On Losing Weight

Since many of you no doubt have New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, I thought I would recount my own recent experience with that topic, in case it might be of use to anyone.

I was always skinny growing up. In high school, mission and college I was 6’5″, 180lbs., and was a string bean. I was the kind of kid who would lift weights and drink protein shakes, but nothing worked; I couldn’t gain a pound.

(I remember once doing a session at the temple. When it was time to don the apron, I wrapped the strings around my back and doubled them forward to the front to tie them, as I always did. This high priest was sitting next to me, saw what I was doing, got a disgusted look on his face and under his breath muttered “show off!”)

Since my weight was so stable, I just forgot about it and lived my life. As I grew older, my rabbit-like metabolism began to slow a little bit, and I finally cracked 200 lbs., for which I was grateful.

One day I was taking the elevator at work, and I noticed someone in the mirrored doors of the elevator, and I wondered who that was. And I soon realized the guy with that beer gut staring me in the face was me! My self-impression had never included having a beer belly, but there it was. It wasn’t huge by a lot of standards, but given my self-image as the skinny kid it looked enormous to me, and I didn’t like it at all.

Soon after that I went on vacation, and my wife purchased and read a book that had just come out by Pamela H. Hansen, Running with Angels: The Inspiring Journey of a Woman Who Turned Personal Tragedy into Triumph Over Obesity (the amazon link is here). I’ve never met Pam, but her sister Chris is a dear friend of mine, so I was interested to read the book. And I found it very inspiring. I figured that if she could lose more than 100 pounds, I could lose whatever (much smaller amount) I needed to lose.

So when I got home I decided to make some changes. First, I went and bought a good digital scale (I didn’t trust the analog one in our bathroom; I think it runs about five pounds too light), and weighed myself to get a baseline. I was 247.5! I was totally shocked that I weighed that much; I had had no idea. (I had not previously been in the habit of weighing myself.)

I realized that a big part of my problem was that at my former firm there was an attorney’s dining room, so I was eating a buffet all-you-can-eat lunch every day. And I had become more sedentary; after I finished my LL.M. at DePaul, I no longer had a need to make long walks across the Loop to go to classes. So my first two resolutions were to start bringing my own (healthy) lunch, and to go on long walks as part of my lunch break.

I also stopped drinking pop at work, switching to water.

I bought some dumbbells, and started doing a strength workout three mornings a week (just doing stretches and crunches the other days). And when my building opened a fitness center, I joined, which made my walking more regular (weather no longer being a factor), more intense, and longer.

I realized that often I was eating out of habit, not because I was genuinely hungry. I started to pay more attention to portion control. And I stopped eating desserts after most meals as I used to do, making desserts a real and only occasional treat.

Very quickly I brought my weight down to about 230, which I was happy about. I sort of hit a plateau there for a long time, but then I made some more small tweaks (such as being more careful about what I ate when I went to the movies), and the weight started to come off again.

Before the holidays I was at 217 (right now I’m about 220 because of the holidays; in a week or two of my regular routine, I’ll be back to 217). So in three years I’ve lost about 30 pounds. And I’m at a great place now; I think my body looks as good as it ever has, and I’m very happy with it. The beer gut is gone, I have better muscle tone, and I no longer think in terms of losing more weight, but of just trying to maintain the better habits and lifestyle choices I’ve put into place.

So, for the benefit of those who are struggling to lose some weight in 2009, what are your experiences? What has worked for you, and just as importantly what hasn’t? What advice to you have to share?

Comments

  1. Thanks for your account. Doesn’t make it sound so daunting, when you break it up into small tasks…

    I’ve dropped about 25 pounds in the last 4 months, just focusing on portion control and not drinking soda. I guess this year I need to actually start exercising…

  2. I was 119 when I went on my mission. My metabolism slowed some on my mission (you can only burn off so many pounds of rice and beans a day), and slowed more in grad school. I knew I had let it go when I was copying a chapter from a book for a seminar and when I leaned over to lift the book and turn the page I accidentally pushed the copy button with my gut. I’ve been up and down since, but rather up lately, especially with the holidays. Your rather straightforward account of weight management has inspired me to try to shed a few this year.

