33/M/5’8″ SW: 190 GW: 155 CW: 149
MyFitnessPal Progress Chart
In December 2019, I was the heaviest I’ve ever weighed in my life. For my height and body type, my BMI was pushing close to obesity levels. I exercised infrequently and I coped with stress from my job by justifying to myself that I could eat whatever I wanted. Both my health and my self-esteem were at all time lows.
On a Christmas holiday with my family, my Dad challenged us all to a 6 month bet to hit a target weight of our choosing. For those that hit their target weight by the end of June, their plane ticket would be paid for on our next family vacation by the rest who didn’t reach their target weight. Financial motivation is a strong motivator for me, so I set an aggressive goal of 155lbs, when I was 190lbs at the time. There’ve been many times where I’ve challenged myself to lose weight and fail over the past few years, but having my family joining on the ride gave me an extra bit of motivation to follow through.
In 5 months time, I’m happy to report that I hit my target weight of 155 and I continued to lose weight at a more gradual pace until I reached my current weight of 149 lbs on the last day of June. Here’s how I did it:
1) Using a calorie-tracking app
Using an app to track calories for the first three months was key. It created a mentality for me that kept me from picking up a particularly unhealthy snack knowing that I would have to input into my diary for the day. I used MyFitnessPal and it took me about 2 weeks until it became a habit to track everything that I ate.
2) Eating at a Calorie Deficit: That’s it!
I’ve gone through multiple periods in my life where I went on a drastic, short-term weight loss sprints, but the weight never stayed off. In the past, I always maintained an overly strict diet, restricting carbs, sugar, fat and all other yummy types of food to the point where it was torture. It works (for a while) but it’s never sustainable. I treated food like it was a drug, and I was prone to relapses when I didn’t have ice cream or pizza for 3 months and had just one bite as a cheat meal.
This time around, I only cared about Calorie Deficit. Didn’t care about macros, didn’t have a special day for “cheat meals”. My focus was to eat in a way that I enjoyed and not punish myself into weight loss like I had in the past. My calorie net goal was 1820 per day which came from MyFitnessPal’s calculation of my goal to lose 2 lbs per week. So if I worked out and burnt 400 calories, I let myself eat an additional 400 to compensate. However, I typically tried to stay at 1820 calories in total, regardless if I worked out that day or not. You’ll find that if you only care about calorie deficit, you’ll naturally find yourself passing on unhealthy snacks mainly because of the proportion that it takes from your daily calories. But the best part is that you STILL get to have pizza and hamburgers and burritos! And I have a big sweet tooth so I would always treat myself to a dessert every single day. In the end, all you need to do is adjust the rest of your eating day accordingly to ensure that your remaining meals/snacks will stay under that calorie limit.
3) Intermittent Fasting and changing my eating schedule
I decided to try intermittent fasting and skipped breakfast each morning, with the exception of days where I would do 10+ mile runs. I would refrain from eating from 9:00pm – 12:00pm next day. Skipping breakfast was hard at first, but I found that having water with lemon juice throughout the morning hours curbed my hunger until lunch time. This also allowed me to have tastier meals in the afternoon since I would have plenty of calories left, especially if I included a workout that day.
I moved from a three big meals a day, to 4-5 moderately sized meals a day ending with a larger dinner. This change of pace kept me from overeating and gorging myself which I tended to do during lunch. I also read that smaller meals might help metabolism. All I know is that it worked for me.
Here is a typical meal day for me:
Breakfast: Lemon Water
Meal 1, 12:00pm: Toasted Bagel with 1/2 banana slices and peanut butter
Meal 2, 2:00pm: 3 cups popcorn, 1 cup watermelon
Meal 3, 4:00pm: Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Shake
Meal 4, 6:00pm: Toast with scrambled egg
Meal 5, 8:00pm: Whatever is for dinner that night with my wife and it remains under my calorie limit. Usually my unhealthier meal of the day but always aim to have a good serving of vegetables.
Dessert, 8:50-9:00pm: 2/3 cup ice cream
Cutting all liquid calories (including alcohol)
Water, water and more water. This remained consistent every single time I’ve lost weight in my life. Drinking lots of water to keep me full and hydrated, while passing on empty calories in sodas and sports drinks (I love gatorade).
Cutting alcohol is drastic and I’m sure people stopped reading after the headline. My wife got pregnant during the past 6 months and I decided to cut alcohol in solidarity. This was a HUGE lift to my weight loss since I was prone to have 8-10 drinks through the week.
5) Consistent Cardio Schedule
The Calorie Deficit approach works, but it works even better if you are doing consistent cardio throughout the week. This way, you’ll expedite your weight loss AND you’ll get to eat more meals that might be considered “cheat meals”
Running is my choice of cardio and I aimed to run at least 3x per week. I also would do calisthenics on off days and typically give myself about 1-2 rest days per week. Through 6 months, I gradually increased distances each week to the point where I am now averaging 100+ miles per month.
6) Creating systems of accountability
It’s been an incredible journey that was focused on losing weight in an enjoyable way. I’ve felt better than I have in years and I’m possibly in the best shape of my life at the age of 33. I hope this information will be useful for anyone else who’s looking for motivation to lose weight.