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Monthly Archives: October 2009

A great friend of mine suggested I give a profile of my weight loss by the numbers. So, here goes:

Starting Date of weight loss: 02/16/06

Days Elapsed : 1,350

 

Height: 6’2 ½”. I was 6’3”, but according to my doctor, “you can’t fight gravity”. I guess I should be grateful that I had the height to lose. I can think of worse places to lose a half inch.

 

Starting shoe size: 14

Current shoe size: 12.5 wide—this one baffles me. 

 

Starting collar size: 23 ½

Current collar size: 18 ½

 

Starting shirt size: 9 XL Big

Current shirt size: 2 XL Tall

 

Starting pant size: Snug 76” x 32” relaxed fit with “built-in hidden waist extender”

Current pant size: 42”x 34” What gives…my inseam grew?

 

Starting hat size: 7 1/2

Current hat size: 7 3/8

 

Wardrobes purchased in almost 4 years: 5

 

Water consumed: 273,780 ounces or 2,139 gallons

 

Miles of cardio travelled at the gym: 5,600

Days spent in the gym: approx 560

Target calorie burn at the gym: 700-800 per session

Total calories burned so far: 1,193,150 (I am so glad I calculated that number when I started!)

 

Starting weight: 599.9 lbs

Current weight: 259.0 lbs

Target weight: 225 lbs—at least that’s my current target

Lost: 340.9 lbs

Average weight loss: .25251 lbs per day

 

At my current rate, I will completely disappear on Saturday, August 18th 2012.

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pancho_villa

When I really started to lose some substantial weight, I started to look for ways to keep and increase the pace. This happened at the end of my first year. I had lost around 140lbs and, being fairly impatient by nature, I had done some calculating and figured out how long it would take me to hit my first goal. I had also noticed a slow down in the average monthly weight loss.

I started to do some research about methods of losing weight. I was dumbfounded with what I learned. Apparently, I was doing everything all wrong according to conventional wisdom! How did that happen? I wasn’t following these tried and true methods, but I was losing weight.

So, in my best Pancho Villa stare and accent, (who from the pictures I have seen, should have laid off the chimichangas and given his horse a break) I give my rules for being a diet rebel:

Uno) I skip breakfast for the most part. I try and eat no more that about 80-100 calories in the morning. (To put that into perspective, one soft-boiled egg is about 80 calories.) The only reason I really do that is because I take a multi vitamin and with the water I am drinking I figure I need something to keep it from getting washed out of my system before it gets a chance to be absorbed. Conventional wisdom says a good breakfast is important in keeping the system burning fat. But for me, I find it’s easier to eat very little than it is to try and eat an meal and stop.

Dos) I eat one real meal a day. I eat dinner. For me, knowing that I have something to look forward to is much easier than trying to control what I eat all day long. It gives me a break from not having to think constantly about food and my intake by just avoiding the issue. Again, what I have read tells me you should eat small meals all day long instead.

Tres) I weigh myself everyday. The standard logic says that your weight will fluctuate a great deal so weighing yourself daily will be deceptive. I don’t know whose logic this is, but to me it’s wrong. If your weight fluctuates, and you weigh only weekly, what happens if you fluctuate on the day you weigh yourself? You will have a bad reading for 2 weeks. I weigh in every day first thing in the morning…well, second thing. Since I go to the gym at 5:00 AM, I am up at 4:30 AM, so that’s when I do it. The daily weigh-ins are a huge help to my motivation. If I have a positive weigh-in, I feel good and want to keep going. If I have a bad weigh-in, it motivates me to get back on track. I also try to avoid 3 bad weigh-ins in a row, because I fear creating a trend. Overall, the weigh-ins have been positive.

Quatro) I eat what I really want to eat. I focus on portion control. I can’t imagine not enjoying what I eat. There is no way on God’s Green Earth that I am ever going to eat and enjoy a stalk of celery. No matter how good for me it is, and no matter how much I can eat, I would not put that foul weed in my mouth. Like the man says, I didn’t spend the last 100,000 years getting to the top of the food chain for nothing. Now this doesn’t mean I am consuming large tubs of fudge covered in bacon grease. I do try to watch what I eat. It’s all about portion control for me. If I want to make like Pancho and make a “run for the border”, I get a sensible meal. Three crunchy tacos from my friends with the bell is less than 500 calories. Not bad for a full dinner.

