Sunday, July 10, 2016

Final weight loss update

My stretch goal weight was 180 lbs, about what I weighed coming out of high school.  I thought that was an unrealistic fantasy goal--My real goals were 211, based on the max allowable weight for my height when I was in the Air Force, and 192, based on the top end of Metlife's longevity-based height-weight data.

I'm now 179 lbs.  I've gone from a 42 inch waist to a 32.   Shirts went from XXL to somewhere between large and medium, depending on brand.   I used my phone's health app to track my weight erratically the first few weeks, then pretty regularly.  I lost 20 pounds the first month.  The next 10 pounds took 23 days, but the last 10 took 88 days.  Exporting the data and graphing shows a pretty smooth curve, with slight steps on the weekends--weighing later in the day but still before breakfast was worth about half a pound.   If this had been at all difficult, I would have stopped at about 190, when there's little to no health benefit in further loss.  I'm not really sure how to "stop"...I've gotten used to eating like this, and I don't feel any real need to go back. I'll figure something out in the unlikely event I get too thin.   I've started eating occasional regular meals.  I enjoy eating them, but I'm likely to be a bit queasy after, and it isn't always worth it.  I haven't quite become a Ron White joke...I can have small portions of off-diet foods without problems, but if I eat a full normal meal I'll have a slightly upset stomach. I'm not sure if there's a particular food that is the culprit, but I suspect bread and flour.

My recommendations--based on a sample size of one, your mileage may vary.  Don't take medical advice from bloggers.

I think one of the keys to success on this diet (from the book Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman) is to NOT go hungry at meals.  Fuhrman recommends unlimited fruits, green and colorful vegetables, beans and legumes.  Don't portion limit those, eat enough to be satisfied.   I'm not sure I can stress that part enough--don't go hungry, even if the amount of beans, vegetables and fruit you are eating seems absurd and you spend more time eating.  I was losing 3 to 4 pounds a week for the first 50 or so pounds, eating until I wasn't hungry.  I had to get a bigger lunch box to fit all I took to lunch, and I had to eat more on first break to have enough time to eat all of it.  For breakfast and lunch I take a fruit smoothie made with a little over a pound of mostly frozen fruit and about 6-8 ounces of almond milk, possibly vanilla extract and unsweetened cocoa.  3 large servings of fruits and vegetables--a serving here is 2 oranges, 2 large apples (or an equivalent amount of smaller ones), a whole grapefruit, 2 cups of white grapes, 2 or 3 cups of raw vegetables--carrots, a whole large sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery, or sweet peppers.   Also a family-sized bag or two cups of cooked vegetables, a 2 cup container of soup, chili, or a bean/legume dish.   I drink the smoothie and at least one serving of fruits or vegetables for breakfast, the rest for lunch.

I will often have a couple cups of fruit when I come home from work.  Dinner is a large salad--about 10 ounces of chopped kale/spinach blend, 2 cups of chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, and either half a cup of sweet onion or 2 cups of chopped fruit.  Probably a quarter cup or so of nuts and seeds, and if there's fruit, another quarter cup or so of raisins.  When ripe avocados are available, half of one in my salad, or I'll make a batch of guacamole to split with my wife.  After the salad, usually some sort of bean dish--a can of beans, a bean burrito, hummus with vegetable or whole wheat crackers. I'm sure I wouldn't have been successful if I had to control portion sizes of all foods in addition to eliminating many.

Go all out the first month, be very strict.  This is in part to break old habits, but it is also very encouraging to see dramatic results as fast as I saw them.  I've had a handful of people around me "sort of" go on the diet, they mostly lost about 20 pounds and stopped.  (None of them were as overweight as I was)  I wasn't perfect.  I was over the "rapid weight loss" recommendation for nuts and seeds, and most of my nuts are roasted instead of raw.  I didn't eliminate commercial dressings but I went to barely adequate amounts.  I made sure my salads had lots of stuff in them--Kale, Spinach, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, nuts, avocado regularly,  sometimes raisins and chopped fruit or onions.  I add seasonings or lemon juice instead of more dressing. I didn't eliminate salt, but used barely enough to taste OK, and that amount went down over time.  Many commercial foods that I used to like are inedibley salty now--Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup for instance.  I didn't eliminate absolutely all white flour, sugar and oils in packaged foods, but I watch the nutrition labels and make sure the unwanted ingredients are far down the list.  I eliminated diet soda, (I will sometimes have seltzer but mostly water) and cut my beer consumption from a few per week to nearly nothing.  I cut out caffeine for a few months (I'd been cutting back before the diet)  and now have 2 small cups of coffee a day, rarely any more than that.   I mostly drink water, and less of it than before.

