Body Fat Percentage?

IMG_20140829_071627This morning is another weigh-in Friday. I’m now down to 274 lbs. This gives me a total loss of 110 lbs. on program (150 lbs. from my beginning weight). This loss is 67% of my original goal of 220 lbs. This brings me to some other research from this week and some changes to my goal.

I have always been large. I don’t mean fat. I mean large build. In 8th grade I went over 6 feet tall and weighed 210 lbs. While fat was a problem that I had to watch, I had enough musculature to throw off the traditional BMI chart. Being told to shoot for 198 lbs. makes me laugh. Now, don’t take this as my saying to ignore the BMI chart. For many builds it is quite accurate and from what I’ve heard it is more accurate for women than for men. However, for anyone with a large amount of muscle the chart will be unrealistic. For those with very little muscle, the chart may show you at an acceptable weight, but you could still have enough actual body fat to be unhealthy.

This week I’ve done some experimenting. Mostly, it was to figure out my final goal to shoot for. I started out by simply choosing to shoot for 220 lbs. or so. The intention was always to get down close and then fine tune that figure once it was easier to make proper measurements. I downloaded an app to calculate body fat with various methods. First, I did a standard military tape test. This is the test used in the military to calculate body fat for anyone over the mandated weight charts. I spent eight years in the Army and always had to be “taped.” One time the First Sergeant screamed, “Cluck! You’re fat! You’re only supposed to weight 198 lbs.” I responded, “Then you should have recruited me in seventh grade!” He was not amused. I passed the tape and laughed as Top walked off grumbling. Funny thing is the tape method used in the military is extremely inaccurate. After running the military tape test, I purchased some body fat calipers and did a proper “pinch test.” Then, this morning, I used a more advanced tape test method (reportedly accurate within 2%). The military tape test showed one set of results. The other two methods had almost identical results to each other—less than 1% difference between them—and both were very different from the military method.

The main interest for me was not my present fat percentage. This number is of little value. It is little more than asking, “How fat am I?” Well a simple look in the mirror could pretty well tell me that. What I wanted to know was my lean weight. When testing for body fat, you get both a percentage of fat, but also get a lean body weight—muscle, bones, organs, etc. With this number you can simply calculate a target weight by adding the desired fat percentage. I figured I would select the fitness level of body fat and shoot for 15%. I selected this because for men this level is not the lowest possible, but the recommended amount for someone who is physically fit. Women should shoot for a higher level, because most professionals recommend 15% as the minimum body fat for women (other than competition body builders). The female body needs a higher fat percentage for hormonal requirements.

When I took the military tape measurements, it showed 198 lbs. of lean mass. Interesting, this is the exact weight the BMI chart tells me I should be. This means to make the chart, I would have to have zero percent body fat. In other words, I’d have to be dead! With this, however, I can calculate 15% body fat would bring me to a goal weight of 227 lbs. (198 * 1.15). This is pretty close to my original goal, and fortunately does not require death to attain.

Of course, the military tape is probably little better than a guess—when compared to other methods. I wanted to double check. A lot of careers have been ruined by the military insistence on inaccuracy. I purchased a set of calipers and did a Jackson & Pollock 4-site pinch test. This showed me to have 210 lbs. of lean mass. So I would have to lose 12 lbs. of muscle and all of my fat to make the BMI chart—“No!” Fifteen percent body fat would make my weight goal 241 lbs. Ok. So this is a big difference. I needed something else to back it up.

I found another tape measurement system online. It claims to be accurate within 2 percentage points. I did the test and it showed me as having 22.6% body fat. This means I am somewhere between 20.6 and 24.6 %. It gives me a lean mass of 211 lbs. (notice this is within a pound of the caliper test). This would give me a goal weight of 242 lbs.

