The branches of my family tree hang low from supporting a lot of overweight people. I’ve worked hard to keep myself from falling into that same category, but I’ve been far from perfect. For the past decade or so I’ve been about 35 pounds above where I was in college. I’m fortunate that it’s fairly well distributed, rather than hanging out together and giving me a massive gut, but it still adds up.
Over the past months I’ve had several friends try wacky diets like Beer and Eggs, or an All Smoothie diet,and for a while I thought just hearing so much about their menus would put me off my appetite. No such luck. I also have friends who play with Paleo and other trendy diets to different degrees of success. The problem I’ve had with all of those methods is that they tend to be temporary “dieting” rather than really “changing your diet ,” which often leads to gaining some or all of the weight back when it ends.
But they nonetheless spurred me to tackle my own weight in the most boring, uninteresting way possible: eat less and exercise more.
Eat less – I used the MyFitnessPal app for the iPhone and tracked every single thing I ate two two weeks. All of it. Every sugar packet in a cup of coffee, every piece of toast, and every single beer. The app gave me a calorie target and that detailed food tracking helped me hit it. I learned what 1,700 calories a day really looked like. I also learned that I couldn’t track everything I ate for long or I’d go nuts, but I did it long enough to retrain myself on what a “full meal” is. It changed my behavior.
Exercise more – I got back into running and biking, and tracking it in RunKeeper. If I don’t run, bike, or walk one of our dogs for a mile or more, then my fallback is a drill of the 7-Minute Workout. There’s just no way, no matter how busy I am, that I can’t find 10 minutes to run through that routine, so I am now doing something physical every day. The result has been not only better cardio and overall conditioning, but I’ve had far fewer back pains in the past two months (I was in a bad car accident in college and have had problems ever since).
Between the two things I started losing weight. I dropped a bunch right away, then it settled into a nice, slow, continuous trend. I weigh myself twice a week just to make sure I’m on track, and don’t kill myself for a cheat day once in a while. Of course, those cheat days don’t add up to much because I just can’t eat anywhere close to what I used to. Then just last week I hit the 20 pound mark, and I feel great! I still eat all the things I love (just less of it) and I’m down two pants sizes in the process.
Pretty dull, eh? No fancy theories and no crazy formulas. Just eating better and exercising and changing my habits, but nobody would buy a book about that.
Maybe I’ll say I got the idea from aliens… hmmm…