Keep on Keepin' on...

The past couple weeks, I've been just over target, but close enough that I feel like I'm on track.

I've removed the red line from the graph, as it only really made sense when I was below the blue one. I will keep the blue one there throughout, though I may decide to decrease its slope a bit, if I keep getting further behind. I'm still very committed to staying on track for the long term, but as long as I'm losing consistently, I'm not sure how much it matters if I lose 0.5% of my body weight per week (~1.5 lbs/week now), vs. 0.4% (1.25 lbs/week). I'll get to my goal a bit more slowly, but if it's sustainable, I'd rather stay near the target and stay motivated than be constantly behind and beating myself up.

Also, I may rework the formula, so my target weight-loss is based on how much fat I have to lose, rather than based off my full body weight. That means the rate will decrease more the closer I get to goal, which is probably more realistic. (But, of course, that also means it will take longer to get to goal...)

I had a great vacation with the family last week. I didn't do much exercise beyond a fair amount of stair/hill walking down to the beach and back, but my eating was very good. I was hoping to have a bigger loss, but didn't make very good choices the day I got back (something about air travel seems to turn on my fast-food cravings), and had a lot of salty stuff last night, so may have had some water-weight.

In other news, my boss approved my change to a 4-day work week, so I now get a long weekend every week. Yay! Now the trick will be to do something productive with that time. This Friday, I'll be off delivering Singing Valentines. Whee! I love making the ladies cry. ;-)
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Well, as you can see, the last couple weeks haven't been great. I'm over enough that it's time to give myself another 3 pound easement for next week. To make myself feel better, I've included the long-term graph since I've been using the spreadsheet. When things aren't going well, it's comforting to see that the long-term trend is still in the right direction, and that this is just another bump on the road.

After a great time off with the family, I jumped into a couple *very* stressful weeks at work, combined with some other personal stresses, and two weeks ago ended up falling back to some comfort eating, which due to my lack of that stuff in the house meant fast food. Argh.

The interesting thing is that for the past week I've made really good food choices, and done more exercise, but it doesn't seem to have reversed the previous week. I'm guessing it's the reaction of my body to the stress.

I've taken some steps to reduce the work stress. I talked to my boss yesterday, and decided that I'll be reducing my hours to 80% time (4 days a week), and told him I'd like to guarantee working at least one day a week on the project that I love, which gets me doing more programming. He agreed, and further said that he'd like to see me only have to work 2 days a week on the project I've been stressing about, so I might have at least 1/2 my time doing cool stuff I like. Obviously, the goal in the long term is to spend all of my time doing stuff I like!

I've just started reading a book called The Gabriel Method. The premise is that there are a number of things which can turn on the "FAT programs" in the body. One of these things is stress, which can be brought on by dieting (looks like famine to the body). It also looks at the non-physical reasons for obesity (emotional stress, body image, the believe that being fat protects you from ). We'll see if looking at that stuff helps.

Ho Ho Ho!

Well, despite the holiday, I made great progress in the last two weeks. Most of it was in the last week, when I was visiting family in Denver. I had lots of healthy home cooking, several good walks in the hills with Dad or the dog, and a great workout with my brother. I weighed in at the workout, which was a couple days before Christmas, and I was on track, so allowed myself to feast on Christmas. I mostly avoided the carby stuff, but had some pie for dessert, and some eggnog with Baileys as a nightcap. (Note to self: Eggnog and Baileys is fairly redundant, they're both rich, creamy, and decadent all by themselves!)

It's great to be below the blue line again, and if I just stay on track from here, I get to break 300 for my birthday! Yay!

It was wonderful to see the family again, and here's a quick snap I got of the adorable Julia and Greta:

See you all in two weeks. Hope the holidays were good to you, and Happy New Year!

(mostly) back on track

So, last week, I actually *made* my number. w00t! I actually thought the 2 pound easement was still going to be a stretch for a couple weeks, and I guess it is, since I don't have any wiggle room, and slightly missed this week.

The fast was a good experience, and obviously effective to get me back on track. This was the first time I'd ever gone even a whole day without food, so 4 full days was definitely a test at times. But it was great to learn that I can feel hungry, and it's not the end of the world.

The scale at the gym has gotten a bit sticky, so the last two weeks' weights are probably a bit less accurate than previously. Hopefully, they'll get that handled sometime soon. 19 more pounds, and I can start using the scale I have at home.

I'm going to go back on the shake plan this week, to make some progress before heading out for the holidays.

I've decided on some non-food rewards for the next major milestones. At 300, I'm going to pursue getting my medical cert to start flying again. At 250, it'll be time to jump *out* of the airplane! Whee, something to look forward to (besides my increasingly fit, athletic body)!

I'll check back in after I get back from the holiday travels.


