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Not as heavy as I was. - Ed's journal
Not as heavy as I was.
As it comes up to new year, I'm looking for comparisons with last year.
There's a whole bunch that spring to mind, and one in particular that has massively changed my world for the better.

But that's not what I was going to blither about. 2009 was the year of finally getting a handle on getting in shape. I'd spent
a while beforehand alternating between getting frustrated at not being able to do anything, and getting bored and ignoring the problem, and focussing on living it up.

I went for a medical early on in the year, as part of an employer sponsered thing, and also because I figured a comprehensive healthcheck now I'd just hit 30 was a good thing.
It was handy, in the sense that they identified nothing particularly notable, apart from my being overweight. (well, duh). Somewhat pleasingly, I was actually fairly fit, comparatively, which was good.
Didn't tell me much more, apart from my cholesterol being too low, and pointing me in the general direction of a website and ... sort of weight loss program, called 'fitbug'.
Now, I don't mean to evangelise overly, but that's what really has helped keep track and finally nail the 'root cause' of why my previous attempts to get in shape were dismal failures.

Over the course of the year, I also found a book called 'the hackers diet' (http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/) which was another interesting take on the whole human metabolism thing - a scientific/engineering sort of a viewpoint, not a hocum diet book.
Because there is the core problem - the 'super diet plans' aren't actually interested in helping you get to a stable weight. They're interested in something that looks and sounds impressive, such that people chat about it around the water cooler, try it for a while and see it 'working' before they give up and get bored of whatever it is.
And then they bring you a NEW Improved diet plan, just in time for next year's new years resolution*.

But it's all a pile of nonsense, with just enough truth buried that it isn't outright fraud. Losing weight is both really easy, and really hard. And not the other way around, like the books would have you believe.
Less calories in than you use means you lose weight. But practically speaking, if you end up economizing, you end up feeling hungry, lethargic and tired, and thus don't actually use as much energy in the end.
So your 'diet' seems to be working initially, as you shed some water or fat, but then stalls a few weeks later because you're basically slowly starving yourself, and setting off all those 'protection' mechanisms that you've spent millions of years evolving, to deal with times of famine.

Yeah, I had that too. So anyway, have been 'fitbugging'. Means I get daily steps targets, daily 'energy intake' targets, with general guidelines on carbohydrate:protein:fat ratios (and saturated vs. unsaturated fats). Each day doesn't matter particularly, but each week there's a general weekly report of 'ratios'.
Of note is the fact that 'in the past' I cut back eating, and increased workout, and then went 'splat' because I was exhausted, and ... basically didn't do myself much good by doing that - even if I did stay stubbornly 'at it' it didn't actually _do_ anything, as I didn't have the energy to burn in the first place.

So as of today, I'm quite nicely balanced for nutritional input from a 'normal ish' eating routine. I'm consuming 3000kcal/day, and aiming to be using about 3800/day. (Which if you're used to the notion, you'll be aware is actually more of a calorie deficit - and thus faster weight loss - than you'get in a 'normal' diet program)
It hasn't been flawless over the year - not by any means - but it's made it easy enough to get it back on track when I have 'slipped a bit'.

So it looks like I'm going into the new year on 117.2kg. Which compared to last year's 134.4 is an acceptable amount of improvement - it's been down as low as 114, but so it goes. 2.7 stone, or 40lb for those inclined to such units.
More though, my ability to do stuff has improved markedly - I can row at a quite intensive pace for 40 minutes, for example.
I've started doing the 'hundred pressups', although that's slipped a bit over christmas as well - none the less, that's noticably improving - I can do 25 in one go, rather than the 6 when I first started.

My concern though, was that weight loss sort of bibbles around oddly when you're doing it by 'activity' - muscle weighs more. So my scales that read the body fat percentage have been another way of tracking. That's dropping, steadily.
There's still a way to go - I've notionally set myself the target of a hundred kg, although I'll settle for a higher number if it comes with a suitable body fat percentage.
(Bodywise Scales)

But people are noticing and commenting, which is more gratifying than I thought it would be. For all this is for the benefit of my health and my life, I can't really see the different from a year ago - because I see my face in the mirror every day, and the change is gradual.
I take my achievement from the fact that I can row 8km in 40m reliably, and can push for 9, 9.5 and hope to make 10km at some point. I get a small smug glow every time someone at the gym gets 'competitive' to try and show me up, and fails dismally, and ... well, y'know what, I just like the feeling of being able to sleep properly - losing weight has improved my snoring (so I'm told ;p) but I do notice I sleep better.

Onward, ever onwards.

* Oh yeah. Diet books. I was thinking of writing and publishing one, based on all the principles of awesomeness that Atkins esposes, appealing directly to the faddy dieters. It's called the lard, olive oil and vitamin pill diet. Quite literally, it's to get your daily calorie intake from oil and fat alone, from pre-cutting some lard into blocks for your daily portions. Probably with some handwavy explaination of how it's a metaphor for putting fat in, in order to make you think about the fat going out again. Anyway. You'd be allowed to season it a little too - so maybe lard _and_ spices.
It'd work for a couple of weeks, as your outrageously screw your metabolic balance, and it'd be utterly disgusting to eat spoonfuls of fat (not to mention when you use the toilet at the end of the day) meaning you'd be significantly cutting back on the calories too.
And then almost everyone would 'give up' and blame their own lack of willpower, but _will_ have seen it working for a while, and thus credit me with an awesome invention, and blame themselves for being useless failures of a human being with not enough willpower to eat lard by kilo each day. But I don't much care, as long as they bought the book, DVD and promotional gear.
8 comments or Leave a comment
serpentstar From: serpentstar Date: December 30th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow! Great going, dude. :) I think that expecting to take another year or even two to reach your target 100kg would be realistic, and would keep you from losing it too fast and/or putting it back on again rapidly.

Lard diet -- interestingly, some of the more active, low-body-fat CrossFit types who follow either the Athlete's Zone diet or the Paleo Diet (or, often, some combination of the 2) get most of their calories from fat -- usually in the form of nuts & seeds, though, rather than pure lard!
sobrique From: sobrique Date: December 30th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I know it's quite a long road ahead. That's part of the reason it depressed me in the first place - y'know, knowing that it was a year or three... well, yeah.

Fats though are wierd. The 'message' is that fat is bad, low fat is good, but ... well, you probably know quite well that's just plain wrong - difference between saturated and unsaturated fats though, I guess is a bit too much for the average consumer.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're halfway there, though, and like you say, you've got some significant benefits already. It's really, really nice to be fit. :D

Yeah, I'm rather hoping that most advisors & experts are no longer saying "fat is bad, low fat is good" -- although I was disappointed to see a leaflet about "good fats, bad fats" in the local health centre. It was written by Flora, extolling the virtues of their supposedly high-Omega-3 spread, but I'd heard their nutritionists being verbally savaged on Radio 4 a few weeks earlier (apparently the Omega-3 in Flora is in a form that is almost certainly not very bio-available anyway).
jorune From: jorune Date: December 31st, 2009 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I may have heard the R4 piece. I believe the commentator said that spreads labelled 'DPA, EPA' had Omega-3 from marine food chains whereas Flora Pro-Activ has Omega-3 from plant food chains. Humans gain more benefit from the marine food chain spreads and minimal benefit from the plant food chains spreads.

The broadcast was amusing in that had 2 people convinced of their scientific data arguing against each other in ever strident language. A fine case of people being more 'rational than thou'.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: December 31st, 2009 10:18 am (UTC) (Link)
To my mind that's part of the problem - that there is LOTs of money to be made by telling people that 'it's good for you'. I mean, wrap an otherwise mediocre product with some pseudo science as to why it'll turn you into someone beautiful, sexy, athletic, clever and generally amazing, and ... suddenly people will buy it anyway, because they didn't understand the science in the first place.
jorune From: jorune Date: December 31st, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another comment from the show was that recent EU changes have softened the rules governing PR science speak.

I have bought a fitbug with a 12 month subscription. We'll see how I get on with it. Any recommendations on its use?
sobrique From: sobrique Date: December 31st, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wear it regularly, upload stats regularly, and track food intake with it. That latter was for me the most useful part - daily steps targets were handy, but 'balancing' that with eating enough of the right sorts of things was a real nuisance.
It way annoying at first, especially when cooking stuff myself and weighing e.g. how much cheese I put in a cheese sandwich, but it says pretty consistent after a while.
It's got to the point where I'm getting a 'feel' for eating right each day, but it still helps - especially on the days I'm doing more, or less activity, relatively speaking.
purp1e_magic From: purp1e_magic Date: January 5th, 2010 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Personally, I think you should write a book called "Lard and spices" and explain why that diet would seem to work as a gateway to what you now know about weightloss. Between the various links you've passed on and the sensible advice you give, you're probably the most knowledgeable person I know on the subject!
8 comments or Leave a comment