Friday, May 02, 2008

I've Lost 15 Pounds! Ask Me How!

Don't bother asking - I'm going to tell you anyway. And at the end, you'll also learn my secret to losing weight - it's not just diet and exercise!

So this year I made this New Year's Resolution - I was going to whittle down my ectomorphic body to the recommended BMI for my height, which is 5' 8". I was, at my peak, around 180. This is the result of a lack of exercise coupled with depression and comfort-eating from my recent divorce, and my lack of a bathroom scale.

So once I bought a scale and assessed the damage, I devised a strategy. Since I worked pretty close to my apartment, about 3 miles, I decided that I could get there by bike. After all, I could either waste 12 minutes a trip driving there or I could profitably burn calories for half an hour riding. * So outfitted with the bike, a helmet, and a heart rate monitor (more out of curiosity than anything else) I commenced burnin' off that excess avoirdupois.

For the first two months, that was my whole strategy - daily exercise and more sensible eating. That helped me lose 10 pounds. Additionally I felt more alive and I've developed a nice tan, something my pale countenance needed aesthetically.

Caveats to this plan, by the way - obviously if you have a forty minute drive to work, you're screwed as far as the bike trip goes, because it'll take you around 6 hours. You can't listen to the radio because you need your ears to detect the traffic sneaking up behind you. And Canoga Park in the dead of winter, even in the middle of LA, is surprisingly cold. Antarctica cold. Mr. Freeze couldn't take that kinda cold. Bring a sweater.

Around the end of March, I realized I was stalling at around 172 pounds, 10 pounds short of my goal. Since I'm around actors all the time now (I'm in a play this month and another play next month, but I swear I'll stop after that!) weight advice is pretty easy to get. My friend Art gave me the obvious advice: "Stop with the carbs." No bread! No sugar.

These would be difficult things to give up, but my weak will power is easily trumped by my vanity so I have manged to curtail both bread and sugar with relative ease. Especially bread! My director Karen also suggested that I avoid all white foods, which is pretty weird but essentially good advice.

On the exercise and no carb program, for the last two weeks I've lost about .6 pounds a day, and as of yesterday I'm officially out of the "overweight" BMI zone and in the "normal" zone. Normal is a term of art here; we're Americans! I've been normal this whole time.

But what is the secret? I've been through this before and when someone asked me that I just sighed and said "no secret - diet and exercise." But that's not really true. Those things alone won't do it because the diet thing flies out the window when you start feeling hungry. The secret, the thing that will make you lose the weight and keep it off, is this:

Find ways to like the hunger.

That's your only hope. I'm a little hungry about half the day. I would reach for a snack normally, but I've convinced myself that mild hunger is just your body's way of telling you it's burning off the fat. Mild hunger is exercise that you don't even have to do! Extreme hunger, low-blood-sugar-fainting hunger, is a different story and you should just open up that bag of Wonder Bread and enjoy. But most of the time, listen to your body, thank it for the helpful info, and plan your trip to the beach. On a bike. And use sunscreen.

* You probably don't live so close to your job, but you may live that close to a mass transit access point! Good exercise, and you'll be reducing your carbon footprint, and you'll be ahead of the curve when gas goes up to $5.00 a gallon on Memorial Day. Ha ha, just kidding! Unless it does, in which case I'm predicting.


GWK said...

Piker writes "And Canoga Park in the dead of winter, even in the middle of LA, is surprisingly cold."

No Global warming in Canoga Park?

Danielk said...


John Kaiser said...

"obviously if you have a forty minute drive to work, you're screwed as far as the bike trip goes, because it'll take you around 6 hours"

Tell me about it, I have to drive 89 miles each way to my Ph.D. program. To compensate I get up at 4 a.m. so I can make it to the on campus gym at 6 a.m. for a good workout.

BTW, congrats on getting back into a health BMI range. Keep up the lifestyle changes and always stay cautious- bad habits are all too easy to slip back into.

I started out at 206, dropped down to 166, and I am now back up around 182 thanks to the holidays and lots of small mistakes adding up. But I will get back down to 166 soon enough and then hit my goal of 159 lbs.