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13 Weeks: On Despair

Weight is stalled, it's been a rough week, and I want ice cream.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

March 9, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Week 5 of my second 13 week season; low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy and follow my daily exercise.

It was hard this week. On Friday morning, I got up and found my 13-year-old Abyssinian cat Radar, apparently peacefully asleep in his favorite spot — except he didn’t look up when I came down the stairs. He had died during the night.

Now, i’m one of those people for whom my cats are like my kids, and Radar hadn’t shown a sign of distress the night before — he met me at the door as usual, fought me for bits of chicken before I was ready as before. So it was a shock. I took care of him, but I was useless the rest of the day, and in fact all weekend. The other two cats — Ali’i and Kaleo — were clearly missing him too, and they’ve been very clingy all week. Still, I think we’re all recovering, finally.

Radar — not a great picture, but he didn’t like cameras.

But the week continued to be ridiculously stressful, with work issues and all, and then — the depression I always have to watch started creeping up on me, probably as a result of stress and poor sleep (and like the old Catskills joke, not only was the sleep bad, there wasn’t enough of it!)

And here I am, on week five of the second season.

Sticking to the diet and exercise plan when I feel like this is really tough. I took to putting my workouts in Fitocracy before I did them, because then I’d be too ashamed not to actually do them. Even so, I only worked out four times this week. The stress also apparently affects blood sugar — the morning Radar died I had the highest blood sugar I’ve had in weeks at 127 and it’s stayed high.

All in all, if I could take a week off from the column I would.

The thing here being that I didn’t, and I haven’t slipped on the diet anyway — and really haven’t slipped far on the exercise, as I still got in 1093 points, or just 61 fewer than the week before, thanks to having raised the weight I did on my heavy lift days. So my blood sugar is up a little, my weight is actually down a pound from last week (but still basically flat) and my body fat hasn’t changed much in a week either.

So I went and looked back at my previous columns. Around week five in the first season was when I started to feel it was a slog — I’d started the program, I’d gotten some exciting gains, and then things evened out. I had the big drop in my A1c still to come, I still had weight to lose, and of course my measurements weren’t changing — that didn’t really happen until this second 13 week season.

Now, I think back to previous diets and exercise programs, and I realize there have been moments like this in all of them: moments when life was hard and so was the diet (I’d sure love a quart of ice cream right now) and when I just basically lost hope that I was making any progress. I despaired.

I certainly feel like that this week, but I didn’t buy ice cream anyway; I didn’t even buy a bag of M&Ms. Why? I guess there are a couple of reasons.

First of all, I made this a 13 week thing for a reason: I can see the end of my 13 weeks in the foreseeable future. I can stand it, and frankly the diet is still pretty tolerable — I’ve had fajitas (no tortillas) twice this week.

Second, I can look back and see how far I’ve actually come — I’m clearly skinnier, I feel better, and lots of measures, from waistline to cholesterol, say I’m healthier and better off than I’ve been in years.

Third, of course, is your people — everyone who has said I was inspiring you, or that you were following me with interest, or said encouraging words through this whole thing — including the preparatory weeks, now, it’s getting close to half a year.

So, if you’re trying this or something similar, I’ll just say (and say to myself) not to give up hope, not to despair.

It can be done.


Date 7 day Weight 7 day Glucose 7 day Bodyfat Sum Fitocracy Points Weekly Fitocracy Points
2013-02-01 272.50 116.43 33.1 447 447
2013-02-07 272.63 114.57 30.79% 1881 1881
2013-02-14 271.91 110.43 30.36% 2606 725
2013-02-21 273.79 115.29 29.16% 3775 1169
2013-02-28 274.44 104.00 30.00% 4929 1154
2013-03-07 273.11 115.86 30.24% 6022 1093
Δ since 2-1 0.61 -0.57 -2.86% N/A N/A

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle

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All Comments   (29)
All Comments   (29)
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One pound a week weight loss is actually ideal, because it doesn't disrupt your metabolism, it is nice and easy. That is what can make that one pound stay lost permanently. If you lose one pound a week for a year, you will have lost 52 pounds. Permanently! So please do not despise or despair about losing only one pound a week. Your body knows what it is doing.
Also, if you feel emotional stress, back off on the physical challenges. Stress is stress, no matter what type. You can even go sideways (no change) for a while, you are in no rush. Be kind to thyself. We are standing with you. And hey, you do squats so well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I know from my own experience that week 5 of a fairly rigorous regime can be a tough one. I've always found the AA mantra of "one day at a time" (i.e. maybe I'll cheat tomorrow, but I'm sticking with it at least for today) to be helpful to me. Plus tomorrow never gets here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hang in their Charlie
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I want to talk you all for the supportive remarks. It really does make a big difference to me to know I'm inspiring others.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My deepest condolences in the loss of your beloved Radar.

