About My Diet

A good friend sent me this note recently.
Congrats on your weight loss.
What prompted it and what have you been doing?

Since I've been keeping track of my progress, I thought I take the opportunity to document my story. Here's my reply.

In September 2014 I had a routine blood test. It showed I had just entered the low range of diabetes. Since I'm not interested in being tied to injections or pills, I decided to modify my diet to see if I could fix the problem that way. So, I simply cut back on all things sugary. I never eat much in the way of candy, so there was not much of an adjustment there. And although I did not drink an abundance of soda, that was the primary change I made. One month later I had a follow up doctor's visit and discovered I'd lost 10 pounds - for only giving up soda!

Well, that got me thinking. I went from 265 to 255 just by giving up soda and it was so easy. For quite a while I've been interested in losing a lot of weight, but I never found much motivation. But here was the motivation staring me right in the face. My blood test still showed I was in the diabetes range, though it did drop a bit. And so it began. My target ... I want to get down to 200.

The next major event was that my daughter-in-law, Lynda, bought me a scale. And since I'm exceedingly competitive, I now had something to look forward to every morning as soon as I woke up. Strip, pee, and weigh myself. Would I win or lose? And nearly every morning I lost, weight that is - which meant I won - even if it was just two tenths of a pound. Heck, do the math. Even at that rate I'd lose six pounds a month. That gave me even more motivation.

Alas, that rate of loss did not continue. When I hit my first plateau, I was very discouraged. But I'm so competitive; I looked for more ways to lose weight. Carbohydrates! Give them up. No, not fanatically. But I'd never dieted before and I didn't know what foods were to be avoided. A bit of Google research and I found good foods and bad foods. And there were plenty of good foods to eat, so that's what I did.

I broke through the plateau and more weight came off - a bit slower, but it was still coming off.

Next, I found a saying that helped with the motivation. "Nothing tastes as good as thin looks." Any time I was visiting Aunt Shirley and she'd offer me sticky buns or other baked goods, I remembered that saying and simply took one cookie with my coffee.

I also had to develop a few tactics to help me change certain eating habits. Like late night nibbling on chips, pretzels, or taking ice cream before bed. To replace the chips and pretzels, I made my own trail mix with good tidbits, like nuts, seeds, dry cereal, taco chips, and raisins. Instead of ice cream at bed time, I'd eat an apple with peanut butter. As time went by, I gave up the trail mix and just ate a small salad and after I while I gave up the peanut butter and just ate the apple.

Oh, yes ... I also drank a lot of water. Any time of day, if I felt a hunger pang, I drank water - ice cold water. It's very refreshing. It was my go-to drink replacing soda and fruit juices with a meal. But just straight to put off hunger pangs, ice cold water does the trick.

I did no exercises. No walking, no lifting weights, no bike riding. Of course, I did a lot of work maintaining the grounds around the house. And through the summer that generated lots of sweat ... ergo, drink even more water.

And then there were more tactics. Eat slower, chew longer (don't shovel in the next spoonful till you've swallowed what's in your mouth).

I continued losing weight with an occasional short-lived plateau. And then at around 235 I hit a long plateau - very discouraging. I had to find something to break through ... and it turned out to be obvious. Eat less. In fact, I cut my portions in half! That's right. I'd make a "normal" meal, and then split it in two. Put half away in the refrigerator and only eat the other half for my full meal. Initially that was a hard transition. But I supplemented the missing half with a small salad or an extra apple and in about a week, the half size portion began to feel normal. That broke me through the long plateau and my weight loss continued.

Oh, yeah. Here's another important tactic. Since I'm retired, there's nothing I have to do every day. And if Iím not keeping busy, I'm going to eat. So, the trick is ... keep busy. Fortunately I have a creative temperament and I have an endless list of projects of the "one of these days" kind. So, I keep busy. But not just doing busy work. I pick out projects that I'm really motivated to do. And projects that have a deadline associated with them really help to keep your motivation up. So, when I'm working on a project with a deadline, it's hard to tear myself away from the project even to eat a meal. And the weight keeps coming off.

Motivation to lose weight is the biggest "keeping at it" trick. For me, it was my competitive nature and the challenge I set for myself to get down to 200 pounds. I'm at 215 now. I recently bought a new pair of pants, four inches smaller in the waistline. The rings on my fingers are now loose enough that I can take them off, and I even have to buy a new pair of shoes in a smaller width. Hey, I can even see my genitals again.

Well, you asked. My blood test shows I'm no longer in the diabetes range. And people I haven't seen in a while all remark on how much better I look.


P.S. A few more tips. If I'm noshing on something like peanuts or popcorn, I pour a portion into a container (as much as I want) and I put the rest away. Do not eat from the bag or you won't know when to stop.

While food shopping buy a few interesting things to eat - things you don't usually have on hand, like pomegranate, a new fruit or a new veggie. Something you look forward to having. It keeps you from getting bored with "the same old things."

Copyright © Yale Schwartz, 2016

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