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Countdown to 165: Weeks 12-13 – Resetting the Target

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I have been on a mission to lose 85 pounds in 20 weeks, but in these two weeks things fell apart. No, I didn't gain weight, or cheat even once. But my deadline has disappeared, and my dieting role model fell off the wagon after a major disappointment of her own.

Major Challenges

First the role model: my mother introduced me to this diet, and at one point even worked in an online forum dedicated to people following the plan. While she always had reservations about the personality behind the website, there was no question that the diet worked for her and for many, many others. The science was strong, the plan was effective, and personal quirks were just that — personal quirks. This month, however, tensions that had been building in private spilled out into the public, and the personality was exposed as a fraud. (I am not using a legal definition here; I simply mean that a private investigator produced photos apparently showing that the personality collecting money to help others lose weight looks to weigh something north of 300 pounds herself.) Despite my mother's 90+ pounds of weight loss, this revelation sent her reeling and left her — and me, by extension — discouraged. I wasn't as directly affected as she was, since I never paid anything to join the website.

Then came the second blow. Readers of my first article in this series may remember that I picked the 20-week span because that ended a few days before my departure for Central Asia, on a trip I've been planning a long time. I saved up money for the expensive plane ticket. I started a campaign to lose 85 pounds. I paid extra to expedite a passport renewal to avoid any potential uncertainty. I was ready! This week I was on a conference call, credit card in hand (literally!), buying my plane ticket online, when one of the members of the call said something that I knew immediately would lead to the cancellation of the trip. It took a day for events to play out, but that's what happened. My entire reason for losing weight was gone, just like that. It took a few days to even begin to see any upside, and it's still hard to really remember in the face of the overwhelming disappointment.

I mention this not just to bore you with details of my personal life, but because one of the primary reasons overweight people are overweight is because we tend to eat in order to alleviate stress, and I've had a bundle of stress and even despair lately. I know that my body would love some of the foods I won't allow myself to eat. I would physically feel "better" because of the chemical responses my body would produce. It has stretched me to the limits of my willpower, and I've even found myself "cheating" in small ways. I didn't go off the plan, but I did go back to those salty foods and diet sodas I gave up weeks earlier. If I can't have chocolate, then beef jerky and Diet Dr Pepper will have to do!

I've written before about how to focus on the positive to keep going through slow spots and tough times, and I re-read some of those articles this week to help motivate me. On the one hand, Cool Ranch Doritos; on the other hand, my wife has lost 25 pounds in five weeks. One the one hand, a Jumbo Jack with the bun; on the other hand, I've lost another seven pounds in the last two weeks. No, I'm not going overseas, but — here's the upside — I am going to the BlogWorld Expo I was going to miss. I'll be seeing Blogcritics editors and writers who last saw me more than a year ago! I wasn't at my heaviest then, but I probably wasn't far from it. I probably won't quite hit 165 by the time of BlogWorld Expo, but I should be close.

I do have one major challenge on the horizon: since I'm not traveling to Central Asia, I have a few spare vacation days, which means I can now accompany my wife and kids on a trip to the northeastern U.S. and possibly Canada. I'll fly into Boston and drive to Rhode Island, with a few days excursion to visit more relatives north of Toronto on the schedule. It's easy enough to sit at my desk and eat a can of tuna for lunch day after day, but traveling should be interesting.

Free Plug

Fortunately, I've found something that may help, and it excites me more than it should: Jack in the Box offers a per-ingredient breakdown of their menu! I'm a fan of Jack in the Box since I live far from In-n-Out. I started at the Build Your Meal page and adding some sandwiches that I used to enjoy, then calculated up the totals (49g of carbohydrates on that Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich? Ouch!). At the point I clicked on the sandwich name and saw a complete list of facts per ingredient. Based on that, I ordered the sandwich, removed the bun (which also removed one of the two slices of American cheese, since it stuck to the bun), and enjoyed one of my favorite tastes with only 3.2g of carbs.

I ordered a Jumbo Jack the next day, no bun and no ketchup, for 3.4g of carbs. I gave it a rest after that, wanting to wait and see how I'd weigh in on Tuesday, but since this was a good week, I may head back to Jack in the Box this weekend as well!

Personal Update

I continue to get comments, nearly daily, even from people who see me almost every day! People I see weekly, at church for example, can obviously see changes every week. But people in my office continue to say things about how I look, and they see me constantly! I've now lost 58 pounds in 13 weeks, which works out to nearly 4.5 pounds per week. It's actually just within the realm of possibility — barely — that I could manage to reach 165 by Tuesday, October 30, but I'm not counting on it.

My waist size hasn't budged in four weeks. Well, half an inch, but I'm only counting whole inches. In those four weeks I've lost 14 pounds, but none of it, apparently, from my waist. I once had a 32-inch waist, and I know it's still in there, somewhere! I won't stay at 165 pounds, because I intend to build up muscle, but I do hope to stay at a 32-inch waist size.

2007-06-12: 250, initial weight
2007-06-19: 236, -14 pounds
2007-06-26: 231, -5 pounds
2007-07-03: 225, -6 pounds
2007-07-10: 221, -4 pounds, 43 inch waist (estimated)
2007-07-17: 217, -4 pounds, 41 inch waist (estimated)
2007-07-24: 215, -2 pounds, 39 inch waist (estimated)
2007-07-31: 211, -4 pounds, 38 inch waist
2007-08-07: 209, -2 pounds, 37 inch waist
2007-08-14: 206, -3 pounds, 36 inch waist
2007-08-21: 204, -2 pounds, 36 inch waist
2007-08-28: 199, -5 pounds, 36 inch waist
2007-09-04: 196, -3 pounds, 36 inch waist
2007-09-11: 192, -4 pounds, 36 inch waist 58 pounds lost total!

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About pwinn

  • El Bicho

    Very inspiring story, and am glad to see that you are keeping on your journey even though obstacles get in your way. Keep on keeping on.

    And really? What’s so great about Central Asia when you can have protein style In-n-Out burgers with me in Vegas in a few weeks.

  • elsa


  • Phillip Winn

    True, El B. I do look forward to protein burgers in Vegas! I miss In’n’Out deeply.

    I’ve been thinking today about the effects my change in diet has had on me in unexpected ways. It appears to have alleviated many of the allergy symptoms I had been suffering, and I just realized this week that I’m far less depressed overall, and better able to deal with crushing blows like the cancellation of this trip. Coincidence? Somehow I don’t think so. Perhaps that will be the subject of my next update article…

    Thanks, Elsa!

  • Eric Berlin

    Really phenomenal achievement, Phillip! I can relate to your notion of allergies, general health, etc. improving with weight loss. Inspired in part by your column (and just a general feeling of fedupedness with myself) I decided to simply cut way back on carbs and eliminate desserts. I’ve kept it up for about five and a half weeks now and have experienced a big difference. I’ve always been somewhat active — exercising about three days a week on average — but the change in diet has really allowed that activity to have an impact on how I look and feel.

    Anyway, great work!