My name is M. R. Sellars and I’m a fat guy. Well… sort of. I used to be much larger than I am now. In fact, at one point in my life I tipped the scale at just under 300 pounds, which isn’t really a healthy weight for a guy who is only 5′ 7″, especially when you take into account that I have shrunk a bit and at 52 I am now a mere 5′ 6″.
More recently, and by that I mean one year ago last week, I weighed in at 261. My secret to losing almost 39 pounds? I stopped eating fast food. Seriously. That was it. Of course, I suppose I should give you a little background: My time pushing the scale to the 3-double-naught range was several years back when I was still working a day job as well as writing. I spent 10 hours a day as a computer tech, so meals were on the run. Fast food for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner. Whenever dinner WASN’T fast food, it often came out of a box and was basically the contents of a chemistry set, molded and extruded, injected with fat, extra sodium, and then mixed with some dead cow just to make it sound like actual food. As crazy as it may seem, simply cutting that mess out of my life prompted my body to breathe a sigh of relief and drop close to 39 pounds without any other cajoling.
However, I was still at 261, which, as noted, isn’t a particularly healthy weight for a 5′ 6″ tall old guy. My knees hurt all the time, as did my feet. I had chronic heartburn. Stress. Other joint pains. My blood pressure was “okay,” but it was riding the line toward hypertension. My cholesterol was “okay,” but just barely. And finally, my CR-P level (an inflammatory marker) was high. Given that I lost both my parents to heart disease, things weren’t looking good for me. The doctor put me on a statin to bring it down, but being the oddball that I am I managed to have one of the rarer adverse reactions to it – in fact, I had the reaction that a whole crapton of doctors (including my own) refuse to acknowledge exists. I fell into a deep depression and had suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, I was clear-headed enough to info dump this on my wife, who in turn did a bunch of research and found studies about this particular side-effect, that while rare, actually does afflict some folks who take statins. She insisted I get off the pills, which I did, and that in turn lead to me being a much happier person. I was still fat, and still had all of the other issues, but I didn’t want to kill myself anymore, so that was a plus.
Then along came my annual physical. The doc looked at the numbers and wanted to put me on a statin again. I said no and he said, then lose 20 pounds.
I decided to go him one better. I decided to get back to my optimum weight for my height and body type, which is in the neighborhood of 165. That was, as I said, one year ago this past week. As of right now, I weigh 188.
I’ve been tracking my success on Facebook, tossing up road signs every time I blow past one. This has prompted people to ask me how I have accomplished this weight loss. Funny story that. Of course, when people see me I also get interrogated about how I’ve managed to lost the weight. Whenever I say, “watching what I stuff into my pie-hole and exercising,” I get this incredulous retort, “Oh, so you have to exercise.”
Anyhow, since I get asked and nobody seems to want to believe me, here’s EXACTLY how I have done it, in two basic steps.
STEP ONE: I started moving. Yes. Exercise. When I first started the process I cleaned the crap off the treadmill we had sitting in the corner and I got my fat ass onto it. Twenty minutes a day, lumbering along at a whopping 1.5 mph. By the end of those twenty minutes I was begging for death. Sweating my ass off, aching all over, and panting so hard I thought I was going to pass out. But, you know what? I got back on there the next day and did it again. And then again the next day. And the next… By the end of two weeks, I decided to push the envelope. I upped the speed to 1.8 and the time to 25 minutes. I’ll spare you a blow by blow, but suffice it to say, each time it started getting easier, I made it a little harder. Increased the speed, upped the time, added wrist weights, or even weights in a backpack. Now, I jump on the treadmill every morning and do a solid hour clocking at anywhere from 4.2 to 4.5 mph. Sometimes I even go for 75 minutes and add a few 5.0 – 5.5 mph sprints in there. Yeah, I know, not a marathon runner or the fastest kid on the block, but you know what? At 52 I am in better shape than I was when I was 32.
STEP TWO: I wrote down everything I was eating and calculated up the calories. Turns out I was consuming to maintain, but what I was maintaining was 261 – 265 pounds, which was a caloric intake of around 4000+ per day. For a guy who makes his living by sitting at a desk and writing books, 4K per day in calories is ridiculous, unless he’s 6′ 6″ and a lot younger. We had already done away with the vast majority of boxed crap masquerading as food and replaced it with the real deal. Vegetables, lean meats, fish, fruit, etc. However, I was shoving way too much of it into my face. So, I found myself a calorie calculator and entered my stats to find out what I needed to eat to maintain my optimum body weight given the amount of exercise I was getting each day. However, I didn’t stop there. I also calculated the caloric intake required for points in between where I was and where I wanted to be. I used 10 pounds as a mile marker, i.e. I was at 261, so I rounded to 250 and calculated my maintenance intake for that, then also for 240, and 230, and 220, and so on. Then, I started paying attention to what I was putting into my pie-hole. I would make sure to eat a balanced intake of proteins, fats, and carbs, but I would look at the calories, round them up (as in if a banana is 85 calories I would call it 100) and I logged whatever I ate in a little notebook with a total for each day. My goal for the day would be to eat no more than the maintenance calories required for whatever weight was closest to 10 pounds LESS than my current. So, at 261 I was eating as if I was maintaining 250. When I started getting close to 250 on the scale I started eating for 240. When I approached 240 on the scale I started eating for 230, and so on.
And that’s exactly what I have done. While I have been counting calories, yes, I haven’t been doing it in a “diet” fashion. I have been doing it in a way to train myself to eat healthier and properly. In short, developing a better eating habit. Sure, I still splurge now and then. If I didn’t I’d go nuts. However, instead of having a double slice of cake every night, I have a normal slice of cake at a party or something and leave it at that. I don’t need it every night, but I don’t deny myself on special occasions. I’m not going to lie, in the beginning I was hungry all the time, and for the first few weeks I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull it off, but it wasn’t long before my brain and body fell into synch, and I wasn’t starving. In fact, I would find myself not wanting to snack like I did before, simply because my body didn’t need it. It was starting to burn the calories I had stored as fat, and it was using the food I was taking in far more efficiently.
Now, let me say this – I’m not fat shaming here. I’m of the opinion that if you are active and aren’t actively over eating, unless you have a thyroid condition or something like that, your body will settle to the weight where it is most comfortable, and if that is on the heavy side, so be it. My problem was literally that I was shoving way too much into my face and moving way too little. Simple as that, and I have set out to correct that. I’m still losing at a rate of 1.5 – 2.0 pounds per week. I had some plateaus, and a couple of see-saws with holidays thrown into the mix, but that sort of thing happens. I didn’t let a bump of a few pounds discourage me. I just stayed the course and would eventually start shedding pounds again. By summer I should be at my optimum weight, and odd as it may seem, I might have to start eating more than I do now because I will be even more active with yard work and such. However, I will just bear in mind that all I need is a small steak. I don’t need the whole cow.
And there you have it. People have asked repeatedly and never believe me when I answer, “Eat less, exercise more,” but that’s the crux of it. Above, you have all of the details, and that’s the only magic pill there is.
Till the next time…