Saturday, December 6, 2008

Uncharted Territory


When I set out at the beginning of the year to lose weight and get in shape, I made a goal for myself: get down to 210. A loss of 45 pounds seemed reasonably ambitious, and something that was setting the bar pretty high, considering I'd never managed to lose more than 20 pounds in any previous effort.

That was 15 pounds ago.

The scale this morning read 195 pounds.  As with any milestone, I stepped on it a number of times to make sure.  That's a loss of 60 pounds.  60.  I did the math: I have lost nearly 24% of my weight as of last January.

I wonder how it is that I ever got so heavy.  My "ideal" weight according to the charts is 185, but there's a 10% margin and I'm already within that.  But I wasn't for a long time.  If you've read the other posts in this blog, you know that I'd been overweight for a long time. And now here I am, within a few pounds of my college weight.  

I actually weighed 195 at one point in college and considered myself out of shape.  (Although, now that I think about it, that scale always weighed about 6 pounds light, so I may now actually be lighter than that).  The 195 I weigh now is the best shape I have ever been in. After this exercise regimen, particularly the summer of biking, my legs are lean and muscular.  I have seen definition in my leg muscles that I have never seen before.  My arm and chest muscles show real definition. If I weigh more than my "ideal" weight, at this point, it's the muscle weighing in, not the fat.  When it occurs to me that I have lost 60 pounds and gained in muscle mass, I wonder just how much fat weight have I lost?  65 lbs.?  70?

All I know is that my clothes fit differently now.  The alb I wear in services actually hangs straight down in the front and sides, and doesn't look nearly as unflattering as it used to.  I have always liked wearing Levi's 501 buttonflys, but I always needed to buy them a size larger than my actual waist because the cut wouldn't fit over my legs.  I am now wearing 501's in a 34 waist, and comfortably so, without having to breathe in before I button them up.  My 36 inch waist khakis that were too tight for me in January, now have so much give that I may need to shop for new ones.  

The most important thing that I have been learning throughout all of this is just how much the barriers to my weight loss were in my head.  For so long, I had accepted my weight as 'normal' for me.  E-mailers and callers to the Dan Patrick show on ESPN Radio would announce their height and weight--"Dave Johnson from Sarasota, Florida, 6', 192"--and at certain weights Phil The Showkiller, Dan's producer, would add editorial comment.  I noticed that anything over 200 would get described as "beefy".  Anything approaching my weight would be considered "fat!" sometimes with a long drawn out "a": "faaaaaaat".  But I nevertheless would tell myself, 'No, this weight is normal for you--you just have a bigger frame, you have heavy legs from all the biking you did as a kid, etc."  Now, a lot of that was denial.  A lot of that was that it was so hard for me to think that I could ever be anything other than what I weighed.  

Clearly, I was wrong.

Every goal I set for myself I have made.  I set 210 as my goal for this entire project, and eight months and two days into the project, in mid-September, I attained that goal.  I wrote at the time that I now had 200 in my sights--that I didn't think I could go lower.  By my 40th birthday, I'd lost 50 pounds and was at 205.  I crossed the 200 lb threshold in mid November, less than two months after reaching my initial 210 goal.  Then I thought, could I get back to 195? My "heavy" college weight?  A month later, the answer is likewise yes.

I am going to stop, just in case you are wondering.  But now I'm thinking that 190 looks awful enticing.  And if that can be done, is 185, my "ideal" really undoable?  If I have learned anything, from this entire project, the answer is no.

Stay tuned.

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