I am a big loser.

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I've managed to shed 118 pounds.

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The scale shows 167.0 lbs, as of late last week. The highest weight I recall having seen over the past 10 years for myself was 285-ish. I think I may have been as high as 295, but I'm not sure, so I'll just stick with 285 as my official high weight. I was 275-ish when I went on a cruise back in April of 2006. I wore a size 44 - 46 pants, a 3XL t-shirt, and my dress shirts were 18" in the neck. My belts were a 48. I constantly tried to hide in my clothes - I'd buy stuff that was a bit too large, pull on it constantly, stretch it before putting it on, all of those fun gimmicks to try and disguise my body shape.

Here's me in April of 2006:

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And here I am today (actually last night), in my new wetsuit. Granted, it sucks in the body a bit, but you can tell a difference (and what an awful picture - ugh!).

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Today, I weigh in at between 167 - 171, depending on the time of day. I wear a size 32 pants, a size M or L t-shirt, and my dress shirts are 15 - 15.5" neck size. My chest went from a 48-49 to a 40. My belt is a 34-36.

Everyone asks, "How did you do it? What's your secret?"

There's no real secret, although I have learned a few tricks along the way, and I'll share them here. I'll start with some background on how I got started.

Sometime around October of 2007, I started trying to jog a little. I bought a treadmill, and would walk on it every so often, maybe do a light jog, but it was frustrating - I couldn't really jog for more than a minute or two before becoming completely winded. I gave up after a few weeks.

Then I saw an Ironman triathlon on the TV and figured I'd give jogging another try. I still couldn't jog much, but I was determined to do it. I went online, found a program called "couch to 5k" and tried to follow it as best I could. A few months later, I bought a used bicycle and started riding it. I felt better, but the weight wasn't really dropping off.

I continued to jog and ride my bike. On weeknights, I'd jog my 25-minutes (per the 5k program) on my treadmill. On weekends, I'd take the bike over to the Military Park and ride. I started with 6 miles, and within a few months was up to 50-60 miles. I vowed to do a triathlon before the end of 2008, and set my sights on a few.

In the meantime, I adjusted my diet - I never ate breakfast, I'd have a dry, grilled chicken salad for lunch, and I'd eat a handful of pretzels with peanut butter for dinner. I kept running at night - 3 - 4 times per week. I kept riding on the weekends. Just before my triathlon was scheduled, I went for a few swims. And on August 10, 2008, I did a triathlon. I thought I was in unbelievable shape. My pants fit loose, my shirts were too big - I was a lean, mean, fighting machine. Or was I? Here I am immediately after my race:

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UGH! At this point, I was wearing a size 40 pants, and weighed around 225 pounds. I'd lost at least 60 pounds, but crikey - I was still chubby. About a month later, I took a roadtrip to California, and it was there that I discovered a few secrets to weight loss.

I wasn't eating enough. I wasn't eating in the morning. And, I wasn't exercising in the morning. I firmly believe that those three things are the key to successful weight loss. Here's what changed when I was in California...

I went to CA weighing around 212 pounds. While there, I rode my bike every morning (for about 45 minutes), and went for a 15-20 minute jog. I did this immediately upon waking up - I'd roll out of bed, stretch, put on some clothes, and hit the road. An hour later, I'd come back and take a shower.

I'd then grab a light breakfast (cereal with skim milk, an english muffin with an egg and some turkey bacon, or something like that), and I made sure to wait at least 30 minutes after exercising before eating. I'd eat a light lunch (a turkey sub, no cheese; a salad, no dressing; etc), treat myself to a snack in the afternoon (a cookie or a churro), and then eat a normal dinner.

I felt like a pig the entire time that I was in California - I thought for sure I'd gained 10 pounds. But, when I returned home some 10 days later, the scale showed I was 200 pounds. I'd lost 12 pounds while on vacation - how does that happen??

From that point on, I vowed to always exercise in the morning, eat breakfast, and eat reasonably throughout the day. I've continued to follow that routine and it's helped me shed another 30 pounds in just over 4 months. I've plateaued at times - it's not like I've continued to lose weight every day, but I stayed persistent and consistent.

