Landing on a “Goal Weight”

Math, science, and a little psychology informed my path this week. With a little help from my math genius grandson, I was able to figure out where I’m headed on my trek.

My health app, Health Mate, sometimes prompts me for a little chat. This week it was about fat and a healthy body fat percentage.

My body fat percentage today is still high. It’s 48%. That’s definitely down from where I was when I started at 51.5% (Yeesh. I remember saying I was carrying a whole ‘nuther person around with me.)

What I wanted to know this week was what would my weight be at a healthy fat body percentage? I had calculated my target goal another way based on all my measurements, but I wanted to see if I calculated what my weight “should” be with a 25 – 35% body fat.

I knew it was a relational fraction “solve for x” type of formula, but couldn’t remember how to do it.

I tried googling it, but came up empty. So, I asked my grandson, the math wizard.

He was able to help me right away.

I had to multiply my weight by the desired fat percentage and then divide that number by my current fat percentage.

Bottom line, the range for my target weight is between 129 (too low at my age) and 181 (the highest healthy fat percentage at 35%).

So, realistically, anything below 181 is good for my height and age, but the target I settled on is around 175.

I also thought it was interesting that “storage fat” protects your organs from shocks and trauma. I interpreted that to be psychological trauma, as well.

It was a good week. I’m at my lowest weight ever in the past 4 years. But, alas, 73 lbs left to go.

Your Frenemy: the Scale

As you know, I don’t like to weigh myself every day. It can be frustrating at best, and misleading at worst. This morning’s data is a perfect example. I got on the scale today because the last time I weighed myself, I had broken through an important barrier. I had a milestone I wanted to reach, and I finally reached it.

I wanted to see if I had continued on that good path…

Well, the scale fought back. It reported that I GAINED 3lbs!

WTAF?

Not only was the 3lb gain a horror (it’s the most I’ve gained all year between weigh-ins), it meant I no longer was in my milestone zone. It was like a Chutes & Ladders mindf*ck.

After stewing over it a little this morning, I decided to do a deeper dive into the data. As I told you, I have an intelligent scale that measures everything when I get on the scale. I wanted to know what changed. Did I increase my body fat percentage?

The two reports tell the story. The answer is my fat mass actually went DOWN. All the other readings went UP (including my bones, which is always weird). So, I didn’t add more fat to my body with some bad slip– I actually continued on my path. Of course a 50ish percent fat mass is still terrible, but I am working on getting this down to a respectable 24% to 35%.

Net, net: don’t be discouraged by so-called weight gain. And know your scale is just one tool in your arsenal. The worst cudgel in the weight loss challenge is in your own head. Don’t be taken in by fake news. Advocate for your mental AND physical health, and investigate something that does not seem right.

“She’s Dieting”

We had a nice Easter dinner with my family. There were plenty of food selections I could manage without carbs. It was an excellent meal, actually.

I had a curious reaction though, when it came to dessert. When I declined the scrumptious-looking cake our host had baked, my sister-in-law made the comment, “She’s dieting.”

I thought about that. I’m not really “dieting.”

I changed the way I eat. I simply don’t eat that @#$% anymore.

I’ve written a lot over the years on this blog about how food became a substitute for instant gratification. I remember telling my brother that food was the last remaining hope I had for enjoying carnal pleasure. Of course, that was a joke, but now that I have completely reformed the way I eat, and what I eat, I realize the connection between longing and over-eating or eating badly is obvious.

It’s an interesting mindfulness victory. It’s like I removed myself from the moment to observe how I feel and what action is appropriate to take.

“No thank you. Looks delicious though.”

It’s been… a YEAR

Today marks one full year I’ve been on my trek to lose weight. I started blogging here again a couple weeks later. This blog has been a motivating factor to persevere. Thanks to everyone following and occasionally leaving me comments. I appreciate you!

First of all, losing a massive amount of weight is hard. No doubt. Especially if your goal is not to lose it suddenly and then regain it. My goal has been all along to CHANGE the way I live. I am not sure if I had an addiction to (bad) food, but I do know it was a comfort I could easily indulge in privately. I don’t do that anymore and that is real progress, a victory.

On the weight loss itself, I’m disappointed. Over the course of 52 weeks, I’ve only lost a total of 47.3 lbs. That averages out to about .9 (nearly a pound) a week. You can see from the chart, starting at the end of the hockey stick slope upward in the beginning of 2021, I consistently kept losing throughout 2021 and now into 2022. I have not faltered or regained any weight. It’s been a steep slope downwards.

That good news aside, I realized today I need to work harder at this. I still have 75.4 lbs to lose to reach my goal weight. I will need to make the mental, maybe financial, commitment to get there.

One of the questions my wellness coach asked me when I first started with her was this: “How would your life be different if you met your goal weight?” That question stunned me. I knew my answer instantly. I told her that EVERYTHING in my life would be better. Demonstrably better. So much better, it would be as if I had a second life; it would literally be as if I was reborn into a new person’s life with many advantages. Recognizing this was transcendent.

