I’ve Now Lost 33 Pounds, And It’s Been An Education

This morning, I hopped on the scale for my official weigh-in. It’s kind of my Sunday morning ritual, though I’m actually on the scale first thing every morning. However, I only record it once per week.

The reason for that is that you can see fluctuations from day to day and they can seriously mess with you if you’re not careful. That’s why I set a given day to count as “official.”

I always weigh myself in my underwear right after I’ve voided any waste my body stored overnight. That way, I can be as consistent as possible and not have variations caused by water, food, or clothing.

Anyway, I hopped on the scale today and looked at the weight. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but I’d recorded a one pound weight loss. I put my clothes back on and head to my laptop. I keep a spreadsheet with all my weights on it. I also record my body fat measurement as a way to also gauge my progress.

Today, I hit the 33 pounds lost mark, and I figured it was a hell of a time to talk about some of the stuff I’ve learned over the last six months of losing weight.

Now, before I get started, let me just note that I’m far from done. While I look and feel a whole lot better, I still have weight to lose.

During the last six months, I’ve got from 252.4 lbs down to 219.4. I won’t compare body fat measurements due to using a scale to start with, but now using calipers. They just don’t measure the same way, so I don’t think it would be a useful comparison.

However, my body mass index has dropped from 38.4 to 33.4. To be fair, that’s still classified as obese, and I’m not denying it, but it’s a major step forward on the BMI front, and since that’s the metric doctors and insurance companies like to use…

During my time getting to this point, though, there are some things that I’ve learned that might turn out to be useful to other people, so I figured I should share those.

As I continue on this path, though, I’m also fairly sure I’ll learn plenty more, so this isn’t close to a complete guide to lose weight. Just FYI.

1. Flexible Dieting is far easier than diets that restrict certain foods.

I’ve been using an approach called “flexible dieting.” It’s also called “If It Fits Your Macros.” The idea is that you can eat whatever you want so long as you meet your macronutrient requirements.

Now, this creates a certain amount of restriction naturally, but it doesn’t tell you that you can’t have anything. During the last six months, I’ve had ice cream, birthday cakes, and plenty of other stuff I probably shouldn’t have had. Yet I did and I continued to lose weight because I kept myself in a calorie-restricted state.

To be fair, it’s easier to be in this state if you’re eating what most term as “clean” foods, but it’s not a requirement. I can still eat mac & cheese, or three-cheese mashed potatoes or anything else I want.

The upside is that no I don’t crave foods that I’m not allowed to have…because I can eat whatever the hell I want.

That said, I’m not going to tell you that flexible dieting is the One True Way. It’s not. Other people have done amazing things on keto, or paleo, or going vegan, or anything else. You can lose weight on any of those diets. I just like the flexibility of this one. It may not be optimal, but it’s working.

2. Measuring food isn’t the burden some people seem to think.

I measure pretty much every bite that goes into my mouth. It’s either in a measuring cup or on a scale before it’s on my plate. The only exceptions are pre-packaged foods that are fairly uniform in weight and eating out.

If I tell people that, they automatically think I’ve taken on this massive burden. The thing is, it’s really not. I add a step to plating my food. That’s it.

Yet that one step allows me to track my food in great detail and so I know if I’m going over on my calories, if I’m not getting enough calories, or what. I know precisely what I’m doing with regard to my food because I’m not winging it.

I’ve known way too many people who take on diets that will supposedly help them lose weight but make it so they don’t really have to control how much they eat.

It doesn’t work.

Now, diets that use other methods of restricting calories might work great. If you focus on portions instead of calories, you might do just fine, but you’re still having to enter a calorically restricted state.

Because that’s vital to me achieving my goals, I take a more direct route and I’ve found that it’s just not that hard to do. Part of that is because I’ve established a habit and made the idea of doing this part of who I am, but it wasn’t difficult to do.

3. Don’t be shocked if the numbers your given don’t work out for you.

When I first started this journey, I plugged my stats into calculators to get my basil metabolic rate or the number of calories your body supposedly burns just by existing, more or less. You’re supposed to take that number, adjusted for your lifestyle–do you work a strenuous job, are you active on a day-to-day basis, etc.–then you reduce it based on the amount of weight you want to lose on a weekly basis.

I did all of that, then started working toward hitting those calories and that macro breakdown, and you know what happened? Nothing really.

You see, my basil metabolic rate didn’t actually conform to the standard. That’s probably because my metabolism was reduced from a previous effort to lose weight.

That meant I had to adjust the daily calorie goals downward.

Once I did that, things start going down just fine.

The thing to remember is those calculators are based on what research has shown was average. They may or may not apply to you. It’s unlikely they’re 100 percent correct, but they may be close. Or, they may not.

It’s easy to get discouraged in the first few weeks when nothing happens, so you need the courage to shrug a bit and start adjusting until you see some movement. It’ll be worth it.

4. Get Used To Adjustments

As you lose weight, your metabolism adapts to what you’re doing. It slows down and you have to titrate your calories downward to maintain the weight loss. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s normal. You just do it and deal.

5. Hunger isn’t a given.

Everyone associates the phrase “calorie-restricted diet” with the phrase “hungry as hell all the time,” and that’s not really accurate.

If I’m hungry, I eat. I eat big plates of food, too.

But I just recognize that because I can’t eat as much of everything that I want, I have to be smart about it. So, I eat a lot more of low-calorie foods like vegetables than I do of other things. That way, I get to eat a ton of food with few calories.

6. Despite all of this, it isn’t easy.

Losing weight isn’t really easy. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It weighs on you, pardon the pun. It sucks when all your friends are eating pizza and you didn’t plan on pizza so you don’t have the calories and you don’t really want to “cheat.” It sucks when your wife directs a play and they have a great opening night, but you have to bow out of the celebratory trip to IHOP because you need completely different food.

It’s not easy.

Oh, it’s easy in the first few months, but as they roll on, it gets more and more difficult. It wears on you. It takes a toll.

But you soldier on because you’ve got goals.

That’s far from an exhaustive list, but this post has rolled on way too long as it is.

Right now, I’m kind of tired. I’m thinking of taking a diet break, in part to kick my metabolism in the balls and also because I could kind of use the break a bit. However, I’m also thinking I might want to wait on that until the weight loss slows a bit more. I don’t really want to restrict myself to even fewer calories, after all, but we’ll see.

What I do know is that I’ve learned a good bit, despite this being my second round of significant weight loss, and I’m sure I’ll learn more before I’m done.

I’m just glad to see the scale doing down and the lean body mass at least holding steady. We’ll see what the future holds, though.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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