Day 31. One Month. I’m Done.

OK, I made it. Today is the last day of this little experiment gone awry. If you haven’t been following along, you may want to go back to the beginning.

As of this morning, I am down six pounds from where I started. A far cry from the 10 I was planning, but not too bad. I should add here that I do not trust the scale at the gym anymore, so all of those numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. Which I can do, because my blood pressure is OK. I’m trying to embrace the positives here.

So, maybe I did drop 10 pounds. Maybe I dropped two. Maybe I gained weight, but now I’m more muscular. Maybe my weight doesn’t matter as much as how I feel. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how I feel at this point.

I don’t feel like my health has improved because of this. My back doesn’t feel any better. I do feel like my diet is healthier, and in the long term, maybe that’s enough. I’m still hungry a lot, but I feel like I fill up a little more easily now. My clothes feel a little looser, which is probably the most obvious indication of progress I have at the moment.

I managed to identify a few problem foods that are worse for me than I realized. The worst are tortillas, which are involved in so many of my favorite foods. I must go on a hunt for lighter, healthier tortilla alternatives. “Tortilla Alternatives” is fun to say. Try it. Go ahead, say it out loud. See?

On a happier note, I  identified plenty of foods that aren’t all that bad. Turkey of course… I knew that was pretty healthy, but I didn’t realize HOW healthy until I started looking at everything. And it’s one of my favorites.

So, I still have a long way to go. I figure I need to drop about 20 more pounds to get to a comfortable place where I don’t feel so fat, I can take a little pressure off my spine and maybe have enough energy to stay active. That said, I’m really going to make an effort not to get too hung up on numbers. I really want to judge this based on how I feel, not what the scale tells me. That won’t be easy, but I can try.

I think I will need another round of steroid injections in my spine before too much longer. The previous batch did the trick for eight months or so. I’m hopeful that if I keep dropping weight, they will remain effective longer. I’m also hopeful that another round might make it possible for me to ride my bike again, which could do really great things for me physically and mentally.

I’m struggling to remain hopeful. Some days that’s easier than others. But as long as there’s hope, I can keep going. My wife calls it dedicated or committed. I call it stubborn. Either way, I’m not giving up yet.

Weight: 230 lbs
Exercise: 1/2 km swimming.
Intake: 2065 calories. I most certainly reached the 50 grams of fat, but also probably a decent portion of protein, all without hitting the 2200 calories.
What I ate today:  Banana, raisins, yogurt, cereal, peach, coffee, turkey bacon wrap, chips and beer.

The Big 3-0, One More to Go.

OK, day 30, I’m almost there.

It’s amazing what an extra 200 calories has done for me. Granted, it’s only been a couple days, but it’s been enough to turn that last snack of the day into a meal. It’s the elbow room to have a side dish with that sandwich. It helps. Maybe it’ll actually make my metabolism get out of bed once in a while.

Oddly enough, I think I’m most excited about not writing about this anymore. I’ll probably continue to count my calories for a while, just to make sure I stay on track. With any luck, I’ll continue to write something almost every day. But I’ll be able to explore some other topics, which will be really nice.

More road trips coming up, which always make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet. Fargo this weekend, then out to Montana in a couple weeks. But, I’m really excited about it, as I don’t believe I’ve ever set foot in Montana before. Which reminds me, I need to take stock of which states I still need to visit before I die. Hopefully, I still have some time.

Exercise: None yet. Running later? We’ll see. Nope, but a couple k walking.
Intake: 2245 calories.
What I ate today: Banana, yogurt, cereal, coffee, peach, turkey ham, eggs, tomato, black beans, salad, ice cream cone, pickles and pretzels.

See, now I’m just confused.

Day 29, 4 weeks down, almost done.

So the last couple days, I was pretty bummed. This whole thing wasn’t going so well, and I was really struggling to find a silver lining (or at least an umbrella). I was contemplating next steps.

I decided to bump up my intake to 2200 calories a day. I’ve learned that if I go much below 2000, I start shutting down. I certainly don’t lose any weight that way, and I lose the energy and motivation to exercise. So, perhaps I need a little bit MORE food to get energized.

Between the extra 200 calories and the way my day timed out, I managed to have a really nice dinner last night. Steak, broccoli, a salad and a cold, delicious Fat Squirrel. I was even able to follow it up with a small cone from Dairy Queen. I almost felt like a normal person for a couple hours. (Unfortunately, I was watching Watchmen with that dinner, which turned out to be a huge freakin’ disappointment, but that’s  a whole other story.)

