I started my healthy journey on January 6 2020. I had lost weight before, with mixed results, and always gained it back with friends. I was around 250 pounds at that time. At five feet, three inches with fine bones that was a lot of extra weight.
245 on January 6 but I have no doubt that I was higher previously considering the holidays had just gone by. Now I’m flirting around the 150 mark. Many people want to lose 100 pounds, for me it was an impossible dream. So, what’s it actually like to do that, and what does it take?
The first thing that you need is persistence. To be persistent, it helps to understand yourself and what your personal weak points are. That way you can plan around them. It also helps to have a sustainable diet plan that isn’t miserable to follow. My first 85ish pounds were done by simple calorie restriction, ranging from around 1200-1600 calories depending on the day. Though I limited refined sugars and refined carbs, I didn’t cut out any major food groups and I occasionally had treat days. Usually averaging less than 1 a month.
You also need at least a basic understanding of what your body needs in terms of nutrition, both vitamins and also macronutrients like proteins and fats. Awareness of any health challenges helps a lot too. For instance, diabetics might want to pay more attention to how their body reacts to different kinds of carbs. People with things like PCOS or IBS might need supplementation on certain nutrients. I had a problem with low blood sugar which I found was really tied to eating too many refined carbs early in the day. I quit doing that and my problems went away.
What’s it like though?
Generally, it has been a pretty rewarding experience. I feel victorious every time the scale drops or my tape measure reads out smaller. I’ve had to cut way back on certain less-nourishing foods, and I had to learn what portion control actually meant, but generally I feel good. After the first drop of ten pounds or so I felt more energetic and the more weight I lose, the easier it is to exercise and the more energy I have. So it basically keeps getting better and better the more I go.
There’s more room in my car, I can bend over to touch my toes really easily, I can stretch much more easily. I don’t run out of breath walking a half block. If I have to stand for a while it’s not an issue rather than having to sit down every ten minutes. My resting heart rate is in the fifties, my blood pressure is low. I fill up faster when I eat and I’m better at stopping, I no longer hate how I look in the mirror. I don’t have a super hot beach body but I wasn’t aiming for that. I get more respect in public.
Most of all though I’m really proud of myself because this is something I had thought was impossible for so long. It’s not impossible, and if I can do it, you can too.
Was I hungry?
Generally, not. People get the idea that when you have to be starving all the time when you are dieting properly and eating nothing but rabbit food and that just hasn’t been true for me. Actually, I feel LESS hungry much of the time because I don’t eat as much for entertainment and I’m not dealing with all kinds of blood sugar crashes. Even when I’m doing Time Restricted Eating I feel some hunger but I don’t have that STARVED feeling that I did when my blood sugar was out of whack.
How much did I exercise?
On a good day I’ll do an hour or so but that includes errands and household chores. I generally log any activity as exercise that challenges my muscles or gets my heart rate up for a good amount of time. I do some weight lifting though nothing very sophisticated, some calisthenics, some stretching, some pedaling on a mini-pedaler, and change it up as I get bored. When the pool is working I swim. I try to get at least 20 minutes of something every day.
What about the emotional aspects?
Since I ate primarily from boredom or need for comfort, I learned to do different things when I was bored. For comfort I’ll have a hot cup of tea as that’s very soothing. I started getting in to all kinds of interesting herbal blends for that. I rotate my tea selections regularly and that does a lot to keep my palate entertained and my belly satisfied. I also had to deal with some of the emotional issues that had sabotaged me in the past, and start learning to prioritize my own health instead of putting it on the back burner.
How did my tastes change?
When a person changes their diet, they also change their gut microbiome. You can actually train yourself to have different cravings. For example, there’s this one low cal protein bar that I love and I genuinely crave that. I don’t mind though because it’s low sugar and high protein, and I have it for dessert. I also crave different kinds of vegetables now, and when I make a really healthy meal I find that it tastes fantastic. When I have one of my old processed high fat meals, it doesn’t taste as good. Now, there are certain foods that are absolutely zero nutrition but I still like, so I will have those occasionally but control the portions.
For example I learned to make my own pizza, which looks better now than the one in the picture did. But I’d keep it to two slices and make sure I used reduced fat cheese and turkey pepperoni to help keep the calories in line. That kept the spouse happy too because she didn’t have to give up a bunch of stuff. We have homemade sushi rolls every Sunday for the same reason, also portion controlled, and that gives us some wonderful nutrients and healthy fats.
What about goal weight?
I want to lose about 20 more pounds. Basically I want to get rid of this big floppy belly I still have. That’s one hard truth about weight loss, it still may not make you look like a picture in a magazine, but you’ll feel so much better and be able to do so much more. Even though I have that big floppy belly for example, I can still put on medium shorts when I started around 1-2XL shorts. My shirts have gone from 2X to medium also. That’s just to give you an idea. Still, as I have learned about my body and how much weight I actually need, my goal has gone from around 150 (which I just achieved) to around 130. That’s simply because I see how much extra I still have at 150.
What about inspirations?
I went on MyFitnessPal and logged my calories, which not only gave me a better understanding of portions but also showed me the stories of people who had faced some really serious challenges and overcome them anyway. There was someone who was totally wheelchair bound with muscular dystrophy and this wonderful lady still lost over 100 pounds. Another who was born without legs and did something similar. People with health conditions of every type, usually the types where doctors say “you can’t lose weight like this” and they did it anyway. I looked at these beautiful, victorious people and thought “if they can do it, I can too.”
That’s why I’m telling this story, finally. I work an office job. I’ve been stuck at home the last year and a half. I have a thyroid condition. Hormonal issues. I struggle with depression. Despite that I still lost roughly 100 pounds in the last year and a half. I did it, YOU can do it. If one person can be inspired to transform their life I’ll be overjoyed!
Weight loss isn’t a magic fix…
I still have some issues, I still have some things about my body I’m not happy about, but I am very proud of my progress. It hasn’t always been easy but it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be either. I look back at my early pictures and stats and think “was I really that big?” And I know that I was, but I always told myself it wasn’t as bad as I thought, I was just fine. Still, with all the energy and freedom I have gained, I can’t imagine going back. I’m going to enjoy my tasty new foods and healthy habits and never go back.
If you have questions or want me to follow up on this series, let me know. I’d be happy to write more articles but don’t want to cover territory that has been done to death. I would like to focus on the creative aspect of weight loss, to fit with the general theme of this site.