I’ve been staring at myself in the mirror for years telling myself, “I have to lose weight.” I watched as my stomach pushed farther and farther out, and my clothes stopped fitting. I have “trim fit” Nordstrom’s shirts in the closet – 7 of them, that I haven’t been able to wear for several years. I stopped wearing my favorite belt because the belt buckle rubbed uncomfortably against the bottom of my stomach. I had a tough time putting on my socks the last year.
The challenge was, I knew it would be a Herculean effort to lose the weight. I hate exercise, and I have no time to squeeze anything else into my life. So I just kept growing. I imagine if I outgrew my normal clothes, not just a few trim fit shirts I was able to wear three years ago, something would have changed. But late last year, my doctor told me I had to lose weight. After my regular annual blood test, he had me go back for a liver enzyme test for Hepatitis. I had some elevated liver enzymes. My wife and I discussed for a week or so how the hell could I possibly have gotten Hepatitis, what are the ramifications of living with the disease, etc. until I went back to get rechecked. That threat alone got me to get my head out of my ass and start eating better. I’ve gotten my weight under control before, so I knew what needed to be done. The Hepatitis test came back negative, which was great. I knew I hadn’t contracted the disease, I had no symptoms at all. But my doctor still wanted me to get an ultrasound of my liver.
My liver has what??
The long story short is, I have some fatty deposits on my liver. Since the front-desk nurse called me to relay the information to me, not my doctor, I don’t exactly know how deep the shit I’m in is, but it did scare me enough to make a serious change. I really enjoy my alcohol, even in moderation at this point in my life, and your liver is one of those organs that you really can’t do without, so this, too, got my attention. My wife and I immediately went back on a plant-based diet with lean proteins mixed in. My blood sugar was also borderline, so I cut out the little sugar I’ve added to my diet the last year. As I do, I started researching this and that, especially liver health, and what can be done to restore yourself back to health. As it turns out, what’s good for your body is good for your liver, and vice versa. The biggest suggestion that kept coming back was just to lose weight. Even just 10 pounds could drastically help both my liver and my high blood sugar. Since both my dad and my brother have had type 2 diabetes, it’s something that’s always lingering in my thoughts.
Enter the Internet and a Doctor
I stopped drinking a beer or two, or a brandy, every day. I’ve only had two or three drinks in the past six weeks. But somewhere in my internet searches, I came across a guy, claiming to be a doctor, who had lost weight, but not until he made a “radical change.” I sat through his unbelievably frustrating internet video teaser video that I swear was 45 minutes long just to find out that 1. He stopped eating all grains. Whole grains as well. That’s something that was different. I’ve been told whole grains are the good carbs. Hmmmmm. 2. That all legumes should be avoided. What? This isn’t what I’ve been told. Then he added the kicker – this is why you can’t seem to lose weight. He included rice, corn, quinoa and all other grains in his banned food list. I’m not going to go into the supposed science, the basis of which is that some plants cause a reaction if you eat them. Not Earth-shattering news.
I’ll be the first to admit that I hadn’t been eating all that carefully, but I also didn’t feel like I’ve been eating enough to make me near 200 lbs. I’ve never been a big eater. So, since I was cutting things out of my diet anyway, I decided to try his suggestions, not by buying his book, just by mostly cutting out all grains and legumes, and being very conservative with nuts. No peanuts or cashews (he said those were bad, too).
The last time I lost weight I lost 1 lb a week and I was happy to do that much. It’s a slow process and one that kept me from jumping back into the diet because I knew that losing 10 lbs would take 10 weeks. Apparently, that’s not the case. I’ve lost somewhere between 20 and 25 lbs since the end of December, sitting here in the middle of February. I weighed in this morning at 170.8 lbs, a full one pound lower than yesterday. I have 5.8 lbs to go to get to what I feel is my “ideal” weight, 165 lbs for my 5’11” frame.
What have I done?
So how have I done it? I’ve gone to a nearly all plant-based diet, but also have focused on foods that are extremely low in calories. If I have to grab something because I’m really hungry, I make sure to grab low-calorie foods. Apples, carrots, cottage cheese, etc. all work in these situations. Also, at first, I don’t think I was as low calorie each day as I am now, it takes a week for your stomach and system to adjust to the lower calorie intake. I know I can’t keep this going forever because I’m not consuming enough calories daily to sustain myself once I get to a healthy weight, but I’m also able to eat things that taste decent. Fuji apples are my go-to snack right now. They are as sweet as candy (I honestly gave up sugar years ago, so they seem that way to me) and maybe 70 calories. My breakfast is an egg-white concoction with raw spinach and salsa. It’s wonderful. But, as I mentioned in another post, it’s all about the salsa. While I fear the damage extreme low-calorie might be doing to my system, I also know that I had a lot of stored energy for my body to consume. My BMI was 27 when I started, and as of today, it’s 23.8. That’s still high enough on the scale that I have plenty fat to give up.
