My weight started dropping again—not as fast as before (only about one pound per week on average)—but at least it was moving down. A few weeks later, I noticed big improvements in my ability to handle the higher intensity exercise. In two months, I went from walking 30 minutes at 3 miles per hour with no elevation to walking 4 mph at 6% incline for an hour. I was even able to do 10-15 minutes on the elliptical and stair climber machines.
Too Much of a Good Thing
After a while, I had replaced my compulsive eating with compulsive exercise. I became obsessed with going faster and farther, and burning more calories during every exercise session. I started lifting weights, pushing myself to lift more and heavier amounts. It got to the point that I was spending two to three hours in the gym almost every day, another 90 minutes walking there and back, and the rest of my time being sore from overdoing it. I told myself it was the “good” kind of soreness.
This was great for my weight loss. Nine months later I was down to 195 pounds—less than I weighed in high school when I was in really great shape. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at all like I did in high school. My face, arms and legs looked almost skeletal, but I still had a spare tire around the middle—mostly loose skin that was hanging down, and some very stubborn love handles that apparently weren’t about to go away. People kept asking me if I was sick. I was fatigued and sore all the time.
It occurred to me that this might be a good time to start using some of the knowledge I had acquired from studying psychology on myself. It didn’t take long to figure out that I was using the compulsive exercise to push away a lot of worries I was having about not being fat anymore. The weight had been my excuse for a lot of things—not working full-time, not being involved in any intimate relationships, not trying very hard to figure out what I wanted to do and going for it. Now I had to figure out who and what I really wanted to be—pretty scary stuff for a guy who was already 55-years-old.
I decided to cut way back on the crazy exercise, calorie counting, and weight loss for awhile. I went back to school, thinking about becoming a dietitian, but decided that all that science was a bit much for me. I took some courses in exercise physiology and decided to get certified as a personal trainer and weight management consultant.