Monday, June 4, 2012

How I Did It

Okay, so I promised that I would tell anyone who is interested how I went about losing 38 lbs. or 13% of my body weight over the last three months.

First of all, let me tell you what I discovered when my body aches started in April. I had to quit working out, and I was afraid that the contest would be over for me. I was in first place at the time, and the next week came along, and I continued to be in first place. What I discovered, and it has been backed up by comments from fitness professionals that I've heard since discovering it myself, is that, for weight loss, nutrition is the number one factor. Keeping the weight off later depends much more on exercise. But losing weight is all about nutrition (I say nutrition instead of diet because of the negative connotations the word diet has gained over the years. These cars are pre-owned, not used!)

Photo by Arctic Warrior

I did exercise for the first month, and I lost the most weight during that month, so that might mean something, but, in my experience, the first month is when the most weight is always lost. The easy to lose weight falls off quickly at first, but the more entrenched fat that is still hanging around later is harder to chip away. So, I'm not saying don't exercise, because I think exercise is integral to good health. But I am saying don't expect exercise to lose you weight. What it does is keeps it off when you're done. Which is kind of the point right? Nobody diets hoping to lose weight for just a week and then put it right back on.

So, what did I do? I loosely followed something that was introduced to me as the paleolithic diet, which instructs you to eat as your caveman ancestors might have. I kind of mixed that with the zone diet which follows pretty much the same style. These are both low-carb diets. They want you to eat a reasonable portion of meat, healthy amounts of vegetables and fruits, as well as some healthy fats too. Healthy fats include things like avacados, nuts, and olives.

I also made sure to keep my calories right at the level I was supposed to be eating. There's dozens of websites out there that will help you calculate the amount of calories you should eat to lose weight, I won't recommend one over the other. Just google it, and you'll find one easy enough. I found that with my body type, I was supposed to eat around 2,400 calories to lose weight.

So, I worked out a meal plan that factored those things in. For breakfast, I would eat an omelette. It consisted of my protein, which in this case was two eggs. My vegetables, which in this case was a bunch of chopped up bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. And my healthy fats, which for this meal was half of an avacado. I mushed the avacado down to where it was like guacamole without the spices in it, and spread that over the eggs/veggies, folded it over, and chowed down. It was pretty satisfying.

I also have heard that it is important to keep you blood sugar at a certain level to promote fat loss, which means having a snack halfway between your meals. My snacks were much smaller, but had similar breakdowns for content. I had a mozzarella string cheese stick for my protein, a fruit for my vegetable/fruits, and a serving of almonds for my fats.

Photo by HealthAliciousNess

At lunch, I would eat another serving of almonds for fats (I really love almonds). I would have an appropriate amount of meat for my protein, usually whatever was leftover from dinner the night before, be it chicken breast, meatloaf, whathaveyou. And I made up a giant salad to have for my vegetables. I really do mean giant. At Costco, we buy the five pack of romaine lettuce hearts, the tub of baby spinach leaves, and the tub of spring mix lettuce. I mix all that together along with sliced red cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced celery, sliced cucumbers, and diced tomatoes. This makes a salad that would feed a group of ten people in a normal dinner setting. I don't put dressing on it, because if I used the dressings that I like (ranch, blue cheese) it would make the salad about as healthy as a cheeseburger. Besides, I like the taste of these vegetables, and I see no need to drown them in fat or oil.

I eat my way through this salad all afternoon. It's kind of like eating a bag of very, very healthy chips. It keeps my hands and mouth occupied in eating, which is something they like to do a lot, but I don't ingest a bunch of calories in the process. All added up, my salad has less calories in it than the handful of almonds that I eat, or the string cheese. I never worry about calories when eating vegetables. They are so low in calories that in my mind they're free.

About the time I head home from work, I eat another snack that is just like the one I described above, almonds, cheese, fruit.

For dinner, I eat whatever my wife makes. Sometimes, I'll skip the pasta or the bread component in it, but I don't put together something different than everyone else at the table is eating. My wife knows my dietary needs, and makes things that go well with that. So, it works out well.

Other tricks. During my three months, I made sure that I didn't feel like I was not allowed to eat things. At work, there is cake for people's birthday, or someone brings in a different treat to share with everybody. If it's one that I want to have, then I have some. I just make sure that it is a very small piece. For example, one time one of my co-workers brought in five different cheesecakes that he had made to share with everyone. Now, I love cheesecake like I love my children, so I couldn't just turn that down. What I did was cut off a forkful from each of the five cheesecakes, and enjoy those. I even went back and got a second forkful from a few of my favorites. I didn't feel left out. I was part of the fun, part of the group, the gathering, the joy, but I didn't eat enough calories to ruin my progress either.

Photo by AWholeLotOfSpinky

Also, I keep a bag of M&M's in the trunk of my car. It's a good place for them, because I can't just grab them whenever I want, especially not while driving, because that's dangerous. I get a handful in the morning, and eat them, and maybe another handful in the evening. And if I'm especially needy for sweets, I get a third handful during the day. A handful of M&M's is something like 75 calories or so. So, it gives me the sugar/chocolate fix I need, but doesn't allow me to overdo it like I normally would.

Lastly, I have a 52 oz. mug. It's one of those Wal-mart specials that are called Bubba Kegs. Probably because if you fill it with soda each day, you'll be fat enough that Bubba would be a fitting nickname (no offense to anyone who is actually called Bubba, I'm sure you look great sir, or ma'am). Instead of filling that with soda, however, I fill it with water. At least twice a day, I drain that thing dry. Lots of water really helps keep your body working right, and your stomach full. You will be less likely to overeat if your stomach is full of water. I've heard that many people drink so little water that they confuse the signal their body gives them to drink with that of hunger, and they overeat.

Photo by Carol VanHook

Drink water. Actual water. Not diet soda. Diet soda doesn't work. It may not have calories, but it has other problems too numerous to list here. And definitely don't drink non-diet soda. That stuff could replace those weight gain powders at the GNC, it's so effective at packing on pounds. Don't drink juice either. Juice is fruit robbed of all its nutrients, fiber and so forth. If you can even find juice that's actually made of juice. Juice is full of calories, and you don't need them at all. Just drink water. It's what your body wants, so give it to it. It will thank you for it by dropping some excess weight.

Anyway, that's what I did to lose weight. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to respond.

I had myself a little party this weekend, eating a bunch of pizza, and drinking soda. Now, I'm back to work, and eating the way I should. They're doing a second round of the weight loss contest that runs for the next three months, and my goal this time is to make it to 213, that would be another 13% weight loss, and I will be looking supermodel-esque when I reach it. See you all on the cover of Vogue.


  1. Nice job! It's not easy following a diet. I do one similar to yours. I like how you added ways to. cheat that didn't hurt you. I think that is important.

  2. That is great! I really need to get my own nutrition in check. My ideal food plan is actually South Beach-esque, where I try to stick to healthy/whole grain carbs but not too many carbs overall.