Friday, March 22, 2013

The Search for Automatic Weight Loss

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I have spent more time “thinking” during this weight loss adventure than I have on any other previous attempt at losing weight. When I started over, I told myself that I knew exactly how to lose weight, so now I needed to figure out why I don’t. If you know how to do something, but choose not to, it does no good to re-teach yourself how to do it. Instead you have to focus on why you choose not to do it.

Self-reflection can be difficult. It’s sometimes hard to pull yourself out of your normal way of thinking and explore questions that might fly in the face of what you know in your mind to be true. This morning I’ve been sitting at my desk at work reflecting on my life and my situations. As I was doing this I came across a thought that related to weight loss…

“I’m wasting more time and energy trying to automate my life than I’m spending actually living it!”

What does that mean?

I’m an engineer through and through. I love data and systems and tools that are designed to help you get the most efficiency out of anything you are doing. I spend my days trying to automate just about everything.

At work I’ve setup my job so that I can automatically collect the data I need to make decisions. I’ve spent hours and hours setting up spreadsheets so that 3 pieces of information can be entered each month and instantly create 15 different metrics that can be used the track the state of my department.

At home I’ve automated my system for selecting stocks to invest in. I spent MONTHS building a spreadsheet that allows me to enter a stock symbol, click a button, and then it automatically collects 20 years of data, sorts through it, and gives me a score AND a buy and sell price.

What does that have to do with losing weight?

Everything I do is with automation and efficiency in mind… that includes weight loss! If I had a way to track every calorie that went into my mouth while simultaneously tracking every calorie that I expended throughout the day, I would be in heaven. In my mind, if I know exactly what I need to eat, when I need to eat it, and how much I need to move around in order to have my metabolism fire at its most efficient rate, then I have created the most efficient weight loss program possible.

Here’s the problem… I’m trying to build an automatic weight loss system, one that I don’t have to think about what I need to do each day because it’s already been calculated out for me. Does anyone think that really exists? I’m spending so much time focusing on how to make things most efficient (how to lose the most weight with the least amount of effort). Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Why am I trying to be so efficient about my weight loss? Does it matter if I only lose 2 pounds when I could have lost 3? Does it matter if I choose to work out at a time that not optimal for burning calories? Do I really need to know that I should be eating 2200 calories per day instead of 2300? What is any of the data I’m collecting tell me that I don’t already know?

When it comes down to it, the only equation I need to worry about is this:

Eat Less + Move More = Lose Weight

At the end of the day I should be asking myself 2 questions:

  1. Did I take steps today to try to eat a healthy, reasonable amount of food?
  2. Did I take steps today to try to get more physical activity?
All the energy I spend with spreadsheets and scouring the Internet for that next little piece of information that might make my diet more efficient could be instead be spent running around outside with my kids or teaching myself to prepare a great meal that’s both satisfying to my appetite and tastes great.
Sometimes I get so hung up on the metrics I’m tracking that I forget what it actually is I’m trying to do. I want to be healthy, that’s the ultimate goal. It doesn’t matter what my weight or measurements are, how many calories I’m eating, or how many minutes I spent with my heart rate at a certain level. Yes, those numbers are a good way to measure progress, but they are outputs and shouldn’t drive behavior. Maybe if I stop focusing on the wrong things, the right thing will actually happen!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 70 - Weight Loss Results

Starting Weight – 330
Day 60 Weight – 319.8
Current Weight – 319.0

Period Weight Loss – 0.8 Pounds
Overall Weight Loss – 11 Pounds

Finally!  After 2 weeks of weight gains I finally posted a loss.  It might be a small one, but a loss is a loss and right now I just really needed to see it.  It's been a rough 30 days for me, but it feels good knowing that I'm starting to get back on track

What Went Well

Not a lot of areas that I can say went well these last 10 days except that I was definitely more active.  the weather has finally gotten better (at least here in VA) and I am taking full advantage.  Soccer season has finally started and I am the coach of my daughter's youth soccer team.  I love to coach, it's great to get out there and run around with a bunch of little kids. 

I've also started playing basketball with my kids.  I have 3 girls so we play 2 on 2.  I take the youngest on my team and we play in our driveway.  I was skeptical at first that I would actually get any exercise since my kids are 6,8, and 9, but I've been amazed at how winded I get even after about 15 minutes.  The bonus is that I get exercise while spending time playing with the kids and they just love it!

Areas to Improve

Still quite a bit of eating out (though not nearly as much as the 20 days before).  I've also struggled with drinking water.  It's strange, it's not like I've been drinking soda or any other bad drink, I'm just not drinking at all.

Moving Forward

Today starts a new chapter for me!  I didn't realize it until I got into work this morning, but today marks 99 days without smoking!  That's a significant accomplishment for me.  For those of you who haven't seen my earlier posts, smoking was the first bad habit I needed to break, losing weight has been my my second priority and I am happy that I've managed to take 11 pounds off while quitting smoking.  At this point I'm ready to declare victory on the smoking, put more attention towards eating right, and really start to give more thought on getting more exercise.

Goals for this week (Next 10 Days):

Shooting the moon these next 10 days, I'm going for 10 pounds (yes, that's 1 pound each day).  In order to be successful, I will need to execute perfectly every single day:
  1. Calories under 2500 every day
  2. 100oz Water or more every day
  3. Exercise every day
  4. Maintain a positive attitude!
I'm also setting a goal to post 2 blog articles and visit 10 of my friend's blogs before my next weigh-in.  I apologize I've been absent as of late, both in writing articles and also in visiting my friend's sites.  I hope you are all still doing well.

Anyway, wish me luck.  Stay Strong!