A few years ago, I lost about thirty-five pounds over the course of roughly four months. At my heaviest, I’d been as high as 240. At the time of the loss, I started out around 230. I was approaching forty years of age back then, which definitely, along with my weight, brought up some potential health concerns. I also had a beach trip coming up that summer with my family, and because my brother is always super fit, I didn’t want to look like a total slob next to him.
I wish I could tell you that I have this grand secret as to how I lost the weight. In fact, I remember when people started noticing the weight loss, they literally asked me what my secret was. They always seemed a little disappointed when I told them.
It wasn’t exercise.
Let me first say, by the way, that there’s nothing wrong with exercise–obviously. Exercising is great for your mind, your heart, and your general health.
However, it’s not so great as the sole means for losing weight. I mean, if you exercised for eight hours a day and hit it hard, yes, you’d lose weight, but most of us can’t dedicate that kind of time or energy to weight loss. For most of us, if we exercise forty minutes, then have a can of soda, we just gained back every calorie burned during those forty minutes.
The real secret to weight loss is simply not eating so much.
You know it’s true.
When I lost all that weight, I kept a journal of every single thing that I consumed on a daily basis. I didn’t count calories–I don’t have the patience for that. However, by writing it down, it forced me to really think about what I was eating. It cut way down on my stress eating, which is a big problem for me. I also decided to avoid a lot of starch products. I didn’t quit bread–again, that’s crazy. But, I cut out fries completely, scaled way back on bread, and stayed away from chips as best I could.
I also fought hard to avoid sugar whenever possible. That meant that soda pretty much left my diet, most candy got left by the wayside, and–here’s the big one–creamer consumption changed drastically. I honestly think this made the biggest difference in my weight loss. I used to pour creamer into my coffee without regard. When I started controlling my consumption more carefully, I limited myself to one tablespoon of creamer per cup of coffee. Turns out that I cut a lot of calories by doing that.
Finally, I committed to the idea that I would not eat anything after dinner. No more late night snacks. No more giant bowls of ice cream before bed.
Guess what? It worked. The pounds started melting off. I started the process in early August, and by mid-November I had exceeded my own expectations.
In fact, I got as low as 193 pounds. That’s around what I weighed when I was 18. I couldn’t believe I’d made it under 200 pounds again! That was something I never thought would be possible. I promised myself back then that I’d never see 200 pounds again.
That was a foolish promise, I know.
Here we are, four years later, and the weight has been creeping up again. I’ve managed to stay in the 205 range for the most part, but these last few months, I’ve gotten up to 215. This is horrifying because it’s almost half of my original weight loss. I overindulged during the Halloween season, and then the Thanksgiving season, and then the Christmas season, and now I’m paying the price for it.
But, I know what to do. I’ve done it before. Yes, I’m 42 now instead of 38, but I know it’s still possible.
My body doesn’t need a ton of calories to function well. I’ve always eaten more than I require. Some people need to eat a ton to keep up their energy–I’m not one of those people. So, the journey begins again today. And the secret?
I’m going to try to keep up with not eating after dinner–I’ve been doing that throughout. I’ve also stuck to my creamer rule. However, I’ve gotten really bad about eating every dessert offered, indulging in leftover Halloween candy, and generally eating more than I need. Chips and fries probably should go away again, as well as too much bread.
I’m not saying to stop eating things you like. I’ll keep eating pizza, tacos, pasta, and all those things they say you shouldn’t have. But, instead of three pieces of pizza, have two. Cut out the chips and queso dip from the taco dinner. Maybe eat half a plate full of spaghetti instead of a whole plate’s worth.
I think it’s unrealistic to say we’re never going to eat certain things again for the rest of our lives. However, it’s absolutely realistic to say we just won’t eat as much of those things.
So, I’d like to check in with you every week until I get back down to 195. I confess that there’s a certain shame in admitting my weight to you. It’s hard to put this out there publicly. But I think most of us would like to lose weight. I think most of us have a bit of a negative self-image due to weight. I think it’s important to share not just my struggle with you, but also my impending success. Perhaps I can inspire you, and in doing so, continue to inspire myself.
My goal is to lose ten pounds by spring break. That’s about a pound a week, which is totally possible. Will you join me?
January 25, 2019 — 215 pounds.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)