Why should the title of this post impress you? Clearly I haven’t discovered some “amazing weight loss miracle that will dramatically change your appearance in just weeks!” as so many diet plans tout. So what’s the big deal? Here’s the big deal – I’ve lost weight and kept it off. I’m more physically fit than I’ve been in 10 years. I’m the lightest that I’ve been since college.
So, this is my story. Throughout my life, until I hit 30, I could eat just about anything I wanted and not gain weight. In my 20s, people would give me warnings like, “Just wait until you turn 30, you won’t be able to eat like this then!”
Those people were right. I kept on eating whatever I wanted and in my early 30s I started packing on the pounds. I left my 20s at about 175 lbs. At 6’1”, I was thin. By time that I was 36 I had rocketed to 210 lbs. That year (2009), I slipped on a tile floor and dislocated my left knee. I had never dislocated a knee before and my orthopedist blamed it on both a genetic predisposition to bad knees, and being overweight and out of shape.
After a stint in an hip-to-ankle brace, my doctor put me into physical therapy. The physical therapist’s office was full of mirrors and I spent many (ugh, too many!) hours in front of them. I didn’t like what I saw. I decided it was time to make a change.
Backing up for a second, I had tried the South Beach diet when I was 34. I lost 12 lbs in three weeks, but as is often the case with fad diets, after getting off the plan I gained it all back… and then some. This time, I went a decidedly different route. I turned to medical science. We’ve heard the medical advice for losing weight so many times that it sounds almost cliché – eat right and exercise. Ultimately though, what I was committing myself to what was a radical lifestyle change.
Those two seemingly simple changes – improving my diet and exercising – would end up meaning myriad dietary changes and committing to getting off my butt for at least 30 minutes every-other-day and getting moving. Some of the changes were easy. Some took – and continue to take – serious discipline.
The first thing I did was set about educating myself regarding calories, saturated fats, sugar, and complex carbohydrates. I cut out alcohol, sugary drinks, and fast food. I added more lean meats and fresh vegetables to my diet. And the hardest change – I gave up my bowl of chocolate ice cream before bed each night. I started walking on my lunch breaks between three and five days a week.
In terms of educating myself about calories, I utilized an app for my smart phone called MyFitnessPal. I credit this app for helping me understand how many calories I should be eating per day and helping me grasp what I was really seeing when I looked at the labels on food packaging. I recommend checking out MyFitnessPal or something else like it (hey, it’s not like I own stock in the company or something). You won’t need to use it forever. Soon, you will learn how much of which foods you can or should eat; basically committing the information from the app to memory.
Exercise was a bit of a challenge for me. I didn’t want to do aerobics and my now bad knee hurt when I ran. So, as I mentioned, I walked. It helped, though I’m certain that if I would have resigned myself to something more strenuous right from the beginning then the change would have been more rapid. Still, I committed myself to a workout routine that I could adhere to and that – I believe – is the important thing. First just do it. Then just stick to it.
It only took me about eight months to go from 210 lbs down to 185 lbs. That averages out to losing 1.28 lbs per week. That’s not too bad. Doctors say that you should not try to lose more than 2lbs a week. This is because people who lose weight more quickly than that are more likely to gain it back.
That was where I got stuck. I hovered between 185 lbs and 180 lbs from early 2010 through late 2013. Basically, I had done all the better I was going to do with the diet and exercise routine that I had chosen for myself. Frankly, I didn’t want to eat any better and I didn’t think I could work out any more.
In the late summer of 2013 I revisited my orthopedist to see if there was anything that could be done about the chronic pain, snaps, crackles, and pops in my knee. This single doctor’s visit would end up being what set the stage for finally getting off my weight loss plateau. My doctor’s advice about the pain and noise was simple: ignore it. He said as long as it doesn’t dislocate a third time (oh yeah, it dislocated again in 2012 when I was playing a too-strenuous sport for a guy who just walked a couple of times a week), then I should just work through the pain. He asked me what I would do if I could do any kind of exercise I wanted to. I said that I would start running. He said, “Then run.”
And so I did. After a few months of walking more often on more strenuous paths to build myself up, I felt confident start a running routine. I run every-other-day. I use the RunKeeper app to track my progress and I freaking love it (I don’t own stock in this company either, so use whatever you want, but it’s fun and encouraging to track your progress). Full disclosure: Sometimes the knee gets to hurting and I need to walk for a few days. But mostly I run. And mostly I feel great.
Today, I’m down to 165 lbs… and I’ve plateaued again. I’d like to make it down to 160 lbs, but that is going to mean either running more or eating even better. I’ll let you know what happens when I decide to commit to either one of those things.
So, there it is. That’s how I lost 45 lbs in just five years… and you can too!