Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, I lost 140 pounds. That diet started in 2003, and I lost weight pretty quickly, doing the Atkins Diet faithfully. Most of the weight came off within a year, and then I hit a plateau a little over a year in. That plateau lasted two years — and then I gave up. Not that I was convinced I was giving up at the time; rather, I decided to try different things that didn’t frustrate me as much in hopes of breaking the plateau.

One of the big things I did, back then, was work out like crazy. I worked out so much that I eventually hurt myself, between walking 4-5 miles a day and also heavy weight lifting. I spent so much time a day working out that my quality of life went down rather than up; I was at the gym at ungodly hours of the morning, doing squats, skull crushers, deadlifts. At my peak, I had managed to squat more than my original starting weight of 338 pounds. All 5’2” of my late 40’s body was strong.

It felt really good to be that strong; it really did. Even though I weighed more then than I do currently, I could do just about anything I wanted, and fairly easily. I was focused on using exercise to get me the rest of the way to my weight loss goals, and because I was now an “athlete” (OMG I was not!), I decided I should eat more like one. I changed to carb cycling. I ate a lot of grilled chicken and green veggies. I tortured myself with workouts.

In A Place Called Arkansas…

And I regained weight.

Eventually, because I hurt myself in numerous ways, including requiring arthroscopic surgery on a knee, I stopped exercising. But I kept eating like I was an athlete, so the weight came on. Telling myself that obviously it was a hopeless situation, I started eating what I wanted. I just started looking the other direction and avoiding the scales.

If you’ve been around for a bit or know me, personally, you know the rest: I regained every bit I’d lost, and then some, but that’s not the point of this post.

I used to exercise to be strong, to feel powerful, to lose weight. Muscle is metabolically active all the time; fat is not. So if I was burning calories because of all that muscle I built, it just seemed impossible that I’d gain weight instead of losing it.

Now, I know better, in a variety of ways. I am an avid walker, and my daily walks are just a little shorter than they were when I was pushing hard in my late 40’s. I don’t weight lift, but I’m putting together a plan for some upper body workouts in particular.

The reasons, though, are vastly different. For instance, I know, now, that you can’t exercise your way to “thin”. I don’t burn calories in hopes of increasing my caloric deficit, because that’s meaningless to me; I don’t count calories. I walk for cardio health. I walk because it also helps clear my mind. I have been planning on some light yoga and upper body workouts because I feel weak in some situations and want to address that.

That’s not to take anything away from those who chose to workout hard. I commend that. I felt great when I did it.

But for now, my focus is more on overall health, and that means getting my weight under control to a point that I see dividends in my health. There are more reasons than ever to push hard for getting my way of eating in check; most of all, because returning to where I was earlier this year is more important to me because my health is important the older I get. That includes lowering a ton of risk factors, including diabetes, heart disease, and yes, even Covid. (Article: The Coronavirus Attacks Fat Tissue, Scientists Find)

There is now particular interest in examining how Covid infects fat cells, and the more you have, the greater the risk. Fat cells are also a retaining area for hormones, which are the root of why we are obese, why we become insulin-resistant, and so much more.

That’s a gross simplification, but it bears repeating: remaining obese endangers my health and the time I have left on this earth. For that reason, I’m buckling down and doing what’s necessary to stay healthy and annoy people with more gusto and for longer periods of time. You’re not getting rid of me that easily!

Yeah… not really.

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