Sunday, June 22, 2014

Weight Loss - How I Lost 65 lbs This Time

Surprise, surprise.

Since the beginning of the year, I have lost a little over 65 lbs.  On Jan 1st, I was dismayed to discover that after all of the holiday eating, I had hit 250 lbs.  I am now just a bit under Weight Watcher goal weight of 185 lbs.

Me at 190
No one is surprised as I am that I actually have lost this much weight.  The first question I am asked is if I am ill or not.  After reassuring some folks that my health is fine, the second question they ask is how I did it.

The short answer of course is that I eat a lot less and exercise a lot more.  At that point, most folks lose interest.  There is more to the story though, so in case anyone is interested, I thought I would write it down in a blog post (how 2002 of me).

I need to state the obvious, I am a computer programmer, not a medical professional or a nutritionist. I cannot and will not tell you how to lose weight, I can only describe what I have done.

How I got started

In my office, several of my co-workers have been successfully losing weight by following something called the 5:2 fast diet.  I was skeptical when I first heard about it, but I decided to check the book from the library.

A couple of my friends were also losing weight by logging off of their food into an app called Lose It!  Before they ate anything, they looked up the calories and entered it into the app on their smart phones.

During the Christmas break, I read the book and thought maybe I should give the fast diet a shot.  Since I had to keep track of my calories on the fast days, I also downloaded the app to my phone.  I discovered that if I created an account on Lose It! I could also access the information from a web browser or my tablet.

After my first fast day, I decided that I would also keep track of my calories on my non fasting days.  When I set up the app, I had to enter a start weight, a goal weight, and how much I wanted to lose each week.  I didn't know what to set for a goal weight.  Using a BMI chart, I discovered I should weigh between 136 to 179 lbs.  I knew that wasn't going to happen.  I thought it would be a miracle if ever got to 200 again.

I picked 1 1/2 lbs a week, which seemed very optimistic to me at the time.  The app figured out how many calories I could eat a day based on my weight and still lose weight.   After I started exercising, I could also figure out the calories burned and figure out my net calories for the day.   Once I got the hang of it, it was pretty easy.

A month at a time

I was surprised to see on February 1st that I had lost 17 lbs, which put me at 233.  My clothes were fitting much better and I was feeling better.  I had also started doing 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill two or three times a week.

I lost another 11 lbs in February, and people were starting to notice that I was losing weight.  I was getting into some of the tight clothes in the back of my closet.

Towards the end of March, I finally had to break down and buy some new jeans because I didn't really have any that fit me anymore.  Because March has three more days than February, I lost 12 lbs.  I kept waiting for the inevitable point of any diet where I plateau.  I think that because of the the intermittent fasting, along with my determination not to 'cheat' by going over my daily allotment of calories and increased exercise, the plateaus were measured in days instead of weeks.  

April was good with a 9 lb weight loss, so on May 1st I weighed in at 201.  For anyone keeping track, that was 49 lbs in four months.  I would have never believed it.  Made all of the time I spent on the treadmill and outside walking worth it.

I wanted to start leveling off in May, instead I lost 12 lbs putting me at 189.  I was delighted to hit my goal weight just a few days before my 63rd birthday.

What worked for me

Below is a list in no particular order of things that I found helpful.
  • I decided that I would be rigorously honest about my food and would keep track of everything I ate.
  • I was reluctant, but I decided to weigh and measure as much as I could.  I hate weighing and measuring, but I had no clear idea what a normal sized portion of anything was.
  • Before eating out, I got online and investigated calorie counts.  Some restaurants are much more forthcoming about nutrition than others.  I tend to patronize the places that provides the best information.
  • The Lose It! app has a pretty good list of restaurants.  Another good resource is myfitnesspal.  I don't know how reliable it is, but it at least gives me an idea of what to order and what to avoid.  Just knowing that there are least a couple of things you can eat without using all of my calories is helpful.
  • Salsa is low calorie alternative to higher calorie dressings.
  • On fast days, I ended up drinking a lot fluids.  
  • Celery is my friend.  Low in calories, high in bulk.  I tried eating raw carrots, but I ended up getting very hungry later.
  • Ditto sugar free Jello.  I like mixing different flavors together, and then eating the Jello with berries.
  • No-sugar products don't necessarily mean low calorie.
  • One of the things I like about the Lose It! app is that I can scan bar codes on foods and it will save the nutritional information.  


Once I hit 200 lbs, I decided that I would try fasting only one day a week instead of two, since I wanted to slow down the rate of my weight loss. That worked so well that I stopped fasting after I hit 190, which was my original goal.  Thirty years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and they set my goal weight at 185, so I thought I would see if I could get down there.

My goal for the next several months is to try to figure out what I need to do to stabilize my weight. I recently reread the 5:2 fast diet to see what advice I could get for weight maintenance versus weight loss.  I am thinking if I start inching up much over 185, I will start doing a fast day again.

