On New Year's Day, I posted the final results from Operation Slimdown 2012. I walked a thousand miles in the final five months of the year, and lost nearly forty pounds.
From the perspective of the Body Mass Index, I took myself from slightly into the territory of obesity (30.8) to the cusp of the normal range (25.1), and it is now below 25. Of course, upon reaching this target, I read at Reason that the BMI ranges approved by the Federal government most likely don't correspond to health outcomes, or at least mortality outcomes. And then last Thursday, I read something similar at The Daily Beast. By no means do either of these pieces diminish my satisfaction at what I accomplished over the second half of 2012. But they tend to back up the thought I'd been having for a while -- that it would not serve me to take the weight down too much further than it is now. The frame I carried a decade ago as a Cornell student, when I dropped down around 130 pounds on some occasions, should go the way of my hairstyle of that era -- that is, it shouldn't make a comeback in 2013.
The "significant change to my exercise regimen" I wrote about at the start of the month has already been put into effect. That change is a reduction of roughly one-third from my maximum daily walking distance, from 10.2 to 6.7 miles. On the left is the course I walked each day for the bulk of December; on the right, the one I'm walking now:
Same basic shape and circumference, and just about the same elevation changes, but with a lot less snaking around. In the middle of October, I leveled off at nine miles per day, suspecting that I had passed the point of diminishing returns. Just before Christmas, looking at these numbers confirmed it, as did the addition of the December figures:
|Month||Miles walked||Pounds lost||mi/lb|
More walking, roughly the same weight loss. This being so, and given that I don't need to lose all that much more weight, I can afford to cut three and a half miles a day out. In so doing, I drop the time dedicated to exercise by at least fifty minutes a day -- and usually more than that, because on this shorter course, I don't need to take a "personal break."
On the diet side, I intend to keep things roughly the same. There's no need to re-introduce the post-dinner beer or salty snacks in their previous quantities. But at the same time, nor will I throw the bulk of my diet overboard. Without having made major chages to what I eat over the last ten years, I've had my weight in the 130's and 140's (Cornell), the 160's and 170's (most of the Navy era, and now), and above 200 (2010-mid 2012). This is the time at which I'm tempted to cherry pick quotes from other blogs that insist that weight loss is all about what you eat...
"I get that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet."
"I wish that we could just eat whatever we wanted and then pay for it in workouts."
"I have realized however that when it comes to losing weight, it really is all about your diet. Exercise has many amazing benefits on it’s own, but if you are just doing it to lose weight and don’t eat right, you are never going to reach your goal weight."
Having thrown in those quotes, and briefly stating that the forty pounds missing from my body beg to differ, I need to emphasize that there's a lot of good in those posts. And I must admit that my rejoinder isn't entirely on point. I have been largely unconcerned with body shape, focusing primarily on body size. This has worked immensely well for me; I need look no further than the belt I was using six months ago, which is now two and a half inches too large around the waist.
Your mileage may vary, and if you're relying on me for weight loss advice, that advice would be that people like Sarah Fit know much more about this than I do. It would also be to figure out what will drive you both in terms of goals and methods. You'll notice that I walk, not run or do strength or cross training. This is not only because I have the time to accommodate it, but because, especially early in the process, I knew it was more important to finish each day's distance than to try to go fast and end up crapping out and doubled over two-thirds of the way through. For me, it also involves multiple page spreadsheets -- in other words, a lot of data, logging, and charting. It most certainly does NOT involve whatever Jillian Michaels is peddling. Two weeks ago, I saw promos for the new season of The Biggest Loser during the Cowboys-Redskins game. I tweeted:
"I've lost 38 lbs in the last 5 months... about 35 more than I'd have lost if Jillian Michaels had been screaming at me the whole time."And then I browse Wikipedia, and I'm not stunned in the least to discover that the contestants, especially the winners, have trouble keeping the weight off. And keeping the weight off is like holding the reservation -- it really is the most important part.
None of this would have come to pass without a seemingly throwaway remark by my friend Ryan about his own weight loss. I can't thank him enough for planting that seed in my head last July. I also am most appreciative of the good people at Nike for their compression shorts; as expensive as they felt when I bought them, those thirty dollars represent some of the best value I've ever gotten. They've gotten me to a place where I'm much comfortable with myself, and they'll help me through the work that lays ahead as I keep all that weight off and take off a bit more.