Struggling with weight, trying again, a little different this time

Ending in Spring 2018, I lost about 60lbs* of weight over 6 months in preparation for a charitable race I was participating in. It seemed crazy to lose that much weight just for a race up and down mountains. *See my other blogs if you care about the exact amount and how I did it.

But I did it in a way that ruined my metabolism. I know the Mayo clinic says you can't ruin your metabolism, but my personal experience participating in 2, 40 day 0 calorie fasts and this about 6 month exercise of losing weight by extended fasts is - yes you can, and it can take 2 or more years to recover each time.

I had hoped to keep the weight off in 2018, but my metabolism was 'shot', and over the next 18 months I went back to my old weight PLUS 12 lbs. I eat when I'm stressed, I eat when I'm hungry, I eat - well, whenever I can. I just didn't have the personal fortitude to keep it off. And I knew the risk going in - I had just hoped that that time would be different.

I am a designer and project manager for MRO software (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) software. In this sense one could say that my regain is in the Operations state and I need to get back into the Repair state. It would be nice if the Maintenance Connection software could help more with it, but all it can do is record my ups and downs. But while I can use our Maintenance Connection software to record the ups and downs of my asset (my body), there is little it can do to help with the actual repair other than to keep reminding me - which is better than nothing I guess.

As I see it (this is my excuse, I admit it) the biggest problem with the way I lost weight in that time period was that, once again, I ruined my metabolism.

A couple weeks ago, in July 2019, when I 'peaked' at 242lbs I decided to 'do it again'. This time I'm hoping, based on what I've learned over the decades, to do it better. What do I mean by 'better'? I mean to do it without ruining my metabolism. As I think about it ... I've opened a work order to start the repair, and get my body back where it should be.

Ask me in 2021 how it went if I haven't updated here! You see, by that time I will have had time to lose all the weight AND gain it all back if past experience is a predictor of future. I'm pretty sure I'm stubborn enough to LOSE the weight again, it is the follow through that I am not good at.

As a teaser. Here are my high level thoughts and what I'm doing differently.

  • a 40 day fast TOTALLY ruined my metabolism. I got to the point I could subsist a week on 500 calories. That meant I gained weight fast eating almost anything. My body preciously guarded ever morsel for the next about 2 years.
  • In 2017/2018 having several fasts up to 7 days didn't do quite as bad a hit as the 2, 40 day fasts did, but still, the next 12 months, eating less than I used to, I gained weight. After 12 months, the damage seemed to be cleared up and I could eat 'normally' without doing too bad, but still, just from bad habits, I continued to put on 'a little' weight each month. Basically - every time I tried to 'eat healthy and lose weight' I would GAIN weight. My body seemed to switch into starvation mode at the slightest hint of a lack of any food items. As long as I did nothing to 'lose' weight, I maintained my then current weight +/- 1lb.

Some definitions:

  • A normal metabolism is where I am 'normally' when I haven't done anything crazy to fiddle with it
  • An 'efficient' metabolism is a slow metabolism. When you have an efficient metabolism, you need less food than a 'normal' before you start to convert extra food into fat reserves.
  • An 'INefficient' metabolism is a fast metabolism. When you have an inefficient metabolism, you need MORE food than a 'normal' metabolism before you start to convert extra food into fat reserves. This is the state I want for my life.

My current plan is to do a series of intermittent fasts. Like you would expect from a madman, I'm still going to try doing it aggressively. Here is the hypothesis I'm working from:

  • I like to eat food, as much as I can without gaining weight. I don't want to have to eat rabbit food. I want to eat candy and veggies and fruit and sugar and chocolate and red meat and white meat and mars bars and fruit juices and milkshakes and ...
  • I want the MOST inefficient metabolism I can create - so I can eat more after I finish the diet and lose weight faster during the diet
  • A diet that takes YEARS to lose weight is not sustainable, doing repair for that long is horrible, that is a miserable unhappy existence with nothing to look forward to for years or a decade. Losing even 1lb a month means YEARS of miserable dieting. So I need, once again, to lose the weight quickly, but then find a way to keep it off.
  • A fast of 24 hours gets rid of your sugar and non-fat reserve food supplies, but doesn't chip away at your fat reserves (a 20 or less is 'worse'.)
  • A fast of 25 to 72 hours eats at your fat reserves
  • A fast of 40 to 60 hours safely INCREASES your metabolism by 4 to 11% (makes it INefficient) for some unknown length of time (sounds like maybe 2 weeks)
  • Your weight 'today' is not an accurate guide - you can be up or down several lbs just based on a variety of factors like how much water you JUST consumed (2 cups = 1lb). And a weight loss CAN be just 'water loss'. BUT, all that nay-saying aside, I figure ... if you can see a trend of new never before seen lows, then it 'must' be working.
  • I will drink LOTS of water. It may bump my weight up temporarily, but I'm in this for the long term, not the short term results.
  • I will allow myself to eat from 4pm to 8pm on: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If I have a SPECIAL event on a Thursday or Saturday, then I'll shift based on these rules: NEVER fast for more than 60 hours. A 20 hour fast (Sunday-Monday) can be turned into a 44hr fast by eating Tuesday instead of Monday, then Thursday, Saturday that week and going back 'to normal' on the Monday.

So I have set a target of losing 7lbs a week after the 1st week*, for as long as I can. Yes this is absolutely crazy. And then - well, whatever this plan 'does' as long as I don't start GAINING weight on the plan. *The first week I planned to be a 'short' week and lose 10lbs, you know 'water loss' even though I was drinking far more than normal, and that is what happened. I'm approaching the end of the 2nd week and I'm down 6lbs, so I think I'm going to make it, and this despite one of my days being a Wedding feast - where I ate a lot, and 2 days later a day after a lot of hard exercise so I ate way too much.

Once I finish the diet and hit my ideal weight my plan is:

  • Do one or two 48 hour fasts a month, for optimum health, I think of this as the maintenance stage. (Longer, healthier life, Lower risk of cancer and heart attacks, lower insulin sensitivity, increased metabolism long term, time for prayer and meditation and Bible reading in 4 languages to get to know God the Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the son better.)
  • Whenever I am 5 lbs OVER my target, I will do several 44/4 (44 hour fasts with 4 hour eating windows) to get my weight down to 5lbs UNDER my target. Then do 20/4 (20 hour fasts with 4 hour eating windows) for 1 week to keep my weight at target, or if I gain to even 4lbs UNDER my target, I'll do another 48 hour fast. The idea: Get back down, and then give my body time to settle at the lower weight so that I don't have to yo-you diet too often. I'm not sure if a 10lb window is considered a 'yo-yo' weight management - but it the window I hope to force myself into. I think of this as the repair stage.

This way I will ENJOY food including candy and fruit smoothies, but keep myself in the target range. At least ... this is my hope and prayer. I think of this as the operations stage.

Yes I have a strange way of looking at things. But then, I have a brother who used to be an ambulance driver - and he looked at life through that lens, and another brother who deals with auto mechanics, and when he talks, he runs everything through that lens. So I feel no guilt thinking about my gaining, losing (repairing), maintaining (maintenance) and enjoyment of food (operations) through the MRO software lens! And since I have the the Maintenance Connection software, I might as well use it to track what I'm doing, give me reminders and help me - just like it helps in any MRO environment.

So, for now, like the past times, I am not advising anyone follow my footsteps, until I have both lost the weight AND kept it off for at least 2 years. I hope my experiences, as I document them, will inspire, and more important - help - others.

Published: 2019.Aug.06     Last edited: 2019.Aug.08


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