Losing Weight

This is a slight departure from my normal choice of topics, I’ll admit.

Last year I decided that I wasn’t happy about my weight. I’d been slowly gaining weight for the last few years, as a fairly predictable consequence of a sedentary lifestyle and liking for food. I topped out at 240 pounds, which left me rather… chunky. Realising that I hadn’t seen a picture of myself I felt happy about for some time wasn’t fun.

Despite all the social features built into the apps I’ve been using, and my relatively active twitter use, I believe this is the first time I’ve mentioned anything about this to other people online. So now you know!

In September I started out by counting calories, using Lose It!. I tried a few such apps, but that was the one that felt like the best fit for me, giving me easy data entry and a convenient “given your height/weight, eat X calories to lose Y lbs per week” which updated itself as I updated my weight.

Why counting calories? I like data, and I like how tracking data tricks you into changing your behavior. The simple act of having to write down everything I ate made me conscious of where my calorie intake was coming from, and I thus made changes in my diet to avoid having to write down something horrible.

Note that I didn’t really start eating better… my diet is almost exactly what it was before, I’m just eating less of it. I particularly didn’t try following any sort of fad diet (low carb, shangri-la, paleo, whatever).

This worked out quite well. After one month I’d lost 13 pounds, which was encouraging. So at the start of October I joined a gym with my wife, who talked me into it because she wanted some company while she worked out.

I mostly used the gym for running, with minor amounts of weights. For my whole life I’ve been someone who couldn’t run for more than a minute or two, even at times when I’ve otherwise been relatively fit. But again an app helped me out; in this case the couch to 5k app. It managed to provide a sequence of running workouts that took me from running 90 seconds at a time to running for a solid half-hour.

This probably doesn’t sound like a lot to many of you, but I find it incredibly weird to know that I can run for a half hour at a stretch. That is seriously at odds with my self-image. In a good sort of way, admittedly.

How has it gone since then?

Graph of weight loss from September 2011 to January 2012

Pretty well! December held steady because I spent almost the entire month out of town, eating more at holiday parties, with very few opportunities to exercise. But that plateau has ended now I’m home again, which is encouraging.

As you might note from that graph, I set myself a fairly arbitrary goal of 200 pounds, on the theory that after I lost 40 pounds I would stop and evaluate myself and see how I wanted to proceed from there. I’m getting quite close to that now, and I’m happier about how I look, but have pretty much decided to set another goal of 180 pounds and then again stop to see how I feel. Given how it’s gone so far I’m optimistic that I’ll get there before too long. 😀

It turns out that the secret to losing weight is diet and exercise. Who knew, right?