When I was in high school I was always very thin. I was 5’11” and I weighed around 130 pounds when I graduated. I was lean, able to do almost 90 push-ups without stopping and could hit 102 in two minutes. Likewise, I could do sit-ups without stopping up into the 200’s and could get almost 130 in two minutes. I was running a 13:30 two-mile. Fast forward to joining the Army several years after graduating and I had put on weight. I was almost 200 when I started basic training and dropped to 165 by the time I graduated that.
Fast forward again to deployment in Afghanistan, and I weighed in at a healthy 185. I wasn’t overly bulky with muscle but we had been training for deployment for well over a year and a lot of it focused on heavy weight bearing ruck marches in anticipation of getting attached to our long range surveillance unit, 2-38 Cav. During that time I was carrying the M249 SAW at least as often as I was carrying the M4. I also had the M240B assigned to me in addition to some extra intelligence gear that was heavier than it should have been.
Another fast forward. I leave the Army and over the next couple of years, I found myself at a whopping 230 pounds. I would touch 235 on a bad week. I was working night shift on a trauma-surgical floor and eating whatever we could get delivered at 2100 hours. That meant pizza, Chinese food or buffalo wings or burgers and fries. And that was at least three days a week. I was drinking mostly sweet tea or soda, ate fast food at least a couple of times a week, and I was past the age of 30. Not the age where you want to be playing catch-up on your health. I could still move and I didn’t look as heavy as I was, which is probably why I let it get that way. I simply was not paying attention.
One last fast forward about 18-20 months, and here I am sitting at 185 again, with a goal of 180, or maybe somewhere in the 170’s. Admittedly, I am exercising a lot more often right now than I used to, but exercise has almost nothing at all to do with how I got back down in weight.
It was 99.9% dietary changes.
First, I cut out all soda and all fast food, and started eating ONLY what my wife cooked. We cut our restaurant trips from twice a week, to about twice a month when other people invited us out. When we got restaurants, we decline appetizers and drink water, and I usually look for seafood first (I love seafood anyway). I started drinking a ton of water, at least 1.5-2 liters per day. We got rid of our pantry full of snacks and only keep fruit instead (which my kids prefer anyway). Aside from seeing our bank account get bigger, I saw my weight drop from 230+ down to 212.
After that, we stopped frying foods at home. Nothing at home is fried anymore, which is also nice for cleaning up. We use the grill at least three times per week. We replaced all ground beef with low fat ground turkey (93% lean/7% fat), which tastes the same to us, and has a lot less grease to it. I started eating fish for lunch. We started taking a standard multivitamin everyday.
Next step was to train ourselves in portion control. Fill your plate with 1-1.5 normal sized portions of every item, and then when you’re finished with it, wait 15-20 minutes before you get seconds. Often we find that we end up not wanting any more. We also have started eating bananas, apples or strawberries for snacks between meals. I find that the bananas do the best job of satisfying hunger at that time.
We switched white bread to wheat instead. Low fat mayo. Fat free cheddar cheese. Low fat mozzarella. Wheat pasta. Fat free refried beans on Mexican night with wheat tortillas.
The diet plan we are on is non-intrusive, easy, quick, doesn’t leave you hungry, doesn’t eliminate any particular foods (even though we have personally chosen to eliminate some), which means you don’t have to give up your favorite stuff, and it has worked really well with me and my wife (who has also lost 30+ pounds) over the last five months. It has allowed me to start moving better and breathing better and feeling better and looking better. My blood pressure is back to normal and my heart rate is down from being irregular in the 90’s to very steady in the 70’s.
My email address is [email protected] and if you’re wondering what the plan is that we are using, please email me. I assure you that I am not selling anything and I am not going to direct you to anything you’ll have to pay for. I am willing to just tell you what we are doing and give advice and answer questions. I am not a trainer or a dietitian, but I am an ER RN and I have gone from 235 pounds at my worst down to 185 pounds today, and I only added more new exercise about one month ago by going to a Jiu Jitsu gym. That’s it. I plan to continue adding more exercise in the form of the Wednesday WODs you see here on AP, but our weight loss up until now was entirely diet based.