Losing Weight

I’ve lost 15 pounds over the past several months. I’m hoping to lose at least another 10 pounds over the next few months; hopefully more like 20 or 30. This is only the 3rd time in my life that I’ve lost weight. The first was when my mouth was wired shut due to jaw surgery. The 2nd was when a doctor told me to lose 12 pounds to get back to 200. This time was also instigated by a doctor, telling me to lose 25 pounds to get back to 200.

So now I’m going to tell you how you can lose weight. But you’re not going to like the answers.

Stop Drinking Alcohol

The first time a doctor told me to lose weight, I did it without even trying. I had also stopped drinking for a few months. I hadn’t connected those 2 things, until I mentioned them both to my aunt.

I only drink maybe 2 drinks a week. That isn’t really enough calories to make that much of an impact. The only thing I can figure is that alcohol has a big impact on my metabolism.

So when the doctor told me to lose 25 pounds, giving up alcohol was an obvious first step. I knew it would have an impact.

Don’t Go on a Diet

Going “on a diet” is a terrible idea. After you’re done dieting, you’ll go back to the same old habits as before. You’ll go back to eating the same things, consuming the same number of calories. If you consume the same number of calories as before, you’ll end up reaching an equilibrium at the same weight you were at before.

Instead, you need to change your diet — for the long term. Create new habits. You can’t think “I only have to do this for a few months”. Instead you have to find changes you can make permanently.

Maybe you’ll work a little harder until you reach your ideal weight, then let off the gas a bit. But you really have to go in with the mentality that you’re making permanent changes. Otherwise, you’ll end up gaining back the weight.

Learn to be Hungry

As an American in the 21st century, I have easy access to an abundance of food. Much of it is empty calories — sugar, fat, grease, carbs — junk food.

So when I get a little hungry, I find something to eat. I’m a terrible snacker. I love donuts and cookies and cakes and pastries. One thing I had to learn is to not just go and get some food at the first sign of hunger. Or just because I’m bored.

And when I do eat when I’m hungry, I need to choose better options. Low-fat food doesn’t work; it’s got added sugar. Low-sugar food doesn’t work; it’s got added fat.

The doctor recommended high-protein shakes. They’re low in calories, relatively filling, and usually have sucralose or stevia instead of sugar. I’ve used the shakes to varying degrees. They do help lower the calories I consume in a day, while quenching my hunger pretty well.

Get Really Sick

My weight loss started to slow down after a couple months. I went a few weeks without making any progress. Then I got a really bad flu. It only lasted a day, but I couldn’t keep anything down. My entire gastro-intestinal system was completely emptied out. I lost 7 pounds in a day or 2.

On the bright side, I was able to keep 5 of those pounds off permanently. I don’t know if I’d recommend this, but it definitely kick-started another round of weight loss for me.

Stop Drinking Soda

This was the hardest thing for me to change in my diet. When the doctor told me some things to do to lose weight, I told him that giving up soda wasn’t likely to happen easily. It was several months in before I made a significant dent in my soda consumption.

My a-ha moment came during lunch at Panda Express. I ordered a Pepsi like usual, along with my orange chicken and SweetFire chicken. My co-worker had a water. Then it occurred to me, why did I need a sweet drink to go with this sweet food? Since then, I’ve been more judicious at deciding when to have a soda, and when to have water instead. If you need to, try some zero-calorie water flavorings, like Mio.

A 12-ounce can of soda is about 150 calories. I typically drank about 2 cans a day, perhaps a bit more. Now I’m drinking probably about 1 can per day.

If you take the standard advice that 3500 calories will lead you to lose 1 pound, and you drink 3 sodas a day, that’s 1 pound per week. Things aren’t really that simple in real life, of course. But cutting back on soda can make a significant dent in your caloric intake.

I’ve seen some reports that say that Americans’ increase in soda consumption is responsible for almost all of the weight gain in American society over the past 40 years.

Exercise

This is the one area I need to improve on most. I haven’t made much of a change to my exercise level yet.

Losing weight really is about inputs versus outputs. Just sitting on the couch, someone my size burns about 2000 calories a day. If I eat 3000 calories (which isn’t really that difficult), then I have to burn an extra 1000 calories. To burn 1000 calories, I’d have to do about 90 minutes of strenuous activity, or walk 10 miles.

I just have a hard time finding the time to exercise. I do enjoy doing some yard work, but that’s only a couple hours a week, and not year-round. I’ve tried reading while walking on the treadmill, but that makes me a bit dizzy.

Some sort of fitness tracker is helpful. I’ve got a FitBit. It does help me walk a bit more. I try to walk to lunch most days. But that’s only a couple thousand steps.

I need to find a way to add more exercise to my life, both to help maintain a better weight, and to improve my health in general.

Commitment

I think the real key is making a commitment to make changes in your life. I’d like to not have a beer belly. I’d like to be healthier. But the real impetus to change came from my doctor. He asked me to make a commitment to lose the weight. That commitment made a big difference.

So that’s how I’ve been able to do it. But everyone’s different. Maybe some of those things won’t work for you. Maybe you’re not able to make some of those changes. You have to find what works for you. But if it’s something you need to do or want to do, make a commitment to change your life long-term.

 

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