of pasta in one sitting.  Now, if I was going to have rice, pasta or other starches, it was going to be these little hockey puck sized portions.  I sure hope this works because it is much more sacrifice than I had anticipated.

Well, it did work.  My weight started dropping at a pretty decent rate.  Truth be told, starting at 230 pounds, I had an overwhelming amount of "low hanging fruit."  Speaking of fruit, and vegetables for that matter, I was still not a fan.  Corn, potatoes and apples.  That was pretty much it for me.  Weight Watcher's program gave me a tool to lose weight by restricting calories.  Remember, I am a math-minded person.  It made sense to me.  Eat less, burn more.  Simple math.  It took me the better part of the next decade to understand that this type of program was for weight loss only and it did not promote healthy eating.

Although the points system is still around, back in its heyday, every other package on the grocery store shelf had points values on it.  It was very easy to buy into the notion that if I was eating something with a low points value, it was healthy.  I now know that eating such highly processed "food" products, regardless of points value or caloric content, is simply not good for your body.

It took me about 8 months to lose about 50 pounds.  I increased the volume of cycling and held to the points system.  I got faster on the bike and slimmer in the waist.  I felt great, but I wanted to do better.  I really wanted to be slim, fit and ripped.  For the first time in my life, I could see the ability to take my shirt off at the beach without being embarrassed.  However, that was still some time away.  The first 50 came off in 8 months.  The next 20 took almost 8 years.

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1 comment:

  1. writing down food intake can always be scary. also congrats on your weight loss, awesome story. i agree though that it is hard to lose after the first plateau.