07 December 2009
slow and steady wins the race.
In conversations about the health benefits of moving to Philadelphia and bike commuting, I typically use the "fat summer" of 2008 as a point of reference. I had moved to Utah, lost ten pounds from the stress, bought a bike, gained all the weight back, and then set upon a rather solitary, sedentary summer that included a lot of air-conditioned hours spent watching movies while consuming a steady intake of drinks, Pringles, Cheeze-Nips, Oreos, and the like. It was a lonely time that was met with poor food choices. We've all been there. There are basically no pictures of me from that time because I took special care to delete them along the way. I had no energy, wore loose sundresses because my pants didn't fit, and was pretty squishy. I didn't have a waist. We don't have to talk exact numbers here, other than that I had a BMI of ~27- right in the middle of the overweight category.
Fast forward fifteen months. There were some slow and steady changes made over time. I started with not buying junk and drinking less. I lost about 12 pounds doing that. I moved to a city with a Trader Joe's where I do most of my shopping, making sure to toss a bag of spinach in with my groceries and skipping out on the treats (I bought sweets at TJ's for the first time in Philly this week... seriously). The last 8 pounds came off as I embarked on a car-free lifestyle.* This was unintentional.** I should round out Fall Semester with 500 miles under my belt.
I've mentioned the changes in posts along the way, but today was a big milestone. I've lost 20 pounds since the "fat summer." My BMI is 23- right in the midst of the normal weight range. I am decidedly less doughy. I've lost about four inches off my waist and now have an extensive collection of pants that are much too large. Double chins in photographs are seldom a problem. I weigh less than I did my senior year of high school in 2002 and any time since.
I'm not trying to brag-- but I really, truly believe in the power of lifestyle change. There are lots of reasons to consider getting on a bike, and weight loss is a legitimate one. Most days I ride between 2 and 6 miles, with the occasional 10 or 12 mile day. So there you have it-- you don't have to run a marathon to see results!
*My comments about nutrition should be qualified to note, in earnest, that I consume lager and fried bar food with greater frequency nowadays. That's slowed my weight loss but nonetheless, since selling my car, I have steadily lost weight without any gaining back. Eating everything I can- including glorious full fat dairy- has not stemmed the tide of weight loss. So there's some logic there.
**No, really. My poor roommate can attest to the endless whining about being hungry all the time and how none of my clothes fit- and I couldn't even buy Gap Jeans any more because even the smaller sizes are cut too wide (I recommend J. Crew for bike-altered bodies) . It was a very rough time for him.