As most of my friends and coworkers know, I’ve lost a whole lot of weight over the last year. Folks that see me for the first time ask me a lot of the same questions, so consider this my attempt to answer the most common ones.
1. How much weight have you lost?
As of this morning, just under 60 pounds.
2. Why did you decide to do this?
When we realized we were going to have a kid this fall, I figured out that I’m going to be over 50 when he graduates high school. At the rate I was going with my health and weight… well, I just wanted to do something about it. My initial goal was just to shed 15-20 pounds and ride my bike consistently. The rest has just been bonus, in large part because sticking with the new habits has been pretty easy.
3. How did you lose the weight?
Combination of eating better & exercise, but mostly eating a lot better. I use the Weight Watchers iPhone app & online tools to track and guide what I eat. I also started exercising consistently once or twice a week. That’s pretty much it.
4. Weight Watchers, huh? Why? Don’t you have to go to meetings or buy their food?
I did Weight Watchers because a few folks I know through Twitter were having great success with the program. I also used a Points guide a bunch of years back to understand my diet. I didn’t really follow the program then, but I was familiar with the concepts and it made sense to me: measure calories in, keep it slightly below calories out to lose weight.
The good thing about Weight Watchers is that you don’t need to buy any particular food. You can eat whatever. It’s really about moderation and making healthier choices on the whole. The meetings are also not necessary. Some people need the motivation and the support. I just need the data, and the iPhone app and online tools were perfect for me.
The program assigns a points value to food based on it’s nutritional value. Based on your weight, age, and activity level, they give you a daily point budget. You track what you eat and make sure you stay under the daily limit. On nights when you’re out with your friends or out for a special dinner or you just need a treat after a rough day at work, you also have a weekly budget you can draw from. Finally, you can bank extra weekly points by exercising (which could be playing Wii Fit for 30 minutes, or mowing the lawn…).
There are lot of other apps out there for the iPhone that take a very similar approach. Many are cheaper. The Fitbit, for example, has calorie tracking functionality.
5. How much are you exercising?
Not a whole heck of a lot. The key thing is that I have fun with it. I don’t particularly like the gym. So, last summer, I started biking regularly, starting with short rides (20-30 minutes) and building up. I then realized how much I really enjoyed being out on my bike. This past summer, I rode my bike for 60-90 minutes once or twice a week. I played 9 holes of golf walking & carrying my bag (even in the pouring rain) with our office league once a week. That’s basically it. Most weeks, I’d have a full days worth of points banked from just one bike ride and 9 holes of golf.
As the weather has gotten colder, and I have less free time because of the baby, I’ve started running instead. I can get a workout that feels good in 30-40 minutes instead of 90. Plus, it’s more fun than I imagined.
I keep bringing “fun” up because I want this to be sustainable. Exotic diets or constant gym routines aren’t sustainable for me. This works.
6. Any other tips?
The one thing I have been using more than I imagined possible is a small, inexpensive food scale. I don’t use it to be precise about portions. I use it to be lazy about dishes. If I wanted to know how much 2 tablespoons of, say, olive oil is, or a quarter cup of cheese, I’d have to use a measuring cup or a spoon, then wash it. If i have multiple ingredients, I dirty more dishes. With the scale, I can just weigh each step and then turn the scale off and I’m done. Most nutrition labels indicate serving sizes by both volume & weight, by the way. Pretty handy. And, yes, I’m that lazy.
The other thing is to find activities that work for you. I’m imagining that most guys will be alright with an excuse to play golf, and walking is awesome on a beautiful golf course. Heck, it’s the only reason I kept playing all summer because, honestly, I’m the worst golfer I know. Plus, its cheaper than renting a golf cart each time.
7. When will you stop trying to lose weight?
I basically kinda have. In the last 7 weeks, I’ve lost ~5lbs, which is less than a pound a week. My official goal is to get my BMI to be in the normal range. I’m technically still just on the overweight side of that line. Once I hit that goal, I’ll switch the Weight Watchers plan into maintenance mode and then focus on my fitness goals instead.