  3. My experience with dieting is 35 years of failure. I have been “dieting” since I was twelve years old. Being fat was a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. I was convinced I was fat when, at 5’6″ tall, I weighed 115 pounds. I am the same height, but I am well over double that now.

    Those few of you who have met me IRL know that I am morbidly obese. For a while I couldn’t even talk about my weight without crying. When I was depressed, my weight became sort of the focal point of everything I hated about myself. At some point I realized that my obesity didn’t define me. Yes, I’m fat. But I’m also smart, and a hard worker, and a good employee, and a decent parent.

    I may have reached a point where I am willing to entertain some lifestyle changes that may result in weight loss. I hope they do. I have put some plans into effect and maybe they will make a difference. If they don’t, I am not going to beat myself up about it. Life is too short to spend it hating myself. I am not my weight.

  4. Ann, I’ve met you, and I honestly didn’t notice that you were fat–if pressed for a description, I think I would have mentioned your gorgeous hair, but most of all your friendliness and openness. Nobody is their weight, but you are SOOOOOOOO not your weight!

  5. Losing weight has been at the top of my list of New Year’s Resolutions pretty much every year since I was 12, with a couple of years off for pregnancy. I’m done–this year I’m concentrating on running more and liking it more. If those last @$#@! 10 pounds come off, I’ll be happy, but I’m trying really hard to focus on training for a 1/2 marathon instead of losing weight. And drinking less Diet Coke. Sigh. If I’m grumpy, you’ll all know why–don’t say you weren’t warned!

  6. I was sitting here eating pie and reading your post. Maybe that is a clue as to why I need to diet?

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Oh, I just remembered another small tweak I made. I always eat cold cereal for breakfast, but I started using skim milk instead of 2%. (Cue Napoleon Dynamite line here.) It took a while to get used to the different taste, but now that I’m used to it I much prefer it to other grades of milk. Little stuff like that adds up.

  8. I believe the key to dieting is having a “free day” which you allow yourself to eat whatever you want all day, one day a week. The latest diets seem to recommend a “cheat meal” where they restrict this free-for-all to one sitting, but I had tremendous success with the free-day. It doesn’t have to be a set day or anything, either, so if you usually have your free day on Saturdays but you’re going to a birthday party on Wednesday, you just swap days. I think it helps for a couple of reasons. You’re less likely to cheat here and there if you have something to look forward to. And if someone gives you a plate of cookies or something you can just save it for your free day. Also, you will learn by sad experience after the 2nd or 3rd free day how bad that stuff really is for you; your body just won’t be able to tolerate it as well, and you’ll eat less and less of it or suffer the consequences.

  9. Portion control, very little sugar, no soda, few snacks. Nothing else has worked for me.

    I’ve lost about 20 lbs. over the last two years, and I still need to lose another 20 pounds to be totally happy with my weight, but I have come to realize that a pound a month is good enough. I will be ecstatic if I am where want to be in a couple of years, but, honestly, my main effort at this point is to not put on any more weight.

  10. The whole thing is a simple debit/credit system of calories. It seems like magic or good genes to those who have not figured it out. Eat less, be more active, if you splurge be disciplined enough to counter-balance the slip-up. No magic. No genes. Just conscientiousness and discipline.

  11. Kevin, I have a story similar to yours except that I’ve always been a runner. I was 6-0, 150 lbs in high school, 160 in college and then all of a sudden 200 pounds when I turned 37 years old. Yikes!

    I think the key to remember is that keeping your weight under control really is all about the total amount of calories you expend vs. what you eat. If you can’t run, walk to work or park on the far side of the parking lot at work and walk to to the building. When at home, don’t vegetate too much in front of the TV or the computer — go do something, clean the house, etc.

    Weight training is also essential and actually helps keep you slim because the more muscle you have the easier it is to burn calories.

    As for food, smaller meals five times a day seems to work for me rather than big meals three times a day.

    I’m down to about 185 with a goal of maintaining at 180.

  12. I’ve always been a little bit large. On my mission I lost a lot of weight and loved it, but returning home from Guatemala, I found Taco Time & Wendy’s & Sonic, etc and shot WAY up. As of about a year ago, I weighed over 350 pounds. I was finally at a place where I realized myself that I needed to do something.