What I have learned

  • I am not too old to lose weight.
  • I guess this should have been obvious, but the less I weigh, the less calories it takes to maintain my weight.  In other words, the less the weigh, the less I can eat unless I increase my exercise.
  • I can never go back to old way of eating if I want to keep the weight off.
  • I can't take a day off.  One day generally turns into a week turns into a month which inevitably means gaining most if not all of the weight back.
  • I will probably need to weigh and measure my food for each meal for the foreseeable future.
  • I will need to count calories and exercise to stay at my current weight.
  • Not everyone is thrilled by my weight loss.  I am still considered overweight for my height and age, so I am not too worried about being 'too thin.' 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

I was surprised to see that I haven't posted here for almost two years.  I guess Facebook is taking the place of many people's blogs, which is a shame, because it is so easy to miss something on Facebook.

For the time being, I am trying out Feedly as a replacement for the Google Reader.  I have played around with a few other alternatives, but nothing comes close to Google Reader.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Waterton Trip: Red Shirts

Continuing a family tradition, Rachel brought everyone in the family matching shirts.  James took the group shots, so I am just posting a few random 'Red Shirt' pics that I took.

Thanks again Rachel!

Visit from a behavior specialist

John's self injuring behavior has beeen escalating, so we sought the advice of a behavior specialist.  She came out to visit last Wednesday morning.

For whatever reason, John starts hitting his head precisely at 9:00 am every day.  We timed the visit so the specialist would get there about fifteen minutes beforehand.  Precisely at 9:00 am, he started hitting his head.  He and I went into some wierd performance art where I struggled to restrain him for the next forty-five minutes or so.  Once the specialist left, he calmed down.

I left for the office soon after.  When I arrived, I had numerous co-workers ask me what was wrong.  It was a very rough morning for all of us, and I guess it showed on my face.

Later that day, John had a visit to the dentist where he had his teeth cleaned and examined.  Naturally, he was very cooperative and easy to handle.

Self Injury

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 and heading towards 70!

From my friend Tyg

  1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.
  2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
  3. No one expects you to run--anywhere..
  4. People call at 9 PM and ask,"did I wake you?"
  5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.
  6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.
  7. Things you buy now won't wear out.
  8. You can eat supper at 4 PM.
  9. You can live without sex but not your glasses.
  10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.
  11. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
  12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.
  13. You sing along with elevator music.
  14. Your eyes won't get much worse.
  15. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
  16. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.
  17. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
  18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.
  19. You can't remember who sent you this list.
  20. And you notice these are all in Big Print for your convenience.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Made it through another service at church today with my son John.  I thought we were going to have to leave as soon as we went into the sanctuary, John did everything he could to start hitting his head.  I was able to restrain him with one hand and cover his mouth to mute his screams with the other.  And I have the scratch marks to prove it.  He drew blood this time.

Once the service started though, John calmed down and I recalled the reason I put myself through this every week.  Though I don't get as much from the service as I probably would if I didn't have to take care of John, I get enough.

Some random thoughts.

  • I don't recall anyone in my congregation ever criticizing me because I couldn't control John. 
  • When I have had to take John out of the service, I have been told that I need to take him back in because he wasn't bothering anyone.
  • I have never been shushed in the hallways.  That one is a big one for me, I still have nightmares from my previous congregation.
  • I have had people come up to me and offered encouragement and hugs.
  • For whatever reason, John is at his best during the sermon, which I am grateful for, it allows me a better chance to listen and comprehend.  
  • I am amazed that the same people will sit in front of us week after week.  We try to sit out of the way so as not to disturb others.  
  • John gave our pastor a hug on our way out of church today, which was nice and more than a little surprising.
In her sermon, our pastor used a desert island joke.  I found a variation of it and I am re-blogging it below.  I am glad that I found an accepting church for both me and for John.

A man is rescued after many years on a desert island. As he stands on the deck of the rescuing vessel, the captain says to him, "I thought you were stranded alone. How come I can see three huts on the beach?"

     "Well," replies the castaway, "that one there is my house and that one there is where I go to church."

     "And the third one?" asks the skipper.

     "Oh, that's the church I used to go to."

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Good Samaritan

In her sermon today spoke about the parable of the Good Samaritan.   One of the questions of course is why did the Samaritan stop when the regular clergy did not.  The other question I ask myself of course is, would I have stopped?

In the sermon,  our pastor referenced a study at the Seminary at Princeton university where students were tested to see if they would stop to offer help to someone who appeared to need help.
They varied the amount of urgency they told the subjects before sending them to the other building, and the task they would do when they got there. One task was to prepare a talk about seminary jobs, and the other about the story of the Good Samaritan. In one condition they told the subject they were late for the next task, in the other they said they had a few minutes but they should head on over anyway.
It would seem like the students who were thinking about the story of the Good Samaritan would of course be more likely to stop and help.  The results were pretty surprising.

 Check out Darley, J. M., and Batson, C.D., "From Jerusalem to Jericho": A study of Situational and Dispositional Variables in Helping Behavior". JPSP, 1973, 27, 100-108 for the details.