I'm now down around 45 pounds. I flirted with 50 pounds and that's my ultimate (weightloss) goal but I'd like to get there on a steady, sustainable decline instead of a one off burst. It's been a weird journey so far. I've had friends and family not recognize me, I've had to buy an entirely new wardrobe (I used to hate clothes shopping but now I absolutely love it) and I'm wearing clothes sizes I've never even glanced at before. Not to mention the fact that I'm getting strange and unfamiliar attention from the opposite sex. My wife teases me mercilessly about this.
I thought it might be interesting to note down a few observations and surprises I've had since my initial post on the subject:
I've developed a real love of running. I never thought I would say that but I actually look forward to my daily runs. One of the things I'm struggling with though is my form. I'm definitely not a natural long-distance runner and my style of running is entirely graceless. As a result I think I'm expending more energy than I perhaps should be, and I am quite sore in certain areas in the next morning, especially my right hip for some reason. I'm lead to believe that this is all down to how I run and I have a horrible feeling I'm going to have to re-learn how to run. An extraordinary notion.
Fitness is a fascinating thing. In rare instances I'll go 4 or 5 days without running and assume that I'm really going to suffer when I go out for my next run when in reality it will be the easiest run I've ever done. I'm still not sure why, but I can only assume it's because my fitness is continuously improving and that the rare break of 4 or 5 days is restorative and beneficial to my overall fitness. And it's actually a pretty cool feeling to breeze through a run that would have broken me just a week or two before.
Nutrition is confounding. Recently I went to France for a week and ate so much of their wonderful bread and drank so much of their wonderful wine that I assumed my weight would skyrocket upon my return. Granted, I ran with reasonable regularity while I was there, but didn't think it would offset the carbohydrate explosion I indulged in while I was there. Net weight gain upon my return? 0 pounds. In fact in the subsequent week I dropped to my lowest weight since I was 17 years old.
Carbs = hunger. An interesting side effect of my French bread gorging was that upon returning to a protein-dominated diet, I found myself feeling a lot hungrier during the day and this lasted for at least a week until my "systems" returned to normal. This feeling seems to emerge even if I carb load only for day or two - I'm not really sure it's worth it.
Strength requires patience. I took my son to a playground recently and was goofing off on the monkey bars. Out of nowhere I did eight pull-ups without really even trying. Eight. At the start of this journey I couldn't even get close to doing one pull-up. I looked at my wife in stunned disbelief and all she could say is "Wow...you've never been able to do that before." As soon as we got home I ordered a pull-up bar, one of those ones that slots into any standard doorway. It's the single best investment I've made in this entire process. Now every day I do three sets of 15 pull-ups and three sets of 15 chin-ups and I feel awesome afterwards. I think this further reinforces the really important philosophy of patience when doing something like this. I'm a very impatient person and get down on myself when I don't see instant results but I think this really shows that with time and patience and dedication you can get your improvement. Okay, motivational peptalk over.
Protein is your friend. I haven't really altered my diet much since my original post; I'm still heavy on the protein and very, very light on carbs and white food. I've slowly been introducing whole grains and brown rice into my diet on a regular basis. I have also found myself "indulging" a little bit more frequently but these are one-off meals, once every couple of weeks as opposed to every meal, every day. That's how I became the "before" guy in my picture at the top of this post. Oh and I've had about six beers since June - I don't miss it nearly as much as I thought I would.
Biking is entirely addictive. I've really gotten into biking, but not in the way a lot of other people seem to. Many of my friends and family enjoy long distance cycling - 3 to 4 hour 20+ mile rides done at a consistent pace. However what I enjoy is 5 to 7 mile sprints, especially if there are hills involved. Using the awesome Strava app, I've created a few circuits near my house and my goal each time I do them is to knock several seconds off my time, especially on the individual hills. Don't get me wrong, I like doing the 20 to 30 mile rides as well but for pure cardio satisfaction those hill sprint circuits are pretty hard to beat.
I can see why weight-loss and fitness is challenging for people with office jobs. I'm lucky, I work from home and if it's sunny at 10:30 on Tuesday morning I'll go out for 45 minute bike ride. I get really frustrated when I'm traveling or not in control of my schedule and I can't get out and run or bike or lift weights , etc. So I can't imagine how frustrating it must be if your schedule is dictated by an office job or some other rigid workday schedule. But it *is* possible so don't get discouraged. It's a question of finding spots in your day, just 45 minutes here and there to knock out a quick run or some weights...that's all it really takes.
I ditched my gym membership. While I was in California for the summer I had access to a really great gym. But my nearest gym here in England is a fair distance and not nearly as well equipped as the gym I was a member of in California. It's also a lot more expensive and I just didn't feel like I was getting my money's worth ,so I canceled my membership. I replaced it with bodyweight exercises, the pull up bar, kettle bells and I'll soon be adding various free weights so that I can continue my weight training regimen.
What's next? I'd like to continue trimming fat, as I still have a ways to go in some areas of my body. Then it will be a question of continually increasing my stamina and fitness as well as increasing my general strength. I keep reminding myself (and other people) that this isn't a diet or a phase...it's a total lifestyle change. I have no intention of ever looking like I did in my "before" photo ever again.