When Tom started this weight-loss plan he weighed 200 pounds. After losing the initial 15 pounds he is more mindful of what he eats.
First, let me say that there is nothing to buy at the end of this article. Second, this is just a personal experience, not a medical opinion or professional dietitian's opinion. So be smart. Losing 15 pounds in four weeks may not be right for you.
The basic story is that I had been wanting to drop some weight for quite some time, but I had never really made any serious attempt to do so. At 50, with a height of 5' 10", I weighed about 200 pounds. Once I decided to get proactive about losing some weight, it became basically a function of intake—eating fewer calories than I burned through activity—on a consistent basis. I was physically active while on the diet but had no exercise plan. What I did was pay more attention, in general, to the type and quantity of food I ate rather than to counting calories.
How I Got Motivated
For about a year before I started this plan, my company had made a big effort to educate employees on health issues and even provided some "boot camp" exercise programs. I never really made time to participate, but I did notice a few individuals at work who were making some significant weight loss improvement. Looking back, just seeing their progress was more influential than I thought it would be.
Something else I had noticed was that sweets, fried foods, and over-eating seemed to give me a lot of indigestion. Unfortunately, those are three of my favorite foods. I wanted to see what benefits would come from eliminating them.
Before going on the diet, it was fairly common for me to drink four to six cups of coffee per day. I was curious how that might be contributing to my indigestion. Also, for the last few years, I had noticed what seemed like an unusual amount of fatigue, especially at the end of the day. I wondered if too much coffee and sweets were causing that.
Estimating a New Calorie Intake Goal
In general, exercise alone doesn't help you lose weight. The pounds just come back when you eat a couple of big cookies or a bag of chips. I knew that my main strategy would have to be reducing caloric intake.
- A decent rule of thumb is that the number of calories you need daily to maintain your current weight is your current weight times ten. So for me, at about 200 pounds, that was 2000 calories.
I made a plan to start eating less than 2000 calories a day. I didn't really count calories, but I was at least be somewhat aware of them. Since my weight had kind of stabilized at 200 pounds, I figured my calorie intake was fairly stable and that any reduction from the norm would have a weight-loss effect. I basically just started cutting out stuff that I already knew was bad (or unnecessary.)
Diet Plan Summary
- Limit drinks to water and tea. Drink more water than usual.
- No sweets, no fried foods.
- Banana and/or one half peanut butter sandwich for breakfast.
- Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack: one serving of trailmix, or small bag of preztels or chips.
- Lunch and dinner: Soup or sandwich or limited servings of balanced meal.
How I Lost 15 Pounds in 30 Days
- I stopped drinking any beverages other than water and tea. I thought that it would be difficult to stop drinking coffee but it really wasn't that bad since I was still drinking unsweetened tea. At least one cup of tea per day was green tea. I increased my overall fluid intake by drinking more water than usual.
- I stopped eating all sweets and all fried foods.
- I stopped over-eating by limiting lunch and dinner to smaller portions than what I normally would eat. No second helping either.
Did It Work?
Yes. This plan worked for me for a couple of reasons.
- First, I was mentally ready to live by the rules.
- Second, I ate just enough just often enough to keep myself from getting really hungry. The peanut butter was especially good at warding off the hunger for a few hours. Sometimes I would have that for supper. Overall, just trying to be purposeful about eating less than normal was the key. For the first two weeks, I was a little hungry at bedtime, but my body eventually seemed to adjust to the new quantity of food.
- The weight came off in fairly small increments, sometimes a pound or half-pound per day. Some days I didn't lose anything.
I love to eat and generally eat a wide variety of things, so I was surprised by several things over the four-week period.
- I didn't miss the joy of eating that much. I tried to start thinking about food as mere fuel rather than a pleasure.
- I didn't miss the coffee as much as I thought I would.
