This is yet another update in my weight loss story. The landing page, Formerly Fat, has all of my previous entries. Check it out and read in order to catch up!
It’s been awhile since I last updated everyone on my weight loss journey, which I started in 2011, re-started in 2018, and then kicked into high gear in 2020-2021. When I last updated you, I had gotten to around 210 pounds, plateaued, then went into loss mode again. For the past 4 months, since around early September, I’ve been in the 193-198 range. My BMI is right around 25 (So I’m “normal” weight), my fat percentage is around 13.5%, and I feel pretty good. Long walks, HIIT workouts, Yoga, Pilates, and more are all things that I can do without issue, and I don’t feel hungry that much – in fact, I’d say I don’t really deny myself anything. With the holidays behind us, I’ve also experienced the slightly higher weights associated with eating, drinking, and being merry, and the subsequent return to a lower weight as life has returned to normal. So I think it’s time to transition to the scariest part of this journey… maintenance.
A Life of Vigilance
Losing weight isn’t easy because, as many can attest, it requires you to change (as I often joke), 7-8 major things in your life. Here’s a list of my ‘changes’:
- Tracking everything I ate, including the macronutrients, in order to try to balance them out.
- Religiously using tracking apps for everything from food to body fat to relaxation to metabolism (See my journey to learn more about Aura, Oura, Lumen, Bello, and Apollo).
- Logging my weight twice daily, morning and night.
- Paying attention to weight fluctionations (mostly out of curiosity).
- Telling myself that I’ve eaten enough food (Because my stomach still lags about 10 minutes behind my eyes – much better than the 75 minutes when I started!)
- Cutting out all the “little” things (e.g., a few piece of candy, a donut with my coffee at a social gathering, etc…). Little things do add up.
- Walking daily / exercising daily.
- Holding myself accountable – reminding myself that I can control my weight.
Simply put, 1-8 is kinda exhausting after you’ve done it for almost 600 days, as I have. While some of it is useful in the long term (e.g., #4, #7), some of it can be pretty joy-depriving after awhile. And what’s the point in losing a ton of weight if you also lose joy?
The Case of the Sunday Donut
Let me illustrate my dilemma: Sunday mornings after church, there is a fellowship hour with coffee and donuts. For the first 8 weeks we did this, I had just coffee. Let’s analyze that decision in a series of facts:
- A donut is 166 calories.
- I tend to eat around 1800-2000 calories a day (TDEE tells me my maintenance calories are nearly 2400 a day).
- Donuts are tasty.
Do I eat the donut or just drink the coffee? If you think this has an obvious answer, you haven’t lost a ton of weight by policing yourself.
The case to eat the donut: It’s 10:15 AM, I haven’t eaten yet, I won’t eat again for another hour, and coffee and donuts are a match made in heaven. Plus I’m in a church, so that ‘made in heaven’ thing might be literal.
The case not to eat the donut: I would rather spend the calories on something else. Donuts are unhealthy. I am a healthy person. In my prime of 415 pounds, I’d easily eat 3-4 donuts at a time. Maybe 1 donut is a gateway donut back?
So for 8 weeks, no donut. Then I realized a few things more:
- While Old Jon could eat 3-4 donuts without a problem, New Jon would probably feel physically sick if he did that.
- New Jon doesn’t really want to eat 3-4 donuts.
- One donut once a week would account for 0.09% of my caloric intake for that week.
- I enjoy fresh donuts – they’re one of my favorite foods.
So I started eating a donut. And I’ve enjoyed it over the past few weeks. And my weight has not changed.
This example seems a bit strange, but I assure you, if you’ve spent months policing yourself, you find yourself having strange realizations like this. For so long, the answer to “Should I Eat that?” was a resounding “NO YOU FATA**, YOU SHOULDN’T”. Then it turned into a “Maybe… as long as you cross check it 3 times with your food journal”. Now it’s “Umm…. maybe?!?” In other words, it’s hard to lighten up on yourself.
The New Life Changes (e.g., Maintenance)
Over the next 6-12 months, my plan is to transition away from the hyper vigilance of weight loss mode to the normal vigilance of “staying healthy” mode. I’ve actually started doing this since mid-October (when I first started writing this life update). This is not reverting to the absolute lack of vigilance of “Jon doesn’t care about his weight” mode that I lived in for 35 years.
- Gradually stop tracking everything I eat. This is for 2 reasons: First, it takes a lot of time and effort and has very little reward associated if I don’t actually want to eat more. Second, there is evidence it can be linked to the development of an eating disorder. And while I don’t have some of the personality markers listed in that article, still seems like something I don’t want to do the rest of my life. Progress: 25% (I’m still tracking most of what I eat).
- Continue to use some of the tracking devices. My Lumen recently died (After faithful service for over a year, out of warranty so I would have had to pay for a replacement), so I will not be using it. The Bello is still debatable on it’s usefulness. Same goes for the Apollo band. I do enjoy the Oura ring and my Apple Watch, however, so I suspect I’ll still use those. And my Arboleaf Scale makes things very easy as it synchronizes to my health tracking apps. Basically if I can track it and I enjoy using it, I’ll continue using it. If not, I’ll phase it out or stop using it all together. Progress: 50% – No more lumen (since it’s dead), and I’ve stopped wearing my Apple Watch at night when I don’t need the alarm because the Oura does all the sleep tracking I need. Still using the Bello (not sure if it’s useful or not) and bring out the Apollo band every once in awhile.
- Log my weight daily, perhaps in the evening as well. Watching fluctuations is useful but it gets less useful when it becomes an obsession. I don’t need to know how quickly I lose weight during the day – I know it’s not a very useful metric and varies wildly depending on a ton of factors. Watching it closely did give me some insight, but not to the point that I think there is more I can learn. Progress: 20% – It’s still so tempting to wonder how I’m doing mid-day on weight, even if it’s a pretty meaningless number. While traveling I weighed myself daily if a scale was available, but I didn’t go out of my way to find one. So I count that as progress!
- I’ll still keep an active voice in my head while eating – but it’s much more of a conversation in terms of what I want to experience. A good example is my decision at the school cafeteria daily regarding dessert. If the dessert looks really good, or is something they don’t often have, or is one of my favorites, then I go for it. If the dessert is something they have every day (e.g., cookies), then I usually just grab a piece of fruit or nothing at all. Progress: 80% – I’d say I’m much more mindful now and also much more allowing of things that I really want versus a uniform “yes” or “no” to all food.
- One can’t cut out all the little things. 2 20-calorie starbursts are not going to make me go back up to 415 pounds. But they sometimes make a repetitive afternoon a little more relaxing. The trick is, along with #4, to be mindful. Of course, mindfulness is always useful regardless of the thought. Progress: See #4!
- Walking and exercising daily: Daily exercise is great – but there are some days I just don’t feel like it. So if once or twice a week I don’t want to do my exercise routine, or I want to do something less intense, I’ve been going with that over the last few weeks. My Oura ring actually tells me when my body is up for a challenge, so I may start listening to that a bit more. Progress: 50% – I still feel the urge to go out and exercise daily, and I’m working on figuring out when that’s my body wanting the exercise and when it’s my mind feeling obligated to exercise. On recent travels I skipped 1 daily walk out of 10 days on the road. The other 9 walks were mostly enjoyable despite the temperatures associated. I did get some gorgeous photos, such as this one:
So there you have it – I’m moving to maintenance. Goals for 2022 include maintaining my current weight, perhaps dropping to the 190-195 range (instead of 193-198, purely because it would be nice to never be near 200 again), and maybe working on some strength training in my arms and core. But honestly this would all just be icing on top of the 0-calorie metaphorical cake.