…but one that is most relevant to my current life. I by no means intend for this to be one of those weight loss blogs (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I’ve been asked dozens of times in the past few weeks how I lost so much weight successfully. And that picture on the left makes me a little nauseated. Sorry about that.
I’ve been overweight for most of my life. I was actually pretty thin until maybe fourth grade or so. I don’t know what happened then: maybe I discovered Twinkies, I’m not quite sure. But I put on weight relatively quickly, and stayed overweight for the next thirty or so years. I was on (admittedly mild) blood pressure medication, and just toddling through life, cursing the clothing manufacturers who made t-shirts so small.
I’m not sure what made me want to lose weight in a decided fashion. I was diagnosed with a fatty liver early in the year, but that’s only part of it. I think the other part might have come over Christmas. In all the hubbub of the holiday, I forgot to pick up my BP meds for two weeks. I wasn’t overly concerned at the time. After two weeks, though, I was galvanized. The meds had left my system, and I was chock-full of energy. They had been turning me into a couch potato slowly and inexorably, like the proverbial boiled frog (and who boils a frog like that, anyway? Seriously!). I needed an outlet, so I started working out.
Slowly at first, but with more endurance and energy as time passed. I got hold of EA Active 2, a workout program for the Wii which tracks heart rate during the exercise and allows for routine customization. I felt better, but I knew that exercise wouldn’t be enough. Heck, in high school, I was in the best shape of my life – could run a few miles with little exertion at my best – and yet I was still overweight. I knew that I’d have to adjust my eating habits. Not a diet, mind you, but an utter quantum shift in how I approached food.
Now, I love food. I love to cook. I love to try new meals and experiment with recipes. And so I had to take a deep breath and figure out what practical changes I could make: Could I actually start eating (and enjoying) salad? Did I have to give up fried foods? What about red meat? God, I could still eat bacon, right? Obviously, I had to deal with a lot of stress in the beginning. I was doing well by adding more fruit and veg to my diet, and cutting back on my salty mistress: chips. Potato, tortilla, cracker-based. Anything that was savory, salty, and crunchy was the enemy. In the beginning, I had to distract myself when snacktime came, which was usually in the evenings. So I logged onto my Warcraft account and wandered Azeroth when I got the peckishes. It worked, and I got some pretty neat gear to boot (Drake of the West Wind, baby!)
Next to go were as many processed foods that I could bear to part with. Luckily, I didn’t eat too many of these to start with, so giving up canned soup didn’t put me out very much. I implemented the mantra of portion control, which was liberating, as it meant that I didn’t have to avoid foods, just regulate their consumption and…eat…slowly. I was pretty hard on myself for a while, shaking my head at the days when I gained, and nodding solemnly at my down days. Yes, I weighed myself often – it helped me stay on track. My greatest discovery, though, involved everyone’s favorite hoppy adult beverage: beer.
I had always had a neutral attitude towards beer, but at some point in January or so, it grew vastly in appeal. I’m not sure why; maybe my change in diet triggered a change in my tastes. In any case, I found myself enjoying a craft beer or two before dinner. There were two benefits here. One – this became an end-of-the-day reward for me, replacing the chips and dips which had preceded it. Which was nice. Two – beer helped fill me up before I ate dinner, so I was eating less at mealtime. As a bonus, I seemed to metabolize beer fairly well. Eight months of testing has since proved that on days of beer consumption, my weight is usually down, and when I skip, it’s likely to go up. Who knew, right?
And here I am, over seventy pounds lighter, and still losing those pounds which have plagued me for so long. There were no tricks, no fads, no secret formulas. I have had to experiment a lot and pay close attention to what I was shoving into my mouth. I’ve had to exercise a good deal of self-control, but it’s gotten easier. The burger I had to drag myself away from a few months ago is much easier to deal with now, mainly because I eat it. Just not all of it.