I have lost 10% of my body weight. I started with 143 days to lose 85 pounds, trying to get from 250 down to 165. I've lost 25 lbs in three weeks, so I need to lose 60 lbs in the next 122 days.
If you had told me three weeks ago that I would be 25 lbs lighter by now, I wouldn't have believed you. Here I am, though, 225 lbs, healthier, exercising, happier — even my severe allergies probably have disappeared! Of course, I'm not a doctor, so I'm only guessing that I'm healthier because I feel healthier. I'm only guessing that the severe allergy symptoms which recently developed as I gained more weight and then disappeared as I lost it were related. It could be a total coincidence, but I don't think so.
I was chatting with my mother, an experienced low-carb dieter (87 lbs lost), and she mentioned that most people see a "plateau" around day ten, and that the third week is the slowest of all. This checks out perfectly with my own experience — day ten was my first no-progress day, with two more in week three — and it sure would have been nice to know before I encountered them. As a result of this, and just for my own sanity, I've decided to end my daily weigh-ins. I'll only be checking my weight on Tuesdays, which will give me room to include my weekly menu.
Word Is Spreading
One doesn't lose 10% in three weeks without people noticing. I've had a number of people ask me what I've been doing, and some express skepticism that a diet could have such dramatic results. Surely I must have taken up crystal methamphetamines, they suggest when I'm not around, or I had some sort of surgery. They know better, because they see me at least weekly, but they struggle to explain how some people can spend their entire lives dieting and make little or no progress, while I can drop so much weight so quickly. I've thought some of the same thoughts, as I've been on diets before, but never one like this.
Some of it is the time limit. A person who is just a few pounds overweight can simply adjust their diet and physical activity levels to lose those pounds, but when you're 85 pounds overweight, the idea of losing one or two pounds a week is unappealing. It would take over a year, assuming no slip-ups! It's essentially an open-ended commitment, which I'm just not strong enough to make. By setting a short time period, I've got something on which to focus. If I don't reach my goal by November 2, I'll wait a bit, and then set another start date and stop date. Even if I do, I expect I'll gain a bit of weight on my trip to Central Asia, and perhaps over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays (though I'm going to work very hard on sensible portions and physical activity), so one way or another, I plan to restart the special diet on January 1, 2008, which is another Tuesday, and with a deadline fewer than 143 days away that time. If I had more weight to lose, and no international travel to act as a natural deadline, I would still split things up into roughly six-month blocks, though I might stack them pretty close together. Instead of waiting until January 1 to restart, I'd restart one week after finishing the first block.
Some of it is sheer force of will. My wife is continuing with the eat-less-move-more plan, and it's working for her, but I don't think it could work for me. My will is too weak to handle the daily temptations of eating just a bite or two of the peach cobbler, or cake, or just one piece of pizza, or just a few tortilla chips. I would have snacked all day on Independence Day and tried to convince myself I was still being restrained. I'd convince myself that an occasional Dr. Pepper wasn't too bad. And then I'd be back gaining weight again. Instead, I had to lock down tight, eating even more austerely than the diet calls for, at least for the first week. I called it "showing my body who's the boss." I combated my weak will by being strong-willed. I may have a struggle in November when I switch to the eat-less-move-more plan for maintenance, but I think I'll be ahead of the game, because my appetite has diminished dramatically.
Most of it is ketosis. Carbohydrates are the first thing your body consumes, so even with fewer calories, if they come from carbohydrates, it's going to take a lot of physical activity to lose weight. And even then, the weight will come from both stored fat and muscle, which won't have the same effect. Ketosis causes your body to literally consume stored fat cells for fuel, which makes for a dramatic physical difference right away. With that physical change, as the fat melts away, comes more confidence and makes commitment to continuing the diet easier. It makes exercise easier, too, because the fat doesn't get in your way quite as much. (For more details on ketosis, check the Countdown to 165 archives.)
I spent the first week just dieting, with no change in physical activity at all. Near the end of the second week, I bought a pedometer to track the number of steps I took each day, and aimed for 10,000. I didn't hit the goal at all that week. In week three, I've hit it twice, though once I took a walk at about midnight to get there. The lighter I get, the easier it is to walk, and to contemplate joining a gym. I've got an elliptical machine in my house; I may queue up some television episodes on my computer and watch them as I work out at home, but I haven't tried that yet. The machine creaks when there is too much weight on it, and I think I may still be in the creak zone, which is discouraging.
As I continue to lose weight, I'll need to continually exercise more to try to keep the rate up, because I burn fewer calories carrying my 225-pound body around for 1000 steps than I did carrying my 250-pound body around for 1000 steps. It feels easier because it is easier, which means it benefits me less, which means I need to do more. I doubt I'll be able to increase my activity steadily enough to compensate for my weight loss, so the rate of loss will decrease, but I'll try.
I lost six pounds this week. I doubt I'll lose this much in one week again. After the first three weeks, I expect my body to settle into a slower pace, slowing over time. To help me focus on the big picture, I've decided to stop recording my daily weight, so this will be my last daily breakdown. All weights come from an early-morning weigh-in on an analog scale.
2007-06-26: 231, starting point for the week, 19 pounds lost total
2007-06-27: 230.5, -.5 pounds today, 19.5 pounds lost total
2007-06-28: 230.5, no change today, 19.5 pounds lost total
2007-06-29: 229, -1.5 pounds today, 21 pounds lost total
2007-06-30: 228.5, -.5 pounds today, 21.5 pounds lost total
2007-07-01: 228.5, no change today, 21.5 pounds lost total
2007-07-02: 227, -1.5 pounds today, 23 pounds lost total
2007-07-03: 225, -2 pounds today, 25 pounds lost total