How I Lost 15 Pounds in Four Weeks
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.
How to Avoid Hunger Pangs
I found that I really liked protein drinks. I used GNC's Gold Standard Whey as this formula really seemed to help satisfy my hunger urges. I got the chocolate flavor, which made my sweet tooth happy.
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.
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