The first method shows me that my original goal was not quite right, and that the BMI chart is not even close for me. The two latter methods, both being considered far more accurate, being in such close agreement gives me confidence in them. Because of this, I have changed my goal weight from 220 lbs. to 240 lbs. I’m not doing this because it is an easier goal to attain, but because looking at the numbers it appears to be a more realistic weight for my body. Assuming the latter two to be accurate, 210 lbs. of lean mass would require 5% body fat to reach 220 lbs.—a fat percentage sought by cut and defined body builders. That goal is unreal for me. I am shooting for health, not trophies.

This doesn’t end it. I plan to get tested by other methods. I at least want to use the electrical resistance method. It is considered accurate since fat has a different resistance to current than tissue. We’ll see if that changes me back to a lower figure or helps to refine my goal in other ways.

Measuring body fat to know your percentage isn’t very helpful. However, to set a proper goal you have to know what you are building on. It helps to know where zero is. Then you can shoot for optimal weight based on this knowledge. Do you have to do all this? No. For many the BMI chart is the best tool. For others it is unrealistic. Don’t just reject it because you don’t like the number, though. Check into it. Make sure you are basing your goals on reality and not simply on preference, or bad information.

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Update on Hydration

Water_glassOver the last two weeks, I had a bad problem (as I reported on Friday) with getting dehydrated over the weekend. I figured this was the cause of my weird scale results. I’d weigh on Friday and be lower than the previous week showing my weight moving steadily, though slowly, down. However, on Monday I would weigh as much as ten pounds heavier and this number would only slowly lower over the week, until I was once again on Friday or Saturday below my previous weight.

As I reported previously I assumed it was likely due to getting dehydrated over the weekend. I noticed during the week the weight going back down seemed to be tied to water intake. This weekend I set myself the goal of staying well hydrated all weekend. It can be a bit hard on Sunday morning—leaving the pulpit during my sermon to pee would not look good, after all. However, I was able to get plenty before church and after.

I’m happy to report there have been no great scale fluctuations over the weekend and this morning I am one pound lighter than I was on Friday. This brings me down to 274 lbs. I’m not counting on this weight too much though because my official weigh-ins are still on Friday. However, since I changed nothing over the weekend but the amount of water I consumed, this confirms—in my mind—the importance of, and benefits of, proper hydration. Make sure you are getting plenty of water. If you see weird things happening on the scale or in your body, look first at your hydration to see if you need more water.

The importance of proper hydration

IMG_20140822_103403I weighed-in this morning at 276 lbs. That is a two pound loss over the last week with a total of 108 pounds lost on program and 149 pounds from my highest.

Recently, I reported going back to the original program that I started with. Since my doctor’s concerns have been alleviated (finding out it was the meds he prescribed and not the diet that caused my pain), I decided the best way to continue to lose the weight was to stick to what had already worked so well.

However, going back on program has not been without its problems. Over the last couple weeks I’ve found it difficult to get enough water. I found myself getting dehydrated each weekend, the scale showing much higher on Monday and it taking several days of flushing with sufficient water to get back down to where I was the Friday before. This has caused my weight loss to slow.

When I first started this program, my coach stressed to me the need for drinking enough water. But when she told me I needed to drink ½ ounce for each pound of body weight I swore she was stoned! At 384 pounds that meant I was being told to drink 192 ounces of water per day. Of course, being the skeptical type I questioned that. Though I never drank that much water daily, I did raise my water consumption up very high. As my weight has come down, my water need has likewise lowered to more believable levels.

I started doing my own research—both reading other recommendations, and observing my own situation. I noticed that many weight loss programs recommend high water consumption. It seems counter intuitive to drink large amounts of water, and possibly take on pounds of water weight. Yet from my reading, it appears your body packs on water weight as a result of not getting enough water. The joints and organs all need to be properly hydrated to work, and when not getting enough, these get inflamed and the body compensates by storing water to keep functioning—thus mild dehydration can lead to gaining water weight.

Also, since the purpose of most weight loss programs is to burn fat, the burned fat needs a route out of the body. That exist is through the urinary system. Without enough water the body cannot flush out the byproducts of fat burn resulting in more inflammation and more water retention.

While others might be able to describe this in more medical detail, it is as well as I can explain the reading I’ve done. It also lines up with my own experiences. I tend to be hard-headed. I know! My friends are surprised because they just can’t believe anyone would describe me as hard-headed (I also tend to be sarcastic). If you tell me, “This is essential; this is mandatory; this is necessary,” you will immediately get push back. When my coach tells me I need to drink half my body weight in ounces per day I tend to say, “We’ll see.” Interestingly, many sites recommend 6/10 ounce per pound, which would be a bit more than half. Because of this tendency to good old hard-headedness my water intake often gets undisciplined. I would occasionally go through the day and realize I had only had about a quarter of the water recommended.

Well, after my own experiences I’ve come to believe firmly that high water consumption is essential. It is not optional. I’ve noticed that when I don’t get enough to drink, even for just a couple days, I find myself feeling bloated. I will step on the scale and weigh as much as ten pounds heavier than the previous weigh-in. I know it is not simply a scale fluctuation because as I hydrate over a couple days the scale reading slowly creeps back down. Let me show you how this looks from the last week. Last Friday I was still weighing heavier from the previous week’s dehydration, but was close to my previous weight. On Saturday, I weighed again and was at 278 lbs. This gave me a total loss of 3 pounds from the previous week. Over the weekend, for various reasons, I got dehydrated again. On Monday I stepped on the scale and it said 287 lbs. I checked later in the day with the same results. I decided it would be a good check of my lessons learned on water consumption so I started drinking lots of water and making sure each day I got the recommended amount—or close. I did this without major changes to anything else. Each day the scale crept lower and lower. By Thursday I weighed in at 277 and this morning at 276 lbs. This was a net loss of 2 lbs. which is still a healthy loss.  Since this has happened both of the last weeks, it confirms to me the importance of not getting dehydrated on the weekend. I am determined to make sure I drink enough water each day—especially on the weekends when working in the yard and around the house.

When having a problem with a Windows computer, if you call tech support the first thing they recommend is a reboot. Likewise, if you are on a low carb, fat burning program and finding yourself not losing what you should or even fluctuating upwards then the first thing to do is check your water intake. Make sure you are getting enough water. Don’t poo-poo it. It is essential.

Rough Week! Important Choices!

This week, I don’t have a weigh-in to share. As I shared before, I followed my doctor’s orders to drop off my original plan because of some issues with abdominal pain. We now know the pain was not from the program, but from the doctor—or at least from the strong antibiotics he had put me on for an ear infection. The antibiotics worked with some other stuff to inflame my liver. After some changes and the ending of the series of antibiotics the pain is gone.

After it cleared up, I decided to experiment and see how my weight loss would do without going back on program. For about a week and a half I did fine. However, this week, according to my scale I am two pounds heavier than last week. This convinced me to once again make a choice for my health and go back on the original program.

This brings me to two experiences this week I want to share that have to do with temptations and with managing food intake. Earlier in the week, my daughter came over for supper and I really felt like doing something special. I grilled steaks. For the three ladies (my wife, my mother and my daughter) I picked thin steaks—as they prefer. Of course, I like manly steaks—at least 1 inch thick and grilled as rare as possible. If a steak doesn’t leave red in the plate it was ruined.

Of course, a thick porterhouse is going to be much larger than I am supposed to have in one meal. After I grilled the steaks, my daughter reminded me that it was too much for me to have right now. She was right. I appreciated her telling me—though part of me wished she had just shut up. I begrudgingly cut the steak in half to save for later. I enjoyed one half that night. I could still enjoy the thickness, but just had to reduce the size to make up for it. Eating to lose weight does not mean eating garbage. I didn’t have to choke down a “shoe leather” steak. Sometimes it just takes a bit of effort to make good foods fit.

