How I Lost 32 Pounds in 6 Weeks

As of this morning’s weigh-in, I’ve lost 32.2 pounds in the past 6 weeks.

If this were a late night infomercial, I’d follow that statement up by saying:  “By only working out 3 times a day on the Big Daddy aerobics machine!” or “By taking 3 pills a day of the revolutionary new weight loss pill!”

The sales pitch isn’t coming.  Neither is the miracle cure for losing weight, sorry.  Every time a friend, family member, or colleague finds out how much I’ve weight I loss, the question is always the same:

“What’s the secret?”

I become a little perturbed when I hear this question.  It devalues what I’ve done the past 6 weeks.  I didn’t lose this weight by joining the carrot soup diet, taking some pill, or getting on some exercise machine for 5 minutes a day 3 days a week — I’ve worked hard.  I’ve made smart eating choices, worked out every single day (in and out of the gym), and fought the urges and cravings to quit it all.

That’s the  truth, but it’s hard to respond to the “What’s the secret?” question with that diatribe.  People need more details.  They need specifics to follow — a list, if you will.  So, here you go.  Here’s your list.  This is how I’ve lost my weight.

No fad diets, no magic pills, no bull:

Burn more calories than you take in. I’m not on the low carb diet, carrot soup diet, or sugar busters — I don’t count points or tokens or whatever either.  I lost weight by burning more calories than I’ve taken in every day, it’s as simple as that.  For every 3,500 calories you burn, you lose a pound.  If you eat 2,000 calories today but burn 3,750 during your day, you’ll lose 1/2 a pound.

Drink water all day.
I don’t want to hear it:  “Waah, I need my coffee/soda/juice!”  I went from drinking 75-150 ounces of soda a day on January 14th to now where I drink nothing but water all day long.  I drink at least 50 ounces of water every day and have it as a beverage for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in addition to carrying a water bottle around with me everywhere I go.

Moderate, not eliminate. You can’t tell yourself that you can’t have certain things — you’ll eventually break and binge.  You can eat anything your heart desires and still lose weight, as long as it’s in moderation.  Things I moderate include mayo, butter, ranch, ketchup, cheese, candy, and all fried foods — that’s about it.

Gradually make the switch. I cut out soda cold turkey, but some people can’t — it’s understandable if that’s not an option for you.  One thing where I didn’t make the switch overnight is milk.  I’ve drank whole milk since birth and when I started my new lifestyle I switched to 2%.  Then 1%.  Now, I’m drinking skim milk and I don’t notice any difference.

Wheat is sweet and white ain’t right. That’s so corny, I’m sorry.  Another thing I’ve had since birth:  white bread.  This is something else I’ve quit cold turkey — I made the switch from white to wheat.  Before my new lifestyle my wife would have me try her wheat bread — I absolutely hated it.  Now, wheat tastes wonderful and white bread tastes like candy, chalk full of sugar — disgusting.

Learn to love the gym. If you haven’t worked out for a while, the gym is going to be terrible for you at first.  Your body will ache, you’ll be bored, you’ll want to be anywhere but there — tough.  Stick with it.  Once your body gets used to moving around it and starts getting physically fit, you’ll forget all about those first two weeks when you would rather visit the in-law’s instead of going to the gym.

Make gym mandatory. With my past attempts to lose weight I thought going to the gym was optional.  Not this time.  I make the gym every single day after work, and if something comes up, I go to the gym later that night.  You need to think of the gym as a basic necessity, like food, water, or shelter.  You need the gym.  It needs you.  Be there everyday at least 4 days a week.  I go 6, but that’s up to you.

Use your newly found fitness. Once you have been going to the gym and your body starts being “useful” again, have fun.  Since I’ve become a lot more physically fit and active, I’ve been doing all kinds of intensive projects around the house, playing basketball, running around more with the dogs, etc.  The more fun you have with your refined body, the more motivation you’ll have to continue working out.

It’s no fun training your body all the time just to park it every night in front of the television.  Go out and enjoy your body.

Keep increasing your workout intensity. I increase my workout intensity on the elliptical machine about once a week.  As soon as my body gets comfortable with one setting, I dial it up a notch.  You have to keep increasing the intensity of your workouts or you’ll keep burning less and less calories every workout.

Avoid mirrors. My diet tells me I’m healthy.  My workout tells me I’m healthy.  My habits tell me I’m healthy.  So why does that stupid mirror in my bathroom every morning tell me I’m fat?  I’ve been on my new lifestyle for over 6 weeks and have lost 30+ pounds, but in reality, I’m still 300+ pounds.  There is a huge lag in my perception and reality.

Don’t get caught up in your appearance until the end.  I know I’m losing weight and I know I’m healthy — it just takes a little time for our bodies to catch up.

Tell people about your weight loss. Everyone I know is holding me accountable for my weight.  You may think telling people you’re trying to lose weight is scary — it is, I won’t lie.  But that’s where the value is — you’re scared to death of being embarassed.  Once people know all the intimate details of your struggle to lose weight you have no choice but to succeed.

That’s what this whole charade here is all about, my friends.

Posted by Shawn Tyler Weeks on March 4th, 2009