I’ve just spent the last hour watching Barack Obama speeches on Youtube, so if I start going on and on about change and hope and being fired up and ready to go, I hope you’ll cut me a little slack.
Oh, you want to talk about politics now? Okay, fine. I voted for Barack in the California primary.
Now that my political affiliations are out of the way (by the way, I’m an independent voter), we should probably talk about something else.
But what to talk about? Hmmm….
European economic policy?
The crumbling newspaper industry?
Galbladder surgeries? (We’re getting closer.)
Okay, let’s go with weight loss. Sorry for the stammering start there, I like to mix it up a little bit sometimes. But as weight loss goes, I happen to have some personal thoughts on the subject.
I am happy to announce that the assault on 270 going better than originally planned. You’ll remember that Thursday morning I weighed in at 274.4, a 1.4 pound gain from the previous week. Well, after near-perfect days on Thursday and Friday that included between 1,500 and 2,000 calories and 30-minute elliptical sessions each day, I had a nice surprise on Saturday.
By the way, I hate unveiling these numbers, because I feel like it should be some sort of event. But I can’t figure out the proper dramatic tone to set.
(Some options I have pondered:
- “Ladies and Gentleman, my new weight is…”
- "Without further adieu, I shall unveil my new weight as…,”
- “For the first time in years, I looked down at that royal blue screen with the fat digital numbers, and saw the number… staring me straight in the eye. With that I shuddered, my body shaken to the core. At that moment, I had never wished so much that there was a God, and I was never so sure that there wasn’t.”
In the interest of avoiding plagiarism, and to make sure that this parenthetical note goes down as the longest in history, I should note that the "wish there was a God" line came from an old Saturday Night Live game show sketch called “Who’s More Grizzled.")
Then again, maybe I should just come out with it, and let you make your own judgments.
I am going to go with the SNL line: For the first time in years, I looked down at that royal blue screen with the fat digital numbers, and saw the number 272 staring me straight in the eye. With that I shuddered, my body shaken to the core. At that moment, I had never wished so much that there was a God, and I was never so sure that there wasn’t.
So 272 is the number, which is pretty fucking awesome. I followed that up with a 1,500 calorie Saturday (though no ellipticising), and an 1,800 calorie, 30-minute elliptical Sunday. I am going to weigh myself again on Monday, and then wait until Friday. By that time, I should be well under 270, and out of the woods as far as taking an off-day and not nudging myself back over the 270 mark.
So tentatively, my 100 pounds party will be held on Friday, and none of you are invited. In fact, it will be a gory, but savory, series of meats, cheeses, and possibly hookers. (I’m not saying I am going to buy some lube and a hooker. It’s actually highly unlikely. I’m just saying that there is probably a better chance of that happening on Friday than on almost any other day.)
But there are two other things that I want to talk about on this Monday. We’ll break them up with numbers
1. Exercise. I used to say that a person can lose weight without any exercise at all. The science backs me up there, since losing weight is really only about burning more calories than you ingest. However, the idea of exercise has been shockingly reinforced in me with this latest weight loss. Let’s compare Thursday and Friday with the week before it.
The week: Three bad eating days, followed by three good eating days, but no exercise at all. I gained 1.4 pounds.
Thursday and Friday: Two good eating days, with the added benefit of 30 minutes of exercise each day. I lost 3.4 pounds.
So it is obvious to me how much power exercise has. It also serves as a psychological boost because it is the one thing I can truly control about my body. I can eat well on any given day, but I really don’t have control over how my body reacts. But if I exercise and know from the elliptical machine that I have burned 530 calories (on average) for 30 minutes of work, I have taken things into my own hands, and I know for certain that my body has just burned those calories (or something in that neighborhood, if you don’t trust the digital display). Eating right is the more passive aspect of a diet. But exercise is hands on, a way of taking control of my own destiny.
It’s not that I didn’t know that before. It’s just that there were (are) times I chose not to acknowledge that. Over the last two months, I have had days where I didn’t think I needed to exercise, basically because I was lazy.
I wrote about this a few weeks ago, and it was something of an obvious epiphany. But one day I left the gym after a workout, and suddenly thought to myself, “Every time I come here, I am one small step closer to reaching my goal.” Though I can say that after every 1,600 calorie day, it doesn’t have the same impact. After all, I have to eat, so it only makes sense to make better choices in that regard. But I don’t have to ellipticise at all. Not doing it won’t kill me or cause severe physical distress. So that is an extra, though vitally important, step that I have involved in this process.
2. Weigh-ins. They’ve been a controversial topic for the first two months of The Fortress, mostly because of my inconsistent actions toward them.
However, something else dawned on me Sunday morning. I woke up 24 hours after weighing in at 272 and I decided to get on the scale. Know what it said? 273. Did I somehow gain a pound while eating only 1,600 calories the day before? Not possible, as far as I know. Did not exercising on Saturday somehow add 3,500 calories to my body? No it didn’t. So I thought for a second, calmly and without frustration I might add, and realized two things: A) I drank two cups of tea after midnight on Saturday, and B) I didn’t take a shit at all on Saturday (sorry to bring that up, but everybody poops).
Ah, the variables. I’ve always known they were there, and I was ready for them this time. At the start of this, gaining a pound after a good day would have sent me into a deep depression. But Sunday I shrugged it off, said to myself, “Yep, that’s why I don’t weigh in every day,” and went on with my day. Why?
Well, I understand it all now. It’s not a question of whether daily weigh-ins work better than weekly or twice-weekly weigh-ins, it’s just a matter of what information you can handle and how you understand your body. So if I weigh in once a week, twice a week, or three times a day, it doesn’t really matter as long as I can account for the numbers on the screen.
For instance, five minutes ago I weighed myself with sweatpants on. I was 274.4. Not bad, I figure, for 1:30 a.m. nearly fully clothed. And another thing: After I wrote the last sentence, I stripped down to my socks and weighed myself again. 273.4. So I guess I lost a pound in five minutes, or I eliminated the variable of the sweatpants.
One other weigh-in note. After getting a quick and very light breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday morning after weighing 272, I had to cover a basketball game for work. I came back around 2 p.m. and decided to weigh myself just for fun. I was 271.6.
Actually, I’ve probably weighed myself 10 times in the last two days, varying from 276 to 271.6.
I guess my point in this inane rambling is that the frequency of weighing in only matters if you aren’t mentally ready for the numbers you might see. You can’t freak out if you gain a pound or two, just like you can’t let up if you lose a pound or two. Instead, you have to understand what is happening to your body, and realize that the numbers on the scale are just a measurement of your actions.
So my whole bullshit of “official” and “unofficial” weigh-ins was just a copout in order to ease the pain of a few bad days.
I’ll continue to weigh-in as I see fit, most likely the twice a week schedule I’ve become comfortable with. But I understand now that my actions are what count the most, not what the numbers on the scale tell me.