8 Things I Learned from Losing 47 Pounds

It was a simple pass…

I tackled the striker, got the ball, and decided to start a fast counter-attack by passing the ball to my left winger. As soon as I extended my leg to kick the ball I heard the pop, followed by excruciating pain and warmth behind my leg.

I tore my hamstring. For the second time in 3 months.

No more soccer for me…

In the waiting area of the doctor’s office, I was reading up on hamstring injuries. Apparently weak muscles and playing a sport when you are overweight can cause these kinds of injuries.

“Am I overweight?” I thought… Sure, I gained some weight, but I’m still normal. Maybe the upper end of normal, but not overweight…

My name is called and I step into the doctor’s office. The nurse asked me to step on the scale to get my vitals. I hesitantly stepped on the scale.
230lbs…

Umm… I think there is something wrong with your scale…

“No, the scale is fine,” the nurse says dismissively. “How tall are you?”

6’1″…

“Okay… According to your BMI, you are in the obese category.”

Obese? That can’t be right…

How did I get obese? I haven’t really been watching my diet or working out other than playing soccer, but obese?

That’s when I decided to change something. I had been dieting on and off for about 3 years up until that point. I tried pretty much every diet and quit after a few weeks or a month.

I would lose 10 pounds and gain 15. Those extra pounds accumulated to finally make me obese.

I knew myself, and I wasn’t going to go on another fad diet. I decided to bury myself in the scientific research. It’s time to approach this problem with real science this time.

It took me 7 months, but I lost 47 pounds and went from the worst shape of my life to best shape of my life.

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I went from 230 pounds to 183 pounds have learned a lot during the process:

1. Calories DO Matter: I guess I have read too many diet books and articles talking about how calories don’t matter. Apparently, calorie balance was not a debunked myth. You still gain or lose weight based on your calorie deficit or surplus.

2. Not All Calories Are the Same: Just focusing on calories, and not thinking about where those calories come from may work for a while. Unless you are strategically planning your meals, you hit a weight loss plateau.

Eating a high protein diet makes all the difference. Digesting protein makes your body burn more calories, and it helps to preserve your lean body mass.

3. No Need to Obsess About Food Quality: Eating unprocessed, whole foods is always the healthier way, but eating a cookie here, and some ice cream there doesn’t ruin your weight loss efforts.

If I am really craving some fries and Diet Coke, knowing that I can eat that and still lose weight makes the whole process more bearable. You don’t have to throw in the towel, hate yourself, and start over on Monday. You just have to adjust what you eat the rest of the day and move on. This is called flexible dieting.

4. Cardio is Optional: I really hate running. I might have some fun doing cardio in group classes, but I hate running. So if you tell me that I have to run 5 days a week in order to lose weight, I would say “pass me that cookie”.

Fortunately, cardio is not a requirement to lose weight. During the 7 months, I walked a lot, but I only did cardio 30 minutes a week. I lifted weights instead. By lifting weights, you transform your body, instead of just turning a smaller version of your old self.

5. Weight Loss is Not Linear: Do you know how frustrating it is to do everything right, just to see yourself gain a pound the next day? I had decided to weigh myself daily for record keeping, and body weight fluctuates a lot from day to day.

You see your weight going up and down for a while, and all of a sudden, you lose 3 pounds overnight. So, don’t worry about short-term weight changes, focus on long-term results.

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Have you ever heard the 80/20 rule? This rule suggests that 20% of our efforts yield 80% of the results. It’s not an exact science, but you can see this rule in many different aspects of life. Including weight loss.

All the diet books, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, internet forums discuss the issue of weight loss ad nauseam. You can extract 20% of those discussions and get 80% of the results.

Discussions such as meal timingstarvation mode, supplements, lifting techniques, when to do cardio, etc. may make a difference for the bodybuilder who is going to go on stage. Because they are judged on the things most of us won’t even realize. Those things won’t make a big difference in your weight loss journey. They will just be distractions. Just focus on consistently being in a calorie deficit, eating mostly whole foods, and being active.

7. The Last Few Pounds are Much Harder to Lose: When I started my weight loss journey I was 230 pounds which is considered obese. I ended my weight loss at 183 pounds. Losing the first 30 pounds was a breeze. Other than occasional cravings, I really didn’t have a big problem losing the first 30 pounds.

Then, things started getting tricky. I am not sure it was mental or my body defending itself against weight loss, I was not losing weight as fast. Especially when I reached 187 pounds, it was like my body pulled the plug. No matter how disciplined my eating was and how much I exercised, I was destined to see 187 on the scale week after week.

Ironically, I see the weight drop after I got so frustrated, I stopped going to the gym. I took a whole week off from the gym and the next week I was down to 185. Then, going from 185 to 183 took me another couple weeks.

8. Hunger is not Always Hunger: When you cut your calories significantly, occasional feeling of hunger is completely normal. Especially if you are used to eating very often and very large amounts of food. However, the hunger is not always hunger. Sometimes, we confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger. Other times, we are just bored and missing the habit of eating.

When I felt hungry at a time that I was not supposed to eat, I would drink a big glass of water or some green tea, and get busy. Mentally working on something like writing an article or playing a video game might take your mind off your hunger. If you can distract yourself, you will notice that you are no longer hungry, and before you know it, it is time to eat.

When most people decide to lose weight, the expectations of the results and the process are usually unrealistic. The reason is probably the motivation.

When you start something new such as a new diet or a new workout program, you are motivated and excited. You get even more motivated when you lose the initial 5 pounds really quickly due to water loss. You think you will keep losing the weight and before you know it, you will look great.

Unfortunately, things don’t work out that way. The weight loss slows down, things get hard, and you lose motivation. Also, life always throws you curve balls.

You need to attend an event with alcohol and delicious food, Martha from the office brings donuts, you need to travel and your routine gets disrupted. These things usually make most people just quit their diet and they promise themselves start the next Monday.

Hopefully, you learn from my experience and set your expectations realistically. Expect some bumps on the road and slip-ups. The best way to deal with it is to just get up and keep going, not going back to the starting line.

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