I weighed 220 pounds in May last year. That isn’t unusual. Before the bike riding season begins for me I often have weighed in the high 210s over the last dozen years. And I usually lose weight quickly once I started riding. 2013 was no exception. I dropped to 207 within a month or so. But then I was stuck. That has never happened before. Usually I drop to 202 or so and then stick there.
It’s not that I liked being even that heavy but I hadn’t been motivated before to lose extra weight. Sure, I thought about 185 as if it was some long ago dream like my baseball career, but really didn’t focus on losing weight as a goal.
In the fall that all changed. My wife lost too much weight after teeth extractions and braces so started tracking calories to make sure she was getting enough. She suggested I do it with her.
I wrote about the start of the process back in November, about the switch that flipped in my brain the minute I started tracking. I couldn’t let the system win. I had to always be in the green (I under-ate my calorie goal). I had to exercise more so I could eat more.
I’m proud to announce that I blew through my goal of 195 and sit today at 190, exactly two months after writing that first post. Officially I’ve lost 30 pounds.
A few things I learned along the way:
- As I said, the key was tracking food intake. Once I did that everything else fell into place. I wanted to exercise more so I could eat more. I was motivated to get to the gym, which I have done six days per week since.
- Tracking food is hard and impossible to really do accurately. MyFitnessPal makes it easier as it has many foods already and found, in many cases, that there was always something close. But we measured and food scaled our way throughout the process.
- It has saved us money. We eat less food, we go out less often.
- Speaking of eating out, this is the most dangerous thing to do when trying to lose weight. The portions are ridiculous and riddled with heavy calorie stuff that makes it taste really good. Luckily, we only eat out (or bring in) once a week, plus lunch meetings (at which I eat a lot more caesar salads then I used to). Also, iced tea is your friend! (No calories without sugar.)
- Vegetables and meats have low calories; pastas are the worst. Planning is the key. If it is spaghetti for dinner than I better get to the gym, do a solid work out, and eat low calorie meals for breakfast and lunch.
- I can’t eat as much now as I used to. I get full quicker.
- I found that I eat a lot of the same foods, partly because they are easy to track and partly because I know the caloric impact on my day. Staples include Chex cereal or a couple of eggs for breakfast, yogurt with a banana or smoothies or humus with flat bread at lunch, plenty of vegetables which have almost no calories. I like a big dinner so try to save calories for it.
- I didn’t track things like cholesterol before starting this, but I’ve been very happy to note that my count has been below my goal every week. Sugar, though? Forget it. Everything has tons of sugar in it, which is likely why diabetes is so common. I’m actually looking forward to my next blood test as my cholesterol has been high for a while. It will be interesting to see if it drops.
- The best lesson I learned, though, is that I can eat cookies and candy and chips. Again, planning is key. A lighter breakfast and lunch, a solid dinner, enough exercise, and there was plenty of room for a couple of cookies or a few chips in the evening.
I am reaching the end for now. My body is telling me to slow up and let it recover. I get cold more easily than I used to and I have had a couple of dizzy spells and headaches for no specific reason. My body is sore from all the exercise. But overall my energy is way up and I’m not embarrassed to change in the locker room anymore.
As my wife has said to me on more than one occasion, “Food doesn’t taste as good as skinny feels.”