Cinco) I work out more than is recommended. Currently, I am doing cardio 6 days a week. I take off one day on the weekend to allow myself some time to recharge. I read all kinds of advice that says to limit yourself to 3 or 4 twenty minute workouts a week. The logic is that you will hurt yourself if you work out more. If that’s the case, someone should notify the UFC fighters because from what I see they are working about several hours a day and they look pretty healthy to me. 

Seis) I drink a great deal of water. As I stated in previous posts, I drink a ton of water. To be exact, about 13 pounds of water a day. I read that is about 2 times what I should be drinking. It’s hard to argue with my success, but I don’t recommend that anyone else do this because I have been told too much water can be toxic and very unhealthy.

More rules to come.

Viva Villa. I don’t need no stink’en rules. Long live the rebels.

Paul

I have been having some issues with my level of confidence. I am not sure where this started. When I was lumbering around at 600 lbs, I didn’t have an issue. I felt like I was confident. Over the past year, I have had what I would term an erosion of self-esteem. 

So, I had to ask myself, “Self,” (I hate when people speak about themselves in the third person) “what the hell happened? How is it possible that I lost my mojo when at the same time I have been getting the rest of my life in order?” I had to admit, I had no clue, so I spoke to a friend of mine. She pointed out that she always thought I was a confident guy, but maybe I was taking myself a bit more seriously than I did before. That led me to the bigger question: why was I confident at 600 lbs? 

I think the answer was that at 600 lbs, I was invisible. When you are invisible, you have total freedom. (I can imagine what I would do if I was really invisible…but that’s another kind of blog.) My power of invisibility was due to my size. While it seems counter-intuitive that I could be that big and people wouldn’t see me, I think at a real level people looked past me. I don’t believe that people did it on purpose. I think that it goes back to when you’re a child and you see someone that is challenged or has a physical deformity, your parents teach you not to stare. Therefore, you kind of train yourself to look past them. At a very real level, people did this with me. 

So then the question changes to, why do I now feel this erosion of confidence? I knew that before, most people didn’t really connect with me for whatever reason. But lately, people are connecting with me. They react to me differently. A few of my friends have even come out and told me that they see me in a different way. This has messed with my melon a bit. Is the change within me or are they now able to “see” me instead of looking past me? Not everyone has done this, but the change has been nice. 

I am sure to some degree I have become more open. I feel physically better and I am sure that translates out to a different vibe.

So the last question I have is, which would you rather have: the gift of flight or the power of invisibility? For me, I will take the gift of flight, I have been invisible—time to get in the game and try something new. 

Paul

During the last 3 years, I have been to the doctor’s office more times than I’d been in the previous 25.  

I have had several strange encounters with my Doctor’s office. One of the physicians I see uses a “state of the art” records system. So now, when I go to the office, the first thing the nurse checking me does is take me to the scale to be weighed.

This encounter has become predictable; I step on the scale, she goes to enter the weight on the electronic chart, stops, scratches her head, rechecks the chart, clears the scale and tells me to step on the scale again. Since it never appears to be the same nurse twice, they don’t quite get what is going on. Losing weight doesn’t seem to compute. I think if I had gained 40 pounds, they would not question it. They then give me the RCA dog look with the tilted head and ask, “Have you lost weight?” 

I then tell the nurse that I have lost a bit of weight. The nurses always seem to be truly excited for me. They show it, and are always very encouraging. 

The doctors are another story. They always note the change in weight and ask me how I am doing it. I tell them what my program has been and they then ALWAYS, without fail, begin to tell me how I can lose weight. WHAT THE HELL! You have my medical chart in front of you and can see I know how to do it. I have the combo to that lock, doc, I don’t need your help on this one. The insane part is some of the suggestions they offer. I tell them I have been doing it with diet and exercise, and they start to tell me about how their cousin Clem eats nothing but chicken fat and straw and how he has been able to lose 12 pounds in a short two years. Is this what was taught in medical school? I think I am going to have to insist the next time I come in, I need to see that medical school diploma. What did they teach in that medical school in Haiti anyway?

Even worse are the doctors that start to tell me how I am doing it wrong. This amazes me the most. They point out all the things I shouldn’t be doing (such as weighing myself every day). It’s not like I started snorting Bolivian marching dust and smoking Lucky Strikes to cut the weight. Thanks for the advice, doctor, but I am fairly sure I’ve got this handled. 

The best encounter I had was with a doctor that asked me if it was hard. I looked her in the eye and told her that once I made up my mind to do it, it was simple. Once I was willing to do what it took, for the most part, I didn’t feel tortured. She said, “So you’re saying it was easy.” I told her no, it was simple. She then got really angry and said. “I will just tell my other patients who are struggling that is simple and easy.” I told her it was simple, burn more calories that you take in. It’s just math. Elementary math, just simple subtraction.

Paul

The question I get most is, “What is the secret to losing all this weight?” To begin with, there is no secret. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. Burn 3500 calories and you’ll lose a pound. No one loses 350 lbs at once. You lose 4 ounces at a time. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that people are looking for one of two answers. They want to hear that I’ve had gastric bypass surgery. I think they are looking for justification why I can make this apparent change when they have struggled. It’s more about their insecurities than really wanting to know what I did.

I believe the other answer they want is “the secret”. They want me to shift my eyes back and forth, reach in my pocket, come out with a pill, and in a whisper of a voice state, “Don’t tell anyone, but take this pill—and whatever you do, don’t take more than one a month or you will end up looking like Kate Moss.”

What I want to say is, “It’s really easy, you just need to eat a small carrot stick covered in kerosene every morning…and don’t worry you really learn to like it.” Better yet, I should just say, “The secret? Recycled urine.” and just turn and walk away.

It’s kind of sad that human nature has reached the point that we are always looking for the easy answer. What happened to rolling up your sleeves and working hard to get what you want? I think there is a certain satisfaction in setting a goal and achieving it.

Once I made the decision to lose the weight, it somehow became a simple process. Instead of looking for “the secret”, I started to look for ways to increase my weight loss process and not the excuse to put it off for another day. I think the real secret is just unlocking your potential and ability to make the change. The hardest part of losing the weight was getting started, and I don’t mean going on a diet. I mean just making up my mind to do it. Once that happened the rest really did fall into place. I formed a basic plan (which I have continued to modify) and made up my decision. I have to admit, I was not the most disciplined guy. If I were, I wouldn’t have gotten to 600lbs in the first place. 

With the right direction, the human mind is an amazing thing.

Paul

Let’s start with this…I don’t have one. Or at least, not a relationship.  I just like to eat.  I also happen to like the bad kinds of food.  Nothing is better than reaching into the fast food bag and finding the orphan fries the McWorkers spilled into the bottom when you think it’s all gone.  If I did have a relationship with food, it would be the same as having a relationship with a stripper.  It’s fun at the time, but at the end of the day it’s going to make you feel stupid, broke, and full of regret. 

When I was trying to get my mind right in the days leading up to making the decision to get started (which was the hardest part of this entire process…but more on that later), I did some reading about eating disorders.  I came to the conclusion that for the most part, it’s people trying to make excuses for being fat.  I know that sounds so cold and I am sure that some people truly have these issues, but I don’t think most people do and I am sure I didn’t. 

I thought about a support group for weight loss, but I just couldn’t do it.  I pictured myself sitting in a church basement with a Birkenstock-clad, tree-hugging druid wearing a Mama Cass dress to hide her own failed weight loss progress, asking me for my feelings about food.  I would have to restrain myself from going Shaq-fu on her ass and choking her out MMA style.  I didn’t think my substantial powers of discipline could have prevented me from at the very least going off on her.  I would just have to look Rainbow Bright in the eyes and tell her, ”Just put the fork down.”  

My relationship with food consists of me liking the flavor of dead red meat cooked caveman style over a flame with some salt on it. I like sweets, I have a very female attraction to dark chocolate…hey, I admitted I drive a soccer mom mini van–I guess I can cop to the chocolate addiction.  I also like fast food and don’t think I’m the only one that likes it. I mean, according to the sign, I am one of billions and billions served. 