- I was also surprised by how much of a social thing eating had become for me. While I was perfectly fine eating less in the company of others, I did have some misgivings sometimes that I was not doing my part to make the meal enjoyable; sort of putting a damper on things. Especially if someone had prepared an entrée or dessert for me.
- The fatigue that I had been experiencing is totally gone and the indigestion is decreasing.
- I know this won't work for everyone, but I weighed every morning to stay informed about how my body was responding and for motivational purposes.
- Most days I would try to walk a half to a full mile around the office, not so much to burn calories but to help keep my metabolism up a bit.
What the Experts Say About This Plan
I shared my experience with Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a doctor in Philadelphia who specializes in weight loss, and here's what he said: "The most important take-home message here is that he figured out what worked for him. But the 15 pounds he lost in the first month was not all fat. It is essentially impossible to lose that much fat in a month. However, it appears as though he has kept it off, so I think this was a good plan for him."
What I Ate on My Diet Plan
• One banana and/or half a peanut butter sandwich using one slice of whole-grain bread and 1 1/2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter.
• Once during the four week period I had an early meeting so I ate two regular eggs and three slices of bacon.
• One serving of trail mix, plain pretzels, or potato chips.
• A few times during the period I had a banana.
• A medium-sized bowl of soup or a sandwich. Can have crackers or chips, but no fries.
• If I'm eating with others and someone else had selected the food, I limit myself to small servings of two or three items. No seconds and no sweets.
• Same as mid-morning.
• A meat, a vegetable, and a starch. Limit servings. No dessert.
My Ongoing Weight Loss Effort
My Weight in 2011
While the first 15 pounds came off in four weeks, it took me an additional six weeks to lose the next five pounds. Over those six weeks, I didn't do my daily walking but did do a few minutes of exercise in the morning at home.
I found that my appetite had decreased after following the diet, so there were more evenings when supper was just a banana or peanut butter sandwich. I also added coffee back into my daily diet.
Update September 2012
Almost immediately after losing 20 pounds, our family went on a six-day cruise for a vacation. I had decided that I would enjoy the variety of foods on the trip (without too much ridiculous over-eating) and see what would happen. Turns out, I didn't gain any weight! No doubt all the walking on board and on the side trips had a balancing effect to the extra eating.
Monday Night Football was a different story. My son and I got into the habit of ordering a pizza every Monday night, which was great bonding—in more ways than one. As fall and winter progressed my weight went up between +3 and +5 pounds above the original 20-pound loss but leveled off at that. I continued taking long walks on a fairly often basis.
As winter deepened and walking tapered off, ice cream became a more frequent part of my diet. By the beginning of this summer, I was up 5 to 8 pounds. Summer became so hot so quickly that I never really picked up the walking again. I did, however, start reducing my overall intake. We joined a small gym, where I have mainly worked on building muscle mass. My weight stayed level and I reinstituted a few steps from my original plan, including cutting out most fried food and desserts.
Update October 2015
Over the last four years, my weight has varied up and down in small increments. The current result is a gain of about 16 pounds (up from the loss of 20 pounds) but it has been steady at that level for about a year. It's been a more stressful year with a lot of erratic eating.
I just got a Fitbit and have been fascinated by how much the daily steps level varies. I have maintained a part of the original diet: Breakfast every morning for the last year has been a banana, a bowl of oatmeal, and a cup of coffee.
Best wishes if you give this diet plan a try!
Suggestions From Readers
Here are some great suggestions from readers who have commented on this article. Thank you all for sharing your experiences with us!
- Maximize the value of protein shakes by having one within 30 minutes of rigorous exercise.
- Watch sugar intake. Cutting out soft drinks completely is definitely a step in the right direction. Even fruit drinks can be just as high in sugar as cola.
- Eat more lean protein and fewer carbohydrates. Try grilled chicken, baked salmon, rotisserie turkey breast, beef or chicken kabobs or fajitas for dinner. As a side dish, always have vegetables such as a green salad, or green beans.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day and always drink at least one full glass before every meal.
