This is not just another fad diet book – of which fill libraries, bookstores, and the internet, but the true story of how I lost 150 pounds in about 14 months (and kept the pounds off). A story, which I believe anyone who can walk, will benefit from.
First let me back up a bit and explain how a middle-aged 6’ 0” male with a medium to large frame got to be 335 pounds. Well, it wasn’t hard and didn’t seem to take all that long. It was eating lots of fast food, burgers, and little to no exercise over the course of a few years. Sound familiar? In my 30’s and 40’s I was fairly active with scuba diving and just in my job itself. Then all of a sudden my job changed to where I sit at a computer eight hours a day (and still do), instead of being a busy technician building and testing things.
With age also came the slowdown of my body’s metabolism (I am now 54), coupled with a sit down job and eating lots of fatty burgers and other high calorie meals. Especially bad was eating big meals just before going to bed. It didn’t take long to find myself at 335 pounds. I blew up like a big fat whale and my huge belly hung way over my belt line. I had to buy 3X shirts and 50” waist trousers to go around my bulk. I looked and felt just awful.
The time came when I finally said enough is enough! I was not feeling good, was out of breath all the time, and could hardly walk up the stairs to the bedroom. I went out and bought a good digital bathroom scale and weighed myself the next morning (undressed and after using the bathroom). The max limit on the scale was 330 pounds. The scale gave me an error message (a big fat capital E). That meant I was heavier than 330 pounds! Oh my God I thought! It can’t be! That morning, I weighed myself at work on the shipping scales. My weight was about 340 pounds fully dressed and after eating breakfast. That meant my true morning weight was around 335 or so.
Steps I took to lose the pounds…
I knew I didn’t want (or could afford) to buy expensive exercise equipment. Nor did I want to spend a lot of money to join a health club. There had to be a better way. I did some research on the internet about aerobics and metabolism (the rate at which the body burns fuel) and came to the conclusion the answer to my weight problem was to increase my metabolism through aerobic exercise, and by changing my eating habits. The strict definition of aerobic is “with oxygen”. The body uses oxygen to burn fuel. Aerobic exercise improves oxygen consumption by the body and burns fuel more efficiently. I learned that aerobic exercise (like walking at a brisk pace for 20 or more minutes without stopping), will increase the body’s metabolism (perhaps up to several hours), even after you stop exercising. This is just one of the added perks of aerobics.
I would encourage everyone reading, to search the internet on “metabolism” and “aerobics”. There is much more information there than I can possibly put here, or need to. The information is abundantly available – no need for me to re-invent the wheel.
After getting freaked out when my new digital bathroom scale went “Tilt”, this is what I did…
1. I created a spreadsheet on my home computer so I could track and record my weight each Saturday morning (you can choose any day you wish, as long as you are consistent on when you weight yourself). Once a week is best.
2. I researched the internet about losing weight, and learned about metabolism, aerobics and aerobic exercise (and how they affect the body and calories). I figured I should be about 180-185 pounds for my height and frame, so I adjusted my daily calorie intake for that body weight. No special diets to speak of, just calorie intake adjustment, although I do try and eat healthy foods most of the time.
3. I invested in a good pair of walking shoes. This is critical!
4. I measured out one mile (using the odometer of my car), and timed how long it took me to walk one mile at a brisk pace (brisk pace meaning walking fast enough to elevate my heart and respiration rate). It took me 20 minutes to walk one mile. A 20-minute mile is not all that fast, but fast enough for someone weighing 335 pounds. And 20 minutes is the minimum workout time for aerobic exercise to be beneficial to the heart. My course was nothing more than the sidewalks of my neighborhood. Partly homes and apartments, and partly businesses.
5. I walked one mile per day, everyday, for about the first month (a 20-minute walk after dinner). I noticed my energy level was building and I felt better. After about the first 10 days, my digital bathroom scale began to give me a number instead of the big fat E error message. Definite progress!
6. The second month I increased my distance to one and a half miles a day (or a 30-minute walk after dinner). The soreness in my legs gradually disappeared.
7. I continued this pattern of increasing the distance by one-half mile until I was up to six miles per day (doing three miles before work and three miles after work). Six miles a day may be a bit extreme, so you may want to adjust your walks accordingly. But it worked for me and got to the point where I could walk three miles without breaking into a sweat. The pounds melted off!
8. After I lost nearly 100 pounds, I scaled back to four miles a day (two before work and two after work). I walk the miles faster too, about a 17-minute mile).
9. After 14 months, I reached 185 pounds and that’s apparently where my body wants to be. I continue to walk four miles everyday, watch my daily calorie intake, and have stabilized at 185 pounds.
Do I still eat a big fat juicy burger and ice cream once in awhile? OH YES! I love that stuff! But I religiously weight myself each Saturday morning and my weight seems to be happy and steady at 185. I don’t deprive myself of the foods I love, but I have learned what, when, and how much I can eat and get away with. One has to experiment and adjust accordingly.
I look forward each day to my walks. In fact, I get a sense of accomplishment after each walk. A fringe benefit I guess. Another fringe benefit is that walking is a great stress reliever… especially after a hard day at the office. All in all, I am in much better health. That 150-pound barbell I was carrying around all day is gone. My heart and cardiovascular system is much healthier… all due to walking.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits (other than the obvious health benefits) is that the people in the neighborhood and the storekeepers stop me all the time and comment on how I look. These are the people who would see me walk by their homes and stores each day. They saw a once very fat person transformed into a thin person.
The bottom line…
I was sick of being obese and I knew it was killing me and that I needed to do something and quick. I was a sure candidate for a heart attack or stroke. After doing a little research, I found the best way for me was aerobic walking coupled with a change in eating habits. There other types of exercises that will work too, but I believe nothing is as good for the human body then walking. The benefits are enormous and the cost is, well, the price of a good pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothes. It’s enjoyable too! Forget those expensive boring indoor treadmills! Go for a walk in the great outdoors!
If you can walk, have a place to walk, by all means go for it! If you are like me, you will increase your energy a hundred fold. Start off slow at first if you are way out of shape, a few minutes a day. Walk briskly and swing those arms. Increase until you can do a mile, then a mile and a half, and so on and so on until you reach your goal weight. This is a lifelong commitment, so don’t stop after reaching your goal weight.
My family and friends at work all say I am half the man I used to be. They are not very far off! I went from wearing 3X shirts and 50” waist trousers, to wearing large shirts and 34” waist trousers. Yeah, I had to buy all new clothes but I didn’t mind the expense one bit.
Take care and happy walking.