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How I Lost 40 Pounds in 3 Months and Stayed Healthy

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My Cholesterol and Heart Disease Scare

It was a cold autumn afternoon when I got my physical exam results from my doctor. My blood tests came back with dangerously high numbers for my cholesterol and a few other things, but all I could remember was the doctor saying, "Lose 30 pounds, or I'll have to put you on medication." This was like an alarm bell going off in my head. My father always had high blood pressure and very bad cholesterol levels and has been overweight for as long as I can remember.

Being 5' 9" and generally unfit, I was not really overweight by any means, but the high cholesterol levels were indeed warning bells. So I decided to set my goal and lose the 30 pounds the doctor told me to lose, to go from 186 to 156. I wasn't sure how long it would take or how I was going to do it, but for my health and for my family I had to try.

Here are the rules I lived by that got me through this weight-loss process the healthy way.

My Weight-Loss Program

After a week of researching and finding out everything I could about the healthiest ways to eat, I got started.

  • My diet involved watching the calories I ate every day and eating "live" foods, meaning fresh foods that are not over-processed or over-cooked.
  • I concentrated on salads and other types of vegetables and complemented them with either fish or chicken. So white meat, not red meat, and lots of vegetables and fruits.
  • I also cut out all sodas, beers, milk with coffee, and all "snacks" that I would normally have during the day.
  • I ate a really good breakfast, a decent lunch, and a light dinner preferably no later than 7 pm.
  • Ah yes, I drank lots of water!!

Rules to Help You Stay on Target

Achieve your weight goal by following these simple rules.

1. Set a Meaningful Target and Commit

Make sure your objective is meaningful and commit to it—no matter what!

Whether it was your doctor or your partner telling you to lose weight, or even it was a matter of "needing" to squeeze yourself into that new swimsuit you got for summer (tennis shorts for me), like most things in life you need to set a goal and commit to it. This applies to the target weight and the time at which you will reach the target weight.

  • As part of this initial process, try to think also about what it means for you and for your family's overall well-being. Did you know every pound you lose means you take four pounds of stress off your knees? What about being able to take longer walks hand-in-hand with your loved ones, as well as playing ball with your kids in the park? Be around to watch them grow up!! Fill your mind with all these positive images when you are setting your goals and I guarantee you will have the commitment to follow through.
  • The old adage, "If you don't plan for success, you plan to fail," is very relevant here! But don't worry, I'm not your drill sergeant and I will guide you through the process the way I did it.

2. Set Manageable Weight-Loss Goals

Set a reasonable weight goal that will be challenging, but not so challenging that you need to stop eating altogether or donate a limb. That means breaking the goal down into manageable steps.

  • Example: I knew I wanted—had—to lose about 30 pounds and start working out to build a better body shape. So I set a target of losing the 40 pounds in three months, which breaks down to 13.3 pounds per month, or approximately 3.3 pounds per week. Now that doesn't seem like a lot when it's just around 3 pounds per week, right?
  • How did I figure out the ultimate goal? Well, apart from my doctor telling me, I checked online on several health sites and read up on the healthy BMI (body mass index) for my age, gender, and height. With this new knowledge, I concurred with the doctor's request and set my goal at 40 pounds in 3 months.
  • My research also looked into the best types of food to eat to maintain a healthy body without gaining weight, as well as studying up on the easiest foods for the body to digest.

3. Use Apps to Help Measure and Track Progress

Yes, I have a smartphone. In fact, I'm writing this article on one. :)

So, here's the part where I say "there's an app for that!!" (borrowing from a famous fruit company). I was able to find three very good apps that really helped me understand my food choices, told me the caloric content, and kept an ongoing record of my meals, snacks, and most importantly my weight, which I entered religiously every morning.

The apps I have used are:

  1. Lose It!
  2. MyFitnessPal
  3. Fooducate

I'm not affiliated with any of these apps or their developers but I have found them to be invaluable in helping me learn about what I can eat and what I should avoid.

