The two easy items that have led to sustainable weight lose
You meet a friend, and he looks good, and he mentions that he is on this new weight loss program which you have been hearing about. When you get home, you google the diet and do a little research. You read some good reviews and some bad and you also get a general idea about how the diet works. Based on this you are off and running. You follow it for about a week and lose a little weight. And you get a little excited. You also, actually start attending the gym you belong to on a regular basis. And the next week you lose another couple of pounds. You buy a book about the diet and read most of it and then follow the diet a little more closely. You continue to lose weight and a couple of friends mention that you look good. A month later you are down 8 pounds. You keep on going and 60 days from the start you are down 20 pounds. Three months later you 25 are pounds down. Then things start getting tough at work and you fall off the wagon for a couple of days. You start up again but a week later some other thing goes wrong, and you give up. And 2 months later you are back where you started.
This sort thing seems to happen to me every four or five years and I always ended about where I started.
And I think in the back of my head I always blamed the diets. Weight Watchers, Atkins, Fit for Life and the Mediterranean Diet all “failed” me. But here is the thing, in every case the diets did not fail me I stop dieting. The pressures of life caught up to me and I went back to my old habits and in every case, 6 months later I was back to my usual adult weight.
At one point it occurred to me that I needed to address what would happen when I stopped following my weight loss program. I needed a couple of simple rules that I could follow at all times that would allow me to go off diet but not regain the weight (and maybe even lose a little weight) and then get me in the head space to go back to the program.
And this is what I came up with: 1) Walk an average of 10,000 steps a day, so 70,000 steps a week. 2) Do not eat sugary foods.
1) Walk 10,000 steps a day: In practical terms this means that at night depending how many steps I have taken during the day at around 8:45 PM I go for a 1.5-to-3-mile walk. Normally, at this time I would zone out in front of the TV. Instead, I go for a walk for about 45 minutes to an hour. And then when I get back, I usually still have an hour and change to watch TV. In essence I have cut my TV time in half. I also make an effort to get more steps during the day. Sometimes I eat a quick lunch and then take a 20-minute walk near my office. When I park in a parking lot, I always park in the back, so I get more steps. On days when I am off me my wife and my 4-year-old son make an effort to do things that include walking, such as, visiting a zoo, a park, or exploring a neighborhood or town where we walk around. What I have found is there are all sorts of fun ways to get more steps in.
2) No Sugary Foods: What is a sugary food? Come on, you know what a sugary food is when you see it. (A supreme court judge once defined porn in a similar way). The obvious list is, cake, pie, donuts, chocolate, candy, soda, ice cream, cookies and pastries. I avoid this stuff and anything else that I know is a sugary food when I see it. I keep a diary of how many days I have gone without eating a sugary food. (22 days and counting at present). What I have found is that eating sugary foods leads to me wanting to eat more sugary foods and also leads to me craving and eating unhealthy foods in general. When I commit to not eating sugary foods, I find it is much easier to follow a healthier diet. Not to mention that eating a lot of refined sugar is just bad for you and a great way to pour on the calories.
Here are the advantages that I have found to following these 2 simple rules. Firstly, I can actually follow them. With the walking I find I really enjoy going for my nightly walk. There is a podcaster named Dave Jackson who has a great quote on his weight loss podcast called Logical Losers in which he states, “the best exercise is the one you actually do.” And this for me sums up perfectly why walking has been so helpful for me. I am able to go for my nightly walks and get in extra steps because I enjoy it. I listen to podcasts or music on YouTube, Spotify and Pocket Casts which I really enjoy or sometimes I just walk and take in my surroundings, which I also enjoy. Either way, its peaceful and fun. In all honesty, it is little trickier to avoid sugary foods, but it is something that I have found can be done by avoiding keeping sugary foods around, not buying sugary foods and at times when sugary foods are around (at parties and social occasions) just digging in my heels and resisting.
Not eating sugar means it is far easier to stay on my diet. And when I am off my diet it is far easier to maintain my weight or even lose some weight. And holding to the discipline of not eating sugary foods and walking has made it easier both to eat more moderately when I am off my diet and to get back to my diet. I found in the past when I stopped my diet and started putting on the pounds that it was pretty daunting to start up again whereas now, I find it far easier to start again.
How this worked for me.
For whatever reason the habit of walking and consistently averaging 10,000 steps a day has been easier. As of this writing I have been very consistently walking 70,000 thousand or better, steps per week for over a year. In the last 52 weeks I have walked around or over 70,000 steps for all but 2 weeks and the 2 weeks I did not walk were the ones in which I either had a cold or had Covid-19.
Avoiding sugar has been trickier. About three years ago I started to make a real effort to avoid sugar. But I stopped making it a priority for a while and I came to see this was a major mistake. About a year ago I focused much more on avoiding sugar and the results have been very good. However, I have not been perfect. I have gone as long as a month and change without eating anything with a high sugar content. It is tricky though, and I still make more mistakes than I would like. Ideally, I would have a sugary food maybe four times a year (My birthday, Christmas and on a couple other special occasions.) But I am not there yet. Although I am going in the right direction, and I have been able to minimize the amount of sugary food I eat.
Overall, the results have been pretty good, my weight has gone down from about 255 pounds to about 219 pounds. And I have not kept weight off this consistently during my adult life. For most of my adult life I have weighed around 255, and every time I lost 25 pounds or so, 6 months later, I was back in my 250s. In the last year and change I have slowly but consistently lost about 35 pounds. (I still have a way to go but that is okay, I will get there.) For me what has been most important is that I have been able to hold off the weight and slowly go down rather than lose weight at a fairly quick pace but then flame out and in 6 months’ time and be back at my original weight.