Before and After: Results in Pictures

I feel obligated to do this, since I've yammered on the past few posts about doing what it takes to lose weight. People want to see that these things I've talked about actually do work and that I'm not just making it up.

So, to that end, I went back into our picture archives (of which they are vast, what with having such a cute dog and all) to find a picture of me from near my high weight of 207 pounds. That proved difficult, since I don't usually go out of my way to be memorialized. The best I could do was this one, which is from last fall.  I was still north of 200, so it's good enough.

Ugh. That's a bit embarrassing. Misaki doesn't even want anything to do with being pictured next to her huge papa, turning her butt to the camera. Can't blame her, really.

So then I did all the things I've talked about in the past few blog posts. Worked out more. Tracked calories. Ate more balanced. Watched sodium intake. Tried to reduce stress and get more sleep. Changed my goal weight many times along the way, from an initial 185 down and down, 5-10 pounds at a time, until eventually, just a few weeks ago, I posted my daily weigh-in to my MyFitnessPal account and got this fancy schmancy little picture:

So yeah, it works. And now here's the big reveal:

I look different, yes? I sure feel different. Better. Happier. (Though Misaki still doesn't want to be in a pic with me, apparently.) This pic was taken about a month and a half ago on a hike up on Mt. Hood, so it was technically before the 50-pound goal was reached, but it's good enough for illustrative purposes. As I write this now I'm down 53 pounds to 154, something I honestly never thought was possible.

I would have loved to have a picture of me in the same clothes, but they are long gone. That's one of the things I never fathomed to think about: buying new clothes. I think only 3-4 things in my closet are the same as they were six months ago, and it's been expensive. I can't complain, really, because it's a good thing I need smaller clothes, but that doesn't make swallowing the credit card charges any easier.

All of my success has come because of the full support of my wife; I couldn't have done this without her help, her encouragement, and her love. Thank you, sweetheart! Also, Misaki helped too, with her six-mile-an-hour walking speed and her indignation to any stops not on her schedule. Thanks pups!

I should take this opportunity to apologize to someone, too. A few years back Wifey and I went and saw a nutritionist at a local clinic, hoping for some tips on eating better. We didn't really get any we hadn't already read, which was disappointing for the cost, but I think I probably put her off when I scoffed at the thought of my getting down to 165 (the medically approved weight for my five feet and eight inches). She was right, it was possible. So I'm sorry, wherever this woman is now.

Speaking of numbers, there are a few others to share. Yes, the big -53 is a huge one, but there are others as well:

30.7 --> 23.4

I may have mentioned this before, but I am not a fan of the Body Mass Index. While for most people it's a decent guideline, it's not a number that should be treated as any kind of holy grail; any health measurement that calls a professional athlete like Dwight Howard (have you seen this guy?!) obese is plain full of it. All that said, according to BMI I used to be obese for my height and now I'm smack in the middle of normal.

Metabolic Age
50 --> 20

I have a scale made by Tanita I use to weigh in every morning. It is somewhat fancy and allows you to store multiple profiles as well as gives you some other numbers, including metabolic age, bone density, muscle mass, fat percentage, and a couple others. Apparently it measures these things based on some kind of electric impulse sent through the body via the feet (you can't feel it). I have no idea how it works, really, or if it's super accurate, but according to my scale I've cut 30 years off my metabolic age. And really, I was at 50 before I reached 207 pounds, so I think perhaps it just tops out there. Is it true? Do I have the body of a 20-year-old? I don't know, but the number went down each week as I lost weight and clearly I'm healthier now, so presumably I will live longer maintaining this lifestyle.

Waist Measurement
36 --> 28

This number isn't from an explicit measurement; it came from the size of my jeans. When I began this process I had a pair of 34-waist jeans that were pretty tight and a pair of 36s that were a tiny bit loose. By the beginning of May I had lost enough weight my jeans were practically falling down and the belt I had was too big to do anything about it even on the tightest setting, so out of necessity I went shopping. To my utter disbelief I came home with two pairs of 31s. Seriously? I wore a 32 when I graduated from high school! As it turns out, buying jeans in May is a silly plan because I wear shorts - work doesn't care - almost all summer long. By the middle of August both pairs of jeans were falling off me - again - so it was time to go shopping again (and I'll just forget about the money I wasted on those jeans I really didn't get to enjoy). This time? I came home with two different brands, one a 28 and the other a 29. And you know what? These aren't tight either; in fact, they may be a tad loose. It's a shitty thing to bitch about, but the reality is when a guy has to find jeans smaller than a 28 it's kind of impossible. Great. It's not bad enough so few companies make jeans short enough for someone who is 5-8, but they also rarely make jeans smaller than a 28 waist. Again, a crappy thing to bitch about, I get that. But still.

