Achieving your target weight is difficult to do and even more difficult to maintain. This will be my third attempt in my adult life to lose and keep off the weight, and I hope to both gain and give inspiration for those who struggle with it as I do.
If you would have asked me a month ago, I would have laughed at you if you had suggested I would be this low going into Memorial Day:
May 26 - 222.2
May 20 - 224.8
January 2 (start date) - 256
Looking back at these last few weeks, the only thing I can think of that is helping this weight melt away is ensuring that I lift weights at least once/week. I also had a small win yesterday: I put on a pair of Banana Republic slacks with a size 36" waist and wore them to work. This is the first time these slacks have been worn in at least three years, and I may have worn them five times in my life.
I am contributing to a fair amount of Monday's BBQ, and I refuse to settle on either health or taste. To accomplish this I am preparing sweet potato fries (so freakin' good) and sliders, specifically:
Ground chicken with Frank's Red Hot Sauce and blue cheese
Ground turkey with sauteed apples and onions
Ground beef with Worcestershire sauce and pepper
Each slider will be two ounces (and measured); this way everyone can have one of each and only total six ounces of meat (yes, this is technically more than the four ounces one should have, but compare this to the two brats, once steak, and hamburger smothered in ketchup and mayonaise one typically has). I'm even going to pick up some small rolls on which to eat them. Yum!
God bless our troops, past and present, and have a safe Memorial Day.
Now onto a subject that I am not sure how I feel: limiting who a company is willing to hire based on health indicators. In this specific case, a Texas hospital refuses to hire anyone with a body mass index (essentially a height to weight ratio) greater than 35. To put that in real terms, a 5'5" tall woman cannot weigh more than 210 pounds, where as a 5'10" man cannot weigh more than 245 pounds.
I see this debate in two chunks:
Whether BMI is a valid indicator of health
The ethics of making hiring decisions based on life choices
From a pragmatic standpoint, the first bullet is making a myopic decision on a limited datapoint. Using BMI as the only health indicator to determine whether someone is "healthy" (or at least healthy enough to hire) is like calling a Yugo a good car buy because it is small and small cars tend to have good gas mileage. While there is plenty of data that supports BMI as an indicator for downstream health problems, it is very short-sited to exclude indicators such as body fat percentage and blood pressure (note that 6'1" 250 pound linebacker Ray Lewis has a BMI of 33.0; I dare you to tell him he is fat and out of shape).
Bullet two is more of an ethics question (similar to the smoking ban to which I referred in a past posting): should employers be allowed discriminate (regardless of the side on which you sit, let's call a spade a spade) based on individual choices? On one side, overweight employees increase an employer's insurance risk pool and increase costs, and in this particular case one could make the argument that the employer is a hospital and has a responsibility to the community to set a healthy example. This one hits home for me; when I hired into my current employer (a hospital) my BMI was 36.7 and is currently 32.3.
The purpose of this post is not start a political debate but instead to provoke thought. With that said, we do live in a society that discriminates (again, let's call a spade a spade) for health care based on access to health insurance (often by proxy of income or employment status) and not on behavioral choices (that is, someone who eats food high in cholesterol and sodium still qualifies for employee-provided health plans despite their self-imposed hardening arteries). Perhaps this is an example of our society becoming more consistent in standards.
At the end of the day, I am not supportive of this policy strictly on the fact the hospital is using only one indicator that happens to be easy to calculate rather than taking the time to see the big picture. The gray area exists on whether an employer has the right to discriminate based on individual choice, especially one that will directly impact such a large percentage of the American population.
That's right; not only have I lost 30 pounds to date, but I lost a five (that is, I am now under 225 pounds). The last time I was at this weight was in October 2009 (this date sticks out because a back injury that took place during that month that really made me lose focus), and does it ever feel good. As an added bonus, my arms have never looked this good (thank you, swimming and yoga).
I have been randomly snapping pictures of my progress, and it is getting completely obvious now. Check these out (the before was taken January 2; the after was taken May 11):
Slow and steady wins the race (although I did shave 2 minutes and 10 seconds off my mile this week), and I am still going in the right direction. I also had a really cool thing happen on Friday. I have been receiving treatment for plantar fasciitis, and on Friday I got a cortisone shot in my heel. Knowing the intense pain that was going to kick in within a couple hours of the shot, I went straight to the pool. I swam until I could not stand it anymore (which was about 40% of a mile), and when climbing out of the pool I was not the slightest bit tired. Does that mean I am in shape?
