Your Fat Cardiologist*

Weight loss advice from a (former) fat man

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

Week 2 – Fail, but don’t be a failure

Sara Blakely’s father had an interesting approach to family dinners.  Every night, he would ask Blakely and her brother, “How did you fail today?”1  When I first heard this story, I thought it was a cruel way of approaching having a conversation with your kids.  But the key point that I missed was that her father raved about her failures and was proud of her for trying.  He was proud that she had done something that mattered enough to fail.  He was proud that she had grown.  He was proud that she wasn’t afraid to fail.  Sara Blakely—the inventor of Spanx—became a billionaire at 41 years old.

Proverbs 28:13 – “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

I failed this week.  I’d like to say I was done in by unforeseen circumstances.  I’d like to say there was something about this week that made things more difficult.  I’d like to say that it wasn’t really my fault.  But that would be a lie.

I failed this week because I had a couple of bad days where I either didn’t say no to food or didn’t say yes to getting up in the morning to exercise.  Was I dealing with outside things that distracted me?  I was.  Do I have reasons I can give for failing?  I do.  Does it matter?  It doesn’t.

The good news is that this week crystallized the difference between a commitment and a plan.  I had a plan (no bad days, only two maybe days) that I failed at, but I had committed to writing down how I did truthfully, regardless of whether I carried out the plan.  I did not fail at my commitment.

What this did was that I didn’t give up after the two bad days.  I didn’t give up when I got on the scale on Sunday morning and saw that I had ballooned up to 265 lbs.  What I did do was readjust my plan.  I couldn’t do anything about failing to execute the plan I had set last week.  I could make adjustments.  I could do something about executing the plan for the rest of the week and minimizing the damage those bad days had done.  This is the difference between failing and being a failure.

The quote that stands out in the article I’ve linked to about Sara Blakely is the following, “be wrong as fast as you can.”  It’s a slight modification of the old story about Thomas Edison finding 10,000 ways to not make a light bulb.  The goal of her father was to teach her the difference between failing and being a failure.

I lost over 3 lbs last week, and what this week’s plan didn’t take into account was that I would be hungry this week.  It didn’t take into account the complacency that would set in after succeeding for a week.  It didn’t take into account that I would be unable to increase my intensity and should have just called for maintaining that intensity.  I didn’t need to get more intense and more extreme.  I just needed to maintain what I had been doing.

What I’ve discovered over the past few years—and was reemphasized this week—is that if you think you’re going to lose two pounds per week with no hiccups, you’re wrong.  If you think you’re going to have a perfect life with nothing popping up to inject stress in your life, you’re wrong.  If you think that weight loss is a straight path that won’t have any twists and turns, you’re wrong.  But most importantly, if you think that failure is the same thing as being a failure, you’re wrong.  Failure is getting things wrong and making course corrections.  Being a failure means that you stop showing up.

See you next week.

 

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 258.0 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = -3.0 lbs
  • Weight loss since last week = +0.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 4 Yes, 1 Maybe, 2 No
  • Goal:  Zero “No” Days
  1. http://www.tipsonlifeandlove.com/your-money-and-career/the-gift-of-failure

Week 1: Just Try

My daughter just graduated from tuna (level 2) to starfish (level 3) in her swimming lessons.  Beyond wondering why a tuna is ranked below a starfish on the swimming scale, this doesn’t sound like a big deal.  But it is a big deal if you understand that three weeks ago, anytime anybody asked her to let go of the wall or put her head underwater she began to cry.  We sat her down and told her that we wouldn’t be proud of her for learning how to swim.  We would be proud of her for trying to learn how to swim.  We deemphasized the outcome and focused instead on just trying.  It’s amazing how sometimes we forget this in our own lives.

Romans 2:1 – “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.  For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

Last week I told you that I was going to post my weight for the next 8 weeks, but I also said that I was going to focus on getting better every day rather than focusing on the scale exclusively.  I had been treading water for multiple weeks prior, ping-ponging back-and-forth between being motivated and not being motivated.  I decided to practice what I preach and focus on the five principles that I talk about in my E-book.  While I was writing the book, I had realized that I was doing bits and pieces of each principle, but that I wasn’t all-in.  I was willing to get in the pool, but I wasn’t letting go of the wall.

