Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Diet advice

Lots of people around me are dieting. I did it and succeeded. What I did might not work for anyone else. But I wanted to get this down and give my friends the option of trying to replicate what I did.

My story

I peaked at 215. I was at 209 when I really started the diet outlined below. In just over 3 months I bottomed out at 163. As of this writing I am at 175, and I have been below 180 for two years. But those numbers aren't how I was really measuring myself. My goal was a 32 inch waist. I started the diet at about 37 inches. I reached that goal at about 168 pounds, and I just lost 5 more pounds while I tried to figure out how to eat again. As of this writing, at 175, my waist is still 32 inches--I've been working out some, so I'm not carrying those additional pounds around my waist. This advice comes directly from my experience in that diet.

I had a liver problem that forced me to get my weight down. I started my diet in something of a panic, desperate to make a drastic change in the way that I managed my weight. I started out in an extreme fashion. I think that the extreme start was critical to fixing my mindset for long-term success, thus I recommend this same extreme start. But I implore you to talk to your doctor first, especially if you are on any medications.

I don't drink alcohol, smoke, or take any recreational pharmaceuticals. I also don't drink coffee or sodas with caffeine--I quit those many years ago, and I sleep much better and wake up much more rested now. If you do any of those things then you will need to adjust these plans somewhat to deal with that. I can't really help you with that, except to say that all of that stuff is bad for you and you ought to stop.

The diet

Set goals
* Don't just define yourself in terms of weight. Think about your measurements as well. My personal goal was to get in to my old skinny 32' pants again. Weight is easiest to measure, but think about what you really want and set a goal that works for you.

Fast for 3 days
* Water only. Drink as much water as you want. No food. No medicine. No coffee. 3 whole days.
* During these three days spend your time thinking about why you eat, why you choose the foods you eat, and how you decide how much to eat.
* On that last question, if you are not crying then I humbly suggest that you have not yet discovered the real answer. This is serious soul-searching.

Set your attitude
* Say this over and over to yourself every time you think about being hungry:
"I was overweight because I ate too much. The hunger I feel means that I am losing weight right now. I can choose to be hungry. I do not have to eat until I decide it is time to eat."
* You will be hungry almost constantly, even after the fast. If you are not hungry then you are not losing weight.

First breakfast
* 1 piece of buttered toast and a small glass of juice. Feel free to cry while you eat.
* Anything more than that will make you sick.
* The first few meals need to be bland-ish and quite small.

* Eat the same types of meal foods that you used to eat. Serve your plate like you used to. Then cut all of the portions in half, and put half back. Then cut all of the portions in half, and put half back again. You end up with portions that are 1/4 of what you used to eat.
* You will have a very hard time doing this. This is far and away the hardest part of the diet. Without the fast and soul-searching I would not have been able to do this for long enough to accomplish anything.
* I cried a lot. I got up from the table when I was done and still hungry, and everyone else was still eating. I would wash my plate and cry at the sink. My kids were a little weirded out about this, but they got used to it.
* I dieted like this for 3 months. I ate at a restaurant only three times in those three months. It was very very difficult. I would recommend avoiding restaurants as much as possible.
(When you reach your weight/size goals you will start eating more again. See below.)

Low calorie/fat replacements
* Where possible, swap out low calorie replacements for the foods you normally eat.
* Low fat and calorie margarine is easy, you will never notice the difference.
* Baked chips are much better now than they used to be.

Chew gum and brush your teeth
* Pick minty flavors of both gum and toothpaste that will help discourage you from eating for a while.
* Brush after every meal while you are on the diet.

