Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I am the Biggest Loser.

     You have my word that this will be the final update on our 12 week family weight loss contest.  I know it may have been annoying to hear the constant chiding of my siblings, the endless updates, and other complete blogs dedicated to it, so after this one, I promise, no more.  Thanks for bearing with it. 

     I want to start by thanking my family for all the support during these 12 weeks.  My wife and kids were a great support network for me, always agreeing to eat the diet food we made or exercise with me, when I wanted to do something.  It always helps when you have a weight loss partner, and in fact the top 3 winners in the contest had spouses that lost double digits too. My wife, although not in the competition, dropped a solid
Sunday morning's actual weigh in
 12 lbs which put her back to her high school weight.  Congratulations dear! The end result of the contest of the 15 of us, is that there are a couple of hundred fewer lbs that we are toting around.  That's incredible.  We also motivated several other friends and neighbors to start dieting and or exercising, so the true loss in incalculable.  Since it was a challenge or a competition, there had to be a winner, and one was declared on Sunday.  This individual lost 19.33% of his body mass, a total of 35 lbs in 12 weeks.  With a starting weight of 181 lbs, he weighed in on the last morning at 146.4 lbs, oh and that person was the writer of this blog, The Ongion.  I lost a couple of inches off of my neck, my waist went from 39.5" to 33.5" and my chest also went down about 4". My family was gracious in congratulating me on my weight loss, and handed over the $300 wager promptly.  I also had a side bet for $20 with my brother Ace, and for some reason, that was a little sweeter to win than the $300.  So, I lost 35 lbs in 12 weeks, so the question begs, how did I do it?

     I gave you my game plan in the original blog that I posted (see Its-time-to-lose-some-weight-again), and I pretty much followed it.  I did give up alcohol until I had lost the first 20 lbs, and it was a good motivator for me to lose them.  While I was not imbibing, I also started drinking club soda straight to condition me to the
Ta-Da Last day of the diet
taste of it.  When I did go back to being able to have a cocktail, I swapped the tonic that I usually mixed my gin with, with club soda and saved 78 calories per drink.  That was just one habit I changed that will continue to benefit me now that my goal is to maintain the new weight.  There were countless others that I can't even think of, but now do.  I mentioned that I was going to track my calories daily and this was a brand new thing for me.  I never had done this at any point in my life, and for a guy that spent his whole life in the food industry, I was surprised at how much I learned doing this.   The biggest shock was my overuse of oils, even the good ones, as it relates to calories.  I found no oil or fat that didn't have at least 100 calories per tablespoon and my Glug-Glug method of distributing oil into frying pans likely added hundreds of additional uncounted calories to my previous dieting efforts, but now, never again.  I really like the Livestrong diet tracker and I downloaded the mobile app, although I still tended to track in the evenings on my laptop.  After you set your goal, it will tell you how many calories that you can consume each day to meet this goal.  I started at 1650 calories per day and because of the weight loss, finished near 1400.  I invested a few minutes each day to make sure that I was staying on my caloric goal, or that I was doing enough exercise to make up for my bad days.  Yes, exercise.  For those of you looking for a way to lose 35 lbs in 12 weeks without this, you can stop reading now, because this blog doesn't have that answer. 

     So how much did I exercise?  I had proposed an hour a day in my initial blog, but I have to admit now, that figure was part propaganda to lull my siblings into doing no more exercise than that.  I actually set an increasing schedule of exercise each month and even exceeded that.  In January, I committed to exercising a
I never did find those Ab things
full hour each day, and I never missed a single day, not one.  For February, I moved this number to an hour and 15 minutes, and I started taking Sundays off, but after 2, I went back to exercising on Sundays too.  I never missed a day, except for those 2 planned Sundays.  For March I went to an hour and a half, and I never missed a day. By mid month I found myself exceeding the time by as much as a hour some days.  Yes, I was fanatic about it, but I knew that I would have to be.  As my body started to realize what I was doing and tried desperately to hold onto the weight, I would actually increase my calories and then just do more exercise to work off those calories.  I'm not saying it wasn't difficult to exercise that much, as a matter of fact, I rose most weekday mornings by 4:30 am and by 6:30 am most weekends.  I say most because some days I had to get up earlier.  I started going to my gym at the local high school 15 minutes earlier than my exercise group usually got there, and I stayed an hour after they left. I did a variety of exercises and weight lifting, to once again, keep my body guessing, but I did mostly elliptical training as it burns almost twice the number of calories.  At home I have an exercise bike with decent resistance and it has elliptical type arms to increase the burn.  All the way through I gradually increased the resistance on the machines that I used and now have some of them at their top limits. I have exercised for a few years, but I have never sweat like this before.  When I was traveling I would have to hang my exercise clothes over chairs at night after my workout and place them in front of the heater vent as that was the only way that they would
Pre-diet this summer. 
dry prior to my needing them for my morning workout.  At home, I created a lot more laundry for my wife.  A few work days required me to be more creative, as I had early flights and late dinners, so I'd walk fast in the airport terminals and use my luggage as weights, but again, I never once missed a day or exercised less than the plan.  I plan on keeping up the exercise with much shorter time but with heavy resistance.  I did a half an hour yesterday and it's pretty easy to go back to that once I've done 3 times that some days.  

      To close out this blog I'll talk about motivation.  For me the competition created a lot of motivation, I'm just wired like that.  The money was secondary.  I also allowed myself an occasional "break" from the diet part of the competition, a planned vacation and some date nights with my wife, but even then, didn't go fully back to my old, bad habits.  As the months rolled on, I had to motivate my metabolism a little higher too, and I used several tricks to do this.  I used hot spices and peppers at almost every meal to boost my metabolism.  I drank more caffeine during the day and made sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day.  The last month, I tried to do 10 minutes of vigorous exercise, every 3-4 hours including running stairs or finding something to do, even mid-work day.  I walked a lot more and found a convenient 1, 2 and 5 mile route around my house and used them as needed.  One of the oddest things I did was turn down the thermostat in my office a full 5 degrees. Your body burns more calories to bring it back to temperature, so I suffered in a colder room, in order to gain a small advantage over the rest of the field.  When home, I used heavily iced water to do the same thing. I used cinnamon on some foods to keep my blood sugars down, especially on the cookie diet week (See Let them eat cake, err I mean cookies. ) I had stalled out at that point in the diet and this radical diet put me back into weight loss mode.  The last thing that motivated me was not knowing how close the other dieters were to me.  They did a good job of keeping me in the dark on this, and indeed if a couple of them had lost just a couple more lbs, this blog would have had a different title.  I won't single those folks out, as I think everyone who participated dropped weight, and learned some healthier habits and all deserve kudos for their efforts.    I think the most fitting way to close this blog is with a picture of the group of participants that was able to gather for the celebration brunch,  In case you have trouble finding me, I'm the skinny one in the middle. 
9 of the 15 dieters

No comments: