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.