Since 2010, I have lost 55 pounds. I still get asked how I managed to accomplish this weight loss, and my standard (and slightly annoying) answer is that I decided to eat a little less and exercise more.
In reality, this means that I counted calories for the first year, reduced my portion size at every meal, and began exercising for at least 30 minutes a day. I lost about half a pound a week for more than two years, and this resulted in a weight loss of 55 pounds, or about 23% of my body weight.
I've kept off the weight and am in the process (I hope) of taking off another 10-15 pounds.
It’s important to note that I did not change what I ate. I only changed how much of it it I ate. I still eat an Egg McMuffin and hash brown at McDonald’s every morning. I still eat burgers and hot dogs and prime rib and Doritos and apple pie and not nearly enough fruits or vegetables.
I just eat less of these things. And even then, only a little less.
As much as I hate to say it, losing weight was not very hard for me.
Why was I able to lose this weight when so many other try and fail?
I’d like to think that it has something to do with my superior determination, my naturally athletic build, and my ability to accomplish anything once I set my mind to it.
I’d like to think these things, but I suspect that this is not the case.
But I think I may have an answer, and it has to do with why I chose to lose the weight.
I began my program of weight loss almost immediately following the birth of my daughter. Seeing my little girl for the first time made me realize that I wanted to remain in her life for as long as possible, and to be as healthy as possible during that time. Clara’s birth was a wake-up call for me.
I did not begin losing weight in an effort to improve my physical appearance.
I began losing weight in order to improve my health.
I think this may be the key.
Every day that I ate a little less and exercised a little more, I knew that I was improving my overall health. I was elevating my heart rate for a sustained period of time, reducing the amount of fat entering my body, building core muscle groups, and improving my cardiovascular performance.
Even though I was not seeing any changes in the mirror, I knew that everyday that I adhered to my plan, I improved my overall health.
I suspect that people who begin to lose weight in order to improve physical appearance fail because the effects of weight loss take a long time to see. The first ten pounds can melt away without any noticeable difference in body mass.
The first twenty pounds can disappear without any change in the size of your waist.
Weight loss is annoying in that you first lose weight in all the places that no one sees or cares about, so if your goal is to look better, the results are slow in coming.
Even when the changes begin to happen, they will go relatively unnoticed until you begin wearing clothing that better fits your new size. The amount of attention I received for my weight loss skyrocketed after my wife purchased me clothing that fit my new frame.
Until then, the larger clothing effectively masked many of the changes in my body size. The six inches that I took off my waist went practically unnoticed until my wife bought me a pair of jeans that actually fit.
When I am exercising, and when I am opting for one plate of spaghetti and meatballs instead of two, I am constantly envisioning my heart and lungs. I keep them ever present in my mind’s eye. With each positive choice that I make, I imagine them becoming stronger and healthier and longer lasting.
For me, the change in physical appearance was simply a bonus. An unexpected outcome. The changes that have meant the most to me are revealed during my annual physical, when I am told that my blood pressure and resting heart rate are exceptional and my cholesterol has dropped into the near-normal range without the use of any drugs.
I would like to propose that a person’s rationale for a desired weight loss has a great deal to do with whether or not he or she will be successful.
I suspect that people who attempt to lose weight for reasons of health tend to be more successful in their weight loss. I also suspect that this motive for losing weight is not nearly as common as the desire to improve physical appearance.
There’s nothing wrong with attempting to lose weight in order to improve physical appearance, but I suspect that if this is your reason, you will be required to exert a greater degree patience and determination than I required.
I would submit that successful weight loss has as much to do with why you are doing it as it does with what you are doing.