170 pounds (77 Kg) was only my target and not the Bullseye!
For a month now I have oscillated around my target weight of 170 lbs, one of the targets I set for myself along the way, but this was not the final goal! This was simply an estimate of the weight I was trying to achieve as part of my health plan and was based on an idea of who I was when I was a teenager and young adult. Obviously I have lost muscle mass since then so the difference will still be fat.
But since reaching 170 lbs and completing phase 2 of my health plan, weight loss is no longer a component. At least for now, maintenance of this weight while building muscle through exercise is the plan. I will continue to burn fat as I gain strength and muscle mass, which helps maintain my weight as I burn, but I don’t plan to burn all of the fat.
As someone who goes through periods where I cannot eat and now has a very high metabolic rate, burning calories constantly, I need to maintain a healthy layer of fat I can use if necessary when sick and eating is not possible. Healthy is and always has been my goal. Weight loss, muscle mass, fat content all need to be in a balance that is healthy for me. I enjoy working out and lifting weights and the work and fortitude required so I expect I may need to adjust my final target weight up a bit possibly.
Achieving 170 lbs, although a target, was never the goal. I think this is critical to understand. An artificially determined, desired weight is not sufficient as a goal and is a likely reason most people do not maintain what they have lost. The behaviour that led to the weight gains is still there. Nothing has changed. That is not going to work. And although weight is a significant factor in many ways, appearance does not seem to be a sufficient factor in motivating permanent change.
Setting targets helps for sure! To have a specific milestones you work towards and are rewarded by when you reach them is extremely important. But what happens after you reach them is even more important. If the goal is to be healthy, nothing changes but a few specifics. All along the changes in behavioir are intended to be permanent changes. Permanent change in what you eat, the way you eat, the way you exercise, how you sleep, what you do to handle stress, are all a part of being healthy.
Weight loss must be a component of a bigger plan if it is your goal to make a permanent change in your weight. I customized my health plan with great care to what I now know that is unique to me and begins with what I eat. Changing what I eat was not just about losing weight, rather it was about clearing my head and body and making me stronger and healthier in order to achieve the ultimate goal of good health.
Changing what I ate was about putting the right foods in me to keep me strong in both mind and body. Changing what I eat was also about creating a healthy environment for losing weight. Maintaining an appropriate amount of fat is necessary so I can exercise; go to the gym and walk my dogs the way I like to, with a lot of energy for my dogs and I. Losing weight was not about appearance. It was about being healthy and being able to enjoy exercise, my life and my dogs.
Losing weight was not easy. It was a lot of work and it has been very rewarding and critically important, but it is but one piece of the pie. An important piece for sure, as exercise for me is not possible carrying so much extra fat, which creates extra work and heat and insulation trapping that heat inside me. It also puts a lot of stress on one’s body while exercising and makes that exercise harder.
I see this in the gym where people are pushed by trainers too hard too fast and do things they are not ready for. I know where that goes, burn out, or hurt. I have been there! Most recently earlier in 2017 and in 2014 as well. I have been careful in each phases to make sure I am pushing myself, but that I am not over doing it either. Every step has been a carefully planned step. Each phase has had goals that when reached result in further changes to my behaviour.
Phase 1 was changes in diet combined with moderate exercise and weight loss. This phase was focused mostly on what I ate and how much. In addition to my 185 lb goal weight, keeping my intestines working and my brain working was critical and required very specific changes to what I eat. Learning what works and what doesn’t work. Knowing that when I began pushing myself physically, that this would be critical in order to feed myself sufficiently to maintain the mental and physical fortitude that would be necessary.
Phase 2 required increased and regular exercise, including very intense periods of determined work along with slower weight loss. Losing weight in combination with building strength and muscle is challenging and more difficult. I needed to make this task easier (dropping to 185 lbs (82 Kg) first) and be ready mentally, which meant a diet capable of feeding my brain and keeping it healthy and feeding muscle growth while allowing for the burning fat. I definitely added protein but still restricted how many calories and carbs in particular that I ate in order to keep metabolism high and burn fat both while exercising and while at rest.
Phase 3, my current phase, no longer includes weight loss at all, having reached my goal of 170 lbs, but I am not done. And in fact this phase has involved increasing how much I eat. How much protein, fat and carbohydrate I eat has changed and I have added more of each to my diet. At this point 170 lbs is the minimum weight I want to maintain, but as I put on more muscle, and I have increased strength about 40 % so far, maintaining a good balance of fat may mean my goal weigh actually needs to increase. I won’t see that as slipping. Slipping would have to include eating crap, or gaining weight when not intending to.
I have always known that in order to maintain my weight loss, there would have to be more than simply losing weight as my goal. I would need to make permanent changes to myself and my behaviour. I may not have known how drastic those changes would have to be, or even what was behind some of them. But I always knew permanent changes to my behaviour would be required.
Once I achieve a level of strength, muscle mass and fitness that I see as healthy for me and that I am comfortable with, phase 4 will be about finding a balance of diet and exercise that maintains a that healthy body mass, strength and fitness. A permanent change in behaviour from my past that will result in a constant and healthy weight and fitness and a healthy mind throughout my future.
I love my new diet. I love my new weight. I feel great. I don’t really miss anyting. I don’t crave the things I have cut out. I actually see much of it as simply toxic, just like I see eating canola or corn laced with RoundUp / glyphosate. I no longer see food in chocolate bars and jujubes, cookies…
There is no substance in the artificial chemicals that are added for flavour. They simply drive hunger for something that is not healthy or good for us. They drive us to eat more of food that has no value, or more likely a negative value in our attempt to lose weight and become healthy. And there is no regard for the health value from those who have created these foods to dominate our diet.
Whether it is artificial flavours, or dyes, fillers, thickeners, preservatives, whatever; there is little health value in any of it. I avoid it all. My diet change was about more than weight loss. It was about my cognitive and mental health. It was about my strength and energy and desire and happiness. Weight loss was simply one component of a much bigger plan.
A plan to be as healthy as I can be. Healthy despite my mast cell disease. Healthy so I can enjoy each day. So I can do the things I want to do like run and walk with my two amazing dogs. We generate dozens of smiles as we cruise through town and my dogs and I work hard. We go as fast as we can and have as much fun working hard together as we can. I can enjoy my time with them and in the gym now and I don’t burn out. I have the energy and I am having fun!