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BigAssSuperstar: Un-Weighted: Week Seven

Back in the saddle, and starting to regain the momentum snuffed out by the sniffles and a chest full of lung butter.

Signed up Monday at Nubody's gym for a year-long membership. I have regular morning commitments on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so a Monday-Wednesday-Friday gym schedule looks appropriate. Kicked off the working out on Wednesday with a warmup, weights, cardio and stretching. To save the trouble of searching for the right machines at a stage where I'm still not sure where all the water fountains are, I took advantage of the circuit training setup. They have an array of weight machines set up in order to give a full body workout -- leg press, leg extension, leg curl, lat pulldown, shoulder press, chest press, tricep press, bicep curls, etc etc. -- then you go back to the first machine and do another set. Very handy. I'm sure that later on, I'll be moving to a more tailored/prescribed plan, once I know where stuff's at.

I wasn't sore on Thursday (aside from shoulder pain from a morning subluxation -- my left shoulder popped out of the joint briefly... loose ligaments and/or weak rotator cuff), so I upped the weight on the machines on my Friday visit in order to give my body a tougher time. It feels really good to be pushing some weight again. It's been too long.

Last week's post about my lunch drew some comments.

An anonymous poster wrote, "So you call this a lunch? Sounds more like a daily smorgasbord to me." Probably is -- a daily smorgasbord of fruit, fibre, non-fat yogurt and other decent stuff that takes me from "breakfast" right through to dinner. Certainly a huge leap forward from my Toronto daytime diet of cakey muffins, street sausages, jerk chicken take-out, Big Macs and frequent trips to the pop and candy machines or the dollar store.

Anonymous followed up, "Why don't you pick a more attainable goal, say 190, and once you reach it, maintain it for a period of time. Then if you are ready, go for a new goal. 160 is a rather drastic goal, don't you think."

jojo krako agreed, suggesting "make smaller (attainable) goals and reward yourself when you meet them. Also, some goals may be better (and in the long run more useful) than "I want to weigh X at time Y". For example, "I want to visit them gym 4 times this week, lift X amount of weights and increase my cardio workout from Y to Z minutes" The are concrete things that you can aim for. I started my "Un-Weight"ed experience a few years ago and found the weight goals very difficult. The reason is that, as Sandra said in an earlier post, muscle is more dense than fat and so if you really commit to gaining muscle mass (and if you are serious, you MUST do this), you may find it difficult to get to 160 - maybe you should try to aim for a BMI# or something, i dunno."

All good points, and appreciated. And valid points, of course! A BBC Health article echoes the same wisdom:

Successful slimmers tend to be patient about their progress and set small goals they can meet. If you never feel successful, it's easy to feel a failure, lose confidence in your ability to lose weight and give up.
It really helps to measure success in terms of the realistic amounts of weight you've lost and the benefits that brings, rather than constantly trying to hit your 'dream' weight. Research also suggests that, on average, most people find it hard to maintain a weight loss of more than ten per cent in the long term.

The article suggests a simple way to give goals a reality check is to see ensure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-specific." For example, a SMART weight loss goal is to aim to lose 6lb (3kg) in two months, rather than 2st (13kg). To help achieve that, one SMART lifestyle goal could be to cut back from a daily chocolate bar to two to three smaller ones a week, rather than avoiding chocolate altogether."

I can agree that the smaller, say 10-pound increment (decrement?) goals are wise. Amanda's a fan of those, too. I think Dr. Phil endorses those types of goals. They can end up being useful along the way, especially in cases where people set themselves up for failure and collapse ... that whole "well, I couldn't do (x impossible task in impossible timeline), so there's no point trying" thing.

Having said that, I'm sticking by the 160 (170) pound goal as an overarching umbrella goal. Let me explain ...

This Un-Weighted project resulted from my tryouts for the Life Network television show X-Weighted Season 2. Participants start the six-month series by setting a weight loss goal. The program follows them as they struggle to lose weight, finding out what barriers stand in the way, and ultimately demonstrating that not only is there more to getting fit than reaching a number on a scale -- the number chosen is usually a lot further off in the distance than it initially appeared. This project was conceived to emulate the TV series. That's why I chose a far-away number at the beginning, rather than embarking on an open-ended, series-of-small-steps process with an indefinite conclusion.