So what did I do?  First, last Wednesday, I accepted that what I was doing wasn’t working and that I needed to commit to doing one thing that causes little things to feed into it.  So I defined a plan, one that involved tracking whether I had a good day, a maybe day, or a bad day (for me, your good day will be different than mine).  Then I told you what I was doing, so that I would have someone to prove something to and someone who I didn’t want to let down.  After all, if I can’t do this, how can I teach you to?  Finally, I weighed myself every morning to track progress.  Four days into this week, I had gained 0.6 pounds, but I didn’t get discouraged.  Why not?  Because my goal for the week was no bad days—only good and maybe—and I was on track to accomplish that.  The goal was not to lose weight.  The goal was to try implementing the principles and let the results fall where they may.  This morning, the scale says 257.8, a weight loss of 3.2 lbs.  

Now, some of this weight loss is undoubtedly water weight and I’m not going to be able to expect a 3+ lb weight loss every week.  But the amount of weight isn’t the point.  By tracking good days and bad days, I set up a system where I am doing many little things that feed into one goal.  I’ve brought my lunch to work to control portion sizes because that makes it easier to have a good day as I’ve defined it.  I’m not binging when I do eat a little bit too much because, “hey, I already screwed up today anyway,” because I’d much rather have a maybe day than a bad day.  I’m going out at night to run when I miss a workout in the morning because I want to be able to move that maybe day to a good day.

On Sunday, my daughter and I went to Sonic and had a slushy.  I got to talk to her about swimming lessons and what she had learned.  We talked about a camp she’s attending this week and whether she was looking forward to it or whether she was nervous.  And as I was sitting there, I realized something profound:  at no point during this time did I worry about the calories in the slushy.  I was able to completely focus on her and what she was saying.  By defining up front what a good day was, I was allowed to have the slushy.  I was allowed to eat something loaded with sugar.  I was controlling the food, rather than the food controlling me.  And all I had to do was try.  You can try too.

  • Starting Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Current Weight = 257.8 lbs
  • Weight loss so far = 3.2 lbs
  • Good Days = 5 Yes, 2 Maybe, 0 No
  • Goal:  5 Yes and 2 Maybe days, minimum

Show and Tell

It’s really easy to forget what works.  I was reminded of this as I was writing an E-book on how I lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off for five years.  This came to mind because I haven’t really kept it off for five years.  What I’ve done is gain some back, get motivated again, lose it, then gain it back again.  I’ve been stuck in that cycle before, only five years ago I was stuck north of 350 pounds and now I’m stuck at 260.  The cycle is the same, and the things I need to break out of the cycle are the same.  It just took writing down how I had been successful in the past to understand why I’m stuck and how to be successful in the future.

Luke 17:3 – “Pay attention to yourselves!  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”

Five years ago when I was my largest, my friend Alex visited.  We went for a walk and I told him that I was going to email him every week with my weight.  I didn’t need advice or encouragement, really.  All I needed was someone to show that I could do what I said I was going to do.  I was going to show him—and show myself—that I could get healthy and lose the weight on a weekly basis.  I told him what I was going to do during that walk and from then on became determined to show him. 

That is what broke me out of the cycle.  We talk about having people hold you accountable, but then we find ways to justify our own failings.  We find accountability partners we won’t listen to.  We find accountability partners who we don’t care if they think less of us.  We find accountability partners that we can tell we’re doing a good job, but don’t feel sheepish when we don’t show them.  You can tell someone what you’re going to do or how you’ve done it until you’re blue in the face.  But showing them what you can do is a completely different animal.

For the past year, I’ve been telling you how I lost weight.  Now, I’m going to show you.  For the next eight weeks, I’m going to post once per week.  That post will include my weight, the number of good days, maybe days, and bad days I’ve had, and the goal for the next week.   The end goal is not to lose weight.  The goal is to get better, because I can control if I’m getting better.  But by getting better, I’m convinced that the weight loss will follow.

So if you’ve been waiting to get started, join me today.  If you’ve lost some weight and are starting to get satisfied, join me today.  If you are so heavy that you have zero hope that you can ever lose weight, join me today.  If you only have five more pounds to lose, join me today.  I’m going to show you…starting today.

  • Weight = 261.0 lbs
  • Good Days = 4 Yes, 2 Maybe, 1 Bad
  • Goal:  All Yes or Maybe days
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