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Posted on Jan 23, 2014 in Dear Diary | 19 comments

What’s Different the Second Time Around

Sooooo, apologies in advance that this entire week is evidently full of super heavy posts. I’m thinking it’s like 25% because I have so many feelings about restarting this whole weight loss endeavor, and like 75% because — as evidenced by the tears that welled up in my eyes during last night’s viewing of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on FX — I am PMSing pretty hardcore.

So last week I finally manned up and openly admitted that I’ve regained the majority of the weight that you all watched me lose once upon a time. And it was probably one of the hardest and most emotionally taxing things that I’ve done in a really, really long time.

I mean, c’mon, it’s hard enough having to admit you’ve gained weight… to yourself. But add in an entire internet audience, and, as I’m sure you can imagine, it becomes just a liiiiittle harder. And as if that weren’t enough, lest we forget, this is the SECOND time that I’m having to admit it. So, we take everything that was difficult about typing out my weight and then pressing “publish” that very first time, then we pile on all of the victories and defeats that accumulated in the following couple of years — wherein I actually LOST 60 pounds and was feeling pretty good about myself — and then multiply it all by the fact that everything I already went through ended up being for nothing. Because here I am again.

So yeah, it sucks.

And I’m going to be honest and admit that I’m already really struggling this time around. Not struggling to get back on track, because I’m actually doing pretty well so far: Tracking all my food, eating well, getting some exercise in, doing a lot of good things in that department. No, instead I’m struggling with all the mushy, icky, complicated emotional stuff. I’m struggling with the HOW. As in, how could I possibly have let myself regain FIFTY pounds? How could I not have noticed, how did I live in denial for so long, how could I not have stopped myself sooner, how could I have let it happen at all?

After everything I went through the first time, after all the progress that I made and all the things I accomplished and all the ways that I grew AND all the ways that I shrunk, how did I get back here?

As I explained in my post last week, I’m not really 100% sure. I think the main thing is that I stopped really caring about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I stopped prioritizing good choices over easy choices, and I just stopped paying attention to my weight. And for someone like me, someone who loves food entirely too much, someone who is oftentimes physically repulsed by the thought of exercise, someone who has a known history of abusing food, abusing her body with food, and abusing herself because of how she’s abused food… not paying attention is pretty much an automatic precursor to backsliding.

So when I try to think about what’s different now, the second time, I can’t think about how maybe it’ll be easier because I already know what to do, or how because I’ve already done it once before, that must automatically mean I can do it again. No, all I can think about it how much harder it already is. And I’m not even really talking about the actual losing weight part: the calorie counting, the working out, the being accountable. That stuff is honestly all the same, because, yes, I have, done it all before. I do know that I can do it, and while I hate all of it just the same, it really is just like falling back into old habits. It’s the emotional weight that is now attached to every pound I gained, a weight that still remains even as they are starting to fall back off.

The stakes feel so much higher this time. I’ve already failed once, after all. Who’s to say I won’t fail again? Who’s to say that this won’t just be ANOTHER huge waste of time? I mean, no, I know that it wasn’t really a waste of time the first time around. I learned a lot of things about myself, I finally started to really fight back against my addiction to food, my binge eating, my relationship with my body, with myself, blah, blah, blah… but still, when you look at the hard facts, when you break it down to the fact that a year ago I weighed fifty pounds less than I do now, it’s hard not to see it all as a total wash.

One of the most difficult things that I’m having to face is how easy it was for me to gain all the weight back. I mean, it’s not like I was going to the drive-thru every night and cramming fifty pounds worth of Baconators down my throat. I clearly wasn’t trying to gain weight. I knew my eating habits weren’t great and I wasn’t getting much exercise, but it’s not like I was going balls-to-the-walls here, either. It was a pizza night here, a pasta night there, going out for a friend’s birthday here, sharing an appetizer AND getting dessert there. The pounds came back on slowly enough that for the first 10 or 15 I barely noticed anything (since 10 pounds on my frame one way or the other doesn’t exactly make for an earth-shattering different in appearance). And after I did kinda-sorta start to think maybe I was gaining weight back, I was entrenched enough in my habits that I guess I just didn’t want to think about it.

So, yes, the fact that it was so easy to gain all that weight back — and how capable I was of ignoring the gain — is absolutely terrifying.

