It’s been about four months since I’ve started actively tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal and about three months since I’ve started running and biking to get me back into shape. Knowing me, I honestly thought that I was going to fall through on all my plans to lose a bunch of weight and fail on my goals to run a 5K and eventually a 10K in the fall. But I have managed to surprise myself at the level of dedication and discipline to see this through.

The old me, peaking at about 225 pounds
The old me, peaking at about 225 pounds

I have lost about 20 pounds in the past four months, starting out at 225 and am now down to 204 pounds, all of that due to counting calories, staying under budget (an aggressive plan to lose 1.5 pounds per week / 1600 calories per day on no exercise days), and exercising regularly. My exercise of choice has been running and on my rest days biking.  And although it was tough at the start, I’ve pushed beyond the 5K barrier and am slowly working up towards a four-mile run. My rides have also been getting significantly longer, too.  Last week, I topped out at 27.3 miles on my bike down to Dangerous Man Brewing and back; and honestly could have gone for a longer ride had time allowed for it.

The two most telling factors are both the three/six-month views in MyFitnessPal showing the near-consistent weight loss on the graph, and when you look at my torso and waistline.  I’m legitimately losing weight in my face, my belly, my legs, my ass — and slowly it’s being replaced with better defined muscle.  This totally excites me.

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The new me a few weeks ago, roughly 204 pounds

It’s a new me that I’m working on, a new standard of living and a way of life that I’m trying to foster here. The idea of dieting is laughable — trying to sustain a short spurt of weight loss, only to say “I’m done” and then gain it all back in three to six months time. No, this is a new way of life — counting the calories I consume, and working hard at running and biking with tangible goals to keep me in check. Between those two disciplines, I’m seeing tangible results.

And people are noticing.

I’ve had friends come up to me and notice my facial features are more well-defined, they notice less of a beer belly on me, and are noticing the muscle definition in my legs,  too, from running and biking. And that feels great to get noticed again. My wife’s even made a few comments here and there, and that feels gratifying.

I still have a long way to go, about a third of the way towards my goal of 170 pounds. But I’m doing pretty well, staying disciplined and not relying on fleeting motivation to keep me going. If I relied on motivation, I would have gotten nowhere and would be emotionally eating and drinking week after week like I had in the past. That was my MO — eating and/or drinking until I felt OK, instead of knowing what my limits are and eating/drinking to those limits regardless of what my emotions may be telling me at the time.

Earning my beer, knowing my limits

So when I make comments about “earning my beer” — they’re basically just light-hearted phrases implying that I’m drinking within my means and watching my limits.  Just doing that alone has achieved great weight loss results.  Adding regular exercise on top of that has brought about great muscle toning and physical fitness. You just can’t do weight loss without watching and limiting your intake.  You can’t.  Losing weight requires you to eat and drink at levels less than your body requires to maintain status quo, but above the minimums required for staying healthy.

For me — I’m 5′ 11″, early 40’s, and am about 204 pounds now — my calorie allowance is 1600 calories if I don’t run or bike.  If I do run or bike, my allowance obviously goes up but does cap at around 2,200 calories if I want to maintain my weight loss trend.  You can’t just keep drinking/eating your deficit beyond your prescribed active calorie limit.  A good way to find out what that limit is, would be to use something like the Intermittent Fasting Calculator. That helped me where myFitnessPal left off — giving me a cap to shoot for in terms of consumption on days that I burn a lot of calories through rigorous rides and runs.  I know, that for me, 2200 is about my cap on active days.  For you it might be different — more or less. Play around with the calculator and find your own limits.

My next immediate goals

I know better than to post specific goals — for the gratification of doing so could thwart my discipline and motivation to keep striving. But I think if I’m general enough, I’m OK.

I’ve already met my goal of running another 5K and did pretty good. I also recently ran a trail race and made my new PR down at the Break the Stigma 5K trail race down in Farmington.  That felt really good. But I’m ready to do more now.

This fall I’ve signed up for the Twin Cities Medtronic 10K and am also going to be signing up for the Monster Dash Half Marathon.  The latter of those two is a big deal to me — the 10K is doable with some walking.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve the endurance right now to manage that. But a half marathon is a whole different league for me, and I’m almost ready to take that on. Training for the half starts up towards the beginning of August, and it looks to be pretty aggressive, too, with each weekend’s long run tacking on one mile each week. But I’ll trust the plan and stick with it.

This new me — the new normal of counting calories, running three to four times a week, biking two to three times a week — it feels good.  And this is becoming the new normal. When Minnesota winter hits, though, I’m going to need all the resolve I can muster (and plenty of warm running gear) to sustain me for the five to six months of cold weather running. I may have to sign up for a few winter runs to keep me in check.

Thanks for reading! Cheers!