I also learned that a movie-sized box of Raisinets has as many calories as a 7-oz. sirloin steak. I think we both know which one would be more filling.

So, whatever. I was reaching for a zen state in which the struggle had its own merits. I wasn’t there, but I was reaching. I was coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to end up losing more than a couple pounds from this whole thing.

Then I went to the gym this morning. Once again, I suited up to swim a few laps. I hopped on the scale, just to see.

229 pounds. Huh?

So, now I’ve apparently lost six pounds in 2 days. Or this scale is completely hosed. Or the barometric pressure in the locker room is goofy. Or… I’m not sure what to think.

I think that Friday, I’m done with this experiment. I think that I may or may not lose weight this month. I think I may never know, as I can’t completely trust the scale at the gym. I think that after this, I’m only getting on the scale once a week. I think I may stop getting on the scale altogether. I think I might be better off checking my weight every few months at the doctor’s office.

I think I need to focus on getting healthy. I think I need to stop focusing on my weight. I think I need to question every word out of my doctor’s mouth.

Weight: 229 lbs.
Exercise: 1/2 k swimming.
Intake: 2235 calories.
What I ate today: Banana, yogurt, cereal, coffee, peach, bread, turkey ham, corn, hamburger, jo-jos and a beer.

Trying to find some sort of peace.

OK, day 28, wrapping up four weeks, just a few days from the end. This whole thing has not turned out so well. Or at least it has not turned out according to expectations. I’m cycling through a variety of emotions on the subject, generally not so positive.

But, that was sort of the idea, wasn’t it? I was TRYING something in an effort to produce a desired result. There were no guarantees, there were no precedents, there was simply an attempt. It now appears that with only a few days to go, that attempt won’t be successful. I can now revise and refine my expectations, and create a new experiment based upon what I’ve learned here.

My attempt to lose 10 pounds in a month was aggressive, bordering on unhealthy. A safer, more realistic goal would be 2–4 pounds a month. A 2000-calorie diet does not seem to be appropriate for me. I don’t think anything lower than that would be sufficient to keep me moving for any period of time. So, perhaps I actually need to eat more in order to stoke the furnace. My diet has been absurdly healthy; I don’t believe that needs much modification. A few less beers might be good, freeing up a few calories for me to get some more protein and fat in there.

So, we’ll see what the next few days will bring. I’m contemplating a new plan for August, and I’ll develop that throughout the month. For now, I’m sticking to the plan for the next few days. I will see this through to the end, even if it seems highly unlikely that I will see my expected results. That’s probably as close as I’m going to get to zen at this point.

Exercise: 3k running, 4k walking.
Intake: 2170 calories.
What I ate today: Coffee, yogurt, muesli, berries, Raisinets, steak, broccoli, beer, salad and an ice cream cone.

Three more days down. Four more to go. What was the freakin’ point?

OK, it’s Monday. The big festival is over. I actually slept a little the last couple nights, and I can start trying to get back to something resembling normal. I overate a little this weekend, but honestly, it wasn’t all that bad. Friday was the worst, because I was awake for about 22 hours. It’s really hard to give a crap about the calories at that point.

I didn’t get much exercise this weekend. At least, not much GOOD exercise. Lots of jumping up, running to the stage to adjust something, then sitting back down. I was hoping to go for a nice, long, quiet walk on Saturday, but there was never a long enough stretch of time during which I could get away. I may have gotten some isometrics in, ’cause I was pretty darn tense the whole time. I mean, I thought I was pretty wound up before this weekend, but that was nothing.

I spent yesterday doing nothing. The most aggressive I got all day was going to the store to get a new propane tank so we could grill. Otherwise, I could barely lift my head off the pillow all day. The tension did start to melt away finally, and I turned into a pudding. By 8:00, I was struggling to stay awake.

So, today, although my body rebelled against the idea, I really wanted to get back to the gym for some real exercise. Some nice, slow stretching. And of course, another weigh-in.

I was a little worried about today’s weigh-in. I knew I had been overeating this weekend, but I didn’t think I had done too badly under the circumstances. It was only a couple days… how bad could it be?

235 pounds. That’s how bad it could be. 27 days of absolute fucking torture, and I am now back to within one pound of where I started. I don’t think I am a good enough writer to explain in this space how I feel. Disappointed, disillusioned, frustrated, helpless, depressed, ineffective, angry, dismayed.

