Day 366–Year 2, Day 1

Happy anniversary to me! It has been one year to the day since I woke up to my first meal replacement shake, and with a dedication and commitment to actively get slim. It would be my third such attempt in five years, so I do not know what my confidence level was that I would succeed in the long term, but when you walk into your first AA meeting they congratulate you, because that first step is hard. Then, as now, I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil that had nothing to do with my weight loss; the fact that I started and succeeded still astounds me.

My morning started much earlier than normal, for no particular reason. I had set an alarm for 7:00am to make sure that I was all squared away in time for my 9:00am conference call, but an hour before that Her Floofness decided that lying next to me on the bed was over, and she crawled up onto my pillow to nestle herself into the back of my head and shoulder. Maybe lying on my head and shoulder would be more accurate. It felt warm and wonderful and cozy and loving… but it was also an impossible position in which to get back to sleep. I had slept seven hours (which is more than average for me), so I decided to start the morning early. It was 6:45am when she and I stepped out for our morning walk.

As I was at my desk with my meal replacement and my first cup of coffee much earlier than usual, and because today is so special an occasion, I decided to go back to my previous two weight loss journals (neither of which is online, before you go looking for them), and read what I wrote for the beginning and first couple of days of the program. There were some amazing similarities, as well as some stark contrasts. Each time I was always out of breath, I found it difficult to stand up from a seated position, and it was hard to put on my socks. There were other issues that I discussed, most of which have to do with embarrassment –things that are embarrassing to admit, but also the general feeling of embarrassment at being so morbidly obese. Each time I express at some point on Day 1 that I am proud of myself that I had not yet broken my diet… maybe astounded is a better word. I did, however, read something that I shared with Julie on Day 1 that I wish I had remembered… and that I am going to remember every day going forward because it applies as much now as it did then. Look at the numbers on the bathroom scale and make yourself a promise that you will never be this heavy again. The day that I said (and wrote) that I weighed 395 pounds, and I vowed that day that I will never be that heavy again. This morning I weighed 293.2 pounds… and I am making myself that same promise: I will never be this heavy again. Of course, that might be an easier vow to keep in the long term, because as I have mentioned so many times before, the short-term is more difficult to predict day-over-day. It is possible that I will be completely faithful to the program, yet tomorrow morning I will weigh the same or even more than I do today. Week over week is more realistic; overall even more so. I vow that once I have lost a few more pounds, I will never weigh what I weighed this morning again.

I know that both times I started the program I did extremely well in the short term. Reading Day 1 is encouraging, but I also need to remember that it was not all successes. I decided to read ahead to Day 365 in both journals… or as close to it as I could. The first time around, I was going through a lot of emotional trauma. I do not remember what that was, but thinking back, I was going through a divorce, and my finances were a disaster (partly due to the divorce). I was more than 47 lbs. up from my best weight. I was trying again… but the next year was a constant regression into morbid obesity.

Day 365 of my second go-around (August 2020) was much more encouraging. The time and path it took me to get there was not a straight drop down like it was in 2017; I took my time, which is to say that I faltered several times over the course of the year, but by Day 365 I was doing great… I was down 116 lbs. from my peak the year before and would eventually lose another 17 lbs. before the slow (and then not so slow) slip and fall from grace would begin. I was happy, I had just started a great new job, and I was truly optimistic. Two days later I would lose that job, and while my diet would continue to succeed for another month and change, the series of events that would eventually lead to my gaining back all of that weight and having to relocate to Canada began.

I look back at the past to remember where I was, what went right but also what went wrong, and what I need to do (and what I need to be mindful of) in order to succeed this time. I once asked the CEO of Microsoft about a trend that I saw which made me worry that they were making a lot of the same mistakes that IBM had in the 1970s and 1980s. His response to me was that he hoped that if they were going to make mistakes, they would be new ones. I am not sure how soon thereafter he stepped down, but many see Steve Ballmer’s tenure as CEO as one fraught with mistakes. I thought of this because I know the mistakes that I made previously that caused me to fail at long-term weight loss. It will be easy to avoid those. It is also important to remember that there are so many other mistakes that I can make, and that while the paths to success are few, there are a great many roads that lead to failure. I will have to remember every day for the rest of my life to be mindful so that I do not fall back into bad habits… or into new bad habits either.