So, in summary - my tips/secrets go like this:

  • Exercise in the morning. I was exercising like crazy every night and not realizing any kind of significant benefit/change. As soon as I started jogging in the morning, I dropped weight in big chunks. It stands to reason - you crank up your metabolism for the entire day by doing some activity early on.

  • Eat breakfast. You always hear this advice, but it's true. These days, I'll eat a Special K Protein Bar (180 calories), or a bowl of mixed fruit (190 calories), or a bacon egg and cheese muffin (245 calories), or a breakfast taco (egg, pico de gallo, turkey bacon - 190 calories). It's critical - eat in the morning!!

  • Eat more food. I thought that by just eating some pretzels at night that I'd drop weight, but it didn't work. I've added more calories to my diet - I now try to average around 1000 calories per day (versus 500-600 back in August of 2008).

  • Be persistent. I track my food intake online, over at the Livestrong.com website. I enter in everything that I eat and drink, no matter what. If I eat 4 donuts from Round Rock Donut, I enter in 4 donuts. If I drink a few beers at the taco place, I enter them in. It keeps me honest, and it lets me see where I'm at each day. I enter in my exercise as well, which is rewarding - I can look back and see that I've run almost 150 miles since moving to Austin on March 20 - that's pretty cool.

  • Know what you're eating. This is critical. Eating at restaurants every so often is fine, but know what you're eating. Case in point: I can make a chicken fajita taco at my home, and if I make two of them (two tortillas, one chicken breast, bell pepper, onion, tomato, a small scoop of salsa), I consume 300 calories. If I eat two chicken tacos from Taco Bell, it's 420 calories. From Taco Cabana it's 530 calories. And that's without any dressings or sauces... Again - by tracking food via a service like Livestrong.com (which has 550,000+ foods listed), you can really get a handle on things.

  • Don't give up, be realistic, and try to enjoy yourself. This one sounds odd, but I'll do my best to describe it... It's hard to lose weight. It's frustrating, especially at the beginning. Be realistic - you're going to eat pizza. You're going to go to Buffalo Wild Wings and eat waaaaay too many wings. Get back on the plan as soon as possible! But at the same time, try to avoid the pitfall of gorging yourself... I'm definitely guilty of binge eating from time to time - I'll be super good all week, and then one night, I'll order a huge hamburger, fries, cheese curds, and have 3 cookies for dessert. That's no good; consistency is the key - just don't be too much of a nazi, or you'll get discouraged.

So there you have it. Not sure if this info is helpful - it's not really revolutionary, but I can tell you that it works. I never took any pills or supplements (other than the occasional protein shake as a replacement meal). I didn't get hypnotized or follow any fad diets. The age old rules of "eat less and do more" stand firm. I just modified them a bit to "eat more in the morning and do more in the morning."

Ultimately, everyone is different, and our bodies all respond to weight loss in different ways. This is just what has worked for me, and your results may vary. I figured I'd share the info since everyone asks me "how I do it" - and now you know... :-) No secrets, no magic, no mirrors, just the old fashioned "do more" approach.

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Typical day:

7:15 am = Run for around 35 - 45 minutes
8:00 am = Shower
8:15 am = Drive to work; drink a coffee, eat a Special K bar
12:00 pm = Eat lunch (grilled chicken salad; turkey sub; in a pinch: a protein bar)
5:00pm = Ride bike for an hour (I know; I'd rather ride in the AM, but I like sleeping)
6:15pm = Shower
7:00pm = Eat dinner (grilled pork tenderloin, chicken or fish + roasted vegetables)
9:00pm = Eat a snack (apple, cereal, sugar free Jello pudding, etc)

Quite often, I'm busy at work late into the evening, so it's been more difficult to keep this schedule, but I try. Just take it one day at a time! Oh, and thanks for letting me brag a bit... :-)

1 Comments

You are my friggin' hero. Seriously. That's awesomely unbelievable how well you've done.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on May 5, 2009 12:19 PM.

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