Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happiness is getting thin. How thin?

I have lost weight. Technically, according to those published weight charts and Body Mass Index stuff, supposedly I was just up in the "obese" category, but no one would believe that. So my doctor said I needed to "make some changes." The weight itself didn't scare me all that much, but the blood pressure was higher than it used to be, and my blood pressure had always been quite low. That scared me.

I decided to lose weight. I figured out a few simple rules:

1) No between meal snacks.
2) No desserts, except maybe on very special occasions.
3) Cut out the soft drinks.
4) Control the portions: Sensible helpings. No seconds.

I figured if I did those, I would lose weight. I was right. But I also discovered the most important rule for losing weight:

Be hungry.

That's all, just decide to be hungry. Don't try any fancy, schmancy diets that are supposed to avoid it by eating wierd foods. Just embrace hunger. I adopted a mantra:

I like being hungry.
Hunger is good for me.
Hunger means I am losing weight.
Hunger won't hurt me.
I embrace being hungry.
I want to be hungry.
If I'm not hungry, I'm probably not losing weight.
Just let the hunger be.
It's OK to be hungry.
I really want to lose weight.
I really, really want to be thin.
Getting thin is more important to me than the hunger.
If I don't get thin, I will die sooner.
It is worth being hungry to get thin.

It's amazing how effective that has been. I have been more or less continually hungry since the beginning of June. Every time I want to eat, I just remember the mantra. Every time I see desserts or snack foods or greasy, sugary food, I just repeat part of the mantra.

I haven't ever really starved myself. I have always eated an adequate amount of food, with reasonably balanced nutrition. It is not a starvation diet. In fact, I avoid thinking of it as being on a diet at all. I am just eating sensibly.

As I got into it, I saw several studies that said the people most successful at losing weight and keeping it off write down what they eat. I decided I should do that. I looked into various calorie counting software that I could use on both my PC and my PDA, but found that good calorie counters are available for free on the Internet, and I can get to my food journal from any Internet connection. I signed up for one called "My-Calorie-Counter." It is not the only one, and I don't know if it is the "best" or not, it is just one I tried and decided it would work. It does. It takes a while to enter everything carefully in detail, and you can spend more or less time at it depending on how exact you want to make it, but it is pretty good.

It recommended a diet of about 2,000 calories a day, which it said should lose me about 2 lbs per week if I exercise regularly. I ramped up the exercise, too, but that's for another post.

So now, I have lost nearly 40 lbs. and I am down to 200 at 6'1" tall. Is that enough? My wife thinks so. Many people have said they think I should not get any thinner. But by those infernal charts and indices, I am now well below "obese," but still technically in the "overweight" category. It is not easy to look at my body and figure out where the overweight is. My face is gaunt. My arms are skin and bones. My stomach is almost flat (not quite, but then I'm almost 60 years old, so six-pack abs are probably not a realistic goal). I now fit into the 36 inch waist pants that I wore when I was younger, fit and thin. Should I keep losing weight?

The funny thing is, I have gotten into a weight loss groove, and there's nothing to stop me from just keeping on. I don't think I am anorectic. I have just gotten in the habit of not eating a lot and letting myself be hungry, and I exercise a lot (I run 3.7 to 5 miles per day, 5 to 7 days per week). As long as I keep that up, I will keep losingl. It isn't really that hard. Once I made my mind up to do it, I just do it. I have occasional splurges on something fattening, but then I make up for it and move on. I could just keep on losing weight as long as I want to. There is no particular reason to stop here. But then, where should I stop? Should I believe those charts, or should I believe how my body looks? I don't know. Kind of a different sort of problem than I have worried about before. I can't say I am really worried. I want to keep running regardless, and I see no reason to start pigging out. I can get along just fine on 2,000 calories and continual hunger. I'm used to it.

I am supposed to go back to the doctor in two weeks. I'll see what he says.

But getting thin is great:
I can run much better.
I never have heartburn.
I look good, and feel good about looking good.
My blood pressure is back down.
My clothes fit better.
I believe that I am healthier.

I want to stay this way.

1 comment:

InTheFastLane said...

And you want to be around a long time to enjoy your grandkids :) i would be interested in what your dr. says. I am surprised the charts still say you are overweight. I haven't seen you since the summer, but it is a fine line once you get into that groove of just enough and not too much.