Friday, June 20, 2008

I Hope You're Keeping Records!

The scale is a useful tool, but if that’s the only tool we use to measure our weight-loss successes, we’re missing out on a lot of exciting NSVs (non-scale victories).

I’ve kept certain medical and weight-loss related data on an Excel spreadsheet since May 2005. I update it every six months when I see my doctor (she keeps close tabs on my “numbers”), and every few months I update my waist, hip and chest measurements, BMI, and body fat percentage.

In May 2005, four months after I started losing weight, my cholesterol was 253. Broken down, my LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) was 160 (recommended level is a reading less than 100) and my HDL (the “happy” cholesterol) was 47 (recommended level is 30-85, with a reading above 60 being optimal). My triglycerides, which should be less than 150, were 267. Keep in mind that these readings were MUCH better than they were six months prior. My triglycerides alone had soared past 300 and my sugar levels were as close to diabetic as you can get without going over.

The first time I took my body measurements was in April 2006, more than a year after I started losing weight. Prior to that, I was so deep in denial over numbers that even stepping on the scale was emotional torture. No way was I going to wrap a measuring tape around my body. It was bad enough I had to see my body in the shower. I wasn’t going to get naked and allow yet another number make me feel even worse. (Yes, I really hated my body that much. I’ve done a lot of psychological homework in the last few years to change that attitude and I’m glad to say I can now appreciate who I was and what I looked like much more than I could at the time.)

In hindsight, I wish I’d have recorded my waist, hip and chest measurements when I weighed almost 300 pounds. I wish I hadn’t been so freaked out and in denial. Alas, I only have a ballpark guess of what those numbers were. Given that I was wearing a size 30W (3X) and the largest bra I ever bought was a 46C and it was uncomfortably small, I can assume my bust was probably around 48-50 inches, my waist somewhere around 46-48 inches and my hips close to 56 or 57 inches. I have one article of clothing that I kept from that time: a sad pair of black stretch pants, size 3X, riddled with stains and a few holes, and the elastic is coming out of the seams. They were the only pants I wore, day in and day out. They reflect the way in which I cared for myself back then. Some day I might do a whole-body-in-one-leg photo, but it’s still difficult for me to look at them, let alone put them on.

Enough of that. Let’s get back to the measurements.

Looking back on the numbers helps me, in maintenance, to stay real about where I was and how far I’ve come. Something interesting I noticed yesterday as I was looking through my spreadsheet was how quickly I lost inches when I joined the gym in late September 2006.

I’d started walking for exercise in April 2006 and my measurements were 44-38-49 and I weighed 187. In September, five months later and just before joining the gym, they were 41-36.5-45.5 and I weighed 164. Two months later, after adding strength training to my routine and upping my cardio routine by implementing the elliptical and bike, and by walking at higher inclines on the treadmill, my measurements were 39-33.5-42.5 and I weighed 152.7. While the scale moved at a respectable rate, what really improved were my measurements. Eight inches gone in two months!

I was also thrilled to see my blood work numbers continually improving as well. Today, my cholesterol is 175 (LDL at 100, HDL at 70), triglycerides are 60 and my BMI is 21.1.

The challenge now is keep those numbers steady. I’m still a sucker for a good NSV, so I think I’ll take my arm measurements. Since I upped my strength training routine, I’m noticing some bulging biceps that I think need a number.

FYI: If you want to read about how I decided my weight-loss goal, click on over to Refuse to Regain to read my latest blog over there.

6 comments:

  1. Wow you are definitely an inspiration!

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  2. I also find the measurements encouraging, but for me they haven't changed much as yet, and for some reason they might appear higher than the last time, even when weight is lower. Makes me wonder if the tape is in the wrong position sometimes. At least with the measurements, its refreshing to know there is progress somewhere.

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  3. I bit the bullet and decided to measure all my bulging parts! I hated doing it, but I'm sure I'll be glad when I repeat the evaluation 6 months from now and can see all the inches lost!

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  4. I keep track of my numbers, the blood pressure, the cholesterol, the whole thing. Every year when I go in to the doctor I compare this years numbers to last years numbers. I need to measure again, but I know that my measurements haven't changed much (at all) but I can hope!

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  5. I have been trying to keep up with all my numbers. I never realized how much there is to keep track of. Thanks Lynn for reminding us to remember the little things.

    Mara
    http://24stepstogo.blogspot.com/

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  6. I am so glad now that my friend insisted on a photo when I weighed 277 pounds. I have it in my office for a daily "atta girl" reminder of how far I've come.

    And, it's a good reality check. I honestly did not think I was that big. Never mind the scale - after all I'm "big-boned" and I can carry the extra weight (yeah right). Funny how our minds smooth over the rough edges to help us cope.

    The tape measurements didn't mean much until I started losing inches. Then, on the weeks when the weight wasn't coming off, I had another tool to assess fat-to-muscle progress.

    Stop resisting the camera and the tape measure! They are a powerful weapon in the weight loss battle!

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