On Making Good Choices

Apples with peanut butter, and a glass of water.

I lost 25 pounds this past summer. I’m now down to a weight that I haven’t seen since my first year or so in high school, before I ever cared to step foot on a scale. It’s my second such round of weight loss. And it feels great.

Now, I’m not writing about this to brag or gloat. But it did occur to me, as I was prepping a morning snack today, that it was really about making sustainable choices, and, thus, I’m sharing my thoughts with you.

Several years ago, I crossed the 200-pound mark, followed soon after by 205, on my way to 210. I didn’t think much of it – I saw people that were bigger than me, and I was in relatively good shape. But as I started to do the math, I felt a bit of a wakeup call. Even if I only gained one pound a year, by the time I was 50, I’d have gained almost 20 pounds. Then, I took a look at those same people that I mentioned earlier, guesstimated their weight and age and…realized that they were probably my size (or smaller) when they were my age.

BZZZZZTTTTTT……..BZZZZZTTTTTT……..BZZZZZTTTTTT……..BZZZZZTTTTTT……..BZZZZZTTTTTT……..the alarm was buzzing. It was clear to me, I have to take action. I started by looking at my eating habits – one very large bowl of cereal for breakfast, or maybe a large bagel with cream cheese. Stop off for Starbucks on the way to the office, boy those muffins look good. I’ll take one, please. Doughnuts at the office? Sure, I’ll have 2. Bagels in the morning production meeting? Ok, sure, I’ll have cream cheese with that, thanks. That sandwich I was eating a few times a week at the local sandwich shop – a little research turned up that it was in excess of 1200 calories. Afternoon snack from the vending machines? Ok. Big dinner…. dessert…. Ok, I think you get the picture. Add to this, that I was travelling around 11 or 12 weeks a year for work, which involved some big meals at restaurants, some wine, and… well, you now see where this is headed.

I started slowly – let’s just cut out the extra meals in-between meals. It was tough, because my body was used to being smothered in calories so often. But, I worked at it, and after a couple weeks, the habit was broken. Then, I started looking at portion sizes – that bowl of cereal that was nearly cresting the top, well, that was somewhere along the lines of 4 servings. I should point out that I’ve been told by a family member that is a dietician that measuring food is not great, that one needs to learn to listen to their bodies to control portions and appetite. I would agree with that on the whole as a concept, but my body was convinced that what it needed was way more than it really did. So, I started measuring my morning cereal and the milk that went on it. Soon thereafter, I started stopping myself from going back for seconds (or thirds) at dinner. Salads for lunch. Dessert moved to fresh fruit instead of ice cream (ok, ice cream on the weekends, only). And after a few weeks, the scale started reporting lower numbers. I felt like I had more energy. I started riding bikes again, which I had given up out of college due to “not enough time”. And after a full summer of this affair – I had dropped 35 pounds, had a new wardrobe and felt fantastic.

Fast forward a few years. Some of the weight had come back. It most occurs in the winter, when in the northeast US, it can be tough to stay active. So I once again looked at my eating habits (which no longer included red meat or poultry). I made two very small changes that had a big impact – I stopped adding cream to my coffee, and I substituted coconut milk in place of regular milk on cereal. No changes to portions. And, the pounds dropped off again – not as pronounced as my previous experience – but they came off, nonetheless.

My point here is that with a few honest looks at your habits, and a few small, easy to manage changes in your diet – ie “Making Good Choices”, it’s possible for anyone. I’m not eating any expensive or super-foods. Just regular old stuff – but less of it. I still treat myself, but only on the weekends.

It worked for me. And hopefully, it might work for you, too.