Small Steps for Big Change – Health Issue

So initially this blog wasn’t intended to be just about personal finance. It was started with the idea that I would blog about ALL areas on my life that needed work. As it happened, the area that I found the easiest to control and to write about was/is personal finance. I am a scientist, so I find the numbers and the cut and dry methods satisfying.

The other issue that this blog was intended to address is health and weight loss. This isn’t as cut and dry. I can’t say that “4 hours of running per week will result in 1 lb of weight loss” like I may be able to correlate when it comes to money.

However, just because I can’t CONTROL how the weight comes off my body, that doesn’t mean that I should ignore it or that I shouldn’t STRIVE for perfection.

Now, let me get this clear right now: I do NOT have a perfect body

Nor have I ever. Nor, honestly, will I ever.

I view this blog as a permanent work in progress. Just as there are always more financial goals that can be obtained once I get out of debt, so there will always be more physical goals to obtain.

Okay… background time…

In 1998 I started college at the ripe young age of 18 (only 3 days after turning 18 for that matter). I weighed, at most, 100lbs at the time. Oh yah, I should mention that I am 5’6″. So I was ridiculously underweight. I ran cross country in high school, so I was fairly active. I didn’t sit at all. I was always going places, to the theatre where I volunteered 5 days a week, involved in my local church 3 days a week, Bible quizzing (regional champion, booya!), lots of friends. I didn’t stay in one place long, so I didn’t have a whole lot of fat on my bones.

Anyway, in 1998 I started college, because of long hours studying I managed to get myself to a healthy weight by my junior year of 125 lbs. For 5’6″, this is a good, healthy, size. I believe I was a size 4-6 at this point. My senior year I got a pretty permanent bf (we stayed together for almost 5 years).

In 2002 I started graduate school. The transition to graduate school was pretty stressful, and at the time I was also living with my brother who had terminal cancer. So I eat a lot of food on the run, and it typically wasn’t healthy. My first year of graduate school I didn’t exercise, I just tried to get everything done in time to go to sleep and wake up the next day and do in again. I gained another 10 lbs this year, and was a size 6/7 (depending on the brand).

After my brother passed away in 2004 I got really physically active. I was in the gym every day. Spinning, lifting weights, running up to 6 miles a day. I was OVER active. I didn’t, surprisingly, loose any weight. But since I was 135 and 5’6″ – this was a PERFECTLY acceptable and flattering weight. I did however LOOK fucking sexy as hell. I had nice definition in my legs, arms, abs. Any fat that I did lose was replaced by muscle. And I looked and felt great.

Then… 2007 came… This is the year I wrote my thesis.

If you have ever written a thesis before you know how stressful it can be. Add on top of this that I was trying to find a job, doing my first lecture class, and still trying to do experiments on top of this. I got 4 hours of sleep a night for a period of 4 months. I was non-stop 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. In the process I gained 25 lbs. I was a lucky one, my labmate who graduated 6 months before me gained about 40, my labmate here in the midwest gained almost 50. Combine high stress with little time, and when you write a thesis you’re either going to gain a WHOLE LOT or LOOSE a WHOLE LOT. I happened to gain.

So when I arrived in the Midwest in January of 2008, I weighed 160 lbs, and was wearing a size 10.

I started running every week day for the period of 5 months, and eventually lost 10 pounds and could fit into my size 8 clothes.

Then I stared dating Cpt. Baseball, the weather got hot, I stopped running, I gained weight.

Today was the first day that I got back on the scale. I was so afraid that it would be above 160.


Not bad… but certainly not good.

So there is my story – but the rest remains to be seen:
*What will I do about it?
*What are my goals?

To answer the first question: I’m going to start running/going to the gym 5x a week. Another perk of working at a university and being considered faculty, is that they offer free rec classes every noon for faculty members only. I went to one today. It was a weight training class. It was good to get back into the working out – but definitely not hard enough to make a difference in the long run. After the class I ran for 1/2 mile. Not long, but SOMETHING. I was active for an hour today, and I’m PROUD of that.

What are my goals?
*I’d like to weigh 150 lbs by the time I leave for my vacation with my grandma. That is 8 lbs in 8 weeks – a completely doable goal! Especially since the first 5 are typically just water weight anyway. 😉
*My ultimate goal is to get back to 135 lbs OR a size 6. I’m not sure is either could be obtained by the end of the year, but I’d sure LOVE for that to happen. I want to stay realistic, but since I can’t just add up pounds like I can dollars, I’m not sure WHAT is a realistic goal.

According to this weight loss calculator if I simply have a deficit of calories in my diet of 200 per day, I’ll get to my goal weight in 13 months. Which seems fair and safe.

But then I was thinking about this 200 calorie deficit. Is that from what I’m eating now? Or from the 2000 calorie diet that I SHOULD be eating? And… if I don’t change my eating at all and just change my activity so that I BURN 200 more calories a day – would I still get the same result?

I have no idea… looks like it is time for some research. =)


One Response to Small Steps for Big Change – Health Issue

  1. myprettypennies says:

    I completely understand what you’re talking about with the yo-yo dieting and stress-induced eating. And I’m so sorry to hear about your brother! 😦 Very sad.

    I would start by writing it all down. It’s so annoying and I always seem to forget on the weekends, but just by being conscious of what you eat you’ll be able to determine about how many calories you are actually eating now. I know there are many tools out there to help you, including paid ones (Weight Watchers), but also you could go here: Brunette on a Budget ( sent it to me via Twitter.

    I’m hoping to lose 10 pounds so I’m in the same boat as you. Good luck and keep us update on your progress!

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