Because everything about this second try seems hard right now.

I’m really not trying to pull a sympathy plea here. Just like I tried really hard not to come up with excuses in my initial post, I’m not trying to backpeddle and plug them in now either. I got myself back into this situation and I’m the one who wants to change in the first place, so everything that’s happened and everything that will happen moving forward is on me. I’m not looking for anybody to baby me (well, that’s not really true, I actually love being babied, according to the still-growing collection of stuffed animals hiding in my closet), I’m just trying to be honest. Honestly trying to figure out how I got back to this point, and honest about why, even though I’m going through a lot of the same motions, it all feels different this time.

Because now, on top of the shame and guilt for having already failed once, there’s this overarching, pervasive layer of fear. Hell, maybe there always was, and I’m only just now recognizing it. I’m scared, okay? I am scared that I won’t be able to get back to where I was. I’m scared that even if I do, I’m just going to regain everything all over again. I’m scared that even if I don’t regain a single pound, I’ll never be able to stop paying attention, stop prioritizing, stop caring so damn much about my weight. There won’t ever be an end, there won’t ever be any reprieve, and I’m scared knowing that I will continue to have to fight for the rest of my life.

I’m not saying that it’s not a good fight — to fight for your health, to fight for yourself? It’s probably one of the best fights out there. But the thought of fighting, all the time, from now until forever? To have to continue to carefully portion out how much I eat, to count calories, to be mindful at all times of what it is that I’m eating and how active I’m being, not just whilst losing weight but forever afterwards as well? Find me one person on this Earth that isn’t exhausted just thinking about that.

The fact is, I will always love eating. It will probably always be the thing I suggest when there’s something to celebrate, the first thing I want to do when something’s made me sad, the way I like to bond with others. But as much as I love food, I do know — whether due to years of misguided dieting or having a bad body image or maybe just because I’m programmed this way — that it’s entirely too easy for me to take it too far.

And I definitely do not love what overeating does to me. I don’t like feeling bloated or having digestive issues or being fat. I don’t like being out of shape and weak and exhausted. I want to be healthy, I want to be strong, and, as I discussed yesterday, sure, I also want to look bangin’. The point is, I do want this. And so for now, I just have to keep going down this road, and hope that part of the reason that this second time around feels different is because it is also destined to end differently.

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Posted on Oct 23, 2012 in Weight Loss 101 | 43 comments

Rx for Advice

The internet.

A floppity jillion bytes of Facebook posts and Tweets and reblogs and fanfic and Wikipedia pages and pirated torrents and, of course, porn — all zooming around at the speed of web. (I promise that link isn’t as NSFW as it seems. It links to a Youtube video of a song from the musical Avenue Q… though, actually, the song lyrics themselves probably ARE NSFW. Lulz.)

In today’s day and age, we have unfettered access to pretty much anything you can imagine on the net. But of course, not everything out there is necessarily going to be of value or interest to you. You have your niches. Your interests. Your bookmarks. And for some of you, perhaps this very blog is part of that list (and thanks!). And for some others of you, infinitely more dangerous sites may also be part of it.

It may not be a surprise when I tell you that I am totally addicted to the internet. I check my phone approximately 80,000 times a day. I am on Facebook and Twitter pretty much nonstop, and, of course, I write this blog (almost) daily. I mean, let’s be honest. It’s almost at Tom Haverfordian levels. And to some of you, that might seem insane. (Of course, as I type that, I realize that’s probably not true, since if you found my blog, you probably also heart the internet.) But as “damaging” as all the time I spend online now might seem, I know for a fact that it used to have a far more nefarious impact on my life.

When I was in the deepest throes of my eating disorder, I was a frequenter of the internet in very different ways than I am now. You see, the internet is like a proverbial (sugar-free) candy store for dieters and people who are looking to lose weight. It offers endless diet and weight loss websites, with everything from Weight Watchers Online to personal blogs like, oh, hey, this one. And that can be a great thing. You can find healthy tips, support, camaraderie, and more within the very loosely designed walls of the interwebs.

But you can also find a lot of not-great things, too.