  • Both Lose It! and MyFitnessPal offer an online web-based platform as well for sharing information and recording your activities. Being a loner, I mainly stuck to using these tools to set my target weight and record everything I had consumed in terms of calories, in order to help me reach my goal.
  • Fooducate basically turns your smartphone into a barcode scanner and gives you a review of the food you just scanned according to how "healthy" the product is, including calories per serving, ratings, and alternatives you can consider.
A simple breakfast of oatmeal got me started.

A simple breakfast of oatmeal got me started.


I had weaned myself off coffee, so in the morning I had:

  • a large glass of tea or hot water with a teaspoon of honey
  • and porridge (oatmeal cooked with water, not milk),
  • or 2 slices of wheat toast, lightly buttered with margarine.
Some mornings I had toast and tea for breakfast.

Some mornings I had toast and tea for breakfast.

Lunch might be an egg white omelette with spinach.

Lunch might be an egg white omelette with spinach.


For lunch, I had:

  • an egg white omelet (2 eggs) with some spinach
  • or vegetable soup.
Some days I made vegetable soup for lunch.

Some days I made vegetable soup for lunch.


For dinner, I had:

  • a small fillet of fish, pan-fried, with a small lettuce, tomato, and chopped-celery salad with lemon juice, instead of salad dressing.
  • On Friday evenings I would have a chicken drumstick instead of the fish.

Sounds pretty boring and bland, but it worked for getting the weight off. This may not work for everyone.

Dinner might be a small pan-fried fish fillet with salad.

Dinner might be a small pan-fried fish fillet with salad.

Between Meals

Between the main meals, I would have some fruit or peanuts. The idea is to have small amounts of food regularly to get the body used to a routine of regular food intake so it does feel the need to store the food as fat.

I ate nuts and fruit for snacks.

I ate nuts and fruit for snacks.

Counting Calories

I was very focused on counting calories. I found that over time I started to know how much to eat to reach my targets. I also found that I didn't need to be so strict every day. If I went over one day, I tried to have less the next.

I notice that folks go to the gym to "work out" and then overeat afterward, so it's a moving target that people need to track and adjust depending on their activities and use some common sense.

If you use the apps I mentioned, you will notice that (and this is common sense, really) if you do any form of exercise, you will have to eat more than your allocated calories for that day. You are burning more calories doing exercise, so accordingly you will need to eat more to compensate or you will fall over from lack of food. This is an important point to remember!

My Weight-Loss Experience

Here's what I went through during the first few months of my diet:

The First Month

  • The weight seesawed up and down, and I was hard-pressed to lose even half of my target weight. I was not gaining, but I was also not losing at the rate I wanted to. This was partly my body wondering why I was eating fewer calories and attempting to store the food for "emergencies."
  • By about the third week of the first month, I had lost about four or five pounds—still not spectacular, but I noticed that the seesawing slowed down and eventually stopped. This means that my body realized that it was not being starved and that there would always be food, but just less of it. The body adjusts to that nicely and the weight then starts to plateau off.
  • At the end of the first month and during the second month, I monitored my weight every day and continued to track the calories I consumed.

Second and Third Months

  • During your second and third month, you will notice your weight consistently going down. In fact, you can feel you are in control of your diet and not the other way around. It's a great feeling when you notice that perhaps your jeans that have always been a little tight are now a little loose and it's time to throw them in the dryer to shrink them a little.
  • You will also notice at this stage that when you go to a restaurant (and yes, you can go to restaurants, just calculate the calories you are about to eat first), you cannot eat as much as you did before. You'll end up taking half the meal home with you. That's when you have made real progress. Your body has adapted so well to your new way of eating that it stops you from eating too much.

Changing My Eating Habits

Over time I noticed that I felt better and had more energy when I focus on a more vegetarian type diet and cut out dairy products and other processed foods. I also cut out the usual snacks and soda, which was kind of easy to do once I took a look at their calorie content and then tried to figure the amount of work I would need to do to burn off those calories.

It's important to note that craving cheat meals are normal. Although this diet is not very strict, you should follow it religiously. However, when you have cravings, rather than falling into an eating binge, set aside one meal a week to eat anything you like—within reason. Calories are counted for that meal as well and spread over the week. The rule is that if you have eaten too many calories one day, you have to eat less the next day, and vice versa.

