How I’m going to reach my 2012 weight loss goal

The first time I weighed in during 2011 I weighed 170.8 pounds. The first time I weighed in during 2012 (which was around 5:30 in the morning on New Year's Day), I weighed 160.4 pounds. OK, I get it, 10 pounds in a year is good. But I'm not happy with that, especially since I did a weight loss program in the beginning of the year and dropped almost 30 pounds. I understand that maybe that was a little quick, and it explains why I gained 2/3 of it back.

This year I set a goal of getting to 145 pounds by March 1. That's 15.4 pounds in 60 days, or just under 2 pounds per week.

That's sustainable, and while I could probably drop that 15 pounds more quickly, I want to be able to maintain this year, and still be under 150 at year's end.

Here are some things I'm going to do (other than checking in on the blog occasionally):

Lose fat, not muscle. This means resistance training mixed with some heavy lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I think it would be really easy to do a lot of cardio and burn off the weight, but I feel pretty strong and I want to maintain that, perhaps grow it. In that sense, if I don't hit 145 pounds but I get down to 11-12% body fat, cool (I'm probably around 20-22% now).

Use trackers. I have a DietMinder, and I'm using it. I also love FitDay, which counts my nutrients for me.

Live a little. Repeat after me: Diets. Don't. Work. You can get on a diet for a little while, but the second you feel like you're "cheating" or you hit your goal, all the results you achieved go out the window. I could pretty easily lose those 15 pounds in 2-3 weeks using a strict low-carb (under 15g or so a day) and high water consumption diet. But you know what? With a goal of 2 pounds a week, I'm going to be able to drink wine (dry red), eat chocolate (moderate amounts of dark), and enjoy the heck out of a Super Bowl party (unless it's a Giants-Broncos thing, then I can't enjoy it at all).

Try new exercises in my workouts. Know what kicked my butt during my first workout of the year? One-legged deadlifts with a 20-pound adjustable dumbbells reviewed by I've never incorporated them before, and 10 each leg – done immediately following some one-legged jumping rope (hopping rope?), which was also a first for me – had my quads burning like they haven't in a long time.

Have people I can check in with. Someone actually asked me yesterday if I could check in with him, call him "fatty" and be mean about it until he gets his act in gear. Done. And Ben, even if I don't comment on every entry, I'm watching you, pal. And there will be a dinner party at some point.

OK, I showed you mine. Show me yours.

Doing some training, losing some weight

Apparently I've been really lucky with the training I'm getting. I started light with a once-a-week personal training regimen and then moved on to a more intense, competitive weight loss program.

I more or less maintained my weight during the personal training, but in the first three weeks of what the gym calls the Weight Loss Challenge, I've dumped 15 pounds (I don't know what the body fat percentage loss is like – we'll check that after six weeks of the program), and, at 8.8% of my starting weight (170.4 pounds), that's good enough for second in the program.

That video up top? I never want to slice my trainer open. He lost 30 pounds in 12 weeks on his own, trains a few times a week with his adult son, and is a genuinely nice guy. I came into the program with a goal to lose exactly that number (30 pounds over the 12-week program), and I'm on track to beat that. I'm probably a couple of weeks away from my lowest weight since the late 1990s, and a couple of months away from my best shape (not lowest weight; I was a skinny tennis player) since high school.

For perspective, I graduated high school in 1994 at 115 pounds. By the turn of the century, I had hit 160. When I moved to Syracuse in 2003, I had hit 215. I did the first 45 pounds on my own (and in only a couple of years), but I'd stabilized in the 160s (my initial weigh-in for the program might have been slightly inflated by a breakfast of 4 chocolate chip pancakes with butter and maple syrup, a ham steak and a protein bar in the hour before I climbed on the scale).

By the end of next week, I'll have rendered useless my second belt of the Challenge.

Here is a sample workout – it's roughly one we do Thursdays (we also do team workouts on Tuesday and Saturday, I play racquetball three times a week, tennis at least once a week, and get short – 30-45 minutes – workouts in once or twice in addition to all that). And food's a big part of the program. I decided to not count calories in favor of eating good foods, and this is what's working for me.

A note about food: I can't say enough about Omaha Steaks. They're not the cheapest meat out there, but they portion their meats in the right sizes, the food is really tasty, and I'm expecting my second shipment. If you do one of the value packs, you can get 25 pounds of meat for about $6 a pound, and you can avoid the fatty stuff (like potatoes au gratin) in favor of lean burgers.