As with most adults I have struggled with the weight gain / loss cycle. I’ve been 249 lbs twice (peaked at 269), and 205 twice (as low as 185) in the last 8 years. Once I lose the weight, I go back to bad eating habits and the larger I get the less energy I have and slowly the exercise stops as well. For me the four months between September, and December each year is typically when everything falls apart, there’s too many birthdays, holidays, and events and I typically end up extending my cheating window from days to weeks, to months. By December any progress I made throughout the year is typically gone. It’s sad how quickly you can put on the weight that took months of hard work to lose, and sadly I love food too much. I call these months the dead period.
Not surprisingly given that I am an INTJ, and I love data, I always kept meticulous data around my progress, and created detailed plans each time. But as always Sept would roll around, and everything would fall to shit. I would stop checking my weight, tracking my progress, and everything would slowly grind to a halt. The only thing I’ve been fairly consistent about is my weight training, but even that would be less so during these dead periods. Also given that my dumbbells only go to 75lb each it limited my progress, it didn’t take long for me to max out the dumbbells on most lifts.
I’ve always kept a pretty good record of my progress in a spreadsheet when I was watching my weight. After each year, I would condense the previous year into a single column. The following spreadsheet shows my yo-yoing over the last 8 years and I documented my struggle over the last 15 years below as reminder to myself that I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.
My dad had a pretty extensive gym, so I weight trained in high school, but it was rather intermittent, and free flowing, a typical pyramid workout a few days a week. I also didn’t watch what I ate at all, it wasn’t uncommon for me to eat an entire package of bacon in one sitting, looking back on it, it was amazing I wasn’t 230 lb+. I hovered around 185 throughout high school, and got as low as 165 after working in a saw mill before College.
Summer ’97 – Around 185lb
These poor eating habits, and the lack of an off switch with food was setting myself up for failure later in life when my metabolism slows down, and the exercising grinds to halt. This happened sooner then I expected. It started in my first year of College, I ate pizza almost every night of the week, and that first year I went from 165 to about 210.
Post College, I got a job in IT which meant sitting on my ass for over 120 hours a week between working, watching tv etc and still not eating properly, I ballooned from 210 to 249 by 2006. At this point I got my hands on Body for Life, and Eating for Life and bought a couple sets of Bodylastics, and put what I learned to the test. Later that year I bought BFFM (Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle) by Tom Venuto, it was by far the best fitness/nutrition book I had ever read, it didn’t wiggle around issues. Tom said it like it was, and explained the what it all meant, I consider myself a skeptic and a analytical person by nature so it was exactly what I needed. I started bike commuting to the office 2-3 days a week (16km each way), unfortunately I didn’t count calories, and I ended up under eating, and lost of a substantial amount of muscle in the process. I got down to about 205, but still around 22% body fat. Naturally because I didn’t do it the right way, by the winter of 2007 I started working from home exclusively, so the cardio stopped. Around this time I stopped weighing myself, and the bigger I got the more I was scared to check my weight.
It wasn’t until Boxing Day 2011 when I saw a photo of myself and realized just how bad it got, I was HUGE, to add insult to injury a relative commented on how fat I had gotten. I checked my weight on the 27th, and I was 269! I vowed to never allow myself to go so long without checking my weight. We were getting married in Hawaii in May of 2012, so it gave me a goal to get myself down to a reasonable weight by May. I re-read BFFM, and this time start counting calories, and I bought a set of 75lb Dumbbells (Ironmaster Quicklocks) and a bench to get more resistance out of my training. I immediately took before photos, and measurements, and created plan that included daily cardio on the bike trainer, and weight training three days a week while keeping the calories around 1600-2000 a day.
Winter ’12 – 269lb
After months of weight training, and daily cardio, I got down to 228 by the end of April ’12. I was quite happy that I reached my goal for Hawaii, naturally I put back on about 10lbs while in Hawaii. I stayed around the 230-235 range for much of 2012 while eating pretty much anything I wanted. Thankfully, the regular exercise kept my weight in check. I decided to kick it into gear for 2013, and started watching my food intake again, Des joined me this time, which made it so much easier to be consistent when you have someone else watching their intake, and exercising along with you. I got down to about 196 by October of 2013, and close to 13% body fat. Unfortunately almost all my fat is stored in my belly, I was showing crazy definition in my lower body but I still had huge love handles.
Sept ’13 – 199lb
I knew the only way I was going to lose them was to further cut calories, but I did it too fast and got down to 185. I should have shaved off that last bit slower, I lost some strength in my lifts, and overall wasn’t happy with my composition. I was coming into the dead period, and put back on 20 lbs. By January of 2014, I was back up to 201lb, and luckily Des was still eating very clean so it kept me from gaining too much, and I stayed around 205 until the summer of 2014. I went back into my old habits, and I was back up to 219 by January of 2015, I kept the cycling and weight lifting fairly consistent during this period, but given that my dumbbells only go to 75lb each it limited my progress. I always wanted to see progress during training, and I couldn’t apart from changing up rest, and adding reps. There’s only so many reps I can do before it gets so boring, I was doing 4 sets of 18 reps of bench press with the db’s maxed, and over 20 reps with deadlift, and squats. I don’t have hours to workout so I haven’t maxed out or went to fatigue in years. I wish I had known more about super sets or circuits back then.
I continued to eat poorly through 2015, and I kept changing up my routines as everything was getting very boring, and the workouts were becoming far too long. It wasn’t until Sept of 2015, when I realized I hadn’t weighed/measured myself in months and my workouts were more tiring then usual, and my shirts were starting to get way too tight. I was now pushing 235, I decided enough is enough (yet again), and start researching different alternatives. I started doing shorter full-body workouts with four super-sets three days a week with way shorter rests, and doing nothing the other four days as I just didn’t have time to get much more in with my work hours getting longer due to a deadline coming up. Unfortunately I still wasn’t committed entirely. I still sneaked cheat snacks, basically whatever was in the house that I shouldn’t eat, I ate. I continued to gain until I hit 241 at the end of October. I was now officially back into XL shirts, and 36″ pants, so disheartening after all that hard work.
I do it to myself though, and luckily I have lost it before, so I know I can do it again. It’s like I always need to remind myself how hard it is to lose the weight and stop shoving shit in my mouth. One day of poor eating can set me back nearly a week if the daily deficit is 500 calories. I know this is going to be a life long struggle, and the one thing I’ve learned about myself is that when I’m fit, and have energy I’m the happiest when I’m doing daily exercise. I might hate it now, and I do, there’s nothing I hate more then exercise when I have no energy, and really don’t feel like it. But I know when I push through that, eventually I love the sweat, and pain I feel after a workout. It’s just a matter of getting started and being consistent for a few weeks, and not allow myself to fall back into eating junk.
I downloaded Joe Manganiello’s book Evolution and it has reinvigorated me to create a new plan of attack, and start again. We started eating clean again last Monday, and my new work out is a three day split, six days a week with minimal rest between sets. The last few days I realized my biggest hurdle is boredom, my workouts lack variety, the exercises never change and I can’t increase the weight, it eventually kills any momentum I have. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize that, I’m a workaholic because I’m bored, and I’d rather do something constructive, I change operating systems regularly and, find new hobbies etc because I get bored easily.
My original plan to was to simply buy some extra weight, but I know that won’t be enough, I won’t reach go as hard as I need to with no spotter. I have no workout partner so I’m going to require a power rack to lift heavy relatively risk free. I’m going to try to do this workout as long as I can with what I have until this spring when I plan to finally purchase a power rack, and some free weight, either that or I’ll finally bite the bullet and join a gym, although those that know me, know that would be the absolutely last resort. My new plan of attack, and measurements will be posted in a few days to help keep me accountable.