|David S. far left (panting after prom, 1987), and again in 2010 (in glasses)|
A Facebook Throwdown - The David Longevity Project, Read it and Cheer!
David declared he would lose 15 lbs by New Year's Day. He made that goal. But everyone knows the toughest part of a diet is keeping the weight off. So now, six months later, how is he doing? Take a look:
|David S. (45 lbs lighter) May 2011|
In the beginning, what were your motivations for losing the weight? Have they changed at all?
My motivations are more or less the same as before. Broadly speaking, I needed to lose weight for my health, and to ensure that I'm around to see my kids grow up. However, that is such an abstract concept that I doubt I would have been successful if that was my only motivation. I originally got spurred into action by being "outed" by my friend Adam, and the humiliation served as very useful motivation. As time passed and I posted publicly about my weight, then I began to be motivated because I didn't want to "let down" the many friends who had been giving me encouragement. The friendly wagers with Adam and Joanne [Editor's note: There will be more about Joanne in an upcoming post, stay tuned] were also extremely helpful at strengthening my resolve.
What was the process like for you - what were your goals, how long did it take, what changes did you make, how were your spirits along the way?
I started trying to lose weight in August 2010, and then became seriously motivated in November after Adam first posted pictures of me being overweight. I set several incremental goals that psychologically seemed attainable to me. Usually these were 10 or 15 pounds at a time. To date I have lost about 45 pounds, but I never would have achieved this if that had been my goal from the very beginning. I was in pretty good spirits through Valentine's Day because I had been making steady progress the entire time, but after that I had a crisis of confidence for about two weeks. I had lost discipline and had gained back a bit of weight, and then found it VERY hard to get started again. I had planned on losing only 8 pounds over two and a half months, but wasn't able to lose weight slowly. Rather, I was stalled for nearly two months, and then had to essentially starve myself for three weeks to make that goal. That was very difficult, and I had serious doubts that I was going to make it.
What was the hardest part? How did you get through the rough parts? Was anything surprisingly easier than you thought it would be?
The hardest thing was dealing psychologically with the fact that the things that had been working for me previously were no longer working. For me, dieting is entirely about psychology and willpower. I can accept a fair degree of hunger if I feel confident that it is going to produce results. but that means that I need to see results occur over relatively short stretches of time. That two month period when I was not losing weight, even after being disciplined about what I was eating, was very hard.
What helped you the most?
The friendly wagers with Joanne were absolutely essential for getting me through the difficult period. Prior to that, the wagers with Adam played a similar role. I'm a competitive person, and I don't like to publicly fail, so they provided a critical psychological motivation (even though, in the big scheme of things, the stakes were pretty low).
How has this compared with past efforts to lose weight? If you've struggled before, were you afraid of failing again?
Losing weight had never previously be hard for me, so the last two months were a real struggle (usually, keeping the weight off is the hard part for me). I had to resort to eating only 700 - 900 calories a day for about three weeks, which is neither healthy nor sustainable. So, yes, I was quite worried about failing. The silver lining, however, was that although during most of this period I was not losing weight, after my initial lapse I was successful in keeping my weight stable. I had never previously been able to do that, so this makes me hopeful that I have learned how to keep weight off.
Do you feel like achieving this goal has made you more confident overall?
Well, it has made me less cocky. Up until this point I had become a little overconfident. So, a little realism was injected into the system, which I suppose is good.
Any new goals from here? What is your plan for keeping the weight off?
Up until now, nearly all of my weight loss has been achieved through dieting. I haven't really done any systematic exercising (something that my friends are enjoying teasing me about). But it is clear to me now that I won't make any more progress and I won't be able to easily keep the weight off without some form of exercise. My problem is that I simply am psychologically unwilling to block out special time for mundane exercise (running, swimming laps, etc.). However, Adam suggested that I get a treadmill and set up a desk over the handrails that will allow my to work on my computer as I walk. That's an idea that I'm very excited about, and my wife and I have bought a treadmill (it arrived today, actually, but I have not yet assembled it). I am hopeful that this will allow me to convert time otherwise spent parked on my butt into some low impact exercise.
My next (and final) objective to to reach 194...only six more pounds. At that point, my Body Mass Index will be pulled into the "normal" range, meaning that (according to the National Institutes of Health) I will no longer be fat. That is good enough for me!
In what ways has your life and how you feel about yourself changed?
People have asked me if I feel great, and I say, "No. I feel hungry." LOL. I am less self-conscious about my appearance, for sure, but to be honest I have reached the point in my life where that is not an especially important motivation (indeed, that was almost certainly a contributing factor to my weight gain in the first place). I feel a certain satisfaction that I have been successful, and intellectually I know that I have improved my health. But it is not like I have had a life altering "moment". I have had many small moments that are satisfying, though, and that is a good reward. And, the support that I have gotten from my friends has been extremely touching.