Before and After

It hasn't quite yet been a year since this picture was taken (I think by my sweet aunt Cindy) for our 6th wedding anniversary. 

A lot has changed since then.

The team got a little bigger.

And our little guy got a whole lot bigger, if not physically, certainly in maturity. I gave anchovies a try..

And I started "clipping in" with Look-keos, just like this guy:  very much worth the read...

In March, I visited the doctor and weighed in at 232 pounds. I'd already made some changes, and lost a few pounds, and I was wearing clothes, so this is a good approximate starting point. At 6', my BMI at the time was over 30..

Today I weighed in at 181 pounds, here's the most recent "after" I have, wearing size 32 waist pants (instead of the 38's in the before pics).

Unbelievably, this is the 50lb milestone; a goal I set for my anniversary in October. So what did I do? It all started with some math, 31+20 = 51; the realization that I'd be in my 50's when our second child hit 20. I've been talking myself into being healthier for several years now, and part of the problem I faced was a sudden change in work adding 2 hours of driving a day. Over the course of 2 years, I slowly gained back the 15 lbs I'd lost. I decided to switch projects earlier this year and made health a bigger priority. 

I realized a couple of other things that helped me to find my own motivation to make a change. Firstly, the #1 killer out there is the myocardial infarction, AKA the heart attack. Since March my resting heart rate has gone from the high 60's to the low 40's. Another thing I realized is that there's a lot of interesting stuff that's yet to happen in my lifetime, including the important milestones in my children's lives. 

Some interesting numbers:
  • I ate an average of 1600 calories per day since March
  • 50 pounds of fat represents a deficit of 175,000 calories. That's more than 1,200 cans of coke. I could have had 6 cans of coke a day and lost no weight. I could also have eaten just an extra 2 scones at starbucks a day, and lost nothing.
  • I've put about 1500 miles on my bike, at an average of 14mph, probably 100 hours of biking since March. You burn more than 800 calories an hour biking at that speed, so that's about 80,000 calories just in biking.
  • After some math, this puts my average basal rate about about 2000 calories per day over these months.
So what tips could I provide to anyone else? I found that small goals 2 months at a time are the best way to go. I got an app called "my diet diary" on my android phone, and it lets you put in a goal along with all your food and exercise. I did this religiously until I had a better understanding of calories from food and calories I was burning. I haven't needed it lately, but when I get to my 'healthy' weight I'll probably start using it again to help maintain.

I decided to be a vegetarian (and some fish once every week or 2), which is working out far better than I ever thought. It's easier to limit calories this way, and the food is good. Oddly, I find meat much less appealing now that it's been a month since I had meat - 2-3 months since I had it on a regular basis. I also stopped drinking milk - and instead of 1 gallon a week, I take an extra vitamin D suppliment. I made these changes to my diet slowly, and found it was easy that way.

I've learned about metabolism and carbon input-output. I research nutrition, and try to build muscle. Have you ever heard of glycogen? Understanding how the liver and pancreas manage blood sugar as you take in and use food is as important as anything else you do. 

I've taken green-coffee bean extract, finished the bottle off today. I've drank 1 tbsp of Bragg's apple cider vinegar in 8-16 ounces of water as often as every day. Have either of these helped? Maybe, maybe not. 

Probably lunches of Kale sandwiches are the biggest contributors to weight loss aside from commuting on a bicycle. It's easy to get 1000+ calories when you go out to lunch, heck, your average salad bar tub will get you at or near 500 calories depending on what you put on it. 16 grain bread, some mustard and 2 cups of kale is under 250 calories. With a 200 calorie breakfast like oatmeal, you can get home and have 1000 calories left for dinner before hitting 1500. That might not be restricted enough for everyone to lose weight, that's why you also need exercise. Your body will just chill you out and consume fewer calories if you don't exercise. I think this is why a lot of "diets" are a flop long term.

There were a few things I was surprised by when getting healthy aside from a significantly slower resting heart rate. 

I burned only about 4500 calories riding from Monterey VA to Green Bank WV and back - a trip of about 70 miles. This is LESS than the calories I burned in a 50 mile cycling challenge in June, which I tallied as almost 5000 calories - being 30 pounds lighter means you burn a lot less calories.

Another surprise was that you don't actually lose any weight when you're in a major endurance event. Since you struggle to keep yourself fed and watered, you really can't afford to miss out on the nutrition you need to make it through. Weight loss happens during all the other days.

I was surprised that I don't really feel like such a zombie after work. Coming home from work before and I'd just want to go to bed. Now I don't have to force myself to play with Karl if he wants to go to the playground.

BTW, here's a picture of the cleats of my bike shoes after about 150 miles.

That's the one I "plant" with at stop lights and such, but for all the scratches, they aren't performing any worse and replacing the cleat is a cheap proposition. I have nothing else to compare them to, and so far, so good. Pedal straps, track stands and falls on my fixie prepared me well for this, so I haven't had nearly the problems adjusting as the "fall guy" did.

Here she is incredulous that I would purposely attach my shoes to my pedals. Lucy is so smiley these days, and so smart too!

One last thought to leave you with, hypothetical second person. I am a road cyclist. I spend a lot of time thinking about road safety. I've had people comment "biking in this area? You're really taking your life into your hands!" Aside from the fact that this is a really flip thing to say, and you are an asshole if you say this to people, it's absolutely true. I am keenly aware of the risk posed by cars, so I operate my bike in such a way to minimize that risk. In the end, I'm healthier, and likely to live much longer. I would also make the case that I'm safer on my bike route than I would be in a car, because I am on slower roads, pay a lot closer attention, and get a lot of deferential treatment from drivers - sometimes too much! I'm more likely to feel good enough to walk to the store in the evening, and avoid roads entirely when normally I'd be driving around. The most dangerous roads and intersections I can avoid altogether. A bicycle is much more flexible than a car when it comes to choosing your route!

Watch out for me out there. I'm the guy riding in traffic, allowing you space to pass when it's safe, and yielding to you at the appropriate moments. All I ask is that you give me a few feet as you pass, and obey the rules of the road. If we're at a stop sign, and you have the right of way, take it. Treat me like I was in a car. Yes, I have broken the speed limit too, although I'm not sure what would happen if I was stopped by police. I'd probably throw a party.

Cars are almost never delayed by my presence, and I pride myself on that. I get along at a pretty good clip now too. Please read and do your part to watch out for these situations whether you're on 2 wheels or 4. And yes, I think people on recumbent bikes are dumb.


Elizabeth said...

Looking great, Erik. I've been trying to get healthier, myself, and you're an inspiration.

Masha said...

Lookin' good Erik! Love the suspenders.