Tuesday, June 12, 2007, I woke up and stepped on a scale. I knew the number would be high, since I had weighed myself a few days before, but seeing it on the scale and realizing I would have to record it and display it for the world to see helped to strengthen my resolve. It was two pounds higher than Saturday. Having posted my initial weight of 250 pounds — one-eighth of a ton! — I would have to work hard to get that number as small as possible before a planned trip overseas. I eventually settled on a target scheduled of exactly 20 weeks, to give myself a few days of "recovery" before my scheduled departure. How much weight could I safely lose in 140 days?
I started with a goal of 185 and a dream of 165, but quickly jettisoned the higher number for the more aggressive target. I assumed at the time that I wouldn't be able to hit either goal in 20 weeks, but would have to resume my diet when I returned from overseas. I had reports that weight loss on my chosen diet plan, an aggressive low-carb diet, could be rapid and substantial, but losing 85 pounds in 20 weeks would require losing 4.25 pound each week, and no approach to eating can make that kind of difference. Even the first goal, of losing 65 pounds in 20 weeks, seemed silly.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007, I woke up and stepped on a scale. 20 weeks have passed, and I knew what I expected to see, but it was still hard to believe.
Over the previous 20 weeks, much had changed. My long-planned trip overseas was canceled, which was unpleasant, but it freed me up to attend the BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas one week later, so I still had a goal to aim for. My wife refused to try the same diet, then tried it and it worked very well for her, then quit it again for reasons still unclear to me. I made such rapid progress in the beginning that I began to think that at least one of my goals might actually be achievable within 20 weeks! As I bought one new belt, and then another, I realized that I should have measured more than just my total weight. And through it all, I lost weight. I felt better, I was able to join a gym, and I found myself answering questions about my weight loss daily as people asked what I was doing. I was even accused of abusing illegal drugs (mostly in jest, I think)!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007, I work up and stepped on a scale, 70 pounds lighter than I had been 20 weeks earlier: 180 pounds.
What I Have Learned
Everything I know about losing weight I learned from my recent experiences, as well a few other observations. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, and people are different from each other in surprising ways, so what seems to have worked for me may not work for you, and it remains to be seen how easily I can keep this weight off. Please keep all that in mind as you read my current thoughts!
Losing weight is 90% mental, 10% physical. If you've heard that losing weight is all about "calories in, calories out," this may seem counter-intuitive, but I think these two thoughts work together. It is one thing to test a lab rat, feeding him a set amount of calories and requiring a set amount of wheel-running. It is quite another thing to expect a person to stick with a set amount of calories — or any diet regime — for an extended length of time. It takes much more than knowledge, and much more than a quick decision. While the lab rat has access only to what is is given, our challenge is to resist the tempting delights that await us around every turn. The office birthday cake, the holiday pie, the weekend donut, and on and on they come. I have become convinced that nearly any choice of diet can help you lose weight, though some plans are healthier than others and some plans are faster than others and some plans may work better from certain people. Still, the most important key to weight loss isn't exactly the method you use to control the calories in, it is deciding to do it and stick with it.
Unfortunately, I don't know the key to establishing willpower, but neither do I believe someone is born with it or not. Somehow I had the willpower to stick with this for the last 20 weeks, which thoroughly amazed people who know me and wouldn't have bet a dollar on my willpower. It's true that you probably are not well-known for your willpower (if you were, you'd be thin!), but it's also true that it's never too late. I've just lost weight that I've carried around for decades! I have tried and failed before, and played tricks on myself to try to motivate myself, and none of it worked. While I don't know exactly why I was able to do it this time when I couldn't before, I know that my example should demonstrate that you can always try again.
You can do it! It really is that simple. I've lost 70 pounds in 20 weeks, and I was only miserable on the second and third days. By the end of the first week, I'd already almost forgotten about those days, and after 20 weeks, I had to check previous articles before I even remembered it! Whether you go with a low-fat, low-carb diet like I did, or something else, it will work if you make it happen, and you can make it happen. Pick a time frame, pick a plan, and go!
The big question most people seem to have about low-carb dieting is whether there is something magical that happens after the diet ends. Are the pounds lost somehow linked to my body, so that I'm certain to regain them all very quickly. I can't see how that could possibly be, though I can see why many people might think that. So many people spend their time on a low-carb diet eating a lot of food that when they re-introduce carbs into the equation, canceling ketosis, they do balloon up again. Still, that's because they're eating too much, not because of how they lost the weight in the first place.
Of course, we'll see in a month or two who is right, but for now I plan to eat sensibly and reasonably, but with no special tracking of calories or carbohydrates. I do expect to gain around five pounds, but I hope to lose them again by the new year.
During the holidays? Am I kidding? We'll see!