Losing Weight in Prison

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Federal Prison Camp

When I entered prison I weighed as much as 220 lbs.  As upset at myself as I am of going to prison, I am equally ashamed of the fact that I had let my weight get so out of control.  Given the fact that I was so big, I sometimes look back on the time I spent away and see it as something of a blessing.

Day one in the Atlanta camp I was given the job of taking a white trash bag and picking up trash all over the compound.  There really wasn’t a lot of trash around, but you just walked around with your bag and if you found some trash you picked it up.  Most of the time we would just get some stuff out of the trash and place it in our bags.  This was for when someone came around to see what we were doing.

At any rate, one would think that wouldn’t be too difficult right?  Well, for a man who was so big he could hardly bend over to tie his shoes, it was very taxing.  Sometimes in the south it is still hot in October and those fall days were no exception.  By the end of the day my calves were sore from bending over at the waist and I was sweating like a hog.  Not to mention my feet were blistered from the work boots we were issued.  For the most part you just walked around for 2 hours, went to lunch, walked around for another 2 hours and then head back to the dorms.  At the end of the day I was pretty tired.  Because of this, I resolved that I would do something about it.  After all. I had plenty of time on my hands and I needed something to focus on.

I think it goes without saying that there are no weight loss groups in Prison like you see on TV.  In fact, I couldn’t find a single book in the library on the subject.  I did, however find a few magazines in the day room with a couple of articles from which I could glean some information.  I also met a guy, we will call him Kevin, primarily because that was his name.  I will forego the use of his last name however to protect his privacy and because he was a pretty big guy who I wouldn’t want to have come looking for me.

Kevin had lost about 80 lbs and he had been in a little over a year.  He told me that he had done it just eating normal portions of food in the chow hall and reduce eating sweets.  He also said that he walked as much as 8 miles a day. At the outset those words may as well have been completely foreign.  I could not imagine a scenario where I could walk eight miles in roughly and 8 to 12 hour period and live to tell about.  I told him so and he just laughed, telling me that he wasn’t able to do it at first but you had to start somewhere and work up to it. He also said he would walk with me if I wanted him to help me get started.  Honestly it would be nice to have someone to talk to and I felt a little safer knowing that there would be someone to drag me back to the clinic when I keeled over on the track.

We started walking the next day and while I suffered from shin splints and could only make around the 1/4 mile track twice without stopping to rest the first day, the walking actually went better than I thought it would and before long I was able to do a mile, then 2 then even 3.  I still had my reservations about walking 8 miles in a day.

Dieting is not easy to do in prison, as you might imagine the menu is high in carbohydrates; beans and rice, noodles, etc. (inexpensive but filling)  So much for Club Fed huh?  So I had to be careful about what I ate.  Protein; important for a dieter, was not plentiful.  Especially protein that was low in fat.  There was chicken twice a week once fried (not good) once baked (ok), there was hamburger day (interesting) and there was pasta days  There were some other stuff that I honestly never knew what it was (needless to say I never ate that).  There were grits and cereal at breakfast and that could be used as a good start.  Carbs in the morning is always a good idea.  In fact I learned that if I limited my carbs after 12pm or even cut them out completely my daily and weekly weight loss would increase.

All in all things went well early on with watching what I ate and exercise, I still wasn’t to eight miles but I was getting there, I lost 25 lbs in a short time but then it stopped and I couldn’t for the life of me make it start coming off again. I had hit the wall and quickly came to see that I had to do something and in a hurry.  Unfortunately boredom makes one eat and I got bored a lot.  Needless to say I did walk and walk a lot.  By the time I left prison I was walking up to 8 miles a day.  Yep, I did meet that goal.  However, walking wasn’t going to help me in shedding the weight.

Because my time was extremely short I did the best I could.  I really didn’t lose any more weight until I was back at home and had a chance to work on exactly what I ate..

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