Forty Pounds Gone

Through one hundred and twenty six days, I have lost forty pounds, or over 20% of my starting weight!

At this point, I am only a month away from hitting a “healthy” weight, as determined by the Body Mass Index. I also recently began tracking my Body Fat Percentage, just to be safe. This measurement will become increasingly important as I start to maneuver through the healthy range to an ideal / optimal fitness prior to switching to maintenance. I’m incorporating this second measurement mainly to calm any concerns of overdoing it or relying too much on BMI, which I think is unfairly criticized.

It’s true that if you are a professional athlete, you probably land on the margins where the BMI is not an accurate representation of your fitness. This circumstance is due to the BMI’s somewhat crude negligence of lean muscle weight. However, as a member of a rather stationary corporate profession, I do not think I am the next LeBron James. I’ll be sure to be careful, but I honestly believe that if you work at a desk most of the day yet you disbelieve your own BMI, you probably just don’t like its implications.

For myself, the above tracker is a great reference to see how far I have come, but I am open to adjusting that end target (which I plan to). It is the absolute limit I will allow myself to lose, not the range I want to maintain. I recognize though that the range I want to maintain, if five to ten pounds more, is where I would stop, just the accumulation of water weight (as a result of no longer continuing deficits) would push me higher than that target. So I imagine when I am five pounds or so away from the end goal, I will then shift into smaller and smaller calorie deficits to account for the additional water weight in my efforts.

Anyway, in terms of other indicators of progress, I now run around four or five miles each day at an 11:30 minute pace (plus five minute warm-ups and cool-downs) during the weekdays. I have been busy with my job and studying for the GMAT, so my workouts are pretty confined to the hour mark Monday through Friday. It has its positives and negatives: I now am at a point where there is no pain pushing such a consistent pace for that continuous amount of time, but I have had to moderate how much I can expect to eat in the day due to declining expenditures.

The main reason is that my Basal Metabolic Rate has dropped significantly, given the weight loss. While it is true your metabolism rises with more exercise, it also in aggregate will fall as you shed pounds. The result of substantial weight loss is that the body needs much less energy to function, and at the end of the day calories are just stores of potential energy. I expect to hit some pretty hard walls in July if I attempt to achieve a thousand calorie deficit on a weekday.

Friends and coworkers have provided suggestions for switching to lifting and other non-cardio exercises. I am inclined to give such activity a shot, but not at the expense of continued improvements in my running form. Having come from a complete hatred of running to moderately enjoying it (while incredibly addicted to it – I have no idea how such sentiments co-exist with one another, but they do for me.), I really want to make substantial gains and not taper just yet.

As for my real passion, biking, I have made the ride between my parents’ house in the suburbs and my apartment in the city fairly routine, and something I do without much preparation or thought. It’s much more enjoyable than running, but at my current pace, a good two and a half hours one-way. It eliminates the need to drive or take the train to see my family, while delivering a good workout and an excuse to hop on the bike. It’s a weekend activity, for sure, but one that resets my efforts and feels much more like a reward than any other exercise I do. In part, I believe it is because I am 100% autonomous when using the bike to commute the thirty miles one-way and the effort is put towards an actual productive task, rather than aimlessly running (or biking for that matter) the same loop.

On the aesthetics front, I am now a size 33″ at the waist (previously a 40″ not too long ago), and my neck fits a 14 1/2″ dress shirt well (previously a 16 1/2″). Polos used to be larges and now I’m somewhere between a medium and a small (no I do not do schmediums). My biking kit probably needs to be replaced at this point and my abdominal section is maybe two months from being legitimately flat. I understand males tend to store fat in the stomach, which also tends to be the most dangerous place for fat to exist, so I expect to be in for a fight to really shape up that last area.

Also, fitting into a dress shirt is fun now, mainly because I don’t have to account for the sides of the shirt to feel way too tight. No matter what I used to do, it always felt I essentially needed the baggiest of shirts available, otherwise I’d feel constricted in the mid-section. I am still hesitant to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, given that I have continued progress exactly as I had expected / intended. Instead, I am slowly rotating out a few shirts here and there to bridge my current physique with where I will be in a couple of months.

Regarding the blog: I renamed it since I completed the Broad Street Run. Tempo and Cadence is the name, and I’ll see how long it sticks. I just love cycling and for that reason I feel it is a decent name that is not too cliche. I will keep blogging, although as you can tell (if you read as I update), the general rate at which I post has declined. I have plenty of old draft posts that I debate posting, but I realize it’s not my best work. They were more to help me continue when it was hard to get out in the snow to the gym, or when my legs would be sore from running just fifteen minutes. When the weather is terrible, it is much more difficult to find the motivation to think about fitness.

The recent real spring weather has helped, as more and more people get outside to exercise. Generally it is this time of the year when I would start to frantically realize I had not done anything to get in shape with hardly any time before regular trips down the shore. It is a nice feeling to know I am ahead of the curve (finally) and that for bicycling season, I have had my best start ever. The negative for the blog (not really) is that I have less reason to sit inside and write.

Last thing to mention: a few weeks ago I had a column for WHYY that you should check out! Why I Run Broad Street


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