Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mr. Puddin' Belly

When I was a young kid, it seemed like everyone made fun of me for being skinny. At the time, it was a horrible insult that set my blood a-boilin'. I can't remember why that bothered me, but somehow it gnawed at me and got under my skin. As I got a bit older, I filled out. All the way through graduate school and my postdoctoral appointment, I was very active and burned a lot of calories that kept my horizontal growth reasonably in check. Over the intervening years I gained a bit of weight, but I remained within 10 or 15 lbs of my weight when I was in my 20s. For the past couple of years I have had some major issues with my knees that simply did not allow me to exercise. Here the mind was willing but my body would have none of that kind of shenanigans. If I did more than eat cheesy poofs on the couch, my body would complain for days. I lived like this for the past couple of years. You can guess what followed. The slow, steady, and incessant increase in girth.

I had no idea what to do. The doctors advised me to wear knee braces to help control the movements of my knees and to stabilize me, but my knees continued to get worse. By the middle of summer last year, I got so sick of those clunky things, that I stopped wearing them. At this point the incessant swelling and pain in my knees subsided. I started to exercise a bit on my elliptical machine. At first, just once a week for 5 minutes. Then, I increased the frequency of my workouts and then the duration. I noticed after the first couple of weeks that my knees did not hurt more when I exercised. At the start of July 2008 my weight was about 210 lbs. My goal was to work to get below 200 lbs. However, over the next several months, I found a disturbing correlation. The more I exercised, the more weight that I gained. My calorie intake had not increased, in fact, I was reducing everywhere I could. I was not building muscle mass, I was doing aerobic exercise.

The good thing is that I was determined not to give up. My friend Heidi recommended the South Beach diet to me (my doctor did to, but somehow I only thought seriously about it when Heidi mentioned it). This was at Thanksgiving. Coincidentally (or not) this is when my weight loss curve finally started moving in my favor. The problem is that I was up to 219 lbs. Now almost two months later, I finally have stood on the scale and read less than 200 lbs (198.0 lbs baby!). I still have five more pounds to go, but it's now no longer a question of "if", it is a question of "when". So, those of you out there struggling along with weight issues, know this, it can be done. You cannot give up and quit if things don't go your way. You will have to work at it, and probably have to work hard. There will be sacrifice and adjustments in your life style will have to be made. Another important reminder, you did not gain the weight overnight, don't expect to lose it overnight! Good luck.

The plot on the left shows my weight vs. day and the right plot shows the calories burned in my workouts vs. day.