The fact is, my problem was that I liked the wrong foods, and I liked to eat a lot of it.  It’s my belief that one of the keys to my weight loss has been that I didn’t go on a diet fad or try to learn to like celery (which I hate).  I decided, it’s okay to not eat 6 tacos.  I can still eat them, but I limit myself to two.  That was one of the biggest keys: portion control, what a great idea.  When I figured out I could still enjoy my life and eat the things I wanted, it became so much easier.  If you have to spend your life avoiding the things you enjoy, what is the point of life?  Like I said, I enjoy food. 

The funny part is, the more weight I lose, the less I have the desire to really pig out.  I don’t know when it happened, but over the last 3 years my lifestyle changed.  I didn’t intend to for that to happen but in the process of going from morbidly obese to “fat bastard” status, my personality changed.  I am…dare I say it?  Health conscious.  I have also become zen with the fact that I WILL get back to my fighting weight.  It’s only a matter of time.

PB

Half the man I used to be. Well, technically, I am about 43% of the man I used to be—if my grade school math is still any good.

I have had people tell me I look like half the man I was. That always reminds me of Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, when he is yelling at the snotty rich bastards that if he was “the man he used to be” he would take a flamethrower to the Baird School. I am not the man I used to be. For the most part, it’s good, but there are some negative parts of losing this amount of weight. For one thing, I have had to buy all new clothing several times. I went from wearing a 9XL shirt and tight 76 waist pants to a 2XL and 42 inch pant size. I know, I know…it’s a good problem to have, but the expense has been huge. When you go the big and tall store, they know you have limited options and charge accordingly. Just a standard pull over hoodie is going to be $50. To top it off, if you get into a nice dress shirt it will run an easy $65 plus. So, I have had to buy new clothing a few times.

On the plus side, I am able to fit into other things…like my car. It’s nice to drive my car and not have my gut rubbing against the steering wheel. One of the reasons I drive a mini van is because of the large doors. This was a concern for me, so I bought a mini van. It drove like a car but was big enough for me to be comfortable. I know that driving a soccer mom mini van hurts my street cred, but I can take it because I also own a 4X4 pick up (complete with gun rack and shiny wheels) so my male ego could handle the shot to my masculinity.

One of the other negative aspects of this kind of weight loss is losing a bit of my own identity. I always identified myself as “the big guy”. It’s a mental adjustment, not being the biggest person in the room.

Don’t get me wrong—the benefits completely outweigh the negativity of losing the pounds.

Okay—the big question everyone asks me is: how much did I weigh when I started? I work for the state I live in, at an office job, and most of the people I work with are women in their late 50s. When it became apparent that I was losing weight (at around 150 lbs lost), I started to get the question.

I think they were trying to get me alone and away from the herd. They always seemed to pounce when I was in the elevator. The conversation always went…”Hi, can I ask you something personal?” I’d think, could I stop you? But I’d say with a smile, “Sure.” “You seem to be losing some weight…how much have you lost?” I’d tell them and they’d always ask, “What did you weigh when you started?” …I don’t know, what is your bra size?

So, the answer is, 599.9 pounds. I can say it now because I’ve lost 338 lbs. I currently weigh 262 lbs.

The single best question I’ve gotten so far was, “Did you do it alone?” I told her, if I could have paid someone to do it for me, I would have. No matter if you join a support group or have gastric bypass, you still do it alone. Since I didn’t like the idea of talking about my “relationship with food” and didn’t like the idea of getting cut up like Buford Pusser, I decided to take matters into my own hands and put down the fork.

I also get the question as to why I started. I wish I had a great answer to this question. Everyone wants to hear me get a bit choked up and say I did it for my daughter. Or they want to hear about my concern for my health. Both of these things are true, but the real answer is that I am a bit of a flirt and while I am married, I like attention from women. Maybe it’s my midlife crisis. I could have just bought a Harley and saved myself a bit of work. And at the end of the day…I just felt like it was time to make a change.

Since I started this journey, many things have changed over the last 3 1/2 years. Not only am I half the man I used to be, my relationships with people and how they react to me have changed.

My plan with this blog is to share what I have done and what has worked for me. I hope to focus on my weight loss, but I am sure my mind will wander into other aspects of this change in my life.

Paul

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