Thursday, October 25, 2012

On the Trail of 160 Pounds

I'm on the trail to 160 pounds by late Spring 2013 - a reduction of 20% of my body weight.  Let me tell you about the journey and why I am on it.

This is my progress so far.  I am working towards
reaching my goal weight by late spring 2013.
I started this journey at 202 lbs on September 10, 2012.  I weigh 190 right now -- still about 12 pounds overweight for my height, but already 1/4 of the total distance.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I'm declaring my intentions.  It's a kind of public accountability.  I am going to do this, and when I get there, I'm going to build a house there.

For me, the last straw has been rising blood pressure and what I suspect may be early signs of Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the woman I love says I look better when I weigh less.  And, I know from experience I feel better at lower weight.  A friend in Anchorage summed all of this up well recently with the  word, "stewardship".  So, bottom line, I want to steward well the body gifted to me by God.

It is only 12 pounds I have dropped, but I already feel quite a bit better.  The blood pressure seems to be falling, too.  I'm eating fewer sweets, so I don't know about the early diabetes signs.  Linda says I already look better, too. :)

In addition to looking and feeling better, I know from my reading that I can (statistically speaking) minimize risks of some diseases and enjoy longer life.  Less weight will also be easier on my joints.

Why 160 lbs?  The last time I was 160 lbs was probably four decades ago in my late teens or early 20s.  But, the US Centers for Disease Control suggest that for my 6 foot height, normal weight is 136 - 184 lbs....with shoes and clothes on.  I have a medium frame, so I should be nearer the center of that range.  I picked 160 in my skivvies at the beginning of the day, or about 165 fully dressed at mid-day.  My intention is to monitor this for how it looks, works and feels, and I may adjust up or down as the goal gets closer.

Here are the three legs of the plan I am working:
  1. Eat fewer calories on a daily basis than my body requires  
  2. Change my eating habits for the long haul
  3. Continue regular exercise
Screenshot from the iPhone App "Lose It!".
If I record it all, and stay under my
calorie limit, I lose weight.
For the calories leg, I use an iPhone app called Lose It!.  It synchronizes with a web site so I can enter food information either on the run on my iPhone, on my tablet, or at my laptop at home.  The app even allows me to scan barcodes on food items.  It tells me how many calories I can eat each day....and I just eat those calories or fewer. Usually.

I have found that a) I must record pretty much everything or I overeat at the most critical time, which is evening;  and b) at my age (62 at this writing), it's better to NOT factor in exercise.  The app allows users to record exercise and add those calories burned to what can be eaten.  That worked when I was younger.

I don't typically feel much hunger during the day.  I know from experience that front-loading most of my calories early in the day and going to bed a bit hungry helps with weight loss.  I have also found that a healthy snack between lunch and dinner is important.

For the habits leg, I know I must change my eating habits, and continue with with that for the rest of my life.  I have counted calories and lost significant weight twice before; once in my 40's and once in my 50's.  Both times, my weight slowly returned to the same or a higher weight than when I started.  I know from this experience and from reading that changing what and how I eat is key to long term weight management.  At the beginning of this journey Linda and I determined that we would eat more like people who live around the Mediterranean.  We like the food.  It tastes good. It's colorful, fun and different.

According to a recent Time Magazine article, "people following a Mediterranean-style diet may have the best chance of keeping weight off — and doing it without causing negative side effects".  A Mayo Clinic article indicates that "a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases."

In general,  I am eating more fruit, fish, yogurt and whole grain bread.  I have cut back on red meat, butter, most other bread, pastries, sweets, processed foods, and drinks with calories. I'm not slavish to this but I have been without butter for more than a month now, and we have eaten relatively little bread, turning instead mainly to rice.  I love cookies, but for the past month, I have eaten very few of them.  My desert these days is a couple of dates or a kiwi.

I'm also trying to limit my intake to what satisfies.  Several times recently, I have put part of the contents of my plate in the 'fridge because I was full.  That is a significant change for this eat-everything-on-your-plate guy!

For the exercise leg, I have a gym habit thanks to my amazingly disciplined son-in-law, Steve, so exercise is not so hard for me.  I like the additional muscular build out; it helps with life activities and it looks better.  Exercise helps me with weight loss, but it also helps with mental and emotional health.  It doesn't help everyone with weight loss; burning more calories increases hunger for some.

I recognize that Linda and I are in a very disciplined season right now.  We are attending the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in California for nine months.  We do not often eat out, and we do relatively little social eating with friends and church community.  Family is far away.  The test of this plan will come when we are in a more "routine" environment....when family is visiting....when the gang is over at the house....when we are out eating with friends.....when I'm bored....etc.

Last of all, I invite you to join me on the journey!  Lose It! has a community feature that allows automatic notification of others of your daily victories on the scales.  I will send you encouragement via Lose It! if you will do the same for me.  Lose It! will work with just a web browser on any computer.  It also works on other iOS devices and the Android operating system.


  1. Whaaw this looks interesting, more people should take care of their body, we are here for the long run.Nice to see you doing this, give greetings and hugs to Linda.
    Jozef and Luciënne

    1. Thanks, Jozef. One of the things I am learning about this season of life is that to steward well body and soul I must embrace significant changes, and stick to them. This is one of them.

  2. David, we must be getting old or something. My latest blood work showed my Glucose at 100 mg/dl, and my Hemoglobin A1C at 6%. So I've sworn off the sweets and tried to increase my exercise regimen. Thanks for posting this. Wish you the best in the attainment of your goal.
    Charlie Traub

    1. The clock is certainly ticking louder than it used to. :) Best of success to you in making good changes! Thanks for the note of encouragement, Charlie. :)

  3. Here's an update of my progress as of April 13, 2013. I am not as far along the trail as I would like to be, but I definitely feel better and my wife says I look much better. My weight stands now at 186 #. My blood pressure has fallen to normal levels, and I am not quite as sensitive to sugar as I was.

    Here's what I have learned:
    1. I will consistently lose weight if I work this system.
    2. My weight will stabilize or increase if I stop using it.
    3. I will usually lose weight the next morning if I am a little bit hungry when I go to bed. In other words, I do best to "front load" my calories earlier in the day, and eat small amounts of food at night.
    4. Holidays, eating out, eating with friends and family visits are tough on weight loss.
    5. I do best when I don't log exercise into the system.
    6. I'm not sure that I will try to make it all the way to 160#. I plan to reach 180 and try that out for a while.