Weigh yourself at the same time in relation to meals every day.  I've found less fluctuation weighing shortly after I wake up.  I've gained up to 5 pounds during a day (losing most of it again the next day or two), I've lost a pound and a half in a few hours without exercise.  Even weighing at the same time, I'm currently fluctuating between 178 and 182.

Fuhrman recommends avoiding snacks, and getting most of your food in 2 or 3 meals within about 8 hours.  I didn't do this at first, but it was surprisingly easy once I tried--tremendously easier than before the diet.  First I eliminated after dinner snacks, then I moved breakfast from early morning to 9am.  Lunch is around noon, dinner around 5:30.  If I weren't constrained by my work schedule, I'd probably have a combined breakfast and lunch a little later.    I don't know if this is necessary but it was easy enough to do for the possibility it helped.   I'd probably do it the same way again--get firmly on Fuhrman-approved foods before eliminating snacking.  Habits apparently have a huge amount to do with when you feel hungry--I'm more hungry just before dinner, 4 hours since my last meal than I am at breakfast, 15 hours since the last time I ate.

Most vegetarian or vegan meat substitutes aren't even on the "limited amounts" list, they generally have white flour and extra oil, plus soy protein.  I'd have to look up Fuhrman's thoughts on soy protein specifically, I've been treating it as a limited amounts food.   There are a couple of bean-based burger substitutes that taste OK and are fairly healthy.  (When I say "healthy" here, I mean according to Fuhrman) I've tried a few 100% whole grain breads, but except for a burger substitute bun they aren't worth the bother.

I sleep better.  I used to be able to sleep only about 6 or so hours in bed before getting enough of a back ache to wake me up. (I'd often either start in my recliner, or move there later)  Strange beds were worse, now they don't make much difference.  I'm less congested at night.   Stairs are a lot less trouble than they were. My endurance is better, and I can get up and down off the floor much more easily. On the other hand, I think raw strength is down.  I can't lift or carry quite as much as I could, that seems to be roughly proportional to my weight loss

Things I would do differently--I would not buy very many clothes in a new size, especially pants.  I'd do laundry more often instead.  I was not prepared for how quickly I lost inches.  I started in August. By spring I had no shorts that I could reasonably wear, so I stocked up on size 34 shorts thinking that I'd slowed down enough that those would last the summer...I'm now wearing 32's...and they are slightly loose around the waist.  Hips are now the limiting factor instead of waist.  The difference between a 32 and a 34 seems bigger than the difference between 40 and 42.  My feet had been growing over the decades along with the rest of me, now my pre-diet slip on shoes are almost too loose to walk in.

Learn to read labels carefully.   Lots of food  proclaims Healthy! Whole Grain! but doesn't meet Fuhrman's standards--It might be a mix of whole grain and white flour, or have too much added oil.  One brand of 7 Whole Grain crackers tasted suspiciously like normal white flour crackers, despite the first 7 ingredients being whole grains.  When I read the ingredients list more carefully, I found parentheses around all the whole grain stuff, meaning that instead of white flour being not more than 14% of the total, it could have been up to 49%.  Shop often.  If you buy fresh cauliflower, eat it quickly--it spoils faster than raw meat and smells worse.  Pre-chopping your salad saves some time eating-we run a couple day's salad through the food processor and store in mason jars in the fridge.

I wasn't diabetic that I knew of, but Fuhrman says that if you are on diabetes medicine you must monitor your blood sugar carefully, and be ready to adjust your medicine amounts drastically.  Wife is partially on the same diet, but not nearly as strict as I am.  She had some problems with her diabetes medicine, she had to adjust and finally eliminate it, her sugar is lower and better controlled with the diet instead of medicine.

I haven't found many restaurants that fit the diet, but I haven't tried all that hard.  Salad bars have potential, but most don't have greens other than iceberg lettuce.  Iceberg is legal, but bland when it's the major part of your meal.  Chipotle's Sofritos sort of work, although higher in oil than I would like regularly.


  1. Wow. This is incredibly impressive.

    1. I am incredibly lucky in stumbling on the right diet, at least for me. This has been so much easier than I expected that I don't feel like I can take very much credit--the impressive part is the diet itself.

  2. Penn just released his book which chronicle his weightless (and a bunch of other stuff in his head)

    1. I should be getting Penn's book Presto soon--I pre-ordered it, along with Our Broken Plate by Ray Cronise (Penn's diet guru) via Ray's Kickstarter.

  3. I'm impressed with the weight loss. Congratulations!

    Why did you stop writing? You were doing great - and I want the name of the book that describes the diet. I need to lose a few pounds.

  4. The book is either "Eat to Live" or "The End of Dieting", both by Joel Fuhrman, doesn't really matter which one. From what I can tell, he wrote Eat to Live as the general book, then revised it into separate books for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, and overall health.