Archive for the Monitoring progress Category

I can buy pants in my old size again!

Posted in Monitoring progress with tags , , on March 10, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I had a partially unintended shopping spree today [I’m a sucker for the clearance racks] and happened to buy a pair of shorts. Up until I began my transformation last year, I was always hesitant to buy pants with a waistband that just fit my body at that time; instead I would always opt for a size bigger, perhaps because I questioned my ability to intervene with my gradual weight gain. So, my waist at that time was 33 inches, and I was usually buying 33 or 34 inch pants, depending on how that particular pant fit.

In one regard, it’s not the most ridiculous thing, because it’s always easier to wear a belt than to fit into pants that are too small. Regardless, I remember that I had to purchase a new pair of shorts just before my wife and I went on vacation in April, 2007, because I wanted to be able to wear shorts that actually fit and didn’t hang off my shrunken waist. Let me tell you – that was a pretty good feeling, a reward for my 3-4 months of hard work prior to that.


Back to today, I grabbed a 3-waist pair of shorts and went to the dressing room. After trying them on, I had to double-check the size because they felt so loose. Sure enough, I am now comfortably back into the 32-waist clothing; I don’t really care to have pants fit any tighter than that. These real-life changes are an example of measurable progress that should serve to motivate you through your own transformation.

Positive feedback, nonetheless

Posted in Monitoring progress with tags , on February 17, 2008 by Dr. CJ

As part of what’s becoming my weekly regimen, I was again in the warehouse shopping center yesterday picking up a few vitals (e.g. eggs and milk primarily).  After I swiped my credit card, the cashier asked to see my credit card (unusual there because they always look at the membership card).

She looked at the photo ID and remarked, “Wow, you must have lost a lot of weight!”

My first thought: “How should I take that?”  I guess that’s a good thing.

I took a close look at the photo on the ID card when she handed it back to me; I guess I used to carry a lot of weight around my neck.  It’s amazing how we can become so complacent with our body shape, weight, etc., and then it takes feedback like that to help you really “see” your old self.

This is the type of real-life feedback that I consider one of the better motivators to keep working hard.

Daily weight variability

Posted in Monitoring progress on February 10, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I confess – I had an off week this past week. On top of a nasty little cold, my schedule was crazy. I continued to eat fairly well, but had my share of snacks too. Now that I have that out of my system, I’m going to get back on track.

I made an interesting observation, however, about my plot of daily weights. Normally, when I’m actively working out and eating a clean diet, my daily weight fluctuates a fair amount, e.g. 1-2 lbs above or below the previous day’s weight, usually alternating (see 1st 75% of graph below). This past week, when I haven’t worked out at all and have been eating a lot of junk, my weight has been remarkably steady, albeit slowly climbing (last 25% of graph).

My explanation: water weight fluctuation. There must be significant fluctuations due to sweating, variable water intake, etc. associated with exercise that cause that.  I don’t know – these are the things that are never taught in med school.  Too complicated to put a formula on it, I guess. Or maybe that’s muscle growth from my previous workouts (only grows when resting, mind you). Guess I’ll test that one when I get back into the weightlifting regimen.

This whole experience is a bit of an experiment for me anyways – I’m fascinated by what the human body is capable of doing, in sickness and in health.


What is BMI?

Posted in Monitoring progress on November 21, 2007 by Dr. CJ

There’s a lot of talk about BMI in the news and in fitness magazines, etc. But, what is it and why should we care about it? There are BMI charts posted in my exam rooms (not my doing) that intrigue everyone. I always catch patients plotting their own heights and weights on the chart, which serves as a nice lead-in to discussing the uncomfortable topic of weight.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is meant to be a simple numerical representation of how “fat” your body is, a ratio of your weight to your height. It is calculated as:

BMI = kg / m^2

or = [mass (in kilograms) / height (in meters) squared]

Here’s an easy BMI calculator where you can enter your data in feet/inches and pounds rather than using metric measurements.

What do the numbers mean?
BMI < 25 – Ideal
BMI 25-30 – Overweight
BMI > 30 – Obese

For most body types, this value has moderate usefulness. It’s especially useful to be able to tell someone that their morbidly obese body habitus far exceeds the expected values as above and to give them a goal. However, it is of absolutely no value in individuals with a fair amount of muscle mass. This equation obviously does not differentiate between weight from fat vs. weight from muscle. Therefore, an individual with a large muscle mass could appear obese on this chart despite having a body fat percentage of less than 10%, for example.

I quickly throw this calculation out the window when confronted with a high value in someone who has a fair amount of muscle mass. Unfortunately, I fear that insurance companies will start to track more data like this and will inappropriately punish individuals like this who have abnormal BMI’s due to a large amount of lean body mass.