The second episode happened the day I decided to go back on program. That day I had some errands to run around town. I kept feeling stronger temptations to eat unhealthy foods—stronger temptations than I have had since starting. My mind kept saying, “Oh go on! You are off program. You’re going back on tomorrow. Just enjoy today and tomorrow you can restart.” At one point I was passing by a small chicken shop that I knew carried really good fried gizzards. At that moment I just wanted some gizzards—those glorious breaded, chewy, chunks of fried chicken flesh! I could taste them from a hundred yards. I had to have them, so I whipped the car into the store and ran in to order. I was, at that moment so tempted I ordered a double order (16 gizzards). It took about ten minutes for them to get my order done. I’m glad it took that long.

While I stood there waiting, I kept thinking about what I was about to do. Yes, I could go back on tomorrow. I didn’t feel any guilt because I was making a choice that I had a right to make—there was no moral failing. However, I thought about when I dropped off of another famous low-carb program, years ago. I was on that program for two months and lost 50 pounds. I dropped off, because it was so easy, I figured I’d drop off for the holidays and then just restart later. Unfortunately, I went into major carb binging and just stuffed myself. I gained all the weight back and an additional 25 pounds over the next few months.

As I stood there in the store I kept thinking about this and feared I was setting myself up for a bad failure. I didn’t want to start gorging on carbs and lose control. I didn’t want to risk being unable to finish my yearlong commitment to healthy choices. I also did not want to get back to that old fat, lazy, tired, dying self that I once was. I feel good. I enjoy being told how much better I look. I love knowing I have a future and hope for a healthy life. Did I really want to risk all that for a sack of greasy gizzards? Why yes, I did! But I wouldn’t. Instead, I took the sack and gave it to someone I knew would appreciate them. I didn’t eat a single one. Instead I went back home and ate a meal replacement. Did it taste as good as the gizzards? Don’t be silly. But it was chosen by me.

Self Image, True Image

IMG_20140808_075551This week was a full one. If I hadn’t lost weight, I wouldn’t have really been surprised. Still, I stepped on the scale this morning for my official weekly weigh-in time. I weighed 281 pounds. You’ll notice on this and past weigh-in reports that I ignore the decimal (.6 in this case). I do this because it is easier to simply round down to the nearest whole pound. Worrying about fractions of a pound would just be even more anal than I can already be (I have a maddening touch of OCD). I do use these however through the week. It can be helpful when weighing the same over several days. This would easily be a worry, but then looking at the decimal helps (for example), “Oh! I did lose weight. I lost 8/10ths of a pound.” It can be a great assurance that the program is still working and a reminder not to worry too much about the numbers on the scale.

I am finding something interesting about my mental state. I still see myself as being that fat guy I was at the beginning of this diet. (I know many will be offended by the use of the word “fat.” I wasn’t hefty! I wasn’t big-boned! I was fat and saying anything else is a hurtful lie, meant to make the one speaking it feel better. A lie helps no one but the liar!) People often ask me what I currently weigh and out of habit I keep accidentally adding an extra 100 lbs. to it. It is hard to think of myself as being under 300 because I was above that number for over a decade.

This is helpful though. For a long time I never could lose any weight. Actually, I didn’t try very hard. Mental self-image can be very powerful. Eating disorders are closely tied to self-image. We hear often of those suffering from anorexia, though little more than skin and bone, who still see themselves as fat. They may look at the same image we see and they will see that image very differently. If you don’t think self-image is fragile and yet very powerful just try telling a pregnant wife that she is getting heavy. Get ready for water-works, and then be prepared to spend the rest of that pregnancy apologizing and complimenting her. I was lucky because in my wife’s culture heaviness in a woman, especially when pregnant, was seen as a good thing. She was pregnant and I would tell her, “Look how fat you are getting,” and she would break out a huge beaming smile. It would just make her day, because her cultural self-image completely changed the way she felt about herself in this regard. Of course, Western media has changed that even in her homeland.

