The diet continues, but I haven't lost as much as I would like by now. Four pant sizes is something to be proud of, but three of them were lost in January, so you can understand my frustration. I've wound up taking a fourth meal most days, bringing me to ~1200 calories, and so far I've had a lot of trouble going back down to three. I've found light meals at most chain restaurants that I can eat (less than 400 calories), which helps me get out with Kelly and friends sometimes. It's a shame that the cheapest items on most menus are the most fattening, and the lightest are the most expensive.

Our cat is recovering. A change in her medication and diet got her to put on a lot of weight initially, 3 pounds in two weeks, but now she's leveled out at what seems to be a healthy weight. We're grateful to the vet who suggested the changes. Our beloved cat is back, not just in body but in personality. She's mellow and affectionate, not anxious and constantly howling.

We're hanging in there on limited income. I regret writing that we're getting by on $260 a week, since that's more than a lot of people have, and I'm lucky to have a good, stable job these days. We're about a third of the way saved up for a move this summer, which will give us a little more money and a lot more room. I can't wait to get out of this tiny, cramped cave of an apartment after five years. Kelly has a job lead with some friends in Bradenton and we're keeping fingers crossed.

Thanks for the kind comments and support after my last comments about the above, both public and private. It meant a lot to me. :-)


Fourteen Replies to Day 86

Dave Stoppenhagen | March 29, 2010
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Scott Hardie | March 30, 2010
I did a little math tonight. According to this calculator, I'm burning about 4800 calories in the course of my normal day, without doing extra exercise. (Is "burning" too strong of a description for merely sleeping and programming?) If I'm consuming ~1200 calories daily, and every 3500 calories burned over the amount consumed results in 1 pound lost, then I should be losing 1 pound per day, right? So how come it seems like my weight hasn't changed in two months? Shouldn't I be about 86 pounds lighter by now?

To be clear, I'm not actually expecting to be 86 pounds lighter after three months; that's crazy. But I do expect to be lighter than I am. Really, I just want to know why I'm apparently burning so much less than the calculator indicates. I wonder if I have an exceptionally slow metabolism or something. I must be using the calculator incorrectly.

Scott Hardie | March 30, 2010
Kelly suggested that it's probably the plateau. If that's so, then I've been plateauing for two months. Is that normal? I'm going to keep dieting, and when that plateau finally breaks, it better break big time.

Steve Dunn | March 30, 2010
Notes:

1) First, about me. As of yesterday's weigh-in, I've lost 49 pounds. I feel this entitles me to tell people I've lost "about 50" which is amazing to actually say out loud. I've been at it 11 months, just slightly ahead of my goal of about a pound a week. I look great, but give me another 15-20 lbs and I'll be hott.

2) Plateaus are real. And they do break through. And when they do, it's awesome. As I look back over my weekly weigh-ins, I see that between August 24 and December 28, a period of over four months, I only lost 4.5 pounds. But in the three months since then, I've lost 16. Certainly the holidays were a factor, but plateau was also a factor. There have been other mini-plateaus along the way. Hear me now and believe me later: keep doing what you're doing and it'll start coming off again. Big time. I don't know all the science behind this, but plateaus are real.

3) A pound a day is way too much to expect. I know you've got a lot to lose and it'll be dramatic at first, but this isn't The Biggest Loser. The way you're going to make this last a lifetime is to take it at a reasonable pace. As long as you're losing anything you're headed in the right direction. Settle in for the long haul. It's not like you're going to hit some weight-loss milestone and then start crushing the Chinese buffet again. You're making different choices, permanently. The results will come.

4) If your calorie counts are accurate, I think according to the laws of physics and thermodynamics, you will definitely lose weight. Steady as she goes.

5) Go for walks.

Matthew Preston | March 30, 2010
I agree with everything Steve says (including the part about looking hot after 15-20 more lbs). You lost weight rapidly at the beginning because of the initial shock. Your body went from likely 3,500+ calories a day to nearly nothing (hardcore on your part btw). Now your body is used to the 1,200 calories and is starting to normalize. I had much the same experience when I first started dieting. In the first 3 months, I lost 55 lbs, but it took me another 9 months to lose only 30 more. And in the last 7 years, I've only been able to lose an additional 10 (and those fluctuate quite a bit). I wish I could find the motivation again that I once had to continue losing weight...

Like Steve mentions, you probably would benefit from adding daily walks. You need to step it up just a little to continue the weight loss effects. If you are up for it, mild muscle building exercises would really help as well (muscle burns quite a few fat calories while at rest). This can have a negative psychological effect however. Muscle builds quicker than fat reduces, which will cause a short period of weight gain.

My advice is threefold:
1) Start adding more rigorous exercise.
2) Weigh yourself less often. Once a week at the absolute most. You want to see the long term effects, not the short term ups and downs that can get extremely frustrating. You even see it on the biggest loser when the person eats perfectly healthy and works out like crazy... and still gains weight.
3) Drink more water. I know, I know (don't roll your eyes) it sounds totally cliche and where is the evidence this even works? Google "drink water to lose weight" and you'll find all the info you need about why this helps.

