I had a great taco salad for dinner from a local Mexican restaurant (not a chain). I also had a handful of chips with salsa, as well as a little bit of the taco shell.
Moderation, moderation, moderation…
The taco salad included tomatoes, lettuce, Mexican cheese, shredded grilled chicken and salsa.
I estimate it’s a meal hovering around 200 calories, void of fat except for the cheese. If you include the little bit of shell I had and the dozen or so chips, it’s probably a 300 calorie meal.
I’m going to duplicate this meal at home, it’s definitely a quick and easy meal.
On January 15th, I decided to start my new lifestyle.
You may recall that this blog wasn’t around on the 15th, but a few days later, once I received my scale, I weighed myself at 344 pounds and my weight loss blog journey began.
To lose this weight I knew I had to stop drinking soda and sweet tea; two major staples in my old diet.
Like most Americans, I was consuming anywhere from 20 ounces to 100 ounces of sugary soda every day.
I put that to an end on the 15th of January and vowed to drink water for every meal, in addition to carrying a water bottle around with me all day.
I’ve kept that promise for 30 days: No soda. No sweet tea. Not even juice.
Staying Committed to your Calorie Intake Even at Family Gatherings
As I mentioned about two weeks ago, this past Sunday was my wife’s baby shower.
We drove to my in-law’s house early Sunday morning (about an hour away) and went to my wife’s old church; we also had lunch together as a family before the shower at 2.
This is where healthy lifestyles always take a pause: family get-togethers.
It’s extremely easy to stick to a workout and healthy diet when I’m in my own house, my own city, my own office, with my healthy routine and little happy bubble.
Even worse, this is a southern family get-together.
What’s southern family get-together mean? It means that if the green beans could be fried, they would be. Lunch was catered at grandma’s house from Popeyes. The spread included:
Cajun french fries (I love cajun food)
Corn on the cob
I opted against the fried train wreck and 150+ calories per biscuit and chose to eat mash potatoes, corn on the cob, and a banana.
These odd choices prompted comments from around the table about my slimming appearance, including one from my sister-in-law along the lines of:
“You hadn’t looked right at me since you got here… I can definitely tell your face is getting skinnier and thinner on the sides.”
I told her …”with comments like that, maybe I should look at you a lot more.”
That earned a wink.
A little while after the baby shower ended, we all headed out to O’Charley’s for dinner. I’m not sure what the calories were on my meal, but I got the grilled shrimp dinner; it seemed like a good call.
During our meal at O’Charley’s, my wife’s family started commenting on my appearance again and how my face has definitely shrunk, as well as my stomach. My sister-in-law’s boyfriend asked me what my secret was, to which I said:
“Cardio six days a week. Water all day. Healthy choices.”
I just wanted to repeat that again. I haven’t lost this weight by some miracle potion, pill or fad. My weight loss is no secret; it’s hard, the hardest thing I’ve ever done — but I’m kicking its ass.
Wanted a quick lunch; got a Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich and a small chili.
The chili is 180 calories. The sandwich is 300, but that’s with the mayo and buns — you should definitely order it without mayo.
I also opted to take the top bun off and just eat it with the bottom bun; it’s still easy to eat and tastes great.
As of Saturday, the intensity level on my elliptical machine is now 10.
Since reaching level 10, I can now mathematically burn 1,000 calories in 60 minutes. I realized this fact Saturday, but didn’t have enough time to try it out considering it was Valentine’s Day and all.
So, Monday rolled around…
That’s about half my daily calorie intake burned in a single hour. I’m not going to stay on the elliptical 60 minutes everyday (only Wednesday), but I wanted to make an exception today to break that 1k barrier.
Going to the gym isn’t a chore for me anymore, it’s part of who I am… much like the chili cheese fries, chinese buffets and soda were.
February 18 Weigh-In Results
A month ago today I posted my weight at 344.2 pounds.
Today, exactly 4 weeks later, I’m thrilled to say I weigh 324 pounds.
Feb 18 weight: 324.0
Feb 11 weight: 328.2
Feb 04 weight: 333.0
Jan 28 weight: 338.2
Starting weight (Jan 21): 344.2
I have lost 4.2 pounds since last Wednesday and 20.2 total pounds in the past four weeks! The weight loss is getting more noticeable.
With 20+ pounds lost in one month, where do we go from here? I don’t have any illusions that I can keep up an average of 5 pounds a week next month; it’s just not sustainable.
However, I reckon I can lose three to four pounds a week and lose at least 12 pounds every month. As my weight gets lower, my calorie deficit is decreasing, thus making weight loss harder.
I’m up for the challenge. Who’s with me?
My weight loss is no secret; it’s hard, the hardest thing I’ve ever done — but I’m kicking its ass.
When I was 344 pounds I was wearing 4XLT, bordering on 5XLT. For skinny people, that means XXXL Tall; an incredibly large shirt (or blanket).
Buying clothes is hard for overweight people, especially at the sizes I was wearing. You can forget about buying clothes at stores like Wal-Mart, Target, GAP, Old Navy, American Eagle, etc — they don’t carry anything above 3X, and even those are scarce at most chain stores.
Overweight people have to rely on specialty stores, like Lane Bryant (female only), or Casual Male (where I used to shop).
I decided to open a box I’ve had in my bedroom closet for the past few months; it contains clothes I’ve overgrown throughout the past year or so.
I decided to try on a shirt from the box on Saturday, then another on Sunday; both fit very loose on me.
They’re size 3XLTs.
I haven’t worn a 2X shirt since high school, but I know that’s the next stop. I can just see it now: six months down the road, hanging out with friends and family in the mall and shopping at the same stores…
Another motivation to lose this weight.
I haven’t had anything to drink other than water since January 15th, 2009.
That’s 39 days.
My body is now addicted to water, and every swig I take makes me want even more.
Weight loss. Water is beneficial for weight loss for a couple of reasons. The first is because of its usual replacement of other drinks that contain calories, like soda, juice, alcohol.
Secondly, water acts as an appetite suppressant; and a lot of the time when we think we’re hungry, our bodies are simply thirsty.
Cleanses. Our bodies use water to flush out toxins and waste products.
Boosts energy. If you’re dehydrated, your body will have absolutely no energy and you’ll feel tired and sluggish. Anytime you feel you’re thirsty, that’s your body telling you that you are already dehydrated.
Improves skin. Water improves your skin by moisturizing your body’s tissues, particularly in the areas around your mouth, eyes and nose.
Cushions joints. This can help prevent fractures or worse. Those that benefit specifically from this include the elderly, overweight people and/or those that are involved in intense physical activities.
I’ve been going to the gym six days a week since mid-January. I normally go between the 4-6 p.m. block, so naturally, I’ve become accustomed to seeing the same people on a daily basis.
I was in the gym tonight with a couple of other regulars — one a mother about 30, the other an older guy who is a state trooper.
Both of them came in after me and got on the treadmill, and as usual, I was securely fastened on my elliptical. I pick the same machine every time unless it’s occupied, which is rare.
I had been on the elliptical for about 30 minutes when the woman mentioned above switched from the treadmill to the elliptical. As soon as she stepped onto the elliptical, she asked:
“You’re crazy, how long have you been on that thing?”
“30 minutes, 15 minutes to go. 45 minutes every day, an hour on Wednesday,” I replied.
She was amazed. She was even more amazed though after she asked me what level I was on and I told her 12.
February 25 Weigh-In Results
Feb 25 weight: 320.2
Feb 18 weight: 324.0
Feb 11 weight: 328.2
Feb 04 weight: 333.0
Jan 28 weight: 338.2
Starting weight (Jan 21): 344.2
I’ve lost 3.8 pounds in the past week, 24 pounds total in five weeks!
I had an incredibly sloppy weekend (shrimp po’ boy, anyone?), so I’m very pleased with this week’s weigh-in. We’re almost into the teens which is amazing; even more amazing, 20 more pounds and I’ll be under 300 pounds.
By increasing intensity at the gym for the next several weeks, I reckon I’ll be walking into the post office on tax day at 300 pounds or less.
Easy to make at home and extremely delicious — pretty healthy, too.
