And now we play the weighting game

Over the last few years I’ve made occasional efforts to lose some of my extra weight. A few days or weeks eating slightly less and feeling guilty about the food I did eat. Brief flirtations with activity or calorie tracking apps that always felt lacking. A surprising stream of new and imaginative reasons why “this one doesn’t count”.

Weigh is not a topic that comes up frequently in conversation, at least in my circles, but it raises its head just enough that I know that people are thinking about it even when they’re not talking about it. I think maybe we could do with talking about it.

Even at my worst I don’t think I ever really considered that I was any more overweight or out of shape than “normal”, which I would have defined as a pretty wide range. There’s always someone else nearby I can point at (not literally) and say, “I’m not fat. That person is fat.” As if a decade or two down the line I’d be diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease and wriggle out of it by pointing at someone else and pleading, “What about him?”

Bubble football

In fact several times over the last few years, including as recently as this July, I edged over 90 kg (about 200 lbs). At only 174 cm (5′ 8″) that weight put me into the category of obese. I had more than 30% body fat. I was technically too heavy to safely play bubble football (not that it stopped me).

After that weigh-in on July 21st I decided it would be the last time I weighed more than 90 kg. It wasn’t my first time making such a resolution, but I think it will be the last.

I set out first to find out what my goal weight should be, and then to reach it. Body mass index (BMI) is an imperfect tool for many reasons, but for most people it’s a reasonable guideline for ideal weight. It’s recommended that you aim for a BMI between 18.5 and 25, which for me at 174 cm means a goal weight of 66 kg ± 10 kg. That took me by surprise. Having lumbered around with the delusion that I was “a little on the heavy side of normal”, it was striking to learn that I was really 14 kg heavier than the top end of the normal weight range.

Three months later I’m happy to report that I’m now more than 10 kg closer to my goal, and I haven’t slowed down. Looking at myself today I realise two things: that the first 10 kg already makes a really big difference to how I look and feel; and that it’s much easier to see now that I actually do have another 5 – 10 kg to go. That surprising number I worked out back in July wasn’t a mistake. There are just more ways to hide extra fat on a human body than I thought.

Down and to the right
Down and to the right

If I keep up my current rate — and I’ve been pretty consistent up until now — I could be in the recommended healthy weight range by the beginning of next year. With Christmas in between it might be more reasonable to expect it will take a couple of weeks longer. But it doesn’t really matter all that much how long it takes. What matters is how long it lasts.

3 Replies to “And now we play the weighting game”

  1. The simple answer is eating less and moving more.

    The complicated answer that could fill a dozen blog posts is about how you manipulate your environment to make it easy to do the right thing and difficult to do the wrong thing even during the moments when you’re inclined to lose sight of the long term and give in to the lizard brain.

    Part of what made this time successful, I think, is that I’ve been reading a lot about how we form and break habits. Just having that subject on my mind seems to help.

  2. i think you’ve hit on the key – if you want to ‘lose weight’ – it can’t be done effectively for the long term by following a programme that you feel is onerous. It can be done by changing habits. The time I lost significant weight as an adult was when Lucy and I broke up, so it’s clear that that entailed a lot of habits being broken, while I took up football and jogging.

    Since then I have been mildly up and down, with regular exercise being a constant. As I move into my 30s I find that consumption is a factor – I lost a bit when I cut red meat almost entirely out of my diet earlier this year, and replacing mince in my cooking with beans and chickpeas has been great.

    With my football team-mates, what kills them is pretty obviously regular beer intake, with 2 pints meaning they’ve undone about an hour’s running (or eaten an extra Big Mac).

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