Sunday, February 2, 2014

How I lost about 14KG in 4 months.

God that Blog Post Title sounds like a bad late night TV ad.

So not really sure where to begin.  For much of my life I hated sports or physical activity.  As a kid I loathed Phys Ed at School, hated school sports and hated swimming.  I was a nerd before it was cool to be a nerd and before most people even knew what a nerd was.  And I'm proud to say I still am, nerd pride :)  After all, what non-nerd wears three (and sometimes four!) devices for a run.

It wasn't until my mid twenties that I had several half hearted attempts to get fit by joining gyms (I think I won a three month membership at one point).  These almost invariably came to nought because I didn't keep it up or because I saw little to no progress.

You'll need an Overclockers AU account to read this thread from 2004, where In my early 30's I started swimming.  Finally, an activity I enjoyed.  I'm no Olympian, but I've basically swam on and off since then.  Also joined and rejoined several gyms.  Have a good bike and enjoy riding, but not mega serious and not a member of the lycra brigade.  Commuted for a while, realised that in Melbourne it's simply not for me because it's simply not enjoyable.

At the beginning of 2013 I started swimming again, about three times a week, mostly 1500 metres a go.  Early on I got a Garmin Swim Watch.  It records the swim, the strokes, can tell when you turn, etc.  The main reason I got it is because I always lost count of how many laps I had done!

Garmin Swim Watch
Really enjoyed swimming, though I wasn't really losing any weight.  I was hovering between 88 and 90 Kilograms in weight.  Not obese but certainly should stand to lose a few KG.  I had a nice little spare tyre going on.  I'm 191 centimetres tall, 6 foot 3 inches.

My sister had been running for a while, and I'd been thinking of giving it a go.  So I went and bought some reasonable running shoes figuring that at the least that's what I needed over the crappy shoes I already owned.

I'd been recording Swims and Cycles also went into Runkeeper, so did the same with the run.

I went on Google Maps and measured out a course 2.5 Kilometres from my house, and planned to attempt to run out there and run back again.  I did this on October 3rd 2013.  If I needed to I would stop running and walk along the way, but I would attempt to run as much of it as I possibly could.

No-one was more surprised than I, that I managed to do it pretty much without stopping (apart from various drinking fountains along the way).  

Shocked at how much I enjoyed it, I continued.

I once ran around the Tan.  Bit overrated!

Sadly I didn't really keep a track of how much I weighed early on (e.g. during October), but with the crappy Big W Scales we had which I sporadically weighed myself on, I was still about 88KG when I started.

Kept running.  In October I basically ran and swam alternate days, a total of 22 Runkeeper Activities.

I was definitely losing weight now (and I'd had a few comments from various people, and my partner was obviously noticing a difference!).  But didn't really record it.

On November 2, my partner and I went and bought Fitbit Flex Bands.  This was another great motivator... walk the steps.  The Fitbit comes with a default goal of 10000 steps a day.  It does have the ability to track food though not from Australia.  To get around this, you link your Fitbit account into MyFitnessPal, another website/iOS app, and also Runkeeper as well. Here you can track food and scan barcodes of packing in Australia.  Now personally I haven't tracked my food that religiously, but my partner has, and we have kept pretty strict diets with only the very occasional slip.

Fitbit Flex.  The Charger is a bit dicky sometimes.
On November 15 we went and bought the Fitbit Wifi Scales.  This was where the real story begins... because now I was tracking my weight, as often as I wanted.  Just by stepping on the things I automatically had a record of my weight.  It's overkill, but mostly I weight myself in the morning after getting up, before and after a run, and before bed.  

When I first heard about wifi scales, I thought that sounded stupid and why would I want to spend all that money (they cost $149.95).  Well I can happily say that they are AWESOME because now I have an exact record of my weight history since November 15.  They do one job, and they do it really, really well.  I know there's other brands like Withings, but we chose Fitbit because it integrated with the Flex bands we already had.