The BLT has plenty of lettuce and tomatoes, in addition to two large strips of bacon (20 calories a strip). I put it all between two pieces of wheat bread, 45 calories apiece and compliment the sandwich with less than 18 kettle-baked BBQ potato chips (140 calories per 18 chips).
I put a little Lite Miracle Whip on a piece of the bread too: 30 calories.
For dessert: applesauce. It’s only 50 calories and it tastes really sweet (even with no added sugar). Such a great quick meal to prepare for lunch or dinner.
Like almost every 23-year old male, I grew up playing a lot of video games. I’ve owned nine different game consoles in the past two decades.
That’s not to mention the numerous computer games I’ve played extensively in the past eight years.The cost of playing so many games has been enormous.
Not only has the hobby drained thousands of dollars over the past decade from me and my parents, but I’m sure there might have been something better to do with those thousands of hours.
That being said, please know, though, that I don’t blame video games for making me overweight.
I know many people out there blame video games/movies/entertainment for the obesity epidemic in America. That’s just stupid.
I blame myself. And if you’re overweight, so should you.
Before Jan 15th, my wife and I ate out (not including workday lunches) about six times a week. That number included a Friday night dinner, Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday brunch, and a couple more nights during the week.
That’s probably close to the average for a couple of our age.
Since starting my new lifestyle on the 15th of January, we’ve eaten out on average three times a week.
The decrease has nothing to do with our finances; it’s simply the fact that restaurants are terrible for those watching their weight.
Cooking at home gives me control of the ingredients and calories. I like that.
By comparing bank statements, I can take a look at our food expenses from Feb 2008 and Feb 2009. What I found surprised me more than I suspected:
Dining out in Feb 2008: $397.91
Eating at home in Feb 2008: $385.31
Dining out in Feb 2009: $242.23
Eating at home in Feb 2009: $229.22
That’s $783.22 in 2008 compared to $471.45 in 2009.
Not only are we saving $150+ a month by not eating out as much, but our grocery bill has almost been cut in half.
My iPhone was dead, so I couldn’t take a picture of this fantastic meal.
For dinner last night my wife and I went to Zaxby’s. I had the meal below, complete with sweet & spicy boneless wings, french fries and celery. I drank water though, of course.
The entire meal was 900 calories. The celery was two extra calories, so I decided to skip those. I am trying to limit my calorie-intake, after all.
Heading to confession, err, I mean the gym.
I’ve been extremely competitive for as long as I can remember.
In my childhood and teenage years, it was always related to sports. I played both basketball and soccer for several years.
I always begged my parents to show up really early for practice, and coaches always had me play throughout the whole game. I was always chosen as MVP after the season ended.
I was overweight during these years, but I was physically fit. I was good.
I’m getting physically fit again and I know I still have some moves — so why is my only form of competition playing spades with the in-laws?
As of this past week, it’s not. I had just gotten home from the gym and the kid next door, probably 16 or 17, asked me if I wanted to play a game of basketball.
He had a ball, but not a goal to play on (he plays at school). My wife and I have a goal in our driveway; I set it up when we first moved into the house a couple years back. It has sat unused for probably eight to nine months.
We shot around to warm up and something just went on fire inside me. It’s that feeling you get right before a big game, or when the game is on the line and it’s up to you to win it all.
This kid had been practicing at school for months, he was faster, and he had more stamina — I knew a battle was about to begin.
The game started and he took a quick lead — his only lead of the day. I ended up destroying him the first game of 21 we played to the tune of 21-9, while the second game I won 21-15.
Since last Monday, Richard (the boy) and I have played a game or two almost every day after I get home from the gym. I win most of the games, but he squeaks in a win every now and then.
I love the extra calories basketball burns. I love winning. I love beating Richard at “his” game. More importantly though, I love being a competitor.
If you were overweight growing up and weren’t homeschooled, then you are well aware of the names and jokes that were made at your expense.
Personally, it was really bad for me through elementary and middle school.
During high school, my weight was much less of a target for jokes, but when it was it was much more venomous. The sad thing was, I was the class clown in school; I was fairly popular and still the target of numerous jokes.
Other overweight kids weren’t so lucky — they got tormented daily. I could have probably stood up for them or at the very least changed the subject, but I didn’t. I thought about it several times, but I simply didn’t want to take the chance of the jokes backfiring on me.