    My parents were getting ready for their mission and trying to lose a few pounds before they left and they were doing Take Shape For Life. It was working for them.

    I started it Thanksgiving week in 2007. Since then I have lost 140 pounds and I feel so much better. Since then we have moved to a farm (life long dream) and we are raising alpacas, chickens and loving the farm life. I am able to do things that just a year ago I wouldn’t be able to do.

    My wife (who has lost around 40 pounds over the last year) have become Health Coaches, and we are feeling better everyday. I still have a little ways to go but if I take it one day at a time and not get frustrated when I might gain a little, then I’ll make it and keep it off.

    Bil

  13. Also, when it comes to weight loss, not all exercise is created equal. Things like jogging, while good for your health, is terrible for weight loss.

    The year before last I set a goal to lose weight and did more than what most people do, in addition to my 2,000 calorie diet I did an hour of jogging every day and lost about 10 lbs in the 3 months before I fell of the wagon. In the middle of last year I started up again except I did a combination of weight-lifting (40 min. routine) and high-intensity cardio (20 min. routine) and lost 30 lbs in 2 months. Big difference. Follow the links and read some of the articles to get the science behind it, but I’m a believer.

  14. Five years ago, I dropped 50 of the 100 lbs I wanted (needed) to lose. No magic formula – just count calories, exercise, pay attention and make healthy decisions. The first few weeks were so hard; I felt like all I could think about were calories and self-control and what I was and was not eating, etc. But, after about 4 weeks, I didn’t have to think about it anymore. It became habit and it didn’t take up nearly so much of my cognitive resources. Then I got pregnant and gained everything back. Now, a year after my second child, I’m worse than I was when I started the whole thing. I keep trying to remind myself that it really works, that I have proof that I can do it. But, I feel like I don’t have the mental energy to make it through those first few hard weeks. Despite that, I went shopping tonight and bought all the right food to start after fast Sunday – so wish me luck.

  15. StillConfused says:

    I have never needed to lose weight (lactose intolerance and severe hypoglycemia are God’s diet plan for me). But I have been more involved with fitness and nutrition.

    When it comes to fitness, I have had to cancel my group activities. While it sounded fun, and even sometimes was, there was such a disparity of desired outcome that it ended up being too exhausting and frustrating for me. (I prefer to go for endurance rather than trying to vomit in the first few minutes. I also like to have a good time.) I now do activities, such as yoga, where everyone just goes at their own pace. I do my aerobics and strength at home alone (so I can control the workout to fit my health and desires for that given day).

    I have been also getting more involved with nutrition. No refined sugar and no dairy is my default, but it is also important for me to be sure that I am getting the various nutrients that I need. I have been trying stuff out and seeing how I like it. I make a chicken and qunioa dish (just like chicken and rice but substitute quinoa for the rice) that is quite tasty.

    The other biggie for me this year is hydration. I need to remember to drink more. I will likely just put alarms on my Outlook to remind me to drink some water or herbal tea.

    Good nutrition also has many benefits. For instance, I rarely catch communicable illnesses. A healthy body can fight off the funk.

  16. I’d suggest reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Taube and the Shangri-la Diet (just read about it on the internet) for anyone who has been unable to lose weight.

    I went from 264 to 170ish (about 176 right now, as I drop off the Christmas food rise).

    It was life changing for me, triglycerides from over 300 to 51 on my last test.

  17. Practicing self control (esp in re food), having an active lifestyle, and increased awareness of health are all very admirable qualities and everyone large or small should seek to better themselves in these areas.

    I would like to simply point out the well-known fact that there is a lot of cultural pressure to be thin which can skew one’s perception of themselves and give them unreasonable expectations for their appearance and weight.

    I firmly believe that ‘thin’ is not perfectly synonymous with ‘health.’ I also think that for those who are prone to anxiety and poor self-image a better way to approach the issue is to set goals for activities or skills rather than weight or dress sizes. (for example “I want to be able to run a mile in x minutes,” instead of “I want to lose 5 pounds”).

  18. I also had considerable success with the “day off” plan. It really helps the psychological/emotional side of things to know that you can have that donut or pizza or whatever on your day off. The downside was that I never lost my sweet tooth, and sure enough, almost all of it eventually came back.

