I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Back to My Fitness Pal

In last month's blog post I wrote: "I logged over 170 miles of activity in July, and still gained 10 pounds, because while on vacation for two weeks I pigged out on ice cream and soft drinks and junk food. Soda was an especially weak spot for me. I don't keep any at my house, so in my normal life I can usually avoid it, but the refrigerators were full of it on both vacations. I'd come in from kayaking and think, eh, I just burned a thousand calories, a can of Mountain Dew isn't going to hurt me. Or, I just biked ten miles, so let's splurge and have a milkshake. The truth is, exercise doesn't protect you from excessive sugar. Fortunately, now that we're back home, I can resume more sensible eating habits and hopefully shed the pounds as quickly as I picked them up."

As I was writing this, my weight was roughly 265 pounds. I was still close to 20 pounds lighter than when I'd first started my fitness life three years ago, and still feeling good that my body composition was a lot different than it had been when I hit 265 on my way down.

But, August continued to be a disaster for me. I felt like I was eating more sensibly, but every time I got on the scale, my weight continued to creep upward. Finally, near the end of August, I hit 274. Worse, most of my pants were getting really tight. When I started my fitness habits three years ago, I had a 42 inch waist. At my thinnest six months into my dieting, I'd been comfortable in 36" waist line pants, but for most of the last two and a half years I'd been most comfortable in 38" pants. That was still four inches off my largest waistline, and I felt pretty good about it. Now, I was starting to put aside pants as being too tight. The thought of buying pants with a larger waistline bothered me. But... I felt like I was eating pretty well. Why couldn't I get back to what I felt was my healthy weight and waistline?

The reality was, feeling like I was eating pretty well and actually eating pretty well are two different things. On September 1, I went back onto My Fitness Pal after being off of it for a month. I started faithfully tracking all the food I was eating, and discovered all the areas where I'd been letting calories sneak back into my life. One of the biggest problems was portion size. Now that Cheryl and I are weighing and measuring everything once more, we can see where we were likely slipping up. For instance, when we measure calories, we are careful to use exactly one tablespoon of olive oil to brown onions and garlic. When we weren't counting calories, I'd just pour enough olive oil into a pan to coat the bottom and go for it, easily tripling or quadrupling the calories from fat. Also, when you start tracking calories faithfully, it's a lot easier to throw mayonnaise and cheese onto a sandwich.

We've also been less likely to pig out after exercising. I mentioned that we'd go for a long bike ride then feel like we deserved a milkshake. If we'd made our 100 mile bike ride in the spring like we'd originally planned, we'd probably have celebrated with a huge steak dinner afterwards and likely have had dessert. When we did it last weekend, afterward we split an order of hot wings, and no dessert.

I'm already seeing a good trend down. After months where every day my weight seemed to be going up, it's nice to see the numbers going in the other direction. I only ever want to contemplate needing new pants because my current ones are too loose.