09 September 2016
Since November of last year I've been trying to lose weight. I didn't start trying at a moment of personal crisis or anything like that; I was just frustrated with my health and appearance and decided to make a serious effort. The previous attempts I'd made at weight loss boiled down to going to the gym a bit more and had no real impact. I had never tried dieting. But, sitting around in my apartment in the late fall, I decided to give it a serious shot.
It's now September and I've gone from around 230 lbs to 205, a loss of 25 lbs over 9 months. 2.7 lbs per month is not a rapid pace at all, but it's sustainable. Here are the results in graph form (the graph doesn't start until after two months of sustained dieting in which I lost about 7 lbs):
My program was pretty simple:
I didn't know what to expect when I started doing this. I had a number of preconceptions that, in retrospect, were totally stupid. Here, in no particular order, are some lessons I've learned and thoughts I've had:
The thing I'm most struck by, though, is how important routine and habit became to me. Dieting got a lot easier once it became a habit. So did exercising, weighing myself and cooking. When recording my weight each morning, I sometimes wrote small notes about how I had done the previous day like "slightly above target" or "went out drinking". Now that I look at the data, it's obvious that my most significant setbacks happened when something disrupted my daily routine. Things like:
By far the most damaging thing to my diet was drinking with friends. The graph below is has red circles around weigh ins where I noted having lots of drinks the night before.
While not every peak lines up with drinking and not every night out lines up with a peak; nonetheless, there does appear to be a pattern. Sticking to a diet is difficult but manageable when it's just you versus your stomach. For me, at least, it became really hard when it became dieting versus going to a party. Sure, I could have gone out and not had anything, but that doesn't sound particularly fun. I don't think I have any sort of problem with alcohol, but looking at my behavior from this angle was definitely eye opening.
I'm going to keep going with this diet stuff. I'll be pretty happy once I'm under 200 lbs, and I'd be thrilled if I can get under 190. And, I think I'm learning something. Weight loss is hard in the most annoying way. Unlike so many other things in life, you can't outsmart it and you can't really take shortcuts. There's no way to skip the homework and wing it on the final. Yet it is achievable. You just have to put in the work.