Friday, June 3, 2011

My Weight-Loss Experience

An old friend of mine recently asked about my weight-loss. He wondered if I planned to lose more, and he expressed concern that he was still going in the wrong direction - getting heavier. He didn't specifically ask for my advice, but I can't help offering it when I see that it may be helpful. My message to him is below. I thought perhaps others might find it of use.

(In answer to the question whether I'm still trying to lose more weight:)
I need to lose another 20-25 pounds at some point. I may not make it that far, but I definitely want to drop at least another ten.

I'm sorry to hear you're struggling - I can really relate. Different things work for different people, and I know you travel a lot for work which is a miserable thing to do to a person's body, but some of what helped me was:

1. Counting calories. I would fool myself about how eating X or Y wasn't really a big deal, but once I knew I had to write it down and add it up, I found it a lot easier to cut out the garbage or eat smaller portions of it. I admit I have a very hard time sticking with calorie counting over the long haul because it's a pain in the nuts, but when I want to knuckle down and drop pounds, it's absolutely key for me.

2. Vigorous cardio workouts 2-4 times a week, for at least 30-40 minutes per session. This was the other key for me. Once I got into karate (and it's "Americanized" karate, so every class has a big cardio component) I started to slim down. It's not specifically the karate that did it, it's just the fact that I finally found something that didn't bore me to tears (like pretty much any other exercise) so I stuck with it. Normally I'd either talk about something and then never do it, or I'd start something new, do it for a month, get mediocre results, and give up. I have a $1,000 treadmill in my basement rusting away because two months of 20-minute jogs did exactly squat - I was still stuffing my face with junk and there's no way burning 300 calories on a jog makes up for 1000 calories of garbage.

One trick that worked with me when I was traveling a lot (if it's an option for you) was to stay at a Homewood Suites-style place that has an in-room fridge/stove/microwave and buy my own groceries. I ate a lot better than when I went to dinner at a steakhouse every night (much as I enjoy steak).

If I can offer any other guidance or help in any way, let me know. I feel your pain and I know how much you want to be able to be active with your family and alive to see them grow up. I firmly believe my situation is far from unique, and that anyone can do the same if they're smart about it, ditch the excuses (I was awesome at excuses!) and focus on the results they want to achieve.

As I re-read this before sending, it occurred to me that it was pretty decent general advice for "real people" trying to get their weight and their eating under control, so I decided to post it here. If you find this helpful, I'd love to hear from you!

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