Saturday, June 6, 2015

How I Lost Weight

I’ve lost weight. To date, I’ve lost 54 pounds and will probably lose a total of 60 before I call it quits. When you do something like this, you don’t realize how much you’ve changed until people start asking questions. I think I’d lost about 30 pounds when I first heard someone say, “You’ve lost a little bit of weight, haven’t you?” But now, the questions are more along the lines of, “What have you been doing to lose the weight?” It’s a good question, but I don’t think people are asking the question they really should be asking. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let me tell you what I did to lose weight.

What I Did to Lose Weight

Simply put, what I did was I ate fewer calories than what I burned. The fact is, it takes more work to maintain or gain weight than what it does to lose it. People who have struggled with their weight find that hard to believe, it is true. Your body is a calorie burning machine. Let’s suppose you weigh 200 pounds. If you did nothing but sleep all day, you would burn 1936 calories. There are 3500 calories per pound of fat, so if you don’t replace those calories, you will lose a pound every 1.8 days or 3.8 pounds per week. That’s with you sleeping all day. What could be easier?

No, I didn’t lose weight by sleeping all day. Instead, I reduced the amount of calories I eat. I used an app called MyFitnessPal that gives me a calorie goal for the day that is based on how much I want to lose per week, my typical activity, and my weight. It has an extensive database of foods so I can log how much I’m eating each day. But I’ve also been riding my bicycle. I wouldn’t have to ride my bicycle. As I stated before, I could lose weight while sleeping, but my daily calorie goal is 1600 calories and that is very low. When I ride my bicycle twenty miles, I add 500 calories to my goal, so I get to eat 2100 calories instead. It really is a simple as that.

The More Important Question

If weight loss is so simple, then we might wonder why people struggle with their weight. And that brings us back to the question that people should be asking me. “How did you get so fat in the first place?”

It isn’t a question many people dare ask, but the answer is probably more useful than knowing how a person lost weight. You see, I used to be the weight I am now. When I first moved to Texas, I was at this weight and I maintained this weight for several years. Of course, I also have many friends who have never seen me at this weight before. It seems odd, but some of my friends have forgotten what I looked like before, but I’ve felt like I was this weight the whole time. How did I manage to get so fat?

Before I lost weight this time, I don’t think I could’ve answered that, but now I think I can. I keep finding things that make it clear. This morning, for example, I bought a package of cookies at Target. These are the gourmet cookies, that are basically like homemade cookies but they’re sold in the store. There are six to a package. I didn’t bother to look at the calorie count until I got home. One cookie is 220 calories. So, that means that there are 1320 calories per package. That’s almost my whole daily allotment of calories and is more than half of the calories I would need to maintain my current weight. I’ve been known to buy a package like that and consume the whole thing within 24 hours. Then there’s macaroni and cheese. I used to make it with two handfuls of macaroni. At some point, I started making it with three. Then there’s the vending machine. At one time, my snacks were an apple I carried to work in my lunch cooler. At some point, I started eating 600 calorie honey buns out of the vending machines, and if two dropped out, I would eat both of them.

You see the pattern. I got fat because I was eating more than I realized. Combine that with lack of exercise and it only gets worse. We can talk about eating fewer calories than we burn as the way to lose weight, that is true, but the most important thing is awareness. I gained weight when I allowed myself to become unaware of the fact that I was eating too much and I lost weight when I became aware that I was eating too much.