For those of you that don't know, on February 6, 2006 at 250 pounds, I (along with DW) started doing Weight Watchers. Although DW was the only one of us that actually went to the meetings, we both began a lifestyle change that now (almost three months and 75 pounds later) we both feel is a lifestyle we can maintain for quite a while.
A lot of people have asked me what we've been doing to lose so much weight so quickly. So for the sake of not having to repeat the same story over and over again, I have decided to include a step by step recount right here on this blog for the whole world to read once and for all.
First of all, I started paying attention to the point value (calories/fat/fiber) of everything I put in my mouth and didn't eat anything that wasn't point worthy. At 250 pounds I was allowed to eat 28 points per day plus another 35 points per week to use at my discretion. The beauty of Weight Watchers is that you can eat whatever you want as long as you don't exceed your daily point value. Although there were certain foods I had to start eating smaller portions of, this part of it was really not that difficult to me (AND I REALLY LOVE TO EAT). Some might think it would be really difficult to keep track of how many points you're eating, but it's really not. As creatures of habit, there are really just a very small handful of things that any of us ever eat anyway and once you learn the point values of those foods, "counting points" becomes almost second nature. The bottom line is that if you really want to do something bad enough, you will be willing to make a few sacrifices along the way. In my case, I really wanted to lose weight so when it came time to visit my favorite Mexican restaurant, I didn't have that hard of time ordering the chicken taco salad and only eating a small plateful of chips and salsa instead of getting my normal chicken enchiladas, two baskets of chips, cheese dip, and tortillas.
Second... and this one is huge... before February 6, I was drinking around 12 to 24 ounces a day of either Dr. Pepper, sweet or flavored tea, or some other sugar enhanced drink and NO water. Since February 6, I have had around 12 ounces of Dr. Pepper and around 24 ounces of sweet or flavored tea... TOTAL, and my water intake has increased from ZERO ounces per day to anywhere between 80 and 120 ounces per day. This made a huge and immediate impact on my weight loss. If you are "addicted" to caffeine or Coke or Diet Pepsi and you are using the fear of potential headaches as a crutch, let me just encourage you to give it up for a month and see what happens. You might get a few headaches at the start, but what you'll find (if you drink enough water) is that you will start feeling better than you've ever felt in your entire life once you start drinking enough water. I really think that proper water intake is something most people on a "diet" overlook and I think that's a shame. Once again, it may be a sacrifice for you to give up your daily trips to Sonic or Starbucks for your Route 44 or Double Mocha; if you really want to be healthy you will make it work. One side note, for those of you who have a weight problem because you don't ever feel full (MOST OF YOU), there's really nothing quite like drinking 64 ounces of water to make you stop feeling hungry.
Third... because I have bad knees and running is very painful on joints, on February 6, I got on an elliptical machine and did 10 minutes of strenuous ellipticizing. For the next few weeks, I worked myself up to 20 minutes and have done at least 20 minutes a day, five or six days a week, since that time. Don't feel like you have to devote an hour a day to working out in order to lose weight and be healthy. There are very few days when I spend more than 20 minutes exercising. As long as you are eating right, 20 minutes a day of good moderate intensity (makes you sweat, but your breathing is light enough that you can still have a conversation with the person next to you) cardiovascular exercise will do the trick. If you think you don't have time to spend 20 minutes a day investing in your health, I beg to disagree. If it's something that is important to you, you will make time. I'm a full-time graduate student working two full-time jobs, with a wife and (at least what I consider to be) a pretty healthy social life. If I can find the time to spend 20 minutes a day, five or six day a week, so can you. No more excuses.
To sum all that up, and I won't even charge you...
1. Switch from white to wheat bread. Switch from mayonnaise to mustard. Eat less cheese and red meats and more fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, and chicken. Take time to figure out how many points are in a particular meal... a salad with egg, cheese, ham, and ranch dressing has just as many points as a pork chop or chicken breast plus broccoli, a roll, and a baked potatoes with a table spoon of butter and sour cream.
2. Stop drinking so much sugar and start drinking at least half your body weight in ounces in water every day. Your body will have a much easier time burning fat if it doesn't have to burn off all that excess glucose first.
3. Spend 20 minutes a day doing something that makes you sweat.
Just in case you're wondering what I looked and look like... here you go: