The one thing almost all studies and “experts” agree on is, losing weight is the number one resolution made every New Year. And there is an overabundance of information in cyberspace telling you “exactly” how to do it. Unfortunately, most of it is wrong. Full disclosure… I’m not a doctor. I didn’t even play one on TV. But there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that helped me out and I thought I’d share my journey and the things that worked for me.
About two years ago I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see it read 199.8 lbs. You see, I have spent most of my life in the 160 range. I’m about 5’-10” that felt about right for me. As I slowly started packing on the tonnage, some obvious things started to happen. I started cutting the grass with a rag in my pocket to mop up the sweat running down my face. That was new to me. I’m don’t sweat. In fact, in high school I used to run by the drinking fountain and throw water on myself just so the coaches would think I was working. I had about 5% body fat. There just wasn’t anything to sweat out. Suddenly I wasn’t having that problem. I also noticed my energy level dropping. Well at least I though that’s what was happening. Turns out, dragging around an extra 40 pounds take a lot of energy. My energy level wasn’t dropping. In fact, I was probably using more. And all of it! So I set out on my quest to reduce my pants size as well and that %&#$ number on the scale. Spoiler alert… I dropped 35 pounds, and man do I feel better!
So what’s the secret? Here’s the bad news. There isn’t one. But you already knew that. It took me years to put that weight on. It wasn’t going to just “melt away”. If you ever run across an add claiming to “blast away belly fat in days” don’t waste your time. It’s not going to happen. First thing I came to realize is targeting fat loss is not a reality. While its true sugar seems to find its way to your middle, making it go away takes an all over approach. There is a ton of information out there on things like subcutaneous fat vs visceral fat and why one is worse for you than the other. If you are so inclined, look it up. But for me, I just wanted it to go away. I named my kids, I named my animals. I didn’t need a name for my belly fat.
The second reality, losing weight and getting healthier is a lifestyle, not a diet. In my mind a diet had a beginning and an end. So at the end you stop dieting and guess what, the weight comes back. Doesn’t that somehow define insanity? You know, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Funny how that works! No, getting healthy is a mindset and a lifestyle and if you’re serious about it, it’s here to stay. For me, that involved making a hobby out of it. Something I enjoyed doing. I did little things to force myself to keep going. I downloaded a pedometer app on my phone and started counting steps. I made it fun and challenging in small ways. I started finding myself parking a little farther away from the door just so I could get a few more steps in. I’m lucking enough to live by Lake Michigan. So on a nice day in the summer I might grab some lunch and take a walk down by the water. Before long, I was looking forward to seeing if I could best last week’s step count. I joined a gym and started making new friends in the morning over a workout session. I now really look forward to going. We actually have fun together. And finally, I got excited about learning about food and how it interacts with my body. This is not a difficult science but, for me, it was fun to discover why eating a certain type of food would help me lose weight and not be hungry. Like I said, a hobby was forming. And believe it or not, I was actually having fun with it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid and turn into a nut case (some would disagree)! I still like my beer and I’ve never met a pizza I didn’t like. But I started to pull back in places that was easy for me. I walked by the doughnuts that seem to be on the table at work almost every day. Sure, I’d grab one every once and a while but I could pass them up too. My biggest problem is snacking at night. So I found something that I don’t have to feel quite as guilty about. I love all of the new flavors of Triscuits. If you’re watching your calorie intake, Triscuits are a pretty good snack. And it beats the heck out of taco chips and dip. And let’s face it, those big bags of Tostitos were meant to be single servings.