Losing 60+ lbs

Me, 60 lbs lighter

One of my neighbors has a sign out on their front lawn saying that you can lose 30 lbs in some short amount of time, just ask them how. They’re apparently part of a multi-level-marketing program to sell diet supplements of some sort. I hear person after person say how they’ve tried EVERYTHING, every diet, yet nothing works. “I’m just predisposed to be fat”. Maybe… or… maybe the simplest answer is the right answer. I sometimes hear: “You’re lucky, you eat so much yet stay skinny”. I usually whip out my drivers license and show my picture at this point. When they pick their jaw up off of the floor I hear “You were a butterball!” Yeah, that’s me, ex-butterball. The shorts that I’m wearing in this picture were purchased {and fit me} around summer of ’05.

True story: When traveling overseas last year I had to show my passport at various border entry points. At every single one of them they’d look at me, look at the passport, look at me, etc. In Israel the girl looking at the passport smiled, looked at me, and tugged on her chin. Yeah, that was me. In London the guy working there had me a bit worried. I started to wonder if he’d let me continue my trip or not. Finally he asks “Is this you?” Uh oh! Fortunately he accepted my answer.

Growing up I was always far too thin. At almost 6’4″, I weighed about 130 lbs when I graduated from high school — far too skinny. Over the years I somehow managed to put on more and more weight until I finally reached 230 lbs. Busy life, desk job, poor diet, the usual suspects. A while back I started making some changes. I’ll lay them out here.

Get Your Priorities Straight

Why are you doing this? I believe that the best way to approach this is to make eating healthy foods your #1 priority, weight loss will follow. Healthy foods tend to be less calorie dense than unhealthy foods, so you can eat a lot and still lose weight.

Take Your Time

I suspect that the reason that many diets fail is that the person is trying to make too great of a sacrifice. I could have never done it if I’d starved myself. I cannot go without food. As I said above, I eat a LOT and didn’t want to give that up.

Don’t Starve Yourself

I couldn’t have done this if I had to starve myself. Yes, I was calorie deficient (you have to take in fewer calories than you are using to lose weight), but that’s because I was exercising too. I’ll talk about the exercise later, but the thing to remember is that you don’t want to be hungry. Always keep bananas around the house. They are healthy, fast to eat, and fill you up quickly. If you come home and you’re absolutely famished grab one and eat it. This will make it easier to make sensible choices about what you eat next. It’ll also take off the edge so that you can decide if you’re really hungry. This prevents you from tearing open the cabinet and stuffing whatever is in reach into your mouth, which is usually a cookie or piece of cake, or some other junk.

Substitute

Don’t go cold turkey. Start with simple substitutions. For me it was replacing the cream cheese and bagel for breakfast with humus on flat bread, or an avocado, or yogurt with fresh fruit. Next I substituted the ranch dressing on my salad with olives, kidney beans, lemon or lime juice, etc. You can add a lot of flavor to a salad without adding dressing.

Cut Back

Don’t skip the ice cream, just eat far less. Learn to say “that’s enough”. After a while I began to prefer healthy foods and actually dislike candy bars, cake, and ice cream. Processed foods begin to lose their grasp on you and soon you’ll far prefer the taste of fresh foods!

Start Reading Labels

This doesn’t mean what you might think. I NEVER look at the number of calories on the label. Instead I started watching the saturated fat and trans fat (not total fat, I ignore mono unsaturated fats, which are generally good) numbers. If I was choosing between two otherwise identical products, I’d chose the one with less of those. Also watch out of partially hydrogenated oils — remember, health comes first.

Exersize

Don’t go to the gym, that’s boring. Ride your bike to work! Save money, save the planet, enjoy nature! Learn to enjoy the fresh crisp air on a cool morning. Yeah, it takes some getting used to, but after a while it becomes such a routine that you don’t even think about it! Don’t spend the weekends watching movies, rent a kayak and paddle up a calm river, go for a bike ride, hike in the woods. Save your money on the gym membership, that’s for toning, but you have to have something to tone first! If you do this enough, you’ll find that soon you will have more problems with making sure that you consume ENOUGH calories than consuming too many.

Soon, you’ll also be hearing statements like “I thought that you were always a skini-mini!” (an actual quote).

A Blog?

When riding my bike to/from work I often think of things. Some strange, some meaningful, some pointless. I started keeping a little log of these thoughts on my cycling page in hand coded HTML, but have decided that it’d be easier to just give in and use a content management program. Besides, I wanted to add the possibility for others to expand on my thoughts. I hope that this one works out.