Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Beginning...

My first few posts will be about what got me where I am. After that I will likely kvetch about where I am, how hard it is to get to the next step, and all the other crap you hate to read ;)

So, what do I mean about the beginning? Well, trying to detail everything that made me overweight would be boring, and most likely I would miss important factors. Let's just say that I work a desk job in the telecommunications industry, I have arthritis, and I don't love exercise in its own right.

What I DO want to talk about is why I started this mission to lose weight.
And why 100 pounds.

In October of 2007 I hit 300 pounds for the first time in my life. Later that month, I had an "annual" physical, and my doctor threatened to put me in the hospital to stabilize my blood pressure - I was only at something like 165/129. Heck, the low number was higher than the high number should be at. Luckily the doctor said that my EKG had not changed, so no heart damage yet. Yet!!! Scary.

So I started trying to improve my health. First off, low sodium diet. Doctor wants me on no more than 3,000 mg of sodium a day. Which is what someone WITHOUT hypertension should limit themselves to. On the internet I found that various organizations recommend at least 1,500 or 1,600 mg, and that most low-sodum diets are reduced to somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 mg. So my sodium goal is 1,600-2,000 mg/day, with maybe one day a week where I let myself get close to 3,000.

But let me tell you this: Restaurants are not generally set up to help the low-sodium diet. For example, Bob Evans, one of the few restaurants that even provide sodium levels, has some items on the menu that would put me over 3,000 mg in one meal. On the other hand, their Salmon with either herb butter or barbecue sauce, a baked potato with olive oil, and applesauce gets you out the door for less than 800. I am sensitive to dairy, so I avoid it. Tip: the staff don't always know that they have olive oil, but you can ask them to bring the oil and vinegar salad dressing cruets - it is olive oil! But back to restaurants in general... most of them don't have the information on sodium, and some restauratns are even snotty about it. I suppose they think they are too good for me or something. The best fast food choice I found is Wendy's Single. No fries, but if you are hungry, a potato with chives is a pretty decent side. I can't eat dairy without consequences, so I use olive oil (yes, I keep some at work as well as home).

Part of how I got to 300 pounds was sweet and salty snacks. Chocolate covered cranberries, and all sorts of cookies, crackers, Rice Krispie treats, etc. but all of a sudden I couldn't afford the sodium without skipping meals. My salvation? Fruit! Whole, raw, fruit, or canned fruit in some cases when I run low on fresh. For example, I found that for 10 mg of sodium or less I can eat a whole banana, orange, apple, pear, plum, nectarine, two clementines, or a single serving cup of applesauce or pineapple. So I made a commitment to eat at least 5 fruits for snacking per day to substitute for the sweet snacks. I won't let myself eat other snacks like salt-free nuts, low sodium cookies, or crackers until I have eaten the five fruits.

And my other main change is that I have gone back to eating 3 meals a day instead of 2. The meals are a little smaller, but I now make sure I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with lunch usually being the largest meal of the day. I do still eat crackers or cookies later in the day when I get hungry, but rather than taking as many as I want, I eat one portion

If you believe the last doctor I bothered talking to about goal weight 15 years ago), I should weigh 145. Personally, I want to know what drugs that doctor is on... The only time I weighed 145 after 8th grade was when I was bicycling 40 miles a day back before I got a car. The weight I felt good at for years was around 170. But weight is not really the point. just like it is not healthy to be too fat, it is not healthy to be too lean. I don't have a final goal weight, because I think the only realistic measure of fat/lean is percentage body fat. Weight, BMI, and all of the other ways of describing height to weight ratios are just shortcuts, because they do not take bone density, frame size, and other factors into consideration. So my goal is to make it down to the "optimum percent body fat" or "optimum lean to fat ratio". For simplicity, since nearly everything I read says I have over 100 pounds to lose, I decided that my first long range goal will be 100 pounds.


Diana Troldahl said...

I KNOW you can do this.

Don Meyer said...

Wow, that is a worthy goal! I need to exercise daily, also, but not to lose weight. In my handicapped condition, if I don't exercise, I can't stand up!