Editor's Weight Loss Notebook: Episode Two, Why 200? Why 25?

Plus: why no hawt before and after photos?

Local Editor: 
Stephen Schmidt
Age: 30 
Weight: 178 pounds. (182 to begin)
Goal: 25 Pounds lost by...eventually.

The weight loss journal journey continues... tune back every Friday for more.

And a merry foggy Friday morning to ye, Iowa City.

Welcome back to my weight loss journal, my weekly diary on my own weight loss journey since the beginning of the year. I am heading out to a business meeting in Des Moines soon, so this post may not go as long as I originally wanted it to, but since I wanted to stay disciplined and keep these posts every Friday in a journal form here it is. I will add more relevent statistics and research about bold claims I may or may not make as I get the time.

A quick note on my age

I added the fact that I am 30-years-old this week because it might matter to some people one way or the other in terms of empathizing with the difficulty depending on where they are on the age scale.

Also, I get asked about one out of every three meetings if I am a reporter for the Daily Iowan, so I thought this would offer them a quick way to set the record straight should someone ever e-mail them about how furious they are at "that terrible Daily Iowan reporter at that meeting last night. You know, the dude with the beard!" 

I'm not sure I believe my scale

Yes, you are reading that right, I apparently lost four pounds this week. As someone who is by nature suspicious of good news, I am assuming this was due to a malfunctioning scale, and I will be looking into quality control measures to ensure that future weighings are more realistic.

That said, I did manage to work out several times this past week

This journal, if nothing else, has motivated me to really reconsider a lot of my habits, which I will break down more in future posts (Such as Episode to be Determined Later: When Did I Become a Salad Snob?), and to develop a workout routine (primarily cardio) that I have stuck to religiously despite it being mostly ramshackle at the moment. I'll talk about the exercises I do more as my routine develops.

All of this caused me to work out in a focused way for the first time I have in over a year: My abs woke up as if startled out of a dream: "Wait, what's that? The Blue berry man? I never did! (degenerates into sleepy gibberish); I have ached in places I forgot existed, made old man groaning noises walking up and down stairs, and had strange reservoirs of energy burst into me out of nowhere at inappropriate times.

Why 25 pounds?

I have worked out at various degrees of consistency and intensity in my lifetime, even hiring a personal trainer for a little while in my mid-twenties, a move that caused all my female friends at the time to giggle when they heard about it (See Future Episode to be Determined Later: So I Hired a Personal Trainer, Why Did they Giggle?"

In this time it has become clear to me that I have a certain "ideal weight" in a very Platonic sense that I can approach and never quite arrive at. In short, even when eating well and working out often I struggle to push myself too far below 160 pounds. My personal trainer (somewhere in the distance, a female friend giggles, sigh...) also told me at the time that for my age and body type she considered the 150s to be a good weight for me. I am now five years older so I assume this is roughly still the case, although maybe I can be a bit more forgiving of myself.

Also during these times I have noticed that when I stop working out I tend to gain weight in slow stages that balloon out by five or ten pounds, stabilize and awhile, and then increase. For a visual I like to think of the 160 pounds as my ideal first floor of my house, but for every ten pounds I gain that first floor becomes higher.

Or I guess that metaphor doesn't work since it wouldn't make the first floor any higher to add more floors, so maybe I'm adding sub basements? I'll work on this imagery.

In other, simpler, words, 160 pounds could be said to be my true weight, but the more weight I gain the harder it is to get back to it.

Why 200? 

How much of our lives are predestined? How much can we choose and how much is chosen for us? How much am I my father's son?

On April 1, 2008, when he was 58-years-old, my dad suffered a catastrophic stroke, rendering most of the right side of his body useless and afflicting him with a severe case of Aphasia that has robbed him of his ability to speak and read.

Having volunteered to move back home to help save the family money prior to this, and being partially unemployed for a time after, I teamed up with my mom and sister to do the caretaking for him, and we were able to keep him at home for almost four years before he moved to the nursing home after worsening problems halfway through last year. This has had, to put it in an understatement, a profound affect on my life and how I view both my body and my mortality. But that's for another day.

So why 200? Well living at home and on good terms with my parents, they have always been among the best friends in my life. And while my dad exercised periodically, took walks with me, and also insisted on walking when he golfed regularly, I still saw troubling signs in the distance, times when he struggled doing simple things due to his fitness level and the condition of his body. I believe he saw these danger signs as well.

The problem was that he was in his 50s, worked very hard to keep the family going, and was I believe about 215 pounds at my same height. He tried to work it off, tried to take medicine and nutritional supplements, but it was as if both the literal weight and the weight of accumulated years were preventing him from getting there. His ideal weight of 160 pounds while playing as nose tackle at NU High in Cedar Falls seemed so very far away-- 200 was his new first floor. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to get below it.

Until, ironically, he had the stroke. As a result of the condition of his body and the medicine he takes, my dad currently weighs about the same as I do, and despite the sad persistent dragging movement made by weakness in the right side of his face, he looks younger at 62 than he did when he was 58.

Now one of the few phrases my dad can still say pretty well is "God damn it," and since it is one of his few he can layer so much subtle meaning into it that it seems like it can be used to say 200 different things.

In this case, I imagine a oft repeated scene of him sadly sitting in his wheel chair, his head in his hand left hand. Him looking up to me and saying "God damn it," for which I add the words: "God damnit Stephen, I wish I had been able to lose those pounds earlier." And me, as always, trying to look back at him with a mixture of sympathy and optimism that I haven't quite perfected, responding, a little sadly.


Current medical science is great at keeping us alive in a managed state. It's not as good yet at putting us back together after we're broken. I learned that from my dad.

Now I am not privvy to all the decisions my dad made, and we aren't the exact same person. But I know as I am his son a part of his destiny is shared by me on the genetic level, so his mistakes cannot be mine if I want my future to be different. I don't just owe it to myself to reach a healthy weight, I owe it to my father to learn from his life while there's still time for me to make the decisions that will make the most impact.

Finally, why no before and after pictures?

Of all the responses to my first post, the least likely that I expected from my friends were requests for me to take more photos myself topless. But to my surprise, the main protests I received (partially in jest, I must assume) was regarding my decision not to post before and after photos as I progress.

The reason I decided not to do before and after photos, other than the fact that I don't want shirtless photos of myself out there for the world to see, is that I wanted to make this journey less about cosmetics, and more about my health.

I'm not saying I don't care about looking better, because obviously everyone wants to look a little better.

But there are people out there who spend a lot of time of bodies, who render through the fire of their will (random "Enter the Dragon" reference) their bodies into living works of art. I will not be one of these people, so their bodies should not be the ones I have in mind as I continue to exercise. The image should be of me talking to my dad, with him sitting sadly in his wheel chair and wishing he could have lost his weight sooner.

And me saying sadly:

"Yeah, I wish you had, too."

Maybe when I reach my 160 goal, I can start worrying about how I look with my shirt off.

Tune in next week for another Iowa City Patch weight loss journal.


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