Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The John Nelson Weight Loss Challenge: Final Weigh-In!

On Sunday John and I took a 30 miler out toward Fort Washington. I hadn't ridden with him since last year, when he was almost 50 pounds heavier. Let me just say that those wheels you've been thinking about--the lightweight ones? Yeah, they won't give the boost that losing 50 pounds will give you. John's riding well and he's looking healthy. Even better, he's raised almost $1,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Thanks, John, for working your ass off for a couple of good causes: The Wounded Warriors Project and your own damned self.

Before and after pictures of John

Which reminds me...if you pledged, today is your day to find out how much you owe. But I'll let John give you the good / bad news:

First and foremost I have to apologize to you and Kevin for not holding my end of the bargain. I did not post for the last two weeks due to unforeseen circumstances. It became my first lesson learned about this whole dieting thing. It is also part of my biggest success of my “plan” throughout all of this weighing and riding, eating and measuring, hoping and failing, buckling down and dropping it off. Nevertheless, I have no real excuse except to say that things have changed drastically for me, physically and mentally. But through it all I have come through and achieved something pretty good when it comes right down to it; also pretty amazing in some ways. Still, after months of ups and downs, this weight loss challenge journey has come to an end. And also, it is a beginning.

When I started this challenge, at the behest of my friend Kevin, I had already lost 15 pounds. The challenge, for me at least, was to see if I could 1) lose more weight, 2) keep it off, and 3) get a little faster on the bike. Then, once Kevin added the twist about raising money for Wounded Warriors, the ordeal took on a whole new meaning. Not only was I doing it for my own health, this might impact a veteran’s health and well being as well. That became both a motivator and a curse near the end, when I could not lose any more. I wanted to raise more money in the end. But, there are limitations to overcome and things that are just beyond our control. Dealing with the minor happenstance of not being able to drop five pounds is meager when compared to losing a part of your body like some of our heroes. So I reconciled that and looked back on what I had done and recognized that we have done at least something. That’s better than nothing at all.

In the end here, looking back on each month, I have learned a thing or two. I’ve learned things about both my body, and about coping with life in general. That’s what I’ll focus on here before giving out the final scale values.

Two weeks ago I was at a milestone. I was under 300 for the first time in years. And I was determined to lose more and get to 290. At the time I wrote that blog goal, it seemed like an easy accomplishment. Hell, I could have gone lower, I would brag. But little did I know that a lesson was about to raise its ugly head. That lesson was that “Life gets in the way sometimes.” Two weeks ago I got a promotion of sorts, to run the Freedom of Information Act office at work. But that entailed something that stopped me in my tracks, and changed everything I had been doing to lose weight. I worked from before sunrise to well past midnight on most nights and even on weekends. Slaving away on a computer day in day out. Never having a chance to go work out, or get home and do something other than get back on the computer to complete the daily chore. And though I knew it was coming, I never knew the extent it was to take on my life and “the plan”.

The weekend before all this started I had a plan. The plan within “the plan” was to ride centuries and drop pounds by putting in the miles. The Saturday was the 6 Pillars Century in Eastern Maryland. With my newly found healthy weight of 300 pounds, I was going to ride off 5 pound before bogging down in the job, sitting on a chair all day and not being able to go to the gym. So off I went, clocking my fastest 100 miles in years. I speed home and ripped off the sweat stained; salt caked clothes and stood on the scale. My heart beat hard. I was waiting for an intense number. The scale beeped ready. Ta daa! One pound loss. WTF! And I never use that term. But I did that day, before stepping backward off the scale, and trying again. One pound loss. After driving 100 miles there, riding 100 miles at a faster pace than I had done before, in the heat and sun, running out of water near the end, and drinking nothing more than a bottle of Gatorade on the 100 mile way back, I lost one pound.

The following two weeks that got me to this point were the same. I made sure to eat properly, sticking harshly to the plan. Reducing the intake as much as possible and trying to get some output in the work-a-day lifestyle I got promoted into. Still… Nothing. I stayed put. The scale would move up a pound one day and then down two the next. Only to bounce back up to the level I started at on the day before. Never two downs in a row and never two ups in a row. It had been frustrating. All the while I had in the back of my head, I need to make more money for the cause. I need to make more money for the cause!

Suddenly, I found myself frustrated, stressed out from work and not losing weight, tired from the lack of sleep, and going crazy without the release of pent up energy that is often alleviated by a good ride. If it weren’t for a forced slow, albeit fun, ride with Kevin last Sunday, I might have blown my brains out. But, standing in front of the bathroom mirror after taking a shower after the ride, I saw something that put all of this back into perspective. The biggest success of my “plan” throughout all of this weighing and riding, eating and measuring, hoping and failing, buckling down and dropping it off, has been that through all of the stress, work, frustrations, sleepless nights and going crazy, I remained at 298.5 pounds.

