Minus 50.

I suppose, for most people trying to lose weight, there is some moment of epiphany.  Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of The Biggest Loser (editor’s note: I have seen zero episodes of The Biggest Loser), but I have to imagine, for most people, the decision to lose a lot of weight is kind of a big deal, yo.

I can’t really say the same.  Honestly.  I can’t.

So how I’m sitting here, 50 pounds lighter than I was 98 days ago, is somewhat of its own epiphanous moment.

Trippy, huh?

As far as I can remember, it really was as simple as this: I didn’t feel like I had as much stamina as I could once claim.  So, one day in April, I decided to dust off the ol’ bathroom scale and hop on.  I was expecting—well, dreading—to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds.  I mean, my driver’s license may still say 120 pounds (shout out to learner’s permit stats), but we all know the truth.

I stood there, preparing myself for 200.  Or 205.  Or Nelson Muntz to improbably appear in the scale’s digital face, mocking my man boobs.

Finally, the scale offered its own opinion.  It wasn’t a very flattering one.

222.2.

It didn’t even have the courtesy to be coldly scientific about the revelation.  It had to be cute.  You know what’s even more obnoxious than realizing you’re obese for the first time in your life?  Having your obesity measured to the perfect numerical flush of four 2s.

I tried to process that, 222.2.  That was a number for fat people, at my size anyway.  I wasn’t a fat people.  Was I a fat people?  Oh God, I thought, maybe I was a fat people!

Still, I felt no urge to curl up in bed and cry my way through the night.  I didn’t really feel anything about it at all, except the shockingly dumb understatement of “oh man, I’m 20 pounds fatter than the fat I already thought I may have been!”

And fat is a sneaky thing.  It really does sneak up on you.  I mean, you know you’re not skinny, you know you jiggle a bit more than you’d like, but some part of you still convinces yourself you’re average.  You like food.  So what?  A lot of people like food.  If food wasn’t meant to be liked, Culver’s would not exist.  And Culver’s is an American treasure, so disliking food is entirely unpatriotic!

But all of that justification kind of just sneaks around to kick your ass when you go up the stairs one day and realize you’re trying not to let company know you’re actually a little winded.  From going up stairs.  One flight of them.

So, in the most anticlimactic matter possible, thus began my journey.  I wish I could say it was a cool, classic journey, complete with sword, shield, steed and ancient artifact in need of retrieval.  But this one mostly just started with me attempting to run a mile at the onset and puking up a lot of Chef Boyardee in the process.

(Dinosaurs & ABCs, if you were wondering.  Yes, I’m an adult.  Technically.)

****

50 pounds later, I do ask myself where the journey started.

It’s not like I drew up a gameplan, so there is no legible proof of my plan.  It just kind of fell in place, the same way welp, I guess I need to clean out this closet turns into spring cleaning.

As with all things weight loss-related, it started with diet & exercise.

The diet, surprisingly, was very easy.  I didn’t read up on any diet tips, because that would require committing to something, and I’ve always been deathly afraid of committing to a plan only to fail and feel really bad about it.  So I suppose my strategy throughout has just been “make your own plan, and make it work”.

For my diet, then, I started by cutting out soda entirely.  Switched to water.  That’s an easy 10 pounds.  Good, what’s next?  Salads?  Sure, those can replace mayo-ejaculating sandwiches.  Ben & Jerry’s?  More like I Don’t Care-ys!  Right?  Right?  Okay, I’ll sit down.

(And admit that my reward for 165 will be a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Peach Cobbler.  Lawdamercy, do I miss that sweet, sweet Deadhead nectar!)

One of my co-workers and main sources of support throughout my journey—I won’t name names just in case, but thanks, dude, it’s meant a lot—told me, if he were to write a book about losing weight, he would title it Don’t Eat Like An Asshole.

And you know what?  It’s surprisingly easy to not eat like an asshole.  Which isn’t to say everyone’s journey isn’t different, and some folks have different obstacles, realities and barriers than others.  But, when you break it down, when you really look at the basic concept of eating—it’s not very difficult to eat right, and still eat enough.

