Sunday, October 18, 2009

4-Month Progress

I've been at this now for 1/3 of a year and I want to note the progress I've made in concrete terms so that I can look back after 4 more months and see how far I've come. It's so easy to look at how far I have to go that I think it's important to see how far I've come. Here are the improvements I've made in 4 months:
  • I initially could not walk for 5 minutes without great back pain and a sense of being out of breath. I had to sit down often to keep walking and walked slowly. I can now walk for up to 15 minutes, sometimes longer, without sitting due to back problems, and I can often walk and stand for as long as 45 minutes with only one brief rest. I walk much faster, though not as fast as most people, and don't feel the need to rest because I'm out of breath. My longest sojourn out and about on my feet (but still needing to sit down because of my bad back) has been two hours at this point.
  • Shirts that were comfortably loose on me before are now so large that I feel like I'm swimming in them. Shirts that were uncomfortably snug before that I rarely wore now fit properly and comfortably.
  • My pants are much looser and longer. Though I've hemmed the ones that are too long, they are starting to bag at the thighs and hips even though they are stretchy pants. Pants that I couldn't get on at all before fit tightly now.
  • My hands and feet don't swell up as much overnight and look as puffy. When my hands are cold, my wedding ring is too loose to fit without slipping off because I've lost weight in my fingers.
  • My forearms are visibly thinner and I'm finally starting to see a loss in my lower calves such that my "cankles" aren't so pronounced or pudgy.
  • When I sit down, I notice that my body shape is starting to show some definition rather than looking like just a blob of spare tires. It's not much, but it's a start.
  • My face is definitely a little thinner and younger looking, though my double chin (which was never very pronounced for someone of my weight) is about the same.
  • I used to be afraid to have to walk around, even for a short time because of pain. I no longer have that fear for the first time in years. While I still need to sit down, I know I'm not going to be in agony after a brief period of time.
  • I don't have sugar cravings and severe blood sugar fluctuations driving my eating. I believe I've broken my physiological sugar dependency through portion control and changes in diet.
  • I feel fuller faster and with less food. Half as much food makes me feel just as full as twice as much did 4 months ago. I'm certain my stomach has shrunk due to gradual portion alterations.
I still have a terribly long way to go and still find myself eating compulsively and when under stress. The main difference is that I eat much less when I do this (and don't do it for such a prolonged period of time), but it's still a point that needs to be worked on. The scary part is that the food is often in my mouth before I even realize that I'm acting on emotional eating urges or a compulsion. I think it's hunger at the time, but recognize after the fact that it is not.

At the moment, this compulsive eating is more of a concern for me than fighting off hunger and failing. At least the hunger is real and understandable as giving your body fewer calories than it needs to sustain itself will result in real hunger. The compulsive eating is absolutely unproductive and part of an urge to take comfort in food.

This comfort is not an illusion, but it is a destructive and temporary solution to emotional distress. It's the aspect of my eating which caused me to regain all the weight I lost after so much hard work in college. If I don't conquer this, I'm doomed for a repeat next time I undergo a severe change in my life.

My deadline for having to face changing my work is, at the minimum 2 years and 2 months away, and at the maximum 2.5 years away. Seeing the time ebb away is a little scary for me because I'm uncertain that I can maintain my current rate of progress through time due to natural slowdowns in weight loss and limits on my time to increase physical activity. If the rate of loss remained as steady as it has so far, I wouldn't worry at all as I think I'm on track, but I guess I'll have to worry about crossing that bridge when I get to it.

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