Parents: Don’t let your kids go through school overweight.
If you don’t (tactfully) try to help your kids lose weight you’re setting them up for years of torment that no skinny person can ever understand.
Having said that though, being overweight in school made me tough. I was called so many vicious things and dealt with so much crap in school that it makes me extremely insensitive when I face aggression or adversity these days.
I become a little perturbed when I hear this question. It devalues what I’ve done for the past six weeks.
I didn’t lose this weight by joining the carrot soup diet, taking some pill, or getting on some exercise machine for five minutes a day three 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 half 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 14 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 drunk 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 four days a week. I go six, 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 six 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 embarrassed. 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.
Goodbye Big & Tall
I went and bought new pants tonight for a meeting tomorrow. Size 44! I bought them in the regular men’s section, not the big and tall section that they always herd us cattle off to.
I haven’t had a 40 inch waist since high school, but that day is coming again.
I know many people out there blame video games/movies/entertainment for the obesity epidemic in America. That’s just stupid. I blame myself. And if you’re overweight, so should you.
I was doing 30 minutes on the elliptical at level five on January 23rd.
I moved from level nine to 10 on the elliptical in mid-February and from that point forward I’m exercising for 45 minutes a day, six days a week.
Two days ago, Tuesday, I moved from level 12 to 13.
Yesterday I went into the gym with an evil grin on my face. I had just transitioned to level 13 on the elliptical and it was kicking my butt; I wasn’t ready to step up to level 14. Well, my body wasn’t, but I was.
As of March 05, I’m on level 14.
As soon as I pulled into the parking lot of the gym today, sheer panic struck. I remembered that I took my headphones out of the car and inside the house with me yesterday — and I didn’t return them!
Instead of having a workout fueled by my deafening rock music, I was going to have to listen to women gossip on the treadmill, 13-year old “bodybuilders” grunt profusely, and 80’s alternative rock funneling through the gym’s sound system.
I was doomed — or so I thought.
I got on the elliptical, cranked it up to level 14, and probably had the easiest 45-minute workout I’ve had thus far.
You’re all my motivation. Keep reading — I promise you’ll be impressed.
10 Reasons to Lose Weight
We’re all losing weight for our own reasons. These belong to me.
I’m going to be a daddy. It’s extremely selfish to live unhealthy if there are other people who care about you. Not only care about you, but rely on you.
I don’t want to die. Not only do other people count on me to stick around, I’d rather not die for my own selfish reasons. Go figure. If I have to have a few less egg rolls and french fries to live another 20 years, fine by me.
Countless health benefits. I’ve lost 30 pounds — that’s comparable to two heavy bowling balls that I’m no longer carrying around with me everywhere.
Be more confident and outspoken. I read a story where a pastor in Georgia, weighing 344 pounds, lost 160 pounds in a single year by simply eating better and exercising.
To use what I was given. We let ourselves become such slaves to technology and processed food — that’s why we’re all a bunch of tubbies.
It’s hard buying nice clothes. Not only are larger sizes hard to find, but they are more expensive too. If you do find a store with a big & tall section (Belk, JCPenneys), they normally don’t have a very good selection.
Look hot by the pool. I know I’m married, but that doesn’t mean I have to look like a beached whale when I lay out by the pool/beach. Even though I could havebeen happy looking 344 pounds, other people have to look at me too.
Increase my hang time. I’m playing basketball for at least an hour everyday in my driveway. Today I played for about two hours. I have a wicked shot, good dribbling skills, but my hang time for shots and layups could be longer.
I’m tired of hating cameras.Most people say a picture adds 10 pounds; I’d say that’s a slight underestimate. I’ve never looked good in photographs because of my weight and I’d like for that to change.
This is why I’m losing weight. Why are you?
I went to the gym Sunday morning and burned about 800 calories in 45 minutes on the elliptical. I was the only one there — all the other chumps were hiding. Who’s still in bed at six on a Sunday, anyway?
Apparently, I must want to spend a lot more time at the gym…
One-Minute Workout Pledge
For every comment I receive to this post, I’ll spend one minute (level 14) on the elliptical machine this Friday. That’s about 17 calories burned for every comment.
