Your Fat Cardiologist*

Weight loss advice from a (former) fat man

Week 7 – No F*&#ing Way!

I curse…often.  It’s something I know I should change, but not something that’s really been a priority, even after my daughter learned to finish “son of a…”.  It became a priority earlier this week.  The reason it became a priority is that I was at a business function and was talking with a colleague.  This person was extremely positive about work and life in general, but then described an acquaintances’ kids as “little f*&#ing monsters!”  It wasn’t this person’s opinion.  I’ve heard it (and probably thought it before).  It wasn’t the use of the word, as I’ve certainly heard (and used) it before.  What hit me was how my completely positive view of this person switched with the venom associated with the vulgarity.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

So why is a weight loss blog talking about cursing?  It’s because they are related, I believe.  It’s related in that cursing—while seemingly harmless—can come across as disrespectful and affect how someone sees you.  Now, this isn’t a case of me being offended, as I’ve clearly used this type of language before.  I’m not turning into a prude where I won’t hang around with people who curse.  If you want to curse around me, feel free.  But for me, I am going to try and change my behavior.  Because if the possibility exists that I may cause someone’s opinion of me to switch for the same reason that my view of my colleague switched, then it’s not worth using the words.

The last time my Grandpa traveled to Florida, we went out to a Red Lobster for dinner.  I had just started a diet that week for what seemed like the 50th time, and this one failed too (not that night, but shortly after).  This was probably around 2004 and only God knows how heavy I was because I wouldn’t get on a scale and most scales couldn’t measure my weight anyway.  Probably 6 years later, we went to visit my Grandpa at his house and I had lost close to 100 pounds by that point.  He turned to me while we were sitting on the couch and told me that he had watched me waddle away that day in Florida and had feared that I would die before he would.  He was exaggerating….sort of.

What this made me realize is that my weight loss is not an individual endeavor.  Just like the language I use can affect others, so can the choices I make when it comes to taking care (or not taking care) of my health.  So I can say that “I deserve” that pizza, but does my daughter deserve it?  I can lie to myself that “I’ll exercise later tonight”, but can I lie to my son?  I can buy enough life insurance that even if I die, my family will be taken care of, but is that fair to my wife?  Am I treating my family with the same venom that I heard in my colleagues voice?

Grandpa died a week before Christmas in 2012.  He had a profound impact on my life, whether it was on my finances, my love of sports, or even my love for arguing about politics.  But the most profound effect may be that he made me realize that other people were worried about me, and how sad it was that they were more worried about me than I was.  And the question I had to ask myself—that I pray you’ll ask yourself—is whether those people you love most deserve to be treated like that?  In my case, the answer was (and is) easy.  No F*&#ing way!

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 256.0 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -5.0 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = -2.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 5 Yes, 1 Maybe, 1 No
  • Goal:  6 Yes days

Week 6 – Changing Circumstances, Changing Processes

This week has been a challenge.  I had been preparing really hard for a 3.9 mile race early in August and had continued to choose running as a form of exercise as my knee got stronger.  But then my heel started hurting.  A quick check of WebMD (because who needs a doctor when they can self-diagnose poorly?) indicates that I likely have plantar fasciitis, which if it is what I have, is as painful as WebMD would make you believe.  The recommended treatment is ice, ibuprofen, and 6-8 weeks of rest.  This would be ok, except that I’ve been using running to offset a few snacks at night.  I haven’t been terrible, but I haven’t been on-point with my eating.  Well, now my circumstances have changed.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

If you look at the good day/bad day rate, I actually did better this week than last week.  However, because my circumstances changed, my definition of a good day needed to change.  Unfortunately, it did not, at least not until later in the week.  Instead, I snacked like I had the previous week and overate on our usual family night out.  Without the ability to run the calories off, I was left only being able to use the elliptical machine, which forced me to have to drive to the gym, which I got lazy multiple times and didn’t do.  So the reality is that while this injury runs its course, I need to redefine what a good day is in my mind.  I need to change my process because of the changed circumstances.

We all do this, right?  Our circumstances are always changing, but I always feel like I’m slow to make changes in my routines.  Just in the past year, I’ve moved from Chicago to Philadelphia, torn my patella tendon and had surgery, spent lots of time on this blog, seen my daughter start kindergarten and my son start preschool, starting leading a men’s group at church, and taught a local class on weight loss.  All of these have been major changes that have impacted my time and/or ability to execute the plan that had become routine.  The problem wasn’t the plan.  The problem was me.

I was holding on to the processes that had worked before, rather than reformulating my plan through the principles that are necessary for success: acceptance, commitment, planning, accountability, and motivation.  So my definition of a good day can change based on my circumstances.  My definition of a bad day can change based on my circumstances.  So can yours.

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 258.2 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -2.8 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = +1.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 5 Yes, 1 Maybe, 1 No
  • Goal:  6 Yes days

 

Week 5 – It’s my fault

I talked a good game about sustaining weight loss a little bit at a time last week, and then I proceeded to overeat on both Wednesday and Friday.  I watched football on Saturday, didn’t have time for exercise, and then got sick on Sunday and didn’t feel like exercising.  I exercised on Monday, but I fully expected that when I got on the scale Tuesday morning that I would have gained a ton of weight.  Nope.  And I learned something new.  The fact that it took until now to learn it is completely my fault.

Proverbs 22:3 – “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”

What I learned is that no matter how bad of a two or three days I have, it’s not enough to undo a month’s worth of hard work.  Of course, I know this.  Counting calories tells me this.  Experience tells me this.  But I didn’t really grasp this concept until now.

