Recap: My Weight Loss Journey in 2021

I didn’t realize, and I suppose we never do, how stark my weight loss had become in 2021 until I looked at a current picture of myself and then remembered one from earlier this year prior to the loss.

In May, my parents moved out of our childhood home to a new home they built. I grew up there for the better part of the last 20 years. It’s where I made my lifelong friends. It’s where I had my dog for 15 years. It’s where I met my ex, who I was with for five years. On and on.

To commemorate the moment, we took a family picture of all of my siblings, nieces and nephews. I was standing on the far left next to my twin sister wearing a yellow Golden Girls t-shirt, shorts and sunglasses. At that point, my hair had been growing out for about 14 months (I haven’t cut my hair since March 2020).

The picture isn’t the best because it’s taken from a distance to get everyone into the frame and obviously, I don’t want to put everyone on my blog here (particularly the kids), so I cropped them out.

Cool shirt at least.

At this point, I was about 183 pounds, which is roughly the most weight I’ve ever been. Coming out of kidney surgery in December 2019, I was 164 pounds. Over the next near year and a half, battling major depression and suicidal ideation, I let my body go. Because who cares about your body, if you think you’re going to die? Might as well enjoy some Five Guys burgers, Chipotle burritos and everything else in between while I can.

However, after switching to a new antidepressant medication and seeing a therapist, I also began counting calories again through MyFitnessPal and finally using my sister-in-law’s recommended app she swore by, FitOn. She had recommended it six months earlier and it sat on my phone collecting virtual dust.

Through MyFitnessPal, my daily caloric intake is set at 2,330. In other words, I can’t exceed that amount, but the trick to losing weight isn’t to run up to that ceiling or to be sneaky and eat bad while still technically being under the ceiling. No, the “trick” is two-fold: 1.) Go much lower than the ceiling, so most days I was ending my caloric intake with between 850 to 1,100 calories to spare. That’s how I dropped pounds. And it wasn’t like I was starving myself. I was fine (beyond 1,100 or so, MyFitnessPal won’t even let you complete the calorie diary because they warn you’re not eating enough); and 2.) Yes, you have to actually eat healthy-ish. Chicken. Less carbs. Kicking out alcohol (that was a big difference for me). Getting some fruits and vegetables in there. I was doing a lot of smoothies, too.

So, July 12, almost two months after the family photo was taken, I clocked in at 180.2 pounds on MyFitnessPal.

I then began adding in FitOn activities and it wasn’t like some high cardio, intense workouts or anything. That’s the beauty and genius of FitOn; there’s no excuse. Five minutes of arms here; 10 minutes of abs there; 15 minutes of cardio here, etc. Doing that daily added up to moving far more than I was before. Combine that with the overwhelming power of MyFitnessPal’s proven (for me) method of counting calories to drop weight and I was … dropping weight.

And also importantly, FitOn wasn’t just helping me to move more, which is great, but it was also helping me to stretch and meditate more. I could already sense in short order my flexibility coming back. And the mental wonders moving and stretching and meditating does are well-established at this point and that was the case for me, too.

My weigh-ins were every other Monday, so by July 26, I was already seeing results, down to 174.1 pounds.

I know for some people, they find the idea of obsessing over calories and weight (and getting on a scale at all) to be its own sort of anxiety-inducing, stress-creating situation that only makes losing weight and eating healthier harder. I totally get that. As is always the case, I’m only explaining what I know has worked, and is working, for me.

By Nov. 1, I cracked a 30-pound weight loss coming in at 153.7 pounds. I was feeling good. Everything was clicking between the medication, the therapy, the dieting and the exercising.

Admittedly, that’s when I hit the expected plateauing, as I’ve written about previously. Not only is a natural plateauing after losing that much weight inevitable, but when adding in Thanksgiving and Christmas, along with a weekend trip I took in November to Missouri, and I did “backslide” some.

Here is a most recent picture of me taken on Christmas. I can tell the difference, particularly in the narrowing of my face compared to the May picture.

What I’m happy to report, though, is that I haven’t undone my gains to where it’s demoralizing or like I’m back to square one, as has happened in the past. That’s also something that tends to happen with big weight gains: It lasts for six months, maybe even a year, but within a year or so, the weight starts coming back because it’s hard to maintain at a certain level for a lot of people who aren’t star athletes and famous actors or whatever.

So, this morning, with a few days left in 2020, I came in at 154.9 and that comes off the heels of having three beers and two Red Baron triple meat French breads last night. Yup, I’m being honest!

Over the last nearly two months, my “backslide” has been … 1.2 pounds. I’ll take that! I still want to keep moving in the other direction as I head into 2022 and the harder goal of simply maintaining without worse backsliding.

At one point in a prior weight loss attempt, I hit 150. I’d like to hit 150 again.

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