Quarantine Chronicles: On Weight Loss
Just a bit of background: I grew up thin, started getting heavy in my late 30s, but pulled that weight back down in 2016. Successfully maintained that weight until 2019, the year my gynecologist put me on Luprolex (which she injected once a month for 6 months). It was either that or have an operation, but she wanted to rescue my womb. I suppose I should count myself lucky that I only gained 14 pounds, because some Luprolex support groups indicated that women could gain as much as 60 pounds or more.
My medical history should give you an idea of what I’ve had to deal with. My body became my enemy. But I could not give in to fat gain because that also meant two things:
- Knee and heel injuries.
- Return of acid attacks
In addition, medication side effects:
- Loss of bone and muscle mass (there was a point when even closing my fists hurt)
No amount of dieting from January 2020 would work, and I knew that I had to go back to diligently checking my macronutrients. I was just absent-mindedly logging food details into MyFitnessPal, thinking I’ve met my calorie goals, but forgot about the importance of where I was getting those calories from. One good thing this quarantine did for me was to give me the time I needed to make this work.
Summary of Methods:
This is more difficult than what I did in 2016, given now that my medication resists all attempts at dieting.
- Intermittent fasting for 15 hours. First meal at 10AM, last meal at 6:45PM.
- Prep/cook my own meals. This helps me keep track of my macronutrients, specifically my sodium and sugar intake.
- Exercise TWICE a day. I used to do this just once, in the morning, because I already get my 12-13K steps in during class hours (walking a lot while teaching). With the quarantine, I now have to consciously meet and exceed that step count daily.
- Move more than my calorie consumption. It used to be enough that I not go beyond 1,500 calories. These days, if I hit 1,500 calories worth of food, then I make sure that I spend 1,900 calories worth of energy.
- Increased water intake. It used to be 3.5L as recommended by my gastro, but it’s now up to about 3.8-4L. If I consumed beyond 1,500mg of sodium, betcha that’s gonna increase to about 4-5L.
- 7AM. I do my “wake up” work out for about 20-30 minutes, which is a combination of cardio + strength training. Sometimes I do major chores first before exercising. I’d be consuming only water until 10AM. Take note: low-impact exercises only, because of the knee and heel pain.
- 9AM. Prep meal. This has been carefully planned to meet all my nutritional needs, specifically on my problematic areas. As my body is mesomorphic, its development relies heavily on the quality of protein I consume.
- 10AM. Breakfast, meds, and supplements. I didn’t like taking multivitamins before, because I keep forgetting, but the pandemic changed this way of thinking. Breakfast is my heaviest meal of the day.
- Every last 10 minutes of the hour. I use this to MOVE. This can be anything from mopping, sweeping, doing laundry, washing dishes, making biking motions while watching Netflix etc. As soon as my Fitbit tracker says it’s time to move, I take a break from work and move. If a meeting is ongoing, I just thank the heavens that I can disable my video. ? (Sometimes I do squats or laundry while a meeting is ongoing.) I’ve set my Fitbit to remind me to move from 11AM to 8PM.
- 3PM. Prep lunch quickly, then work out for about 15-30 minutes.
- 3.40-4.10PM. Lunch. Oatmeal used to be my breakfast, but now I’ve moved all of the boring meals to lunch onwards, since it’s easier to burn carbs and sodium before lunch.
- 6.45PM. “Dinner” that isn’t really a full meal since it’s just gonna be boiled egg, Vitamilk, and a protein shake. Depending on my breakfast macros (if my cholesterol has hit the roof), I can ditch the egg.
- 7PM. Do last of my chores, bathe, prepare for bed.
- 8PM. Be in bed. I usually play my games for about 30 minutes, log my fitness stats for the day, then prepare for sleep.
Wow. Before the quarantine, I have never been in bed by 8PM. ?
To be honest…
Though I was getting frustrated from the lack of progress since January, it wasn’t until the quarantine that I really took it seriously. My joints were in pain, my stomach felt like it was burning everyday. I just had to return to watching my macros, and that really did more than just exercise.
I also decided to do this for myself because I didn’t want to dwell on the anxiety that has become common to many of us. I didn’t feel like reading, and even dropped many of the TV series that I’ve followed for seasons! (Quit The Vampire Diaries at Season 7, Agents of SHIELD at season 5, Black Lightning at Season 3, Free at Season 2, Always a Witch at Season 2…The list goes on.) For some reason, I just found them all suddenly boring. Mood swings and depression as side effects of my new medication (Visanne) aren’t helping, so I figured that exercise could at least help bring out the happy chemicals.
As you can see, this is HARD WORK. Getting into this feels like a THIRD JOB (besides teaching and game dev). It takes a lot of discipline and determination for me to do this because it literally keeps me alive (fighting against the side effects of your medication is no joke). The gains are worth it though: