Hey, I’m back! I’ve been updating my YNAB journal several times a week, which has been very helpful for both financial goal setting and staying mindful about spending. Beeminder has kept me honest with that, but I haven’t posted here much, because most of my daily check-ins have felt more relevant to YNAB than to Beeminder per se. I think the post that’s been percolating in my head over the past few days is more suited to this place than that one, though, partly because they’ve inspired a change in my Beeminder goals.
Content note: Weight loss, weight maintenance, diet, nutrition, et cetera.
Over the past several months, a lot of my work has involved getting exposure to a great deal of scientific information on nutrition, culminating in the past few days, which have involved 8-hour days being exposed to the latest in obesity medicine.
So I’ve always been a little overweight, never very athletic, but also extremely healthy. My body’s been very good to me over my 37 years, and I have no complaints to make about it. I rarely get sick, I don’t have any aches or pains, and I’ve always been able to eat pretty much everything I want to without my body giving me any grief about it. In the two or three years leading up to the birth of our kid, I had a job that involved very long hours; my workdays would regularly involve leaving the house at 5:30am and not getting home until after 10:00pm. As a result, I wound up being chronically sleep deprived. I’d try to make up sleep by sleeping in on weekends, and then I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until 3:00am most nights. It was a mess, and it went on for far too long. When I was low on sleep, I’d have intense cravings for junk food, and despite a Beeminder goal focused on rationing my junk food intake, I wound up eating too much of it. I would also spend a lot of money on restaurants and cafeterias until I started my bento blog, which helped motivate me to bring lunch instead of buying it. That helped save a lot of money and led me to eat less junk, but I was still getting pretty heavy, though I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I didn’t have a weight goal and wasn’t weighing myself regularly, and I didn’t notice any change in how my body felt or even how I looked in the mirror; I felt pretty normal.
When my kid was born in 2016, though, and I took almost a year off work (self-funding my parental leave plus going through a period of involuntary underemployment, which our finances still haven’t recovered from, but that’s another story), I wound up sleeping better (yeah, having a newborn significantly reduced my sleep deprivation quotient; that’s how bad it had gotten), and because we were staying close to home most of the time, I wasn’t buying a lot of junk food while I was out and about. Without really noticing or paying attention, I found my appetite decreasing and my clothes getting looser. I went to the doctor for the mandatory physical to complete the adoption of my child in 2017 and was told that not only had I lost a significant amount of weight, but that my cholesterol and other labs had improved markedly from my previous physical.
That was good, of course, but because I hadn’t been trying to lose weight, I was pretty fatalistic about the possibility of keeping it off. I didn’t buy any new clothes, even though my old clothes were both falling off me and falling apart, because I didn’t like the idea of slapping money down on a new wardrobe, only to have it stop fitting me some months later. I’ve since changed my mind. One reason is that I’ve noticed my appetite shifting again. During the midpoint of that parental leave year, I remember getting full very quickly, sometimes not even being able to finish a whole hamburger, which was very unlike me; I’ve always been able to pack away startling quantities of food when I wanted to. Now that I’m working more, and working more often outside the home, I feel like that early satiety has disappeared and I’m back to eating the way I did before the kid was born. My sleep has also gone a bit downhill. I’ll go to bed around 11pm and wake up when the kid wakes up around 6am, but sometimes I’ll stay up too late, like I did last night, 'til 1am or so, just because it’s the only quiet time I often get to myself during the day. That’s not great, and it definitely adds up over the long run.
I haven’t weighed myself since that physical, so I don’t know what my current weight is, but I did just buy some new pants, one size smaller than my old pants, and they still have plenty of wiggle room, so I don’t think I’ve come back to baseline. I’ve noticed persistent cravings for sugar, especially chocolate, especially in the evening, and I’ve been giving in to them more often than I’d like to admit. I often won’t eat my first meal until after noon, but then when I come home and make dinner for my kid I’ll start snacking on whatever junk is in the kitchen cupboards, and then when I make dinner for my wife and myself starting around 8:00, I’ll snack more, on string cheese, ice cream, chips, chocolate – whatever. Then I’ll eat dinner, and sometimes I’ll snack yet again while doing the dishes before bed. Not a good pattern to get into.
So I’ve taken a few steps. I’m going to continue my accountability journaling with respect to my bento blog, planning lunches on Friday, shopping for them over the weekend, and bringing my lunch to work whenever possible. My schedule falls off a cliff after the first week in May, so I have no idea what my summer is going to look like, but hopefully I’ll know more about that in the next few weeks and can plan accordingly. I’ve also retired my @action Beeminder goal and replaced it with a sugardays do-less goal, aiming for no more than 2 days that involve consuming sugar per week. I’ve downloaded MyFitnessPal and am going to try tracking my food, at least provisionally, with a weight maintenance goal of 1700 calories per day. I don’t currently have any plans to buy a scale. I think I’m going to buy even more pants in this new size and focus my attention on not gaining back the weight that I inadvertently lost over the first year of my kid’s life by putting the emphasis on eating enough nutritious stuff and not ingesting a lot of calorically dense food that doesn’t offer much else in the way of nutrition, rather than monitoring weight per se. We’ll see how it goes.