With MyFitnesspal, you enter in your goals (e.g. lose 1KG per week).  So this is what my partner and I did.  It suggested we eat 1200 calories per day.

My Weight Loss since getting the Fitbit Scales

And here comes the biggest challenge.  Completely changing the way we ate.  Something I'm proud to say we've done and I really don't think we would ever go back to the way we were.

The biggest change for me personally was lunch (though all meals were affected).  Quite often I had Nandos or Oporto or Noodles with satay sauce, Burgers, Pizza.  From the Melbourne Central Foodcourt.  Jebus.

So, a typical day for me now goes like this:


Black Espresso Coffee, no sugar.  (I always had a full on Latte before, two sugars).
1/2 Cup of Quickoats.  Put some honey on top. (used to have 4/5 weetbix and milk).
4 prunes (god I love prunes.  Prunes are AWESOME).
Activia Yoghurt.

Morning Tea: Long Macchiato (changed from a XTRA LARGE Skinny Latte).  

Tin of Tuna, on Bread.
An Apple
A Banana

(Changed from god knows what at the Melbourne Central Foodcourt listed above).

Example Dinner:
Steamed Brussell Sprouts with Carrots, peas, corn.  Lite Hommus Dip.  Cottage Cheese. 

We have a lot of Asparagus, spinach, sprouts.  Hardly have any potatoes.  We do have pasta one night a week with sautéed Asparagus, garlic and chilli, blanch some tomatoes and stir fry all that up.  

Tonight we had steamed Vegetables with a Miso Broth.  Delicious.

So I've kept running and we've kept dieting.  My partner cycles to work and that's his exercise. 

Christmas was difficult, because there's heaps of social occasions to go to and it's very hard not to have a little nibble of what's on offer.  Christmas Day was just a dead loss, but that's okay.  It only took a day or two to recover.  

Last weekend I had a Chicken Parma.  It was delicious but I paid for it... I could feel that massive meal in my stomach for a day I reckon.  I don't need to eat that much any more.  I'm learning that if I do eat out and have something "naughty" it will almost certainly have an effect on how I feel, and also how "Regular" I am.  I'm so regular now that you could set Flinders Street Clocks by it.

So now it's four months later after I first started running.  Somewhere along the way I started doing pushups and crunches most mornings as well.  I started doing 3 sets of 12 pushups, I now do 3 sets of 25, and 3 sets of crunches of various ab exercises.

This 42 year old nerd just went to a Fitness Session for the new gym he's joined.  One of the activities was do as many pushups as you can in a minute.  I was just a little bit proud that I could do more than a much younger guy next to me (and he didn't look unfit).

I'm now hovering between 74/75KG,, down from 88, and about 10/11% body fat (down from about 18/19) according to the Fitbit Scales, with a Body Mass Index of about 20.  I don't need to lose more weight now... I'm waiting for the gym to open (long story) and then I'll be hitting the weights.

Current Weight and Number of Fitbit Steps

I've dropped from a size 36 pants to 32, and the 32 is loose.  I've gone from a Size 43 shirt to size 40.  Large T-Shirts I used to own would swim on me now, even some Mediums are to big.  I gave a whole heap of clothes to the Salvos because I just don't need them any more.  I'm not planning on going back.

And the best bit is if I was brave enough I could go to the beach and take my shirt off and it's possible that at least one or two people might look twice (not in horror).  

I feel better than I have in a long time.  

And the most incredible thing of all?  I enjoyed the entire process.  I love running, swimming, all the fitness stuff so much.  I want to go back in time and tell myself to start running at a much younger age, but it's too late for that.  I wasn't woefully unhealthy before due to the varied fitness over the years, but the big change was the diet, I would have lost weight with that diet with Swimming it just might have taken a bit longer (since swimming doesn't burn as many calories as running over the same amount of time).

The main challenge now is to stabilise the diet.  I don't need to lose more weight, so I need to increase the calories and continue with the fitness.  This will be a challenge as it would now be very easy to slip into old habits.  Never take my eyes off the scales.

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