It took 50.2 pounds, or 25.8% of my starting weight, and just over five months, but I can finally say I am no longer overweight. This morning I weighed 144.2 pounds, and my waist circumference measured 31 inches, confirming that I am finally healthy (and now at the 51st percentile of Americans!). It has easily been five years (if not six) since I have legitimately been in the “healthy” range, according to both the Body Mass Index and Body Fat Percentage. I am thankful to my family and friends who supported me in progressing towards this milestone. I also am still in disbelief.
I look back today and consider the whole effort manageable, but in reality, each individual day and week took a level of commitment and focus that I once doubted I would ever have. I did it with no shortcuts, no crash dieting, no pills, and no tricks. It was hard. It still is, really, to get out there and recognize that to really improve, I have to push myself every little bit more.
The results have not been limited to the scale: My resting heart rate is now consistently in the high 40’s, I can run seven miles at an average pace of nine minutes, and I can bike thirty miles, climbing one thousand feet in the process, in just about two hours. Across the board, I have achieved my greatest gains in actual athletic endeavors over this past two months. Prior to that point, I had been content just managing slow but steady increases in my ability. Now I can realistically push myself to competitive levels.
The downside, if there is one, is that my body needs significantly fewer calories (e.g., energy) to burn in a given day. So to still accomplish weight loss at a consistent pace, my level of intensity has to increase substantially. According to Western Washington University, a loss of fifty pounds equates to eliminating ten thousand miles of extra blood vessels. Therefore, the burden placed on the heart is greatly reduced and each pump is that much more efficient. I will gladly take this trade-off, knowing that any frustration about exertion during exercise is outweighed by the strengthening of my heart.
I am surprised by the drop in my resting heart rate: it was only a few weeks ago I resigned myself to thinking it would be a stretch, even at an ideal fitness, for my resting heart rate to sit below fifty, as it had when I was six years younger. Now it is steadily under that marker, with room to go in my overall fitness. I understand that the more I vary intensity, the higher the likelihood my heart improves. I also realize that it may not be too realistic to expect to land in the mid to low 40’s as I had at age 20.
This whole endeavor began on January 15, 2014, when I put on my Basis watch and began tracking both what I burn and eat. The watch has helped as it has readjusted each instance where I lose weight, so I am not expecting the same burn from a repetitive workout. Plateaus have been scarce because of its accuracy, and therefore I have succeeded at many points where I previously would struggle.
As for my plans to continue weight loss: I have revised up my target weight to 128 pounds, which equates to a BMI of 22 (considered “perfect” in some circles). I am not going to push unreasonably towards this goal, as I understand that the healthy range is purposely not a precise number. Sixteen pounds could be the most difficult amount of weight to lose, given how challenging the last few weeks have been to get healthy. I will play it by ear, but if there is ever a time to shoot for an ideal fitness, it is now with the most momentum and motivation I will ever have.