How much weight I lost.
Why I decided to lose weight
I was approaching age 40, had a brand new nephew, and couldn't sleep through the night without aches and pains. I couldn't bear to enter my 40s plagued with illness and obesity and unable to carry my baby nephew for more than a few minutes without feeling winded, or kick a soccer ball with him in his early years. I had been overweight, obese, or morbidly obese my entire life. I had also lost and gained back significant amounts of weight on every diet known to man. But it never lasted. I've always said, anyone can lose weight if they follow a strict diet, but keeping it off is another story.
How I lost the weight.
There's no secret: calories in (eaten) must be less than calories out (burned)!
I needed a kick-start so I chose to do a drastic, medically-supervised liquid fast diet that consisted of drinking five nutritionally-balanced protein shakes a day, nothing else (except water). I was on 600 calories a day and didn't chew for 8 months! BUT, that's not the hard part. Again, any morbidly obese person on so few calories would see dramatic results. What made all the difference is my mindset. I was determined this time that it would not be yet another diet, yet another weight loss, yet another fleeting few weeks or months before I gain back all the weight and more. That kind of yo-yo losing/gaining kills the spirit more than anything (not to mention your metabolism!).
I managed to lose more weight since the fast and have kept it off for over 3 years now -- again, no secrets, just sheer determination, eating the right foods in the right amounts, regular and consistent exercise, and surrounding myself with support. When I first came off the fast, I was scared to death of eating again and regaining the weight. I had a diet coach, joined a 12-step support group, worked with a nutritionist and researched nutrition on my own, and hired a personal trainer.
FOOD/NUTRITION: Through much experience, trial and error, I have settled on a food plan now that helps me maintain. It is also roughly the same food plan (perhaps with just 100-200 fewer calories per day) that I followed to continue to lose more weight. I eat moderate, balanced meals three times a day but have 2-3 snacks, also balanced among protein, carbs, and healthy fats. I develop a food plan every morning with exact calories, keep track of everything I eat, and report calories & deviations from the plan to two friends every day. I also have way more vegetables than anything else (though I love meat!), prefer to have more protein and less carbs (carbs tend to make me want more and gain weight), and stick to whole grains rather than white flour, rice, or bread.
EXERCISE/ACTIVITY: I started exercising when I was still 260 lbs at the start of the fast: 5 minutes on the elliptical per day at first. That's all I could do, but it was better than nothing. Today, I work out 6 days a week, 1-3 hours a day (average 90 minutes), a mix of cardio, weights, and abs/core. I start every day at the gym and can't imagine a better life. I also run!! For my 40th b-day, I ran my first half-marathon. A miracle!!
Tips and Tricks
- Keep track of your food (doesn't matter if it's calories, points, grams of fat, protein, carbs -- whatever works for you)
- Plan out your food every day in the morning (or night before); write it down so it's in black and white and you are accountable
- Weigh & measure portions if portion size is a problem (which it still is for me)
- Don't deprive yourself! If you feel deprived too often, it could easily lead to regain or discourage you so much that you fall off the wagon completely
- Join a support group -- this is too hard to do alone
- Don't be afraid of exercise -- 5 minutes a day is better than 0
- Just do it