- Get plenty of sleep.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 tompoteet
MaggieMae from PA on January 11, 2020:
I think this is the best diet plan I've seen. It can be very well rounded and individualized quite easily, as well as healthy. So many people now are busy cutting out carbs and upping the protein, but that isn't necessarily good for everyone. In reality, there is no "one size fits all diet." Not everyone can have a lot of protein due to personal health reasons. Carbs are important for giving you energy and some carbs come with added nutrients like oranges. People who love the high protein/low carb diets can use your plan as well. Even vegans can use it. Well done!
unimpressed on April 13, 2017:
you lost 20 and put back on 16. isn't the idea to keep it all off
Zane on October 01, 2015:
I have also discovered a few tips that are working for me. I am currently doing a 60-day fitness challenge. I started 31 days ago and have lost 16 pounds to far.
1. Eat more lean protein and less carbohydrates. Most nights for dinner, I have grilled chicken, baked salmon, rotisserie turkey breast, beef or chicken kabobs or fajitas. As a side dish, I always have vegetables such as a green salad, green beans, pickles, etc.
2. For breakfast, I like Fiber One cereal with skim milk or a Jimmy Dean Delites breakfast sandwich (the honey flatbread sandwich with egg, cheese, and turkey bacon is exceptionally good and only has 240 calories).
3. I have a small piece of fruit as a mid-morning snack.
4. If I am hungry between meals, I have a handful of Fiber One cereal or a few Rtiz crackers with peanut butter and a cup of skim milk.
5. I go to the gym three times a week and do weight training followed by cardio (treadmill or swimming). It's actually fun, and I listen to music or watch TV while on the treadmill.
6. I take a multi-vitamin every day.
7. I drink a lot of water throughout the day, and I always drink at least one full glass before every meal.
8. Get plenty of sleep at night.
9. The first two weeks are the toughest, but after that you start to develop new habits and your craving for sweets, soda and other unhealthy things diminishes.
10. Cook and eat at home as much as possible. No fast food (except perhaps a 6-inch Subway turkey or chicken sandwich once a week.)
11. When you haven't lost anything for a few days, you are on a "plateau." Stick with your diet and exercise, and your weight will eventually drop. Don't get discouraged by it. If it really bothers you, then weigh yourself only once per week.
12. Don't be afraid to try new healthy foods that you don't usually eat. I have discovered that I really like broccoli and brown rice, steamed artichokes, whole wheat pasta, lentils, and some other things.
Hezekiah from Japan on November 26, 2014:
Well done mate. Another method which most people don't really understand is using heavy weight. Done correctly will burn a lot of fat from around the muscle without the muscle getting too bulky.
Julyanne Pessoa on November 26, 2014:
Great hub! First thing is to want to change and this is a very hard decision to make. I believe this needs to be a lifestyle and it won't work if you change your diet just for some months.
Susan Caplan McCarthy from Massachusetts, USA on October 08, 2014:
Thank you for describing your plan, one that doesn't involve pills or diet shakes, but reasonable choices.
Joyette Helen Fabien from Dominica on October 08, 2014:
Great hub! Very useful practical approach that does not appear intimidating to the food lover or undisciplined dieter.
Carpe Diem from Philippines on October 03, 2014:
Thanks. This is a great diet plan. Now I'm motivated.
Angie Shearer from Whangarei, Northland on September 17, 2014:
Wow....I soooo love this hub...very informative very real and great tips....yet not missing out on lifes yummy pleasures it makes sense how this works and even better you still ate BACON....sold thankyou sooo much for sharing your experience
Joyette Helen Fabien from Dominica on September 16, 2014:
Good job! Its sometimes difficult to get started but once you make the effort, it gets better each day:)
wiserworld on September 16, 2014:
Thanks for the tips. Another good technique is to watch sugar intake as well. Cutting off soft drinks completely is definitely a step in the right direction. Even fruit drinks can be just as high in sugar as Cola.
CherylsArt on September 15, 2014:
Thanks for sharing about your successes. Sometimes it's a learning process to see what works best and what you can keep up.
Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on September 15, 2014:
A good start, just realizing that our eating habits need to change, and then to have a plan for healthy snacks.
Brianna W from East Coast on September 06, 2014:
This is great inspiration! I too am trying to learn the concept of use food for fuel! But, I still find ways to enjoy my food also. Eating want you want but in moderation is a great key. Loved reading this!
Kari on August 12, 2014:
Shows how just a shift in mindset can cause health benefits.
Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on July 17, 2014:
Great Hub. I am afraid that keeping weight down is actually the real challenge! I have been on target so many times just to gain it all, little by little as I relaxed.
hubsy on July 12, 2014:
Wow, this is so inspiring! I feel so motivated by your success story, thank you so much for sharing!
Kalaichelvi Panchalingam from PETALING JAYA on June 03, 2014:
Actually all it takes is a simple change in lifestyle. Cut the carbohydrates and sugar and up the grains, fruits and vegis and you are there. Unfortunately, many of us are use to eating a certain way and find it difficult to change. I am trying my best to make these changes too.
Richard on May 13, 2014:
You lost so much because you were very overweight and at this point you should lose another 30 pounds but one problem is you did not get into a healthy diet. Your diet requires more vegetables, especially greens, both lightly steamed and raw salads. Have at least three fruits a day and no juice. It would be a good idea to reduce meat, eggs and dairy to almost none daily.
tompoteet (author) on April 23, 2014:
Thanks. It would be more correct, at the moment, that I am more mindful of the routine that following it precisely. Working on lowering cholesterol..oatmeal every morning, soup or salad most days for lunch, medium size supper. Fortunately, weight has stayed fairly stable. I need to do an update for the column above. Thanks for your comment.
sim on April 21, 2014:
what is ur weight now....... r u on same routine..... ur story is really inspiring
tompoteet (author) on October 25, 2013:
That would be great. Thanks. Tom.
Leni Sands from UK on October 25, 2013:
Very useful article. Your honest updates are helpful as well. We strive on, don't we, with all that life throws at us? I have just updated my hub - 'Cut the Crap diet that really works' - stress, anxiety and depression has sent be right back to where I was so with the help of other dieting hubs and following my own original advice I am hoping to find some inner strength and will power to get my weight down again...do you mind if I add a link from my dieting hub to your dieting hub?
kitkat1141 from Ontario, Canada on September 26, 2013:
Sounds like a simple plan to follow. I love protein shakes too, they keep you full on very few calories. Thanks for the honest updates too.
tompoteet (author) on April 13, 2013:
All...thanks for the recent mega-flurry of comments. I'm always glad if this article is useful to others, and your comments are quite an encouragement to stay with the plan.
tompoteet (author) on April 11, 2013:
Also, as I mentioned in the article I was quite surprise by how much I felt compelled to consume extra servings in a meal or partake in desserts when I was at someone's house or out to eat with a group. Just reinforced how social eating can be.
tompoteet (author) on April 11, 2013:
Good question. I think my answer to that is "not really" and "not nearly at much as I thought I would." I love to eat, and there are very few foods in general or sweets specifically that I don't like. What I found was that I got very particular about which sweets that I would eventually (after the weight loss period) eat. Having lost some weight, sweets and other high calorie items began to really standout as something I could easily do without or just consume less.
Rose Anne Karesh from Virginia on April 10, 2013:
Did you find yourself missing sweets a great deal?
Kas from Bartlett, Tennessee on April 10, 2013:
Bravo on your weight loss. It's one of the hardest things besides getting out of debt that you have to have discipline to accomplish! I know how hard it is as I myself lost 80 pounds.....it's putting your mind to it and being single-minded! I also like that you listed what you ate! Great job and voting this up as useful and interesting!
