1998/2018: Whatever 20/20, Day Nine: Weight

Well, this one isn’t as cheerful as some of the others have been. In 1998, I weighed a shade over 160 pounds. Today as I popped myself onto the scale, I was a smidge over 191 pounds. This is not great.

This weight gain is on me, both literally and figuratively. As much as there is a natural middle-age tendency toward weight, the fact is I could be doing more, and eating a bit less. I have been fortunate that this weight gain hasn’t had too much negative impact on my health. I went in a few months ago because of a minor health scare involving what I thought was my heart (better safe than sorry), and it turns out I’m slightly better than fine, health-wise; the pain was indigestion and the workup showed everything else was good. Half a bottle of Pepto Bismol (and half of our annual HSA contribution) later, I was fine.

But that’s not going to last. I’m 49 and change; without constant upkeep, the slide from “mostly healthy” to not will be sudden and steep. There’s more to that than weight, but for me weight is both a signal and a contributing factor. I’m not going to get any healthier, or bring my weight down, just sitting on my ass.

My current weight is not the most I’ve ever been but it’s within five pounds of it. Up until a couple of years ago I was hovering in the 175 range and then up it went, a combination of laziness, work stress and perhaps eating my exasperation at the current political situation in the United States. To be clear, it’s not Trump’s fault I weigh more than I did before he was president. Again, that’s on me. On the other hand, his presence in the White House and all the nonsense that’s come with it makes it psychologically easier for me to say, fuck it, we’re all screwed, I’m gonna have another slice of pizza. I have to work on that.

I find it easier to watch my weight when in fact I’m actually watching it — when I log calories and track steps and so on and so forth. I’m a person for whom gamifying weight and health really works, and when I get away from that I do a slow upward trend in both weight and laziness. I kind of hate this fact about me, but I’m also at an age where I worry less about the not-spectacular existing aspects of my personality and more about accepting them and making them work for me. If gamifying my health and weight it what it takes, let’s do it, baby.

This is where I announce I have a goal for myself, which is to get myself down to 180 by the end of the year, and to 170 by my 50th birthday, which is next May. I don’t think I need to get myself back down to 160; I think at this point that weight marker would really accentuate my jowls. But 170? I could probably do that in nine months if I make the effort and I think I’ll generally be happier with myself if I get there. And I know myself well enough to say that I’m more likely to make the effort if I say it out loud and in public. So: Hey! 20 pounds in nine months. Let’s see how I do.

Also, this gives me an excuse to buy a new smartwatch. Yes, I will use any excuse to get new toys. Don’t judge me. Or judge me all you want! It’s fine.

68 Comments on “1998/2018: Whatever 20/20, Day Nine: Weight”

  1. Quick notes:

    1. Please note that I’m discussing what I think is getting myself to a healthy and happy weight for me; other people are happy and healthy at varying weights. Let’s not be using my personal discussion of weight to go on a wide-ranging spree of weight shaming, either generally or other specific people. It’s tiresome and never goes anywhere pleasant.

    2. I’m not actually looking for weight/exercise advice right now. I know this won’t stop many of you from offering it anyway, so do what you want, just be aware I’m not likely to be considering it.

    3. I am, however, open to your suggestions for smartwatches, if they work with Android/online sites. Don’t suggest an Apple watch to me please; I’m not going to dive into the Apple ecosystem just for a watch.

  2. I’ll join you! I am in the same boat (48 years old, 20 lbs (or more) over weight), and tracking helps me too. I’ve heard the Garmin GPS watches work well and are waterproof.

  3. I recommend one of those fancy scales that measure body fat % (through both feet sensors and connected hand-held sensor). My goal isn’t number of pounds, but rather lower body fat %. I don’t want the muscle I’ve started putting on in the gym to count against my goals.

  4. The last time I weighed anywhere near my ideal weight was in college. Since then it’s been a slow, inexorable creep upward. I ought to drop at least 30 pounds, but that’s proving difficult. It doesn’t help that over the last 4-5 years I’ve discovered a tendency to throw my back out, giving me an excuse to not exercise. Between that and my liking to eat well, finding the right combo of exercise and diet is tricky.

