“O Captain, My Captain!”–An Altered Perspective

I apologize to all of poetry for using this line of Walt Whitman’s in its pop-culture role:

We are VERY close to declaring victory for what has become phase 1 of 40 by 40. Close, because Chad is less than two pounds away from dropping his BMI from his max of 49 to 40, which will be a loss of over 65 pounds! I also say “phase 1” because Chad has already been considering what his next goal should be. He has already done this to a certain degree, by committing to the Koman 3-day walk in August of 2013 and making a long-term commitment to participating in a health-related fundraiser each year, to keep himself healthy, to raise awareness and money, and show people how you can change your lifestyle. I know he has been thinking of a new weight or BMI number to serve as a benchmark, so we’ll keep you posted.

Living with Chad these last 8 months, (and over 16 years before that) I think his last post really hit on a key issue. He discussed how, even though he had an atypical week, which resulted in travel, fewer workouts and more eating on the road, he was still able to achieve a weight loss. To show why this is so telling, and interesting to me as a dietitian, its important to look at how far he has come:

BEFORE:

  • He would often eat 4-5000 calories per day.
  • He skipped meals or would go over 6 hours between meals.
  • He would often resort to fast food, and have a 2000+ calorie meal.
  • He was getting little to no exercise, and so was burning no calories.
  • This resulted in extra calories, which were thousands above the very approximate 2500-ish calories which might be what would maintain him at a healthy weight.

TODAY:

  • He rarely misses a meal (I can count how many on one hand since 40 by 40 began.)
  • He also has snacks, and they are full of fiber, protein and/or healthy fats.
  • He works out like a madman; I would sometimes have to talk him into taking a rest day! Plus, with his large body, his workouts burn anywhere from 500-2000 calories. (For a bit of perspective, my 135# self needs to push hard just to get 500 calories burned during a workout.)
  • Because he’s counting his calories, his portion sizes have had to come down to pre-obesity-epidemic-era amounts.

These two Chads couldn’t be further apart! I believe that is why Chad could have what he considered an awful week and dread his weigh-in, even though in the end, it resulted in a net loss! What he saw as a failure to workout was actually a week where approximately 4650 calories were burned through exercise. He also felt he had eaten “poorly,” when he had only one day where his calories were significantly above his goal range. So, comparing the week he had to both “Before Chad” and “Today Chad,” he is still closer to his current self, even though he may have come short of reaching all his goals for the week. Plus, he did end up with that net loss!

Chad’s experience shows what most of us in the nutrition industry suspect; we have gotten so far removed from a lifestyle of regular physical activity and healthy diets (read: proper portion sizes, regular meals and healthy foods,) that our perspectives are skewed. Have you ever gone to a restaurant that serves proper portion sizes and heard people complain the portions are “skimpy?” Do you see fewer kids and adults out playing, riding bicycles or even walking around outside than years ago? His concern for his not-so-great weeks is admirable, because he doesn’t want to go back to 6 months ago, but Chad is looking at our food and exercise cultures with a new perspective and a new normal, and it will take some time for him to adjust. For me, its a pleasure to watch all of these changes, some obvious and some more subtle.

Please stay tuned…its getting exciting!

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