28 February 2011

Scaling Down #1 - How It All Began

Each year hordes of people make a New Year's resolution to lose weight. In January, gyms are overcrowded with well-meaning people on treadmills desperate to lose a few pounds. By February, most have given up. In 2010, I was able to lose 45 pounds without the help of a trainer, special program, crazy diet, or supplements. This year I intend to continue that weight loss trend while documenting my efforts with a new Scaling Down feature every two months in hopes that my methods may work for you as well.

How It All Began
In mid-February of 2010 I was using up the last of my Christmas gift cards and shopping for new clothes. Walking around the mall, I was uncomfortable. My favorite pair of jeans were so tight that it hurt to walk in them. When I returned home that evening, I stepped on the scale for the first time since November to find that I had ballooned up to 240 pounds. At 6'1", 240 pounds is far too heavy. I knew I had to change some things and work on losing weight. I set my goal at 175 pounds, which is about what I weighed throughout high school.

February 2010
The first thing I began doing was counting calories. For the first few days, I consumed anywhere from 2100 to 3000 calories. After four days, I was able to readjust my eating habits, and spent most of that spring taking in anywhere from 1000-1600 calories per day. A handy tool in tracking what I was taking in was the Daily Plate, a service provided by Livestrong. Using that along with this calories burned estimator allowed me to have a general idea of how much I was taking in versus how much I was burning per day.

Counting calories is helpful, but basically useless without exercise. What really jump started my self-styled exercise program was shoveling snow. Shoveling snow can be a fantastic workout and it burns a lot of calories. From there I began working out with the tools I had at my disposal: two eight-pound dumbbells and an old aerobic step I used as a bench. Eventually, I replaced the eight-pounders with a couple of twenty-pound dumbbells, improving my results.

August 2010
My the time July rolled around, I was down to 195 pounds, and it showed. At that point, I had stopped counting calories as my eating habits had changed for the better. Unfortunately, I also stopped working out, as I was working seven days a week. Eventually, some of my old eating habits returned, and by the time we rang in 2011, I was up to 207 pounds.

That weight gain led me to refocus on reaching my goal of 175 pounds. However, aside from decreasing my calorie intake and increasing my fiber intake, I really have not done too much to work on losing weight so far this year. I am down to 198 pounds, but still have a long way to go. I expect to be joining a gym sometime in March, so we will see how that helps my overall fitness goal in the next installment of Scaling Down at the end of April.

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