  5. I’m pretty lucky (my wife, who has been plagued by weight issues most of her life, would agree) in that it’s always been easy for me to stay within a narrow band of weight (mostly 185-190; I’m 6’1″) no matter what I eat. And any time I decide I want to lose a few pounds, I find it pretty easy, even though I’m old (69).

    Not that I’m offering advice – I’m not – but South Beach worked well for me last time.

  6. I tip (break) the scales at over 300 lbs. I am tall…still, not good. Losing weight is hard. Knees begin to ache and walking is a bit painful. May need surgery later. Hope not.Yup….at 64 this is not good. I live in S Texas…the food is great, greasy, calorofic, very reasonably price…and IMHO, the best Mexican food in the USA. Sigh…need to move to an area where food is expensive, not that good, tasteless …UK??? :)

  7. Right there with you. Similar age, similar amount of weight needed to loose. For me it’s largely an issue of how I FEEL (and how tight the waistband of my pants feel), not a number on a scale. But I’m tracking the second to improve the first.

    I downloaded an app to my phone called “lose it” that helps track calories and amounts of protein, sugar, fats, and carbohydrates. I’m wanting to improve these proportions as well. I’ve already dropped my “added sugar” amount and it has made a difference in how I feel.


    I mean yeah, I eat less of the sugary foods I love and I feel better but I have to eat less of the sugary foods I love.

  8. The most effective diet for me was restricting my sugar intake. I lost 20 pounds in eight weeks by keeping my sugar intake to about 13 g/day. That was probably too fast, and I would stay around 24 g/day if I did it again. Of course, YMMV.

  9. I am in the process of putting together a wightloss wordpress site…Actually just spent the last five hours doing it and come over here for a read and your post was the first one in my feed so maybe it’s meant to be… Anyhoo i have lost 20kg in 40days. With no exercise. Haha sounds to good to be true, yeah that’s what i thought too. Until i gave it a go. Let me know if you’re interested in perusing the new site. Thanks lisa

  10. There are also some fairly easy diet-related things you can do, without going so far as to fall into one of the fad diets. #1 is to reduce your intake of HFCS, which is most easily accomplished by cutting back on sweetened sodas. What I drink instead: unsweetened iced tea (often made with apricot or other flavored teas, but not commercial flavored tea which is all heavily sweetened); unsweetened flavored fizzy water, which has the same mouthfeel as a soda (look for it in the “mixers” section at the grocery); plain water with a little lemon juice added (the kind that comes in a plastic lemon works fine).

    Any dietary changes that you make voluntarily have the advantage that you can take a break from them if needed. I made some voluntary dietary changes about 10 years ago after watching a few too many friends become diabetic and have to deal with severe NON-voluntary dietary changes, and so far it seems to be working, and I don’t feel deprived.

    And there are worse ways to lose weight. I dropped 70 pounds last year, but I absolutely do not recommend my path to anyone; this ties in with your comment about going from “mostly healthy” to “not” (or as I perceive it, from “middle-aged” to “old”) very fast.

  11. I could definitely lose some weight and exercise more.

    I know a couple of people who have lost significant weight on the keto diet and they are telling me to give it a try. Might have to look into it.

    Still waiting for that genetically modified perfectly healthy body, in a pill.

  12. I’m about 4 years younger than you, but I’ve been in the same boat. I made a commitment earlier this year to doing something about it, and it’s working! I’m down about 17 pounds (so far)! The gamifying also works for me, though I don’t have a bunch of fancy toys to help.

  13. There goes my plan of bringing you a bagged double double from In N Out when you hit The Last Bookstore! Maybe some nice mineral water instead :) Best wishes on the healthiness, it’s important !!!

  14. Buy yourself a bicycle (no cheating; no electro-bike) and do all the trips that are in a radius of 5 miles around your house by bike. No fancy thing; just regular one with a shopping carrier. Good for the environment, your wallet and you.

  15. Good luck, John! We want you around and writing for as long as possible. I’m really enjoying these “Whatever” retrospective posts. They’re interesting topics. on two fronts–I like to see how you feel about each of these, and also take a minute to ruminate on how they’ve changed for me in my life over the past 20 years.

  16. When I got married in 1993, I was still at my 1981 high school weight of 165. I stayed around that weight (without needing to think about it) until 2001. Then I got a programming job at a Web 1.0 company in San Francisco. Besides the requisite foosball table which interested me not at all, we had a fully-stocked snack cabinet. Having never needed to think about my caloric intake in the past, I thought nothing of eating a few bags of M&Ms every day. I gained 20 pounds in six months.

    Now that I’m in my mid-50s, the days of eating whatever I want are far behind me. Thankfully I haven’t had too hard a time of it. I just am mindful of trying not to eat too many unnecessary calories, avoiding anything with HFCS (which is a marker of low-quality food anyway), and staying away from processed foods. Between that and gamifying with the help of a company-sponsored Fitbit I’ve been able to keep my weight around 170-175 for the past couple years. For my height (6’2”) I’m happy with that. I could probably use some sit-ups to keep the paunch at bay, but exercise and I have a long-standing animosity.

  17. Your plan sounds eminently doable! Most things I read advise losing weight slowly, and your goal of losing 20 pounds in approximately 40 weeks is a sensible and non-stressful way to go. The combination of burning a few extra calories with eating a few less can give surprisingly great results.

    If you hit a plateau though, you may need to up your game on the exercising part. (I would suggest weight training, but that’s just me, because I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights.) In time, your body will adapt to your new normal, and become more efficient at extracting calories from smaller amounts of food. Which, yay for evolutionary survival adaptations, but boo hiss for attempts at weight loss.

  18. I’ve been pretty happy with the Fitbit Alta HR. It’s mostly a fitness tracker, but it does do notifications as well. And an upside to it being simpler is only having to charge it once a week.

    Their app is pretty great too. Lots of fun badges to work towards (recently my culminative walking has surpassed the length of the Monarch Butterfly migration) and ways to challenge friends for that added incentive.

    I think they may have a scale that hooks into their system as well, though I haven’t used it.

  19. Don’t diet. Whatever changes you make, make them permanent, and the weight loss will be permanent too.

  20. I weighed 135 in college, and about 140 when I gave up smoking in 1984 (at age 44). Adding just a couple of pounds a year, by 1998 I was up to nearly 180. By the simple expedient of not eating lunch when I wasn’t actually ravenous, and not automatically eating everything on my plate when I was already full, I gradually brought the weight down to its present 145. At my age, I’d look gaunt if I weighed less. No one would ever call me slim (I’m only about 5′ 5″), but I wouldn’t have to lie about my height in order not to be called obese, like someone whose name rhymes with “rump”.

  21. I’ve heard good things about the Fitbit watch for people who don’t want to go the Apple route. On weight gain etc… I think the hard thing is to keep healthy stuff in the house so that when you want to eat lunch or dinner you don’t just go “AH, nothing in the fridge, screw it, I’ll order pizza”. I think it’s also easier to do when you’re doing it, in the fall through winter because I”ll make things like pots of soup, stew, whatever and freeze them so if I do get caught out with nothing fresh to cook I can reheat something decent.

  22. I’m trying to lose too (doing Weight Watchers online plan) and I’m down 15 pounds or so. Even a 5% drop in body weight makes a difference in your health.

    Yeah, I long for the days of youth when I could basically eat all I wanted and still maintain a 175 lb weight, but those days are long gone. I also know from experience that it’s easier to lose the weight than it is to maintain that loss. Supposing I get down to 200 (my goal) it will require constant attention to diet to keep myself there.

  23. Weight Watchers. Seriously. It really works and is easy to follow. You can do it all online and there’s an app you can link to your smart watch. I lost 80 lbs in WW and have kept it off for 4 years.

  24. John, what was the “weight” of the rain in your area? Dayton, Ohio, which I believe is in your neck of the woods, broke their 72-hour rainfall record, and Columbus, Ohio, where I used to live ,got about 6 inches. For those who’ve never been to Columbus, about 60 years ago some damn fools built freeways way too close to the two rivers, the Scioto and the Olentangy.

    One thing I’ve noticed is a bullshit job that is also boring prompts munching. Everyone who enters my workplace skinny leaves fat. Bullshit jobs tend to pay well, but it’s probably a good idea to try to get one that, while meaningless, is at least not boring. And if you find such a job, please let me know if they are hiring. 😉

  25. When I was younger I thought I would go to bed one night and wake up weighing 25 pounds more. I stopped drinking all sodas. I think the sugar free crap is worse for you than sugar, I just wanted to control the amount of sugar I took in.

    I also started resistance work. You don’t need to get bulking lifting weights and it has really helped with things like knees, hips and shoulders. I’m 63 now, weigh thirty pounds more than I did in high school ( looks better than the skinny dork I was then, there weren’t nerds that far back) and still race kayaks.

    Start small and build yourself up. Form might not matter with five pounds of weight, it does with fifty. Build up to fifteen repetitions, add a little weight and drop back to eight to ten repetitions, rinse and repeat. Your body will thank you later.

  26. Yesterday I was at a con and Gallery Serpentine (a truly excellent corset-making outfit not usually located in my city) was there. I know they’ll be at the Goulburn Waterworks Steampunk & Victoriana Fair in six weeks, which I’ll also be attending… and I know I’ve gained a pile of weight this year. So I made a plan to do my utmost to lost 10 kilos (that’s very roughly 20 pounds but I am very very overweight so it’s not even 10% of my body weight) between now and the fair, and reward myself with a new corset.

    Talking about my goals helps a lot, and I’m very bad at consistency so a frontal assault on weight loss is my best bet. Apart from anything else, I told the Gallery Serpentine people that I’d be there and buying a corset, so I’ve effectively promised to stick to this. I kinda regret it already, but the more people I tell the more I’ll feel honour-bound to continue. So congrats, John. You’re now one of my cheerleaders. (This does not require any action whatsoever on your part.)

  27. Dear John,

    Being a Shmaht Gouy, you will probably know all this already, but just in case, Six Known Facts:

    1) No diet regimen works for everybody. No diet even works for the majority of people.

    2) Every (almost) diet works for somebody. Even the most brain-dead ones like the Ice Cream Diet or the Paleo Diet.

    3) Some people can easily lose weight. Some people will not lose weight under any (sane) dietary regimen. (Oh sure, there’s medically controlled starvation in a hospital setting — Breathaireans don’t put on weight, as a rule — but let’s stay real.)

    4) No dietary regimen is guaranteed to work for your entire life. Your body’s metabolism will change with time, both qualitatively and quantitatively. You will need to periodically revisit this.

    5) Yo-yo-ing is far worse than being overweight. For all values of “overweight.” If you can’t keep it off, don’t take it off. On average, you’ll live longer.

    6) Excessive weight loss is medically hazardous. The hazards start appearing when you lose 15% or more of your weight in one year. Your goal of 21 pounds in the next nine months is within the safe zone, barely, but pushing it to 31 would entail risk.

    Gamifying is a very good strategy, when it suits someone’s temperament and abilities. Since it’s worked for you in the past, it’s the best place to start.

    The reason it’s a good strategy, though, is not because your counting calories. Nutritionists, trying to study exactly and quantitatively how the body uses what it eats, have discovered that almost nobody, no matter how anal and detail-oriented, can accurately monitor their caloric intake to the degree necessary to control weight. People rarely err on the high side — they don’t remember eating things they never did. An error of a mere 20 cal a day on the low side adds up to 2 pounds a year. And there is your middle-aged spread.

    The reason it’s a good strategy, when it is, is because you become more mindful of what you eat and you engage in behavior modification, much of it unconscious. The same way that people who turn on the gas mileage monitors on their automobiles generally get better gas mileage than when they don’t.

    In other words, if you find you’re not tracking the stuff perfectly, don’t sweat it. What is more important is that you’re paying more attention to it.

    – pax / Ctein \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 

  28. Pretty much in the same boat poundage wise and pretty much deciding to do the same thing, esp up the exercise. I’ll check back in May and see how you did and have the same goal for myself.

  29. I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to weigh myself for weeks now. (Same boat: age 40+, job that keeps me at a desk writing, and Trump-induced pizza consumption.) Pretty sure I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. But reading your post first thing on Monday morning (South Korea time) inspired me to actually get out the scale. My first thought: wow, that’s not bad! My second thought: oh, that’s in kilograms. Darn furrin scales!

    Anyway, I’ll be working on the health thing too! Hope you have (slow, steady) success!

  30. Actually John, I WILL judge you….I think using this to get the smartwatch of your heart’s desire is a terrific idea! (spoken from someone who has a demon on each shoulder: one who is a cheap dutchman and doesn’t want to buy anything expensive, and the other a gadget freak who wants the latest shiny new piece of tech….)

