Ok, so a little background here. Through out my school years I was always very thin. Somewhere towards the end of high school or towards the start of university, I complained to my doctor that I thought I was too thin. He said don't worry, it was fine. Besides he said, I will gain weight as I age. Boy was he right.
Fast forward to 2012, and during my physical, he noted I had put on weight again. He said it was time to start thinking about loosing some of those pounds.
Here are a set of photos, the top two are me in 2012, and the bottom two, me earlier this year, 2014.
Now here is an image of my progress over those two years.
Back in 2012, I really wasn't happy with the fact that I was closing in on 200 lbs. I also did not have a lot of energy and I was sleeping a lot. I decided I had to do something about it. On that trip to Vegas, I picked up a Fitbit. I wanted to see my current activity level and work on improving it. It basically confirmed what I knew. I was incredibly inactive. I also got a Withing wifi scale to track my progress.
I personallly don't believe that there is a get thin quick cheat, so my plan was to reduce my snacking and increase my activity. I started small, trying to get a minimum of 10,000 steps per day, or 15-30 minutes on the exercise bike in lieu of walking. As far a weight loss goes, I was just trying to keep my weight below the average. So in the graph above, I aimed to stay below the white line.
The net effect of this is that I have lost 16.5 lbs over two years. Instead of putting on 2-5 lbs per year I am loosing about 8 per year. This was just done slightly reducing what I ate and increasing my activity. Over this time I have a couple of observations. I think activity has a large effect on weight loss. One thing that stands out in the graph, is that I put on weight Nov-Feb every year. This is when I am least active.
At first, getting out to exercise was a chore. After two years, exercise is a habit and not exercising feels bad. By exercising, I mean brisk walking. Over time I have found my walking speed increase and my distance covered increase. To keep my hear rate up, I probably need to start running. I currently walk at a 8.5 min per km pace, and hardly find this challenging. Again, I got to this over 2 years, by slowing pushing my self.
On the eating side of things I noticed a couple things. I eat when I am bored. I find a strong pull to snack when I have nothing to do. I eat when I am stressed. If things are going bad at work, I'd hit the vending machine. Starving myself causes me to over eat. I found that if I was really hungry at meal time, I would eat fast and over eat. I have noticed that it takes about 15 minutes to notice I am full. When I eat now, I try to eat until I am not hungry, as opposed to when I am full. I now try to have healthy snack that will keep me realtively full until meal time. For me, I have found a small handful of nuts when I start to feel hungry in the afternoon helps a lot. As for eating under stress, I found that getting exrcise also helps the stress, and works better than food. If I am feeling stressed out, I try to increase my activity instead of hitting the vending machine.
The other change I have made to my consumption is to not drink my calories. When eating out, I'll generally order a water instead of pop. In general I try and stay away from added sugar, this includes the fake stuff.
I started with the benefit, that my diet is realtively healthy, as Sylvia shops mainly for fruits, vegetables, meats and grains, staying away from the processed foods.
My goal is to get my weight a little closer to my post university value. If I can get and stay down around the 160lbs, that would be ideal. So another 15 lbs to go, which I expect to take another couple years. At 175, I am still close to the max healthy BMI.
The result of this effort? I feel better, I have more energy, and I sleep less. My waist size has dropped from 38" to 35". I was probably somwhere around 33"-34" waist post university. I am also far less tempted by that box of donuts that shows up at work from time to time. Once I had feeling for how much exercise is required to take care of those extra calories, the desire to eat the donut went away. That's not to say I deprive myself of food. Actually I quite enjoy a well cooked meal, I just don't want to waste my time and effort with high calorie crappy food. In fact I am quite looking forward to our next trip to Vegas, hitting some our our favorite restauarants, and trying out some new ones
Pork en mole from the Border Grill at Mandalay Bay.
Breakfast buffet, Wicked Spoon, Cosmoplitan.
So, from my experience (and that may not work for everyone), there is no reason to deny yourself food to loose weight. Get active, stay active, and value what you eat.
As Michael Pollen said, "eat but not too much, mostly plants"