Taking Control

A year ago next month I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. If left untreated I was looking at the possibility of a liver transplant in the next few years. I was morbidly obese and racked with inflammation. My back, legs, and feet hurt all the time. The skin on my legs was discolored and my neck and shoulders had broken out in dozens of skin tags and dark moles. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was a metabolic disaster. And my liver was screaming at me since I wasn’t listening to the rest of my body.

My primary care practitioner offered me a pamphlet for a bariatric surgeon. It seemed that she thought surgery was my only hope.

I had found my rock bottom. I was determined to do it without surgery. I decided to turn it around.

I had my annual summer checkup this morning.

Every one of my metabolic markers (liver, kidneys, cholesterol, glucose) is within the normal range for the first time in probably more than 15 years.

No more blood pressure meds, I’m no longer pre-diabetic, and no more sleeping with a CPAP machine.

In just over 10 months I’ve lost 115 pounds (from 334 lbs pounds to 219 lbs) without exercise. I’ve reduced my arthritis, my skin has cleared up and even the bald spot on my head is filling in!

It’s not easy, but it is simple: stop eating sugar and processed junk. No sugar, no bread, no pasta, no rice. Eat like a caveman – meat and vegetables. Lots of salad. Full fat butter. Heavy cream. Bacon! Just avoid added sugar.

There are plenty of low-carb sweets out there if you just can’t take it anymore. But don’t overdo it.

I will turn 50 this year and I will do it weighing less than I did when I turned 40.

In less than a year I have turned my life around and taken control.

It’s about time.

Gonna need some new shorts
I’ve been donating a lot of old clothes
Weight Loss Journey
This before pic was from a couple years ago. I had gotten bigger before I decided to do something about it.
At one point I bought a new wedding ring since I almost had to have this one cut off. Since then I may have to buy another new ring because the original has become too big.

The Century Mark

That's 100 pounds!

Yesterday morning I achieved the century mark in weight loss. After stalling at 90-something pounds down since the beginning of the year, yesterday I officially lost 100 pounds! I said that when I saw 234 on the scale I would take a picture and post it on Facebook and make a big deal out of it.

Well here’s the picture. There has yet to be a Facebook post. Or a big deal.

Not to belittle this achievement in the slightest – but, it felt very natural. Even after stalling and feeling like I was never going to lose pounds again.

This weekend was the first time in recent memory I sent a non-empty plate back to the kitchen at a restaurant. I had only one serving at dinner because I honestly did not want more.

It’s taken seven months to start to train my brain to see smaller portions and my stomach to accept them. Even recently, I still had anxiety when seeing a plate of food in front of me that wasn’t heaping. “That’s not enough” my brain would automatically cry. Even though it was enough. By the time the plate was empty, I was satisfied.

At home, Carrie would ask “How many hamburgers do you want?” While last year I would easily answer “three!” in the last several months I’ve learned to say “two, please!”. Well, yesterday I said, “One.” I realized that very much like my knee-jerk reaction to seeing a not-full plate, my brain could not accept that only one piece of anything would be enough. But again, it was.

I am enjoying feeling not-bloated, not-full and a little bit hungry at almost all times.

The needle of the scale is moving again and that’s a good thing. But the bigger achievement this weekend was my awareness of how much I want to eat.

And it’s a lot smaller than it used to be. Like me.

Non-alcoholic stress relief

I had an especially bad day yesterday. Not really bad in the grand scheme of things, but bad in my own head. Too many unplanned things happened in too quick succession which left me feeling under attack and over-whelmed. A few hours later things looked much better and I was able to process everything.

But during my knee-jerk reaction to the stress, I thought about having a drink to help calm down. It was already the end of the day and I had planned to go out to dinner with some friends anyway. I thought a drink might be nice and may go a long way to soothing my jangled nerves.

Now I have had exactly one drink (a vodka/soda with lime) in the last three months since starting my liver-healthy diet. I have lost nearly 70 pounds so far and my blood work is showing massive improvement to my liver.

