In June of 2016 I weighed 245 pounds. By March of 2017 I was down to 205 pounds. Since then I have not only maintained that weight but recently dropped to slightly below 200 pounds. I'm six feet tall, male, age 38.
And I lost the 40 pounds without frantically running, pumping iron, or any other formal exercise routine. Besides taking normal walks a couple times a week, the only outward change to my lifestyle was switching my work station to a stand-up desk.
The real difference maker was the series of small tweaks to what I ate and then sticking to the process over that initial eight-month period until I'd reached my goal. Now I want to to share what I've learned to help the people who are banging their heads against the wall trying to figure out how to lose weight.
LEARNING HOW TO EAT
Several people I know had used that phrase to explain their own dietary success. “I had to learn how to eat,” they said. But what does that really mean?! Even a term like “caloric deficit” is enough to make someone's eyes glaze over.
So to keep it simple, think about when you accidentally cut your finger. Over the next week your body will initiate a process to heal that area without your having to think about it—because it knows what to do!
If you extend that logic to the rest of your body, and think about all the systems and processes at work in the background, surely the digesting of food is one of them. So what went wrong that so many people are overweight today?
First, we live in an era where there's a glut of food. Every kind of food is available virtually year round and in portions much larger than in the past. Fruits used to be seasonal and smaller, so if you're eating a large orange or apple each day and thinking that you're doing the healthy thing, in truth you're eating too much sugar. Yes, even though it comes in more natural form than processed cane sugar, it's still too much. Take a baby step into better eating habits right now by chopping that apple in half or orange into quarters and eat the smaller portion each day.
GET OFF THE SHELF
Another major core concept which most people don't think about but which is so easy to implement is focusing on eating pure, simple ingredients. The less processed the food you put into your mouth, the better. But this does not mean you have to eat bland, raw meals or not feel full!
Up until the first half of last century, humans mostly ate unadulterated food. Our bodies know how to process that stuff because it's what we ate for thousands and thousands of years. So today it's not just the overabundance of food that makes us fat, but the way it's prepared. For example, shelf-stable vegetable oils which have been hydrogenated are not as easily digested as a traditionally cold-pressed olive oil. And what do you know, at the grocery store the corn oil is much cheaper than the olive oil, so is it any wonder that most people choose that?
Look at the ingredients list of pretty much any processed food at the grocery store. You'll see all kinds of random ingredients that no one would think to use if making homemade versions of say, salsa or bread. Even foods that serve as treats, like cookies and cake, often have so much junk filler that the ingredients list reads like fine print on a warning label.
The biggest eye opener for me was jellies and jams back when I used to eat toast and bagels for breakfast. I found that virtually every brand had some sort of syrup, artificial preservative, coloring, or sugar added. The only brand that was simply made of fruit was a French one called St. Dalfour. Worst of all is those little Smuckers packets you see at diners—I kid you not, each tiny sliver has both corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup! It's pure garbage and no one should eat it.
LET YOUR BODY DO WHAT IT KNOWS HOW TO DO
I will expand on these ideas throughout this series of articles, but for now let's focus on this thought: your body will do the work to lose that excess weight if you don't overload it with junk that interferes with its operating system. Here are three easy tips to start you on the road to steady weight loss:
Simplify your eggs: Instead of cooking an omelet in oil, hard boil those eggs. I also throw small mushrooms into the water and eat those with the eggs. Grind some sea salt on top for taste.
Cook your meals in bulk: It's a lot easier to resist that temptation to grab fast food after a stressful day at work if you know that you have more healthy and filling prepared food sitting at home in the fridge. Even if you cut out only one fast food run per week, that's 500-1000 extra bad calories you're not forcing your body to deal with.
Avoid juicing and shakes: While I used to own a juicer and the veggie-heavy blends I made were helpful when I lost some weight in back 2014, in truth you really do want to be putting solid food into your stomach so it that takes time for your body to digest it. Otherwise those quickly absorbed nutrients will pass right through your system and you'll likely feel hungry again too soon.
A GREAT RECIPE
Here's the chicken recipe that has been part of my weight loss arsenal. I usually buy them in bulk packages of five, which saves me $1 per pound and ensures I that have a healthy dinner all week.
-The chicken: Bone-in, skin-on breasts. You want the good fat that's in the skin.
-The marinade: In a mixing bowl add mustard, apple cider vinegar, pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and a dash of Italian seasoning. Stir the mixture, add the chicken, then cover the bowl and put it into the fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to bake at 350.
-The secret weapon: Take the chicken out and place it onto a baking sheet, then sprinkle a healthy portion of Italian seasoning on top—this will bring out unbelievable flavor through the skin, which the mustard also makes semi-crispy. Depending on the size/weight of the breasts, cooking time is 50-55 minutes.
If you've never successfully seen a weight loss project through to the end, the hardest part is believing that what you're trying to do will work. All I can say is that sticking to it over the long term will get you better results than buying into some bold claims about losing a lot of weight in less than a month. Taking this patient but relentless approach will allow you to forgive yourself if you have a moment of weakness—plus once a week you should take a cheat day where it's okay to eat some bad stuff.
But we'll get into that and so much more in future articles. Thanks for reading and good luck. Remember, at times this road may feel lonely but it truly is well traveled, so keep the faith and stick it out to the end!