Amy from Oswego, NY on April 10, 2013:
Very encouraging! Thanks for your simple plan to start shedding unwanted plans...gotta go refill my water bottle.
Moronke Oluwatoyin on April 10, 2013:
I started loosing weight when I cut down eating large portions of food.
No more sweets, cakes and soda drinks for me - they make matters worse.
Your method of losing weight is quite healthy and I'll recommend it to anyone.
Grace-Wolf-30 from England on April 10, 2013:
It is good to read about somebody losing weight sensibly rather than following the latest craze diet. We can all learn something from the article.
Art Division from London on April 10, 2013:
Thanks so so much for your tips. I love eating but have seriously got to watch the weight!
Just call me, Rick from Asia, and all over on April 10, 2013:
Thanks for sharing your experience. My weight used to fluctuate so much, but over the past couple of years it seems it's stabalized. I love snacking... peanuts, sunflower seeds and chips. I'm gonna try your diet and see if it works for me. Oh yea... ARG!!! Replace my 5 cups of coffee with one cup of tea? Oh well... here it goes. Voted up and awesome.
khmohsin on April 09, 2013:
Great Hub! Nowadays, my weight is increasing rapidly because I am not involve in any excersize activity from last 10 months. So I am really worried about that how I lose my weight. This hub teach me that how can i control my weight easily. I really like the tips and suggestions. Thanks for sharing your helpful and useful ideas.
Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on April 09, 2013:
First I just want to say well done! I find it very hard to lose weight without doing exercise because I have thyroid trouble and this makes me very tired so I really have to push myself. If I walk every day fairly briskly for at least 30 minutes it certainly speeds up my weight loss. Great hub. Voted up and interesting and shared.
Pooja S from Toronto on April 09, 2013:
This is great idea to lose weight.Nice hub!
Missy Mac from Illinois on April 09, 2013:
Thanks for this Hub! I am re-energizing my weight loss plan and great pointers.
scottymb on April 09, 2013:
This is a great hub! With a little exercise and eating right, anyone can lose the weight. Thanks for inspiration.
Ruchi Urvashi from Singapore on April 08, 2013:
Very informative and useful hub. Eating bananas in breakfast can help us lose weight. Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables and decreasing or eliminating junk food, certainly helps.
Ericajean on April 08, 2013:
I was encouraged reading this hub, because most of my life I weighed about 145 and later on at 19 I weighed 130, now I am 185 and have tried walking and exercising. My food favorites are minimal, but still contains sugars/fats: Vanilla wafers, iced coffee, fried chicken.
I can honestly, say that I have stayed away from fried foods(that was difficult) and I eat more fruits and veggies(I particularly enjoy Dole's Peach crisp with the oats). I began my Pilates routine again as well. At the same time I read JJ Smith's book on "Dieting Without Exercise" and she mentions that Detoxing is good-detoxing means cleaning out your(bowel) system because exercise is not enough and food sitting inside us is toxic. I will also jump on the counting calorie thing, it seems to work.
tompoteet (author) on April 08, 2013:
Thanks. I'm thinking maybe I should add a section to this main article to capture all the good tips like this one...protein shake within 30 mins of work with weights. Tom
webscripts from Chicago on April 08, 2013:
Protein shakes are great! Check Pinterest for an assortment of recipes. They are much better than smoothies (way less sugar) and can be very filling. I have one for breakfast in the morning. If you incorporate weights in your routine then you should have 1 within 30min of lifting also. Good luck and great start!
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on April 07, 2013:
Congratulations! That's a great feat. You have so much self control. I guess discipline is the most important part in any change of lifestyle. Stay healthy and fit.
Justlife98 from Georgia on April 06, 2013:
Good advice exercise will not help much with losing weight if your not lowering calories.
Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on April 06, 2013:
I definitely like your approach. No fad diets, no one food only type deal, a plain and simple eat in moderation.