There is no easy way to get there. I must do the work. I figured out that if I continue at this pace, I will arrive at my goal in August of 2024.

Onwards.

Cheap Trick

In keeping with my New Year’s Intention, I wanted to find a way to provide myself a reminder EVERY DAY about my goal for 2022.

I came up with this inexpensive and effective plan. I went to one of our many local thrift stores, and bought these pants a size too small. They were only $3, so not a burden on my budget.

I’m now hanging them outside my closet door. I see them every morning when I wake up. It’s an in-my-face reminder of what I want to achieve.

The weather is finally warming up here in South Dakota. I’m hoping to get back outside walking around, as well as not hesitating to get in the car because of the frigid temperatures to get back to the gym.

My weight has plateaued again, so I need to jumpstart my biochemistry with more exercise and maybe a change in what I’m eating.

One step at a time, as they say. I’m still progressing. I’m exactly 3 weeks away from having been on this trek for a whole year. I’m proud of myself there hasn’t been any backsliding, and I’m still as motivated as I was when I began.

Happy Spring.

YoYo YOLO

Well? ALMOST TO THE DAY! (please click on that link for context). I was considering fat-shaming myself. I had a really shitty week, and I was thinking about gloating about my weight loss for some sympathy “likes” (read: endorphin boosts).

Once again, I lost about 46 lbs. And I wanted the positive feedback I so desperately crave when I’m in a bad place.

I’ve been whittling down my friend list on Facebook, so I’m not even sure I’m in 162 friends’ feeds anymore.

But after I reconsidered this, based on past wisdom, I realized how YOYO this whole weight loss exercise has been.

It’s been FOUR YEARS since I posted about a 46ish weight loss. Not only did I regain those pounds, I had to re-lose them again.

Which brings me to YOLO. If I didn’t have a GenZ son, I wouldn’t know what that means. If you’re of a certain age (like me), it means, “You only live once.”

I’ve been at this for 10 months. Almost a year. I still have about 75 lbs to go to get to my desired weight. Comprenez-vous how frustrating that is? The first 46 lbs are simply a downpayment. The difficult work is ahead. Yet, more than I crave endorphins from attagirls, I yearn for the blessings a normal weight will bestow upon me.

So, I soldier on.

Let me know what you think and if you’ve been at a similar place of discouragement…

Let’s Dance!

I live here in South Dakota in an Airbnb. All my worldly belongings are in a storage unit in central Florida. So, it’s a bit of fun to source items in thrift stores that I can return when I’m ready to reclaim my personal belongings. I found this sculpture somewhere along the way, most likely at the Salvation Army– my favorite thrift store here.

This slender, fluid, metal corpus symbolizes the freedom of motion I’m seeking with my weight loss. I display this figure proudly in my living room to encourage me.

I was looking back at the first posts in this blog (2008, wow!). Early on I wrote, “Fat is clumsy.” That post references the lace-tying struggles I wrote about recently and other difficulties I experienced carrying extra pounds.

Even now, down 45 lbs, moving is so much easier. It’s so freeing.

I want to get to a place where I can dance again with ease, like this carefree sculpture on my credenza.

Fat is tyranny. It oppresses you.

The Psychology of Fat

I will start this post with a great report: I have lost all my “pandemic” weight, and the last time I weighed myself, my weight was lower than it has been in the past three years.

I have been going to the Y, and I’m continuing my simple no sugar, no carbs routine. That’s it. As far as the physical weight loss, as I’ve discussed before, it’s just a matter of discipline.

However, on the psychological front, it’s not so easy.

Unlike a lot of weight bloggers who’ve struggled with obesity from the time they were children, I was not always super heavy. In my youth, teens, and college years, I was thin. I was a cheerleader for years. Lithe, strong, and generally living in a “normal-sized” body. The massive weight gain began in the 90s for me when a pdoc put me on an Rx that gifted me 100 extra pounds. It was like a runaway train. I tried several times to bring that weight down, but eventually gave up in exasperation.

The weight morphed into something else more sinister though. The weight was what I would come to dub a “spray-on male repellent.” I was able to move about my career without the unwanted advances of creepy men; it was so freeing in that way.

It also afforded me the ability to live my life without inviting men into it with complicated relationships that always seemed to end in ruin. Even more unsettling is the deeper, more fragile realization that the abundance of fat cells wrapped around my organs and bones acted like a bubble wrap, a physical protection against being kicked, punched, and thrown down a flight of stairs. Heavy, I know (pun, intended). To understand this at a root level, there is a book: “The Body Keeps the Score” that I have not read, but I hear it referenced all the time in my women’s work.

On my last appointment with my new pdoc, I struck up a conversation with him about this. He said it’s absolutely a factor (weight gain as protection). He said it’s not uncommon for men to gain weight too to ensure they won’t be tempted to cheat on their spouses. He said he hears stories like mine all the time.

I’ve been working hard here in this phase of my life to face my demons, to heal.

Losing the weight is part of my journey. I’m hopeful I will get back to the young woman I was before trauma derailed my mind, my spirit, and my lovely body. Of course I won’t ever be young again, but I can be that strong, healthy woman again.

I’m working on it.

This, You Can Do

So, it’s been 18 weeks since I got serious about losing my 30-lb pandemic gain. The last time I weighed myself, I was down 28.2 lbs. That was a few days ago. I didn’t weigh myself today, and I probably won’t weigh myself tomorrow, but I’m confident I will hit this goal any day now, if I haven’t already.

The simple math will tell you that if you divide 30 by 18, I would be averaging about 1.67 lbs a week. That’s not exactly how it happens, but the loss is for real. Yesterday, I bought pants that were 4 sizes smaller. I love that.

Let me give you some tips about what works for me, as I’ve been able to lose weight like this a few times now:

  • Do not stress out about losing weight. Your self-image should be grounded in more important aspects of your identity than your appearance. For whatever reason you’ve decided to lose weight, be easy on yourself. Try not to even think about it. Look at it like another side-hustle project, like getting around to finally organizing the basement or writing your memoir.
  • Don’t weigh yourself every day, and don’t obsess about your weight on the scale. I invested in an expensive, wifi-enabled scale that measures my fat content, my water weight, my BMI, even my bones. Those numbers are constantly shifting… even my bones (?)…, but if you do everything on this list, you will lose weight. Be patient.
  • Skip everything sugar and carbs. No bread, pasta, rice, noodles, crackers, rice… No sugary desserts ever. Never. No fruit– too high in sugar. No juices with sugar. If you drink coffee, drink it black or get used to an artificial sweetener. I buy large packages of Stevia. My goto snack is sugar-free Jello. And sometimes nuts and cheese.
  • Empty your cupboard bare of everything that is wrong for you. Remove everything in your kitchen that comes in boxes, bags, and most canned goods. Throw out everything in the fridge and the freezer that you should not eat, no matter how much is left. I was fortunate there was a food drive in my town a few weeks into my new regime. I gave away three bags of food. The rest I gave to my sister.
  • Make a good, hearty breakfast every morning. I make eggs, bacon, tomatoes with a little avocado every morning. Avocados have carbs, but I’m careful. I also like to make omelettes with fresh vegetables. 
  • Learn to cook, in general. Buy Atkins, Paleo, South Beach cookbooks. Try to find a used bookstore. Cookbooks are cheaper used, and sometimes have good notes in the margin. I copy recipes I like and keep them in a folder for easy access. 
  • At restaurants (like life) ask for what you need. Look at the menu. If you want an entré, but you can’t have it with bread or on pasta, ask if the kitchen can make a substitution. I’ve never had an issue with this. My dining experiences have been terrific. Same goes for bar choices. Vodka, Rum, Gin all have zero carbs. Ask the bartender what cocktail options are available or can be creatively concocted without sugar. 
  • Walk, walk, walk. I’m a person that hates to exercise. But, I don’t mind walking around town. When you can physically walk rather than drive, always take that option. According to my Apple Watch, I walk a couple thousand steps every day just doing random things around my place. 
  • If you’re feeling frustrated because it’s not going fast enough or you hit a plateau, post an update on social media about the weight loss you already accumulated. People love that shit and will go bananas with support. I personally find that morally conflicting, but it does do the trick. It makes you feel better, and it will get you over the hump to keep going. 
  • Start a weight loss blog! It’s fun to track your progress. 🙂 

“I do not yield. Not one second to you. Not one second!”

Negative thoughts get in your head.  They eat away at your self-confidence.  I used to watch this phenomenon with interest as a cheerleader on the sidelines during football season.  I could tell when we were going to lose a game when the psychology of the team “turned.”  It was weird.  It was like an uncontrollable social contagion.  No matter how hard the coaches tried to pump up the star quarterback and all the athletes, if the team was spooked, the game was over. It was a sixth sense, and I could feel it every time.

So, when I saw that recent uptick on the scale, I was worried.  That’s why I blogged about it.  Thanks loyal readers for giving me some confidence.  I hunkered down this weekend and flushed out my system.  Drank a lot of water, swam, and I think I should be okay.

Here is some reverse psychology:

This morning, I happened to peruse my “Memories” tab on Facebook to see what I was doing last year.  I found this photo of me and my friend Jon: 

Of course, I had carefully cropped it so as to not post my gigantic self in the photo.  I’ve posted this photo before on this blog.

I think this dinner was the final straw, however, when I realized I had to do something about my weight.  That I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy the rest of my life that large. Again, I have to make the point that I am not shaming anyone who makes that choice for themselves, and who knows, maybe some day, I will be okay with it again. 

But, for now, I still want to do things that I can’t do as a large person. So, the trek to lose weight began last year at this time.

I decided to go to that same restaurant tonight.  I asked the waiter to take a photo of me. The photo’s not great, and you really can’t see much of a change in my weight, but I have lost over 50 pounds since that dinner last year.

So, in the words of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, (thank you ma’am), “I will not yield one second” to those negative thoughts.  I have made a lot of progress.

And I’m still in the game.

Update: Lost those 2.2 pounds plus .2 more this weekend.

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