Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back on the Wagon

When I graduated high school, I weighed 150 pounds. It was pretty much all metabolism, as I didn't necessarily eat the healthiest. Portions weren't huge, so maybe that helped.

By the time I graduated college, I weighed 185 pounds. There were many late-night runs to Burger King. There were also many meals obtained from the pasta bar, because 1) it was really freaking good, and 2) the stuff on the line usually looked so unappetizing to the point of making me angry. My tuition was paying for this nasty crap?


After a while in college, I realized how unhealthy my diet had become, so I tried to take steps to rectify it. Walking around campus to classes and other activities was a plus, but I knew that I needed to do more. I tried working in more salads, and I began exercising during my senior year: first semester at the new fitness center twice a week, second semester in my on-campus house with standard push-ups and sit-ups. I still didn't cut out Burger King, and still gravitated toward the pasta bar a lot.
To my shame, I think that part of the problem was that I'd rationalize that, since I'd worked out that day, I could then have fattening food. At best, of course, these things would just cancel each other out.

The summer between college and seminary, I was a camp counselor. The combination of the summer sun and walking all day caused me to lose 10 pounds. By the time I got to Eden, I weighed a nice lean 175.

Then I blew up in seminary. More late night runs (and regular meals!) to fast food...I actually would guess that during my first two years of seminary I probably ate McDonald's 3-5 times a week. Admittedly, some of this was "emotional eating:" it took me a while to adapt to my new digs. This was complemented by a lot of sedentary time reading books and writing papers. I had a couple false-start attempts to establish an exercise routine, but these petered out within a week or two.

Entering my final year of seminary, I weighed almost 210 pounds. I hated how I looked and how I felt. I had another couple false-start exercise attempts my first semester with plenty of fast food.

My final semester, I decided to get serious. I flat out cut myself off from fast food, I cut way back on soda and alcohol, and I went to the gym 3-4 times a week.

Guess what started to happen.

I saw myself backing down toward 200, then toward 190. In fact, I decided to make it my goal to weigh 190 by the time I graduated. After a while, it was nothing to spend 30-45 minutes doing cardio. After a month or two, the sight--even the thought--of a McDonald's cheeseburger made me nauseated. I easily met my goal by the time I was handed my diploma. I had lost 20 pounds by not half-assing it any more.

To cut down on the story, I started to stray after a while. A new ministry position and a move upset my routine. I tried taking regular walks around the cemetery and we even bought an elliptical machine, but I couldn't get anything established. Still, it had become apparent that 190 had become my new "plateau weight."

A little over 2 years ago, Coffeewife and I embarked on the South Beach Diet. Between the diet and finally making good use of the elliptical machine, I got myself back down to 175. But through various compromises since then, I gained it all back.

The reason that I'm writing all this out is because in recent months I've started to creep back up toward 200, and just the thought of it makes me angry at myself. So over the past week I've been climbing back on the exercise machine, and have cut out crap food. The best part about it, I think, has been that I feel the same determination that I felt back during that final semester of seminary. I'm taking this in 5-pound increments: first 190, then 185, and if I'm ambitious enough, all the way back down to 175. But I'm not getting ahead of myself.

I suppose that all of this is to tell you two things: 1) it can be done, and 2) I want to do it. It seems to me that this has become all the more important with a new baby around, because dealing with him has involved plenty of sitting around and plenty of quickie, unhealthy meals.

So far I'm back down to 194 from 198 after a week and a half of this renewed ambition. I've already noticed steady improvement in how much I can push myself on the elliptical machine. Eating well has come fairly easily as well: we just don't buy a lot of the crappy stuff.

I hope that I can stick with this. So far, it's working.


Anonymous said...

I have been where you are, and I'm proud of you.
A lot of our changes also came from not buying bad food (carbs, junk)
I buy those things occasionally, but I mostly cut them out. I make a pot of brown rice, throw in a serving or two of lean meat (chicken, turkey), steam some edamame and that's lunch the whole week. I work out twice a week at our company's gym, (I take classes because I"m not very self motivated, I need a coach), and so far I've lost more inches than most anything else (I did lose five pounds, but that's secondary to better cardio health and eating right).
I have always said that for myself, I don't worry so much about losing weight or losing fat (although those are natural by products of regular exercise) as I do about making sure every pound and muscle I carry is under my own control. If I have to run, I want to be able to. If I have to take a hit, I want to heal faster. If I have to take a fall, I want not to break anything if I can avoid it.
Karate helps with that part. :)

But good work for you! Keep it up!

Ryan Kemp-Pappan said...

I am with you. I entered seminary at 220. I reached my peak at 315 and am now down to 280. I joined Weight Watchers and a gym. I have made it part of my spiritual discipline.
Blessings on your endeavor to reduce. I will pray with you on your journey.

Anonymous said...

This seems to be a reoccuring theme. I graduated seminary last week and while there I gaind about 35 pounds. I needed to loose weight when I started, so now I am trying to get serious about losng and keeping it off.

Anonymous said...

I went from 153 my senior year of high school (on a 6'1" frame) to 180 my super senior year of college. I attribute it to not running in two sports and maintaining a diet that would have allowed me to do so. I know for a fact that I don't eat enough veggies. I think that's this summer's project: justify the computer game by not turning into a couch potato.

Thoughts From Jeff said...

You can do it. As you probably know, I just finished y journey on the weight aspect.

Well, the journey to the weight that I needed/wanted. Now, it is maintaining.

I feel so much better now that the 50 pounds are off.