How to lose weight by really trying…
This page shares my efforts to lose weight and be more healthy. I am not giving advice nor recommending that anyone else follow the steps herein. I am not a medical doctor, dietician, or nutritionist. I am reasonably intelligent and particularly in my graduate degree in bioengineering had the chance to study in reasonable detail the workings of the human body which I think has helped me understand the information I studied in this task.
If you are of a mind to lose weight and become healthier, SEE A DOCTOR FIRST! Follow their advice and educate yourself.
I needed to lose weight. I’ve needed to lose weight for some 25 to 30 years, since I first noticed I was putting on some flab, but only seemed to gain more and never seemed to be able to lose more than 20 or so pounds at any attempt. Here is what worked for me in very simple and clear terms:
Step 1: Motivation
I needed motivation. I’d tried to lose weight over the years, halfheartedly. At the end of January, I found my motivation. It became clear I was on a road that would most certainly bring about serious health concerns and shorten what was left of my life. My choice was clear, I could continue to overeat or I could choose to keep on breathing. I like breathing… I also love my wife, children, and grandchildren.
Step 2: Education
I needed to understand weight control, NOT weight loss because weight loss has an end. I didn’t want the mind set that after I reach a weight loss goal, the process would be over. I needed to understand this process as weight control. I wanted to get to a weight and stay there, not lose, not gain, but maintain. I studied nutrition, diet, and physiology. I broke out my text books and I researched the net at CREDIBLE web sites. There are thousands of web sites promising amazing weight loss or weight control through all sorts of magic methods. Please don’t buy into this smoke and mirror game. It’s a simple process but you have to do the work and make some changes in key areas that are unique to each person.
Thermodynamics and conservation of energy dictates that if we consume more fuel than we burn, the extra fuel must go somewhere. For good or bad, we don’t jettison the fuel, we store it for future needs. The trick then became to balance the energy equation and to consume only enough food to fuel the activities in which I engage.
I thoughtfully chose a calorie goal that fit my current and future weight, my base metabolic rate, and an honest evaluation of my maintenance calories. The goal also considered recommendations regarding the maximum weight loss that would be healthy and not consume muscle mass, but would make use of my fat stores.
I also learned that weight control is simple, but not necessarily easy. It really boils down to eating less and moving more. I add only that in eating less, it’s also best to eat better foods, too. I don’t mean magic foods that guarantee weight loss. I mean the food the good Lord put on this planet to sustain and give life to “man”. Moderation in all things. As an active member of the LDS church, I also accept and believe in a modern revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith in our Doctrine and Covenants, section 89 which basically admonishes the avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, “hot” drinks (explained to be coffee, tea, etc.) to eat meat sparingly, and to make use of herbs, grains, fruits, vegetables, and meat with “prudence and thanksgiving.”
Step 3: The Plan
I read or heard a cliche somewhere, you lose weight in the kitchen and get fit in the gym.
- The plan had to be something I could do for the rest of my life.
- It had to accommodate my tastes.
- It had to be simple.
- It had to be something I would actually do and keep doing.
Here is what I did:
- I got an app to watch my nutrition. I count calories on everything! I eat a starburst, I count the 20 calories.
- I added 30 minutes of walking every day (but Sunday) so that I add an extra 250 to 300 calories above my normal activities. My habit was to spend an hour or so in the evening reading a book or watching a show on TV. I now read or watch while I walk on the treadmill for half an hour. Since I’m not killing myself, it’s an easy thing to do. I pick a difficulty for the walk to burn about 10 calories a minute which elevates my heart about 50% above resting which is “moderate” exercise.
- I did not give up any of the food I like, I just eat less of it, or eat it less often, or both, except… I don’t drink calories anymore if I can help it. I do put 1% milk on my cereal, but that is really about it. I switched to diet soda as a staple drink. I don’t really like it, but just doing that eliminated a lot of sugar and calories. “Why not just drink water?” you fitness experts ask. Simple, I like the flavor of soda with my meals. I don’t drink alcohol so give me a break.
- I found treats that I like, that are easy to control with regards to calories, and that satisfy. A Werthers hard caramel is 23 calories. An ounce of Brownie Brittle is 120 calories. Four ounces of tart, fat free, frozen yogurt with no added sugar (no artificial sweetener either) is 100 calories (I have loved tart, plain yogurt for 40 years). You see what I did here. I can eat a bowl of tart yogurt (frozen or not) and some Brownie Brittle, 220 calories total, filling, satisfying, and fewer calories and less added sugar than a doughnut, or chocolate chip cookie and I like it better.
- I persevered.
Step 4: Sit Back and Watch
The last step was watching the pounds melt off. I had my plateaus, I had my small weight gains, but overall, I dropped about 8 to 10 pounds a month and have now lost about 70 pounds overall. I’ve now added some calories back into my diet as I slide into my weight goal, another 5 pounds or so to go. Even though I didn’t accomplish an extreme, rapid weight loss, losing weight like this even with the added exercise most likely slowed my metabolism and I decided I wanted to taper off at the end. If it takes a couple of months to lose that last 5 pounds, so be it. But when I get there, I’ll be able to add in some more calories and won’t suffer a relapse and gain weight.
Be healthy and happy. We exist that we might have joy. My life is fuller now. I can move easier. I can run along with my granddaughter. I was able to get up water skiing for the first time in many years. I got rid of my fat clothes and when I look down, I see a mostly flat stomach and it feels and looks great. People are now telling me not to lose more weight because I look great. I also have the blessing of being a bit more humble from the experience. I had to admit some hard things and had to look deep into myself. That was simply hard, very, very hard to all the defects and weaknesses. I’m thankful that God said “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Ether 12:27 He gave us weaknesses to make us humble but if we turn to Him, he will turn the weaknesses into strengths. I hope that I’m not just a smaller man from this but am also a better man; more understanding, accepting, and humble.
Good luck to you should you decide to get healthier. I hope my thoughts help is some small way.