I reached my goal weight today. Part of me thinks, “Well, I’ve worked long and hard on it. I deserve it.” Another part of me, a larger part, thinks, “Wow. I actually did it.” I really did. I’m partly in shock. Not shock like a car accident, but good shock, like I won a prize. In a way, I did. I won a prize.
I’ve been at it more than three months now, since October 11 in case anyone was keeping track. In fact, keeping track was probably the only thing that kept me going. I had a goal and I wasn’t going to stop until I reached it. Or I would have stopped before I reached it if I hadn’t had a goal, well, by definition I guess.
Watching what I eat and when I wasn’t watching what I was eating, I was eating pretty much everything I watched.
I’ve been “trying” to lose weight for the past three years. Watching what I eat and when I wasn’t watching what I was eating, I was eating pretty much everything I watched. The killers were in the summers. My wife is Dutch and we go to Holland and Germany where I do as the locals and drink lots of beer and eat lots of meat and potatoes. In Germany, just in case you’re interested—I know I am—it’s lots of Hefe Weizen (cloudy wheat) beer and bratwurst (sausage). Maybe the occasional Kaesespetzle (something of a pasta with zesty cheese dish, a specialty in the south of Germany) or a tasty doenerkebab from a street vendor. When I lived in Germany, I had two or three Hefe Weizens per night, just on a regular evening. Hefe Weizen is very economical because it’s a drink and a meal in one! In fact, I think the label says, “Ingredients: 1 heavy German cloudy wheat beer, 1 loaf of bread.” Enough with the tempting sidetracks, back to my Goal Weight.
I was half-heartedly losing weight, which means that I wasn’t losing weight. I was gaining weight. I needed a push, a pull, a jail sentence, a deserted island. Something that would help me get over the initial challenge.
I was at a soccer game for my little boy and a friend told me of a movie she just saw. No, she didn’t see, but said she needed to see and that I would like. The title was not terribly forgettable, a bit like a scary photo isn’t forgettable—even if you’d like to: “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” was the name of it and I had no idea what to expect. But I didn’t waste any time. That night, we streamed it on Netflix. It was a Saturday and we were out of town. On Monday night, on our way home, we stopped by Berkeley Bowl (a crazy only-in-Berkeley grocery store) and loaded up on chard, kale, cucumbers, apples, pears, ginger, tomatoes, celery, and cantaloupe. Most of which I don’t buy on a regular basis and some of which I have never purchased.
As Phil (from the film) started, my wife and I started: a serious juice fast. We had juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two full weeks. We did have some nuts for protein. My wife had coffee to keep away the headaches. But that was about it. I lost almost a pound a day, for two weeks.
I haven’t given myself many challenges lately. I challenged myself here and succeeded. It’s the beginning of something.
After two weeks, I kept going. I had a goal weight in mind: 160 pounds. Or 24 pounds less than I was. I kept on the juice for another week. I slowly added in vegetables and fruits, still more nuts. But stuck with that for the next seven or eight weeks. No dairy, starch, bread, caffeine, or alcohol. It’s actually quicker and easier to list what I was eating than what I wasn’t: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Through Thanksgiving (I had some potatoes: starchy, but still a vegetable) and Christmas (I had a few glasses of wine). Finally towards the end of January, I hit my goal weight. I did it. I thought I might not make it through Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Friends and family weren’t difficult. They were helpful, enthusiastic, envious, “Oh, I’m going to do that someday.” It actually helped keep me going. They were cheering me on, like a marathon, on the side of the road and I was going. And going. I’d start to get passed by at parties, “Oh, you won’t want this.”
A strange thing happened along the way. Well, several strange things happened. One of them was that I not only was not craving the food I wasn’t eating, but I didn’t even want it. The longer I continued, the less I wanted the “bad-for-you stuff.” Not only because it was bad for me, but because my tastes were changing. I’m not sure I knew that tastes could change.
Apples starting tasting better. Sure, I like an apple, but after a few months of juicing and fruits and vegetables, an apple was a treat, a bonus, a sugar-filled bomb of enjoyment. Carrots were sweeter. Pears were riper. Cantaloupe was fresher.
This may resonate, but I feel like I haven’t achieved a big “goal” or “challenge” in a while. I’m cruising in work, life, and fun–all good, but not challenging. I said three months ago that I wasn’t going to stop until I lost 24 pounds, until I hit 160 and I didn’t stop. I actually did it.
This is worth a celebration, worth a bottle of something being opened. Maybe fruity something, maybe champagne. Maybe a sugar-coated bomb of flavor. Maybe I’ll have an apple.