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Eat Less, Exercise More

Ever since I finished college and started working desk jobs, my weight has gone up gradually. For the first several years, this was a good thing. 5’10”, 145 lbs was not quite an attractive physique. When I hit 30, I was at 164 and pretty fit – exercising regularly.

By the end of last winter, I was at 187. I didn’t look that good and I didn’t feel that good. When my ultimate league started up in May, I couldn’t keep up with anyone. Shortly after that, I had my annual physical. I know BMI is a rough estimate at best, but the chart on the wall had me square in the middle of the overweight classification. When my blood work came back a week later, my cholesterol was (borderline) high for the first time. I was ashamed. I was also determined to turn it around.

I’ll save the suspense and report that by this weekend I’ve successfully lost 23 lbs. I’m back to 164, and I’m at least as fit as I was 7 years ago. This is how I did it, most of it is pretty basic:

  1. Eat Less – I really think this is the most important. At every meal I would consider what portion size I would have eaten. I then ate 50-75% as much. For example, I love Indian buffets. In the past I would typically take two or three trips. Now, I only take one.
  2. Exercise More – 45 minutes or more of exercise at least 6 days a week.
  3. Eat Better – I cut down on fried foods and sweets. My snacks were almost entirely fruit and nuts. More salads, very few appetizers.
  4. Punishment – Some of my favorite foods are french fries, potato chips, and buffalo wings. I love bacon and cheese on my hamburgers. I was ashamed of how far it had gotten, and I punished myself by vowing to eat absolutely no wings, fries or potato chips until I hit my goal. I could still eat hamburgers, but they were never with bacon and cheese. This also presents a nice little reward for reaching the goal: the punishment can stop.
  5. No Cheating – I stuck to the rules no matter what. It’s easy to say something’s a special occasion or to use a vacation as an excuse to take a break, but I think that’s highly counterproductive. A lot of people use exercise as an excuse to eat more. I didn’t.

I’m really happy with my progress here. Now that I’m at my goal, I intend to maintain the exercise level and better diet, while reducing the punishment as long as I stay under 165. While I don’t think I need to lose any weight, I would like to lower my body fat percentage. I feel a lot better, and I want that to continue.

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