Today I want to write about how I came up with a diet and the strategies I used to stick to it and succeed.
How I Made Up My Mind To Lose Weight And Motivated Myself
I went to my doctor for my annual physical exam several years ago, in my late 60s. I weighed around 270 pounds, had a 44-plus inch waist, and my physical endurance was not too good. I had high blood pressure, and I was inching up into the diabetes danger zone. I have worked in the medical field for decades, and I saw myself becoming old. I looked terrible, and I did not have the same respect I had had when a lot younger, a lot more fit. My joints ached, I was always too cold or too hot, and it was difficult for me to tie my shoes, put on underwear, or put on pants. I could see where this was going.
I knew I wanted to be thinner, fitter, and I wanted to live. I did not want to leave my wife alone, as corny as that sounds, by dying before my time. I had tried to cut back and moderate my eating, but sweets, pastries, and high-calorie meats was always a temptation.
So when I decided I wanted to lose weight and get fit, I began by getting a book called The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person.
That’s not a diet book or a book on nutritional advice. That’s a book on motivating oneself to plan a diet and then stick to it. I did not do everything this book advocated, but I did a couple of things.
One is that I made two lists:
The first was a list of all the reasons I did not want to diet. I would have to give up foods, etc. I would have to say “No thank you” when dining with others. I would have to forego the frequent pleasures of chocolate, butter, etc. Actually, I don’t remember what was on that list, which I made 2 years ago.
But I still have the second list list of the reasons I wanted to lose weight. I typed it out on a 3 x 5 card, hung a copy in my office, hung another copy in my kitchen, put a copy in my wallet, and looked at it every time I wanted to eat something. I still look at it frequently, especially when I am tempted to eat something I should not eat. I was able to avoid feeling sorry for myself, feeling deprived, etc.
Here’s what’s on that list
- Reasons to Lose Weight
- Better health, heart, lungs, joints, beat diabetes tendency.
- I’ll likely live longer and have better quality of life
- More comfortable in my body
- More energy for work, study, play.
- I’ll feel better about myself and be pleased with myself.
- I’ll look a lot better.
- Physical fitness will be more doable
- Better appearance, more credibility in professional and personal interactions
- It will please Margaret (my wife) who worries about me.
- More respect from others
- Easier to get clothes and get into clothes.
- Easier to tie my shoes.
I have felt much better, been much healthier, gained more respect, and in short, have benefitted and continue to benefit as I had hoped.
How I Came Up With A Diet And Planned Following It
When I decided to lose weight, I did not know where to turn for valid advice. There were lots of diets, low-carb, low-fat, etc. I looked at some of those books and they all promised shorter-term gains. But I wanted something based on science. So I asked my doctor to refer me to a hospital dietitian.
I also read a lot of the information that I cited in earlier postings in this series to get some background. The hospital dietitian had my medical history, had my weight and height, and we discussed what I liked to eat, including some of my ethnic preferences. Part of my family are from the southern part of the United States, and there is also a heavy Mexican influence. As a matter of fact, I also speak Spanish and have always liked Mexican food. I love Chinese food, and my wife, who was born and raised in the UK, cooks East Indian food. So taking all that into consideration, the dietitian came up with an eating plan.
Fortunately, I love vegetables, and I did not have to count calories on non-starchy vegetables. That meant I didn’t have to count greens like kale and bok choy. Likewise, my no-need-to-count-calories list included string beans, carrots, summer squash, Brussels sprouts, even tomatoes, etc. I had to count calories in starchy foods. Moreover, I had a limit on the amount of starchy carbohydrates I could eat, and I had to eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks.
And I had to keep track of everything I ate.
To do that, the dietitian suggested I keep an eating diary on a free weight loss and diet journal at the FitDay web site, which has a wealth of information. There are several similar ones about, but that’s the one she suggested to me. I didn’t want to put my personal information on line, but they also have a downloadable journal that is really great and costs only a few dollars. I purchased that. It has the same extensive databases of foods. For the last several years, I’ve kept track in it. I even keep track of my cafe latte that I have on the weekend. I enjoy my eating plan immensely and am quite pleased with the progress I’ve made.
Perhaps it is best not to think of going on a diet. Really, what’s wanted is a lifelong eating program, one that will enable you to lose weight if you need to, and one that will keep you healthy, and one that you will look forward to.
One thing’s for sure: If your eating plans are unpleasant, you won’t stick to them.
I hope I’ve given you some hints and inspiration and can find your own best healthy eating and living plan. I’ll be covering exercise and fitness in the next few postings.
If a senior citizen like me can do it, you likely can do it too. I went from close to 270 pounds to 195 pounds now, over the course of 2-1/2 years or so, and I’m still losing. I was able to do one very bad push-up from my knees, and now I do around 100 push-ups in good form. My blood sugars and cholesterol readings are super, and I walk with a spring in my step.
You can do the same, too.