Dieting, and unusual dieting

I don’t know how much I’ve mentioned about it here in the last couple of years, but my wife and I have been working on improving our health. When we got married we were both somewhat overweight (obese, by BMI), and in January 2010 we started making an effort to do something about it. We started with little stuff, using our Wii Fit more, going for walks, and around April 2010 we started using the app to track everything we ate & all our exercise. The app, once you get used to it, makes tracking and controlling your behavior pretty easy – I’ve had similar success in the past with keeping a written log of everything I ate, but doing it digitally is much smoother and allows for easier planning & adjustments. We set our goals at a reasonable 2 pounds loss per week, with the understanding that we wouldn’t hit that goal every week and even if we did it would take a long time. I won’t detail everything, but gradually, over the next year or so, we each lost about 50 pounds. Just by eating a little less and moving a little more. I went down from the scary-enough-to-provoke-action 250 to about 200, and from about 25% body fat down to about 18%, by April 2011. (I also went down about four inches in the waist.)

By summer of last year we’d both plateaued, and by December 2011, largely due to depression, I was rapidly re-gaining weight. When I hit 210, I started a crash diet (which overlapped Christmas, unfortunately), and got back under 200 within a couple of weeks, and I’ve been struggling again with the last of my stubborn belly fat since then. Normal “eat less, move more” wasn’t quite cutting it (or I wasn’t really moving enough), and when I saw some science backing up an unusual sort of diet I’d thought about before, I figured what they hey, let’s try it … Actually, I just showed it to Mandy on a lark, not intending to try it, but she suggested trying it … And the week of March 26th we started doing a version of an alternate-day-fasting diet.

There are a few ideas about this sort of diet, ranging from full-on fasting every other day to eating 20%-50% of your “maintain” level of calories on the alternate days, and from normal to 150% (or just “whatever you want”) on the non-fasting days. Different people swear it has different effects, ranging from “helping get rid of that last 15 pounds” to curing asthma & allergies, and possibly to postponing the onset of diabetes or MS. Who knows? The science isn’t in, yet. Give it a few more years/decades. Since we were still trying to get rid of the last of our excess fat (I was still at/above 18% body fat) we decided to aim for a reasonable 50% on “fast” days, and 100% on “high” days – this keeps us losing weight, but confuses our bodies. (We also re-started our attempts to complete the 100 pushups and 200 situps challenges (we didn’t succeed on our first six-week attempt) three weeks ago.) In five weeks I’m down 10 pounds to 190, and down 2-3% body fat, as well. (Plus another inch at the waist; it’s a bit frustrating to be between pant sizes, but I just ordered a new pair of suspenders to hold them up, at least until I lose another inch and buy some new pants.) Mandy, unfortunately, has not been having as dramatic a success… but she’s sticking with it.

It’s been interesting. With alternating days being so low-calorie, the days we eat at our “maintain” calories are like cheating days, or feast days. If I’m having trouble sticking to the low-calorie limits, I usually only have to remind myself that the next day I’ll be able to splurge, eat what I want, and then I can more easily control myself. I can definitely say that having the relatively-high-calorie days (versus most of the last two years, where I’ve been eating little every day, first to lose the first fifty pounds, and then unsuccessfully to try to lose this last 15 pounds) have been very liberating. Also helpful since I’m still frequently overcome in difficult situations with an urge to emotionally overeat – the trick now is to control the urge, if possible, on low days, and keep it near my maintain calorie level on high days (which feels like plenty of leeway after years of running 1,000 calories lower than that every day).

I’m still a bit away from even my initial goal (technically, my BMI is still a bit into the overweight, and my body fat percentage is a few points higher than I’d like) though I hope after another few months of this unusual diet I’ll be there. I also hope I’ll be able to do 100 pushups at some point; progress on that isn’t going well, though it is going, a bit. Getting back to a point where I can do a lot of situps would be good, too – I’d love to actually have some abs worth looking at, once this obscuring fat is worked away. Not that my abs would be visible in it, but I’ve been putting off getting a new author portrait (née headshot) taken (or having my wedding ring resized) until I reach my weight goal; I’m most of the way there, and look very different from the photo I’ve been using most places, but there’s something psychological about actually reaching the goal… if you’ve been wondering why I don’t look like my photo, this is why.

So, that’s a sort of a general update on what’s been going on with my dieting. Mostly success, mostly by eating less and moving more. I didn’t mention that it also involves eating generally whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, with most meals cooked from scratch – because that is for another post (or series of posts), and predates any attempts as weight loss, since eating real food is awesome, anyway.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.

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