14by17 week 4

Once again, slow progress.

It’s easy to interpret no change upwards as one that is a positive step. At least I’m not gaining weight. It would be equally easy to say that I’m not losing it, either.

Can I honestly say that my diet has been better? No, not in all truth. I am still at the point where I succumb to cheap, high calorie snack food; nothing short of a ruthless approach to change will stop that – but I have done it before, and I can do it again.

It’s also easy to toss out the platitudes about doing something again, but I will need to commit to a date – and even the thought of doing that invokes the gods of snack foods: “No! You can’t! You’ll just slip again! You’ll just let yourself down again!”.

As with anything that requires commitment, at some point I will have to commit.

Monday the 1st of Feb. That’s when I start. One snack day a week when I can’t make myself feel guilty about eating sugary garbage, but the rest of the week I relentlessly track and shame myself if I give in.

Friday the 5th will be the reckoning.

14by17 week 3

Hmmm. Things have not been going well.

Despite my hope that the gradual progress downwards would be repeated this week, that’s clearly not the case. I was thrown by a huge leap on Saturday, and then the measurements stagnated at a small increment higher than last week – so when viewed on the graph below, the trend is starting to lurch upwards.

Now, I can prevaricate about this some more, moan and complain that despite my best efforts things aren’t working, but I’m kidding no-one but myself. It’s a lie. I have been not paying close enough attention to the food I eat, and I’m still not able to resist the multitude of small treats that float around the office.

I know that my weak point is the afternoon, when my energy levels slump and I start to hunt for little snacks to help out. Of course, this is the point when I should just double down on the work, push out the siren calls of chocolate, and drink water. Lots of water.

More baby steps, I suppose, and at least by writing about them every week I can’t claim to have forgotten.

(Addendum written after this was composed on Friday morning: having indulged in Jamaican Jerk Chicken for lunch, and pasta and garlic ciabatta for dinner, I suspect the carbs will weigh heavily upon me tomorrow.)

14by17 two weeks in

Alright then, let’s review.

I’m two weeks into the desire to hit 14 stones in weight by 2017. So far, progress appears to be improving, not least because I have been a little more mindful of the crap that I eat and the exercise that I do – without yet committing to do a 5k yet – and I think the weight is ever so slowly coming off (with the occasional wobble from here to there).

Of course, as my wife pointed out, the daily monitoring of my weight can lead to false impressions of weight loss. It’s far too easy to think that there is a trend downwards when, in fact, the data captured is just a tiny fragment of an overall trend which could be in completely the other direction.

To make this clearer, I’ve decided to change the tracking data a bit – as you can see in the graph below, I’m now including the data back to before Christmas, and also showing where the target is; this makes my progress (up or down) much clearer in the context of where I want to be.

I’m at the start of that slope which could either lead upwards into obesity, or downwards into fitness (or at least being thinner). Right now I could say that I have no idea where that slope goes, but I have the ability to influence that slope – through diet and exercise.

I also have to be mindful of talking about this a lot without actually doing something about it. For me, that has previously resulted in a great deal of written promises and very little follow up – but by using this format to check in with myself once a week, I can consider where my decisions have taken me, week by week, and hold myself accountable.

I called this project 14by17 for a reason. It’s pretty unambiguous. All I have to do is stick by it. At least this week appears to be better than the last.

The Do button

I was browsing through Medium today and came across a post written by Niko Canner from Incandescent called Sasha Dichter’s Do Button that gave me a great deal of clarity, all in a single burst, about why I loathe social media with increasing frequency these days.

The blog post to which he refers is here on Sashas’ blog: The Missing Do Button and is a masterpiece of observation on the current practice of blindly sharing web content without the intent to do something with it. Go ahead, read the posts, then come back; I’ll wait.

Without massively paraphrasing either Sasha’s original post or the inspired piece of work that is Niko’s medium post, the essence is that we all frequently share content written on the web that inspires us, but rarely if ever actually ask ourselves or others to do anything with it.

Sasha’s idea that a Do Button should exist that prompts us to commit to do something with the content we are sharing is a fantastic one and has caused me to think about how many times I’ve sent off inspiring links, without telling the recipient what I’d plan to do as a result of the writing I’ve shared.

Equally, this expresses in a nutshell why I’m so disillusioned with social media; as referenced in an earlier post of mine here, we are all guilty of re-sharing mindless crap into the streams of our friends simply to mindlessly titillate or blast our opinion down other peoples’ throats.

I am a fan of neither approach, and given that I look up to people who work with intent – in that they seek to illuminate or teach others all the time, or use content they find or create to add value to others – I can do well to spend a little more time thinking about what my intent is, before I do the same thing.

I will endeavour to do that in the future; consider what it is that I am doing to enrich other people whenever I create or share anything. So in a way, I’ve taken Sasha’s post and done something with it – even if it is to add my own voice to the argument, observe my own behaviour, but also uncover why my own frustration with facebook and other social media outlets is so prevalent.

14by17 one week in

So, after a week of the “diet”, how have I done?

Well, in a word, poorly. I’ve put a little graph at the bottom of this post to show how my weight has fluctuated this week, and generally, the trend is up, not down. This is not a great surprise.

I’ve found it harder to steer myself away from the chocolate treats and little biscuits as they are still around after Christmas. I’ve also found it hard to control myself when it comes to grazing; the availability of the aforementioned biscuits and chocolate doesn’t help much in this regard, but even so – self-control is failing me here.

Thankfully, my weekly budget is shrinking and the opportunity to casually snack on stuff will disappear, and be replaced by sticking to the food I bring with me to work. Couple this with increased physical activity – I’ve walked to site in London three times this week for a total of over 15 miles covered – and I should start to see a gradual lowering in weight.

Mind you, I’d be happy with it simply not creeping upwards right now.

More progress reports next week.

14 Stone by 2017

Even since I was 18, i’ve been overweight by some degree. I have heard a wealth of advice on what it means to be “fat”, but I know that the usual weight I tended to fluctuate around was 17 stone (about 110 Kg). I also knew that that was not a healthy weight – sure, I’m six foot three inches tall, so I’m a big bloke, but the usual mid forties belly never sat well on me.

So, last year, I decided to change. My new years’ resolution for 2015 was to get to 16 stones in weight, and by some miracle I managed to not only beat that, but handsomely; at one point I was down to 15 stones.

I could attribute all of this to some magical diet, but I didn’t really change a thing. I was more mindful about what I ate – laying off the snacks – and I took on a project that needed me to take a tube into London about once or twice a week, so I took the opportunity to walk to and from the station.

I think that’s what made the difference. Being more physically active meant that the weight fell off. I dropped two stones in about six months, and despite the usual bout of Christmas overeating, I’ve only managed to put on another five pounds. Right now, I’m fifteen stone five pounds.

But, of course, I’m not happy with that either. Having achieved so much in the last year, I’m now ready to keep going and push that little bit further. My target for 2017 is to get down to fourteen stones, and I know that will not come as easy, so I’m using data to track where I am at. I’m also treating this as a project, and it will have a number of steps in it; not least using the desire to lose further weight as an excuse to get running.

I haven’t set myself a ludicrous goal – all I want to be able to do is run a 5k without feeling like my heart is going to explode – and in the meanwhile I hope to be able to focus more on my diet, cut out the junk, and get down to fourteen stone. The reason for a project page on this site is that I intend to track my weight daily, and once a week write a confession page, so in the future I can look back and see where I went wrong, and what I did right.

So, here goes! Next update will be on Friday the 8th Jan.