***Lose It is a calorie tracking app. It is NOT a diet! Dieting and depriving yourself of calories never works. Instead, you need to make better choices but still eat enough calories so that your body can function properly. This is especially true with exercise; if you don't eat enough, all the exercise in the world will not help you lose weight! If you want a more in-depth discussion of this, please ask me in the comments section below and I'll be more than happy to talk to you about it based on what I know and my personal experience.***
Even though my weight was stuck, I was determined to get down to my goal weight one way or another. I liked how much better I felt physically, I had gotten healthy and pleased my doctor with how much better shape I was in. I'd gone from being pre-diabetic with chest pains, high blood pressure and high resting heart rate, constant headaches and migraines, knee and back pain, and large clothes (I am 6'5") such as XXL and XXXL, to flawless blood work, a resting heart rate in the 40s-50s, excellent blood pressure, no headaches, no back or knee pain, and down to wearing size L and XL clothes. My waist went from a size 44 to 36 and I'm the slimmest I've been since high school nearly twenty years ago. I'm very happy with the progress I've made.
BUT (and you knew there had to be a BUT or else why would I be writing this article?), I'm still incredibly frustrated. You see, I remained stuck around 260 lbs for approximately eighteen months. I added some weight lifting into my routine, doing this on the days in between my runs, and was able to maintain my weight but I hadn't restarted my weight loss. However, over the past several months, I've only been running since time was at a premium (for a variety of reasons). I'll also admit that while I was still tracking my eating, I wasn't eating as well, but I was still keeping under my daily calorie budget. For whatever reason, I began to put the weight back on bit by bit. As of this writing, I've regained around 25 lbs. Strangely, though, my clothes still fit me just fine and I don't seem to have put any of the weight back in places where I'd notice it with ill-fitting clothes. I can see it in my face and stomach, though, and it's really bothering me.
Part of it is slight envy of my friends and family members who don't even exercise or watch what they eat yet seem to have no problem maintaining their weight! I have been extra vigilant with my eating and almost obsessive about my exercise (although I should add I love exercising and it's something I look forward to every day). Yet, if I cut back on my workouts even for one day or if I decide to eat a little extra just once, it seems to throw me all off. Can there really be that precarious a balance between my weight loss and my exercise that a little blip in my overall routine throws it off that much?
As I begin 2014, I've vowed to get back on track with my weight loss. I've continued my running, mainly indoors on the treadmill since it's too cold and slippery to go outside in this brutal winter we're having. However, once I can get back outside, I intend to continue extending the length of my runs. Right now, winter running on the treadmill is all about maintenance. I've added weight lifting back into my routine. I'm focusing mainly on my upper body since my lower body/legs get plenty of work from my running (my legs are very muscular and defined from the 1500 and counting miles I've done since May 2011). My goal isn't to necessarily bulk up, but to tone up and lose more weight on my upper body, mainly my chest and stomach. From what I've been reading over the past couple of years, muscle burns calories and fat even when you're at rest, so adding new muscle and working out existing muscle helps burn calories and fat even when you're not exercising. The analogy I read that I really liked was that "an idling car still burns fuel, just not as much as it does when it's moving." I'll still burn more calories when I'm running or lifting, but working out my muscles with anaerobic exercise should help to jump start and maintain my metabolism during the times when I'm not running.
A common misconception, and one that I believed for many years before I got in shape, is that your metabolism speeds up as you lose weight. I've found through research and personal experience that the opposite is true. As I've lost weight and gotten to be good at running, my body has become more efficient at everything from breathing, pumping blood, burning calories, and this includes my metabolism (this is true for everyone; I'm just using myself as an example). The trick for me and anyone else in the same predicament is to figure out a way to get the metabolism revved up again in order to resume its fat and calorie burning. That's what I'm hoping my renewed weight lifting routine will do.
Additionally, I'm trying to eat more lean protein (meat, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc) and cut back on processed sugars (you'd be amazed how much you can lose just from not drinking soda!). I've always had a good diet, especially since I started tracking with Lose It; I love just about every fruit and vegetable and eat them a lot. My problem is that I also have a sweet tooth. However, I don't miss soda that much and I still have the occasional Coke or Pepsi, but I prefer water, milk, or unsweetened iced tea as healthier alternatives. And as long as I stick to my portion control, I should be fine in this area.
Finally, I need to remember to keep this all in perspective. Yes, I've put on a bit of the weight I'd lost, and I'm still not happy with how I look physically (are any of us ever?). However, I'm still in really good shape. I'm healthy, my vitals are all where they should be, and I feel great. I can run miles and miles easily. I have a much better understanding of my body and how to take care of it than I ever did in years past. And finally, I've done so much of the hard work already that, while challenging, doing the remainder to reach my goal is possible and should be pretty fun. I realize that I am who I am and I'll never be anyone's idea of a handsome guy or have an "ideal" body; I've just got to do the best I can and be happy with it. And that's as much a part of my end goal with this as is reaching my final weight.