How I’m Losing It

What if I were to tell you that you can lose weight, without any (additional) exercise, and without giving up most, if any, of the foods you normally eat? You’d probably say I was crazy. But while you might be right, it wouldn’t be for that statement. Because you probably can.

I did.

That’s right, since the beginning of the year I have lost at least 20 lbs, without giving up any foods, and without additional exercise. Now, of course your mileage may vary and all that, but the principle will work, for just about anybody. And that’s because the principle is simple: to lose weight, calories in must be less than calories out. Very simple, yet some people disbelieve. “I’ve tried that!” you exclaim, “But it doesn’t work for me!”

It always works. Unless you’re literally eating undigestable stuff (which of course doesn’t have calories) that stays in your body, you will lose weight by eating fewer calories than you expend. That’s just biology. There are of course variations on the rates of loss one will experience, based on the strict difference in caloric input, fat storage efficiency, and so on, but the fact remains: eat fewer calories, lose weight.

Part of the problem is that most people don’t really know just how many calories they burn. It’s pretty easy to calculate calories consumed: just look at the box (or the internet), figure out your actual portion size, and you’re good.

But figuring out calories burned is a much more difficult thing, partially because it isn’t intuitive. First, heavier people burn more calories. That’s just physics: it takes more force to accelerate a larger mass. Second, just sitting on one’s butt (or even sleeping) burns calories: our bodies need energy to do basic metabolic functions. Just the brains being on needs quite a large amount of energy. Third, the amount of calories burned per activity is a lot less than most people think. (Just for example, it takes hardly more energy to run than to walk, for any distance.)

So, if you’ve tried calorie restrictions before, and it “didn’t work,” you were certainly doing it wrong. That sucks to hear, but it’s the truth. I know, I’ve been in that camp.

But anyways, I hear you saying that you want to know my secret do achieving fewer calories while not giving up foods. And I’ll tell you, after some background about me. For quite some time now, I’ve been more-or-less the same weight: lose a few pounds here, gain a few there. The usual story. But I would go into the doctor sometimes with various ailments, and of course got the advice of “lose some weight, you’ll feel generally better.” This is of course correct, but not something I wanted to hear (especially when I was in there for a nasal infection or something). And recently I was, very slowly, gaining weight. I was hovering between Overweight and Obese on the BMI scale. (I don’t give a lot of credence to BMI on an individual level, but I do give credence to mirrors – and they agreed.)

One day it just I was looking in the mirror, and decided enough was enough. I had to lose this fat. I don’t care much about my appearance (have I mentioned before that I’m single?), but even I was disgusted at what I saw. Trouble is, I’m lazy. And impulsive. I know how to eat healthy, but don’t want to. I like pizza and burgers and bread, not veggies and bird food. I don’t like cooking when I’m hungry, and when I’m not hungry I’d rather be doing other things besides cooking. Same thing with exercise: I don’t like taking the time I could be playing games or posting online, being outside or in a gym.

So, wut do? It would have to be something that a lazy, impulsive, kinda foolish person (me) could figure out. It would have to be simple, easy, and it would have to not take up any extra time. And I like the things I like, so no taking that out either.

Well, it didn’t take long to figure out (because simple and easy!). Since the weight gain was very slow, it meant I was pretty close to balanced on calories in vs. calories out. So it wouldn’t take much at all to actually lose weight. This is what I came up with:

First: no absolute “no”s. If someone offered me something normally off-limits, I would take it. I find that one of the most annoying things about dieting is having to tell everyone about it. Having to reject the kindness of others. So, none of that.

Second: only truly applies at home (or in the office). This way, it only applies to me. If I go out with someone to a restaurant (or their house), the diet is gone. Goes with the first one of not having to tell everyone about my diet, and not making them feel bad or awkward in any way (well, that relates to that – interacting with me is sure to leave people feeling awkward). A more social person could possibly invalidate the entire diet with this rule, but since I rarely even hang out with friends, that’s not a problem for me. It also applies for when I’m eating out alone, but I’d really rather not eat at a place by myself – that’s time wasted that I could be at home on the internets!

Third: no snaking (at home or office). From everything I’ve read and experienced, this is where many diets fail. Even if you’re counting calories, are you really counting the snacks? They are just so easy to overlook. Especially small things like crackers and chips: how much harm is in one…or two…or ten? So, no snacks at home. If I really need to stuff my gullet, I can drink water.

Fourth: only eating out (including take-out) 2-3x per week. When I go out, I tend to go overboard. I eat to taste, and there is so much tasty stuff at the restaurant. I’m talking like two entres, plus sides. An entire large pizza. That sort of situation. While I can’t quite manage anymore, I was able to (and thus did) eat like a teenager for long past when I was a teenager. But I can be satisfied with a normal portion, like what one would get in a microwaved health-food dinner. So that’s what I do: eat out 2-3x per week, then the rest of the meals are something simple, easy, and small.

Fifth: a meal is a meal, no matter what it happens to be. This goes with the third (no snacking), and makes it so I can eat whatever I want. If I really want cake, I can have cake: but that’s it, that’s the meal. Same with cookies, pie, whatever. (I never claimed this diet was healthy, just that it would make one lose weight!)

Sixth (and last): no soda. Soda is so high in calories, it’s ridiculous. It’s basically the enemy of any diet. However, the first two rules still apply: if someone gives it to me, I’ll take it; and if I’m actually eating out, it’s fine. But I won’t get it for myself; and that basically means no soda, if I’m paying: I’m not going to pay the extortionate rates restaurants charge for soda, if I’m not going to be able to drink my fill – and I’m not going to do that sitting at a restaurant – and I can’t take it home, since that counts as both snacking and soda. Now, fizzy no-calorie drinks are fine, since that’s just fizzy flavored water, not real soda.

Bonus: get the “healthy” microwave dinners. These are the Weight Watchers, Healthy Choice stuff. They run 250-400 calories (usually around 300), and are quite cheap (around $2-2.50). They are sufficiently filling, and actually generally taste pretty decent, if not good: long gone are the days when frozen dinners were barely palatable garbage. They are already portioned, of course, so you don’t go overboard and eat like 2-5 servings. And for the most part you just stick it in the microwave, stirring once (you can get some that you don’t even need to bother stirring at all, but those are usually more expensive). This is less useful if there is more than one person eating, but since I never have that problem, it works for me.

That’s it. Very simple and easy, and doesn’t cost me any additional time. Or effort/sweat/etc.! And indeed, it generally saves me money (I used to eat out at least 4x/week), which means more money for games. The weight loss is actually more than I anticipated – I would have been happy with a half-pound per week on average (at least during the winter when I knew I wouldn’t be exercising), but it’s been more than a pound per week. That’s what worked for me, and I’m sure something similar can work for you, too.