Self-image can have powerful effect. All the time I was so heavy, I only saw it when looking in the mirror. When I walked away from the mirror, my mental self-image was the young trooper I once was. I didn’t see myself as fat. It wasn’t until I finally developed a more realistic self-image that I was able to come to term with my need to lose weight. A false self-image can be quite destructive. If you see yourself as worse than you are then you are handicapped. If you see yourself as better than you are then you simply have a different handicap.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not espousing the modern self-image (“You’re OK; I’m OK; we’re all OK”) garbage. The self-image that is needed is not a false bad image or a false good image. What is needed is a truthful self-image—one that sees the self truthfully and without distortion. “The truth will set you free” includes the truth about yourself, good or bad.

A few years ago, my self-image finally changed to what I actually saw in the mirror. It was a crushing blow. I looked at myself one day and said, “What the hell did you do to yourself!” I was ashamed. Before you do what many others have done and say, “Oh, don’t be ashamed. Don’t be so hard on yourself,” understand that shame is a very powerful and necessary force in human interaction. There is a place for it. I am not one of those people who try to spare everyone from ever feeling bad. Some people should feel bad and doing so is the only way a change will happen. I am not saying that others should heap shame on another (thought there is a time for that), but am saying that it is important for an individual to be able to look at themselves and experience shame when appropriate. Imagine if a young man willfully hurt someone and felt no shame about his actions. Such a child would be monstrous. Shame is helpful and useful. To deny that is just another lie.

I had to get to where I was ashamed by what I saw in the mirror before I would change my eating habits. If you have a friend or family member who has an eating problem, I would never recommend you try to shame them into changing—that can be very cruel. However, if they are developing their own sense of shame over what they have done to themselves, do not be the nice guy who says, “It’s OK. You don’t look that bad. But you have such a nice personality.” Let them experience the shame and ask them, “OK, you feel this way about yourself. Now what are you going to do about it?”

I simply wallowed in my shame for a long time. I felt I couldn’t do anything about my weight or my health because it was just too far IMG_20140807_203728619gone. I had problem on problem and felt all I could do was live a miserable existence until God mercifully ended my life. To be honest I even wondered if it was better to end it myself. What I needed was to find a way to turn my shame into action. Wallowing in shame is no better than pretending it isn’t there. Encourage the person to turn their shame into a course of action. I had to find a program that would work and work quickly enough to give me hope. I thank God I found that. Interestingly I found it through a friend who was himself on it.

You can help your loved ones who struggle with weight, not by shaming them into it, or by pretending they don’t have a problem. You help them by being honest with them, and by offering solutions.

Hard work, but worth it!

Before-afterI promised to cover some of the difficulties of traveling while dieting. I don’t like to point out a problem without offering solutions, so I’ll also offer some thoughts on how to prepare and deal with taking a trip. Whether you use them or not is up to you. What I share here will be what has helped me.

On my latest trip, since I was flying for the first time in almost a year—and the first time on this program—I wasn’t sure if my bars and other supplies could be taken in a carryon bag. I didn’t want to check a bag since it was a short trip and I always pack as light as possible. I decided I would have to leave my supplies behind, and see how I would deal with “living off the land,” if you will.

In doing this, let me first share the difficulties. It is important to keep your metabolism active and well fueled with small, appropriate meals (really more like snacks) every 3 hours or so. Since I did not carry them with me, I decided to limit myself to what was available. Neither was I able to prepare my own Lean & Green meals to make sure I stayed within the limits of my program. A third problem can be difficulty with proper hydration. It is essential, in a low-carb program, to get enough fluids (spelled w-a-t-e-r) to keep everything operating efficiently. Well when you are in meetings where copious amounts of coffee are available it can be easy to overdo the caffeine, underdo the water and get dehydrated. A fourth problem of such a meeting filled trip can be the temptations on location. Donuts, sugar-filled fruit bars, chips and candy are often abundant. Our table in these meetings always have small bowls filled with mini-chocolate bars. In the past, I would consume almost a whole bowl by myself. I have to admit chocolate can be tempting still today. This problem of temptations can also be compounded when trying to find food in an airport. The gate for my flight home was right across the hall from a popular chicken place with glossy displays of fried chicken, fried shrimp and fried potatoes, promising great pleasure from their Cajun spices.