160 pounds (or 170 in the case of this six-month project) could be seen as the "gimmick goal" -- the far-off target. But having the big target feels important so that I don't lose sight of what I'm actually trying to accomplish... and that's not just making some small changes, but some big changes. I'm not in this to get just "a little less fat". It's a big goal because I'm in need of a big change.

The 160-pound figure started as a guesstimate of where I'd like to end up, but I did some math to go with it, taking into account body fat and consulting various charts and blabla, to see if it's actually a real, sensible number. Yes, it looks like a drastic, ambitious, impossible number, but the data suggest it's actually at the high end of where I ought to be (in the eyes of science anyway). Yes, I will probably find it difficult to get to 160. It may not ever happen -- I may plateau at 175, and find that being a more muscle-y than I imagined but still a little pudgy 175 is about as far as I can go without my body giving me absolute hell in protest... and that'll have to do.

Having said all that, I concur with "anonymous", jojo, Sandra, Amanda, Dr. Phil, the BBC and anyone else who says small goals are valuable. After all this writing, I might work some of them into my plan. But I already realize there are many goals to be had.

The first chapters of Hot Point Fitness, a wonderful book suggested by jojo back when I was making earlier, less dramatic efforts to shapen up, has an inspiring segment about how getting fit is a series of thousands of goals, big and small. From the small goal of getting up at a reasonable hour and getting out your gym clothes ... to the tiny goal of doing a single repetition of an exercise smoothly and properly ... to the larger goals of finishing a full workout ... to the ultimate goal of what you want out of it at the end. The grand idea is to become addicted to the sense of accomplishment from completing thousands of tiny goals, and the big accomplishments that they accumulate.

Of course, the number on the scale isn't the ultimate determinant of my progress. Accomplishing the other small goals along the way is important -- getting to the workout .. doing the workout .. getting to various phases where I need to buy new clothes, and rewarding myself with new clothes .. increasing my intensity on the machines .. plus all those little qualitative rather than quantitative things I'd set out for in the beginning.

Thanks for helping me think, gang!

Now, to the scale ... not the ultimate determinant of my success and happiness, but a single useful tool for quantifying progress.

Start weight: 220 pounds
Last week: 215
This week: 218
Change: +3
Total loss: 2 pounds

Jeeeeezus. Same old speculation about muscle gain vs. fat loss, poop-retention (that's my theory), or excessive pizzafication. No excuses. Just time to continue hitting the gym and pushing forward.



  1. Some advice:
    -eat 3 meals a day with small snacks in between if you're hungry; stop eating your "lunch" for breakfast and then eating all day
    -watch what you drink, these could be extra calories (to the tune of 200 or more) for fruit drinks/juices and chocolate milk
    -stop eating the crap your colleagues bring into the office; ask them for their support in not bringing that stuff in on a daily basis if you think your own self-restraint isn't sufficient
    -forget the weight training for the next 2-3 weeks, give your metabolism and calorie-burning abilities a boost by concentrating on longer amounts of cardiovascular exercise during this time, then resort back to muscle building and toning combined with cardio - this might give your weight loss a boost and get you started on the right track
    -stop ordering pizza; learn how to cook some healthy meals for those days when your girlfriend doesn't want to or can't cook, or stop off at the grocery store on the way home and buy a big salad
    -eat smaller portions, no seconds
    -drink more water
    -eat more fruit; one apple a day doesn't cut it

  2. Ooooh, fun!! It's like Paul Plakas is right here yelling at you :)

  3. No need to lose the pizza. Instead of eating *several* slices go to the pizza place (on foot if possible) and buy one or two slices (I have one because I am a 5'3" female) and order a salad with it and a diet pepsi. Eat the salad first. After that you will be too full to eat a LOT of pizza.

    Lose the chocolate milk and anything with sugar in it (except can eat fruit).
    Switch to 1% milk and get yourself down to skim milk. Skim is better for you anyway because it has more calcium per cup since it has no fat in it.

    Good luck. I look forward to your progress.


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