Open Source Weight Loss: Will You Join Me?

For those of you who read LockerGnome for the tech news, this article might not be your cup of tea. If you are a part of the LockerGnome community and would like to participate in a year-long experiment how technology can assist us in living healthier lives, this may be an article worth adding to your bookmarks.

I’ve lived my entire adult life on a long and exhausting uphill weight climb, relying on a false hope that one day I’ll finally get the motivation I need to reverse the trend. At 180 lbs., I was a healthy and happy 18-year-old, out on his own with a world of opportunity ahead of me. Slowly, the weight began to pile on and I found myself seeing 200, 220, 240, 260, 280, and then a whopping 297 lbs. on the scale. This didn’t come overnight, but the change over the years has been quite dramatic. I allowed myself, through a sedentary lifestyle, to grow further and further away from the shape I wished I could be in.

If you’re still reading this, perhaps you’re trapped in the same cycle. You’ve probably, like myself, spent countless dollars on pills, miracle diets, and gym memberships that require more dedication and a stronger will than you seem to be able to muster. Don’t feel bad; it happens to the best of us.

What is Open Source Weight Loss?

Here’s what I propose. Join us in a year-long campaign to discover the many different gadgets, gizmos, and plans and what it takes to make them work. I intend to share my personal journey, warts and all, with the world while passing on tips, tricks, and personal experiences from members of the LockerGnome community as they comment on the Open Source Weight Loss (OSWL) articles.

Together, perhaps we can explore options that you don’t hear about on every infomercial, weight loss website, or the mass media and discover options that work for regular geeks.

With each article in this series, I’ll share the details of my ongoing journey and present a question to you, the community. Your answers, in addition to the articles, will, I hope, help us as a community gain a better understanding of the struggles many of us face with this particular issue. Not everyone loses the weight overnight, and living a healthy lifestyle means more than just meeting a certain BMI goal. Perhaps you have concerns about your heart health, cholesterol, or you simply want to be a part of a group that can help you find the motivation you need to make a difference in your life.

This isn’t a diet plan, or anything like that. It’s a free and open experiment in community. After all, what’s the point of building a community if not to help us improve each other’s lives?

How Can You Participate?

All you need to do to participate is to join the ongoing conversation at LockerGnome.net. Each article in this series will link to a question for the community. Your answers will help others learn from your experiences, and perhaps help them achieve their goals.

To kick things off: What weight loss gadgets, services, or plans have you tried in the past? Did they work for you?

Sharing your experiences in an open and honest fashion will enable us to learn from one-another and perhaps discover new ways to live a healthier life. Perhaps the trick that helped you was the introduction of a gadget such as the FitBit Ultra or a certain diet plan. Whatever the case, the idea behind this is to share our experiences and build on what we know as a community.

How Am I Starting This?

I’m 5’9″ and presently weigh 295.0 lbs. Last year, I weighed between 278 and 284 and promised that 284 would be the absolute highest I’d ever go. All of a sudden, the weight started pouring on and, within a month, I hit 297 lbs.

After having experienced my first business trip in a plane late last year, I discovered that my experiences in life are being bogged down with my own concerns about my weight. Where I should have been thrilled to finally get to hop on a plane, I was more concerned with actually fitting in the seat without making the person to my right or left uncomfortable. I find it difficult to attend family functions, or do simple things like go to the movies or stand in line somewhere. My size is constantly on my mind, and I’m spending more of my time worrying about how I look than actually living.

This is a common problem with overweight individuals. I would easily slip into overeating out of frustration with little things like my favorite store not having anything in stock that fit me. I wanted to buy a certain jacket last winter, and to my surprise, two of my favorite clothing retailers didn’t even carry my size. I remember sitting in the car after one unsuccessful shopping trip with my wife, nearly in tears. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I was almost inhuman. If a major clothing retailer didn’t carry my size, I surely must be larger than anyone else that typically shops there.

Being overweight is a vicious cycle, and whether you attribute it to addictive eating or simply a lack of self control, the very feeling being overweight gives you makes you want to escape to the one thing you feel as though you can control: food.

I’ve never smoked, only had maybe five drinks in my entire life, and I spend almost every waking moment of my life working. The stereotype that large people do nothing but eat and sit on the couch watching television simply isn’t true. In many cases, large folks live very active and stressful lifestyles. Perhaps their size is due to not eating the right foods, not having the spare time to exercise, or simply not having the motivation to rethink whatever it is that is going wrong. In my case, it may have been all three.

FitBit Ultra and Non-processed Foods
So, here’s where I’m starting. I’ve invested in a FitBit Ultra and have pledged to wean myself off of processed foods. My daily calorie intake levels are being closely monitored, with everything I put in my mouth being cataloged and referenced. Day by day, I’m replacing more and more of my favorite foods with organic and calorie-light alternatives in an attempt to halt my body’s intake of harmful chemicals and preservatives that could slow my weight loss.

Activity Levels
My average steps per day as of last week were 2,500. As per medical advice I’ve received, I’m working to increase that activity by at least 500 daily steps per week. After 14 weeks, I should be walking somewhere around five miles per day, which is a dramatic difference from where I started.

Goals
In the interest of losing weight at an even pace, I have a goal in mind to lose at least 1.5 lbs. per week until I have reached 180 lbs. This gradual weight loss is intended to make it more difficult for me to “put the weight back on” should I have a bad week during the program. After all, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.

I encourage everyone willing to participate, as we lose weight together, to set your own goals and keep us updated as to where you are as the weeks progress. Anyone willing to take part in this project with me will be my partner in success, and I will do everything I can to help support you as you attempt to improve your own life through healthier living.

You can actually see live charts of my progress on my FitBit profile. Here, I track my sleep, eating, exercise, and general activity every day in real-time. Feel free to add me to your friends list there as well, and we can take these first steps together.

Updates

Week 0: Will You Join Me?
Week 1: the Rollercoaster
Week 2: the Burn
Week 3: Slow and Steady
Week 4: Always Be Training
Week 5: Hydration is Key
Week 6: Taking Breaks

Photo by: Ben Sklar

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.