One year ago, I decided to begin taking my weight loss journey seriously. I took a trip to my mom’s beach house at the Jersey Shore with the intent that when I landed back in the Bay Area, I would begin a vastly new lifestyle. During that trip, I asked my mom to take this picture:
At the end of my last article about my weight loss, I was at 208 lbs. in mid-February.
I just recently returned from a trip to the Jersey Shore — where I took that “before” photo — and almost exactly a year has passed. I took a new photo while I was there:
Right now, I weigh between 161 and 165 lbs. I’ve been in this range for the last two months, and it seems to be fairly stable. Even when I work out strenuously or take an especially naughty cheat day, I’ve kept within that range.
Seeing these three photos in sequence as I’m writing this is poignant for me. It’s been a hell of a year. I’m going to stick with talking about the physical changes for this article, but even more has changed personally in the same time.
Weight Loss Stats
Here are some comparative stats in case the photos don’t tell the whole story:
In addition to those tangible measured stats, I’ve experienced many other quality of life improvements:
- Zero knee pain for at least the past 3 months
- Greatly improved stamina across all physical activities
- I’m told I don’t snore anymore
To a lesser degree, I’ve also discovered a few “negative” side effects from the weight loss:
- Reduced tolerances for alcohol and other substances
- Unintentionally insulting Japanese chefs when I can’t finish my meal
- I eat much less, but more often
I’ve cooled off a bit with my more strenuous workouts. I hit my goal weight (175) a few months ago, and decided to work on building my muscle mass back instead of continuing my cardio-centric regimen.
I still go hiking at least once a month. Beautiful hiking spots are easy to find in my area and it’s easily the most enjoyable and relaxing workout I’ve done.
I run maybe once every couple of weeks now, instead of 3 days a week like before. It was never fun, but once in a while it feels good to remind myself that I can do it pretty well now.
I hit the weight room 2-3 times a week for short workouts. I usually choose 3-4 exercises and do 3 sets of 12 reps for each of them.
Once a month or so, I go to a Pilates class at a nearby Yoga place. I really like it, but they meet on Saturday mornings and I almost always have other plans at that time lately. If things calm down, I’ll probably go more often. Pilates is great for working out the core muscles and building flexibility. It fills in all the stuff between running/hiking and the weight room. It’s low-impact as well, so I can do it without worrying about my neck or back injuries.
It’s also not anywhere near as douchey as yoga, which is a big plus for me. If you live in the Bay Area, you probably know what I mean. If you do yoga outside the Bay Area, I’m not referring to you necessarily. 😉
Just Leaving the House
I swear I get most of my exercise from just being out and about. I don’t have a car anymore, so I walk or take public transit everywhere.
It’s the Bay Area, so I have to carry around layers of clothing, an umbrella, and other supplies with me in a backpack most of the time. If I’m hunting Pokemon with friends, I need my battery charger. If I’m going to play Magic, I have a whole different backpack densely packed with heavy cardboard. It’s almost like I’m hiking everywhere I go.
Most nights when I get home I’m exhausted. It’s a good feeling though. It feels like I’m carpe’ing the shit out of the diem, and I’m sleeping pretty well (when I’m not staying out too late).
Loss Maintenance Diet
I’ve definitely changed my diet since my last post, but the fundamentals are still in there.
- No/Low Carbs
- No Carbonated beverages
- Limit butter consumption
- Get at least 60g of Protein per day.
- Always eat breakfast, even if it’s small.
- Limit meat consumption in favor of veggies.
- Whenever possible, have fish instead of red meat.
I allow myself to cheat a little on some of these more now than before, but never more than 1-2 at a time.
I expected to be back to drinking beer again by this time, but I honestly don’t miss it anywhere near as much as I expected to. Wine and whiskey have been working just fine for me.
I’m happy with what I’m eating too. I always liked fish, veggies, and proteins and now I just eat much smaller portions of them. The only things I don’t have now that I was enjoying before are large portions of carb-heavy foods like pastas and breads. Much like the beer, it’s surprising to me how I don’t seem to miss them. I used to get cravings for pasta, ramen, or pizza all the time, but I think taking the long break from solid foods and following this diet has made me feel less “addicted” to them.
Each morning, I still start my day with a protein shake. I rotate between the 4 flavors of Premier Protein shakes I get in bulk from Amazon or Costco. It’s nice to get half of my daily protein out of the way within 30 minutes of getting out the door.
If I wake up at my normal time (7-8am), sometimes I feel hungry around 10am and grab some eggs for breakfast/lunch. If I’m at the office, I get a Mexican Scramble from the cafe (2 eggs, 1 diced sausage, veggies, salsa). I still eat slowly, so usually my plate’s not clean until at least noon.
I rarely eat lunch. Instead, I snack on something relatively healthy like nuts, fruit, or carrot sticks w/ humus.
Dinners are different every day. Usually I just keep snacking like a rabbit, but if we go out to eat I’ll split a plate with my friends/girlfriend, or bring half of mine home for later. Most of the time I order something with fish or veggies. I try to stay away from heavy fried stuff, but french fries and tempura veggies sometimes make their way past my defenses.
Some of my favorite dinners when eating out:
- Korean BBQ (non-marinated if possible) & lots of kimchi
- Calamari Steak w/ Capers and Lemon Butter Sauce from Fat Lady
- Frittatas or omelettes from local cafes
- Bruschetta from good Italian places
- Brussel Sprouts from Pacific Coast Brewing
- Garlic Bok Choy from Gum Kuo
- Pho or Wor Wonton Soup from Chinatown
As I mentioned, I snack way more now. I’m eating or drinking something nearly constantly. Here’s a list of some of the snacks I frequently use:
- Raw Almonds or Cashews
- Carrots, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes w/ Hummus
- String Cheese, Babybels
- Artichoke Hearts, Olives, or other pickled veggies
- Apples, Oranges, Peaches (whatever’s in season)
Pretty much the same as snacks, but I view these as special treats instead of snacks I can just munch on regularly.
- Sugar-Free Popsicles
- Soppressata or other charcuterie
- A pouch of Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks (1-2 weekly)
- A single Dove Dark Chocolate square (1/5 of a serving)
And because I like to have a sweet coffee drink a couple of times a week, I’ve worked out a couple Starbucks orders that are reasonably healthy without being bland:
|Sweet Cream Cold Brew Coffee
Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup
110 calories (Grande)
160 calories (Venti)
|Iced Caramel Macchiato
Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup
250 calories (Grande)
I’ve also stumbled upon some recipes that have served me well when I either have a craving for certain flavors or textures that are hard to come by within my diet.
- Pancakes: Banana & Egg Pancakes
- Crispy Chips: Simple Kale Chips (overcook them a little)
- Pizza: Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Thanks for the Support
I don’t think I’ll be writing another follow-up after this one, but time will tell. It’s been a tough road getting here from where I was last year, but it’s been absolutely worth it. Each week has gotten easier and I really love the way I look now. Now I just have to keep my eye on the scale and maintain as best I can.
Thanks to all of you who’ve reached out to give support and encouragement. You made the burden much lighter in times when I was struggling — even if you may not have seen it. You helped me keep going, and I’ll try to do the same for others going through their own metamorphosis in the future.