    The central problem is that the deck is stacked against those of us who struggle with sugar. Just tonight I bought what were advertised as whole wheat english muffins from pepperidge farm. Fourth ingredient? Sugar!!

    Food companies know that sugar is addictive, and they pack it in everywhere they can and under a dozen different names. Although I am a strong free-marketer this is one area where I hope there may be some regulation. These financial interests, plus the complicity of the USDA during the 70s and 80s with its horrific food pyramid, is in large part responsible for the so-called obesity epidemic.

    It’s not as if we all lost our willpower in a generation.

  19. I’m 6’4″ and around 190 now. I was about 185 when I got married. I started gaining weight pretty fast when my first kid was born in 2001. Sports was always a major part of my life so I never had to make a conscious effort to exercise or control my diet. But family life with full time school and work doesn’t leave a lot of room for recreational sports. I stopped exercising but kept up my bad eating habits. Most days I would go out for lunch and overeat. Then I would come home and overeat at dinner, which was often fast food. Then in the evenings I would get the munchies and eat bad snacks and desserts. By spring 2007 I was at 255 lbs. That’s when I up and decided to lose weight.

    On the diet side I pretty much stopped having any proper meals or any meat before dinner. I completely stopped eating out or ordering in for lunch. I ate fruits, veggies, light yogurt, bread, nuts, that sort of thing. I aimed for 500 or 600 calories until dinner time. I think I may be a little bit of a freak of nature because that’s usually plenty for me, even when I’m exercising a lot. For dinner I would eat a good, hearty dinner with seconds or even thirds. Being able to look forward to a big dinner where I could eat a lot without feeling all fat and bloated helped me keep my daytime intake down, which kept my daily intake below 2000. I pretty much stopped eating sugary snacks and desserts. When I did have dessert it had to be something baked at home, not store bought. That way I only usually had dessert once a week or so. I still got the munchies every night but I satisfied them with unbuttered popcorn and diet soda. I really love salty popcorn with soda so that was all I needed.

    On the exercise side I started jumping rope, taking long brisk walks, playing racquetball, and I even got up to running 5 miles before I got an overuse injury in my foot. Then I took up swimming.

    I decided to weigh myself only once a week so I wouldn’t get discouraged with the daily fluctuations. In the first week I lost five pounds. That weigh-in gave me such a high that I looked forward to my weekly weigh-ins, which motivated me to keep up the good habits. Over the course of 7 or 8 months I lost 65 pounds and was down to 190. Since then I’ve maintained that weight (with the exception of some holiday blips) by keeping my eating habits about the same—no daytime meat or full meals, big dinner—but I’ve relaxed a bit with the munchies and desserts. I recently got out of the exercise habit because swimming was getting boring but I need to get back into exercising to pay for my holiday indulgences.

    Funny thing: I have felt fat my whole life. Even in high school when I was 6’4″ 175 lbs. I felt fat. Totally crazy. But now that I’ve been actually chubby 190 lbs. feels great. I’m still a bit soft, but that doesn’t really bother me like it did before.

  20. Aaron Brown says:

    Like Kevin, I was a beanpole pre-mission. Unlike most elders, I lost weight during the mission (At 6’5″, I weighed 170 lbs. when I returned home; I have mission pictures in which I look like a concentration camp survivor). Then, not long after I returned home, my metabolism changed markedly. I haven’t been a beanpole for many years now.

    I dieted about a year ago and lost 25 lbs (285 down to 260). I did Nutrisystem. The food’s not great, but if you can make yourself do it, it works (at least for me). I managed to keep most of the weight off during the past year, even though I totally fell off the wagon, and did nothing right (ate too much, too often, too fast, without exercising much). I think I’m about to go for Round 2, as I’d like to lose another 25 lbs.

    AB

  21. I think dieting sucks, so I exercise and eat whatever I want. It works if I exercise A LOT. Luckily, I enjoy running, biking, swimming, tennis, skiing, rock climbing, etc. No one would ever call me skinny but I don’t gain too much if I just make time for some fun every few days. I think it’s fun to set exercise goals: marathon, triathlon, relay race, trail race, whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as you do it with your friends and keep training.