You're right exercise can only do so much so it is better to think of how you eat instead of trying to exercise all the time but moving more has helped me feel better.
Great tips! I definitely will keep this in mind.
Rumana from Sharjah, UAE on April 06, 2013:
Losing weight is really a headache. But story is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
Voted up Useful and Shared!
Anastasia Kingsley from Croatia, Europe on April 05, 2013:
Hi Tompoteet, Thank you so much. I like your practical approach which seems to be based on mindfulness. Incidentally I just ran out of coffee :) As a tour guide at the beginning of summer, I am starting now. Best regards, ECAL
trina on March 20, 2013:
im confused arent lays regular chips fried???
Matt on March 18, 2013:
Great work and thanks for sharing...I'm going to try something similar over the next 6 weeks.
Dprang on December 23, 2012:
I firmly believe we are what we eat. What I love about this article is the way Tompoteet devised his plan for himself using logic etc.
I started my own path 3 years ago. The first year I concentrated on calories and avoidance of sugar and artifical sugar and ALL soda drinks. I also studied different fats and only use olive and coconut oil as a rule. The second year I concentrated on reducing chemicals as much as I could for riskier foods and am now passionately opposed to GMO foods and all their derivatives. The third year I developed my way of eating which is basically whole foods, nothing fake including farmed fish and amimal meats from production farms. I believe if we actually get the nutrients we need without the bad stuffs, we can learn to love food again. I mean real food.
I have lost the weight, am stable with less fluctuation and my belly is gone.
The basic premise I follow is that no way do I want to take pills for life like statins etc. I am of the age that I accumulated a lot of bad eating for a long enough time to do damage.... now reversed after 3 years. I do not know about other doctors but I have never had one that was interested in using food for health rather thaan pharma drugs.
Shell Vera from Connecticut, USA on September 09, 2012:
I enjoyed this for its honesty and practicality. In June, I began following the ideas outlined in Skinny Sexy Bride, which can be tailored to anyone. As a non-bride, I have enjoyed the benefits of a clean diet, healthy living, and not working out until I am ready to die but instead working out smarter. Like you, I only drink water and tea now as a main rule - though I do sneak a Crystal Light in from time to time for variety. I love cooking again and have taken up hiking more difficult trails, not for exercise but for my love of nature. It is a win-win. Thank you for sharing your story with us!
Oscar Jones from Monroeville, Alabama on September 08, 2012:
very good.. so its a lot of small decisions, and adding a bit of food knowledge that helped you eat smarter and lighter and better health ahead!
tompoteet (author) on September 08, 2012:
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, you are certainly welcom to create a link in another hub.
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on September 08, 2012:
This is a very motivational and inspirational health hub. I haven't done any dieting in my life (yet) and I feel blessed that I don't need to (yet) but this is something I could keep in mind or perhaps make it a rule in order to stay as I am now. My guilty pleasure? Cheesecake and drumstick ice cream. Urghh!
I am definitely voting up and useful and will be sharing your hub.
P.S. I'm revising some of my old hubs to wake them up and would like to use this hub to link in one of my health hubs. I hope that's okay with you.
tompoteet (author) on September 07, 2012:
Note to self: It is much easier to avoid ordering french fries if you haven't first made a science out of knowing the location of the best french fries in town.
talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on August 29, 2012:
Wow - how wonderful to lose 15 pounds in just 4 weeks! But I prefer to see inch loss than weight loss because belly fat is what really concerns me. I lost 5 total inches (3 from waist alone) by eating healthfully, drinking water instead of soda, exercising, and adding a thing called Oxycise!. The latter had a huge effect on me!
tompoteet (author) on June 19, 2012:
Thanks Mandy. Hope you find something useful here.
mandypoole from UK on June 16, 2012:
Interesting hub, hoping to lose a stone in 1 month so thank you for the inspiration!