Losing Weight for the Last Time
Updated: Jul 5, 2021
Losing weight is easy – on paper. Just burn more calories than you take in. In practice, losing weight is anything but easy. It's truly an exercise in discipline and patience.
When Covid hit last year and we were all on lock down for a while, I lost a lot of guitar students. I told myself that I could use the extra downtime to get back into good shape. Instead, I fell into a funk and didn't really do much for several months except sleep and practice…and eat. A LOT. I knew I had gained a lot of weight, but I didn't know how much until I mustered up the courage to step on the scale. 295 pounds (I'm 6' 2"). That was last December. It's late June now, and I've dropped 60 pounds. I'd like to get back to 200 pounds or just under. I have about 35 pounds to go.
Unlike my past efforts, this feels like a permanent lifestyle change. Here's what I've been doing. PLEASE take this as motivation and not medical advice! I'm just telling you what has been working for me.
I'm hungry more often than not, but I'm not starving myself. I eat three meals a day, and I have an afternoon snack if I'm super hungry. My diet doesn't vary that much. Here's what I eat in general.
Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. (small meal)
One of the following: oatmeal, peanut butter and honey toast (Ezekiel bread), or a protein shake (a powder + almond milk). I also start the day with a big glass of water, multivitamin, and a vitamin C tablet.
Lunch at 11 a.m. (my biggest meal, eaten right after a late morning workout)
Meat and vegetables. Meat is two servings of either salmon, chicken, or beef in the form of hamburger patties. If it's salmon, it's salmon patties. I like the patties because it makes portion control easier. My vegetable is usually a big sweet potato, but sometimes I'll have two ears of corn on the cob or one of those bags of microwavable edamame. If I still feel hungry, I'll drink a protein shake.
Snack around 2:00 (only if I'm really hungry)
Usually a protein shake. Sometimes a couple slices of Ezekiel bread with some butter.
Dinner between 4:00 and 5:00 (smaller meal)
Dinner is a hodgepodge. Sometimes it's one serving of meat and veggies. Sometimes it's a frozen Healthy Choice type of dinner with a protein shake. Sometimes it's a peanut butter and honey sandwich on Ezekiel bread. Sometimes it's a few energy bars. I don't recommend that "energy bar" dinner as a daily practice, but it's a weird way of feeling like I'm cheating, which I'm really not.
It's important to pick an exercise plan you can stick with. For me, I have to consider that my knees are trashed, and I have shoulder problems, so I'm not going to be doing any heavy lifting. I really like cardio, though, and I've scheduled a regular 40 minutes on a stationary bike five days a week. It's easy to get bored on a stationary bike, but that's where Netflix comes in. Most Sundays I hike in the Sandia foothills or mountains. My hikes generally last between 2-5 hours, depending on the trail. This is great exercise, and clears my head. I love being out on the trail. I would traipse around the mountains more often if I didn't have to earn a living. (This picture is at the top of Embudito Canyon.)
It also helps if I feel accountable for my progress. For some, this might be working with a partner or a trainer. For me, it's enough to step on the scale every single morning. It's easier to ignore those late night cravings when I know I'm going to weigh myself the next morning.
To sum it all up, what's working for me is a careful diet, consistent exercise, and stepping on the bathroom scale every morning to keep myself honest. Diet has to be low calorie, but it also has to consist of food that I like. When I've finally reached the point where I am maintaining weight instead of losing it, I'll pretty much eat the same foods, but I'll just be able to eat more of it. Exercise has to be steady, and it also has to be something you enjoy doing. For me, it's as simple as a stationary bike and Netflix during the week, with a long hike on Sundays. Finally, I need accountability. Whenever I've tried the diet and exercise routine without weighing in regularly, I've failed spectacularly. As soon as I start weighing in, it's like I've flipped on a switch, and I feel ultra-motivated.
I hope this is helpful for anyone going through the same struggles.