What I eat each day
So my day of food looks like this: Two cups of coffee in the morning. I use the minimum heavy whipping cream in my coffee that I can stand. I’ve got it down to the teaspoon level. But let’s say I’m still getting 50 calories there. I also put a 1-inch cinnamon stick in the coffee to help with bitterness. Breakfast, 5 egg whites, spinach, salsa and occasionally even guacamole. Yesterday, I figured it out to be around 178 calories. Lunch varies. More spinach salad, or a vegetable-broth based soup with fish, a butternut squash soup, something along those lines, 150 calories. An apple as a snack – 70 calories. Dinner is normally similar to lunch. I was a little worse last night because we did a boneless chicken thigh (skinless as well) that had been marinated in balsamic vinegar – pan cooked in the marinade, served with two small de-seeded tomatoes (Internet doctor recommendation) and two slices of fresh mozzarella. Total 411 calories. That’s more than most nights because of the chicken thigh. Total, 859 calories for the day. To “maintain” my weight, I need 1900 calories per day. Somewhere around 3000 calories to lose a single pound. But I lost a pound yesterday.
Hydration is key
The only other thing I’m doing is lemon water in the morning (half a lemon in a bottle of water) before my coffee, and a good prebiotic to get my gut bacteria in order. I also drink tea throughout the day – the key being I don’t put anything in my tea. Black teas and green teas. But you have to be hydrated because the body uses water to break down the fat stores. Icrestorf you don’t up your fluid intake, you will dehydrate yourself. I now wake up each morning with a pretty dry mouth – a sign I need to drink more, but I have to balance that with my 49-year-old propensity to have to pee every two hours.
I’ve lost more than just weight
Now the benefits. Sure, I’ve lost nearly 25 lbs, possibly more. But, there are other benefits. My heartburn, normally attributed to taking Crestor daily, is completely gone. 100% gone. All I was eating in the morning was two pieces of sprouted wheat bread with some butter. I had horrible heartburn. I do have slight hunger pangs at different times of the day, but when I have those, I grab a cup of tea. Or, if they are really bad, 8-10 pistachios (34 calories). Not even a handful, because nuts have such a dense calorie content. Sometimes, if I have time to cut it up, I’ll grab an apple to help with the hunger. I’m not going to say I feel better because honestly, I never felt bad, so I feel the same, just not bloated, not uncomfortable, and no heartburn. My knees and feet don’t hurt or throb. That makes sense due to the less weight. I might actually be able to run again someday. I can wear those 7 trim-fit Nordstrom’s shirts now, and my favorite belt buckle no longer rubs.
It’s been easier than I thought
I kick myself now because it has been so easy to shed this weight. But my theory here is I was able to lose it because I was clinically overweight. I was a 27 on the BMI scale. I am today at 23.8, under the “overweight” tag of 25. I’m small boned and 49 years old, so I’ll be happy with 165 lbs when all is said and done. But I now know that I can lose weight by just controlling what I eat. I have not worked out one single bit. No walking, nothing else active. Honestly, it takes so much exercise to make a dent that I don’t feel it’s the biggest bang for the buck, although if I could add a 30-minute walk into my routine, I would get there much more quickly, and probably in better health. The biggest effort is simply lowering caloric intake. For me, I have to eat healthy to get my liver in line, which I will retest in March, just under two months away. So there will be more to this story. But for now, I’m able to shed weight and not really suffer. Sure, I’m not having chocolate, or a brandy each night. That does irritate me. But faced with liver problems at 49 years old? That slapped me into reality and got my ass in gear. Now, I’m lighter than I’ve been in more than a decade with success behind me already, I’m confident I’ll get to 165 lbs well before my goal of March.
Count those calories
I’m sure there are countless people who are at the same stage as I was. I wish I could have done this before I was forced to. I could already be through this phase. The best is yet to come because once I get to my ideal weight, I still have 1100 calories that I can eat to stay at 165 lbs. Take a look at this calorie calculator and figure out what you need and how much it takes to lose weight. You do have to track your calories for starters. Be prepared to be shocked. However, your story can be the same, and it can happen quickly. A word of warning, all calories don’t seem to be created equal. I’m sure if I were keeping below 1000 calories just eating Twinkies, I’d be in the hospital right now.
The other tools I’ve used are the BMI calculator at NIH, and a calorie journal app called “Fatsecret“. It truly is all about portion control and calorie counting to get where you want to be. After that, maintenance is about keeping within that daily count. It’s just basic math at the end of the day. Consume less than you burn each day and that will end in weight loss. And the quick results serve to motivate you to help you stick to it. Or, if you’re like me, you have to do it for your health. But please, check with your doctor before any change to your diet, because unlike most, I don’t claim to be an expert, I am just relating how I managed to lose 25 pounds since Christmas.
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