.journal 2001.05.14
Weighing in below 200.

Now listening to: Recoil, Unsound Methods
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Courtney Love: the Real Story
Now playing: NHL 2001 (Playstation 2)

Well, late last year shortly after launching this site, I made a big deal about when I had finally reached 224 pounds, marking my loss of one hundred pounds since October of 1998.

Last Thursday I weighed in at 198. Below 200 pounds for the first time since ... cripes, I don't even know. I mustn't have been older than thirteen when I crossed the 200 threshhold the other way. And I hit 295 when I was sixteen, before going back down to 237 thanks to a stupid, stupid starvation diet I tried. I never got back below that level until this recent diet.

Now I've lost 126 pounds in roughly two and a half years. I still have a ways to go, yes, but I ceased being what could be called obese a long time ago. I somehow doubt I have another 126 pounds to lose here. (Unless 72 pounds is healthy for someone who is six feet tall.) The journey's not over yet, but this is probably the healthiest I've ever been in my life. And you can best bet that I'm not going to get this close to my goal of being thin, and not go the rest of the way.

And having tried on and off to lose the weight for the majority of my life, I think I have some authority to speak when it comes to method by which one can lose weight. And my speech is this: there is no method by which one loses weight. At least no one method. I realize I've advocated DietWatch in the past, and I still do so most enthusiastically, but DietWatch isn't really a weight-loss tool, it just monitors the food you eat and the nutritional value of it, so you can see what it is you're putting into your body. As for what to put in your body, DietWatch doesn't offer much help.

I know that low-carbohydrate diets have been very popular recently, and I know people for whom they have worked. But for me personally, I went the high-carbohydrate route, cutting out as much fat as possible (although I must admit I don't do a good job of getting enough protein). That right there speaks to how varied our bodies can be, so the only advice I can really give is that if you try a dieting method and it doesn't work, don't assume it's something wrong with you; it might just be the kind of diet you're on. Try another method and see if that works out for you. Trust me, I know how frustrating it can be, but now I think I can stand as proof that the right method is out there, if you can find it.

Actually, a lot has changed in my diet since I crossed 224, because at that point I just started to stagnate in my weight loss and I needed to kick things up a notch. I took a careful look at things and I came to realize that I needed to change a couple of things based on how DietWatch calculates your nutritional targets. Firstly, one factor DietWatch uses is your goal weight, and I had grossly overestimated mine; as I've lost fat, I've come to realize that I didn't quite inherit my mother's heavy Germanic frame like I thought, so I had to lower my goal weight by about thirty pounds. Second, another factor DietWatch uses is metabolic rate, but it only calculates that rate based on your heart rate. And that really doesn't work for me, because I have a very fast heart rate but a very slow metabolism.

The end result of this is that after losing 100 pounds by basically eating three real good-size meals a day and hardly ever being hungry, I really had to cut down on my lunch and dinner portions. I've also had to eliminate most dairy from my diet, simply because I've come to realize that my body can't process it that well. I never thought the day would come that I would not be eating pizza or ice cream, but I stopped eating ice cream several months ago, and finally cut pizza out last month.

Actually, I wouldn't say as that's an entirely accurate statement. In point of fact, what I've been doing these past few months since stiffening the sinews on my diet has been to take regularly scheduled time off my diet to eat the foods I normally can't. Someone once wrote me saying I should diet six days a week and eat what I want the seventh; that's basically what I've been doing, except it's been more like twenty-five days on my diet, three days off. Going three days is easier anyway, because that way I have time to eat whatever I bring home and don't have to be worried about being tempted with leftovers.

Basically I've been eating pizza and ice cream, and whatever comes to mind. I know before the first time I broke my diet like this, it had occurred to me that I hadn't had any Cheetos in over two years, and that just seemed ... wrong. So that time I had Cheetos. The time before this last one, it was grocery store bakery cookies. This most recent time was fast food, because for some reason I'd realized that I had never had Sbarro pizza before in my life, and wanted to give it a try. Rest assured, next time I'm in the mood for Sbarro, I'll simply ask my father to bring home some packaging cardboard from the office.

