Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two Months

Two months ago, I weighed 295 pounds, and resolved to lose weight.

One month ago, I let you know how that was going: I weighed in at 273.

Today, I have another update: I weigh 260 pounds. Since July 3, I have lost 35 pounds through strict adherence to a 2000 calorie a day diet and walking 5-7 miles a day. I have logged 824,403 steps on my Fitbit. That's 522 miles.

Things that are 522 miles from my porch:

Kentucky. All of it.


All but a corner of Illinois.


West Virginia.




Both Carolinas.


All but a corner of Mississippi.

All but the easternmost tip of Lake Erie.

Last month I was measuring my walking in terms of distance that cities were from me, and now I'm measuring it in states. I've already covered a small part of Canada and reached the Gulf of Mexico. Today, states; tomorrow, countries.

There are still things that I'm struggling with. I'm still fat. I've written several entries over the past couple of months detailing highs and lows, and may write another one soon because I'm having trouble dealing with some of the discussions that I've had with people over the last few weeks, but right now I'm letting that simmer, and tonight I want to focus on some positives:

1) I destroyed a pair of shoes.

My mom bought me a new pair of sneakers in late April. This is what the bottoms look like now:


I've walked the tread off of them. See the dark spots about an inch below the toes? My sneakers are about a quarter of an inch thick in that spot, which means I can feel every rock and twig and whatever else is on the ground. I have more or less taken an extremely comfortable pair of sneakers and melted them, by walking them to death. Sorry about that, Mom.

2) I got new shoes!

I picked up these in North Carolina at the outlet malls this weekend:


They are comfortable, they are school colors, they are designed for distance running and walking, and they were on clearance for $30. I look forward to walking the soles off of them.

3) I registered for a 5K next weekend.

"You realize how far that is, right?"

Yes, supportive friend. It's a trip and a half around the Greenway. It's less than I walk every single day.

I can do this.

I won't be fast, but I will finish it.

4) I conquered the treadmill.

I explained before that walking the treadmill is like falling into the Twilight Zone, where one minute in the real world feels like three when you are on the treadmill. It didn't matter that I can (and do) swivel the television to face the treadmill, either. If you can see the clock, you can see that the clock doesn't move. It's agony, and adding insult to injury, my treadmill doesn't have a book or magazine holder, just a cup holder and a space for the television remote.

Fortunately, my friend Leonor sent me a book for my Kindle, and I realized that I can put the Kindle in the spot for the television remote, increase the size of the print so that I can read it without leaning forward, and that it's just tall enough to cover the clock.

It's worked out so well that I went through my Amazon wish list and marked all the books that I'm ok with reading in Kindle, so that I can just purchase and download as I finish, and so that any random friend or loved one who wants to buy me one and aid me in my fitness journey knows what I'd like to read.

(That was subtle, right?)

I'm about to finish my second book since I made this discovery, and have already downloaded a third.

5) I decorated my wall.

Now that I discovered that the treadmill is not an adventure in agony, I've struggled a little with the view:


I'm not staring ahead most of the time, since I'm reading, and when I look up it's usually to glance over at the television and see whatever has pulled me out of my book, but still, that blank wall across from me needed something. It was a prime space for something motivational, but what does that mean?

How about a mirror? I thought. You can look up and see how fat you still are, and that'll make you keep going.

I realized immediately that was a terrible idea, just like the day that I put the scale right in front of the refrigerator door. There's motivation, and then there's self-abuse.

What about a calendar? Maybe something with a hot guy on it?

Not a bad idea, but for some reason Chris Hemsworth has a shirt on for all 12 months of his calendar. Look, he's pretty and all, but a significant portion of what I like about Chris Hemsworth is between the neck and the waist.

Tom Daley probably has a calendar, and his shirt is probably off every single month.

Tom Daley is the same age as my students, which would be "old enough to be my child". If I'm going to hang up posters and calendars of a 20-something year old then I might as well get a red convertible and a hair transplant.

So, what to hang, then? What could I look at that would represent a visual goal, something to strive for? Something that would say, "I am the pot of gold at the end of the treadmill rainbow"?


I bought that shirt in 2004. I've never worn it in public because when I bought it, it was really tight. I could button it, but not sit down in it while buttoned, and I hung it in my closet, thinking, "Oh, I'll just lose a little weight."

In 2004.

In 2006, I packed it with the rest of my belongings, moved to Tennessee, and hung it in my new closet.

It's now 2014.

I'm going to wear that shirt.

Probably in 2015, but still.



nan said...

This is an AMAZING post, Joel! You are an inspiration. I have a love-hate relationship with my elliptical, and I have found that my way to get through even 15 minutes is with reading my Nook... Keep up the great work. So impressed!

Marcheline said...


I see you are finding out that weight loss is like religion... discussing it with people brings wildly varying results. Sometimes you get encouragement. Sometimes you get judgement. Sometimes you want to strangle people with your bare hands.

Just remember - your journey to good health is your own. You can pick and choose tips and tricks that other folks have used, and create your own plan. Since our bodies are different, we're all different ages, and have different genetics, a plan that works perfectly for your best friend may suck for you.

The best weapon you have when someone criticizes your plan? "Okay, so if my plan isn't working, care to explain why I just LOST 35 FREAKIN' POUNDS?" Then hit them in the eye with a celery stick.

Something cheering is the knowledge that you are not stuck with whatever plan you've been using. If you like, you can add to, subtract from, or completely change up your routine. Keeping your body guessing is a handy trick to avoiding "plateaus" and keeping the weight loss on target.

You're doing great - and I can't wait to see a photo of you IN THAT SHIRT!

Tom D. said...

This post is awesome, from stem to stern. Great results. Great perspective. Great work!

leonor said...

Joel! I am so proud and I cannot wait for you to talk all the way to New York.

Justin Bower said...

You have lost more weight than my 11 month old daughter weighs. You have essentially negated Lydia. That blew my mind. Great work, man, I know the later pounds get harder, but the routine you set for yourself in the early stages will make it easier. You're not fad dieting, you're doing the only thing that has ever worked for the long term: eat less, eat better, move more. Now I have to get off my butt and try and do the same.