This week's blog is dedicated to moms, and more specifically my mom. Other than just being generally awesome, just three years ago she decided to change her life from sedentary to active. So active, in fact, that at the age of 51 she decided to start training to run a 5K. Since that day, she has a half dozen 5Ks under her belt, and she finished the Toledo Zoo 5K yesterday in just 35 minutes 57 seconds. Not bad for someone who just started running three short years ago!
Keep up the good work, mom, and your son is proud of you!
Progress is progress, and I think I have officially hit the point of hard work. I am not worried, though, because the number one thing that impacts my weight is my diet, and mine is completely straightened out. Besides, I do not know if my body could physically handle me going back to a junkie diet again.
When driving home from an activity this weekend, I came to a realization as to how far I have come since the beginning of the year (do not get me started on when I weighed nearly 270 pounds). Since 10AM Saturday morning I have:
Swam a mile (in 55 min 40 sec, mind you)
Performed some minor yard work
Washed two cars
Bleached a deck
Cooked/grilled out for company
Chores around the apartment
Set up a scanner
Cooked lunch for company
Helped someone list an apartment on Craigslist
Walked around Fells Point, Baltimore for two hours
Played drums for an hour and a half
Laundry (in progress)
Yes, this was an exceptionally busy weekend, but that is not my point. My point is I would not have had the energy to do all of this in 36 hours just a couple months ago. I also know that I am going to get an incredible night's sleep tonight (also a rarity when you are morbidly obese), and I will be ready to take on the week.
I really feel like I'm in a grove on this whole get-healthy thing. I now have a weekly routine where I (for an hour each):
Play drums (this is actually closer to two hours)
One thing I have learned to do is to listen to my body, specifically when I lift weights. Historically I have ratcheted the weights up quickly (the one positive physical attribute of mine is that I get strong very quickly), but this has also been the mode of my injuries. I am limiting myself to only two sets of 15 reasonable reps on the upper body and one set of 15 on the lower body (the latter being where most of injuries have occurred). This is about getting healthy, not getting bulky.
While none of these have an immediate visual impact, my energy is increasing just a little bit more each day. My clothes are also fitting a little better (and too loose in some instances; I will most likely only dry clean one particular suit one more time until I have the wait taken in on the pants).
Another thing I tried this week was going to bed by 10:00PM (instead of 11:00PM) and going into work by 7:00AM (instead of 8:00AM). I then force myself to leave the office between 4:30PM and 5:00PM. My original intent was to have more time to be social in the evenings, but I have noticed that I am more relaxed when I go to bed. We shall see how long this lasts (and most likely I will not go in until 8:00AM on Friday, because, well, it is Friday).
I'm in the 220's! At this point it is incredibly unrealistic to lose my next zero in time for Memorial Day, but I am perfectly fine with that. The goal is to get healthy, and part of being healthy is developing sustainable life skills. One pound per week is plenty fast of a weight loss, and if I keep that pace through the end of the year I will be a svelte 194.2 by New Years. I may need to have my tuxedo taken in.
Speaking of taking stuff in, I just got back a set of slacks I had to send to the dry cleaner to have 2" taken out of the waist. I also had to buy two new belts (one brown, one black) last night. These are the little wins that feel real good.
As I previously mentioned, I started yoga few weeks back. This is a Tuesday night event put on at work (one advantage of working at a hospital is there are wellness opportunities all over the place), and I think the best way I can put it is that I am adequately contorted. I was pleasantly surprised by the muscle workout (my upper body is exhausted), and as expected flexibility is an issue. While yoga is not yet enjoyable (and it won't be until I learn these poses), I do like the fact that it will help me stay not-injured by improving my flexibility.
I want to finish this up with a quick shout out: my best friend back home in Ohio just finished his first 5K in just 23 minutes and 19 seconds. He has also managed to lose 40.2 pounds and 12% (1,200 basis points for those business people) in body fat. Congrats, Jake! You are an inspiration!