Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weight Loss

I am finally back from vacation and will start busting out some amazing blog entries any time now. Promise. Would I lie to you?

I have some good news to report. I've lost 25 lbs!

Now begins the long historical explanation, brace yourselves....

I'm just shy of 5'10" and have a slim frame. I like to lift weights a lot and up until a few years ago was pretty muscular for my size. I don't like cardio training much and pretty much hate running, I did play a lot of sports (rugby, wrestling, etc) before I moved north but that pretty much ended here except for martial arts training. The low 180s was a good, fit weight for me way back when. My weight would fluctuate here at times, I work a sedentary job and it's a loooooong winter, but I usually kept it in the not completely horrible range through weight lifting alone and a reasonably healthy diet.

Unfortunately, about 3 years ago I was in a car accident. My mom was driving and we were hit from the side into another car, kid ran the stop sign. He wasn't drunk or anything like that but simply wasn't paying attention. I injured my right shoulder and had an extremely difficult time getting treatment for it where I live. I couldn't lift weights at all at the beginning and only to a greatly reduced extent after. I never got back to the same level of workouts, took a long time just to feel healthy again. I put on a lot of weight and lost muscle, at the start of 2011 was 206 lbs. I was deluding myself into thinking I still looked OK and only needed to lose about 10 lbs or so, thinking of the muscle tone I used to have and adding in a little "winter weight." While I am still more muscular than Joe Average, there was no way I could carry that much weight before let alone now. Buying bigger clothes should have been a HUGE warning sign.

I knew I had to lose weight but was avoiding reality. The wake up call happened in March, I went on a winter survival training course in the vicinity of Drayton Valley, west of Edmonton Alberta (Canada). The course focus was on short term survival (we didn't kill any animals with our teeth) - emergency shelter building, fire starting, etc. To get to the area we were staying at, I had to hike in about 2.5 km (about a mile and a half) through the woods. Area was snow covered, temperatures were around -20 C daytime. The first km was along a snowmobile trail, pretty well packed down, slight uphill grade. The remainder was a steeper uphill grade and along a path that was packed down by snowshoes. Was told that I should be fine without snowshoes, the trail was pretty packed down.

It's not a very far walk and I was only packing in enough for 3-4 days so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. Started to get pretty overheated after the first 20 minutes, was sunny out, had a hard time dropping layers with my pack on (a little lesson there). No big deal though I was a bit dismayed to realize that I was actually a little tired - I was in terrible shape. Finally made the turn to the next portion of the course and that's when things really went to crap - first few steps and *thunk* in to the snow past my knees. Seems that I exceeded the weight limit for that trail! I spent the remainder of the slog up the hill sinking through to my crotch or knees every three steps or so. Sometimes I dropped through every step. I can't remember the last time I was so exhausted, at one point I really questioned if I was going to finish but I managed to get through it. I pretty much demolished the packed trail in the process, fortunately the people that came up later had snowshoes. The ones that came up before me were significantly (50+ lbs) lighter and had no issues.

I came back home and decided that it was time to face reality - I was fat and out of shape. Not grossly obese but I certainly wasn't "carrying a couple of extra pounds." I picked a target weight in my head (185) but was mostly focused on trying to change my eating habits and integrating new exercises into my workouts. I don't know if I will ever bench over 300 lbs again but that doesn't mean I can't work out at a high intensity.

Initially I tried to lose weight just by eliminating garbage food. I tried (and often failed) to cut out excess sugar, sweets, etc. That and some harder workouts helped, I got down to 190 or so. Still not anywhere good enough, it was embarrassing to see such clear evidence of how much weight I had to lose. Just eating "better" food wasn't enough, I needed to learn to eat more appropriate amounts too. I have reduced the amount of meat I eat, almost completely eliminated sugar cheats, stopped drinking diet pop, etc. I have learned to tolerate running stairs (I still hate jogging and stairs work year round) and have started working more with body weight exercises than weights to maintain functional strength while putting less pressure on my shoulder.

3 great news items:

1. I went through a pretty intensive training seminar and my shoulder took a ton of strain, throws and pulls without injury or issue. YAY! I'm feeling good :)

2. As of this morning I'm 181, a 25 lb weight loss.

3. My old clothes are mostly fitting! Some of the shirts are a little loose though, less muscle tone than before.

The bad news is that I need to lose more weight. I think 170 will be about right. What a waste, carrying around all that extra weight! I feel a lot better, my energy and mood are improved and I am no longer depressed by what I see in the mirror. Just need to keep it up.

I'm still waiting to hear if I will get transferred to BC. That would be amazing. I could lead a lot more active outdoor lifestyle there and everyone in the family is hoping it happens.

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