More importantly, I realized that when I get on the scale there is always something to learn.  If I haven’t met my expectations from a behavior standpoint but have lost weight, there is a lesson to be learned.  But if I’ve gained weight, there’s a lesson to be learned too.  Similarly, if I have met all of my expectations from a behavior standpoint but have gained weight, there is a lesson to be learned.  If I don’t learn the lesson, that is my fault.

The same applies to you.  No matter where you are in your weight loss journey, there is something to be learned from each success and each failure.  If you overate last night, what caused it?  If you lost 2 lbs last week, what made you successful?  Where are you putting in effort that is unrewarded?  Where are you getting rewards for little effort where you can increase your efforts?

You see, it’s easy to think of one step forward, two steps back as a bad thing.  Indeed, it may mean that you gain weight.  But if you learn something at each step, that weight gain is only temporary.  I know this sounds a little hokey, and I also know that losing weight isn’t easy.  But if you have failed at losing weight today and you haven’t learned anything, then failing tomorrow is your fault.  If you have succeeded at losing weight today and haven’t learned anything, then failing tomorrow is your fault.

For a long time, I would have thought this was bull, that a day of zero exercise and poor eating needed to be overcome rather than embraced.  I don’t believe that anymore.  So ask yourself, what do you believe?

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 257.0 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -4.0 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = -0.6 lbs
  • Good Days = 3 Yes, 2 Maybe, 2 No
  • Goal:  Get an hour more sleep per night

Week 4 – Perspective after one month

Recent weight loss3.4 lbs. I’ve worked my butt off this month and all I’ve got to show for it is a measly 3.4 lbs? Wait though! If I do that for the rest of the year, I’ll be down 17 lbs by New Years. If I can sustain that pace for a year, I’ll be down over 40 lbs by my next birthday.

You see, everything is about perspective. I’ve had months in the past where I’ve lost 8 or even 10 pounds. My expectation has been that anything less is not a good month. Losing 3.4 lbs is less than half of what I expected, so my initial reaction is to be disappointed.

But there are two things to point out about this perspective. First, I have done what I said I was going to do by writing down how my days have gone consistently. To be disappointed in the amount of weight lost flies in the face of that philosophy: Do the right thing over and over and the results will follow. I have followed the principles, and while it may not have been reflected on the scale to the magnitude that I would have liked, it is reflected on the scale.

Second—and perhaps more important—is to take a look at my past history. In November 2012, I had gained back a little less than half of what I had lost and was back up to 292 lbs. I recommitted to these principles and began losing weight. What is obvious from the figure is that for the first month or so, the weight came off slowly. Then, at the 2 or 3 month mark, the rate of weight loss increased significantly, and I was able to maintain that weight until I had a major life change (relocating for a job and a major knee injury).

Currently, you can see that I’m coming off of a long plateau/slight gain period. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see that the initial weight loss isn’t rapid. After all, it wasn’t before. It’s exactly what happened two years ago. But we forget what happens unless we record it, which is why I’m glad I decided a long time ago to write things down. We forget how we were successful and the unrewarded hard work that preceded the rewarded hard work.

So I’m not going to be disappointed about 3.4 lbs this month. It’s not as large a step as I would like, but it’s a step in the right direction. We’re either getting better or getting worse, and I can say definitively that this month, I got better. String enough of those together and I will remember this as the starting point that it is, rather than the finish line it feels like today. 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 257.6 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -3.4 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = -0.6 lbs
  • Good Days = 6 Yes, 1 Maybe, 0 No
  • Goal: > 5 Yes days

Week 3 – Victim? Or Perpetrator?

Copyright 2014, Munye Miles

Copyright 2014, Munye Miles

In their book, Mistakes were made (but not by me), Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson put forth dissonance theory as a way of explaining behavior.  Essentially, humans use self-justification to align how they’ve behaved with how they see themselves.  For example, if you do a horrible thing to someone else and you don’t think you’re a horrible person, then that person must have deserved it.  Study after study in the book find people justifying behavior that we know is wrong, but they cannot see as wrong because of how they see themselves.  This is why people who are clearly shown they are wrong dig in their heels even harder.  

Matthew 5:38-39 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil.  But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

One of the things that really jumped out to me was that the book puts forward that in any adversarial relationship, there are two parties: the victim and the perpetrator.  By definition, the perpetrator has done something that harms the victim.  However, Tavris and Aronson state that dissonance theory accounts for why these people cannot resolve their differences after the initial harm is incurred.  The victim (who was intentionally targeted by the perpetrator in his own mind) just wants a sincere apology and some restitution for his suffering.  He can’t understand how the perpetrator can just sweep his wrongs under the rug so quickly.  The perpetrator (naturally, a good fellow who just did something wrong, or at least that’s how his mind is spinning it) effectively justifies his behavior as unavoidable or a character flaw and forgets about it.  He wonders why the victim can’t just let it go.  After all, it wasn’t really that big of a deal.

So the question I have for you is when it comes to your weight, are you the perpetrator or the victim?

For a long time, I was the victim.  Other things outside of my control (genetics, education, time) were responsible for my weight.  I’ve moved past that justification right into the perpetrator side.  But what I’m justifying there is much different.  I’m justifying that the cookie that I eat isn’t harming anybody.  I’m justifying that I can always exercise my way through my eating habits.  I’m justifying that I have plenty of time to erase the harm I’ve caused my body through overeating.

But all of those justifications have one thing in common…….I.  How do I justify that my eating and exercise habits may prevent me from traveling with my wife when we retire?  How do I justify that they may prevent me from walking my daughter down the aisle or dropping my son off at college?  Am I going to apologize for harming my family (the real victims) and make restitution (live healthier) or am I just going to sweep it under the rug?  Am I going to face up to what I’ve done or just dig in my heels even deeper?  What about you?

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 258.2 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -2.8 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = +0.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 5 Yes, 1 Maybe, 1 No
  • Goal:  Zero “No” Days
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