I lost 30 pounds and kept it off. It’s kind of a big deal, but it also wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
Every time I bump into someone I haven’t seen in a while they always say the same thing, “Wow, you lost a lot of weight, how did you do it?” I know it’s meant as a compliment, but it’s kind of awkward. It’s like they’re really saying, “Wow, you used to look like a big fat slob.”
In fact, I am quite proud of the fact that I was finally able to turn things around and get fit and healthy, so I’m more than happy to share my “secret.” Although it’s actually something that anyone can do.
It all started last September when I was staying in a hotel. There was this huge, floor-length mirror that I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in while getting into the shower. I was horrified. I actually stood there in shock at how tubby I had become. Why didn’t any tell me I was getting so fat?
Of course, it was my own fault. I had kind of given up on eating healthy foods and got lazy when it came to exercising. As a result, I wasn’t only overweight, I was also tired all the time and not able to be as active with my son as I used to be. That’s when I decided to pull my life together and get back into shape.
Now, if I was going to lose weight I wanted to do it the right way. Stupid diets and weight-loss schemes never work and weren’t something I was interested in wasting my time with. I decided that I was going to use the only proven weight-loss solution known to work, and it all boils down to four words: Eat less, move more.
The “move more” part was pretty easy. Gyms aren’t for me. With my early schedule, I can’t go hit the Stairmaster before work, and after the show I’m just too tired. Getting back out to the gym after my nap and before I have to pick up my son from the bus is also too much of a hassle. So, I decided to start walking. I just put on some sneakers and took a walk around my neighborhood every day. It was easy to do, and each day I would add a little more to my walk. Eventually, I was hoofing it up a huge hill in our neighborhood, hiking up to 2 miles a day.
Now, the hard part was figuring out the whole “eating less” part of the equation. I love food. So if I was going to eat healthier I needed to find foods that I really liked. For me, routine is key. Just like walking every day, I needed foods I could eat every day that I enjoyed, filled me up and were healthy. So, I started experimenting with healthy alternatives to things I already liked to eat. Eventually, I settled on a breakfast and lunch combo that was low in fat and kept me happy.
For breakfast, I ate a yogurt and breakfast bar. I traded out the sugary yogurt I usually ate for an Icelandic yogurt that was low in sugar. I shopped around for a protein-packed breakfast bar that was healthy and also tasted great and finally found a Kind bar that made me happy. From Monday through Saturday that and a banana would be my breakfast.
Lunch was harder. I love sandwiches more than life itself. But eating them every day wasn’t helping me lose weight. So, I decided to deconstruct the sandwich. I tossed the bread, mayo and toppings and ate rolled up pieces of turkey dunked in mustard with a big, tasty pickle. That and a handful of almonds with a piece of fruit filled me up until my afternoon snack.
Snacking on junk food was out of the question, so I shopped around for some things I liked. I tried some dried apple chips and some cheese-doodle snacks made entirely from chickpeas. They did the trick for a while, but the best snack for me turned out to be prunes. I know it sounds gross, but they’re delicious and they really fill you up. When I got hungry in the afternoon, one or two of them really did the trick. They’re like candy now and I can’t get enough. Oh, and before you ask — the effects of prunes have been highly exaggerated. Just eating a few each day didn’t affect my bathroom habits in the least.
As for dinner, I still enjoyed everything I ate before, but in smaller portions. I also tried to be smarter about sides. Three pieces of bread and butter every night wasn’t going to fly, but maybe one dipped in olive oil was ok every once in a while. I also added a salad to every dinner. It helped fill me up so I didn’t reach for some of the less healthy options.
No food after dinner was allowed on this self-made diet of mine, and I stuck to it. Some nights were tough, I’m not going to lie. But after a few weeks I stopped craving dessert and actually felt full at bedtime.
This was my daily routine Monday through Saturday. But on Sunday I allowed myself a “cheat day.” I could eat anything I really wanted. The first few weeks I kind of went nuts, but it just wound up making me feel terrible the next day. So I would start thinking during the week about the foods I was really craving and would look forward to being able to eat them on Sunday. Planning out the reward at the end of the week seemed to help me control myself not only on Sunday, but also gave me that extra push to follow the diet during the week.
This whole project was less of a diet and more of a life-change. I know that sounds like something Oprah would say, but I didn’t feel like it was a temporary thing to get me to lose weight. I looked at it more as a new reality for my slowly aging body. If I wanted to live long enough to see my son graduate college, this was just the way things would have to be from now on.
After the first month I didn’t necessarily see a difference. But I felt it. I had more energy, wasn’t out of breath and was in a much better mood. I knew if I kept with the plan the weight would have to eventually come off, and it did. I weighed myself every morning when I woke up and saw the pounds start to shed. That kept me motivated to continue. On Mondays I would see the increase in weight from my cheat day and feel a renewed energy to get back into my healthy routine.
The next thing I knew, I had lost enough weight to officially have a “normal” BMI. That’s when I decided to set a final target weight that would be my gauge for continuing to eat healthy.
For me, it was 155 pounds. At 5’9″ this was right in the sweet spot of my healthy BMI and a weight that I felt comfortable with. I never wanted to go above 155 again, so I vowed to keep eating healthy and measuring my weight each morning. Right now I stay at about 152 during the week. On the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays have become semi-cheat days now) my weight will increase back up to 155, but I know that If I keep up my routine during the week I’ll never get any higher.
The holidays are the hardest time to stay on any sort of healthy routine, but now that I have been doing this for so long, I’m prepared to watch those portions and make up for some unhealthy eating with extra walking and exercise. I don’t need to eat 12 cookies in one sitting, just a few will be more than enough for me to enjoy.
So there you go. That’s how I lost weight and continue to keep it off. I know I said it was kind of awkward to have to talk about, but it really is very nice to hear all of the kind words everyone has given me. Every time I’m out at an event or bump into a listener around town who recognizes me from a while ago, they always compliment my weight loss and ask me how I did it. I guess that’s not so bad after all.
My particular weight loss solution may not be the best one for you, but it certainly has worked for me. I hope that at least just the fact that I was able to put my mind to it and lose weight gives someone else the motivation to start living a healthier life for themself. Believe me, it’s more than worth it.