Weigh yourself every day
* Buy a good scale. Put it in your bathroom near the shower. Weigh yourself every day, nude, at about the same time. Keep a log of your weight every day. Watching this number fall is unbelievably encouraging. Do not skip this.
* You will not lose the same amount of weight every day, even if you do exactly the same things every day. If you stick to the diet then you should see consistent weight loss from week-to-week.
* I peaked out at 5 pounds lost per week for a period of about 3 weeks. That is very extreme. I consciously decided to eat a little more and slow that down.
* I would suggest that you watch your daily weight chart and shoot for 3 pounds per week.
* If your goal is based on measurements then measure yourself. I did this by measuring the holes in my belt. I had to buy a smaller belt after a month. I started on the last hole of the new belt and stopped dieting when I got the the fourth hole.

Budget to buy new clothes and give away your old fat clothes
* Every 20 pounds is a clothing size. If you want to lose 60 pounds then you will buy a new wardrobe once or twice on the way down, and then a new wardrobe when you reach your goals. You can wear your old fat clothes for a little while, especially if you are sticking to the diet and losing the weight quickly. But buy yourself a few nice clothes that fit while you are still losing weight.
* Shoe sizes are a little funny. I lost 45 pounds and only half a shoe size. Don't forget to buy new shoes, too.
* These shopping trips are your rewards for all of your hard work. Don't skimp. Especially on the final wardrobe when you reach your goal. Buy nice clothes that you will enjoy.
* When you shrink out of you old fat clothes then give them away. I gave them to Goodwill, and made trips by there regularly. Celebrate your successes.

No snacks or desert
* None until you reach your goals.
* My diet was late October through early January. My mom didn't know I was dieting and she baked my favorite cookies and pie at Christmas. I cheated on my diet and ate a little. It didn't kill me, though I didn't lose any weight for a few days.

Don't skip meals
* Three meals a day.
* I recommend that you try to eat a high fiber breakfast--I still eat a small bowl of Raisin Bran and a half-glass of pulpy OJ every morning.
* Don't eat dinner too late.

Don't forget to poop regularly
* If you have any tendency towards constipation then this diet will make that problem worse. Fiber and yogurt with live cultures. And take some gentle laxatives if the problem gets too bad. And if this is a problem for you then you might need to adjust what you eat to avoid certain foods: cheese, bananas, white bread, etc.
* Don't get behind on this (sorry). If you go 2 days without a poop then take your laxatives.
* Constipation is the enemy of weight loss. But it is more than that. If you don't poop for 3 days then eat a little extra (especially eat extra high fiber foods.) If you go 4 days without pooping then see your doctor.

Sleep cold
* You burn lots of calories shivering to keep warm.
* It takes practice to learn, but when I started doing this it really supercharged my weight loss. I was losing 1/2 pound per day before I started sleeping cold. After I learned to sleep cold I was losing 3/4 pound to a whole pound per day.

After the diet

After you get through a few weeks or months of that you will find that you are a much different person overall. You have taught yourself self discipline in one of the hardest ways imaginable--fighting your own most primal instinct to eat. You will find it easier now to exert self control in other areas. Experiment with your new found power and choose to apply your self control in other areas.

When you reach your goal, celebrate
* You will find that you won't eat to celebrate like you once did.

Portions and snacks
* You have been eating 1/4 of what you used to. Double that now. So you will eat twice as much as you have been used to, but half of what you used to eat when you were gaining weight.
* Depending upon your total weight lost, you might should eat more or less than 1/2 of your old portions. You will need to adjust that.
* Allow yourself little snacks. Not every day. And eat smaller portion snacks than you used to.
* Allow yourself to really enjoy a special meal or special desert, ONCE IN A WHILE.

Measurements and weighing
* Continue to weigh yourself at the same time every day. When your weight creeps up adjust your eating immediately to bring it back down in the next few days. Don't let yourself get 5 pounds over.
* If you start working out then you will have to adjust your weight expectations. Muscle really is heavier than fat. That is why I chose the waist line measurement as my goal.
* My belt is my main barometer. I skip deserts and eat smaller portions while I am in the 3rd belt hole (from the end.) I allow myself to indulge a bit while I am in the 4th belt hole (that is the 32-inch measurement.)

Clean out your closet
* No more fat clothes. Burn the bridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment