A Tale of Two Graphs

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 in Thoughts | 3 comments

Now that I’m taking a second crack at this weight loss / blogging thing I’ve been giving some thought to what (if anything) my previous failures have taught me. I’m not talking about motivational stuff like “getting up is the hardest part,” but actual, quantifiable things I can potentially use or change to get better results this time around.

Check out the chart of my weight over a 9 month time span from January 2010 to September 2010.weight-graph

During that time, I was still regularly updating the site (obviously) but reviewing my food diaries from that time period, I wasn’t eating so well. I’d vacillate between ‘trying harder’ and slipping up, but mostly I was kidding myself as to what constituted healthy and what didn’t – and it shows. My daily weigh-in’s are all over the place. However, even in all that turmoil, my actual trend line ends up pretty consistent – my trend weight varied no more than a total of 8 pounds from peak to valley.

Now, check out the chart as it adjusts the trend to account for 2011 when I wasn’t regularly tracking my weight.weight-chart

Notice that in April my weight stabilizes a bit, and then again at the end of June, but every time I go for a stretch of time without monitoring my weight, it shoots up. I wasn’t actively trying to lose weight in April and June, I was just trying to get a baseline for where I was so I could start losing weight (an insanely stupid concept, but that’s not the topic here), yet both times simply monitoring my weight halted my weight gain.

Over the course of 9 months, at least half of which I was eating poorly and felt like I was utterly failing, I gained a grand total of 2 pounds. The following 6 months I gained over 20. It doesn’t get more clear cut than that – Being aware of what I weigh from day to day is the difference between a stable weight and a rising one.

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Back in The High Life Again

Posted on Apr 8, 2012 in Thoughts | 0 comments

If you haven’t been watching my progress page for the past couple of weeks (and I mean, honestly, why wouldn’t you be) you may not have noticed that I’ve been updating my weight again. More importantly, the weights I’ve been entering are moving in the right direction – in fact I’ve lost 8.6 pounds in the last 4 weeks.

I started updating my weight without so much as a peep here because the idea of posting here after so long was difficult. I think revisiting anything we consider to be a previous failure is always hard and, ultimately, that’s what I felt like this site had become. In retrospect, it seems destined to have become what it was – emotionally I was in a terrible place when I first built the site (as is pretty clear by the faux bravado in some of my writing at the time). It was as much a cry out for help as it was anything else.

Despite initial success, it eventually became clear to me (with the help of insightful discussions with both my sister and my girlfriend) that the deeper issues I was struggling with couldn’t be beaten just by dropping weight. While that was an important revelation, it also left me a little lost – both with where to go next, and what to do with the site. Around that time, on more than one occasion I posted about my intention to expand the site to be more about enriching my life, as opposed to just weight loss. Those changes never surfaced. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight I can see now that I was still far too tied into the idea not letting the site become the failure I already felt like it was to possibly be able to make that happen at the time. Eventually I stopped updating the site entirely, sheepishly shrugging off comments by the few people who cared enough to ask me about it directly and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sort of.

While I stopped focusing directly on losing weight (with predictable results) I didn’t stop trying to enrich my life. The last two years have seen a litany of small changes I’ve made to my lifestyle which, individually, are barely worth noting – from reading books I normally might not have, to investing in a few new pieces of clothing, to spending 5 minutes a day in the sun with no other motive – the cumulative effect of which has been rather significant. Perhaps most importantly (at least in the context of this post) is that the sum of all those acts has resulted in me wanting to come back to this site, both to learn from my previous mistakes and to make it better than it ever could have been in earlier attempts.

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The Cure For Insomnia

Posted on Jan 3, 2012 in Thoughts | 3 comments

I have a real bad relationship with sleep. In general, I’ve found that I have some sort of ridiculous ego trip that causes me to resent things that are forced upon me. I’m pretty certain that resentment is one of the foundations many of my problems are built upon, such as food (I have to eat), sleep (I have to rest), and timeliness (life tends to demand you are certain places at certain times). It’s clearly a ridiculous problem (and certainly not the only thing contributing to those issues) but it’s definitely a part of who I am. However, my issues with sleep go well beyond that – and I’m not the only one.

Insomnia seems to haunt the members of my family like some sort of familial ghost. When I was young, my grandmother told me our ancestors must have been from a different planet where the day and the night were opposite of those on Earth. I’m pretty sure she was sincere, which confused the hell out of me – even as a little kid I was fairly certain the universe didn’t work that way. The fact that she was suggesting we were from another planet, however, didn’t phase me at all.

Whether it’s my father, who I suspect has the same resentment issues I have, my mother, who certainly doesn’t, my brother, my grandmother, even my sister, who’s about as normal as my kind come – all of us regularly face the spectre of a long night awake and alone. Though I’ve often wondered what it is we all have in common (other than our alien DNA of course) that might be the underlying cause of our shared sleep deprivation, I’ve never really come to a good answer. At least, not until recently.

My brother is friends with a Shaman who oversees Ayahuasca ceremonies up in Humboldt, that he often turns to for advice. In a recent conversation, I asked my brother if he’d ever asked his friend about his trouble sleeping and if he’d had any suggestions. He had, and the Shaman’s answer had been (something to this effect):

The cure for insomnia is to go to bed proud of the day you’ve just lived

As I lay here tonight, unable to sleep, I’ve been asking myself – Could I have accomplished more today? Could I have utilized my time better? But I think those are the wrong questions. In fact, I think those questions are the root of my problem, as those same questions have sort of been the unspoken dialogue to my thoughts many a sleepless night. Always fretting about what wasn’t accomplished. Always replaying mistakes in my head.

Until recently, I don’t think I’d have ever thought self-image could be at the root of my insomnia, but now that I’m considering it, it seems plausible. I was productive today. I ate well, I worked, I went out and watched a movie with my family. By nearly any objective measure you could come up with, my day was a success. So the question I should be asking is – Why can’t I be proud with what I’ve done today?

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Broken Scale?

Posted on Jun 28, 2011 in Thoughts | 2 comments

Either my weight has been been ridiculously stable the last few days, or my scale is not functioning properly. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Regardless, I’ve found it’s annoying to weigh yourself every day and not see the scale moving down – though my eating has not been on point, so I don’t know why I would expect that to happen.

The easy way to stop being annoyed by it would be to stop weighing in, the correct way would be to give the scale a reason to move in the direction I want. It’s interesting how a choice like that, when laid out clearly isn’t really a choice. Rationally, the correct answer is obviously to eat better and lose weight, it’s getting yourself to emotionally come to that same conclusion which is difficult.

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I Don’t Believe in Jinxes

Posted on Jun 22, 2011 in Thoughts | 1 comment

It does seem as if every time I write about how I have plans to do more around here, I immediately stop posting. Not sure what that says about me, but I know it’s accurate. In fact, if that doesn’t encapsulate who I am, perhaps nothing does.

Shortly after my last post I went on a family vacation to go see my brother Johnny’s senior performance as a percussion major in college. He was awesome – absolutely incredible. I am so proud of him, there weren’t (and still aren’t) words to really describe it.

Now, like most recent college graduates, Johnny is doing which of the following?

a) Coming back home and trying to find work to settle into a more permanent life.
b) He’s moving to Ghana for year to further study percussion and further expand his knowledge and experience.

If you answered a, you probably would benefit from b. (Good luck Johnny!)

Upon returning from vacation I found I’d gained about 5 pounds putting me at right about 309. Since that time I’ve been watching my weigh-ins (though neglecting to input them here) and simply been hovering right around that mark. While I don’t have a problem with gaining 5 pounds over a vacation – I definitely have a problem when I sit in limbo for the two months that follow it.

There are plenty of reasons (okay, most are excuses) for why I haven’t jumped right back into my efforts at a healthier lifestyle, but I’m not sure listing them matters. Suffice it to say I am back, yet again, and this time, I think, for good (more on that to come in a separate post.

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Shifting Focus

Posted on Apr 15, 2011 in Thoughts | 3 comments

It’s been a while since I posted much, and a lot has been happening in my life recently. I won’t bore you with all the details but, in short, I have problems – beyond pacifism. I’d given a lot of lip service to the idea that my losing weight was part of a bigger change in my life, but for the most part I wasn’t addressing what I consider other weak points or sources of stress. I immaturely thought those things would distract me from my weight loss goals, and I’d take care of them ‘next’.

After my most recent stumble Esther pointed out something I’d never considered when she said “You thought losing weight would solve all of your problems. When it didn’t, you quit.” I was either unaware (or more likely, didn’t want to be aware) of the fact I’d made a choice to stop putting effort into my health. I told myself it was too difficult with ‘all these other things’ going on, but really it was really much more of an ‘all these things’ didn’t go away.

With that in mind, I find that my original inclination to expand the focus of this site to general improvement of my life, rather than just weight loss, is probably the best answer. Weight loss & better health are still one of my primary life goals so they’re not going anywhere, I’ll just be posting more about different topics I’m interested in – particularly those that involve bettering or organizing my life, finances, etc.

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I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

- Douglas Adams