This is not a science, and everyone is different in how they react to having less food and different foods in their diet. During this process, you have to listen to your body and try to make note of foods that you like and don't like, and also which foods seem to make you gain weight more quickly.

For example, fresh fruits contain natural sugars that can give you some energy in the afternoon and they are easily digested by the body. On the other hand, a slice of pizza with pepperoni and cheese in the afternoon will probably put you to sleep as the body goes overtime to try to digest all the flour, cheese, and meat.

Physical Activity and Exercise

Think about using fitness apps to will track your exercise activity and, if you're inclined, share and compete with your friends. This has been proven to be a great way to get really motivated and support each other to reach your goals.

Wearable trackers and smartwatches are also great to help track your fitness. You can connect them with almost any device you have, and access heart rate monitoring and notifications by email and SMS. You can even use the device to make and answer calls, like with the Apple Watch.

Wearable Trackers and Smartwatches

As mentioned above, the activity tracker features have more or less included built-in heart rate monitoring and we see smartwatches getting smarter. This means you can get even more from your device. Keep an eye on the Samsung and Apple smartwatches' new features, which are coming very soon.

  • I tried both the Jawbone UP and UP24 for several months and they are very good minimalistic activity trackers as they do not have a display and you operate one button for different settings/modes. Everything is referenced on your device.
  • Another excellent product is the Fitbit Flex, which is similarly minimalistic and comes with an excellent app from Fitbit! I used an earlier version but once I started using the UP24 found that the features suited me better. Each to their own so I would suggest checking it out before making a decision.
  • Now if you are really looking for a wearable activity tracker that can double as a smartwatch Samsung has the Samsung Gear range of wearable devices that are too many to mention here and all working with the Android Samsung devices. For the Apple iPhone users, you will have the Apple Watch. All the Apple Watch generations support heart rate tracking and you have access to many apps that will sync up to give you a real-time calorie burn rate.

As you can see, you have plenty of options, from the bare minimum to the full-on smartwatch with all the interconnectivity and alerts you will ever want.

Keep fit, keep safe, and keep healthy—all from your wrist!

How to Lose 40 Pounds in 3 Months

  • Understand your goal(s) and make them tangible.
  • Make a plan.
  • Set a weight target and when you would like to reach it.
  • Go slow at first to see how your body is reacting to the dietary change.
  • Use available online and wearable tools.
  • Use your iPhone with a couple of free apps to find out which diet to use.
  • Reward yourself with a special meal once a week.
  • Enjoy life and the food you eat.

As a last note, if you do have any dietary issues you should check with your family doctor before you drastically change your eating habits.

How to Calculate Your Body Mass Index

As part of my research, I calculated my body mass index (BMI). This is a weight-to-height ratio, calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. It's used as an indicator of obesity. There are very good calculators available online to help you figure out your BMI.

Avoid Fad Diets for Long-Term Weight Loss

It can be hard to find reliable information about how to lose weight so that the weight stays off. The best resources use hard science, not trends, to come up with information. One resource is the Weight Control Information Network, which is part of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It's a site that offers the latest research for losing weight. Check it out!

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: When u lose the weight do also get rid of cellulite?

Answer: From what I can find out these are two different things. I did a quick Google on your question and there are many replies relating to this topic.

© 2011 Aikonia


Cajun Injun on January 13, 2018:

I did it without even reading this article, but basically the same. 5'11" weighed 228 now 197. Sept 13 - December 13th.

UPS driver so I walk about 6-7 miles. Diet=Breakfeast 2 hard boiled eggs,coffee with local raw honey...Snack at 11am 1 banana and 1 protein granola bar...12:30pm Coffee with honey....lunch 1:00pm Turkey sandwich 3 slices Turkey....whole wheat bread-low fat mayo-lettuce....followed up with greek yogurt with 10 dark ch chip morsels...Snack 3:30pm 6 baby carrots and about 30 low salted almonds...5:30pm Snack 1 Gala Apple...UPS drivers work late so I have an 8pm rule.If I get home after 8pm I just have Soup...Low sodium and usually chicken. I have only been home prior to 8pm about 3 times over this time...yes it sucks! And I drink about 96 ounces of water per day. Benefits so far=Lost weight without starvng-I sleep great-I have not had a headache since- Usually get one full blown migraine every Christmas with our busy day,NONE this year!!! I have gone down 4 pant sizes. My energy levels are the highest they have ever been. I am feeling the best I have ever felt in a long time. And I am getting plenty of compliments on how I thing is I can eat pretty much whatever I want on he weekends and maintain my weight....but I am still It works!!!