I used to spend hours surfing the web for diet tricks, weight loss tips, and (God, I hate this word so much) thinspiration. I was desperate to find that quick-fix, that one, somehow unknown trick that would finally net me the size 4 body I always dreamed of. I think some of you may already know where this is going. It took about .0003 seconds for me to stumble upon pro-ED sites. Sites that not only showcased, but actively promoted anorexic and bulimic behavior. Ones that provided tips for how to hide your eating disorder, how to trick yourself into thinking you weren’t hungry. Sites that posted picture after picture of beautiful, thin, photoshopped women as “thinspo.”

It was a dark time for me. You all know this. And I don’t think that any moderately self-aware woman would find a site like that and not be instantly aware of its influence. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she still won’t succumb to it. “Skinny” still has a lot of power. I’ve spent over 2 years writing this blog, and trying to promote HEALTHY weight loss. I know how taxing and wearying years of crash- and yoyo-dieting has had on me. I still bear the emotional scars of my disordered eating behavior, and I have come a very, very long way from that. My journey is still not perfect, I still have flashes back to my disordered thinking and eating, but I work to promote the fact that being healthy IS more important than being thin. I do believe that. And even though I am still trying to lose weight, I no longer do so at the cost of my health.

But, if tomorrow someone were to approach me with a pill that would magically make me thin through almost no effort of my own, if I was shown proof that it worked… even if it had side-effects, even if it wasn’t healthy… would I still be tempted? Of course I would. There’s absolutely no question. That’s the kind of power that being thin still has on those of us who struggle with being overweight.

So to be honest, I didn’t actually start this post to talk about pro-ana or pro-mia blogs. I tend to get a little carried away because I know they can be incredibly damaging, especially to young people. But I also think that most of you guys are probably (hopefully) beyond the reach of sites like that. I actually wanted to talk about those other sites out there that engage people who are interested in healthy living and weight loss. Sites like — gasp! — this very blog.

My blog is literally accessible by anyone with an internet connection. And whether you’re a 35-year-old woman who just had her first baby (congrats!) and is trying to shed a bit of baby weight, or if you’re an overweight teenager, like I was, who just wants an idea of where to start, you have equal chances of finding me. With that in mind, I feel it is my responsibility as the blogger behind this site to stand behind my words and actions. I promote myself as a healthy living blogger, as someone who is trying to lose weight “the right way.” So I need to make sure that while I try to lose weight, I’m doing it “right.”

Now, that being said, I know that I’m not a dietitian, nutritionist, personal trainer, or medical professional. I have my own experience, and that’s it. I do offer my own set of advice on how to do so, but I always encourage those who might consider taking said advice to do so with a grain of salt. It’s not as if I have the credentials to prescribe weight loss advice, and I don’t try to pretend that I do. Now, as it happens, I do believe my advice is relatively sound, but that’s kind of moot. The bottom line is that I would never actively try to encourage my readers to sacrifice their health for the sake of weight loss.

My concern is that I feel there are others out there who, while they may promote themselves under the same label as a “healthy whatever blogger”, they don’t feel the same responsibility. They preach things under the wrong heading. You can’t label yourself a healthy living blogger, or a healthy weight loss blogger, or a healthy anything, and then offer scores of blatantly unhealthy advice. Well, perhaps my wording is off. It’s a free internet. Technically, you CAN do whatever you want. But that doesn’t mean you should.

Yes, pro-ana and pro-mia sites are undeniably dangerous and toxic. But people who follow those kinds of sites probably know what they’re getting into. They’re probably looking for it. On the other hand, those who Google “healthy weight loss tips” and stumbles upon a series of recipes for things like shredded carrots embedded in sugar-free jello, might not really realize what kind of “advice” they’re really getting.

“Hmm,” they might say. “Well, that doesn’t seem too healthy, but it clearly worked for this girl, and look how great she looks! Look how much weight she lost! Look how much healthier she looks now that she’s thin.”

I should probably put it out there that this really (really!) is not meant to be a smear campaign against anybody in particular. I just feel like there is a lot of interesting discussion to be had behind wielding the internet responsibly. It just bears a little thought, both from a blogger- and from a reader-perspective. I find the implications of both sides to be endlessly fascinating. There was a panel at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit that touched on this concept.

Buuuuuuut, since I’ve already waxed serious for 1,300 words, I think I’ll cut myself off now, and hand over the reins to you all.

Do you feel that bloggers — healthy living bloggers, especially — have a responsibility for the advice they offer? Or do you feel the onus is more upon the readers to vet the kind of blogs they follow?

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Posted on Sep 1, 2011 in Dear Diary, Weight Loss | 55 comments

Septembering My Resolve

Jeebus.

How in tarnation is it already September? It really is true that you lose all concept of time once you’re out of school (milk it for all it’s worth, kids!)

Since it’s still not technically Autumn yet (I go by the solstices. Come on, September 23rd!) I’m not going to do the customary “Things I Love About Fall” post quite yet. Don’t get me wrong, I do love Fall! But even though things in DC have cooled down a touch as of late, it is still very much Summer. That pumpkin spice latte can wait a few more weeks.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
source

That being said, the realization that it is suddenly the last quarter of 2011 hit me pretty hard yesterday. Thanks to someone (::coughmysistercough::), I realized something mildly horrifying about my weight loss journey thus far. Yes, I have lost upwards of 60 pounds in the past year, which I consider to be a serious accomplishment (though I sometimes have to remind myself of that, especially in comparison to some of you other amazing people who have lost more and done it better than me, haha.) BUT! As Jenny so lovingly reminded me while we were chatting yesterday, in all of 2011, of which we are entering into the ninth month, I’ve lost less than 20 of those pounds. Urk.

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January 2011 (~207 lbs) vs. August 2011 (189 lbs)

So I have come to this embarrassing revelation, and am now kind of having a meltdown about it.

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Thanks sis. (December 2008)

You all know that I’m no stranger to indulging. My motto is that life’s too short not to be able to eat french fries or cupcakes; a healthy, balanced life is not about deprivation. I’ve been saying for a while now that I’d rather it take me a year to lose twenty pounds if I am enjoying my life, than to lose it in 3 months while being miserable.

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Well, that’s still true, but I think I’m finally exiting denial-ville about exactly how frequently and how much I’ve been indulging. Because pretty soon it’ll have been a year. And I will have lost 20 pounds. And, surprise, surprise, I’m not really thrilled about that.

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Oops.

I’m sure every single one of my family members is rolling their eyes at this post, since they’ve all been telling me this for a while, but just like when I started my weight loss journey, it all depended on me coming to terms with it on my own. I’m just difficult like that. But whaddya know? Here I finally am.

So, for about the bajillionth time this week, I’m strengthening my resolve. I’m going back to basics and back to what I know works. Keep an eye out for the return of Daily Eats posts that I’ve been majorly slacking on this past month. Calorie counting is a pain in the butt, but it’s making a comeback (losing weight isn’t easy, after all. We know this.) I know that I can’t expect to lose 35 pounds in 4 months like I did when I was obese, that’s just silly. But I can expect more of myself than this. Than losing the same pound over and over again. Than seeing the scale go down only to go back up again.

I still have a long way to go. Let’s do this.

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Posted on Jan 29, 2011 in Dear Diary | 43 comments

Me vs. Me

Today, I struggled.

I struggled with my former self, the old me creeping back up into my new way of living and threatening to take me back to being that person. I spent so long–most of my life, let’s be honest–with an unhealthy, toxic dependency on food:

Bored? Let’s eat.
Angry? Let’s eat!
Sad? Let’s eat…
Happy? Let’s eat!

One of the biggest turnarounds in my weight-loss journey so far has been severing that dependency and growing towards a much healthier relationship with food. I have tried very hard to change my perception on what food is for. It is for energizing and revitalizing our bodies. It is fuel, to power us through each day and allow us to do amazing things. I know this. I’ve read, I’ve researched, I’ve both heard from and talked to people about this. I know how to eat nutritiously, healthily, and how to lose weight because of it. I’ve lost 40 pounds so far utilizing that knowledge and banishing my old habits! But… sometimes, it’s a struggle. It’s still hard not to slip, because for so long that was the only way I knew how to cope.

I used to use food as a crutch for my emotional issues. In college especially, anytime I felt hurt or sad or lonely, I would hop in my car and head for the nearest drive-through. I’d toss around words and phrases like “we would like” and “for us” to make it seem to the person behind the window like the multiple peoples’ portions of food really was for multiple people. I would ask for multiple sets of plasticware or order two sodas (diet, of course), only to throw one out later. I would shove chicken nuggets in my mouth in the car on the ride home, or hide an extra burger or two in my purse so that I could hide my shame once I got home. You know, just in case any of my roommates were interested in what I had gotten. “Mmm, that looks good!” they might say, and then I’d go to my room, close the door, and it would commence.

If the guilt got bad enough, if I really ended up eating that entire pizza or that whole bag of chips I might have tried to, well, compensate one way or another. But more often than not, I wouldn’t even bother. That Triple Baconator AND Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger AND double order of chicken nuggets AND large serving of fries (dipped in ranch, of course) would sit like a ball of lead in my stomach, and I would just go about my (completely devoid of exercise) life: write a paper, watch a movie, and probably still have dessert later. I might wander down to the kitchen before primetime TV kicked in complaining “I’ve barely eaten anything today!” before making up an entire box of macaroni and cheese for myself. I had tricks, and I had denial, and for a very long time that is how I lived.

Today, I struggled again. I woke up around 11 AM and had a large, fairly healthy breakfast this morning: a small homemade healthified banana nut muffin and a Thomas’ Bagel Thin with lox and a smear of cream cheese. Then, around 3:00 I got ravenous. So I started thinking about what I wanted to eat. Nothing in the fridge seemed appetizing, so I decided I would go out and get something. I hopped in my car and made my way down to Baja Fresh, my mind set on some grilled fish tacos. Highly recommended by my Eat This! Not That! book as a lower-calorie, nutritious “faster food” option, I thought I was in good shape. And then as I was standing in line, the thoughts began. Why not get a 900 calorie Burrito Ultimo instead? I loved them. They were delicious. They filled my stomach to the point of wanting to burst with steak, rice, peppers, and came with a side of chips to boot. In fact, why not get two? I’d done it before. And it was hard to resists with those old rationalizations and justifications running through my head:

“I should just do it. It’s not like anybody will know.”
“I can just not eat anything else for the rest of the day and it will balance out.”
“I’ll just go running tomorrow to make up for it, no big deal!”

In case you were curious, I did end up ordering the fish tacos as I originally planned. I drove back home and ate them. They were very good and I was stuffed after eating them (the meal came with two.) That didn’t stop me, however, from continuing to eat the rice, beans, and complimentary chips that came with the meal too. And after all that, I helped myself to a large bowl of chocolate Cheerios as “dessert” too. Granted, the overall caloric damage wasn’t that bad, especially compared to what it could have been if I had caved to that burrito craving. But the underlying issue was still there: Why did I continue to eat even though I was full? I thought I was past all this.

I was looking over some old photos of myself on Facebook, from my senior year of college and my first year out in the “real world” (i.e. from when I was rapidly climbing to my highest weight.) There were some photos up that I remember being hilarious at the time (thus why they were not immediately de-tagged, haha), but looking at them now, they are really just sad.

In them, I am shoveling burgers into my mouth, eyeing plates of cookies hungrily and making jokes about huge balls of butter that came served with my dinner. I obviously must have thought they were funny at the time they were posted. And I supposed that objectively you might be able to see how they could be: it’s a little gross and it’s capturing a moment in a photo that most people aren’t supposed to see. If the person behaving so gluttonously didn’t normally do so, it would be especially funny. “Caught on camera,” as they say. But of course, that is also precisely the reasons why it’s so sad. Because it’s not someone else in those pictures, it’s me. And maybe I was in denial, but it’s obvious to me now that the scenes being depicted are pitiful. That’s who I used to be, and who I obviously still am to some degree, based on today. That, right there, in those pictures, that was what I was all about: food. And the loud, laughing, joking girl with that over-the-top personality behind the food? Well, she was just there to fill in between meals.

I like to think that I’ve changed. That I’m both literally and figuratively becoming a shadow of my former self. But, on days like today, it’s hard. And sometimes the support that you need doesn’t come, and sometimes that makes it worse. After all, my friends and family aren’t mind-readers, I can’t expect them to be. So, I’m here, trying to talk about it, make sense of it. Get it all out. It is, of course, difficult for me to write about all of this. It’s hard for me to put it out in the open, to make myself so vulnerable. But the truth is, I’ve been dwelling on writing a post like this for a while — today was just the tipping point.

