2017, man

In terms of health, I had a good second-half of 2017.

In January, I made a New Year’s resolution to get my weight under 300 lbs. Instead of making any progress, I spent the first half of the year getting upset about how heavy I was:

  • I couldn’t fit into an airplane seatbelt
  • I couldn’t fit into my wardrobe of 3XL golf shirts
  • I couldn’t buy clothes anywhere other than DXL
  • I couldn’t walk up the stairs or play a game of ping pong without losing my breath
  • I looked terrible in pictures

Everyone who’s decided to get healthy probably has that one moment that finally makes them decide, “OK, I have to do something.” For me, it was the photo below.

Me and some family members on May 15

When I got home from that family gathering in May, I finally bought some cheap scales from Wal-Mart and started keeping track of my weight. I originally weighed in at 344 lbs, the heaviest I have ever been.

I have recorded my weight every Monday morning since then. The strange thing about this year was that I knew for a fact I could lose some weight. I lost 60 lbs in 2011, but put it all back on to go back over 300 lbs by January 2013. I haven’t weighed under 300 again. So what was going to be different this time?

Last time was all about calorie deficits. This time, I started by putting an emphasis on light exercise — in particular, walking. Walking has always been tough for me, as I was born with a mild case of spastic diplegia (a form of cerebral palsy). Spastic diplegia is a nervous system problem that causes me to have tight hamstrings and heel cords, which has always made it difficult to do any “leg-centric” cardio for a sustained period of time. I walk with a barely noticeable limp that gets worse as my left ankle swells. As of May, my left ankle would swell in under 30 minutes of standing or walking.

I laid out about a one-mile route around the neighborhood in May and gave it a try. To begin with, I had to stop 3–4 times per lap due to pain: left ankle, arches, heels, lower back, and asthma mostly. I started walking the route on evenings twice a week.

Me finishing a 1.5-mile walk sometime in June

I expected things to get easier, but I didn’t expect my legs to respond the way they did. I made it up to a mile and a half three times a week, and my leg muscles (calves, hamstrings, quads, and everything else) actually kept up. Within two months, my legs were in the best shape they’ve ever been in, in terms of strength.

I should mention, though, that I was also making changes in diet. I started by forcing myself to eat a medium-to-large breakfast of 600 calories or more. My next trick was to use a small container of leftovers for lunch, to avoid the temptation to eat a full (and terrible) meal there instead. I would allow myself to eat whatever would fit in that container for lunch. No lie, I put peanut M&Ms in there one time.

I hit my first plateau around 335 lbs for about 4 weeks in June/July. In one sense, this was disappointing; but I look at plateaus differently now. A plateau seems to mean that the body is adjusting, and I knew for sure my body was carrying several extra pounds of muscle in the legs. I upped my walking to 2.25 miles 3x a week, and things seemed to get rolling again.

A terrible photo of me stuck on plateau #1 (335 lbs), July 4th

I encountered my second major plateau at 320 lbs, right before (and during) a Royal Caribbean cruise in August/September. When we got back from the cruise, I tried my best to up the walking even more, but I could only do 3 miles twice a week, and even that meant some lingering hamstring pain.

Trying to walk my way out of plateau #2 (320 lbs) in San Juan, PR, September 4

I knew I needed to do something other than calorie deficits to counter my body’s latest adjustments, so I joined a gym. I started strength training with a personal trainer 3 times/wk with light cardio 2 days/wk and a long walk on Saturday or Sunday. The strength training sessions were initially very cardio-focused as well (e.g., a day per week of core work, and a lot of body weight stuff mixed in). Even then, it took about two weeks before losing any weight.

Stuck on plateau #3 (305 lbs) in Las Vegas, November

Finally, I hit a plateau at 305 lbs about mid-November. I really wanted to get under 300 lbs for the year, so I made some additional changes in diet. I was able to drop another 8 pounds through heavier mid-week cardio and calorie deficits, landing on 298 today (January 1).

A picture of the scales this morning, at a 5-year low

In summary, it was a really good year for my health:

  • I lost 46 lbs while busting three significant plateaus to hit a 5-year low in weight loss.
  • I gained enough strength in my legs to handle walking several miles (10+) over two separate weeks in November with only some minor heel pain — no back pain or asthma to speak of — and even closed out the year walking 3 miles on 3 consecutive days.
  • I fit into an airline seatbelt by November 1, and survived a 9 hour return flight from the UK with only some minor discomfort in the legs.
  • I lost around 5 inches in the waist and outgrew (ingrew?) my belt. I’m one waist size away from being able to shop in a “regular” store.
Me at 298 on January 1, cheesing it up (same shirt as the May 15 photo)

I’m quite proud of what I was able to do in 2017. In 2018, I would obviously like to keep this ball rolling. I still weigh *nearly 300* pounds, and would like to get to a 15-year low of 241 lbs by January 1, 2019.

Feel free to follow along! As I’ll elaborate in subsequent updates, I have my own selfish reasons for divulging and documenting so much about this experience; but I hope it’s interesting and maybe even encouraging to you as well.

If you’d like to send me a note, feel free to use the comments here or use this form. You can also find more info about me and this journey on the main site.

Thanks for reading!

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