- Diet & Weight Loss
How I Lost 50 Pounds With One Simple Technique
I am six foot tall and at my peak, I weighed 260 pounds. Like most people, it did not happen overnight or through binge eating, instead the scale slowly crept up over the course of a decade or more. But, when problems started impacting by health I wanted to shed those unwanted pounds.
I started by changing my focus.
I Love Sweets
My weakness is sugar. Given the choice between fudge or a steak, I’m eating the fudge – preferably both, but the sugar will always win. Before changing gears, my addiction to sugar took on various forms. But my Achilles Heel was Mountain Dew. I started consuming the sugary drink as a teenager and by the time I began my new eating plan, it was common to drink a 2-liter bottle every day.
It was often the only the only thing I drank.
Starting in my late 40s my poor health habits began catching up with me. I broke my right shoulder in three places when I stumbled and fell down some steps. The orthopedic surgeon said I had osteopenia. Several years later I encountered by first episode of gout, a painful arthritis condition that affects the feet. It has several causes including the body’s inability to adequately remove waste products through the kidneys. Lastly, after an extremely painful attack my gall bladder was surgically removed. The doctor stated – using medical terms I no longer remember – that the organ was ‘dead’ and ‘rotten.’
A diet, heavy in sugar, can lead to gall bladder failure.
The only glimmer of hope in my pre-weight loss days was I enjoyed walking. After my daughter adopted a dog – and the dog adopted me – I began walking 20-30 minutes daily. Although it was not a brisk walking routine, at least I was active when I took control of my health.
Just The Facts: The Technique
I'll cut to the chase on what I did: I created a Groundhog Day approach to health. Two elements of my life became very predictable: What I would eat for breakfast and lunch -- and my exercise regiment. This is not a new idea, but it is highly effective. Pick a food or foods you can consistently eat and let that become your first two meals of the day. I eat oatmeal every morning and a hamburger for lunch. Lean toward protein-heavy foods. Supper is whatever I want to eat, provided I eat a large serving of vegetables (preferably fresh).
My current exercise routine is 30 minutes twice a day. I have recently added hiking and jogging to the mix.
That's the technique: Create a breakfast and lunch meal you can eat every day -- and, also exercise a specified amount of time every daily. It has to become something you do not have to think about.
The Plan in Detail
If you want to lose weight, you need a partner. It will keep you motivated and accountable. In my case, it was my wife. Whenever my wife begins a project, she researches the subject thoroughly. This gave me a leg up on my weight loss. I relied on her knowledge and followed her advice.
Developing A Routine
In the beginning, your routine needs to be small and simple. In my case, I knew I could not go from craving sweets to never eating them. I knew I could not go ‘cold turkey’ with Mountain Dew. So initially my routine did not address that. Instead, with my ultimate routine in mind, which was:
- Eat only healthy foods
- Vigorously exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day, five days a week.
I began with:
- Adding healthy food options to replace poor food choices
- Exercising 20 minutes per day – three to five times a week.
Today (10 months later) I am:
- Strenuously exercising 30-45 minutes five to six times a week. Sometimes twice a day.
- Eating healthy foods with occasional cheat days.
Besides losing weight, I have also reduced my cholesterol and blood pressure medications. I quit drinking Mountain Dew six months ago.
I will not give exact measurements because I load ingredients into my blender and hope for the best -- and it is always good. But the gist is this:
- Greek Yogurt -- about half a cup. Use this type because it is protein heavy.
- Fresh and frozen fruit. I use:
- Fresh banana
- 1/2 to 1 cup of frozen fruits -- usually strawberries, blueberries and grapes.
- Orange juice or banana milk to thin smoothie to desired consistency.
Seven Steps To Success
Step One: Find A Partner
This is a very important, it will up your odds of winning. Even though today, my wife and I do not always exercise together, we did in the beginning and it is a great way to hold each other accountable. Now, we often exercise alone, but come together for strenuous activities like hiking or weight lifting.
Step Two: Take A Vitamin
Although I am not a doctor, I believe vitamins and supplements can help. My wife and I decided to take a nationally known daily supplement to augment our routine. We did it for two reasons. If you spend money on yourself, it puts pressure on you to succeed. Also, since we were not healthy, the supplements added much-needed vitamins and minerals to our diet.
Step Three: Transition Slowly With Food
I cannot overemphasize the need for restraint. A common tendency – and one that often leads to failure – is to abandon all the bad food. Although a small percentage of people can find success this way, most do not. If you crave sugar, you will continue to crave sugar for a long time whether you abandon it or not. By slowly and gradually easing into healthier food choices, you bypass the brain’s natural tendency to resist change. Most weight loss material says weight loss is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. Healthier food choices will bring faster weight loss, but if you're not developing a new mindset and habit, you will begin yo-yoing as you start falling off the healthy-food wagon.
Step Four: Cheat Days
You have to be able to cheat. It is that simple. As I mentioned above, sugar is my weakness. When I recently went on vacation in Topsail Beach, North Carolina, I increased my walking to accommodate for my increased food intake. There is a fudge shop in nearby Surf City I always visit. I did not deprive myself of a couple servings of their sugary masterpieces (Dulche de Leche and Dreamsicle). Walking the beach twice a day -- and sometimes three times a day – was a very small price to pay for the treat. In the beginning, I would cheat at least once a week. The main thing is – when you cheat, let yourself cheat. Don’t cheat and then feel guilty about it. Do it and move on. As long as you always return to your routine, your cheating will lessen in time.
Step Five: Exercise – Keep It Interesting
Walking is an excellent exercise for beginners, but, for many it's boring. I use my walking time to read audio books. If you have a smartphone, walking can be a great time to jot down notes by using a voice-activated app like Evernote. But if you don't enjoy walking, mix up your routine. Bottom line: Find at least one exercise that works for you and do it daily.
Step Six: Avoid The Scale For The First Six Weeks
I'm down to losing my final 12 pounds and I still only weigh myself every two weeks. I weigh on Mondays before I eat breakfast. When you first begin to lose weight, the scale is not your friend. You will be tempted to see if all your hard work has paid off, and many times, according to the scale, it has not. This is natural. Remember, when you are starting all you care about is doing the work (developing a routine by changing your eating plan and increasing your activity level). Even when you first step on the scale after six weeks, your weight loss may be less than you anticipate. Again, this is natural, a healthy person’s body weight can fluctuate by several pounds during a day.
When you begin weighing yourself, always weigh at the same time, using the same scales and wearing the same clothes. Never weigh more than once a week. If you start weighing daily, you will become frustrated by your ‘lack’ of weight loss. Just concentrate on your routine because if you do the work – change your eating habits and increase your exercise level – you will lose weight.
Step Seven: Plateauing
At some point, you will plateau. It is inevitable because your body will adjust and re-adjust to your changing eating patterns and exercise habits. You will also slip in your vigilance. When this happens, be kind to yourself. Take a moment to look at all you have accomplished, then start developing a new routine. Adopt the Kaizen approach so you can, once again, bypass the brain’s natural resistance to change. Look for activities that will add enjoyment to your routine.
After my wife and I plateaued we began hiking because we both enjoy the outdoors (and our dog loves to run the trails). We also reevaluated the treats we had let re-enter our lives and began finding healthier alternatives. For example, to address my sugar craving I began drinking a healthy smoothie (see recipe in sidebar). I also introduced jogging to my routine. I began slowly – using a modified version of the Couch Potato to 5K plan.
The key is introducing and re-introducing invigorating activities, remembering that weight loss is a journey, and always try to keep the project fun.
© 2016 Charlie Claywell