This is going to be a personal post but I hope it still benefits those reading it.
I’ve been overweight since I was roughly ten years old. It started getting out of control in college when I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted. However, I was getting exercise through Kendo and lots of walking, so it didn’t get too bad.
When I eventually got my first car, a few years later, the weight really started to pile on. Add to that a couple of incredibly stressful jobs that involved lots of sitting and being yelled at over the phone and it got even worse. Now, I’ve always had the most atrocious sweet tooth you could imagine and also a really good nose for bargains, so that combination didn’t help at all.
I tried, various times, to lose weight. Once I tried Atkins and lost ten pounds rather quickly – but that was an expensive diet and so it didn’t last long. Plus the fruit cravings were terrible. I swear I could smell a mango from the produce section as soon as I entered the grocery store. Another time I did Paleo and that worked great but was too expensive, and also I broke a tooth so all those veggies were out for a while. I’ve tried shakes, tried fasting (a little bit) tried just restricting my calories without logging. For a while I lived in Nevada in a tent and ate lots of beans and rice and very little else, and lost a bunch of weight. I managed to keep it off for a while too but then money issues continued and more stressful work and I gained it again.
My biggest issues were the fact that exercise is super, SUPER boring, which I have little tolerance for, walking is rough during hot Arizona summers, and my life was seemingly consumed by stress and long commutes.
Well. I got a better job, and more money started coming in, but I still gained because all the cool, nice people I work with LOVE to cook and they just LOVE potlucks, and of course the candy bowl, and it’s still kind of hard to walk while at work. I had little motivation.
At the beginning of this year a “Biggest Loser” competition came around, with a $400 prize, and that was enough to make me really, really want to win. I figured a three month period of aggressive weight loss would be enough to get some good habits started. In December I’d finally gotten a weight set and started seriously trying to become stronger, because I wanted to be more self sufficient, and let’s be honest, also wanted some moderately buff arms. I began to see results.
On January 6 I started logging my calories with a goal of 12-1500 calories a day. Just existing in a sedentary state I burn 2200 calories so this could give me a solid two pound loss every week, and I intended to maximize this with what muscle gain I could manage and with plenty of movement. However, I didn’t want to blog about it on here till I was well begun on my journey. Because I really, REALLY hate to be a stereotype.
As of this writing I’ve been on plan with no lapses for 26 days. I’ve lost about 13 pounds. I feel more energetic, I fit better behind the wheel of my car, my waistbands are looser, my watch slides around more, and I’m stronger. I’ve recently started making my cardio days my lower calorie (12-1300 calories) and making sure that I get at least 100 grams of protein per day. No food groups are forbidden though I minimize processed starch or sugar. I weight train three times a week with stretching and bodyweight stuff like squats on my rest days, and I walk 4-6 days a week, trying for about a mile. Mostly it’s laps inside my building where there’s air conditioning. I love weight training, it makes me feel really good and I don’t have to do it for hours.
Here’s the really interesting thing. One of the hardest things about pretty much every diet I’ve ever tried has been the cravings. But I just realized today that I have actually had very nearly NO cravings or excessive hunger even though I’ve probably cut my daily calorie intake in half (at least.) And I have cravings all the time when I eat what I want, when I want! I haven’t even looked longingly at the candy bowl. I’ve had chocolate twice (2 squares of ultra dark) and sugarless gum maybe three times, oh and I think three cough drops. In 26 days.
I don’t want to go back. I feel so good. I snack all the time, but maintain portion control and always keep it healthy, and I know for a FACT that over the long term I’ll hit my numbers as long as I stay on plan. I don’t deprive myself. Since my weakness is freshly baked bread, when I bake some I’ll have ONE slice of it, log it, and leave it alone for the rest of the week. If I want rice I’ll have a cup of it or less. Knowing that nothing is totally forbidden has kept me from wanting most of it.
I’ve gained some muscle, and lost fat at the same time, because I keep my protein high and lift heavy. No puny five pound weights for me. At the moment I’m doing sixty pound weighted squats, twenty five pound kettlebell swings, and thirty pound dumbbell rows, plus a bunch of other stuff including exercise bands. Plus lots of countertop pushups, because I’m still too heavy to do proper pushups.
I have a goal of converting 95 pounds of fat into carbon dioxide and water, and I’m thirteen pounds along. Now we get to Genkijima. That will bring me down to about 150 pounds, when I should be 130 ideally, but that extra 20 pounds of weight will hopefully be mostly muscle.
Since I haven’t been slim in so long, I have been doing a lot of thinking about all the things I’ll be able to do when I don’t have a small person’s worth of weight draped over my frame. I started calling it the Land of Slim, but realized that was a pretty lame name. So I picked “Genkijima.” “Genki” is a japanese word roughly translated to mean “energetic health.” A person who is “Genki” isn’t just healthy, but they are cheerful and have an upbeat outlook on life. “Jima” means “Island.” Tomorrow I’m going to buy a big piece of posterboard and draw a map of the land between where I started and this mystical island. with little spots I can color in for every pound lost.
Genkijima may be a place I’ve never visited in adult life, but I know the way.