In May I set a goal for myself of losing 60 pounds by the end of October when cold whether would bring an end to the opportunity to walk. I thought it was a goal that was obtainable.
Stepping on the scale this morning I see that I am not going to make it. Not even close. While, as of this morning, I have lost 45 pounds I would have to lose an incredible 15 pounds in 29 days to meet my goal. Short of having my lips sewn shut and not eating at all for a month it is simply not going to be possible.
I made a few mistakes on the way to my weight loss goal. Firstly, I simply did not push myself hard enough. I did not sweat enough, work hard enough, or diet as well as I thought I was. Secondly, I had forgotten that as one loses weight the remaining weight comes off slower as exercise has less of an effect. If I had taken that into account I could have adjusted my caloric intake as my weight fell. Thirdly, seeing I was not losing weight as quickly as I liked I actually increased my calories in an attempt to build muscle to help me lose weight faster, Yes, I know it seems off but that is the way it works. This resulted in me indeed making muscle and losing inches still but it did not turn into increased weight loss through exercise as quickly as I had hoped.
I am, honestly, disappointed in myself and in the result.
Having admitted that, however, I am able to acknowledge that losing 45 pounds since the 15th of May is indeed an admirable attainment no matter how disappointed I am in not reaching my goal. Forty five pounds is a lot of fat to take off and if I buckle down I should easily be able to take off another 5 pounds by the end of the month. If I worked really, really hard, maybe 10. That would get me within easy striking distance come spring if I can maintain weight over the winter.
So, I am both disappointed in myself but also pleased with what I have accomplished. I also take a perverse pleasure in having done this while quitting smoking.
There has been an additional benefit also.
All my life, or at least all my life since I was 17, I have had a rapid heartbeat. At times it has been extremely rapid. I have been hospitalized several times for one thing or another and it has always thrown the medical staff into a tizzy when they take my pulse. Being admitted to hospital is stressful and usually raised my heartbeat up to 120 until I settle down and my heartbeat would return to a normal 90; I would have to make the explanation over and over that it was always like that. My sitting heartbeat was also 90 and laying in bed almost ready to fall asleep it seldom fell below 80.
Since quitting smoking and losing 45 pounds all that has changed. I have to really work hard to raise my heartbeat now. Sitting it is now 60 and in bed it falls to 48. Perhaps I never did have a rapid heartbeat or, more likely, it was only rapid due to my smoking and my obesity.
In any event, I am quite sure my heart and my lungs are much healthier and happier.
There has been one further benefit to all this.
For those of you who do not know, I am bi-polar. About 9 years ago I was in desperate trouble. I was experiencng episodes of ultra rapid cycling alternating with mixed states. I was completely out of control and in order to get me in control I was so heavily medicated I could not find my ass with two hands and a flashlight. This was where my weight gain came from - the massive dosage of depakote and other anti-seizure medications I was fed to control my bi-polar disorder. In fact, weight gain and liver damage from the depakote became such a problem that after I had been stable for a couple of years I was switched back onto lithium only.
When you exercise you sweat. A lot. And if there is one thing someone taking large doses of lithium must not do is sweat. It creates an electrolyte imbalance and also can lead to lithium toxicity.
This summer it was more important for me to lose weight and be physically healthy than it was to be more or less certain of long term mental stability and in order to do the heavy exercise which brought about the weight loss, I discontinued my medication. I confess I held my breath while doing so and there have been a few touch and go moments when I thought everything might come unglued. However, by using Buddhism and mindfulness based therapy combined with the constant flood of endorphins from the exercise things have gone remarkably well.
Cool weather is returning now and the exercising will end in a month so I will be returning to lithium therapy in a few days but as my heart and lungs have enjoyed the wight loss and quitting smoking, I am sure my thyroid and kidneys ave enjoyed the lithium holiday. As have I. I will have to argue with myself to start it again as I loathe the dulling effect but I have had this illness for a long time and I know all to well where not taking medication leads, I have not had a psychiatric admission for six years now, a bit of a record for me, and I think I will keep it up.
(Originally posted October 1, 2008)