Personally, I found it pretty simple.  I don’t eat breakfast; I never have.  So it was a matter of not eating stupid things at lunch, and not snacking after.  Boom.  Cut that out, and you get to dinner with a goodly amount of calories to spare.  Learn not to interpret that as “make up for all of your dieting by eating a huge, obnoxious dinner”, and you’ve figured out how to eat healthy and responsibly.

(Obligatory reminder that I am not a dietician or nutritionist—you should consult those if serious.  I also cut out a ton, like, almost all, carbs from my diet.  That’s not necessarily the best approach, because there are good carbs and good carbs = much-needed energy for the Part II of this plan.  But, yeah, that’s what I did, for full disclosure.  Learn to love chicken.)

Soon enough, I found that I could get by with 1,200 calories, I often didn’t need more than 1,500 calories worth, and even my worst “cheats” were around or slightly below 2,000 calories.

Obviously, you don’t want to reach the point of hunger pains, ever.  And I believe too much calorie-counting obsessiveness can lead to eating disorders.  But as long as you have a healthy and realistic understanding of how calories work (bolded: you always consume more calories than you realize, and you always burn less calories than you realize), you should be able to set yourself up for a nice ballpark approach to calorie management.

*****

The other part, then, was exercise.  Still is exercise.  Oh, the exercise.

Now, yes, technically, you can lose weight on diet alone, provided you maintain the proper caloric differential.  But there is no realistic way that is a winning long-term strategy.

So, get used to exercising.  I did.

Frankly, I knew it was going to suck getting to that level of serious exercise again, so I started simple.  I went down to the park to kick some soccer balls around.  I mean, I could at least do that, right?  If you do something you enjoy anyway, and exercise in the process, it’s just a bonus.

Next up was cycling.  60 minutes, high resistance, every morning.  Just pop on some Netflix in front of the bike and, boom, world’s quickest hour of exercise.

All of this worked, and worked well, but served to underscore my biggest hesitation: running.

I knew, eventually, I would have to start running if I was going to get really serious.  And I hate running.  Always have, even when I was skinny and athletic.  Always will.  Those endorphins that serve as the testimony of everyone you know who has a pair of running shoes?  Yeah…I’ve been running for a while now, and I still don’t get those.

Running is hard.  Running is not fun.  But running is how I was able to establish such an insane caloric deficit.

I started with some light running at the soccer park—chasing the ball if it went over the goal, some full-field sprints here and there.  That evolved into trying to run a mile (which resulted in aforementioned Chef Boyardee purge in my first encounter).  Then a mile really became a mile, which became two, until I figured out I had the stamina for five.  And that’s been my mark ever since—at least five miles a day, six days a week.

And I will say this: running sucks.  But I’ll be damned if I’m not practically operating on jet fuel when I start working every morning now.

I try to run different routes, around different places.  And I’ve kept a two-a-day regimen too, which has recently transitioned into a ~6-mile hike/walk with a heavy backpack and medicine ball.  Sometimes I just take trails into the wood, get lost and hope I can navigate my way back before sunset.  It’s great.

*****

I’m not done yet.  I don’t really have a goal weight, but I know I’m not there yet.  My soccer fighting weight was always around 160, so another 10 pounds would make sense.  We’ll see.

My main goal from here is to tone up a bit.  Not looking to get omgswolebro, but just respectably toned.  I started an ab workout over the weekend.  It’s by far the worst 10-15 minutes of my day, but then no one said hanging upside down from an inversion table, holding a medicine ball toward the ceiling and keeping your back straight was ever going to be fun.

But I can look back and say I’ve done the following things, which I didn’t think were possible before I began:

  • I lost 50 pounds in less than 100 days.  That rate of loss is kind of impressive.
  • I went from a waist size somewhere between 38-40, to a waist size between 30-32.  Yup.
  • I can consistently run 5-6 miles.  I never ran more than 2 consecutive miles before.
  • I have notched myself out of my favorite belt.  That’s bittersweet.
  • I bought a medium size shirt online.  It fit.  Well kind of; I have broad shoulders which stretch it tight on top, but that’s not really weight-related.

Since 50 is a milestone, I will take a moment to gloat about those.

But just for a moment.  Because I’ve got at least 10 more, and starting sometime around September, I get to begin my journey of learning to lift and realizing how embarrassingly weak I really am.

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