Losing 20 pounds: Six things that have happened

I've lost 20 pounds. Here's what I've noticed about myself ...

As of my last weigh in (which I do every day with Noom) I dipped below 260 pounds for the first time in years. Since I started my (latest) weight loss journey at over 280 pounds, that means I've shed over 20 pounds.

Here are six things that have happened since losing 20 pounds:

I snore less

I have to take my wife's word for it, of course, but she says that I'm snoring less than I used to.

It used to be that I would drive her out of the bedroom with my snoring. She would go downstairs on the living room couch — and she could still hear me upstairs. Not good!

Not snoring as badly is a virtuous cycle. Better sleep encourages better weight loss, which encourages even better sleep, and so forth.

I don't hurt as much

I still get sore if I walk around a lot or stand around a lot, but going up and down stairs is noticeably easier. My back, feet, and knees can take my movements more in stride.

This is another virtuous cycle. Hurting less means that I can move more, which improves my health and encourages more weight loss.

My cheeks have more definition

This was actually the first thing my wife noticed. It happened maybe at about 10 pounds off.

When I was up at 280+ pounds, my face was really round. It looked like Captain B. McCrea's face from WALL-E.

After losing 20 pounds, though, I'm getting definition in my cheekbones. It's the first outward hint that I'm actually losing weight.

My clothes fit better

I currently wear 40-30 jeans. At the start of my weight loss program, those jeans were almost too small. Getting those jeans buttoned after they had just been washed and dried was … an adventure.

I resisted getting 42-30 jeans, but it wouldn't have been long before I had no choice.

I'm not down to 38-30 jeans yet, but it's no longer a chore to button my 40s.

Additionally, some of my T-shirts were getting way too tight around the stomach. I had started buying 3XL tees and those fit all right, but the 2XLs were more sausage casings than clothes. The 2XLs are fitting a bit better now.

Eventually, getting down to XL size would be great, because the larger sizes cost more money.

Hugs are easier

My wife and I are both “physical touch” people so we hug each other a lot (among other things).

At 280+, she could still wrap her arms around me, but she could only hook her index fingers behind my back. It tickled her when she could interlock all of her fingers.

It's not painful to look in a mirror anymore

My daughter is fifteen and an athlete. She's drawn to mirrors like flies are drawn to cow pies.

Prior to starting my weight loss program with Noom, looking in the mirror was something I avoided most of the time. I could brush things off most of the time, but seeing myself heavier than I'd ever been in my life was painful.

Though I still have a long way to go, I'm headed in the right direction, and that's good to see.

Is weight loss easy?

Is weight loss easy?

I've been using Noom for two weeks now.

I'm down about nine pounds, which is good.

Down anything is good, but nine pounds in the first two weeks is a lot, and it's not sustainable.

(I understand that this rate isn't sustainable. But it is part of the initial boost that I'll talk about later.)

The weight-loss question I shouldn't have asked

Last night, I posed a question to my wife:

“Shouldn't it be harder than this?”

(Which, of course, virtually guarantees that it will be harder now, haha.)

I guess I asked the question because it hasn't been nearly as difficult to cut out as many calories as I have.

I'm probably eating about half the number of calories that I was pre-Noom. (A single giant Jersey Mike's sub is about 1700 calories. That's my total daily intake now. And yes, I could easily eat the whole sub.)

But come evening, after I've recorded everything, I usually still have some calories to spare, and I'm not overly hungry.

Why might weight loss be easy at the start?

One reason is that the effort is novel. These things are new:

  • The app is new. It's a new thing to play with, and has a lot of easily-digestible content (pardon the pun), lots of numbers and stats, streaks, etc.
  • The diet is new. Even though it's a lot fewer calories, it's still new, and that's been keeping me going.
  • The routine is new. There's food preparation, new recipes to make, exercises, conversations, and other things.

Another reason is the initial “jump” down that comes from reducing the amount of high-calorie-density foods. There's simply not as much food mass in the pipeline after a couple of days.

All of this adds up to one statement:

I'm in the honeymoon period of this program.

And just like a real honeymoon, it's going to end at some point. What follows is what Noom calls “The Plummet.”

And then … “The Lapse.” Uh-oh.

It's easy now, but …

… it won't be easy forever.

And if I know that I'm going to plummet from this honeymoon stage, and lapse, then I can choose either to push through, or give up.

I don't want there “always to be an excuse” this time.

I'll go over my calorie budget. I'll miss getting my steps in. I'll eat the wrong foods.

It's always tempting to give up when the struggles come. And I've succumbed to that temptation every other time.

Knowing that I'm going to struggle at some point is half the battle. The other half is using the self-awareness and other psychological “helps” to get me back on track.

So I'll enjoy things while they're easy, and prepare for when they're not.

Celery is my friend

As I'm starting up a weight loss journey (again) I had had a false understanding of how my body would handle a lot of vegetables.

I've had GI tract issues in the past, and though it's under control now, I had attributed the occasional bouts of “angry gut” (a euphemism for explosive diarrhea) to consuming even a modest amount of salad. It's hard to tell, really, what the true cause for it was, but it was a convenient excuse.

And that made me leery when the Noom app started resetting my diet to include a lot of “green foods.” (A green food, in Noom parlance, means a food that is low in calorie density. These foods fill you up without blowing your calorie budget. By coincidence, a lot of green foods are green in color.)

I can eat celery! Yay!

One food that I thought would have been especially troublesome gut-wise was celery.

I'm glad that this didn't turn out to be the case. It actually hasn't turned out to be the case for most of the fruits and vegetables I've consumed this past week. And I consumed (for me) a lot of them.

What's great about celery in particular, for me, is the following:

  • It agrees with me. That was a revelation to me this week. It sucks when you like a particular food but it doesn't like you back, and I'm glad this isn't the case.
  • The taste is fine. Any new tastes may take some getting used to. But this is something that I can eat plain, without drowning it in dip or something else caloric like that.
  • A whole stalk is a mere eight calories. (See here.) I can eat a full handful of the stuff, feel unusually full afterward, and barely dent my calorie budget for the day. I ate three stalks this afternoon as part of my snack.
  • It's super-crunchy. On this front, celery is very satisfying to eat. Everyone in earshot knows you're eating it, and it has a snap to it that makes you feel like you're accomplishing something good with each bite.

Changing habits takes time

Learning to reach for vegetables and fruits instead of high-density foods is one of the habits that I'm learning.

Noom promised me that my enthusiasm for making these new habits will ebb and flow. I'm in the “honeymoon” period for using the service. Everything's new and exciting, I'm seeing results, and I'm pumped up.

But just like real honeymoons, the excitement doesn't last forever. To push through the dips and get past the valleys, I'll need different kinds of refocusing to keep going. My family is supportive of this, so that helps a lot.

But, like Noom keeps reminding me: “You gotta believe it will work.”

Let’s try this weight loss thing again. I’m running out of chances.

I'm still fat

I looked back to the first post on this blog, which is now exactly twelve years ago.

I've gained 45 pounds since then. About four pounds per year, up.

I'm now 48 and weigh 286 pounds. At five-six, that's awfully fat.

I have my past three driver's licenses: 2000, 2012, and 2020. The progression looks a lot like the captains of the Axiom in WALL-E: fatter and fatter as time progresses.

It's now substantially harder for me to get up and down the stairs. I'm nervous as I go up and down the ladder to the above-ground swimming pool we just installed. It took me about a half-hour to figure out how to get out safely the first time.

I lack the energy to get all of the things I want to accomplish done. That's frustrating.

I've started and stopped exercising at least a dozen times in the past 12 years. As one of the guys who used to go to our church (he's now dead) said, “There's always an excuse.” I didn't overcome the excuses in time for him to actually see it, and that pisses me off a bit.

(He's right, of course, until I figure out a way past the excuses.)

Weight loss and habits

I started using Noom today. A friend of ours said that it worked for her.

I'm only through the introduction part of it but it seems to focus a lot on building habits to change people's relationships with food and activity.

I'm hoping that this program will hold my hand enough and working with my psychology enough to nudge my habits in the right direction.

I've read enough on habits and their power that it makes sense to go about it this way.

The piece I like about it so far is that there are no bad foods, but there are better foods (particularly ones with low caloric density).

Anyway … this is my latest try. And like the app says, I need to believe it will work:

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't — you're right.

Henry Ford

So here's to one more shot

I'll talk here regularly how things go. You'll see whether I overcome the excuses and get in shape. I could end up in good health, or like the gluttony victim in Se7en.

Feel free to play along.