The other day I was at Gung Ho Bikes, and one of the owners, Jay Zech, and I were talking about losing weight. Jay is an avid cyclist and an athlete. He’s also a genuinely nice guy and he was complimenting me on the fact that thus far I have lost 23 pounds. He was saying this as he was shoving his second Taco Bell burrito into his mouth, while also telling me about how he lost 6 pounds and he had no idea how that happened. They just went away. Just like that.
It is tempting to hate people who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. Clearly they have the metabolisms of hampsters, requiring them to eat constantly or they will fall over and die. But don’t hate people like Jay; at least he appreciates food and enjoys eating, something we have in common. No, you should save the hating for the people who forget to eat.
You know who I am talking about – the people who work right through lunch and then say, in an innocent tone, as if it is an afterthought: “Oh would you look at the time! I forgot to eat lunch!”.
Really? Who forgets to eat lunch? I’m thinking about what I want to have for lunch at like 10 am. At least I know that Jay has already eaten his first lunch by 10 am and is gearing up for his second. Jay won’t forget to eat lunch.
When I was younger, and I wanted to lose weight, I thought the best way to do it was to stop eating. I would severely restrict my calories. However, I soon learned that starving myself would never work (I use the word “starving” relatively). It does not take long for you to get really hungry and just say “screw it” and stop by the Wendy’s on your way home from work.
So what does work? Apparently, people who eat small, regular meals, including breakfast, lose weight and do a much better job of keeping it off. How do I know this? I read it on the Internet – and we all know everything on the Internet is true.
Personally, I find that eating breakfast is hard. When I wake up I have my coffee and I don’t really feel like eating anything else. However, if I leave the house without eating breakfast, by 9 am my stomach is already growling. By 11 am I am ready to order a large pizza and eat the whole thing myself.
About 8 years ago I lost 70 pounds and I’ve been able to keep it off for the most part, but I struggle with those last 20 pounds and they have a tendency to creep back on when I’m not looking. When I first lost weight, I made some changes to my eating habits that I believe have helped me keep the weight off, and when I find myself gaining weight it is usually because I am breaking my own rules:
1. I try to eat breakfast every day. For breakfast I try to eat protein and carbs and some fat. That’s because I read on the Internet that protein and fat help reduce any spike you might get in your blood sugar from eating just carbs. Since I love carbs almost as much as I love my husband, I am not about to give them up. So a piece or two of cheese and some grapes and an apple with a few crackers is a great breakfast for me.
2. I bring food to the office, to snack on, like fruit or granola bars. On the days I forget to do this, I really struggle at lunch time not to overeat.
3. I stopped hating my body for being hungry. It’s not my body’s fault that I choose to eat chocolate cake instead of an apple when I am hungry. Being hungry is not the enemy. Your body knows when it is time to eat and it does not matter what time it actually is. If you are hungry at 10 am, then eat something at 10 am.
4. Slow down and enjoy your food. This is really hard for me. My husband calls me “the wolf”. I am usually finished eating before he has finished putting salt and pepper on his food. If you really want to eat that piece of cake, don’t do it while standing in front of the fridge getting cake crumbs on the floor. Get a fork and plate, sit down at the table, get yourself a nice, tall glass of cold milk – and savor that piece of cake. And when you are done, don’t kick yourself for the rest of the day because you ate it. We can’t all be rock stars every day of our lives.
5. Make better choices about what to eat and keep track of your calories until you get a feel for portion sizes. But accept the fact that you are going to have days where you simply make bad choices. My friend George calls this having a “nutritionally relaxed day”. It happens. Deal with it. All the good things you did for yourself that week don’t just disappear because you had some french fries.
6. Go biking. You didn’t think I was going to write an entire article and not mention biking, did you? Studies I have read on the Internet state that doing one hour of cardio a day helps people maintain their weight. You can do that cardio on the treadmill, hoping you don’t slip into a coma from boredom and hit your head on the treadmill next to you, causing a severe case of amnesia where you leave the gym and drive around until you run out of gas because you can’t remember who you are or where you live. Or you can do that cardio on a bike, outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Go visit Jay and he’ll help you find a bike and probably offer to share his burrito with you, which you will politely decline because Taco Bell food is gross.
These are the changes I made that work for me. Everyone is different, despite what the Internet says, and if what you are doing is working, then you should stick with it. But if what you are doing isn’t working for you, I hope my suggestions help you out 🙂