I believe my calore intake is around 1700 per day. This is what I eat everyday, may not be the most exciting but neither is weighing 228!!!

John on January 01, 2018:

I been losing and gaining for year's after 20 before was skinny now 221 about 33 pound's over weight if 187 is wear I should be at I'm 5'11 maybe could be 6 but now working out at the YMCA workout about 60 min's sometime's less or more 350 calories a day but have burned 400 500 800 and once a 1000 been losing a pound every other day joined the YMCA last month my starting weight was 228 or 230 about 7 to 9 pound's missed about 3 day's just not going and maybe 3 more when they was closed so in 4 month's maybe I'll be down to 187.

Nayef on July 29, 2017:

Im calling bs. You have to be probable 6"5 to lose 40 pounds in 3 months on a 1700 calorie daily intake. And even if we assume you worked your ass off in the gym, that still won't get you as far as 1 pound a week. No way you lost 40 pounds in 3 months given the information mentioned above.

jenny on December 22, 2016:

very possible to loose 40 pounds in three months.I have lost 41 pounds since August 20.

Shaista Tariq on November 14, 2016:

Thank you so much for giving so much information . you are great person who wants to distribute good things to every one, thanks a lot this is the best article who answered my all problem.

Aikonia (author) from New York on July 31, 2016:

Hi Khalifa, thanks for your question. Initially, my weight was going up and down and as mentioned it took some time to start going down gradually. I believe it will be different for everyone regarding how much weight will be lost initially and during the process. I reduced the "normal" 2100 calories per day for myself to 1500-1700 calories per day. Do it gradually and go with how your body is coping with the change - everybody reacts differently. Also, if you ate less one day you can potentially eat a little more the next day IF you feel like it. If the weight goes off too quickly I have noticed it will come back quickly so be patient and notice what works for you and what needs to change.

Hi Louise, thanks for your question. The sites I mentioned as well as the sites that FitBit, Jawbone runs for their users offer some level of Social support and I believe they allow connecting to Facebook and other social media sites. These would be the sites I start with and post questions to the current group on what you are seeking - most of the folks I have interacted with have been very friendly and helpful.

Hi Kristal - Congratulations - So happy for you!!

kristal on July 27, 2016:

It works, I've lost 40 in 3 months!!

Louise on July 26, 2016:

Hi! I just came across this site and hope that I can be as successful as you. Is there a site that would provide a buddy system to compare notes and keep me on track? Thanks!

khalifa on July 22, 2016:

I don't understand how it's possible for you to lose 40 lbs in 3months, your calorie defecit is between 200-300 per day, if you multiply that by 7 days it equals at most 2100 calories (if all days were 300), that's not even a loss of a pound per week, and the first 3 weeks you mentioned it not really working out for you, so how on earth did you have the next 3months and a week to work out for you?

Aikonia (author) from New York on June 27, 2016:

Hi, thanks for your question. I'm in my early 50's. The 3lbs per week is specific to the target weight loss I was trying to achieve in the 3 months.

kayla on June 01, 2016:

how old are you? why 3lbs a week? I'm a older woman in my 40's, will this work for me?

Aikonia (author) from New York on September 25, 2014:

Hi Heather, Thanks for your question. I was working on burning more calories than I consume so I targeted 20% less than what is recommended as my average calorie intake. In my case 200-300 calories less so I targeted around 1800-1900 per day. Hence, having an app to roughly keep track of calories intake and used is good. Now calories required for a person depends on age, gender and physical activity. Also I noticed my calorie requirement changed from Summer to Winter. Check this link out to help you determine your requirements Let me know if you have more questions.

Heather on September 23, 2014:

How many calories a day were you eating?

nick on April 30, 2014: