Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Moment of Clarity

About two weeks ago, I was getting ready for the slog to work. I looked at myself in the mirror and I had a moment of clarity.

I'm tired of being overweight. Like an old professor of mine who had quit smoking the first semester I had taken classes with him. A middle aged state prosecutor who taught law classes on the side (and did some work for BMW in exchange for a new beemer every year), he was in the shower hacking up another piece of lung when he decided it was time to stop. He never smoked another cigarette.

Although I'm probably classified as morbidly obese, I'm not one of those shut-ins who has to have his meals brought to him by a put-upon partner between blubber fold hygiene maintenance. I'm 5'10" and around 290. Most of my fat is stored in the stomach region, also known as a heart-attack gut.

So how do I deal with this new reality that I've thrust upon myself? Do I take the route of Kevin Smith and go on a liquid diet to lose a bunch of weight and then put it right back on? Do I sign up for some diet where someone else brings me tiny meals? Do I spend lots of money to go work out with people who are really only there to be looked at? Especially when I have a perfectly good elliptical machine in the basement?

Of course not. I'm a reasonably smart guy. I know myself well enough to know that none of those things will work in the long run. That's almost as insane as a god-belief (didn't think I'd work it in, didja?)

It seems to me that the only real way to lose and maintain weight is to simply change your habits. As trite as it sounds, you have to watch what you eat and be active. If nothing else, eating what I've been eating and not moving around too much has caused me to pack on nearly 80 pounds in seven years, eating less and being more active should reverse the trend.

Does that mean I'm going to starve myself? No. Am I going to give myself a heart attack by working out? No. Watching what you eat doesn't have to mean starving yourself. Working out doesn't mean running yourself into the ground.

I have an elliptical machine in the basement that hasn't been used in four years. At least it hadn't been used in four years. Now I make it point to use it every other day for the length of two songs. When I feel comfortable at two songs, I'll bump it up to three. Rinse and repeat. I tried doing it every day but that doesn't really work for me. But that's fine. It's better than not working out at all. Maybe in a few months I'll drop some cash on a good second-hand weight set and do something about my noodle-arms.

I also stopped making honking big sandwiches. I still make sandwiches for lunch or sometimes for dinner. Now I just make them with half as much. I stopped using mayo and mayo-like products in favor of mustard and a variety of related products. Brown mustard and honey mustard are good, dijon tastes like ass. I try to put some kind of veggie on them, usually pickles. I'm not all the way there as far as diet. I still eat too many potato chips, even though I've cut back. I still drink too much Pepsi. The next step is to make the transition to diet. It tastes like ass, but everyone who drinks it now assures me you get used to it fairly quickly. I've also started taking lunch to work. Not only does it give me more portion control and keep me away from the greasy-as-fuck fast food joints around the office, I also save about fifty bucks a week.

After two weeks, how's my progress? I still don't have a bathroom scale and I'm pretty sure I won't be getting one. But I have noticed that my skin is a little looser around the belly. It's a start.

I may or may not keep whoever might be reading this informed. I'm not really doing anything that will produce dramatic results. I'm okay with the idea that it may take a couple of years to get back down to a reasonable weight. The longer it takes, the stronger the habits will be. I know I'll never be buff. I'll probably never even get slim because of genetics. But I can bring myself to the point where I feel reasonably healthy.

That's it for that.

1 comment:

Master Plan said...

Good luck with this. Sounds like a sensible plan to start with for sure.

I'd strongly suggest just ditching the soda pop entirely. Really. I know some folks get addicted to that stuff and can't just drink water or tea or nothing.

Similarly you might look in to the low-carb stuff.

I'd also, and, you know, I'd imagine you've heard these things and looked in to them and so forth, but doing even just a little bit of the muscle building will produce significant benefits wrt to weight (well, fat) loss. Really.

You actually, from the sounds of it, have a pretty significant advantage in doing what fitness nerds call "body transformation" in that, again, from the sounds of it, you have no training background. This means you should respond very well and very rapidly to even slight amounts of stimulus.

Really. Micro-circuits of push ups, sit ups, and free squats (just squat down and stand up, no weight). Like 5\5\5, maybe 5-10 minutes in the mornings. Should work fine.

But, mostly, good luck!