Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Body by Jenny": eight weeks later, 20 pounds lighter

My friend Jackie Passey wrote a controversial post a while back that "Being fat is a choice." It's true for most cases: there's the occasional person who has a medical condition, but most people who are overweight can do something about it, even if they do have genuinely slow metabolisms. I've been beefy all my life, and I put on some weight after finishing my degree a few years ago. At one point I was 25 pounds over my college weight, and 16 pounds over when my friend Jenny encouraged me to do something about it. My excuse was that it's difficult for me to cut back on calories, because I have such a big appetite, and the diet jitters after two weeks force me to return to my big eating habits. Well, my friend laid out a plan, somewhat like the second stage of the South Beach Diet, and it's worked wonders. Lord Boner will probably agree that people at the office have noticed how much better I look.

It's now been a full eight weeks, and I've dropped 20.5 pounds (digital scale accurate to 1/2 pound). There might be a pound or two variation depending on water retention, but let's go by what is tangible: I've lost three inches off my waist, and my jacket size has gone from a size 48 to a 46. At my ideal weight, I probably have another two or three inches on my waist, but probably no more from my chest since it's pretty big. There's still more to go, but I should look terrific by October, when a ladyfriend and I are planning to go on a tropical vacation.

So what am I doing? No tricks, no ephedra, no hoodia. I'm just eating right and exercising. I mostly eat the same thing every day, and just as much food by volume as I ate before, just better food. The very fact of eating better boosts the body's metabolism, because it's getting all the necessary nutrients to process food efficiently. Also, you can gradually reduce portions over weeks, even months, to where your stomach will shrink and be satiated with less food.

Breakfast: omelette made with two egg whites, one egg beater, and chopped broccoli, red pepper and tomatoes. Two slices of whole wheat toast with strawberry jam. Dannon "Lite and Fit" yogurt. One piece of fruit. This is not pick and choose. I'm eating all this almost every day for breakfast, and still losing weight. It's important to eat a good breakfast because your body fasted throughout the night, and you don't want to feel like you must binge at lunch and dinner.

On weekends, I typically have a tuna sandwich with a 1-pound bag of mixed vegetables. Breakfast doesn't have to be breakfast food. It just has to be a healthy, low-fat source of the carbs and proteins to start your day. I use only light mayo that is otherwise disgusting, but it's only 10 or 20 calories per tablespoon. Also, eat only whole wheat or whole grain bread. Pepperidge Farm makes a loaf that's just 45 calories per slice.

Lunch: grilled chicken salads. I get mine at a deli that offers unlimited toppings, so I have them load it up with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, peas, avocado, shredded carrot, chickpeas (great protein source). Dressing is always balsamic vinaigrette.

On weekends, I like a tuna sandwich (again, light mayo, and whole wheat or whole grain bread), complemented with either a half-cup of brown rice (no more white rice!) or a bowl of vegetables. Preferably vegetables.

Afternoon snack: no more chocolates. Another cup of Dannon Lite and Fit, and a piece of fruit.

Dinner: a half-cup of brown rice or mixed vegetables, and a tuna or salmon steak. Sometimes I'll have a chicken breast, but regardless of the meat, fry it in a pan using just Pam spray. Dessert can be a 30-calorie fudgesicle or 60-calorie fruit pops.

Exercise: Cardio for 20 minutes at a time, three times a week. I'm mainly using my Gazelle Freestyle that had collected dust for a few years. I also bought a pair of Nike Air Turbulence running shoes for going around the neighborhood, and new weights (discs, dumbbells and a curling bar).

Before, I ate red meat 10 times a week, and full servings of vegetables perhaps just a few times a week. Now I rarely eat red meat and eat vegetables all the time. As you can see, I eat a lot of mixed vegetables. Green Giant's 1-pound, 5-serving bags are microwaveable (the vegetables steam in the bag in just 5 minutes), and each serving is just 50 calories. You'll be hard-pressed to find 250 more filling calories anywhere. Alternatively you can have fresh vegetables, even a medium sweet potato.

Some days I do feel deprived, because I no longer eat chocolate, ice cream or cheesecake. Oh yes, and I've also given up alcohol (possibly forever, we'll see). However, I can enjoy these things in moderation once I've reached my goal weight. For now I'm cutting out all unnecessary calories.



Blogger Dan from Madison said...

Good for you Perry. Looks like you have the diet mystery solved - but as you have found out there really is no mystery. Eat better and exercise.

I did practically the same thing several years ago after my wife and I had kids - I knew I was on the road to ruin and had to fix it or be dead by 60.

Now I am a fitness freak - doing 100 mile rides on a bike, muay thai kickboxing, all kinds of things that just five years ago I could have never dreamed of.

I still drink alcohol and once in a while I binge on ribs or chicken wings, but you have to reward yourself once in a while. I always pay the price though - my body isn't used to fatty/greasy foods.

Again, good for you - looking forward to your new photo on the masthead in a little while.

Friday, May 04, 2007 5:41:00 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

Good work, bud...

I've been on a weight roller-coaster for the last 7 years. Out of college, I weighed 215 lbs (at 6'5", that's light). Over a few years (up until 2003 or so) I had grown to 260+. I hit the Atkins hardcore and dropped down to 220-225 in 2004, and since I've gotten back up into the 260 range.

I need to make a major change, but what I really need is to get into a lifestyle change, not a diet. I'm thinking about getting back into the martial arts for exercise, and my upcoming move will put me 3/4 miles from the beach, so I can start surfing again (a MAJOR calorie-burner). I plan to start getting back into a somewhat decent diet, although I'm far too big of a beer drinker to cut that out.

Either way, congrats. It sounds like you're well on the right track, and I wish you continued success...

Saturday, May 05, 2007 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Thanks for the encouragement, guys. I've never had problems putting on muscle and have had a naturally big frame since high school, but the problem is that, like most, I easily put on fat too. Yet even when I started putting on weight, I carried it so well that people think I look 50 pounds lighter than my actual weight. Also, my cardiovascular health is great (pulse, blood pressure and cholesterol all healthy).

Still, I decided it was time to get rid of the weight I've put on in the last few years, and then some. Two months later, I've dropped 22 pounds and am 6 pounds lighter than my college weight. There's still more work to do, but it's a healthier way of life than eating fast food food all day.

Sunday, May 06, 2007 1:13:00 PM  
Blogger Dan from Madison said...

Brad - you hit the nail on the head. They should stop being called diets and start calling them "lifestyle changes".

Perry - you are lucky that your cardio health and chol is so good. That will only improve as you exercise and eat correctly going forward. When I decided to make the switch to better foods/exercise my cardio and chol were incredibly bad. I had to do it or, like I said, be dead before I reached 60.

Monday, May 07, 2007 7:37:00 AM  

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