In 2000, Summit Family Restaurants employed me as a General Manager in Spanish Fork, Utah. One of my benefits was free food. Everyday I ate a large salad from the salad bar and a quarter pound bacon burger with a large order of French fries. When I left the restaurant business in 2002, I weighed nearly four hundred and fifty pounds and my cholesterol was over three hundred and sixty points.
I tell this story because it is important to remind ourselves where we began our weight loss journey. However, what is most important is not where we began, but where we end our journey. Every journey has a starting point and a final destination. My ultimate goal is two hundred pounds. At six feet in height and fifty-one years of age, I have decided that I would be happy at two hundred pounds.
My expertise in weight loss consists of volumes of weight loss books, diet guides, diet books, the internet, weight watchers, and my own personal experience with losing weight. I will leave it up to my readers to decide whether that qualifies me to advise people on how to lose weight.
What I have learned is that diet books tend to be a monotonous read involving difficult to understand scientific evidence that while sound in theory is nearly impossible to maintain in reality. I attribute much of the diet industry’s prolific publication of books geared towards the desperately overweight is the simple fact that diets do not work. If dieting did work, do you really think that we would not have figured it out by now?
I am going to discuss losing weight. I believe that losing weight is far more possible and far more obtainable than dieting. Losing weight is a choice. I choose to lose. Every decision that I make throughout the day concerning food goes directly to this mantra. Choose to lose. If you choose to diet, you will eventually fail. There are entire industries built around the ultimate failures of diets. After trying the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, grapefruit diet, calorie counting, glycemic index diet, Olympic ski team diet, and raw food diet, I have discovered that portion control is my preferred method of losing weight.
What is ironic is that if you were to ask me what a portion of doughnuts is, I would tell you that a portion of doughnuts is whatever is in the box. A portion of ice cream is the size of the container. A portion of steak is however much I can eat. A portion of candy is the largest available package. So how can I say that portion control is a realistic diet choice for me? Simple, I do not choose to diet. I choose to lose. Therefore, I do not eat a full portion of anything. I choose to eat a reasonable percentage of my mental portion. Call it what you want, it works for me and it will work for you.
For example, if I have a sixteen-ounce steak sitting in the refrigerator, I know that I can easily eat the whole steak in one sitting. I like steak. However, if I eat half of the steak for dinner (eight ounces) and save the second half for lunch the following day, I have still consumed a full portion of steak. The fact that I have taken two days to eat the steak instead of one does not matter to my mind set. The whole steak is still mine. I have fulfilled my desire for steak twice while fulfilling my body’s need to digest a reasonable amount of beef, process the meal and burn more calories than I have eaten (and yes, that is the trick to losing weight).
Do you over eat because you are hungry?
The answer is no. You over eat because you have not learned how to limit your intake quantity to your usage. Your body is a machine that requires fuel to operate. What you eat is your fuel. If you over eat, your body has an excess of fuel to burn and it converts that fuel to fat and stores it in the most unsightly places. Fat is fuel. We know that when times are lean and food is scarce, fat people will be able to maintain activity levels longer than skinny people will. This goes back to the days when famines were a regular occurrence and humans had to adapt in order to survive. In the United States (and most civilized nations), food is far more plentiful than it has been ever before. We no longer need to worry about whether or not there will be food available tomorrow and we must learn to control our intake. By consuming less fuel than is necessary to operate our machine, our bodies will burn the excess fat and we will lose weight. It really is rocket science.
I can go into a long dissertation about the science of losing weight, but is that really going to help you understand the simple concept of calories in and calories out? Simply put - if you consume fewer calories than you do burn, you will lose weight. A gram of fat is ten calories. Therefore, it makes sense that if you consume a hundred calories less than you burn, you will lose ten grams of fat. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. I wish it were, but your body needs a certain amount of calories each day to function. Simply knocking off a thousand calories will boost your weight loss for a little while, but you will feel weak, tired, and hungry. Therefore, there is a balance, and it varies with individual weight and lifestyle.
When I first began my weight loss journey, I set my goal at two and half pounds a week. I wanted to lose a hundred pounds in a year. I lost eighty. Frustrated, I waffled back and forth between margins of forty pounds for two years before visiting a physician’s assistant who was well versed in weight loss. She provided me with a plan that I followed for eight months and I was able to keep off the forty extra pounds, but then I hit a plateau at three hundred and sixty five pounds.
At this point in my life, I was living with a friend in California and sleeping in a Lazy-boy lounger because I could not climb the stairs to my bedroom. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and I had gone back to living on pizza and bacon burgers. I knew that my journey to two hundred pounds had hit a road block and I had decided to stay for a lengthy visit in the town of Self Pity.