The most important thing right now is to not get frustrated. You are at the crossroads where a lot of people can't continue on, but you need to push through. It's going to take a lot of time, but establishing healthy habits now will result in a healthier life along with permanent weight loss.

Matthew Preston | March 30, 2010
By the way, I think I speak for everyone here when I say "I'm proud of you". Keep on keepin' on, you are an inspiration.

Scott Hardie | April 1, 2010
Thank you for the encouragement! I am equally awed by your successes, both seven years ago and last year. 50-100 pounds is damn hard to lose.

I'm in no danger of giving up. I do cheat a little here and there (a bowl of Kelly's spaghetti instead of Lean Cuisine spaghetti), but I'm still 100% committed to this and haven't wavered. In fact, most days I find it pretty easy. 1200 calories sounds restrictive, but I get four meals a day, and nibbles of other food, and all the diet soda I can drink. It's not so bad.

Anyway, whatever frustration that I feel lately is borne of confusion whether I'm doing something wrong. Steve says "if your calorie counts are accurate," and that's the heart of it. The average adult is supposed to consume about 2000 calories per day, right? Then does it make sense that I'm really burning 5000 calories just going about my normal exercise-free day? Here's my math:

400 lbs
15 hours of writing
8 hours of sleep
30 minutes of driving
15 minutes of showering
15 minutes of 3mph walking (bonus: I walk a lot faster now, since this diet started)

Some days I get in more walking depending on what's on my agenda, but the above is typical. It seems crazy to me that merely the activity listed above in a 24-hour period can burn ~5000 calories. If I adjust the weight to be lower, around 150 lbs, then it fits a 2000-calorie diet.

The math apparently adds up; I've tried it five different ways. It just seems so outlandish to me. Here's two more reasons why I have trouble believing this:

1) If this is true, then I could continue to lose weight indefinitely by keeping the same sedentary lifestyle and eating 1200 calories daily, until I eventually established a balance around a weight of 100 pounds. Obviously this would take a long time, but it's theoretically possible. That's crazy.

2) According to this same calculator, walking 3mph for an additional 30 minutes would only burn an extra 400 calories. That helps, but not much against an existing burn of 5000 calories daily. As I get thinner, I will burn less than 5000 calories just by sitting around, but I will also burn less than 400 calories by walking.

Honestly, I don't like walking. It's ok I guess, but there are tons of other things that I'd rather do with my time that I can't get to, because I have so little spare time now. This is my first night at home relaxing in a week and a half. Is it unreasonable for me to think that 400 extra calories burned by walking just isn't worth taking the time, when I'm already burning more than ten times that just by sitting on my ass?

I absolutely think of this as a permanent change. My days of single-handedly keeping the local Chinese buffet manager in business are over, much to Tommy's disappointment. (We really do know each other by name.) I think of my current consumption of ~1200 daily calories as a weight loss phase, which will last a very long time. When I'm ready, I'll transition to a weight maintenance phase of 1800-2000 calories per day. I can't ever stop counting, or go back to my old ways of eating massive quantities of junk food.

I have no idea how much I weigh. Our scale goes up to 400 pounds, and I'm somewhere over its limit. I've checked a couple of times since starting the diet, but no luck yet. My "measurements" are how much looser my belt is (Kelly keeps putting new holes in it) and just how much thinner and slimmer I can tell that I am becoming. It's a good feeling so far.

Steve Dunn | April 1, 2010
I detect a couple quirks in your logic. Your rationalization against exercise is really perverse considering the reason you burn so many calories sitting on your ass is because you are huge.

You've picked up on one important thing, though: diet makes a much bigger difference than exercise. You can't just add exercise without changing eating habits and expect to lose weight (lots of people prefer to try this approach at first). That said, I think you might be overlooking some significant benefits of exercise (doesn't have to be walking - is there any kind of moving around you enjoy?)

1) Calorie-wise, at least it's a step in the right direction. Sure, maybe 400 calories doesn't seem like much compared to 4000, but it's 10% and that's nothing to sneeze at. It's also more than equal to one of your four daily meals. If I were you, I'd forget about all the calories you burn simply by being large and focus a lot more on the calories you control via food and exercise.

2) Exercise helps keep you on track with food. If you bust your ass to get a little workout in, you'll find you don't want to screw it up with poor food choices. The "ahhhh, fuck it" attitude is diminished.

3) Cardiac health is a good thing, in and of itself.

4) Being fit feels good. You'll be more flexible and have more stamina. You won't get winded so easily.

5) There are certain ranges of heart rate that actually optimize your body's fat-burning capability. Google "anaerobic threshold." Best part? It's not the hard core range. A nice, easy workout that elevates your heartbeat just a little bit (like a walk!) is a great way to ramp up your fat-burning - higher than being sedentary but also higher than a max workout.

6) Exercise is good for mental health and psychological well-being. There is research on this.

7) Helps you sleep.

Having said all that, dude, I'm not Richard Simmons and I'm not trying to evangelize for exercise. However, I do think your anti-exercise logic is strained.

The other odd thing you said is that you do not know your weight. I encourage you to get a new scale and start weighing yourself weekly. At least then you'll know what's going on. Weigh-ins are great for feedback, both positive and negative. I think if you are never really sure where you are, you'll be prone to greater frustration about results and plateaus.

I myself have been frustrated lately because I've lost so much weight but I still don't look skinny! I feel like I look about the same as I did several months ago. We do not view ourselves accurately. Others see us much more clearly, and the scale is straight-up cold-blooded objective. According to the scale, I am still losing weight, and the scale don't lie.

The scale will keep you going when you get bummed, and the scale with slap you down when you get cocky.

So of course all this is just one man's opinion, but I know you know the spirit in which I give it, and the main thing to remember is that you are doing a wonderful thing. I love to see you apply your brain and personality to an important project and I have every confidence you will succeed. Playing it out on this site is just natural and perfect. Bravo and keep on rocking.

Lori Lancaster | April 2, 2010
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Jackie Mason | April 3, 2010
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Scott Hardie | April 4, 2010
Thanks for the continuing positive feedback! I feel pretty good about this dieting thing lately, even though my pants still aren't getting any looser. If I'd known this would generate such feedback, I would have put it in TC instead. I appreciate all of the comments, both private and public.

To me, I don't have any logic for not exercising. I freely admit that I just plain don't like it; it's an emotional decision. Explaining how little time I have now was just to show how I came to feel that way. Asking whether I was crazy to calculate that I could lose weight without exercising was just that – wondering if I'm missing something with my reasoning, since losing weight is obviously not something that has come easily to me. Steve, you've made outstanding points in favor of regular walks, especially the cardio workout benefits, and I'm now thinking about it a lot more than I had been. (Good points about the scale too.)

At this point, I'm drinking diet soda mostly for the caffeine, since I prefer it to coffee. I know that studies have shown no connection between aspartame and health problems, but every time I get a headache, I can't help but glance down at that bottle in my hand and wonder just a little. I'm still frequently light-headed and fatigued on this diet, so caffeine is carrying me through my day; I look forward to eliminating it someday.

Tommy always calls me "my friend" when he sees me, so frequently that Kelly and I half-expect him to show up at our door asking to play Wii or borrow some money. If he was a true friend, he'd understand and support what I'm doing as enthusiastically as all of you do. :-)

Amy Austin | April 19, 2010
Wow. I've really been slack about keeping up with stuff around here... particularly the blogging pages. What a tremendous entry this is... and way to go, Scott!

I hardly think there is a thing I can offer that hasn't already been said (well, except maybe... happy to hear about your cat!) -- I'm with everybody else on everything out there, from plateaus to muscle-building and cardio! (NEVER underestimate the power of a little bit of strength training -- a little bit of weight-lifting can go a really long way in supplementing your cardio health and weight loss... seriously!)

Finally, just want to second what Matt said about "hardcore" -- word on that! Cutting down to 1200 cals like that is balls-out determination, and I am totally impressed that you've stuck it out for this long now -- you go!! And also Steve's "one man's opinion": I think it's shared by more than just that, and -- once again -- *awesome* ballsmanship to share it here online with everyone else. Way to set yourself up for either potential public failure/embarrassment or outstanding motivated success... and then totally kick ass!!! Matt is right... I am totally proud of and inspired by you -- keep it up, Scott... I'll be looking forward to meeting a new man come October 2010!!!

Scott Hardie | April 20, 2010
Thank you! I am happy to share my progress, or lack thereof when I fail. I want to write more often; I wish I could make the time.

1200 isn't so bad once you get used to it. There are days when it's hard, and days when I give in and have a snack, but most days I get by pretty well. Weekends are the hardest. Kelly will be gone this weekend for her quarterly Amtgard trip, so I plan to give myself a night off and order a pizza to quell the urges. I still have the same appetite I always did, but physically, I just can't eat much now.

I've been thinking more and more about exercise. It feels like my knees are getting stiffer and weaker lately, when I would expect them to improve.

I fall behind in blog replies too. :-)

Amy Austin | April 22, 2010
Yes... it's a good thing that the stomach shrinks, just as it stretches, to accommodate our changed eating habits!!

Definitely do give more thought to exercise... there are a number of pretty simple calisthenics you can do to improve the muscles around your knees -- you just might feel a little silly doing them, lol. With nobody else around, this weekend is a perfect time to give some a try!

I just feel like I'm falling behind in *everything* lately... and it's frustrating me quite a bit. I don't feel like the tortoise... I feel like the poor dead frog and lizard carcasses all over the place after a good hard freeze. :-p


Logical Operator

The creator of Funeratic, Scott Hardie, blogs about running this site, losing weight, and other passions including his wife Kelly, his friends, movies, gaming, and Florida. Read more »

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