Fat Percentage
26.0 --> 14.7

This is a pretty telling stat, too. At 207 pounds my scale told me my body fat percentage was 26.0. Math tells me that's 53.8 pounds of my body was fat. Yeah, that's a bit nauseating. At 154 pounds that total has dropped to 22.6 pounds. Here's what I don't get and why I don't put a ton of stock in that scale: I've lost 53 pounds, but only 60% of that has been fat. What was the rest of it?!

I am very close to being satisfied, close enough no newer picture will show the difference. It's been quite the journey, a long one, and now the real test begins: can I keep it off?

I believe I can and will. I've learned enough along the way that I know how to properly balance my food, exercise and lifestyle decisions to stay at a healthy weight. It's been a hell of a journey to this point and I hope it's one that never truly ends.

This is Kind of Weird...

When you see yourself in the mirror every day, even with seeing the numbers drop on the scale and the fit of your clothes changing, it's harder to see the scope of the change. And coworkers, who see me every day, don't see the scope. However, when you don't see someone for awhile and they appear 50 pounds lighter, sometimes you wonder, right?

I had a few people I know somewhat well but don't see all the time in the past couple months cautiously approach me and ask if I was okay. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing while I assured them that, yes, I am fine. Better than fine, actually.

And unexpectedly I've had a couple people tell me I am inspiring. What? Really? Me? I'm floored. I had one coworker - who I don't know very well at all and see only occasionally - be really interested in how I did it and said I was an inspiration to him. I shrugged it off with a smile like it was no big deal, but really? Well, thank you. And you're welcome?

I Used to Think...

Story time.

I'm a huge sports fan. I've watched professional and college baseball, basketball and football since I was in fourth grade, collected trading cards for years, and spent almost 9 years as a sportswriter covering the NBA as a second job. Part of that time included actually spending time in NBA locker rooms.

That's all to say I've spent a lot of time analyzing professional athletes.

As I crept past 190 I routinely became surprised whenever I would see a pro athlete weigh in at less than me, but be eight inches (or more) taller. That probably should have been a bigger warning sign than it was in retrospect. Now where I am there are very few pro athletes smaller than I am - and that's a good thing.

About 10 years ago, not long after Wifey and I started dating, I signed up for a boxing training class with her. She'd been doing it for awhile and I wanted to get in shape and it sounded interesting. That was a tough class, but it was fun. We stopped going after a while because...well, I'm not sure why. Anyway, it was mostly just technique and training - I never stepped in a ring - but part of that was teaming up in pairs with someone your size. One person would hold a punch pad while the other would practice throwing hooks and jabs with the proper footwork.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, this was also my intimate introduction into the differences between your average person (me) and someone who had trained seriously as an athlete.

Most of the class was women, with only a few men. Of those men, most were either older or still teens and there were only two of us in our early 20s, so by default we were matched up. I outweighed Thomas (I think it was Thomas) by about 10-15 pounds so you would think I'd be able to handle his punches.

Of course, he was 3-4 inches taller than me and had recently graduated from Portland State, where he played football (wide receiver, I think). Now, while sports fans may snicker at the small school football player, I have to say it doesn't matter where you went to school to play football because no doubt you spent a crapload of time in the gym and on the field, staying in shape.

There was not an ounce of fat on this guy's body. And to top it off, our boxing coach called him T-Bone. Why? I found out. You don't usually want to find out why the guy punching your gut is named T-Bone, because there is probably a good reason.

Dude could punch. Holy shit could T-Bone throw a hook.

You don't truly understand what it means to box until you have a guy taller than you, lighter than you, and in better shape than you throwing punches at you. Want some appreciation for what it takes to do that sport? Go try that out for a bit. I had a punch pad and he was wearing training gloves, but I was still so sore the next day I could barely move. I can't imagine what it would be like to actually be in the ring with the man and have him connect with my rib cage.

Again, that probably should have been a red flag to me, too, but it took me a while to really figure it out. It's funny how you can look back after (nearly) reaching a goal and, even over the course of 10 years, point to specific moments where you think you should have figured something out much earlier. This was one, but there were many others.

Maybe I should think about a boxing class again. That might be fun, now. Hmm...