It’s hardly a secret to say that I like food. In point of fact, I like food a little too much for my general level of activity. This is something that I’ve felt I need to fix for a very long time, and back in Cleveland (at what I would later realize was the lowest point of my depression) I made an attempt towards doing so. This was a rather difficult thing to do, because of the aforementioned lifestyle: coders tend towards very fat or very skinny, either because they’re constantly eating at their desks or completely forgetting to eat.
So, in the first third of 2006, I made a resolution: I was going to lose some weight. I had set myself to a goal of losing 50 pounds, and I was honestly making great strides to it. While I didn’t make my goal before I lost motivation (which was due to a combination of a pig-out session at Tekkoshocon and an uneven meal schedule during E3), I still pulled 40 pounds off of my frame and dropped a couple of inches from my waistline. This was an incredible accomplishment for me, and because of it I was able to make the first steps towards getting out of my funk.
Whenever I tell the story, people ask me how I did it. The answer is depressingly simple: I counted calories religiously and forced myself to exercise. Because of the way my job was structured, I had the later shift, but I still was waking up rather early. This meant that I had an hour or so before I showered to take a long walk. I started with just about a half-mile, but as time went on I moved up to a mile, then two. This was greatly helped by the fact that I had a route which was flat, and long enough to be visually diverse no matter how I extended it; there’s only so many times you can lap around the same building before it gets old. I did that walk every day.
As for the calories, I changed how things were handled. Anything that was less than 10 calories “didn’t count” unless I was eating enough of them to push over that threshold. Meals, then, were based on a “points” structure: ten calories were one point, and at least some of them had to come from a “healthy” source. I transcribed calorie counts from a thick paperback into a smaller Moleskine notebook, and kept track of my daily counts on a page-a-day calendar. As long as I was under my target goal for the day– which was 150 points– I was good.
Believe it or not, this worked wonderfully while I kept it up. I don’t have the notes from those three months anymore (I started in late January and was off the wagon by May), but I do know that by the time I was in full swing, I was losing half a pound a day, and feeling much better. More to the point, it allowed for one “cheat day” a week: on Saturdays I would go into Macedonia and play DDR for about an hour or so, then get a big meal at Long Yun’s Mongolian BBQ and watch a movie or two in the theater. Not being on the clock the entire time made it rather bearable.
Over the last week, I’ve started to think that I need to restart the plan. It’s made much easier now that I’m less restricted in terms of what I can eat, so now I can focus on controlling how much. And that started yesterday.