If I receive only 10 comments, well thanks, my workout is only going to be 10 minutes long on Friday. The weekend will come early, baby!
But. And this is a huge but (no jokes, thanks). If I get 180 comments, I’ll do 180 minutes (3,000+ calories burned).
There is absolutely no limit to how much I’m willing to work out for you guys — I’ll stay at the gym as long as it takes to match all of your comments.
A few things to note:
Baby is due March 22, if she comes early I’ll reschedule for next week.
You’ll get pictures of this magnificent occasion.
All comments received before Friday, Noon Eastern will be counted.
Only one comment per person. Sorry wife, this won’t be an easy way to entertain yourself.
Time limit on the elliptical machine is 90 minutes. If I have more than 90 comments, I’ll take a 10 minute break after each 90 minute set and repeat until I’m finished.
Is this safe? Well, I’m not going to die if that’s what you’re asking.
Depending on the amount of comments/minutes, I will probably have to eat more food during the day so I don’t run out of energy while working out. I will also have to make sure to stay fully hydrated for the duration.
Is this sane? Well, no, but that’s certainly not a prerequisite.
I’ve received a lot of the same questions over the past few weeks; I wanted to take some time today out of our regularly scheduled program to address them.
Why did you make a website about your weight loss?
I needed a simple, easy way to track my calories, physical activity, and overall progress. I didn’t have anything to write with at the time, so I started the blog.
Isn’t it unhealthy to lose more than one to two pounds a week?
I’m not a doctor, so I won’t answer that question for you. But for me and other people that are grossly overweight, losing two+ pounds a week is perfectly healthy. If I were 150 pounds and kept losing 5 pounds a week, it’d be a different story.
Do you drink anything other than water?
I have an occasional glass of low-fat milk once every once in a while. Other than that, no, I don’t drink anything else — no juices, no alcohol, and no soda.
I workout (harder, longer, etc) than you but burn fewer calories. Why?
The less you weigh the fewer calories you’ll burn doing the same exercise. With the same exact speed, intensity, and duration on the elliptical, I would still burn a much larger amount of calories than somebody weighing 150 pounds.
Are you against (Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, etc)?
No. If it works for you, that’s great — congrats! I’m simply telling you what worked for me and what didn’t, nothing more.
Letting other people determine how long you workout — are you crazy?
Like any endurance marathon, I’m fully prepared when it comes time to step up to the plate. Most importantly though, I wouldn’t do anything that would injure me. I’ll take breaks if necessary. If my body says it’s done, I’m done.
Sorry, sadists: safety first, gimmick second.
What can I do to help your weight loss journey?
Tell people about the blog. The more people that read the blog, the more accountability I have, the harder I work. I’ll see you guys bright and early tomorrow morning for Week seven’s weigh-in!
March 11 Weigh-In Results
Weigh-in day. Drum roll, please…
Mar 11 weight: 306.6
Mar 04 weight: 312.0
Feb 25 weight: 320.2
Feb 18 weight: 324.0
Feb 11 weight: 328.2
Feb 04 weight: 333.0
Jan 28 weight: 338.2
Starting weight (Jan 21): 344.2
I’ve lost 5.4 pounds in the past week, 37.6 pounds total in seven weeks!
My wife made the comment to me this morning that I’m beginning to look like a different person — that’s a pretty amazing transformation in seven weeks.
I’m not on a diet or exercise program; I’m transitioning into a healthy lifestyle.
What’s the difference?
You eat certain foods, eliminate others and go to the gym like a caged hamster every day. You hate the rules, restrictions and boredom.
An increased level of physical activity with a balanced diet.
I’ve only ever been on diets and exercise programs before. That’s why I (among millions of others) have failed repeated attempts to lose weight.
You may lose a little weight at first, but you’ll quit and go right back where you started.
It’s imperative to understand the difference between a diet/exercise program and a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t, it’s going to be extremely hard for you to lose weight and keep it off.
The difference between the two clicked on like a lightbulb for me two months ago — that’s why my weight is plummeting and hopefully won’t return.
Comment Below Have you unlocked any secrets for losing weight? What changes have you made to reach your goals?