To ensure I’d be ordering a drink that wouldn’t undo too much hard work, I quickly google’d some low-carb drink alternatives. I ran across the NPR article  from August 2018 warning that “No amount of alcohol is good for your health, global study finds”.

I had also previously read that alcohol is especially problematic for people with liver issues. Alcohol metabolizes in the liver before anything else and can stall weight-loss or even cause weight gain.

Seeing as my intention was to drink enough to get a mild buzz (and alleviate my self-stoking stress monster) I decided that one drink would probably not be enough. But more than one drink might be actually harmful to my liver (and even worse – I might regain some weight!  – kidding… I know my liver is more important… )

In the end I ordered an ice water and a big steak. A nice meal, conversation with good friends and some time away was all really needed to get myself back in order.

So does this mean I’ll never drink again? Probably not. But it’s a sure step that I’m learning not to drink for the wrong reasons. And to put my health first.

Reflections on a 24-hour fast

Yesterday we went to Cindy’s for the Browns game. Carrie brought a cauliflower ziti recipe that was a huge hit and Cindy made hot dogs. Now hot dogs are OK on the diet without buns. So I had three over the course of the day. Not until late in the 4th quarter did Carrie read the hot dog label and tell me that the Ball Park Franks we were eating were 4 carbs each!

Fuck! I just ate 21 carbs in basically one sitting by adding those three bunless hot dogs.

While my calories were still in range I realized that I really can’t eat anything more for the rest of the day. Maybe pickles or something, but I maxed out my carbs really early.

When I got home I realized I wasn’t hungry. At least for pickles, olives or sugar-free jello. So I didn’t eat anything.

We started watching some movies and eventually I just went back in and edited my fasting app on my phone to say I stopped eating at 2:00pm.

Was I really going to go all night with nothing else to eat? 16 hours from 2:00pm would allow me to eat again at 6:00am! (I’m not even awake by then – and I don’t eat breakfast anymore)

So morning comes and I feel OK. I decide to just push it until lunch because starting my eating window early will make me have to end it early. Eating from Noon to 8:00pm is what I try to stick to.

So another weird thing happened at work. As I’m getting closer to lunch I realize I’ve got a lot to do and I’m starting to stress about getting it done before lunch.

When I check my fasting app I see that it’s been 22 hours since I’ve eaten.

What would happen if I just waited and ate lunch at 2:00pm? What would happen if I fasted for 24 hours?

Surely nothing big and flashy – but I could say that I did it… OK – that settled it. I finished my work stuff and went for a walk.

I’m sitting here now at 1:40pm. I have a meeting at 2:00pm and I am planning to eat lunch right afterwards. I don’t want to just skip lunch altogether because I don’t want to waste the food (leftovers from yesterday! Yum!) but sitting here waiting, I’m thinking I could. I’m just not that hungry. It’s a weird feeling. Plus I feel like I have energy and focus that I don’t often have.

Researching fasting the last few weeks has led me to believe that people go without food for entire days all the time. And in 20 minutes I’ll be one of them.

I may repeat this in the future. I like it.

Whooshing past a goal

One of the stranger phenomenon that occurs when you are losing weight is the so-called “whoosh effect” […] It’s the name we give to a very common occurrence where you are eating right and doing everything you are supposed to do but no weight loss happens for several days and then all of a sudden, you lose 3-5 lbs in a single night.

I don’t know if this qualifies as a “whoosh” or not – but Sunday’s weigh-in was 282 pounds.

That’s 7 pounds less that last week. After two weeks of 3 pound losses, suddenly I am 52 pounds lighter than I was when I started this in July.

Yes – 50 pounds! That was the first milestone I set for myself. I was hoping I could make it 50 pounds down by Christmas this year. Then I thought I might make it to 50 by Thanksgiving. Now I don’t know what to think.