One big thing for me, though, had been fruit pies. You know, those Hostess things with the yummy fillings and sugar all over the crust, right? Well, in point of actual fact I hadn't had one of those in forever because Hostess pies, and all their imitators, have lard in the crust, and I've been a vegetarian since 1993. Finally I found a brand that used vegetable shortening instead, but of course this was after I started my diet, and they were far too fattening to fit into my diet. So every time I've broken my diet these past few months, those pies have been a big thing for me.

The thing is, though, I don't think I'm going to break my diet again. In point of fact, all that food tastes yummy in my mouth, but once it gets in my body it makes me feel like crap. One of the things most people don't realize about vegetarians is that after a while, our bodies simply forget how to digest the chemicals that are found in animal flesh, and so if we do eat them, either purposefully or by accident, we get sick. Quite honestly, I think my body has now done the same thing with fat, because it doesn't matter what I put in when I'm off my diet, it makes me feel bad.

Another thing I think is happening is that my stomach is just shrinking like crazy. This most recent time off my diet, when I tried to eat a quantity of food which was normal for me just six months ago, it would just fill me up like you wouldn't believe. I realize the stomach probably stretches a good deal in overweight and obese people, but it's amazing how little I can actually pack in there now before I get that full feeling. And I don't want to give it any more trouble than I already have.

I think what's really influencing my decision not to continue breaking my diet, though, is that I'm actually feeling healthy now, and I kind of like it. Part of this is probably because I've been doing yoga, and yoga really makes me feel good. Walking in Wildwood is one thing, and the air there does make me feel good, but yoga just puts me at a totally different wavelength and makes me happy in ways that nothing else can. Admittedly I haven't been doing much yoga recently (although that's mostly been an issue of trying to find a time and space to do yoga in a house with two heavy smokers), but hopefully I can do something about that here soon.

And I continue to revise my diet to try to make my body healthier and healthier. A couple of months ago I stopped drinking soda, and switched to iced tea with sugar. In future I'd like to switch sugar with honey, but I guess that's more an issue of the purity of the food than a fat or calorie issue. After dumping ice cream from my diet I had switched to sherbet for desserts, but now I've switched again to fresh fruit. I just want to do as much as I can to eat the best foods for me, both for my weight loss and to make my body as pure as possible.

So strange, that. Only three years ago my usual food intake for the day usually consisted of a whole frozen pizza, a big bag of party mix, and copious amounts of soda and ice cream. Now I'm probably eating as much food in a week than I was in a day back then, and I actually feel better for it. This has gone beyond any narcissistic weight loss goals for me, I've actually become a semi-sorta health nut.

It's weird for me to be feeling my body like this; it seems like every week there's a new bone that gets uncovered as I lose more and more fat. The odd thing is that the more fat I lose, the more aware I am of what fat I still have on my body. Of course, me having a foolish ego and all, I want to get rid of it sooner rather than later, but I'm learning to be patient. It's not an easy skill to be sure, but I'm managing. What's important is that I just keep up with what I've done so far, and in time the last bits of fat will disappear. There's no way I'm going out in public in a swimsuit this summer, but the odds of me being able to do so next summer are pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

And when I realize what I've been able to do, to finally lose all this weight when I had attributed my girth to genetics or other things, to unlearn the concept of eating fatty foods as a source of comfort, it makes me feel better for myself, and all the other troubles I'm going through in my life. It makes me realize that I am a strong person, and I can overcome obstacles that at first glance I might dismiss as impossible. So it's not just my body getting better, it's my mental and emotional states as well. And it's a good feeling.

I doubt I'm going to have another big threshhold to cross here, so this is probably the last big time for me to write about my weight loss. I don't know where my body will finally set on as a healthy weight, but it's going to happen. I'm actually going to reach a healthy weight, and that is just so cool.

So for those of you having your own difficulties, trust me when I say that you can overcome them. It will take a bit of patience and you probably won't get it right on the first time, but stick with it and you will make things right. And remember, believe in yourself and your own strength. We're all capable of some pretty amazing things, if we just allow ourselves to do them.

- Sean