How I Lost 40lbs in 3 Months and Stayed Healthy
Lose Weight Fast and Stay Healthy
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 as well as being 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, going from 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 do it.
Learn about what rules I lived by to get me through this weight loss process the healthy way.
Rules to Help You Stay on Target
Achieve your weight goal by following these simple rules.
1. Set a Meaningful Goal and Commit
Make sure the goal is meaningful and commit—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 swim suit 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 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 of "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 Targets
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 you break down the goal into manageable steps.
- Example: I knew I wanted—had—to lose about 30 pounds with the aim to also start working out and build a better body shape. So I set a target of loosing 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 the ultimate goal? Well, apart from my doctor telling me, I checked online at several health sites and read up on the BMI (body mass index) for my age, gender, and height. With this new knowledge I concurred with the doctors request and set my goals for my weight and time target. 40 pounds in 3 months it is!
- My research also involved what types of food are best to eat to maintain a healthy body without gaining weight, as well as studying up on the easiest foods that the body can digest.
After a week of researching and finding out everything I could about eating healthy, being healthy, and living healthy, I started.
- My diet entailed a process where I watched the calories I eat everyday and concentrated on eating "live" foods, meaning fresh foods that are not over-processed or over-cooked.
- I concentrated on salads and other types of vegetable and complemented that 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 coffees and all "snacks" that I would normally have during the day.
3. Get the Right Tools 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
- Lose It!
I'm not affiliated with any of these apps or their developers but I have found them to be invaluable in helping me learning 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 you activities. Being a loner, I mainly stuck to using these tools to set my target weight, the time for which I had to reach that 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, calories per serving, overall people rating for that product and also alternatives you can consider.
Here's what I went through during the first few months of my diet:
The First Month
- The weight see-sawed up and down, and I was hard pushed to lose even half of what my target weight was. I was not gaining, but I was also not losing it at the rate I wanted either. This is partly the body wondering what you are doing with the lower calorie intake, and the process of it 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 the body realized that it was not being starved, and that there is always 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, monitor your weight every day and continue to follow the calories you are taking. 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 then 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!
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 restaurant (and yes, you can go to restaurants, just calculate the calories you are about to eat first), that you cannot eat as much as you did before and you'll end up taking half the meal home with you. That's when you have made real progress. You body has adapted so much to your new way of eating that it stops you from eating too much.
- Use apps to your advantage. Most folks now have smartphones these days, so use that to your advantage with the apps I mentioned above. Also, think about adding some fitness apps as well that will track your exercise activity and if you're that inclined, you can share and compete with your friends. It's been proven to be a great way to get really motivated and support each other to reach your goals.
- (UPDATE) Wearable trackers are also great. Moving with the times, I also suggest "wearable" trackers and smartwatches to help track your fitness. You can connect them with almost any device you have, and access heart rate monitoring and notifications by email, SMS, on the device for some and even using the "wearable" to make and answer calls like with the Apple Watch. See below on some specific suggestions I have.
- Cravings cheat meals are normal. Although the diet is not very strict, you should follow it religiously. However when you have cravings, rather than falling into a eating binge, put in your calendar that one meal a week where you allow yourself to eat anything you like—within reason. Calories are taken for that meal as well and spread over the week. The rule is you have eaten too many calories one day, you have to eat less the next day, and visa 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 didn't like and also of what you can perhaps eat and it doesn't cause any weight gain as compared to foods that seems to just stay in your body. Take notes and try to understand your diet.
- For example, fresh fruits contains natural sugars that can give you some energy in the afternoon and they are easily digested by the body.
- 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.
Wearable Trackers and Smartwatches
As mentioned above, the activity tracker features have more or less included built in heart rate monitoring and we see smart watches 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 the most. 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 2 and the Samsung Gear Fit. These work directly in parallel with the latest Samsung Galaxy S 5 / S 4/S III / Mega / Note II / Note 3 with the new Samsung S Health app.
As you can see, you have plenty of options, from the bare minimals 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!
- 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 notice how your body is reacting to the dietary change.
- Use available tools.
- I used my iPhone with a couple of free apps to help find out what diet to have.
- Reward yourself with a special meal once a week
- Enjoy life and enjoy the food you are having.
As a last note, if you do have any dietary issues you should check with your family doctor before you drastically change it.