Losing It

How I lost (and have kept off) over 100 lbs.

February 2004 marked 3 years since I began to lose weight,
February 2014 marks 13 years since I began to lose weight, so believe at this point can call it a successful diet. In hopes that my experience can benefit someone similarly, decided to write a short(?) diary of the weight loss.

I began at 270 lbs (am 6 feet tall). Mine had been a slow gain over years. As a teenager didn’t have to worry about weight — I could eat anything and remain skinny — so never learned to diet. Then gained maybe 7-10 lbs. per year over 15 years… woke up and realized I was a different person.  I had to do something, but never expected to lose 140 lbs. Once seeing that I could actually lose weight, couldn’t let myself stop.  The initial goal was 250 lbs and am presently maintaining (2/1/14) at 140 lbs.  At one point, perhaps OCD,  dropped to 129 lbs. and eased the extremity because friends and strangers alike were concerned.

A first step was to cut alcohol out.  When I could allow myself to drink again became convinced alcohol calories don’t directly contribute to weight gain. However, before and especially after drinking, believed I needed to eat,  so quit for a few months.  I cut the diet to 1,000 calories per day. Breakfast was toast and a glass of orange juice. If I had to eat between meals I’d have an apple. Lunch was a Wendy’s salad with no dressing or “fixings”. I’m grateful Wendy’s introduced their garden sensation salads when they did. For dinner I’d microwave a lean cuisine. It was boring but worked.  I never skipped meals, understanding that triggers “starvation mode,” wherein the body stores every calorie.

During this time also experimented with ephedrine. I knew there were risks but believed I needed the energy. I’d take a stacker in the morning and another at lunch. Initially there were scary symptoms (like heart palpitations) then they subsided. Now I’m convinced the primary edge  from ephedrine was psychological.  The diet was no more difficult without ephedrine, though I still drink coffee and a lot of zero calorie sodas (Pepsi Max rules)  for caffeine energy.  I felt better and continued to lose 5-6 lbs per week.

I started walking/running 3-4 miles a day during lunch and after work. I was losing weight without exercise and, for me, diet was key. Too often I believe exercise is emphasized over or on equal footing with diet. When severely overweight, exercise alone just won’t cut it. No way can so much fat be converted to muscle. It is for cardiovascular and other health (including mental) benefits that I continue to exercise.

Occasionally my body would go into fat burning mode, what I now recognize as ketosis, during exercise. In researching why my produced this funny ammonia smell learned it was actually the desired effect of the Atkins diet. I wasn’t doing low carb intentionally, but 1,000 daily calories was low enough to induce ketosis. After learning more about Atkins would microwave grilled fish or scramble eggs for breakfast. I still lost weight at the same rate, but it WAS easier limiting carbs. Now I’m back to an “FDA balanced” diet, but believe there can be benefit when the low carb approach is done properly.

From the beginning was talking multi-vitamins. Initially it was Centrum, then a better but more expensive supplement from GNC. Now a generic that has the same composition of the GNC brand. After four months weighed 190 lbs and let myself increase to 1,500 calories a day. I continued losing weight and  feeling  better.  Before would typically eat an entire pizza as an afterthought before bed without even enjoying it. Looking back see how sad that was.

If there was a downside to losing weight that was buying new clothes (I went from a 40+ waist to 30). This cost was more than offset considering savings not eating out and drinking.  I’m skeptical of organizations like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig  and Nutrisystem that promise to help you lose weight if you pay. Ultimately it is up to the individual to make and commitment and there is plenty of free information out there. Hopefully my experience can benefit someone else.

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