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Monday, May 30, 2016

Beginning Again

Forgetting those things which are Behind

I'm starting completely over. Those who have read this blog in the past will see that all except for one post has been removed.  The record of my weight loss and exercise challenges has been removed.  The reason for that is that my weight has reached a new high, and as I thought back over my past efforts its occurred to me that none of it matters. I am where I am right now and right now is where I need to start from.

The only way that the past weight loss efforts are relevant at all is in how it has affected my metabolism.  I am fairly certain my metabolic rate has been slowed, the recent studies done on the former Biggest Loser contestants provide undeniable evidence to what many have said all along, that people who have been severely overweight and have lost weight are not only fighting their habits, their bodies are actually working against them.  If they eat the exact same amount, and do the exact same amount of exercise as another person who is their exact size but has never been overweight before, the formerly obese person will gain while the the never obese person will maintain.  In order to maintain the formerly obese person has to eat LESS than the person who has never been obese.

So its not just habit, its not just a stretched out stomach that makes the person hungry for more, its not just a lack of self control, its not just that the person already has extra fat cells that are simply sitting there like empty containers waiting to be easily filled.  Its all of these things, but its also that their calorie burning "machine" is broken.  When all else is equal, size, muscle mass, gender, activity level and calorie intake are all the same, the formerly obese individual will still gain while the never obese person will not, because they are burning fewer calories not matter what they do.  For the Biggest Loser contestants they are on average burning 500 calories less than they would have if they had never needed to lose weight.  That means that in order to stay exactly the same weight, they have to do what another person would do in order to lose one pound a week.

Now, I don't think that everyone who has dieted is as bad off as the Biggest Loser contestants, I mean, they took a very extreme route to weight loss, and therefore probably damaged their metabolisms far worse than the average dieter.  But still, chances are that a person who has been obese will find themselves burning fewer calories than the average person if they ever manage to achieve a normal weight.

Pressing on Ahead

Being aware of these difficulties is simply taking stock of where I am now, so I can decide how to proceed from here. One thing I do know is that any past effort at losing weight quickly has backfired.  It hasn't worked.  If it has I wouldn't be writing this post the day after weighing it at 287.5 pounds, 3 1/2 pounds heavier than my old "highest weight".  I don't know how much damage has been done to my metabolism, or if it is realistic to hope that I'll ever get down to my "ideal weight".  What I do know is that I can't do nothing.  Doing nothing results in me approaching the 300 pound mark faster and faster.

So I have to press on and move forward.

A NEW approach

I've decided on a new approach. A slower approach, an approach that aims to protect whatever is left of my metabolism as much as possible.  The new approach won't be focused as much by the number on the scale as on getting healthier and being active.

Right now I am starting to once again experience some of the physical problems that prompted me, years ago, to start trying to lose weight.  My feet hurt a lot.  I get out of breath too easily.  Sometimes I have trouble breathing at night if I'm not in the correct position.  Sometimes I have chest pain.  I am retaining water.  All of this is still not as bad as it was when I first started trying to lose weight years ago, but it is bad enough.  So my new approach is aimed at a new goal.

The New Goal

The new goal isn't so much a specific number on the scale.  Yes, I do have a number in mind that will help inform my actions, but whether I actually get to that number isn't the point.  The goal is to reach a place where I can be comfortable, can do the things I want to do without my weight hindering me, and can maintain with the focus of my entire life being diet and exercise.

See, one thing I do know from past efforts is that I reached a point where, in order to continue progressing, I had to pretty much be obsessed, exercising 2+ hours a day, six or seven days a week, and meticulously weighing and measuring every single thing that passed my lips.  That works short term, but who wants to do that for the rest of their life?

What I need now is a plan to lose some weight and improve my health, a plan to get to a weight that gets rid of the foot pain, shortness of breath, and other problems, but that is realistic considering my age, metabolism, and life in general.  Something that is realistic to look at continuing for the rest of my life, not just until I've reached a certain number on the scale.

The road map to a healthier me.

So the plan, the road map if you will, for now is this.

I am going to set a calorie level that takes into account my current BMR and the weight I ultimately would like to maintain at.

According to this online calculator, someone of my current age, gender, height, and weight has a Basal Metabolic Rate of 1951 calories per day.  That means, according to this calculator, I need about that many calories to maintain this weight even if all I do is sleep all day.  Well, as I said before my metabolism may not be functioning as well as it should, so that number may be off, but for now it is what I have to go off of.  The same calculator also tells me that if I'm lightly active and want to lose one pound a week, I would require 2,182 calories a day.

Now, if I could honestly pick a weight I want to maintain at for the rest of my life, I would pick around 150 pounds, I also feel that I can realistically plan to be lightly to moderately active long term.  I mean yes, I could probably make myself be very active if I forced myself, but I don't know if I realistically could continue forcing myself for the rest of my life.  So, since I am looking at what I could feasibly maintain long term, I think a light to moderate activity level is realistic.  According to that same online calculator, someone my age, gender, and height who weights 150 pounds and is lightly active would need to eat 1,825 to maintain that 150 pounds.

So, I am trying to protect my metabolism first and foremost, and to do that I should not eat less than my current BMR of 1951.  My ultimate goal weight would have a maintenance calorie level of  about 1825.  So for now I am going to set my calorie goal 1951, but as my weight lowers, so will my BMR.  I will weigh myself weekly and adjust my calorie goal to match my BMR, until I get to the point where I am eating 1825 calories a day, and at that level I will stay.

In other words, I am working towards getting on my goal weight's maintenance level of calories without ever eating less than my BMR, and once I get to that goal weight's maintenance level of calories, regardless of what the number on the scale is, I will set my calories at that level.

I may slowly get down to that goal weight, or I might plateau and not lose more 20, 30, or even 40 pounds above that goal, but either way I'll be healthier, and will be eating at a calorie level that I can continue from that point on.  Now, if I plateau for a long time but still haven't gotten under 200 pounds, I might adjust the calorie level a little, or the activity level a little, but only if I've plateaued for longer than six months.

I figure if I am eating what the average person my age, gender, and height needs to maintain 150 pounds, that even if my metabolism is slower I should be able to, over time, reach somewhere under 200 and stay there. It may take a long time, because I won't be having a huge calorie deficit, (the difference between maintaining 200 pounds and maintaining 150 pounds is only 312 calories each day) I may lose as little as pound a month when I get closer to the goal, that is okay, as long as progress is being made, only if absolutely NO progress is made for 6 months straight will I lower the calorie level further than the 1825 per day.

That doesn't mean I'll force myself to eat more though, I can have less if I'm not hungry, but I won't lower my maximum limit I'm allowed unless I have very clear evidence that my metabolism needs less.

Okay, enough rambling... that's my plan I am going to move forward on.

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