I went into a lot of detail yesterday about the differences between last January 20 and this one. I am keeping track of my weight loss daily and tracking my progress on the scale. I decided last night to spend a couple of minutes looking at the three measurements that a year ago I felt important enough to measure in addition to my weight. I pulled out my measuring tape and stripped down in the bathroom. Here are the results:

January 20, 2022

January 20, 2023

Difference

Weight

395 lbs.

293.2 lbs.

101.8 lbs.

Under belly fat

53.5”

46”

7.5”

Belly (Navel)

63” (bigger than my 60” tape!)

54.5

8.5”

Chest

58.25”

50”

8.25”

Yes, I am kvelling. I seem to be doing that a lot of late, and I hope that nobody feels that bragging about these feats is too obnoxious.

I was on a cruise ship many years ago and there was a spa treatment offered that promised you to shed at least 2” from your body during the cruise. What they neglected to mention was that they were measuring twenty-five different locations on your body, and the combined loss on all those locations would be 2”. A year ago, and again last night, I measured only three locations on my body, and the combined loss on all those locations equals 24.25”. To put things in perspective, that is slightly more than two feet. Not only have I lost 25% of my body weight, but it can also be argued that I have also lost 33% of my height!

It has been a year of amazing highs and terrible lows, both with regard to my weight loss journey and with the rest of my life. Once I have lost all the weight I need to lose (however much that will be), I hope the ups and downs of my weight will be much less drastic… like a normal person, I might gain a couple of pounds on vacation, and then go on a diet when I get home to burn them off. I also hope that my life, starting now, I will experience many more highs, with only the occasional muted low… just to remind me of how lucky I am to be where I am.

Yesterday’s consumption was exactly where it was supposed to be. For nine days straight I have been able to stick to the program religiously. I hope that I will be able to stay true to it until I wake up Wednesday morning and fly to Dallas. Leslie and I were talking yesterday, and I told her that I was hoping to be closer to 285 lbs. than 290 lbs. by the time I arrived, which would mean as much as a twenty-pound loss since she left here in November. I am so excited about that! I want her to throw her arms around me… all the way around me! We will have to see how that goes, but one thing is for sure… I will be smaller than the last time she saw me… and 24.25” smaller than the first time she saw me! Unfortunately, the numbers on the bathroom scale are not cooperating with that plan; after no loss yesterday, this morning I was down .4 lb. which is good – down is always better than up! – but at the same time I realize that if I lose that same amount every day between now and Wednesday, I will only lose two more pounds by the time I fly on Wednesday. I would not even drop below 290 lbs. I know that she will not be disappointed, and really neither will I. It is just harsh to remember that when I started on the program both times the doctors told me to expect a 2-3 lbs. drop per week. It was nice to drop nearly ten pounds in my first week of the strict program, but it is not realistic to expect that pace to continue.

The lesson in this is that setting unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, but it is also important to be happy with all progress. I was so upset about the plateau that I was at for two months, and then thrilled when my weight dropped so quickly when I switched programs. I have told so many people over these last few months that they were looking at it wrong. You cannot look at it as ‘I only lost one pound this week.’ You have to look at it like, ‘I lost a hole pound this week!’ It is not the first time that I find myself giving people really good advice that I have trouble following myself. I have to work on that and remember that a 2-3 lbs. drop in a week is not only good progress, but it is also what the doctors told me that I should expect once that initial water-weight loss is behind me. If I can maintain that overall trend, then by September I will be at or beyond any goal that I have ever hoped for with my weight loss. I cannot be impatient. My body will lose the weight. I know that when I first started the extreme program, I lost a lot more weight that this in the first few months. Back then, I was at my heaviest weight, so it was coming off easier than it is now. Patience is key!

My plans for today are to do some studying, and to stick to the program. I am going to spend a few hours this evening smoking cigars with friends, and I will take care to make sure I am not tempted by any food or drinks… and I will remember that ever-important lesson that a small handful of snacks – even healthy snacks – are not allowed on my program. I will be true to the program a full fortnight by the time I get onto the airplane to see Leslie.

Have a great day folks!

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