I’m not a great believer in New Year’s resolutions (they generally last no more than a week), so I gave up making them years ago. This year, though, I do want to make one—one that is related to my health and fitness. I want to lose 10–15 pounds by June 2015.
Here’s what prompted that resolution:
My “body mass index” has been creeping up for the past 21 months. I’m in danger of passing the BME≥25 threshold to “overweight” in about 19 months if the recent trend continues.
I think I felt healthiest when my BMI was about 21.6, but I’d be happy to get my BMI back in the range 22.5–23, which is where it was around 6–10 years ago. Most of the weight I’ve put on since then is around my waist, which is not a healthy place to be adding weight—I wouldn’t have minded adding muscle mass, but the gain has clearly been in flab, not muscle.
Of course, it isn’t enough just to decide to lose weight—I’m going to have to change some of my habits to achieve my goal. But which ones?
Exercise and diet are the two main contributors to weight gain or loss. So do I increase my exercise, limit my diet, or both?
I get adequate aerobic exercise (about 26.8 miles/week of bicycling—see the bike log below), and I’ve never been able to maintain an increased exercise program for more than a few weeks. So I don’t think that exercise will be a major part of my weight-loss program. I may try doing “core” exercises again to trim my waist a bit through increased muscle tone, but that won’t affect my weight significantly.
Because I use my bicycle for transportation, my exercise is roughly constant. (Academic year 2011–12 was lower, because I was on sabbatical, so biked up the hill to campus less often.)
Given that I’m unlikely to sustain an increased exercise regime for long enough to lose much weight, it seems like my best bet will be to try to regulate my diet. I can ask my wife to help by not offering me fattening foods, but most of the effort will have to come from me controlling portion sizes and not eating snacks from the vending machine at work. Skipping lunch or bringing low-calorie lunches from home might help, but I often skip lunch already, so I don’t know how much having better lunch discipline will help. I think that the big changes will have to come in my evening meal.
I’ll try to cut back on some of the high-calorie foods (like cheese and ice cream) and increase my intake of bulky low-calorie foods (like vegetables). Changing habits that I developed when I was a skinny person is going to be hard, but I’m hopeful that I can reset the weight homeostasis back to what it was a decade ago, and that within six months new dietary habits will be sufficiently established to be able to maintain the weight without struggle.