Well, it's been a bad couple of weeks. After a few good weeks in a row, I started getting lax. I had a couple fast food binges, and realized a couple days ago that I'd started drinking Diet Coke again, after being aspartame-free for a couple months. I don't know if it was something chemical, or if the sweet taste reawakened my carb cravings, but I've definitely learned my lesson. I declare that I will no longer consume aspartame. Also, while it's *possible* for me to stay on my eating plan while eating some fast food, I realize that the temptation is very strong for me to fall back to old habits. So, I commit to be fast-food-free at least until my birthday (Feb 11).

As you can see from the picture, I'm now *way* off track, and over my max target. I recently learned the power of getting completion, so rather than stay guilty and beat myself up, I'm declaring myself complete with the last couple weeks, and moving on from here. So I'm not struggling in the red for a month, I'm giving myself a 2 pound easement starting next week, and recommitting to stay on the program from here on out.

A few weeks ago (when I was getting ahead of schedule), I added the blue line to show the steady 0.5% down from the beginning of the chart, anticipating that the max target would be *below* it eventually. The blue line will continue to show my long-term goal, and I still anticipate getting the red line below it again.

Two red weeks is a row is a clear wake-up call, so I'm taking some drastic action. While it's not entirely for the purposes of weight-loss, I've decided to do a therapeutic fast for several days this week. I am aware that this may *slow down* my metabolism in the short to medium term, but I feel like I need to issue a "hard reset" to my metabolism, and kick my carb cravings to the curb.

I've been thinking about a fast for a while now, but the timing hasn't worked until now. I first thought of doing it after hearing this interview which proposed an annual fast as a preventative measure for cancer. I also want to prove to myself that I can do it, and that I have control over what I put (or don't put) in my mouth.

I'm committed to fasting for 4 days, and I may extend it to 5, depending on how I feel. Saturday night at 8pm was my last food, so I'm now two and a half days in. I occasionally have a bit of a headache, and I get cold more easily than usual, but other than that, I'm feeling good. I think because I'm used to low-carb, my body is adjusting pretty well to burning fat. I decided to weigh in every day while I'm fasting, and the good news is that I've already reversed the trend.

I'll update next week, with my impressions of the fast, and with the results. Wish me luck!

Down 60!

Last week, I wrote:
By the old reckoning, this week would be yellow, so I'm still stepping up my efforts this week.
Add to that, the added motivation of weighing in a couple days into the week and finding that I'd gained 2.5 lbs! It turns out that was fluid retention. I noticed that same day that my skin was itchy and my ankles were swollen. I'm thinking it was something I ate, and I had it again today after my weigh in. We'll see if it provokes the same reaction.

Given my mediocre loss last week, and my gain mid-week, I was extremely strict on food, and added in some exercise, all just trying to avoid a red. Nice to find the weight gain was water weight, and my added efforts gave me another green week.

I'm now down 60lbs from my high. w00t!

I'll probably have more real food this week, but keep the stepped up exercise routine, and we'll see if that keeps me on track.
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I'm on track again this week:

Those paying attention may notice that last week is now colored green. I decided to change the "current target" to 99.5% of the the *average* of last week's target and last week's actual, rather than just 99.5% of last week's actual. This moving average lets me go a bit easy the week after a big success, and likewise gives me a stretch goal if my last weigh in was above target. (I should note that I made this change last Monday, so it was not to justify this week's number. By the old reckoning, this week would be yellow, so I'm still stepping up my efforts this week.)

I also added a new column for the straight 0.5% reduction. I was going to just manually adjust the max target down when I got more than 5 lbs ahead, but I decided to build that into the sheet. If/when I get more than 5 lbs ahead, you'll see the blue line on the graph. (It's currently obscured by the red one.)

A friend recommended that I use a green color even to positively reinforce being "on track", but I'm going to keep the color codes as is. I already get a sense of accomplishment from being on track, and want the colors to show exceptional results. Basically, white means "keep doing what you're doing", green means "relax a bit if you feel like it", and yellow/red means "step it up/get back on track". So, I'm using the colors not so much as a reward/punishment for the past, but to indicate to me the plan for the coming week.

No News is Bad News...

While I don't always think I have anything interesting to say, a long period of silence usual means I'm hiding out. Pretty shortly after my last update, I got really sloppy with my diet.

In hindsight, I realized that I've made a habit of planning to fail. Last summer, I went to Russia with the chorus, and (as I did for my trip to Italy) I decided that all the rules would be off while on vacation. Then, when I slipped up a month before that, it was really easy to say, "Well, I'm gonna be off it in a few weeks anyway, I'll get back on after I get back."

So, I've set up a structure to keep me on track, but to still give me some room for "human" moments.