  22. One thing that really helped me was using the free website http://www.fitday.com. The ability to set and monitor goals, and have an easy way to count calories, helped me lose 50 pounds over the course of about 6 months three years ago. Like Tom, I quickly found out that you don’t have to suffer hardly at all to keep your caloric intake under 2000.

    In conjunction with Fitday, I would also recommend http://www.dietfacts.com, which is another free website that has vast stores of nutritional information from hundreds of restaraunts and thousands of brand foods. There is even a feature that allows you to import these foods into your Fitday account. This has been really helpful for me when it comes to work lunches…I can plan ahead or do a quick lookup on the Blackberry to help me make smart choices.

    After a while, calorie counting gets to be second nature…I can look at a plate of food and almost always accurately guess within a couple hundred calories; but there are still times when I am surprised, and that’s when those websites help.

    I’m down to 185 now, but like Kevin and others I would like to shed another 15 pounds or so to hit my prime BMI and have all that much less to carry around on my bicycle. Having the MS150 to look forward to in April should help.

  23. I lost 100 lbs by doing a lean meat and non-starchy vegetable diet for a year.

    No rice, no bread, no pizza, no pasta, no potatoes, no starchy beans, no peas, sweet potatoes, no starchy squashes, no starchy gravies, no fruit, no cake, no sweets, no sour cream, no cheese, no fatty meats.

    Yes to lean meats, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, water chestnuts, green beans, radishes, lettuce, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, beets, celery, cucumber, pickles, etc.

    6 pecan halves a day plus 2 teaspoons of olive oil a day (I use it to cook vegetables in.)

    Starches and sugars are addictive substances. They should have warning labels. =)

    I drink 3 liters of boiled or bottled water a day. I also don’t drink unboiled tap water.

    I take supplements for magnesium, potassium, vitamin C (3g/day), vitamin D (6000 IU/day), and a multivitamin, among others, which you need when you go off starches.

    Don’t go on and off this diet rapidly as it will mess up your system. It helps to cut out only about 10 percent of your carb grams (neglecting non-starchy vegetable carb grams, which don’t count) per day to acclimate gradually. This does involve counting everything you eat every day on some sort of spreadsheet or something. Yeah it really does get boring after a while, but it works so that’s fun. =)

    Begin exercising after the first month (let your body get used to the diet for the first month… it can make you tired). Weight training is ideal to put on muscle mass that will burn calories even while you’re asleep. But really any exercise is fine.

    I’m going back on it again in 2009, cause I need to lose again.

  24. I’ve struggled with food and weight since I can remember. I’ve tried every diet in the world, rarely staying on any diet for more than a week or so. About six years ago, I found Overeaters Anonymous, which has helped me find some sanity around food (and keep off 60 pounds or so). OA isn’t for everyone, but it helped me a great deal.

    Practically speaking, my eating plan involves lots of lean meat, whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits, and very limited refined sugar, white rice, white flour, and junk food.

  25. Kevin,

    I’m with you. Monitoring weight is a simple, yet vital step for maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve always been around 170 lbs, and as long as I track my weights (compulsively) I can keep that weight. The 2 times I’ve given up on my Excel spreadsheet and graphs I’ve quickly gone up 10 lbs.

    Monitoring works for me, because it keeps me aware of small adjustments I need to make and it motivates me to be at a good weight when I know I’m going to weigh myself.

  26. Kevin, my experience mirrors yours (except I’m only 5’7″). Last February, at the age of 35, I had my “look in the mirror” moment and proceeded to watch what I eat, and also started exercising. I’ve lost over 40 pounds and am at a good weight now.

    I try to be careful about what I consume, and I exercise 5-6 days a week, but I absolutely refuse to kill myself. I think yo-yoing is just about the worst thing, physically and mentally. So, I take it easy and say to myself, “Slow and steady, steady and slow…”

    Oh, and my wife is ecstatic, and well, our relationship has never been better.

    Thanks for this, Kevin Barney.

  27. StillConfused says:

    I also like the site realage dot com. You enter in more than just your weight, but your lifestyle choices as well and it calculates how much your body is really aging. It is fast, easy and fun and allows you to choose the areas where you want to focus rather than trying to fit a specific mold. (For instance, it tells me that I would be “younger” if I had a pet. No thanks, don’t want youth that badly)

  28. I started a new diet/exercise plan a month and a half ago. My plan is very simple. I keep a track of the calories I eat with the help of applications on my iPhone. The first week, I ingested as I normally did. I wasn’t that far over what I am allowed for my weight, but the thing that shocked me was just how much Dr. Pepper I drank for the first week. If you don’t keep count, you don’t realize how much you can drink. It turned out that the first week I drank 3100 calories of Dr. Pepper. I immediately switched to Diet Dr. Pepper. I live a fairly sedentary life with some activities. My wife and I bought aerobic steps and have used them for exercise. In this past month and a half, I have lost 12 pounds.

  29. Kevin, well done! My own battle with weight comes from a very unhealthy relationship with food. I use it for everything from staving off boredom, to relieving depression (ice cream has imitate effects in lighting my mood). If I could just eat when I was hungry and stop when I was satisfied I’d be doing great. I use running to offset the effects of this bad food behavior but if I’m not watching the intake running does little, so I try and limit my calories (and I should note that someone observing my running would not use that word to describe it–shuffling slowly maybe). I fail every holiday season. This one worse than most.

  30. The only time I lose weight is when I stop exercising due to injury or travel. All of a sudden, I drop to my ideal weight. This has happened several times.

    It might be the muscle turning to fat, but it seems too fast for that. It might also be that my body is willing to let go of the fat, since as much is not being asked of it.

    Which means that the calories in/calories out mantra is not quite true.

    So I could lose weight by just not exercising, if losing weight were most important to me. However, I value overall health, even if it means being overweight. So I will continue to do strength training to avoid bone loss, and riding my bicycle because it is better for the environment and less stressful than driving a car. And I will put up with other people looking down at me for my “lack of control” and “laziness.”

    Also, men have no idea what it is to fight against the hormones of pregnancy, lactation and menopause. It is MUCH easier for men, and not just from their muscle mass.

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    Naismith, I freely acknowledge that losing weight is relatively easy for me (I’m a man, I didn’t have a lot to lose and I still have a relatively high metabolism). I agree that it is different for different people, and that women in particular face some specific challenges that men don’t.

  32. Tatiana and Anna G I think you have both hit a real note about something that works when other things do not.

  33. StillConfused says:

    I would be interested to know if there is any correlation between weight and religion. I have had people ask me why Mormons are fatter. I relunctantly admit that I have wondered the same thing. But I wonder if that correlation is accurate. I can say that the adult LDS propulation in east Salt Lake seems much heavier than the adult LDS population in Tidewater Virginia. I can also say that adult LDS population in Salt Lake seems much heavier than the non-LDS population in Salt Lake. Now this is just my personal view and obviously I am not seeing everyone so I have no true data to back it up.

    For a religion with a health word of wisdom, something seems to be missing. We focus on no alcohol and tobacco; but do we focus on the dangers of abusing icecream and pastries? Do we focus on the dangers of sedentary living? Do we use icecream as our legal drug of choice? Do we use childbearing/childrearing as a convenient excuse for overeating? (Before anyone freaks out, I am a woman and have had children and found the calories required by lactating caused weight loss in excess of any desired amount on my part.)

    If the Church is involved enough to have an official position on legislation in California, can it have an official position on nutrition? Can we have a Proclamation On The Belly?

  34. Naismith gets at something interesting–there’s plenty of data to suggest that women do face a tougher battle than men; our bodies want to hold onto fat for all kinds of reasons, mostly related to childbearing and lactation. Steven P will correct me, I’m sure, but it seems to me that it still hasn’t been long enough, evolutionarily speaking, for the female part of the species to adapt to the fact of relatively common survival past menopause, so it’s no wonder our hormones do us in.

    It’s really interesting to eavesdrop on a largely male conversation about weight loss. I’m struck by a few things: 1) NONE of you mentioned worrying about weight as children or teens; 2) all of you who’ve given figures sound to be truly overweight before you get concerned, and you seem to have fairly realistic and healthy weight goals (unlike almost all women I know, who have a “magic” number that’s roughly 10% less than they can reasonably or healthily maintain); and 3) you’re pretty matter-of-fact about going after the weight–it’s an input/output problem with not a lot of the emotional content that goes into many women’s struggles with weight.

    Not that I’m bitter or anything ;)

  35. Kristine: NONE of you mentioned worrying about weight as children or teens . . .

    I did in #18. That’ll teach you to not read to the end of overly long comments.

  36. When I was in high school and college, part of my self-image involved being “the skinny one” in almost any group setting. About six months ago, I was adjusting my outfit, and for the first time, realized that it wasn’t just my shirt poofing unattractively over my waistband, some of that was my belly fat, too. Panic set in. I was already eating healthy, watching portions, not drinking soda, walking to work almost every day. What more could I reasonably do to control my weight, without crossing the line into obsessing about it, or developing an eating disorder or something?

    I started reading about food and body issues online, and somehow, miraculously happened upon the Shapely Prose blog. I’d recommend their two classic posts, The Fantasy of Being Thin, and Don’t You Realize Fat is Unhealthy? to anyone considering a weight-loss program, who also doesn’t mind extremely strong language.

  37. Losing weight is overrated. Losing fat is where it’s at. I lost 10% body fat (but gained weight due to muscle) by doing the following:

    Zone diet + CrossFit.

    That’s not for everyone. You have to be pretty driven, fitness-wise, to even consider this. Most people will likely do just fine with eating better and a little more exercise.

  38. :) sorry, Tom!

  39. Still Confused (#32)

    Utah is actually in the top 5 lightest states. My home state of Colorado has been #1 for many years.

    I do agree with you, however, that in the near future the church will come out with some statement about fitness. I don’t foresee them saying “thin is holy and fat is sinful”, but I do think they will identify the obesity epidemic as a genuine risk to the growth of the church.

    I’ve always thought that a good way to do this would be to turn the phrase “run and not be weary” into a commandment, not just a blessing. Except in instances of disability, we should all be able to do an exercise (running, swimming, boating) that raises our heart rates significantly and maintain it for 45-60 minutes.

  40. merrybits says:

    I have been training for the LA marathon, but even with all the mileage, my weight hasn’t budged (I could stand to lose about 15-20 lbs). I met with my endocrynologist (sp?) and we thought it might be a sugar-metabolizing issue, so she put me on Simlin (a pancreatic hormone) which I would inject in my belly before meals. It helped get about 5 pounds off, but then nothing. So now we’re switching to speed! I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

  41. merrybits, I have a friend who was a triathelete — and more than 170lbs overweight. Only when he got the sugar and flour out of his diet did he lose weight.

  42. StillConfused says:

    I agree that Colorado and Utah are fit states, we have the mountains and lots of recreational activities. But I am concerned that while the state is overall quite healthy, that certain demographics are not (over 30, married, LDS)

    I agree that sugar and refined foods are really bad on the body. I grew up a poor farm girl so I was not exposed to those items as a youth, so I never acquired a taste for it. Not all kids are that lucky though. Start of with Happy Meals and Sugar Smacks and then what…

  43. I wouldn’t suggest a triathlon or marathon for losing weight. Sign up for those events because you want to and enjoy the health benefits and weight loss as a byproduct.

    I weighed around 205 lbs at the beginning of 2008 and then decided to train for a marathon because it was something I really wanted to do in my life. I trained for nine months and lost about one pound a week. I weighed about 35 lbs less when I finally ran my first marathon in September. I ate healthy because I knew that if I didn’t, my training runs everyday would be harder and I wouldn’t reach my goal. I’ve found that if I make my eating habits accountable to my exercise routine, I eat healthy. I still like a good burger occasionally but I’ve found that I’m not as tempted to consume unhealthy things if I know that it will disrupt my exercise training.

  44. I thought of this post as I was read the New York Times wedding announcements today and came across this gem:

    Laurel Martin-Harris and Myles Andrew Nye were married Wednesday at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. The ceremony was led by Lynn Kaufman, the couple’s Weight Watchers meeting leader who became a Universal Life minister to officiate.

  45. So much for proofreading my comments. Although maybe that last comment will start the rumor that I’ve gone blind or illiterate and have to have someone read the Times weddings pages to me.

  46. #40, I made another comment earlier but it must have gotten eaten by the spam-catcher. In it I explained that running is great for your health but terrible for burning fat, since your body responds to exercise by becoming more efficient at utilizing calories. So you’ll lose fat at first, but will see increasingly disappointing results unless you either 1) increase the amount of time you run, or 2) increase the intensity. Since the average marathon runner only burns about 3,000 calories on a 26 mile course (approxiamtely one Big Mac) the first option is out of the question, unless you have nothing to do all day but run. The other option has been mentioned by numerous others: lift weights to build muscle.

    Year before last I set a goal to lose some weight, and did more than what most people do, and ran for an hour on the treadmill every day. I lost about 10 lbs. in 3 months before I got out of the habit. I gave it another try last year and did a combination of weight lifting (40 min. 3x/week) and a high-intensity cardio workout (20 min. 2x/week) and lost 30 lbs. in 2 months. Big difference. For the science, google Bill Phillips’ “Body For Life” program and have a look at the articles. I highly recommend it.

  47. I’m retarded, looks like my earlier comment can be found at #13.

  48. MikeInWeHo says:

    After 40, it’s a constant struggle. For 2009, I’m going to Fat Fighters.

  49. Rameumptom says:

    While many people still think I’m “skinny”, I can feel the extra weight on me. I was 130 pounds on my mission. Five years ago, when I hit 200 pounds, it was a very painful pill to take. And it showed in my health.

    I’m not so much on how much I weigh, but on how healthy I am. I realize that I’m not going to get back down to 130 pounds, nor do I wish to be that skinny again.

    I am currently at 183, up from 175 pounds, and would like to get myself down to 165-170, now that the holidays are over.

    I pack my own lunch, use only healthy snacks where possible, and also do light workouts (fast walking, light weights, etc).

    I know there is a work-out and weight range where I feel comfortable, yet do not have to compete in Iron-man triathlons.

  50. Kevin – Just moments before opening this blog I had a long, serious conversation with a colleague about my hopes for better health this year. For the record, I have 35 -50 poinds overweight for more than 20 years. I have had minor success with diets and programs (Weight Watchers) but I have lacked the discipline to carry out a program or routine that will help me continue to lose weight. This past summer I ‘accidentally’ lost some weight at a time when we were doing some serious renovation at our house. I stopped going to the gym – because of our other commitments with the renovation – but I also stopped snacking and sitting in front of the TV at night and I lost about 15 pounds. Unfortunately, the completion of the renovation and the holidays have me right back where I was before the summer started.

    I turned 55 a week ago and I know that healthy habits of diet and exercise are essential to maintaining good health for the next few decades. Thank you for your inspirational story. I will refer to it often in the coming months as I attempt to match your success.

  51. Just thought I’d throw my experience of late in.

    I’ve recently been diagnosed as pre-diabetic (my dad has it) so I put my foot down and did what I least wanted to do – diet and exercise. I joined a gym and got a personal trainer for weight training. The diet is cutting down on the five white foods – pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, sugar. I have virtually eliminated french fries.

    Having the trainer gives me a sense of accountability because I have almost zero personal discipline. In fact, over the Christmas break while the trainer was out of town, I worked out 2 of 10 days.

    So, in about a month, I’ve lost 15 pounds, hope to lose more as I go. The downside is that even 3 sessions a week is a bit expensive, but overall, I feel like it’s worth it.

    A typical session for me is 10 minutes of warm-up on the treadmill, 30 minutes of weight training, and 20 more minutes of cardio (usually the treadmill again) The weight training is HARD. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so out of shape already, or if it’s this hard for everyone. The trainer’s really good, though, pushes me enough (too much sometimes!) to get a good workout.

  52. it tells me that I would be “younger” if I had a pet.

    So true. And happier, too. But I suspect it has to be the right pet. My dog makes me younger happier and healthier than I would otherwise be because he is just so awesome.

    Can we have a Proclamation On The Belly?

    Ha! The sooner the better.

  53. Thanks for a great post, I have Pamela’s book on my bookshelf, now I’ll stop looking at it and pull it out to read!

  54. I just think there’s nothing like Weight Watchers.

  55. The best way to lose weight is eating less and take more exercise!
    cheer up!

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