My ultimate goal of a “normal” BMI doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. Although 165 pounds is a looong way off. I remember thinking I’d be thrilled if I could lose 100 pounds. And I’m halfway there in less than 70 days. It’s strange to think there may come a time when I have to start planning to stop losing weight and try to maintain my weight. I’ve never felt such a thing. As long as I can remember I’ve always thought that it would be nice to lose some weight.

Well, I can’t get a head of myself. There’s still plenty of challenges ahead. Vacation and the holidays are coming up and while I feel a lot better about them now – there will still be some roadblocks and tough decisions to make.

I am thinking that before vacation I should get back into the doctor’s office and make sure all this progress is having the intended effect on my health.

I feel amazing most of the time nowadays, so I can’t believe that anything I am doing is detrimental to my health, but the blood test numbers will tell the truth. And that’s the progress I really want to see.

Slow progress is still progress

Weekly weigh-in: 289 pounds.

Another 3 pound loss. After 3 weeks of losing 6 pounds a week the last two weeks I’ve only lost 3 pounds each week.

I’ve known from the beginning that the weight loss would eventually slow down and I was surprised to drop 6 pounds a week for the first few weeks.

One significant non-scale victory, however, was that I switched back to my old wedding ring this weekend. My new one flung off my hand while sitting on the couch. I showed Carrie and Ashley how I could slide it off just by shaking my hand (it’s been falling off in the shower for a week or so whenever my hands get soapy).

In August I was determined to track everything that went in to my mouth. I did so and I lost a ton of weight.

In September I want to start seeing much I learned about knowing what to eat and how much by not tracking as diligently and seeing how things shake out. I’m still tracking but I’m approximating a lot more and eating more foods that I don’t have exact nutrition info on.

Could the lack of exact tracking be what’s slowed me down? Or am I naturally slowing down because my body is acclimating to the new diet?

I’ve said that I don’t want to spend my life tracking my food – and I stick by that. I want to know what I can eat and how much of to eat. Eventually, I want to be able to go into a restaurant and just order food without figuring out what I can have and what I can’t.

On one hand – I am still succeeding. I am still losing weight.

On the other hand, by leaving my decisions to my instincts I may have slowed down my progress.

Maybe I don’t know everything I think I do yet.

End of a weird week

After all was said and done I weighed in on Sunday at 292. Only a 3 pound loss from last week. Up until now, I’ve been losing 6 pounds a week.

But last week was weird.

First was the Chinese lunch that may or may not have been higher-carb than I planned. Then there was birthday dinners (protein-heavy steak and hamburger). But there was also a shit-ton of walking (Air Show and Geauga County Fair combined for over 15000 steps – over 7 miles) making my calves rock hard.

So did I over-do it on the protein? Maybe. Did I pack on some muscle? Maybe?

All-in-all, I still lost weight. I still feel good. It still counts as a victory.

It’s nice to get back to the daily grind where things are more controlled. I think I did pretty well this weekend considering the potential food disasters I was presented with.

It reminds me of when I quit smoking – thinking that every time I did something without smoking I was able to say “I’ve already done this without smoking”. Now I can say I’ve already gone to the Fair / Air Show / Celebration dinner without eating a bunch of crap.

It’s getting easier.

Looking forward to this week’s progress.

Paying for my sins

Yesterday the office guys went out for lunch. It was the first group lunch since I started the new diet. Unlike the last “Dad’s Dinner (feat Uncle Chris)” that was held at Red Robin (a known quantity with published nutrition facts), we went to King Wah, a local Chinese place that has no nutrition facts available.

I decided on Szechuan Chicken with no rice. I thought “How bad can it be? Chicken and vegetables in a brown sauce.” Truthfully, I still don’t know how bad it was. While it tasted good, I did notice the sauce was a bit on the sweet side (rather than spicy, which I expected). Google-ing Szechuan Chicken recipes I found everything ranging from 4g carbs to 37g carbs per dish. All depending on the preparation, of which I had no idea in my lunch.

To be safe – I decided to plan on the high side and treat yesterday like an unanticipated cheat day.