Feeling sh$!!y is about the only thing you can do just now and that’s fine, because it’s the right thing to do. But please reconsider savoring at least a bit of your favorite ice cream in his honor, as a toast to the essential elements of a good life that cats teach us so much about. Now is not the time to chasten yourself still further; this blow was quite enough.

If you can make yourself do it, try to go outside and look at something beautiful, find something to enjoy. He’d want that for you.
(On February 26th, I noticed leaf buds sprouting along the stems of an ancient and venerable white clematis I transplanted last year that then, through some miracle, managed to give me about 25 post-transplant blooms--one of which is pictured here--despite my having had to completely sever its root ball from the profusion of blooming stems that were growing outside the fence along the alleyway. Anticipating its coming glory from my breakfast room window has helped to keep me going through days of rain, snow, and cold, grey gloom since then. Now today the crocuses are up and open wide, bees swooning all over them. I’ll bet you could find something lovely to snap if you really looked for it.)
I also commend two life changing neutraceuticals that have tipped the balance for me this past winter, NAC (aka N-acetyl cysteine) and a transdermal magnesium lotion formulation.
Everything matters, Charlie, everything! “The tone of our hearts permeates the universe.” You’re an old hand at discipline and making the best of things, and you’ll be back on top again before you know it.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks. I'm now sort of planning a jailbreak on the diet on Wednesday when I'm having dim sum lunch with a friend. I'll probably have everything reasonable except for having congee (zhou1 粥). rice porridge. 28g carbs per cup. Love the stuff. Probably no dumplings, though, because of the wheat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry for the loss of your cat. Hang in there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you. It really does make a difference to the feeling of pointlessness when I hear I'm helping other people.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It seems to me that sadness of the kind you experienced is stressful and stress relates to so many health aspects. Plateaus can also be stressful, even when a history of them suggests "this too shall pass". Just this morning, my wife, who has been on the BENew weight loss program and has become incredibly healthy in the process and has lost right at 40 pounds, bemoaned her current plateau. Even though she has only 10-15 more to lose and knows the previous plateaus all gave way to continued weight loss, she still fights the fear that this time she will be stuck. Frustration leads to depression and makes it harder for her to continue; but, she has a track record of a transformed life that keeps her going.

I'm glad you have kept going and hope you feel the support of this community.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My 5 cents worth.

Our bodies are programmed to want to hang on to body fat as defense for the famine that was inevitable until just recently, at least in evolutionary terms. After a period of effective weight loss, our metabolism adapts as a counter measure, think Borg adjusting to phasers.

In my case, the solution has been to shock the system with 1 or 2 days of eating very differently, go have the ice cream and the other stuff that you cut out, just try to keep total calories the same.

Good luck
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First of all, I am so sorry you lost your beloved cat. My Emmy is about the same age and I can't even imagine that happening. My sincerest condolences to you.

Second, I understand your frustration. I have been on the diet roller coaster for decades. I lost weight, often a significant amount, and it would return with a vengeance. Even when I was in a thinner state, I never really felt well, I was just a thinner version of the same old miserable me. All that changed when I discovered the real reason for my obesity. My body was toxic. Most of my life I ate processed foods, filled with preservatives and chemicals that are put there to enhance flavor. My vegetables and fruits were drenched in herbicides and pesticides and grown in sterile soils. My body was starved for nutrients and filled with toxins. Once I discovered how to cleanse the body naturally and replenish it with healthy, organic products, it began to heal. I have released over 150 pounds, the first 100 in six months, and I have kept it all off for over a year and a half. I have found what works for me (and many, many others) and I hope you find what works for you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm five foot four and weighed 120 my entire adult life. And had abdominal problems. Then I got married and my wife, a nurse, gave me a list of things I might have, with Crohn's topping the list. The diagnosis was confirmed, and I'm on medication that is quite palliative, with my weight rising to 130 (possibly indicating I was a bit undernourished as a result of the condition).

I've been lurking, and wanted to say that achieving a proper weight/health condition can be difficult from either end. Courage!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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