Losing Weight Part 3: Have a Plan

I’ve been chronicling my journey of losing weight this week. It is by far the thing I get questions about the most. You can read part 1 and part 2 here to get some background on this post.

One of the problems many people run into when they want to lose weight or be healthy is that they don’t have a goal or a plan. If you say you want to lose weight, how much? How will you know if you are healthier? How do you plan to get there?

I remember when I went to the doctor when I was 27 and telling him I wanted to be skinnier. He told me that wasn’t the goal. He said, “The goal is to be healthy.” So, I set out to be healthy.

We started small. Before going on I need to say this, if you want to lose 30 pounds in a month, what I am about to describe will not help. It is not sexy what I did. But here is the prize, what I did I can do til the day I die. Which means, I accomplished my goal of losing weight and my doctor’s goal of being healthy. So, start small. We started by changing to wheat bread, which was a bigger battle than you might think. We stopped drinking soda, sweet tea (this was a battle for me).

To get an idea of what I would eat. When Katie and I would go out to eat, we’d share an appetizer, I’d eat my meal and finish hers. No leftovers was my motto. It wasn’t uncommon for me to eat a footlong sub, drink a gallon of sweet tea, eat a whole can of pringles (not the snack size) and sometimes eat a can of chunky new england clam chowder. That was a meal. Recently we were back in Maryland and ate at our favorite sub shop where I would drink 60 oz. of their sweet tea, eat a footlong sub, a huge bowl of cream of crab soup and eat a side of fries. That would be a lunch. It was not a secret for me why I was fat. This trip, I could barely finish an order of the soup. My stomach and appetite has truly shrunk.

But again, this has taken since 2005. I started working at it at the end of 2007. In 4 years this change has happened. You will never see that on a magazine, but if you want to be healthy for the rest of your life, you must take the long range view of it.

So, what is your plan?

I read books and magazines on food, understanding calories, and I began to see food as fuel for my body, not just something I enjoy or turn to. The secret to losing weight is exercise and portion control. Regardless of what fad or plan you use, if you boil it down you will get to these two things.

So I started controlling my portions, eating less. I still grill out meat, eat dessert, enjoy good drinks, coffee. I basically eat just about anything I want, just less of it. Now when I grill out meat, instead of a large portion of potatoes and a small veggies, we will have meat with 2 veggies. I often get asked about alcohol and weight. According to Men’s Health, you should limit it to 2 drinks a day. The calories in alcohol is pretty high, especially mixed drinks, so if you drink, be smart about what you drink. You can go to Starbucks, but again, be wise. You can get a drink at Starbucks and knock out a third of the calories for the day.

Exercise is the next part of the puzzle. When I was my heaviest, I couldn’t run as it hurt too much. So I bought a bike. We spent more than we normally would have, but it needed to hurt for me to ride. I started riding and slowly started to see the weight come off. When I was able, I started running. And running.

Now, I use the workout plan found in Men’s Health Huge in a Hurry. I eat 5 smaller meals a day (lots of protein and veggies). I workout 3 days a week and then watch what I eat. The great thing is that I have essentially been this size and weight for almost a year. Since using this workout plan I have seen a difference in my weight and physique.

Again, these are all changes that I can do for a long time. I can eat well and exercise regularly.

More tomorrow.