- Diet & Weight Loss
How I lost 125 pounds (and what I learned in the process)
If I can do it, anyone can!
If you need to lose weight and are confused by all of the conflicting information that you find online, I hope that I can help you a little. If not, then maybe you will find some information here that will get you pointed in the right direction.
I have recently lost 125 pounds over a nine month period and want to tell you how I did it. When I began, my A1C was 10.8 and I was diagnosed with Prednisone-induced diabetes; just recently my A1C tested at 5.0. My glucose readings were in the 300-400 range and now consistently are in the 80s. My cholesterol was in the high risk category (248), and is now in the normal range (178). My blood pressure was 187/103, and this week at my checkup it was 103/68. When my doctor looked at the differences between now and my records from early this year, she said, “Mr. Lewis, you are a new man!” That statement defines exactly how I feel!
Let me reassure you from the beginning that I am not trying to sell you any diet products, supplements, subscriptions, patches, MLM plans, expensive meal plans, or any such thing, I just want to share my weight loss experience with you and some of the things I learned along the way.
Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 200, I think you may benefit from what I’ve learned. However, if you have a considerable amount of weight to lose, or if you have any underlying health concerns, you should consult with your doctor before embarking on this journey.
In January of this year, I faced a medical emergency due to morbid obesity and Prednisone induced diabetes, and had to have surgery because of a small red bump that had turned into a large abscess (staph infection) that measured about an inch thick and covered an area about 3”x7”.
I had gained a lot of weight while taking large doses of Prednisone (I am still taking Prednisone, but only 20mg per day now). My surgeon told my wife and me very bluntly that I was going to die; that this medical emergency would be the first of many to come—unless I could get my diabetes under control and lose weight.
We immediately began researching information about diabetes and weight loss and came up with a dietary plan that has changed my life. I can tell you now that there’s no magic to it. It is very simple and effective, but isn’t a trick or gimmick.
One of the excuses I always had for not being able to effectively lose weight was: that because of the severe joint pain I suffered from gout and bursitis, I couldn’t actively and consistently exercise along with a diet. In my research, I stumbled across a truth that took away my excuses: that losing fat is 80% what you eat and 20% exercise. This revelation changed everything for me! I decided (in desperation) to focus on the 80% that I could do and hold off on the 20% that I couldn’t do.
Notice that I said “losing fat”. Losing fat is the objective, right? A lot of methods will cause you to lose weight, but you will gain it back because you will have lost muscle mass, water, and fat.
What is the difference? It is in how you eat…and what you eat.
Many people try to lose weight by arbitrarily reducing their calorie intake to some randomly selected number and trying to stick to what I call a starvation diet. Doing this will set you up for failure. Your body goes into survival mode (because it thinks you are starving) and converts as much as it can to fat, robbing you of energy and fuel to function—usually resulting in hunger, irritability, fatigue, and worse.
The good news is that losing weight doesn’t mean that you have to be hungry all the time, or starve yourself.
The simplicity of weight control is this: calories in, calories out. That’s it! Based on your age, gender, weight, and activity level, your body needs a specific amount of calories each day to provide fuel for basic bodily functions and to provide energy. There are some excellent apps available that can help you determine how many calories you need each day (I use MyFitnessPal). When properly used, you can lose fat while maintaining your energy level and healthy body functions.
The key factor to losing fat and not constantly feeling hungry and deprived of food is in the quality of the calories you consume. Some foods are very high in calories, but low in nutrition. If you make good choices, you can eat a wide variety of foods in portions that will satisfy your appetite while staying under your calorie goal for the day.
You will find that eating the right ratio of fat, carbohydrates, and protein each day (while not exceeding your caloric needs) will provide ample energy and satisfy your hunger—and the fat will melt away. One of the claims of some dietary supplements is that they help control or suppress your appetite; if you eat the right ratio of fat, carbs, and protein, you will have this control built right into your diet (It also prevents the plateaus that can occur when you are trying to lose weight).
At first, when you make a dietary change, you will likely lose weight at a greater rate than you will as you go along. This will level off to about a 1-2 pound per week consistent loss of fat if you are properly maintaining your caloric intake. This rate of weight loss is considered healthy and safe by most nutritional experts. This also allows your skin to adjust (elasticity) to your new smaller shape so that you aren’t left with a lot of loose skin that is sometimes associated with weight loss.
My new eating habits include a lot more fruit, nuts, and vegetables than I ate previously; and because I also was fighting diabetes, I don’t add sugar to anything anymore. Some of the foods I eat have sugar, so I haven’t cut it out 100%, but my wife and I no longer add any sugar to anything we prepare for meals (or drinks). I also have greatly reduced white bread and pasta consumption. I rarely eat potatoes now because the starch converts to sugar. I no longer eat snack cakes, candy bars, etc.
I eat whole grain bread, multigrain chips, Skinny popcorn, chicken, beef, fish, and pork—and lots of salad with fat-free or lite dressing, but I don’t eat breaded and fried foods anymore. I don’t treat this as a temporary diet—it is simply a new lifestyle for me.
The food choices I make now more than satisfy my hunger. I enjoy what I eat! I rarely have any cravings for anything that doesn’t promote my new healthier eating habits, and I can tell you that I don’t miss the things I used to think I couldn’t live without (French fries, gravy, sweet tea, etc.). A year ago, if someone had suggested that I could stop drinking sweet tea, I would have laughed at them for two reasons: I didn’t want to stop drinking sweet tea, and I really, REALLY liked it. I don’t miss it or crave it at all.
Due to our hectic schedule, we often aren’t able to prepare meals at home. The reality is that, even at a fast-food restaurant, you can make choices that will stay within the fat, carb, and protein ratios that you need. There’s no excuse, it is just a matter of making the right choice. Some of the comparisons of meals I eat now compared to what I ate before reflect as much as a 2,000 calorie difference in a single meal! When you use an app to check the nutritional value of the food before you make a decision, you may (as I was) be astounded at the numbers.
Your metabolism also plays a big part in weight control. One factor in keeping your metabolism active is to eat often. This plays an important role in glucose function and control as well if you are a diabetic. It is hard on your body if you consume the bulk of your caloric needs in one or two meals and then eat nothing else throughout the day. Other critical organ and digestive functions are affected if you deprive them of needed fuel (calories) throughout the day. Fatigue, sluggishness, irritability, hunger and brain fog are just a few of the symptoms.
I usually eat three meals and three snacks every day, which means I am eating something every couple of hours throughout the day. Through trial and error, I have found that I feel better and have fewer issues with hunger and energy crashes when I eat progressively less calories at meals through the day, and progressively more calories for snacks. For example: breakfast might consist of 500-600 calories, lunch 400-500, and dinner 300-400; while my snacks may be something like: 100-150 calories between breakfast and lunch, 150-200 between lunch and dinner, and then 200-250 between dinner and bedtime. This may be different for you, but don’t be afraid to experiment—just stay within your nutritional goals.
Lastly, it is important to stay hydrated. Drinking a full glass of water before each meal (and each snack) will help with digestion and satiation. Avoid sugary drinks (including drinks that contain a lot of carbohydrates—because these convert to sugar).
The bottom line is: It doesn’t take a magic pill or potion or dietary supplement to lose fat; and, you don’t have to starve yourself! It is simply a matter of making good choices about what you eat. If I can do this, anyone can!
The details and tips from my weight loss journey
© 2016 Lowell's Notes