I had dinner at home and then stopped eating. Carrie was talking about how she cheated and weighed herself yesterday and was down another pound. I decided to check and see what my damage was. 298 pounds. I gained 3 pounds since Sunday. Shit. Was it lunch? Or was it weighing myself fully clothed after two meals? I don’t know.

So as punishment (not really) I fasted from 6:44pm last night until a little after 1pm today. Over 18 hours. I’m not sure if it helped but I didn’t feel any adverse effects. If yesterday’s lunch was high-carb, then I certainly didn’t need any snacks last night. I’ve stopped eating breakfast in the morning since it’s easier to fast until lunch than it is to not eat at night.

I’ve read multiple times that weight stalls or small gains are normal and just “Keep Calm and Keto On ” (KCKO) so that’s my mindset. Today is Carrie’s birthday and we’re dining at Outback. I have already planned my low-carb dinner and don’t anticipate any surprise deviations in the near future.

I am interested in the long term effects of yesterday though. I wonder what I’ll weigh-in at on Sunday?

If nothing else it was a lesson learned in how easy it is to put on a pound or three and how hard it is to take them off.

The number starts with a “2”

I made it below 300 pounds!

Yesterday I weighed in at 295 pounds. I am officially lighter than my driver’s license (which was a big fat lie for the last 8 years, anyway)

Carrie lost 5 pounds and Ashley lost another pound last week. The three of us have not had bread, sugar or pop for almost a month. We spend our evenings talking about non-scale victories like fitting into old clothes or no longer having the after-dinner bloat. We’re saving money by not buying high-carb, high-sugar snacks at the movies (or anywhere else).

Some days it’s a challenge to figure out what we can eat – but it’s never a downer – it’s more like figuring out a puzzle. Carrie has rediscovered her love of cooking and she’s turning out day after day of delicious, healthy food with almost no waste or left-overs.

I have to take my new wedding ring off before I get in the shower because when my hands get wet and soapy my ring just falls off! I’ll have to go back to my old ring before much longer (the one I had to replace because it was far too tight).

This is also the start of birthday week. We don’t really have any plans for our birthdays other than dinner some place – but the Labor Day weekend is full of excitement. I’ll be turning 49 weighing less that I did when I turned 48 (or 47 or 46 and probably a few more years).

We’ve started wondering aloud if we’re going to need to buy new clothes before our trip to Salem in October.

We just might.

Almost There…

If my weight loss continues to progress at this rate, next Sunday the number on the scale will begin with a “2” for the first time in my memory. Literally. I have tried to remember when I was below 300 pounds and while I know it was sometime in the 2000’s I can’t remember if it was 2002 or 2009?

Yesterday I weighed in at 301 pounds.

I had the occasion over the weekend to look at my driver’s license and see that I’ve never changed my weight from 300 pounds since my last renewal. Everyone lies about their weight on their license, though, right?

We went to the Rocksino on Saturday to see Mike Polk Jr and lose some money. While all three of us actually made a little money and thoroughly enjoyed the show, the thing that surprised me most was my ability to walk around the entire gambling floor for an hour and 15 minutes before the show without developing that burning, nagging pain in my lower back and thighs that would normally have me desperately looking for a chair to sit down and alleviate the pain.

When I started walking every day back in May, I had no agenda other than I knew I had to move regularly to keep from freezing up completely. At the end of those first few walks I was in so much pain. So sweaty and out of breath, I knew that I had made a good decision to try to become more active. But, a small amount of walking should not hurt that much.

I’ve felt better over the weeks as I kept walking daily, but not until we started the weight loss journey did my walking become so much easier! The extra weight I was carrying around with me kept me in pain. Without the weight, I’ve managed to extend my daily walks and return to my desk feeling fine. Heart rate is up as it should be, and my forehead is damp if it’s warm out – but the pain is gone and so is the burning.

I don’t want to set unrealistic goals for myself, but based on the steady progress of the last three weeks I feel like I can really weigh less that 300 pounds by Sunday.

And I’m almost there.