Health Kick: 1 year update

A year ago, in the wake of Christmas over-indulgence and an 88kg body mass, I started my 2014 Health Kick. This is my one year update. My weight today was 76.3kg.

I decided to post an update after a year because the statistics on weight loss are pretty stark: only around 21% of overweight people can lose 10% of their body weight and then keep the weight off for a year.

I’m not going to restate all the background info about what I’ve been doing; you can read the original articles for that, just search my site for “health kick” or follow the links at the bottom of this post.

Here’s my weight graph for the year:

Weight graph

I started off at 88kg on January 1st. I hit my target weight in June, and stopped counting calories, and then a funny thing happened: I kept losing weight. Even though I began eating as much as I felt like eating, my body decided it wanted to be in the 76-77 kg weight range.

However, even after I had reached a stable healthy weight, I wasn’t done, because a lot of my fat had been visceral fat. I had a secondary goal, which was to reduce my body fat percentage, keeping the same amount of lean muscle. It’s harder to see on the graph, but my body fat has been going down slowly:

Fat graph

It started somewhere over 20% — I’m not sure exactly how bad, because I only got a scale that could estimate it in April. It’s now at around 18.5%. Average for an adult male is 18-24%; 14-17% is considered fit, so I set 17% as my target.

Clearly, losing visceral fat is a lot harder than losing the more familiar “love handle” kind.

Finally, the BMI graph:

BMI graph

Studies suggest a number of practices necessary to succeed at keeping the weight off. I’m following them, somewhat:

1. Exercise at least an hour a day, almost every day

I’ve been exercising 6 days a week, for at least 30 minutes. Mostly I either go out for a walk (and listen to a podcast or two), or I run on the elliptical while I watch TV via Netflix. Fitbit has worked wonders at motivating me.

2. Follow a low-fat, low-sugar, low-calorie diet

I don’t try to minimize fat intake any more, but I’ve kept up the low sugar diet. I’ve found that I don’t need to practice caloric restriction — I can pretty much eat as much as I want to eat, and my weight stays stable, as long as I keep the sugar low. In particular, I’ve not needed to restrict carbs other than fructose-containing sugar.

3. Eat more or less the same stuff all the time

I definitely have a standard set of preferred foods. I’ve adjusted my repertoire to include more eggs, more fat, and less sugar. I’ve also been drinking Soylent instead of snacking, and in place of some workday lunches.

Soylent has advantages when it comes to weight management. In particular it’s a bulk product, so I can just pour out as much or as little as I need. If I get hungry during the work day, rather than having to take time to sort out a meal or snack, I can just pour a small glass of Soylent, sip it, and keep working. If I need a little more, I just pour a little more.

I allow myself to ignore my sugar intake limits one day a week, and raw fruit doesn’t count against the limit. I go for whole grain everything when possible, but that includes pancakes for breakfast at weekends, fresh breads, and snacks. I also gave myself a break from Christmas Eve through to today.

4. Minimize TV watching

I watch maybe 2 or 3 hours of TV per week. However, I play a lot of video games, which is probably as bad.

5. Eat breakfast

Soylent is an awesome breakfast. I can’t tolerate food first thing in the morning, but I can drink liquids. So I’ve taken to drinking a little Soylent before the morning coffee, to get my body and brain started faster and help me make it to lunch without the urge to snack.

So, based on my results so far, I remain optimistic that my new healthy weight is a permanent thing. I’m happy with my everyday diet, too; I don’t feel like I’m fighting my body. I would definitely advocate a low sugar diet for anyone who cares about their health.