The plan is to hold myself rigorously to the Max Target weight each week, and to give me some slack when I get ahead of the curve. The target weights are based on losing 0.5% of my body weight every week. I don't want to give myself *too* much slack, so whenever my current target gets enough ahead of my max target (by more than 5 pounds or 4 weeks), I'll lower the max target. The "current target" is based off of the previous "actual weight" entry (unless that would be more than the max target).

The weights will be color coded:
whiteOn track. (With reasonable rounding, in the window of -1/+0.5 lbs of current target.)
GreenBig Win! More than 1 lb below target weight. (Max target will be green in weeks where I adjust it downward.)
YellowRamp it back up. Missed current target by more than 0.5 lbs, but still below max target, and didn't gain weight from the previous week.
RedOOPS! Time to go back to square one! Above max target weight, or gained weight from the previous week.

The good news is that I've gotten recommitted to the diet and workout program, and have been having success for the last 8 weeks or so. I've lost the weight from my hiatus, and am again at my lowest weight in more than 5 years. This structure is just a way for me to be accountable for my progress, and to give me a nudge to look at my mental/emotional state when I miss the mark.

Here's where you come in. I'm committed to going to the gym for a weigh-in and workout every Monday, and to updating the spreadsheet. I'll post whether I'm on track or not every week on twitter, and will post an updated spreadsheet here every two weeks. If you see me missing updates, *please* drop me a line and give me a nudge. Sometimes I give less importance to promises to myself than I do to promises to others. So, I'm making a promise to all of you, and I'd love your support in keeping me on track.

Restricting Diet

After my last visit to the doctor, which showed a still elevated (but reduced by 50% from the last time I got bloodwork done) CRP level, I decided to get blood drawn for a food sensitivity test, thinking that some of the chronic inflammation may be due to foods I react to, but not strongly enough that I notice and stop eating them.

I got the results back a couple days ago, and in addition to telling me my reactivity to the 150 substances they tested, they also provided a 6 week plan to reduce reactions by eliminating all but the least reactive foods from the diet, then adding them back in gradually in order of reactivity. Unfortunately, all the foods in the "yellow" or "red" zones should continue to be avoided.

The foods in the red zone are:
Yogurt, cow's milk, dill, cocoa, tea, cola nut, and tapioca

Some of the yellows that I'll really miss:
black pepper, garlic, tomato, ginger

Some of the yellows that are interesting diagnostically:
Candida albicans, oat, wheat, hops, yeast mix

So, the first week, here are the foods I can eat:
Proteins: codfish, salmon, catfish, egg
Starches: millet, rye, corn (but I won't be eating any of those anyway, since I'm low-carbing.)
Vegetables: cucumber, string bean, spinach
Fruits: blueberry, plum, pear, avocado (probably won't eat any but Avo. Maybe blueberries once for a treat)
Flavor Enhancers: coconut, cayenne pepper, oregano, basil

I see a lot of sushi dinners in my future for the next week (just the fish, Ma'am), and I guess I'll make some hard-boiled eggs for snacks.

And for those curious, I'm now down 55 lbs, and a bit disappointed because the weight loss seems to have slowed in the last week or two. I'm hoping it's because I'm putting on muscle from the new Body by Science workout I've been doing for the last few weeks. My strength is definitely improving, so I know I'm gaining lean body mass, which will be good for weight loss in the long term, even if it slows me down for a couple weeks now.

Slow and Steady

At the last weigh-in, I said goodbye to the 330s, and am down 50 lbs from my high! (10 lbs in the last month.) 2.5 lb/week isn't all that much better than 1.5, but it definitely feels like I'm making progress. I know things will go in phases, but if I can keep an average of 2 lb/week until I get pretty close to my goal weight, I'll be at goal in a year or so.

I have to keep reminding myself that it took years to put *on* the weight, so I can allow some time to get it off. I know some coworkers are having great success with a medically supervised program, but I know *I* have to live this way for the rest of my life, so this time of losing weight is good experience for the habits I'll need to keep it off. No appetite-suppressing drugs for me. (Well, other than manipulation of my insulin levels to suppress appetite and prevent fat deposition.)

Overall, I'm doing a good job of cooking and eating real food. I'm not afraid of a couple extra carbs here and there, if it's from real food. I had some nice strawberries the other day, and it doesn't seem to have stalled my weight loss.

I'm doing more exercise, but keeping it simple. Some body-weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, squats), or some high-intensity intervals on the elliptical, with occasional visits to the gym to mix it up with weights or swimming, and to weigh in. (I have a digital scale at home, but it maxes out at 300 lbs, so I'm weighing in at the gym until I get there.) I've started getting up earlier in the day, so I can get my workout in before work. That makes it much easier to get consistent time.