And fat. Really fucking fat.

I really don’t know what to do. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. If I eat less, I gain weight. If I eat more, I gain weight. If I eat really, really healthy, I gain weight. If I eat ANYTHING I gain weight. If I fast, I gain weight.

Hell, now it seems that if I actually lose a couple pounds, that will then cause me to gain weight. How frustrating is that?

I’m going to try scaling back slowly, see if I can inch down my intake until the weight loss starts again. It seems clear that this point that I won’t be making my goal for the month. I can’t imagine it’s even possible to drop nine pounds in four days. Which means I get to do this again for August, except with no caffeine, alcohol, meat or dairy.

Joy.

July 25
Exercise: Lots of running around, adjusting mics, moving speakers, that kind of crap.
Intake: I don’t know, but really, not that much. 22–2300 calories maybe.

July 26
Exercise: 4k walking.
Intake: 2500 calories.
What I ate today: Coffee, bread, veggie burgers, carrots, chicken, yogurt, cereal, berries and a beer.

July 27
Exercise: 1/2 k swimming.
Intake: 1940 calories.
What I ate today: Coffee, yogurt, cereal, berries, black beans, salsa, mango, English muffin, Clif bar, crackers pretzels, honey and half of a beer.

Day 24, Motivation Slipping

OK, just a short one today. I have lots to do in the next few hours, then I’m off to Wisconsin for a couple days, and won’t be updating much.

I weighed in again this morning, and it came up 229 pounds. Better than Wednesday, but still up from Monday. I don’t know what the heck is going on.

I’m going to try increasing my intake a little bit, and see if that helps. I’m still pretty run down most of the time, and I’m having a hard time conjuring up the energy to keep the exercise going. I’m never full… even after lunch, which is usually my largest meal of the day, I feel like I could easily double it without stuffing myself.

So maybe I’m suffering from actually cutting too many calories. I’ve definitely been riding the low end of my 2000 the last few days, so maybe if I went for around 2300 I’d actually pick up some energy and get back to some burning.

I’m going to give it a shot. My dietary options will be limited the next couple days, so I imagine I’ll get more calories and fat just by way of dining at convenience stores. I hope it doesn’t go to badly, ’cause I’m running out of time to get those last few pounds off.

*sigh*

Or maybe there really is something wrong with me that has yet to be diagnosed. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Weight: 229 lbs.
Exercise: 1/2 k swimming, carrying a LOT of gear.
Intake: I’m not sure, but a lot of calories. 3000, maybe even a little more?
What I ate today: Banana, yogurt, cereal, berries, coffee, burritos, beer and a couple brats.

Day 23, Day of Chaos

OK, day 23, and I’m running again. Not literally, although this should be a day that I go take a run. Just busy.

So, I’m going to keep it short today. I also will most likely not update again until Monday. I’ll have limited computer access over the weekend, and I’m not sure how much calorie counting I’ll be doing anyway. I’ll do my best, ’cause I know you’re all terribly interested.

Exercise: Just cleaning the house and such.
Intake: 1690 calories.
What I ate today: Coffee, muesli, yogurt, berries, banana, turkey burger, English muffin, corn, whiskey and carrots.

Day 22, Three Weeks Down, Question Everything?

OK, I’ve got three weeks down. I was feeling pretty good about myself, making some real  progress. I tightened my belt one notch, and was seriously considering buying new jeans. (My old ones are almost baggy enough to be clown wear.) I actually felt like I was getting somewhere.

I went to the gym this morning. I’ve not been hitting the exercise as hard the last few days, so I thought I’d tear into it with a little more gusto. I hit the elliptical machine with my freshly-loaded iPod, bumped it up a level, and managed a reasonably energetic 25 minutes. I went to change into my swimsuit to do a few laps, then I hit the scale.

232 pounds.

What? I gained four pounds in two days? That can’t be right. Hell, I don’t think I ate four pounds of food in the last two days, and I have a rough idea of what came out.

So now I have to question the accuracy of this scale. Yes, I know, that’s probably the easiest cop-out in the world for someone on a diet, but that’s beyond discouraging. It’s outside the realm of possibility under the circumstances.

So now I have to wonder how accurate it’s been all along. Sure, my first three weeks of weigh-ins have shown approximately the progress I was projecting. I expected a little up and down along the way, just with more down than up. I assumed there would be setbacks.