I’m not so self-centered to think that I’m the only one who has ever struggled like this. I figure, if I went through it, someone else must be going through it now. And maybe–just maybe–one day, they’ll read this blog. And maybe–just maybe– it could help. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have the strength to click the publish button on this post if I hadn’t been reading something just as raw and exposed on Keelie’s blog earlier.

Sorry for all this dumping of emotion (though if you know me, you know that emotion is what you get, unfortunately), the overshare, the potential definite TMI (although who I am kidding? I love TMI.) I don’t blame those of you who jumped ship but I’m proud of those of you able to navigate through all 1,328 words (!!) and make it to the other side. Proud, but also a little scared. Scared of what this–really putting myself out there, that is–means. I can only hope that this will bring me on step closer to my goal, that I’ll have this day, this night, this moment to fall back on in another time of weakness. Because, let’s be honest, I’m sure there are still many more to come.

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Posted on Nov 9, 2010 in Weight Loss | 6 comments

Weight Loss Math

So as a seasoned dieter and weight-loss-fake-starter, I can tell you that it isn’t really news that weight loss is a math equation. Let’s be honest, we all know this. Calories in versus calories out. If you expend more calories than you eat, you lose weight. Ta-da! From that perspective, it would seem that it’s this kind of math:

But when you really get down  to it, and you are actively trying to lose weight, you don’t want to hear that it’s that simple. You don’t want people to tell you that it’s an easy equation. Because losing weight is hard. It is. It’s a daily struggle, and the successes and failures that you suffer day to day make it actually a lot more like this:

This is me trying to figure out my own personal weight-loss equation, the answer to seemingly endless questions as I continue down this road. How many calories should I really be consuming? How many weeks should I reasonably set for my goal? When I started this journey, I picked 1500 calories fairly arbitrarily. While I’ve obviously flexed in both directions on different days, I thought it was time to sit down and really sink my head into this math, especially since I’m now almost 34 lbs lighter.

Thank goodness for Google, that’s all I have to say. A few deft strikes of the keyboard and I found a BMR calculator that helped me figure out my restarting point. At 22 years old, 5’9″, and 212 pounds, my basal metabolic rate (the rate at which I burn calories simply by being alive) is 1798 calories a day. Add in the Harris Benedict Equation (which helps roughly figure out how many more calories you are burning based on your activity level) I determined the following:

If I am sedentary, with little or no exercise in a given week, I’m burning approximately 2,158 calories a day.

If I am lightly active, exercising 1 – 3 times a week, I’m burning approximately 2,472 calories a day.

If I’m moderately active, exercising 3 – 5 times a week, I’m burning approximately 2,787 calories a day.

I won’t go into the results for very or extra active because who am I kidding? Hahaha. So what do these numbers mean, exactly. Again, this is probably information that most of you are already well aware of, but let’s refresh the Dieter’s Golden Nugget of Knowledge just in case:

1 pound of fat is approximately (I am using that word a lot today!) 3,500 calories. So as logic follows, in order to lose 1 pound a week you need to have a deficit of about 500 calories a day. Now as I obviously want to be losing more than just 1 pound a week, you just multiply up from here and you can figure out what you need to lose 2 pounds a week, and so on, and so forth. What this means for me is that my original goal of 1500 calories a week… is just about right for losing around 2 pounds a week. So how do you like that! Guess my arbitrary number isn’t looking quite so arbitrary (what is with me and reusing words today?) anymore, huh?

If I maintain a lightly to moderately active lifestyle, and stick between 1500 and 1800 calories a day depending on my activity level, that should keep the pounds coming off at a fairly regular rate. In fact, if I continue to lose 2 – 3 pounds a week, I should be able to reach my end goal of 165-ish pounds in 17 – 25 weeks! And my birthday is in 22 weeks, so I figure that’s kind of perfect. 🙂 Now, of course, the math is just half the battle. Enforcing the calorie-counting and exercise regiment is the important part. Obviously this isn’t a perfect science. You hit plateaus. Your body is constantly adjusting its needs based on your lifestyle, and as I continue to lose weight I’ll probably need to whip out the abacus once more. But it is comforting to know that there’s some sense to all this. There’s some rhythm. Something reliable. And as long as I can put in the effort, stay the course, keep on track, I’ll get there in the end. It literally is a journey. And with that poetic ending, I bid you adieu!

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