Losing the Lard…

Down 40 pounds in six months! This post was sparked by comments on my weight loss last year, as reported in the 2013 Year End Review. Specifically, how did you do it, and what got you off the dime in the first place?

So I thought this post might be a good way to kick off 2014.

Perhaps it will help those whose New Year’s resolutions included dropping a few pounds (or like me, more than a few pounds.) Besides, if you are not healthy, you might not be able to make a JumpToConsulting … or any other opportunity for that matter!

First, some background…

I’ve always been on the heavy side. Even as a kid, I was a bit tubby. I enjoyed good food (still do), and didn’t care for most sports. I was a nerd, and liked to read books and to play with my ham radio. Neither of these were very conducive to better physical fitness.

Over the years, the weight crept up, and then up even more. (Being on the road as a consultant didn’t help.) In recent years, I developed metabolic syndrome — elevated cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels — a precursor to diabetes.

My doctor kept saying “You should lose some weight…”  How many of us have heard that — and simply ignored it? After all, there are pills for all that stuff.

At my annual physical last summer, my doctor congratulated me. I had graduated, and now passed the diagnostic criteria for diabetes. He prescribed some more pills.

“What about losing weight?” I asked. He just looked at me, and handed me a prescription. How many other consultants have had their good advice repeatedly ignored?

That was a wake up call.That, and a retired neighbor (and fellow engineer) in the advanced stages of diabetes. Only a few years older than me, he has lost all feeling in his feet, has congestive heart failure, and several other complications. His advice when I told him my diagnosis was “Do something about it – NOW!”

So, I began the SEC diet…

Like any good consultant, I immediately began to research the problem. Got a couple of books, and dug into Google and WebMD. The message was clear–I was eating too much– and the wrong stuff to boot! Too many calories and too many carbs. Time to change!

So I looked at a number of diets and programs, but finally created my own plan. Dubbed it the SEC Diet – for Stop Eating Crap. (AKA the SES diet.) Here is what I did:

Cut out the white stuff. No more bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, or sugar. Went through the pantry and got rid of all the snacks – potato chips, crackers, and more. Fortunately, Mary joined me in this adventure, making it easier to cut back.

Cut the carbs. Learned to read nutrition labels. My goal is 100 – 150 grams/day max, where a normal USDA approved diet is about 300 grams. That alone cuts out 600- 800 calories. Also replaced simple carbs (like white bread and sugar) with complex carbs (like whole grains, fruits, and vegatables.)

—  Cut the portion sizes. Reduced meat portions by about a half, and replaced carbs with more vegetables and salads. This works well when dining out too – simply divide the portions in half and have a “second” meal the next day.

Cut the unhealthy snacks. No more ice cream or cookies (OK, an occasional cookie). Instead, my doctor suggested small snacks of almonds and jerky. Just a little bit usually kills any hunger.

Ate regular meals. Skipping a meal does NOT work for me. I more than make up for it on the next meal. Breakfast is simple – usually a bowl of oatmeal, but no more big scoop of brown sugar or glass of orange juice. Lunch or dinner are light too – soup, salad, or yogurt. The remaining meal is more varied, but with limited portions.

Unlike many diets, I’m rarely hungry. My research suggests that limiting carbs and eating regular meals have minimized blood sugar spikes and leveled insulin production. Apparently these two factors tell your brain you’re hungry. They also pack on the fat.

Next, upped the exercise…

I’ve been on a moderate exercise program for several years. Originally, I hoped this would help me lose weight, but all it really did was keep it from increasing even more. Sadly, even one cookie can offset an hour on the treadmill.

But as part of my plan, I increased the exercise to several times a week. This includes both cardio and resistance training. We already belong to a gym, so doubling the visits actually decreases the cost/visit. How’s that for some consulting cost analysis?

The increased exercise does help. While it does not burn a lot of calories, it helps remind me of what I am trying to accomplish. Plus I feel better.

A few other tips I’ve learned…

–Weigh every day. Most diet plans suggest weighing once a week so you will see larger improvements. I find weighing every day keeps me honest — even a small increase jolts me back into action for that day.

–Slow and steady wins the race. No, its not really a race, nor is it a diet. Rather, it is a change in lifestyle. My long term goal is to lose another 60 pounds, and then to keep it off. It may take a while (the easy pounds are gone) but eventually I hope to get there.

–Cut yourself some slack. Yes, I’ve hit the dreaded plateaus, and even increased a few pounds after falling off the diet wagon. But when that happens to you, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on. Just like in the consulting business.

The bottom line…

So that’s my story. So far, so good. Here are some benefits I’ve already seen:

— More energy – Was taking almost daily naps. As an old geezer, I figured this was normal. Guess what? Haven’t taken more than a handful of naps in the past six months, and then usually because I was up really late the night before. I feel years younger.

— More comfortable – With much of the big belly gone, confined spaces like airplane seats actually seem larger. Also, it is much easier to bend over to pick up things, and I don’t seem to get as winded. The exercise probably helps too.

— More self-aware – Used to grimace when seeing my profile in a mirror or window. Never been narcissistic, but I do like the new improved profile better than the old one.

— More sensitive – A lot of overweight people are depressed, and society’s obsession with being slim often makes it worse. That in turn can lead to more overeating. My recent experiences have made me much more sensitive to my fellow fatties*, and our struggles to control or lose weight. Perhaps this post will help someone else out there.

Finally, Uncle Daryl wants YOU — to be Happy and Healthy in 2014! And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

* Not meant to be derogatory, but let’s be candid — that is how many of those disgustingly skinny folks often see us. But so what? Just keep plugging away.    

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