An important part of my program has been schedule and structure. An alarm on my phone goes off every 3 hours of the day reminding me to eat something. It can be hard when the alarm goes off and there is nothing for you to eat, or everything available will torpedo your program.

So how can we deal with these? One of my interests is ethics, and I’ve been reading a book called Blind Spots: Why we fail to do what’s right and what to do about it, written by Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel. It discusses situations where we know what is ethical (the right thing to do), but fail to either notice that we are facing an ethical choice or simply fail to choose the ethical action. An important point in the book is the difference between what we know we should do and what we want to do. Many who give one answer when asked what they should do, will often do the exact opposite when faced with what they want to do. The authors offered several ways to help with such tempting times and to prepare for doing better. I could easily see many of these applied quite well to the situation I found myself in on this trip—the temptation to eat what I know I should not.

One recommendation is pre-planning, as I have spoken about in the past. However, preplanning for a meal out at a restaurant and preplanning for a two day trip away from home are very different. However, the preplanning here goes beyond simply “I will eat this and not that”, since I have no way of being sure what will and will not be available. The authors recommend thinking through the reasons a course of action will be tempting. I knew I would face temptations to break my diet. I could easily foresee that. However, rather than simply accepting the fact of being tempted, I thought about why these temptations would be so powerful, and what would actually cause them. Let me list a few reasons this trip would be fraught with temptations:

  1. I would be spending two days with friends who were in no way limited in what they ate. It would be wrong to expect them to choose restaurants, snacks, etc. based on my dietary needs. The temptation comes from thinking, “It would be easier on my friends if I just broke my diet—after all I can just go back on it later.” I could cheat for the good of my friends.
  2. There is no way to eat only what I should in the amount and at the times I need, so it would be better to just drop the whole thing during the trip and pick it up later.
  3. “I’ve done so well for the last few months, lost lots of weight, so I deserve a break; I deserve a treat; I can relax and enjoy what I’ve already done.”
  4. “Nothing encourages good conversation and good fellowship like a meal shared, so it would be better to just eat like my friends.”
  5. There will be piles of candy, sugary bars, and cans of soda and juice.
  6. “Hey! Juice is healthy! Right?” This one is quite common when others don’t understand the impact of sugars—“Oh, you’re on a diet? We have juice (or fruit, or…).” It would be easier to just eat whatever is offered rather than dealing with all the questions that come up.
  7. “I’m going to break my diet one way or the other. Either I won’t eat on schedule, or I won’t eat the right things. Doing without will be harder.”
  8. “This diet has been so easy. I can just drop it for a couple days and pick it up later.”

There were others as well, but these are a good sample of why we are tempted to eat what we know we shouldn’t. So how does one prepare for facing them? There are steps to take and decisions that must be made before the temptations hit.

After considering all these, I made some decisions:

  1. When faced with either eat something not permitted or eat nothing even though my schedule says I am supposed to eat something, which will I choose? I decided that eating something forbidden meant dropping out of fat burn, risking carb cravings, and then dealing with days of trying to white knuckle my way back into fat burn. Refraining from eating when supposed to meant slowing my metabolism (and weight loss), but this could fairly quickly be corrected upon returning home. Because of this I decided when making such a choice I would choose right foods over right schedule.
  2. Is it worth risking my choices and returning to unhealthy practices for a few hours of enjoyment with my friends? Absolutely not! On this trip, my diet would take priority over my friends.
  3. I am not done with weight loss, so I do not deserve a break. Besides, the very thought that I can take a break and eat what I want shows I have not fully integrated these choices as a way of life. Since this is true, I cannot choose to break my program. If these were my way of life, then the things I am not supposed to eat would no longer be as appealing.
  4. It is better to deal with the questions about why I can’t have ‘healthy’ things like juice, rice or fruit than to deal with the difficulty of turning my own mind, emotions and body back to good habits.
  5. The diet may have been easy, but this does not mean it will be easy going back on it. Besides, this thought itself shows I have not fully integrated these choices as a lifestyle. If I break it now, I am starting over and it will take even longer to ingrain these habits in my life.

