I lost 50 pounds in a year.
It’s weird to write that! For most of my childhood I was always super-skinny and had a crazy-fast metabolism. But my job is sedentary and I like to cook and my metabolism noticeably slowed down as I progressed through my 30’s.
By 40 or 41 I’d hit 215. By some standards that’s not a lot and on my 6-foot frame it didn’t look overweight but it’s more than I wanted to weigh.
More critically I was frustrated by the fact that I worked out regularly but didn’t have the trim physique I wanted; and I was mindful of how the pounds could add on in the years to come.
So, in the summer of 2017, I decided to do something about it.
I spent a year focused on it and got the result I am happy with. 50 pounds in a year is not a lot of weight, nor is it fast. But I’m not in a competition and I was learning as I go. But in case you’re curious how I did it, I’m going to share the 4 key lessons I learned along the way…
Lesson #1. Fitness Is Essential For Health But DIET Is The Linchpin For Weightloss.
For years I worked out very aggressively and grew increasingly frustrated at my inability to move off of a weight plateau. Then I read one thing that illuminated the problem and changed everything: “You can’t outrun your fork.” (I’d source that quote but I don’t remember where I read it… and I think it’s more of a maxim than one thing that someone said one time.)
You can’t outrun your fork. In other words, you simply can’t workout enough to burn off the calories of what most people eat in a day. I worked out for years and never lost a pound but what started the weightloss shift almost instantly was when I adjusted my diet.
Many people who think they can eat whatever they want if only they exercise enough—you can’t do it. You can’t exercise enough to burn the calories consumed in most peoples’ diets. Yes you can do workouts that burn a lot of calories, but go look at the caloric intake of what you are eating. There aren’t enough hours in the day to create a caloric deficit.
Lesson #2. I Cut One Thing Out Of My Diet But It’s Probably Not What You Think.
I know there are lots of people who swear by the practice of cutting out sugar or gluten or whatever. But me? I like food, I like to cook, I like booze, I like snacks. So, what did I cut out? I didn’t cut out a single ingredient…
… the only thing I cut out was volume.
I simply started to intentionally eat less. One sandwich instead of two; smaller portions of pasta; smaller snacks while drinking a smaller glass of whisky. (A few months in I realized that, without being intentional about it, I was actually eating exactly half of what I used to eat, although I never went into it with that goal.)
I didn’t miss a thing; it happened so gradually.
Lesson #3. I Weighed Myself Every Single Day… And Then I Did One Other Thing.
Look, I realize that weight is not a measure of health or even fattiness (since muscle weighs more than fat) but it’s the tool I had available to me to monitor (without getting complicated to measure body fat percentages), so that’s what I used.
I weighed myself every day and wrote it down, then I did one more thing…
I recalled the day before: what I ate, how I felt, what my activity level was, etc. (Some people actually journal this information but I didn’t. If I had trouble remember I probably would but I didn’t need to write it down.)
Amazingly, it got to the point where I could predict pretty accurately which days I’d see a weight loss and which ones I didn’t, based on my level of activity and food intake for the day. Yes, that sounds crazy and people don’t believe me but I became scary accurate by the end.
Lesson #4. This Is The BIG ONE: I Chose My Level Of Satisfaction.
This is the big one. Lots of people tell me that they struggle to lose weight because they like food too much. Hey, I love food too. The shift for me was when I redefined my level of food satisfaction.
When did I push myself away from the table? Was I happy with a smaller bowl of potato chips in the evening? Was I good with one glass of wine instead of two?
Ultimately, how full did I feel going to bed? (Full? Or simply satisfied? I learned that there is a difference and the latter is a weight-loser).
By the end I had shifted my level of food-satisfaction and savored each bite even though it was less than I used to eat.
I didn’t follow a hyped-up diet that brands itself as the Next Big Thing. Heck, I barely would call what I did a “diet” but rather a surprisingly minor lifestyle adjustment. More importantly, I realized the control I had over my life and health with simple decisions.
And the result? I got trim and I feel great. Now I’m looking at maybe cutting just a bit more weight just for fun!