Challenge,  Topic of the Night

How Am I Losing Weight?

Got a Couple People Asking Me Today…

One thought two pounds a week was too fast, but actually most docs and basic information say that is a safe pace. And it feels right to me so I’m going to try to maintain it.

So how am I doing it?

First, I know this intense focus on it will end in about ten weeks or so.  That helps.

Second, I am not depriving myself of anything, really.

I have two focuses.

First, Exercise…

I try to walk 10,000 steps a day, which for me is almost exactly five miles. I allow a 9,000 step day if in the next day or so I get up to 11,000 or over. Basically I need to average 10,000 steps a day. I have not missed that in over three weeks. (A streak!) Starting on January 1st, that will add in some running and more steps until I get up to about 50 miles a week. The running will really speed up the weight loss and tighten things that need tightening.

I am also doing a little lifting and such, not with weights but with boxes of books out in our storage units. That will increase more after the first of the year as well.

In other words, being very active for a 71-year-old.

Second Focus, Calories…

I count every calorie every day, and limit myself to less than 1,500 calories and my Fitbit tells me I burn around 2,500 calories a day. I focus on protein and cut back some on salt. And I eat a lot of veggies and some eggs. I have not missed on this for three weeks either.

I don’t short myself on snacks either, I just watch the amount and calories. For example, tonight Kris and I made some sugar cookies with frosting. I had one, which was about 100 calories. Pure will power to not have more, let me tell you. They are good. We also get doughnuts regularly and today I had a part of one, again about 100 calories.

My meals today were a 290 calories protein bar for breakfast, tortilla soup for lunch, and taco salad for dinner. I figure that is 900 calories (with the amounts and sizes I ate) total, plus 100 for the bite of doughnut and 100 for the cookie. So as I write this at 1:30 in the morning I am at about 1,100 calories. I will go watch some television shortly and will have what are called Veggie Sticks (not really veggie) that are like chips. I will have two 100 calorie packs to finish off the day at 1,300 calories consumed and I got just over 2,400 calories in exercise.

That works out to about two pounds a week which is why I am down six pounds in three weeks. 10 more weeks and 20 pounds and I will hit my goal weight the week before the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

And one month after that is the Revel Mt. Charleston Full Marathon.

I can’t run either one at the weight I am right now. So a goal, a reason besides feeling better and being healthier. And two streaks.

And that’s how I am doing it.



  • David Wisehart

    Sounds like a great plan, Dean, and something you can definitely accomplish. The key, as you know, is consistency. It’s amazing what the body can do with consistent exercise and healthy eating.

    I conducted an experiment of sorts in terms of weight loss this past summer, when I attempted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico. I got stopped by the fire closures in CA, but managed to hike through Washington and Oregon in two months. Just over 900 miles.

    My first month, I lost about a pound per day. I was hiking 10 hours per day at an easy pace, burning probably 6,000-7,000 calories per day, and not eating near that much. But I was never really hungry in those first few weeks. My body had the fat stores to get me through 15 miles from sunup to sundown.

    By the time I dropped down to my old marathon weight (at age 25, three decades ago), the “hiker hunger” kicked in with a vengeance. My fat stores were running low. Over the next few days, I just about doubled my daily calories, to match my burn rate. I was now in terrific shape from a month of walking, and my weight stabilized for the second month.

    Predictably, I’ve added back about half that lost weight since getting off trail in September. But aside from the epic adventure of it all, it was a great challenge and a good lesson in what my body is capable of, just by being consistent.

    • dwsmith

      David, wow, great job making it that far on the trail. Most people just don’t realize how difficult what you did is. And the planning it took. How much weight in a pack were you carrying on normal days? Did you have a support crew meeting you along the way? Amazing feat. Well done!!

      • David Wisehart

        I traveled very light, thanks to modern gear. I invested in an ultralight tent, backpack, and quilt. My pack averaged 25-30 pounds, depending on food and water carry. My base weight was 16 pounds (without food and water), and I maxed out at 35 pounds fully loaded.

        No outside support crew. I resupplied every week or so in trail towns. Because the trail is so remote in Washington, I shipped resupply packages to myself. In Oregon I resupplied out of small-town convenience stores, and my diet was not as healthy — a lot more energy bars and candy bars to boost my calories.

        It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but also amazing. I was in awe of the beauty all around me, especially in Washington, but I was also in serious pain every day. As with any endurance sport, you have to embrace the suffering. No major injuries, thank God, but lots of blisters and scrapes.

        My feet were always the limiting factor. After the first few of weeks of adjustment, my legs felt strong at the end of each day, even after climbing up and down huge mountains, but the pads of my feet were in agony. And yet, after a good night’s sleep, my feet were always fine the next morning and ready for more.

        The human body is really amazing. It was built for walking long distances.

        I loved the simplicity of waking up with a clear goal and just putting one foot in front of the other. I loved moving forward through nature, with an ever-changing view. I loved the challenge of river crossings and the game-like puzzle of scrambling over, under, and around the blowdowns. I loved seeing bright stars on a dark night. I loved the alone time, and I loved meeting new people along the trail. I love the pursuit of difficult pleasures.

        The hardest thing, really, was finding the time — setting my normal life aside for a few months of adventure. Of course, life hasn’t been at all normal this year, and in a way that helped my decision to finally go. I was disappointed to end my hike early, but I hope to return another year.

        • dwsmith

          Wow, that sounds amazing. I know those mountains and the extremes. Just amazing doing it by yourself and without a back-up crew. Thanks for detailing that out. Sure makes writing seem simple, huh? (grin)

        • Kate+Pavelle

          That’s an amazing adventure, Dave! Yes about the feet. I would be tempted to bring two different sets of insoles, just so the feet get pressed in different ways (I would always change shoes halfway through my shift when I was on my feet for 10 hours a day.)
          How did you weight yourself? Scales are too heavy to lug around. Did you measure and guess once you got back? (Pedantic question, I know.)
          But wow, you accomplished something remarkable by walking it.

          • David Wisehart

            Kate, I weighed myself at the beginning and end of the trip.

            I lost 30 pounds in two months, but I know the weight loss was almost entirely in the first month. (I might have actually put on a pound or two in the second month, despite gradually increasing my average miles from 15/day to 20/day).

            When you’re walking in the wild all day, you become hyper-aware of what’s going on with your body. Mostly, I could tell I was dropping pounds by the way my hiking shorts fit.

            But yes, the pound-a-day weight loss is an average over a month.

  • Kate+Pavelle

    That’s great, Dean! Yes about the focus on calories in.
    For now, considering the onslaught of (my husband’s) cookie-baking, I decided that hovering around my current weight (and no more than 2 lbs over) is an acceptable compromise until the New Year. After that, the cookies get tossed. Where some people do a Sober January, I’ll do a Sugar-Free January (I don’t drink much anyway.)
    Avoiding sugar for 3 weeksb in September has reset my sweet sense to where most treats are too much, and that’s a saving grace right now.
    A study in Sweden has indicated that losing weight and then holding it steady for a few weeks results in a set-point recalibration, which helps the weight loss endure. I am holding on to that factoid for dear life, hoping they are right.
    My fitness goal isn’t a foot race, but building up enough core strengh to join a circus aerial class and not embarras myself among all those people who are half my age. Obviously, the more I lose, the easier it will be not to fall off the trapeze.

  • Cynthia Lee

    I cut sugar and white flour out of my diet about eight months ago.

    I also started taking ballroom dance lessons, something I’ve always wanted to do.

    I’ve lost nearly 40 lbs in eight months.