On the trip, I stayed as close as possible to permissible things. Believe me, when you go out and chicken fried steak is available (in a place you know makes a good one) it is hard to order grilled fish. It is also hard to scrape the rice off of that fish—since everything healthy in that restaurant included rice and the fish was laid over the top of a pile of rice.

I often went many hours without eating any real food or what I should. Right next to the bowls of candy there was a bowl of pistachios. I ate pistachios to curb my appetite and to try to keep my metabolism where it should be. I had more coffee than I should and tried to force myself to grab the occasional bottle of water—I did better some times than others.

In the hotel breakfast I stuck with scrambled eggs and sausage. I figured if I was going to splurge on sugar/carbs or on fat, it was better to have too much fat and not deal with carb cravings or with falling out of fat burn. I was burning fat, so it made since that it would just mean it was better to have more of what I wanted to burn than what I didn’t want to burn.

So, you might wonder how the trip went. When I got home, the first thing I did was check my urine with a Ketostix to see if I was still in fat burn. I was. This hadn’t changed even though I had just spent two days with very limited resources and making careful choices while traveling and sitting in meetings. This morning I weighed myself and between the day before the trip and the first weigh-in after the trip I had lost one pound. Better to lose just one in two days than to gain one. My energy level is fine. I was quickly able to get back to schedule and will continue on.

Dieting is hard. Keeping on plan takes effort and hard work at times. But it’s worth it. If you don’t think it is, then look at the pictures of me before I started and where I am right now. It is hard, but that change took me 3 and a half months. Am I glad I did the work? You had better believe it!

Small Plane, Smaller Me

airline-seatsIt’s always ‘interesting’ traveling on a diet. “I can’t have this, that or even the other thing,” can be a common lament. Many things make it hard. When trying to eat low-carb it seems everything is either high-carb, full of sugars, or breaded and fried. It can be even more difficult when you add the need to eat every 3 or so hours.

I have spent two days traveling and in meetings in Arlington, TX. On Tuesday I flew up from San Antonio. Today (Wednesday), as I write this, I am sitting on the runway waiting for my flight home to take off. Before I mention some of the difficulties of the trip, I want to share a great positive.

I have avoided flying for the last few years because of my size. When you are 425 lbs. as I was, it is embarrassing to fly for several reasons. For one, you need a belt extension. Asking for this never felt good. Then when boarding the plane, you could see the looks on the faces of your fellow passengers and knew they were each thinking, “Please God! Don’t let him sit with me.” You can hear them exhale in relief as you pass their seat. Then there is the worst part—the seats. Airline seats have never been designed for the large, and these days they seem to be finding new ways to torture passengers with less and less space. I expect, someday soon, an airline to come out with a way to load passengers in the overhead compartments to maximize seating. In the past I would squeeze myself into the seat and hope for enough blood flow to my legs to prevent the need for in-flight amputation. I also had to get an aisle seat on every flight. For one, it was just cruel to try to put me in a middle seat between two smaller people—cruel for them. But I couldn’t fit in a window seat either because my size made it quite difficult to fit in the curve of the cabin wall.

This trip from San Antonio to Arlington is one I make a few times a year as a member of a committee for my church district. I have looked forward to this trip for a couple months. I decided to fly primarily to see how things have changed on a plane now that my weight is down to 285 lbs.

Unless you have experienced it the other way, you have no idea how nice it is to walk down the aisle being ignored by your fellow passengers. It is also an amazing feeling not needing a seat belt extension and not being stuffed into a seat. I was able to take my place easily and to actually stretch out my legs—as must as a coach seat allows. I could lower the table to use (as I was doing as I wrote this).

If you aren’t sure it is worth the effort to change your life and lose weight—especially if you have a large amount of weight to lose—believe me, you will not regret it. Start today! Start now! Set a goal, make a plan and work it until you reach the goal.

In my next post I’ll deal with some of the difficulties of travelling while on a diet.