I didn’t resort back to eating crap. I got on the bike and rode up Fort Washington’s hill without stopping. My jeans don’t fit. My jaw line is back. I have a slight dimple in my cheek when I smile. I can ride 100 miles faster than I did 10 years ago. I don’t wheeze when I walk up stairs. I am not diabetic. I’m very much looking forward to climbing Big Bear Lake’s climb to the clouds. And dammed, I look good, even if I say so myself.

Looking back on what I came from, with the picture back on February 1st, I had a double chin and my pension for pizza night out weighed (pun intended) on my need to be healthy again. Now, I have a love affair with the elliptical machine number 3 in the USDA gym, a habit of a diet coke and a small chili or five baked chicken wings for lunch. I’ve reduced my stomach size so that eating more than that feels full. I don’t’ feel “tight” when I wear my cycling jerseys anymore. And after the California trip, I’m going shopping for new pants that fit without the need for a belt. Oh, and belt with holes not made with a Phillips screw driver because I needed to tighten up. Looking back on what I came from, I have to say this has been worth it.

Even though I didn’t hit my second goal of 290, I lost 30 pounds in three months. Even though we didn’t raise tons of money for Wounded Warriors, I think the total topped $1000.00. Even though I don’t have ripped muscles like the guys in the 90 day workout commercial, I can see my belt buckle now. And even though I may not be able to climb hills like Kevin did on Sunday, I am healthier than your average 300 pound man. And I intend to make it better. I reconciled with all that and looked back on what I had done and recognized that we have done at least something. That’s better than nothing at all. Thirty pounds, $1000.00, belt buckles on new belts, and my health… what’s could be better than that?

SO thanks folks. Thanks for the moments of encouragement, then well wishes and the constant “where’s your blog this week” emails. Thanks for supporting the cause and helping the Wounded Warriors a bit more. I had fun and may likely do this again next January. Lord knows I’ll put on the winter weight. But this time, I won’t be starting above 300 pounds.

Here are some parting tips from lessons I’ve learned:

1. Do not fear dieting. Most people are fearful that as soon as they engage in a diet, they have to give up all the foods that they love to eat. They worry too much that they end up binge eating or cutting down the number of meals that they have in a day, but over sizing their meals. You need to understand that there are seven days in a week, and you have a day off to be off-diet so you can recharge and reward yourself.

2. Do not stress yourself too much about the type of foods that you eat. In fact, you can eat anything, but just watch out the portion. This is an effective way so you do not deprive yourself, which can lead to emotional eating. Change your mindset to think about selecting foods that will help your body's health rather than worrying about foods that will affect your body's weight.

3. Exercise regularly.

4. Do not depend on anyone else, but yourself to motivate you to be healthy. But if you do… write a blog about it.


Drake said...

Hey John, sometimes weightloss can be counteracted by the addition of muscle. Don't be discouraged by the 1 pound only. And weight can fluctuate daily, so I used to only hit the scale on Mondays. Evidence that you are making progress is that clothes fit better, you feel and look better. That's more important than the hard fast scale number. Plus, those things have a tendency to be "broken". Been trying to get the one at my Dr's office fixed for years...that thing always tells lies on me!

Drake said...

Oh, also sleep has a big impact on weight loss. Get more sleep. (From the guy who stayed up till 2am this morning).

Major Nelson said...

The first lessons I've learned about this is that "life happens". Scales lie. Sleep is good. And that muscle weighs more than fat. Still, it is all good. Drake's advice is sound (especially the doctor's scale thing). Bottom line is that in order to lose weight, take into account that it is all about you. Your commitment. Your time. Your health. Not your doctor's. Not your mother's, Not your friend's. And certainly, not the scale's. Lose what you can, when you can, but most of all, stay healthy and do healthy things. And get your friends involved. You'd be amozed how much they influence and help you. THANKS KEVIN!

Micah said...

Your final words of wisdom are a good start and definitely perfect for empowering yourself to make good choices. I'm to the point where I need to realize that I really can't eat what I want. I should say...I have to stop wanting some things. Ice cream is one of those things but I'm not willing to give it up. So instead I'm willing to sacrifice things like doughnuts and soda. Some day I may be willing to switch from ice cream to a healthier substitute.

Darryl said...

Congratulations, but the only way to eliminate temptation is to give in to it completely. Pass the Debbie Cakes