I decided about two months ago to lose weight. I’m pleased to say it was a good decision: good because I was (and still am) overweight; and good because I followed through on that decision (and I’m continuing to do so). So far, I’m down from 190 at my fattest (I’m 5’9″) to a svelte-by-comparison 175.
Losing weight, it turns out, is surprisingly simple. Which is not the same as saying it’s easy, mind you, but it is very simple. Take it away, Neil:
In other words, managing your weight boils down to paying attention to your calorie intake and outflow. Despite what the clickbait headlines may have you believe, there are no miracle fat burners, no secret combinations of foods you have to eat, no times of day that are better or worse for eating, no magic meal sizes or snacking systems that will take the pounds off effortlessly. You just have to make sure you don’t eat too much. It takes discipline, self-control, and basic math.
The first thing you need to know is how many calories you’re burning, and that’s merely a function of height, weight, age, gender, and activity. You can get a good estimate in about 30 seconds here or try the slightly more advanced version here.
The next step is counting calories, and this is where it’s helpful to be one of those people whose good at counting points and miles, keeping track of credit card lines, and so forth. I know some people who use the MyFitnessPal app religiously, and it works very well. My wife, for one, loves it. As for me, I keep a running tally in my head throughout the day and make sure I come in at or below my calorie intake goal every day, and that has worked great for me. You do need to build some skill in estimating calorie amounts; I recommend getting a food scale and doing some weighing at home of your favorite foods so you can get a feel for how much a given amount of food is. Get familiar with the nutritional info pages of your favorite restaurants as well. And there are also plenty of nice pictures along the lines of this “What 200 calories looks like” page.
You also need a feedback mechanism, a.k.a. a scale. Weigh yourself every day, preferably at the same time so as to minimize fluctuations.
Finally, you need some inspiration to motivate you. In my case, my wife and I both have a family history of Type 2 diabetes, so that provides some motivation. Beyond that, I have found the fatlogic subreddit to be invaluable–I have a strong aversion to bullshit of all sorts, and this particular site cuts through the self-defeating bullshit that people (myself included) use to justify their current weight. My wife, on the other hand, really enjoys the gamification aspect of MyFitnessPal and gets a kick out of seeing green (i.e. hitting her calorie target) every day. And both of us want to set a good example for our kids as well and show them how to be healthy adults.
The devil is in the details, and there is a lot more that can be written, but that’s weight loss in a nutshell. My only regret is not starting this sooner. I just wanted to lay out the bare bones for any of you thinking you could stand to lose a few pounds–if you’re in that boat, I highly recommend giving it an honest try.