After losing 40+ lbs in three months, I’m reminded of a truth we were told growing up that was the cornerstone of not only my weight loss but also my ticket back to good health. Eat your vegetables. That was really the main change I made to get myself from being borderline obese, borderline diabetic, with fatty deposits on my liver, back to 100% health. I had to learn to eat my vegetables regularly and often – daily, as the main source of my food rather than all the other processed crap I’d been eating. Since my primary concern was liver health, I first dove into what foods are good for the liver. Guess what? Vegetables. Fresh veggies, primarily. This same quest led me to a series of items, all of which are good for you overall as well. As it turns out, what’s good for your liver is good for your heart, your brain, etc.
It’s amazing to me how much common knowledge is out there that we know, but simply ignore. Then, we get into a situation like I was, overweight and at a junction in our health, so we seek out the help of a trained professional – a doctor. And they proceed to tell us the same things we heard in childhood. Eat your veggies, don’t eat sugar, don’t eat processed food. As my doctor put it, “if it comes in a bag or a box, you probably shouldn’t eat it.” We know that we should be eating like this. Who looks at a label with 25-30 items in it and thinks, “Oh this should be good for me…” No one does.
All this is eclipsed though by the food we get “sold” when we go out to eat. Restaurant portions are too big. The ones that show calorie counts on their menus are the best when you’re trying to lose weight. You can eat your entire day’s calories in one meal if you’re not careful. So all things in moderation. Wait, ever heard that one before? Of course, you did. We all heard it growing up. I heard it in church, in school, from my family, from my friends’ parents, etc. We were surrounded by the truth, but it wasn’t convenient for us at the time. Let’s face it, sugar tastes fantastic. Few things are as palatable as a Pop-Tart or a HoHo. Have you ever had a healthy, organic “Pop-Tart?” I have. I don’t recommend it.
That’s the other thing I had to do to lose weight. I had to not substitute this for that. So I had to stay away from sugar substitutes. I stayed away from “low-fat” and “fat-free” unless these items were naturally so, like Mozzarella Cheese. I didn’t have a Diet Coke with my meals. I haven’t had a soda in years, as a matter of fact. It’s important to not try to substitute, though, since you won’t lose the craving for the thing if you keep stimulating the craving in your meals. Wean yourself, or quit cold turkey. We know these chemicals aren’t good for us. We don’t know what they actually do to us. I have an idea that they make us fat.
One thing I didn’t know, that wasn’t common knowledge, was that my gut bacteria was out of whack. All that fat and sugar grows bad things in your digestive tract, and guess what? Those little assholes cause your cravings. I used a high-quality pre-biotic to feed the good bugs and starve the bad ones. That plus my diet of plant-based foods and lean proteins (fish, chicken, and turkey) got rid of my cravings. When I did finally break down after a few months, and at a weight, I knew was healthy, the food wasn’t even good to me anymore. Cravings gone. I started to crave good foods.
Actually, the weight loss was a byproduct of eating well. By sticking to a healthy diet, and being conscious of how many calories I was eating daily, the weight shed off. I was losing 4 lbs a week in the beginning, when I was heaviest. This was due to the fact that I wasn’t eating enough to keep a 200-lb man at 200 lbs. I was eating enough to keep a 150-lb man at 150-lbs. Oh, and I did increase my fluid intake quite a bit. Your body needs water to break down fat. You’ll know if you’re not getting enough water. You’ll wake up one morning with the worst dry mouth you’ve ever had, and the trappings of a headache. I don’t overdo it, though. I drink one big 16-oz cup of coffee in the morning, then move to black tea. I drink three cups of black tea before switching to green tea. I drink that the rest of the day, maybe three more cups throughout the day.
At 50 years old, I have to balance getting enough fluids with being able to sleep for a few hours before I have to get up and pee, so I try to stop drinking fluids by about 6 PM. But that’s only an hour before I go to bed, so make your adjustments as needed. OK, so drink enough fluids. Huh, we’ve heard that one before, too, haven’t we? I’ve developed a theory that we all inherently know what we’re supposed to do, even how we’re supposed to act, we just choose not to for some reason. I haven’t worked out the reasons we choose not to do what’s good for us, but we do know these things.
So here I am, at 150 lbs again this morning. I’ve been this weight since early April. I may fluctuate a few lbs up, especially when I’ve been traveling and have had to eat out more than I’d like, but within a few days of being home, I’m back down again to 150. None of my clothes fit, I have to save up to buy a whole new wardrobe. Fortunately, my 24-year-old son lives at home and I can wear his cast-off jeans now. The next step is to exercise. Again, common knowledge that we all know we should be doing, but choose not to. I’m the worst at exercise. I hate it. It’s boring. So I have to find activities that I like doing that are active. I’ll probably just walk around the park by the river for starters. I’ll fire up the old Bowflex sitting in a corner gathering dust and push my way through a few exercises at some point, and that will be it. I might even gain some weight, as long as that weight is muscle, not fat. Who knows. It could happen.
But we all know what we need to do. The question you have to ask yourself is why you aren’t working towards better health? What is holding you back? You won’t get better without doing the right things. As a matter of fact, you’ll just keep getting worse, as I did, until you’re faced with a serious health issue. Maybe that’s what you’re waiting for, too. It sure looks to me like that’s what I needed to get my health back on track. I’m just thankful I got afraid before I had a major incident.
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