  31. It’s great you have publicly set goals. It’s way too easy to have initial enthusiasm and then start procrastinating. We all want you healthy.
    I too am in the process of losing weight. 2017 was a stressful year (both personally for me and for the US as a whole) and I did not do what I know I need to do to maintain my health. Now I wear a Fitbit, use the stairs, park at the back of the lot at the grocery store, move around a lot and weigh myself every day.
    I’ve found that really paying attention to what I eat and avoiding snacks (a big problem area for me) is essential. If I indulge in a treat it is because it’s really good and not because it’s there.
    The best way FOR ME to exercise (weight train) is with a personal trainer. I have inflammatory arthritis so I try to avoid injury and a trainer knows when and how to push me. (I’ve tried classes and I’ve been hurt). And if I know I have an appointment with a trainer I will go to the gym.

  32. I used to ride my bike to work 4 days a week (5th day I drove and took 4 days worth of clothes),plus a 50-70 mile ride on the weekend. At 42 my left knee started to hurt. Long story short, my bike riding days were over until I got a knee replacement. Which I did not want to do.

    In 2 years I’d gained 90 pounds, and now have to fight daily to stay under 300. Plus I got unemployed several years back and, being over 50, can’t seem to get a job with health benefits. So I have no health insurance. To add to the misery, due to the added weight I’m losing my right knee, and am fighting to not become diabetic.

    To be clear, I do an hour of aerobics 4 days a week, and eat pretty healthy. What I’ve found is once you gain the weight it’s a bitch to get it off.

  33. Thinking good thoughts for your success. Due to a serious health situation, I had to seriously get in top of my weigh last year and stay on it. If it’s any help, I’ve learned that you can eat just about all the veggies you want as long as they’re not coated in anything fatty. I’ve also learned that just about every veggie that I’ve come across so far that is pretty tasty tossed in olive oil, dusted with a little kosher salt, and roasted I the oven.

  34. I went from 95kg (210lbs) to 88kg (194) in 18 months by (vaguely) eating less and moving more (with a fitbit Flex/Charge HR), and then I went from 88KG to 76kg (167lbs – my fighting weight in College) in 9 months by religiously counting calories with MyFitnessPal and a little kitchen scale (and also keeping up with the moving more thing. This was a few years ago when I was around 47/48 years old. I’ve maintained roughly around there since then mostly by just being mindful of what I eat (and the scale, both for me and the food).

    Gamifying your health really does work, but only if you’re blunt and honest with yourself.

    For devices, I used Fitbits (Flex and then Charge HR), all of which have fallen apart. The new Fitbit Charge HR3 is due out soon, and it looks good, and they have some other (more capable) devices too, like the Versa, which is more of a smartwatch. The sleep tracking of the fitbits is good too.

  35. My husband and I both have the Fitbit Versa. He does more with his – I just use the basics, but we both love it. Helps to keep us moving and we *gently* compete with each other on steps. :)

  36. Once upon a time, I was forced to give up caffeine-free Diet Coke, because my partner was laid off right before Christmas, and switched to water. Within a month, I had dropped 7″ off my waist. Diet sodas aren’t very good for actual dieting.

  37. I’ve been overweight for most of my life (Ritalin to blame for the initial weight gain when I was a child, the rest is on me) capping out at 245 and becoming a bad diabetic (5’5″). Now at the age of 53, I managed to keep my weight hovering around 170-172, and dropped pants size from 42 to 36/37/ I accept who I am and what I am, and now a manage to keep my weight the same (or less) by walking. I walk every day at lunch for 20 minutes and every weekend for at least 1-2 hours per day. Podcasts help makes the walking extremely bearable and extremely entertaining.

  38. You’ve been traveling a lot too. Eating out makes it really difficult to control your weight. Restaurant portion sizes are ridiculous and everything has tons of fat. Good luck to you on this project.

  39. My son has a Samsung Gear 2 “watch” that we have been fairly pleased with in terms of functions and battery charge. I’ll also add that I think it would be a welcome recurring check-in from you on how you are doing with your loss/fitness goal. I have a similar amount to lose and it does help to know that others have the same “struggle”. Best of luck to both of us!

  40. I’m comfortably very fat. A while back I was uncomfortably very fat and I took off ten pounds on the potato diet I read about in Penn Jillette’s Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales. Although if questioned closely it will turn out that I followed almost no part of that actual diet. Possibly I laughed off ten pounds.

    Also, we have four Apple devices and zero Android devices. We must never speak to each other again!

  41. My understanding is that weight per se doesn’t affect one’s health as much as nutrition and exercise do. It’s really hard to change one’s body from the weight it wants to be, but health can be improved without changing body size.

  42. So just over 10 years ago I had been in a desk job for 8 years and I quit smoking. Gained 10 pounds in a month and weighed 250 pounds and was at the point of “Either replace the entire wardrobe, or Do Something.” So I got on that radical new “Eat Less, Exercise More” plan. Got down to 215 by walking at least an hour a day outside of work and orbiting the office every two hours or so, which made me more productive at work, and by slowly changing my diet. As someone noted above, a “diet” does little long term good, but changing the way I eat does. No junk food outside of my AA meetings. Well, chips with my PB&J on the weekends, and a milkshake after the Friday meeting. But that’s it. No dessert, no sugary drinks. Light breakfast, and just enough lunch to avoid getting hangry before dinner.

    To get down to 190, where I’m at now, I had to buy a bicycle and ride at least 100 miles a week. Oh, and in the past year I’ve replaced my almost entire wardrobe because I’ve shrunk a fair amount. I’d really like to get down to 185 this year, but I’m not stressing over it.

    I weighed 165 when I got out of the Army 30 years ago, but the last time I hit that weight I was on the cocaine diet plan.

  43. For a recommendation – I bought a Garmin Vivosport about two months ago. I have been very happy with it so far. Keeps track of my steps, my sleep patterns (if I want), stair climbing, and a host of other stuff. It also has built in GPS so I can use it for my runs instead of strapping on my larger Forerunner 220. The Garmin Connect App is easy to use, cross platform (I use it on iPhone but it also works on Android) and it makes it easy to program the Vivosport to display whatever info you want to see.

    The only thing that makes me hesitant about it so far is that the band is all one unit. If it breaks, then you have to replace the entire watch. I haven’t seen that happen yet but I’m keeping an eye on it. Also unless you have a rather big wrist, get the small/medium band. Large is really big from what I’ve seen.

    For the record – I’m already a pretty active guy and considered healthy. Run, bike, lift weights, play Ultimate frisbee and baseball, etc. So working out is something I enjoy. But I also work in IT and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed the weight creeping up. The Vivosport is helping fight that a bit. Already lost six pounds just trying to keep up the steps.

  44. For a recommendation – I bought a Garmin Vivosport about two months ago. I have been very happy with it so far. Keeps track of my steps, my sleep patterns (if I want), stair climbing, and a host of other stuff. It also has built in GPS so I can use it for my runs instead of strapping on my larger Forerunner 220. The Garmin Connect App is easy to use, cross platform (I use it on iPhone but it also works on Android) and it makes it easy to program the Vivosport to display whatever info you want to see.

    The only thing that makes me hesitant about it so far is that the band is all one unit. If it breaks, then you have to replace the entire watch. I haven’t seen that happen yet but I’m keeping an eye on it. Also unless you have a rather big wrist, get the small/medium band. Large is really big from what I’ve seen.

    For the record – I’m already a pretty active guy and considered healthy. Run, bike, lift weights, play Ultimate frisbee and baseball, etc. So working out is something I enjoy. But I also work in IT and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed the weight creeping up. The Vivosport is helping fight that a bit. Already lost six pounds just trying to keep up the steps.

    (Sorry if this duplicated – it appeared to wipe the message the first time)

  45. I got a smartwatch to help remind me to be active! It worked great until I figured out that it logged knitting as exercise. After I found that out, I knit three sweaters in as many months. So…don’t learn to knit, I guess? Or take your watch off when you knit. One of the two.

  46. I also make my living thinking and typing. I am a few years older than you and right about the same age I had the experience of getting on the scale and saw a number that was 10 pounds higher than I had ever considered me being. I was able to lose that relatively easily by making sure I only ate when actually hungry and only eating junk food when I would reaaaaalllly enjoy it, as opposed to the habitual eating of chips I had fallen into.

