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Dan Nied’s Fortress of Weight Loss: Day 104

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I’ve been absent for the past few days, just trying to collect my thoughts and figure out the best course of action for the Fortress.

Hope you didn’t miss me too much.

There’s one thing I’d like to say. It may seem obvious, but it’s something I have to learn again and again and it never really seems to sink in.

Losing weight is hard.

No matter how many pounds you lose, that next one is always a struggle. You need the right balance of motivation, mindset, willpower and decision-making. You need to be willing to cut yourself off from the world around you if that’s the best way to go.

I’ve learned those lessons over the last three months. There were times early on when I felt like I could do this with my eyes closed. That’s because the actual eating part of this isn’t that hard. After a while, the eating just becomes routine. Get up, have cereal. Have a sandwich before work, have a salad during the dinner break, have some fruit around 9 p.m., have tea after work, mark down 1,500 calories in the diary. That’s an easy schedule to keep, and I don’t complain about that menu.

But the trouble comes after that’s been done for a couple days. You’ve done well, you’ve lost weight, don’t you deserve a reward? Then you start to think about it, and you arrange your days accordingly, and then you wonder the next week why you haven’t lost as much weight.

Sometimes it is tough getting from point A to point B. Going from off day to off day with perfect attendance and the gym, or sticking exactly to the menu you’ve planned out. That’s not easy to do.

Having an off-day planned right around the corner doesn’t help, either. Instead, it enables you to rearrange your plans for short-term gratification. For instance, I moved Sunday’s planned off day up to Friday last week. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it thwarted momentum, and extended the time until the next off day and increased the likelihood of falling off the wagon before then.

Outside of the 100 percent effective abstinence method (i.e. just don’t cheat), it can be difficult just to get to the off day. Why? Because it is viewed as something you created, and you can change around as you please.

That’s where the discipline comes in. Really, it’s all about how you view these things. If you look at an off day as something solid that can’t be changed, you are likely to make decisions based on that view. So you won’t move it up and stop your momentum, and you won’t extend it to two days knowing you’ll be back on the diet in three.

Anyway, on Saturday night I was thinking about the best way to bring this thing in for a landing, and I that got me to thinking about the off days a little bit. To date, I’ve generally taken an off day once a week, usually on Sundays. That’s not something I am particularly happy about, just something I’ve done in order to make this a little more bearable.

But how long can I go without an off day?

That was the question I asked myself as I drove home from work. So I figured I would find out. As I thought about it more, it seemed to make sense. To be successful within a reasonable time frame, I need one more big push towards 240. If I can get within the realm of that number, it will be much easier to make that final push to the goal.

So here’s the plan I came up with. For the rest of April, I am going to try to be perfect. Sunday, the first day of that plan, was April 6. That means 25 days of eating 1,500 calories (with the occasional jump up to the 1,700-2,000 range to change it up), and that means at least 18 trips to the gym in that time.

The next off day, which will be looked at as solid and immovable, will be Thursday, May 1.

The weight loss goal over that time will be to get under 250 pounds. That will leave me with less than 10 pounds to lose in May, which is something I can do.

If I might compare this to the Iraq war, which doesn’t really seem apt outside of this particular metaphor, this plan would be the troop surge. And after I find success here, I will start working on my exit strategy, so to speak.

It seems like a big task ahead of me, 24 more days of eating perfectly. But I understand that there needs to be a sense of urgency, and I realize that delaying my gratification is the most important thing I can do right now.

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About Dan Nied

  • Guy

    In your Iraq metaphor who plays the former Sunni insurgents that the US has armed and pays to provide security detail in their devastated communities? Would they be your big salads or perhaps an elliptical machine?

    Anyway- I like the idea of challenge within a challenge. I’m with you on the whole off day thing and how it effects momentum. Also- I have not forgotten about the guest blogging idea – just waiting for the right thing to talk about- this may just be it.

    Good luck with 25 days o’ perfection