How I (Finally) Started Losing Weight

Two things: first off, I’m not fat. However, for a while now I’ve wanted to lose “that last 10 pounds” which apparently set up residence in my gut and had been there long enough to start receiving mail.

Secondly, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. If you have serious weight or health issues you should talk to a professional before doing any of the things below that worked for me. I’m only talking here about my own experience.

About a year ago my wife bought me three sessions with a personal trainer. Not sure what that says, exactly. It’s kind of like getting the gift of plastic surgery or a bottle of mouthwash for your birthday.

The personal trainer gave me some new workouts and really invigorated my gym routine. I definitely felt better and a few people asked if I had lost weight. However, I hadn’t dropped a pound and I still wasn’t where I wanted to be.

Recently, I had a personal training session with my friend Mark Nutting. We talked about how I was in better shape than before, but hadn’t come any closer to my weight goal. Mark gave me some structure and advice, and I’ve dropped 8 lbs. so far, and hope to reach (or exceed) my goal by the time my wife and I celebrate our 10-year anniversary with a trip to Aruba. (I don’t want to have to Photoshop the muffin top away.)

Here’s what finally did it for me:

  • Eat before bedtime. I know, isn’t that wonderful? But it works. As Mark told me, your metabolism is like a campfire. If you don’t eat from the end of dinner until breakfast (break-fast), it’s like throwing a giant log on a few smoldering embers. I now have a light snack (yogurt, a half PB&J sandwich on whole wheat, a small portion of leftovers, etc.) right before bed, and try and eat as soon as I wake up.
  • Keep a food journal. I know, doesn’t that stink? You have to write down everything you eat, and use an accompanying book to calculate calories, fat & carbs. You then have to add those all up, minus your exercise calories and keep track of your weight. Even if you don’t lose weight, your math skills skyrocket.
  • Exercise every day. I had been pretty good, getting to the gym three times a week. Now I try and go for a bike ride or a quick run on the elliptical trainer, or even a brisk walk on my days off. It’s that constant work on keeping your metabolism up that makes the difference.
  • Eat out sparingly. You know what’s crazy? That a 750 calorie meal is considered the “low calorie” choice on many menus. You can cut down on calories and save money by eating in.
  • Cut down on alcohol. This is a tough one for many people, but alcohol slows down your metabolism, which makes it tougher to lose weight. Also, that beer you just drank was a whopping 170 calories. Except you didn’t have just one beer, did you? (For the record, Johnnie Walker Black? 60 calories.)
  • Stop drinking soda. OK, I had already stopped drinking soda, although I did have a healthy Red Bull addiction that I’ve put on hold for the time being. However, if there’s one thing that can add on needless calories, it’s soda. Soda calories don’t fill you up, so they’re just extra. I now think about a can of Coke as a desert, something to be savored every once in a while, but not all the time.

 

The other thing that has helped me is a very supportive wife (yeah, the one who sent me to the grownup version of fat camp) who cooks amazing meals that are low in calories and fat, often locally sourced, and always delicious. Thanks, babe. :)

Rich Brooks is founder and president of flyte new media, a Web design and Internet marketing firm in Portland, Maine. His monthly flyte log email newsletter and company blog focus on Web marketing topics such as search engine optimization, blogs, social media, email marketing, and building Web sites that sell. He is currently an Expert Blogger at FastCompany.com and a featured blogger at MaineBusiness.com.