How I Lost 15 Pounds in Four Weeks
The Basic Story
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. 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 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, taking in fewer calories than are expended on a consistent basis. During the dieting period I was physically active, but had no exercise plan. I paid more attention, in general, to the type and quantity of food I ate, than to counting calories.
Some Background Information
No matter how hard I tried, just thinking that losing weight would be a good thing never made it happen. In the last year, my company has made a big effort to educate employees on health issues and has even provided some "boot camp" exercise programs. I never really made time to participate. But I began to 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 cause a lot of indigestion. Unfortunately, those are three of my favorites. I wanted to see how much beneficial effect 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 affecting the indigestion. Also, for the last few years, I had noticed what seemed like an unusual amout of fatigue, especially at the end of the day. I wondered if too much coffee and sweets was causing that.
Eating to Lose Weight
Exercise in general doesn't really burn a lot of calories, compared to how quickly you can gain them back with a couple of big cookies or a bag of chips. So 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.
Thus my plan was starting eating less that 2000 calories a day. I didn't really count calories, but you do have to 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.)
Summary of Essential Steps
- 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.
Rules for the Diet
- 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.
What You Can Eat
• One banana and/or half a peanut butter sandwich using one slice whole-grain bread and 1 1/2 tablespoons 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.
Why This Diet Works
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 of 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.
I love to eat and generally eat a wide variety of things, so I was suprised by several things through the four-week period.
- I didn't miss the joy of eating that much. I tried to start thinking about food as merely 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 Diet's Effects
- The weight came of in fairly small increments, sometimes a pound or half-pound per day. Some days I didn't lose anything.
- 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.
- The fatigue that I had been experiencing is totally gone and the indigestion is decreasing.
Update: July, 2011:
- While the first 15 pounds came off in 4 weeks, it has taken 6 additional weeks to lose the next 5 pounds. Hope that is normal.
- Over the past six weeks I haven't been doing the daily walking, but have been doing a few minutes of exercise in the morning at home.
- As my appetite has decreased some, have had more times when supper was just a banana or peanut butter sandwich.
- Really like the protein drinks. Using GNC's Gold Standard Whey. They really seem to help statisfy hunger urges. I get the chocolate flavor, which really helps satisfy my sweet tooth.
- Added coffee back in to daily diet. It's good.
Update: October, 2015:
- Wow. I can't believe it has been so long since I entered an update here. Over the last three years, my weight has varied up and down in small increments. The current result is a gain of about 16 pounds (up from the max. loss of 20 pounds,) but it has been steady at that level for about a year. It's been a more stressful than normal year with a lot of erratic eating. I just got a Fitbit and have been fascinated by how much the daily steps level varies. They say 10,000 steps per day is a good goal. Going to try that and cut back on desserts for a while. Would really like to drop about 10 pounds by the end of the year. I have maintained a part of the original diet. Breakfast every morning for the last year has been a banana, bowl of oatmeal, and a cup of coffee.
Update: September, 2012
- At the time of that update I had just reached a loss of 20 pounds. Almost immediately after that, 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 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 varied 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. About 8 weeks ago, we joined a small gym, where I have mainly worked on building muscle mass. Weight is staying level so far, but hopefully I’m trading a little bit of fat for muscle. Lost about one belt notch so far.
- This week I have decide to begin implementing a few steps from my original plan, one step at a time. First is to try to eliminate most fried food. Next will be trying to eliminate most desserts.
Best wishes if you give this diet plan a try!
Great suggestions from readers who have commented on this article:
- Maximize the value of protein shakes by having one within 30 minutes of rigorous exercise.