Seven Hours and a Pound of Flesh (eewww…)

Five months ago I made mention of my weight, and I’m happy to say I’ve lost nine pounds since February. That puts me at 198, only 13 pounds from my goal. It feels pretty good to stay under 200, and I’m hoping to be at 195 in time for GenCon. Here’s hoping my kilt still fits.

Last week, friend, colleague and all around Good Person Bill Moran had this to say on the subject of weight loss. He’s right in that the best way to lose weight is to burn more calories then you consume. He’s also right in that for such a simple method, it’s harder than it looks.

It requires a measure of observation and self reflection. The first is taking a look at what and how much you eat, the second is asking if you’re ready to go this route — because it’s not easy. As there’s no magic bullet for losing weight, there’s no one method that is universal. I could say, “eat right and exercise” but even that’s vague — even though there’s truth to it given calories and activity.

I love Five Guys and Fries. Damn good eatin’. But consider that a bacon cheeseburger is about 600 calories, and a “small” order of fries is 900 (at least — if you’ve been there you know how they load you up on the spuds). That’s 1500 calories in one meal. If you normally burn 1500 calories at rest, then anything you eat beyond that is going to get stored as fat. If you like Charley’s Subs, consider that a regular Philly Cheesesteak and gourmet fries runs up 1910 calories. After learning that bit, I’ve yet to get food from Charley’s.

I’m not saying you have to go eat salads every day — hell, I tried salads every other day and that lasted about a week. My point is by being aware of how much fuel goes into your body gives you some idea of the scope of the changes you might need to make. How you make those changes is something else. Maybe you can do salads and be satisfied. Maybe you can eat six small meals a day. Maybe you need to see a doctor or a nutritionist to come up with a plan.

And maybe that’s all you need to lose weight.

I have found, at least in my case, that activity makes a big difference. I work out, on average, about seven hours a week. That’s about 4.2% of the entire week. My father lost thirty pounds in two to three months in part by walking an hour each day. Seven hours a week is not a big investment, but it can be just as difficult to make as changing dietary habits.

It takes time and money, and people can have excuses and reasons not to pony up either commodity. Note that I said “excuses and reasons” — there’s a difference between “can’t” and “won’t.” While it’s true that getting started begins with a decision, it’s not that cut and dry. The same goes with changing diet. A person with an eating disorder isn’t necessarily going to wake up one morning and say “I’m gonna lose all this weight.” He might say, “I need help if I ever want to lose this weight,” or he might end up getting put on a diet and exercise regimen because of major health issues (mental or physical).

It took a heart attack for my Dad to make the change, while it took me being sick and tired of being fat. At the same time, it took me a year to lose what my Dad dropped in three months. Also, he did it on his own by walking (okay so he and his wife went together) and not having thirds at dinner, whereas I worked at a gym with a trainer.

But there is one truth about “the decision” and that’s only you can make it. Sometimes circumstances can force your hand, but it still comes down to you. I’ve known people to persist in a lifestyle despite the effects of it blowing up in their face. When you can say without a doubt you’re ready to do something, you find a way to do it. You may not succeed at it, but if you persevere and learn from your mistakes, you’ll make that goal.

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