But four pounds in two days? Sorry, I can’t buy that. I feel like I’m losing weight. I look thinner. My pants are looser. My shirts hang lower. I’m going to assume today was some sort of anomaly. I’m going to see what Friday’s weigh-in brings. And if I gain another four pounds in two days, I’ll be right back where I started.

If that happens, I’m giving up. I’m going straight from the gym to Triple Rock for a breakfast with the four food groups: eggs, cheese, bacon and beer. I will put butter on everything. Yes, I will find a way to put butter on my beer.

Because, when it’s all said and done, I FELT better when I ate like that on a regular basis. Yes, my back hurt, but at least I wasn’t hungry all the damn time on top of it.

*sigh*

OK, deep breaths. There’s no way I’ll gain another four pounds in the next two days. I’m not giving up yet. I’m just frustrated. I really wanted to say I was within a pound of my goal, and it was time to start increasing my intake. I was hoping to hit 227 by this weekend. If the scale is right, that ain’t gonna happen.

If the scale is wrong, then how will I know?

OK, yes, I can be happy that I feel like I’m making progress. I can measure my success in smaller pants and ignore what the scale tells me. Weight isn’t the only factor here… the real goal is to not feel like crap all the time, so I should just be happy with what I’ve accomplished.

But I’d feel a whole lot better if the scale gave me some good news.

Weight: 232 lbs.
Exercise: 25 minutes elliptical, 1/2 k swimming.
Intake: 1870 calories.
What I ate today: Banana, yogurt, cereal, berries, coffee, turkey burger, bread, green beans, carrots and a beer.

20, 21… Getting Close Now

Two more days, still not writing so much. I was a little concerned when I started this that I’d have a hard time coming up with something to write every day for a whole month. There are only so many different ways I can write, “Day X, still hungry.”

I did get a little sleep, which helps. I also made coffee this morning, which helps. I’m also hoping to get some crap caught up around this house, which should help. I like to be organized and vaguely in control; that hasn’t been the case the last few days.

So, on that note, I’m not going to be writing much more today. I gots things to do!

Oh, PS: I’ve decided I’m going to quit tracking my fat intake. It’s pretty much irrelevant at this level of intake. I’m also not going to track the protein any more… I definitely need to get more, but relative to how much I’m eating, I’m doing about the best I can. This whole thing has gotten awfully time-consuming.

July 20
Weight: 228 lbs.
Exercise: 1k swimming.
Intake: 1885 calories, 12 grams of fat, 94 grams of protein.
What I ate today: Bread, turkey breast, baked beans, pineapple, banana and a salad.

July 21
Exercise: Well, I was gonna go running, but it was raining.
Intake: 2125 calories.
What I ate today: Coffee, cereal, yogurt, berries, veggie burger, English muffin, carrots, chicken sub and a waffle cone.

Hey 19

OK, 19 days and a rough weekend, but I’m still hanging in there.

I’m leaving in a little bit to go play my seventh show in five days. I did get six hours of sleep last night, which is about what I got the previous two nights put together. My wife is in Germany (or possibly the Czech Republic by now… what time is it there?) and this is the longest we’ve been apart in years.

In the old days, this is the sort of scenario that would have me at the grocery store, stocking up for a day or two of movies and gluttony. When I get tired, I get hungry, but a massive nacho infusion usually helps. Unfortunately, I’ll have to struggle through without any nachos this time. Or frozen pizzas, doughnuts, mu shu pork or any of my other usual recovery foods. I’ve already been sloshing over my 2000-calorie limit the last couple days. (Although in all fairness, those came after a couple days of being well under.)

Tonight, there will be a temptation to go overboard, as I believe we’re getting a free meal after the show. It’s a scientific fact that musicians are incapable of passing on free food, so the best I can hope for is something reasonably light on the menu.

Although it’s been a little rough this weekend, my motivation is bolstered by the fact that this IS working. I’m right on track to hit my goal AND start inching up my food intake by the end of the month. With any luck, I can settle on a point that will actually allow me to devote under 20 hours a week to exercise and still eat enough to spend a few minutes a day not starving.

Maybe.

Exercise: Are you kidding? I’m too tired to stand up.
Intake: 2065 calories, 35 grams of fat, 78 grams of protein.
What I ate today: Yogurt, muesli, coffee, turkey breast, English muffin, beer and a salad.