    Then a year ago I realized I was squandering my youthfully health and it would only get slowly worse left to itself. I started working with a trainer for an hour twice a week. I knew that I would not be reliable to workout otherwise. I will be the first to admit that I only love my workouts about 10 minutes after they are over, but after a year of this I feel better than I have in years and my spouse says I look better than I looked when we met 20+ years ago. I realize everyone’s results will vary, and that working with a trainer is not an option for everyone, but if it is I highly recommend it.

  47. I can relate to the weight gain bit. I’ve never been one for exercise and what not but finally got myself a gym membership and started doing some low pressure group classes and it’s been pretty fun. Never thought I’d enjoy it mostly because I figured I’d look like an idiot since I didn’t know how to do anything (haven’t been to a gym since high school). Best part about it is once I got over that initial fear and even though its only been a couple weeks I already feel better in general.

    I recently picked up a Fossil hybrid smartwatch and can honestly say I’ve never been happier with a watch purchase. The hybrid is more of a traditional watch and I got it so I wouldn’t have to remember to charge it every night and it has all the basic functions I was looking for, mostly notifications for phone calls and texts.

    Fossil has a wide range of watches and if you want all in fancy the touchscreen ones are pretty cool from a tech view :)

  48. Back in December I had a similar “whoa, this snuck up on me” moment where I discovered I was about 40 lbs heavier than I thought I was (and I was overweight to begin with). In hindsight it was obvious how that happened; I had taken on some very unhealthy eating habits in the previous four years. I just logged having dropped the last of those 40 lbs (and I plan to keep going down to an actual healthy weight), and I’ve had great success with the method of “download a phone app to count calories, then actually use said app”. So if you do get a tool you like and stick with it you should also see success.

  49. While I have an Apple Watch (because work issued me an i-phone) my wife has a fitbit Versa and is very happy with it. She uses the “my fitness pal” app as she hates the tracking features of the fitbit app.

    Good luck

  50. The first ten won’t be hard. It’s the rest that will be difficult. I’m glad you have a system that works for you; for me, weight is hard, because it is tied up in a bunch of emotional freight too lengthy to explain here. I am losing weight, slowly and steadily, still eating mostly what I like but less of it. Trying to make some better choices (easier in summer than winter, with lovely fresh fruit around!) but if I really want something, I eat it = no resentment or frustration. I am beginning to feel hungry a bit more often, but I am going to try to keep fighting the good fight, and see how it goes. Good luck to you!

  51. You mentioned reaching the 49 yo mark. Something not weight related but important for you and your yearly doc checkup is a PSA test. Please do this. I speak as one who ignored it and spent a year actively fighting prostate cancer. Now currently on follow up medication 1 1/2 years later and will for a few more years yet. Catch it early and it will be easier to manage. Surgery was not the best option in my case. It required radiation and chemotherapy. This is not as rare as you might think. I know at least one other in my family (not related by blood) and met many more while undergoing treatment.
    Your family will appreciate it as will the rest of us who respect and admire you.

  52. Yes, nice to tell friends your weight goals, and hey, speaking of friends, I am struck by how your day seven post, especially in the colours, looks like a Renoir painting. Nice.

  53. As was previously pointed out, 31 lbs. , a typical sort of middle-age spread is roughly 15 calories per day. So, would alienate history John Scalzi, who ate one bite less per day for 30 years have come out even? Why did he eat one bite too many in the first place? could he have correctly counted those calories to sufficient precision? I suggest that it is much more likely that something is mucking with the feedback loops that govern our weight. Fructose is a pretty good candidate.

    As others have suggested, ditching HFCS is a good idea, but keep in mind that sucrose is one fructose and one glucose , and thus HFCS-55 and cane sugar have very similar badness, as do honey and maple syrup. Agave nectar is even worse.

  54. Like everyone in New Jersey, “I have a guy” for that. Though his regimen has worked well for my husband (and not so well for me), one thing that did stick is that many short periods of exercise (<20 minutes) are not as good as fewer, longer periods, as the former only burn the sugar in your bloodstream, and don't get to the underlying storage. Also, as you exercise, your weight may actually increase (or not decrease as much), since muscle is heavier than the fat it replaces. YMMV, and best of luck.

  55. Some 20 years ago my husband and I weighted in the range of 60kg (135lb)
    Then I got pregnant, and my husband, it seemed, shared the weight.
    But when I gave birth… Well he kept the weight. And kept on accumulating.

    Now he is around 180lb, and after various health issues he has decided it is time to take action.

    The my fitness app caters for the gameification of calories counting. We who live with him find it a bit strange that we have finished our meal while he is still weighting and scanning and logging stuff and still has to take his first bite (I am slightly exagerating. Just slightly). But the true added value of the app was, it is a real eye opener: that “healthy” gaspacho drink? It contains by itself the double of the daily allowance of salt. That diet soda? Yeah, not so diet. Then there are the “good” surprises: white beans in tomato sauce? Second helping allowed.

    He has also fitted my bike on some kind of contraption with an app, that allows him to exercise at home and to monitor various stuff. Given his health problems it allows him to take things progressively – and not find himself stranded away from home because he overestimated his strentgh that day. It did happen a few time before, no fun.

    About that smartwatch – what i hate about it is when it lights up during the night when he did a sudden movement in his sleep. That thing illuminates the room! I wish i could ban it from the bedroom, but i am told it monitors his sleep.

    My other beef with that watch (and with the app): all those health and habit data stored by a third party. I am waiting for the day health insurance companies will start to refuse coverage based on those data…

  56. There are rumors that Google with announce a Pixel Watch in October. I’ve been wearing a Fitbit for a year and half now, and it’s been great, but I’d really like a good Wear OS watch. Ticwatch Pro looks nice if the Pixel Watch doesn’t come along.

  57. I’ve never liked the idea of dieting (my mom was always on one diet or another when I was growing up), but like many, the weight snuck up on me and I realized I had to do something about it (primarily due to fear of diabetes). I was successful by changing how I thought about food and slowly making small permanent changes to my diet.

    The easiest was cutting out sodas, which was easier than I had expected, mainly because I’ve always liked icewater. After that was figuring out how to replace snackfoods with better ones. I always crave something sweet before bed. That used to be ice cream, but I replaced it with fresh fruit or applesauce, and save the ice cream for special occasions. Turns out I don’t miss it that much, and when I do have the ice cream, I appreciate it more now.

    I used to eat sweets when I was hungry, because I have a big sweet tooth. What I realized is that I actually wasn’t trying to fill my hunger with them, and they weren’t very filling, so I’d end up eating way too much. Now if I feel like something sweet, I let myself have a small amount (I allow myself one small piece of candy a day) and if I’m still craving something after that, it means what I really need is food, so I eat a snack of something more filling or at least healthier, like pecans or carrots.

    For meals, I’m a very picky eater, and I eat very few vegetables. What I found is I mostly didn’t eat a lot of veggies not because I didn’t like any, but because they required effort I didn’t feel like putting in. Now I try to make half of each meal a veggie, but I stick to stuff I know is tasty and easy to prepare. For lunch I cut up a red pepper (I like em raw) and alternate bites with my meal. For dinner I usually do steamed broccoli with lemon juice, which is very tasty and not that much work to make. When I go to restaurants, I bring a baggie of pre-peeled carrots and alternate those with bites of food. I eat a lot healthier by default just by making the veggie an integrated part of the meal, and now it feels weird if I forget my veggies and I try to eat a meal.

    Another trick I learned is just to deliberately serve myself smaller portions (and in restaurants I sometimes ask for a small plate I can move the food I want to eat onto). What I found is usually that smaller portion is plenty, and just having it separate helps keep me from eating past the point I need the food. Sometimes I crave a bit more, I go and grab 2 more bites and I’m happy. Treating most restaurant meals as planned to split in half and save the other half for later also keeps me from overdoing it.

    Different things work for different people, but the key is always to find something sustainable that works for you and not trying to do too much too soon but to incorporate the changes gradually and get used to them. Good luck with your efforts! I’ve been at a healthy weight now for about 4 years, after many years of being somewhere between 30-55 lbs overweight, and I’m much happier about my relationship with food now.

    I can’t speak to smartwatches, as my preferred method of exercise involves a recumbent exercise bike in front of my TV, but let us know what you find and like- my boyfriend is looking at buying one himself and has had trouble deciding which one- he seems to be leaning towards a FitBit model that’s supposed to be coming out soon.

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